Blog Archives

Nerine Dorman’s Year in Review

One of the great people I have had the opportunity to get to know over the past two years is South African author and editor Nerine Dorman. Her popular blog This is My World has plenty of author interviews, WIP updates, opinion pieces, and reflections on music. Check out her recently published year in review.

13582064  I first met Nerine on Facebook back in 2010, and she graciously agreed to read and review my novel “Let It Bleed“. She liked it (whew!), and we found out that we had a lot of things in common. Voila! Social media friendship success story!

Since then, our working relationship has continued to grow and expand. In January 2011, right before I exited from Dark Continents Publishing, one of the last projects I launched (with the divine Ms. Tracie McBride) was the successful Darkness and Dismay series of e-book novellas which included Nerine and her co-author/co-partner-in-crime Carrie Clevenger’s Blood and Fire. Simultaneously, Nerine was editing the South African Horrorfest’s Bloody Parchment: Lost Things, Hidden Things and Other Stories, which happens to have my story “The Woman Who Sold the World” in it.   15786709        

Next year, I’m looking forward to reading Blackfeather and Camdeboo Nights from this talented author. Keep up the incredible work, girl!

Toby Bennett: Musings from a cigar smoking dyslexic horror writer

I am very pleased to introduce Toby Bennett to guest post on my blog today. Welcome, Toby!

Toby Bennett was born in 1976 in Cape Town, South Africa. He holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Cape Town. Like many writers he has had a varied career that has included graphic and web design, database administration and technical writing. His true passion lies in creative writing and to date he has written six novels and a fair-sized collection of short stories. Find him on Amazon or visit: www.thedragontower.co.za for more info.

Want more information on Toby’s books? Check out the list here!

Toby Bennett is one of the novelists featured in Bloody Parchment: Hidden Things, Lost Things, and other stories

It’s all very well guest blogging but when the initial glow wears off you realise that you’re actually going to need something worthwhile to talk about. So here I stand before the metaphorical microphone, “Tap, tap is this thing on? Am I glad to see you ladies and gentlemen, I’ve only typed fifty five words and boy are my arms tired!” Drum roll please.

So I thought I might say something about writing. I am a writer after all, or at least that’s what I answer (rather than feckless lay about) when people ask me what I do. I’ve sold a few books, not bad for someone that people thought might never learn to read or write. Yup, with any luck the spell checker is hiding the fact that I’m terribly dyslexic, or whatever they are calling it these days, (yes, I still use the term dyslexic, I spent long enough learning how to spell dyslexic without them re-naming the syndrome, sadists! What’s next —  a hurdle race for the blind?). I’ve always wanted to write, I’m not sure if part of me knew that I could do it despite everything, or that I wanted to do it so much because some people thought I couldn’t, all I know is that these days I have to write. I’m pretty laid back by nature but there is something prickly in my soul that prods me with lit cigars until I sit down and write something (“Oh for a muse of fire…” sounds nice till the abuse sets in). My cigar-happy passenger’s promptings have meant that I have six titles on Amazon and another two in editing, and somehow it still doesn’t seem like enough.

I write fantasy and horror with varying degrees of success. I recently had over seven thousand people download my book “Heavens Gate”. Yes it has vampires in it but the story is actually about the man eating them. I’m hoping that so many downloads means I’ve done something right. we’ll see since I’m about to embark on the inevitable sequel “Heaven’s Guardians”. It’s really great to be able to have a platform like the kindle to let you get your work into other people’s hands. I can’t say enough about how this kind of opportunity has changed things for writers. It’s also interesting to note how the goal posts shift as one starts to be read more. When no one had read my work I used to say “If I can connect just one other person with my work then I will consider my efforts worthwhile”. Three days at the top of the free SF lists on Amazon gave me a very different perspective. I’ve had a brief taste of a wider audience and I sometimes find myself obsessively checking my Amazon sales figures. It’s then that I have to keep reminding myself to stay Zen and remember why I write.

As far as I am concerned, an author’s priorities should run as follows: Above all write what you want to write. Write to please yourself because if it is not something you have some joy and passion in the reader will pick that up and why should both of you be miserable? Your second consideration should be the reader, they have to take the trip you have prepared so next to your own happiness their enjoyment is the most important. You can’t please everyone but if you can put some of that joy or excitement you felt while creating the book in for them you should do alright. The absolute last consideration should be whether people will pay for it… that doesn’t go for you readers; don’t take your authors for granted. if you want them to be able to work you need to pay them… But writers you should know the deal, if you need to pay them… But writers you should know the deal, if you wanted to make money you might have had a better bet signing up for NASA training! Every year a million more novels hit the slush pile and only thousands of those will ever be seen by the public. Once again we have to thank Amazon and their Kindle for giving writers a better shot at reaching a wider audience. I started out to say something about writing but the more I thought about it I found I also wanted to say something about us as readers. What I want to say boils down to this:

“We should always be demanding more, both from ourselves and our authors.”

I’m a firm believer in reading whatever flicks your switches and I hate literary snobs who tell you what a good book is. That’s something that should be very much in the eye of the beholder. But we have to be on guard against the modern tendency to take our entertainment for granted. We live in a world of sound bites and instant truths. Modern literary wisdom holds that there’s no one out there who can digest a sentence of more than twenty words and more and more there seems to be no willingness to take risks or try something different.

I wouldn’t presume to tell you what you should read but I do believe that writers should at least be trying to create something new rather than just replicating things that have been popular in the past. It is individual readers and their personal tastes who provide the impetus for new idea’s and different types of story. Consider the difference between off the rack clothing and a designer suit. A book produced to a commercial formula will satisfy the greatest number of readers, but perhaps there is something to be said for that cult classic that reaches only a small audience. In the past commercial concerns often meant that simple ideas won out over the more exotic and complex concepts. The great news is that isn’t true anymore, writers can take a chance and you can get hold of their work because of sites like Smashwords and Amazon. I’m not saying every literary experiment will work, but there has never been a time when authors could have a more intimate relationship with their readers. It’s a great time to be alive and it’s a time filled with opportunities for readers if they are ready to take a chance and try new things.

So what should people be reading? Well, who am I to tell you?

Read outside your comfort zone. Look for less mainstream works that you might avoid if you had to pay the full price of a hard copy edition, and if you find a treasure for goodness sake don’t keep it to yourself. Get on review sites like Goodreads or post a review on Amazon and help others find something worthwhile. From personal experience I can tell you it makes an author’s day when someone actually gives feedback on their work, which if you enjoyed the book, seems like a fair trade.

Well, those are a few of my thoughts and the end of my guest blog, phew! It probably goes without saying that the opinions expressed here are very general and are meant as food for thought. It all boils down to this: you should demand more of your writers, go to places that scare you and make sure that you support the Authors you feel have delivered.

All the best and happy reading.

Toby Bennett

She Mostly Cries At Night…Mostly

I am very pleased to introduce author Lee Mather on my blog today. I have never met Lee personally, but had the pleasure of being introduced to him by Nerine Dorman, the editor of the Bloody Parchment: Hidden Things, Lost Things and other stories anthology.

Bloody Parchment is the literary component to the annual SOUTH AFRICAN HORRORFEST.  Visit the links http://horrorfest.info and http://www.shadowrealminc.com/ for more information and news on their 2012 call for submissions.

“Fading Light” featuring Lee’s story, “Wrath”, will be available in September 2012 by Angelic Knight Press.

“First Kiss, Last Breath” will be available in October 2012 by Lyrical Press.

Lots of good thoughts here – visit his website at http://www.leemather.org.uk/ to get to know him better!

 

She Mostly Cries At Night…Mostly

GUEST POST BY: LEE MATHER

Youth is wasted on the young, is the saying.

I start to write this blog and I’ve been interrupted twice already. Firstly, I’ve rocked my ten week old daughter back to sleep, and secondly, I’ve answered a telephone call from my mother. These days, my time, it seems, is at a premium.

This is coupled with the fact that I’m pretty tired. My daughter is sleeping more, but not sleeping through. The tiredness feels ingrained in me at the moment.

I’ve wondered, recently, why I left it so late, well into my late twenties, before I tried to write and sell my stories. The younger me never had the same challenges around time. I had the opportunity and the energy to do whatever I wanted back then.

I read from an early age. I remember getting hooked on the adventure books of Willard Price and a whole host of Enid Blyton stories. I wanted to unravel a mystery in the jungle or to be the sixth member of the Famous Five, and I remember staring out of my bedroom window, watching the Manchester rain, and seeing myself in some far flung place, unravelling some far fetched mystery.

Writing came a little later, in my teens. I was reading Tolkien and Terry Brooks by then, Stephen King and James Herbert. I think adolescence was the perfect age to discover Fantasy and Horror. In growing up, I began to realise that maybe life wasn’t so easy. Maybe this is why darker stories resonated with me, because of how they worked in tandem with my own anxieties.

We got to write stories at school, in English lessons. I remember writing an alternate ending to “Lord Of The Flies” and a hybrid of fantasy and horror, “Blue Fire”, about New York cops that came across a magic stone from another dimension. I remember these stories being awesome, but I think time has helped this memory.

It started then, the notion that I could write someday for a living. People did it. Why not me?

I took English Literature at college as an A Level. Business Studies was a subject that came easily so I studied this too. And then I began to chase my dreams.  Well, not quite.

Around this age I discovered I could get served alcohol in pubs. The world changed. If I wasn’t chasing down pints I was chasing after girls – unsuccessfully most of the time, I might add, which is surprising as I had all the wit and charm of a normal seventeen year old boy.

Back then, none of my friends read that much, unless the reading material belonged to a syllabus. Reading and writing became an occasional discussion over a beer.

I’d like to write a book one day. I think I could.”

The dream of becoming a writer became less important to me as the subsequent years flew by. I aced Business Studies and I chose a degree in it. I was a fully pledged member of the real world. I would need a job some day, some marketable skills, so English got shelved. I thrived at university, but not academically.

I would write a book some day. But not any day soon. Maybe when I was older.

I graduated, got a job, met a girl. I rented my own place, had money in my pocket. Life was pretty good.

This carried on well into my twenties. I wasn’t challenging myself, but I was happy to let things drift on by. Life had a dream-like quality.

Then my dad got cancer.

It would be okay, I told myself. He was my dad. Bad things didn’t really happen to my family.

When he died, at forty five, one of the things that resulted during and after a long period of grieving was that I started to look at myself. One thing was certain, forty five was no age to die.

I could keep coasting, but if I did would I have regrets? I had a few skills up my sleeve but had I ever put them to real use?

Suddenly, growing up was hard once again.

And then it happened. I found my focus. I didn’t want to coast anymore. I wanted to challenge myself and I began to think more and more of the younger me and the notion of writing a book. In the most traumatic period of my life I had learned that fate had its own plans. It would certainly not wait for me.

So I wrote. And it was not good.

So I wrote some more and it was better. So I submitted it. And it got rejected.

So I learned more about writing.

I wrote shorter stories and enhanced my writing technique.  I improved. “The Green Man” was published in December 2010. I became aware that there were thousands of writers out there, most capable, most with something to offer. If my voice was to be heard then I’d have to work harder than the next person, do everything I could to make myself better. I’m still trying.

Feedback for “The Green Man” was super, more positive than I could have expected. But I’d set myself higher standards. I had no other work to offer that I was happy with. This meant I had to go back to the drawing board and write some more.

I got married one year later. My daughter was born a year after that. Life, as ever, was moving fast.

And that brings us up to date.

My time is more precious than ever. My life is full of challenges. But I love it.

So, do I think youth is wasted on the young? Not at all. The younger me was a dreamer, and that’s how this all started. But back then I didn’t have much in my locker, certainly not enough to write with any credibility.

Life experience has helped me find a voice. In my thirties, I know more about pain and joy than I ever did in my early twenties. Growing up has also helped me find the focus to lock myself away and actually write.

And the writing itself? I’m progressing. I have three stories featuring in anthologies this year and one standalone novella. I’ve also gained entry into The Horror Writer’s Association.

“Fans of Stephen King are going to love this,” says author Karina Fabian of my forthcoming novella, “First Kiss, Last Breath”.

This made me smile. It reminded me of the teenager watching the rain from his bedroom window, a crumpled copy of “IT” on his bedside table.

———————————————–

Find out more about Lee and his writing at www.leemather.org.uk

Or follow Lee on Twitter

Bloody Parchment“, featuring Lee’s story, “Masks”, is available now from Amazon.

Fading Light“, featuring Lee’s story, “Wrath”, is available from September 1st from Angelic Knight Press.

First Kiss, Last Breath” is available from October 8th from Lyrical Press.

Horror undead and well … even in South Africa

I am very please to have Nerine Dorman guest blog today. In case you haven’t guessed from the title of this post, Nerine heralds from Cape Town, South Africa. I met her approximately 18 months ago when I stumbled onto her  This is my world blog , and we bonded over all things dark and mysterious. Check out her novel Inkarna, the novella Blood and Fire that is co-written with the equally talented Carrie Clevenger, and Bloody Parchment: Hidden Things, Lost Things, and Other Stories.

Horror undead and well … even in South Africa

By Nerine Dorman

 

There’s nothing like a good thrill to remind you that you’re still alive, and horror is undead and well all over the world; even in South Africa.

 

Bloody Parchment came about two years ago in answer of a need for a dedicated dark fantasy/horror event in South Africa, but with a global reach, and grew as a supplement to the annual South African HorrorFest. While folks elsewhere might be spoilt for choice with a range of events and conventions, we here in South Africa really hadn’t had much happening until then.

 

Bloody Parchment can be divided into two parts, the actual event, which has, for the past two years taken place at the Book Lounge in the week leading up to Halloween, at the start of the SA HorrorFest, and a short story competition/anthology. This year we were proud to announce that eKhaya, the digital imprint of Random House Struik came on board to release the second anthology under the guidance of Louis Greenberg.

 

But more on this year’s short story competition and anthology. People often ask me whether the competition is open to non-South Africans and I’m happy to say yes. It doesn’t matter if you live in Timbuktu or the outer reaches of Mongolia. If you’ve got a knack for the written word, and access to an internet connection, you can enter. And the deadline for submissions is easy to remember: October 31. I thought the date was apt. [smiles]

 

This year’s title story, Hidden Things, Lost Things, was written by Brett R Bruton, who delivers a very creepy, surreal dip into an oozing Lovecraftian horror, but there’s a little something for everyone, from some of the fresh, upcoming talent in contemporary dark fantasy/horror fiction. The anthology offers quite a bit of variety, and I thoroughly enjoyed putting it together.

 

What am I looking for in this year’s competition? Definitely more of the same: quality, literary dark fantasy/horror gems that will stain my thoughts (yes, I’m looking at you, Brett, Toby and Benjamin, you dear little darklings). While I don’t mind seeing vampires and werewolves, I really do hope writers will do something a little different with these tropes. I am not looking for Twilight fanfiction with the serial numbers filed off.

 

So, how does the competition work? After I read the slush pile (yes, pity my poor eyeballs) I make a selection of stories that a) well written and b) actually *tell* a story. The more unsettling and strange, the better. And if you can manage the outright frightening, hellyeah!

 

I do not want to see rambling conspiracy theories, mindless torture porn or moralistic parables. Neither must the manuscript look like it was dashed off on a smartphone on a whim (if you use ampersands instead of the humble “and”, I will cry. You don’t want to make me cry. Or bash my head against my desk.). Believe you me, I’ve been reading slush long enough to have seen the aforementioned again, and again, and again. Ditto for derivative works based on the latest horror film. (And there’s a reason why I hate Saw and The Hostel with a burning passion. Just. Don’t. Go. There.) Random acts of mutilation do not equal horror. If the finger or eye violence actually adds meaning to strong narrative, that’s another matter entirely. But there *must* be a plot.

 

Once I’ve separated the “Dear nine hells no” from the “Mmm, yeah, this might work” and found a few I think are “Oh my Dog this is HOT”, I mail the stories to my panel of judges, who are all industry professionals (authors and editors). They are the ones who rate the stories, and after that, it’s simply a case of tallying up the numbers and announcing the winner and finalists, who will be included in the following year’s anthology.

 

This is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun, which is why I’m all gung ho for this year’s competition, and the first promising entries are already lurking in my inbox. Authors who make the final cut also get detailed edits, as part of why I started this competition was to help develop promising new voices.

 

So, if you reckon you’ve got what it takes, go take a look at our submission guidelines, and better yet, perhaps purchase and take a look at this year’s anthology, then allow your imagination to go wild.

 

Purchase Bloody Parchment on Amazon here 

For more information about The Bloody Parchment, visit the blog here 

Visit South African HorrorFest website here

Queries: nerinedorman@gmail.com

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