How to Traumatize Your Kid

Lovely thoughts of Christmases long gone fill my mind. Pierogi and fried lake perch. Snowballs and kolachy.  Midnight Mass.  Big family dinners at grandma’s house.

Then.

We’d walk across the alley back to our house, all excited for Santa to come. Dad would get his gun out and start teasing that he was going to shoot Rudolph. He was a deer hunter and he needed more freezer meat.  “I’m gonna have my gun ready for the first click, click, click up on the housetop. St. Nick better not land here!”

And we thought he was joking. Teasing. He wouldn’t really shoot Rudolph.

Bullets in. Coat on. Boots on. Door open. Door slam.

“Mommy is he really going to shoot Rudolph?”

‘Noooo.”

Faces pressed to the picture window. His body just out of site. Gun barrel raised.

BOOM!

BOOM!

Ears covered. Tears streaming down hopeful little cheeks. A mama’s heart broken. Kid’s hearts torn to bits. Blown up.

Every Christmas Eve, falling asleep crying.

One Christmas, though, I woke to go to the bathroom and saw mom putting the Atari under the tree.  My heart raced, ran to my brother, woke him, brought him in the hallway.

Dad saw us. Mad. Yelled, “Get back to bed!!”

Finally.

No more killing Rudolph.

White Castle and Christian Fiction

Alternately titled, Christian Fiction is the White Castle of books.

Three men took a road trip to a conference in Ohio. One saw White Castle and HAD to have some. One did not know about the burger joint. One warned strongly against the consumption of said burgers.

Brian Hatcher, like me, has a strong aversion to White Castle sliders.  He’s vehemently against their very existence and is absolutely right when he says they’ll rot your insides.

Eugene Johnson, however, loves them. 10 in 10 minutes. Even if they do give him a writhing belly ache after. Even if they do, indeed, rot his guts.

Michael Knost had never had a White Castle burger and ordered breaded clam strips from the drive-through instead. And was quite appalled to think Eugene would order 10 burgers!

Later, Brian went on to explain that he wasn’t against the mini-burger genre, it just wasn’t very well done as far as mini-burgers go. To prove his point, he ordered mini-burgers at the Winking Lizard.

To prove my point, let’s just say, I’m not against Christian fiction. I just want a better burger. I don’t want a burger that pretends to be on the cutting edge of burgers. Just like I don’t want Christian fiction labeled “edgy.”

Mike Duran tackled some questions around this word, this Edgy thing. Mike says

To my wife, a steak with any trace of pink in it is “raw.” To me, the bloodier the better. Likewise, to some readers of Christian fiction, any trace of language or sex is “edgy.” But to me, if it’s not “raw,” it’s over-cooked.

The problem is not with the term “edgy” Christian fiction. I think it is more of an internal problem with some of the Christians. Especially the ones who want to dictate and control the moral compass of the general population of other Christians.

The difference I’m beginning to see when I compare CBA and “secular” fiction is that CBA is so enmeshed that for whatever reason one sub-genre cares (and is vocally loud and brash) about what another sub-genre is doing. When I go to a horror conference (just got back from one) there aren’t Harlequin writers there telling me the stories we print are too disturbing, scary, bloody, deliquent. And I’m not going to an RWA conference telling them they’re selling smutty, fru-fru, girly crap.

I can’t help but laugh at  the thought.

Can you see it at a horror con?  “Psssst…hey you, yeah. You. Come over here. We’ve got some edgy horror fiction here for ya. Y’wanna try some?”

Or maybe in the general fiction market. Boy that Cormac McCarthy was edgy writing about the dark and dreary post-apocalyptic world.

It’s just silly.

And it’s an oxymoron.

You can’t write within the confines of the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) and write anything at all that can be considered “edgy” (The guy’s haircut on the front page of the blog lends to the stereotype. Great job guys!!)

You can’t do it because Christian fiction is not at the forefront of anything. Except maybe Amish stories. And really, if you want to be at the forefront of such arcane nonsense? More power to ya.

I would like the world a lot more if the overseers would change the label “Christian fiction” to “G” fiction. Let’s be realistic here, it’s not even PG.

So instead of heading to the bookstore to find the shelves lined with genres, I’d rather them look a little more like my local Blockbuster. “Action/Adventure” or “Horror” or “New Releases” so that I can pick up a book and just decide for myself what I want to read.  Sheesh, people all over the place are doing these book trailers. Why not just go all the way?

When I eat, I don’t choose White Castle. Though many people do.  But let’s call a spade a spade. White Castle is not anything close to a burger made from a grass-fed, organic, fresh butchered side of beef, cooked on a charcoal grill, with slices of  still-warm-off-the-vine tomatoes from the garden.

Just like Christian fiction isn’t edgy.  At least this brand of fiction churned out by the CBA houses is not edgy.

* * *

Eric Wilson challenges: Is it Time for Christian Fiction to Die?

* * *

Want to read some stories with sustenance? Stories that make you think? That bend the rules by asking questions others are too timid to ask? Stories that leave you with more questions than when you started? But also, stories that come from a Christian worldview?

Start with these two.

This is My Blood by David Naill Wilson

Silent Graves by Gary Braunbeck

* * *

The bottom line is that I saw years ago that the CBA wasn’t for me. Specifically when I signed up for the ACFW conference in 2006 and said I was a horror writer and they labeled me a thriller.  Since then I have kept in touch with my CBA friends, but have set out to make sure I was putting my money where my mouth was.

If we want to change things, we have to move forward. So the CBA doesn’t publish stuff I like. Guess who publishes stuff I like now? That’s right. Me. 😉 And of course, in the “secular” market you can find tons of books written from a Christian worldview. I don’t need the CBA for fiction.

People will either lead or follow.

I choose to lead.

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Mo*Con IV–The Love and Business of Writing

Program ad space for the Mo*Con IV: The Love and Business of Writing program is now available.

What is Mo*Con?

Brought to you by the Indiana Horror Writers, Mo*Con is a friendly convention focused on conversations revolving around horror literature and spirituality (two great tastes that taste great together!). If you enjoy writing, horror, fantasy, poetry, and food, you’ll find plenty to enjoy at this convention

Writers, editors, publishers and fans of horror and dark fantasy come from across the country to attend Mo*Con. This year’s special guests are Tom Piccirilli, Gary Braunbeck, Lucy Snyder, Linda Addison, Gerard Houarner, Wrath James White, and Steven Gilberts. Previous guests have included Brian Keene, Nick Mamatas, Mark Rainey, Matt Cardin, and Kim Paffenroth. This year’s guests will be participating in a poetry jam, panel discussions, book launches, and a church service.

Our rates are as follows:

Business card (2 X 3.5”): $20.00

Quarter page (2.25 X 4.25”) $25.00

Half page (5.5 X 4.25”) $50.00

Full page (5.5 X 8.5”) $75.0.

Full page, inside front cover, $100.00

Inside back cover, outside

Back Cover

Deadline for ad purchase will be April 23, 2009.

2009 will be the inaugural year for the Mo*Con program, so we anticipate it becoming somewhat of a collector’s item. Don’t miss this opportunity to be included!

For more information, contact Sara Larson at wlarson[@]indy.rr.com or Maurice Broaddus at mauricebroaddus[@]gmail.com.

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Mo*Con III Recap of sorts

I’m a bit late, yes. So here’s the recap for Mo*Con III Day One.

I have no photos. You’ll have to visit other people for that (see links below.)

Here’s how things have been lately. The first part of the monthe, we were dog/housesitting for a friend. Phil Checked in on our house to find 4 feet of water in the basement cellar and the a/c-furnace, water heater, and water softener ruined. Now we need to install back-up sump pump and seal cellar. However, we couldn’t do that last weekend because I’ve had Mo*Con III on my calendar since the end of Mo*Con II. And Dark Harvest was releasing. So our wonderful friends offered up their guest room until we could get things under control and we haven’t been to our home other than to check on things since the beginning of June.

Phil was supposed to get off a bit early on Friday the 13th, he had a chiropractor appointment and then the plan was to head to Indy. Except he got off late. And we almost missed the appointment. And we fought. Not to mention the fact that my thyroid meds had to be changed and I’m still terribly messed up in all ways. I think I’ve been prone to even more varied mood swings right now than normal. God help us when I go through menopause.

So we’re fighting on the way down to Mo*Con and Phil pulls over at some rest area and hugs me, tells me he loves me, and assures me he is not going to dump me there until I get my shit straight. God has blessed this man, let me tell you.

And from what I’ve been reading, we’re not the only ones who experienced problems on the way to Indy. Matt Cardin missed his flight when Mapquest took him to a non-existent airport. Gary Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder had storms of the rain variety. I think Doug Warrick had some snafu as well. Maybe more. We all seem to have a bit of the curse.

Finally, we get to The Dwelling Place and unload the massive amounts of food we prepared for the weekend. I said hi to some of my IHW peoples and introduced Phil, who had been to this point, my imaginary husband.They finally know he’s real. First Sara and Bill Larson. Then Tiffany Proctor.

Sara and Maurice prepared wonderful Chicken Marsala for dinner. Poor Sara. I think she’ll not want to eat chicken again for quite awhile. Click below to read her story.

Jerry Gordon and his beautiful wife, Jill, then came in with more beer than I’ve ever seen in a church. Okay, I’ve never seen beer in a church. And Phil’s more than happy to take a cold Heineken (and I don’t blame him) and I wanted wine. Phil, ever patient man that he is, finished a beer, rinsed his bottle out and poured me a wine.

We’d brought a box of white wine, but the box disintegrated in the cooler, so we had a bag. And y’know, it didn’t look all that pleasant. Plus, I can’t drink wine out of a regular glass. Or a Styrofoam cup. But the beer bottle worked.

Lucky for me, Phil has taken up smoking cigars on occasion and someone was sharing. I didn’t have to go out into the heavy cottonwood air at all. I got to stay inside listening to my new favorite band, Mother Grove. I was disappointed, though, that no one danced. We had beer in a church, why not dance? However, by the end of the night, I danced. And the fiddle player, Laura, joined me. Thank God someone had it in them. I might not be the best dancer in the world, but I love to do it and I don’t really care what people think.

To be continued…

Enjoy some other views of Mo*Con III

Maurice Broaddus
Maurice: Mo*Con III.2
Sara Larson
Jerry Gordon: The Search For Mo
Mark Rainey: Mo News is Good News
Jason Sizemore, Apex Publications: Mo*Con III No Country for Old Men
Matt Cardin
Kim Paffenroth
Lucy Snyder
Tiffany Proctor
Nick Mamatas
Doug Warrick

Writing Horror as a Christian

Heather posted On Writing as a Christian on her blog today as well as a discussion at Intersection called Bubble or Patron. This sparked my comment on her blog and since I’ve not talked much about it here, I thought I’d copy and paste it.

I can only speak for myself.

When I figured out God was telling me (and not so politely) to write; instinctively, I knew I had to write horror. Psychological horror is my bent, not the gore-fest mainstream horror has become.

It was interesting, to say the least, to watch expressions of those attending the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in 2006. When I said I wrote horror, they looked at me as if I had said I was a prostitute at 5th and Broadway. The little name tags they handed out had everyone’s genre listed under they’re name. They changed mine from horror to thriller. Nice.

There were two things that made me understand that wasn’t the place for me. A very popular, well-respected agent telling a class (I’m paraphrasing) that Christian horror was a stupid idea and it would never work. (I shook his hand and told him we’d never work together. LOL) And the Holier-than-thou attitude most people had at that ACFW conference.

I tried, though. Because I thought maybe God was trying to convince me I needed to change. But I was depressed and my stories seemed fake. And forced. And the more I tried to manipulate the story to fit into the rulebox of the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) the more I understood that it wasn’t me they were forcing into the box, it was God. I prayed a lot about making the first step towards the ABA (American Booksellers Association) and when I did, God was right there to shower me with his love and acceptance and let me know, without a doubt, that I was doing what he wanted me to do.

I was working on a Bible study (the sheep one, H) and I read a book called A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm. It is such a simple book, but I had a paradigm shift while reading it. It may be that God meant for me to understand MY journey this way and it may not apply to others, but as I was reading about how a shepherd has to take his sheep through hard places, the dark valley. Usually people refer to this psalm when dealing with death, but I read that I walked THROUGH the valley. (and I understand the implications when dealing with death) but it applied to me, at that time in my life, to life not death.

Reading this book, having this shepherd explain to me that during movement of the flock to higher ground, going through the valley was a very intimate time, the sheep depended on the shepherd, the shepherd had gone the route beforehand and since a trust had already been established, the sheep trusted the shepherd and stayed close. The route through the valley is the most well-watered route. It is in the deep valley that you find the springs of crystal clear water.

Of course, I want that mountaintop experience with God. But what I really crave is the intimacy and refreshment of trusting him in those dark valleys.

And that’s when I knew what he wanted from me. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me” As I explore horror and all it represents, I will fear no evil. He is with me.

That’s when I started believing that I should follow His rules instead of the rules of man (the CBA) So I’ve been writing the stories the way they come out. And since then, doors seem to be opening all over the place.

I’m not saying that this is what God has for everyone. But this is how I came to know and understand that the CBA was not for me.