Sunday, August 29, 2010

Roller Coasters

I love roller coasters. Wooden, steel, with loops, without, I love them all. But I'm not an adrenaline junkie. Not really. I've never jumped out of an airplane or dangled from a rubber band or anything else that adrenaline junkies do. But roller coasters? I could ride them all day long. With a break for lunch and dinner, of course.

I poked around on YouTube for a bit to find some front-seat views of coasters (And yes, I do sit in the very front when I ride them.), so if dropping down several hundred feet and whipping around corners with your hair trailing in the breeze isn't your idea of fun, you might not want to watch these.

This is one of my favorite coasters. The ride is fabulous.

And this one, because nothing compares to the rickety feel and the sound of a wooden coaster.

And this one. You are warned, the folks who made the video are a little vocal, and it cuts out before the ride is done, but it gives a great shot of the first hill, which is made of awesome.

I've never ridden this one, but I'd love to. In fact, I'd love to go to Cedar Point and spend several days riding all their coasters. What a dream vacation that would be.

One of my favorite all-time rides is the Zipper. But the last time I was on one, I almost knocked myself out. I think I need to wear a helmet the next time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A View from the Chair

Regan Leigh, a wonderfully supportive writer and all around fabulous person has a feature on her blog called Writer Love. She's featured several awesome writers and for some crazy reason, she decided to feature me, too. You can take a peek at my desk and read a few answers to questions posed by Regan, and while you're there, be sure to take a look around and read her other posts.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Supposed Death of Horror

Every so often, I hear people say horror is dead. I've been hearing it for quite some time, and when I started querying my novel, I had that phrase running in an endless loop in the back of my mind. But I don't think horror is dead at all. I see agents with horror listed as something they'd like to see more of, and I've seen several new agents list horror as a genre they're interested in representing. I can't say for certain if there are editors and publishers actively looking for dark fiction, but I'm pretty sure agents wouldn't be looking for horror if there weren't.

If you notice on my profile, I say I write dark fiction as opposed to horror and you might wonder why. Well, it's silly, I suppose, but when I use the word horror, people automatically think of slash and gore. While I'm not opposed to writing gore when it's needful to the story, I don't start killing characters in lieu of a story.

There are a lot of very talented writers working in the dark fiction/horror genre today so if asked, I'd have to say quite emphatically, no, horror is not dead at all. Some of those authors are Sarah Langan, Laird Barron, and Lee Thomas. If you've not read their work, I highly recommend you do. There are many, many others as well. Those authors are just people whose work I've read recently so they are on my mind.

I do think, though, that horror is changing its shape a bit. There's no longer a formulaic feel to the genre, but many facets of darkness, many flavors in the pot, per se, to satisfy a variety of readers' tastes and interests. Classic horror, literary horror, bizarro horror, and quite a few that might not fit any of those labels, but still fall under the horror umbrella. So if you've not read any dark fiction/horror lately, what's stopping you?

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's Happened to Respect?

I hate when I see published authors bashing other published authors. I think it's quite fair to say I didn't like Book X or it didn't draw me in or what have you, but when a published author rants on and on in public about Book X being terrible and crap and no one should read it and how did it get published...

Ugh. And really, if you behave that way, the next time I see your book in a store, I probably won't buy it. Is that fair? Maybe not, especially if it's a book I'd otherwise grab in a heartbeat, but it seems in this day and age of say whatever you want, when you want to, people have forgotten a little thing called respect.

I may not like Book X for whatever reason, but I respect the time that the author put into the book. Maybe it's not my cup of tea, but tastes are subjective. No one person is the authority of all things that should be in print.

Maybe this post will piss some folks off, maybe some people will decide not to read any of my work ever, maybe some will even call me naive, and if that's the case, fine. There's a fine line between opinion and bashing and more than ever, people seem to trounce right across it without a second thought.

And when published authors do it, it makes me gnash my teeth. Please, even if you hate their book(s), have a little respect for your fellow authors. And if you must book or author bash, do it in private.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Exploding Head Syndrome

About once or twice a week, I hear a loud sound in my head right before I fall asleep. It's a rushing, roaring, hollow sort of banging-thud. It pulls me back up out of sleep and leaves me dazed for a few minutes, but then I drift back down and all is well. I've had this for as long as I can remember, and while it can be startling at times, it's never seemed that big of a deal. The body in that state halfway between sleep and wake is a curious thing. I always assumed it was the blood rushing in my ears or maybe all the stories in my head trying to push their way out.

Well, it seems that I have Exploding Head Syndrome. I swear, I am not joking about this one. It's a real thing.

American Sleep Association - Exploding Head Syndrome

And if I think back on it, it does happen more frequently when I'm stressed. For the most part, I go to bed when I'm tired and wake up on my own, sans alarm, so if it's because of sleep deprivation, I'll blame it on my dog. Sometimes he wakes me up before I'm ready to get up.

It's not terrible enough to run to the doctor and demand medicine, which, no doubt, would have far worse side effects than a little noise in my head. I do think they could have given it a slightly less alarming name, although, to be honest, Exploding Head Syndrome seems sort of the perfect thing for a writer of the dark and creepy to have.

So there you have it. I have an exploding head. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

True Horror

I was poking about on YouTube for ghost town footage, clicked on a few videos, and ended up at this one. I've seen plenty of photos of Prypiat, but this video footage of the abandoned city took my breath away. This is the face of true horror, my friends, in what is shown and even more so, in what is not.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Creepy Things

Some things are just inherently creepy. Old, broken-down houses. A creak of wood in the middle of the night. Thick fog on a dark evening. Back country roads with no streetlamps to light the way. Bridges over high chasms. And tunnels.

We have two major tunnels in Baltimore: the Harbor Tunnel and the newer Fort McHenry Tunnel. The newer tunnel is bigger with bright lights and it's not creepy at all. The Harbor Tunnel, though, is fabulous. When I drive through it, I turn the radio down and open the window so I can hear the echo of the cars. Sometimes, if it's late enough at night, there aren't many cars at all. You can almost imagine you are the only car in the tunnel, the only car in the world, the only person left, and who knows where the end of the tunnel will emerge, or if there's even an end. Perhaps you'll be driving and driving and driving, and the air will turn thick and stale with a faint undercurrent of rot and ruin...

The yellow lighting gives it a surreal and very creepy vibe. They've replaced the lights in at least one of the tunnel's bores with white lighting which totally ruins the creepy effect, in my opinion. When Stephen King did a signing in Maryland (Alas, I did not attend the signing.), he even mentioned the tunnel:

This is a video I found of a drive through the tunnel, but it's been set to music so it isn't creepy at all, but it gives you an idea of what the tunnel is like. Turn the sound off, though, before you watch it.

And yes, now I'm quite sure I have to write a short story about the tunnel.