Edinburgh, City of the Dead and the power of storytelling

Even before I came to Scotland, I was already familiar with ghost stories and dark history of the country. Fascinating as it is coming from the pages of a book, it is however a completely different feeling when you actually find yourself on the streets of those cities that each hold a different fragment of that darkness that made Edinburgh known as the one city with the darkest history and chain of events in Scotland, if not in the world. I visited Edinburgh a few times, walking down the Royal Mile and admiring the greatness of the Scott Monument, among other things, and only recetnly I stumbled upon a book that tells the story of this place in a different way than other historical factual driven books. It is entitled Edinburgh, City of the Dead and is compiled of several chapters that begin with telling a story of historical characters as an introduction to a more complex telling of the dark events that made Edinburgh what it is today, with dark tourism rising each year offering its visitors tours through the dark corners where ghosts were still present, eager to tell their story to whoever wants to listen. Now, I do read a lot, but what fascinated me about this book is the genuine storytelling approach of the author, Jan-Andrew Henderson, to the overall historic topic. As I already mentioned, each chapter begins with telling a story of different event which is important for the part of history covere there, and it is preciesly that kind of a novel-like retelling of history that caught my attention. And mind you, dark history it is! from witch trials to Templars to today’s existence of Freemasons,other secret societies, Wiccans, Satanists and such, you can’t help wondering how  can this city be so remarkably beautiful and so monstrous at the same time. I read the book in one evening, and now I am eager to find out even more about the topic, about the way of life that actually still exists today, but in a more civilised fashion, about the ghosts that still haunt dark alleys and old houses, some of them demolished in the 19th century, while others survived and were converted into shops and interactive guided tours like the ones of Edinburgh Dungeons. And it is all because of a book 🙂

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Did you know that Edinburgh today has the greatest and rising population of people practising Paganism and Satanism, and people practising magic, either black or white? And that sometimes, even though they still do it in secret, secluded places, sometimes they even advertise by giving adds in newspapers? That is a fun and interesting fact! But the point of mentioning all this is the fact that the city has embraced that darkness connected to it and converted it into educational and fun events for everyone who visits Edinburgh, and that most of the people living there are going back to their roots of respecting nature rather than other religions imposed to them throughout history and in the modern world today.

After this, I will definitely have a different feel of Edinburgh next time I visit it! Can’t wait! 🙂

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REVIEW: Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror & Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers By Michael McCarty

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We all grew up eagerly absorbing the works of Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, John Carpenter and the likes, allowing their words and actions to shape our lives, and our character. They all taught us to appreciate literature, film and art in any other form. We witnessed the birth of the dark and the weird, and we realized that our nightmares can come to life and haunt us through novels, short stories, feature films and representations on the big screen. Modern Mythmakers is a thorough account of life’s works of some of the most famous and legendary writers, directors and actors presented in 35 interviews (with 5 additional interviews included in the eBook edition). It raises nostalgia in the minds of science fiction and horror fans and has the ability to create a generation of new fans and followers, in that way continuing to build a long lasting tradition and showing appreciation for some of the classics of science fiction and horror, that helped us form a new way of looking at the world in which we live in. Interesting interviews, masterfully compiled together, give us an almost historical overview of the development of horror and science fiction genres from their birth, through early years and puberty, and firmly growing up in one amazing creature, an antagonist in the arts. Author Michael McCarty successfully combines his love for the genre and documenting things as they are through a set of interesting and humorous questions, each set beginning with a quote that highlights the importance of an interview in question. This approach to interviewing his victims is particularly interesting, especially when following and comparing different answers given to a few of the same questions that McCarty poses to authors, directors, actors and scream queens throughout the collection. It gives us an insight into various and multi-layered relationships between filming, writing and acting that the readers can relate to as well. This collection also offers advice on different styles of writing, and gives an account of some of the important issues and differences when it comes to publishing one’s own work in the past and today, which is a recommendation enough to make it a part of the regular cast on your bookshelves and on your e-readers. A concise and rich overview like this one, full of information and shared experiences on how it is to be a film maker and a writer, should be a compulsory reading for fans and researchers, for future generations and genre enthusiasts, equally bearing in mind an important message communicated through this collection: always try and do your best, and never give up on your dreams.

Get Michael McCarty’s MODERN MYTHMAKERS right now for the special launch price of only $0.99: http://getbook.at/ModernMythmakers

For more info and reviews visit Crystal Lake Publishing:http://www.crystallakepub.com/modern-mythmakers.php
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This Writer is Sponsored by Herself

This is an interesting topic regarding money and writing. I never thought about it like that. It was always me that had to support myself no matter what I do, and having a man occasionally invading my life didn’t change that. Either they didn’t have the money for such endeavors as sponsoring their loved one to become a writer, or they had money, but I didn’t want them to do a thing like that. It was always a normal thing for me, that if I needed money, I would go and get a job and earn it myself. Basically people would call it pride, but I call it a normal thinking due to the fact that I am the only one who took care of myself and learned how to do it since I left home at 18. I’m 32 now, and have gained valuable experience so far in that field, at first financing my MA doing the job that I hated but that somehow stays with you because working behind a bar in my country is basically the quickest job that you can find and it pays well, when they decide to pay you. Wild wild West out there. But still, it is an experience that you learn from and you learn about people, management, even politics and sometimes the forbidden things. Well, often. That mixture of learning everything about it over a period of time, and all the other perks that come with the territory, encouraged me to start writing again, and I am really happy about that. Just to be clear, I am my own sponsor. Like this article says, I am not looking for a man for his money or sponsorship, I am looking for a man who will be brave enough not to do it, and respect my decisions about it, brave enough to handle me for a longer period of time. I’m being optimistic:) And if he is dark, tall, handsome, intelligent, weird..in one word, special, it would help;)

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

the-lovers-tarot-card So I now look for partners with a job, a car, a driver’s license, and a good sense of humor.

Kelly Sundberg, Brevity‘s managing editor, responds to recent posts here and on Salon:

For almost nine years, I was married to a man who was our family’s primary source of income. During this time, I finished my undergraduate degree, had a baby, completed an MFA, and wrote the first draft of my memoir. You could say—I guess—that my then-husband sponsored me during that time. Still, although he was the primary breadwinner, I didn’t spend my days lounging around sipping mimosas in puddles of sunshine while lazily scrawling my manuscript. Things were still tough, and the day that I walked out on my marriage, I said firmly and clearly to anyone who would listen: I will never be financially dependent on my partner again.

Judging by my Facebook…

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Back from the dead!

It has been a long time since I posted anything. Even though January is my month, we didn’t get along this year, being ill, lacked focus, working hard…but we’ve come to an agreement in the end, and I am so glad that my focus is back. I started reading again a lot, which helps me focus on the tasks I need to finish. I am really grateful for writers like Neil Gaiman, because his quote: Finish things!, was an encouragement enough to start doing it. I wrote a couple of reviews, abstracts, stories and I am currently launching my own freelance photography business!The excitement is back, and so am I 🙂

I came across this quote today:

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…and that is exactly how I feel, regarding my writing and all my academic and non-academic activities. When I was younger, I always had something to say, but I was too shy (imagine that!) to do anything about it. As I was growing up, and because of different experiences and events that shaped my personality, that shyness changed into “I want to tell stories, I want to encourage and inspire people, I want to make a difference!” I realized that I was already doing that, by staying true to myself and being brave enough to change my life for the better. After I left Croatia to pursue my future elsewhere, people were messaging me and saying that I inspire them to make that hard step toward changing their own lives, and it was a beautiful feeling!  It still is, no matter the problems or obstacles I often encounter, but then again, I don’t think I know how it is when life is simple for you, because for me it has always been to choose, unwillingly at times, the road less travelled. But that is how you build your own character, your own identity, by making choices, by trying hard and by not giving up. Lesson learned. Onto the harder Level. I always did love a challenge 🙂

How I was disconnected from the world and what have I learned from it…

Recently I conducted an experiment on myself, the one probably very familiar to all of you, which consisted of pushing that Deactivate button on a blue and white background of the most loved and the most hated social network that is Facebook. I wanted to see, since I am on Facebook for a couple of years now, how it would affect me and what could I learn from it about myself primarily.

Day 1.

It’s weird not to be connected. I miss the habitual actions, like waking up in the morning, drink that magnificent cup of coffee, light a cigarette in the process…and then I was ready to face the world and to roam the vast wilderness of the internet.

I miss him. I fear that I might forget the way he looks like…

Day 2.

I feel a bit better now regarding all this, I don’t feel that lost any more, like yesterday, or cut off from the rest of the world. I was working yesterday, so I didn’t have time to think about all this, but still occasionally I checked my mobile phone to see what is going on on Facebook…And then a surprise, or more of a “damn-I-deactivated-it” type of reaction, which just made me put down my phone and forget about it. It was weird seeing that I deactivated my account and that there is nothing to see there, only a blank screen. The breaks during my shift were the hardest, because I had time to think about it, and let me tell you, it didn’t help that feeling of abandonment that I was experiencing simply by deactivating my blue and white account.

I still miss some people. But decisive in my pursuit to find out what is so addictive on FB and why we cannot be without it, I started thinking that if they all want to talk to me, they knew where and how to find me. Those who care. Those who are important. Abandonment again.

So, today, I woke up pretty relaxed actually. I know that my morning routine is disrupted beyond repair, since I’ve omitted the crucial part of it from the big picture. And I liked that feeling. Being relaxed and not burdened by all the information that circulates on there, whether good or bad, useful or useless. I miss my habit of going to my friends’ profiles and look at the photos of their lives coming together, experiences that they’ve gone through and the way the deal with life. I am far away from home and I miss them dearly, so sometimes, just watching their photos, without saying a word or talk too much, feels comforting. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Day 3.

I gave in. I activated my account at 3 am in the morning, just for 2 minutes to see some possible changes that might have occurred…nothing changed. Nobody misses me. He doesn’t miss me at all. Sadness is in order. I shut down my laptop and go to a restless sleep.

I don’t feel that interested in other social media. I do have a Twitter account, which I created primarily for promotional purposes, but sometimes the speed of tweets on my screen feels so inhuman and artificial, because there is a matter of processing too much information in seconds. I like to linger a bit, and ponder about something that I wrote or read, not just do it and forget about it. Or maybe I am just not used to it as much as I am used to Facebook. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I connect FB whit the thought that it is easier to hear from my family and friends, rather than anything else that this cyber relationship might imply. Maybe that same thought is the reason why I feel so detached from everyone when I am not on FB. It is easier to connect with people who really matter to me through it, because, let’s face it, they all use it, 24/7, I know where to find them, and I can always access it if I want to, or need to. Or it might be that omnipresent habit of creating new lives somewhere far from the real world, safe, private and ours only.

Day 4.

I think it’s the habit. I need to get back there soon, because most of the things that I am doing, like reviews and writing for sites recently moved on FB, because the communication is easier and quicker. Instead of “so long FB”, which was my intention in the first place, i get “hello again, my old tormentor”. People, me included, do take FB  more seriously than normal, which is the flaw that drags us into complicated lives and weird situations. We easily get wrapped in that personal experience that we call our own PRIVATE FB profile, we block and ignore people, comments and statuses we don’t like, because it is easier to do it when there is a barrier between us and them, as opposed to saying everything to their faces. We also guard secrets from the outside, real world. “These are my messages, my private ones, for my eyes only” is a fertile ground for many broken relationships in real life, as well as for made up hopes and dreams. We make ourselves suffer in an unhealthy environment that we create for ourselves on FB, giving way to doubts and fears we can’t control, because we take a simple and fun thing like FB too serious, it becomes our life, and we detach ourselves from the real life that we are supposed to be living. In my case, I sometimes have a problem with communication, probably because I an away from home, among other reasons and problems that I let FB create for me in my mind…but we all want to feel close to someone, experience that exotic relationship with people we don’t really know, because it is so hard to fulfil our dreams in reality, no matter the reason. FB has its pros and cons, just like every social network, but when we stop seeing that boundary between what is real and what is not real, we transfer ourselves in this virtual world and neglect the one we are living in. But, reality is a tricky thing. Something that is real to me, doesn’t mean that it will be real to you.

Day 5.

I got back on FB. I have things to do there, new reviews to write, new business opportunities to attend to. I don’t feel good about it like I thought I would anyway. I still feel like I don’t belong and it creates a certain amount of pressure for me. But that’s life, I guess. It consists of all the good and all the bad things, we just need to find a way to cope with them, be it the real or the virtual world. This short experiment is over. I only confirmed what I already knew about myself, as well as others. There is no way back. We are a part of the virtual , and it is a part of us. We’ll see where will that kind of relationship lead us in the future.

I experimented on this in late September. It was something that I needed to do, because I like to know things, all things. Have you ever done this kind of experiment? If not, try it, it really makes you think about life and your personality, and that is always good.

Out with the old, in with the new..

As I’ve made ten steps back, which was not easy, because it was about a very important part of my life, education, I also made one step forward! Ten steps back, ONE step forward. But it is an important one. I’ve released the old things and embraced the new ones. Now, I will upgrade. With that in mind, I started from the very beginning and picked up an Advanced English Language book from Palgrave Master Series by Sara Thorne (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6951951-mastering-advanced-english-language), which I would seriously recommend to all the learners of English. It goes in depth concerning grammar, linguistics, phonetics, dialectics and explains the relationship they all form in learning a language. You can never be too old for upgrading your knowledge, as it is true that we never actually learn everything in our lives, no matter how actively we think that we do. I always thought, when I was younger, that I know everything there is to know about English language and any other languages that I decided to learn and study, and eventually use in everyday life. Since I am a translator, and now I actively started to deal with the field of translation, I found out that there are all these new things and approaches to learning and language in general which are still new to me and which I wanted to know more about! Such an exciting moment, when you find out that there are so many new things yet to learn, just waiting for you to start!

It says: ” By studying grammar, you will become able to evaluate the flexibility and variety of both written and spoken language use. grammatical knowledge can also make you a more effective writer because you will be more aware of what you can do in order to achieve certain effects.” Which is precisely the phase I am in right now. I am writing a story about the depravity of human nature as opposed to all the unbelievable monsters that exist in our imagination, using horror elements to describe that process and enhance the impression of human nature being the monstrous Other that lurks in the corners of our subconscious self. In order to do so, I desperately need words, lots of beautiful and strong words to put in structures to achieve the desired effect. Grammar is not boring. Grammar is not your enemy, like I always thought, especially when I was in high school. Grammar is a means to an end, which is there to be used by you, a writer, to create worlds that no one dares to enter. You, as a writer, need to invite your readers inside that world, to make them feels safe and yet still a part of it.

Do not just read fiction, or romance…read theory as well, educate yourself while doing the things that you love most!  Read everything!

Lost without the internet universe and how a book saved my life

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It’s been a while since I was online due to my laptop dying a painful death. It is still in that realm, and there is no hope for him at all. The interesting thing is that I felt completely lost without it and without an internet connection for so long, meaning a couple of weeks. I don’t know when I got so addicted to the whole experience, and I didn’t realize how big a part of my life it is, after all. That is why I like all those apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes which are so popular these days. Large range of monsters just adds to the whole story. We would be completely lost without this modern way of life that we’ve been so accustomed to… no phones, no internet or computers, tablets and other interesting and fun gadgets, just plain old survival in tough conditions. I wasn’t even sure that I would survive this possible crash of everything. How much do you really know about survival in the wilderness, without all those things that make our lives bearable and easier? A box of matches, as small and insignificant as it now is, can save your life. I didn’t even think that an item that small can be so important. Now, when I again have the access to this vast universe and all the gadgets, I kind of feel stressed a lot. Without all of that, I was sad and a bit bored because I couldn’t talk to my friends and family, or roam the internet searching for exciting news to make me occupied with something, anything, just to pass the time. But then I remembered that life is so much more than that, and that the value of books and written word, on plain old paper, is so high and priceless, and we don’t cherish it that much anymore in these modern times. I picked up a Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and I had so much fun reading it, so soon I forgot about all this modernity that I left behind. I was there, in the book, in that world, living in the same graveyard, searching for ghoul-gate with Nobody, traveling through walls and gravestones or simply enjoying the sun high on the graveyard hill. It brought me back to life again. Which book did that to you? It would be great to find out what is other people’s favourite imaginary world to get lost in and explore. We all need an escape from reality at times, and books are the portals into different, new and exciting worlds.