Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Out Now, With A Changing Perspective

As some people will know, last year my beloved Mum passed suddenly and unexpectedly, and although something about myself had been changing before that, her death acted as a kind of catalyst to those changes, some of which have come as no greater surprise to anyone than me! Anyway, moving forward and a little while ago I read something in an online psychology article ( damned if I can remember where or what the article was - I read a lot online and IRL, okay? ) and it struck a new chord in me.

The article basically concerned the belief that human beings get all the information they need about a person within the first few moments of an initial encounter, and that these ‘first impressions’ do indeed last and matter. Trouble is, this information tends to enter our minds on a subconscious level, and by the time we bring it to our conscious thinking it has passed through and been colored by several rinse cycles of everything from social expectations to self-criticism, the result being we start to doubt our own gut instinct. This made me think in general about whether that thing we term “love at first sight” really can happen and if so, why and how exactly does it happen? It also made me think specifically about my own first impressions of someone a very long time ago.

Long story short, I met someone and was struck for the first time in my life by an instant and overwhelming attraction, a total “Oh wow!” reaction. And yet…in that same moment of meeting her for the first time, my gut instinct about her all but screamed “This one is dangerously egotistical!” However, yes, it went through all those rinse cycles with the upshot being that I wasted time and energy on someone only to discover that my ‘first impression’ had indeed been completely and devastatingly on point. Since then I have tended to listen to my gut instincts more about people, and where love and relationships have been concerned, to err on the side of caution. Not extreme caution, but let’s just say I’m not the sort who has ever been comfortable with a blunt, in-your-face “Hi, fancy a shag?” approach. Nothing horrifies me more than the thought of taking that approach to someone myself - it’ll just never happen. And, if you want to be instantly and forever relegated to the ‘friend zone’ then just try taking that approach with me. I might handle your bluntness with humor but you’ll never get it taken seriously by me either. I may not be the quickest person to pick up on hints, you might need to be a wee bit more direct, but please, there is being too subtle and then there is taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.

In my latest novel, ‘The Horseman’s Daughter’, a lesbian romance with a little touch of the supernatural ( see below for where to find details of that. ), I have written of an analyst friend of the main character, Kit, who subscribes to this theory of first impressions. Kit finds herself struggling with the self-doubts of just such an instant and overwhelming attraction to a woman she has just met, Ashley, who is very different from her and a bit of a mystery to her. Although the outline of the novel was written some two years ago and shelved, the subsequent first draft was written in just about two weeks of February 2016, and influenced by the online article and my own more recent experiences, both of which have made me re-think my stance on love, relationships, and human interactions in general. Of course we have always been able to find out a certain amount about the people we meet and take an interest in, but now we live in a time of instant and often extreme access to personal information ( assuming a person has an online presence which some do not ). Bearing this in mind and thinking about the psychology article, some of the more interesting, and personally revealing, questions that have come up in my mind are: is it possible to fall in love with someone whom you know very little or next-to-nothing about? And how do we ‘choose love’ anyway? Do we even ‘choose’ it at all? How much does all of that readily available information over-shade our own gut instincts - to the point where we perhaps dismiss people because they don’t meet some checklist of criteria and thus miss out on the possibility of falling for someone who is different from us? I had a romantic relationship with someone whom I knew very well and who was very similar to me in a lot of ways and, although we have remained best friends, the romance was ill-starred from the start and didn’t last terribly long. We were too familiar, too similar; there was no room for growth, either personal or together, no room for new and surprising discoveries about each other, and not enough room for compromise on differences either.

I have come to realize that there is such a thing as an instant ‘chemistry’ between people. A connection, spark, or rapport, or whatever label you wish to put on it. And it comes as a direct result of the first impressions garnered within the initial moments of meeting. However, I do still believe that the interpretation of these first impressions need some logic and reason applied, especially when there is a romantic or sexual attraction: is it love? is it lust? is it mutual? Or is it something that would simply form the basis of a friendship but nothing more? Also, there is the question of will it sustain? I’ve explored these questions in Kit’s story but the conclusions and outcomes for her are very much hers, and I won’t spoil the story by giving those away. As for me, as much as I may have opened my mind - and my life - to possibilities that I scoffed at before, I suspect that I’ll remain someone who subsequently applies logic and reasoning, and a certain amount of caution, in all matters romantic.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

New Stories Out And Coming Out

So, after several years of a complete lack of production of writing and intense dislike of even putting pen to paper, it seems that The Muse has made a return and I have made a return to, well, putting pen to paper. Without dislike. Two collections of general fiction short stories and novellas, A Night At Castle Kozlak & Other Stories, and Down At Pomba Gira’s & Other Stories, have been completed and are active on Kindle at Amazon, and a new LGBT supernatural romance, The Horseman’s Daughter, has just gone to be formatted and should be available within a couple weeks.

I’m particularly happy with the latter as I really, really got sick and tired for a long time of everything and anything LGBT. No need to take the rake to that pile again, suffice it to say my general feelings about the ‘les-fic community’ have not changed. I’m simply relieved to have my personal writing ability back despite it.
The short story/novella collections are general fiction, mainly culled from stories written years ago, some of which were published in small press magazines, and a few new ones. There is some humor, some horror, some folklore and mythology, and even a wee bit of romance. The Nuckelavee and The Magic Of Tradition are both based on local Orcadian tales, and the collection is dedicated to my late Mum because The Magic Of Tradition was one of my few ‘nice’ stories that she read and liked. You know mums when your preferred genre is horror…“Why can’t you write more nice stories?” “Because I have a dark mind, Mum” is generally not the best answer to that.

The Horseman’s Daughter, my first Orkney-based novel, takes the legend of the sea-monster the Nuckelavee and expands on that, but it is mainly a romance, something which took me by complete surprise. The basic outline and characters were sketched out over two years ago and then shelved along with pretty much everything else, until earlier this year when the first draft practically wrote itself in a couple of weeks! Blurb and cover can be viewed on my website if you want an idea of what you’ll be getting. Otherwise, I’m working on something completely new for my publishers, Untreed Reads, a general fiction romance also with a supernatural tint and also Orkney-based. I have begun work again on Book 3 of the Vampires of Hollywood series but, sorry, no idea at all of when that will be complete. Ditto for the New Orleans Mysteries series.

Patience, Grasshoppers.

The creative ghosts and demons have been worked out

Monday, 14 March 2016

Fair Warning Of Foul ( But Funny ) Language As the Joneses Try To Keep Up

I saw this meme on Facebook a few weeks ago and it made me laugh then. It’s a bit raw, yes, but this week it seems entirely appropriate to the antics of the person known to me and Housemate as The Diva Next Door. I thought I’d put it here then, on my own blog, and issue a fair warning of foul language. And explain why it suddenly seems so appropriate.

A little background first.

Two years ago we got a six-foot fence put up around our back garden and, in order for this to go up, The Diva’s trees and bushes needed cut back. After he ignored three separate requests from the landlords to do this, and our fence work was due to be started next day, we went ahead and did the cutting back ( and boy, was that some hard work for two not-terribly tall, slightly unfit forty-something women! ) and we dumped the cuttings on his side of the fence.

Well, did he pout and scream!

Too bad for him that the landlords agreed with us: his cuttings, his problem to dispose of them. Should have done it when he was asked.

Anyway, after years of ignoring his gardens, fast forward a bit and he had a burd move in with him. They’re a good match, I must say. He’s a diva and she’s a self-important little snob. Lifts her perfectly makeup’d nose every time she passes you. Apparently she’s been too tight-arsed from day one to even squeeze a polite smile out. Screw you, hen. I’ll be polite once and if you insist on acting like a twat about it, I’ll never try again.

Quick aside.

If there is one thing drives me batshit crazy it’s “Monkey see, monkey do” neighbors. Two months after we put our back garden fence up, guy across the road stuck a five-foot fence up around his front garden ( minus even bothering to ask for the planning permission that we had been denied for our front garden to do the same ). Then, not long after Diva’s burd moved in, she stuck a fancy bird feeder up on the tree in their front garden. We already had one in our back garden. Monkeys see…

Anyway, recently the neighbor on our other side moved out and the landlords cleared the urban jungle that used to exist in his gardens, as is their policy. And what have Diva and his burd done this week?

Yep, they’ve cleared their front garden and put a patio in. Not just plain old paving, you understand, no. Not for her. It’s a patio ( and yes, please feel free to say that in a suitably pan-loafy Kelvinside accent ). A year ago we had plans - got the quotes and the guys out to plan it and everything - to pave part of our front garden, which becomes an unworkable bog every winter and stays that way until around June and then becomes less irritating for maybe two months before turning back to bog. But The Dog needed two unexpected - and costly - operations and the money we had saved went on that. The Dog is, after all, more important than any damned garden.

But just watching her prance around this week, snipping wee bits of bush and tree here and there, whilst Diva ( who has suddenly become Mr DIY Expert of The Fucking Year ) smiles indulgently and does the ‘manly work’ of laying the patio, has rather made us see in a vivid shade of "Oh for fuck's sake!" especially when considering his pouting and screaming over a few cuttings two years ago. And it made this meme appropriate.

All being well, this year will be the one when our front garden goes from unworkable bog to so goddamned presentable it will make the eyes of Diva & Burd water with envy. Of course, if anything more important comes up again that needs this year's available savings, then it’ll be a big “Screw you!” to them and we can then look forward to making them crazy with our nasty-ass blot on their perfect little landscape.

Damned if I don’t just feel a good deal happier about those gates being left open…!