Monday, November 25, 2013

Doctor Sleep: Part One by Sèphera Girón and John Palisano

Doctor Sleep Sleep Part One
By Sèphera Girón and John Palisano
John Palisano and I have known each other for several years as horror authors and as chapter heads for the Horror Writers Association. He helps run the Los Angeles branch of HWA while I run the Toronto Branch.
A few weeks ago, we were talking about the new Stephen King book, Doctor Sleep. We were having so much fun, John had the idea to share our conversation. We were both reading at the same time, which was interesting. As we’re similar in some ways: both writers, both big Stephen King readers, we are also different. We’re a decade apart in age, and he lives on the other side of another country. I’m in Southern Ontario and he's in Southern California. We’re not sure how many posts it’s going to take for us to get through this. Maybe one? Maybe two or three more? We’ll have to see. So let’s get down to business, shall we? And feel free to comment!
J.P.: Hey. I don’t know about you but when I heard there was a sequel to The Shining I was nervous. Big Steve’s a very different writer than he was all those decades ago. I love his modern work, but it’s just that. Modern.

SG: I remember when I heard there was going to be a sequel to The Shining. It was on a rare occasion when Stephen King came to Toronto and doubly rare that I heard about it in advance and was able to buy a ticket to the event. He told us that night he was writing Dr. Sleep. He even read to us. I was having such a geek-gasm that I don’t remember much of the night except that there was going to be a sequel to The Shining. My brain has been screaming with anticipation about the sequel ever since. Yes, it’s been years. I may have missed several of King’s books in recent years, only because I’m a full time writer and editor and never get to read for FUN, but I made the full out effort to read Dr. Sleep. I had to. It’s in my DNA.

J.P.:I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the description of the book. Danny as an older guy? Weird. No Overlook? No hedge animals? (they do make a cameo) How was this going to play out? What’d you think?

S.G.: I had no idea what to expect. I wondered what would happen to our Danny. Was he scarred for life from his Overlook adventure? Would he turn out to be a good guy or a bad guy or just some dude in an insane asylum? Does he still talk to his hand? Does he have nightmares about dear old dad? Will there be hedge animals? Will he be like Carrie and use his superpowers to manipulate the world around him?

J.P.: Right? Then the day came and I had it pre-ordered from Kindle and saw it download. And then I started reading it. Slowly. And I really didn’t like it. But I kept reading. I know myself. The first time I saw Fargo I didn’t like it. So many things, I didn’t like them at first, but I slowly warmed to them.

S.G. When the buzz came around that the book was coming out any minute, I was excited yet sad. I knew I’d have to stand around the bookstore reading it since buying a hardcover isn’t in the budget. But the universe smiled on me, and a colleague/fan sent me a brand new hardcover edition the day it came out! How cool and generous was THAT?

I hate the cover on the version I have. I’ve seen some better covers. But who cares about the cover. This is KING! My dude! My man! And THE SEQUEL!!!!!

J.P.: Yes, but this wasn’t what I was expecting. It wasn’t a Gothic ghost story. It wasn’t a continuation of the ghosts of the Overlook. Danny had grown into a real jerk. He didn’t do anything that I liked. He turned into a very selfish person. I didn’t like reading how sick he was. He was a drunk. A womanizer. A drifter. He didn’t seem to have much of a moral compass. What the hell? Wendy was dead. Dick Holleran was dead. This was a very lonely and depressing book.

S.G. I badly wanted a gothic ghost story. When I read The Shining, I was a teenager, in the seventies. I bought the book and sat in my room (in the basement) and refused to leave until I knew how it ended. I was too afraid to close the book. I was too afraid to stop reading as if something bad would happen to me if I did. I was terrified of the hedge animals. I read that book in two days. So when I started Dr. Sleep, I cried with joy at the moldy old lady and a hedge animal reference. When I buckled my seat belt, I thought I was going on the Haunted House ride. But then there was a turn. This wasn’t going to be my gothic ghost story. This wasn’t a haunting of ghosts, live or memorex. This was a modern day battle with alcohol. I didn’t want to read about it, alcoholism, there are too many people in my life who have it, who have impacted my own life in negative ways because of THEIR disease. But I soldiered on. After all, it’s Stevie…and Danny…and SOMETHING was going to happen!

J.P.: I almost stopped reading. But then something happened.
It hit me that what I was reading was a very realistic portrayal of someone deeply addicted to alcohol. Alcoholism runs in families. It made sense. This was Jack Torrance’s son. This is the side of Jack only glimpsed off in “The Shining” all those years ago. We were seeing it front and center inside Danny. But only Dan didn’t have a family. Times were different. People married earlier in Jack’s era. It was less common to be a single man.
So then I thought: this is brilliant, he’s really showing us the poison personality that took Jack down. Now we’re seeing it taking Dan down.

S.G. Danny on the benders felt so real, and I guess because it’s Stephen King’s battle too. And though I had the disappointment that this wasn’t The Shining Part Two, I accepted the turn in the road and endured Danny’s difficult and heartbreaking journey of drunk despair. I did feel ripped off that we didn’t spend more time with Wendy but hey, horror comes in all forms and the horror was, Wendy wasn’t who we thought she was and she didn’t have a starring role in Dr. Sleep. I read The Shining as a young virgin teenager. I read Dr. Sleep as the mother of two adult sons and the star of two magnificently horrible divorces. So I wondered how Wendy had aged, what kind of mother would she be in Dr. Sleep, but…well, that turned out to be a non-issue. King is a master manipulator even if you think he’s “lazy” “forgetful” or “contrary” with his treatment of Dr. Sleep. He didn’t give us Wendy not because he’s any of those things but because he’s a cruel bastard and a masterful storyteller. He gave us something NEW.

J.P.: There was enough along the way to hint that something else was coming. Something supernatural. And then the True Knot appeared. The group of roving, white trash-esque demons. The eaters of the steam. Steam stolen from those with The Shining. Kids. Babies. The True Knot are nasty evil things. Very reminiscent to me of Insomnia and Hearts in Atlantis. I started seeing connections to a lot of other of King’s stories and novels. Not direct references, like when he sets all the stories in the same town of Castle rock, but in that there’s something else working together to do very bad things. From then on it was hard for me to put it down.

S.G.: Seriously? I thought, okay. Here’s where the connections are going to happen. Here’s where King is going to take us on a journey that we didn’t expect, after all, that’s what he does. Why WOULD he write The Shining Part Two?!? He’s Stephen-Fucking-King and he’s going to put loop-de-loups on the roller coaster that we won’t expect. And he did.

J.P.: I know! And then it was like seeing the gears working behind the scenes of all these horrible things that have happened in King stories over the decades. It seems that they were being tied together somehow. And then I fell in love with Dr. Sleep. It got under my skin in a way few new novels have been able to do.
What was that first third of the book like for you? Did you have the same kind of feelings or were you swept away right in the beginning?
The writing style is also remarkably different than The Shining. What did you think of all the nods to the original book? The woman in the room? The hedge animals. The Overlook burning down and still haunting Dannie?

S.G.: The writing style is different, definitely. I’ve not read The Shining in over twenty years. I re-read it in University and now and again, glance through bits of it. I love the nods in Dr. Sleep to The Shining. In that first third of the book, it was that jagged nerve-wracking click-click-click up the first hill of the roller coaster…I get impatient with set-ups but I know how King works and you don’t want to miss a word of set-up because he will give us the pay-off at some point…or so the theory goes…
So by the first third of the book, I had my own whirlwind of emotions. Excitement, disappointment, intrigue…and that’s enough for me to keep turning the pages…


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Captured Souls Coming in February 2014 from Samhain Horror

In February 2014, Captured Souls will be published by Samhain Publishing.

This book marks my official return to the horror genre and to writing in general.

The past few years have been a whirlwind, an emotional time that led me little brain space for original thought. I wrote a few stories and played with ebooks.

I wrote Captured Souls.

This is a story about a mad scientist at a university who uses grant money for nefarious experiments.

Our mad scientist, Dr. Miriam Frederick, keeps a diary about her diabolical deeds. She captures people who strike her fancy and attempts to program them to love and lust after only her.

A writer.
An athlete.
A beauty.

However, as it tends to happen, things don't go as our control freak scientist desires.

For a taste of what you might expect from Captured Souls, you can see me reading a passage at one of the Chizinepub Series.

Captured Souls and Haunted Mansion Project Two Reading

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mimico Celebrates Samhain with a Pumpkin Parade

On November 1, 2013, the residents of Etobicoke brought their pumpkins to Mimico Park for a pumpkin parade.
The event had been advertised for weeks and hundreds of people arrived with pumpkins in wagons, strollers, and in their arms.
The pumpkins were assembled in lines along the band shell and in front of it. There were so many pumpkins that they surrounded the playground and paraded alongside The Birds and the Bees Coffee Shop.
Many people and animals wore costumes, the excitement of Halloween echoing through the park for another night.
Mimico park is a beautiful area, right on the lake, and as the sun set, and the jack-o-lanterns flickered, it was a magnificent Halloween sight to behold.
The pumpkin parade is a clever way to collect all the pumpkins in the neighbourhood for compost. Instead of pumpkins rotting on the porch for weeks, they are brought to the parade for one last party and then sent to the mulch pile.
Some children didn't want to sacrifice their pumpkins even though the truck was nowhere in sight. There were many parents carrying pumpkins back home again with a crying child trailing behind.
The Mimico Pumpkin Parade is a great idea on so many levels. It was wonderful to see all the different carvings and imaginations at play. It likely saves a lot of money to pick up hundreds of pumpkins in one spot and keeps the neighborhood free of pumpkin smashing vandals and rot.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Full Blood Moon Charms

Tarotpaths Store on Etsy
During the full blood moon in Aries on Friday, I created new charms to sell in my Etsy store. Each of these little dudes comes with a coffin.

I made four black bird charms as well as the skulls. I have a few listed in my store already and will keep adding each one until they are all there.

In August,  I made New Blue Moon in Aquarius charms and they sold out before I even had a chance to post them in my Etsy store. 
Each charm is unique and powered with good intent.

Some charms are geared for money luck, others for romance. All the charms are charged with light, love, luck, harmony, good health, and more. 

Charms that have more green in them and have yellow stones (citrine) are great for   money luck and health energy. Keep them in your wealth corner or on your desk.

Charms that contain more red and pink are good for attracting romantic vibrations as well as healing broken hearts.

There are no two charms that are alike.

Each charm contains a special blend of incense for activating the full moon energy.

One day I saw a collection of Black-Eyed-Susan stems lying on the ground, the petals have fallen off weeks ago. It looked like perhaps someone had been making a bouquet, a child likely, and then dropped it (or told to stop since it's illegal in a park.) I picked up a couple of the buds and put them into my pocket. I looked up the meaning and saw "justice." I thought this would be a good addition to the full moon incense I purchased in Salem several years ago.

During the lunar eclipse, I ground the susans into the incense and put a bit into each vial for good luck.

If you put the vial on your bedroom window sill during a full moon, you can recharge it with any intent you desire. You don't have to use a money charm for money or a love charm for love. If a color or stone appeals to you, go with your gut. The vibrations of crystals operate on levels that we don't fully understand and there may be something in that vial that appeals to you.

If you want to purchase one of these Full Blood Moon in Aries charms for Halloween, birthday, Christmas, or any other occasion, I will warn that these too may fly fast.
Who may want to own one of these items? Don't forget, it comes with a hand painted coffin.
Horror Fan
Horror Writer
Halloween Display
Halloween Decoration
Halloween Haunted House
Vampire Fan
Walking Dead Fan
American Horror Story: Coven Fan
Charmed Fan
Stephen King Fan
Anne Rice Fan
Twilight Fan
Harry Potter Fan
There are many types of people who may find such items an intriguing addition to his or her collection for any occasion. 
Blessed Be.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Scarlett Editorial Services: Editorial Services

Scarlett Editorial Services: Editorial Services: Fiction, non-fiction, anthologies, textbooks, children's books, bibles, religious memoirs, poetry, horror, romance, erotica, science f...

Monday, October 14, 2013

More on Miley

I think the general dismay or downright hostility to Miley Cyrus stems from selective memory. I still stand by my opinion that previous female stars have been just as scandalous if not worse.

What about Marilyn Monroe on Playboy magazine?

At any rate, after watching all the brouhaha over the past few weeks, I've decided that I think I've figured out why everyone is so mad at Miley for the VHS awards performance boils down to this:

Robin Thicke sang Blurred Lines which has a video with naked women dancing around him. Those who didn't know this before the awards show should maybe have googled this after the show to see what this "medley" was emulating. Thicke's wife has no problem with her husband in a naked girl video so why would she care if a fully clothed teen idol gyrates against him in mock imitation?

The reason why people are upset with Miss Miley stems deeper. Miley is emulating the video however, this makes her more like a backup dancer to Robin's stardom than perhaps doing something a bit different to indicate she is on equal footing.

As I've said before, I personally have zero issues with Miley's performance. You have an issue, discuss it with the choreographer, the producer, the director, the other dancers and then make a decision. she didn't just "break out twerking." This multimillion dollar production is carefully choreographed down to the last light bulb overhead.

People want Miley to be more than a "backup dancer." She's a kid. Think back to what YOU were doing at twenty. Did YOU have your shit together? I know I didn't! I still don't. So who are we all to be pointing at her about how to run her career. She's just doing what her sisters did before her and good for her.

I'll be interested to see how she's doing in ten year when she's matured. I'm sure there's many tabloid years ahead before she settles into a steady career move.

I was impressed with her performance on Saturday Night Live. She did a good job and was a good sport.

Miley will find her footing as a media queen. Cut her some slack, she'll figure it all out. She's just having fun and who can blame her. Honestly, if you were in her position wouldn't you want to have some fun and thumb your nose at everyone too? After all, she has to compete with peers such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Adele and likely, Lordes.

Stop and Breathe


It's been a heck of a year in the horror genre. I've had many friends and peers diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses. Others have died.

I want to call a stop to all the death and sadness. Yes, it's 2013  thirteen - yes. Have there been thirteen? I think there have been more just on my facebook alone.

This year, three people who had personal impact on my life in many significant ways died.

One from heart disease, one from cancer, one from alcoholism.

The heart disease friend dropped dead suddenly. One minute posting on facebook, the next minute, dead.

The cancer friend was feeling ill around this time last year, diagnosed with cancer around Christmas, had a long and painful treatment, managed to reign over his convention, Necon, in July though frail and then quietly died with loved ones a few weeks ago.

The alcoholic friend was a tragic waste. Years of self-destructive behaviour took its inevitable toll on his career, his marriage, his friends, and ultimately, his health. He was disconnected from life support last week because he had destroyed his organs beyond repair.

Life is short. Life is fleeting. Life can be hard or it may be easy. There is always change. There are always new beginnings you can create if you have your health. You never know when your last day is coming so, as the cliché goes, treat each day as your last.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Miley Cyrus Twerks Scandal Observations

                                               Beetlejuice and Tank Girl!
Last night when I was working and surfing online, I noticed intriguing comments about the VMAs performance by Miley Cyrus. There were also some weirdo photos; some shopped, some not. The Tank Girl twerking Beetleguise photo I saw was the final straw. I just HAD to go and look at what the fuss was about.
I went to Youtube to watch the clip. In case you've not seen it, here it is:
At first I was a bit stunned but perhaps I'm just jaded from fetish clubs and reality shows. It was kind of dumb but not THAT bad. As well, I just spent four days with an author booth at Fan Expo which means watching over 100,000 people walk, prance, skip, roll, hobble, crawl, and slither around in costumes. So, I already had giant teddy bears and half naked space girls burned into my retinas as I stared wearily at the monitor.
I had never watched Hannah Montana but was aware of who Miley is, who daddy is, read mountains of the tabloid headlines, and champion her affair with the herb. It was already obvious to this mommy that she's been pushing the envelope for a few years now. So what's next? Why not get nasty? Worked for Madonna, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Cher, and many more before her? What photograph put Norma Jean on the map? Playboy. Even Burt Reynolds got in on it back in the day with Playgirl. Sex sells. Scandals for everyone.
I thought about it all and wasn't too sure what I thought. I thought and I thought until my thinker was sore. She was ugly and crass but was she worse than any of her predecessors?
I worked some more and then when I went to bed, I turned on my TV. Lo and behold, the station was still on Much Music from the night before and the timing was weirdly right when her number started on a replay of the VMAs (MuchMusic always runs award shows twice in a row and then multiple times for a week or so) so I watched it on the TV too. So after watching it twice, I what? 

Remember when Cher freaked everyone out with her "scandalous" outfit at the Oscars? That outfit now is not so scandalous at all. She has a killer body so it looks "worse" than it really is.

Remember Madonna gyrating around the black priest and everyone freaking out about her desecrating the Catholic church? How she masturbated in her live show? How she published a fetish book with pictures of herself performing what was at the time scandalous acts? Everyone said she went way too far. And every time, she'd go further until other acts came along.

Remember when Sinead O'Connor ripped up the pope?

Remember when Boy George was the weirdest freak anyone had ever seen outside of the Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings?

Yeah, I do....hell, Elvis got in shit for a hip roll on TV before I was even born! Hip roll...booty shake...twerking...what next?
As for Disney scandals, Christina Aguilera took a lot of heat with her videos. Britney Spears goes through wacky episodes but always makes it back. Her Catholic schoolgirl routine was considered pretty racy for the time.

 So now we have Miley twerking with teddy bears. Big Deal.

The gypsies on the gypsy shows have been twerking for several seasons and now I know what it's called!

I was more disturbed by the Beetlejuice costume that likely wasn't supposed to be a Beetlejuice costume though it would have been funnier it had been. Maybe it was. I don't know.
Lord knows I saw enough Beetlejuice guys and girls this past weekend that to me, that's the first place my mind went. And maybe I was correct. I recognized the songs but don't "know" them. I wasn't sure what the anime stuff was all about but as I said, it was just one more anime thing to me after being immersed for eight hours on that day alone!
The whole tongue caricature thing to match her shirt, etc. was just dumb. Not sexy. Not funny. But she pushed it. The girl has balls, as she showed us very clearly. This was indeed the kind of performance I would expect at a SexShow midnight cabaret. I think other artists are just as nasty so I'm not so sure why she's being singled out. I guess cos it just happened. It also takes our minds off all the horrible things going on in the world.
It's the same reason people are so passionate about the Ben Affleck as Batman casting. It's something safe to have an opinion about. We can argue about whether this career choice is wise or not for a multi-millionaire who just wants to have fun. Who can blame him? I'd jump at being Batman too. Sure we won't get some great movies from Affleck for a while but maybe we will. Who knows?
Does it really matter who plays Batman? As many have argued, almost any of us could play Batman. Ben's a comic book geek. Let him play dress-up!
So complaining about Miley gyrating like a horny bear against a tree or Ben donning a superhero suit is really kind of silly.
Popular culture. Where would we be without it?
It's a magnificent diversion from the daily grind, the horrors of war, the insanity of gun violence, and all of the conflicting opinions that go with them.
Miley is breaking free as girls her age do. Just as Justin Bieber is doing. It's hard to push the envelope when you're competing with Lady Gaga and Madonna and all of the others.
Miley's name is out there now. She got what she wanted. Her name on everyone's lips.
You gotta give her credit for that.