Writing is Weird

My apologies, I haven’t yet written about the great retreat I went on last week, nor have I posted any of the pix. I will though, soon.

Meanwhile, I have this to relate:

There I am, sitting at my desk, working away on the sequel to Blood Rain, working title Blood Down the Bones.

Beautiful summer day, not too hot, gentle breeze, nicely sheltered from my mortal enemy, the sun. Cat sleeping on his perch nearby, spouse tending me with cups of hot and iced coffee. Perfect writing day, yes?

I finally make a decision I’ve been mulling for a few weeks, whether to kill off a certain character from Blood Rain.

I draft the scene.

Then I am overwhelmed with sadness. I had actual tears in my eyes. Sheesh.

like the character I just murdered, and didn’t want to kill them, but it was the only way to move certain pieces into place in the sequel.

How does George RR Martin cope? I don’t know. Is he a secret (or not-so-secret) sadist?

R.I.P. imperfect but noble character, you died a good death. I’m sorry I had to murderize you. And in such a pitiless, horrible way, too. The motherfuckers. How dare they do this to you?!

_________

Photo by Simone Dalmeri, used under a CC licence. I salute you as well, generous photographer

Limericks as Emotional Deflection

I’ve been at a writer’s retreat all this week (more on that in another post). One of the prompts we were given pushed my emotional buttons. To write to the prompt would have taken me into the Realm of Big Fucking Feelings**, and in that moment, that simply wasn’t cricket.

Continue reading “Limericks as Emotional Deflection”

Reviewers Needed!

Hey y’all, I need some reviewers! 

Here’s the deal:

  • I send you an epub or paperback copy (your choice)
  • You post an honest review without spoilers on Good Reads or Amazon.ca (Canadian author, eh?) within thirty days of receipt
  • You send me a link to your review via email [ chloe(dot)a(dot)cocking@gmail.com ]
  • I send you a nice “thank you” note

Be advised that Blood Rain contains violence, gore, and other stuff not suitable for sensitive adults. If you enjoy horror, this is the book for you. If you don’t enjoy horror, give it a wide berth.

The short stories in Fables, Fictions, and Fantasies: A Compendium range from humorous to drama/action/adventure and back. There is a some cursing and a bit of (what I think of as) mild violence. It’s a much lighter read than Blood Rain, so it’s suitable for general adult readership.    Continue reading “Reviewers Needed!”

Fur like Gothic Cotton Candy

Our cat Smokey, otherwise known as “Empress Smokey Jade Mountain, First of Her Name” (doesn’t everybody give their cat a grand long nonsensical name?) died abruptly and unexpectedly yesterday, June 16, 2018. She was aged only ten years (give or take–she was a rescue, so we don’t know for sure).

Though my partner Rob was clearly her favourite human, she had room in her heart for me too.

My partner and Smokey in happier days
My partner and Smokey in happier days. His shoulder was her usual perch.

She often served as a muse for me:

  • there is a cat based on Smokey in my novel Blood Rain
  • in Fables, Fictions, and Fantasies: A Compendium she appears as herself under the pseudonym ‘Small Cat’ in the story called “Feed Me”
  • she was the inspiration for a poem I wrote called “Ergot Incantation for a Cat” (that poem is included in at the end of this post)

My very small human and animal family is still in shock at her abrupt passing.

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Smokey was deeply suspicious of the clothes dryer and frequently inspected it to make sure it wasn’t in any danger of becoming . . . I dunno a hell-mouth? portal to another dimension? I was never sure why she was inspecting it, but she took her job very seriously

I will never forget her sweetness, her ferocity, her weird obsession with the clothes dryer, and the feel of her featherlight fur on my skin. It was like Gothic cotton candy.

I know that not everyone is “an animal person.” I am also aware that our world has much bigger problems than one dead companion animal. Y’all, those are bigger problems for other days.

Today I ask that you share some of your kindness and compassion with me as I grieve for the most dainty and ferocious fur-child I’ve ever had. 

Then please offer a gesture of love tonight to your own dear ones, regardless of species.

If you’d like a free-of-charge epub of the recently-released Fables, Fictions, and Fantasies: A Compendium sent to your very own email inbox, just email me and I’ll forward it to you as soon as I can. (Don’t like to be crying and on the Internet at the same time, so it might take me a couple of days to repond. Crying while Interneting it’s almost as dangerous as drinking while Interneting.)

email: chloe (DOT)a(DOT)cocking@gmail.com for your free book.

Thank you!


Ergot[1] Incantation for a Cat

steely blue with

claws and teeth, claws and teeth, claws and teeth

steely blue with

claw and teeth

asleep, a-twitch beside me

 

mealy brew with

paws and heath[2], paws and heath, paws and heath

mealy brew with

paws and heath

a-peep, an itch inside me

 

freely flew with

slaws[3] and sheath[4], slaws and sheath, slaws and sheath

freely flew with

slaws and sheath

a-creep, a witch bestride me


Sometimes when writing poems I use unfamiliar or less common words. When I do that I like to include a few footnotes to help all y’all out, just in case you’re like “Ergot, wtf is ergot?!” If you are a smarty pants and know all this stuff, well, all I can say is “good job, guess you can skip the footnotes.”

[1] Ergot is a small black mold that can infest stored rye grain. It has hallucinogenic properties. Some believe the women, men, and children who “confessed” to cavorting with the devil, riding broomsticks through the sky at night and so on during the European Witchhunts (aka The Burning Times) were describing ergot hallucinations to the inquisitors.

[2] Heath is a plant common in many parts of Europe. You could cook it up in a cauldron for some ‘boil boil/ toil and trouble’ action if you want, but I’d advise you add in a few (ethically sourced) animal paws for good measure.

[3] “Slaw” is regional contemporary North American slang used to denote “a slut” or anything that is “broken down, beaten up, or worn out”. I don’t have the energy at the moment for a feminist polemic about the connections between so-called “sluts” and witches, so : : Hundreds, if not thousands, of books and articles have been written about this topic by humans much smarter and more accomplished than me, so happy Googling.

[4] “Sheath” has, in some historical contexts, been used to refer (rudely) to women’s genitals, much as “sword” has been used for male genitals.

 

What I’ve Been Doing & the Difference between Aspiring Writers and Writers

What I’ve been doing:

I spent April getting ready for the Creative Ink Festival, working on some pay-the-bills projects,  and doing final edits on manuscripts.

More of the same in May until the festival itself on May 18, 19, and 20. The festival attracted people from everywhere. Some of them came on planes. I can never get on a plane without somehow catching a cold. It’s been this way for years.

I’m not French kissing everyone on the plane, nor am I chewing their used tissues, nor do I create opportunities to lick door handles, so I blame the air-recycling systems used on planes for bathing me in a pestilential miasma.

Apparently I am now such a delicate petal that I cannot be in rooms with people who have recently been on planes without catching cold. (And again, before you ask: I didn’t French kiss anyone–not even the bartender who kept refilling my wine glass for free– nor did I chew tissues or lick doorknobs.)

Since then I’ve been trying to recover from what I suppose is just a garden-variety cold, complicated by my asthma and allergies. It’s been *seventeen* days. Argh.  I keep coughing up things that would not be out-of-place in the movie Alien.

The Difference between “Aspiring Writers” and “Writers” . . .

aspiring vs actual

It’s funny, but the solution, while simple, is not easy.

Ooh ooh ooh!

I just saw the cover images for my forthcoming book of short stories, Fables, Fictions and Fantasies: A Compendium and it looks gorgeous!

The front cover photo:

forest with mist
photo credit: Tim @ Photovisions Tree Farm via photopin (license)

The back cover photo:

siska-vrijburg-42845-unsplash (1)
Photo Credit: Siska Vrijburg @ Unsplash

Both a shout-out and my sincerest thanks to the two photographers for sharing their gorgeous work with the Interwebz under a CC licence. Indie publishing thanks you generous artists, too!

But Chloe–you are saying to yourself–what is this collection of short stories about? I thought you’d never ask! Here’s the back-of-book blurb:

Fables, Fictions, and Fantasies: A Compendium is a collection of thirteen short stories that feature several revenge schemes; three adventures in customer service; two accidental deaths; a vegan stripper defending herself from zombie attack; and a little girl finding the cupcake of her dreams.  
 
Quill & Quire said: “What? We’ve never heard of her, sorry.”
The Georgia Strait said: “Stop sending us email, weirdo.”
 
Everybody else seemed to laugh while reading it, though.  Except for the first story. And the one about pirates. And . . . ok, fine: everybody laughed at the funny ones, just not the ones that are kinda sad. 
I am so excited.  This was a much easier journey than Blood Rain

 

“I Should Be Writing” Retreat 2018

I went to the “I Should Be Writing” Retreat last week: three days and two nights at gorgeous Loon Lake in Maple Ridge, BC.  It’s secluded and quiet as it’s located in the middle of a research forest owned by one of the local unis.

A grab-bag of my reactions and thoughts:

  • Loon Lake is near-ish the top of what the rest of the world calls a “mountain” and what people in BC call “a hill” (It’s only “a mountain” if you’ve never seen the Coastal or Rocky Mountains).
  • Regardless of what you call it, it’s above the snow line, so there were still some patches of snow on the ground. There were a few moments of decidedly chunky rain as well.
  • I might have a death wish, because when I saw the swimming dock from the balcony, I was tempted to jump in. My partner has anticipated that I might feel that way, so gave strict orders: “NO SWIMMING”. We joke (?) sometimes that I should have “LOW IMPULSE CONTROL” tattooed on my forehead (as does a character in Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash)
Swimming dock of the lake, shot from the balcony of my room.
The Swimming Dock at Loon Lake
  • Before I could work up a nice foamy head of oppositional defiance, I remembered that I actually loathe swimming in lakes.
  • I am not really “a nature person.” Probably because everything in nature is trying to kill me. (I wrote a poem about that a few months ago).
Tuesday- dining hall inside
Dining Hall at Loon Lake 
  • The chalets where we slept and the communal dining hall were comfortable, with all mod cons. Food was good, too.
  • Somehow I neglected to bring towels, but the lodge staff were very kind and hooked me up with a towel and washcloth. I’m sure my chalet-mates were very grateful I wasn’t a disgusting stinky beast the whole time.
  • I slept in a sleeping bag for the first time in fifteen years! I was worried about doing it because I’ve been known to have panic attacks when zipped into sleeping bags, esp. the “mummy” style. My friend Garnet gave me a hot tip re: zipper head co-ordination that allowed my feet the freedom I need to keep all my mental marbles where they belong. (Fun fact: I’ve had panic attacks in MRI machines, teensy-tiny bathroom stalls, and because my broken elbow was in a plaster cast and I thought about it just a little bit too much. Apparently it’s not just nature that is trying to kill me, it’s enclosed spaces as well)
  • I didn’t get any “writing” done, but I’m not in “writing” mode (which is to say “drafting chapters”). I’m in “story generation” mode, with the colour-coded index cards, notebook, and fifty-seven open browser tabs reading up on the Plague of Justinian in 541 CE and the cultural beliefs of the Coast Salish peoples. Believe it or not, in the sequel to Blood Rain (working title: Blood Down the Bones) both of those things are germane.  Your mileage may vary, but I need a ten-scene outline on index cards and some character mood boards before I can get any drafting done.
  • I spoke with someone on Sunday about certain ideas I have for the next book, and she said, “That’s gross and creepy. Perfect!” I was so pleased!