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A Brief Post and the United States of Tara

Ok, this week definitely got away from me. I have an ARC to finish and review for Criminal Element, a review on Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig and a How To for Pen&Muse to write, my revisions to get crackin’ on, and Wednesday… sorta happened without me.

That’s not even counting Day Job stuff.

So naturally, I did what I always do: I started a new television series and binge-watched the hell out of it.

In my last post, I talked about mental illness and my fear that I won’t or can’t portray it and villagers with pitchforks and torches and blah blah blah. I think I have a vague memory of hearing about United States of Tara, but it never pinged on my radar. I knew it was about a housewife with multiple personalities and that it was a comedy. Meh.

Curiosity got the better of me through, and I’m glad it did: United States of Tara is wonderful.

Yes, it’s a dramatic comedy. Yes, it is funny, but the writers made damned sure that the humor was never about Tara’s illness. The DID diagnosis wasn’t the comedy. Though the alters are a teenager (T), a 1950’s housewife (Alice), and a beer-chugging VET (Buck), who all do admittedly hilarious things on occasion, the characters take Tara’s state seriously. They acknowledge her inability to control it and they help her as best they can.

Stephen Spielberg and Diablo Cody worked on this show, and I think that’s part of the reason it’s so well-written. Not to mention Toni Collette’s portrayal of Tara being spot-on to the mannerisms exhibited by people with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly Multiple Personality Disorder.)

Even freaking Eddie Izzard is in this show! That’s always a nice discovery. Though there are only three season (and how I wish there were a fourth), United States of Tara was perhaps the best example of storytelling involving mental illness that I’ve seen, from the supportive husband who struggles with how much he has to handle, to the skeptical sister and therapist who help initiate major breakthroughs and help Tara understand, accept, and heal.

I’m not telling you to binge-watch this show and shirk your responsibilities like I did, but if you want to, I certainly won’t stop you.

I’m off now to finish a review and chapter three of The Killing Type before yet another day at The Day Job. I finally had a narrative revelation, and I think I’m really on to something this time. Here’s hoping I can hash things out before June (self-imposed deadline. Hold me to it!)

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Off-Kilter

Good news: I finished the draft of The Mortality Vice!
I celebrated with froyo and dancing. I’m very happy to be done with the draft and I’m really (strangely) looking forward to revisions. I’ve taken down notes on things I’ve forgotten and things I need to add or change.

But before I can do any of that, I need get some distance and let it rest. The docs are closed, the files filed away. Meanwhile, I’ve started revisions on The Killing Type.

At the risk of being overly dramatic, this first chapter is like pulling teeth. My own teeth. With rusted pliers. I don’t know if I’m apprehensive, or scared, or my mind demons are just out for blood, but I am struggling with this first chapter. I have a cleaner plot I want to integrate, things to add, characters to develop more, and a new opener, but I’m a putting up some hardcore resistance.

Maybe it’s coming off TMV, which was actually fairly easy to write. Maybe it’s switching back to a third person narrative. (I did try TKT in first, but it got too muddled with Charlotte’s schizophrenia.) I’m just… stuck. And in order to make it better, I have to push through it.

I deleted the whole first chapter. Oh! Sidebar: Apparently Scrivener keeps automatic backups, so if you read this post, turns out I didn’t delete it after all! Well, I did. But there was a backup! Anyway…

I basically started over. I think that’s why I’m fighting against myself. The thought of starting over hurts. It’s the same story, but now I’m different. I wrote a new book while thinking of ways to fix this one. I queried and I received rejections, and unanimously it was because I didn’t hook my reader in the first couple of pages.

It might also be added life stress. Here’s another blog Thursday night instead of Wednesday, but at least it’s here. I don’t think I’ll feel like myself fully until after next week. I don’t know if there will be a blog next week.

I’m going to push forward with this new chapter. The only way out is through.

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For my Patron Saint, on his 205th Birthday

In honor of Edgar Allan Poe’s 205th birthday, here’s one of my favorite short stories: “The Oval Portrait.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej3Y3IhdMvM

 

Edgar Allan Poe has had one of the greatest influences over my writing life. I own him a debt I can never repay but for my adoration. Though it’s doubtful the Poe Toaster will make his appearance this night, I raise my glass of cognac in Poe’s honor and leave three roses on my desk.

Happy 205th Birthday, Mr. Poe.

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January 19, 2014 · 1:28 am

In Which I Read “LIGEIA”

It’s a day late (not really, I posted it Tuesday night), but I wanted to give you a gift this holiday season, and what better gift that reading Poe-etry? I picked a bit of “Ligeia” to share with you. Happy Christmas, Glorious Winter, or simply have a nice Thursday.

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December 26, 2013 · 12:55 pm

10 DAYS ‘TIL CHRISTMAS – ROMANTIC COMEDY: Cherry Pie by Meghan Schuler

Behold: A Romantic Comedy. No one is dead, demonically possessed, or a serial killer. Needless to say, writing this piece was a challenge.

the midnight type

20131215-191041.jpg

 
People, today I bring you something truly special. Meghan Schuler – writer of horror and mystery – has created a ROM COM for your reading pleasure. A ROMANTIC COMEDY. AND THERE’S MUSIC. This, Meghan informs me, is the second song Emmy dances to.
 
(She hated me for this, by the way. You’re welcome.)
 


 
Cherry Pie
by Meghan Schuler
 
 
“You did what?” Livy asked, her mouth hanging open. I blushed and turned away, my face hot. I hated blushing. I always looked like a lobster and every time I thought I was over the blush, I’d just blush more.
 
She pushed my shoulder when I didn’t answer and I buried my face in my coffee.
 
“I don’t believe it. That’s so unlike you!”
 
“I wanted to surprise him,” I muttered, the coffee scorching my tongue. Great, so I’d look like a lobster…

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Get Ready with Me! Classic Pin-Up Makeup

Hang out with me as I get ready for my final burlesque class! If you like this video or would like to see more of these, please consider leaving a comment below! Wanna know what I used? Scroll past the video.


Music: Bad Reputation by The Dollyrots (Joan Jett cover)
I don’t own the music in this video. It’s not mine, even if I do dance around my room and air guitar it.

Photo on 2013-11-20 at 21.47

Products Used:
Face:
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer
Kat Von D Tattoo Foundation in L42
Neutrogena Concealer in Fair
Bare Minerals Powder Foundation in Fair
Kat Von D Blush in Bellisima

Eyes:
Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper
Ardell Accent 305 lashes
Urban Decay Perversion liner pencil
Duo lash glue

Lips:
Cover Girl LipPerfect in Passion
Bite Lip Primer
Kat Von D Painted Love Lipstick in Underage Red
Tokyo Milk Lip Elixir in Absinthe (for moisturizing before and after)
Aromaleight RockSonic Glitter in RedShadows (discontinued)

photo
OotD:
Fright Night dress by Steady Clothing
Bettie Page/Gris Grimly heels from Sourpuss Clothing
Black stockings
Long-sleeved black undershirt
Thin black belt

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What’s Up Wednesday!

I meant to steal this from Cat two weeks ago. That didn’t happen. In fact, there really hasn’t been a proper post for two weeks! Let’s catch up.

WHAT I’M READING

I’m currently reading DEATH AND MR. RIGHT by Kendra L. Saunders, EVER AFTER by Kim Harrison, and THE BONE QUEEN by Andrea Judy. I’m not very good at reading multiple books, mainly because I forgot which one I’m reading. Or where I’ve put them.

WHAT I’M WRITING

NaNoWriMo! This is real reason there hasn’t been a real post in a few weeks. I’m about 6k behind, but I haven’t given up! I’m proud that in 19 days, there were only two I didn’t write. I’m not really enjoying the mad dash to catch up though.
WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

My fantastic friends. Life hit a rough patch, and by rough, I mean the shit hit the fan and kept twirling at the speed of a jet engine, but everyone’s been so kind sending good vibes my way. I’ve started a Pinterest Board for my NaNoWriMo project, and I’ve recently discovered I like Deadmau5. Ok, just Strobe.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

Working. With Thanksgiving looming, it’s going to be absolutely insane. I’m still dealing with life issues, but I threw myself into a three-week burlesque class, which has been so fun. Tonight night is our final class. Right now, I’m about to cut Betty bangs into my hair (or try), and wrap up the writing for the day.

There will be a special surprise Thursday on the blog if all goes well. I hope it goes well.

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Horror Tropes with KJ: The Good, the Bad, the OH HELL NO.

Hey guys! Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain, Happy All’s Hallow Eve. Today Meghan and I are discussing tropes and fears – what does work in horror, what doesn’t work, and what is way overdone regardless of whether it works or not.

What’s the scene that scared me the most from a movie?


Summarized as: FREAKY CHILD CLIMBED OUT OF THE TV, Y’ALL. OUT OF THE TV.

Children are great fear inductors. They’re supposed to be innocent and pure. When they’re not, people are unsettled.That’s why children in horror movies works so well – The Omen, Children of the Corn, those creepy twins in The Shining.

True story: I once made the mistake of following a Laymon novel (Laymon is the campy horror god of my world) with another horror novel – this one being about savage children on a murdering rampage. (Said book also broke the rules and killed the protagonist. Way to throw me off-balance.) It’s possible that I barricaded myself into my room, stayed awake all night, and made some poor guy come search my entire house before I would consider sleeping. And by possible, I mean it definitely happened.

You know what happened when Samara climbed out of that tv? She broke the rules. She broke every horror rule I had expected, which is scary in its own right. If you break one rule, you can break another. How did I know that MY tv wasn’t next? I didn’t. Combined with her being a creepy child…I was doomed.

MS: What’s even funnier/worse about Samara is THE RING was the first horror flick I saw in theatres. My friends bullied me into it. I couldn’t (and still haven’t, and WON’T) watch the above clip, but something worse happened.

I was sitting home–alone, SEVEN DAYS LATER–doing my homework. The tv was on as background noise. The power cuts out. The tv cuts on, and it’s got that static roll going. Now, I’m getting pretty freaked out. The kicker? The tv cuts on and fucking SAMARA is crawling out of the well. I BOLTED.

Turns out it was just the commercial, but I didn’t turn on a tv for a month.

What’s the trope I laugh at the most?
Come on guys, you should know me by now. The busty chick who runs up the stairs instead of out the front door.
[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uFjIAIkrqQ]

It’s been the running joke for years that I would in fact be that girl. And maybe I would – but I’d be going to get a weapon. (Or at least I’d remember to go get the weapon when I’m upstairs.)

MS: I think it was a Foamy the Squirrel cartoon that raised the question, “Why doesn’t the over-sexed busty chick running SCREAMING through the woods/house/parking lot ever stop and offer the killer a blow job? Why not use the trope to your advantage? It’d certainly have the element of surprise.

What trope annoys me the most?
Sex = Death. Virginity = Life

This reminds me of when the churches took over the pagan religions, and boom, everything had to be adapted to fit their church, or promptly made evil. I hate to break to all of you, but sex isn’t evil. While virgins may be metaphorical pure, and allowed to touch unicorns, they also got sacrificed in ancient religions. Clearly at some point in history sex had its advantages.

MS: BONUS: Unicorns? NOT pleasant. What do you think that horn is for?

From a movie standpoint, perhaps it’s just simple to correlate the obviously phallic nature of sex with the phallic nature of a blade. It’s also possible that for the killer, the act of murder is sexual so the artistic correlation of murder and sex is natural. But I think sex and death have always been linked – the orgasm is la petite mort after all (the little death). Taboo or not quite understood subjects have to get swept into the corners together. The advantage of this is once you have this knowledge, you can use it. While I haven’t watched A SERBIAN FILM (and will never, as I simply can’t handle that type of gore. Anything past SAW and I’m out.), I recall being fascinated with the idea that a gruesome horror movie could touch a sensitive subject such as ethnic cleansing. Is it possible that certain subjects can only be discussed when hidden behind the already taboo natures of sex and death? It’s something worth pondering, at least.

Do you know what is powerful? The unexpected. Switch the trope. People know the main rules for the genre, and will anticipate your story. How do you prevent that? The classic red herring – lead them one way, and switch paths suddenly.

I fell in love with DEEP BLUE SEA when LL Cool J’s character announced that he knew he was going to die, because the black guy always dies in these situations. Instalove between KJ and the movie, which means I’ve watched it enough that anyone who has ever lived with me hates this movie.

TRICK R’ TREAT which I recently watched under the suggestion of darling Meghan does a beautiful switch on the sex=death trope. I won’t describe it in case you haven’t seen the movie, but if you’re curious the following video should summarize pretty wonderfully.

MS: I think CABIN IN THE WOODS has a similar take by consciously using the tropes (the virgin, the scholar, the whore, etc) and making intelligent jokes about the genre and its expectations.


What horror movie won’t I watch?

Freddy Kruger.

Ever heard of a tulpa? Traditionally, a tulpa is an entity that’s created from enough people believing in it strongly. Santa Claus sightings would fall under this category. From what I remember about the Freddy movies, he’s potentially a tulpa. Which means my superstitious butt doesn’t need to feed his energy, or attract him to my house. No, thanks Freddy. You’re possibly way too real for me.

Notice how there’s not even a picture there? I mean serious business, y’all. I’m not even sure John Stamos could get me to watch that movie. Have mercy.

MS: Chucky. Now, I have seen half of Seed of Chucky, and while it was hilarious, my rule against possessed dolls stands. No. No way. Never. I was watching an episode of Brain Scoop last week and the commercial for the newest Chucky movie popped up.
I closed the internet.
Not just the tab.
THE INTERNET.

Side note: Annabell, in THE CONJURING. LOOK AT THAT THING! IT IS CLEARLY EVIL. WHY WOULD YOU LET THAT INTO YOUR HOME?! Chucky was at least normal in the first couple of films (I think) and the real Annabell was a Raggedy Ann doll.

To sum it up – the best feature of horror is the ability to break all the rules. We expect monotony out of life. Out of movies. Out of books. We get used to the cages we build, the restrictions that we create. The moment when we forget all of that is when something really memorable can be formed. That’s what we’re trying to create – a scene that has a long-lasting effect.

Don’t forget – I’ll be back tomorrow. Why? Because they always come back. Didn’t the Michael Myers movies teach you anything?

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DEATH AND MR. RIGHT and HALLOWEEN!

It’s OCTOBER! In case you didn’t know. My friend Kendra Saunders’ book, DEATH AND MR. RIGHT was released today! Here me gush about it AND the other exciting October things I’m planning!

Wanna order Death and Mr. Right? (of course you do!) Harass your local book seller into getting it in, or order online through Amazon.com.
Check out Kendra’s website here: http://www.kendralsaunders.com/
Follow her on Twitter: @kendrybird

Find Cat’s ALL HALLOW’S READ on her blog and SIGN UP!

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Dead on Your Feet

Tomorrow begins the DragonCon adventure.

My costumes are finished. My Nutella is purchased. I have yet to pack, as usual.

I’ve worked eight days in a row. I am exhausted. Prepare for videos from the con.

I also entered my second round of Pitch Madness. I revamped my hook/pitch line, wrote a shiny new intro and now I’m waiting to see if I’ve survived the slush pile or not. Contests are odd. They make me excited and terrified. And the waiting. I hate the waiting.

One of my coworkers at The Day Job asked me how to publish a book. I grinned like a shark.

First, you write a draft. Second, you finish the draft. Congratulations. Have a slice of cake. You wrote a book and that’s a major accomplishment.

Then you revise. You find beta readers or CPs and they read your book and give you advice. Take or it leave it. Not all advice is good advice. Always save multiple copies of your book. You never know when you’ll need to resurrect something.

Repeat.

Then you make a list of agents who might be interested in your book. You write a query letter, which is like pulling out all your teeth with toothpicks. Then you write a synopsis. Or three. That’s like pop riveting your eyes shut.

Maybe you get an agent. You WILL get rejections.

And more revisions.

Did I mention revisions?

By that point, his eyes had gotten huge and I think I saw the gears in his head lock. You know you’re a writer when you know all of this… and still want it.

The last two days have had me locked on Writer Headspace with ZERO time to write. I’ve opened the last two mornings and I’m basically dead. I’m going to get one good night of sleep in my own bed, shower, and preparing for four days of extreme extraversion.

From which I will hide for three days in my room post-con.

In other news, I’m gearing up for Dark Carnival, which you can find out about here: DARK CARNIVAL

My darling, decrepit illusionist is dying to meet you all. He’s a real SLICE.

Until then, darlings.

xx

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