Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Day before NaNoWriMo: Last Words and Plans

Tomorrow is the beginning of the end [of my social life for at least a month]. November will be here and NaNo will be unforgiving. I admit that I have been an intensely bad boy for not doing necessary prep work. I know [vaguely] where my story will go. I've got me a beginning and I've got me an end, but the In-between is very hazy.

I know my cast on codename basis, which is a bit bad. I know of their pasts, but I have yet to flesh out their parents with their super powers, names, codenames and appearances. Thankfully, this is an introduction into the world and the characters, so I don't need to stuff that much into this one novel.

I also have a title:

'V is for Voltage'

Voltage is the codename of the most corrupt villains of the Syndicate. The one who was a villain before seeking vendetta in the first place. The idea is that unlike the Enforcers, who go around calling each other with their full codenames, the Syndicate will use the letters of theirs. Like a weird mix between 'Reservoir Dogs' and 'V is for Vendetta'.

Anyway, my deal schedule would be:

Monday: 3,000
Tuesday: 1,000
Wednesday: 1,000
Thursday: 1,000
Friday: 3,000
Saturday: 3,000
Sunday: 3,000

That makes a total [ideal] wordcount of 60,000 words, which gives me an opportunity to screw up with 10,000 words. I'm a lazy bastard, so it's essential that I aim high in order to at least cover the minimum.

PS: You can find me on NaNo by the handle of Harry Markov

Thursday, October 28, 2010

#NaNoWriMo novel Idea: The Synopsis

I might have mentioned my ill-planed decision to dive into this year's NaNoWriMo, just because... I am insane [considering that I harbor serious plans to maintain a steady pace at revision]. But the decision has been made, I have promised that I will devote time to a lot of shorter projects, but November has a siren call I cannot resist. It will be a rush.

I've mentioned that I'm attempting to write a super hero type of story, but you know not with the tights, the spandex, the colorful get-up. It will be futuristic and the focus will be on the deconstruction of superheros and the ambiguous morality. For comic book fans, who speak Marvel: The Ultimate Avengers as mood, themes and characterization, but in a futuristic setting and superpowers not being a rare thing. I don't think my concept fits in the superhero niche, but a lot of the elements stay: the need for codenames, secrecy, costumes [although not as flamboyant] and major showdowns.

Here's the synopsis for the very first novel in the SYNDICATE series [no idea for a title apart from the obvious: Genesis or Coalition, though I'm not feeling those much]:

Life for a life

Such is the law a thousand years into the future. It's also a hard law to maintain, when roughly half the population has genetic mutations. Enter the Enforcers: Black Ops of mutants trained to maintain peace, agents of justice, rock stars for the public.

However, when the masks are off and the criminals caught, the Enforces are people. People who have children and make horrifying mistakes as parents.

Life for a life

Such is the law in the future. But what is the punishment for the Enforcers, when their offspring joins the crime fighting scene looking for personal vendetta?

YES, it's clunky and it sounds a bit ridiculous in the Daddy-Issues category, but believe me when I say that the Enforcers screw up big time. Big enough for their children to become super villains.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Things I learned about Writing from my First Draft

At first draft, I'd have to say being chaotic is my method

After now having read my first draft from first page to last page, I've learned a lot more about me as a writer and about writing in general. I have to admit that it's surprising for me to actually like what I see on the page, because by rule of thumb I end up hating all my early efforts. Since "Crimson Cacophony" is actually a rewrite of an earlier novel, so I guess it makes a lot more sense to actually like it now that I have it refined. Still there is much to be learned from the book as it is.

1) Following scenes isn't the best way to mark chapters. My first chapter's 10 000 words long, which in a 90 000 long novel is, say, 1/9th. Makes you wonder how that happened in particular. Well, I wanted to have a little LOST moment with a parallel of the present along with the past and things got a bit out of hand. So, chapters are logical breaks in the story, but also need to let the reader breahe. That first chapter now is nine chapters long and the flow is better now.

2) I use characters as tools, but do not involve them much as people. Apart from the MC I have no clue how to use the others or if I do I just noted it and skimmed through their scenes to keep it going. I seem to have no idea how to better develop Matthew, the dude that spends 90% of novel time with my MC... YES, that will be troublesome...

3) After I hit 60% of the novel I become impatient and dash madly to the end. In short, I underwrite as hell. The beginning has been worked to perfection. The middle is so-so as I usually get stuck there, but after the middle as a milestone I lose it and sketch out the oh-so vital final chapters.

4) Writing a chapter and then editing it will NEVER ever work, because I usually get the story at the point where I also lose patience with writing the novel. I understand how all the pieces work together into one wonderful mush only after I'm near the resolution. It's a good lesson, since I entertained the idea to write and edit simultaneously not only once and I gather I need to drop that one.

5) First drafts are for sucking. Period. It's liberating to chant that and accept it. I wanted to edit as I wrote, because the MC internalizes in a very uptight and highbrow manner. It's a very hard to maintain voice, but as long as I know what I want, revisions shouldn't be much of an issue.

So these are my discoveries. What are yours?

Monday, October 25, 2010

YES, I am Revising AND doing NaNoWriMo

At the moment I'm doing the insane, reading in preparations to revise my novel "Crimson Cacophony" and decided that, why not, I can do NaNoWriMo at the same time... So, so intelligent of me. But my mind has been made on it. Wish me luck as I battle it out on two more fronts.

The project I will be undertaking will be a dark and twisted superhero novel with several points of view, which is something new for me. I had always juggled with one or two MCs in my novels. This time around I will be juggling four. Needless to say, this will be the first in a series. Because I think it's the least research-needy book from the list of projects I've compiled. So I will most certainly enjoy writing it. I hope so.

Await November to be a NaNoWriMo themed month.

Friday, October 22, 2010

#FridayFlash The Brain is the Brawn is the Brain

The Brain is the Brawn is the Brain
By Harry Markov

To say Pete Homes thought his life unsatisfactory would be correct, it would probably also be considered an understatement well deserving of an award. Pete would agree and then he would most certainly present you with a 84 page-long thesis to illustrate why that is. You see, Pete thought and he did it a lot.

Pete thought all the time, even when he touched himself at night [during those times he'd theorize as to why there was no one to do it for him]. It goes without saying that Pete's 'friends' mocked him. They would call him The Thinker, which Pete thought was better than the classic Lard-Ass.

"Hey Thinker, did you find out why we exist?"


"Thinker, tell me now, why did the chicken cross the road?"

Then most naturally they would commence laughing.

Pete, the 'Thinker', Homes understood how the world worked - for he'd thought about it a lot - and his conclusion: money did not rule the world, muscles did. He'd analyzed every possibility with or without muscles and deduced that if he had muscles - big, sculpted beauties -, then he'd be happy.

Nobody messed with people, who had muscles. If he had muscles, Peter thought, then he'd be the alpha male, while the others would remain inferior gammas. Women would swoon over him, driven by their prehistoric instinct to seek protection and copulation with a suitable male. It was all obvious to the Thinker. Simple, if one thought about it.

And Pete did, because Pete thought a lot. All the time, a stream of thoughts as long as the Nile, as consuming as a flood and as pummeling as the waters of the Niagara Falls. Among overthinking everything that crossed his line of sight, Pete indulged a lot of his brain cells in his personal project called Portrait of Misery, in which he thought about his shortcomings as a human being, all resulting from the unfortunate circumstance that was his Jabba-the-Hut physique.

Now, Pete had attempted to adopt muscles. He had tried going to the gym, but he found he did not like it there. The smell of feet, pits and crotches, his unsurprising non-existent tolerance for pain and residual sweat on the equipment re-routed his energy to chewing. Because Pete - the sad, sad cliché that he was - entertained an emotion-based eating disorder.

If Pete was a movie character, he'd be the fat, miserable nerd, ranked lower than the homo BFF. Just background... no, the background to that background.

To say that Pete was fed up would be correct. However, there was another entity, which was just as disgruntled. That entity was Pete Homes’ brain, which unsurprisingly called itself Spock.

Spock had had enough [fuck this shit, in his words] and decided to give Pete what he wanted and shut him up once and for all. Being in control of Pete’s medical-mystery-of-a-body, Spock diverged Pete’s thinking energy into his muscles.

BEHOLD, Pete Homes lost weight.

Pete was dumbfounded as to this peculiar phenomenon... His mind was thoughtless in the face of this conundrum. For one Spock could use some silence.

The pounds fell from Pete like leaves in a picturesque autumn scene. ‘Friends’ became ‘friends’, who were interested in the miraculous weight loss. Pete, however, didn’t get the hint to stop with the thinking and soon after all the fat, body odor and greasy skin had been exorcised, muscles began to form on his current wire-hanger, boyish frame.

It was around the time, when Pete had a swimmer’s body, when a woman decided to touch him down below, decided she liked it and then did a lot more. Pete Homes, voted most likely to die alone in high school, had a sex life and a brand new frontier of thought for his cognitive gymnastics. He’d never been happy and he thought how he’d been correct about the singular significance of muscles as a prerequisite for satisfaction, how much better his life was and how it would be better with more muscles.

Who would have thought that Pete Homes would win Mr. Olympia? Then again how could he not with bowling balls for biceps, baseballs for triceps, barrels for pectorals and a buffalo’s romp.

All the while Pete grew and grew, thinking how much more he would win. Subsequently, he did learn after growing some more.

When his pectorals rose so high that he couldn’t see beyond them, the doctors came. Pete had graduated to being a medical mystery again, no longer invisible to the world, but the world invisible to him. Around that time Spock reconsidered his plan as a bad idea in the first place, but what had started could not be reversed for Pete thought more than ever, quick bursts of frightened and erratic thoughts, which fed his muscles.

The last Pete heard was that he had grown so large that he had developed a gravitational field stronger than that of the Earth. Then silence.

Pete wondered whether he would orbit around the sun as a planet. Spock groaned.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Notes to Myself for When I start a First Draft

It's basically how I keep my journal, but without pictures. Picture is by Eilyn.

I'm currently revising my novel "Crimson Cacophony" [the closest I've come to editing anything longer than 10, 000 words] and I think that if I was a stranger and tried to read the manuscript for the first time, I'd shoot myself with a hunting riffle à la Supernatural. It is a complete mess of a thing and I do mean the actual manuscript, the thing that you read.

Here are the two most important things I'd not to myself and give to you as advice.

1) If you plan on keeping your world-building [especially if that world-building involves, say, a magic system based on the theory that matter vibrates and that it's the frequencies of objects that cause change in the physical world] non-electronically, make sure you use one and the same notebook, journal or whatever for the notes. In my universe, I've gone as far to create a complicated regional and hierarchical society based on talent, skill and the nature of the magic in a person. Magic is way more complicated than that. I involve a bit of linguistics in all of that AND I have no clue where half the stuff I noted down in, so keep all the eggs in one basket. Just this once.

2) If you plan to write the first draft on paper [in my case both my eyes need rest and the story usually flows better, when I write my first drafts by hand, otherwise I keep spotting mistakes in the draft], then make sure you write so that in the end, you can read. Tiniest of the littlest of the beadiest of letters [all swirled into an abbreviation of a word] DO NOT speed up the reading process. Also avoid abbreviations that you are not absolutely sure will make sense to you and never EVER, ever write with light blue pen. If you want to go blind, yes, sure why not, but don't do that to your vision or you will need telescope lenses for your glasses.

Tomorrow I'll blog about what lessons I have learned about writing from reading my first draft and those will be more content related.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things I learned from Rejection

I have talked about rejection about how they could be used as constructive tools, but to be honest they make you feel like that picture. It's like being shot in the ass, which is not at all pleasant. In that last post I list what rejections do apart from triggering self-doubt and reopen old wounds:

~ weed out all those that are unfit for the industry from lazy writers to pseudo writers
~ harden your skin [totally applicable in daily encounters]
~ teach discipline and determination
~ is another reason to get back on your ass and write

I received a new rejection letter yesterday and it thought me a few new things.

~ No matter how tough you are, the writer is an emotional individual, who suffers from ups and downs, and the rejection is a natural down. It's one of those bad moments that sour your mood. Even if it doesn't elicit tears, the rejection sends the message 'you are not there, yet' and nobody wants to hear that. After all, we are all special snowflakes.

~ Rejections are impersonal. I think that is the hardest aspect of a rejection to fully realize. Our work is personal to us. Our work is impersonal to us. Trying to view our own work as impersonal on business level is a survival skill to numb the sting.

~ Writing after getting a rejection is a bit of a nightmare, because the doubt sharpens the blade of our inner critic. I mistrust what I write and edit it until it's a hapless cock-up, until the text loses its original voice, meaning and vitality. The rejection came, while I was revising and the effect was immediate. Do I need to add tags here? Does this make sense? Is that expression too much? Do I need to add more explanation? Thankfully, I decided to trust my story and give it to my alpha reader, who thought that overall it was a strong piece.

Subsequently, I was also reminded that writing is subjective and that rejection makes it a bit harder to judge for yourself [not that was any easier in the first place]. Always have someone to help you stabilize.

That's from me. What has rejection taught you?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Things I Learned from Editing

A thing I learned from editing my short story 'Hurricane Drunk' is that I, as a writer, have to pay attention to the consistency of worldbuilding and that even that the smallest of details that rings false can snap a reader from reading whatever suspension of disbelief you have created. My long travels around the interwebs have proved the existence of such readers and now I'm reminded after stumbling on a conundrum in my own writing.

In 'Hurricane Drunk' my main character Tatyana converses with a sentient hurricane via the widely spread Morse Code. Now, in the original text I actually give the combination of dots and dashes that represent the word 'why' in Morse Code, but that is the English word in the original, English Morse Code. For those aware that Tatyana is in fact a Ukrainian/Russian name and that the witch in the hut with four chicken legs is Baba Yaga then they'd think that I tell a story set in Russia with Russian speaking characters, which is in fact what I'm doing.

It would make no sense to use then the English 'why' and translate it with the English Morse Code as that would be clashing with the consistency of the rules I established, even if I had not made them obvious. There would be always someone to spot it out [during submissions or eventually after publication], so I thought that it would be better to go with the Russian 'why' [почему for those interested] and then go with the Russian Morse Code. BUT then I'd have people wondering why so many dots and dashes one needs for a simple 'why'.

At this point I have to say I realized that this is a minor detail with little significance to the story as a whole, so I got that out of the scene. This is the second thing that I learned from editing my short story, learn when a detail is of importance to the story or not. In this case, I did not think it was important enough to follow it up.

Friday, October 15, 2010

[Friday Flash] Worst Origin Story Ever

NOTE: I'm back on the #FridayFlash scene. It's been a long time since I've had the time to get a flash done [on time that is] in-between projects, so here is a slightly humorous super hero tale to entertain you.

Worst Origin Story Ever
by Harry Markov

‘Crack!’ was the only sound that accompanied the door’s sudden transformation from cheap pine to splinters. At this point Amelia didn’t bother with buying a sturdier front door, opting for a heavy stock of identical spares.

Why would she, when every month paramilitary troops would rush into her living room, as was the case at the moment. Four armed soldiers stormed her apartment, spreading into a half- circle before stopping. After a quick glance at the clock (three minutes into the new Monday) Amelia concluded that they were right on time.

“Are you here for the kidnapping?” she asked the unit leader. Thirty-four abductions taught a person a lot about the chain of command in illegal organizations.


“Well good. Shall we go on, then? I’ve packed some light reading and a midnight snack, just in case it’s necessary.”

“You serious?”

“No. I am joking,” truth was that constant abduction was a drag (not to mention how it spoiled all her weekend plans) and she wanted to shake things up.

The unit commander didn’t respond, not that it was of great import. Amelia’s reputation as America’s Most Abducted Woman prohibited her from consorting with the underlings (it was only appropriate).

Amelia was a good captive. Followed the armed men into the black van. Didn’t try any of the ‘funny stuff’ she was instructed against. Didn’t object to the unreasonably fastened cuffs. Nor did she correct them after incompetently tying the blindfold. It had taken a while (and a few bruises to her cheekbones) before she had learned the abductee’s proper etiquette. But she supposed it was all well worth it for then the gypsy witch that had cursed her would never see Amelia powerless, even if the witch had the upper hand.

During these nights, it was hard not to think of the curse: a sorry mad-lib-like thing played in an eternal loop:

“In the dead of night, in the days of sorrow (Mondays; nothing worse than the begging of the week, even if she liked her job) you will be taken by (insert criminal organization). You will suffer indignations and humiliations. Then you shall be saved by (insert law enforcer; usually with a five o’clock shadow) only to fall in love and then reap bitter rewards.”

Rather lengthy and specific. Unnecessary effort, considering Amelia only sacked two hundred people. Hostile takeovers didn’t happen without casualties and the gypsies had to go. It was part of the job description. Why couldn’t they deal with it? She had.

Amelia tried not to dwell too much on the unjust past. Instead she revised the reports and the data for the meeting on Wednesday. The upcoming deal would decide whether Amelia was junior partner material or not. In the mean time, the van had stopped and the henchmen lead her (still blindfolded) into a place with great acoustics. Outside she heard water. The air was heavy with fish and salt.

The henchmen seated her and the cold of the metal ran a chill down her back. Something was off. Amelia had done this enough to feel how this particular stillness held back something of importance, how aggressive the bite of the cold was, how no one made demands or bothered to laugh. All things that before had not happened. Perhaps they were a criminal organization of mimes. Maybe that’s why they did not talk.

Then Amelia’s ears picked up multiple clicks as if pins had fallen on the floor, but she knew better than to hope for a clumsy seamstress with lots and lots of pins to drop.

“Enjoying the twist?”

It wasn’t until Amelia heard that sandpaper-rough voice that she realized she’d been holding her breath. Fear had crept back so fast, Amelia gritted her teeth. If there was one thing Amelia loathed more than hearing about synergy, it was feeling afraid.

“You are no Shyamalan.” Amelia said, although uncertain to whom.

“You are mean-spirited.”

The blindfold slid off by its own volition. One mean, anorexic octogenarian floated above a bouquet of extended arms and barrels. She smoked from a cigarette holder. Smoke coiled, all white, as her hair, as her robes, as her eyes, swallowed in milky white.

“Who are you?”

“I am nameless.” She spun the smoke from her mouth into her bony fingers. “You left my people hungry.”

“You cursed me.”

“You begged to be cursed. Don’t worry. You will atone. I see that my child’s curse couldn’t beget change in your heart.” The movements of her fingers sped and the smoke thickened to white fabric.

“You don’t fear for your life. You don’t fear to be alone. You live, but you’re very much dead inside. I do wonder, however, if you would not live for others.”

The octogenarian finished and tossed a tacky Madonna-inspired leotard in Amelia’s lap. Then she reached inside her sleeves and tossed a cheerleader baton on top.

“Dressed as a stripper?” To Amelia that didn’t make sense.

“You are quick to smear everything with the dirt of your words. You will learn otherwise. The wand is your weapon. Will it and it shall be.”

“What do I need a weapon for?”

If Amelia thought the octogenarian gypsy a nutjob, suspended with cables, now she feared (as much as she hated admitting it) her to be the real deal.

“For them, superhero.” Yes, the witch said superhero...

Then the gypsy pointed below at the loaded guns.

“A word of advice. The wand will only work, when you are dressed.”

And with that the godly octogenarian dissolved, time rushed back, trigger fingers squeezed in for the head shot and for the first time, Amelia had to defend herself.

Such shame that she had to do it dressed in a leotard. Not to mention that she had the worst origin story ever.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Angela Slatter on The Happily Never

I thought of writing something writing related, but honestly, this Angela Slatter blew me away with this very in-depth piece [it's a thesis after all] on The Chosen Girl in the fairy tale tradition. It's all very fitting considering the fairy tale wave I'm riding. Here is Angela's introduction:

The Chosen Girl
At the end of the fairytale, at the happily-ever-after end, there is invariably one girl left standing. She has come through a variety of trials set for her by fate and has triumphed by winning the heart of the prince. More often than not, she has won the competition to be chosen. She will generally have been one of a pair : a pair of sisters (full or step), the mother-daughter pair (again, full or step), aunt-niece, childhood friends, etcetera. Inevitably, there is a future up for grabs and, if we take the wisdom of Highlander to heart, in the end there can be only one. So, who is – what is – the ‘chosen girl’ and how does one become her?

For the whole piece: HERE

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jane Candia Coleman on Writing and Music [via Booklife]

Yesterday I spoke about my experiences with basing prose on songs. Today, while finally daring to crack open my Google Reader after two weeks of neglect, I discovered a short piece on Booklife. The author, Jane Candia Coleman, draws parallels between music and writing as medium and she comes to some interesting conclusions. I have quoted one here:

Third. Timing. In any extended musical composition timing is critical. There is a time to be serious, a time for fun, a time for crescendo, and an understanding of how to approach and do closure. By which I mean how everything is wrapped up, themes, plot, character, mathematics, as in Bach, who did it so perfectly, and in writing where we must all do the same thing and leave not only an echo of what might have been but a sense of satisfaction that everything is wrapped up right and tight.

No one can argue against this. At least in my opinion.

To read the whole article click [HERE]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Basing Prose on Songs, My Observations

As you know, I've been writing short stories based on songs and since I've already written a few posts on character development and their creative history, I decided to write a post on basing prose on music and lyrics. I've only written three pieces [well four, if I include the one, which became a blueprint for a brand new world] in between longer projects, which is far from qualifying me as an expert, but I've made some interesting observations. I'd like to share them and see, if you agree with me.

It's obvious, but the actual music [instruments, sound, composition] sets the mood and hints towards the genre and possibly the type of story that will be told. A lot of my writer friends use soundtracks [without lyrics] to help with their stories. Sad strings for intense emotions such as heartbreak, death, abandonment. Horns and big orchestra pieces for epic scenes and electric guitars for hard-core, gritty action.

Music is potent when it comes to the fine tuning of the heart and then conveying emotions on paper. It acts like a lens, a natural amplifier. What a writer should do is trust the music to find the right direction for how to adapt a song into a story. The lyrics are guidelines and not law. Ultimately, the sound should decide whether you'll write a joyful tale or one filled with sorrow. Words lie, sounds never do. For instance, I tried to fit 'Hurricane Drunk' [my crazy Dororthy/Baba Yaga mash-up] into a story about betrayal and a love triangle during a ball. On its own, this is not a bad idea [for the record, it was a supernatural ball], but in the context of the composition it didn't work. Why? Because the song is rather primal in its self-expression, while the ball is rather restraint.

Another observation that I've made is that a writer should choose a song that tells a story. It may seem easy, but it's actually very rare these days [unless you listen to country music or gothic], because current mainstream music worships choruses played on a constant loop for about 70% of the actual single. What is even worse is that the chorus itself is the repetition of one word or a short phrase. In this regard, I'm lucky, because I've chosen 'Florence + the Machine', whose album can be viewed as an anthology. For instance, 'Drumming' is about love so passionate that whatever the lyrical heroine tries is futile and she does try. 'Howl' is about love transforms its recipient into a primal monster. Definitely story material.

Music in My Soul by Qinni [I needed something fantasy related]

One final observation. Lyrics are not the plot. Following a song verse by verse a story does not make. It's limiting. What may work for the purposes of the song will most likely be of no use when dealing with prose. I think that art is born, when you take something that works best for your needs and then modify it to suit your taste and satisfy your desire. Anything great is born, because people wanted something that they like, but that hasn't been done yet. At least such is my logic about making art your own. Otherwise, we'd all be stagnant.

Anyway, the things I experienced from basing short stories on songs is that the obvious isn't always the best route to get the job done. It's not easy as you might and there are subtleties once you get your hands dirty as they say.

So tell me, have you based your work on short stories? If yes, what has your experience been? Do you agree or disagree? If no, are you willing to try?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

[Sunday Funnies] Zombie Octopus, Office Wars, Panda is an Asshole

I have not done anything remotely productive [okay, I will be lying if I say that I didn't, but the theme was fun, fun, fun today], so I decided to treat you to a funny picture and videos. Spreading the cheer and what not. First stop is Zombie Octopus:

Then we have the pretty intense Office Wars, which is the result of working in a cubical for the majority of your life. The reason why so many people 'die' is hilarious:

Last, but not least, I have a very interesting commercial, which uses fear and douchebaggery as leading marketing tools. Also, it seems that pandas ARE assholes. See for yourself:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

[Character Development] Baba Yaga/Wicked Witch of the East

While I've completed "Hurricane Drunk", the darkest and moodiest piece I've ever written, I am still in the throws of creative passion [after edits are due now that the computer is back online]. This is why I'll post the creative history of my witch, the main antagonist and evil beyond salvation, though to be honest she does display affection in the cruelest and sickest of way so as to not give the readers a cardboard representation of EVIL.

In the seed that spawned "Hurricane Drunk" in its dark, gruesome glory, there was no other character. My 'Dorothy' was alone and stuck in a house, which was forever trapped in the arms of a magic hurricane. Eh, so at random I decided to insert random images in the house to see what may happen [I was bored, in class and that story was not even a priority]. What I initially inserted was a witch like this:

"Riding High" by Gil Elvgren

NOT exactly as sexually charged, but I wanted a beautiful witch, who could seduce and at the same time appear wholesome [kinda like the Girl Next Door of Witchcraft]. Of course, I imagined the witch seduce a man in front of my Dorothy. For the witch, the man is nothing more than spell ingredients and the other white meat, to young Ukrainian-Dorothy it's one of her first associations with the word family.

Cannibalism came later. The witch, at that particular moment, seemed good. She lived a life that spelled mystery, but still I could give her motivation or something worth writing about. I do not write good people, so I resorted to creating an evil witch.

Since I had created a version of Dorothy, I felt that I could borrow a bit more and write an incarnation of the Wicked Witch of the East, because of those ruby red slippers. I only took the slippers and did not bother much with the actual character, for I had no idea what role in the Oz universe she played and how I could twist it [which is why I don't have an image of her] in my favor. So, I had an evil witch. This is better, because now she'd have to keep all her horrifying doings secret. Fertile for tension, but still nothing in mind. How did Dorothy get to the witch, etc, etc.

Parallel this brewing process, I was inspired by Theresa Bazelli's work on her novella, Two Sisters, which is currently serialized at Serial Central. She decided to go obscure and used myths and legends from Slavic folklore [my folklore], which made me look at my stories [all oozing Ancient Greek vibes] and crave to involve a Slavic figure in my stories.

Wham, the two ideas merged and my sexy witch, semi-involved Wicked Witch of the East morphed along with Baba Yaga the most notorious witch in my folklore. Like witches from old stories like Hansel and Gretel, Baba Yaga enjoys kidnapping children and doom pretty much everyone else:

"Baba Yaga" by Markus The Barbarian

But I am sure there is a story behind this one:

"Baba Yaga" by Waldemar-Kazak

Subsequently, Dorothy's cottage became Baba Yaga's Hut with big chicken legs, while the story became a coming-of-age discovery of evil and accepting the wickedness inside.

"Baba Yaga's Hut" by Yoitisl

Friday, October 8, 2010

Electrical Fires, Secret Mission and Why I Wasted a Whole Week

Blue Screen of Death by IMustBeDead

It is a most disconcerting thing to see white smoke rise from your PC... It is what happened to me Saturday morning, while watching ANTM. The picture sparked on and off, did a very erratic dance, the machine choked, something inside sizzled and white smoke curled from the hull. I'm far from being a techie, but I'm addicted to using my PC. Hearing its hum in the background is always reassuring and it was a silent horror, when I thought that my machine may very well combust in a Michael Bay sequence...

Thankfully, I had plenty in my personal life to keep me occupied. The stars had aligned in such a manner that I had my cell cut off, my computer shut down and my MP3 Player with no battery [as it charges through the PC] and I felt like I was stuck back in the early 90s. A TV being my only solace, which I have to say is far from satisfactory. I discovered reality TV to be even worse than I have left it: VH1 Tough Love comes to mind. It simply numbed my brain.

WHY did I inflict this upon myself you may ask, instead of doing what normal book junkie types would do? I will tell you. Crap happened [life changing chain of events that left me in the center of it all] and the women in my life certainly befuddled me in the communication department. I'm convinced that the couple [man and woman], who write the first female-to-male and male-to-female dictionaries will win a Nobel prize. Maybe even two.

Anyway, the gist of it: I'm functioning as a sort-of head of the family, while the current head is away on a secret mission to fight the Recession. The head has a superhero outfit and all the gizmos. My mission is to secure the secret layer.

PC: My PC was so filled with dust that the dust ignited and burned a few cables... But it was fixed, so phew.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dorothy of Oz

While I am still enjoying the passionate throws of writing my possibly darkest short story yet and not pulling punches I decided to show you what my Ukrainian version of Dorothy came to be with some images I have found on the web. At first I wanted to write something with a sexy Dorothy in the style of J. Scott Campbell [did not feature this because it is group illustration], who has done some very sexually charged images for Zenescope comics. I work very well with striking visuals and Dorothy as a Vixen came to me as striking. Something like this:

BUT then I realized that apart from being a sexual object, that Dorothy had no story to tell and I did want something dark [like my own Red Riding Hood with a chainsaw] so somehow that morphed into a hard-core Dorothy much like this:

Art by Kennon9

There is a story behind that image, no? I have to say that I thought of making her a bit like Storm from X-Men, but that seemed obvious. EVENTUALLY I wanted Dorothy to be strong, but not physically. Physical strength and force does not make a character strong. I have advocated that over and over [the standard Urban Fantasy heroine has me rabies-ridden], so it did not make sense to make my Dorothy a bred warrior. My Dorothy is a captive. She is in the position of a victim, of which she gradually becomes aware and does her best to liberate herself. She is an innocent, forced into doing some horrible things simply because of her situation. Pretty much like this:

Art by Emilia Paw

This picture carries a very American McGee's Alice in Wonderland vibe. It is dark. Dorothy is shown as the victor of a battle, yet she is vulnerable. You wonder what made this girl kill and you sense that the story will be uncomfortable and saddening.