Saturday, October 22, 2011

[October 22nd] Radio Silence

This is me at the moment.

I'm going to recharge the batteries and be offline for about a week. This week has been emotionally draining and craptastic to have me quit subscription to Reality. I want to pull my shit together and it's not going to happen, if I hang on the Internet as much as I do. There will be a lot less posting as well as no Twitter come Monday. I need it as I want to meet my deadlines.

I need to submit my review of The Walking Dead pilot and although I know exactly what I want to say, it's not going to write itself. Then I have a piece for Beyond Victoriana to write, which needs a lot of work done on as well, since the subject matter is hard and I allowed time to slip by again.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

[October 20th ] Phantasm Fornication and Peroxide Buns

Totally unrelated image. It's called "So That's Why They're So Fuzzy".

It’s been long overdue. I have been considering talking about process porn, because I love the process behind each individual work. The origins; the roots, no matter how far from the crown of a story, song or vision are add a new layer of meaning to it. Further satisfaction to what you already love.

While I don’t know enough to talk about writing as a craft or have read enough of the right books to discuss movements and impact on the genre community, I know enough of myself and the byzantine railroad tracks laid in my head to talk about creativity and how a story comes together on a connectional level.

Here’s process porn behind the opening story in the Lungs cycle, DOG DAYS ARE OVER.

DOG DAYS ARE OVER: This story is already written in a second draft, though there will be a third edit to add barbwire to an already sharpened edge. What I love about DOG DAYS is that I had no fucking idea what to do with it. At the time Lungs came out as an album, I had a lesser connection with this song and I initially had the intention to write a standard secondary world fantasy story about were-creatures.

Because I didn’t know what to do with it, I dropped the story down as possibly the last to start from the cycle. Time passed and as COSMIC LOVE failed to impress editors [it still does], Lavie Tidhar criticized that I wrote about America [COSMIC LOVE took place in the US as you got] and that I should be writing about Bulgaria instead. This is the one advice that still burrows in my head to be honest and one that I am taking very seriously as pretty much of my identity is formed by the scars I’ve received in this country. Scars from my nationality and the reality caused by my nationality.

I thought about doing a Bulgarian take on Fables at the time. The idea is still here in my mind, stored in a bright backburner, but this was not to be the fate of DOG DAYS ARE OVER. No, what I have in this story is not Slavic fairy folk. Rather a ‘bun’* who sleeps with the ghosts of Bulgarian men through the ages, only to feed upon them upon their climax. That’s the concept and the world I would tread in.**

I followed that image to its natural conclusion and DOG DAYS ARE OVER turned out to be my first speculative erotica piece that justifies the sex as a tool to tell the story and reveal the character, Nikoleta. I thought I reached a new level and yes, I guess I did, but at the end of the road, I knew I missed something.

Months passed and I saw a show running on my TV. Produced and starring people, who came from abroad to live in Bulgaria, it was called LOST IN BULGARIA and two lines from just a single episode resonated: “The American dream is to make it big and live well. The Bulgarian dream is to leave Bulgaria”.

Nikoleta ran. She always ran and I knew that she was right for herself in all the decisions she made in regards of her body and the things she did to herself and other people were not a form of self-punishment. No, sex was a tool and I knew that this ‘Bulgarian dream’ was the goal. This is why I want to go through a third edit, because these are the bits that translate the story into a squid of emotions that chokes on your mind, rather than a series of images.

How? Well you have to read the story to find out.

PS: Do share your stories. Also, do you like this? Do you want me to continue?

*- ‘Bun’ is the Bulgarian slang word for ‘bimbo’. These girls are the Bulgarian fashionistas, the source of inspiration of too many a dumb blond jokes and also overlap with the sluts. The Bulgarian ‘bun’ [the actual pastry] usually has a sweet cream feeling [much like an elongated donut, but not as fluffy] and we usually call say that ‘bimbo-buns’ are ‘buns with no filling’. The ‘bimbo-bun’ is characterized by their duck smiles and have such fake hair that I call them The Peroxides. I’m sure you want to see what they look like.

Here’s Brunette Bun [they come in brunette, blond, ginger, black and multi-streaked *gasp*]:

**- I’m sure that there is something metaphorical there, which implies that I hate my country. This is a misconception. I don’t hate or loathe my country. I simply hate the vast majority of people living in it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

[October 19th] Time Out, Get Your Scuba Gear On

I have no idea, who the artist is. If you do, tell me, cause this is brilliance.

I'm a bit quiet these days as the week did not start on a positive note for me. Apart from the nasty cold Sunday, the weather turned truly ghastly. There was a storm the likes of which Bulgaria has not even dreamed about. Varna, which is on the coast, nearly drowned. The harbor half-sunk and the streets became canals.

I got all wet on Monday, trying to get to work in this weather, while the nation announced a code orange. Tuesday I found my house deathly cold, leaking and isolated in a small sea with literally no transportation to and fro. You know, other than inflatable rafts. Not kidding. The water level was high enough for inflatable boats and with the streets reduced to interconnecting rapids you could have a free rollercoaster ride. Naturally, I had to work from home, in the cold with fingers ready to snap from the chill.

Thankfully we had food, power, running water and the Internet so there was no crisis situation. Since my house is on a hill we sustained little damage overall, but there is the stress of the whole ordeal that disrupted my blogging routine. I expect to return to it sooner rather than later.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

[October 16th] Editorship, Walking Dead, Books, Short Stories

This post's image is called "Howlls" by artist Greenviggen.

It’s a mild update post with random things that may or may not interest you enough to care or comment, because it’s largely personal rather than opinionated post.

1] Editorship. I’ve concluded my slush reading duties for Bryan Thomas-Schmidt’s anthology Space Battles, but that doesn’t mean that the work is done. I’m considering a heavy campaign to promote the anthology around the Internet, probably month-long as soon as I get to see the cover. I’m thrilled with this project as the writers Bryan has selected are talented and breathe excitement in their work.

In the mean time, I submitted my application for the spot as guest editor for The Future Fire. Submissions are accepted through the whole of October and in short, The Future Fire plans to publish themed issues, which will be edited alongside guest editors. The guest editor has a say in what the theme will be, who the targeted authors will be, the work, the promotion and the funding, which is an excellent learning experience. I will keep my theme a secret, until I can confirm an involvement or not.

2] The Walking Dead premiers its second season in the US today, which means the pilot will be available in Bulgaria the following Monday [unbelievable]. This premiere will activate my duties for Innsmouth Free Press as I’ve agreed to do an episode by episode review. I won’t be comparing the series to the comics, because I stopped following the series a long time ago and as far as I know the series is taking liberties with the source material as it is.

3] I’m progressively growing aware that I don’t develop my interests and maintain my focus on fantasy fiction. While on its own, this is not so bad, I’d prefer not isolate myself in this tiny bubble. The world is wide, books abound. Time to expand my horizons. Right now I’m in the middle of my first memoir called Wild Swans by Jung Chang, then I’m considering buying a few books on marketing and commercials.

4] The months I spend in revisions and edits on Crimson Cacophony [though I’m considering changing that title to Crimson Anatomy, tell me whatcha think] has left me in a bizarre mental state, where I can’t disconnect from the voice or the world or the editing mode. Slowly, I’m acclimatizing to creation rather than improvement. I’ve sat to plot stories for the Lungs story cycle and the sheer diversity that I’m reaching within my mind propels perpetual creativity. It is a very nice place to be in, I admit. However, my creative process on the cycle will have to wait for another post.

So what have you been up to?

Friday, October 14, 2011

[October 14th] I'm The Minion-Assistant

I love the publishing industry. It's only the writing that holds my interesting. I love the books. Their physical manifestation, their layout, their dimensions, their texture, their existence and because of this all encompassing love I like to play in different fields: review books, interview their authors, do some slush and editing and now promote them.

I've had my first marketing position with Apex's The Zombie Feed project, which gave me immense personal satisfaction, but my life didn't permit to stick to it and grow, so now I'm starting slow with small steps as Jaym Gates' personal minion-assistant. I'm not going to be talking about what I will be doing with and for her on my blog or on the web, other than the cryptic "secret project/assignment" tweets and mentions. It's neither my place to do so, nor do I believe it to be professional behaviour. However, I'm quite excited to be allowed to enter this side of the publishing industry.

Thank you, Jaym.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

[October 13th] Debut on The World SF Blog

As you may have noticed on Twitter, links about a rather exciting horror duo S.L. Grey surfaced on the web [many thanks to @pornokitsch for the additional support and appreciation]. I've been on a very long on-and-off relationship with reviewing literature; starting and stopping, running my own site and then contributing. I do feel as if there are some conflicts of interest, considering that I want to become an author myself and will possibly find myself with the people I review, but at the same time I can't not discuss books, even if I'm not as vocal as some individuals.

A manifestation of my obsession [or masochism, as I really don't have the time for this, but I am doing it; because!] will be my semi-regular appearances on The World SF Blog. I really have to thank Lavie Tidhar for the gig.** I've never kept my involvement a secret per se, but I've never made an official statement either, which I do like to make from time to time.*

My debut involves S.L. Grey, who penned together the irresistible The Mall, which is a staple of modern horror, ill-versed as I am in these matters. You can find my review here and I've also had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg, who shot back the answers in less time I took to writing and sending them. Extremely polite and professional people.

* I do have a flare for drama
** You guessed it, Lavie, 'thank you'.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

[October 12th] Seventh Round of Edits Completed

I love the art of Lora 8. Something very special in that girl.

As I have told Twitter yesterday and today in the morning, I completed the seventh round of edits on Crimson Cacophony. This one matters, because I sat through the project without interruptions [read saying 'screw it' and start something else] and although with a one month delay [and a bit on top] I finished major edits. The ones that affirm my vision about the novel. I make my decisions and stick to them without throwing my story in disarray.

Crimson Cacophony is the first book I've ever conceived, so it's a corner stone for me as a writer to have it completed and sent to beta readers. I could have always scrapped it and returned to one of my other projects, but then I'd always feel as if I haven't been serious as a writer. I'd be one of the 'I've kinda written something, but it's not done yet' writers, whose work is, by the by, never ever quite done.

LinkNow that this has been tossed out in the world, I want to return to short fiction and complete my Lungs cycle before moving to revisions of V is for Virus, the futuristic super-villain story I've been brewing in my head.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

[October 11th] What I Listen to When I Write

I haven't talked about music in awhile. It's mainly because I know my tastes don't really match with what people I know listen to. But there has not been anything to get me excited as the following two albums.

Nicola Roberts remains my favorite Girls Aloud* member, mainly because I love gingers, and cause Roberts has been the most underused and underrated band member, while the band pursued the pop commercial vibe. Now, Nicola has set her eyes on a solo career and her début is Cinderella's Eyes:

It's one of strongest pop albums I've listened to through 2011 so far. All the songs, but one, are on a never ending loop on my playlist. Her music is very upbeat and pop on psychedelic synth steroids to augment her pleasantly shrill voice. Roberts offers autobiographical lyrics and believe it or not 'KY' and 'open-open wide' are actually lines from one of her songs. Cinderella's Eyes bubbly and quirky nature serves as a natural energy booster and it's a fresh breath of air on the music scene.

Next comes Tori Amos' Night of Hunters. Tori has been coughing up albums almost every year and although some are instantaneous favourites of mine, she kind of lost me, when she released Abnormally Attracted to Sin to sort of redeem herself with Winter Graces. However, her classical Night of Hunters is stunning:

Paul Jessup has told me multiple times that Tori's best work is when she is alone with the piano and uses simple compositions. This whole album is as acoustic as it can come. It's Tori, her piano and a string quartet on some of the tracks. Further treat is having to listen her 10 year old daughter's voice on some of the tracks, which make the songs all the more haunting. As a concept album, the idea of the world and the story Tori wants to tell is accessible and to base all these songs on already existing classical pieces from the masters, genius. You can't not create to this music.

* To those who have no idea about British pop, Girls Aloud is an all-female pop quintet, which at the moment is in creative hiatus, though I think it will remain a rather permanent one with Nadine's US solo ambitions.

Monday, October 10, 2011

[October 10th] iZOMBIE

As I'm ever time deficient I shall retain the right to publish long and sappy posts at some undisclosed future moment. For the moment I'd like to invite you in the weird world of "iZOMBIE" created by writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred. This a beautiful piece of work, because Roberson works in a fairly simple to understand concept of how all the ghouls and creatures that lurk in the dark are connected by a simple math equation, while at the same time presenting these awfully human non-human characters. This might sound like an attempt to rip off shows such as "Being Human" with a weird round-up of classic monster icons, but it does a unique presentation and enchanting spin on the trope.

Allerd's technique although not one that is eye catching on its own [I'm spoiled when it comes to art] becomes magic when coupled with the story, characters and writing. This is synergy. The art and color palette lift the writing and line it with the perfect retro atmosphere. It just makes it all that much special to me. You should go and totally read it, it's not at all that gross or anything. This comic is not about a zombie, but about a girl, who happens to be a zombie.

Friday, October 7, 2011

[October 7th] On being an Outsider and Geographical Isolation

FantasyCon has me thinking a lot about myself and where I fit within genre and if I fit in at all. It's not my objective to cause drama or add in unnecessary angst, but I continue to consider myself an outsider to the UK genre scene. No matter how close I feel I'm getting thanks to the Internet and the relevant social media channels, this proximity is illusionary.

This thought popped in, when I discussed books with Lavie Tidhar during the weekend. He kept on mentioning names without any hint of recognition from me. I'm not that good of an actor as the best I can do is kinda nod with understanding rather than imitate the spark of remembrance. So, he just flat out asked “What have you been reading?” and it had me thinking. What have I been reading all this time? Since I'm a slow reader, the answer is not much, but even my speed is not the only factor.

I can argue that I'm young. I'm certainly among the youngest genre reviewers and promoters of the genre, if not the youngest, though probably not any more. So certainly the majority of the people have had a great head start and have read more books. I, on the other hand, turned to non-translated English titles five years ago and this only happened, because I functioned as a reviewer, a position, which granted me access to glimpse what has been happening westwards, while my country tried to overcome its communist past [it's failing by the way].

It all boils down to me not being in the UK, because even if I haven't been an avid reader from an early age, I would have been exposed to the full spectrum of the genre. I'd have a subconscious sort of link to the scene's roots. I'd have more chances to discuss relevant titles through the years. Seen or heard about the various awards and ceremonies.* I have none of that, so conversations about the books that come out or are already out there will be challenging. Keeping track of what's coming or has become trendy will continue to be a conscious effort. Name recognition will remain difficult.

I'm not bitter about it. I'm far from considering myself a unique case. I'll just have to fight for the knowledge or you know, move to the UK.

* I only heard about the Man Booker Prize after a year of reviewing.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

[October 6th] FantasyCon Bookhaul

I promised myself that I will stay away from the books, but you can hardly blame me, because the con itself turned out to be the greatest enabler in the room. Right from the start I receive a goody bag filled with books. Although I didn't keep all titles, I walked away with the meaty The Crown of the Blood by Gav Thorpe & Stacia Kane's much celebrated urban fantasy Unholy Ghosts. I'm seeking diversity within the genre, so a swing from military fantasy to modern will be greatly appreciated.

I've also snagged a copy of Wolfsangel by MD Lachlan [who was kind enough to sign my copy], because I seem to be missing out on a lot of the titles published in the UK and everybody who is anybody has read this book [the fact that a lot of the people whose taste I trust have liked it]. And let's go down hill to weird-ville with The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon, which is one of those bizarre horror stories, which work on several level: physical and emotional horror.

Further Solaris titles I'm excited about are Kultus by Richard Ford, whose comic book inspired cover art has won me over immediately. My confession is that cover art highly influences if I'm to consider a book and the majority of the titles in the UK have that factor. I've no real idea what Regicide by Nicholas Royle is about [though it has garnered appreciative gasps from people in the know of things], but the cover's spell has had a hold on me.

I'm extremely proud of my very first Tartarus Press title, Sordough and Other Stories by Angela Slater. I spent a substantial amount on it, but it's bound to be a collector's item in future and has earned the 'run in a burning house to save' book. I'm interested to read Lavie Tidhar's Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God novella, because of how I adored his Cloud Permutations. The moment I read the title Everyone's Just So So Special [a fattened collection] by Robert Shearman I said to Rob, "I gotta have it". Last but not least comes I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like by Justin Isis, which is a Chomu Press title, a press I support wildly though I have not been as vocal as I'd like.

And this is my haul. Not as volumnous as it could have been, but my bank account would have laughed through the cash machine, if I hadn't attempted to administer some self-control.

[October 10th] FantasyCon 2011

I’m reporting what happened in Brighton on a Wednesday, way after it’s appropriate to report a convention, because I decided to spend the Monday in Brighton. The journey home started on Monday in the early afternoon and I changed the following vehicles: train, bus, plane, taxi, bus, taxi for nineteen hours. The good from this situation was that I read The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon, which as you might have heard on Facebook is bloody brilliant and you must read. A special thanks to cheery as hell Gary for signing the book at 3am in the morning and the celestial being, which ensured I did not end up in Botswana [I was so very focused on reading, after all].

First con. First international tripped, planned and executed as a solo mission. A lot could have gone deathly wrong, yet it didn’t. All in all it’s a success. Brighton greeted me with cheeky sunshine, blokes with pasty, naked chests and girls, who genderbendered like chromosomes didn’t matter. The Brighton atmosphere contributed to one of those warm, cozy, baked to a golden crisp moments you can’t decide on if they’ve transpired or if in actuality you’ve gone through one really convincing acid trip. Not that I’d know what an acid trip is like…

First and last panel picture, cause I'm shit as a photographer and I'd rather not blind the panelists as I make a failed effort after another.

The organization behind the con impressed me, which I assumed is the norm for any British event, though I heard that the Nottingham edition impressed no one. Panels ran on time. Busy helpers chased deadlines, tapped suggestively on their clocks when a discussion extended beyond its assigned slot, tended to every con-goer’s needs and maintained one of the strongest happy moods I’ve seen. The panels were informative and while I didn’t learn anything that I’ve not already learned [no, I’m not pretentious; I just don’t have a social life and I’ve read a lot of posts by a lot of people, who are experiencing being published and fighting to stay that way], I confirmed that I had not formed any delusions.

The readings proved to be a tremendous success. Adam Christopher convinced me that I’m going to have to be on a lookout for an ARC of Empire State*. Anne Lyle acted out a light-hearted and promising dialogue from her upcoming book, while Robert Shearman almost made me cry. I mean literally. His reading came with the appropriate pantomime and I believed that he was in fact a distraught stewardess, who had slept with a Frenchman. I enjoyed the press launches with Solaris’ free-for-all signed books buffet and cupcake fiesta, topping the charts.

From a social angle, I placed a face [and a body] to a substantial amount of the people I know from Twitter. Adele [@hagelrat] became my Fairy Con Mother and I trailed behind her and a quiet Vincent Keen [@Fiskerton] for the majority of the weekend. My late night chat with Amanda [@ALRutter], Marc [@Marc_Gascoigne], Adam [@Figures], Alex [@Alex_Bell86] and Anne [@AnneLyle] goes down in history as one of those surreal moments you wish don’t end. Everything else is rather and in no proper order, but I met up with Ian Sales, Neal Harris, Mike Shevdon, MD Lachlan, Gary McMahon, Jenni Hill, Michelle Howe, Tom Pollock, Jaine Fenn, Tom Fletcher, Lavie Tidhar, Ian Whates, Simon Marshall-Jones, Steve Mosby, Mike Crispin, Stephen and Michaela Deas, Danie Ware. God, it continues. I’m thrilled to have met the TRUE Overlords, Marc Gascoigne and Lee Harris as well as a charming Jon Weir. Of course, my meets and greets compared not to what Laura Lam performed as socializing. It’s as if the girl cloned herself and I think I saw her pretty green shirt in EVERY room.

Yes, that's Jon Weir. And he's not pretending to know me. He knows me. Kinda.

During FantasyCon I said my weirdest set of words: ‘sentient, sarcastic talking refrigerator’.

I also promised myself that I will not buy books, but succumbed to weakness and bought oh so many pretties. I’m extremely proud of my Sourdough and Other Tales by Angela Slatter as I have spent enough money on it to live off for two weeks in Bulgaria. I’ll do a separate post on the books tomorrow, so this is it. I loved it. Thank you everyone for being so welcoming and helpful and patient, when I asked my weird foreigner, touristy questions. It’s been a blast and I will do it again.

PS: I’m sorry if I didn’t mention someone on this post. If I completed that list, it would seem as long as a short story.

* Yes, the original post said that I did have an ARC, which is not true, cause I don't, but I wish I do even though official ARCs are yet to be printed. Not an intentional lie [travel lag], but a mistake that still looks incredibly bad. Apologies.