A story in the Dig Two Graves anthology

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August 18, 2019

One of my short stories, “The Maiden of the Triangle,” has been published in the newly released Dig Two Graves: An Anthology Vol. II, from Death’s Head Press.

I’m very excited and grateful to Death’s Head Press for publishing my work, and in such amazing company too. “The Maiden of the Triangle” is a feverish dream of a woman’s escape and journey towards the freedom to be her own. It is set in a small tourist town in the mountains, inspired by a place where I used to go to summer camp in Romania. It is there thate a fickle pastoral deity looms larger than present or history. It’s a story unlike most I’ve written, and I’m very fond of it and very happy it has found its place in this beautiful book.

The everything notebook – my journal system

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May 11, 2019

I am rarely inspired to write on the blog these days. I don’t feel like I have the time. But yes, plenty of time for taking outfit pictures and posting on Instagram, that I have, obviously. Well, let’s not dwell on the failures.

Today I feel like writing a longer blog post about my thoughts on the not-so-bullet journal I have been keeping for about two years now and which is working miracles for me.

The tools

First of all let’s talk about the fun things. The notebook and the pens. Very important.

After a lot of thought, I decided to move from my personal Filofax into a big A5 sized bound notebook. I considered the Traveler’s system, with the many thin notebooks tied with elastic into the same plain leather cover, but while the system looks very good, I am sure the shifting of the notebooks in those elastics would have annoyed me to no end. One compact notebook is a better choice for me.

I also chose to use blank notebooks, where I can make my own notations for each day and use as much paper as I need. Some days are very productive, others not at all, and I hate to waste paper, so I cannot stand the already marked diaries.

I started two years ago with a nondescript, Moleskine-sized notebook that I had around the house and a few gel ink pens. And I was happy. Until my sister gifted me a fountain pen, the likes of which I hadn’t used in many, many years. And after that I of course couldn’t use any other pens. I know, I am rolling my eyes at myself too.

So I bought myself a couple more pens and two bottles of ink. Nothing too fancy: one Pilot Kakuno with EF nib and a Kaweco Sport (also EF, but the line is so much wider than the Pilot that it’s upsetting) and Pilot Iroshizuku inks.

I use two pen pouches. One is larger, holds maybe up to ten pens, and one smaller, for three to five pens maximum. In the small one I keep one fountain pen and one gel ink, along with a thick felt-tip for my headlines and a couple of colored flexible tip pens for underlining, etc.

When I was finished with that first notebook, I got myself a fancy A5 Clairfontaine (bought it from Montreal on our trip there last year) with very special paper that is supposed to be one of the best for fountain pens. By then I had also found a nice leather cover in the thrift shop that I cut to A5 sized and dyed black.

I am on my third notebook now. It’s a Stalogy 365, which has a much thinner, yet very smooth and fountain-pen friendly paper. (Still haven’t graduated to the Tomoe River paper that everybody raves about, but it is probably coming next.) I also recently bought a $5 pen from eBay, a Chinese dupe of the Lamy Safari, and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted. And last week I found a new leather cover in the thrift store. It’s a little tight on my A5 notebook, but not too bad.

The System

I don’t follow any bullet journal notation and I don’t limit my notebook to certain subjects. I write everything in it, personal and professional, dinner menus, meeting notes, wardrobe wishes, short stories.

I start the day with a little leaf-style doodle for the date in a corner of the page, then each morning I sit and make a bullet list of tasks (phone calls to make, e-mails to write, appointments, meetings, writing/editing/submitting, housework, etc.) Each Monday I make a dinner menu for the week, which I expand into a grocery shopping list on my phone so I have it handy when I am at the store.

Once my daily task list is done, I usually allow myself to just write something, whatever, nothing too coherent. I have this sort of entry almost each day. Then I have entries for what I’m writing/editing. I write stories, I think out edits for manuscripts, I write detailed research information for some ideas. Most of my days include these parts. I separate them with large headings written in felt-tip pen or even colored boxes.

Then there are other entries. Each dinner party gets one entry with menu and shopping lists. Each vacation has its own packing details. Sometimes on weekends I write down about my thrift hauls, although I have a separate notebook where I keep track of my thrifting trips.

At the back of the notebook I have pages with book lists, sewing lists, story ideas, wishlists.

And that’s about it. Nothing too complicated. It is basically just a brain dump notebook and it works very well for me. It makes me feel extra happy and special and confident to walk around with my notebook and pen case in my bag. Even when I don’t use it, it makes me feel good to know that I have it there in my bag and that if something weighs heavy on my mind, I can just pull my notebook out and take it all out on paper. It helps in many ways.


Instagram is evil (maybe) and other things

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December 10, 2018

I have been away from this blog for too long. Feeling guilty about it. Because this is my space and I should be taking better care of it. Instead, I have been posting a lot on Instagram. Which is not my space. It belongs to Facebook. I don’t like that. And yet.

Instagram is easy. One picture, a few words and you’re done. Exposure is wide and varied, depending on the hashtags used. Dialogue is open and frequent and interesting. I’m visual, I like beautiful images, they connect with a part of my brain that apparently needs this connectivity, so there you have it.

Of course, there are bad things about Instagram. I’ve seen many people suffer from severe Instagram fatigue. Because it seems to turn into a very competitive place: who posts most often, who gets most likes, views, follows, who has the best visually organized feed and I don’t know what else. Evidently, most of us don’t get the big followings that others seem to acquire at lightning speed.

I’ve read my share of articles about making Instagram work best for you–post at certain times of the day, post frequently, comment a lot, that sort of exhausting thing, but I don’t have the energy or time to use any of the tactics. While I see my account there as a public interface for my writing, not necessarily a personal space, I do post personal images (outfit pictures, hello!) and I enjoy that part a lot. I am torn between how much exposure I want for that kind of thing, but I keep doing it, even though it seems like not a very serious preoccupation for a serious writer, which I definitely am. It is my thing, I’m going to own it.

But I don’t want to feel like I am tied down to the platform. I don’t want to start feeling like it’s another kind of work. It’s not. I don’t monetize any of my social platforms, besides possible readers who might want to buy publications where I’ve written. So I post whenever I want, whatever I feel like. Mostly outfit pictures, as I said, because … for a good reason, I’m sure, let’s not get into that right now).

So, what was I trying to say here? Wow, this new WordPress update is messing with my head. I mean, it is good and all, but change is difficult to adjust to.

I’ve been having a huge pain in my neck for the past week. It appears that most neck pains are psychosomatic. They are caused by depression and anxiety and deficits in social support (Depression and anxiety as major determinants of neck pain). Interesting, right?

I am reading a lot about consciousness and brain function and I am feeling a renewed faith in the so-called “irrational”, superstitious, symbolic, etc. Science leaves space for it. We don’t need to be fully aware and rational 24/7. Which is a relief. For me at least.

Back to Instagram? Well, there is not much more to say. I have no strong feelings against it. I am not in competition with anyone and don’t have any ambitions related to that platform. I do  wish there was a simple way to transfer all the content I have published up there to this website of mine. I’ll have to figure something out. Because my biggest gripe is that I don’t want my content at the whim of some nefarious tech company out there. I have started a page on this website where I am trying to upload old outfit pictures. I hope I can keep that up, although I feel bad that all the captions being lost, not to mention the comments that are often more interesting that what I ever write.

In writing news, I started a new novel during Nanowrimo this year and I am feeling positive about it. It’s about life, death, resurrection,  consciousness, and séances. All the good stuff. I will probably take January to finish the first draft, after which I will give it a time of rest and return to Dragaica, the second book, the one that is almost there, and I’ll finish those last edits on it and start submitting it again, while also submitting short stories. It’s going to be busy. And that is good.

Twilight Madhouse Volume 4, Dark Rooms Edition

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September 26, 2018

Look at me! It appears that I will have not one (the much anticipated Deadsteam, edited by Bryce Raffle — I already received my author’s copy and it is a beauty!) but two publications coming out on October 1.

Another one of my short stories, “Ink Bodies” has been published in Twilight Madhouse Vol. 4, Dark Rooms Edition, by Schreyer Ink Publishing. The volume is ready for preorder now and will be available in both digital and paper format on October 1.

The scariest secrets are kept in the furthest rooms, and our deepest fears reside in the darkest corners. Venture deeper into the madhouse than you have before with eight new stories that explore dark changes, darker desires, and the places where the light never quite reaches.

Sounds good right?

Nooo! This is not happening!

by , on
September 24, 2018
Doctors Regularly Give Anesthesized Patients Non-Consensual Pelvic Exams

It cannot be a legal practice! It cannot be ethically justified! It cannot be happening! But it is. Because women and their bodies and their consent are worth exactly nothing. Sure, let’s treat women like they’re subhuman, only for the advancement of medicine, of course. Higher purposes and all, said the men in charge. Sure. Women’s bodies always were and continue to be worth nothing. In case we had any illusions that feminism was making real strides.

Summer’s End

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August 28, 2018

School is starting tomorrow and summer is going out with a bang (heat advisory). I don’t know how to feel about it. All year, all winter long I dream up such high expectations of summer and then somehow it just ends and looking back at it, there were so many missed opportunities, so much good weather wasted on work or other non-summery activities. It all feels like such a big portion of once-potentially wonderful, lost time.

It has been a good summer. A full one. A productive time. A time of being with loved ones who live far away. Regardless. It still feels like it could have been dramatically different, infinitely better. But it was only what it was. And we are healthy and full and our house is so much cleaner (seriously, it feels like it’s a different house, because of incredible grandparents who came in to help us with a ton of home improvements).

Anyway.

 

 

Send Us Your Best Work

by , on
August 15, 2018

Demoralizing, exasperating, demotivating, patronizing, simply soul crushing calls for submissions:

Please send us your best work. Do not sent us stories that have been rejected by other publications.

Edit thoroughly and send us only your cleanest work.

Format according to these particular requirements: (a list of ten seemingly arbitrary rules follows).

Write a good, clean and well-formatted cover letter. Your story will automatically be rejected if the cover letter does not look professional. We appreciate seeing that you’ve put in some effort.

Address the letter to the right editor even if we don’t list the names of our editorial staff on our web page. Make it look like you are taking this job seriously.

Write a short summary of the story. Hard word limit: 250 words.

Also, write a long summary of the story. Not more that 350 words.

Include a bio for us. List all your publication credits.

Include a third person bio for publication. Leave out the credits but write something that is interesting about yourself.

We do not accept simultaneous submissions: please to not send us stories that you have submitted to other publications.

Our response time is six months. We try our hardest to respond within this period of time, but editing a magazine/anthology is a lot of work, and our staff is limited, so please allow some delay.

We cannot extend our regrets to all the writers who have not been accepted, due to very large submission volume. If you don’t receive any communication from us in six months, you can consider that your work has been rejected.

Do not write to us to ask about the status of your submission. We do not have the manpower to answer.

We’ll pay $0.01 per word, if our campaign gets funded. The authors will also receive an electronic copy of the publication. (The publication will also come in print, but the authors will have to buy a print copy for themselves if they want one.)

Thank you for reading the submission guidelines carefully. You have a better chance of having your story accepted if you read our past three issues, the editor’s interview about the theme of this anthology, and this eight-page essay about the vision of our magazine. Happy writing!

Sure, uh-huh.

Style Inspiration: Julianne Moore

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July 20, 2018

I could look at pictures of Julianne Moore all day for style inspiration. There is something about the clothes and the way she wears them, like they are hers and she is herself in them, that is very powerful and attractive.

But the clothes themselves! When she wears loose and somewhat edgy outfits, which she does a lot, they are amazing! And she is into black and white quite a bit, so you know, I’m in love.

I mean, lots of black, harem pants, Birks and clogs, baggy and oversized! So much to love. She is only 5’3″ but of course exceptionally beautiful, as Hollywood people tend to be, so no chance for most of us to look like her as hard as we tried. Still. “Would Julianne Moore wear that,” is now my clothes shopping mantra.

Punctuated by horror movies

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June 27, 2018

Dracula, 1958, with Christopher Lee.

I hail from Romania. so o, course. I remember watching this particular Dracula with my little sister, my cousin O (lifelong partner in horror-appreciation), and my aunt, O’s mother, at home. My parents were away for a wedding, probably. We all got so frightened during that movie that my aunt got us all off to her own place after the movie, in the middle of the night. Because none of us could sit for one more minute in the house where we had watched the film and where now obviously evil resided.

A more recent Dracula retelling that I really enjoyed was Dracula Untold. A beautiful, moving movie, I thought.

I owe a lot of my love of horror movies to my cousin O. This was the time of video cassettes, in Romania where there was no Blockbuster, but only tiny neighborhood shops with walls lined in pirated tapes, the name of the movies written by hand on the edge. My cousin lived in a bigger city and had an older brother, which afforded her more access to movies than I could ever have in my provincial little town. But we met on summer vacations and filled our time with stories. Many of them from horror movies. That is how, one of my favorite horrors from middle school I actually got to watch a couple of years ago. At the time I only saw it through O’s detailed retellings of every scene and in-depth interpretations of motifs and symbolism. I loved it. But I couldn’t find it for the longest time because the bootleg VHS that O had watched had the movie’s title translated as The Devil’s Cabin. Never to be found as such again. The movie, I later discovered, was The Evil Dead (1981).

As I said, this was the time of the videocassette renting and watching movies at friends’ houses, and as I remember it, every time my parents were out of town, we’d be in the mood for horror, which my poor kid sister endured stoically and with severe scarring for the rest of her life. She was marked by a particular one: the Omen (1976). The movie dwells heavily on the number of the Devil. My sis is born on June 6th, and we kind of convinced her that her birth time might have been 6 o’clock. 666. She’s still not over it, which makes me aware that I must not have been the loving and compassionate big sister I’ve always considered myself to be.

Time passed. I don’t remember a lot of horror watching during my early adulthood for some reason.

A strong memory, however, is watching Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) the Japanese production. I watched it in Mumbai, with my husband and his brother. Scary. The scariest thing I’ve seen. It took me a long time before I could watch The Ring, which was a Japanese movie remake, because I have made up my mind that I am not strong enough to handle Japanese horror.

I had a long time of being unable to watch horror, actually. During my pregnancies and while my children were small. Not for lack of trying. When my daughter was very little (or maybe I was still pregnant?) I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose with my husband, in our suburban rental apartment. It was not good. The same night after watching the movie we were woken up by a strange sound in the apartment. It was a sort of deep thumping that reached into your stomach and made it seize. We discovered quickly enough that the DVD player had somehow reloaded the movie and there was a breathing sound on the menu screen, which kept playing in a loop. We turned it off and went back to bed, a little shaken. It was 3 am.

So yeah, that put a hard stop on my horror watching for a few years. But I am back and making up for it now. A couple of more recent movies that I enjoyed quite a bit are The Woman in Black and Crimson Peak. The first one was beautiful and very scary, the second one mainly beautiful.

Gothic horror will always have my heart, what can I say? Speaking of which, I thought Penny Dreadful, the TV series, was breathtaking. What could be better than having all your Gothic horror favorites playing together? Dreamy.

I could think of more but I am going to stop here, on this high note. What movies have been horrifying you?

Feminizing the canon, are we?

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June 14, 2018

The Paris Review has started this new column they call “Feminize Your Canon,” which looks like the best idea I’ve seen lately in support of women’s writing. There is a but, though.

It depressed me like nothing else. If you are an unsuccessful women writer, it will depress you too. I honestly didn’t need help in this direction. My personal desk drawer (just an expression, although I could rename my computer folder where I collect all the finished work) is filled to bursting with little malformed, rejected monsters who do a good enough job of reminding me that I am crap at what I do. So now I don’t know if I need, on top of that, to read these biographies and start identifying with all the unappreciated women who ever dared to follow a literary career.

The first article of this series is on Olivia Manning, written by Emma Garman. Now I don’t recall having read anything of Olivia Manning’s, but this piece makes her sound like a very hopeful, confident writer who never got, and here is the thing, what “she thought she deserved.” Emma Garman doesn’t really make it clear if she personally believes Manning deserves a place in the canon, but only that Manning herself was very confident that she merited recognition. Which obviously never really came.

So, yeah, abandon all hope ye who enter.