Posts Tagged ‘writer’

Today, my third book was released by Limitless PublishingThe Rest Will Come

This book was a journey in every sense of the word. Long ago, it was accepted by my previous publisher before that publisher returned all my works to me. I was fortunate to find a new home with Limitless very quickly; however, that still meant starting the editing and publication process all over again. Logistically, this book just seemed to take forever. But I think it is far better for it.

This was also my first attempt at a full length novel. Both Savages and The Waning are considered novella by length. And while those authored quickly, there is something different about producing a longer piece. Short fiction has also been a forte of mine and continues to be prevalent as I have been submitting to numerous anthologies lately (two more coming this October).

Moving to novellas was a challenge for me. Part of what I like about shorter fiction is that I am only providing a snapshot. I only need to give a flash of pertinent details; then I am able, in my style, to dump the reader abruptly and leave them wondering and thinking. It was hard to flesh out all the transitional bits between plot points. By the end of Savages, I could not write about the characters walking ANYMORE!

So stretching my words into a full length novel demanded even more. I worried that there was too much backstory, too much lead up. I love to punch the reader in the face then sprint into the action. It felt strange to wander back through the complete development of an issue. Hopefully it worked.

The subject of The Rest Will Come is also a change for me. After the extremely dark tone of The Waning, I made a hard turn into horror comedy. And while most of my works (NOT The Waning) have elements of my real life and experience, The Rest Will Come is nearly entirely based on real life inspiration.

I am not the protagonist (like has been suggested for Savages), but I do make an appearance as a character in the book, playing the same role to the protagonist as I did in real life. Turning these real people into characters was endlessly fun and entertaining for me, but it was also intimidating. These people had to read these renditions, and I tend to go straight for the throat on flaws.

Happily I can report, no one disowned me after a read. So far.

Since the book was so reality-based, inspiration was more of a collaborative experience. I queried my friends for their worst dating horror stories and turned those stories into victims in the book for them. I remember sitting on the couch writing with my husband and our roommate, debating best body disposal practices and murder weapons.

Writing is usually an individual sport, something experienced very internally. Writing this book brought it out, tagged in additional players. As someone compulsively social (I know, weird for an author), it made it more fun for me. I could talk about it, and they actually had skin in the game.

Everything about this release is cathartic for me. I have assembled all these online dating tidbits into one narrative. I have finished a full length book and taken a side step into another horror subgenre. I have found a new home with a new publisher. Most importantly, I am published again. I was heartbroken when my first two were taken down.

It feels like a step. A development. I can only hope it’s in the right direction.

 

 

Christina Bergling

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Earlier this week, I stood up in front of classes of 6-8th graders and talked about being a published horror author. The experience was pretty amazing, far more fun and impactful than I really expected.

The children were very excited to have me there and to broach the subject of horror in their classroom. I gave maybe a two minute introduction; then they asked me questions for an hour and a half. Hands still lingered in the air when the class ended.
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I would have stayed and talked to them as long as they wanted.
They were hungry to talk about the darkness. We discussed the best zombie origin lore (they were thrilled I brought up The Walking Dead as inspiration). We talked about how often I kill my characters and why. We touched on depression in writing. They wanted to know about my process and inspirations and methods and future plans. I got a lot of “would you ever write about…” questions. They asked me pretty much everything.
When we were discussing my favoring of psychological horror, I told them I like to focus on the internal experience of my characters, their emotional journey. I told them I liked to torture my characters from the inside out. They asked me why and what scared me the most. I told them, my own mind.
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I stood in front of a class of 50 young strangers and told them I was bipolar. I never intended to go there, to bring up that part of my life, yet I said it just as naturally as I discussed my first writing unit in 4th grade.
And when they asked what I wanted to write about but was hesitant, I told them bipolar again.
I don’t love public speaking. Often when I stand up in front of a group to train them, my mind blanks out. I am always less eloquent standing in the front than I am on the page or even sitting within the group. Yet, this was easy. Everything about this interaction was simple and honest and comfortable.
As a bipolar person, you usually learn or are encouraged to keep your condition under wraps. Since mental issues are largely an invisible disability, you are supposed to play sane, medicate or hide your symptoms, and pretend you are just as well and normal as everyone around you. Especially when it comes to employers, as to avoid the possibility of discrimination.
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No one wants to be branded as crazy. Then treated that way.
I have failed at that approach the majority of my career. And I don’t regret it.
When I was in college, I did work study at the campus art gallery. Since art is a field where deviant minds are embraced if not celebrated, I was able to be honest with my boss, the gallery manager, about my condition. I was freshly diagnosed and in some of the most turbulent times of learning my disorder. It was formatively comforting to be able to struggle honestly and get support and understanding at work. When the gallery manager killed himself years later, a part of me died with him for all he had done for me at a time I really needed it.
However, when I joined the professional world, I tucked that away. I never really muted my behavior, just never volunteered the explanation. I let people think I was eccentric or volatile or emotional and just made sure it never interfered with the work.
There was no hiding in Iraq though. When I went to Iraq for three months for work, it was rough on me. As an unmedicated bipolar, I use routine to stabilize my cycles. Yet I had just moved across the country to a place I did not want to live; I was half the world away from my partner, who served greatly as a balancing influence for me; I was in a place that intimidated me in nearly every way possible. I was too busy trying to keep myself mentally afloat to even give half a care to what others could perceive.
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And more than just me, everyone seemed pretty raw over there. Aside from it being a warzone, many people elected to work there to avoid some sort of damage at home. And even for the most balanced individual, when you have no personal life and spend every hour with your coworkers, you can’t really hide much.
At least I couldn’t. Stateside management found my blog at the time and became concerned I was going to crack. My boss had to sit me down and assess my mental status. After nearly every single post went live. I chose to be honest with him and in him found another ally. He trusted me to be who I was and handle what I needed, and that faith was empowering.
After that, I did not care who knew or when.
I have been fortunate in my professional experience of my illness. I have been lucky enough to work for empathetic, equitable employers. I am also good enough at what I do that my work speaks louder than my other labels.
I blog under my real name now, linked very clearly to all my author activities. I talk about bipolar on the open internet and public profiles. In the end, being who I am and talking about it for other people in the same situation means more to me than the safety in secrecy. I have never done secrecy well in my life.
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I have been thinking about this a lot because of how it felt to have a conversation with these children and because of where my head has been the past week. I have been in a strange state the past few days, a mixed state. Mixed episodes, which for me is experiencing a blend of mania and depression simultaneously, are extremely rare. I think I may have had two other experiences in my life, both dating back to before my children.
It is hard for me to describe how the mixed state feels, which is saying something as I am a person who describes things for a living and a hobby. It just feels like EVERYTHING. I’m hyper sensitive, hyper aroused. Every sense is on full blast, cutting on edge. Colors are brighter; sounds are louder; my skin feels like it is going to vibrate off my bones. At first, it feels like amplified mania, but then there is the depression. I am perpetually on the edge. The pain is blended into all the highs. I feel amazing and horrible at the same time. I slam between elation and torture in milliseconds. Sensations and feelings fly around so fast I can’t even gauge them.
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The peak of this particular episode was pretty intense for me. I got to the point where I could not physically hold still. My thoughts were racing. I had a song stuck in my head, but it was playing at triple tempo.  My nerves were so sensitive I could barely be touched. And, if I am being completely honest with myself, I loved it as much as I feared and hated it. I knew it was temporary; I knew it was a cycle. I let myself truly experience the intensity. Yet that was the crescendo. Even in my flurried state, I managed to put myself to bed and wake up more balanced.
It was a beautiful kind of pain, a sublime kind of suffering. When it passed, it was a relief, yet it also left a void. Everything felt dulled and quiet and disappointing even.
So as the vivid extremes recede, I find myself just introspective, locked in the internal cycle of evaluating my own mind. And how, on most days, I love the horror of it.

Christina Bergling

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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

Where have I been lately? What have I been doing these past months? Why have I sucked horrendously at this whole blogging, social networking business? Aside from my day job, my family, and my workout obsession, BOOK #3!

Technically, this is the third book I have completed in three years. Additionally, this third book is my first full-length novel, doubling the length of either Savages or The Waning. I wrote Savages when I only had my daughter and The Waning mostly while I was still pregnant with my son. The authoring process became much more complicated with two children, who are now old enough to have their own schedules, plus the addition of my own new fixations.

This book was also a unique writing experience because it was assembled from a collection of real life influences. I made people in my life into characters in the book (myself included, even more so than in Savages), and I used these people’s actual life experiences as suggestions for portions of the plot. These people were also involved in the process, both by providing me with inspirations and reading over the book itself to provide feedback. This difference made the process much more interactive. On more than one occasion, I sat and had heated debates about realistic ways to dispose of a body. It more fun than I expected, to share the experience and my craft.

So the process took longer than normal, both because distractions were more prevalent and because the process itself was different, but last week, I completed my submission draft. Now, the book is off of my laptop, out in the world in the hands of my editor, being evaluated for publication. My fingers, toes, and anything else I have are tightly crossed.

I have a couple new ideas batting around the edges of my mind, yet I also think I might need a bit of a BREAK to recoup my creative abilities. Maybe I’ll even come up with an entertaining blog post or two…

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@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

Thankful

Posted: November 25, 2015 in real life, writing
Tags: , , , ,

I am going to get a little cliche for the season here. I generally abstain from the contrived November posting about everything I am thankful for. Yet, this year, on this blog, I am going to make an exception. A lot has happened in the past year.

Last December, Assent Publishing released my first book, Savages. On Christmas, I learned it had reached best seller numbers in Amazon categories. I hosted a very successful launch party for it in January.

Then, in July, my second book, The Waning, also came out and also hit best seller numbers in Amazon categories.

My oldest dream came true when I became published. I am thankful for the publisher who saw something in my work and made these books a released reality.

I am thankful for my readers, my fans, my friends, my followers, my critics. I have met so many people who share my various loves, who, for whatever reason, find something in my work. I am thankful to be in a position to have any of these things.

The support I have received from the people in my life and the people who have encountered my writing has been so encouraging. I am thankful to warrant such investment.

If your eyes are on this, I am thankful for you and the two minutes you took to read this.

And so ends the mush. Now back to darker things!

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Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@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

I have written about it before. I wrote a confession of my past, present, and future readings for Confessions of a Reviewer. I reviewed the Goosebumps movie on MoviePilot. Yet doing both those things has but the examination of my horror influences in my brain. My thoughts swirl and fixate on the horror writings that have made an impression on me.

The Goosebumps movie really unearthed these strings in my mind, resurrecting a menagerie of my childhood monsters onto the silver screen in front of me. I had been so anxious and so curious to see how Goosebumps would take the screen. I read at least 50 of the books in my youth and watched any of the TV adaptations I came across. I did not know how they could capture the series instead of just capturing one plotline.

I was pleasantly surprised by the cleverness of the plot. I will not regurgitate my review here again, but the amalgamation pleased me and permitted me to wallow in my own nostalgia. The same way I basked in flashbacks when I dug out all my paperback copies to show my daughter.

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(I love her little ermahgerd face, btw.)

Goosebumps were definitely my first definitive horror influence. Something about them spoke to me. I devoured the books whole as soon as they showed up in the store. I found myself transfixed by the fear, attracted to the light shade of darkness. Reading the books felt like home.

My horror ingestion just grew and evolved from there, but Goosebumps and Halloween were the start, the seed in the perverse dirt of my mind.

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Goosebumps taught me to put fear and horror in the every day, even my childhood life.

The next logical progression was Stephen King. I followed the well-trodden mainstream path of horror development. King, like R. L. Stine, provided an exhaustive library to choose from.  I dove in as deep as my adolescent eyes could take me.

Different Seasons taught me to infuse stories with deep, relateable emotion. Gerald’s Game taught me to fill subtly with fear and tension.

From there, I sampled far and wide. I read the classics. I began indulging horror movies and their various adaptations. I dabbled in other genres. I majored in English and took endless literary classes. Back before I had children, I read ravenously and rapidly. A couple other non-horror influences stick in my mind.

Chuck Palahniuk taught me how fascinating the ugliness of reality is. In 7 Types of Ambiguity, Eliot Perlman taught me about the power of perspective.

A little piece of everything I have read or watched is with me when I create, whether I loved it or hated it. I may emulate aspects of what I love, violently avoid reminders of what I hate. Regardless, I am affected; I am influenced.

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I enjoy rekindling these influences. It feels like taking a stroll through my old mind. For brief seconds, I feel like I am that version of myself again, that child, that teenager. And I look forward to evolving through ingesting new, varied influences in the future who can teach me something about myself that I have not yet seen.

 

Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/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

My favorite holiday has always been Halloween. I have said it before; I have written about it before. Since I can remember, I always enjoyed and waited for Halloween above all others.

halloween

I love the fall weather and colors.

I love the crisp (or snowy) night.

I love the costumes.

I love the candy.

I love the fear and the horror.

I loved it in my earliest memories as I love it now, as I share the holiday with my children.

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I also started writing when I was a child. I remember my passion truly being ignited during a writing unit in fourth grade, but I believe I was crafting miniature tales even younger than that. Even in my naive, sheltered, and happy youth, I found myself drawn to the darkness, attracted to the infancy of horror I was exposed to within my coveted holiday.

My young brain was stimulated by all the conventional Halloween imagery. Haunted houses. Jack-o-lanterns. Witches. Ghosts. Monsters like Frankenstein, vampires, and werewolves. Bats and spiders. Each year, as these images began to populate the stores, TV shows and movies, and my classrooms, my mind began to whir with spooky stories.

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Each October, I remember I would start to write Halloween tales, complete with illustrations in black, green, orange, and purple. From construction and computer paper, I would self-publish my own childish horror books. I remember being filled with such joy and pride as I folder the paper into the book shape and showed my mother what I had created. A pride I would later revitalize in a mature evolution when I held my first published book in my hands.

This year, I remember that youthful tradition by teaching my daughter how to write and illustrate her own Halloween story and by taking the time to craft a short piece of festive fiction here. I could have crawled inside this one and made a home, which makes me wonder if I should not write something in the young horror fiction (a la Goosebumps) someday, but I forced myself to keep it short. Just a scary little glimpse.

Enjoy.

halloween night with pumpkin in grass tree bat and hunting house in background

 

The Green Light

That house loomed over me as long as I remember, dark and slumped on a dismal plot of land along our walk to school, staring down at us with wide and lopsided windows like a drooping face. Everyone knew the house was haunted. The McAllister house. The murder house. That damn house. It had many names. If we walked alone, we quickened our step to a near jog until we had passed the edge of the property; if we passed it in a group, laughing conversations lulled, and all eyes cast sideways up towards the black house perched between gnarled and twisted trees.

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The house haunted all of us. It was the torrid subject of village lore, its tales a crucial part of our own cultural indoctrination. We all knew how the rich father murdered his wife then stalked and killed his own children one by one inside the house. Dares to set soles of shoes on the wilted grass were defined rites of passage.

Yet it haunted Derrick most of all.

I grew up in his shadow, watching him both enamored and unnerved by the place. As if a splinter of the very structure was lodged in his brain tissue, swollen and infected under the skin where he could not reach to scratch it.

And when he disappeared, I knew where he had went. The police told our parents that he must have just run away. My mother wept, and my father turned his lips into his mouth and hung his head, and they both questioned what they had done to drive him away. But I knew he had not left us, not left me behind over any fight with our parents. I knew he had finally done it. He had finally walked through that door to see what was in the house.

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With my older brother’s disappearance, his obsession became my own.

“Dude, come on!” Jacob hollered from the safety on the sidewalk beyond the dead yard. “You do this every goddamn day.”

I ignored Jacob’s irritated plea as I did every day as we walked home from school. Instead, I let my gaze stretch and lose focus, crawling up the dead leaves and grass matted down under the black trees that bent in a twisted dance, reaching until I could hear the creak of the wood on the porch and feel the cold metal of the knob on my palm.

“Dude, fuck you, Mikey,” Jacob said, his voice edging on quiver. “I’m going home.”

“He’s in there.”

“Not this shit again. No, he’s not.”

I ignored Jacob, as I always did in the shadow of this house. The mere sight of it had a captivating power over me. As if I could hear Derrick’s voice whisper wafting on the breeze from the dilapidated siding.

He was in that house. I could feel it the same way I knew he was sleeping in his room on the other side of my wall every night.

“Mikey, what are you doing?”

Jacob’s voice was farther behind me now. Growing more distant by the syllable. Startled from my trance, I turned to find him still on the sidewalk. I had wandered halfway up the dead lawn. The fear twisting his face matched the fear quivering his voice, but his features were growing more distant. I continued to walk, to mount the hill even as I looked back at his pleading. By the time I broke eye contact with him, the jagged trees had already passed over my head, and the porch boards creaked beneath my meager weight.

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This close to the house, wrapped under its damp shade, I could almost feel it breathing. As if oxygen was being sucked in through the shingles and the siding, as if the house expanded and slumped, as if a gruesome thumping emanated from its dark center. I could feel its life vibrating up from my sneakers, creeping up along the tingling flesh of my legs, reaching into my very chest.

I felt home, the way I felt sitting in front of the fire with Derrick when the snow fell outside the windows of our house.
The door swung open wide suddenly, yet I was not even startled. I walked into the darkness without hesitation, the way I would walk into my own room.

The darkness swallowed me whole with a wide mouth, and I heard the door creak waning behind me. When the door slammed and extinguished all light, my comfort unnerved. I felt my fear begin to bristle along the edges of the fine hair on the back of my neck. The house grew deeper in the dark, an undulating shape formed by the rhythm of the strange breathing of the wind outside and the steady thumping below my feet.

Something heavy walked above me, footsteps shaking the air over my head. I did not dare move; I only clutched my arms tightly around myself and waited, eyes wide and reeling in the dark. Something scratched along the floorboards beside me, so close I could feel the vibrations in my feet. My heartbeat started to throb, and I think I stopped breathing as I waited on edge.

What was I doing here? I should have stayed on the cracked sidewalk with Jacob like I had every other day. I should have walked home to our empty house and watched my mother stare absently into a pot as she stirred dinner and sat with my father as he silently lost himself in the TV. Where the whole house was where Derrick was not.

No. I needed to be right here.

As I steeled myself, the loud whine of neglected hinges echoed through the darkness, silencing the other noises. The green light emanated from a door up the unforgiving staircase and sliced through the black, splitting my sight and casting hard shadows. The wider the door swung, the more light spilled down to me. It washed down the steps and got tangled in the black shape of the banister.

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I followed the light. There was really no other choice. I stepped slowly and deliberately, outstretching my hand toward the banister. The wood was rough and scratched at my fingertips as I carefully began to ascend the stairs. Each board cried out under me. I just kept moving towards that light.

At the summit, I kept my eyes trained on the glowing shape of the open door as I side stepped in its direction. I allowed my hand to trail the banister, feeling the splinters steadily piercing my fingertips. As I grew closer to the opening, I became aware of something near me. The dark air changed, felt full and disrupted. I stopped moving, silencing the creaks under my feet, to hear the steady, wet sound of breathing.

The sound was right in front of me. I shielded the light to allow my pupils to dilate. As the darkness took on shape, a figure materialized against the wall, shadowed and obscure. I could only make out the reflection of the green light against the two large orbs of eyes staring at me intently.

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The thing saw me see it, yet neither of us moved. Its breathing did not change though mine seemed to strangle in my throat. I waited. Waited for it to jump forward and attack me, waited for it to do anything. The two glowing spheres in front of me remained unmoved and unblinking, and the wet breathing panted in my face.

Keeping a peripheral awareness trained on the dark figure, I began to inch away. I dropped my hand to bathe in the green light and felt somewhat safer blinded by its glow. I walked until it overtook my sight. I walked until the doorframe disappeared behind me. I walked until I was temporarily lost in the green haze.

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My eyes finally gauged the light and allowed the room to take shape before me. A bed slumped against one wall; a ravaged dresser leaned against another. A dead rug draped over the floorboards sprinkled in a menagerie of broken toys. A long and lanky figure folded on top of itself on the edge of that rug, pointing absently at a shattered doll with a spindly digit.

I took another step forward, permitting my hand to extend into the cold air toward the bony shoulder that seemed so familiar. Before my fingertip could make contact, it shifted, and I drew my arm back protectively.

“Michael,” it said. I knew the voice. From the very marrow vibrating in my bones, I knew the sound of it. “Michael, you finally came.”

The figure stood in front of me, growing to be a head taller than me, casting the shadow I had grown up underneath. The boy unfolded his limbs before turning to face me, the green light carving sharp shadows across the face that looked so similar to my own.

“Michael,” Derrick said, stepping towards me. “You’re here. You’re finally home with me.”

The skin on Derrick’s face stretched strangely as he smiled at me with wide eyes, reaching out his arms. I smiled back and dove into his cold chest, allowing him to wrap around me the way he would when I had hurt myself and no one was looking.

We froze in brotherly embrace. In the pit of my stomach, I felt truly home.

And the green light went out.

Halloween-Background

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

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

I am a mother. Biologically and physically. Mentally and in practice. I cradle the deflated and distended flesh were my babes once grew. I bear the perpetual markings of crusted handprints on my pant legs and snot dried on my shoulder. I sacrifice for my children: sleep, time, my body, my space as my bank accounts bleed dry. I smile bigger than I knew I could. I weep out of joy and astonishment. I feel the love for them in my bone marrow.

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I am a lover, a life partner. I am the teenager he met at a keg party and the woman who birthed his children. I am beneath him saying “I love you” and beside him holding his hand at her funeral. I am rolling my eyes in rage as I throw out one more bicker; I am laughing uncontrollably as he pinches my hip bone. I am awash with gratitude as I watch him play with our children. I am lost without him and stronger because of him.

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I am a tormented writer, slave to the page, victim of the word. I have a million characters living and breathing inside of me, crowding my consciousness, fogging up my brain with their writhing heat. I dissolve and disappear into other worlds, vanish into stories untold and lives unlived. I belong to my twisted imagination, both persecuted and enlightened by its sharp edge. I carve out chunks of my soul and bind them in a file, tossing them out and asking strangers to buy and love them as I did.

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I am bipolar. I am the depression that makes me want to open a vein; I am the mania that makes me feel like an unchained heart. I am bliss and agony. I am the swirling dance between two minds, a refugee left traveling between two fleeting worlds. I am emotions amplified, perceptions distorted, self turned enemy. I am beautiful suffering and painful happiness. I am artfully crazy.

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I am a runner. I am the pavement beneath shoes. I am the panting breath and relentless sweat. I am the exertion of the body against the protest of the mind. I am the stubbornness to keep going, one more mile, one more stride. I am the float disconnecting brain from body. I am the endorphins to breed sanity. I am the trial, the accomplishment, the addiction.

colormerad

I am a dancer. I am the music in my hips, the melody manifest in my bones. I am sealed lips and active flesh. I am expression and freedom. I am confidence in a scandalous costume above of an audience. I am the ferocity to mangle choreography before a crowd, with a smile. I am lost in the beat. I am transient of the sound. I am reduced and concentrated down into movement.

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I am savage. I am the base and ugly core. I am the reality and the desperation. I am the decision between you and me, the line between us and them. I am fight and flight. I am selfish and self-serving. I am ultimate priority. I am survival at all costs.

I am the tattooed and pierced freak. I am the orange hair and the black clothes. I am a high school goth floundering through professional adulthood. I am my inner darkness on the outside. I am questing to show myself as different. I am the art on my body, the pieces of my mind drilled into the flesh. I am the socially condoned pain and body modification. I am the struggle to find the outside expression of the inside brain.

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I am an eating disorder. I am an obsession with food, a fixation on numbers. I am the weight on the scale, the inches on the tape measure, the calories in my last meal. I am the compulsive tracking of every workout. I am hours spent in the mirror poking at unsatisfactory skin. I am the demon in the back of my brain, never satisfied. I am the perception distortion in my eyes. I am the insecurity.

I am a dreamer. I am belief and possibility. I am ideal and ambition. I am the forecast of the mind, the silver lining in the pain. I am lost in the world at night, a prisoner of the subconscious musings of my sleep. I am reaching out past reality, stretching into the alternative. I am seeing something else.

I am a child. I am still that child and that teenager from decades ago. I am still small, overwhelmed and confused by the world. I still call out for my mother when I am sick, my father when something is broken. I long to find shelter under that wing of unconditional love. I finally see that I never knew anything all along as I shunned the older and wiser voices pleading advice to my closed ears. I now see that my parents knew everything and that I remain their ignorant child.

I am horror. I am the darkness in us all, the hidden crimes, the primal undertones. I am the hairs rising on the back of your neck, the quickened pulse, the shallow breathing, the thin, cold layer of sweat, the blank mind. I am the fear rising up from behind your thoughts, whispering to you in a deeper, more persuasive tongue. I am the exquisite mingling of thrill and panic, the delicate line between entertainment and terror. I am the edge.

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I am everything.
I am nothing.

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

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

Another book out the door. eBook, paperback, and party. Whew.

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Savages and The Waning were released insanely close together. It really felt like Savages was scarcely out the door before I was booking the party for The Waning. In truth, that is because The Waning was written as Savages was moving through the publication process with Assent Publishing. Back before my son was born, when I had time. Yet, to the untrained eye, it looks like I was cranking them out.

The two books are also vastly different. The stories are not related whatsoever; they are not even located in the same horror subgenre. Savages deals with the apocalypse and flirts with zombies, while The Waning dwells in the darker realms of torture. This difference required a change in party, in promotion.

For The Waning, I selected a small venue called Urban Steam, where I previously had a book signing for Savages. Urban Steam specializes in whisky and coffee, and the cold, industrial feel seemed fitting for a dark tale about a woman locked in a cage.

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A decent number of people attended to sample the delicious themed drinks the bartender concocted based on The Waning, buy books, and win swag. Once again, it was surreal to have people come to see me, to have people want to own a piece of my mind. I cannot express how much I appreciate all the support I have received.

Artist Phil Beachler, who drew multiple visions out of The Waning, joined me to sell his twisted glimpses.

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I consider the launch a success, and I consider a second book being published out into the world another success. I am glad and relieved to have both books out there so I can get back to the business of writing my third book. And actually seeing my beautiful family.

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Nothing makes me prouder than to hold my babies at an event for my writing. May they grow up to be proud of me too.

Being a published author, even on the smallest of scales, remains a perpetually surreal experience.

A couple weeks ago, I attended my first book club. This experience was especially unique because it was also the first time (to my knowledge) that my book, Savages, was the book said club read that month.

Even though this book club was one a friend belonged to, sure to be hosted by equally welcoming people, I found myself nervous. I had experienced feedback on the book from people directly in my life in person and from strangers at the distance of the internet. While the response from those sources was overwhelmingly positive, I had developed coping strategies for when/if it was not. Having to receive critiques from live people who had no personal stake in my mental well being was going to be new.

Thankfully, my anxiety was largely unfounded.

The women were, as anticipated, very welcoming and friendly. Prior to our book discussion, I could have easily forgotten I was there as an author and would have had a delightful time just eating and chatting with newly met women.

When we transitioned to book discussion, I was reminded, “hey, you’re a published author.” Enter the surreal.

There were the normal questions. Where did you get the idea for this book? And so on. Every time I get the questions, I get a little better at articulating them. Especially in person. The more I’m asked about my own inspiration and process, the more I am able to analyze and define it myself.

The critiques were also relatively gentle. They wanted more, more time with the characters, more about the characters. They wanted to know what caused the apocalypse. They wanted to know what happened next. I took all of these reactions to mean I had accomplished what I wanted; I had affected them.

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Overall, it was a good experience. Like a baby step to public scrutiny.

More recently, I (or more just Savages) went to Denver Comic Con. ChaosStudios was kind enough to grant Savages a cozy little corner on her booth, as she was the artist to visualize the savages from its pages.

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Aside from it being Savages‘s convention pseudo debut, this was also my first official convention. I went to a couple misnamed events falsely claiming to be conventions when I was a belly dancer in Tennessee and Georgia. I also attended the Stanley Film Festival. Yet this was my first full fledged, official convention attendance. And a comic con, no less.

Denver Comic Con was overwhelming. We spent the duration of our time among the vendors, lost in a sea of cosplay bodies, shouted sales, and blinking geekdom. Everywhere, there was a vendor to take my money for something new and creative. The market was utterly saturated.

While our voyeur experience was enjoyable, Savages did not fair especially well. On a small corner of a non-horror art booth in a sea of visual options, it went largely unnoticed. Not even a copy sold, which was quite disappointing. Yet I could understand how it could easily happen in such an overstimulating market.

So when I was physically present at the booth on the last day, I simply distributed my cards and evaluated what made a successful booth. It was exposure, and it was a learning experience. In the end, that was enough.

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It is difficult to gauge my place on the public spectrum. I have a published book that seems to be selling; I have created a growing social media following. In short, I am infinitely farther than when I started. Yet in comparison to successful public figures, I barely seem noticeable.

Once again, just utterly surreal.

So I continue to stumble down this unknown path as an author, fumbling through a string of unfamiliar experiences. It all makes me wonder where this road will lead after my second book, The Waning, comes out in July.

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

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, coming July 2015

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

thewaning.com

I keep myself pathologically busy in my life. My life would be full enough with my day job and my fledgling as a published author and my husband and our two young children. I am infamous for multitasking, always doing at least three things at once. Yet, to all this, I continually add. I plan and do more. Some might consider it an addiction or even a sickness, to cram some sort of activity or task into nearly every waking second of my time. My friends, who so justifiably enjoy their leisure time on their couches, will ask me when I appear drained with bagged under my eyes, “Why? Why do you stay so busy?”

The answer is deeper than mere compulsion. There is a philosophy, a way of life behind why I keep myself (and subsequently my entire family) so exhausting engaged, entertained, and active. Ultimately, the life choice comes down to two formative times in my past.

First, in and after college, I squandered my youth. The saying goes: “Youth is wasted on the young.” That sentiment was especially true for me. I spent these youthful and formative years lost in the defect in my brain. I let depression infect this time and prevent me from doing and experiencing so much more.

I spent my youth consumed by my own pain, indulging in every self-destructive behavior I could devise. I tortured myself. I was drunk and fat and unhappy. This decade later, I can only think of all the ways I could have better exploited that time, all the things I could have done and experienced before life’s obligations wrapped around me, restrained me.

Yes, I learned from this chapter in my life. No, given the choice I would not change it because I would not want to alter the result. However, that foolishness lingers at the edge of my memories like a nagging regret.

Then, shortly after the wasted self-destructive period in my life waned, I went to Iraq as a civilian contractor. I was still quite youthful and naive, but, at the very least, I was somewhat disentangled from the darkness in my own head. Just in time for my time in a war zone to crack my entire head open (figuratively) and give me an entirely new and life-altering perspective on life.

Iraq worked on me from several different angles. Prior, from the cushion and comfort of my American life, I told myself that I knew that other people lived differently; I told myself that watching and reading about it made me aware. I had no idea, and, more importantly, I know now that I still do not.

In Iraq, in a war zone, I was exposed to how people in that country were living, what they were doing to each other, what they were surviving.  More directly, I got see and even share a bit of how a deployed soldier had to live. I was fortunate enough to be a young civilian girl who they kept behind the wire and usually on the larger bases. However, I got just the slightest taste of the distance, the withdrawals from home, the isolation.

In both cases, I learned to appreciate how I lived at home and also see it through a new lens.

But it was the nature of a war zone itself that influenced my philosophy. It is true anywhere that we could die at any moment. However, that seems much more apparent and likely in a place where sirens are going off for rocket attacks and there is a daily wounded/abducted/killed tally. All of these new and morbid realities were terrifying on my sheltered psyche. I may have loved horror my entire life, but I loved horror in media, not in my real life.

Both of these experiences seemed to be translated and processed by my brain the same way, resulting in my near biological need to keep myself obsessively busy. The two compounded one another, evolved upon the preceding lesson. Both of them boil down to: do not waste time. Whether it be that you will be young once before it is gone or that you could die at any moment for a myriad of reasons, do not waste the time.

So I pack the time. I cram it and stretch it and exploit it. I do not think that I will want to do something some day because it has been so deeply branded into my brain that I am not guaranteed some day. I do not want to spend my last breath thinking I should have gotten out more or traveled more or seen more or done more. I do not want to be rested and bored. I can rest if I make it to a retirement home; I can sleep on my death bed.

Instead, I strive to channel Thoreau and Dead Poets’ Society; I endeavor to suck all the marrow out of life.

So yes, I work a demanding full time day job to support my family and finance all our adventures and hobbies. Yes, I write and publish at every single chance I get; I try to pour my soul out on the page. And I try to get those books out for people to read. Yes, I travel at every opportunity, personally and professionally. Yes, I run and workout and take zumba classes and barre classes and do races and hike. Yes, I set up endless playdates for my children and get them into dance and any other activity they want. Yes, I fill up our evenings and weekends with dinners and projects and trips.

Before the dementia sinks in, I want the corners of my wrinkled, aged mind to be free, uncluttered with any regrets and only teeming with more memories than I can hold onto.

I live. I live as hard as I possibly can.

(And this long winded babble may or may not be an attempt at rationalizing why this blog has been so neglected.)

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In my book, Savages, I explore what time in Iraq would mean to a person as they try to survive the apocalypse. In my second book, coming later this year, I paint a picture of woman caged by regret for a life wasted on career.

http://christinabergling.com