“Body Horror and Psycho-Sexual Transcendence”

12 12 2015
 

CHAPTER TWO: THE MOTHER AND THE WORM

We were in our places, Olivia at the door and I in the wicker basket. The windows were concealed with heavy curtains to keep out the afternoon sun, but oil lamps pushed back the gloom. The lady who entered our study first was the old friend of Olivia’s family, who embraced Olivia, then introduced her guests. The other matron wore black; she was the hopeful patron. The men were young, one balding and mustached and the other dark and intense. They were surprised by her frank smile, by her firm handclasp, and smirked to each other.

The basket that hid me was a cubit square. Within it, I sat naked on a thin cotton mat, waiting for my cue.

After brief pleasantries, Olivia bade everyone sit at the mismatched slat chairs around our worn table. Slowly, not without drama, she turned the gas lamps down.

“Everyone take hands, please. This afternoon, we speak with the spirits. I need for everyone to speak these holy words of the Hindu. Om mani padme hum.”

Her resonance and theatrics gave the others confidence. The older ladies intoned with Episcopalian reserve. The men seemed strangely comfortable with the trappings, and joined in.

The chant rose in pitch.

This was my cue, as thespians say. I lay back and breathed deep, humid air inflating my months-old lungs. As I inhaled, I imagined the proper yantra symbol. I exhaled my own mantra to release my spirit from my misshapen flesh.

“Come to us, Alecsandri. Come to us, spirits.”

I continued my chant and let myself drift, imagining myself in warm black oil. As she implored, the study was swallowed by the warm oil. My spirit rose from the basket. My hands glowed, my fingers lithe.  My spirit body shone golden and tall, like before I had forced myself into Thomas Spalding’s brain and was reborn in the manikin shape.

The bodies of the attendants glowed with auras of life. Rainbows flared along the older women. The bald man’s was a healthy bronze. The young man’s was odd. The flares were violet and tight, like a gas burner pressed by a weight. Olivia’s lavender opened and extended across the room as she entered her trance, so that she could communicate with the spirit realm.

Unseen by the others, I drifted to Olivia and caressed her neck. Touching her spirit was like touching soothing wool on a winter day. Feeling me, her head eased back and magenta sparks streaked her neck after my fingertips.

She said, “My spirit guide is with us. Are you ready to help us, Guru?”

Her head fell forward and she affected a deeper, thicker-tongued man’s voice, an impersonation of me when I was human. “Olivia, I am always pleased to make new acquaintances. These are charming people.”

She sighed and rolled in her seat, as if buffeted by forces within. In her voice: “I sense a presence with you, Guru. Who is with you?”

I had been too distracted by Olivia to notice. A disembodied glow had appeared by one of the women. It was the size of a grown man, and boiled red. It pointed to the older woman.

 

“I love ‘The Flesh Sutra’!” – Nancy Holder, NYT Best Selling Horror Author

My debut novel was on the preliminary ballot for the 2015 Stoker Awards.

“In this excellent novel, the writing is crisp, the characters sharply drawn, the plot engrossing; as a result, this tightly written and propulsive narrative addresses postmodern angst about humanity and spirituality in the context of body horror and psychosexual transcendence with literary flair and at times deeply disturbing imagery.”

Order it below.

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Hey Now! I’m In This!

22 03 2018

Pseudopod.org was one of my first turning points. They liked a story of mine so much, they publshed two of the stories sequels, which became the beginning of my novel “The Flesh Sutra”. This is their 10th Anniversary Special. Look at he names here! Thomas Ligotti! A.C. Wise! Joe Lansdale! If you haven’t tried Pseudopod, please give it a listen. If you know it, maybe donate a couple of dollars. They are great people and at the forefront of making great genre fiction.

Table of Contents I Have a Story for You • essay by Alex Hofelich Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story • (1985) • novelette by Thomas Ligotti Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown • (2016) • short story by Jon Padgett Stillborn • (1990) • short story by Nina Kiriki Hoffman In the Deepest […]

via For Mortal Things Unsung—A Horror Anthology from Pseudopod, TOC — The Sanguine Woods





Lampreyhead the Mixtape

28 02 2018

I saw that the YA writer Maggie Stievater create music lists for her writing and I thought I’d give that a try.

This is what I listened to while writing. It became background noise that helped me trak when an hour of writing had passed, and frankly I got more done when the earbuds were silent, but listening to it helped me catch the mood of the book.

It has Pirates of Penzance, Bert Williams, Chick Webb, and Brecht to try to convey the burdens from Ned’s age. But I also needed music to remind me he is shallow and wistful, so I went pop. Heino, a kitchy German balladeer, helped remind me of Ned’s German roots. Robert Hazard, Motley Crue, Dinner, Hot Chocolate, Beach Boys, and Funkadelic reinforces Heino’s pop energy. Last, there’s the goth/punk with Nick Cave, Chelsea Wolfe, Xiu Xiu, Suicidal Tendencies, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and a cover by Brak for his pensiveness.

LAMPREYHEAD THE PLAYLIST





What I Learned On This Draft

22 02 2018

Hi guys,

I’ve finished the Beta draft of Lampreyhead: Blood Summoning.

I laughed, I cried, I learned oh so much.

First and foremost, I had always heard about writers having total existential meltdowns during redrafts. Not me. I’ve struggled with writing since 1989, sure, and I thought I’d run in the worst the writing experience had to offer.

Au Contraire! I had run into little baby struggles. In my first novel, I had spread the pain out over six years of writing. “The Flesh Sutra” started as published short stories. In my other short stories, the obstacles could be easily surmounted or shelved.

Lampreyhead’s Beta had a deadline, and man-oh-mannikin did I suffer! A day-long panic attack. Cold regret over every life decision since 8th grade. The veil of satisfaction torn away, revealing Death Himself exhaling putrid breath in my face, corpse hands raised to snatch me to a lonely pauper’s grave.

I put up a post on Facebook in this state, and got a couple of responses. One was from a guy from high school who has done remarkable things with his life, who essentially nudged me and said “I’m here, but knock off the whining.”

I took down the post within an hour of putting it up. The next day, a scene was moved to a different chapter and slowly my momentum returned.

So yeah, I learned I will provoke a panic attack to avoid working. I am not proud of this, but The More I Know.

Also, I was reminded that Tone Will Choose Itself. I can attempt to make the story like Clive Barker or King or some dark whimsical guy, but it won’t work. Stay true to the story and the feeling of the story will develop consistency and moral.

“Moral” developed through finding the recurring notes and realizing how I felt about them. What responsibility does a creator have toward a creation? What responsibility to have to your past? As it turns out, these will be recurring issues in the upcoming series.

I had thought I wanted something dark and funny that touched on these issues, and I thought of Monty Python. I re-read my Monty Python books (Big Red Book, Papperbak Book) and discovered they have not aged well. The movies now seem closer to the old “Carry On” films of the ’50s, but with better transitions. So I was flying blind. I’ll course correct as I go on.

The last item I learned was just that: “as I go on.” This is a series, and just as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld has weak titles, as does every series, nothing is going to appeal to everyone.

What did I fix? All characters have arcs with distinct points noted throughout the work, including the villain and the villain’s revealed flunky. All the characters have cause and effect which flow through the entire plot.

Descriptions are more lush. The setting is obvious at the first paragraph. Three sensory points per page. All words presenting action.

I am particularly proud of the character voices.

So. Now I begin outlining the two others in the series. Book Two will take place at a major electronic chain store, Book Three will take place at a comic book store on South Street in Philly.

You’ve read this far. Would you like to Beta read this 30K work? I’ll put you in the acknowledgements. I guarantee you that you’ll laugh. I guarantee you that you’ll be creeped out.

Send me word at Tim_W_Burke at H   O   T   M   A   I   L.

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Words To Live By From A Fellow Author

19 01 2018

(https://pixabay.com) To all the writers out there, whoever you are and wherever you may be, please remember to value yourselves, to respect your efforts, and to keep on writing. Also please remember, writing comes from dedication and consistency and not from waiting for inspiration. (https://pixabay.com) Please follow the following links to find my novel: […]

via A Simple Hope For Writers — charles french words reading and writing





Is Your First Draft Any Good?

17 01 2018

www.pinterest.co.uk

My writer’s group Noble Fusion met and critiqued the first draft of “Lampreyhead”. I have met professional authors. Noble Fusion itself has professional authors and editors. It does not matter how many words you’ve ever published. First drafts always suck. How do you know when you’re on to writing a decent book?

While writing the draft, an author can tell where that draft is weak. Usually the draft is a sequence of set pieces where the characters lack agency. The author will know where the plot’s been fudged, or that the magic system isn’t quite right, or that emotional beats aren’t given enough room to breathe.

The book is on the right track when: 1) your group is enthused, and 2) the critiques hold no surprises.

I knew this draft was rushed and lacked detail. I suspected the characters needed more depth. But I did not panic.

Again, as fellow Noble Fusion member Dr. Lawrence Schoen told me:

“I’ve done novel breaks at Taos Toolbox with Walter Jon Williams. Professional authors have presented drafts that were utterly unworkable. This draft is workable.”

On to the critique! Sally Wiener Grotta said of this draft: “The sentence structure is repetitive. It needs to vary structure to build tension. There is a lot of passive voice. Use active verbs.”

Barbara E. Hill was pretty thorough with comments like “We just don’t understand this universe” and “How do the characters feel about each other”, which…yeah. Lots more detail needed.

So I’d have preferred to have written something brilliant right off, but that’s not how reality works.

Today and tomorrow I am working with the cover artist to tweak the fonts. I am waiting for the marketing copy from CreateSpace. I am revising the draft with the goal of sending a draft to beta readers by the end of January.

Would you like to be a beta reader?

What problems do you run into on your first draft? Who does your proofreading?

 





The Winning Cover of “Lampreyhead Book One”

16 01 2018

The font layout will change, but this is the winning image chosen by both the voters and my writing group.

(sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner with this. Day job is tiring.)

My farcical abs! abs! abs! formula didn’t go over so well and I understand why: the eyes here arrest your attention. Women voters especially went for this design.

My writing group Noble Fusion East Coast (represent!) read my draft and declared the novel to be innovative, not in the spirit of Monty Python, and sliding close to grimdark.

Next step is to integrate the ad copy I purchased from CreateSpace. For $200, they research five keywords, write taglines and a punchy summary, and polish up the other little text bits I’ll need to advertise. The fee comes out to about 20 hours at my job and taps into the CS expertise, and so is worth the money at least as a starting draft.

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Help Me Choose A Cover for Lampreyhead!

11 01 2018

I am launching a series this Spring and I need help on the cover for Book One. Yes, he is a failed vampire prototype. Yes, he’s been slacking for 700 years. Okay, yes, he’s a Philadelphia gigolo selling supernatural special endings. When the committee who created him returns to finish Satan’s will, he’ll be the failed, slacking gigolo on our side.
No cover has to be perfect. Just vote for the one that grabs your fancy. If you have an idea on how that design may be improved, send me a message (like #89 needs a thicker font or a reddish background or something).
Thank you for your kind consideration!

 

 








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