Monday, October 31, 2011
Stop by Buffy Christopher's blog and comment to enter for a chance to win Upon Midnight (M/M Romance.)
It’s All Hallow’s Eve and Midnight is desperate to feed. If only he could avoid killing, his new life as a vampire would be perfect. Not to mention he’s in a house surround by hot men in every size, shape and color imaginable. When his master intercepts him on his quest to sate his bloodlust, Midnight’s not sure what the older vampire intends to do with him, but the searing kiss they share promises to lead in some very erotic directions…
Find her blog here.
Pick up a copy here.
Good luck and Happy Halloween!!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
There is something scary about looking at a blank Word document or a blank piece of paper and realizing that somehow, some way, you are expected to fill it with words.
NaNoWriMo is the once-a-year gathering of people who have such a great love of words that they grasp the insane idea that they can write an entire book (50k for 'adult') in a month.
How scary is that?
What will you write about? Can you do it? A whole book in a month???
Having written a few books in a month and some even faster, I can say, honestly, it can be done.
Of course, that whole eating thing... Seeing people... Not snapping when food is shoved at you... All of that kind of goes to the wayside. The story literally eats your world. Social life? Pssht. Forgeddaboutit.
So why would someone do that to themselves on purpose?
The knowledge that the story will live longer than you could.
This does not make the creation of it any less scary. The good thing about NaNoWriMo is that it takes the big, scary book and chops it down into small, bite-sized pieces. 50,000 words?
5thousand a day?
Well, that is little more than an essay.
Which makes the whole book almost a collection of essays on the same topic...
I like outlines. No, my outlines are not neatly numbered things involving Roman numerals and precision.
Mine look something like this:
(Actual outline from one of the Odd books)
Jumped outside the raft/hungry eyes scene/fiancé helps out by nearly getting eaten
Loses Fiancé, meets up with Chance and goes after a lead on the hammer and catches up with the terrible trio at Brennen’s Pub
Bar Fight over pool game? Chance is root of it. Mention wings"
That became Siren's Song. It doesn't look anything like the finished product. The goal of your outline is not to be pretty or follow any rules... The goal of your outline is you getting out the shape of your story. It is little more than when someone working with clay squashes out the shape that will later become the masterpiece.
It doesn't have to make sense to anyone but you. But if you can see where you are going, it is easier to get there. Think of it like GPS for your writing. It is a general road map of where the climax is going to be... How they get there... What the resolution will be.
You can stray from this outline. It is for YOU.
Then you have those nice bite-sized chunks I mentioned earlier. You can write chapter seven easily. You know what happens. You are just ballooning it out. Filling in your characters responses into a planned event. Adding textures and flavors and doing the storytelling.
Remember, even if you fall behind on your NaNoWriMo goals, they are goals. The purpose behind it is to give you the experience of sitting down every day- with a goal- in front of that scary keyboard.
You can do it.
Good luck, NaNoWriMo-ers.
And friend me! I am virg_nelson over there. If you need any more inspiration/advice, hit me up.
And, I can't stress this enough, HAVE FUN WITH IT!! :)
Saturday, October 29, 2011
We have all met someone who is like this... Who thinks they can toy with our emotions or the emotions of someone we care about.
So expect them in your writing. Although it is hard for someone who does not work like this on a daily basis and get in the head of this character, it isn't any harder than getting in the head of a murderer.
Just because someone ticks in a way that is nothing like how you tick doesn't mean you can't see things from their angle.
Manipulative people try to control those weaker than themselves.
So they either attack those with low self esteem, children or those who are weak because of illness or other physical variable. They try to worm their way into the weak persons psyche by 'taking care' of them. What they are really doing is looking at the end game. They are little better than emotional con artists- They see a crack, they work their way in and...
Then they take control.
You can have a bit of fun if you make your other characters play along and not see it at first. Some of the best suspense is written with this character at the core... Everyone is blind to the bad... and then it comes up and bites them in the ass.
Breaking the cycle.
The easiest way to break the cycle is to end the abuse.
Because manipulating others IS a form of abuse. End the cycle, end the abuse.
Just some ideas. Happy Writing!
Friday, October 28, 2011
It is almost Halloween...
You know what this means...
Scary costumes, monsters in the night...
And yet closer to NaNoWriMo...
So this blog is dedicated to -
Yes, sometimes, you gotta kill somebody off.
Me, personally, I love to kill of characters. Usually, I off my exhusband or who ever cut me in traffic. Writing is cheaper than therapy and if you do it right, it pays you instead of vice versa.
However some have a hard time doing it 'just right' so I am offering up some tips and tricks.
I did a blog on Coffee Time Romance on Thirteen Ways To Poison someone in a book (see the whole blog here)... Some of the better ones were:
Smoking is gonna kill you~ Five cigarettes or half a cigar (according to wikepedia) contain enough nicotine to kill off your character… if ingested. If they smoke them, it may take a bit longer.
Pseudo-nitzschia- Say what? It is a shellfish, tiny bugger, which, if eaten, causes things like permanent short-term memory loss, brain damage, and death in severe cases. Careful what sea water your victim ingests…
But you don't have to poison them. There are tons of ways to off a character. Usually, the more creative you are, the more interesting your reader will find it.
Stories set in Florida almost beg you to include a croc or an alligator. Just like in the frozen north, freezing is a great way to ensure they don't come creeping back in the next chapter.
Not all characters you kill will be bad guys. I remember that I had a very hard time killing off a character in the Odd Series. But I knew that if my main character lost someone close to her, it would spur her to go on a rampage against the bad guy. So he had to go...
It's Halloween. Pull out a glass of apple cider and put on your witch hat. Remember, the really fun thing about being a writer is...
You get to write. Have fun with it!!
Oh and the handsome guy in the pic? That is my youngest. The suit jacket probably threw ya as to what he was for Halloween last year but he is Dr. Who... Monster version. Yeah. My kids are weird. I love it.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Still on the writing blogs in honor of NaNoWriMo...
Such a naughty word.
But how do you describe YOUR characters.
Do you go in depth in the first paragraph telling your reader that she has long, curving locks of a gold that reminds one of autumn leaves? Tell us about the scar on her hand from a cat scratch when she was 12? And how her eyes are an ever changing shade of blue? Etc.
Description is good. We want to have the tactile experience with you, writer. The reader wants to feel like they are there...
But if you spend three pages telling us what they look like-- You removed all the mystery.
Have you ever read a book and felt like you were the character? Rather than feeling like an outside reader, you felt like you were her/him experiencing everything?
These authors have mastered the smoke and mirror act that is really good storytelling.
So they tricked me?
Yes! In the most delicious way possible! Like a good street magician, they drew you in and made you believe the impossible! They weren't just words typed on a page, they were emotions triggered in your brain! You laughed out loud! You shed a tear. You smiled softly as he closed his arms around you.
You probably knew that the heroine had black hair. And yours isn't. But it wasn't shoved down your throat at length so you could become her, if only for 350 pages.
This is the magic.
But it happens in your head. Remember that you are painting a picture and yes, they have to see the colors. But don't walk the dog. You have probably heard this phrase before, 'walking the dog.'
You can write three pages of description. But then take them, save them to your harddrive for your own reference and never let them see the light of day again.
Your reader doesn't need to know all the world building/character building you did to create Marcy the time traveling vampire. They don't need to know that Jason once fell out of a tree when he was nine and that is why he has a bit of a limp.
Only tell them what they NEED to know to move the story forward. Only write that which they really MUST know to understand your world.
Their imagination will fill in the blanks.
Remember, you are creating a world and their own experience will color their journey there. Allow room for them to play. Allow space for them to immerse themselves in your characters.
And have fun with it!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
In honor of NaNoWriMo I have been posting about writing tips and tricks. Today, names.
Something that bugged me, recently in books I am reading, is the use of characters names.
I realize if you give your character an amazing name like Chyna or Bartholomew or Epicurus (okay, that last one was sort of silly, but stay with me) you want to use it. In your head he is that, she is that and that is that.
But in real life, people don't work that way. We tear names apart-- Into tiny shreds.
I was discussing this with my friend Sarah today and she has gone by many variations of her name and even been called Dani. I looked at her curiously... "Dani?"
It is her middle name.
I have been, and this is not an all inclusive or organized list, Virginia, V-dawg, Vinnie, Ginger, Ginnie, Vinnie, Virg and Turkey. I have been Miss Shallenberger, Mrs Nelson and Ms Nelson. I have been babe, toots, sweetie and ladybug. I have been many things to many people.
Only a few consistently call me Virginia. Most, at some point or another, bring up that Santa Claus bit.
I call people strange things. I know JuJu, Jolly Sue, GooBob and Turtle.
Some people are never even named. There is that 'bald guy' and 'that fast talker' and then there is 'thathotguythatmakesmelosetheabilitytospeak." I like the last one. Yum.
So if you have a seven foot tall angel waving a blazing sword... someone is going to call him Barry. Another person is going to call him Bart. Someone is going to say, "Duuuude."
Few are going to call him Bartholomew.
Especially those who interact with him with any consistency.
Using nicknames, terms of endearment, shortened names can help your reader fall into the story. Become one with the characters.
I never use contractions. So let me tell ya, this is not coming from someone who never has to edit. I don't think in contractions so I rarely write in them. So they get added after to make my people sound less cardboard. I am being honest. Sometimes I remember to put them in... more than not I use full words.
In dialogue, people talk in contractions. People shorten up names. People from the south speak with a twang that is not only noted by a modifier tag. If you aren't sure if it sounds right, read it out loud. Treat it like a play and say the words. Can you hear the richness of the south in that man's voice... almost smell honeysuckle and taste the salty sweetness of a watermelon on a hot day just in the way he drawls, "Sun don' shine on the same dog's tail all the time..."?
So names are like my contraction issue... it may be something you may have to double back to catch. But in the back of your head, while you are writing, let the characters speak. Don't try to speak for them.
And listen. To the people around you. To the conversation in a restaurant. All fodder for the writery brain.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
This week, in honor of Nanowrimo, I have been doing posts that have to do with writing. Yesterday, we had writing sex scenes.
Today is somewhat related but not exactly...
The words, when said slow enough, almost suggest what it is.
In a society that is riddled with instant gratification (Netflix was not around when I was a kid. Nor was Starbucks. It was a harsher time, altogether.) the stories that seem to really capture the largest portion of the public are full of unfulfilled sexual tension. Scully and Mulder had it. Bones has it. Twilight had it... sort of. Castle may have perfected it and don't get me started on Haven...
Why are people so interested in watching/reading about/seeing people NOT do it?
Did you know that there are people literally addicted to the hunt? Once in a successful relationship, they will break up just to find someone ELSE to hunt? The body has a chemical reaction that is unique to falling in love. You can find an interesting article on the pheromone and endorphin release and such here.
And once we have realized that we are attracted to this person, the chase ensues. Some chases are pretty short.
Him- Hey, how you doing?
Her- Let's discuss that while we are trying to get my bra back off the ceiling fan, shall we?
Some are longer... Some never end. The people around these real-life, long-term chases tend to get annoyed with the parties involved.
But in a book or movie, we are fascinated. Is this going to be the moment? Are they gonna kiss? Did she even hear what he said? *grabbing tissues*
So including this kind of drawn out relationship... that one where the reader never quite knows when they are going to finally see what they feel, really draws a reader in, letting them become a part of the action.
Jane Austen understood the power of tension. Regency era novels do tend to lend themselves nicely to tension but Austen may have written from experience. She loved once... and they never actually 'got together.' So she, possibly the mother of romance writing, lived her whole life single. Some say it is because of the one love she had was so great that she wasn't willing to settle for less...
Persuasion, her last completed book, was all about this... A couple, torn apart by society but drawn back together years later... Was she possibly thinking of the 'what could have been's of her own relationship?
The girl knew, regardless of if she was writing from her own experience or not, that people loved to read about the unfulfilled passions...
In my Odd Stuff Series, Janie wants what she thinks she should want- Vance. He is rockstar hot, with vampiric reflexes and hair like a sheet of liquid night.
But what she needs is Chance. Chance doesn't put her on a pedestal. He sees her for what she is, good and bad, not what she wishes she was. They spend two books bouncing off each other, scenes riddled with tension, as they figure out how to deal with one another.
And readers loved it.
What movies/tv/books have you seen with tension and do you write it into your own work?
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I have read that some authors write their sex scenes nude or dressed in something silky or lacy to get into the mood...
I have read that some 'experiment' to get an idea of what feels good...
I find that, for me at least, this is a bunch of hooey.
I was raised pretty darn wholesome. I have some very twisted ideas on what needs to happen before a guy can pass go... And the list is reasonably long.
However, writing sex isn't nearly as hard. I have never given my characters the hangups that plague me. I give them their own hangups. And this is how I establish what each ones boundaries are gonna be.
That figured out, I can then look at them like mental barbie dolls and pose away.
Usually, there is ice cream involved. And giggling.
And then I show the whole mess of it to a friend (usually my closest one... She and I have very different tastes in men and in bedroom play... So tossing our likes and preferences against each other tends to make for a more diverse and multitextured scene.)
Then I add more chocolate.
We try to think of all the things that we have ever thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" about.
Then we add in all the things that we can think of that we either read or experienced. I clean the whole bit up and then...
Then it all gets mooshed up in a blob and I reread it.
I can't write while I am ACTUALLY turned on. I know this may work for some authors. Me, personally, no. If I am actually thinking about that, the last thing I want to do is sit down and type.
But if what I come up with is enough for me to fan myself and go, "Damn. Where did that come from... Wow. That right there... Good stuff." I figure my readers will too.
Don't be afraid of your couples expressing themselves. It is like every other scene you write.
Forget to add the same snark and talk that the characters would have OUTSIDE the bedroom INSIDE it.
Have you ever even kissed someone with absolutely no conversation before, in between or after?
So how awkward is it to have a really erotic scene with no dialogue other than screaming someones name or gasping?
People talk. People banter...
They don't stop doing it because they are naked.
Most stories, from suspense to horror to romance, have a love angle. So most writers find themselves, at some point or another, with characters who want to kiss or do more.
Don't freak out about it. Grab a pint of ice cream and write.
Just my opinion. Best of luck!!
Friday, October 21, 2011
(Applause wouldn't be out of order, here.)
Olivia didn’t plan to find her mother dead when she came down for breakfast. She never would have dreamed that the summer before her senior year would be spent in a house that looks like a museum rather than basking on the beach with her friends. If you had tried to tell her that she would instead spend her time gardening, trying to find out why someone would lock a garden and juggling two attractive boys, she would have fallen over in laughter.
But when her life changes in a heartbeat, all of this and more challenge this strange young woman.
So, for you lovely blog readers, here is a sneak peek at Sleeping Garden! (The artwork, by the way, is by © www.JulieFainArt.com and you can see more of her work here. )
The moon beckoned me, a luminary being, all alone in the darkness. I began to talk to it, the moon, the only familiar thing outside the window.
“My mom is gone. I am completely alone. Did you ever feel like the whole world has given up on you? And your life is over? Because that is how I feel tonight.”
As if in answer, a shadow crossed the bright disc of light hanging in the velvet sky.
As if posing for me, the shadow paused, silhouetted against the moon. Had I dozed off and not realized it?
It looked like a dragon.
Ridiculous, but that was what it appeared to be, and I blinked trying to decide what I was looking at. By then the image was gone and the creature had dipped back into the trees.
It couldn’t have been.
I sat sentry for hours but the thing never reappeared.
The dragon had been either a dream, a figment of an overactive imagination or perhaps the onset of some madness that would swallow all that was left of me from this dark life. I clung to those ideas even as I drifted into sleep with my head pressed to the glass.
Monday, October 17, 2011
I am a huge fan of balance. I am also not so great at creating it. I think when I was born, they were handing out extra chaos and I picked up a double order.
So I tend to do everything to extremes. I am an extra large gal in a travel-sized world. I like to laugh. I like to write.
I work probably more than is healthy. 3am and I are just as good friends as 5am and I. I spend most of this time staring at a computer. Book, school and review stuff has me toss out the answer, "I would if I could but..." more than I noticed, lately.
So when I got a facebook invite to see a couple friends from highschool play at a local winery, I forwarded it to a good friend of mine. Honestly, from that point, I forgot about it. When I got the invite it seemed like a good idea and all...
And another facebook invite advised me that Saturday was the CD release party for another friends band. And a birthday party. I RSVP'd those, too. Probably I would have to bow out but...
Then Friday rolled around and the friend I had forwarded the invite to said, "Let's go!" And I went.
Wine, cheese, great company with the backdrop of music that was both familiar (the lead guitarist and lead singer were guys I went to high school with... We had spent many hours in the art department so I had heard some of the same music back then in a rawer, younger form.) and smoother all at once. I had a blast. Probably I haven't laughed as much as I did that night in a long time. Too long.
(here is a youtube video I took with my phone of the band)
And Saturday rolled around and I went back out with the same buddy. Funny thing there... If I don't spend time with someone for awhile, I think I convince myself that there is nothing to miss, after all. Which is bull shit. This was a very old and good friend of mine, at one point my very best friend, so I sort of forget that there are people out there that 'get' you. Like on that level where they know the ugly bits but understand.... Yeah, that good of a friend. So I now remember WHY I should miss their company.
Anyway, went out Saturday and had a great visit with my little sister. Her new fiance is with the band, Torn Days (check out their Facebook page here) and we hit their release party. Some of their lyrics crack me up and they have a fun style that puts me in the mind of Creed. All in all, a fun night but the fun wasn't over...
We then went out to karaoke at Pennline. I sang 'Does he love you?' and 'Jar of Hearts' and altogether let my hair down. (Or in my case, tugged it up so I could dance!)
What is the point of this recitation of my weekend events?
Make time for fun. Whatever your idea of fun is. There is no such thing as being too busy to sit with a friend and laugh. There is no such thing as being too busy to dance like you don't care.
You only live once.
The whole thing, while taking up a good portion of my weekend, added up to leave me feeling more refreshed, more ready to take the world by the horns and kick it's ass.
Find your fun. Take it. Make it your bitch.
That is just one writer's advice. But I am pretty sure I am right. ;)
Oh, and if you loved Matt and Shaun of the Shaun Easton Band, here is another video I took of them with my droid... This time singing one of my favorite songs, No Woman No Cry. Have a great Monday!!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
I am closing the contest a few hours late because... Well, to be honest, last night at midnight my eyes were burning from staring at a computer and making a blog was down towards the bottom of the list of things I wanted to do...
But thanks to random.org, we have a winner...
Now, I just have to dig around, find your email and figure out which book you want free...
Thanks to everyone for playing and hope you enjoy your free book, Anna!
*You can't hear it but there is some happy music playing and confetti is getting tossed in your honor... And since it is just after 8am our time on a Saturday morning, I am chugging coffee and waiting for muffins to cook and hoping the kids sleep just a LITTLE longer... In your honor!!! Whooooooo!!*