A Blog By Jessica Lynne Gardner

A Blog by Jessica Lynne Gardner: It's terrifying and, at times, adorable.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

For Love or Money?

Finding one's direction should be easy. We have compasses and devices for this type of thing along with the sun and the North star. But what happens when we get distracted by the things in our peripheral and lose sight of what is most important?

People get caught up in the rush of life. The bills become a task-master and so we slave away until we die. But there should be much more to it than that and many don't stop long enough to realize that they've just lost several years of their life at a job they hate. I believe in destiny- not the sort of destiny where it's preordained and written in stone but that we all have an ideal path if we should choose to take it. Some people sense what to do and they go about it without any mishaps. Others doubt themselves or rebel against their ideal path. And some get distracted. I believe that I'm meant to be a high-school English teacher and help prevent bad grammar and spelling in the next generations while sharing my (hopefully contagious) enthusiasm for literature. It took me a good long while to realize this but as a writer I know I can never be too far removed from books and can talk a great deal about topics that interest me.

This, along with the work hours, suits my lifestyle the best. Plenty of time to write on the weekends and time for family and friends. Not to mention summer break and Holidays.
But as it has a way of doing, money decided to distract me and I heeded it's siren call. Circumstances worked in such a way as to allow me advancement in my current job but the amount of hours demanded conflicted heavily with my 4 college classes which I was currently enrolled. I found myself scrambling to do both and still maintain a life. I don't know the meaning of compromise so I burned myself out. I snapped at family and friends and worse, complained. Sadly I also completely lost initiative to write.
When you begin to sour toward life, its time to pick another path. It may take you a few tries to find what jives with your destiny but its definitely worth the uncertainty and the push into new surroundings. There is always disappointment when life's threads work themselves into knots but in the end, we have to realize our limitations. Yes, we are human and miscalculate.

And so with this in mind, I'll be rearranging my life and dusting the literary cobwebs off of it. So you can expect more writing from me once that is done  ^_^

Moral of the story- pick a job like a relationship: for love, not money. If its your ideal path, money will follow. Or perhaps you'll be poor all of your life and famous posthumously ;)

Monday, September 5, 2011

HORRORFIND WEEKEND: Where its ok to love blood

Horrorfind Weekend 2011 was in Gettysburg, PA this year.
I was late the first day but that's only because I decided to put everything off until the last possible moment. Admittedly, I was one of those people who grumbled about the con being further from my location this year but Gettysburg gave it a different and better flavor of clientele I think, because it has more tourists during this time of year than Baltimore (as well as more ghost hunters...and ghosts for that matter but I digress) and more to do during both day and night. I stayed down the street from the rowdy Wyndham which probably meant that during the whole three hours I spent in my room, I slept better than the unfortunate souls who stayed over there. I much preferred the less expensive but private Days Inn which was very nice for the price I paid. And for an added bonus the hotel (like many in Gettysburg) is supposedly haunted which, if nothing else, added to the charm. I have to admit that I was listening for ghosts every time I entered the room.
It seems like a Horrorfind tradition that I always manage to see Kevin Lucia before anyone else. Maybe it's because he is just simultaneously everywhere. I must ask him his teleporting secret. Business was good and I sold 2 entire boxes full of books which, frankly, really surprised me given how the market has been. I may have sold many more had I actually brought more boxes with me. My vendor neighbor was the talented macabre photographer Dan Westfall who had incredible stories to tell about his travels as well as gorgeous prints (which I of course purchased).

I admit freely that I am a True Blood fan and was slighty more excited about meeting Sam Trammell than I should have been. I got his signature and a pic with him but was ashamed to act like a gushing girl upon talking to him. It doesn't happen often. 
Scarioke the first night was insane and wonderful of course, if you are like me and need an occasional burst of insanity to break up the monotony. Lots of cool venders and con goers there to pal around with.
By the second day, I sold out of every novella, anthology and magazine that I had brought. Now free from my table prison, I attended the Bizarro World  Author Readings and was moved to tears (No it wasn't a soppy Twilight love story but it WAS the funniest vampire story you'll ever read) of laughter by the always awesome Greg Hall and his, "Dracula's Winkie". In addition were four other excellent writers who I had the pleasure of meeting: Eric Mayes, Jordan Krall, William Pauley III and Andersen Prunty. All of them had great performances and I got a needed dose of bizarro and dark humor which is always appreciated.
That evening I had some drinks with said writers and also stopped to chat with Jason Wolfgang Gehlert who had some great pointers about writing and the industry as well as an innate talent to out-scare even the purest evil (a.k.a. the mini Jason that was running rampant that night).
Later was Scaryoke with a group of drunken guys that I kept bumping into and the infamous Karlos Borloff who I had the pleasant surprise to reunite with after my appearance on one of his shows in 2008.
 Needless to say I slept little, drank too much and was slightly unprepared for the mayhem but I can easily say it will be among my favorite memories of 2011.
In the end, it's all about the people. I'm never disappointed leaving Horrorfind. After all, where else can artists and enthusiasts gather together and so openly talk about murder, blood and cheesy movies with as much gusto without being arrested???

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Scares A Horror Writer?

Sharks, sharp pointy things and really bad grammar may give me chills but my number one fear is probably not something you would have guessed. As someone who uses fear as an art form, I can honestly say that many of the big horror films that are released don't disturb me as it might other people. I spend more time alone with the possibilities of what lurks in the dark than the average woman my age. But something very mundane strikes fear into my heart. It stems from a long, rocky relationship with stability and the lack thereof. Change has haunted me from a very young age and whenever I became optimistic or tried to embrace it, its claws would lash out like the monsters from Alien (which I did have nightmares about in my younger days). It's terrifying! The first big transition every person faces is the exit out of a safe, loving bubble into the loud, open turbulence that is the world. Then we grow hair, teeth, longer limbs...we skin our knees then break our hearts. We feel attraction, anger, fear, trust, betrayal... With each new growth there is an equally painful lesson. But regardless its still a lesson.

Horror writers imagine terrible things happening to people all the time. We contrive a thousand (or more) ways to kill someone in the most vivid, horrible, and memorable act (sometimes we write in past lovers or backstabbing friends) and then chuckle as we record it into a short story or novel and then share our personal recipe of doom with the masses. We know how to strike fear into your hearts. Words spin into being a shadowy phantasm, psychotic killer or cerebral monster that will haunt you for days or longer. But what is it about these things that terrifies us so?  The dark: the unknown that children are often afraid of. The possibilities. The unspoken threat that it COULD happen. It could happen to you or me or the neighbors. That our perfect or not so perfect lives could be interrupted by some being, curse or psychopath intent on robbing us of our only given choice: life. That a change could take everything away quicker than the gasp we would make if we could.

And that is why I write horror. Perhaps to remind myself (and all of you) of the fleetingness of everything. To remind myself that these small complaints and even great losses are not the end but a start to something beautiful. Because change is not only a part of death, it's a part of living. And when you embrace it, you accept a whole, wide world of exploration, emotion, challenges and completion. You accept yourself.

So the next time you see a scary movie, read a horror novel or visit a haunted house...go ahead and scream. Enjoy your mortality to the fullest and let others have a good laugh.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Mantis Hitch-hiker

Today was a long day, but not unpleasant. When I shuffled to my car after work, I hopped in and proceeded to drive out of the parking lot when something caught my eye. I saw a long wing ruffling in the forty-mile-an-hour wind (now you all know that I speed in parking lots) and the long legs of an insect perched upon my windshield. For some reason my brain screamed "locust!" and I recoiled. But upon seeing it turn it's robotic head  and bulbous, wise eyes, I recognized it as a rather large praying mantis. It stared at me and I stared back, shoving my phone in its stunned face so I could remember this strange phenomenon (and post the pics here of course).

(Looks creepy, huh?)

It's funny how they resemble something alien to us: the giant eyes, antenna, jack-knife legs and streamline body, but they are so much more natural than we are. Their survival is the hunt and also knowing when to hide from birds, cats and humans. 'Fight or Flight' is more than a theory or reaction to them it's an art form. I had slowed my car down as much as my lead-foot would allow and drove around the corner. Her (I say her because I'm pretty sure the females are larger) shape disappeared from my windshield and I was worried she'd fallen off. I stopped at a store along the way and Mrs. M was still hanging out with a death-grip on the top of my car. I spoke to it (I know...) and it seemed to be listening. My phone caught another picture and her saucer eyes followed me as I walked away.

(It was actually pretty adorable in person)

Somewhere along the drive from there to my house she had took off but I found myself thinking about the relationship between wild animals and humans. Creatures that once coexisted now rarely interact with us and we want nothing to do with them. Everyone may know what a preying mantis is but how often do you see them, watch their behavior or talk to them? How about deer, foxes, bats? It just put into perspective how far away we've gotten from understanding what is right in front of us. Our first response when we see a wild creature is 'can it hurt me?' or 'will it get into my food/hair/house?' We forget that these creatures (most of them anyways) have a good reason to be around. Bats eat mosquitoes, foxes help keep populations of small rodents and other animals down and mantis eat spiders, crickets, beetles and other annoying bugs.

And though that mantis may not have realized what it was doing by hitching a ride on my car, it made a valid point. Who knows, maybe they miss the human/nature interaction too. :) 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why blog?

So I'm late to the party. In the past I made lots of excuses for not creating a blog: I was too busy, didn't have anything interesting to say, would rather be writing, etc. But I find myself enjoying the sharing of my thoughts more regularly than I once did and they say that writing something on a regular basis is still writing, even if you're only ranting about a bad book or movie or about your awful day at work. Thus Pumpkins and Prose was born. Now, this will not be an everyday blog (enter: excuses) but when I get in a mood and the literary mosquito bites, you'll have new posts from me. There will be updates to my writing (naturally), plugs to my books, things I find fascinating, but also much more personal thoughts than I would share on other sites. So I hope you enjoy this little piece of my mind. =^.^=