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This article is a marvellous piece of writing in itself. I really hope you’ll take the time to read it.
Every now and then, I stumble across an absolute gem of inspiration. Sometimes it’s in a book. Sometimes it’s a quotation. Sometimes, as it was tonight, it was a blog post written by someone else.
This article is a marvellous piece of writing in itself. It’s beautifully put together and composed, and the content is just magnificent.
It’s something every author, whether published or aspiring, should read because it addresses that infernal question with which we all torture ourselves: What’s the right way to do this? And the answers come from T.S. Eliot himself, esteemed 20th century author and poet.
I really hope you’ll take the time to read it.
You’ll find the post titled T.S. Eliot’s letter of advice to a sixteen year old aspiring writer on the Nothing In The Rule Book blog,
Give Books, Not Flowers!
Everyone knows February 14th is Valentine’s Day, but did you know it’s also International Book Giving Day?
Apparently, that’s been a “thing” for several years now. The first I heard of it, though, was earlier today when I saw a post – one post – on Twitter. Why have I never heard of this before? Why aren’t bookstores and publishers worldwide promoting this? Why have I been conditioned all my life to hope for a rose or a card that usually doesn’t materialise, when I could have been my own best friend and presented myself with a book instead? That, my friends, is absolute rubbish!
An international day for giving and receiving books is an idea that really appeals to me on so many levels. In just five minutes, I came up with these reasons why books are better than roses, chocolates, and drugs:
Books don’t die like flowers do.
Books don’t make you fat or mess with your blood glucose like chocolates do.
Nobody judges you for showing off your new book on social media.
(Unless, of course, you’re an author and you wrote the book, in which case people complain because you’re somehow pressuring them to support you or asking them for money, which just isn’t the done thing, despite the fact that you’ve supported their careers in plastic kitchenware, fancy saucepans, designer linen ware, boutique underwear, party plan beauty products, and whatever other blarney they’ve asked you to buy. But that’s different, and I digress. And I’m not jaded, okay?)
You can stay home with a book and consume it as greedily as you wish without losing any respect.
Books are budget friendly. Do you have any idea how many books you could buy for the price of a bunch of long-stemmed roses in the middle of February?
Books are an investment in your mind and your soul.
Books are an investment in an author who will be more than happy to write more books for you to enjoy. It’s the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.
Books provide the most budget-friendly and instant escape from reality available to humanity.
Books won’t land you in rehab.
There is no law against driving with stories, ideas and knowledge in your system.
Not bad, eh?
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and give someone you love, or yourself, a book.
If you’d like to suggest more reasons why books are better gifts than flowers and chocolates, feel free to leave them in a comment.
Me? Writing romance? Not anytime soon.
Today I commented to a friend that I’d written a story for Valentine’s Day.
She smiled and said, “Oh Jo! I didn’t really pick you for the romantic author type! How lovely!”
I laughed. “Just because it’s a Valentine’s Day story, doesn’t mean it’s romantic.”
She looked at me as though she were waiting for a punch line.
“No, really. This is not a romantic story. This is a story for anyone who has had their heart broken, who knows the sting of rejection—” I shrugged.
“It doesn’t end well, does it?” she asked sadly.
“That depends entirely on your perspective!” I replied.
An Author’s Perspective on Facing One’s Own Fears In Writing.
One of the principles of writing good horror is tapping into your readers’ fears and anxieties, albeit in a controlled manner – I don’t want to trigger a heart attack or a psychosis, but I do want their skin to crawl and their innards to lurch. After all, that’s why they pick up a horror book or film in the first place.
It’s interesting – at least to me, at any rate – that I haven’t got any better at confronting my own fears.
I have always been, and still am, terrified of spiders and snakes. Of course, I do live in Australia where just about everything that crawls or slithers is deadly, so that is quite sensible. We’ll call it a healthy sense of self-preservation. Butterflies and moths, though… not so much. And crickets: ugh! Not exactly the stuff of nightmares— until they touch me. That’s when I lose all sense of reality.
When I was a child, I considered that I had a fear of heights. As I grew older, I realised that what I actually have is a fear of falling. I can look out of the window of a plane that is flying at altitude, and it doesn’t bother me a bit. Ask me to step onto the balcony of a lookout at the top of a mountain, or to walk on stairs or a surface where I can see through to underneath, and you will only ever be disappointed. It’s not going to happen. The times I have been in such places, I have frozen to the ground in fear.
Interestingly, these are not fears that I have explored in my own writing— not yet, anyway. I’m far more comfortable playing on someone else’s weaknesses. Death. Hell. Demons. Fire. Hair. Monsters. Ghosts. Superstition. Possession. Unexplained coincidences. Easy peasy!
Maybe I will try to address one of my own fears in my writing this month, given that it is Women in Horror Month, and I happen to be a woman who very much enjoys writing horror.
I’ll get back to you on that one.
When life takes an unexpected turn, there is no better place to escape than into a book.
What a week!
It was the first full week back at school with students after the summer break. New students, new classes, new schedules, new demands. Not only was I ready, I was keen! I was determined to get through the week without falling in a heap.
The first day was great.
Then, just after recess on Wednesday, I got a call from my local medical clinic. My elderly father was unwell – again – and was on his way to hospital in an ambulance. Everything stopped except my mind: Is this it? Is this the beginning of the end? Must let the others know. Must tell the boss that I have to leave work. Must keep breathing. Can’t breathe. Okay. One thing at a time. Call the boss. Explain. No – don’t fall apart now. You don’t have time.
I got to the hospital half an hour ahead of Dad because I work in town and the ambulance had a 45 minute trip, plus some road works to negotiate. I completed the necessary paperwork for him, and sat down to wait.
Waiting rooms suck on a major level. You sit there, surrounded by other people’s pain and misery, feeling alone and fearful, and trying to keep everything under control in your own overactive imagination – it’s quite some challenge.
So while I sat and waited, I took refuge in a book. It didn’t stop me from looking up every time an ambulance rolled in, wondering if that was Dad being wheeled in. It didn’t stop me checking my phone and answering messages and questions from my siblings. But it did give me somewhere to go.
For the six and a half hours that I sat by Dad’s bedside in the Emergency Department, with medical questions answered and initial treatment under way, I escaped back into the book whenever I could. Dad knew I was there, but he wasn’t up to conversation. Reading someone else’s story kept me from focusing on my own, and it kept me from being overwhelmed by the flood of emotions that threatened to sweep me away while witnessing the pain and distress of my increasingly frail father.
After a somewhat tearful journey home, I thought I might be exhausted enough to fall asleep as soon as I got to bed. Nope. No such luck. Yet again, it was a book that came to the rescue. It didn’t put me to sleep, but it did relax me enough to be able to rest.
Taking refuge in a book is something I have often done in the troubled times of my life. Over the past couple of years, that has taken the form of both reading them and writing them. There are times, though, when I can’t write because the pain and fear is actually too close to think about at that level of depth. Wednesday was one such day.
Thursday was a blur of medical consultations, visits with various physical therapists, and further tests for Dad. Thankfully, at the end of all of that, I was able to bring him home again. It will take time for him, and for me, to recover. There will, undoubtedly, be further moments when I feel the need to make the world around me stop by escaping into a book.
Today, I’ve tried to catch up on the things I’ve let slide over the last few days. I haven’t quite managed yet to pick up all the threads again. I use Buffer, so my Twitter feed has kept on rolling, but many other things, including my writing, are at a standstill. Social media has only had the occasional cursory glance. I’ll get there – but not today.
For now, I’m thankful that Dad and I both survived the week, and that things are starting to return to normal.
And to the authors who continually craft such brilliant stories for me to escape into: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Your gifts mean more to people than you realise.
Originally posted on Unusual Fiction Welcomes:
I’m really excited to introduce our next author to Women in Horror Month 2018 at Unusual Fiction. Joanne Van Leerdam is a poet, writer in many genres and of course horror lover. ? In addition to writing poetry and short stories, Joanne is a teacher of English, History and…
This is my third author interview in fairly quick succession, but the questions have all been so different that I couldn’t even recycle any! This one focuses on my work as a writer of horror where the others were more general.
I’m really excited to introduce our next author to Women in Horror Month 2018 at Unusual Fiction. Joanne Van Leerdam is a poet, writer in many genres and of course horror lover.
In addition to writing poetry and short stories, Joanne is a teacher of English, History and Drama/Production. She is an active member and performer in her local theatre company.
Her hobbies include reading, music, travel and photography.
Joanne loves travelling, and has visited many places in Australia as well as holidaying in New Zealand, Fiji, the USA and Canada at different times.
Question 1. What drew you to horror as a genre?
I’ve always loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I also loved The Addams Family and The Munsters on TV as a kid – although they’re lighthearted, that macabre sense of humour of mine just adored them.
Question 2. What horror writers do you read?
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I’m going to do you a favour and introduce you to ten women authors who write great horror.
Horror as a genre is as varied as any other. While everyone raves about Stephen King and Ann Rice – and there’s no doubt, they are what horror writers would aspire to become – it doesn’t mean that anyone who writes differently, or in a less mainstream sub-genre, isn’t worth reading.
Over the past year or so, I’ve read some fabulous horror books and stories by women who were new to me at the time, but they have quickly become some of my favourites.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them before – I’m going to do you a favour and introduce them here. All you need to do to find their books is click on the author’s name.
Jane Jago is a multi-genre author whose novel ‘Who Put Her In?’ has a delicious, slow build and some finely crafted moments of horror. If you’re new to reading horror and unsure of how intense you want it to be, this book would be a great starting point.
D.J. Doyle writes horror stories that are often based in Celtic legend and religion.
Where to start: The Celtic Curse: Banshee
A. Drew is the author of The Dowling House, a story of haunting and possession.
Nikki Landis writes both paranormal romance and horror. There’s even a little horror in her paranormal romance books, so it’s a win-win if you like both genres.
Where to start: Reaper’s Folly
Where to start: Beating Hearts