Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo this year?

header Hi all, as my title states – I just wondered if anyone else is doing NaNoWriMo this year? It would be great to get a little personalised group together to support, whinge to, and egg each other on!

It’s my first time this year. To be honest, this time last year I had no idea what NaNoWriMo even was! Oh, how things have changed. When I look back to where I was a year ago, and where I am today, it does feel amazing. This time last year I had only ever sold one short story to a magazine, I had no idea about blogs or promoting yourself, and I had never worked with anyone else in the business.  Wow, how a year changes things. Now I have my finger in so many pots I am struggling to keep track of it all! I can only hope that this time next year I am looking back with the same amazement.

Anyway, back to NaNo. I plan to clear out the diary, write and schedule posts for the billion blogs I am involved with, and not edit or write anything else. I am going to attempt to write something completely different to my normal stuff. It is more women’s literature than anything else and is pretty commercial. But I think it is a great idea and I am really passionate about it (notice how I am not giving too much away – I am terrified that someone will write the novel before me!).

I figure if it is a complete disaster and all that happens is that I learn that I should just stick to what I am good at, well then I’ve only wasted a month doing it!

So let me know; are you doing NaNo this year? Want to stay in touch via a kind of mini blog tour? If so make sure you drop me a line!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Case 39 – review: A modern day ‘Omen’.

case39

Emily Jenkins, played by Renee Zellweger, is a family services social worker. She thinks she has seen it all until she is assigned to the case of ten-year-old Lilith. The girl is terrified and her parents are beyond strange, the father refusing to speak to Emily directly. However, there is no proof that they are abusing Lily and Emily is told by her boss to let the case drop.

Refusing to do so, Emily finds Lily outside of school and gives the girl her home phone number, telling her to call should she ever feel scared. In the middle of the night Lily does call and Emily finds her life turned into a nightmare she  could never have imagined.

Now for the review:

I do like Renee Zellweger as an actress (and I loved her in Nurse Betty, one of her earliest movies), but there are always little flashes of Bridget Jones breaking through, which I did find to be a bit off-putting while trying to watch a horror movie. However, she does give a good performance in Case 39 and I did like her character, despite always thinking about Bridget Jones!

The tension in this film is from the start and continues right through to the end. Though the build up is quite long, I did find that this only added to the overall tension and kept me guessing. Though the end result is fairly predictable, there was no point where I was bored or wanted to turn away. And there are some moments during the film where I was literally hiding behind my fingers – which I love!  The little girl who plays Lily isn’t annoying, and switched between sweetness and light to just plain menacing very well. Often I find children in horror films to be one dimensional and fake, but this actress did a good job.

It’s not an original storyline and there were some clich├ęs. However, there weren’t too many plot holes, and at no point did I think ‘huh’, which made a change. I liked that I actually knew what was going on and the producer didn’t go down the whole ‘is it real or is it just in her head’ route that seems to be so popular at the moment.

Overall, it was a good Saturday night horror film and I really enjoyed it. Case 39 is nothing new, but it does what it says on the tin!

Scary, if a little predictable – A Something Wicked – 7/10

Friday, 24 September 2010

Some Vampire News…

If anyone out there has read Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s brilliant vampire novel, The Strain, you will be excited to know that the much anticipated sequel entitled The Fall, is now available to buy. I have a copy in my TBR list (only my mother is in line to read it first – grrrr) and it looks as good as the first.

Here’s the blurb:

Humans have been displaced at the top of the food chain, and now understand – to their outright horror – what it is to be not the consumer, but the consumed.

Ephraim Goodweather, director of the New York office of the Centers for Disease control, is one of the few humans who understands what is really happening. Vampires have arrived in New York City, and their condition is contagious. If they cannot be contained, the entire world is at risk of infection.

As Eph becomes consumed with the battle against the total corruption of humanity, his ex-wife, Kelly, now a vampire herself, is ever-more determined to claim their son, Zack.

As the Biblical origins of the Ancient ones are gradually revealed, Eph learns that there is a greater, more terrible plan in store for the human race – worse even than annihilation…

Sounds good, huh? And if you are a fan, and in the US, then Guillermo del Toro is currently touring to promote the novel. You can find details of the tour here! 

TDMpreview A bit closer to home, I can now bring you a preview of the cover for the vampire anthology, Their Dark Masters. I think Mark (the editor) had really taken the ‘master vampire’ look to another level. He could have gone down the traditional route, but I think this picture really grabs the attention! What are your thoughts?

Hopefully, Their Dark Masters will be available either Christmas 2010, or early 2011. Lets hope for Christmas as it would make a great stocking filler for any vampire fans out there!  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Win a free copy of Alone!

Hi guys,

I’m giving away a free (or possibly multiple, depending on the number of entries) copy of my vampire romance novel, Alone, over at www.writeintheshadows.com today. All you have to do is stop by and leave me a comment on my post about writer’s block.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

What is in a name…?

Last night I was sitting watching television when an advert came on for a latest release at the cinema. It was a horror (great!), starring Ryan Reynolds (hmmm, not so sure about that one), and it was called Buried!

Now this in itself isn’t particularly shocking, but for me it made my stomach sink, as Buried is also the title of my latest WIP.

I don’t like having to change the titles of my novels. It feels a bit like having to change the name of a baby after they are born. No matter what you tell yourself, you still think of the book/pet/baby by its original name. Anything else feels a bit like fraud.

However, this tact isn’t always the right one to take. One particularly famous name change was Twilight, which was originally called Forks. The publishers definitely did right on that name change.  Forks doesn’t quite have the same ring as Twilight (and where would they have gone with the sequels…knives? spoons?).

Anyway, should I change my title? I am in the final leg of the novel now and I really don’t want to. It fits in perfectly with not only the book, but  all three as a series. And it’s not like my novel is ever going to be held up there in the same league as a big Hollywood blockbuster (I’m a dreamer, but I’m not delusional!).

So what do you think? Change or not to change…That is the question?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Hot new vampire anthology looking for submissions!

 

Hi all,

Today I am bringing you news of a new vampire anthology which is looking for submissions.  I have recently had the good fortune of meeting Delilah, and she is a talented and multi-published author and editor. 

Here are the details:

Girls Who Bite (Lesbian Vampire Erotica)
Editor: Delilah Devlin
Publisher: Cleis Press in Fall 2011
Deadline: November 1, 2010 (earlier submissions preferred)

Girls With Bite is open to all authors.

Editor Delilah Devlin is looking for lesbian vampire stories for a romantic erotica anthology entitled Girls Who Bite.

“Dark hungers, shocking thirsts… For blood, for connection… A sharing of nourishment and comfort… Infliction and acceptance of pain…”

A vampire is the ultimate bad girl. The word invokes images of dark, shadowy liaisons, forbidden desires, and sensual blood lust. Whether the story depicts a traditional blood-drinker seducing a meal, a psychic vampire stealing life-force from an unknowing host, or a real-life sanguinarian seeking a partner to share a ritual bloodletting to cement a bond, the stories should be varied and unexpected. Writers are encouraged to investigate vampire myths from around the world, looking for something fresh to add to the pantheon. Published authors with an established vampire world may use that setting for their original short story.

The stories may be as kinky or vanilla as the writer wants—but a deep sensuality should linger in every word. Exotic locations and scenarios are welcome. Keep in mind there must be a romantic element with a happy-for-now or happy-ever-after ending. Strong plots, engaging characters and unique twists are the ultimate goal. Please no reprints. We are seeking original stories.

How to submit: Prepare your 2,000 to 4,500 words story in a double-spaced, Times or Times New Roman, 12 point, black font Word document with pages numbered (.doc, NOT.docx) OR rich text format. Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch and double space (regular double spacing, do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing). US grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) is required. Include your legal name (and pseudonym if applicable), mailing address, and 50 word or less bio in the third person to girlswhobite@gmail.com. If you are using a pseudonym, please provide your real name and pseudonym and make it clear which one you’d like to be credited as. Authors may submit up to 2 stories. Delilah will respond to you in November 2010. The publisher has final approval over the manuscript.

Payment will be $50.00 USD and two copies of the published book upon publication.

About the editor: Ms. Devlin has published over sixty erotic stories in multiple genres and lengths. Her published print titles include Into the Darkness, Seduced by Darkness, Darkness Captured, Down in Texas and Texas Men. Her short stories are features in Zane’s Purple Panties, and Cleis Press’s Lesbian Cowboys, Girl Crush, Fairy Tale Lust, Lesbian Lust, and will be featured in Carnal Machines and Passion. She is published by Avon, Kensington, Atria/Strebor, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, and in 2011, Berkley.

Direct any questions you have regarding your story or the submission process to Delilah at girlswhobite@gmail.com.

So there you have it! I know I have a super sexy vampire story just dying to be written (and hopefully accepted). Get writing everyone!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Anyone out there seen ‘Antichrist’?

It’s not very often I start watching a movie and have to turn it off. However, last night I started watching Antichrist and did just that.

The movie opened with some pretty graphic sex. I’m no prude, but if I had been watching the movie with anyone else it would have raised some eyebrows. The sex scenes were spliced with scenes of a small boy climbing out of a cot. You know something bad is going to happen to the boy, and the cinematography seems to be building towards the bad thing happening because the couple are too busy screwing each others brains out.

Here I turned over. Sitting, alone, with two small children (one of which was in a cot) upstairs, I just couldn’t bring myself to watch something horrible happening to the little boy. So I gave it five minutes and switched back again.

All that seemed to happen from that point on was the mother losing the plot and the husband  acting as her shrink, trying to get her to accept her grief.  He didn’t show any kind of grief himself, and she just  kept gradually losing her mind (as any mother would after losing a child).  There was lots more sex, and I got a bit sick of watching Willem Defoe’s arse bouncing up and down – however much I like him as an actor.

In the end I gave up and switched it off. It was just too depressing, too dark, too arty. It felt as though it was just trying to hard to be controversial.

So, my question is this: Did I do the right thing?  Has anyone else seen the movie who can vouch for its amazing ending? I hate to give up on anything – even something as trivial as a film!

I would love to hear anyone’s feedback. Let me know if you’ve seen it and actually made it through to the end!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Twitter,Tweets, Twibes… what the F***!

So I have had a twitter account for a little while now, but really I don’t use it. Occasionally I think ‘oh, I’ve not put anything on it for a while’ and then write something random on it. Really I use it exactly the same way as I used the status update on facebook!

Anyway, I started reading Mark Coker’s (the founder of Smashwords) guide to Marketing  after I saw the link on fellow author Anita Vilijoen's facebook page.  One of the things he really advocates is the use of twitter!

It is yet another social networking site, but it is also about building a profile and a support group. It’s not about selling all of the time (nobody likes to be sold to), but is more about passing on information and making entertaining comments!

I have always held back when it comes to putting myself out there, but I am just going to have to get over it if I want people to start noticing what I write.

These days, to be a writer, you not only have to be a good writer, you also have to be popular! And while I’ve always had friends, I am also perfectly happy with my own company, (as long as I have a laptop to hand), and I can even verge on being downright unsociable! Before this whole thing started I would never have dreamt of making friends with people on the internet, yet now I probably have more contact with some of my internet writer friends than I do my regular ones (sad, huh?).

So today I have pledged to myself that I will learn how to use twitter properly and hopefully, in time, it will have an effect on sales and readership. I will do my best to support other artists I am following and in turn they will hopefully do the same.

If you want to follow me (and I will follow in return) here is my twitter link Marissa Farrar on Twitter!

Happy tweeting everyone!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Editing done… for the time being at least!

Phew. I have finally finished the big line-by-line edit for my next novel, The Dark Road. It’s been a long old slog, but I am pretty happy with the result. Though I know it will still get bounced back to me with changes that need to be made, I know the bulk of it is looking good.

That is the thing with editing. By the third, or even fourth, run through I would happily tear my own eyes out rather than look at it again. I have read it so many times, I practically know the story off by heart . It is so, so difficult to stay focused on every single line, on every single word.

I love the first edit of a book; particularly if it is an older novel I haven’t picked up for a little while. It’s great fun rediscovering old characters and scenes I have actually forgotten I had written. It also feels good to see how far my writing has come. Mistakes I have made jump out from the page now. Sometime I read something I wrote a few years ago and I actually cringe that I sent it out! Of course, I know that my writing is still far from perfect, and I am sure I still make numerous mistakes that I will look back on with the same cringe-worthy state, but it is wonderful knowing that I am learning all of the time. Especially when I get to work with some wonderful editors who are able to point out my bad habits!

So I am hoping to bring you all a preview of the new novel here very soon! And in the meantime I am at least able to get back to the thing I love best – actually writing!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

District 9 – review!

dist Naturally I had heard about this movie, but I was completely unprepared for what it was actually about! I had expected yet another documentary-style movie (which it is), but it is also so much more.

The film opens with a  series of interviews that introduce the story: twenty years earlier, an alien ship arrives above Johannesburg, South Africa. It hovers above the city for three months without any contact, but eventually humans go up and cut into the ship. They discover a large group of aliens who are malnourished and sick and they bring them down to a holding camp (district 9) which eventually turns into a slum.  Difficult relationships emerge between the population of Johannesburg and the aliens (which are referred to as ‘prawns’ by the locals.) Eventually the government bring in a task force to relocate the aliens to a different location, away from the city.

The head of the task force is Wikus van der Merwe. He is a type of bumbling geek (imagine a character from The Office, and you won’t be far off). He also has no respect for the 'prawns’, or their welfare. His only redeeming quality is that he has somehow managed to marry the beautiful daughter of his boss (which is also the only reason he was given the job).

While issuing eviction notices he finds a silver canister which then sprays him in the face with a black fluid. Immediately something is not quite right, and what follows is the district 9 type of transformation that takes place in the movie, The Fly. Wikus quickly gets sick and not long after discovers he has grown an alien arm.

Suddenly Wikus is the man everyone else wants. Because of his transformation he can work the alien weaponry that previously could only be used by the aliens, due to their DNA. He finds refuge in the only place he can, the alien slum. Here he strikes up a relationship with an alien called Christopher Johnson, who also has a small son.  Together they try to stop Wikus’s transformation and, in turn, find the fluid needed to get the aliens back home again.

I had expected this movie to be scary, but, even though it wasn’t (and wasn’t supposed to be), it was still a really good film.  I started the movie really disliking Wikus, but by the end I was really rooting for both him and the aliens.  The aliens at the start aren’t shown to be particularly intelligent or humanoid, but this is turned around by the introduction of Christopher and his son.  The bad guys are the government agency, and they really are horrible – conducting experiments on the aliens and even prepared to cut Wikus open while he was still conscious!

district At some point during the movie it stops being in a documentary style and is just normal ‘movie-style’, but I didn’t notice when this happened, so I guess it worked well enough!  The start is a little slow, but it quickly sped up and then it is fast paced right through to the end.  It was also a really original storyline, and, as I said, not what I had expected.  I guess I had expected something more like Cloverfield, but it was completely different!

As with all Peter Jackson films, the effects were really good, and towards the end I could even see a bit of Avatar influence on the effects creeping in.

Overall, District 9 is a really good movie - even if it’s not scary!  Something Wicked 8/10.

 

.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Short story accepted for new vampire anthology!

Hurrah!

My short story, The Tunnel, has now officially been accepted for Mark Crittenden’s new vampire anthology, Their Dark Masters.

The anthology looks like it is going to be a good one – especially for any vampire fans out there.  The basis for the anthology (as you can probably tell by the title) are stories based around the elder vampire, the maker and master pulling the strings.  Each story will be leading towards the destruction of mankind, so don’t expect any nicey-nicey vegetarian vampires here. It is back to old school horror!

I believe submissions are still open, so if anyone out there has something they think may fit, you can find further submission details here! Mark is looking for ‘only your darkest and most horrific/haunting tale,’ so get writing!

Acceptance for new vampire anthology!

Hurrah!

My short story, The Tunnel, has now officially been accepted for Mark Crittenden’s new vampire anthology, Their Dark Masters.

The basis for the anthology are ‘stories that concern vampires, the custodians of forbidden knowledge, and the secret force behind the destruction of mankind.’ There will be ‘an elder vampire, the maker and master pulling the strings in the backdrop of the story.’

Sounds good, huh?

Mark is looking for ‘only your darkest and most horrific/haunting tale.’ I believe submissions are still open, so if anyone out there has something they think may fit, you can find further submission details here!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Vampire Stories from Stephen King's Night Shift

Hello Everyone!!!  As you all know, I'm taking an extended break from blogging while I sort a few things in my personal life.  However, I wanted to take a break from my blogging break and come back to tell you about a few short stories I've read recently (nothing takes your mind off your own problems like reading about people dodging evil towns and vampires, right?! ;-).

Stephen King's Night Shift.  First of all, I didn't realize he wrote the short story Kitty, a bit of which shows up in the relationship between my brother-sister protagonists, Cray and Miranda.  In Kitty, the sister is hanging from a rickety ladder on the hayloft in a barn -- the rung she's holding onto is about to break, and when her brother tells her to "let go", she does, not even turning her head to see what's below her.  She trusted him that much.  I won't divulge the rest of the story, but I was touched early on by that brother-sister trust, and it's neat to remember that King did the story which influenced a small part of my own work.

Okay, now, the vampire stories.  There are two of them in Night Shift:  Jerusalem's Lot, and One For the Road.  Both deal with the town featured in 'Salem's Lot, one predating (by about 100 years) the Ben Mears story, while the other takes place a year or two after.

Both are excellent examples of writing. King really has a way of getting into a character's voice, using older American English for Jerusalem's Lot, while taking things to a more modern, folksy level in Road.  It's also interesting to note that both horror stories are written in the first person -- usually you see horror tales in the third, but I actually like first person -- I can connect with the narrator more, and in horror, well that's certainly a plus if you like to scare the bejeezus out of yourself!

A thing I noticed (and ended up doing a bit of research on) -- in Jerusalem's Lot, the mystery revolves around a Latin book with the word "Worm" in the title.  That, as well as events in the book, reminded me of that 80's movie, Lair of the White Worm.  I researched the movie, and you know what -- it's based upon a Bram Stoker story.  Way!  Looks like King was influenced by Stoker in more ways than just Dracula!!!  Apparently Stoker got his idea for his own story from English folklore involving the Lambton Worm.  The similarities are a bit striking, right down to the curse being inherited by family members.

If Jerusalem's Lot explains why the town in 'Salem's Lot is cursed (and why Barlow was attracted to it in the first place -- and remember that weird chapter where Straker makes the sacrifice of the first child?  Yeah, this short story explains that a bit more) -- One For the Road is a nice epilogue to 'Salem's Lot, which doesn't really have a solid resolution at its ending.  It's downright creepy.  Of course, you, the reader, know what's going on, but the confrontations are done so well -- again, a testament to King's writing style -- the last line is definitely spine-tingling!!  Awesome!!

So, if you've got some downtime and want to nestle down with a few good short, scary stories, I do recommend Jerusalem's Lot and One For the Road -- just read them early in the day so you won't be too scared at night!!

By all, and I hope to talk with you guys again soon!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Some congratulations!

I just wanted to say congrats to a couple of people today.

Erincole First is Erin Cole, from the wonderful blog Listen to the Voices. She has just published her first novel, Grave Echoes.

Here’s the blurb:

The nightmare is real…
Kate Waters suffers from narcoleptic hallucinations, which recently involve her unreachable sister, Jev, and a mysterious key. When Kate receives the terrible news concerning Jev’s fatal car accident and acquires the strange key from her visions, she unlocks her sister’s world of perilous secrets involving witchcraft, poltergeist, and a heartless killer determined to get back what is his.
The danger lies in whom to trust.
Terrifying paranormal encounters, a trailing wolf, and an attempted murder of one of Jev’s friends, forces Kate to turn to the one she fears most, the priestess of Jev’s coven, Thea. She challenges Kate’s beliefs and provides her vital clues about her sister’s murder, but will Kate overcome her fears before anyone else dies? To do so, she will have to trust in a world where the possibilities are unbelievable and the consequences are deadly.

It sounds like an amazing read, and I just love the cover, it’s so atmospheric! So head over to her blog for links on where to buy!

The second congratulations I am sending out is to my publisher, Gaynor, at Vamplit publishing. I believe today is Vamplit’s first birthday – and wow, what an amazing first year! I know there have been some struggles and pitfalls, but Vamplit is going from strength to strength, with the progression from being purely an eBook publisher, to going to paperback. Now there are some new, talented authors coming through the ranks, and second novels from the original ‘gang’ soon to be published.  So happy birthday, Vamplit!  I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!