Courting Casualties, Ep 7: The Female of the Species

Del Toro’s newest film, Crimson Peak, is a Gothic treasure, and Lady Lucille Sharpe is the deadliest creature in the film.

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Courting Casualties is produced by me, Meghan Harker.

Since I was little, I’ve been obsessed with monsters, and that remains true today. I specialize in Victoriana, and I’m currently working on my own Gothic horror novel.

In the modern world, I’m the Horror Writer for GirlsInCapes.com, where I talk about horror in books, television, and film. I also write for CriminalElement.com, where I talk about American Horror Story and Hemlock Grove.

You can find me on twitter @ExquisitelyOdd, or on my website, ExquisitelyOdd.com. I’m also on Instagram at Meghan_Harker, where I post in-progress and completed artwork.

In case you were curious, I draw monsters, too.

The music in this episode is Vanes, composed by Kevin MacLeod and used under the Creative Commons license. If you enjoyed this show, please consider subscribing. Reviews are also appreciated.

Thank you for listening, and as always,

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Courting Casualties, Ep 6: The Things in the Dark

As children, we were all afraid of something.

Play in iTunes

Courting Casualties is produced by me, Meghan Harker.

Since I was little, I’ve been obsessed with monsters, and that remains true today. I specialize in Victoriana, and I’m currently working on my own Gothic horror novel.

In the modern world, I’m the Horror Writer for GirlsInCapes.com, where I talk about horror in books, television, and film. I also write for CriminalElement.com, where I talk about American Horror Story and Hemlock Grove.

You can find me on twitter @ExquisitelyOdd, or on my website, ExquisitelyOdd.com. I’m also on Instagram at Meghan_Harker, where I post in-progress and completed artwork.
In case you were curious, I draw monsters, too.

The music in this episode is Gone Beyond, composed by Kevin MacLeod and used under the Creative Commons license. If you enjoyed this show, please consider subscribing. Reviews are also appreciated.

Thank you for listening, and as always,

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So I Tripped and Fell off the Face of the Earth…

Man, is this blog way overdue or what? Last time didn’t end on such a great note. I felt really down and useless, but the truth is, I didn’t stop writing. I finished Katherine Locke’s SECOND POSITION and her book helped me realize that the thing causing me to fall apart (writing) was the same thing holding me together. I couldn’t stop. Stopping was never an option.

So I revised a different book. By some miracle, I gained an amazing critique partner, and we swapped manuscripts. It was instant chemistry, and she made me feel 130% better about everything. I met my deadline, and as of right now, I’ve got a new query and synopsis ready for the terror that is querying. Again.

Most importantly, I learned something critical about myself.

I am not a contemporary writer. That’s not my voice. That’s why my first book didn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t a bad story, it’s not because I lack talent; I’m writing in the wrong era. New book? Victorian. It’s what I read most, it’s what I like most, and according to my past life regression experience, it’s where I lived once upon a time. To be honest, I’ve never read a lot of contemporary fiction, so why I thought that’d be the place to start is beyond me. But finding my voice was essential. Now that I’m starting a third book, same era, it’s worlds easier to move into the story. Going from my first book to my second was like pulling teeth. I found it nearly impossible to switch gears. Things are looking up. I have the support of my friends, a wonderful critique partner who sent me the most darling anatomical heart curio, and a book I believe will make it.

This weekend, I’m headed out to DragonCon, so if you want to come say hello, I’ll be around. I’m hoping to use it more like a writing weekend, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m behind on the podcast. I know. We’ll be back up and running shortly. September is just a mess of too many events, not enough brain power.

I need to pack, so I’ll see you all at DragonCon.

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Courting Casualties: The Oval Portrait, by Edgar Allan Poe

In which I read a story of art and madness.

Intro/Outro music is Ghost Story by Kevin McLeod, used under the Creative Commons License.

Counting Casualties is also available through iTunes! If you enjoy the show, please consider subscribing. Have a suggestion for a future episode? Tweet me @ExquisitelyOdd.

Thanks for listening and, as always,
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Courting Casualties, Episode Four: The City Built on Her Dead

In which I head to Savannah, GA for a much needed vacation, hang out in a cemetery, and tell ghost stories. But not IN the cemetery. That’s illegal.

432 Abercorn. Approach at own risk.

432 Abercorn. Approach at own risk.

Bonaventure Cemetery, main entrance.

Bonaventure Cemetery, main entrance.

Statuary in Bonaventure Cemetery. Savannah, GA.

Statuary in Bonaventure Cemetery. Savannah, GA.

Mercer House, Savannah, GA. Home of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and also several murders and a museum.

Mercer House, Savannah, GA. Home of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and also several murders and a museum.

Poe

Yeah, I didn’t buy these, but they were hilarious.

Intro/Outro music is Ghost Story by Kevin McLeod, used under the Creative Commons License.

Counting Casualties is also available through iTunes! If you enjoy the show, please consider subscribing. Have a suggestion for a future episode? Tweet me @ExquisitelyOdd.

Thanks for listening and, as always,

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Courting Casualties, Episode Three: Penny Dreadfuls

In which we explore the origins of serialized storytelling and I read you some Victorian vampire fiction.

Tonight’s reading is Varney the Vampire, written by James Malcolm Rymer.

Intro/Outro music is Ghost Story by Kevin McLeod, used under the Creative Commons License.

Counting Casualties is also available through iTunes! If you enjoy the show, please consider subscribing.

Thanks for listening and, as always,

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what happens when your fierceness fades

World Horror Con was great. I got to spend time with my friends, get out of my own head for a bit, and I even got to sit a panel with Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures. The Women in Horror panel was particularly amazing. I wish we could have had two hours, or a whole day devoted to talking about what it’s like taking on horror in heels. The words from my fellow panelists were inspiring:

Surround yourself with positive people. Be bold. Go after what you want. Be courageous.

Be bold, be bold, be bold.

We only had time for one question: “What do you do when your fierceness fades?”

I answered. The Friday before World Horror Con, I received some disappointing news. I was upset, I was disheartened. I reached out to my friends and asked them to help me up. They did. I shook off my bruises and went to WHC ready to be re-enlivened. I love conventions because as introverted as I am, I thrive off crowd energy. I love being around people who share my passions. I wanted to go and come back ready to fight.

I said that your fierceness will fade. Our moderator, Linda Addison, added that we’re only human. Of course our fight will fade. I said the best gift you can give yourself is a group of friends who understand, who support you, who will help you back on your feet when you fall to your knees.

And when I came home from convention, I felt worse. I realized that yes, I’d dusted myself off, but the fight had gone out of me. I reached out again and came up with comforting words I couldn’t feel. The bad news couldn’t hurt me. It couldn’t kill me, or threaten my family. I thought I would be fine. Take the sting, move forward.

I didn’t expect to be laid so low. I questioned my strength, if I had what it took to push forward.

maybe i’m not as strong as i thought i was

If you’ve kept up with me over the years, you know I struggle with depression and anxiety. Like everyone, I have my good days and my bad days. The last two years have been mostly bad days rolled into each other. During that time, when my world fell apart in the worst ways possible, I threw myself into writing. Every subsequent explosion I subverted with art. In order to keep myself together, I took up my sword and slashed my way through a new draft, a rewrite, short stories; I blogged for myself, for my freelance job. I didn’t stop writing, and I waded deeper as things grew worse.

I make a habit of avoidance. I don’t let myself feel because I don’t like appearing weak. I don’t like feeling weak. I won’t cry. I won’t scream. I keep everything like a hurricane brewing in my chest. I used that pain to put strength into my strike. I fought. I was bold.

I stood on top of the rubble and grinned because I’d made it. Things were looking up at last.

I thought I’d finally crawled out, but that’s the tricky thing about depression: it just slithers up next to you and holds you down. And no, one disappointing email doesn’t undo my hard work; I still have things in the wind. I’m not finished. But I broke my sword against that invisible wall. I hammered at it until my fists were bruised and I broke my nails against the bricks. This last time, when I fell, I couldn’t pick myself up. I asked for help, but my friends couldn’t get me off the ground.

I poured so much of myself into my work that I have nothing left to give. And with the nothing came all the harsh words and self-doubt and fear.

This is a difficult industry, and it’s easy to feel low when all you see are people putting their best selves out there. It’s hard to be happy for those with happy news when you don’t remember a time when breathing was easy. It’s isolating. You want to be happy, but you can’t remember how.

I don’t have the will to fight right now. It was suggested to me that I stop writing. I said I didn’t want to stop because I knew I wouldn’t go back. A friend told me she was afraid that if I didn’t stop, I’d burn out.

At this point, I think I need to finally honor how I feel. If I want to repair my sword, if I want to get to my feet, if I want to push myself up again, I need to acknowledge what’s happened. My fight is gone. I’m exhausted. In two years, I have taken little time for myself. I know this; my subconscious knows it.

I made myself scarce on Twitter. I barely responded to texts.

I stopped writing.

It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done. The uncertainty of it is more frightening than thought of putting my pen down. Occasionally, Henry sits beside me in companionable silence. He knows why I can’t fight for him right now. He understands. He knows anything he says won’t heal me, but he wishes me well. He hopes that sooner (rather than later), I can fashion a dagger (a scalpel?) to cut my way out.

For now I’m going to stay down. To wait and heal. To get my strength back.

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World Horror Con Schedule!

I am so delighted to be attending World Horror Con and the Bram Stoker Awards here in Atlanta next weekend at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis! Please stop in and say hello!

My Schedule:

Friday

9-10 AM Panel: TERRIFYING TROPES: Horror in the Headlines: Bringing the Real World Into Your Fiction – SARNATH
We see authors (Stephen King, for example) berated in social media for basing a story on a well-known recent serial killer. We see authors who rip off a fast book – not necessarily good – just to take advantage of a global event such as a typhoon, pandemic, etc. A good example is the book reported to be coming out from Permuted Press: ISIS and Ebola. Is this a good thing? Does it guarantee more publicity and sales? Does the writing suffer from moving so fast?

Moderator: J.G. Faherty. Panelists: Nickolas Cook, L. Andrew Cooper, Meghan Harker, Michael Huyck, Erinn L. Kemper, Erik Williams

2-3 PM  Panel: SCAREBIZ: Stabbing Through the Glass Ceiling: Advice for Women Writers Starting Out – R’LYEH
Women with years of experience in the field share their practical tips for new women writers. More women are writing horror to success, but are there still more barriers to getting published for women than men? What can beginning writers do to better navigate the often tough world of publishing.

Moderator: Linda Addison. Panelists: Kami Garcia, Meghan Harker, Lisa Morton, Melissa A. Singer, Lucy A. Snyder

Unfortunately, I can only be there Friday and Saturday.  If you’re looking for YA Horror, my dear friend Catherine Scully has put together a KILLER track for YA ROCKS. I’ll list the tracks below. I’m so thrilled to be attending and I hope I get see some of you there!

SCHEDULE FOR THE YA ROCKS TRACK

Thursday

8-9 PM  Panel: YA ROCKS: Teen Voice: Reaching The Teen Audience – SARNATH

Young Adult Horror is more popular than ever – but how do you write it? How do you capture the teen voice for teen audiences? Join us to discover how to reach current teen readers.

Moderator: Jeff Strand. Panelists: Courtney Alameda, Jake Bible, John Dixon, Alethea Kontis, Jonathan Maberry

Friday

NOON-1 PM Panel: YA ROCKS: Teen Protagonists Vs. Books for Teens: What Makes Teen Horror for Teens – DUNWICH

If a book has a teen protagonist, does that mean it’s written for teen readers? What is the difference between books about teens and books for teens? Our panelists discuss what makes young adult books for young adults.

Moderator: Jonathan Maberry. Panelists: John Dixon, Christopher Golden, Tonya Hurley, James A. Moore, Peter Salomon, Catherine Scully

Saturday

10-11 AM  Panel: YA ROCKS: Writing Horror for YA and Middle Grades: How Far Is Too Far With Your Scares? – SARNATH

So you want to write horror for kids and teens, but how far is too far with your scares? Is there a limit to what you can write for middle grade and young adult readers? Is there a limit to the kinds of monsters you can create? Our panelists discuss how to approach crafting horror for middle grade and young adult readers.

Moderator: Susan McCauley. Panelists: Kami Garcia, Tonya Hurley, Alethea Kontis, Peter Salomon, Catherine Scully, Tim Waggoner

11 AM-NOON Panel: YA ROCKS/SCAREBIZ: Horror As a Literacy Tool – R’LYEH

Kids love to read horror. Writers, librarians, and teachers discuss everything from Goosebumps to adult horror fiction, graphic novels, YA vs NA, how libraries can find more books *ie, small press!* to satisfy their readers, and how reading horror can help increase literacy levels in schools and communities.

Moderator: J.G. Faherty. Panelists: Courtney Alameda, Jake Bible, Lynne Hansen, Susan McCauley

Sunday

9-10 AM  Panel: YA ROCKS: What’s Coming Up? Are Trends Important? – SARNATH

A lot of editors are interested in horror for the young adult market – is it a trend or is horror here to stay? Are certain stories – zombies, vampires, the supernatural – on their way out or should you write what you love and hope it sells? Join our panelists as they give insight to horror writing trends in the publishing industry.

Moderator: Courtney Alameda. Panelists: Jay and Katie Barber, Jake Bible, Alethea Kontis, James A. Moore

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Counting Casualties, Episode Two: Fear

In which we explore fear, phobias, and the things in the dark. Sleep tight.

This episode’s short story is Planchette by Meghan Harker.

Intro/Outro music is Ghost Story by Kevin McLeod, used under the Creative Commons License.

Counting Casualties is also available through iTunes! If you enjoy the show, please consider subscribing. Have a suggestion for a future episode? Tweet us at @CasualtyPodcast.

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Courting Casualties Presents: “A Rose for Emily”

Episode Two of Counting Casualties is running late, so in the meantime I read you a tale of love and arsenic.

“A Rose for Emily” was written by William Faulkner.

Music: “Ghost Story” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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