A Quick Bite of Flesh is now available!

Zombie fans, you have to read this collection of fantastic zombie stories, and not just because I have two stories in it (“Brain Games” and “Bio-Zombie”). It’s truly terrific, delightfully diverse and deliciously gory.

Right now, it’s a Kindle read, but in October, you can get a paperback copy to keep on your shelf. I feel a giveaway coming on…

http://www.amazon.com/Quick-Bite-Flesh-Anthology-ebook/dp/B009EIK4UK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348366784&sr=8-1&keywords=a+quick+bite+of+flesh

Enjoy, before the Zombpocolypse descends…

***

Here’s a quick excerpt from “Brain Games” to whet your appetite:

The small, brown-paper package, wrapped in string, is no bigger than my hand. The Florida postmark makes my heart beat faster.
I bolt up the stairs to my room.
Here, at last, is the perfect solution to my problem. Damien will be no match for a little voodoo magic!
“Rose may have you now,” I mutter, using nail clippers to cut the strings, “but that’s about to change.”
I glance lovingly at his picture, framed and hung in place of honour above my pillow.
I open the crackling paper to find a black box and a business card.
“Mama Jetti’s Traditional Haitian Magics” I read aloud. It lists her contact info, and then there’s a bunch of small print, probably a disclaimer or something similarly boring written in complicated legalese.
I set the business card on my bedside table, and return my attention to the box.
“Time for the big reveal.” I take a deep breath, and carefully remove the lid.
Inside, nestled in a bundle of shredded newspaper, is a single black vial. I can’t see the contents, but when I pick it up and shake it, I can hear powder shifting. Spotting a folded piece of paper tucked into the lid, I pull it out and read the instructions.

***
How about another helping? Here’s an excerpt from “Bio-Zombie”:

Leanne approached the corpse on the table with some trepidation.
She couldn’t get used to it. Somewhere after seventy-five she had lost count.
The last one hadn’t been completely neutralized, either. She paused, one gloved hand about to unzip the body bag, and steeled herself. The other hand reached for the large red panic button.
“You won’t get the jump on me, this time,” she warned the thing. Her voice echoed against the firm plastic concave mask covering her face. “Begin recording, Nigel.”
She knew that her assistant was already scribing her every move. Suppressing an internal sigh, mourning the loss of computer technology, she revealed the remains of the zombie to the stark fluorescent light of the autopsy room.
“August 4, 2119. Subject is a male, approximately six foot four. Immediate cause of death appears to be extreme brain trauma.” Leanne probed the exposed tissue delicately, removing a sample and inserting the piece of grey, claggy flesh in a specimen tube. “The bio-suit tag indicates that this was Sergeant Ron Turner. Serial number T96987822. Nigel, where was Sergeant Turner deployed?”
“The Algonquin Ridge.” Nigel’s voice was muffled, like her own must be. Sealed against the bacteria or virus or whatever malevolent infectious thing was turning the men against each other.
“Damn,” she whispered. “That’s the last line of defence.”

Intertextu-what now?

In my grade 10 English class, I like introducing the topic of intertextuality. I find it interesting to start finding the connections between and within various texts, film included. (It’s also a way to get them comparing Romeo and Juliet with Lord of the Flies.) I also find it comforting.

You see, years and years ago, when I was in grade 10, doing lots of writing but never actually finishing more than a few short plays, and pieces required for school (thanks, Grandma, for reminding me to keep all of my manuscripts!), I went to a family dinner and shared some of my work. At the time, I was working on an adaptation of Cinderella for the youth group I was in. My uncle, rest his soul, completely shot me down with these three little words: “It’s been done.” As a teen with low self-esteem, and undiagnosed depression, it was utterly crushing, and the adaptation was never finished. My mother told me on the way home not to listen to her brother, as he has always been pessimistic about her ideas too (my mother is very creative, makes beautiful clothing and paints wonderfully well). But I did mind. What was the point of writing if I could not come up with something original? For years I took this incident to heart, and it interfered with my writing. I would get a great idea, but oops — it’s already been done.

Then university, and then teaching. And deciding that intertextuality is part of the fun, the challenge, rather than something to avoid. I have been compelled to put pen to paper, to tell stories to anyone who wants to listen, since I was old enough to print. (My mother still has a story I wrote in kindergarten which was printed in the local paper — apparently I had to help Santa deliver a baby deer on Christmas Eve!) In spite of feeling discouraged by my uncle, I kept trying, and trying. And what I have found in the last few years that I need to focus on writing for myself, first. If I take the pressure off, and worry less about writing for others, I find the journey to be much more smooth and enjoyable.

Of course, some of the goals I set myself are unrealistic. The full novel to follow Mist and Midnight, I had wanted to finish by the start of 2011, then by June, and now by the fall. But I’m not permitting myself to be pessimistic. I finished my first, I can do it, and it was so satisfying completing Mist that I cannot wait to see this one done, and move to the second and third novels I am planning in the series. And if they make indirect reference to previous works, that’s okay — there are certain patterns in a romance, moments that we all recognize that make the reading even more interesting. I love making reference to pop culture here and there, too. It’s my story, as original as I can make it, and while I know there are other paranormal romances involving witches and cops, I like this one because of the direction it’s taking.

There’s another thing about intertextuality. Did you ever read something, and feel like you could do it in another way that could also be interesting? I really like the idea of responding to another text. I recently read Beauty Queens, which is based on Lord of the Flies but with teenage girls. It also mocks the reality tv world, and marketing corporations with a delightful tone. That’s something I would love to do.

So, this afternoon, after hanging out the laundry, cleaning the bathroom (maybe…hate cleaning the bathroom), and various assorted chores, I will continue working on Rayvin and Grant’s story. I last left her walking alone, on a darkened street, having run from a passionate embrace out of embarrassment and a mix of other emotions. Is the vampire stalking her? Certainly. She can’t completely defend herself, but neither is it her time to die. Grant will turn up, a modern spin on the knight on his horse, but he doesn’t have the ability to stop the fiend, either. He’s holding one of the keys, though he doesn’t know it. They are going to have a long conversation, discussing their past, and there will be more passion. Then there will be an argument. I’m not looking forward to that. But at the moment, my uncle’s words hold less power over me than they did when I was a teenager. I’m writing their story for me. When I’m finished, I hope you’ll enjoy it too. I also hope that the timelessness of it will come through, the fact that every story is really one story — what it is like to be human.

Writing Professionally — Does it mean living a double life?

I enjoy spy fiction. I’ve become a huge fan of the Chuck series, and I’ve always had a thing for superheroes…not necessarily for their powers (although those are certainly fun) but because of the challenges they face in leading two lives. I find the conflict between having an alter ego and an “official” life to be really interesting. It’s isolating for the individual, yet necessary for the protection of the people loved by the hero. That isolation in turn leads the hero into sometimes questioning their own role, and purpose. I love that. It’s very Shakespearian, isn’t it? It’s the essence of asking the question, “Who am I, and why am I here again?”.

I write under a pseudonym at the moment, for two main reasons: I want to separate my two professions for a little while, and I think it’s kind of romantic. I’m a sap, what can I say… I cry at the end of Disney movies. Hell, I cried all the way through Bridesmaids, caught up in the emotions of the protagonist’s struggles. In my “official” life as a teacher and a parent, I have a lot going on as we all do, but as my alter ego Tori, I can let some of that go. Or try to, at least. Thinking as Tori, I am able to separate a little while from the mundane and really sink into the fictional world I am creating. It’s a secret pleasure.

But it’s also a problem.

When you have an alter ego, as discovered by Chuck, Peter Parker, Superman, etc., it can get exhausting at times to keep up. I am no superhero (as much as I’d like to pretend), and I’m not even a supermom. I know some supermoms, and in comparison, I muddle along much as my own mother did, but my children are happy and healthy and well-behaved (most of the time…especially around relatives and babysitters and in public), so I guess I’m doing something right.

But I digress.

How do you find balance when you are living two lives? As you can see, I find it difficult or impossible to completely separate my “official” self from the writer, but I don’t think it’s necessary to invent a wholly different persona. I have considered it. But my children, my partner, my regular job, these are all part of who I am. Where I run into difficulty is making time or room for the writer, in the daily patterns of being a mom and a wife. My alter ego, Tori, craves time to dive into the fictional world. I know that one of the markers of a professional writer, is someone who write for a set time every day. I started the summer with a vision of writing for a few hours every afternoon, in my backyard (weather permitting), but so far, I’ve only managed to do this twice. The priorities of parenting, cleaning, and spending time with my other half must be met as well. So by rights, I should not yet call myself a professional writer.

How does someone live two lives, and find time to sleep? What does a professional writer who works from home do when the five year old refuses to be put off, the laundry piles, and the dog needs a walk? My spouse is very supportive and understanding, but he cannot do everything, nor do I expect him to. He gives me time when I need it, but he can’t cover for me every day. The mom needs sleep, but the writer wants to write!

So if you have an alter ego, I’d like to know – how do you separate and yet maintain a balance? Do you mark a time schedule on the fridge and stick to it? Do you have a room in the house where you can lock the door? What do you do when, in your set writing time, someone small will not leave you alone? I guess the easy answer is to stop and come back to it later…but in my case, often that ‘later’ doesn’t come.

Mist and Midnight – old-school vampire vs natural witch

Ta-Da!

I am proud to announce that my first romance, Mist and Midnight, will soon be published as in an anthology about vampires by MSF (formerly Midnight Showcase) for your reading enjoyment!  Stay tuned!  To my supportive and beautiful friends in Kirkland Lake, Ontario and Seoul, South Korea, thanks and I love you so much!