The era of The Vixen has come to a close. The blog will stay up so everyone can go back and read what has been said, but no new posts will be written.
Thanks to everyone for your support during this amazing year together. =) We all have thoroughly enjoyed hearing from y'all.
The Deadly Vixens
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
When I volunteered to write this blog I had no idea what I could say you haven't heard a hundred times. Then the other day, the idea sort of fell in my lap…or my mailbox. I got a rejection. It's not my first; it won't be my last.
There is a popular song entitled The Climb that suggests it’s not what is on the other side, but the journey it took to get there. As writers, we’ll always have another hill to climb, another rejection letter to paper that bathroom wall.
They are a part of our mountain. Our first inclination may be to look at that sheer wall as insurmountable, and each rejection is another landslide pushing you further down the slope.
Not all rejections are “bad.” Some can lead you to path to the mountain peak. Learn from your rejections. Some editors, albeit rare, take the time to let you know why your manuscript is being rejected. Those are the letters you save and frame. They are great motivators. They inspire, inform, and drive new creativity. And, if you’re lucky, sometimes there is an offer for you to resubmit.
It’s rare, but it happens. I know, it just happened to me. It sure beats the cold form rejection letters that tell you nothing, at least on the surface. Rascal Flats' song Stand comes to mind “You get mad, you brush yourself off and then you stand”.
By now you know music plays a big part in my writing; country music in particular. Country music for me tells a story. The good, the bad, and the ugly! The trials and victories of life. Another mountain story. For me, music moves the muse.
There are times you’ll want to quit, but when the muse comes calling, you have no choice but to write. Step back, face the mountain down, and write.
I think every writer asks her/himself how did I get here. More to the point, how did this happen? Hard work and determination, that’s how. Most writers dream of the day they’ll be published. When that day comes, relish it; plant your flag on the top of that mountain! You’ve earned it!
I’m a romance writer by genre. I have tried writing other genres. I really wanted to write a paranormal with ghosts…and it was fine, until that pesky old ghost scared me away. Find the stories that work for you, instead of against. I think sometimes we don’t have control over our characters, they control us. LOL! So until I can figure out how I am going to make my ghost a bit friendlier, she remains stuck in a file…pouting.
Whatever genre you write, your hook has to be strong enough to make the reader turn the page.
A novel has to make the reader believe in your hero or heroine. It has to make the reader root for them, feel their joy and sorrow. And you have to make your characters unforgettable.
I once read a romance novel so realistic I forgot the characters weren’t real. I found myself wondering about them long after I’d finished reading the book. And yes, I fell in love with the hero.
That is our goal as writers.
Books help readers escape when the world outside gets “crazy”. In a sense, we are like doctors. We can help people feel good; we can make them cry, or smile, and we can let them find a place they want to be when their version of that old 'mountain' seems insurmountable.
Dreams do come true. You can stand atop that mountain. It’s all in your hands. It starts with the first rejection and it ends with a contract.
Speaking for myself, I refused to give up. That’s why today I can call myself June Phyllis Baker, author.
Monday, March 16, 2009
In the paranormal world, walking amongst the vampires and shapeshifters, the demons and fairies, there are angels. Not the pink-cheeked cherubs adorning Christmas cards, but full-bodied, living, breathing angels. Angels with enough angst and dilemmas to rival their human counterparts. And with enough sensuality and charisma to bring a mere mortal to her knees with just a look. Angels are the new models for heroes taking their stand in the paranormal world. But what is the fascination with angels?
I have been trying to answer this question for myself ever since a certain wayward angel took up residence in my brain and started telling me his story. Or, in actuality, demanded that I tell his story. Before that, I was content with writing about mere mortals who lived, loved, lost and rediscovered along the journey that we call life. But once that angel first began to speak to me, I have become fascinated by stories of angels, be they real or fictionalized. Still I wonder, what is it about these heavenly beings that spawns such fascination?
Whether you believe in angels or not, they permeate our culture like no other symbol of hope and purity. Faith and belief. Awe and inspiration. Perhaps one of the most iconic renditions of angels is that of The Sistine Madonna, better known as Raphael’s Angels. Who hasn’t seen this painting of two cherubs watching the heavens with daydreaming expressions staring back at them from a Christmas card or festive ornament? A quick search through Google will show that, although this is perhaps Raphael’s most famous painting of angelic beings, it is not the only one in which they appear. Indeed, they show up in the backgrounds of several others, but are not limited to Raphael’s paintings. Other artists, including Bouguereau, depict angels in their works.
So is it any wonder that Hollywood would follow suit? One of my favorite movies about angels is called Michael in which John Travolta gives a tour de force performance as a bad boy angel living amongst humans. From smoking to burping after a meal, he is the antithesis of the heavenly being we associate with the word angel. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t wise. On the contrary, he gets to the heart of the matter without seeming to care if he does get there. The trick is, he gets the humans to do most of the work. And who can forget that dance sequence to “Chain of Fools” where he manages to seduce every woman in the bar away from her date?
One of the most successful shows on television was “Touched by an Angel,” which always delivered a story with an uplifting message without sounding too preachy. Della Reese was perfect as Tess, a feisty, put-upon angel who was a rallying force behind her charges and loved them like a mother. She guided everyone, including the other angels in her care, with a firm yet gentle hand, nurturing when needed and doling out the tough love when the situation called for it. On the flipside was the ABCFamily miniseries called Fallen, in which a young man, upon his seventeenth birthday, discovered that he was one of the Nephilim, which put his life – and those of everyone he loved – in danger. A somewhat darker tale, it dealt with morality and good versus evil on a different scale than its more uplifting counterpart.
Which brings me to literature and the new fascination with angelic characters. Whether they are heroes or secondary characters, angels are cropping up everywhere. Debbie Macomber writes uplifting stories about angels called Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, who make it their mission to grant people hope and give them the will to love again. One could argue that the angels are secondary characters to those they come to help. On the darker side is a series by Erin McCarthy, the Seven Deadly Sins. In book one, My Immortal, the hero, Damien du Bourg, makes a deal with a fallen angle for immortality, which poses some unique problems when he meets the woman he might want to spend eternity with. In book two, Fallen, the hero is the fallen angel Gabriel whose penance on earth is to be without love forever. So whether you like your angels lighthearted and madcap, like Macomber’s angels, or dark and tortured like McCarthy’s, there is a story out there for every taste.
Thank you for traveling with me on this little journey through angels in our culture and feel free to leave a comment on your favorite angel in art, film, or literature. You tell me, have you ever found yourself in the presence of angels?
Friday, March 13, 2009
I am an aspiring author, currently working with my second novel. Some of you might know me from my previous comments on this blog, and I am honored to be given the opportunity to guest-blog today. Having a good grasp of mythology, paranormal and science along with somewhat creative mind, I truly enjoy reading books of all categories, but I truly love books playing with the potentials of magic, extending the "normal" boundaries of limiting magic into working in set categories. However, while working with my recent novel, I found that I had to overcome some of the limits I had imposed to myself. For instance, having a mage or wraith perform an act that normally would be considered way too powerful to maintain characters balance and power to keep the story interesting. Why bother reading a book about an omnipotent characters that simply can do anything in their own realm of power?
One of the works that have inspired me are actual older mythologies and national epochs of various countries. Rune singing, a talent nearly lost from some language families, is considered one of the ways of changing the world. As with the old world thinking, to know a name of a thing is to be able to control it. To name and to rename was considered magical, since truly changing a meaning of an object is to change it in reality. Language used itself controls the thinking. As such, holding a power of naming is considered truly powerful and very, very old magic. Additional definition and difference between magic and praying is that magic is to change the world through oneself, where praying is to ask the world to be changed by God. Is it not that the words and their definitions change the world? Old words get new meanings and their origins get lost for ages.
Not many of us think of the origin of a word "policeman", which is simply "a man of polis", a man of the city. Remember the power of life and death is in the tongue. One way to think of this is that the power of language is decisive factor between life and death, or even a transcending force between the two. Do a small test, switch your entire thinking from a language to another one. Now, do the same and switch words and sentences to physical images. This may seem strange but go ahead and try to think about life, while discarding all knowledge of such things as number 0. Seems strange? Now, how do you think about paying for groceries? What is the consept of number 0? Check into it. Its small little things, but so important that we don't think twice about them.
This boils to what magic actually is, the talent of shaping the world in a way or another. As such, its true strenghts are not reliant in its raw power, but rather subtleties of the thought itself. The same goes with the language. Political speeches, thesis, professional lingo all use varios different ways to influence others throught subtle little adjustments. Why would not the same apply to magic in literacy as well? Instead of raw force, one would have to approach the world from a complete different setting. Lighting a candle and increasing its flame, instead of shooting a fireball from the palm of the hand. Using and growing shadows in an underground station, instead of some invisibility cloak. Tapping into local power outlet and throwing the current outward toward a subject, instead of shooting lightningbolts. These small changes help to keep the characters alive, interesting, cunning and let them play out their own roles out in the book.
These minute small changes into thinking about magic in literacy and in my own writing have helped to break down the classical, somewhat boring, thinking of magic for me. Changing ones thinking is to influence the world. It has helped me to open myself more and to bring out ideas that have previously seemed too obscure (such as why should there be any limitations to power of thought if the user has unique way of thinking).
So, as a small idea, try to think something differently, and see where it will lead you. It opened a huge new view for me... what could it do for you?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
So, my interviews are done now, and so is my time as a regular Deadly Vixens poster.
I originally agreed to be here for only a few months, to help supply content as the search for other bloggers went on. I gave my word I would stay no longer than that, and as there are now new Vixens in abundance, I can go, with a clear conscience. It's been fun, but other things demand my attention, and I must turn to them.
There's the preamble. Now for the actual blog.
I believe that it's similar to the reason that people love superheroes: we need to believe in the "happy ever after," in the good guys always winning, in evil being defeated in the end, despite the evidence to the contrary that reality often presents. In reality, the "happy ever after" marriage often ends in divorce, the good guys sometimes die with their missions unfulfilled, and the bad guys somehow keep getting re-elected. Reality, to put it plainly, is more often unsatisfactory to our emotional desires than not.
But here's the rub: it doesn't have to be that way.
I want, in a wife, what I want. I want (in no particular order) intelligence, creativity, passion, beauty, grace, charm, elegance, sophistication, style, poise, and the ability to meet my needs all in one woman, and I'm not settling for less. This may explain my long periods of being single. But the solitude is worth it to me, if, in the end, I am together with the most wonderful, greatest lady I have ever known, no matter how long it takes. She's worth waiting for, wherever she is now.
This is what our heroines and heroes in romance novels do: they find exactly what they want, whether they were actively seeking it or not. That's how they get the "happy ever after;" they know what they want and recognize it before them. Granted, there may be rough edges that need polishing off (and that feeds into that "I can fix the Bad Boy" mentality that gets so many women into bad relationships, but that's a topic for another time), though in that world, the edges are certainly easier to handle than they are in reality. But I digress.
Want the "happy ever after" ending? Then know yourself, know your needs and wants, and be strong enough - and patient enough - to not stop looking until you've found the person that meets them and completes you. Want right to prevail over evil in the world? Then be that person that always does the right thing, and in doing so set an example for those around you.
My whole point of this is to say that the "happy ever after" ending isn't impossible in reality. It may be difficult and arduous to find, but it's possible to have the romance-filled real life that we read about in books, and it's worth the diligence and search, isn't it, to have just what you wanted and be happy?
Special thanks and wishes to my best friend: happy heart day to you! (She knows what I'm talking about.)
Thanks to Gracen, Sarah, Margay, and Ashley for having me here, it's been fun!
Thanks also to Tierney and Sierra for helping talk me into this, you are both missed here!
Thanks especially to all the people I interviewed, who put up with my bumbling efforts to learn how to inteview people, and gave great answers to my questions!
And most of all, thanks to the readers, who didn't instantly ridicule me nor abandon he site in droves at the sight of my ramblings and questionings. . .nothing is possible for a writer without readers, and you have been among the best in that class.
To everyone, don't ever stop pursuing your dreams; one does not fail until one stops trying, and even in their pursuit rather than capture can dreams be fulfilling, even if merely in that they are still alive.
Don't ever give up on your dreams.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Hello everyone! This month, I'm taking an awesome online class by Margie Lawson called Empowering Characters' Emotions, which is being hosted by PASIC. It has been mind-blowing with all of the great information. It's also the largest and most intense class I've ever taken outside of a college environment.
As everyone posted their introductions for the class, something was brought to light for me. Not only are there unpublished authors in the class, there are New York Times Bestselling authors, too, which proves that no one is too experienced to stop learning.
Nothing is sadder than the person who thinks they have nothing to learn. Going back to the excellent ebook that I got last month 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, he lists as Mistake #7 An Unwillingness to Learn and #12 Failing to Learn From the Masters, Masters meaning people who have already mastered the skills. I agree with this since one can always learn something that might fit in with their process. I've read how-to books and taken classes that I got just a few "aha" moments out of that made it worth it to invest the time and money into it. And as authors, we need to make sure that our work sparkles as much as possible to get the agent or editor or book deal of our dreams.
That being said, make sure to check out the class that you're interested in taking. Do research and see what other people have said about the class or instructor since you want to make sure to get the most best information for your money. Below I've listed a few places where you can find writing classes. RWA chapters, like PASIC (Published Author Special Interest Chapter), also tend to have writing classes that are usually open to anyone, even non-RWA members, so make sure to check out those as well.
Have you taken any great classes recently? If so, what was it and where did you take it? I'd love to hear what all of you say.
Neat websites to find affordable writing classes:
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Hello! Hello! First off, I want to thank the Deadly Vixens for the invite to guest blog. I’m delighted to be here.
After I accepted the invite to blog, my mind immediately turned so the topic of “what the heck do I say that would be interesting?” I’m sure similar thoughts go through the heads of other bloggers, or it might just be me. I confess that this is my first time guest blogging, so you might call me a “guest blogging virgin”. Hmm … that doesn’t sound all that palatable does it? Scrap that thought.
Well, as I contemplated about what to blog on, I am also in the middle of thinking about what to do about a day job. I suppose I should put this into some context for you.
I’m an organisation restructure project manager by profession. In simple terms, I manage projects for companies that are undergoing large scale change – be it a restructure, outsourcing or putting in a new computer system. All these things will change the face of the workplace for the people impacted. My job is to make sure that that the changes take place on time, on budget and with minimal disruption to the people. I also make sure that the people affected are well taken care of, that they are communicated to, their fears and issues addressed and they are satisfied with management’s approach to the changes at hand. It’s a full on job. Sometimes I can be managing as many as 20 projects at the same time.
On top of that, I’m also writing a book – or at least attempting to write a book. I think for me, I don’t know about other writers, it is always the attempt to write a book, even when I’m writing a book. I’m the midst of pulling thoughts together and doing research. Each day consists of an hour or two of writing and several hours of reading and research.
It all takes time.
So here I am, torn between the dreaded day job and my desire to produce a well written book and that’s the topic of my blog.
The day job!
How many of us writers also have day jobs?
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my day job. I love the challenge, dealing with people, the exhilaration of knowing when a plan comes together (which often isn’t the case) and just getting things done.
There’s the rub then. I LOVE my day job but it takes up 12 to 14 hours each day, sometimes more. At my last job, before we moved to Qatar, I was up at 5:30am, left for work at 6:30am and in at work shortly after 7am. I’d work till 6pm, sometimes later … well, actually, a lot of times later, and I’d get home by about 9pm. Then its dinner, some computer work and bed. There’s little time left for anything else and I’m exhausted.
Right now, I’m between jobs. I always have between jobs because I work on a contract basis. My contracts last as long as the project(s) last. Anywhere between 6 to 18 months. Sometimes as long as 24 months. After that, I have a few months off and then I’m back in the saddle of the day job again.
The reason I’m between jobs right now is that I’ve just relocated to a new country and as I write this, I’m still looking for work. Today I was presented with a potential job opportunity. The word “potential” in capital letters. It’s a POTENTIAL job opportunity because my CV has been forwarded to a company by a friend and I may receive a call from the HR department of the company which may or may not result in a job interview.
Here’s the thing – already with the potential, I’m worrying about how this will cut into my writing because right now, I HAVE TIME TO WRITE. In the midst of living life, I have time to write a few hours each day, read and research a few hours each day and I don’t get bored. I have plenty to occupy my mind and fill my time. I’m not working and that’s okay, I’m writing.
I’m worrying about not having time to write and worse than that, I’m worried about not having the emotional energy to write. And while we’re at it, I might just add that I’m a worrier. I worry about everything. I even worry about worrying too much.
I have lots of friends who write full time and enjoy it immensely. They work from home, have time to walk the dog and go to the gym. They can stay in their PJs all day while they write (I do that too). I also have friends who work full time or part time and write when they can find time – weekends and late at night. I have a friend who’s given up sleeping so that she can write. She only sleeps 3 to 4 hours each night so she can write and then occasionally she crashes.
Let me tell you about this one friend of mine. She’s a delightful lady, heaps of fun, has written 3 books that are best sellers and they are wonderful books. I know ‘cos I’ve read them. She was complaining that the royalties from the books aren’t paying the bills, not so much complaining as stating a fact.
“You need to have published a lot more books than I have to make a full time living out of writing or be J K Rowling” was what she said to me.
When she was writing full time, she was also blogging regularly. Even when she was looking for a job she was blogging about that experience. Since then she has found a job and has also signed up with her publisher for another six books. Two more trilogies from the series that she’s written so far.
So far she’s been working full time since July of 2008. I haven’t heard even a peep from her. She’s busy working full time, she’s busy being a mum to two teenagers and a wife. She’s mostly also busy writing to fill her book deadlines. She has three books to produce by the end of two years. I’m not sure where she is with that, but by the end of 2009 I’d say she has to have all 3 of the second trilogy done, since she signed the book deal at the beginning of 2008. She has also stopped blogging and I’m not even sure what she’s doing about promoting her books.
She’s a fine example of someone who is a successful writer, going to become an even more successful one, but writing right now does not pay the mortgage and put away tuition money for the kids’ college fund. I should probably drop her a line one of these days and say “hey”. I’d like to know how she’s doing.
So here I am, thinking about friends who work full time and write. Thinking about the lack of time to write, more likely the leisure to write when I please and when the muse strikes me rather than sit down at a particular time and discipline myself to write a fixed number of words each day. Thinking about the time when I go back to work and what I’ll do about the lack of sleep. Is it even possible to cultivate insomnia just so I can have more time to write or will I be a nervous wreck and no good to myself anyway?
All I can say is – for those of you who have the luxury of writing full time, don’t squander it. The time is to be treasured and used productively. And for those of you (us) who don’t have that luxury, hang in there. It may take longer, but the end result will be well worth it.
Thoughts on the topic anyone?
Monday, March 9, 2009
I never set out to write about angels. I didn’t sit down one day and think to myself, “Angels, now there’s a good basis for a book.” In fact, it was the furthest thing from my mind – before I had the dream. Back then, I had visions of Regency heroes and quirky modern heroines, but angels? Not so much.
Until the dream.
Of course I didn’t realize at the time that I was writing about angels. They weren’t very forthcoming in the beginning. I actually thought that I was writing about a woman who was at a crossroad in her life where the ultimate choice she made could literally have life or death consequences. I know what you’re thinking. All this from a dream? Well, no, not exactly. The dream itself centered around a woman at a nightclub dancing the night away with a sinfully attractive man. Simple enough but for the fact that, when she turned away from him, his eyes began to glow red, giving him a devilish look. Still rather unremarkable, right? Until the woman showed up in my next dream. Only this time, she was dressed in a rather proper manner and moving into a garage apartment, preparing to take care of the twins of a widower.
That’s how Nora’s Soul came to fruition. Two dreams, interconnected, that wouldn’t leave me alone. They were all I thought about. Who was this woman and why was she out dancing with a devil one night and preparing to care for children the next? The questions fueled my imagination, demanding answers. The first answer came in the identity of the woman, Nora, who began to give me clues to her background. The angels came in later. You see, in the beginning, I thought I was dealing with a clear-cut depiction of good versus evil, devil versus angel, but as the story progressed, I realized that not everything is so black and white. There are beautiful shades of gray.
Dante is a shade of gray. When he first came to me in my dream, Dante portrayed himself as something of a devil. So that’s how I described him. He was a devil, his only purpose was to steal Nora’s Soul, and that was the end of the story. Or so I thought. But Dante had other ideas. Just when I thought I was done with him, he wouldn’t let me go. He kept invading my dreams, telling a different story. I soon learned that Dante was an angel who, not unlike Nora, was led down the wrong path by his desires. And Dante also finds himself having to make some decisions that could have severe ramifications not only for himself but also for others connected to him.
At its core, Nora’s Soul is about a woman’s crisis of faith – in herself as well as the heavenly beings who are trying to set her on the right path. But it’s also about what happens when one of those heavenly beings has been led astray, his own faith – in himself, in his kind – tested. Even Dante will have to answer the question: Do you believe in angels?
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Well, I'd intended this to be my final interview for Deadly Vixens. However, since the people I had lined up for this interview somehow keep not getting the questions back to me (not mentioning names, but I'm glaring at them telepathically), I'm left at odd ends for this one.
Never let it be said, however, that I was not able to improvise.
So, here's the deal. I want people to leave questions in the comments for me to answer. I will check the comments often during the day and answer the questions (provided they're not too personal). Sound like fun? Does to me!
Now, let me answer some of the more likely questions now, just to get them out of the way:
1. I don't have anything published as yet, nor do I have anything coming out soon.
2. I do have some romantic works in progress; I'll include samples on my Thursday blog if anyone wants.
3. I just had this idea today; my apologies for not soliciting questions sooner.
That should about cover it.
All right, readers, question guns at the ready. . .FIRE!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Ah begorah, per Wikipedia, a leprechaun (Irish: leipreachán) is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the island of Ireland. Some say the name leprechaun is derived from the old Irish word "luchorpan" which means "little body."
Leprechauns are faerie cobblers who make shoes for elves. They are always aged and diminutive men (2-3 feet tall) sporting bright red hair and beards. They wear emerald-green frocks and tall top hats. The green is to help them blend into the countryside and disappear from view. Their great wealth and greed is legendary (i.e. they have pots of gold which they hide). They're usually reclusive. Some people think they're mean. They're also pranksters.
According to myth, leprechauns have magical powers such as hypnotism, trickery, and control over the intricate workings of Earth and metals such as gold and silver. They regard humans as foolish and greedy and so avoid contact. If a human sees him, he will vanish as soon as the human takes his gaze off him. However, they can be generous to humans who do a good turn for their benefit.
If a leprechaun ‘adopts’ a family things go missing, or appear in unexpected places. Furniture may be moved around the room, and the whiskey or milk will disappear overnight. If this should happen to you, you must start leaving presents of food, drink, and anything else to keep the lhim happy. With any luck, the leprechaun will go round the house and barns at night finishing off jobs that the big people have had no time to do (and not cause his normal mischief.
Legend also reports leprechauns will drown in a light rain, float away in a breezy day and can get buried in a snowstorm.
To catch a leprechaun means to possess his treasure. However, be warned, he's a very hard creature to find, much less hold. Remember, you can't take your eyes off him for even an instant, lest he vanish.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Sorry, everyone that I’m posting late. I was going to write about Djinn (genies), but unfortunately, my entire house is sick. So, I’ll bring that to you next week hopefully.
My youngest has strep throat and had a 101 temperature yesterday afternoon when I picked him up from school. His throat was swollen, red and just yucky! Before I went to bed at 9:30 last night (really strange occurrence for me to go to bed before midnight), I was starting to feel puny. Today my throat is sore and I feel blah. My oldest is complaining of a headache and sinus drainage. And at about 8:30 this morning (30 minutes ago for me), I realized I had not even given my blog a single thought. *whimpers* So as my seven year old chatters non-stop with barely a breath taken, I am multi-tasking by chatting with him and writing my blog.
Since we’re all sick, all I can think to write about is how sickness spreads through a household. The only person that might actually survive it is my husband, who seems to never get sick. *glares at him* Some days I really hate him for that. Other days, I’m glad he’s immune to our many ailments. And to be honest, when he gets sick he’s down for a while. That is not something I handle well because he’s worse at being sick then my two boys are. *rolls eyes* He wants to be babied and pampered until I am beating my head against the wall. Aside from that, he’s always injuring himself when the rest of us are for the most part injury free.
Is anyone’s house like mine? Does one get sick and the rest come down with it or something else? I’m the sanitize queen, but it still doesn’t seem to stop at one person. It only stops when it’s brought at least three of the four of us down. Gah! Anytime something dominoes out of control around here, we blame it on the demons, so it’s their fault this time too! ;-)
My boys have a karate tournament next weekend and this sickness is making it difficult to prepare for it. Grrr….Calgon, take me away!!!
On a side note, I was putting my oldest to bed the other night and he put his chapstick on the bedside table. I saw him put it there and after I had hugged him good night, he went to pick up the chapstick and it was GONE! We looked everywhere…under the table, under his bed, all over the floor, in his bed, threw the covers off, shook the covers, and we still have not found that chapstick. His comment was…. “Did the dang ghost get it?” Ha! Had me laughing. Yes, he definitely watches too much Supernatural with me.
A reminder…this weekend is Daylight Savings, so turn your clocks forward one hour Saturday night. Oh, and if you’re a Supernatural lover, next Thursday, March 12th, is the return of Sam and Dean!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo!!!!!! Proof that there IS life at the end of the tunnel! ;-)
I hope everyone has an awesome weekend!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner Blog
By Brianna Martini
We love romance!
It is in each of us; as readers and as writers. The passion that romance provides transports us from reality and enables us to escape if only for an hour…if we are lucky, an afternoon How better to be transported than with our legs wrapped around a gorgeous sinner, only to finish, close the book and not have the guilt that rides along with the sin we so hate!
There is no shame in desire.
We all have desires ranging from being able to eat a delectable dessert, to being taken by the man of our dreams who wants to make mad passionate love. We desire larger homes, slimmer waists, ahem large boobs, more clothes, wise investments, healthy children, great sex, and consistently full bank accounts. We work to fulfill these desires hoping to enrich our lives, making them fuller, more complete. In most cases, the work is arduous and never ending and in some cases, totally unsatisfying; yet we continue to seek to fulfill our desires.
A paperback enters our lives.
The title is seductive, the book cover leaves us drooling at the faceless semi clad man and the first couple of chapters romance us. We become infatuated and fall in love. We discover that in our paperback world we always have the almost perfect heroine and the gorgeous man always falls in love with us. We become the beautiful main character. Our desires are fulfilled in our paperback world. Oh yes, yes, yes we are very satisfied. (smiling) We can re-enter our realities re-energized, refreshed!
My fingers are on the keyboard.
I find a million reasons to avoid my keyboard as I am simply “Not in the Mood.” But he is there in the back of my mind, ready to burst. The lover from years ago that I have never forgotten, the gorgeous man I stood next to in the department store, or the singer that set my heart on fire for a second at a concert with his dark soulful eyes. Traits of a collection of men in my mind are wrestling to be one in my mind. They are restless, seducing me and ready to make slow passionate love to me. They want me to massage the keys, stroke the enter button, and let the new character come. I sit at my desk. Today I look like the beautiful young woman who waited on my family and me when we went to dinner last night. I take her out of her waitress uniform and give her beautiful clothes and a life in a castle. She is a virgin. My men are full of desire desperate to come out of my head as one and share a page with her. Today I give him his bald head, the face of the man that I love, the patience of the man from the department store, the glance from the singer at the concert on stage, the body of the lifeguard at the beach I saw on vacation last summer and the passion of my former lover. They converge! sighing I have successfully escaped reality for an afternoon into my paperback world…not as a reader, but as a writer.
Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner
This is fund raising anthology for the Heart and Stroke, a wonderful and seductive series of romances offered in short stories and poetry ready to transport its readers into the most delicious and fulfilling escapes. All you need is a glass of ice wine, a box of semi sweet chocolates hummmmmmmm relax and enjoy the moment. Our group of wonderful authors has written stories that will satisfy many desires with a single paperback.
The book is published by XoXo Publishing and will be officially released on the day that website will be launched. Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner will be released in a limited edition CD, on June 13 2009, at the Toronto Small Press Book Fair which will take place at the Toronto Reference Library. The e-book format will be released worldwide on line, while the & paperback worldwide in May, and September 2009 it will be released on mobi and audio format. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, http://www.briannamartini.com/, Facebook: search Brianna Martini and http://www.myspace.com/briannamartini
Our authors are:
Brianna Martini: Hate the Sin, Love the SinnerAmelie Court: Valley of Enchantment
Jacinta Bertinelli: Sweet Dreams
Alyssa Leoni and Brianna Martini: Cooking for Two
including Original Recipes
Jessica Bowering: Illegal Affairs
Caryn Cribbie: Broke Down Backroad
Angelique La Mone: Southern Night
Lady Lenore: Sinners and Saints
Rick Lam: Nathalie by the Stream
Charles Le Claire: Photography
Brianna Martini: The Nun and the Harley Bonus Story
Make sure to comment because 15 advance copies of the anthology promotional excerpts will be given away!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Today I'm going to be talking about some of the superstition regarding cats. Being a cat lover, I found the topic in general quiet interesting. Below are the most fascinating I was able to find.
As most people know, Ancient Egyptians worshiped cats, and as one of my favorite cat-related quotes go, "Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this." Anyone who owns a cat knows this is true, but, back to the subject. =) Part of the reason why Egyptians worshiped cats were because of the cat’s "glowing" eyes. As I found from one of my sources, "This was because Egyptians worshipped the sun, and they believed that cats could retain the sun's power within their eyes. They believed this because of a retina adaptation called ‘tapetum,’ which is the phenomenon that causes cats’ eyes to appear to glow in the dark; anyone who has seen a cat has probably noted this phenomenon, wherein a cat’s eyes reflect a somewhat green circle of light." That's surprising to me since I hadn't really heard of that idea before doing my research, but it makes a lot of sense.
Another very interesting tidbit is that during the medieval ages just before the Bubonic Plague really started up, there was a lot of cat killing going on. And...guess what? That is one of the reasons why the Bubonic Plague was so devastating. Cats would have been important in killing the brown rats, which spread the black plague.
Another source has this to say about cats in the Middle Ages, "It was largely in the Middle Ages that the black cat became affiliated with evil. Because cats are nocturnal and roam at night, they were believed to be supernatural servants of witches, or even witches themselves. Partly because of the cat's sleek movements and eyes that 'glow' at night, they became the embodiment of darkness, mystery, and evil, possessing frightening powers. If a black cat walked into the room of an ill person, and the person later died, it was blamed on the cat's supernatural powers. If a black cat crossed a person's path without harming them, this indicated that the person was then protected by the devil. Often times, a cat would find shelter with older women who were living in solitude. The cat became a source of comfort and companionship, and the old woman would curse anyone who mistreated it. If one of these tormentors became ill, the witch and her familiar were blamed." That makes more since on why people thought they needed to kill cats at the period of time, but it's still so horrible!
Well, I hope you enjoyed this topic! I'd love to hear what you think about these beliefs as well as share your own. Have you heard of interesting cat superstitions or tidbits?
Interesting Links: http://cats.suite101.com/article.cfm/egyptian_cat_myths
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Hello, and thanks to the Deadly Vixens for having me today! My name is Bree, and I’m one half of the romance-writing, virtual-crime-fighting duo known as Moira Rogers. Together with my best friend Donna, I have the delightful honor of writing books about things that go bump (and sometimes grind) in the night.
Monday, March 2, 2009
I have a confession to make. I hear voices in my head. Now, under normal circumstances, this confession would make one question their sanity and perhaps lead to years of intensive therapy. But I left out an important part of the confession: I am a writer. The voices I hear in my head are those of the characters that live there, in the land of my imagination, toying with my gray matter until I finally tease them out and onto the page. And there is the secret, at least for me, of characterization. I have to be able to hear the voices before I can get a fix on the characters.
As anyone who takes a pen to paper will tell you, characterization is an integral part of the story. You can have a mediocre plot, a tried and true plot, and yet still make it come alive with fascinating characters. Likewise, boring characters can sink a good plot. Just ask any reader what kept them enthralled in a book and more often than not they will give you a detailed description of…the characters. What do you remember most about Romeo and Juliet? The intricacies of the plot – or how passionate the lovers were for each other? What about the movie Titanic? What remains fixed in your mind, the fact that the ship sank after striking an iceberg or the ill-fated love affair between Jack and Rose?
Characters define a story; they are the backbone of the plot. Everything that happens within the story depends upon the type of characters that populate it. So the writer owes it to the reader to give him or her characters they will not forget. Characters that will live within them long after the last page is read and the book is closed. Characters that make them want to revisit that book again and again. How? For me, it is the simple matter of feeling that way about the characters myself. After all, if I can’t feel passionate about my characters, how can I expect my readers to? And so I listen to my characters.
For me, listening to the way they speak, the words they use, is an integral part of characterization. That is how I “get into” character. I playact in my mind. Visualize the character in a scene and play with her emotions. It helps to imagine a certain actress playing the character in a movie, to run the scene in my head like it’s a filmstrip. How does she sound? How does she stand? What does she look like when she’s angry? These are all key ingredients to characterization. You have to think of them as real people, full-bodied and well-developed. When you start wondering how your character would feel about a certain situation or how she would handle a certain crisis, then you have done your job. If you can write a line of dialogue and on a second pass realize that your character would never say that, or at least not in that way, then you’re totally in synch with your character and are one step closer to remaining true to them.
At this point, you might be thinking that’s all well and good, but how do you get so in tune with your characters? Another good tool that I use, in addition to the filmstripping, is the character interview. This is a fun and cool exercise for the writer because we never know just what our characters are going to say until we ask the questions. As evidenced in an interview of one of my characters – Dante, from Nora’s Soul – when he was interviewed by Pat Bertram http://patbertram.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/pat-bertram-introduces-dante-the-hero-of-noras-soul-written-by-margay-leah-justice/. Suffice it to say that Dante’s true nature leapt right off the page from the moment of his introduction – and he didn’t let up once. Not only did this make for an interesting interview, it made the character more memorable.
Why not try it for yourself? You just never know what you might learn when you open up your mind to the voices in your head.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Happy Sunday everyone! I'm Carrie Hinkel-Gill and I am excited to join fellow Deadly Vixens Sarah, Gracen, Margay and Ashley!!
Let me start by telling you some things about myself and how I got to be a Deadly Vixen. I have been writing stories and poems for as long as I can remember. I grew up on Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein but later came to appreciate poets such as Walt Whitman, Galway Kinnell and Sharon Olds. I wasn't sure how poetry would help me, I just knew that I needed to study it, understand it as best as I could. Equally important to me, was creative writing. Even though I was studying electrical engineering in my early academic years, I didn't feel balanced unless I had an English class of some sort.
After ten years of classes and no degree, I began to reassess my life, try to figure out why I wasn't advancing and not even close to graduating. The answer was not something I wanted to admit, but once I admitted it, I was able to move on. After a lot of soul searching, I realized that no matter how smart I was and no matter how hard I tried to study, I was never going to get any farther in engineering because I didn't want to be an engineer. I had the smarts, just not the heart or the drive.
Okay, so all this time going to school and no degree to show for it. What did I really want to do? I wanted to write but at the same time I didn't want my engineering to go to waste. I wanted something that would make all those years of academic study useful to some degree, but above all, I wanted to write. So, I chose to be a Professional & Technical Writer. When I get my paperwork in order, I will have a Bachelor's Degree in Letters and Science in English with a specialty in Professional & Technical Writing with a minor in Electrical Engineering.
So, what made me decide to pursue the creative side of writing?
The characters in my head. During the summer and fall (my last semester of college) of 2008, I would have periods where I couldn't concentrate or get anything done unless I took time to listen to the voices in my head. The voices were characters with stories to be told and they were tired of being ignored and began making more and more noise until I put pen to paper and/or fingers to keyboard.
Brandon Brandelbuck has been the loudest character so far, while the purple-cloaked warrior has been most patiently waiting for me to get back to his story. One weekend, I was supposed to study for an exam on some of Shakespeare's plays, but Brandon was making so much noise that I had to get some of his story down so that he would be quiet so that I could study. He wanted me to do it old school, that's right, pen and paper, so pen and paper it was. After a few hours, I had written enough to satisfy him and he let me have some quiet time to study. It was mid-September at this point and I figured that writing would just be a fun hobby and still wasn't quite serious about pursuing a career in creative writing. However, by the end of the semester, I knew that I wanted to write novels and nothing else would do.
After I finished my last semester, I began to immerse myself back into the online writers' blog I was paying attention to before my last semester of college. One thing led to another, and I found myself following the Deadly Vixens. Then I discovered the Wisconsin chapter of RWA and attended a meeting. Soon after that I saw the request for new DV's which brought me to you today.
Currently, I am in the process of becoming an official RWA member and learning some history of the the planet on which Brandon and Cleo live. In my free time, I read, build my website and try to get some remodeling done in my condo. This summer I will be traveling to ride some roller coasters and drink some good craft beer.
While I do not have any book or story to promote at this time, you can find my Genres column at:
Unfortunately, I don't have any control over the editing process at the student-run magazine, so some of my transitions and personal touches don't end up in print and they can read somewhat awkwardly, but it still is a way to practice my writing. For this reason, I am working on getting the originals posted on my personal website (another work-in-progress for me) which can be found here:
My Genres Columns
Since I am a new Deadly Vixen and not familiar with all of our followers, I would like to open the floor for questions. Is there anything that's not here you would like to know about me?
I look forward to answering any questions you may have!
P.S. - Be sure to check out Margay on Monday!
Saturday, February 28, 2009
I'm Ashley Ladd, new kid on this block, so aka the newest deadly vixen. My hubby could've told you I was a deadly vixen for the past thirty years. Now it's just official.
I'll be with you on Saturdays from now on. Sorry I'm a little late today, I just found the invitation. But now I'm official. :)
Several of my stories have paranormal heroes, heroines, and creatures. In fact, I'm working on an edit of a vampire romance due to be released by Ellora's Cave (hopefully) soon. It's called "Truth, Justice, and the Vampire Way" or TJVW for short.
In TJVW, the heroine, Genevieve, is an 800 year old vampire queen fighting to keep her family alive and she's looking for strong new vampires. Tony, is the MUCH YOUNGER man, and the newest vampire. At first, he rebels at the idea of his undeath, fighting dangerous werecats, and losing his immortal soul, but when he realizes it comes with super powers and a very sexy older woman, he begins to come around. It was a lot of fun to write.
Can you tell I adore super heroes? And vampires? I absolutely adore Clark Kent/Superman. My Tony wants to be the new Superman.
TJVW will be my third published vampire story. It's the sequel to "Blessed Be" also published by Ellora's Cave. At New Concepts Publishing is "Eternal Damnation".
Still, even though I adore these kind of paranormal creatures, I think witches are my favorite paranormal creature. I absolutely adore the Charmed Ones and all they can do. I thought Samantha's adventures in Bewitched with all her witchy friends and relatives were a blast, too. Even before Charmed aired, I longed to be a witch and wished I could twitch my nose or brew up a spell to make magic. Flying wouldn't be a half bad power to have, either. So yep, witches are my favorite paranormal character.
To date, I've written one story with a witch, and surprise surprise, I call it "Wishcraft". It's available at Total-E-Bound.com In it, Felicia dabbles in love potions. She also puts up with her crazy ghostly relatives who haunt the house. When her high school nemesis wants Felicia to make the man of Felicia's dreams fall in love with her, somehow the potion gets screwed up and Jeremy falls desperately head over heels for Felicia.
I love action and adventure with my romance so paranormal characters are so ready to provide it, you'll find many in my stories - the ones already published and ones still to come.
In case you don't know me, I write for Ellora's Cave, Total-E-Bound, and New Concepts Publishing. My websites are:
and of course
You can also find me blogging at:
Hitting The Hot Spot on the 5th of every month
Rom Erotica Writers on the 19th of every month
I'll be stopping in and out today to chat with anyone who leaves a comment. I'd like to hear what your favorite paranormal character is and what is your favorite paranormal story.
Stay tuned for the release date of Truth, Justice and the Vampire Way. Meanwhile, you can check out my newest releases at TEB, "Night of the Senses" and "Secret Admirer".
In the coming weeks, we'll talk more about werecats, vampires, genies, and of course ghosts and witches. However, since St. Patty's Day is soon upon us, we'll discuss all those quirky, irksome, and naughty leprechauns next week. Please join me and be ready.
I want to thank my fellow blog members for inviting me to join you. I'm so happy to be here with you.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Gracen: So, let me introduce to you my new characters I’m writing about. Their names are Petra and Dean. They’re currently in a neighborhood near Bir—
Dean: Hey, I should come first, Gracen. Alphabetically it sounds better.
Gracen: *gives Dean confused look*
Petra: *crosses her legs neatly* Ladies first, Dean. *smiles smugly*
Dean: *snorts and cocks his thumb at her* Don’t let her fool you, she’s no lady.
Petra: I will kick your ass.
Dean: *grinning* Kinky.
Gracen: *looking between them because I have lost control of the interview before it ever began* Are you two finished?
Petra: Can you make him behave?
Gracen: Do I have to try?
Dean: You don’t like me when I behave, darling, remember?
Petra: *grunts* See what you know.
Gracen: I really need to get on with the interview.
Dean: Duly, chastised, doll face.
Petra: Dean, seriously, women do not like for you to call them endearments.
Gracen: I don’t mind. Really. But I do need to get back to the interview.
Dean: *winks at me* See, she doesn’t mind.
Gracen: *clears throat and interrupts argument* So, what do you two do for a living? Is there an official title?
*long tense silence*
Gracen: *awkward* Either of you care to elaborate on those titles? For instance, Dean what do you hunt?
Dean: A little of this. A little of that.
Gracen: *sighs…this isn’t going as I had planned* O-kay.
Gracen: So, Petra, what exactly entails being a Nephilim?
Petra: Father…fallen angel. Mother…mortal woman.
Petra: *shrugs* Not really. It’s complicated.
Dean: It’s dangerous.
Gracen: How so?
Dean: The demons want her. *the soft look he gives Petra melts my heart* I won’t let them have her.
Petra: *she grabs Dean’s hand resting on the sofa between them*
Gracen: Does the danger ever get exciting?
Dean: She’s exciting. Keeps me guessing. The rest is another day at the job.
Petra: Don’t let him fool you, he loves sending demons back to hell.
Dean: Yeah, real big turn on. *rolls eyes*
Gracen: So, if you could be granted one wish, what would it be?
Dean: Easy one. I’d kill her demonic husband.
Petra: Can it, loud mouth! Next question.
Gracen: Wait! You’re married…to a demon? Tell us about it.
Dean: One of the Four Kings of hell actually. A real bad mofo.
Petra: *glares at Dean*
Dean: *smiles sweetly at Petra* She asked about my wish, darling. I cannot lie.
Petra: Why not? You lie about everything else. *rolls eyes* A saint he is not.
Dean: That’s not fair. Those lies keep your pretty ass alive.
Petra: True…but still. We can’t tell these mortals all my secrets. It’ll put them in danger.
Dean: Good point.
*they both turn to stare at me*
Gracen: *fidgeting uncomfortably in my chair now* What would you like for the readers to know about you?
Dean: All donations are accepted in the monetary form of cash at 1-800-deanwin.
Petra: *backhands him playfully* He’s joking. We don’t have a 1-800 number.
Okay, so that’s my new duo. They’re a bit rough around the edges. I’m still fleshing out their characters, but I’m enjoying them. Strange what you learn about your characters when you do interviews. For instance, I didn’t have a clue Petra was married to one of the Four Kings of Hell. And damn if that doesn’t give me lots of evil plots.
Have a great weekend everyone!
We have a new Vixen starting with us this Sunday, so please come out and welcome her. You'll know her as Carrie from Wisconsin!!!
For those that participate, Daylight Savings Time is March 8, 2009.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Living with Ghosts
by Roberta Beach Jacobson
The Deadly Vixens have been kind enough to let me share my words in this blog, so here goes ...
Back in the 1980s, I was a happy renter in my fifth-floor apartment located about an hour away from Frankfurt, Germany. I felt lucky to have a balcony view of a wooded area and couldn't have created cheerier bird songs if I'd used a cassette. One day I noticed my couch had been scooted over a bit. It was nearer the wall. How could that be? I hadn't moved it and was pretty sure my cat Troy hadn't either.
Another afternoon, I came home after a long day at work and saw my houseplants on the windowsill had been watered. Not by me. Troy greeted me as if nothing unusual had happened during my absence. Did my little place have ghosts?
My landlord lived some 300 miles away and his new wife had forbidden him to go anywhere near my building, the place he'd lived with his ex-wife. So I was certain he hadn't stopped by my apartment.
The mysteries continued. Another day I found a dirty coffee mug in my kitchen sink, a cup I hated and never used. Once again, Troy appeared to be nothing but an innocent feline bystander.
Throughout the years I lived in that apartment, the haunting never let up. It became part of my routine, although I hadn't a clue as to what was going on.
I happened to locate a cheaper apartment right around the corner from my day job. I grabbed it, eager to do away with the long commute.
My landlord, whom I hadn't seen for years, stopped by to give me my security deposit back. He sheepishly admitted when he'd divided his former condo into one large and one small apartment, he'd never bothered to change the original locks. This meant my next-door neighbors had the identical front door lock as I had and could use their key to enter my place whenever the mood struck.
Mystery solved. The cat didn't do it.
Roberta Beach Jacobson is an American author and humorist who makes her home on a remote Greek island. She writes about the human-animal bond and is co-author of Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them (Enspirio House, Word Forge Books, 2008). Her Website: http://www.RobertaBeachJacobson.com.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Recently, I've been thinking of all of these awesome story ideas and how I should work on X novel for Y submission guidelines, or I thought about Z idea, which would be great to break into. And then there is my '08 Nano novel, I.V., that I need to edit, which has been set on the back burner, and the sequel to that novel that has almost 58k words. It's felt like I'm ricocheting around on my projects instead of steadfast and focused.
Today I started reading an e-book called 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer (who has worked with Jenny Crusie on a few books as well as writing his own). I got it recently for free after signing up for Writer's Digest's e-newsletter (in the green sidebar on the left). The second mistake he mentions is Not Finishing (the first being, Not Starting, if you were wondering). Now, I have totally finished the first draft of I.V., and I'm making my way--however slowly--through revising it.
But as I mentioned before, I've been bouncing around like a chicken with my head cut off with all of the new ideas and opportunities that have shown themselves. It's interesting because I've been getting in my way more than really having an external distraction like TV or anything like that since I haven't been able to make my mind up on what to work on.
There were a few key pieces of advice that he said. One was that, if you don't finish the project you're not going to get a contract for the work. And two was to not move onto another project unless you finish your current work-in-progress. Yes, I know it sounds so simple, but for me, those words were very timely. I feel like it gave me a shot in the arm to get back to work on I.V. and give it my main focus.
How about everyone else? Are you having trouble focusing on one project (or however many you're juggling)? Or are you getting pulled in too many directions like I've been?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Go visit The Countess - Elizabeth Black's blog today to support our very own Gracen Miller! Gracen is talking about Nightmares and Demons and how they influenced her writing of The Devil's Den. She's even giving away a copy of her novel.
Here's the link:
Monday, February 23, 2009
Have you ever had a character invade your mind? When you thought you were done with him, has he ever come back to haunt you, or to prove otherwise? It happened to me. When I began to write Nora’s Soul, the character of Dante was just a satellite character in my mind, a device to move the story forward. But he had other ideas and he just wouldn’t be silenced. He invaded my mind, took over my thoughts, and even tried to –
Dante: Stop, woman! You like to think you’re my creator, but we both know the truth of that, don’t we?
Margay: But I did create you.
Dante: Tell them how I came to you in a dream.
Margay: All right, so you came to me in a dream -
Dante: I love invading dreams. I don’t get to do it very often.
Margay: Can I tell the story?
Dante: Oh, yes. Please do.
Margay: Thank you. As I was about to say, it was one of the more vivid dreams I’d ever had, a fully realized scene of the two of us on the dance floor, dancing the night away.
Dante: I love dancing.
Margay: Dante, please.
Dante: Oh, sorry. Go on.
Margay: But you were something of a devil and that is how I first thought of you. But as the story came to develop, I realized that you were more of an angel, just a…misguided one. You’d lost your way somehow. You’ve been rather stingy on the details.
Dante: If I told you everything up front, what fun would that be?
Margay: Yes, I must admit it’s been more fun pulling the details out of you with a pair of tweezers. I just wish I didn’t have to go through Nora to get them.
Dante: Ah, yes, Nora. Sweet girl.
Margay: We’ve talked about this, Dante. You can’t have her. She’s not meant for you.
Dante: Can’t I have anyone? What kind of power do I have if I can’t take whomever I want?
Margay: Don’t forget free will. It’s all about free will. You see, they have to choose you. If they don’t choose you, you can’t have them.
Dante: I never did like free will. It’s always messing things up.
Margay: Dante, come on now. Maybe we should just talk about the book.
Dante: Yes, do that. Talk about the book.
Margay: At its core, Nora’s Soul is a story about one woman’s journey to rediscover her faith – in herself, in her beliefs, but along the way, she is challenged by two angels, one light and one dark. The light angel, Peter, wants to help her reconnect, but the dark angel, Dante, wants something entirely different. He wants her soul.
Dante: Nice summary.
Dante: I just hope you got the story right.
Margay: Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait until the release date to find out.
Dante: So you’re not even going to give me a little hint about how it turns out?
Margay: Nope. But if you go to my website http://margayleahjustice.com, you can read an excerpt.
Dante: And you thought I was the devil.
Margay: If you’re done, I’d like to regain some control over this article.
Dante: Oh. Sorry.
Well, there you have it. Character. You just never know when a character is going to invade your thoughts – or take them over completely and try to run your life. But what are we without the characters that populate our books, our movies, our lives?
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Hello, I'm your substitute blogger for the day, my name's Pete. Now with introductions out of the way, I'm here to talk to you about what? Hunters. The fantasy/horror class of character which seeks out and kills (or is killed by) supernatural creatures such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, mummies, and so on and so on. Let's get started, shall we.
Hunters have a large range of abilities (or lack thereof) and come from many different backgrounds. From your standard religious bible thumper style, to the more hedonistic likes to sleep with vampires before killing them style (special things to both Buffy and Anita Blake for bringing us that). Some are superhuman monster killing Dhampyrs (Daywalkers, half vampires), such as Blade and Vampires Hunter D, while others trust in their wit and usually a bag of neat little tricks to get by. So how do they come in so many shapes and sizes and still maintain their appeal? Because, like Terminators, they all kick ass, and they have done so throughout history.
When asked for the origin of the vampire hunter, most will point to the classic Bram Stoker character, Van Helsing. Now, be sure you understand, that's “classic” Van Helsing, not newer studly Van Helsing (think less Hugh Jackman and more Anthony Hopkins). However, in truth the genre goes back much further than that. Historically, vampire hunters are not a work of fiction at all, but a well documented profession fairly common in the eastern European states of the middle ages. As they are well known for, these countries have a history of superstitious folk. As such, the dead coming back to life to murder the living was a serious concern for them.
Therefore, there existed a professional class of people who would travel around looking for signs of vampirism such as graves with loose dirt and bodies which lay face down (to avoid looking up at god). Some would even claim to be the offspring of vampires themselves, as Dhampyrs, in many eastern European countries, were considered to be the only ones who could detect vampires for certain (due to their own vampiric heritage). These historic hunters of the past have provided a great source of inspiration for both the mild mannered style of hunter as well as the super powered type. However, if you really want source of it, you need look back further still, into that which is much more ingrained in the human soul and rooted in our nature.
The myths of every culture hold the true source of why Hunters are so appealing. From Perseus killing of the Medusa, to Beowulf slaying the monster Grendel and his mother, mankind has always been fascinated with the triumph of man over monster. Perhaps the answer to its origin is in fact rooted in the very name itself, Hunter. As true today as in ancient times, the human race is a species which can be both pray and predator. Is it surprising than, really, that the art of the Hunt is extended to aspects beyond merely food? Even today, modern day hunters take pride in the killing of the largest Buck. Perhaps than, that is why it appeals so much. We desire to face that which is frightening and defeat it, either by brain or by prowess, and in doing so, to protect our own.
Whatever way you want to look at the Hunter, it is a powerful image that is here to stay. Stalking the night for a pray that could easily turn into predator, the Hunter will likely remain the vigilant defender of the defenseless. In the face of all the things we fear that are beyond our vision, the Hunter stands strong, inspiring us to hold strong against the night as well, and, hopefully against the real life monsters that we fear.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
It's Saturday! Time to ignore every social responsibility possible, sit around the house in pajamas, and read my latest interview!
Today I'm interviewing Bronwyn Storm, who is no stranger to longtime DV readers. In addition to being a published author, Bronwyn is a genuinely funny, warm, caring, modest, humble person. She is also a bad influence on me; most of the dirty jokes I made in certain chatrooms were cheered on by or influenced by her, and I was pure and innocent before I began talking to her. (My apologies to any that are still offended.) Bad influence aside, her very helpful, recently-redesigned website is great fun (www.bronwynstorm.com), and she is, as the Aussies would put it, a "good giggle." Plus she's Canadian, and everybody loves Canadia.
Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present. . .Bronwyn Storm!
Bronwyn, would you please tell us a bit about you?
When I was little, there was only one thing I wanted to be when I grew up: a superhero. Sadly, this goal was made moot when I realized that being a klutz was not in fact, a super power, and my super-weakness for anything bright and shiny meant that a magpie with self-control could easily defeat me in a battle of wills. Hence, the turn to writing as an occupation. I don’t get to live on a secret space station orbiting the earth (and thank God, because I get motion sick on a merry-go-round), but I still get to wear leotards, a cape and say things like, “STAND ASIDE! THIS IS A JOB FOR WRITING-GIRL!” (Pandem's note: My attempts to locate pictures of Bronwyn in a leotard and cape were unsuccessful.)
As for my publishing history, I began writing as a career back in 2005. Since then, I've had five stories published with The Wild Rose Press: Ethan's Chase (Champagne), I Love You a Latte (Last Rose of Summer), The Genie's Curse (Faery), Shoe-In for Love (Vintage), and Love and the Leprechaun (a Free Read). (Pandem's Note: As per my promise in my blog here Wednesday, Bronwyn now has my eternal respect and admiration for writing a romance that remotely involved a leprechaun and not using the words "lucky" or "charms" in the title.)
What genre do you write?
Romance, Mystery/Suspense, Children's--anything and everything!
What makes your work different from all the other authors out there?
Oh goodness, that's a question for readers. I'd like to think they like my work because of the humor, tight plots, and depth of characters. However, there's a lot of really great books out there who share those characteristics with me. Really, I think I'd rather think that my books are like all the others out there that entertain and delight readers.
Who is your favourite author? Why?
Another hard question. I don't have a favorite author. I have loads of authors I love to read: Agatha Christie, Alicia Dean, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Perry, Johanna Melaragno, Dayana Knight, Stacy Dawn, J.K. Rowling--the list is endless.
Who are your biggest writing influences?
Really great writers, because they inspire me, and really horrible writers because they give me hope (heck, if they can be published, why not the rest of us?). (That may be the best answer to this question that I've heard yet.)
Which of your own works is your favourite, and why?
Erk. I don't have a favourite.
Which of your own characters is your favourite, and why?
Again, no favorites. I love all my characters--they're all people I'd love to know in real life.
What's your favourite book of all time?
Ha ha. Guess what my answer is? That's right--no favorites!
What's your writing method?
Other than stare at the computer screen, hyperventilating and wondering what made me think I could write? Umm...I get an idea, figure out the big plot points, draft the characters, draw up a rough sketch of how the scenes will flow (we're talking a sentence per scene), then I start writing. On average, it takes me about seven drafts before I start liking my story and feeling as though it's really going to come together.
What do you like about being a writer?
The commute, for sure, not to mention the dress code, that I get to eat at my desk...on the deeper level, I love writing because it helps me figure out my world and to some extent, myself. I don't think there's any other kind of job where you can tell people that you're listening to voices in your head and transcribing what they say, and said people actually cheer you on (as opposed to shoving pills down your throat and recommending you for both psychotherapy and exorcism).
What do you dislike about being a writer?
It's lonely because at the end of the day, all you have are the voices in your head. And while people can cheer you on, it's up to you to get those pages right, to work--and writing is work. Hard, hard work. The really great writers make it look easy, but that's because they're willing to bleed on their pages. Writing can be so frustrating because it's drafts and drafts of a manuscript and tossing away pages of work and starting all over again, but even on my worst writing day, there's nothing else I want to do as a job.
What are your goals as a writer?
To entertain. That's my job, that's my goal and my prayer.
Tell us a little about the books you have available now.
Well, Ethan's Chase is a contemporary/suspense about a man learning his heart's not always wrong and a woman figuring out that a first impression's not always right. (Pandem's note: Bronwyn somehow neglects to mention that Ethan's Chase was nominated for a 2009 CAPA Award. She didn't win, but the honour is in the nomination, according to several Oscar non-acceptance speeches, so yay for Bronwyn!)
I Love You a Latte deals with a divorcee who's going to take a chance on love and learn that men, like coffee, can come in all kinds of decadent varities.
The Genie's Curse is all about wishes and finding love in the most unexpected places.
Shoe-In for Love for Love is a comedic trip back to the 80s and a romantic take on The Elf and the Shoemaker.
Finally, Love and the Leprechaun is a fun, quick read about a woman who sees the dead (but who would much rather "see" the way into the heart of the man she loves).
What's your favourite sub-genre of paranormal romance?
I don't have a favorite (yes, yes, tell us something new, you say), but I love paranormals that tweak the 'common' myths and legends, and do it all with a dose of fun and humor.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
Not really. Just a huge thanks for reading!!
And thank you for being interviewed, Bronwyn!
For everyone else, seriously, go check out her website, it's hilarious.
That's it for this week. . .till next week, go read some good books!
Friday, February 20, 2009
TGIF! We survived the week. Now, I just have to survive the weekend with guests in my home for a fourth weekend in a row. I hate to sound ungrateful, but sheesh, I need a break from the family drama!
I’ve had sick kids this week and they’ve gotten me sick. I have done very little writing which makes me cranky as hell. Now Thursday night rolls around and I’m still sitting here wondering what do I write about for my blog today? So, I broke out my handy dandy book, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, by John and Caitlin Matthews, and the first magical creature I turned to was Selkie. The second one was Mermaid. Kind of weird since they both involve magical sea creatures, so I decided this was fate prodding me in the Selkie/Mermaid direction.
So, tell me, which sounds more romantic? Selkie or Mermaid? Which would you prefer to find on a rock in the middle of the sea? Which would you feel safer with or want to be romantically inclined with?
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selkie), a Selkie is a seal like creature with the ability to shed its seal shape and take human form when it comes to land. They are typically depicted in romantic stories where the human isn’t aware that their lover is a Selkie, but when they wake their lover is gone. There is also the legend of a human hiding the Selkie’s skin so that the Selkie cannot return to the sea and turn back into seal form. To further complicate things, Selkies can have contact with one person for only a short period of time before it becomes necessary for them to return to the sea. After that, they cannot have human contact for seven years. With one exception, a human may betray them by stealing their Selkie skin and hiding or burning it (this just seems exceptionally cruel to me), thereby forcing the Selkie to remain here on earth since they cannot return to the sea without their skin.
Call me crazy, but I immediately thought of the Charmed episode, A Witch’s Tail, where the Mermaid was given one month by the sea hag, an evil witch, to find true love. Of course, the sea hag had ulterior motives. Don’t they always! LOL If the Mermaid couldn’t get her lover to admit his true love for her within one month, then she would have to give the sea hag her immortality. Maybe that’s a little farfetched in the comparison between Selkies and the Charmed episode, but both have a short period of time unless: 1) the Selkie’s skin is hidden from them; or 2) the Mermaid is able to find true love and her lover admits it. My opinion, the Selkie version isn’t all that romantic. Sounds a little too much like kidnapping to me.
Selkies also brought to mind the 1984 movie, Splash, with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Daryl Hannah plays a mermaid in this movie, but she’s also able to shed her tail for various periods of time while on land. And in Splash, the Mermaid and human fell in love, so it had its romantic theme. Kind of like a Selkie, right? ;-) Okay, maybe another long stretch, but my brain saw the similarity with the way she was able to take human form on land. Seeing this movie as an impressionable kid, I loved the romantic mermaid aspect of it.
I didn’t forget Ariel and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, just chose not to discuss it since it was so similar to the Charmed version in The Witch’s Tail.
Okay, none of these movies/shows have anything do with Selkies really, but rather Mermaids, right? Or, maybe…well, let’s see what The Element Encylopedia of Magical Creatures, by John & Caitlin Matthews, has to say about Mermaids. In folklore, Mermaids have a dark side and were kind of scary actually, nothing at all like the above romantic elements. Mermaids were responsible for luring young men to their death. The appearance of a Mermaid presaged storms and disasters, not only bringing about misfortunes, but also provoking them. Legend has them enthusiastically seeking human lives by either drowning or consuming men. Yowza! Talk about a black widows death ala Mermaid style. Suddenly, instead of having the beautiful Ariel image in my head, I'm picturing a sea hag type monster with piranha teeth. It was said, Mermaids were born without a soul and the only way they could obtain a soul was by marrying a human.
These aspects of Mermaid folklore had very little deviations from The Celts, Irish, Scotts, British, Dutch, and Asian regions. In fact, the character of a Mermaid differs very little between the nations of the world, signifying that belief in these odd creatures has been around for an extremely long time and that they are all similar and frightening. And to tie in Mermaids with Selkies, one of the many regional names of a Mermaid is Selkie. Neat, huh? I thought so anyway. =)
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Despite my time as an editor for a romance novel publisher, I haven't read a lot of romance novels in my time. I have paid some attention to popular themes in the industry, particularly paranormal (because I really like paranormal writing of all types), and, with the aid of Google searches, that's what I'm going to talk about today.
So, let's say you want to write paranormal romance. Ideally, you'll already have a story in mind, but for the purposes of this exercise, let's say that you don't. How do you decide what paranormal element (or elements) should be in your story?
Vampires are a popular choice. . .extremely popular, with nearly 5 million Google hits in my search (the number dropped only slightly when I narrowed it to include books and movies only). Given that one can't throw a sharpened stake in the paranormal romance world without hitting 8 vampires and a couple Goth kids, it's a pretty crowded field. Perhaps the popularity is understandable; vampires are immortal creatures, cursed never again to walk in daylight and to live on theblood of the innocent to sustain their own miserable existence. . .except that they generally seem to have accumulated great wealth after living for centuries, never have to deal with rush-hour traffic, and have no problem landing insanely hot women. Any sympathy I might have had for a vampire just went out the window. Anyway, an author would have to have either a unique, appealing slant on the vampire mythos or one hell of a story to tell in order to stand out in the field, especially with the current popularity of Twilight no doubt inspiring many people out there to put vampiric-minded pen to innocent paper.
Ghost romances were second most popular in my search. Something about the ethreal nature of them, I suppose; maybe the thrill of a lover that can't make a mess because he can only become solid on rare occasion? There's a lot of room for good storytelling with ghosts, which may also explain it. Who among us has not felt haunted by love at some point? How much better is it to have some actual haunting going?
Witches came up third most popular in my search, falling from broomsticks and landing smack-dab between ghosts and werewolves. While the powers and abilities are admittedly fantastic (and make for great plot devices when things go wrong), bringing originality to the field can be difficult. That said, though, there's a lot of fun to be had with them. Fantastic powers, wacky abilities, misunderstandings and mixups galore - how could hijinks not ensue? It's almost too easy. . .which, for me, is a reason not to write them unless absoultely needed. Plus, they're not underused.
Werewolves aren't as common (I only got 1/3 as many hits for "romance about werewolves" on Google as I did "romance about vampires," but both were still over 1 million), so there's more breathing room in that market. Werewolves have the allure of being just as tortured and cursed as their vampiric counterparts, but they only have to deal with it once a month, as opposed to you know, constantly. Maybe these mythic creatures symbolize the repressed primal nature of all mankind, released in one monthly-ish burst, and the taming of that nature through love is what makes them such popular characters. Or maybe there are a lot of women out there that like really hairy men. Either way, my topic today is "Underused Paranormals," and we can't say that they've been underused at all, so let's move on.
Mermaids are surprisingly popular as well, though not nearly so much as the first three on the list, at least outside of Disney. I blame The Little Mermaid for them being so popular. Less popular (barely 100,000 hits, by Google search) are mermen, for some reason. So, if you're a paranormal author looking for something a little unusual to include in your work, a merman isn't a bad idea. Try not to make too many "longest flipper" jokes and this idea could turn out great. Also, your merman hero should not wear an orange shirt and green pants, unless you're a fan of copyright infringement.
So what's underused?
I haven't seen many paranormal books involving, say, old mythological figures. Aside from Greek and Roman mythologies, there's a plethora of interesting characters from around the world that would fit into romance novels. Take, for example, Amaterasu, the Shinto (Japanese) sun goddess who hid in a cave from her domestically violent spouse (and starred in the cool draw-your-way-to-victory video game Okami) and had to be lured out with a mirror. She's got a bad relationship history and deep vanity as a personality flaw right there, so she's prime heroine material. There's also Celtic goddess Ceridwen, who had a very ugly child. Change "ugly" to "ill-mannered" and you've got a single-mother heroine, with the added conflict of a difficult child, set up right there.
Let's not forget psychics. The first paranormal romances that I remember reading were Kay Hooper's Shadows Trilogy, and they still stand out in my mind for being something I hadn't read much fiction about before. Psychic romances produced around half a million hits on Google before I filtered out psychics advertising readings, and there's plenty of powers to play with: telekinesis, telepathy, precognition, pyrokinesis, remote viewing, even hydrokinesis (thanks, DC Comics!), so there's a lot of toys to play with there.
Zombies. If Simon Pegg can do it in Shaun Of The Dead, you can do it (and that was indeed a romantic comedy with zombies). Not saying one of your main characters has to be a zombie, but the threat of them can certainly throw people together.
Angels and demons are good, but they're approaching "overused" territory. Still, a good twist on the whole angel/demon mythology can make for an excellent read, so why not give it a shot? Bonus points if you can somehow manage to offend a major religion - controversy always generates better sales. Just don't make focus on the controversial aspects too much, lest the book come off feeling like something written specifically to offend an organized religion and the trick will backfire.
Superpowers are always fun (for me). What could more romantic than some person randomly given great power and, therefore, great responsibility? (Okay, so it's more sci-fi than paranormal, unless you have an osbcure god grant the powers.) Remember, for every Clark Kent, there's a Lois Lane, and for every Wonder Woman, there's a legion of drooling fanboys wondering if they can get a Wonder Woman costume onto their spouse/girlfriend/blow-up doll. (The lazy ones just harass Lynda Carter.)
And finally. . .leprechauns. If you can make a romantic story that even remotely involves leprechauns work, I bow to you. If the title doesn't involve the words "lucky," "charms," or any combination of the two, you might earn my unending respect for pulling this one off.
Any other ideas for underused paranormal themes?