Being Goth

I’ve been goth for almost fifteen years, and it’s a battle! Not so much in the struggle for societal acceptance since people no longer fear goths or stereotype us as blood-drinking Devil worshippers, but rather those minor irritations due to my choice in clothing and accessories. If you are goth, know that you are not alone. And for those of you who are non-goths, maybe you will become more sensitive to our plight after reading this.

You ever put on an elaborate piece of jewellery to go shopping at Wal-Mart? Maybe a full-finger ring? Rings like that are the worst because they have a tendency to get caught in just about everything, particularly plastic bags. Sometimes I get hung up on things by my collar. I have the same problem with chain bracelets. And chains worn around the neck can be heavy and uncomfortable. Fellow goths know what I’m talking about. But at least we’re stylin’!

As a goth, you can get away with having a really bad haircut. However, if you want to go out and cavort amongst the normies as a normie, you’re going to have to work with it more than the average person because the hairstyle that looks great on a goth doesn’t look so great when you need to pull off a put-together look. I recently had to cut my hair a little more “normal” because it wasn’t suitable for everyday situations. Now, even when I’m dressed goth, I look *gasp* normal….

Black talon polish used to be sooo goth. Now it’s become *cringe*…trendy. Yes, what once separated us from the normies has become their trademark! It’s used by glossed over pop stars like Pink and featured as a staple in fashion magazines. Thankfully we can still call black lipstick our own, but if you’re judging someone by their nail colour, you just can’t tell anymore. You may approach them in hopes of having a lovely conversation about Marilyn Manson, but instead they respond with, “You mean Paul from The Wonder Years? No, but hey, have you heard the new Pink album?” Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Horror and the paranormal is now mainstream. You can’t turn on the telly without finding a programme that’s about spirits and such. And because of the availability of such shows, they’re all the same. Back in the day when you had to seek these things out for yourself, the standard of quality was a bit higher. Thanks to The Ring, horror has now become a commercialisation to please the general public instead of the hardcore horror buffs out there. I find the pop-culturalists saying how scary a movie was, only to find the film lacklustre and disappointing in my personal opinion. Maybe it’s because horror enthusiasts such as myself are harder to please, so opting to make it less scary while giving it a glossed over mass appeal is the better marketing option.

I break the goth mold when it comes to being pasty-white. I prefer a bit of a tan myself. Sometimes to the point where I actually end up looking lobstery. Which is partly because I am pasty to begin with so my love for the sun has led to my own downfall at times. So for those of us who have a pallor in competition with the Undead, the sun can be an enemy. If you go out with anything less than an SPF of 45, you could get a really nasty burn!

While the majority of people don’t see us as ritualistic axe murderers because we dress like Marilyn Manson, there are still a few out there who go all Antoine Dodson, hiding their kids, hiding their wives, hiding their husbands because they think we’re axe-murdering everybody out here. Most of us are pretty normal people. Do not be afraid!

You know how young children are drawn to furry animals? They are also drawn to goths. I think it’s because we have a tendency to be shiny with all of our accessories. I’ll be walking around in the store and suddenly there’s a baby attached to my skirt while its mother stands there smiling at me. I’ve also been followed as I take my evening walks by little kids exclaiming their love for my bracelets. It can make you feel like a rock star sometimes with all of the shallow popularity. They only like me for my bracelets. It makes me wonder if these kids and sometimes their parents have ever watched Stranger Danger. Maybe the emphasis of that show was too much on what to do if a stranger approached you, but they should focus on how you’re not supposed to approach strange people and follow them around, even if they are shiny. However, I also get that from kids I know, but the kids I know have a tendency to become slightly more aggressive. I’m constantly poked and prodded in the face because of my piercings and elaborate makeup. “What’s this? Ooooh, how pretty! I want one of those when I grow up! I like your makeup! Let me see how this is attached…” I know how a classroom hamster feels.

So there ya have it. Those are some of the things that I have to deal with on a day to day basis as a goth. It’s an existance filled with struggle and strife. I hope that reading this piece has either made you feel that you have an ally, or has just helped to enlighten you on some of the problems your goth friends may silently struggling with.

Peace Out!
JC


5 Stars for Funeral Feast (The Dark Angel Chronicles) by Jeff Patrick

Funeral Feast (The Dark Angel Chronicles) is different from most zombie lit out there. And I have to say, I’m really diggin’ the cover art! If you buy this book solely based on the cover, you will not be disappointed. You can check it out in all of its awesomeness right here.

Funeral Feast is fast-paced with a little more focus on action and storyline than your average zombie book. In a lot of zombie books you’re along for the ride with your everyday characters as they try to make a clean getaway, but in this story, you’re waiting to see Michael’s next move. He has this charismatic air of confidence as he effortlessly takes down the undead horde with his sidearms…and even his boot. I love how author Jeff Patrick brings The Dark Angel to life. Michael is such a bad-ass! He’s immune to fear and keeps his cool, pausing at times to make a witty comment after blasting a zombie with Paladin at his side. The Dark Angel and Paladin are vital to each other. They’re like the PB&J of monster killers. And on a personal level, Paladin is my favourite. He really adds to the whole allure of the book and is the best side-kick of any comic book or movie I’ve seen. He sort of steals the show in his own way. Unlike other sidekicks, Paladin has the ability to stand alone with his presence.

There’s a certain point in this story when you know something bigger is going on. This is not your average zombie contagion. It’s something more. And when you get to the very end, you know that you’re going to want to grab the next book as soon as it’s out so you can see how the story unravels bit by bit. I have to say, this is the first time that I’ve read a book in a series before the second one is even out, and I’m definitely hooked. I can’t wait for the next one. I’m wondering what creatures of the night The Dark Angel and Paladin will be up against.

Stay tuned for my *exclusive* interview with Jeff Patrick, as well as our conversation (to be captured on audio for your listening pleasure)!

 


5 Rancid Questions with P. A. Douglas

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Writers are my rock stars. They are my athletes. They make my whole little universe swirl with excitement and the anticipation of reading the latest masterpieces they put out and whenever I get word that they’re working on a new project my heart skips a beat. And since reading is a favourite hobby of mine, I seek out authors that I know will not disappoint. So, as a reader, it’s vital to my existance to find an author that I can really get into. And they are few and far between.
P. A. Douglas is one of those few. After reading Watchers (Paperback) and Rancid (Paperback) I’m now a die-hard fan! I’m really excited about Hitchers (Paperback) and I’m lovin’ the concept of this one and can’t wait to read it! While they’re available for Kindle, I personally prefer paperbacks to e-books so I’m saving back enough money to buy it as we speak! Now that I’ve derailed from my topic, let me get back on track.
I was able to get five questions answered pertaining to Rancid from P. A. Douglas himself! How awesome is that?!?!? You can also check out my interview with P. A. Douglas about Watchers right here.
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JC:  I love how Rancid has a style reminiscent of some of the 80s zombies movies without being a copy. In the last interview you said that you’re an “80s Baby”, so was the 80s vibe of this book something that just happened, or were you intentionally going for that style?

P. A.: I intentionally go for that style, because that’s the style I like. However, I tried to mix in a little bit of a new-age twist just to keep things fresh. Well, as fresh as a rotting corpse can get.

JC: I’ve heard that it can be difficult for writers to come up with ways to get rid of cell phones, particularly in horror. Since you had a group of characters, was it difficult to nix cell phones from the picture?

P. A.: Honestly, I am going to go with a ‘NO’. Some authors forget all about that aspect of the story. When I write, I try to think of what I would do in the situation. I wouldn’t run up the stairs to get away. No, I would run right out the front door and keep on running. So…if I am in a situation where I could really use a phone to get some help, then hell yea my characters would do the same. Getting rid of them can easily be done wrong. Just be subtle when and if you decided to do something like that. For example, you would run out the front door when the killer is in your house. If that happened the story would end prematurely. Just think it through. Give them a reason to turn around, or, an obstacle that keeps them from doing so.

JC: When it comes to zombie books or movies, I think all of us Z-buffs analyse what we would have done, or would have done differently than the characters. I think this was the first time that I’ve ever seen scenarios where the characters are pretty much stuck between a zombie and a hard place. And this was the first time that I’ve been at a loss as to how I would have gotten away unbitten! After reading some of those parts over and over, I humbly concluded that I would have been minced meat. You really gave a feeling of claustrophobic terror, and in a good way! With such originality, I have to ask where these concepts came from. Did you take a step back to ask yourself what you could do that hasn’t been done yet, or did the ideas just flow?

P. A.: Well, let’s be honest. Everything in the writing world has been done. It’s all been done in the movies, or in books and comics. Just because something isn’t original that doesn’t mean it can’t be unique. The human isn’t original, but every last thumb print is.

JC:  Every writer has a different motive. To tell a story, to recruit readers, maybe even hopes of acquiring fortune and fame. And some write because of a sheer love of writing. What is it that drives you?

P. A.: I enjoy watching things grow. I was a full time singer-songwriter for a long time, and became accustomed to watching the number of fans grow as my career developed. I don’t care for fame or money. I love being creative and watching the readership grow. I enjoy knowing others like what I have created. That is the same with music, books, art… all of that stuff.

JC: The debate over environmental care and Global Warming has become so conflicted. Personally, I think we can all do a little something to take care of our planet. From everyday litter cluttering our streets to the devastation of Chernobyl, it’s a real concern. Was this book at all meant to make people think about the environment and what we put into our bodies, or just a really damn good story?

P. A.: When I write, I write from my life. I was on tour, so I wrote a book about a band on tour (Epidemic of the Undead). I was done with tour, so I wrote about a guy dealing with not being on tour (Hitchers). I made a few new friends that work at different chemical plants, so I wrote about a plant explosion (Watchers). I hate fast food… so… well, you get the point. I’m a home cooked meal kind of guy!


Mirrors Are Evil…an interstitial

I’m supposed to be cleaning but in between time I’ve been on Facebook chatting with my niece and catching up with a few friends. I’ve actually made a lot of progress so everything is looking better AND I was able to catch up with everyone. Anyway, when I got back to cleaning I found a makeup bag that I hadn’t thrown away because I was planning to clean it up. It has some sentimental value to me because of whom it’s from, but I broke a mirror inside and was worried the tiny little shards would scatter and I definitely don’t want my budgie to eat it. She can pick out things I can’t see, so I have to be careful. Right now she is relaxing and I hope that I’ll be able to take her outside in a bit to give her a bath. So I really shouldn’t be procrastinating but I’m going to keep it short.

Besides all of that, I really don’t want to clutter my blog with a bunch of nonsense because there’s some really excitingly awesome stuff going on pretty soon and I don’t want people to lose interest before I get that rollin’.

So anyway I’m cleaning and I ran across this broken mirror in the makeup bag. Then I thought, Oh, great…seven years… And then just a minute ago I thought, I must be breaking mirrors at least every 3-5 years, so when’s the bad luck going to stop? But this ties in with a conversation I had with a friend not long ago, and something that I thought would make an interesting topic.

She has a rectangular mirror leaning against the wall that she turns around before bed. It makes her feel unsettled when the mirror is showing. Well, I kinda-sorta have that same thing with mirrors because I know of the legends, but she doesn’t keep up with anything ghostly or supernatural. Anyway, as far as the legends go there are just too many to list! Some say mirrors are good, some say they’re bad, but one idea that I really like comes from old African-American beliefs. If you hang a mirror on, say a tree or something outside, it reflects evil and protects your home. But then…

Then I hear all this “mirrors are portals to other realms” talk and there’s a ritual you can do at midnight (and I heard it on Coast to Coast AM so you know it’s got to be true! lol) and then you can see all the entities coming out of the mirror! And then I start thinking about The Ring. That movie was SO lame, but when you’re thinking about a little girl crawling out of your mirror at night while you sleep Ring-style, it’s scary! I gotta say, mirrors are one of the only things that freak me out. Well, porcelain dolls, too. It’s a well-known fact that porcelain is an easy vessel for spirits and other things to inhabit.

As anti-climactic as this entry has been, I hope to research the whole mirror thing and maybe ask around to see if anyone has had experiences or used mirrors in séances, or how they feel about mirrors in general.

Oh! And if you decide to look up the supernatural ties to mirrors for yourself, there’s a chance the whole Bloody Mary thing might pop up. Don’t try it. I speak from experience. Nothing good will come of it. And if something is living in your mirror…where does it go from there?

Well I am off! I have a budgie to bathe.


Rancid review… a book by P. A. Douglas

If you’re a zombie lover, and I’m not just saying this, you absolutely have to read Rancid! Whether you’re a fan of Return of the Living Dead or the new fast-paced Dawn of the Dead (or both, as in my case…) you will love this one! Rancid really combines the best of both worlds and gives zombie-buffs everywhere a reason to read! Personally, I’m really excited about this book because it’s a fresh, terrifying, graphic gore-fest that sticks to the classics while integrating not only a little of the new zom-pop culture, but originality. Just like JAWS made people want to stay out of the water, Rancid will make you want to stay out of the cemetary…particularly during meteor showers!

Normally I go into a bit more detail in my reviews, but I can’t without giving away the shock and surprise of this book. It’s one of those “gotta see for yourself” type of things. So if you want to purchase a copy you can click the link below. You won’t be disappointed.

http://www.amazon.com/Rancid-Zombie-Novel-P-A-Douglas/dp/147506148X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344663088&sr=8-1&keywords=p.+a.+douglas+rancid


My Mentor

The other day I got an email from Redroom, a blog site, to write about “the mentor who most changed your life.” I haven’t been on Redroom in quite some time because for a while I was experiencing a technical glitch, but I thought, Hey, why not just post this on wordpress? A part of me jolted with excitement because as soon as I read the email, Linda Morrison Spear, author of I Know You By Heart, came to mind. (http://www.amazon.com/Know-You-Heart-Linda-Spear/dp/1439248788).

 

Well, it all started with The Hunger, which is now an e-book. (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/141089) People who are familiar with my work say this is one of their favourites of my collection, and on a personal level it’s always been one that I’m most proud of. That’s why I decided to keep it under wraps until I knew the time was right.

When I received an email from a writing contest with a picture prompt, I took the opoortunity to put it out there. The photo was of a building that could have been anything, but I used what I saw as “eerie” to accommodate my story. Other entries in the contest were love stories, murder mysteries, and anything and everything in between. There were several that I’d read that I just thought were really good and there was a lot of competition. I figured I’d try my luck.

I had to bring the word count up and twist the beginning and end around to suit the photo, but that wasn’t a big deal. And a few days after my entry was accepted, I received an email from someone I didn’t know saying how much they enjoyed the story. I was speechless! I couldn’t believe it! I’d rarely had feedback like that, and as it turned out, this person was no ordinary reader, but someone who had a lot of accomplishments of her own. I was flattered that someone with such an impressive background in writing and media would have taken the time to stop by to send such kind and encouraging words.

We chatted back and forth via email for some time, and she sent me a copy of I Know You By Heart. I absolutely loved it. It’s on my list of favourite reads, and it was so gripping that I was pulled into this book. When I think of this book, I just get this bittersweet feeling that overcomes me. Part of that is because of the bond I felt with Linda and part of that was just from this amazing story. It was just so real, like nothing I’ve read before.

As a person, Linda is kind, understanding, and just everything you could want in a friend and/or mentor. I’m still trying to get my Forever Gothic series in print, and she helped me to up my game with my query letter as well as get my first few chapters organised.

I got that drive to keep going, even if I end up with a million rejection letters. I was motivated. She taught me to just trek through every time I got a rejection letter with confidence in my work and in myself. It’s easy to lose sight of that when everyone is telling you that your book “isn’t right” for their agency. To the mind of a writer who is critical of their work in hopes of getting somewhere, it’s easy to translate that to, “You’re just not good enough.” She showed me how to take that at face value and to find someone who is better suited to my work. After all, you want someone to love your characters and wants the best for them as much as you do.

So Miss Linda, thank you for all of the support, advice and encouragement when I needed it most. Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes to make it as a writer. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get *There* . . . Wherever “There” might be. But I have a copy of I Know You By Heart proudly displayed on my bookshelf, and whenever I feel those pangs of discouragement, I look at it and am reminded that someone out there liked my work enough to take the time to find me to send a message. And along with all of that, thank you for your friendship.