Archive for the ‘savages’ Category

I have been trying to write this blog post for two months.

At first, I avoided actually drafting the words because putting them out there, writing them out would make the whole situation more real, and I was not sure how I felt about it yet. A part of me knew to keep it in perspective as a simple shift in the tides, a speed bump on the road. Yet another part of me was dismayed, embarrassed, disappointed, discouraged.

Then, once I had somewhat processed that emotional ball, I simply did not have the time. My life has been utterly insane lately, for good and for bad, in business and personal. All of that, however, is for another blog.

There has been a large change, development, detour (whatever you want to call it) in my writing career. At the beginning of the new year, I abruptly learned that my first publisher was dropping all its authors, which of course included me. My two books, Savages and The Waning, were taken down from Amazon and other retailers and all rights were returned to me.

This change was shocking in its abrupt reveal. I tried not to take it personally since the shift included all the current authors. However, it left me feeling decidedly…unpublished. My only real career goal had always been to have a book published, so the reversal of that felt like my dream being redacted.

I did not really know what to say. Could I still call myself a published author? My active works were taken down so maybe not. But they were published and copies still existed so maybe so. The idea of having to say I was a published author with no books brought that embarrassment burning in my belly. So, rather than trying to properly classify it, I just jumped on finding a new publisher.

Thankfully, that process proved fast and successful. Recently, Limitless Publishing signed my (would be) third book, The Rest Will Come.  The same book my previous publisher accepted months ago then returned to me unpublished. I was relieved yet also not excited as one should be to have a book signed (especially in under a month). I think my reaction was tempered by my worry. I find myself infected by a new restrictive caution, a fear of getting dropped again.

I could have not thought it would all be this easy. To win a publishing content with Savages, lock onto a publisher for my career, and just keep cranking out books into old age. I should not be surprised in the least that the road contains detours and divergences, challenges and changes. I cannot even be upset at this change. I was unpublished for about a month before landing a new publisher and starting down the road again.

As things have settled in, my excitement has grown. I am excited to walk this road again, release a new book with a new publisher, and see where it all leads. I am particularly thrilled about this book since it is my first full length novel, my first real horror comedy, and so deeply based in real life. So, in the near future, on the other side of editing and cover design and release schedules, my work will be published out in the world again. That is ultimately what matters to me: that I am a published author.

As for Savages and The Waning, they are still homeless, unpublished again. Though Savages is fetching quite the re-price on Amazon right now!

I have submitted the two rejects to several publishers, got a few of my very first rejection letters. I am debating self-publishing them as I own all the files and covers. I even have a name I would use to publish under picked out. Yet I am still drawn to having a publisher. I believe I have decided to give it a few months, submit to a few more publishers; then, maybe come summer, I will resign myself to re-release them myself.

I do still have my twisted little Christmas story available in Collected Christmas Shorts.  My name on a book being sold right now. That counts.

I have been writing more horror shorts lately. I recently submitted for an Easter horror anthology and a supernatural animal horror comedy anthology. Both of the submissions were very far out of my typical horror lane, but I found them very fun to write and am pleased with how the turned out. Hopefully, the editors of the collections both agree and I will be able to add more titles to my roster.

So, there it is. My big writing career change. New publisher, new book. In the process, I have decided to refresh everything about my writing. New look, updated websites, more blogging. This will take time, but this post is the start.

Christina Bergling

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Savages Giveaway

Posted: September 3, 2015 in savages
Tags: , , ,

I recently gave away copies of The Waning on Goodreads. Now I am giving away a few copies of Savages. Enter to win!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Savages by Christina Bergling

Savages

by Christina Bergling

Giveaway ends October 07, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Christina Bergling

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@ChrstnaBergling
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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

Savages is fully launched and out upon the world! ebook is released; paperback is released. And finally, I threw a launch party and book signing to commemorate it.

Rather than maintain a professional veneer of a polished, public author, I am going to be more raw in my account of my release. More personal and honest. As Savages is my debut book, I have obviously never hosed a book launch party before. I also have never attended one before. Add to that the fact that I am supposed to do something creative and different, I truly had no idea what I was doing.

I stressed about this event for months. I dreaded it. I am not the typical socially reclusive, shy, or awkward writer. I love to host parties; I enjoy attention. However, hosting something of this scale and having it all centered around a deep piece of my own brain made manifest in paper was intimidating. What if no one showed? What if nothing sold? What if people thought it was all stupid?

I just was not sure what I wanted to do, what suited my book, what best represented me, and what would attract and appease my guests. Once I abandoned my apprehension, however, it all came together.

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Ultimately, much like it was the backdrop for the story itself, I let the apocalypse be my theme. A friend suggested a taproom in an old church for the venue. Though the place was more polished and less professional than I would have preferred, it fit the theme perfectly, and I simply built from there. I set up a table at the venue. I sold and signed copies of my book. I did a raffle for book-related and survival swag. I did it open house style to keep it casual. And finally, under duress, I did a reading from my book.

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Sari NeoChaos of ChaosStudios also sold prints of the savages she drew from the pages of Savages, including a selection of prints in the raffle as well.

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Admittedly, even with a plan, I remained nervous. It was fear of the unknown. It was fear of exposure and vulnerability. It was fear of failure. However, all the planning did eventually coalesce. Though I dealt with venue issues and swag issues, in the end, none of those problems were visible.

People not only showed up; they arrived early to ensure they could purchase a copy of my book.

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And they kept coming. All told, more than 75 people showed up for the event. People from every branch of my social network made an appearance. I saw friends, family, coworkers present and past, people from high school. I would have guessed at least 25 of my people would show up; it was overwhelming to see triple that number arrive.

It was also overwhelming to interface with all of these people. It took me well over an hour to move around the room, greeting and talking to people. Though it would be a lie to say I was not basking in the attention, praise, and support. It is a rare thing in life to physically see how much you are supported, to have a gathering of people just to wish you well. I did not let such a moment pass me by unnoticed or unappreciated.

I was woefully under stocked for the turn out. I had wrestled with how many copies of my book to purchase, how much swag to make. Unsure of the amount of guests, I did not want to come home with a stack of my own books, but I also did not want so many to leave empty handed. The copies of my book I did have sold out in the first 20 minutes of the event. I had to keep them covered until the event actually started.

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Having your book sell out in minutes is not a bad problem to have. Having people upset that there were not enough copies is also not a bad problem to have. I would have preferred to have been better prepared, but I am not unhappy to have created demand or the need for additional signings.

And I donated half of the money. Not the money I made but all of the money. I donated it to Wounded Warrior Project where it belonged.

It was a surreal feeling to sign my own books as well. Asking people how to spell their names felt foreign. I had to force myself not to concentrate on my own signature, lest I foul it up. The entire experience was just deeply weird for as much as I always wanted it.

I was immersed in being social, but I later found out that the bar was providing very substandard service. Numerous people left due to being served painfully slowly or not at all. This would later explain why so few people lasted until the raffle. The place was packed; I filled it up for about the first hour or so. Then they gradually all disappeared.

We raffled, nonetheless.

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We doled out the Savages keychains, the last signed copy in the house, the prints from ChaosStudios, and the stocked bug out bag. I would have been content to happily conclude the night there as a success. However, the public demanded a reading.

I did not want to read. I was sick and losing my voice. I did not want to hear myself in that microphone or read from my book. It should be the easiest thing ever, to read my own words. I read the full book to my husband twice while I was drafting it. Yet, somehow, I was intimidated once again. Yet the audience would not be dissuaded.

I had selected a passage for such a contingency; however, with the sellout, I had to borrow a copy of my own book to read from. I stood behind the microphone and shakily read my own words to the crowd that remained. Quickly at first, the words leaping off my tongue to make room for the next, sprinting toward the end. Then I slowed myself, allowed myself to fall back into the story I lived in for months writing it. I let my eyes flit up from the words to see them smiling at me, pointing their phones up at me.

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As I read my own words in my own published book in front of crowd that came to see and support me, it all felt real again.

Thank you to all who celebrated with me, in person or in spirit; I deeply appreciate you.

When you publish a book, the first thing people ask you is where the idea came from.

The honest answer (that it just one day materialized out of the gray matter between my ears and started knocking on my skull until I wrote it out) always sounds like a vague copout, so I guess the real question is what inspired that idea in the first place. What planted the seed that bloomed into (in my case, a dark and twisted) alternate reality in my head.

For me, with Savages, the answer is a combination between a short civilian deployment to Iraq and a season long marathon of The Walking Dead.

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The two might be seemingly unrelated, yet they have one common vein for me: savagery.

When I traveled to Iraq, I was a young, naive civilian girl. I had experienced messy and rough patches of life but all under the pillowed safety of American culture. I never wanted for food or shelter; my life was never in daily peril. I lived the good and easy life without realizing or appreciating it.

In Iraq, I did not see any action. I spent my time on a few different bases (Victory, Liberty, Slayer, Tallil, Taji, War Eagle) but never outside of the wire. I only traveled by plane of helicopter. My interaction with the soldiers was in a living capacity, as we shared living areas, laundry, and dining facilities, and professionally, as I trained them on software. My interaction with actual Iraqis was slimmed down to only an Iraqi troop store on War Eagle.

The impression made on me was an issue of exposure. Feeling the blast of an IED in my boots and the walls of a trailer around me was different than a passing news story on TV. Hearing the sirens for a mortar was different than the idea of the threat. Talking to soldiers who lost brothers or had missions go awry was different than some cold article in a magazine or link on Facebook. Seeing wounded warriors still walking and still serving was different than donating to a charity in their names.

My little taste of war, my front row sideline seat, made me appreciate my cushy life back home, but it also highlighted the worst in human nature. The stories I heard, the reports I saw, the realities all around me painted humanity in a very depressing and unfavorable light. To me, it seemed if you removed a flush and comfortable society to take care of our needs, people reverted to animals.

So into my brain went the seed that people are savage in nature. Enter twelve straight hours of The Walking Dead.

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My favorite part of The Walking Dead, aside from the gruesome zombies, is the examination of what the apocalypse does to the survivors. I appreciate how the show tracks their slow exchange of humanity for survival. No matter how the characters try to cling to the humans they once were, with each threat, they ransom off a little piece of that person they remember. Not to mention the entirely savage other survivors they encounter.

Psychology is my favorite part of apocalyptic media.

So with my brain saturated half a day’s worth of post-apocalyptic dead fighting and living fearing, the mood and the imagery permeated my mind, reached down to mingle with my own memories, my own life imprints.

I started to think about how savage we are underneath all our socialization and civilization. I started to brood on how those animals within would come screaming out at the smallest threat, much less the end of the world. Gradually, these ideas grew legs, formed into bodies, started speaking in dialog inside my head. I could see their world, and I only followed.

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Savages tells the story of two apocalypse survivors navigating through the ruins of America and battling through lingering savages with no answers, searching for the last strain of humanity. Until one discovery changes everything. The infant’s cry shatters their already destroyed world. For Parker, the babe invokes the ghosts of her dead husband and sons. For Iraq war veteran Marcus, the child embodies his hope and gives him innocence to protect.

As far as inspiration, Parker is the most pessimistic and damaged parts of me, the rational parts of my mind the believe the worst of us as a species. Marcus is the embodiment of the best I saw out of the soldiers I was deployed with. The savages are representations of what might be at the core of every one of us.

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What do you think? Are we savage at our core? Would we all devolve in the face of the apocalypse?

Savages is available in paperback and for Kindle on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (with more formats and sites to come). Feel free to step inside my brain and see how I imagine the world falling apart.

 

 

 

 

I have a guilty pleasure: sexual tension and ill-fated romance in horror and apocalypse stories. So deep does my secret affinity run that it manifests as a major line in my own book (Savages). I simply cannot help myself.

Do not misread me; I am not looking for classic romance. I do not want a happy ending; I do not want courting or dating or any of that drama. Even if part of me is rooting for ultimate consummation or for the characters to end up together, I am always secretly satisfied when it goes so terribly awry. I think it is less about the actual romantic element and more about the juxtaposition of it within a terrifying or catastrophic scenario. It is normalcy in the traumatically abnormal.

Sexuality is also very primal, very base, which runs completely in line with survival, be it surviving a killer, the apocalypse, zombies, whatever. It seems appropriate to acknowledge and include that instinct while exploiting the others. It makes the scenario and the characters seem all the more real to us.

Humans are hooking up in every scenario; you cannot stop us. And when in real life does it ever play out like a romantic comedy? It is all the more accurate to be messy, ill-fated, or unrequited.

When I wrote my own book, the sexual tension between the characters is where the story began to blossom in my head. In a post-apocalyptic world slim on survivors, with all the normal world and distractions stripped away, I was able to concentrate on two elements: survival and her attraction to him. For me, the survival was the setting, and the attraction was the story.

And that is because of this guilty little pleasure I have. Clearly, however, I am not the only one, as this element does appear in horror and apocalypse stories.

For horror, Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling immediately come to mind, whether in the novels or the movies. In Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal is clearly intrigued by Clarice and her intelligence, in a similar way he was by Will Graham in Red Dragon. In both instances, he wants to toy with the other while also teaching them, minimally helpful manipulation.

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However, his interactions with Clarice take on that additional level of sexual tension. Hannibal is aroused by her vulnerability, hungry for her specific psychological damage and idiosyncrasies, a level he never achieved with Will. I think this sexual tension and Hannibal’s attraction to Clarice is what makes their dynamic so interesting and convincing.

By Hannibal, Hannibal’s romantic attraction is fully realized and no longer relegated to simple sexual tension in their interactions. In the movie, he sacrifices his hand to spare Clarice hers; in the book, he drugs her and spirits her away to live with him in the jungle. By this point, it got a little too romantically centered for me but was still enjoyable.

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The sexual tension in Silence of the Lambs was much more engaging and entertaining that the outright romantic pursuits of Hannibal, but throughout the franchise, that sexuality is a strong element between the characters and in the plot. Hannibal being my favorite fictional serial killer does not hurt either.

As far as apocalypse, (let’s go mainstream, why not?) The Walking Dead fully exploits the soap opera of human sexuality in a apocalypse survival scenario. The Walking Dead being such a sensation and its success bringing it so mainstream does always lead to more interpersonal drama, a tactic to entice outside the initial target audience. Yes, I have the zombie lovers, but if I have a little romance, let me hook those on the fence too.

The first instance of sexuality and romantic drama in The Walking Dead was the love triangle between Rick, Lori, and Shane. Rick wakes up to the zombie apocalypse and hunts down his family, only to find his wife entangled with (and impregnated by) his partner, Shane. Definitely soap opera worthy but enticing all the same. The scenario is also pretty realistic. If you thought your husband/partner was dead, would you not consider finding comfort with one another?

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The relationship between Glenn and Maggie is probably the longest and most explored in the series. They start as convenient fuck buddies on the farm (sex always happens during lulls in combat, right?) then develop into a full romantic relationship. They get separated and reunited; they make horrible and dangerous decisions based on their love for each other. Again, this crosses my unrequited, inappropriate romance line (for my own personal affinity); however, it is still very effective. It gets the audience invested in them, rooting for them (and hence hooked on the show).

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I, personally, think sexual tension and romance has a place in horror and apocalypse. It attracts my interest and also makes the scenarios and character seem more authentic to me. Even facing the end of the world, given a moment to breathe, I believe humans will continue to be sexually driven. Oh, it seems the zombies are gone for the moment; how about a roll around in an empty pharmacy?

However, I think the inclusion of this element must be applied properly. Too much or too idealistic and it violates the genre; too little and it is lost and its purpose is unrealized. It needs to augment the plot and play off of the survival scenario; if it takes over as the story, it becomes too much.

Hopefully I succeeded in doing just that in my own work.

“Civilization is just a flickering illusion. Turn the lights out long enough and you see what we really are.”

Another apocalypse story but this is not the same apocalypse. The survivors have no idea what happened. Suddenly, the world just collapsed, and all that remains are remnants and unproven theories. And these are not zombies that chase them. The only word they have for what people have devolved into is savages.

Two survivors travel these ruins of post-apocalyptic America. He remains convinced other survivors are out there, humans who did not become the savages all around them. She knows the darkness insider herself yet follows him, haunted and conflicted, lusting after him, as he pushes them west.

Together, they sit amidst the pieces of another cluster of savages. He leads them to scavenge what is left of the town, only for them to discover a newborn baby tucked in a closet—a child that changes everything.