February Update

Hi Everyone,

Where did January go??? Got a not so crazy feeling that this year is going to be full on!

Things are going down in the weird writing world of Amy. So far this year I have:

*Completed another re-write of Jael/Mychal book. I have a draft that I’ve proof read and while it still needs more work I feel like its FINALLY heading in the right direction. Exorcists are bitches to write. It’s really one of the stories I’ve had serious doubts over but it has refused to let me go and that is generally a sign I should keep working on it. Once I finish the next round of changes it will go to the wise beta readers for plot/sensitivity/wtfAmy comments.  I have a pretty exciting ending that leaves it way open for more stories.

*I’ve submitted a final assignment for uni which means that I’m now on a break for a whole semester (at least) and can have some breathing room to get more writing done.

*Today I’ve cracked out 1500 new words of Chapter Seven of KINGDOM,  Book Three of the Blood Lake Chronicles. If you follow my social media you would have seen me lamenting yesterday about how my characters have already messed my structure up. This is pretty typical of this group to be honest. They like to surprise me and make work around them. In saying that its been FUN so far. It always takes me the first 20k words of a book to really find my groove but it is coming together. Hopefully I will get it finished during my uni break time. That’s the plan anyway. There is lots of magic and ravens and wolves and cities inside trees and magical swords…all the good stuff.

 

*I have a New Release Mailing List! Hurray! Draft2Digital has been amazing so far and they also have a nifty feature of creating a sign up list for readers. If you want an email notification of when I release a new book please sign up here. At the most I release two books a year, so don’t worry, you aren’t going to spammed.

I’ve recently become obsessed with ( and HIGHLY recommend) the following:

*Ancient Magus Bride – This anime has knocked my socks off. Celtic myth, cool mages, DRAGONS, NORDIC MAGIC…I am so in love.  Its like a Studio Ghibli created a whole series. Funimation has the English dub, Crunchyroll has subtitles so pick your poison and give it a shot.

*Uprooted – Naomi Novik. I know I’m the last person reading this. Its been on my TBR since it was released but I finally got a hold of the Audible version in January. It was on a Friday. Saturday I bought the book. Sunday I finished it. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. Russian Fairytale vibe, beautiful perfect story. If you havent read it, give it a shot. It came along right when my creative well was bone dry and filled me up with magic and wonder and Dragons and forest magic.

 

That’s pretty much all from me. A reminder that WYLT is Free for Valentines Day so if you want a bit of hot gothic fae romance in your life pick yourself up a copy here.

New Year Update

Hey Everyone,

I had grand plans to write a full Christmas/New Year blog but have only just managed to get to it – MY BAD. In saying that, I hope you all had a relaxing as possible Holiday season and read/drank/ate lots of good things.

I spent majority of my holidays reviewing the blur of a year that was 2017 on both personal and professional levels. I studied what worked for me and really, really didn’t. This year I am hoping for stability and more organisation than last…I say this and try not to laugh because shit will always happen. Last year I had a lot of it, but you know what? Shit fertilizes and it’s important to remember that.

In December it was my 3 year publishing anniversary. Publishing six books, and writing 4 books, in 3 years is kind of mental when you think about it. I am insanely proud of myself over it and I’ve learnt some TOUGH lessons. Indie publishing is a roller coaster and I don’t think it’ll ever stop changing, you kind of just got run with it and do your best. I’ve tried to map out a loose plan for 2018 because I never know how things will pan out between writing/publishing/uni/day job and one of my goals this year is to take more time to self-care and hell, the whole point of me publishing indie is so I can write and publish at my own pace. Right? Right.

So..loose goals/ Scheduling in 2018:

  • I’ve submitted a new secret project to a bunch of traditional publishers. GASP! I know. I can’t believe it either. It’s really different to the worlds I’ve been building on my indie platform so I will probably publish it under a pen name, either trad or indie depending how the luck runs. I am insanely proud of this book. It’s the biggest book I’ve written since Rise of the Firebird, and it was ALOT of research as I tied it together. Because of its size and complexity it is the only book I finished last year but I am so proud of it.
  • KINGDOM, Book 3 of The Blood Lake Chronicles, is currently being written. I had some time over the holidays to really sink my fangs into it. These characters are so much fun to write and its coming along nicely. Depending on drafting and editing etc I am hoping to get this out in 2018 so you guys arent waiting too long.
  • Speaking of Spin Offs…remember how at the end of Rise of the Firebird I mentioned I would be having drinks with Eldon Blaise and Mychal soon? WELL. For those who are in the know, The Blood Lake Chronicles is an  Eldon/Merlin spin off that explores his family and mythology. Mychal’s story is still continuing..but its been a BITCH to write. I actually wrote the first draft from Mychal after the Rise of the Firebird but it wasnt right. To count it has been re-written four times…from scratch. Last year I realised a vital person and female voice was missing and needed…so I wrote a story about a female exorcist. This story is currently being edited and I realised at 1am this morning that the reason why the exorcist story and Mychal story have been not working separately is because they are part 1 and part 2 of the SAME book. Yeah. It was a punch in the guts that the answer to a question that has been plaguing me for four years was staring me in the face the whole time. If I can get this book to work, you will also see it released this year. For those who are familiar with Mychal as a character you know that his story and mythology revolve around angels and demons and other aspects of Judeo-Christian stories and theology. Because of this I know its not going to be a book for everyone and as always that is totally cool. I mash up stories from all kinds of fairytales and mythologies (my thing) so if you aren’t keen on angels and exorcists but are  for other stories in my Firebird world I have GREAT news  cos….
  • BOOM. I’m structurally planning a new spin off novel about our favourite Alfr bros, Aramis and Soren. This book I am going to start flirting with the Norse Gods pantheon (that I adore) so I’m super pumped. You probably won’t see it until 2019 but you will be hearing me gushing about it when I start writing it.
  • I’m currently going through the process of getting my paper backs up and running through Create Space as well as my usual Ingram Spark so I’ll keep everyone posted on that too.

Annnd that list gives me chest pains.

See what I mean? I gotta keep these plans loose because I also want to do shit like release a short stories anthology, and maybe my secret project under a pen name and  do more uni. Oh, and like, work my day job. There is ALWAYS something. I literally have thirteen books structurally planned to write so who knows when I’ll get a chance to reach all of them. Fingers crossed my degree will be tied up in the next year or so, that way I can re-purpose that time just for writing.

I’ll get there, I promise, and as always I will keep you all posted.

Amy x

Failed NaNoWriMo but still got a book out of it.

cyfd2_xxgaa_lgy1

Those who know me know that I’ve never taken failure well even though I seem to be turning it into a spectacular kind of performance art piece in which I live my life.

This isn’t a bad thing.

Some of the greatest things have happened to me in the middle of a grand failure; I met my awesome partner failing at a job; I self published after failing to pick up a publisher and it is still one of the best things I’ve ever done just to name a few.

Most of the time my failures also result in a book. I’ve actually developed the mantra “Okay I’ve failed but at least I’ll get a book out of it.” The annual NaNoWriMo Word Orgy was no different. It was the first time I’d officially signed up to do it and I bombed 7k words from the finish line. Just to put it into perspective, I do at least 2 unofficial writing challenges a year and I nail them so wtf was so different this time around?

Some books are not meant to be ‘writing challenge’ books. The one that I was working on (that has no real title) is not meant for a challenge. I kind of knew this going in but I thought ‘No Amy, you need to do this because you have Dead Sea Scrolls next semester for uni and you need to concentrate on that and not be trying to write a new book at the same time.’  So I had a chapter plan of the book and the first 30k words and I still went ahead with it.

Considering my headspace it turned out better than I had expected. In fact it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever written and yet I don’t know if it will ever see the publishing light of day. Maybe it’s a story I needed to write just for me or to figure out its not going to work. It still needs 10k words. I’m certain that there are parts that I’ve missed out or thought I’ve written amidst the tangled sheets and awkward elbows of the word orgy mindset.  It’s been printed and bound and ready for a read through on the weekend to make notes on where the gaps are.

It’s about an exorcist. It’s probably going to be classed as a Metaphysical Thriller. It’s a strange book that’s very unlike anything I’ve ever written. It’s weird feeling when you pick something up that you’ve written and it feels unfamiliar to you. In the whole scheme of the Amy Canon it’s a prologue book leading into a book about Mychal, a character from The Firebird Fairytales. It’s going to be very stand alone series though so any reader could pick up any series and don’t really need to know their way around the Firebird world. There is the classic Amy style of mashing up stories but this time instead of Finnish or Russian I’m getting Biblical. I’m quite positive it will confuse and annoy many. 78b181b34210edad9451ec729196ae11

The Mychal book is another of my failures. I started writing it in 2014 and I have started from scratch and re-written it four times, four different ways and haven’t been satisfied with any version. It needed my exorcist and as I embark on the great number Five version I’m hoping that it’s not another failure.

I’ve been talking to a lot of writers on Twitter that are talking about ‘Do Over December’ because the maelstrom of rage of horror that was November has devastated a lot of NaNo’s word counts. I considered getting involved but I’m okay with owning my failure. My brain is already moosh and I have the Dead Sea Scrolls to dive into (and hopefully not fail) and let Ancient History renew and inspire me.

Update in publishing land is that I received my covers for the new book Wylt and they are beautiful. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better job. I can’t wait to share it with you all closer to the date.

I’m changing editing dates and pushing out deadlines because that’s what I need at the moment to self care. The world is a crazy place right now with a lot of fear and hatred so remember to switch it off and find your own way to self care.

Celebrate your failures as well as your victories, you never know what will come out of it.

Witnessing Father Amorth: “The Vatican Exorcist” at Work and the Pathology Otherwise Known as Possession — Saint Michael’s Journal

by WILLIAM FRIEDKIN for Vanity Fair Sunday morning, May 1 of this year, was Father Amorth’s 91st birthday, but he had no plans to celebrate. He awoke just after dawn, said his usual morning prayers and one to Joseph of Cupertino, a 17th-century saint, and another to the late Father Candido Amantini, his mentor. Clutching […]

via Witnessing Father Amorth: “The Vatican Exorcist” at Work and the Pathology Otherwise Known as Possession — Saint Michael’s Journal

Weirdness that Happens when writing about Exorcists

Today I sat down to write and do some additional research on a chapter of my new exorcist book only to find the man I was going to mention, the famous Catholic Exorcist Gabriele Amorth had died. I’ve had this chapter planned for weeks but still, it made me take a moments pause.

It also got me thinking of the spooky things that had happened on various movie sets over the years when exorcism is concerned. Like the deaths of two of the girls who appeared in the first Poltergeist movie, the claw marks found on Vera Farmiga’s computer after agreeing to act in The Conjuring and who can forget the tragic death of  Brandon Lee who was accidentally shot and killed on the set of The Crow. There are also countless stories about things that have happened on any production of The Scottish Play, Macbeth.

Does spookiness happen to writers when they are writing about the paranormal? Are there anecdotes out there about it? (If you have some please share).

I have to be honest watching too much Supernatural over the years makes me look at any flickering lights suspiciously so maybe I’m not the best one to judge.

I’ll have to keep a list of what happens as I write about intrepid freelance exorcist Jael Quinlan. So far it’s been more coincidental things like how many times I’ve used The Dead Sea Scrolls for research and completely failed to find the Songs of Exorcism until this morning.

Maybe it’s just the day for it.

Purging daily demons: what’s behind the popularity of exorcisms?

At the moment I am working on a new book about a Melbourne Exorcist and I’m being inundated by surprisingly current research on the matter. The following is an article written by Joseph P. Laycock , Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Texas State University has written for the fantastic news site The Conversation.

It goes into some of the history and the current issues surrounding this controversial topic. While it focusses primarily on Catholic and Christian tradition I’d love to know about exorcism rites in other cultures, so if any one has any recommended reading please comment or answer this thread on Twitter.

Purging daily demons: what’s behind the popularity of exorcisms? November 30, 2015 6.02am EST

An exorcism being performed in Fafe, Portugal. Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuter

At Texas State University, I teach an honors course called “Demonology, Possession, and Exorcism.” It’s not a gut course. My students produce research papers on topics that range from the role of sleep paralysis in reports of demonic attacks to contemporary murder cases in which defendants have claimed supernatural forces compelled them to commit crimes.

In fact, talk of demons isn’t unusual in Texas. The first day of class, when we watched a clip of an alleged exorcism at an Austin Starbucks, many of my students said that they’d seen similar scenes in the towns where they’d grown up.

In 2014, an exorcism took place outside of a Starbucks in Austin, Texas.

A few students even admitted their parents were nervous that they’d signed up for the class. Maybe these parents worried their kids would become possessed, or that studying possession in the classroom might make demons seem less plausible. (Perhaps it was a mix of both.)

Either way, these parents aren’t a superstitious minority: a poll conducted in 2012 found that 57% of Americans believe in demonic possession. Nonetheless, demons (invisible, malevolent spirits) and exorcism (the techniques used to cast these spirits out of people, objects or places) are often thought of as relics of the past, beliefs and practices that are incompatible with modernity. It’s an assumption based in a sociological theory that dates back to the 19th century called the secularization narrative. Scholars such as Max Weber predicted that over time, science would inevitably supersede belief in “mysterious forces.”

But while the influence of institutionalized churches has waned, few sociologists today would claim that science is eliminating belief in the supernatural. In fact, in the 40 years since the blockbuster film The Exorcist premiered, belief in the demonic remains as popular as ever, with many churches scrambling to adapt.

Exorcism’s golden age

So why has exorcism made a comeback? It may be that belief in the demonic is cyclical.

Historian of religion David Frankfurter notes that conspiracy theories involving evil entities like demons and witches tend to flare up when local religious communities are confronted with outside forces such as globalization and modernity.

Attributing misfortune and social change to hidden evil forces, Frankfurter suggests, is a natural human reaction; the demonic provides a context that can make sense of unfamiliar or complex problems.

While Europeans practiced exorcism during the Middle Ages, the “golden age” of demonic paranoia took place in the early modern period. In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands were killed in witch hunts and there were spectacular cases of possession, including entire convents of nuns.

A 1788 painting by Francisco Goya depicts Saint Francis performing an exorcism. Wikimedia Commons

The Protestant Reformation was a key contributor to these events. The resulting wars of religion devastated Europe’s population, creating a sense of apocalyptic anxiety. At the same time, exorcism became a way for the Catholic Church, and even some Protestant denominations, to demonstrate that their clergy wielded supernatural power over demons – something that their rivals lacked. In some cases, possessed people would even testify that rival churches were aligned with Satan.

But by the 19th century, medical experts such as Jean-Martin Charcot and his student Sigmund Freud had popularized the idea that the symptoms of demonic possession were actually caused by hysteria and neurosis. Exorcists came to be seen as unsophisticated people who lacked the education to understand mental illness – a view that made exorcism a liability for churches instead of an asset. This was especially true for American Catholics, who had long been disparaged by the Protestant majority as superstitious immigrants.

The Exorcist effect

By the time William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist was published in 1971, the secularization narrative had gone mainstream. In 1966, Time magazine had run its famous cover asking “Is God Dead?” In 1970, Gallup found that 75% of Americans claimed religion was losing influence – the highest percentage in the history of the poll, which was first conducted in 1957.

The April 6, 1966 issue of Time Magazine. Time

Blatty’s protagonist, Damien Karras, is a Jesuit psychiatrist-priest who has lost his faith. At the end of novel, Karras lies dying from his battle with the demon Pazuzu. He cannot speak, but his eyes are “filled with elation” – presumably because he now has positive proof that demons and, by extension, God, actually exist. Through the character of Father Karras, Blatty captured a widespread feeling of longing for the supernatural in a disenchanted age.

While the Jesuit-run magazine America panned The Exorcist as “sordid and sensationalistic,” Blatty proved that Americans were not dismissive of the idea of exorcism. In 1971 and 1972, the novel spent 55 weeks on The New York Times bestseller lists. The film adaptation grossed over US$66 million in its first year. In 1990, as part of homily given in New York City’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal John O’Connor even read from The Exorcist in order “to dramatize the reality of demonic power.”

A demonic renaissance

Today a significant segment of the population reports belief in demons.

According to a 2007 Baylor Religion Survey, 48% of Americans agreed or strongly agreed in the possibility of demonic possession. And in a Pew Research Survey conducted that same year, 68% of Americans said they believe in the presence of angels and demons.

While the surveys can’t reveal what exactly people mean when they say they “believe in demons,” it’s clear that these people don’t constitute a superstitious minority. Rather, they’re a normal part of today’s religious landscape.

People have historically used evil spirits to explain any number of misfortunes, whether its a physical illness or routine bad luck. But today, demons are frequently used to interpret contemporary political issues, such as abortion and gay rights. Since the 1970s, Protestant deliverance ministries have offered to “cure” gay teenagers by casting out demons. This practice now has corollaries in Islam – and even in Chinese holistic healing methods. When the state of Illinois legalized gay marriage in 2013, Bishop Thomas Paprocki held a public exorcism in protest. Politically, the bishop’s ritual served to frame changing social mores as a manifestation of demonic evil.

Similarly, Catholic exorcists in Mexico held a “magno exorcisto” in May 2015 aimed at purging the entire nation of demons. The mass exorcism was partly motivated by the drug wars that have devastated the country since 2006. But it was also in response to the legalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007.

During one Mexican exorcism, a demon (speaking through a possessed person) confessed that Mexico had once been a haven for demons. According to the four demons identified in the exorcism, hundreds of years ago, Aztecs had offered them human sacrifices; now, with the legalization of abortion, the sacrifices had resumed.

Divided over demons

In the Baylor Religion Survey, 53% of Catholics said they either agree or strongly agree in the possibility of demonic possession. Twenty-six percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, and the rest were undecided. Progressive Catholics still regard exorcism as an embarrassment, and there are also increasingly vocal atheists and skeptics eager to cite the practice of exorcism as an example of the absurdity of religion. But in countries like Italy and the Philippines, there is active demand for more Catholic exorcists.

Pope Francis blesses a boy in Rome. Tony Gentile/Reuters

Church authorities are keenly aware that if they do not provide the spiritual services these people need, Pentecostal deliverance ministries will. In the past, the Church had much more ability to tailor its message to its audience. But in an age of Twitter and cellphone cameras, an exorcism performed in one country will be witnessed by the entire world.

Pope Francis seems especially skillful at navigating the question of demons. While he has inspired progressive Catholics with his stances on climate change and social justice, he has also emphasized the reality of the devil. In 2014, the Congregation of Clergy formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists. This is a group of conservative priests that has existed outside the Curia since 1990, and has lobbied for recognizing and normalizing the practice of exorcism. Founding IAE member Gabriele Amorth has even attributed the group’s sudden success to Pope Francis.

Perhaps the greatest example of Francis’s demonological savvy occurred on May 13 2013, when he placed his hands on a young man in a wheelchair after celebrating mass in St Peter’s Square. (This young man was, in fact, the same Mexican parishioner believed to be possessed by four demons.) Video shows the boy heaving and slumping forward under Francis’s unusually long embrace.

To those who feel the Catholic Church ought to take exorcism seriously, this was a clear example of Francis performing a public exorcism. But to those who regard exorcism as a relic of the Dark Ages, Church authorities can plausibly claim that this was only a blessing, perhaps lasting just a little longer, due to the pontiff’s sincere compassion for the young man.

For a church with over a billion followers, it’s a tough – but necessary – balancing act.