Sunday, November 19, 2006

Entering Edits

Oh, it's a tedious job, this entering edits. It seems like it's taking forever. Am I going off on tangents to avoid the final, scary moment when I pass it off for publication? Probably. Because no matter how careful you are, no matter how many "pairs of eyes" look at it, it'll never be perfect, and you can never, EVER, please everyone. But it gets a little discouraging when, halfway through the edits, you realize that you've used the word "like" incorrectly in a few places, and way too many places in general, and you start wondering how many other bad habits you have that maybe the editor and reviewers WON'T catch -- but the reviewers will.

Still, you plug on. And occasionally you run across something that you particularly like, something that feels good to read, and you think that maybe the book isn't worthless after all.

And so, I leave you with a little teaser from the book. Have a great Thanksgiving and I hope to report more progress after the holiday.

Here's the quote:

She could feel the vibrations in her breastbone,
her throat, her life. She felt breathless, as if
she were poised high on a mountain, one foot out,
ready for a step across the wide unknown.

She could almost feel the cool mist of the high
clouds across her face and the heat of the sun on
her scalp. She was soaring, yet standing still,
frozen in that moment of boundlessness, life
stretching before her.

Months later she would recognize this image as she
laid down the tarot card representing the past:
The Fool.

(Copyright 2005-6 Morven Westfield)

Have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving,

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Article in latest Witches' Almanac

Just got the 2007-2008 copy of The Witches' Almanac. Guess who's got an article on pages 12 and 13? Moi! You can order the book from either the publishers, The Witches' Almanac, or from my publisher, Harvest Shadows Publications. They also have the 2006-2007 edition, in which I had an article published, too, mainly because I have articles published in these editions.

The new edition has a glossy cover and is in a slightly larger format (now 6”x 9”) and looks great. You can even look at the table of contents online. There's even an article by their regular astrologer on Anne Rice's natal horoscope.

Oh, and my publisher currently has a deal where if you buy a book, any book, you can get the 2006-2007 (current year) edition for only $4.99 (available in the US only, though, because shipping costs are prohibitive outside the US). Oh, and they're also giving away some fun trinkets: a bottle opener and mood pencils. Check this out:

(Bottle Opener) Do your long talons make it difficult for you to pop the tops on your soft drink cans? Is lack of a bottle opener standing between you and your favorite refreshment? Seek no further... Unique conversation piece, great item for camping or dorm, this multi-functional beverage opener opens bottles and caps. Made of durable plastic, it's imprinted with the following memorable words: For your DARKSOME THIRST.

(Mood Pencil) Do you have the power? Test yourself and see! Okay, so it's just a mood pencil and it doesn't REALLY indicate whether you have the power or not -- just how warm your hands are. Amuse your friends as the pencil magically changes color and then returns to normal when it returns to room temperature.

Link for shopping area of Harvest Shadows Publications web site

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Vampire Secrets

I recently watched "Vampire Secrets" on the History Channel.

In general, the show, though very nice to look at, wasn't really impressive. They kept repeating the same footage, which was aggravating. You kept seeing a re-enactment of Countess Elizabeth Bathory bathing in blood, an NYC vampire club scene, and a man with page boy haircut biting a woman's neck. (I was, however, pleased that the Countess was not played by an anorexic actress, but instead a woman of normal-to-ample proportions.) Commercials interrupted frequently, and coming back from the commercials, the intros seemed to contain lots of fluff (maybe they didn't want the refrigerator crowd to miss anything).

The show included Katherine Ramsland's search for journalist Susan Walsh, which she recounted in Piercing the Darkness, and also a bit about Rod Ferrell, a kid from KY whose vampire name was Vassago and who bludgeoned his girlfriend's father and step-mother to death. In mentioning Ferrell, of course they mentioned Vampire: The Masquerade, which Michelle Belanger also commented on. Belanger, the author of the Psychic Vampire Codex, had some interesting insights in general throughout the program, but it was boring to see the repeated shots of her psi-vamping a willing participant.

There was also a man with blond hair and interesting eyes (lenses? hard to tell) who was interviewed who seemed knowledgeable.

Buzz Out Loud's Veronica Belmont made a cameo as a kerchiefed victim of Bathory. She had no speaking parts, but did a convincing head turn -- seriously! She looked like someone submitting to the whims of royalty: fearful, yet resigned. BOL's Tom Merritt also made a cameo as a French doctor examining a corpse that then turned to dust, and again, well-done for a short appearance. Of course, if you don't recognize BOL or the names of the actors, you're probably not as amused as I am: They're hosts (along with Molly Wood) of a regular CNet internet podcast "of indeterminate length" that discusses geeky stuff in great detail, so to see these technophiles in period costume in a TV production that, in part, investigates historical vampires, is quite amusing. Well done, Veronica and Tom!

Of course, no historical account of vampires these days would be complete without a mention of Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad the Impaler. New was the narrator pointing out that the impalings and beheadings were psychological warfare and that he did indeed succeed in protecting his country from being overrun by Ottoman Turks, something I hadn't considered. They mentioned that Tepes is considered a hero in his country, which I hadn't realized. Him being a hero doesn't prevent locals from making money off the tourists who come for the vampire lore, something Ceausescu encouraged to strengthen the economy.

Having written two novels with vampires as major characters, I've read quite a bit on the history of vampires and vampire lore when doing my initial research, so I expected that I'd be familiar with most of what was presented. That indeed was true; the only thing I saw that was new was a comparison of Kirlian photos of the fingertips of a psi vamp and a victim before and after the energy exchange. You can see the psi vamp's aura change to a much, much stronger one, and the victim's aura diminish considerably. I found that segment very interesting.

The show could have been done in much less than 2 hours; could have been much tighter. I resented spending that much time on a fluffy show when I should have been working on the final touches to my second novel (The Old Power Returns), which my editor (and foreign publisher) are waiting for.

Oh, well. It's Halloween, and I can take some time out for some spooky viewing, no?

Happy Halloweentide,


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rock N'Shock

On Saturday I went to the Rock and Shock Horror Festival ( in Worcester, MA. It's a mostly film-related convention, but I'm a fan of old classic horror flicks, so that's fine with me.

I hung around the table of the Horror Writers Association, New England Chapter, which had a very good showing. I know I'll forget someone, but I remember seeing Paul Tremblay, LL Soares, Laura Cooney, Jack Haringa, Dan Robichaud, Corrine de Winter, and a guy who was talking to me about a book signing that the HWA/NE had done at Tatnuck a long time ago. (Sorry, I forgot your name!) I heard that Stan Wiater was there earlier, but I missed him. Dan's wife, Trista, who has recently had a fantasy short story published, was absent; some excuse about celebrating a birthday... (Happy Birthday, Trista!)

Laura bought a pair of vampire fangs from I was tempted to buy their Scarecrow Classic Fangs, but I kept thinking of what a hard time I have talking with my retainer in, and changed my mind. I know they're supposed to be light, well-fitting and easy to use, but I just couldn't convince myself. What an advance in technology since the days of Dark Shadows. I read that Jonathan Frid, who played Barnabas Collins, had a really hard time talking with his fangs in and found them very uncomfortable -- and I'm sure that they were very expensive. Speaking of Jonathan Frid, he's got his own web site these days. Hard to believe that he's an octogenerian. Back to fangs: I did get one of the free tee shirts that VampFangs were handing out, so if I change my mind, at least I have the web site address. Maybe next year, for Halloween.

Let's see, who else was there? Screenwriter Rogan Marshall stopped by and then joined us for the HWA social dinner after.

Another person who joined us for dinner was writer Jack Ketchum, who had his own booth. I didn't even realize that he was at the event until I went to see what the vendors were selling.

The movie of Jack's book, The Lost, had been shown earlier in the day, and he was pretty excited -- as well he should be. The Lost is the first novel of Jack's on film. Featured in the cast are Ed Lauter, Micheal Bowen, Dee Wallace Stone, and Jack Ketchum himself, playing a bartender. Check out the movie web site for more info. (By the way, there's a great interview of Jack by Monica O'Rourke at the Feoamante site. My preference is supernatural horror, which is not what Jack or Monica write, but they're still great writers and good people, so if you like other types of horror, check them out. Personally, I'm too chicken! Seriously, though, I have read some of their writing and have heard raves from those who have read much more.

With Jack was another screen writer, whose name I didn't catch. Lately I've been really, really bad about remembering someone's name the first time I meet them. What am I saying, FIRST time? Sometimes I can't remember the name the SECOND or THIRD time! And I was sitting next to this guy at dinner. Well, whoever he is, he's working on a project with Jack, and was interesting to listen to.

It's getting late and I've got to get up for the day job tomorrow, so I'll end here and amend or correct as needed some other time.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What I've Just Finished Reading: How to Write Killer Fiction

Well, I finally finished How to Write Killer Fiction by Carolyn Wheat. It's not because it's a slow read -- it isn't -- but because of the way life is. My reading time gets interrupted, or I get really tired and fall asleep after reading only a couple of sentences, or some other reading material suddenly takes precedence.

In this case, I held off because what I was reading was something I wanted to be awake for, and something that I thought would keep me awake. I had started a new job over the summer, one with earlier hours than I was used to recently, and I was afraid that if I read something very engaging, it would keep me up as I stopped to jot down notes or started to plan how I'd use it in my novel.

This book is geared toward the mystery writer, but since my novels have an element of suspense and since I drop clues like in a mystery novel, I thought it'd be appropriate. I was right. Don't be put off if you're not a mystery writer. This is still a good resource for the horror or suspense writer.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What I've Just Finished Reading: The First Five Pages

I just finished reading The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, which I'd highly recommend to those brand-new writers who finish their first draft and say, "Okay, I'm done," having never read a book on how to get published nor taken any classes on the same. It's an eye-opener.

For everyone else, I'd still recommend it. It's short, concise, and well-written and drives home the point that editors and editorial assistants, by the very nature of their hectic schedules, look first to weed out the rejects, and describes what they look for first.

It includes many samples of what not to do (for example, snippets of horrible dialog), and sometimes there are sections on how to fix the problems. The exercises at the end of the chapter are excellent exercises in good writing, but I must admit that I didn't do any of them. For one thing, I read most of the book on a plane and didn't have my manuscript with me. For another, I'm at the wrapping-up phase of my second novel and I just don't have the time to rewrite at that depth. For me, a simple checklist would have been more beneficial.

Overall, though, it's a very good book and I'd certainly read others by the same author.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Our squirrels are nuts

About this time each year, the acorns start falling from the trees, blanketing the driveway that they overshadow. So that's nothing new. The newness is that this time they're getting a little help in falling.

I was sitting at my computer when motion in the trees outside caught my attention. I looked out the window behind the computer and noticed that the branches were shaking. Realizing that it wouldn't be a deer two floors off the ground, I figured it must be squirrels, and looked back to my computer when another motion caught my eye. A rosette of branch and leaves was falling to the ground. Okay. So the squirrel broke the branch.

Later, more motion. More branches. This time I stood up to look out, onto the driveway. This is similar to what I saw:

I went outside to investigate. Yup, the little cuties are chomping off the branches so that a cluster of leaves and acorns fall to the driveway, where they can then strip off the acorns in peace.

And it's not a one-time thing. We've swept the driveway clear twice and they've covered it again each time. I don't remember this ever happening before. Are they getting smarter? Or am I getting more observant?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

DARKSOME THIRST to be Translated into German

Darksome Thirst German version

Well, here's some good news. My novel DARKSOME THIRST is being translated into German by an Austrian publishing company.

Otherworld Verlag to publish German-language version of Morven Westfield’s acclaimed debut novel Darksome Thirst.

Southborough, MA (PRWEB) September 13, 2006 -- Otherworld Verlag has obtained the German language rights for Morven Westfield’s acclaimed first novel, Darksome Thirst. Praising its authentic characters and the skillful integration of fascinating elements of witchcraft, Managing Director Michael Krug stated, "We are very pleased to win this impressive debut novel for our program." Before establishing his own publishing company with a partner, Krug translated authors such as Diana L. Paxson, Lynn Flewelling, Dave Duncan, Paul Kearney,and Chris Wooding for a large German publishing house.

Otherworld Verlag's first horror title, Brian Keene’s Bram Stoker-award winning The Rising, will be published early in 2007. Morven Westfield's Darksome Thirst will soon follow, appearing under the German title Brut Der Finsternis.

Darksome Thirst is a fast-paced, atmospheric tale of a young woman who must resolve the differences between what her logical mind tells her and what she is actually experiencing. Set in the late 1970s, Darksome Thirst is the first in a series of novels wherein Alicia and Meg battle against the unknown. Its sequel, The Old Power Returns, is expected to be released in early 2007.

About Harvest Shadows Publications
In these days of large corporate mergers and consolidation in the publishing industry, Harvest Shadows publishes what some of the larger publishing houses would consider niche titles, but we believe that readers should have a broader range of choices.

About Otherworld Verlag
Otherworld Verlag is a newly established Austrian publishing company specializing in phantastic literature. Following a similar philosophy as Harvest Shadows, Otherworld Verlag considers itself a publisher broadening the variety for German-speaking fans of phantastic literature by offering quality programs featuring highly innovative and talented authors, as well as established names such as Dave Duncan.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Telephone telepathy

Hubby forwarded me a link to an interesting article, "Telephone telepathy - I was just thinking about you," from Reuters, Wed Sep 6, 11:36 AM ET. (Click the title "Telephone telepathy" above to go to the page.)

According to the opening sentence, "Many people have experienced the phenomenon of receiving a telephone call from someone shortly after thinking about them -- now a scientist says he has proof of what he calls telephone telepathy."

Of course, the study isn't conclusive -- the sample size was too small -- but it's interesting nonetheless. Many of us have experienced telephone telepathy, only to be told, "Well, yes, but how about the many times where you think of someone and they DON'T call?", but this study says that maybe the times when they DON'T call might be less than one would think.

I would say this study might qualify as one of those DUH! studies (as in, "Duh! Tell me something I don't know!), but when I compare it to a study I heard about yesterday, I change my mind. That study said that celebrities were narcissistic... (


Sunday, September 03, 2006

What I've Been Reading Lately

Just finished reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone. It's a very pleasurable read and I can definitely see beginners getting a lot out of it. I got a lot out of it, even if only in the way Tom said something made me really understand some "truth" I had already absorbed or just in reinforcing something I knew. I wish it had been around when I first started; it has a lot of things I learned from various sources all in one place.

I had been reading The Cleansing by John Harvey, but then vacation and book signings and conferences interrupted, so now I'm not sure if I should just start a few chapters back or go all the way back to the beginning. Maybe I'll just try restarting a bit back, to see if I can remember where I was. I do remember that I liked it. Darn, I wish I hadn't been interrupted.

Other than that, I haven't been reading too much lately. Oh, wait. I did finish one more book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. My father-in-law gave me a copy. He had started reading it himself and became so fascinated that he bought an extra copy for me. It was a long read, and I kept finding myself falling asleep. I can't blame the authors for that, though. I tend to read in bed and if I'm tired -- as I was this summer while working day jobs that required me to get up an hour earlier than normal -- I tend to fall asleep. And when I'd try to pick it up the next night, I'd find I couldn't remember the context and would have to re-read quite a bit.

Despite comprehension lapses from falling asleep and despite my appalling memory of the history of Europe, I found it very interesting. My father-in-law simply raves about the beauty of the writing style, but some might find it a little too stilted for modern tastes. The style didn't impress me as much as it did him, but what I did find enjoyable was the way that the authors built up to their conclusions. Of course, with my aforementioned appalling lack of knowledge of European history, there's no way I can judge how sound those conclusions are, but I still found them interesting.

What I've Finished Reading Since My Last Blog...

  • Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln
  • Haunted Massachusetts by Cheri Revai
  • No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Staying Dead by Laura Anne Gilman