Monday, December 17, 2012

Magic on Monday: Have Yourself a Gothic Little Christmas by Christine Locke

MoreenBlackthorne/shutterstock
As Michel Faber notes in an excellent article, although Dickens' A Christmas Carol is by no means a "gothic novel," strickly speaking, it certainly "...concentrates on what excites his imagination most: death, grotesquery, poverty, indignity, death, clownish pranks, death, dancing and food. Oh, and did I mention death?"

Sure, some may find it strange, or even sacreligious, to so prominently feature death and ghostly hauntings in a Christmas story, yet, I think not so much.  Sometimes we highlight positives by juxtaposing them with negatives: through dwelling on the horror of Marley's wretched afterlife, we are able to share the joy of Scrooge's life and continuing ability to alter his fate.  Dickens--as he always does so well--compels us to think about the social consequences of the wretched poverty of one family.  Then, he allows us to share in their joy and in the joy of the giver who relieves that suffering. 

We celebrate Christmas, a holiday all about giving precious, needed gifts to loved ones and to those in need, at the winter solstice, when nights are cold and food is growing scarce in nature.  The cozy cottage on the Christmas card is cozy because the snow is driving outside the window.  Happy birds flock to birdfeeders because food is scarce elsewhere.  Evergreen indoors and out reminds us that spring, and a time of plenty, will come again--and, in the meantime, we treasure what we have and share what we can.

So I tend to think that Christmas has a special place in gothic--or almost gothic--literature.  I'm saving a portrayal of Christmas at Mallace Mansion for the final book in the Trilogy.  But I ended In Time with a description of holiday sharing with Carin.

Carin opened the door wide and was happy for the deep red wool sweater over her skirt and blouse as the blast of cold wind rushed through the entry.  On the sideboard, vases of flowers and leaves and fresh greenery spread their scent through the house and candle flames guttered in surprise at the gust.  Charlotte pulled the lapels of her heavy fur up over her ears as best she could with one free hand.
            “Carin, Happy Thanksgiving!  So wonderful to see you, sweetheart!”
            “Please come in!”  Carin grinned and brought Charlotte and Bobby into the house as quickly as she could.
With Carin, the reclusive role of the Mallace family heir opens to welcome others and and build a new sense of community.  In The Legacy Series, this is best portrayed with holiday parties, and I think it has to do with an almost natural paradox between the lack and longing of the gothic hero/heroine and the portrayal of holiday bounty and generosity.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writers On Wednesday: Guest Post by Leanne Dyck

I'm starting a new feature here on Christine Locke Books: Writers On Wednesday, where I will showcase a writer, indie published or otherwise, who will share her/his thoughts regarding the inspiration for writing.  We all have special places within ourselves that feed our writing, and, especially when we get stuck, exploring them can be helpful to other writers, as well as ourselves.

My first featured author, Leanne Dyck, draws inspiration from handcrafts.  Her novella, The Sweater Curse, is available here.  Many thanks to Leanne for her interesting post!


I reside in ideas
I craft with dreams

Why do I knit?

Ask a dozen knitters this question and you may receive a dozen answers. For me, knitting is less about the mastery of craft and more about the celebration of creation. My request is not, ‘teach me to knit that’ but rather ‘allow me to express myself’.

What do I knit?

Sweaters. I have knit other things but I always return to sweater. They are my canvas.

Why do I write?

Due to shyness and other limitations, it has, at times, been difficult for me to express myself verbally. Looking for a solution, I found writing. It set me free. It became part of me. Now I look at a blank page like a child would look at a sandbox. It’s a fun place to leave my tracks.

What do I write?

I write flash fiction, short stories, novellas and novels. My only constraint on genre is that I prefer fiction. Beyond that I feel free to explore.

Why do I write about knitting?

I’m proud to be a member of the knitting community. When I was lost they found me and gently nudged me in the right direction.

Knowing that knitters are diverse, strong and talented, it upsets me that non-knitters have only been given a limited view of our community. I’d like to broaden this view.

What have I written about knitting?

I began my knitwear design career in August 2002. During my career, I self-published over twenty hand knitting patterns. Knitters from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel and Japan purchased these patterns. I closed my design business in January 2011 and now share these patterns, for free, on my blog (http://sweatercursed.blogspot.com)

Decadent Publishing released my knitting-themed novella as an ebook in January 2011.

Blurb:  Aspiring knitwear designer Gwen Bjarnson is stuck in Purgatory. To escape, she must re-examine her life, journey through her past and right a wrong. But which wrong?

Young and in love, she works to establish her career, except fate has different plans. One rash act and she loses everything. Never resting, always seeking, and yearning for what she can no longer have, Gwen faces the truth:  if she remains, others are destined to die.

How will she solve the mystery before it is too late?

Reviewers said,

‘Stitch by colorful stitch, Leanne Dyck knits a tale of intrigue’ –Laurie Buchanan

‘Leanne Dyck has crafted a tale as exotic and existential as Danish author Isak Dinesen’s’ –Lou Allen

‘I found myself totally engrossed’-Deborah Warner

‘I found it very difficult to put this book down once I started it, because the voice of lovely Gwen Bjarnson, already dead at the start of this book, drew me in immediately.’ –Holly Robinson

Buoyed up by these comments, I set to work to transform this novella into a novel. I’m currently working on revisions. To follow my author journey, please log on to my blog ((http://sweatercursed.blogspot.com)


Monday, December 10, 2012

#TagItTuesday Party: Help An Author Today by Christine Locke

We authors know that activity on our amazon pages helps, and we know that not enough of our readers understand this!  Before I was an author, I had no idea what power that tiny little "like" button truly held.  So, in the spirit of #AuthorSupport and reader education, here's a little mini-tag party of some of my recent favorites.  I'm including my new book at the end of the list.

Hit the "like" button for those that appeal to you & then scroll down and tag away.  After you help others, you'll get the chance to help yourself....

To Light the Path by Heather Sutherlin

Possessed by Kira Saito

The Sweater Curse by Leanne Dyke

Temptation's Heat by Michelle Zink

In Time by Christine Locke

That's the spirit!  Now that you've made the day of a few of my favorites, feel free to leave your novel and/or one of your favorites in the comments.  And, hey--spread the word!



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Six Sentences on Sunday: Transcendence in Gothic Literature by Christine Locke

Characters in the gothic novel often attempt--with or without success--to escape what binds or confines them.   Often, the gothic mansion physically represents the family curse or legend or inheritance that imprisions them, but this is not necessarily so.  Think of The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe, in which the owner of the house dies as his house falls around him while our narrator makes a near and daring escape from the tumbling manor.  Or Jane Eyre, in which Jane and Mr. Rochester are free to begin life together when fire dooms not only Mrs. Rochester but the gothic manse as well. 

In The Legacy Series, Carin Mallace is both trapped and liberated by the inheritance of the mansion.  You could argue either way: by inheriting Mallace Estate and its Legacy, she and her mother are safe from the dangers she spent her childhood fleeing.  However, Carin must stay within the mansion most of the time to fulfil the requirements of the Legacy.  Whether or not Carin will escape and whether or not the mansion will survive or transform remains to be seen (we'll just have to wait for Book 3), but there are some clues to be found in the texts of Books 1 & 2.
 Here's a little taste of In Time:

She felt her shoes against the stones, felt each stone underneath her feet, the weight of her body on earth.  When she breathed the air, she felt her connection with that, too.  The autumn chill crept around and above her, far above her, inside her when she breathed it in.  The gentle gusts blew past her body and through her clothes and hair; the current defined the edges of her height, the width of her shoulders, the angles of the roofline of the mansion looming behind her.  Carin pictured breezes flying above the roof, above the oak branches’ topmost tips, afar over the mountains and up into the clouds and beyond them.  Standing on the gravel, she was rooted and free at the same time, grounded and in flight, complete yet undone.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Temptation of Angels Review by Christine Locke

Not What You Expect: Better!

A Temptation of Angels
by
Michelle Zink

I already loved Ms. Zink's writing, so I knew I'd enjoy this story, but I had no idea how much.
I was delighted to find that Ms. Zink cleverly subverts all the normal expectations for YA paranormal stories. I don't know if she's planning to tell us any more about Helen and Griffin. It might be nice. But it's also unnecessary, since their story is wrapped up in one volume. Now who has the guts to do that these days? [spoiler alert!!] Not to mention that the "love triangle" is really more of a possibility than an actual triangle, and only serves to highlight fidelity and the beauty of commitment here. The superpowers are more like home-schooled powers of observation and deduction, and hey, the bad guys are the fallen angels and the good guys are good angels! Again, refreshing, unexpected, a creative addition in a genre that can be a little same-old, same-old, no matter how much we all love it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Just hit the "Save and Publish" button for In Time! Whoo-hoo!

It's in review, and will soon be live (I hope...)!

Six months is a little longer than I'd hoped, but if I can keep up this pace, the final book in The Legacy series will be out in June.  I promise to see if I can step it up a little bit, though.

I'm so excited to be finished with the editing and on to the next project: Out of Place, the final chapter in Carin's story.