The party happened June 8, 2014, at The Morris Book Shop in Chevy Chase here in Lexington. I created this spread in my smashbook just a few minutes ago.
I’m a guest blog at Jodi Lee’s Into the Mirror.
Buy Midnight and Harlan County Horrors for one low price!
Posted by Lesley Conner on May 13, 2014 in Apex Publications Blog: Matters of SF, Fantasy, and Horror | 0 comments
Midnight by Mari Adkins has officially been released and to celebrate we’re running a deal to make sure readers get their fill of the horrors that haunt Harlan County, Kentucky. Buy Midnight and Harlan County Horrors, Apex’s regional horror anthology that Mari edited, together for one low price.
Snag print copies of both books for only $20, plus free domestic shipping!
Prefer the paperless feel of eBooks? The eBook editions can be bought together for a mere $8.99.
The sale runs from May 13th till May 20th.
To take advantage of this fantastic deal head over to the Midnight product page. Order links for the sale are below the cover image.
[this post was originally published here at MMG on December 18, 2010]
Even after five years, it seems like some people are still confused by my vampires. So, I think it’s high time for a(nother) explanatory blog post. (See also, my bibliography page) For the record, the questions here pertain to Midnight.
I’m going to start with these questions:
- What is the core of this story?
- Who is the antagonist in this story?
- What does Sami have to lose?
- What does Sami have to learn?
- The core of this story is Sami losing herself only to find herself and where she belongs. Learn, laugh, live – and remember that Darkness Doesn’t Have To Mean Evil.
- Samantha Clark is her own antagonist. I know a lot of readers expect for some villain to rise out of the shadows. In this story, that isn’t necessary. As cliché as it is, Sami is her own worst enemy. She’s been abused and told she is neither wanted nor loved over the course of her lifetime. She comes into the story lost, depressed, and with little will and no direction. She believes her ultimate goal is to regain the life she had made for herself and had had ripped away from her in Richmond. If she can get back to Richmond, she can rebuild what she’s lost.Over the course of the story, Sami falls further into the darkness and comes close to losing sight of everything she ever was and ever had. She drowns herself in alcohol and marijuana to hide from the pain that awaits her in reality. That rope with the knot in it that she clung so tightly to? she feels she slipped off of the rope and lost sight of the knot months before, if not a year before, she ever came to Harlan County. How to get it back within sight and reach, she doesn’t know.
- Sami has to learn that some things she thought were real aren’t and some things she thought weren’t real are. She had to learn that she does have a home, that she does belong, and that there are people in the world who do love her. Within the darkness, she must find herself and the source of her own personal power. Also there, she must come to terms with the life she ran away from and face her new beginnings.
Now this group of questions:
- I like how “human” your vampires are. But I’d like them to seem more dangerous.
- Where’s the danger in these vampires?
- Where’s their power?
- Where’s their rage and conflict?
- These questions make me scream, “You’re missing the point!” at the top of my lungs until my voice cracks. But, like Sami, most people expect classical, Bram Stoker-like vampires. Mine just aren’t like that. And no matter how much people complain, my vampires never will be like that, either.Being human with human issues is the point. As I’ve stated before, my stories are more about ‘humans having a vampire problem’ than anything else. My point from the onset of the idea of Midnight was that my vampires had to be as human as possible. In my Harlan County, more danger lies in not awakening to the vampire within than lies in the actual becoming.From my own notes:In those who aren’t given the change to ‘become’, awakening may manifest in actual physical or psychological illness or even debilitation untraceable by the best of medical professionals to any one specific source. These people become empty due to their ‘illness’ without knowing or understanding as to how to fill those voids. Their bodies rebel, then, shutting down vital functions seemingly at random, filling the hollows with cancer, depression, or other maladies. These people sometimes turn to self-harm or even suicide.
- As for their ‘power’, it isn’t the same as the run-of-the-mill, overused supernatural tropes. This is in part where the ‘paranormal‘ – not the same as supernatural – comes in. My vampires have their metaphysical skills tested during the earliest stages of their awakening. If they’re found not to be adept, not to have any Pagan leanings or magical skills, they are introduced to someone outside of the Anethdraeg (House of the Dragon) family who will help them – unless they are found by the others first. If they’re found to be adept, then they are given some training, helped through the awakening process, and are adopted into the Family.Their power comes from their own metaphysical prowess, from what lies within their own chemistry, through their relationship(s) with their god(s), and from genetics. Some have more, some have less. Except for the Elder. He has his own basket of idiosyncrasies. As a whole Family, this balances out when they all have need to work together.
- What rage and conflict they do have, if any, is what they bring with them over the process of being turned and through the course of the change. Anything they’re hard-convinced of, any vices they have, any deeply-held beliefs, they bring those with them into their ‘vampirehood’ (ha! I just made up that word!). And there’s what Stephen Young calls the ‘infamous vampire guilt’. Many vampires spend too much time wallowing in the regret of things they’ve done or left undone. Both Steve and his friend Michael Devon are infamous for their ‘brooding’. As for the rage? Well, some have that, but it more boils down to ‘genetic temper’ than vampireness.
Next, these questions:
- Where are the compact discs, the Internet, and cellular telephones?
- Why can’t Michael call a cab for those who are too inebriated to drive after a party?
These questions make me laugh until I ache.
- On the very first page of the story, it says in clear letters and language: 1985 – September. Ergo, people:CDs arrived in 1982, yes, but in the Kentucky mountains in 1985, we were still fairly clueless about CDs; we still had our LPs and .45 rpms, didn’t have the hundreds of dollars required for a CD player, and were convinced vinyl would live for eternity.Cell phones. The first 1g network in America came online in Chicago in 1983, and cell phones were gigantic and weighed ten pounds. I’m not certain when cell phones made it to Kentucky, but I bought my first cordless telephone in 1989 – they’ve been around since 1968 but became popular / more common in the mid to late 80s.The Internet. ARPANET came around in 1962. E-mail was born the same year as I was. Public access to either wouldn’t come until much later. While I took programming languages classes all through high school, I didn’t really know what a ‘net was until 1987 in college when I had my introduction to the VAX. Back then, it took webmail ten to fifteen minutes to go from my terminal to the one beside me; so while we waited, we would talk or do actual homework! We had our EKU-BBS, but even that took time. NSF released its sponsorship of the public Internet in May 1995, four years after Al Gore ‘created’ the Internet.
- This brings us to Michael calling a cab. I’ve also been asked about passenger rail service. First of all, passenger rail service died in Kentucky in the early 1960s – and it’s not the kind of rail service you’re probably thinking of, anyway. If we want to ride Amtrak, we have to go to Cincinnati, Louisville, Maysville – or gods forbid, Atlanta, Charlotte, or St Louis. (and have I mentioned how big Kentucky is?) So trains are straight out. The trains we’ve had in Kentucky for almost sixty years now are of the freight and coal variety. And there is no such thing as ‘light rail’ here.When I first saw the question about Michael calling a cab, I stared at it a few minutes, then I laughed. Out loud. You might even say I guffawed. Because only people who live in major metropolitan areas and/or who don’t understand how back of beyond rural eastern Kentucky is ask questions like this.Harlan downtown has a cab service, but if I remember correctly, it doesn’t do much service outside of Harlan, Baxter, Rosspoint, Loyall, Browning Acres, and all points in between, which is a very compact space. I don’t know their rates and can’t find them online (no surprise there), so I’m using Lexington rates as an example. Anybody who’s read Midnight knows Hensley Store is twenty-five miles from Loyall. Lexington cab fares start at $2.50, then it’s twenty-five cents every tenth of a mile thereafter. If the math was done right, that’s a $65 ride. I don’t know anybody in the real Harlan County who could ever consider such a ride, never mind not knowing anyone down there with that kind of available cash. The county is populated with people on welfare or Social Security (or some combination of both), and the majority who have jobs outside the coal mines work for minimum wage. $65 for a cab? Infeasible – even in my Harlan County. (See, I like to keep things as realistic as possible, and that’s not a crime. Yet.)
Now with that silly out of the way:
- Is it possible to start the story with Sami meeting Michael at the party?
Absolutely not. That’s one thing I refuse to change. The story starts with Sami crashing into Loyall after a panicked three hour drive which started with her running away from her abusive boyfriend. This gives the reader Sami’s mind state along with other information that would be lost or too ridiculous to put in as asides or memories. I won’t cheapen my story or lessen Sami’s pain and experiences this way.
- Why can’t there be more interaction between Michael, Steve, and Jeremy?
First of all, the story is set completely within Sami’s point of view. It’s called ‘limited narrator’. The reader perceives the story through Sami, and she’s unable to tell the reader anything she doesn’t know outside her own experience. If those three men have contact with each other and Sami isn’t there, then it’s impossible for her to relay those meetings to the reader – especially when she doesn’t have a clue they exist. The concept is very simple, and I have trouble grasping why it’s difficult for some readers to understand. I learned how to use this in seventh grade Language Arts class. If the narrator doesn’t know, the reader doesn’t know. “Limited omniscient allows the narrator to relate the thoughts and feelings of only one character”.* If Sami isn’t in the same room with Michael, Steve, or Jeremy, then she doesn’t know what they’re doing or what’s being said – or even if or when all three are together or not together. Therefore, it’s inconceivable that she could communicate that information to the reader.
- Why is Shelly in the book?
Jeremy Bradford can’t spend all of his time at school, in band practice, or with Michael, can he? When he isn’t in scene with Sami, he doesn’t always run home to his mother or to The Market to Steve. Shelly is important to Jeremy, which is why he introduces Sami to her. Shelly does play a critical part in Jeremy’s future. Between Midnight and the sequel, Shelly and Sami develop a strong, sisterly friendship.
The better question to ask might be, “Why is Angela in the story?” No, really. Why is Angela in the story? We meet her on the first page, and her name is mentioned in the narrative a whopping nineteen times. The reader never sees her outside of The Market – except that first night when she brings Sami’s car to Steve’s.
Shelly’s name is mentioned fifty-five times, and Sami has quite a bit of interaction with her as they build their friendship. Shelly is important to the story. Angela is just a clerk in a corner convenience store. Someone has to mind the place when Steve can’t be there, right?
I think that wraps up this session. If anyone has any questions, please post them in the comments. I’ll compile them and create another post later.
* Basic English Revisited: A Student Handbook, 1985.
This is the cover for our upcoming novel MIDNIGHT by Mari Adkins. The artwork and design was created by Billy Tackett. The book is due to be published May 27th.
A romantic supernatural fantasy, Mari Adkins’s Midnight introduces us to Sami as she first enters Harlan County, Kentucky and begins a journey that will change her life.
Samantha Clark has always known she was different. Brought up in a loveless household, she can almost forgive herself for turning to an abusive boyfriend to help give her the roots and love she desperately needs. But that solution turns violent, and Sami is on the run, turning to a college friend who offers her a new hope at ‘family’.
Set in Harlan, Kentucky in 1985, Midnight is the inward journey of Sami’s self-loathing, self-reflection, and eventual self-acceptance. Through the love of her friends and the mysterious Michael, Sami not only heals from the scars given earlier in life, she finds her personal strength.
So I worked out probably my biggest problem with Destiny’s Story.
I had too much material.
I had the brainstorm the other day to do another notebook. I’ve not done a physical notebook (binder) for any story since … oh about three or four back, honestly. Doing this helped me see what I had – and what I had was a lot. So I sat down with printed sheets, dividers, pens, and markers.
Turns out I have enough material for three books.
Since then, I’ve been working on breaking up what needs to go into which book, updating notes, separating sections, answering questions, setting up various pages and notes I need/use in OneNote. Kind of, in a way, starting this whole project from scratch. Yesterday, I printed off four pages of questions I need to answer. Today, I spent a bit of time answering them. Tomorrow, I need to get the timelines for all three books set up.
After that – I should be ready to write again. Finally.
Which is good because I have some of this material up for the WriteOnCon and need to get it all switched around and redone before the actual con starts next week!
I also finished one editing project (remember the one with all the commas?) and got it turned in. I’ve got a piece to read before Thursday evening, to turn it back in to my critique group. And I still have one editing project in progress.
During all this, I’m sitting here thinking – maybe I need to break the Midnight sequel into two books, too … But I’m not ready to tackle that yet. I need to clear what’s right in front of me first. (must stop piling on more and more and not getting things done!)
I’m still here. I’ve just not been blogging. Nothing to write home about? Yeah, well, that’s where I’ve been. I did NaNoWriMo again last year and managed to get 35,000 new words for Destiny (which is still searching for a new, real title, by the way). Also, I picked up some editing and reading for hire and will be picking up more.
I’ve also been going through this big organizational project. The apartment, myself, my life. Everything.
I got a 2013 Peanuts Moleskine dayplanner and finally got over my fear of actually using my Peanuts 60th Anniversary Snoopy Moleskine journal. This is all helping getting my life/mind/home “still” and organized. Organized isn’t really the word I’m going for here. The ADHD isn’t letting me find the proper word for this, of course. I know what I mean but just am not able to convey it right now.
I’ve wanted for a long time to get back into scrapbooking, the kind I did all through school while I was growing up, but I’ve never been happy with all the themed scrapbooking stuff that’s been out there for the longest time now. Scrapbooking isn’t supposed to be that orderly! So I just never did. Then last Summer while I was thinking real hard about getting back into journaling and trying to get my mojo going again, I ran into ‘smashbooks’. What neat things! And they’re so portable!
Like I said above, I got over my fear of using my Moleskines, and I’m so glad I did! Both of the ones I have are the 5″x8″ size, which is perfect for what I need them for. The dayplanner isn’t huge or bulky, and the journals isn’t one of those daunting 9″x11″ books I was hooked on for twenty years. Seriously, I think that’s why I burned out. I was trying to fill up those enormous pages with every thought and activity I had, and with the uncontrolled, undiagnosed ADHD I had going on, I got some righteous burn-out.
As for the dayplanner, I’ve known for some time (like three years) that dumping everything into Outlook Calendar just wasn’t cutting it. Especially over the last year. I’ve not been keeping Outlook open around the clock like I used to. I’ve not allowed myself to continue being a slave to e-mail (as a result, I also have a continuous backlog of e-mail, but I’m trying to break that habit, too). I don’t need it on 24/7, so I leave it off. But I needed something to help me stay organized and on task through the day, and everything I’ve read for months about ADHD is that having a physical dayplanner is a blessing. And it has been. It helps keep me on task.
Getting over my fear of actually using my Peanuts journal took a long time. But I’m glad that I did. Honestly, what got me going again was the time I spend on Pinterest and Flickr looking at beautiful and creative (and beautifully creative and creatively beautiful) things. I was searching for inspiration, and one afternoon, I found it, and got my books out and started using them. It’s made a world of difference.
I got into this whole journaling/dayplanning thing so much that I created a group on Facebook. The group is just over a month old, and we’ve all had so much fun and learned so much from each other already. Everyone supports one another. It’s been amazing. If you’re on Facebook and keep a journal or are considering picking the habit (back) up, if you scrapbook, art journaling, anything similar, we’d enjoy having you as part of our group. Daily, we start a Link thread to keep everything as corralled and orderly as we can. So like, if it’s Tuesday, someone will start an empty thread titled Tuesday Links, and everyone is welcome to post up outside links to anything journaling or scrapbooking related. We have a long thread about handwriting, even! (I’ve been working hard on improving mine, and it’s working.)
One thing I’ve learned over the last six or so months is that I’d been journaling wrong for the last thirty years. Wrong for me. I wasn’t exploring it as a creative outlet. I had, for all that time, created what could be called nothing more than Bitch Books. Finally, at one point, I sat down with the ones I’d kept from 1992 through 2007, when I stopped (I’d told myself I didn’t need to journal any more because I had my biog!). I went through some thousand pages of crap. Serious. I kept only what I found important. My poetry, good quotes, pictures, cards, letters, some stickers, comic strips. Stuff like that. I took, wrapped in two tightly tied T-shirt bags, and chucked them into the nearest dumpster. That act along took a load of weight from my shoulders. Amazing how stuff like that works out! I wanted to burn those books, but when one lives in an apartment, one does what one can with what one has.
Since then, I’ve gotten everything I saved, which was little, into its proper scrapbook or journal with the exception of my poetry. I still need to see what I already have in electronic copy and type up what I don’t. I think there are maybe eight poems I need to go through. Yeah, real hard work.
But like I said above, I’d been journaling wrong. I had approached it my entire life as a repository of gripes and sorrows, rants and raves. While I ripped those books apart, I rarely found anything good. That, and I’d insisted all that time in writing in 120 page, 9″x11″ books. All of them beautiful. I refused to buy them if they weren’t pretty! So on days when I didn’t have anything to gripe about, I just didn’t write. Those large pages were intimidating, and I allowed them to intimidate me. The odd part is that I had (a few months ago) a small slew of 5″x7″ journals that I never used. I bought them because they were pretty and just never did anything with them. I still have two I need to find a home/use for.
Then I searched “Moleskine” and “Journal” on both Flickr and Pinterest. My eyes were opened. Wide. What a wealth of creativity!
I don’t have to write an entire page to record my entire day. I don’t even have to write. I don’t have to do it in chronological order. Nor do I have to orient every single page “top to bottom”. When I was in therapy at Comprehensive Care in 2010/2011, my therapist “had a thing” about coloring therapy. I rediscovered coloring and art because of her. She especially favored mandalas and bright colors. Google “mandala” and “zentangle”. Wonderful things. I searched for and found good, easy to follow (and free!) drawing instructions at the art is fun website. My journal is littered with mandalas, doodles, lines, circles, shapes. I’ve filled it with pictures I’ve drawn and colored. I’ve added stickers. I started a collection of ephemera. I bought crayons, pencils, markers, and other things (including a box to keep it all in).
I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed this, how much it’s all helped me already.
Below, I share some pictures of pages I’ve made. More to come!
This is the opening page in the Snoopy journal.
This is the opening page in the dayplanner. I can control only what’s inside my hula hoop.
This is from my K&Company Smashbook. I got the Retro Blue one – because it’s blue and because I liked the pages inside; they’re all themed. I don’t generally care for themed scrapbooking or journaling, but most of the ‘prompts’ are great. I also got a themed ‘smash pad’ which is also great for prompts. You pull what you want to use on a given day from the pad, glue or tape the whole thing (or part) down, and write on it. Then decorate the page the best way you see fit.
This is the page I started for HCH. It’s not finished. I still have a ton of ephemera I want to stick in. The left-hand page is made of up a recent Harlan County map, a Harlan County directory, and the US 119 tag is from a packet of information I got from a Pine Mountain tour thing several years ago. The places I highlighted in yellow are settings in my Harlan Vampires stories. The right-hand page is a postcard about HCH and the welcome card from the book launch at The Morris Book Shop.
This is the Midnight page. Totally unfinished. I started with printouts of the 100 word blurb, snippets of poetry that didn’t make my final cut as chapter headers, a writer ‘trading card’, maps of Loyall and Harlan, and excerpts from the book. Then, when the books is published, I’ll add more things in. Lots more things.
So that’s where I’ve been for the last six months. Embroiled and enjoying it. I’ve also relaunched my editing service – which now has a name! – and have taken in three projects so far. I’ll be free to take in more near the first of April. And yes, I’m still working on the apartment. Organizing, cutting down, simplifying, scrubbing everything to a showroom shine.
All of this has been so very freeing.
[repost from October 2010]
Now isn’t the time for a metaphysics lesson, Michael. Sure, you and Sami are confined inside your car, probably for another good twenty minutes. But that doesn’t mean she wants or needs a lecture. Besides, this isn’t the place in the story for this. We all can learn how energy transfers between two people and how like energy attracts like energy further along in the narrative. If we need to.
“But this is basic metaphysics!”
Yes, I understand this and it’s also one of the basic laws of energy. But the reader isn’t interested in that right now. The reader is interested in how you and Sami are interacting in this confined space.
“Our energy is interacting all over the place, and she hasn’t even noticed!”
Have you forgotten, Michael, that she’s exhausted, confused, and hungover? That and after your little adventure last night, you applied your special mojo-gumbo and made her forget everything that happened between the two of you. No lectures. No energy transferences. And no pantomime! Sami can’t handle them right now.
I really would like to be furthering this scene instead of discussing it with you.
“You know I’m not good at that.”
“Do you see this delete key?”
Yeah, you quieten down when I remind you that you’re a figment of my imagination and currently made of nothing more than ink, fiber, ones, and zeros. And my dreams.
“But the metaphysical implications of her touching my hand like that–”
“Get the fuck out and walk.”
About this time last year I made the switch from Evernote, which I’d used since it came out, to Microsoft OneNote, which is an integrated part of my Office software. After making a ‘trial run’ of OneNote to see how I could organize everything, I knew this was the better program for me. I hated to let Evernote go – they’ve been very good to me! But I just needed more than what their program offers.
imho, the worst thing about OneNote is that there aren’t a lot of templates available (although I’ve found they’re easy made), and there doesn’t seem to be much support / tips’n tricks available.
The biggest plus is that it integrates with the other Office programs – you can “print” to or from OneNote and share in the Office cloud (though I don’t use Skydrive – does anyone?). I keep my OneNote files inside my Dropbox folder – so it backs up its own backups, essentially. The program is largely intuitive. It’s easy to figure out what does what and what you can and can’t do with it. As for the lack of support et al, googling OneNote turns up what I’m looking for. I like that I can customize the interface, too. In the quickview bar, I have only the tools I use most often; everything else is tucked into the ribbon.
I have ADHD (leaning toward the Inattentive/Distractive side), so the way I organize things drives people straight up a wall. For them, it’s not intuitive or organized. For me it makes perfect sense. (I have friends who don’t like using my laptop because they never can find anything – but to me, its organization makes perfect sense)
OneNote is designed to mimic a collection of spiral notebooks, with metaphors of tabs and pages. It has six total levels of organization–notebooks, sections, subsections, pages, and two levels of subpages. OneNote also has a system of links that allow notes to contain links to other notes, or to a Web page, a Word document, or a PowerPoint presentation.
I have three notebooks. One is for all my personal stuff, one is for all my blogging stuff, and the third is for all my writing stuff. I could break the writing notebook down into three notebooks, really: writing advice, adult stuff, young adult stuff. And I might if it keeps getting more crowded in there.
Another thing about OneNote is that you can size and position the sidepanels. You can put them on the right or the left and collapse them or widen them as large as you need them to be. When you open a notebook, tabs open across the top of the display, so really you can collapse the notebook pane entirely to give yourself more workspace. As well, you can minimize the pages panel. You can also color the notebooks and individual tabs any color you like, just like a physical notebook, to help sort this into that. “Oh, that’s in the green tab.” Click! Very handy if you’re as visual as I am. One thing I don’t like is that each page and subpage (and sub subpage and sub sub subpage, ad nauseum) under a given tab is the same color as that tab. I’d like to be able to color the individual pages – that’d be awesome!
Like I said, I prefer OneNote over Evernote; it’s what works for me. OneNote gives me so many more organizing / sorting / filing options. Also, the workspace is more user-friendly – I can make everything else smaller in order to view what I need to see / work on. OneNote pastes text into blocks (similar to a text block in Word) that you can click and drag around to reposition where you’d like. If you have a lot of small elements (small text bits / pictures) on a page, this comes in handy; it allows you to put things where they’re more available to you.
Since I started using OneNote last year, I’ve dumped almost all of my writing notes into the program. Some stuff still remains on my hard drive, but bit by bit, I’m moving it all into notebooks. This is so much better to (and for) me than having endless folders with endless streams of documents. Click FAQ tab, and voila, there’s everything in a neat little row for me to pick and choose from. Even with descriptive file names, I’d find myself sitting here thinking, “Is this the file I need? Or is it this one?” I don’t have to do that any more. Less muss, less fuss – I’m all for that!