Monday, December 26, 2011

News of a contest from Lyrical Press

The First Annual Lyrical Press How Lyrical is Your Romance? Contest opens on Monday, January 16th. This contest is open to both published and unpublished authors.
Entries must be complete works, ranging in word count between 15,000-100,000 words, any heat level, and fit into one of the following subgenre categories:

Contemporary romance
Historical romance
Paranormal or urban fantasy romance
Romantic steampunk
Romantic Suspense
1st Place: $200 advance and digital publishing contract (advance payable as $100 upon finalized contract and $100 upon publication).
2nd Place: $100 advance and digital publishing contract (advance payable as $50 upon finalized contract and $50 upon publication).
3rd Place: Top-scoring contestant in each genre category will receive an acquiring editor’s critique of synopsis and first 50 pages of manuscript.
File type: .rtf, .doc, or .docx only
12pt black font (Times New Roman, Cambria, Courier or Georgia preferred)
Line spacing: 1.5
Margins: 1" all
Page-breaks between chapters
Please include a title page listing the following information:
Legal name
Pen name
Email address
Contact phone
Working title (include series name and details if applicable)
Word count
Entries will be accepted from January 16, 2012 through February 5, 2012, and must be emailed to Entries sent to an email other than the aforementioned will be ignored. Please include book title and contest in subject line thusly: Booktitle – How Lyrical Is Your Romance?. Attach full manuscript, and 2-5 page synopsis in .rtf, .doc, or .docx format (Booktitle_MS and Booktitle_SYN as file names--your book title replaces “Booktitle”). After February 5, the contest will close, but we’ll still be accepting submissions as always at our address.
No entry fee required. Judges reserve the right to Decline to Judge any entry if it does not fit our lines, level of writing is not acceptable, or submission guidelines are not followed.
Entries will be judged on the following criteria: Hook, Pacing/Plot, Characterization, Dialogue, Mechanics, and Author Voice.
Winners will be announced on March 12, 2012 via our blog and direct emails to winners.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sara stops by my spot

Sara Jayne Townsend has a taste for solving mysteries, and it shows in her fiction. I've had the pleasure of working with her on two of her novels, which she published through Lyrical Press, and I invited her to stop by my blog today to chat a little bit about the art and craft of writing.

Plus she's a gal after my own heart. She's learning to play bass guitar!

Welcome, Sara!

Although your first novel has supernatural elements, you show a tendency toward murder-mysteries. Are there any novels/authors that are influential with regard to this?

Sara Paretsky is hugely inspiring to me. Her character, VI Warshawski, was the first female private eye in the field of crime fiction, and I still hold her up as a shining example of a strong-minded, independent woman, and she introduced me to the genre of crime with a female heroine. In fact, this is what inspired me to try to write a series of my own featuring a female amateur sleuth.

Ebooks aren't tangible and, so far as I can see, the ereader market is still growing outside of the US. How do you market yourself in the UK?

It’s hard with ebooks as you have no physical product to sell to people. On the other hand, bricks-and-mortar bookshops are in decline as virtual bookshops like Amazon rise ever higher, and even print authors are turning more to the internet to market their books. The good thing about the internet is that it’s global. Virtually all of my marketing is done online. As well as having a website and a regular blog, I utilise social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, etc. I also do guest blogs and online interviews whenever I can, just to try and get my name out there as much as possible.

On top of a day-job, how do you balance your writing/reading schedule?

It can be tough. It seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. I have a two-hour journey every day on public transport to and from work, and I do most of my reading on the train.

I used to be able to write late into the night and then get up for work five hours later and still function, but now I’m the wrong side of 40 I can’t do that any more. I find when I get home from work I’m too exhausted to write productively, so I use that time for writing blog posts, answering emails, and whatever other marketing activities need doing. And fitting in all the other non-writing aspects of my life such as going to the gym and learning the bass guitar.

For the last couple of years, I have been getting up early a couple of times a week and going into London on the early train, sitting in Starbucks for an hour to write before heading into work. And I try to get some writing time in on weekends if I can. This is working for me, but if someone had told me fifteen years ago I would be voluntarily getting out of bed at 5,30am to write, I wouldn’t have believed them.

First and foremost, all authors are readers. What are the next three books on your "to be read" list and why?

Body Work by Sara Paretsky. As I mentioned earlier, I am a huge fan of Sara Paretsky. I had the privilege of meeting her when she was in the UK earlier this year as part of a tour to promote her latest book and I got a personalized signed copy of it.

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. I am a big fan of Jim Butcher’s series about contemporary Chicago wizard Harry Dresden. I read Changes recently. Without giving away any spoilers, the book finishes on something of a climax. I had to go buy the next book to find out what happens next.

Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold. This is a debut novel by a friend of mine, soon to be released by Solaris. Gaie is an amazing writer and I am so pleased that she’s now got a novel in the public domain, so everyone can enjoy it. Although it’s fantasy, which isn’t really my genre, the title character of Babylon Steel is just my sort of woman – independent, and strong-minded. She’s an ex-mercenary who runs a brothel. Gaie has a witty and easy-to-read style of writing and I am looking forward to reading her debut novel.

How has your approach to writing changed since publication of your novels? What have you learnt about yourself?

I’ve learned that I’m quite lazy and have had to become far more disciplined about my approach to writing. We all have the same number of hours in the day, it’s how we use them. As I mentioned earlier, getting up early to write is one change I’ve made to ensure that I do get some writing in every week. I also spend a lot more time on internet promotion. This can often seem like a thankless task with no immediate reward, but I think it’s important. Building one’s name as a writer is a very slow and gradual process.

I’ve also learned about some of my own bad habits in writing – such as feeling the need to describe every single detail. In early drafts of Death Scene, when my amateur sleuth got out of the car, she didn’t just get out of the car. She put the brake on, turned off the engine, undid the seat belt, opened the door, got out, collected her bag, shut the door, locked the car, walked away. I think this comes from my own rather anal habit of attention to detail, but the reader will imply she’s done all these things just by her getting out of the car.

What, in your opinion, are the three greatest mistakes authors make when promoting their writing?

One is to assume they haven’t got time for promotion. Many writers have said to me they don’t blog because blogging detracts from writing time, and it has no affect on sales. I know it’s said that the most effective way of selling your book is to write the next one, and I have no doubt that’s true, but the industry is changing and it’s becoming ever important to get yourself Out There. Readers find an author they like, chances are they are going to Google that author. The more places on the internet you can be found, the better. Blogging is a very good platform for getting yourself Out There. You don’t even have to blog about writing – readers want to know about the writer as a person. Most people think they lead quite boring lives, but other people are interested in aspects of your life unfamiliar to them. I find commuting to London every day very boring, but people who don’t live in London seem to find the tales I tell on my blog about my daily commute interesting. If only one person decides to buy your book because they came upon your blog and decided you were an interesting person, then it’s been worth doing.

However, you have to be careful of over-exposure, which I would list as Mistake Number 2. If you’re on Twitter, you shouldn’t be using it solely to tell people to buy your books six times a day. There’s a fine line between being proactive and being intrusive. Tweet regularly, but Tweet about other things as well as your book.

The third mistake is, I think, writers who take criticism too personally and decide they are going to use the internet as a public forum to defend their book. I’ve seen – rather too often, it seems – a writer who’s had universal praise have a rather public meltdown when someone posts a less-than-favourable review about the latest book. Some writers have felt the need to defend their book, which has often involved attacking the reviewer. Growing a thick skin isn’t easy, and it does rather cut to the bone when someone really doesn’t like your book, and says so. But the author biting back on this doesn’t look professional, and ultimately will not help sales. Not everyone’s going to like your book. That’s just something you have to live with.

* * * *

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of horror and crime fiction.
She has two novels, Death Scene and Suffer the Children available as ebooks from Lyrical Press, and a collection of short stories scheduled for release in 2012 from Stumar Press.

You can learn more about Sara and her writing from her website and her blog.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's all about image

I'm very fortunate to be part of a burgeoning creative scene here in Cape Town, and was honoured to work with the very talented Leon Visser on the cover art for my upcoming Lyrical Press release, What Sweet Music They Make. We had a fun-filled day shooting with our two lovely models, Lohan and Anika then chose the two images we'd work with. It's good to have options. And it was a difficult decision at the end of the day, because both images had their charms.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday at Lyrical Press

Shop at Lyrical Press on Black Friday and save 50% on our entire catalog of digital books (and you don't even have to get up early and stand in line all day!)

Have a Kindle? Have a Nook? No problem! Lyrical books are compatible for most reading devices.

So this is an unashamed plug from me telling you to GO BUY MY BOOKS.

Yes, you can read it on your iPad too, you geek.

Why? 'cos I'm not ashamed to say that I rock and will give those hankering after vintage Poppy Z Brite, Storm Constantine and Neil Gaiman some of the good, dark stuff.

The wickedest man in Africa has problems, and they can't all be solved by magic.

Occult bookshop owner and black arts magician James Edward Guillaume reckons he has it all, and enjoys living up his reputation as South Africa's "wickedest man", a nice house, a business that's breaking even and the pick of all the pretty Goth girls and boys in Cape Town.

Little does he know, a group of violent Christo-militants are panting at his heels, ready to destroy his carefully constructed fantasy world. To add mischief to his misery, he's unwittingly unleashed a terrifying demonic entity, and he alone holds the key to The Burning One's secret. To bring order out of the chaos, all James has to do is conquer his personal demons, teach a rather nasty, self-righteous sod a lesson in humility and find out whether he can win back the trust of an old flame. Only, as James discovers, getting back on top is hell on earth.

Just when the wickedest man in Africa thought the nightmare was over...

Still recovering from the trauma of his encounter with the Christo-militants who tried to kill him, Jamie only wants to get his life back on track. This is easier said than done when he’s essentially blackmailed into helping solve a case involving alleged cult activity.

To complicate matters further, the media gets involved and Jamie has to tread carefully. However, soon the hunter becomes the hunted and Jamie faces some difficult choices. Will his uneasy symbiosis with The Burning One save him or will he be tempted to grasp for more power than he can possible hold?

How far will you travel to lay your dead to rest?

Struggling to come to terms with her boyfriend Aidan’s death, Chloë is ill prepared to deal with the violent murder of his best friend. When tantalizing evidence suggests there is more to Aidan’s apparent death than meets the eye, Chloë will not let her lack of material resources keep her from uncovering the truth, even if the truth proves far more dangerous and with a far more sinister nature than she bargained for.

Hell's Music (writing as Therese von Willegen)

Sometimes trouble comes in a very appealing package.

It's never nice when your boyfriend leaves you for someone else. It's even more of a slap in the face when he leaves you for a man. Emily Clark has put her wild years and the boyfriend she considered "safe" behind her, ensconcing herself in a Luddite lah-lah land centered on her second-hand bookstore.

But when her self-absorbed sister runs away from home to end up on her doorstep, Emily discovers the past has a funny way of creeping back into her life. And when an alternative musician uses her shop as a hideaway from a nosy reporter, Emily finds herself falling for the enigmatic man. By the time she realizes his celebrity status, it's too late--she's head over heels for Simon van Helsdingen, a notorious shock-rocker. Not only must she deal with her sister's delinquent ways and their dysfunctional family, but Emily must navigate the stormy seas of
being with a man whose reputation for trouble puts Ozzy Osbourne in the

Monday, November 21, 2011

On Agents--a discussion with Louise Fury

A few months ago I had the pleasure of having coffee with literary agent Louise Fury, whose refreshing attitude toward the publishing industry immediately had me perking up. Thank you, Louise, for stopping by my blog today and answering some of the questions I wish I'd had answered way back when I was first starting out.

When you receive submissions, what sort of stories are you tired of seeing?

The same old vampire tales and things that have been done to death. I am looking for “fresh” takes on old tales, beautiful imagery and well-crafted dialogue.
What are some things queriers do that elicit a "hell no" reaction from you?
I am going to be very honest and tell you that it is rare that I read past any first paragraphs that start with someone waking up or dreaming. I read tons of submissions a day and at least eight or nine of them start with someone waking up. It has been and continues to be done to death! The beginning of your story doesn’t always start at the beginning of the day. It starts at THE BEGINNING of the story! The moment/s leading up to the event/person/etc. that everything changed. If you can’t find a unique and creative way to start, I question your instincts and creativity.
I don’t appreciate photographs of yourself, I delete unsolicited attachments and I don’t need to know about your personal life or family. I only care about your work, your experience and the story you are trying to get me to read.
What can authors do to make your life easier?
Follow submission guidelines as listed on our website:
What do you, as an agent, offer your clients? What can they expect from you?
I bring to the table years of experience in the marketing and publishing industry, I brainstorm new ideas, listen to old ones, help with edits and structure. I make sure their work is ready for submission, prepare and send it to my editorial contacts and advocate for my author. There are so many things an agent does and it is not only about getting and negotiating a publishing contract. I cannot list all the things I do here, but I am part of a team – foreign/translation agents, film agents, marketing professionals, contract managers etc. I do not work alone, my colleagues and I work together and my authors benefit from the entire team. I also happen to be part of an agency that has been around for more than 20 years and is always adapting to meet industry changes and demands. We are very careful to evolve and we embrace change. Our clients know that we always try to get through the wall first. We were ahead of the pack when it came to the digital revolution and we continue to strive to stay ahead. Out clients come first and sometimes that means taking some heat for being the first to adapt to change, but we don’t mind, because this is an ever-changing industry and we will always make sure to move forward.
Bad agents, they're out there. What are the warning signs authors should look out for when encountering these entities?
Don’t pay anything up front for representation.
Know the industry. Don’t listen to gossip. Do your research and you won’t have to worry. The warning signs are always different, but if you have done your research, it should not be a problem. Not all agents are created equal and not all agent/author relationships work out. But it is not always the agent or author’s fault. Sometimes personalities clash. Be careful of rumors because just as you could easily sign with someone who might be considered “bad,” you could also pass up someone good based on false facts.
Follow Louise on Twitter @louisefury or at her blog:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Pumpkin Man winner!

On October 25, horror author John Everson stopped at This Is My World for an interview while on his blog tour for his new novel THE PUMPKIN MAN. As part of the interview, he offered readers a chance to win both a grand prize of all of his novels or an e-book edition of THE PUMPKIN MAN, solely for people who entered the contest from this site. On Halloween, John had his son draw names from "the Great Pumpkin" and chose Carrie Clevenger to win the e-book from This Is My World. The full list of winners, including the grand prize, is listed over at The Pumpkin Man website. Congratulations Carrie!

For everyone who didn't win in the drawing, we hope you'll stop by the website dedicated to THE PUMPKIN MAN, read some sample chapters and free short stories, play the Ouija Board and maybe pick up a copy of the book from Amazon or the other links in The Pumpkin Man Store. Visit and check it out!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Two perspectives on publishing

There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to get published. Both traditional and small press publishing environments offer different benefits/drawbacks to authors. I’ve got my good friend and writing buddy, Cat Hellisen (author of When the Sea is Rising Red), blogging with me today about the differences in the two methods. We’ve approached our publishing careers from two very vastly different paths and I thought it would be nice to compare our journeys.

Nerine—un-agented, indie-published author
Why would you want an agent?

Although I’ve several small press and self-published titles behind my name, I still try for a literary agent because I’d be able to get an “in” with one of the bigger publishing houses. A reputable literary agent would have a vast network available to me, and would be able to negotiate a better deal for me. Essentially, I’d entrust someone who’s got a grasp on the nitty-gritties of contracts with selling my writing to the right publisher, leaving me free to concentrate on my creativity. While I’m not bemoaning the fact that I don’t have an agent, I’m not losing sleep over it either while I home my titles with reputable small presses. Remember, no agent is better than a bad agent.

How would you choose an agent?

I always run a background check on any literary agent I submit to. To this end, the Absolute Write forums are worth their weight in gold ( and I always stop by Preditors and Editors ( This is, naturally, a time-consuming task but I’m adamant I only want to deal with people who are legit. Another thing I make sure of is that the agent I’m approaching does, in fact, represent the kind of fiction I write. It’s no use submitting a dark fantasy story involving a half-demon vampire to an agent who represents mostly Christian inspirational fiction. Let’s repeat that mantra: “No agent is better than a bad agent”.

What are some of the benefits of small press publishing?

Many of the small presses allow a lot of freedom for authors to experiment with their writing and the direction their stories take. Some (not all) also offer faster turnaround from date of acceptance to release day than what one would get in a traditional environment. In my experience, dealing with a reputable small press marries the best aspects of self-publishing with traditional publishing, giving me, as an author, access to cover artists and editing expertise, with an established administration system to deal with vendors and royalties. I don’t want to still play publisher, so all the belly-aching is removed from the process. Point is, I could do this all myself, but I don’t want to.

What's the downside of small press publishing?

As a small press/indie author it’s often very difficult to make my voice heard above the absolute flood of other authors in the same boat as me. Also, I am reliant on royalties, so I often see very little return for my investment. I don’t write specifically in the “best seller” niches of erotica, and genres such as dark fantasy and/or horror still have small readerships in an electronic market. Not all my books are available in print. Some are only available in ebook format. There’s no nice advance and I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon. The only time that I have to write is during my lunch hour or over weekends. Also, I’d love to have the kind of editorial feedback a good agent would give an author, and also have the opportunity of working with more hardcore editors, which will only help improve my skills in the long run.

Your advice to authors?

Remember why you’re writing in the first place. If it’s because you want to make lots of money and be the next Rowling or Meyer, stop right there and step away from the computer. Like any other author, I’d love to get that elusive, six-figure book deal, but I’m realistic about it. I write stories because I enjoy writing stories. I’m grateful that a number of small presses have faith in my abilities by extending contracts to publish my writing. I’m even more grateful to the people who buy my books then tell me how much they enjoyed my stories. If, at some point, I reach that mythical number of a thousand true fans, that’s also peachy keen. Be prepared to do a lot of self-promotion, and be active on Twitter, Facebook and with your blogging.

Primarily I remind myself I’m a storyteller. That’s why I do it. I read widely and outside my genre. I listen to the critique offered by my writing partners. I aim to improve each novel I write. Every time I submit, I aim high. I try not to take rejection personally and I keep revising and resubmitting as I go along. There are very few overnight success stories in publishing. It’s ten percent raw talent and ninety percent hard work.

* * * *

I'm Cat Hellisen. When the Sea is Rising Red is my first published novel, and it took me many years of dreadful first drafts to get here.
Why would you want an agent?

While there are still a few big spec fic publishers who accept unagented manuscripts (Tor springs to mind), I didn't want to limit my chances of being read. An agent has more connections within the industry, and a better knowledge of which editor is more likely to be interested in what. They also deal with contracts, with foreign rights, movie rights, and a host of other things that I do not want to deal with. A good agent is also your first fan. They're the person in your corner.

An agent is also likely to score you a better advance and friendlier contract than you'd be able to on your own.

How would you choose an agent?

There are many people out there doing an excellent job of watching out for scam agents and agencies ( is a good place to start.) But ultimately, you're going into a business partnership with someone, so you need to do your research. If you get a bad feeling about certain business practices, there's a damn good reason for that. Agents charge their clients (generally) 15%. That's AFTER they've sold your work – the 15% comes out of the cheque your publisher cuts you. They don't ask for money up-front, reading fees, editing fees, and other strange things. And a good agent is worth every bit of that 15%.

Know what you want from your agent, and ask to speak to some of their clients before you make a decision. If they don't want you to do wary. Do you want an agent who gives editorial feedback? Mine does, and it really helps me, but other writers want less input. Do you want an agent who is communicative and keeps you in the loop about submissions and progress? Not everyone wants that level of communication, but others need it or they go insane (Hi. *waves*)

My agent, Suzie Townsend, is wonderful – she takes no nonsense, but she's also sympathetic to the fact that all writers are insane. Also she knows how to score me amazing blurbs. Fantastic person, and I am so glad I signed with her.

Sometimes things don't work out. Whatever you do, don't let that make you think you're a failure. Don't feel that if you part ways with an agent that your writing career is now over. I know very few writers who are still with their original agent.

What are some of the benefits of traditional publishing?

Massive amounts of editing. (In my case, anyway). I'd already done a number of revisions before my book sold, but my wonderful editor, Beth at FSG, took me through another three pretty substantive edits, and that was before we dealt with nit-picky things in several rounds of copy edits. One of the best things about my editor is that she doesn't read the way I do, so she brings a different perspective to my books - she's the one asking me the hard questions and not letting me coast. And like your agent, your editor is your fan – he or she bought your book because they loved it. That's a pretty awesome thing in itself.

Big publishers also have marketing departments. I'm not quite sure what people normally expect from their publicists, but I wasn't expecting anything at all because I'd heard horror stories about how unless you were a big name no-one actually cared. So I was happy to find out I have perfectly lovely people helping to promote my book, sending out arcs and setting up awesome opportunities for me. So that part rocks.

What's the downside of traditional publishing?

I am not Patient Bunny.

So I can guess you see where this is going. Those edits I talked about earlier? Yeah. They don't happen overnight. When the Sea is Rising Red sold in May 2010. It comes out in February 2012.
This is something that you just have to learn to deal with. No matter how frustrating it is.

Your advice to authors?

Read everything you can. Write and keep writing. Write with the intention of improving. Write with the intention of having fun.

If you're ready to start looking for an agent or publisher, make sure you've done your homework and that your novel is the best it can possibly be.

Don't give up. I wrote (I think) eight complete novels before I sold my first one. Like any art, writing is not something that happens overnight. When you start, your work will most likely fall short of that goal in your head. It might have potential but it will still be the work of a beginner. Good writing comes with practice.

First look at BLOOD AND FIRE

Another special by Carrie Clevenger and Nerine Dorman

See Xan's teaser here.

I gathered a few tangles of daimonic essence, just enough to be coiled, in case I had to strike, and pushed open the door. The barrier swung inward, grating dryly on invisible hinges. Within was a chamber, its unplastered walls revealing redbrick and mortar. The only source of light was yet one of those horrid green lights that illuminated a lidless sarcophagus, which appeared to be carved out of limestone.

Within lay a Native American man with noble features, his body bound painfully with chains in a mockery of a mummys bandages. Several padlocks held these bonds in place. He wasnt a mortal. His lips were pulled back in a silent rictus snarl to reveal vicious elongated canineswhich would not look out of place on a wolf.

Other collaborations by Carrie Clevenger and Nerine Dorman, Just My Blood Type

*teaser material subject to change

Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: Home by Carson Buckingham

For lovers of shadow realms hidden behind a thin veneer of normality, Home by Carson Buckingham will offer a tantalising glimpse into a world of mysteries. Kate Kavanagh has tried her entire life to fit in--and this need of acceptance from those around her has resulted in her marrying an unsuitable sociopath of a husband.

At its heart Home is a tale about Kate's inescapable acceptance of her fate and how it changes her. Her passive acceptance of events around her is maddening at times. The first and only action she takes to free herself is to flee from her husband, which only leads her straight into her somewhat terrifying inheritance.

Structurally this novel is a bit rough around the edges. Most of the back-story at the start could have conveniently been lopped off, with important information woven into the narrative further along the line. The story only really starts from the moment Kate steps onto that plane that returns her to her home. At times I felt authorial voice intruded, taking me from a deep third-person point of view to more omniscient, but Buckingham is a good storyteller with a pleasing turn of words. I carried on reading and found that I readily immersed myself in the setting, which was well detailed. At times a few cliches slipped in, which an editor could have snipped, as well as perhaps bumping up on the emotional, intellectual and physical layering.

Overall, Home is a pleasing story. I wouldn't truly categorize it as horror, more as a dark fairy tale which makes for an intriguing, quirky read. Buckingham gets full marks for her world building, even though the final execution could have been tighter.

Buy Home here.

* * * *

Yes, I'm available to review your novel. I will give an honest, balanced review. Self-published and indie authors are welcome. Mail me at nerinedorman (at) gmail (dot) com and put "REVIEW" in the subject line.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Call for submissions: Erotic Dystopia

A word from my publisher, Lyrical Press.

Lyrical Press is actively acquiring erotica dystopian works.

Dystopia - A repressive and controlled society, usually under the pretense of utopia. Dystopian societies feature all different kinds of social control systems that repress some while lifting others to a form of nobility. There is usually a distinct system with blatant and vast privileges and oppressions separating higher classes from lower classes. Dystopian societies are often police states, where an individual (dictator) has unlimited power over citizens.

Sensuality level: Red hot
Length: 30,000 – 95,000 words (60,000+ words are eligible for print)
Key Characteristics: Erotica romance set in a dystopian society. Strong sexual relationship between main characters. Elements of bondage and S&M that explore the dominant/submissive roles of a BDSM relationship welcome. Multiple partners acceptable.
Deadline: None
Submissions eMail:

Go ahead and try to shock us. We dare you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beware, The Pumpkin Man

Today I welcome master of the macabre, John Everson, who's been a guest here before. He's stopping by today to share a little about his latest release, The Pumpkin Man, which I can't wait to sink my fangs into. Some of you may have read his short story, Pumpkin Head, which was one of those which didn't quite leave me.

Editor's note: Go to the new site for The Pumpkin Man: and ask the online Ouija Board your darkest questions! And then enter the contest to win free autographed John Everson books or e-books, as well as autographed CDs from the band New Years Day. Make sure you note that you are entering the contest from Nerine Dorman's blog when you enter the contest--someone from the blog will win an e-book edition of The Pumpkin Man, and be added to the Grand Prize contest!

You've got this thing for pumpkins. There was that infamous short story a few years ago. What prompted The Pumpkin Man and is there any connection to the Legend of Sleepy Hollow?

I do love my jack-o-lanterns! Love to carve them, and love to see them in October--they just MAKE the mood of Halloween for me. The genesis of this novel does go back in a sense to that "infamous" story you refer to (Pumpkin Head)--due to its erotic horror nature, the story couldn't really be read in mixed company, though it's my most popular piece of short fiction and is perfect for Halloween. A few years ago I was doing a lot of Halloween-oriented library appearances where I would read a short story and talk about horror to both kids and adults, so I decided to write a more "family friendly" horror story, again using that Halloween standard--the pumpkin. The original story The Pumpkin Man was about kids who go visit this pumpkin patch where the proprietor is known for his amazing jack-o-lantern carvings. But then the darker side of it all comes out when one of the boys witnesses him carve his friend's face into a pumpkin... and the friend is never seen again after that night.

When it came time to write my fifth novel, I thought about the "horror" of that short story--the idea of a guy who could transfer people's essence to a gourd with his knife--and decided there was a much bigger tale to tell there. The novel uses that short story (which is going to be reprinted next year in an anthology called All American Horror of the 21st Century) as deep background. The novel is set 20+ years in the future of the short story. It seems that back in the 1980s, The Pumpkin Man of the short story was captured and hung by a lynch mob after being accused of murdering a half dozen children. Today, Jennica and her friend Kirstin, two young school teachers, move into a California coastal cottage that Jenn inherits after the murder of her father. But the townspeople shun her for her relationship to the previous owner (Jenn's aunt, who had the reputation of being a witch), and it seems The Pumpkin Man has returned for a new cycle of killings... if Jennica doesn't use the arcane books and magical detritus left behind by her aunt to discover the true history of The Pumpkin Man quickly, the lives of everyone she knows may be forfeit!

What are some of the underlying themes running through The Pumpkin Man?

This is a classic horror novel about the unstoppable "thing in the night". You don't know quite what it is, or why it is... but it's coming for you. There are themes of loss (Jenn has just lost her dad and a few months earlier, her aunt), loneliness and isolation, but it's also a story of coming to terms with who you are, and what you want in your life--positive affirmation. I played with the whole "urban legend" element that you see in movies like Candyman, as well as the idea of the Ouija board as a channel to contact the other side. But when you open communication with the other side... you're never quite sure who you're talking to, are you?

What in your mind makes for good horror in fiction?

Good horror fiction, like any fiction, should make you feel for the characters so that you're eager to turn the page to find out what happens to them next... but at the same time, you're afraid for what might happen to them next! It should play to fears that most people can identify with, so that the reader is really drawn into the fear that the characters are experiencing.

Are there any anecdotes you'd care to share that occurred while writing The Pumpkin Man? Did you visit particular locations or conduct any research that was out of the ordinary for you?

The Pumpkin Man really continues my love of the northern California coastline. I'm from the middle of the United States, near Chicago... so we don't have mountains or ocean here. But one of my favorite destinations in the world over the years has been San Francisco. I've been lucky enough to have multiple business trips there, and also have taken a couple vacations there. I love the mixed culture of the city, and the amazing geography--you can go an hour in any direction and experience just about any season!

My previous novel Siren is set in a remote town a couple hours' drive north along the coastline from San Francisco, and as I finished the editing of that book, I was really fortunate to have a trip that took me to San Francisco again. I tagged on an extra day to the trip and drove up the coastline to essentially do "location" scouting. I made sure my descriptions in Siren were accurate (in a general sense--the town I set Siren in doesn't exist). At the same time, I scouted the place where I wanted to set The Pumpkin Man. I found a town called Jenner which was perfect. It's a tiny seaside spot with the echo of sea lions barking in the distance from the estuary north of town. I changed the location a little bit to suit the novel and renamed the town, but Jenner is the model for River's End. I even wrote a couple chapters of the book while I was on that trip.

How do you approach your writing process? Do you work with an overview or does the story flow organically? Do you have any writing tips you'd care to share?

I used to sit down with just a loose idea of the beginning of the story and where it might ultimately end up... and then I would just come up with everything on the fly. As my career has progressed, I've had to get a little more structured, since I'm selling my novels to my publisher ahead of writing them--which means I need to present them with a much clearer idea of what I intend to write than I used to have when I wrote my first three books! The stories still invent pieces of themselves that I never imagined at the start, and that keeps it fun for me--while I'm writing the story, I'm also entertaining myself--telling me the kind of story that I want to read each day that I sit down to write. Because of that, I am a completely linear writer--I write the story from beginning to end, I don't jump around, as I know some writers do.

In terms of writing tips? The main one is to just force yourself to maintain a regular writing schedule. Writing fiction is just like any discipline--the more you practice it, the better you become (hopefully!). It's not something where you wait for the magic to strike, and then you sit and miraculously transfer that to the computer. The magic only hits because you've put your butt in a chair and worked every day or every couple days for a long period of time. And sometimes, the parts of the book that you thought were the slowest and least inspired while writing turn out to be really good, in retrospect. So you can't doubt and second guess yourself while writing -- you just have to force the story out onto the page.

Worry about editing the blob later after you have it down start to finish.

Or, in my case, carving the blob into a really refined, haunted face!

Happy Halloween!

Visit The Pumpkin Man at And stop by John's main site too, at

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wolves of Singapore, a meeting with J Damask

J Damask and I have walked a long path already. She was one of those rare finds I saw glistening in the slush pile and when I read the opening lines of her debut novel, Wolf at the Door, I just knew this was an author whose voice was special, who was able to bring the magic of dreams to life in her prose. Well, we've just completed work on her second in her Jan Xu Adventures, Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye, and the story is every bit as magical as book one.

Today I welcome J Damask to my world, to share a little more of hers.

Tell us a little more about the Myriad of Singapore. How did this setting come about? And why wolves?

The Myriad of Singapore are basically non-human types, the "other kind". They comprise mostly of the types we tend to see in fantasy or urban fantasy: elves, fae, dragons, phoenixes and were-animals. Likewise, Singapore being right smack in the middle of Southeast Asia, the Myriad also includes the existing non-human types from this region. The term is an umbrella term for this non-homogenous group (or groups) of beings.

Singapore is a cosmopolitan island-state, straddling both East and West. Her culture is a mishmash of cultures, both merged and distinct. The setting itself – both East and West, a mélange of cultures – is perfect for urban fantasy.

Post-colonial themes are strong themes in your writing. Can you tell us more about how your culture influences your fiction?

My grandparents came directly from China (Shanghai, Fujian and Guanzhou) and settled in Singapore who was then under British colonial rule. So my education is pretty much Anglo-Saxon and for a while, I struggled with the dichotomy of trying to speak Queen’s English (or Standard English) and coping with Chinese dialects at home. As a family, we keep to our traditions and celebrate the major festivals like Chinese New Year, Duan Wu, Midautumn Festival and Winter Solstice. This observance of festivals comes through strongly in my stories, because I feel that we need to hold onto our culture as it forms our intrinsic identity.

I love the festivals, not only because of its food(!), but by the fact that it is also family.

How do you go about balancing your day job as a teacher with your writing?

Like juggling spinning plates. No, really, I am serious. My weekdays are spent planning, marking and teaching – my creative energies – most of them! – go into all these aspects. So when it comes to writing, I have to plan… wisely. I tend to write at nights (but then, I have my kids to wrangle). I also find time to write. During examination periods and marking phases, my writing tends to dip – which is fine with me. ;)

Is the ebook revolution happening where you live? How do you go about marketing yourself to your potential readers?

My personal observation: not really. People are still fixated on print books. There is a small group of people who are also publishing ebooks, but on the whole, the big publishers here in Singapore are still print book focused.

I make use of social media (Twitter and blogs). I also use Smashwords which is – so far – a good platform for ebook publishing.

I have had to choose: obscurity or nothing.

How do you go about crafting your stories? Do you write an overview or do you just get stuck into chapter one and go from there?

Hmm. I sometimes plan. That’s right – sometimes. I write an outline, follow it and sometimes discard it, because the characters end up taking charge. I also write snippets as ideas come off and on in my head and merge them later into the story or expand them into individual stories.

J. Damask is on Twitter as @jolantru and she maintains her writerly blog at A Wolf's Tale:

Her urban fantasy novels at Lyrical Press
The Jan Xu Adventures:
Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye (due to be released on the November 7)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Inkarna uncovered!

Some of you may have heard rumblings about my dark fantasy novel, Inkarna, which I sold to Dark Continents Publishing earlier this year. Well, I'm pleased as punch to reveal the cover art. Artwork is by none other than Dr-Benway himself, who's known for his fetish, glam and bizarre photography. Not only that, but he's one of the scriptwriters and directors for BlackMilk Productions, an award-winning independent film production company. He also happens to be my Dear Husband, who has to put up with me dwelling in my imaginary worlds.

A little about the novel: Inkarna is the tale involving conflict between members of an ancient Egyptian reincarnation cult. It plays off in Cape Town, South Africa. There's plenty of action and misadventures which follows my protagonist, Ash, who returns to the material realm in the wrong body--then has to deal with the consequences of unwittingly getting lumped with a terrible secret.

The novel's currently undergoing its first editing rounds and I'm very excited (and just ever so slightly nervous) to find out what my editor is going to do to it with her red pen and scalpel blades.

If you want to keep up to speed with my assorted authorly antics, do follow me on Twitter @nerinedorman or like my author page on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A few words with TuesdaySerial

A few months ago I posted a serial story on this blog entitled On an Empty Shore. It was for me a lovely experiment in flash fiction featuring a mash-up of some of my favourite themes, namely vampires in a post-zombiepocalyptic society. I picked up a good few new readers and thoroughly enjoyed the process of putting this story out. Using Twitter and the TuesdaySerial hashtag, I put the story out there, to great success.

Today I'm pleased to have Tony and PJ of TuesdaySerial over on my blog, to tell us a little more about this process.

When and how did TuesdaySerial come about?

Last year (on May 1, 2010, to be precise) a few of the writers on Twitter were discussing how most existing hashtags for promoting and/or finding fiction were geared toward standalone stories, not toward serials. After kicking around a few ideas, we proposed a new hashtag, #TuesdaySerial, to help authors and readers of online serials and serialized novels find each other. From the idea on Twitter came the website with the weekly collector and then the regular contributions of writers, editors and publishers who have an interest in serials on the web.

How does TuesdaySerial benefit authors?

For writers of serials, connecting with readers poses a special challenge. You need to entice that demographic slice of readers who are looking for longer form fiction, but also readers who might be new to it and are willing to give it a shot. At the same time, within that group are readers whose primary interests will lie with one or more specific genres. When readers have to sift through a lot of things they don't care about to find those things that they like, it can turn them off from the whole experience. TuesdaySerial benefits authors and readers by having a structured, easy-to-use means to get serial fiction out there for people to see. If you want toys, you know you'll find them at Toys-R-Us. If you want serial fiction, you know you'll find it at

We also bring guest posts to our readers and contributors that generally have to do with serial fiction or other topics of interest. We try to do everything we can do support the community and help our contributors grow and find readers.

In a nutshell, explain how TuesdaySerial works.

Each Tuesday, from midnight to midnight Eastern Time, the TuesdaySerial collector is open for new entries. The author of a serial will provide the title of the serial, the genre of the serial, what episode is being posted that week, a link directly to that episode, special notes if it is a debut episode of a new serial or the finale of an ongoing serial, and the author's name. Readers who just can't wait can then come to the Collector page that day, or, if they are a bit more patient, come to the Weekly Report, which will list all the week's episodes. This information lets readers track the work of favorite authors, find serials in favorite genres, be aware of new works and get a handle on completed serials that they could read start to finish. Completed serials are listed on our Graduates page.

What sort of stories have proven to be the most popular?

That's the great thing about TuesdaySerial. Stories which might have only a thin following can be brought up to the fore and find a readership that will fall in love with them. The serials range in genre and tone, from horror and thriller to science fiction and fantasy. Some of them run for more than fifty episodes, others tell a complete story with a dozen or less. One part of it all which has been a great joy for us as writers is the TuesdaySerial Hall of Fame. This is collection of serials which had been promoted through TuesdaySerial which have been published in print or ebook. These talented writers and eager readers connected with each other via TuesdaySerial. It's a great object lesson on how social media can help to build bridges and open new opportunities.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Icy Sedgwick and her Guns of Retribution

I got to know Icy through her Friday Flash pieces--well worth stopping by her blog when she puts these up. Her tales are dark, yet carry a kind of quirky humor. Without further ado, I hand over my blog for a little Q&A.

You're interested not only in writing but film. Do you envision combining your two loves at some point?

I don't know. I've occasionally toyed with the idea of writing a script but I'm not sure where to start. I think in a fairly cinematic way, in that I tend to see my story unfold and I describe what I see, but I'm not convinced I'd be able to translate that into writing. It would be like visualising something, distilling that into words, and then reconstituting it as visuals again. Maybe I'll have a go one day, but for now I think I'll keep my fiction and my film theory separate.

You're quite the mistress of dark short stories. How do these come into being? Visions? Sudden flashes of insight?

It can be anything. It can be a random snippet from a newspaper story, a photo somewhere, a conversation I overhear on public transport - I either get a full blown idea, or just an image in my head, and then I keep asking "What if?" until I get a plot. That's a bit of an oversimplification but I don't even begin to understand the real process behind it so I just go with the flow when it happens. I suppose they tend towards the dark side because I find the darker side of life far more interesting.

You and your partner regularly go ghost-hunting. Has any of this spilled over into your writing? Ever had some strange occurrences you care to share?

I certainly find lots of interesting stories, both in the history of the places we visit, and in the information we get during the investigations, but I don't always like to use them. I suppose in some ways I would feel like it would be disrespectful to use them in a fictional sense. Having said that, I think the strangest experience we had would have to be when we were doing a ouija session at Kielder Castle and Grey O'Donnell, the bounty hunter from my Western, came through to say thank you to me. It really makes you wonder if these characters you work with are complete fantasy, if we bring them into being through the amount of energy we lavish on them through the power of thought, or they're entities that attach themselves to writers.

You've selfpublished a collection of short stories. Tell us more about how you pulled these together and where people can find it?

All fifteen of them were previously published online over the course of two years, but due to some of the sites having funding problems or simply clearing out their archives, the stories had disappeared from the internet. I wanted people to still be able to read them, so I edited them and put them out as a collection. They're mostly what I'd call "weird fiction", so not really horror, but more just about strange things that happen in everyday life. Checkmate & Other Stories is 99c on both Smashwords and Amazon.

You've also written a Western. Tell us a little about Guns of Retribution.

It's a pulp Western set in Arizona in the 1880s. It stars my bounty hunter, Grey, and he is drawn back to his hometown of Retribution while on the trail of a murderer. He has to confront an old nemesis from his past, because if there's one thing Grey doesn't like, it's a bully. It's really inspired more by the Western as a film genre than a literary one, but I did plenty of historical research. I wanted to try and capture the emotional side of the genre, and tap into the mythos somewhat, but I didn't want people to be jolted out of the story by a misplaced gun reference! Plus I really enjoy writing historical fiction so any excuse to do some research is fine by me. I'm currently outlining the sequel, where things take a more supernatural turn.

Who are the three most influential authors in your life, and why?

I couldn't do an interview like this without mentioning Roald Dahl. I loved his books as a child, and I still love them now. I was fascinated by his humourous twist on the macabre, and I think he really wrote books that celebrated children who are seen as a bit "different". I suppose I could relate. I'd also say Neil Gaiman - the breadth of vision in The Sandman is truly astounding, and I love how imaginative his books are. I also want to give credit to Carrie Clevenger, too. The lady is really going places but she's always been so generous with her time, and she's very supportive of me. I really look up to her and I admire how she handles everything.

In brief...
Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and is based in Newcastle. She spends her time gallivanting around the North East as a blogger and researcher for a paranormal investigations company. Icy has just had her first book, a Western named The Guns of Retribution, published through Pulp Press.

Twitter: @icypop

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meet Joan De La Haye

Today I have the pleasure of featuring fellow South African author, Joan De La Haye, here on my blog. She is the author of Shadows and is fast making a name for herself in horror fiction.

Welcome, Joan. When did you know you wanted to write novels? Do you have any amusing anecdotes related to your first writing attempts?

I wrote my first story at the age of twelve. It was a fairytale called The Wonderful World of Candy-floss. My mother sent it off to a local publisher who felt that I should write in Afrikaans, since I obviously couldn't spell in English and my surname (which was Groenewald at the time) wasn't English either. I was devastated! It took me a few years to get over the rejection. My mother just said the man was obviously an idiot and gave me some chocolate. Now, whenever dealing with rejection I need chocolate.

Why horror? What is it about the genre that turns you on?

I find horror to be a fascinating genre. It's all about pushing the boundaries. It's not "safe". Most other genres are very much in a box and have very fixed rules, which horror doesn't have, and I love that. I love that it's filled with free thinkers, both the authors and the die-hard fans. Plus, let's face it, in some perverse way we all love to be scared. It makes us feel alive in a manner that no other genre can.

What are some of the prevalent themes running through your stories?

Insanity and rape. I think we've all had moments where we've questioned our own sanity and that of the people around us. Rape is one of the most horrific experiences a woman can have and survive. It's also something that is way too often swept under the carpet and ignored.

Tell me a little more about your existing publications. What path did you follow on the road to publication?

Shadows is published by a small indie publisher based in the States called Generation Next. I'm a huge fan of indie presses. They do so much for their authors and provide a lot more freedom. My second novel, Requiem in E Sharp, will also be released shortly by Generation Next.

How do you approach the craft and art of writing? That being said, do you have advice for writers who're approaching their first novel?

I try and write everyday, but sometimes my muse decides to take a holiday which can last for anything from a couple of days to a month. When that happens I grab the chocolate and ride it out as best I can. Apparently I get rather bad tempered when the muse is on a break, so the chocolate prevents me from killing anybody.

My advice would be to just write the first line, then the first paragraph, then the first page. Focus on the line in front of you, not the next hundred pages. I would also suggest reading a LOT! Also read Stephen King's On Writing. It's a must-read for all writers. I reread it everytime I get stuck or when the muse has pulled another disappearing act.

Lastly, who are the authors you'd like to thank for setting you on the path of being a horror writer? What is it about their writing that keeps you returning to their books time and again?

The obvious one would be Stephen King. I think most of us can blame our love of horror on him. His body of work is awe inspiring and he is so easy to read.

The less obvious one would be Dennis Wheatley. I grew up with his books and didn't even realise that they were classified as horror novels. I loved the adventures he took me on and the exotic places he took me to.

Buy Shadows at Amazon, Smashwords or Exclusive Books.
Follow Joan on Twitter:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beneath the Skin with Amy Lee Burgess

Today I welcome one of my Lyrical Press authors, Amy Lee Burgess, creator of The Pack novels. Beneath the Skin is her debut novel, and I'm both thrilled and honoured to introduce her to you here on my blog.

Where does Stanzie originate? Was she a fully formed character?

I knew I wanted to write about a woman shape shifter and about wolves. I had the opportunity to participate in NaNoWriMo last year and knew that on November 1, I would begin a tale about werewolves. But I had no story or plot line in mind. Stanzie came to me in a sort of lucid dream Halloween night. Just her name Stanzie and that she’d be blond with blue eyes. I remember struggling with the idea that Stanzie was more of a nickname and what would her full name be?

At first I thought “Constanza” but that didn’t seem right because I wanted her to come from New England and “Constanza” sounded Italian. So then I thought “Constance”. Newcastle is the name of a street I drive past frequently only I didn’t consciously pick it, I realized a few weeks later that it must have come from there. Apart from that, I only knew that I didn’t want her to be a standard, ass-kicking, violent, ninja warrior woman and that I didn’t want her to have any special talents or powers. I wanted her to be an ordinary woman (who happened to be able to shift into a wolf) under extraordinary circumstances. What those circumstances were I didn’t work out until after I started writing.

How does your Pack differ from ordinary wolf shifters?

For one thing they are a separate species who cannot interbreed with regular humans. Their bite does not turn a regular person into Pack. Most shifter novels I’ve read have shape shifting abilities tied to magic, a curse or a virus.

I don’t think my Pack shifters are as violent as most wolf shape shifters seem to be. They don’t have a lot of fights and solve their problems with their fists. They are generally “normal” people who live by their cultural and societal rules. They have their own laws and their own system of justice and they do not tend to befriend outside the Pack.

Aside from being able to shift into wolves and enhanced senses, they possess no super powers. They cannot read minds, they are not exceptionally attractive or physically fit although they don’t age as quickly as humans.

In order to be able to shift, they must have male/female sex and when they do, they have a twenty-four to forty-eight hour window in which they can shift.

While they become wolves when shifted, they still retain a sense of self and can think almost as intellectually as they can while in human form.

They exist in packs, but all adults above the age of twenty-six need to be bonded with one or two other members of the pack. I call these duos and triads. Duos are male/female but triads can be male/male/female or female/female/male. I think most Pack are bisexual, but the majority tend toward hetero because they need male/female sex to shift.

Packs are led by the Alpha duo or triad, but leadership is frequently changed in order to give fertile females the chance to reproduce. Only the Alphas can reproduce and once a woman has a full-term pregnancy, she can never get pregnant again.

What are some of the key themes you treat in Beneath the Skin?

Isolation is a big theme in Beneath the Skin. What do you do when you want desperately to belong but have been set apart from your peers? The Pack itself is isolate from human society. They exist within it, but apart and in secret. Stanzie and Murphy are both isolated from their packs and are trying to realign after a long exile where they lived alone and struggled with grief and guilt. Even when they bond together, they still have to act in secret and are apart from other Pack members.

Fear is another. How do you handle it? Do you let it rule you or do you rise above it? I think Stanzie faces her fears, although sometimes they get the better of her whereas Liam Murphy fights his or turns his back on everything and pretends it doesn’t exist.

How do you go about creating tension in your writing?

I like to set my characters up and have them accused of crimes they did not commit but cannot prove they didn’t do. Lots of shades of gray. I also use sexual tension – one character falls for another but is convinced his/her feelings are not reciprocated so they stay silent yet cannot keep away.

I’m not above using the weather or repetitive sounds or even strange angles in a room description to set up tension.

Which authors have been the most inspirational in your writing?

Stephen King and Agatha Christie definitely. For years. Lately, Kelley Armstrong, Lilith Saint Crow, Marjorie M. Liu, Patricia Briggs, GA Aiken, Ilona Andrews and Eileen Wilks.

Tell us a little more about your writing process.

I use lucid dreaming a lot. I fall asleep plotting out scenes and wake up with dialog and ideas in my head. Most of my novels come from an opening scene I come up with in a half asleep state and then I write it down. I let myself get maybe two chapters in and if I don’t have a coherent plot and ending by then, I stop writing until I do. I like to use recurring characters and reveal more and more of their back stories in subsequent novels.

I write every morning before work whether I want to or not. At least one hour every week day. Sometimes I come home and write until bed, but definitely at least an hour in the morning.

It’s a pretty fluid process. Sometimes halfway through a novel, I realize something I’ve already written is not going to work or is contradictory to where I want to go and I’m not afraid to go back and rewrite. I re-read what I’ve written every few chapters and sometimes I have an “aha” moment where a seemingly throwaway line or description takes on a whole new meaning and changes everything. I both love and hate it when that happens!

I like to have a few main ideas in place, but let the details work themselves out as a write. I also write about places I’ve been, live, or want to go. I buy a lot of travel books with photos of cities I write about so I can get details right. I hate reading books set in cities I’ve lived and know right away the author does not know what he/she is writing about.

I don’t think I’m very good a descriptive writing. I want the reader to have a high level understanding of a room or a house, for instance, so I find that room or house online and write about it as I stare at the photo.

Stanzie is obsessed with shoes and every pair of shoes she wears or sees in Beneath the Skin I’ve found online.

Curious about Beneath the Skin? Read more about it or purchase it here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Interrupting my regular schedule... bring you the trailer for the latest BlackMilk Productions trailer for Anna, their latest offering due to premier at the South African HorrorFest in October.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Emerald Isle--day two

No surprises, it was raining when we woke on Sunday morning. I totally overslept due to completely not setting my alarm properly. But that was okay at the end of the day. Danny, Sheldon and Helen were still having breakfast so I gulped down copious amounts of tea and assorted yoghurts, nuts, croissant, eggs and toast--then we braved the cold.

To be honest, it isn't that much more cold than Cape Town during winter, so the weather didn't really bother me. We walked a bit to where we could catch the Dublin Bus Tours, which is the hop-on, hop-off bus that drives a circuit through the city to the majority of its sights. And it's worth every euro for this. If you're here, DO invest in a ticket. It's going to save your life--and your feet. Plus, if you're lucky, you'll get a smart-mouthed bus driver who'll tell dirty jokes.

We first drove the circuit and got an idea of where everything was situated. Then we went to the Guinness Storehouse where we climbed all the way to the top to have our pint. The Gravity Bar gives an awesome, fantastic view of the entire city. And I had my first proper pint of Guinness, which is rather nice.

Plainly put, the Guinness brewery is huge. I cannot remember how many millions of pints it puts out daily but the amount is staggering. It makes our little SAB brewery in Newlands look like a baby. But ja, if you're a fan of the "black nectar" as it is called, the Guinness Storehouse is a cathedral devoted to the liquid. For me it was just a total treat to see the panoramic views of the city from the top.

What I love about Dublin is its architecture, which combines everything from the gorgeous Gothic styles of its cathedrals and churches, to the many Georgian-era buildings. Window boxes and hanging baskets are filled with colourful flowers this time of the year. And there is not a scrap of litter to be seen. The locals are super-friendly and if they see gormless tourists looking lost, they're quick to ask where you want to be and to give directions.

Lunch we had at one of the restaurants at the Storehouse, a surprisingly good buffet with poached salmon and a selection of fresh salads. Salmon is very common in Irish menus, so for folks like me, who don't see all that much of it in South Africa, it was a treat. I've been eating fish pretty much my entire time here.

Afterward, Danny and I (the two sub-editors/crazy ladies) eventually decided to see the Dublin Writers Museum--the whole being a wordsmith thing. The exhibits were just enough to whet my appetite to delve into Irish literature, which is very much tied in with the history of the country. We didn't see the whole museum as it was closing time and we were in need of a bath, so we waited for the bus then headed back to the hotel.

Feeling much fresher, we caught a taxi later to the Temple Bar in the Arlington Hotel, to take in a show and a meal. The crowd was mostly tourists, from countries such as France, Ukraine and a lot from the US. To think that a few years ago we'd never admit to being South African! How much has changed.

The Irish band that played was very slick and, while I would have loved to have heard more traditional reels, they took requests from the audience. Don't laugh. Someone requested Molly Malone (and yes, I died a little). After the band came the dancers, who were, likewise, also slick--delivering a lovely Riverdance-styled show. Very energetic and very rousing.

We were quite merry by the time we returned to the hotel but gosh, was I tired. All in all, I didn't realise how quickly the time would pass. I'd have loved to have gone to more of the destinations in the city, to its numerous museums and art galleries, but there simply wasn't time.

Dublin is a magical city with many wonderful places to spend time exploring. You need at least a week here and you will still only have scratched the surface. Thank you to Tourism Ireland for giving me the opportunity for this small taster.

We plunge into the countryside next.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Emerald Isle--day one

It was with some trepidation last night that I boarded the KLM flight to Amsterdam. How the hell was I going to survive 12 hours in the air? I needn't have worried. The cabin crew made sure that even economy class wanted for nothing. And can I say it? Oh my, smoked almonds.

Even better, I didn't have any snorers and I did sleep a little.

Schipol is BIG. Then again, I am a South African who's on her first trip to the northern hemisphere. Everyone was very friendly and I found the rest of my group (they'd flown up separately from Jozi) and what did we do? We ended up in an Irish pub in Amsterdam. Go figure.

And that first 500ml Crossbow cider went down mighty fine.

One highlight of the airport (not that airports by their very nature have highlights) was that I saw the Schipol Rijksmuseum that had an exhibit of Dutch girls. Now I understand why the Dutch were considered the masters of portraiture and landscapes during the 17th century. And while I've seen a few masterpieces in South African art galleries, this small taster of what can be found in Amsterdam proper makes me fiend for the day I can haul the DH to Europe with me on one of these trips.

Our flight to Dublin, courtesy of Aer Lingus, was uneventful. I was a bit concerned at the strong winds we had upon landing, but kudos to the pilot. He did a bloody good job. And this is the Capetonian who's blase about the southeaster perking up about wind.

I watched some of the other planes land and they looked a bit like drunk geese caught in strong cross-winds.

It looks like what's happening in Cape Town's CBD is happening in Dublin too. A LOT of revitalisation of the CBD with more public-friendly amenities. Public transport here rocks. South Africans who visit will probably have their eyes pop out of their skulls when they see how much everything costs--food and drink is quite expensive in the big hotels and restaurants.

But it's all worth it. I'm looking forward to tomorrow when we do our first tour of the city. Tonight we're just chilling out, going out for dinner in an hour or so and I'm heartily glad I've had my bath. I have cosy room in Jurys Inn, and it even has a slightly psychedelic carpet in the hallway outside my room.

Even better, I have wifi. I'm so not watching telly tonight when we get back. I may well edit. Yes, yes, I know I'm supposed to be on holiday but I can't help myself.