Sunday, September 29, 2013

Coming in October

October is just around the corner. You know what that means. Leaves, chilly nights, bonfires, pumpkins, and spooooookies. It's also time for Milo Fowler's Creepy Freebies!

The Twa Corbies (1919)
by Arthur Rackham.
This year Milo is teaming up with a bunch of other writers. (What do you call a group of writers? A scribble? Flourish? Gaggle? Murder? Writers are kind of like crows, always cawing. Let's go with that one. Hmm.) So, Milo is teaming up with a murder of writers to bring you free downloads and raffles every Friday in October. It's like Halloween every Friday and you don't even have to dress up or go outside. But if you want to dress up and go outside, feel free to do so.

Stop by Milo's blog every Friday to get directions to the "houses" with the Creepy Freebies courtesy of Aaron Polson, Anthony J. Rapino, Bob Eccles, Cate Cardner, Christine Rains, Deborah Walker, Ellie Garratt, Erin Cole, James Garcia Jr., Jeff Chapman, Lyndon Perry, Michelle Ann King, Rhonda Parrish, Roland Yeomans, Simon Kewin, and Stoney Setzer.

To get you in the mood, here's one of my tweets from the 13 Words of Horror Friday the 13th Twitter Party sponsored by Underneath the Juniper Tree. Go here for more delicious tweets.

Bamboo and blood, such yummy stew, but what about YOU in the stew?

The Creepy Freebie fun starts this Friday, October 4! Be there! Be scared!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Word of the Week: Rake

The Tavern Scene from A Rake's Progress
by William Hogarth.
Fall is tumbling down upon us and all around us (if you live someplace where the leaves turn and fall that is). Here's a word synonymous with yard work and debauchery: rake.

The prosaic meaning of rake—a tool with teeth for scraping and bringing things like leaves together—comes from the Old English words raca and ræce, which likely derived from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic root rak-, meaning to gather or heap up. Similar words exist in Old Norse: reka, Old High German: rehho, and Gothic: rikan.

The more colorful meaning of rake—an idle, dissolute person and often a heartless womanizer—comes from the word rakehell. The shortening of rakehell to rake likely became common in the 1650s. Rakehell's origin is fittingly murky. It might be an alteration of the Middle English rakel, meaning rash or headstrong, because of the association with the words rake and Hell. I guess a rake gathers up Hellish habits of personal conduct.

Rakes bring pain and suffering to otherwise good people. Just try raking a half-acre of leaves. The other kind of rake does something similar—dispensing emotional pain and suffering—particularly in novels. Two of the most famous rakes are Vicomte de Valmont from Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Robert Lovelace from Clarissa.

Valmont pursues and falls in love with the virtuous Madame de Tourvel but then cruelly deserts her at the urging of the Marquise de Merteuil who had challenged Valmont to corrupt the young Cécile de Volanges. Valmont dies in a duel with Cécile's lover but not before destroying Merteuil's reputation. Emotionally wrecked by Valmont's rejection, Tourvel succumbs to a fever after learning of his death.

Lovelace desires to marry the virtuous Clarissa Harlowe, whose family insists she enter into a marriage with Roger Solmes, a union more economically advantageous to the Harlowe family. Angered at the Harlowe's rejection, Lovelace decides to take revenge on the Harlowe family by marrying Clarissa. He tricks her into eloping with him, but she refuses to marry him. He imprisons her in a brothel and decides that only after destroying her virtue will she marry him. He rapes her. His scheme backfires and Clarissa becomes even more adamant that she will not marry him. She escapes from the brothel but dies from illness and mental duress. Lovelace dies in a duel with Clarissa's cousin.

The machinations are much more complicated than those brief descriptions, but you get the idea. Who is your favorite rake?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Finally Published! Midnight Diner 4

I've been waiting a long time to announce this. Years, I think. The Midnight Diner 4: Wastelands Under the Sun is finally available to the reading world. It contains my short story “Morphine and Chocolate,” which is also one of the three Chef's Picks in the collection. "Morphine and Chocolate" draws for inspiration from the medieval poem Pearl (which you can read all about here). Bob Marley's “Mr. Brown” also contributed some ideas. Like Pearl, my story concerns a father mourning the loss of his daughter but places events in contemporary and psychedelic settings.

“Morphine and Chocolate,” possibly our most eccentric Editor’s Choice to date, virtually bursts at the seams as its protagonist, neither an angel nor a demon, tries to come to grips with a horror as quotidian as it is unfathomable. 
—Robert Scott Garbacz, in his introductory essay “From the Counter”