Bat Week

It’s International Bat Week! I love bats and they are a vital part of our ecosystem that is currently threatened. In honor of bat week, here’s the story of a bat goddess.

There was a Samoan princess named Leutogi. She was ordered to become the second wife of the Tongan King in the hopes that the union would bring peace to the warring nations. It didn’t work, and the people she was Princess of held her in little regard. She was a very kind woman, which they saw as a weakness, and the first Queen in particular hated her. She took to staying away from the town to avoid the animosity.

While out exploring, she found a wounded baby bat. Her guard wanted to kill it but she stood her ground and protected it. She nursed the bat back to health and released it back to its colony when healed. Since she was compassionate, she was ordered to care for the young prince. He died, and she was blamed and was sentenced to be put to death.

A pyre was built and the flames were lit. She thought it was her last moments, but a cloud of bats appeared. Thousands of bats arrived and peed on the flames, extinguishing them and saving her life. The King feared this, so next he banished her to a barren island to starve.

Instead of starving, bats brought her food and colonized the island. They pooped so much that the island eventually became a fertile paradise. In time, she became a fertility goddess and protector of bats, being worshiped as such by her people.

Poetry dump

Various stuff I’ve written using writing prompts on twitter:

Haiku:

Alone in the dark
The closet door creaks open
Terror at midnight
Roy and Pris escaped
Replicant’s final swan song
Moments lost in time
Your eyes are starlight
Cold, remote and pitiless
Like winter’s first breath
Dredge the river bed
Catching more than well fed fish
Bones like shells on shore
Turn off the hall light
Claws scraping across the floor
Hold your breath and pray
Crows wing
Through purple gloaming
Stories given flight
Dragon-gargoyle date
Silhouettes eclipsing moon
Aerial amour

#FromOneLine:

Why have you phoned

transmitting radio waves

to send ominous message

with heavy breaths in silence.

Then an eerie laugh,

interference on the line

and disguised threats of violence;

The caller is in the house!

Oh but I hope you are,

the bloodlust of the hunt upon me

smile like back alley razors

sharpened and eager for you

(-I’m not happy with this one.. doesn’t feel finished.)

This one was a whole mess of prompts combined. I think it was 9 of them, which is why it’s so… flamboyant.:

What wild horrors visit in the night,

sowing brain wasps with questing tendrils,

leaving us cursed and broken

and quailing from the light;

This monstrosity grasping

through space and time,

a stranded hellion of another creation,

exiled from the Hive that hatched it,

Never considering that

the Earth bound life forms beating against

their orbit like slow gypsy moths

could be sentient.

Currently watching ‘Warlock’ – 1989 with Julian Sands. He’s fantastic. Currently reading “The Gone World” by Tom Sweterlitsch. I’m only three quarters the way through but it’s great so far. It was a surprise, as I went into it blind. It’s sci-fi horror concerning the multiverse, a shadowy government space agency, a world ending entity and some very bad, possibly insane dudes. Come on, how can you resist that??

I’m halfway through “The Midnight Library” but am not sure I’ll finish it. It was good, just not my cup of tea and was getting a bit preachy for my tastes.

Recently finished “The Red Tree” by Caitlin Kiernan and enjoyed that a lot. I would have liked a better ending, but it is worth the read. It’s set up as a posthumous script detailing supernatural and ominous happenings at a house with, you guessed it, a red oak tree. The main character is a writer who is suffering from the loss of her partner and can be quite the unreliable narrator. I enjoyed it.

I am working on the book daily, whether it’s a 100 or a 1000 words. My intrepid explorers just reached an auditorium that I just finished sketching out. I had in mind an auditorium I explored on one of my outings. Rows and rows of wooden seats leading down to a dais. As I pull from my experiences for this book, it really has me yearning to explore again. Damn I miss it.

My eyes hurt. Goodnight.

Auditorium

Autumn

I haven’t been motivated to blog the last week. I’ve been fighting a pretty bad round of depression and trying to get my head straight. I did get some writing done on my new book, although not as much as I’d hoped for. I’ve had four rejections from my first batch of submissions of my first book.

It’s Autumn and there’s a crispness in the air. I live by an apple orchard, so every time I leave I drive between a field of dead corn yet to be harvested and rows of trees with a carpet of apples. If I were a deer I’d be camping out right there so I have to be cautious. I did see a fox a few nights ago, briefly in the lights. This is my favorite season. The leaves are turning and falling and every time the wind blows it sends them skittering across the blacktop. It’s a sound I immediately associate with Autumn and being out at night. When you’re young and with friends and the night is full of possibilities and you intend to explore every last one of them… when the moon is riding high in the sky and is the pale color of winter, when you are immortal. I got on a kick of music from when I was a teen and now it has me all nostalgic.

My 17 year old cat has cancer and the tumor has gotten really large. He still seems to feel ok most days but I have to take him in tomorrow to get checked. If he’s uncomfortable I want to get him on something to help. He doesn’t get around as well as he used to, but that may very well just be his age. So this is it for tonight.

Poetry and Hell Divers

I’ve finished the first three Hell Diver books by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. They are fun, quick reads if you want something entertaining. They’re about a post-apocalyptic earth where the only humans left live in a sky ship. They send ‘Hell Divers’ down to the surface to gather needed materials, meds, food, etc. The surface is a dangerous place to be, with radiation off the charts in some places. The radiation combined with some genetic tinkering have created all sorts of fun mutant creatures to deal with. As long as you don’t go in expecting ‘The Expanse’ they’re fun. There are a bunch more that I’ll probably read at some point, but I needed a palate cleanser.

I just started Michael McDowell’s “The Elementals” and am really liking it so far, although I really want to smack the child that is the main character. I think I’m about halfway through. This is a book I’ve heard about for years and years and just never got around to. At first I was a little put off by the dialog but once I got used to the style it was fine. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s going on in that house…

The writing on my new book is going surprisingly well, knock on wood. The first book I had no idea what I was going to write and a fantasy came out. I like fantasy but horror has always been my first love. I think one reason this one is going faster is that I’m writing about a subject I’m very familiar with – urban exploring, and am using bits of various sites I’ve been to. It helps to be able to picture the scenes when I’ve seen them in the past. Write what you know, and all that.

More later, but for now here’s my recent wordprompt contributions. The first one is from the #fromoneline prompt:

How am I supposed to do this?
Starting over once again
Sifting ruins of my life
     After the flames.

It burned like brilliant phantasm
Setting the sky on fire,
And everyone said Ahhh
Then turned and walked away.

Now I sit in the aftermath
A wounded phoenix struggling
To rise from bitter ashes
Torn wing and missing feathers
But heart still yearning
For one more inferno.
HorrorScifi
Phantom steps echo
Following down lonely streets
Blood smears on the wall
Mirrored universe
Perceived worlds overlapping
Spacetime unravels
Star mad entity
Unbound from space-time prison
The color from space
It didn’t go well
We contacted entity
Five hours O2 left

Eh… some are better than others. The point is, they’re fun and sometimes I cough up something I like.

Jack’s mousie is better than your mousie. (sorry for potato picture)

Urban exploring

I’m fleshing out the idea for a new book involving urban exploration. It’s a horror, my true love, and I’m using one of the abandoned hospitals I’ve explored for the location.

I used to do a lot of urban exploration. It was my favorite thing to do and I miss it. It’s one of the many things I gave up when I got married. Now I’m divorced and no longer have a partner to explore with and you really need one. Of course I’m ten years older and it’s dangerous work. I’m lucky enough to live in an area that is within a few hours of multiple abandoned hospitals. There is a major site in my own county that was originally a school for upper class boys. Most of the buildings have unfortunately been torched since I’ve been away by firebug asshats. An old tuberculosis asylum was torched as well but I digress.

My favorite place to explore was Pennhurst. Pennhurst was a massive site with many buildings- everything from a power plant to medical. Best of all, there were extensive tunnels with multiple rooms belowground. Down in the black of the tunnels we found a 1940s style fully stocked bomb shelter, a barber shop with the old time chairs and various hair products, a school, children’s toilets, and let me tell you that imagining children down in that dungeon was grim business. There was a medical lab with the big glass x-rays strewn about, ancient typewriters, moldering furniture, and on and on. I spent many happy days exploring that place and there was still a lot I never got to. The admin building was gorgeous, so they saved it and it’s now a haunted asylum type attraction. I haven’t been there since they decided to do that. I mean, yeah it’s a great place for a haunted house, but it’s ruined as for my purposes. I’m glad they saved at least part of it, but I miss it. Especially before it was a well known place in the explorer community and you could spend the whole day there without seeing another soul.

Another place I went to multiple times was a tuberculosis asylum (there were multiple ones within driving distance) turned insane asylum. There was some paranormal stuff going on there, straight up. I’m using parts of that one in my story as well as parts of Pennhurst to create the setting. I started the beginning when I got stuck on outline, but I’m only a few pages in. So urban exploration is on my mind.

TB asylum

There’s a smell that all abandoned buildings have. It’s mold and damp and crumbling walls and insulation. It’s things that grow in the dark. I recall that smell when I think about exploring but in spite of its less than appealing source, I associate it with being happy. Another thing ubiquitous to these places is peeling paint. I don’t mean a few strips here and there. I mean every available surface covered with curlicues of paint pulling itself off the walls with the damp. There’s broken windows and rust and vines that grow in through the windows. I’ve seen trees that sprouted in some sifted dirt in a basement, fed by water and sunlight dripped in through a cracked ceiling that have grown and spread their roots to crumble the concrete around it. These trees have grown up through the building, reaching toward the sun and breaking through the floor above them. Others have sprouted in upper floors and snaked long roots down into the basement to reach the earth.

In Centralia, where the earth has been on fire since the 1960s, I saw roads cracked and twisted from the heat and smoke rising from the earth to give the place the eerie feel of Mordor. Then I’ve explored plain old houses, both empty and still stocked with the detritus of its former resident’s lives. One hospital had boxes of patient records strewn across the floor while another had boxes of psychiatric tape sessions.

About here is where I start quoting Rutger Hauer’s speech from Bladerunner (“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe….”).

It was dangerous and dirty and by the end of the day I hurt so bad I couldn’t stand myself, but it was also the best thing ever. It scratched that need for danger itch and trespassing warmed my black little rebel heart. It was fun and exciting and I loved every part of it, from finding the places to figuring out how to get in.

I have yet to hear from most of the places I submitted my novel to in the first round, but I’m looking forward to this new book. It took me so long to write the first and I had no idea what was going to happen. This time I’m trying to sort things out a little better than that, but I’ve never done well with outlines. Still, if I can manage to get one together I think the plot would be much tighter. So if you read my blog you might expect to see more about UE turning up here and there. For now, here’s some more fun with haiku I’ve done recently.

HorrorScifi
Open the fool’s tomb
Once more the necromancers
Call back his pneuma
Spike through the ship’s hull
Alien forces boarding
Countdown to scuttle
Split you from groin to gullet,
My hook for a hand;
The pain will be exquisite
Thumpers call sand worms
Fremen ride great Shai-Hulud
Worm of Arrakis
Lust
Your words know desire
Possession without a touch
  Blue chimera dreams
Spikes and strapped bodies
Reaver ships painted in blood
Pirates in the black

FromOneLine

I found a new wordprompt on twitter… it gives you the first line and you take it from there.

When you’re small and happy
before life has taught you sorrow
and magic is not only real
but living inside you 
    around you-
fairies just out of sight,
dragons behind that cloud castle
ghosts in the empty house,
The world is ruled by ritual,
secret words to appease the dark
counting cracks to balance the universe.

Moongarden

I always wanted to have a moongarden. I wanted a silver and white wonderland with nocturnal animals and flowers that bloom at night. I wanted flowers that only release fragrance at night in order to attract moths and bats. I wanted the moths and bats, for that matter. I’d love to have luna moths, and statues and a garden bench. I have lists and books and pinterests on the plants I’d have in this garden. I’ve grown a lot of them, but there are still a lot I’d like to grow. I’m on the east coast, but I’d love to be in the west coast desert at night when the saguaros are in bloom.

At the moment I’m growing moonflowers and jasmine tobacco. Both are purity white and both smell like seduction. I have a ramp leading up to my house, so I grow moonflower vines over the railing. They climb up and wind through the rails to spill out onto the walkway. I try to train them to curl back into themselves but there’s always a stray vine. Moonflowers don’t open until dusk. If you aren’t familiar, they are huge white flowers that unfurl in a pinwheel to blossoms much bigger than my hands. Each flower blooms only for a night but in the early morning I can still see them while I drink my coffee. The jasmine tobacco stays open all day but only releases fragrance when it gets dark.

In the past I’ve grown evening primrose, four-o-clocks, datura, evening phlox, jasmine and others. I’ve grown plants that are gilded by moonlight, such as artemisia, dusty miller and lamb’s ear. I’ve grown pure white cosmos and zinnias. But moonflower and jasmine tobacco are my mainstays.

I walk out at night, here in the silence of where I live. Hours can go by without a single car on the road and I feel very isolated. Most of the time that’s thrilling, but when I’m having a bad night it’s just lonely. I walk out and feel the night air, and listen to the chorus of the frogs and insects. I can see the stars scattered across the sky and in the summer I’ll watch the fireflies blinking their secrets signals. Sometimes the only light is starlight and it makes me feel wild. I remember what it was like to be young and yearning and chasing the moon. I remember a night climbing the cliffs on the river with the sound of the waves breaking over the rocky beach and the moon casting its reflection across the black water. I remember believing in impossible, unknowable things. I remember dancing, spinning in the night whether I was in a forest or a graveyard.

Then there’s the moon. I’ve always been half moon-struck. It’s fascinated me since I was a little child. The moon has so many aspects, so many faces. I’ve seen it low, red and swollen when it swallows the skyline, and I’ve seen it high and white and remote in all its phases. Tonight it’s riding high, a pale yellow incomplete moon that isn’t casting much light. In all of is aspects it is beautiful and I don’t think it will ever cease to make me yearn for something wild.

Querying

I started sending out queries! Five so far. It takes some time, even with query tracker, as each one has a little different requirements. I keep thinking I should go back and edit this, and take out that, and change something else, but I can do that forever. If I do manage to sell it, I’ll have bucket loads of edits, I’m sure.

I first made a list of agents that sounded like might be a good fit. I researched their agencies and books published. I created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of agent name,agency, query date, type of query and response date. I used this in addition to query tracker because not everyone uses QT. So I feel like I’m moving things along, which is great because I need to start working on something new. I have plans for a second book in the same world, but I also have an idea for a horror novel that I really want to explore. And maybe this time I can get it done in less than an eon. 😉 I just need to take a little break from this book.

I’ve been playing with the word games on twitter a bit more frequently. It’s fun and sometimes they get my creativity going. Haikus in particular. I should start writing poetry again. It’s been my heart. I wrote my first poem when I was 8. It was something about owls swooping through the night. 🙂 I wish I still had it.

Horror:

Sanguine oracle
Truth cuts a little deeper
Prophecy in blood
Fleeing through the woods
Psycho with momma issues
Camp Crystal Lake sucks
Blood smeared corridors
Onslaught of coppery reek
It’s too late to flee
Terrifying scream
Spine chilling sound of footsteps
Don’t turn out the light

Sci-fi/ Lust

Ship docked for repair
Wrench lost down gravity well
Burning in orbit
submission, Control
The rhythm of seduction
Dance of dark desires

Planet of exiles
Assassin guilds and star cults
Wild West space cowboys

Ok I’ll write more later.. something different. Happy Autumn.

Query letter

Ok still not back into the habit. I’ve been cleaning and running errands. The pharmacy was down and I spent two days running around trying to get my prescriptions filled. And boy was that frustrating. I played with a bunch of writing prompts and worked on my query a little. I did a little yard work and made a batch of spaghetti sauce with the last of the garden tomatoes and read “House of Mirrors” by John Langan, which I really enjoyed but not as much as his “The Fisherman”. I’m currently reading “Malorie”, the follow up to “Bird Box”. It’s really good so far.

I spent today coming up with a list of literary agents to send my first batch of queries to, so I’m preparing for rejections. 🙂 I’m going to post my working query letter here, and would really appreciate any feedback because I suck at this. I am still arguing over title so it’s probably going to change.

Dear Agent,

The Changeling weaves Slavic, Welsh, Norse and other mythologies with the shimmering threads of fairy tales to create a bordering realm where the veils between worlds are thin. It’s this world that 17 year old Raina finds herself in when the library cat lures her to the Norn’s lost book of fate.

Now she’s stranded in a world where mythical creatures are real and often dangerous. Raina is rescued from a faun attack by Brynn and her father, who tell her that to get home again she needs the assistance of the forest god. However, he’s been missing for two cycles and his absence has caused a blight to spread across the land and its people. Her new companions offer to escort her to the world tree in search of the missing god.

Along the way Raina discovers she is half-fey, a changeling of the dark Tylwyth Teg, and that a hidden prophecy calls for her blood. She explores her burgeoning abilities, raising questions about her parentage, identity, and place in the world. At the same time she begins her first same-sex romance with the prickly Brynn. They encounter a czart, rusalkas, firebirds, centaurs and even the witch Baba Yaga herself, all while she manages her panic attacks.

As Raina searches for a way home, her love for this new world grows with her abilities. None of that matters to the fey King, intent on claiming her. Raina finds herself a pawn in a deadly power struggle between ancient gods who will decide if she lives or dies.

Complete at 107,000 words, THE CHANGELING is a YA Fantasy novel with series potential that will appeal to fans of Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood or the TV show Grimm. In the past I have had poetry and short stories published in magazines and anthologies, and won an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s “Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror” 2006 and 2007. I became disabled and quit writing for a long time, but when I was able to drop my medication back, I began again. This is the result. I am an active contributor to the folklore, mythology and fairytale twitter community, but have been studying lore since I first discovered King Arthur and his knights in the sixth grade. I have four cats and in the past have volunteered with a cat rescue organization. Now that restrictions are lifted, I hope to do so again. I’m also learning about beekeeping and hope to soon have hives of my own. Thanks for your consideration,

Feedback please!!

Post #PitMad

I haven’t posted since the week before PitMad. I edited my ms non-stop and tried to come up with decent pitches while not getting my hopes up. I know it’s a numbers game. There are thousands of people pitching and not so many agents, so I didn’t expect anything but there’s still a little part of me that couldn’t help hoping. 🙂 Hoping I would get that magical heart from a prominent agent. What I got was one from an in-house literary agent and a small press. Plus a hybrid publishing company, which I did not even know was a thing. So basically nothing to be excited about, but a lot of people didn’t even get that much so I’ll be grateful for what I got.

So, I’m back to working on the query letter and man it sucks. Writing pitches and query letters, ie ‘selling’ the book, truly and deeply bites. The brief summaries I come up with are so damn bland it makes the book sound boring and I don’t think it is. It’s trying to distill it in the space available and make it sound enticing while getting across the main information. I don’t know. Maybe it is boring. But I’ve spent all this time writing it so now I have to find a home for it. I read these articles talking about your first book being a practice novel and people who have like 5 books sitting in a drawer. No, that is not me. I write slow and it took ages. I wish I could write at the speed that I read. That would be something.

PitMad day I sat on twitter non-stop retweeting other authors and pitching my own. By late afternoon I felt like I had run a marathon. My eyes were scratchy and my head hurt. My neck and shoulders were so tight I could barely move. My back was killing me. I was crabby as hell. So I took four days or so after PitMad to basically veg out. I watched way too much tv, ordered out and read. So now I’m working on getting back into the swing of things.

It’s a little cooler out and I’ve been trying to do some of the yard work. I’m also making an effort to improve my health. It took a nose dive when I was down south. I think a big part of that is because I became inactive and it’s a fight to try to regain what I lost. I am disabled, so I’m already limited and everything hurts, but I’ll push myself as much as I can. I have to. That’s enough about that.

This is basically a catch up post. I’m still participating in all the folklore, mythology and fairytale events on twitter, and have been in the writing prompt threads more. I’ll end with a couple of haikus from twitter threads and will write more soon.

From the #HorrorHaiku prompt:

Six o’clock twilight

Holy water and garlic

All the damn vampires


Motel shower flows

Woman traveling alone

Mother disapproves