Friday, October 30, 2009

A year in a daze

With the notable exception of Pink Floyd and Jerry Garcia devotees, I think you would be hard pressed to find very few people who could honestly say, 'Hey, I've lost an entire year in a daze.' However, I find myself in that unenviable position. Unlike the Grateful Dead-heads, I can't stare at pink puffy clouds with near mystic myopic Zen-like grace and chant, "'shrooms, Dude, it was the 'shrooms."

This time last year I was lost in my head, just a little. We were busy welcoming our first brand new filly, Defiant, and saying goodbye to my tiny hairless Chinese Crested named Fidget. It was a terribly bittersweet moment - I'd come home, full of joy over something silly the new foal had done, only to find my two year-old toy dog couldn't keep his body temperature regulated. Fully dressed I staggered into the shower, holding my little dog while my husband called the vet-tech we used for the horses. She didn't live far away, but it didn't matter. He started seizures and died before we could do anything. A new life comes and one is taken away. Call it childish, but that moment ruined my desire to spend time with the new foal. See, Fidget was my writing buddy. He was young and intelligent, listened far better than my aging, grumpy Chihuahua, Maximus did. He sat on my lap as I typed, watching the screen, huffing almost instinctively when I had a misspelling or grammar error. Even better, when the story or plot sucked, he would yawn and nose the keyboard in a bid to take over. Max, well, that grumpy old dog just wanted to bite me and pee on the computer. He wasn't a writer's helper, more my muse.

In the middle of the stress of pet misfortune there were other, far more serious things going on; anything and everything but writing. Looking back, I felt like the character from Edvard Munch's "The Scream."

In a page in his diary headed Nice 22.01.1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image thus:

"I was walking along a path with two friends —the sun was setting— suddenly the sky turned blood red —I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence — there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city — my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety — and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

For an entire year, I felt like that. It made perfect sense to me, watching scenes from Jurassic Park where scientists drilled into amber to retrieve DNA from a preserved insect - I was that captured creature. And for one whole year, it never occurred to me to tell anyone about feeling trapped inside my own mind, my own body a prison.

By why would it? When a person with an unseen disability withdraws from society, they do their best to put on a good facade for those who do come into contact with them. After a while it becomes second nature, like donning clothes. But, if you look at a person with depression, the clothing shows inattention. My withdrawal was complete - even online I had faded to nothingness, as my writing proved - no books from 12/08 until 10/09 when I finally managed to wrangle free of the morass.

It wasn't until I began writing this post, looking back on history, lest it repeat itself unnecessarily, that I made a sort of discovery. For far too long I've been locked in my own small world, the one between my ears. A world created of my own imagining, populated by people who have no expectations, exact no judgements and make no demands. In short, it's time to get out and start living for real. Off of the page, out of the cage, and 'once more into the breach dear friends!'

Hopefully, this time I'll get it write.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wow, what a year!

In a few weeks, just before Thanksgiving actually, I'll be celebrating the one year anniversary of accepting my first book contract.

I can hardly believe how awesome this last year has been since that momentous event. It was a contract for a short with Lyrical Press, FOODIE'S GUIDE TO KITCHEN MAGIC. Since then, my writing has kinda taken off and it's been a crazy, happy, frenetic, insane ride.

I went into 2009 with a one goal: get a full length novel published by an e-publisher. In my mind, I determined that that was the direction I needed to take to start a successful writing career. That goal was met when my first novel WINNER TAKE ALL was accepted by Desert Breeze Publishing in April.

At that moment, I had a huge number of rejection letters and a handful of contracts for shorts.

Nothing to do but power on and learn the craft of writing. There's so much to learn. So much to absorb. So much I didn't know I didn't know.

And I'm still learning. Still getting better.

That's exciting to me.

I can't wait to see what happens in 2010, but I do know this. My first full length paranormal novel releases in January THE ART OF FANG SHUI and I'm beyond excited about it.

Where will I be this time next year? The sky's the limit.

Happy writing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My name is... and I'm a writer

Today I realised something truly horrible. I'm addicted to writing. Not a spare moment goes by without me looking for pen and paper. Even if I'm jotting down a point-form synopsis between laying out pages at work I start feeling twitchy if something isn't on the go.

Thing is, this started when I was still at primary school. Whenever the teachers confiscated the books I'd sneakily read during class (and back then I used to be a straight-A student, which annoyed the living hell out of them when I never paid attention to their lessons), I'd settle for second best by creating my own "magazines" or writing letters to my friends.

Geez, and this got worse during high school. Granted, I'd stopped being so annoyingly studious, (decidedly B-average by then all the way to matric, luv) but the reading and writing problem got worse and worse. By age thirteen I tried writing my first novel, some oddball little SF concoction that never saw the light of day past the first two chapters.

But that's when it hit me. I knew I simply had to write. A brief flirtation with being a Goth-rocker a la Marilyn Manson and a foray into photography afterward, the writing bug bit back hard despite the best efforts of a snarky now-ex who told me "Your writing is too romantic".

So, you may ask why I didn't pursue a literary career earlier on. Simply put, everyone, including my teachers, parents and friends told me, "You can never make a career out of writing."

This went as far as me being accepted for electrical engineering at a university of technology where my father worked. "Be sensible," everyone said. "Get a proper career off the ground, then later when you've got money, pursue your passions."

But all the while this desire to put words down remained itching beneath my skin. Studying a BA in English or literature was out of the question, due to financial reasons and, besides, a degree in "bugger all" won't put a roof over your head.

Thanks be to all the mercies I saw sense six months before I was to start my tertiary education. A hankering need to somehow be involved in the media industry saw me change my study path to graphic design. I figured I'd eventually sit in the editor's chair if I started as a graphic designer, even if I couldn't go get a larny degree in journalism.

Bah. It's been a circuitous route. Doing extremely well when it came to writing about advertising, graphic design and art history should already have been a hint. I should have badgered the folks to let me study that BA after all. Nevertheless, I don't regret my stints in magazine publishing and below the line marketing communications, and now newspaper publishing. I've learnt a lot about how to communicate and how the printing industry works.

But I can't help but wondering how things would have turned out if I'd listened to my heart from the word "go". So, I guess what I'm saying is it's never too late for you to sit back and figure out what your passion is then make a go at it. If you are, however, on the cusp of young adulthood, don't waste your opportunity to make a go at your passion a lot sooner. Life has a rather nasty of getting in the way of your passions when you're trying to make ends meet.

Perhaps a decade of living and working has given me life experience I'd been lacking at age eighteen but I sometimes wonder how things would have turned out otherwise. Would I have written that bestseller by now? This deep-rooted urge to create, to put words down, was shoved aside for so long that it's almost a sin. Thank goodness I've managed to fight my way into a situation where my talents can shine, but how many people out there have been denying this impulse to write, paint, make music, sing, dance...?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Looking back, looking ahead

This blog is a year old this week and what a year it's been!

Personally, this blog has taught me a lot. It's kept me writing, for one.

I've gotten to know my fellow bloggers and that's been wonderful.

I finished the first draft of my novel, Ghost Mountain, and started the sequel.

I was able to submit Ghost Mountain to a publisher.

And they accepted it! (In fact, I got the edits yesterday.)

That's a lot of good for a year. And I expect the upcoming year to be just as full. I've been told that Ghost Mountain will be available in early 2010, so there's a start. I have no doubt that the sequel will be finished in the next year. Book three will probably be started -- or at least plotted on the whiteboard next to my computer.

Do I have other goals? Of course. There are things I want to accomplish in my personal life, crafts and hobbies I want to learn and complete and master.

But for right now, my writing goals and accomplishments are taking center stage.


My Personal Reflections

This past year has been interesting to day the least. I've gone from actively working on a new years resolution of loosing weight and getting in better shape, to expecting a baby and all weight loss out the window. I've started and thrown out my first non-children's book idea, and started on another.

This year I've fallen more in love with my husband than I thought I ever could. My daughter's bio-mother moved 3 hours away taking her away and I found out what having your heart break really felt like.

I've gone from building a custom costuming business, to breaking down my sewing room and storing most of my equipment in the dark corner of the basement so that my daughter can have her own room rather than share with the baby. I've watched my body go from something I had ultimate control over, to something that I not only cannot control, but that is apparently being taken over by an alien being.

I'm hoping for the next year that it will be a blur of baby stuff, writing, editing, sewing, and loving my family.

But of course I fully expect to win the lottery.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Topic of the Week

Reflecting on the past year. Looking forward to the next.

Friday, October 23, 2009

You can lead a horse to water, and most of the time they'll take a drink

People always ask "how much of what you write is based on experience?" And no matter how fantastic the story I've created, they always manage to be astounded when I tell them, no matter the tale, every single story has some element based on something I've lived through or someone I've encountered. Or even better, on something that really has happened.

Why is that? Life is nothing more than art imitating life imitating art - so why not add another imitation layer?

Take for instance Night Lights. Two different types of vampires from two different worlds: one the Philippine berbalang, the other the traditional Nosferatu we all know and love. Then there are the characters who set the stage... Of course our lovers, Rizal Malihim and Maggie Thawley, are completely fictitious, but their parents - her dear daddy the Reverend Thawley and his the tribal leader - very real. Then there is the leader of the expedition, Sir Joseph, the learned scholar following the crazed letter of another learned man, Skertcherley, also very real, into the wilds of Cagayan, searching for the berbalangs, an account that has been well document. All in all a very real account. And the Nosferatu? Why it just wouldn't do to have a fake vampire of any kind populating this story! In the 1800s there were rumors of a man with glowing eyes wearing a black cape and a top hat haunting a specific graveyard... a man that had a "draining" effect on young women, shall we say.

Now, let's leave things at that, should anyone decide to read my twisty vampire story all on their own, just to see how much is real and how much is fantasy. No real vampires? I think I may have found two and conspired, in my way, to put them together.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

They're doing what, where?

The real world.



What does any of that mean mean to a writer, especially a writer working in the paranormal and romance fields? Let's face it. How often does an average, everyday woman run into a good looking hero with perfect teeth and smooth abs who just happens to be a vamp, were, or some other type of paranormal?

Is that real? Who knows, but that's kinda sorta what I write about. But for me, I anchor that in "reality", or in a real world setting. My upcoming vamp book releasing in January takes place almost exclusively in the Indiana Dunes State Park. All of my other paranormal books are set in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas.

Why do I do this? Because I think it's great fun to use real settings and stick unreal characters in them. It's the big "what if" factor. It makes a reader believe it could happen if they just believe hard enough. It sucks a reader in and keeps them there because the world around them isn't make up.

For me, it works. But then, my own reality is a little off...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Welcome.... To The Real World

I've talked about this before. I write characters and situations that are real, at least to me. The people in my stories are the people around me. If something weird happens in a story, it's something that at least in some small microscopic way has happened to me (or someone I know).

That's not saying that every story I write is an autobiography. It's not. It's a created 'skewed' reality. If there's a serial killer in a story, it's someone who's pissed me off in my real life. The bright and shining hero.... that's the hubbs. The damsel that's usually in distress (and yet happens to figure everything out), yeah, that's me. Any cast of helpful or not so helpful side characters.... pretty much anyone else in my life that has a personality that matches what I want to portray. Cheating? Maybe. But I'd like to think that it's more of an homage, rather than 'making fun'.

But it's a way for me to make sure that my story is as realistic as I can get it. I'm not the type of writer that fills her stories with unicorns and fairies. Not that they aren't cool as hell, I just don't want to create a whole new universe from scratch. I'll let other people do that for me.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tired of talking about it?

"Oh, I've had this idea for a novel, but..."

This is one of the phrases I hear regularly when people find out I'm an author. The operative word is "but."

There's a common misconception that everyone has at least one novel in them. I disagree. Anyone can write a novel but whether that novel is going to be worth reading... that is another story.

Some people are seized by an idea but they don't act on it. I've an acquaintance who taps her noggin and tells me, "It's all up here."

I smile and nod, while thinking, "Yeah right, you gotta show, don't tell."

When I was about 12 or 13 I knew I'd get 'round to writing a novel one day. I stopped myself from doing so because I didn't have a story. A lot of people start writing because they've got "cool" characters. They reckon the story "will happen" as they start writing. Although this method may work for some, more often than not, it's a dismal failure, with a writer's efforts fizzling out after one or two chapters.

Trust me. I've been there.

So, how do I do it? I've written five complete novels, two of which have been sold to a US-based press. One (the second) I shoved under my bed because I know it's just... well... Let's just say it ain't gonna happen 'cos the plot was pure wangst. One is currently sitting with my agent and I completed the first draft of the last yesterday. This is within the space of three years.

This is entirely possible because I know where the story is going to end before I start writing it. I plan. I outline and I also allow leeway for any incidental story arcs that take place while I write. Then, I get my posterior on a chair (or in my case, a daily two-hour commute by train to the centre of Cape Town) and I write. On a good day I put away between 1 000 to 2 000 words.

Next month is November. For those of you in the know, it's NaNoWriMo. I didn't think about it, didn't even consider the potential... But you see... I have this story... And I know I can do it...

And even if I don't finish, it's going to be one helluva ride. So, I guess what I'm trying to say with this is that you should stop talking about writing that great (insert nationality) novel and get cracking. Lay down those words. Don't overanalyse what you're doing. Just get those ideas down. Find a story that speaks to you and bring it to life. If you look hard enough you'll see you've got more than one hiding in there.

C'mon, I double dare you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

If one world is real, is another fake?

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”

Tom Clancy

I blame my mother. Totally and completely.

I'm sure she's OK with it. At least I hope so.

What do I blame her for? For my absolute despise of the phrase "the real world." I didn't like it even before it was a lame television show on MTV. As Mom would say, "What have you been living in? A fake world?"

Maybe that's why I take things from the everyday world and add them to my fiction.

My series involves a the real world. Real places. Real problems. Real... whatever.

Admittedly, the crime rate in the Black Hills isn't very high, and I hope to write many books with the series, so that's obviously not real. But that's OK.

But do I get my ideas from the world I live in? Yes. And no.

In Ghost Mountain (the first book), I came up with the idea all on my own. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a murder at Devils Tower. Could it have happened? Sure. But in this case, I didn't use anything I heard of to make the story seem more realistic.

Let Sleeping Bears Lay (the working title for book two), however, was sparked by a real-world event that took place during the 2008 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I changed the actual location and some of the details. Not to protect the guilty or the innocent, but because I needed the crime to happen a little differently.

So, do I get ideas from the world I live in? Yep. Sometimes. And sometimes the ideas come from my own twisted imagination.

One final note, there are some things in this world that would never make it in fiction. You know I'm right. In the past year, I heard of a story that would never make it in fiction. It's a true story, but I may get a few of the details wrong because it's been awhile since I've looked into it. It goes something like this:

A couple got married. A few years later (five? maybe ten?) the man died in a freak accident. His organs were donated and another young man received his heart. Years later that man married the same woman the first guy had married! No joke. And, after the same number of years married to her, guess what happened? Yep. Another freak accident and the guy died!

If anyone used that in a story, who would believe it?

Now I'm curious. What real things have happened to you that would never make it in a fictional story? I want to hear them.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Topic of the Week

Taking ideas from the "real world"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shoulda been the boy

Just before graduating college I took this weird test. Write a five hundred word short story, bring it to class, and have your writing gender revealed. Writing gender? Hello?! I'm a freaking woman, just look at the little kid dragging at my knees, the swollen ankles and the bloated gut if you could miss it, Bub. Like I needed some fancy, high-tech piece of hardware telling me what sex I was.

I went home, kvetching all the way about the idotic assignment. Feeling peckish I sort of took "liberties" with the content. Okay, I snickered, drank a beer and shared a laugh with my husband as I crafted my mistresspiece. Being female, I refused to call it a masterpiece.

The next day it was all I could do not to chortle as I typed the words (with as perfect grammar as I could muster) into the machine only to get a thermal paper ticket spat at me declaring me to be 82% masculine - much to the hilarity of the rest of the class.

To explain the gales of laughter at my chagrin, you'd probably have to know me. From the time I could first express my own opinion, which was probably day one, I've rejected all things pink, frilly and feminine. I had jean jackets, ball caps, jeans and sneakers until my parents enrolled me in Catholic school for the education. Personally, I think they did it in a last ditch effort to see me in a skirt before either of them died, but the ploy back-fired once I learned that atrocious plaid ensembles also came in pants. The nuns didn't like it but they lumped it, after deciding I was possessed (another popular theory the sisters considered was that I was a bastard child of demons but that's a story for another day). At one point in my teens even my own brother broke down in a fit of depression, complaining that we should have been swapped inside like Freaky Friday, "you shoulda been the boy." I played full tackle football, went fishing, hunting, target shooting, drank with the boys-shot-for-shot, so why wouldn't I write like one? In fact, all of my friends were guys...

It was something that made me think long and hard... before I started laughing. All the things that made me "weird" all my life just made me all that more appealing to my husband. Shopping? Hate it. The Mall? A torture chamber filled with potential enemies. Dining out? Why bother, I cook better and it costs less. New car? Um no. Give me a truck from before the 1980s, something with a 350-engine and no annoying computer to die. Furs? If I want one, I'll shoot and tan the critter myself. Jewelry? Nope, just gets in the way, but I'll take a tattoo if you'll keep me company while I'm in the chair. And don't worry, I'll save you a seat at the Super Bowl party too.

Guys are simple, loving, creatures, and I'll hang with them anytime - gay, straight, metro or retro. As for that story, if you ask nice I may share it with you. One day.

So, dude...what do ya think?

Convincly writing the male pov has to be one of the most difficult things about the craft to learn.   Some women do it well, others run away screaming leaving hero's thoughts forgotten or avoided all together.  I think as writers we must challenge ourselves with the scary stuff.  Do I know what goes through a guy's mind during a football game, dinner, at work?  Heck no, but I do have a husband who vocalizes his opinions on everything and a son who at fifteen is the imbodiment of male hormones, smart alic attitude, and coolness. 

When in doubt, I ask them, but when you think about it, that's just another part of imagining.  You are the creator of your book world.  You decide what the hero looks like, feels and thinks, just like your heroine.  His spoken words are only an extention of your character.   In tough spots I ask myself, "If I was a guy, what would I do, say, etc."  That seems to do the trick.  I'm trying something a little different with Circle of Seven.  My vamp tale is being written predominently from Kail's (the vampire) point of view.  Will it suck?  Maybe.  Only one way to find out. 

Have a great weekend!


He says/She says

First, let me apologize for the lateness of this post. As my family will tell you, I'm not perfect. And, since I'm to post on Mondays and this week seems to be full of Mondays, I'm sure it's still OK.

Most of what I write is done in first person. Since I'm not a man, my first person is definitely written as a woman.

Like Heather wrote earlier in the week, I may not be the most girly of all women, but I am a girl. Of course, unlike Heather, though, I do own skirts and dresses. But I also own combat books. (Hey, this brand of boots is very comfortable!)

When I really need to write from a male perspective — usually because a male character is speaking to my protagonist — I ask my husband how he would say... whatever.

It works for me. At least, I hope so!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

He said what?

My post this week will be short. I'm not prepared. I haven't thought about it. I've had a busy week, capped off with a rejection last night that threw me for a loop and I can't seem to move past it yet.

Eventually, I'll be okay. Just not now.

Anyway, when writing the male POV, you need to remember not to make him talk girlie and with long, rambling sentences. Just listen to your husband or partner. Grunting, short, one/two word answers is generally what you'll get.

Men are visual creatures as well, but don't expect them to differentiate between scarlet and crimson. It's just red. You're only wearing some sort of sweater and a pair of black shoes. What the hell are pumps? LOL

Simple and easy are best.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Do I Have to be a Guy Trapped in a Girls Body?

I'll be honest and say I've never really written for a guy's point of view. It's one of those things, you write what you know. I don't know from being a guy.

It's not that it makes me uncomfortable, I'm just not a guy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the most feminine women you've ever met. I'll be the first to admit that I've got more testosterone than the average gay hairdresser. I'm just not a man. So it's a little strange for me write as a guy. No matter how creative I try to be, there's just some lack of fundamental experience that prevents me from being able to be a convincing guy in my writing.

So honestly, I'm not even trying. My point of view for writing will almost ALWAYS be from a female perspective. It's just more comfortable for me, and lets face it, I'm doing this for enjoyment, so why would I make it hard for myself?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Who Defanged the Children of the Night?

As a storyteller, vampires have always been engaging subject matter to watch, write or read. Why, though? When I was little, I watched Christopher Lee’s interpretation of Dracula on telly. I remember being scared absolutely s***less. Here was this big, looming man with a funny Eastern European accent who got into your room at night while you were sleeping to drink your blood. Yet, mingled with this fear, was something else, a dark romance perhaps. Dracula struck me as a particularly tragic figure. Later, when fascination replaced my fear, I saw him as a man damned to eternal loneliness.

Fast forward a few years to Gary Oldman as Dracula. There’s no doubt. Gary Oldman made Dracula sexy with a darker element of desire. Yes, Dracula was still a bloodsucker but damn, he was hot. He still possessed a beastly side, though, perhaps more so than earlier interpretations. I won’t easily forget that dreadful bat thing he turns into.

Vampires were still a thing to be feared, yes, but not for long. Anne Rice changed all that with her terminally egocentric vampire Lestat and his pal Louis. Vampires went from being dark, dangerous creatures of the night to wangsty drama queens with a penchant for lace frocks and pretty boys. From being death-dealers they became objects of lust, the kind you sigh about then get all wispy-eyed. Still, kudos to Anne for her world-building, there’s still something altogether “preternatural” about her writing and the amount of times she uses that word.

Author Poppy Z Brite kicked off her career with the very memorable Lost Souls, which was definitely a return to vampires as hedonistic killers rather than wimps. She added some grit and debauchery with memorable characters such as Nothing, Christian and Zillah, who thought nothing of ripping out throats, sans the wangst. Sadly (and perhaps wisely) Poppy elected to move onto other genres but her standalone vampire novel is definitely a keeper for the genre.

By then you’d reckon vampires were done for in the media, right? Most editors and publishers are assured to roll their eyes and hiss when yet another vampire yarn drops into their inbox.

No, it gets worse. The romance genre cottoned onto the idea that supernatural creatures, including vampires, were actually, erm, dead sexy. With a diversification in the genre, avid readers received loads of treats with neck-biting boinkfests. The vampire’s role as killer and drinker of human blood was downplayed to that of a tormented lover looking for his soul mate. Eternal love replaced eternal damnation.

No matter how much the publishers clamour that vampire fiction is undead, should be buried six feet under or staked and left to sift to ashes in the sun, the fact remains that people still want new stories about vampires and people continue writing stories about vampires. As long as there’s a market, there will be a product.

I’m not going to talk about the Buffyverse here. To be quite honest, I simply haven’t gotten into that milieu, so I’m going to skip it and go onto the dreaded Twilight phenomenon. I had no choice but to read all four books so I could catch copy-cat authors before they hoodwinked an unsuspecting editor (me). To put it mildly, it was a load of co-dependent obsessive relationships tangled in a lukewarm plot. Wangst on, and not a single fang or exposed carotid artery to be seen. Edward makes Louis look like a cold-hearted bitch. There’s a lot wrong with this story but it goes beyond the scope of this article to tell you why. If you’re morbidly curious, google “Edward abuses Bella” and see what you get. You’ll be reading until next year, if you have the stomach for it.

On the opposite end of the scale, if you're looking to be truly terrified (and I must admit I didn't have the courage to sit through the film) there's 28 Days of Night. Those vamps make Dracula look like a kitten and certainly our dear friend Edward Cullen wouldn't stand a snowflake's chance in Hell against those creatures.

The Southern Vampire Mysteries are worth looking into. Although a fair romantic element still seems evident, there’s a standard urban fantasy milieu here which has far more grit than Twilight. Having watched True Blood, the TV series based on the books, I’ve found the setting to be quite entertaining, slightly tongue-in-cheek and quite a good treatment of the vampire genre. Oh, and the vamps have fangs and OMG! They drink blood.

Henry Fitzroy, ably portrayed by the rather filthy gorgeous Kyle Schmid, is Canada's answer to True Blood's vamps in the now-discontinued Blood Ties. Yes, I know it's just a monster-of-the-week kinda show but oh, my, when the boy gets peeved, he's all mad-as-hell and definitely unhuman. And those eyes... **swoons** What seems to be working here is a happy blend of man and monster.

Any way we vamp fans look at it, we're definitely spoiled for choice nowadays. Gone are the somewhat cheesy black capes and penguin suits. Our vamps vary between the hideous and the oh-so-jooje but please, oh please... Don't allow them to turn into sparkly Marty Stus. Remember that they are creatures of the night that stalk at the edges of our dreams represent our attraction to the Other, a dark side of our personalities. What are we left with if we tame that?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Topic of the Week

Writing the male POV for women writers. What tricks do you use to stay in character?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tony-Paul de Vissage author of DARK GOD DESCENDING

Welcome author Tony-Paul de Vissage as he tells us a little about his new book, Dark God Descending.

Official bio:  A writer of French Huguenot extraction, one of Tony-Paul de Vissage's first movie memories is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula's Daughter on television, and being scared sleepless--and that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires.
This was further inspired when the author was kidnapped by a band of transplanted Romanian vampires who were sightseeing in Georgia. Having never seen a human who wasn’t frightened of them, they kept the youngster with them for several months, offering to pay his way through college if he would become an author and write about vampires in a positive manner. He agreed, was returned to his parents (who were also grateful for the tuition offer since it let them off the hook and enabled them to indulge in Carribean cruises and trips to the Orient) and continued to keep in touch with his supernatural mentors.
Though the author didn't begin writing horror--or any other genre--until after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from a well-known Southern University (and a second in Graphic Art), that one particular interest--and the promise made to his mentors--survived a liberal arts' education and the scorn of friends and family. Marriage, parenthood, divorce, and a variety of occupations ranging from stage work to doctor's assistant took precedent over writing for several years, as did moving from one United States coast to another.
Eventually that first story--a short story about the hapless vampire Clan Andriescu--was published. A voracious reader whose personal library has been shipped more than 3,000 miles, Tony-Paul has read hundreds of vampire tales and viewed more than as many movies.

The Mayan view of the vampire legend (tentative release date Oct 1)

Dark God Descending is the story of a friendship--between two men separated by millennia, cultures, and customs. Threatened by their love for the same women, it is strengthened when they share something more precious--their lifesblood--and from that moment, their lives are inextricably bound--for eternity.

For five thousand years, the Dark Lords of Hell ruled the Mayan city of Nikte-Uaxac, while the outside world changed and grew and then twentieth century strangers came to the Forbidden City and stole the Maya's most precious possession, its Emperior.

Tucker Upchurch is a graduate student, studying the past but living in the present. Semris is a demon, the son of the god of Death and has been emperor for five thousand years. Tuck never thought he'd lose his girl to a demon or get near-immortality in exchange, and Semris never expected to experience mortal love but when the two meet, both their lives and the worlds they live in are forever changed.


A lost city in the jungle...a safari of scientists...a stolen artifact... How many times has this theme been played out in books, movies, and television? A curse is exacted upon the thieves, with the hero struggling to save his friends before the sacred object is returned to its home.

Dark God Descending follows this formula to a certain degree. There's a lost city and a sacred object is stolen from the city but there the similarity ends. The stolen sacred object is the Emperor himself--Semris II, son of the god of Death, a demon godling with too much curiosity about the Outside World. An intelligent, articulate being, Semris is befriended by the man guarding him.
Tucker Upchurch is a graduate student, accompanying his professor on the safari which will change his life forever. Ordered to stand guard over the imprisoned demon, he immediately questions the morality of kidnapping Semris and once he begins to communicate with his captive, agrees to help him escape. From that moment on, Tuck's life will never be the same and he'll lose everything he holds dear--his girl, his place at the university he attends, his livelihood--while gaining the friendship of a creature who shouldn't exist. Semris is also changed by his knowledge of those in the Outside. He will learn of human love and human sacrifice, and also the depths of human cruelty.

Others are also changed by their association with the escaped demon. Along the way, they add two more passengers in their voyage toward freedom--Tuck's girl, Shannon, and Shannon's brother, David, a repressed doctor who considers himself without imagination or humour. David’s transformation is both amusing and heart-warming as he finds himself a “permanent resident of the Twilight Zone.”
Dark God Descending is the story of a friendship between two men separated by thousands of years, customs, and cultures. When Tuck, Shannon, and Semris--and even David-- reach the end of their journey, they find that it is only the beginning--for all of them.

Book trailer:

(Dark God Descending is scheduled for an October release date.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's a mystery...uh no, it's my life

Because I can’t remember if there was a theme for this week, I’m just going to blog about whatever comes to mind.

Last week was frantic. I had a book release, an online book launch party, a migraine. Then came a new contract for a full-length historical/paranormal book and all the forms that come with it. Not to mention a string of line edits from the edge of beyond. Top that with finishing a novella for an open call.

Needless to say, my brain kicked over into dead space yesterday and I baked a cake because that’s what I do when my mind is crowded. Which is good because while the hands are busy, the brain can play.

So, now that the chaos has settled a bit, I’m turning my attention to writing a new full length book. After spending the last few months working on nothing but novellas, I’m anxious to make my keyboard fly with new writing.

I love the chance full length fiction gives me to really explore my characters. In these instances, I feel very much like a scientist as I watch my characters squirm in uncomfortable situations fraught with sexual tension and life-problems. It just so happens that this one will include a shape shifter, you know, to make life interesting.

Do I have a point to the blog today? Not really. I’m back to the beginning and I can’t wait to get started. Talk to me in three months. By then I’ll have a 70K word book and I’m pretty certain it will really rock.

Until then, happy writing.

Oh, and if I could take three books to an island, here's the thing. If I knew in advance I was going, I'd buy an e-reader and stuff it full of three hundred books. :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Went to a Desert Island, and All I Got Was...

ok, so that was going to be a bad joke about either sunburns or coconuts. Couldn't bring myself to actually go there.

I've often thought about the whole Desert Island thing. Everybody asks the question. If it's not what famous person would you bring with you (Johnny Depp thank you very much), it's what survival gear would make the trip (water, fishing pole, and a boat*). But I can't honestly say I've ever given much thought to what books I'd bring.

It's not that I don't enjoy reading the same books over and over again, I do. Like most people today with our limited incomes, I have to think really REALLY hard about each and every thing I purchase. So I don't really get a lot of new books, and end up reading my old books dozens, if not hundreds of times. Alice in Wonderland - I think I'm into the easy one-fifties. Shirley Damsgaard's Abby and Ophelia books are well into the 30's. Any Terry Pratchett Discworld book ever... lets just say I've had to replace copies because they fell apart.

But if I can only have three books to last me for conceivably the rest of my life? Uhhhhhhhhhh... No clue. So I'm just going to go out on a limb and guess.

1- THUD! by Terry Pratchett. If you've never read a Discworld book, this isn't the place to start. Not that you wouldn't 'get it', but you wouldn't REALLY get it. Oh, you'd enjoy the hell out of it, but if you don't know all the back story, it's just an enjoyable romp with trolls, dwarves, ware wolves, vampires, politics, and the baddest assed cop ever, Sam Vimes. You won't know WHY Sam is the baddest assed cop ever; WHY Sybil is bald, beautiful, and covered in leather and iron; or WHY Anguina and Sally don't get along, and why Carrot just doesn't understand. (admittedly you will get the short explanation, but trust me, you have to read the rest of the series to really REALLY understand) But you will know where your cow is.

2- The Lord of the Rings books and the Hobbit, I'm counting these as one. I'm not even going to try for a mini-review. If you don't know the story, you've been living under a rock. Seriously, who couldn't read these over and over and over and over again?? (with the exception of everything Tom Bombadil says)

3- Story Telling by Tori Spelling. I'll need toilet paper. Another thing most people don't think about on a desert island.

Hopefully I won't have to read these books and these books alone for the rest of my life, I'm assuming there's at least a pretty good chance that the Coast Guard will at some point find me. Or maybe it's Greenpeace. I can never remember.

* why does no one ever think about bringing a boat with you to a desert island? Get off the damn island people! And don't give me that bull about you can't bring a boat, no one ever in the history of ever has said "what three things would you take with you, but you can't say boat".

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Scaring Ourselves Half to Death

When last have you watched something really scary? As a writer of urban/dark fantasy with a definite edge of spine-chilling scares, I'm constantly looking for inspiration and, last night, my dearly beloved husband and I discovered a prime source for cold thrills.

To give a little background, my husband, Thomas, makes indie horror movies for fun (really). So the two of us often indulge in what we consider research together, devouring an assortment of horror movies and documentaries, when given half a chance.

Well, I must admit, last night I really did have a difficult time getting to sleep. We may not have telly but we do trawl YouTube for anything unusual and we discovered a spine-chilling series called Haunted Britain. Whatever you do, don't watch this before going to bed.

Not only was it well produced but it succeeded in frightening the living bejezus out of me. Being South African and living in sunny, Mediterranean Cape Town, it's not easy getting the chills because we simply don't have the UK's grey skies and ancient buildings dating back to goodness knows when. Sure, we do have our own plethora of spooks but hey, Thomas and I don't live in one of the old Victorian homes closer to the city.

Cape Town's castle dates back to the 1600s and that's about as old as it gets. Earlier this year I arranged for the Admastor Writers' Guild to meet there and embark on a tour and the inspiration for some of the authors was amazing. One of our newish members has gone on to sell her short story inspired by one of the dungeons...

But, back to Britain and its hauntings. So, now I'm inspired. These ghost stories went beyond faintly luminous spectres to focus on tales of truly malevolent status. Cowled monks have never been this frightening and I'm dead set to go visit Greyfrair's cemetery. And this has whet my appetite to take a closer look at my home town's spooks.

So, my challenge to you, if you're a creative person, is to dig a little into the haunting history of your home town. Were any battles fought? Were there any particulary gruesome murders? Which buildings have a... erm... shall we call it a bit too much history?

Often the best stories are those that have a ring of truth to them and sometimes you don't need to look too far to find them.

I'll finish off this blog entry with a little ghostly tale from my own family, that has been farming in South Africa's Western Cape for hundreds of years. My direct ancestors owned a farm called Kronendal—the old H-shaped Cape Dutch farmhouse still standing on Hout Bay's busy main road. The farmlands are, sadly, nonexistent and the house has been home to a succession of businesses, including restaurants. The remaining (living) family members find it very amusing that the supposed ghosts walking Kronendal's rooms certainly weren't there when any of the Van Helsdingens, Van Rheede van Oudtshoorns and Brinks were living there. These stories have built up over the years but the anecdotal evidence from my family suggests that the only spooks spotted were my great grandfather, Oupa Joe, and not the "grey lady" all the Johnny-come-latelies enthuse about. And no lovelorn British soldier hung himself in the oak avenue, either.

Odd. But then I'm pretty keen about the fact that I'm related to the Van Helsdingens. It's suitably apt considering the literature I write.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Only three? I just won't go!

What three books would you take with you to an island? It's not a question I can easily answer. In fact, my first reaction was one of panic.

There are books everywhere in my house. Seriously. Instead of knick-knacks, we have books. Some are old and no longer read. Some are reference types left over from my college days or when our daughter was being home educated. Some are for my own writing -- research books, writing books, a thesaurus. Some are beloved favorites that have been read again and again. Some are in various to-be-read piles -- purchased to be read, but not gotten to just yet.

While I've never been to an island of any type — deserted or not — I have been known to take books to the beach. As a child I remember reading the Raggedy Ann Stories at my grandparents cabin. That was more interesting to me then fishing or swimming in the lake. It was the same scenario, different books, when I lived in the Tidewater area of Virginia. Driving to the beach for the day was nothing and books were a constant companion.

So, to get back to the question, I have no idea! I read books so quickly that three wouldn't last me long. There are classics I've never read (though I'm currently listening to The Three Musketeers by Alexandar Dumas on my iPod during my morning walks). There are classics I want to re-read (let's not discuss the number of times I've read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell). There are a number of series I enjoy (Mrs. Jefferies by Emily Brightwell, for example). There are authors who I love to read (including but not limited to Jan Burke and Charlane Harris). I can't pick three!!

Would it be cheating to require my deserted island to have electricity and internet capabilities? Because then I'll just take my Sony e-book reader and save myself a who lot of worry! Otherwise, I guess I'll spend this winter in the Black Hills of South Dakota. At least then I can have more than three books...


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Which way did my muse go?

 So have you seen that elusive magical creature?  She's supposed to hang out with me day in and out, giving me awesome ideas and keeping me pumped up for the next story, but... She's headed for the hills.  The hammering and drills give her headaches.  She's tired of sawdust and nasty smelling adhesive.  She can't inspire me with the thoughts of me possibly sawing off my fingers with the circular saw while building walls.  Or that's what I think.  Have you ever heard the phrase "If you try to do too many things, you'll end of doing nothing right?"  I think this is true to some degree.

It's very easy to letting little things slide when you have a lot to do.  Yesterday, the muse pops back into my head with a new idea for TO TAKE UP THE SWORD, something I haven't worked on in a few years, but that I'll have to start soon. She finds me in the middle of watching my daughter's volleyball tournament.  It always seems to be like that.  So here's a question.  How do you save those ideas for later, when you're not
building, or working, or being cheer mom?  Got any ideas?


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Topic of the Week

If you could take three books with you to a deserted island....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Release of The Haunting of Amelia Pritchart!!

I'm very pleased to share with you my release of my newest book THE HAUNTING OF AMELIA PRITCHART. It released yesterday from The Wild Rose Press, but I figured I'd promo it here today :-)

Blurb: Amelia Pritchart’s life is a mess. Her house is crumbling down around her, she’s got a bad case of writer’s block, and divorce papers await her signature. The trouble is, she still loves her husband.

And if that’s not bad enough, she comes face to face with a ghost—who has problems of her own. The restless spirit demands Amelia help her tormented soul so she can finally rest in peace. Intrigued, Amelia sets out to grant the wish, but soon finds there’s much more to the ghost than just being dead.

When her estranged husband shows up on her doorstep on Halloween, Amelia must face two pasts, both full of pain. Can she help the ghost without becoming eternally haunted? And can she face her own fears and insecurities about her marriage in order to grasp the second chance at happiness her husband offers?

Excerpt: “Tomorrow is All Hallow’s Eve. At the stroke of midnight, ghosts that have been unable to pass from the mortal world are allowed to assume their human body for 24 hours. In that time period, we are instructed to make peace with those issues that are preventing us from moving forward.”

“What does that have to do with me?” She frowned when Elizabeth’s form began to fade.

“It’s becoming difficult for me to see you.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I find that allowing myself to be seen by human eyes takes a good amount of energy on my part. I need to rest. Before I go, I would like you to find a descendant of Samuel’s. I need to confess my secret. Please help me.”

“I’ll try.” Amelia scrambled for the small notepad and pencil on her bedside table. “What’s Samuel’s full name? I won’t be able to hunt down his family without that information.” She set aside the incredible fact she was conversing with a ghost.

“Samuel Pritchart Carmichael. Please do your best, Amelia. My hope is resting on you.”

Amelia blinked, and her shiver this time had nothing to do with the temperature of the room. “Pritchart? But that’s impossible.” Her stomach threatened to revolt at the familiar name. Before she could question the specter further, the ghost evaporated into the darkness with a soft sigh. “Elizabeth?”

Leaving the safe harbor of her bed, Amelia padded across the creaky hardwood floor. As she inspected the chair for signs that the ghost really had visited, she passed a hand through the air before her. The ghost left no evidence of her visit.

How could she possibly help a woman who died 90 years ago?

Video link:

It’s been reviewed as well! The Haunting of Amelia Pritchart is what a ghost story should be, intriguing, exciting, and leaving me anxious for more.
For the full review, please visit:

And please drop by my website to see what else I’ve been up to!

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll consider adding this book to your electronic library!