Quote of the Moment

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T. S. Eliot

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Chains of Nect - Blurb and Cover Reveal

It's time for an update! Aren't you all so lucky. Don't care about what's going on with me and my progress? Feel free to skip the post. But I can't promise you won't miss something super crazy awesome if you do.

The Plan is unfolding nicely, so far at least. I've been posting parts of "Dude in Distress" to Wattpad twice per week now. The last section is due to be posted on July 10. So, if you're curious if the unicorns manage to save Dom from Big Bad Girl, please pop over to Wattpad to read the story.

Chains of Nect will roll out on Wattpad starting July 17, and there will be a new scene posted every Friday. I already have two scenes good to go, and this month I'll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo which should net me several more scenes--it's nice to be ahead of the game, just in case something happens! (Like last week when I got sick and my writing schedule went to hell.)

Interested in reading the prologue of Chains of Nect 8 days before it releases on Wattpad? Then you should sign up for my newsletter (form is to the left) because the first issue will go out on July 9 and include a sneak peak of the prologue. The main goal of the newsletter is to announce my upcoming publications, but I'll also have some bonuses in them now and then. If you're worried about your inbox filling up, I'll send no more than one per month, sometimes less frequently.

Oh, but you want to know what Chains of Nect is about? Of course, of course. Here's the blurb:

Obsidian successfully plays the game expected of her, passes the tests, and is accepted as a Guardian. Though she jumps through the hoops, she doesn't want to follow the precepts at all, to guard the portals but never open them. She believes its a waste to not explore the worlds within, like her ancestors had. How can they protect themselves if something comes through the portals if they don't know what's in them?

Obsidian's appointed mentor, Damian, is a straight-laced young Guardian, who can't contain the young dedicant. He's always believed the laws are in place to protect all of Nect, but Obsidian starts to make him question his own principles. She doesn't allow him any time to examine the possibilities, though, and he has to decide between reporting her or standing by her side to protect her from whatever horrors she stirs up.

Will the Guardians end Obsidian's life, or will something from another world get to her first?

Not enough for you? Fine you've talked me into it. Here's the cover!

I've also been playing the Short Story Submissions Game. The intention of this game is to gather as many rejections as I can. Yes, I know, the point should be to get as many acceptances as I can, but if I aim for that, I'll just depress myself. Here are my tallies for 2015 through June:

Submissions - 28
Rejections - 25
Acceptances - 1

I may not hit 100 rejections this year, however I hope to hit at least 50! And yes, you noticed, there's one acceptance. I had that story listed at the top of The Plan. "Bloodstains" will appear in a limited time fall anthology through Dingbat Publishing (anthology title and publication date still to be determined). That should be a fun set of stories.

I'm also still running Writing Quest every month--feel free to join us if you have some writing goals.

I think that's all as far as writing goes. Probably leaving the state of my house out of this post is the best idea (scary pretty much sums it up). I get writing done and everything else gets neglected. Go figure. Though the evil kitchen is due to be remodeled this month, barring more delays.

I feel like I'm forgetting to cover something, though. What do you think? Is there something else I should have touched on?

NEXT UP: Crazy Necro Antics - Wedding Bells Part 2

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jennifer Loring - Jiang-Shi

It's time for another guest post. This time it's by Jennifer Loring, author of Those of My Kind. If you'd like to learn more about the author, please scroll to the bottom of the article.

If you're interested in writing a guest post for Born To Write, please contact me via the contact form with a proposed topic.

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Jiang-Shi by Jennifer Loring

I am not ashamed to admit that I love vampires. Not the sexed-up variety that has dominated the genre for the past couple of decades (though they have their place), but the nasty, blood-starved, just-crawled-out-of-the-grave beasts of folklore. Before I started writing Those of My Kind, I knew I wanted a vampiric creature as the antagonist. I also knew that I did not want to use the hackneyed Western vampire, so I turned to one of my favorite sources for inspiration.

The Asian countries are rife with strange demons, spirits, and monsters. One of the most intriguing of these, the Chinese jiang-shi, is a bizarre hybrid of vampire and zombie known primarily for its habit of hopping after its victims. "Jiang-shi" translates to "stiff corpse", in reference to its most famous feature: its hopping movement, arms outstretched, because it has succumbed to rigor mortis. Legend has it that the first jiang-shi were created by priests who taught them to hop home for burial in their ancestral burial grounds. The priests transported them only at night and would ring bells to warn people of their presence, since it was bad luck to see one. As a creature originally resurrected through magic, this links the jiang-shi to the legends of Haitian zombies who, like their Chinese counterparts, had no will of their own and were under the control of sorcerers.

The jiang-shi, though frequently referred to as a "vampire", developed independently of Western vampires and likely arose as an extension of the Chinese hungry ghost. It bears little resemblance to the Western vampire and in fact is more akin to the modern zombie. Like the zombie, it does not retain knowledge of its former life nor any sort of willpower; it is driven purely by the instinct to feed. What links it to the vampire is its draining of victims' life energy or qi, similar to the psychic vampire, though Western influence has given some jiang-shi the ability to drain blood. While it may look like a normal human if created soon after death, post-decomposition jiang-shi take on a horrifying appearance. They are pale, with long white hair and moss or mold growing on their skin. They also possess sharp black fingernails, serrated teeth, and may radiate a phosphorescent green light. Because they cannot see, jiang-shi often detect their victims by breath; thus, one can avoid them by holding one's breath.

While a hopping vampire/zombie may seem absurd, the jiang-shi is far more vicious than most contemporary vampires. Aside from a tendency to rape women, it was common for a jiang-shi to rip off its victim's head or limbs, and this became its most frequently reported attribute. Lacking the hypnotic powers common to Western vampires, the jiang-shi typically surprised its victims instead. In time, the creature would grow stronger, leave its coffin behind, and learn to fly. At this point, it produced a covering of white hair and could obtain the power to turn into a wolf. Once the jiang-shi reached this stage, it could be killed only by a bullet or by thunder, though fire--representative of purification in so many cultures--was the ideal solution. Some believed one could also kill a jiang-shi by sucking out its dying breath.

The mythology and folklore of non-Western cultures can refresh even as well-worn a trope as the vampire. Choosing the traits that work for your story, and combining them with those of other monsters, will almost certainly lead to a creature uniquely your own. Try it in your next project and see where your imagination takes you!

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About the Author

Jennifer Loring’s short fiction has been published in numerous magazines, webzines, and anthologies. She received her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, with a concentration in horror fiction. In 2004, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror awarded her with an honorable mention for her short story "The Bombay Trash Service." In 2013, Jennifer won first place in Crystal Lake Publishing's inaugural Tales from the Lake horror writing competition. She has published a dieselpunk novelette, Beautiful Things, with Fox & Raven Publishing and a psychological horror/ghost story novella, Conduits, with DarkFuse. Jennifer lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, Zach, and their turtle, Ninja. Those of My Kind is her first novel.

Website: http://jennifertloring.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferTLoring

About Those of My Kind

Two young women find themselves entangled in a deadly game with an ancient creature determined to wipe out all human life. Tristan and Blessing are demon-hunting drifters destined to protect mankind from evil, but to do so they must exist on the fringes of society. Feeding their own bloodlust by murdering local criminals, they begin a dangerous hunt for a resurrected demon named Anasztaizia. But when Tristan meets a beautiful dancer named Mira, she is willing to abandon her calling for her one chance at a normal life.

Believing Tristan has betrayed her, Blessing finds solace in her natural talent for witchcraft. Anasztaizia, able to corrupt Blessing by exploiting her jealousies and personal tragedies as well as her power, next turns her attention to Mira. Mira has been keeping a secret from Tristan, and she is willing to do anything to escape her agonizing fate. Even if it means abandoning her humanity. Even if it means Tristan must choose between Mira's life and her own.

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NEXT UP: Progress Update

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic: Midsummer

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?

Picture By Douglas P. Perkins
Midsummer, also called Litha or the Summer Solstice, is another one of those sabbats that can land on a different date each year. This is because it's the longest day and shortest night of the year, and this year it lands on June 21 (same day as Father's Day - wow, busy day this year!). Once Midsummer passes, days will start to get shorter and nights longer again. It's hard to think of that because at this point in the year most of us want the days to last longer--especially those of us who live through far too many months of winter each year.

Clearly, with Midsummer being the longest day of the year, the sun is at its height of power. It's a time to continue the celebrations started at Beltane. And it's a time for love. It's interesting how many weddings take place during June. Could this possibly be something that we brought along with us from the past without realizing it? Aside from love, though, celebrating the coming of new life is important as well.

And what would a holiday be without its symbols? Again, there's a balefire at Midsummer, along with amulets like the God's Eye, which represents the sun. Fire is powerful during many sabbats, but it's strongest during Midsummer--the sun rules. Those weddings I mentioned? Flowers, tossing rice, and even cutting a wedding cake have origins in Pagan fertility magic. The ring represents a magic circle. Those are only a handful of wedding items that originate from Paganism.

There's a lot of things going on during Midsummer, so I highly recommend you read further about it if you're interested. Here's a few websites: Litha, All About Litha, and Midsummer/Summer Solstice.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Franklin, Anna. Midsummer. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2002.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: Guest post from Jennifer Loring