Entertainingly Evil
15
Oct

Regarding the Line Between Brutally Beautiful and Gratuitously Graphic: A Guest Post by Gabrielle Harbowy

The story only you can tell

They say you should tell the story only you can tell. For me, “Blood Magic” is one of those stories.

My goal was to take PTSD into a fantasy setting. I wanted to show the numbness of coping with trauma and the thin thread of hope that keeps us going through it. I wanted a character who was helpless but still had agency; one who never lost faith. I wanted to go to the literal extreme of “sometimes the only way out is through.”

And I wanted to do all of that in a framework of child sexual abuse.

Aya sat up carefully, dangling one foot off the edge of the bed, and then both, and then took a careful hop to the ground that bypassed the thickly woven rug. The stone floor should have felt cold under her bare feet, she was almost hopeful that it would, but in truth she felt very little these days. She lived in the numb place, where the things that happened to her body did not affect her so much as they otherwise might. As a result, the chill of the floor was muted, distant. She recalled a ghost of the memory of what cold felt like, as if it was a thing she could imagine only because someone had described it to her. Her toes tingled in some strange sort of body-sympathy for the telling.

I started outlining this story in the car on the way home from Worldcon 2011 in Reno. I remember saying at the time that the story was too dark, unmarketable, and taboo, but even while I was saying it, I knew I was going to write it.

It was important to me that the sexual violence, if I was committed to writing it, had to be intrinsic to the story. It’s essential. And it was equally important to me that it not be in any way arousing or glamorized.

One of the reasons that acquisitions editors (including me!) shy away from sexual violence in stories, especially sexual violence against children, is that it’s often completely gratuitous. That is, it exists “as a shortcut to characterization. Want to let the reader know your villain is really evil? Have him rape someone. It’s as easy as kicking a puppy, but with more shock value!” (http://jimhines.livejournal.com/437292.html)

I expected the actual process of writing to be more cathartic than it was; in reality it was cold and calculated. I didn’t gush my feelings onto the page. Instead, I considered each emotional milepost I wanted the reader to reach, and carefully crafted the words in order to evoke the reactions I wanted. I was completely dissociated from it. Dissociation is something that trauma survivors are good at. I went to that numb place, so that I could describe the numb place. By writing from a point of view that was so distanced, it was easier to balance in just enough inevitability and pain to make it uncomfortable to read, without either glorifying rape or overdramatizing the horror of it.

 

 Role models 

Around the same time, I started listening to the audiobook of Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels. Early in the story, a girl suffers a miscarriage without realizing what’s happening to her. The language is almost lyrical, the narrator is perfect, and the scene is brutal and gorgeous without ever using the direct words. It was exactly what this story needed to be. I listened to the rest of the book with an ear toward how she created the distanced, fairy-tale quality that enveloped such a hard, painful story.

A wonderful line from Strands of Starlight, by Gael Baudino, also guided me: “The flowered trim on the hems [of the dress] seemed superfluous, even frivolous, but at the same time it comforted her, as though the idea that a seamstress had thought to adorn clothing so innocently implied that somewhere, innocence was safe.”

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the musical episode “Once More With Feeling,” there’s a song where Buffy says, “I touch the fire and it freezes me / I look into it and it’s black // Why can’t I feel? My skin should crack and peel / I want the fire back.” One of the most accurate representations I’ve ever seen of what PTSD feels like.

I envisioned a scene where Aya (the POV character) is sitting with the other girls, doing her embroidery, but is withdrawn and can’t relate to the innocent prattle of the other young ladies. Thinking about that, made me think of this Suzanne Vega lyric:

“Mother my friends are no longer my friends /
And the games we once played have no meaning
/ I’ve gone serious and shy and they can’t figure why
/ So they’ve left me to my own daydreaming” (http://www.suzannevega.com/bad-wisdom/).

So, those were the swatches that set the mood for the story.

 

 Finding that line

 Those inspirational verses and lines helped me set the tone and the level of detail. The events are horrific enough without adding gratuitous horror, so I knew I didn’t have to. At the same time, I wanted no room for the reader to interpret or rationalize in a way that might soothe the conscience.

The answer to both those concerns was to make the story more about the emotions than the acts. Aya herself is detached, which enables me to give some detachment to the reader, while dragging you along on her journey. I want the reader to wonder if the story is really going to go there, and to be too emotionally invested to look away from it when it does. And then, because Aya’s sense of hope never falters, the story rewards the reader for enduring Aya’s ordeal alongside her. At least, that’s my intent.

 

 Reactions

 I fully expected that the subject matter was going to stand in the way of this story ever seeing the light of day. It’s tricky to publish a child abuse story, even if it’s well-written and has a hopeful ending. I passed it off to my usual First Readers, warning them about content and making sure they’d be okay with it.

The readers who had the strongest, most triggering emotional response to it were not abuse survivors. They were fathers of young daughters. This pleased me very much. It told me I’d hit that sweet spot where survivors could relate to it, and others could maybe come away with some insight into how it might feel to live through such a thing. Because I deliberately give no cues to Aya’s age, I’m always fascinated to see how old a reader perceives her to be.

I’m sure some people are going to be triggered by it. It’s something I wrestled with while I was writing it, and while I was submitting it. It’s also why I was very surprised (and honored) to see the story billed first in Witches, Stitches & Bitches. But maybe I shouldn’t be: it’s a story that puts words to feelings that are hard to explain—as I know well, because I’ve been searching for the words since I was thirteen, mentally collecting every shred of fiction and art that offered representations of what I didn’t know how to say.

So, my hope is that for every person who’s triggered by what happens to Aya, a dozen others will be able to hand “Blood Magic” to someone close to them and say, “Here. It’s like this,” when their own words are frozen numb inside them.

As we start to see e-books being pulled from websites due to their graphic nature. I bring you a blog from editor and author Gabrielle Harbowy. She graced us with her story, “Blood Magic” for the anthology, Witches, Stitches & Bitches. What is the line between art and pornography? I think you will find with this story as well as all of our stories, we push the edge in an artful and meaningful way.  Best Always, Katie 

 

 

 




26
Sep

Announcements

On the first day of fall, Evil Girlfriend Media had the intention of releasing our first Young Adult novel, The Heart-Shaped Emblor. Unfortunately, the timing was not right for us to give the book the full recognition it deserved. We want to make certain that Alaina Ewing receives our full attention and very best. Her book trailer will be out in the next couple of days from Indiview Media and her book blog tour will commence shortly after that.

The Heart-Shaped Emblor release date is now October 11, 2013.

 

cover

While you wait, don’t forget to pick up Witches, Stitches & Bitches from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.




13
Sep

Hard Realities, True Words

Hard Realities, True Words

   (guest post by Shannon Page)

 

When I eagerly accepted Katie’s invitation to edit Witches, Stitches & Bitches, I knew it was going to be an amazing book. And when the stories started pouring in, they were even more fantastic than I’d hoped.

It was an open-call anthology, and I didn’t have any preconceived notion of what kinds of stories I was looking for. The “witch, stitch, bitch” theme can be interpreted in so many ways. In making my choices, I did look for a balance in the overall book—several layers of variety. Though they are mostly stories for adults, there are a few with YA themes. The length varies from just over flash to novelette. And as far as tone goes, we have light, silly stories as well as some very dark and disturbing ones. But what they all had in common was this: they were great stories. They held my attention all the way through; I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. They let me stop being “editor” and slip into being “reader”. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

I want to talk here about one story in particular. One of the darker stories (though, I believe, an ultimately hopeful and redemptive one). Gabrielle Harbowy’s “Blood Magic” gripped me from the start, and made me sigh with delight when I put the pages down. It’s a gorgeous, deftly written tale with some very dark happenings. (See Gabrielle’s thoughts on the choices she made in writing the story, in the guest post to follow this one). I knew I wanted it for the anthology; I knew I wanted it as the lead story.

But, as I mentioned, the subject matter is hard. All of us at Evil Girlfriend Media grappled with this, several times during the editorial process. We want to be sensitive to our audience even as we strive to bring you the best in evil entertainment. After much consideration, we ultimately came to the conclusion that, difficult though certain aspects of this story may be, the language is not graphic, and the situation drives the narrative action. Toning it down would remove its power, and would be playing false with the characters and the world.

And we did want to publish the story. It was just too brilliant to leave out, or to bury behind lighter stories. True words are not easy; the world is not a safe place—neither Aya’s world nor ours.

Thank you so much, dear readers, for giving us a chance—to entertain you, to challenge you, to delight you. We hope to continue doing so for a long, long time.

Purchase on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble




2
Sep

Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Cover

We are proud to release our first Three Little Words cover.

WSBcover1200x1800

WBScovers300

 

From the Back Cover:

A STITCH IN TIME… IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY.

Exquisite revenge and knitted doppelgängers; heartbreak and happy endings; unicorns, doomed dogs, and penitent frogs; steampunk fairies, conflicted stepmothers, and baseball—you’ll find it all here. Our literary alchemists weave a spell of fascination, drawing you deeper and deeper, tale by tale, until escape is impossible. But you’ll enjoy every minute of the plunge.

These sixteen deft and delightful stories involving witches, stitches, and bitches run the gamut from darkly disturbing to just plain fun. They will each take you out of the ordinary and into the world of magic, where older, weirder, or merely other rules apply. And just when you think things are all sewn up… some bitch may have a surprise for you.

Includes stories by Gabrielle Harbowy, Caren Gussoff, Kodiak Julian, and Christine Morgan, among others.

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 13, 2013




27
Jul

Table of Contents for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Announced

When Shannon Page handed over the final compilation for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches, we couldn’t stop reading all of the intriguing stories. It is with great excitement that we deliver this dark, devilish anthology to our readers. From the very first story, you’ll be “woven” into the worlds our authors created with themes ranging from revenge to unicorns. The witching, stitching, and bitching commences on Friday, September 13th, 2013.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-voodoo-mood-image24667983

 

 

WITCHES, STITCHES, AND BITCHES

A Three Little Words Anthology

INTRODUCTION
by Shannon Page

BLOOD MAGIC
By Gabrielle Harbowy

URGENT CARE
By Christine Morgan

THE KNITTED MAN
By Bo Balder

SPARE PARTS
By Stephanie Bissette-Roark

THE SECRET LIFE OF DREAMS
By Tom Howard

FROGSONG
By Kate Brandt

NO SUBSTITUTE
By Caren Gussoff

FORGETTING TOMORROW
By Bob Brown

THE BITCHY WITCH QUEEN and the UNDONE STITCHES
By Garth Upshaw

NOT EVEN IF I WANTED TO
By Kodiak Julian

YES, I’M A WITCH
By Julie McGalliard

THE FAR HORIZON
By J. H. Fleming

THE THREE GATEWAYS
By Eva Langston

FOR WANT OF A UNICORN
By Camille Griep

BLOOD OF THE MOTHER
By Alaina Ewing

DRESSES OF FUR AND FANGS
By Rebecca Fung

Like the Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Facebook page for more information about authors and giveaways.
https://www.facebook.com/egmwitches




11
Jul

Three Little Words Authors Read Three Little Paragraphs

Over the next couple of months, many of the authors included in the Three Little Words anthology series will be reading three paragraphs from their stories. We think this is a great way for you to meet our authors.

We’re starting with Patrick D’Orazio’s story, “Until the End” from Roms, Bombs, and Zoms.  This is his first zombie romance.




8
Jul

Table of Contents released for Roms, Bombs, and Zoms

On November 1, 2013, Evil Girlfriend Media plans to release a romantic, explosive, and incredibly undead anthology that will have you laughing, crying, and possibly gagging through out.  Our editor, Monique Snyman, chose stories that entertained her while bringing all three of the elements of the title together in unique ways. We are so proud of this talented team of individuals. They are as diverse as their stories ranging from screenwriters, indie authors, musicians, and traditionally published authors. You’ll find stories about zombie STDs, a female soldier who left her lover behind, a righteous preacher and the dilemma of an undead wife, a boy and his dog, plus many more.

Zombie Collage

 

ROMS, BOMBS, AND ZOMS

A Three Little Words Anthology

FOREWORD
By Monique Snyman

SOUL TIES
By Katie Jones

UNTIL THE END
By Patrick D’Orazio

POST BOMB ZOMBIE ROMLAND
By Dana Wright

I’LL COME BACK
By Michelle Kilmer

NATHAN’S PROMISE
By Ken MacGregor

THE SECOND BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
By Kriscinda Lee Everitt

MAMA
By Jay Wilburn

CHURCH OF THE RISEN DEAD
By Tom D Wright

THOUGH SHE BE LITTLE, SHE IS FIERCE
By Michele Roger

NEEDS OF A HALF-DEAD HEART
By Randy Henderson

WHEN THE LAST WAR ENDED
By Paul S. Huggins

YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART
By Katie Cord

THE TOWER
By Joshua Brown

WHAT I WAS THERE FOR
By Matt Youngmark and Dawn Marie Pares

FROM SAFETY TO WHERE
By Kris Freestone

AN UNDYING LOVE
By John Edward Betancourt

TILL DEATH WE DO NOT PART
By Killion Slade

I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN
By Anthony J. Rapino and Monique Snyman

Watch for the Table of Contents for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches edited by Shannon Page coming soon!

 




1
Jul

Our First Novel

Evil Girlfriend Media would not be on its current path without our first novel, The Heart-Shaped Emblor.  I met the author, Alaina Ewing, in the summer of 2011 at the Cascade Writers Workshop. We were both assigned to the same critique group. Her story resonated through me, there was only one slight problem, I wanted to shake some sense into her main character, Aislinn Moore. However, this powerful emotion created a friendship.  After several years, and a couple of rewrites, Alaina planned to self-publish the book. Instead, I offered to let her use a LLC  I created to self-publish my own work. She agreed.

It occurred to me over a couple of weeks, that maybe I should treat this as a chance to make my own dreams come true. I’ve always wanted my own business and love making ideas happen. One night over coffee and snacks at another writer’s house, we joked about me making Evil Girlfriend Media a real entity. I’d recently received encouragement from a pretty successful zombie writer to push it to the next level. There at our friend’s kitchen table, a book deal was born. It wasn’t long after that, I pitched to my writers group a collection of anthology ideas that I’d initially wanted to write as short story collections. I don’t want to get off topic too much, this is a blog about Alaina Ewing and The Heart-Shaped Emblor. However, I wanted everyone to know the importance of this first full length novel presented by our company.

So without further ado, here is the cover for The Heart-Shaped Emblor:

cover

Should she choose the life of a normal college student or something else entirely?

Despite her best efforts, Aislinn Moore is not a typical teenager. She sees ethereal beings, has prophetic dreams, and knows far too many intimate details of her friends’ darkest secrets. She tries to avoid her supernatural abilities by focusing on her early entry college courses, sculpting, and relationship with the affluent older Cooper Greene.

When her abilities cause her to be alienated from friends and destroys her relationship with her boyfriend, it feels like she may have to face life with her abilities alone. Just when she thinks things couldn’t get worse, she sees a mysterious guy from her dreams working on her college campus.

Alexander Welch is everything she ever imagined him to be; sexy, protective, intelligent, and his dimple sends chills through her every time she thinks of him. There is only one problem… He is not human. He is a Ewlishash, a hope bringer, and despite the fact that she is falling hard for him, his touch feels like electrified razors slicing into her skin.

 As Aislinn grows closer to her dream guy, a world she never knew existed opens before her. There are battling forces at work, and Alexander is there for a reason, to protect and guide her. The closer Aislinn and Alexander become, the less his touch hurts and the more her powers increase. Leaving Aislinn wondering how they tie to one another. Before she can truly understand her gifts, she must unfurl the truth about him, the motivations of the Ewlishash, and decide who she really wants to be.

 

 

The cover was created by Mark Ferrari, a science fiction and fantasy artist as well as writer. He published his first book, The Book of Joby with Tor in 2007. Our cover model is medium Cassidy Rae, a teenager who really can see ethereal beings.  Then there is Alaina Ewing, a science fiction and fantasy author who puts elements of truth in all of her work. We will be adding the page for the book in the coming weeks. Tentative release date is September 22, 2013.

 

Best Always,

Katie Cord
President, Evil Girlfriend Media




3
Jun

Six months into our first year.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of delivering proofs of our first book to the author. I think she may have been in shock at how surreal it feels to see her idea take a solid form. She thanked me for believing in her, and I thanked her for believing in Evil Girlfriend Media and me. This author along with several other writers encouraged me to take this idea and bring it to reality. It’s hard to believe that after all of the planning, coordinating, and multitudes of emails, Evil Girlfriend Media is still moving forward.

It’s even more inconceivable that we’ve closed all of the “Three Little Word” anthologies. The editors had a wide and varied selection of stories to choose from. I proudly stand behind each choice made by the editors. With that being said, it sucks to be rejected. For example, I begged my sister to write a story for one of the anthologies, she worked hard, edited, and submitted. To be fair to all of the other writers and the editor, I did not mention she was my sister. When the list was sent to me of the accepted names, she was not on it. I felt like the world was spinning around me. I was going to have to tell my sister, she didn’t make the cut. She accepted it gracefully and I’m so proud to call her my family. I’d also asked other writers and friends to submit to the different anthologies. Some of their names were not on the lists. I want to thank everyone who believed in us and submitted. Your faith in EGM overwhelms me. I hope that all those that submitted, including my sister, continue to submit stories to us.

Which leads me to the next topic, we are already receiving inquiries regarding our next anthology themes.  We will be taking a break on accepting short stories until at least mid-September. Our first novel will be coming out as well as all three anthologies within a short span of time.  We will give you some hints for spring themes, think androids and steampunk.

If you have not watched our short films on YouTube. I suggest you go take a peek. We worked with Rick Marson, the owner of ZOMs, to create these shorts with themes of vampires and witches. Stephanie Bissette-Roark, an author who will make her debut in Witches, Stitches, and Bitches played the role of witch with eery perfection. Our zombie short is still post-production.

 

Best Wishes,

Katie Cord

 

 

 

 




14
Feb

A Giveaway for Our Loves

Evil Girlfriend Media + ZOMs = Warm Fuzzy Cuddling for You

 

 

We love these creepy cute little dolls and want to give one away to a lucky fan.

Click this link to enter: http://tinyurl.com/zomgiveaway





- Back to Blog Home -