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Posts Tagged ‘Monsters’

As Halloween approaches, I think about what monsters frightened me as a child.

I always suspected there were monstrous creatures under my bed, and never let my hands or feet hang over the edge so “they” wouldn’t grab me and drag me under the bed. Likewise, I avoided shadowy places, just in case the shadow-monsters were lurking there, ready to pull me into their shadow world.

With evil clowns capturing recent headlines, I hesitate to mention my dislike of clowns (and mimes – their silent partners in frightening children). My friends thought Bozo and others of his kind were laugh-out-loud funny. But not me. I didn’t want to watch their antics at circuses and fairs, and certainly didn’t want to interact with them at parties.

As for Frankenstein’s monster, I always felt compassion for the fellow. It wasn’t his fault he was the way he was. Dracula? Even as a kid, it seemed fairly easy to me to avoid his fangs – wear a cross around your neck and line your windows with garlic. The whole wooden stake in the heart thing seemed unnecessary if you were careful.

Werewolves were more problematic. I couldn’t imagine myself shooting anyone or anything with a regular bullet, much less a silver one. And as a kid, I had no access to guns – unless you count water pistols and cap guns. And when I thought about zombies, I thought I could out-run their slow shambling gait.

I suppose all those childhood monsters and more have appeared (or are destined to appear) in my dark fantasy and horror stories. One of the benefits of being a writer – I can destroy monsters or make them “nicer” by just typing a few words!

Here’s a link to a wonderful post on Victorian Monsters from my writing friend, Andrew McDowell.

Now, it’s your turn. What monsters frighten you?

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“A world in which there are monsters, and ghosts, and things that want to steal your heart is a world in which there are angels and dreams, and a world in which there is hope.” – Neil Gaiman

And this is the kind of world Neil Gaiman sets his stories in — and the kind of world most speculative writers try to set the stories in. Me, included.

Neverwhere was the first Gaiman novel I read — I’ve been a fan of his writing ever since. Neverwhere is set in the subways and underground world of London. In my mind’s eye, I imagined all the stations mentioned and districts of London. I imagined the smells, sights, and sounds of the London, England above and below. I thought I heard the distinct British accent of the characters, also.

I had the good fortune to visit London this summer — using the subways (or The Tube, as most everyone I met referred to it) for transportation. London above and below was an experience I’ll not soon forget. And as good as my imagination is, I didn’t get the location of Neverwhere quite right.

Neil Gaiman does a great job of creating his Neverwhere world (complete with monsters, ghost, things that want to steal your heart, angels and dreams). And now, I’m re-reading the novel to add my experiences in the locations mentioned to the book experience.

That said, I think there might be room for me to use a few of the quirky things and people I saw in London above and below to create my own London story — with monsters, ghosts, angels, dreams…and hope.

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 2012 has started off with a bang! Tomorrow, I’ll be part of a Cold Moon Press presentation at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC at 12 noon. Besides reading an excerpt from my zombie love story, I’ll be discussing how to use traditional creatures/ characters from myths & folklore in creative writing. The public is invited if any of you are in the area and interested.

Again this year, my art work and writing are nominated in the Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll (which closes at 12 midnight, Jan. 10, 2012). For those who’d like to read the story- Blood of the Swan (published in “While the Morning Stars Sing”); the nonfiction piece originally published in Little Patuxent ReviewFairies, Magic & Monsters; or the poem published this December in EMG-ZinePenelope for free until Jan. 20th, you can go to: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/preds__eds_nominated_work

 Also nominated are my magazine cover for September 2011’s Aoife’s Kiss, the cover of my book The Greener Forest, and one of the illustrations from that book: Ningyo (reprinted here).

I just finished designing 2 logos for new imprints at Cold Moon Press – and they’ve been emailed to the editor for approval. (When approved & with the editor’s permission, I’ll give you a peek at them later.)

The end of 2011 featured a guest blog, Holiday Traditions for the Writer, on Tracy S. Morris’ website: http://tinyurl.com/holiday-traditions-VWC-blog and 2 interviews. The 1st is about being an illustrator: http://tinyurl.com/eraserburns-interview-vonnie   and the 2nd about being a fantasy writer: http://tinyurl.com/funzone-interview-vonnie

And for those interested in reading what I have to say about what goes into choosing a cover for a book, you can check out my guest blog at Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog: http://wp.me/p18Ztn-1Fa

And now, I need to focus on completing several stories for my next book. Title and other details will be announced shortly. Till then, here’s a hint: Dusk, darkness, and owls are involved!

Here’s hoping that each of you has a healthy and prosperous 2012.

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I’m back from a week in the mountains of West Virginia, and I’m filled with both longing for the quiet of the deep forest and eagerness to resume my “normal” life. Coming home after a trip is always like that. I miss the excitement of adventure and travel, but relish the familiarity of Wood’s Edge.

 I think my writing is like that, too. As a writer, I was first a poet. This spring/summer, I worked hard on an essay, “Fairies, Magic & Monsters,” that appears in the latest issue of “Little Patuxent Review,” and on a number of short stories for various magazines and anthologies. By tomorrow noontime, I need to finish my next column for “Harford’s Heart Magazine” and get it emailed to my editor. And before next weekend, I really need to complete an article promised to an editor ages ago. Then, I suppose I’ll write a poem or two. You see, poetry for me is like a faded, well-worn pair of jeans — comfortable and easy to slip into.

 For those who might like to read a couple of my poems, the fabulous new anthology from Maryland Writer’s Association, “Life in Me like Grass on Fire,” contains “Harpers Ferry” and “Venus.” Per usual, I used myth, folklore, and legend in both poems. As a bonus for being part of the book, I got a chance to share “Harpers Ferry” and chat about contributing to anthologies at a meeting of the Howard County Branch of MWA in July. It was lovely to spend an evening with a group of enthusiastic readers & writers.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Sharing the love of words with like-minded individuals. So thanks, MWA for including my poems and inviting me to participate in several special presentations based on “Life in Me like Grass on Fire.”

Now, back to my column…

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J.R.R. Tolkien wrote: “Little by little, one travels far.”

I believe Tolkien got it right, whether you think about a real trip, or one of life’s journeys. As for me, I’ve been on an interesting journey lately — embracing my love of myth, legend, and folklore, and pursuing publication opportunities in those genres.

Besides my “Fairy Stories, Magic, and Monsters” essay in the forthcoming “Make Believe” issue of  The Little Patuxent Review, I have 2 poems, “Harpers Ferry” & “Venus,” due out in the Maryland Writers’ Association anthology, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. Both incorporate myth.

Paper Crow magazine just accepted my poem based on a fairytale villian, “A wolf is kept fed by his feet.” My story which features the Daughter of Winter called “On a Midwinter’s Eve,” was just accepted by Tales of the Talisman. And the anthology, In the Garden of the Crow, accepted, “Kingdom Across the River,” a poem of mine that is filled with nursery rhyme and fairytale references.

As part of the process of promoting my collection of fantasy stories, The Greener Forest, I’m attending SynDCon in Rockville, MD on Sat., April 2. And I just attended Mythic Faire a couple of weeks ago where I not only sold a few books, but I got to meet British folklore expert and author of 150 books, John Matthews.

And yes, my geekiness was on full display as I asked a pleasant John Matthews to sign 5 of his nonfiction books for me. I could have lugged along several more, but the volumes were so heavy I risked injury if I loaded them in my backpack. John seems to have happily written about folklore and myth for decades. Me? I’ve just recently gotten brave enough to listen to my heart, and pursue my passion for writing and painting work rooted in myth, legend, folklore, and fairytales.

Finally, I’m taking those little steps with the hope of journeying far, and I encourage each of you, writer or not, to find your passion and pursue it. Deepak Chopra writes: “Listen to our heart, your heart knows.” I believe he’s right.

For those who’d like a peek at the opening poem of The Greener Forest, you can visit poet, editor, educator & mom, Laura Shovan’s March 25th Poetry Friday blog:  http://authoramok.blogspot.com/2011/03/poetry-friday-make-believe.html  Thanks Laura for featuring my poem, and for your kind words about my book.

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The theme of the upcoming issue of the Maryland-based literary magazine, Little Patuxent Review, is “Make Believe.”  I’m delighted to say I’ll have an essay titled, “Fairy Stories, Magic, and Monsters,” in that issue.

Though I need to address Editor Laura’s suggestions, the essay will remain much as I first wrote it. In examining our enduring fascination with fantasy, I was able to use examples from stories by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, J.K. Rowling, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Neil Gaiman, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Nancy Werlin, March Cost, and Charles Dickens. But I could have written a much longer, more involved essay which included the work of dozens of other authors who’ve given readers magical worlds to inhabit as they turned the pages of a book.

 In my new book, The Greener Forest, I tried to bring a bit of that magic to my readers. Have I succeeded? Only time will tell. But I did receive my first email from someone who bought a copy of The Greener Forest, reprinted here with permission:

“Hello! I bought a copy of your book at the Mythic Faire in Maryland.  I finished it in one sitting–I couldn’t put it down.  Thanks for an enjoyable read; your stories were sincere &  full of wonder and joy. Keep up the great work! — K. Masters”

And thank you, K. Masters, for your note. Writing is a solitary passion and it’s nice to know that someone besides your editor enjoys the fantasy worlds you’ve created. Want your copy of The Greener Forest? Visit: http://coldmoonpress.com/quickbuy.html  And remember, the world is full of mystery & magic. We just need to look, listen, and believe that wondrous things are still possible.

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