Monday, October 28, 2013

Guest Post: Warning: Coarse Language by Skyla Dawn Cameron, author of Demons of Oblivion

“People who swear just aren’t very creative.”

Raise your hand if you’ve heard someone say that as they lift their nose and take on an air of superiority.

Look, if you feel that way about naughty words, you’re not using them correctly.

Exhibit A: George Carlin




So...I curse.

A lot.

And so do a lot of my characters.

I think initially I got it from my mother. She could swear a blue streak, though didn’t get particularly creative with it and usually apologized afterward (not so now—I think I’ve influenced her in turn).

A lot of kids swear for the forbidden aspect but as I grew older it stuck with me. It’s not forbidden now; I am entirely comfortable with all manner of words. I can say things that’ll make a sailor blush and I don’t bat an eye at any of them. But the fact is, words have power. They have power that we assign to them, and it’s impossible to ignore the gendered aspect.

Fuck’s had lots of attention before. But let’s talk about cunt.

For a long time, this word made me uncomfortable. It was a word even my mother didn’t use. I know many women who will say anything but that word.

But here’s the thing: in a real life situation, I don’t want that word to scare me. I’ve been in uncomfortable—sometimes dangerous—situations before and froze when I heard that word. It carries a lot of baggage.  When used by certain people in certain circumstances, at the least it feels dismissive and at worst threatening. But I don’t want a simple word to have power over me.

I respect those who still refuse to use it, but for me, it was important to reclaim cunt. To say it over and over and over until it stopped sounding shocking, to use it and take the power from it. And that ends up in my writing.

Although I throw around a lot of curse words in my work, I tend to choose them with care. Different characters will lean toward different words.

For Peri in Lineage, a mercenary, she tends toward plain, harsh language like fuck, cocksucker, occasionally cunt. I’ve known a lot of blue-collar, midnight-shift workers, and that’s what I modeled her language after.

Ryann in Hunter is something else entirely: she’s a nun. And while it’s not her position in the church that keeps her from swearing—plenty of her colleagues do—it’s just her own personality that prefers not to say such things. She won’t even use darn. Despite cursing by other characters peppering the rest of her novel, when she finally utters a “Shut the hell up” at an opportune moment, it’s all the funnier.

Zara in Bloodlines and Exhumed is among my favourites, because she simply enjoys the words. She’ll use any and all curse words to make her point, and prefers to twist them in fun ways. (Like “fucktard.” C’mon, that one’s just fun to say.)

Including the forbidden c-word. From Exhumed:

I blinked, just in case I missed some look of irony but nope, he was serious. “I’m sorry, I think I’m having trouble hearing since she screamed TRAP so loud in my ear. She’s not just a lying cunt, she’s the Supreme Lying Leader of the Lying Cunts in Cuntania.”

“Cuntania” was a word that only Zara would end up saying. And it still makes me giggle.

I get it: words like these can draw a reader out of a story because they’re unexpected. The more shocking they are to the reader, the more out of place they’ll seem if used more than 2-3 times in a book. But all of that is subjective. Opinion. Period. You know what word draws me out of books? “Darn.” I don’t know a single person in real life who uses “darn.” I don’t see how sticking a word in place of “damn” is any less sweary. But, again, subjective.

Does this language put some people off of my books? Probably.

And that’s cool. It’s a creative choice like any other. There’s also graphic violence and vaguely sociopathic main characters; if it’s the swearing and not the violence that puts you off, well...okay then. You might very well be my grandfather.

My grandfather is ninety-nine years old and insists that I should cut the swearing out of my books as none of the popular writers (meaning female popular writers) have that level of cursing in their work. So I might always wallow in obscurity because of my cunty fucking language.

We’ll see, Grandpa. We’ll see.




Thanks for sharing that with us Skyla, it was fucking awesome. Skyla Dawn Cameron is the author of the Demons of Oblivion urban fantasy series which includes:

Bloodlines
Hunter
Lineage
Exhumed
Oblivion

As I understand it, she recently got the rights back to her books and she's re-releasing them. For the next few days you can buy Bloodlines for free, so take advantage of it while it lasts. The last one mentioned, Oblivion, seems to be scheduled for a 2014 release.

Demons of Oblivion series is a favorite of our friend Melissa from her My World...in books and pages and she's been pestering me to read it since forever, even came to the blog to share a few thoughts on it. Well fine, I'll give it a read Melissa... just grabbed Bloodlines.

In any case, this was an awesome guest post from Skyla, certainly one of my favorites... she had me at George Carlin, and with that I'll leave you with a video I've shared around here before, a 10 minute Fuck Bomb Reel from George.

Please visit Skyla Dawn Cameron's website for more information and you can follow her on Twitter @SkylaDawn.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Discovering the Inclusive Badass in Urban Fantasy by Teresa Frohock author of Miserere

When I first saw Tim Marquitz's call for stories for Manifesto: UF, I read it and thought I couldn't possibly write an urban fantasy short story. I mean, what did I know about the genre? I was totally intimidated by the blurb: "The time has come to make a statement, to define a genre. This is our manifesto ..."

"... to define a genre."

How could I help define a genre I didn't understand at all? Were they looking for something like Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels series? Alex Bledsoe's Tufa series? Clive Barker's Cabal stories? Romance, angels, demons, fairies, and cities? What ... what ... what were they looking for in terms of stories?

I got out of there before my brain exploded. Sometimes I overthink things and that is precisely what I did with the Manifesto anthology. Other projects took my attention and I more or less forgot about the anthology until my little message bar popped up on Facebook one evening and it was Tim. He had seen an earlier status update about a short story that I had written, and he invited me to submit a story to Manifesto. I told him I didn't know anything about urban fantasy, but he wasn’t put off. He offered me several very broad suggestions, and I realized that I might be able to write something for him.

I looked at the guidelines again. The word "badass" kept jumping out at me. I realigned my thinking and put urban fantasy in the context of badass. It was then that I realized that the Kate Daniels series has snappy dialogue along with a badass protagonist who is wicked-sharp; Alex's Tufa are badass in a low-slung southern kind of way; and Clive Barker's Cabal stories were so badass they straddled the line between urban fantasy and horror.

I had an idea for a traditional fantasy story, but I thought that the story could work just as well in the present day. I reshaped the background and the characters to write "Naked the Night Sings." I didn't try to ram the story into any guidelines and I just had fun with the concept. I allowed convention to fall by the wayside and let the story run free.

When I was done, I saw that my story slid closer to Barker's style of badass--urban fantasy mixed with horror. As a matter of fact, I thought the story edged a little too close to horror to fit in the Manifesto anthology, but I offered it up to Tim nevertheless.

That was how "Naked the Night Sings" found its way into the anthology, and how I rethought my misconceptions about urban fantasy.

Definitions and categories are utilized by marketing and bookstores to show people where to look for the stories that they like. However, definitions usually present a narrow view, a statement of exact meaning or context. The short stories in Manifesto: UF defies the confines of a definition by showing the reader the absolute beauty and breadth of the urban fantasy genre. 

The very inclusiveness of urban fantasy is what makes it so much fun. This inhibition turns each story, each novel into a brand new adventure. Urban fantasy opens the door to the fantastic and the reader is never quite certain where the path will lead. The emphasis, however, is on fun and I like that, because enjoyment and wonder are what stories are about.

I know we take our genres and ourselves quite seriously at times. We passionately defend our viewpoints and why this story or that story may or may not be within the guidelines of urban fantasy or paranormal romance or traditional fantasy or dark fantasy or whatever new and amazing thing we discover next.

Yet there really are no rules, no definitions, and the only manifesto is the manifesto of fun.

Urban fantasy may contain aspects of horror; angels and demons and fae and all sorts of creatures wondrous and new; romance and pleasure and songs; stories may take place in cities or in small towns ...

Urban fantasy holds all of these things, some of these things, none of these things, you never know what you will find. That is the beauty of discovery.

So I've decided to make a manifesto of my own: to read for the joy of reading and to explore new genres without prejudice. I'll find some stories that I don't care for, but I'll also find a gem or two. All that is required of me is to remain open to the possibilities.

********

Teresa Frohock has turned her love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and has a short story, “Naked the Night Sings,” in the urban fantasy anthology Manifesto: UF. Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Visit her at her website: www.teresafrohock.com




Thanks for visiting Teresa and welcome to the Urban Fantasy family. For those that don't know, I'm a big fan of Teresa Frohock since I loved her debut Miserere: An Autumn Tale which I reviewed here. In it, I made mention of how Miserere made me feel as if I was reading a story that's not urban fantasy, but what occurs behind the curtains of such a story. Highly recommended.

Make sure to follow Teresa on her website or on Twitter @TeresaFrohock.

And now for the giveaway, it'll be for 5 ecopies of the Manifesto: UF anthology edited by Tim Marquitz and Tyson Mauermann which includes Teresa Frohock's short story Naked the Night Sings.
From angels to vampires, dragons to wizards, Manifesto brings together twenty-three stories full of action, snark, and unadulterated badassery.
Featuring stories from Lucy A. Snyder, Jeff Salyards, William Meikle, Teresa Frohock, Zachary Jernigan, Betsy Dornbusch, Kirk Dougal, Karina Fabian, Adam Millard, Timothy Baker, Ryan Lawler, Andrew Moczulski, R.L. Treadway, Abhinav Jain, TSP Sweeney, Nickolas Sharps, Jonathan Pine, Kenny Soward, Joshua S. Hill, Jake Elliot, Lincoln Crisler, J.M. Martin, & Wilson Geiger.
The time has come to make a statement, to define a genre. This is our manifesto.

Participants have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change. 

The giveaway is open WORLD WIDE, and it will run from October 7, 2013 until 11:59 pm ET on October 14, 2013.

The giveaway is for a chance to win an ecopy of 5 of the Manifesto: UF anthology.

How to participate:
  • To participate simply log-in into to the Rafflecopter and "Enter" through the easy entry.
  • One entry per person, or face disqualification.
  • Entries accepted until 11:59pm ET on October 14, 2013.
  • There'll be 5 winners for 1 ecopy each of Manifesto: UF.
  • Will have to confirm email to be considered a winner within 48 hours.
  • Additional entries may be had by following the steps provided in the Rafflecopter instructions, and only by doing those steps. 
  • Winners will be chosen by random selection using the Rafflecopter.
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway