Gits and Shiggles

Happy Hump Day!
 
Wednesday. The middle of the week. The moment where you often think only two more days to go and then it’s the weekend! 
 
This is the point in the work week where I often look to laughter to help me finish out the week. So I wanted to share some of what makes me laugh. No matter how many times I see these clips (and the TV episodes and/or movies they’re from), I can’t help but laugh. Almost instantaneously, too! 😉
 
Hope you enjoy! 

Peter Griffin singing ‘Ding Fries Are Done’
 
I’m singing along. Are you?
 
 
 
“Eurotrip” anyone?
 
One of my all-time favorite movies. Simply because “Europtrip” is fun to watch, fun to quote, and it never fails to make me laugh.
 
 
 
 
“I’m Batman!”
 
Who doesn’t love Big Bang Theory?
 
 

Disappearing Acts and Amazing News

This is our eldest cat, Dusty. Ain’t he cute? 🙂

Can anyone tell me what happened to the month of November? I feel as though it managed to arrive, but the month didn’t take its shoes off, kick its feet on the coffee table and stay a while. November barely stepped its foot in the door before it disappeared and December came running in.

Or is this just me? 🙂

So…. yes, I kinda disappeared on everyone last week. And I’m so, so, sorry about that. I managed to get my Tuesday post up and running, but then Friday’s? Heh…. yea… it apparently wasn’t in the cards for me to get home in time to put the links together. Nor for me to have the energy to stay awake the second my but hit a chair.

The reason for this is because there is some amazing news on the horizon for the hubs and I, and I absolutely cannot wait to share it with all of you! Which should be right at Christmas, because I really, really don’t want to share too early and jinx it all.

So in the meantime, please bear with me and my random disappearing acts. I’m trying my best to get through this busy, busy month of holidays and insane-yet-awesome personal matters… and trying my damndest to get through it all in one piece. 🙂

But I do promise that this Friday there will be a weekly round-up of writing posts! So until then… *raises wine glass* be safe, be happy, be peaceful, and be writerly. 😉

Writing Resource – Movie Firearms Database

I know I’m not the only person who, after watching a wicked action flick, has said to themselves: “Daaaaamn…. I really want one of those guns!” Truth be told, I find myself saying something along those lines at least three or four times per movie. More if it’s a damn good movie. *grin*

Last month, the hubby and I watched The Expendables 2, and this was one such movie where I didn’t just want to have one of the weapons for myself, but I actually wanted one of the characters in my WIP to have one of those weapons. Especially the assault rifle Chuck Norris’s character uses. *shudders at the mention of Chuck*

Now, because I’m the not best when it comes to the name and type of gun in a movie (I usually refer to them as, “Chuck’s gun, or Liam’s sniper, or the really, really loud one!”), and also because I can’t just bug one of my buddies all the time when I want to change up the weapons being used in my WIP, I set out for a quick search on Google, and I discovered…

I love, love, love this database! I’ve always loved the regular Internet Movie Database, and I wish I had discovered sooner that there was a database specific to movie firearms. And – BONUS! – they don’t just cover firearms you see in movies. *cheers* They also cover firearms in TV, Anime, and Video Games, and you can also simply search by the actor. So if you want to know of every gun Sandra Bullock has ever used in his film career, this site will tell you.

 
So now that I have discovered this particular database, I now know the following about the gun that Chuck Norris’s character used in the movie:
·         It’s a Heckler & Kosh G36C, an assault rifle, introduced in 2001
·         It weighs 6.2 lbs
·         Its fire mode is Semi-Auto/Full-Auto.
·         I can also say there’s also a G36, a G36K, and a MG36.
·         The G36C has been used in at least 40 films, 30 Video Games, and 14 TV shows.
o   Well-known actors who have used this weapon in film: Gerard Butler (Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life & Gamer), Martin Lawrence(Bad Boys II), Vince Vaughn(Mr. & Mrs. Smith), and Clive Owen(Shoot ‘Em Up)
·         And because I now know the name of the weapon, I can skip on over to YouTube and see how this baby works in real life, especially since there’s no way in hell I’m gonna get to actually use one anytime soon.

There’s no way on earth I could’ve told you that much information on this weapon. No. Way.

But now that I have this resource, my projects and characters will have no shortage whatsoever when it comes to their selection of weaponry.

And of course I had to share with all of you! I mean, right behind thinking of the many, many ways we can kill a character off are the many, many weapons we can incorporate into our story. And if you’re like me, this particular task takes time because you have the find the right weapon for your character. It has to look and feel like something your character would whip out in the middle of a battle.

Your Turn: Do any of your characters use firearms? If so, how were you able to find and choose which firearm was right for them? Do you have another resource you use for weaponry? If so, please share!

The Key to Surviving NaNoWriMo: Don’t “Should” Yourself, Don’t Stress, Have Fun

Are all my fellow NaNoWriMo-ers out there having fun yet? I know I am…. *grin*

Here’s how much fun I’ve been having:

On day 1 of NaNo: I didn’t get any writing done. I had a personal appointment after work that lasted until the middle of the evening, and between putting food in my belly and getting my weekly mash-up of writing links together, my muse decided it was safer to stay in his corner and drink his Grey Goose.

On Day 2 of NaNo: Again, no writing done. I was on deadline for a 30-page exchange on the WIP I worked on in Colorado at Immersion Master Class, and so I absolutely, without any exceptions, had to have those pages done! While I could’ve skipped out and my partner would’ve understood, my muse decided that if he couldn’t get me to put new words down in the newest WIP, then he’d get something outta my tail with this other one. *sigh*

On Day 3 of NaNo: No. Writing. Whatsoever. AHHHHH! By the time the appointment time for our personal ventures approached in the afternoon, I was “shoulding’” all over myself. I should’ve gotten up earlier. I should’ve stopped reading this awesome book five chapter ago. I should’ve kicked the hubs outta the bed and turned off the TV. I should’ve, I should’ve, etc. And it didn’t stop there. I ended up “shoulding” myself that night – again! *double sigh*

On Day 4 of NaNo: Nope. Nada. Nothing. Stayed up too late doing personal research with the hubs and found my body and brain just simply wanted to relax. That is, at least until another appointment that afternoon. When that was done I got excited – Yay! It’s 4:15 so there’s plenty of time to go home and get some writing done. But then my bestie’s hubby spoke a bit of wisdom: If you haven’t written all weekend, don’t start now. Finish the rest of the weekend away from it, relax, then start back tomorrow. Hmmm…. *nods a ‘yes sir’ in his direction*

On Day 5 of NaNo: Hmmm…. Dinner – check! Editing notes almost complete – check! Blog post almost done – check! Well, it looks like I’ll have just enough time to squeeze in about 2,000 words tonight after all. Huh….

My point with that little break down is this: If you’re like me and haven’t written any words into your brand-spankin’ new WIP, you may be freaking out a little. Am I right? Or you may be “shoulding” yourself for not getting earlier to get some writing done, or for keeping your nose in that delicious book you’re ready. Am I right?

Well, the “shoulding” should stop now! Because the key to NaNoWriMo is not stressing, and not “shoulding” yourself all over the place. These first few days of NaNo are GONE. Unattainable. Finito. Done. So why “should” your pants off? All that’s going to do is stress you out even more. All that stress isn’t good for anyone. Stress kills! That’s something the hubby’s always reminding me of since we lost his mother last May. And since then, I’ve tried to live by the following moto:

So when it comes to NaNo – or anything in life – a lack of stress and “shoulding” is key.

Why?

Because like most things in life, when you’re not thinking or stressing over something, somewhere along the way you’ll find your wishes, hopes and dreams will come true. If you learn to take it easy, laugh, smile and have a good time, you’ll find your wishes, hopes and dreams will come true. If that wish, hope or dream just so happens to 50k by the end of November, then guess what? If you don’t stress, then it’ll happen. If you don’t “should” yourself? The words will flow from your fingertips and you’ll find that you’ve conquered NaNo.

And if for whatever reason you find yourself short a couple thousand words on November 30th? So what…who cares…no big deal. At least you had fun, right? *grin*

So while I’m talking about having fun and not stressing, I thought I’d offer a few a things I’ve turned to make me laugh these last few days. Hope you enjoy!

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Funny Southun Sayin’s and/or Southun truths:


I’m finer than frog hair split four ways.
Don’t you piss on my leg and tell me it’s rainin’!
He was as mad as a mule chewing on bumblebees.
That was faster than green grass through a goose.
Southerners know everybody’s first name: Honey, Darlin’, Shugah
Southerners know their religions: Bapdiss, Methdiss, Football
Southerners know their elegant gentlmen: Men in uniform, men in tuxedos, Rhett Butler
Southern girls know their prime real estate: The mall, the Country Club, the Beauty Salon
Southerners know the difference between a hissie fit and aconniption fit, and that you don’t “have” them, you “pitch” them. <—This is my fave – and it is SO true!
Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of “yonder.”
In the South, “y’all” is singular, “all y’all” is plural.
Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who’s got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor’s trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin’! <—AMEN! Now I want some banana puddin’ *smile*
And last but not least…. Southern girls know men may come and go, but friends are fah-evah!

Because we hardly ever get ‘ true snow’

Some new Chuck Norris “fact” I discovered online this week – ‘cause I’m a dork *smile*:

Chuck Norris won a hand of blackjack, with one card.
Jalepenos think Chuck Norris is hot.
Chuck Norris can travel through time by running 88 miles per hour.
Avatars were invented when Chuck Norris laid an uppercut to a smurf.
Chuck Norris can light a fire by rubbing 2 ice cubes together.
Chuck Norris is the only man who can set a person on fire…underwater.
Chuck Norris finished the Never Ending Story.
And last but not least…. Jason Bourne is Chuck Norris’s daughter. <—This one had me snorting soda on my keyboard.


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YOUR TURN: If you’re participating this year, how’s NaNoWriMo going for you this year? Are you feeling stressed at all, or are you pretty relaxed over your word count? Whether you’re participating or not this year, how do you handle the stress that comes with life and writing? Do you often find yourself needing, craving a good laugh to get through it? Or are you finding that patch of white hair on your head getting larger by the day? 

How to Write 5k In a Day

Photo by: Kristin Nador

Recently, I began drafting a new WIP. While I technically wanted to wait until this final round of edits was complete on Destiny Awakened so I could begin the querying process, this story and its characters refused to let me move forward on anything until I gave them some drafting attention.

And by drafting attention, I mean getting 5k down in one day, followed by another 5k, and another, and another. Before I knew it, I’d reached the 30k mark. *cue hallelujah chorus* How in the world did this happen? Most times it’s like pulling teeth to get to 30k within two weeks, much less within one week.

Like a good student of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, I set out to discover the secret to my fast-drafting so I could share and hopefully help me fellow writers see their word counts soar to new heights as well. *grin* And to make the discovery even more daunting, I set out on that journey on a Tuesday night, right after a rough day at the dayjob.
Did it still work? Did I still get 5k down within that small window? Why yes, yes I did. And here’s how:

  1. At all costs, turn off the inner editor and ignore the my-brain-moves-faster-than-my-fingers mentality. In other words: DON’T LOOK BACK! NEVER LOOK BACK! What’s that saying? “Don’t look back. It’s bad luck.” Exactly. This applies to writing. If you look back and start corrected anything you’ve previously written while drafting, you’ll ruin the mad-writing-mojo you’ve got going on. One thing that helps me with this is having a wickedly-awesome story-themed playlist plugged into my ears. It drowns out the inner editor’s voice.
  2. Have a road map. Or at least have some idea of where you’re story’s going to go. You know those moments where you’re stuck because you don’t know where to go from there? Yup. I hate that too. One way to negate this is by having some idea of where your story is going. If you’re a pantser, then hearing this may make your eye twitch. Relax. Breath. You don’t have to plot by normal standards before you set out to write. Instead, you can spend the first 30-or-so minutes brainstorming about what you’re going to write: what scene(s) is in your head? How will that scene(s) contribute to the overall plot? Once you’ve got this down, start writing. The best part about doing this is that nothing is in stone. If the muse throws you a bone and takes you in a completely different-yet-workable direction, follow as though you’re Dorothy and the breadcrumbs the muse is leaving you are your yellow brick road.
  3. Lock the doors, turn off the television, turn the volume up on your writing playlist. So I already addressed why the playlist should be turned up – this helps tune out the inner editor. Locking the doors and turning off all distractions is also a major factor in getting 5k words down in one day. Now, I don’t have children – yet – so I’m sure this is going to be difficult to do when I do, but even so, it’s important for parents to take time out for themselves. So if you’re a parent, this just may be the time you choose to take just for yourself. If so, lock that door and pray the kids don’t get into too much trouble while you’re drafting. :0)
  4. Put the pressure on yourself – but not too much pressure. Ah, pressure, pressure, pressure. I’ve got to get down 5k today. Because if I don’t, then I won’t be able to move forward tomorrow, and that means I won’t have this first draft completed on time. Or better yet: If I don’t get 5k down today, then I can’t have that yummy red velvet cupcake my bestie made. And damn, it’s so yummy….I have to have one of those today. See what I did there? Yup, figure out your ultimate goal, and use it to put the pressure on yourself. If you’re an unpublished author, then it’s time we started to get used to having deadlines, and this is one way to get started. But be careful with this one! Stress kills. Don’t push yourself so far off the edge that you end up losing lots or sleep or depriving yourself of life’s pleasures.
  5. Take breaks – often. One thing I learned in my Immersion Master Class with Margie Lawson is that taking breaks is crucial. Before Colorado, I would sit my butt in the chair for…I dunno… like 5 hours straight. Yeah…and the hubby was a big contributor to that success because he’d gladly bring me coffee, soda, water, food, and chocolate. But since I’ve returned home, we’ve made it a point to ensure that I’m breaking away from the computer at least once every 1.5hrs or so. Now, the rule for your eyes is that you should give them a break every hour by concentrating on something other than the computer screen, and that’s easy to do as long as you have some research printed out that you can concentrate on during that time. But after about 90 minutes or so, you’ll want to completely step away from all things story-related to take a walk, watch an episode of that TV show we’re behind on, run out and grab a cup of Starbucks, or peruse the shelves at the local bookstore for 30 minutes. However you choose to break for at least 30 minutes, do it. You’ll sit back down at the computer and the words will flow so much faster than they would’ve if you hadn’t taken that break (and your body – particularly your butt – will thank you).

What about you? Do you find yourself fast-drafting to get through that initial draft? What is your largest wordcount in a single day? What other secrets of fastdrafting can you share?

The Emotion Thesaurus: Got Fear? – Guest Post by Angela Ackerman

Ever wondered if your characters are showing their fear the right way? Well, you’re in luck! ‘Cause today I’m incredibly excited to present to you The Emotion Thesaurus entry of FEAR, brought to us from the wonderful and amazing Angela Ackerman!

There just aren’t enough words to describe Angela! Hmm…. let’s see… she’s one-half of the The Bookshelf Muse (which is another must-follow blog for me), she’s incredibly kind, awesome, so much fun to chat and work with, funny, full of all sorts of writerly information… OH! And she’ll do anything for bacon! *grin* And that doesn’t even begin to cover it! (Psst! She’s even brought a goodie for a giveaway with her today! Did I mention she’s awesome?)

So without further ado, please welcome Angela!

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Hi everyone! The fantabulous Melinda kindly invited me to her blog and I am ever so happy to hang out here today. I brought with me the entry on FEAR from The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression, because I know how hard it can be to show our character’s intense experiences without always reusing common fear indicators of shivering, shuddering, racing heartbeat, rasping breath and sweating. There’s nothing wrong with using these of course, as long as we apply them in moderation. So, to get your head into brainstorming gear, we’ve created seventy-five emotion entries just like this one below. Enjoy!
 

FEAR
DEFINITION: to be afraid of; to expect threat or danger

PHYSICAL SIGNALS:
Face turning ashen, white, pallid
Hair lifting on the nape and arms
Body odor, cold sweats
Clammy hands
Trembling lips and chin
Tendons standing out in the neck, a visible pulse
Elbows pressing into the sides, making one’s body as small as possible
Freezing, feeling rooted to the spot
Rapid blinking
Tight shoulders
Staring but not seeing, eyes shut or crying
Hands jammed into armpits or self-hugging
Breath bursting in and out
Leg muscles tightening, the body ready to run
Looking all around, especially behind
A shrill voice
Lowering the voice to a whisper
Keeping one’s back to a wall or corner
Shaking uncontrollably
Gripping something, knuckles going white
Stiff walking, the knees locking
Beads of sweat on the lip or forehead
Grabbing onto someone
Eyes appearing damp and overly bright
Stuttering and mispronouncing words, tremors in the voice
Jerky movements, squirming
Licking the lips, gulping down water
Sprinting or running
Sweeping a hand across the forehead to get rid of sweat
Gasping and expelling one’s breath as if pained
Uncontrollable whimpering
Pleading, talking to oneself
Flinching at noises

INTERNAL SENSATIONS:
An inability to speak
Shakiness in the limbs
Holding back a scream or cry
Heartbeat racing, nearly exploding
Dizziness, weakness in the legs and knees
A loosening of the bladder
Chest pain
Holding one’s breath, gulping down breaths to stay quiet
A stomach that feels rock hard
Hyper-sensitivity to touch and sound
Adrenaline spikes

MENTAL REACTIONS: 
Wanting to flee or hide
The sensation of things moving too quickly to process
Images of what-could-be flashing through the mind
Flawed reasoning
Jumping to a course of action without thinking things through
A skewed sense of time

CUES OF ACUTE OR LONG-TERM FEAR:
Uncontrollable trembling, fainting
Insomnia
Heart giving out
Panic attacks, phobias
Exhaustion
Depression
Substance abuse
Withdrawing from others
Tics (a repetitive grimace, a head twitch, talking to oneself)
Resistance to pain from rushing adrenaline
MAY ESCALATE TO: ANGER, TERROR, PARANOIA, DREAD

CUES OF SUPPRESSED FEAR:
Keeping silent
Denying fear through diversion or topic change
Turning away from the cause of the fear
Attempting to keep one’s voice light
A watery smile that’s forced into place
Masking fear with a reactive emotion (anger or frustration)
False bravado
Over-indulgence in a habit (nail biting, lip biting, scratching the skin raw)
A frozen or shaking smile
A joking tone, but the voice cracks
 

WRITER’S TIP: Prime readers for an emotional experience by describing the mood of a scene as your character enters it. If your character is antsy, the reader will be too.

 
As you can see, there are many ways to show a character’s fear, and this list is only a starting point! Think about your character, and what types of expressions will be unique to him or her. This will bring you one step closer to creating fresh body language and really pull the reader into your character’s emotional experience.
PSST! If you would like to see which seventy-five emotions the book covers and find out more about The Emotion Thesaurus, there’s a generous sample on Amazon’s Look Inside feature. Also, we have a free PDF on our blog called Emotion Amplifiers, which offers lists like the one above for fifteen conditions like Attraction, Stress, Hunger, Pain, Exhaustion, etc. These amplifiers can alter a character’s mental and physical state, ensuring bigger emotional reactions. You can find the download button right in the sidebar.

 

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Angela Ackerman is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.  Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with seventy-five different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion.
 

***** 

 
Melinda here! Okay, so now we all know that when we write to convey the fear in our characters we’re supposed to include smiles, squees, and booty dancin’, right? *snort* Just kidding!!!
 
My favorite thing about this particular entry – and ALL the entries in The Emotion Thesaurus, actually – is how Angela and Becca captured the smaller nuances a character shows when experiencing an emotion. With fear, it’s the rapid eye blinking and/or eyes appearing damp and overly bright, and dizziness and hyper-sensitivity. They’ve got these emotions down, and those signs I just named may be small, but they are POWERFUL when they’re on the page in a high-tension scene!
 
And in order to help you bring that power to the page, Angela brought with her a PDF version of The Emotion Thesaurus as a giveaway today! How awesome is that?!?
 
To enter, all you need to do is complete a little information in the Rafflecopter section below. The giveaway will end tomorrow night at midnight. Be sure you not only get your first entry by leaving a comment, but your additional entries by following The Bookshelf Muse blog, following Angela and/or me on Twitter, adding The Emotion Thesaurus to one of your shelves on Goodreads, and liking The Emotion Thesaurus’s Facebook page.
 
The winner will be announced on Friday’s This Week in Favs… writing links round-up post!
 
Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Get Back to *You*

Photo Credit

Writers juggle a lot on a daily basis. Whether we’re aiming for traditional or self-publishing success, or simply writing for our personal enjoyment, we tend to carry ten or more hats in our back pockets while juggling fifty of those neon yellow tennis balls – all at once!


Between the spouse and the family, the friends, the dayjob, our characters and their stories, editing, rewriting, editing and rewriting again and again, writers really do attempt to juggle a lot more than we can handle. And sometimes we handle it better than we give ourselves credit for.


So it comes as no surprise when we sit back one day and think, “Who am I?” or “Where did I go?” Just think, if you were sit down and make a to-do list of everything you wanted to get done today, this week, this month, or this year, would an item on this list say, ‘Spend time with myself’?


Probably not.


And that’s okay. We’re selfless. We give, give, give without take, take, take. We stay up late at night writing or editing, we come home, clean house, cook, play with the kids/pets, spend time with our significant others, and give more than 100% at our dayjobs.
But what happens when we sit back and realize we don’t feel like ourselves anymore? Our writing suffers. Our families suffer. Our friends suffer.


We suffer.


So, how do you get back to *you*? How do you put it all aside and find yourself again so you’re writing life will flourish?



Here’s how:

1. Realize that those moments of feeling like a super hero are starting to become few and far in between. You used to feel like that at least once a week, but now you’re lucky if you feel like that once a month.

2. Realize that in order for your writing to be the best it can possibly be, everything else in your life must in order, and you must feel content with the most important relationships in your life (i.e.: spouse, children, family, professional, etc.).

3. Realize why you began this writing journey to begin with. Because you wanted to make a difference. Because you had something to say. Because it weighed heavily on your heart. Because you felt the most free when you were writing.

4. Realize that the most important component in books is the author itself. Without the writer in good health, mentally and physically, there’d be no book at all.

Once you sit down and realize all four of these, then you do the following:

1. Vow to step away from the writing for an entire week. Read a good book, watch some TV or a few movies, catch up on sleep, etc.

2. Vow to step away from social media. Social media can be very overwhelming and take up quite a bit of your time. Uninstall the Twitter/Facebook apps from your phone if you have to. Just make sure you step away from it entirely – and this includes blogging.

3. Vow to relax. Whether reading is relaxing activity of choice, or taking a nice, long, hot bath, or both. Or maybe relaxing for you is taking a yoga class. Whatever works for you, vow to do it and do it almost every day that week.

4. Vow to spend quality time with those you love. Add in a few extra date nights, tack on an additional night out with friends, surprise your mom or dad with a weekend visit. However you spend time with your family, double or triple it that week.

5. Vow to sit completely still for at least 30 minutes a day. Don’t read or do anything related to books and writing. Simply lie on the bed and be alone with your thoughts.

6. Vow to allow yourself to do all of the above without consequence.

    If you can vow to all six of the above, then I promise you, your creativity tank will refill faster than you could’ve ever imagined. Before you know it, two days into the break you’ll have ideas flying through your head faster than those flying monkey in The Wizard of Oz,and you’ll be so giddy with writing them all down that you’ll fear you might miss one if you don’t have pen and paper readily available at all times.


    This is when you will start to feel like yourself. Thisis when you hear yourself say or think, “God, I feel so much more like myself.” This is when you’ll truly feel free.


    After the break, re-enter the writer’s life with slow, childlike steps, and schedule time alone so you won’t lose yourself again. 

    Have you ever felt as though you’re simply walking through life on auto-pilot? Did your writing or personal life suffer from it? How did you get yourself back? 

    When Writers are Disappointed

     

    I realize it’s been a while since I’ve posted. And usually, regardless of what’s going on in personal life, I always either post an update or at least put together a weekly mash-up of writing posts on Fridays.
     
    However…..
     
    During these last two weeks of what I’ll simply refer to lovingly as ‘life at its best’, I have been tested and pushed to my absolute max. I literally feel as though I’ve been beaten, shattered, shaken, and stirred. At first it was all about the balance between the home life, the writing life, the professional/career/dayjob, and time with myself. But boy does life know how to throw the most wicked screwball in your direction. As in, just when you think things are starting to look up, it turns out you were being psyched in an evil game of made ya look.
     
    So, in honor of these events – none of which I can really share as most have to do with my professional/dayjob that I still love and enjoy – I’d like to post my first rant post: a lesson in what to expect when you disappoint, hurt or piss off a writer:
     
    When a writer is disappointed, saddened, hurt, or angered, whether by a person or a particular situation, it should come as no surprise when one – or all – of the following immediately happens:

    • They yell, kick, scream, throw a punch or two — *ahem* generally a punching bag or a pillow…generally – or burst into tears at a moment’s notice
    • They become abnormally quiet, or abnormally loud (or in my case: louder then extremely quiet)
    • They politely nod their head and say, “Everything’s juuuuust fine.” – even if it’s only been a few hours or a few days since the emotional event
    • They suddenly become distracted – more so than usual – after the emotional event
    • The stay awake at night plotting and planning the what if’s (ex: What if I did get that job? What if I did get that publisher? What if I had actually been told blah, blah, blah? What if my response had actually been blah, blah, blah?)

     
    That was Stage 1.
     
    Again, don’t be surprised when one – or all – of the following happen sooner or later in Stage 2 of what happens when you disappoint, sadden, anger, or hurt a writer:

    • The catalyst to the writer’s pain winds up as a plot point
    • You’re reading one of the writer’s books and there’s a character who sounds an awful lot like you (ex: talks like you, has the same mannerisms as you, eerily makes the same decisions as you, etc.).
    • You discover the character – the one who reminded you of yourself in some way – ends up being a person you really don’t like. In fact, they end up being a fictional character that you loathe with passion
    • You cheer and fist pump when that character, the antagonist, ends up getting their ass handed to them by the writer’s fictional self protagonist
    • Thanks to the writer and their story, you learn a valuable lesson about how to treat others with the respect they deserve and you emerge from the end of the story wishing you had done things a bit differently, but ultimately vow to never make the same mistake again

     
    Basically the bottom line is this: be very, very careful when you intentionally hurt someone. No matter if they’re a coworker, a friend, a family member, a husband/wife, sister/brother, or simply a stranger, just take care with their feelings and treat them as you’d want to be treated.
     
    Because you never know if they’re a writer.
     
    And if they’re a writer, and you’ve hurt them? Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
     
    Because writers know how to bounce back bigger and better than ever. Because writers have learned after many, many, many years of rejection and disappointment how to take those emotions and morph them into fuel for their writing. Because writers know how to draw from life to inspire their art. Because writers don’t know how to take no for an answer.
     
    Because writers AREN’T quitters!!! And you’ll never, EVER get us down.
     
    In the end, we’ll always win.
     
    No! Matter! What!

    How to Create a (Semi) Original Vampyre

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    As much as I hate to admit it, Vampyres are everywhere. Literally.
     
    I remember a time where the only Vampyres on TV were those being slayed by a kick-ass female named Buffy Summers. And the most wicked Vampyre films available were the original Dracula, The Interview With the Vampire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Lost Boys. And the Vampyre-type books? Other than Anne Rice’s Vampyre novels, which I had to sneak and hide from my mom in order to read, I couldn’t name any others I ventured into twenty years ago (books didn’t happen bit time for me until high school).
     
    If you grew up with my generation (X, to be exact), then you most definitely came into maturity around Buffy, Angel & Spike, Lestat & Louis, the ladies of Charmed and The Craft, etc., etc., etc.. This means you may have a unique interest in these supernatural beings. You ate it up, piece by exciting piece, wrote stories/fan fiction, bought and devoured as many books within the genre as possible, and discussed last night’s episode of Buffy first thing the following morning at school/work.
     
    Flash forward about 15-20 years later and we’ve arrived at a time where the markets – publishing, television, cinema – are so bombarded with Vampyres you begin to wonder if you can even sell a story about the very creatures you’re so passionate about. The ones you grew up with. The ones you can’t imagine not having in any of your WIP’s.
     
    I’m here to say… YOU CAN!
     
    I’ve listed a few guidelines that’ll help ensure you’re offering something fresh and unique to not only the world of publishing, but the readership of the Urban Fantasy & Paranormal genres.
     

    Research

    First and foremost you want to research these creatures – and go as far as you can without your eyeballs falling out.
     

    • Let’s begin with the obvious:
      • Google Vampyre/Vampire and begin there. 
      • Check out Wikipedia – they have a list of every known fictional Vampyre from literature, cinema/television, and comic books/manga.
      • Research mythology – Greek, Roman, etc. – you never know when that knowledge might come in handy.
    • Speak with other readers and/or authors of your genre.
      • Ask what Vampyric attributes/qualities they’ve come across through their reading.
        • Ex: Recently I spoke on the phone with someone I haven’t talked to or seen in almost 15 years. She’s a writer as well, but she’s a voracious reader first and foremost. We began comparing the different types of Vampyric origin stories we’ve come across. Also their limitations.
      • Inquire with them about your idea for a Vampyre.
        • Most times what we think is a unique idea isn’t as unique as we thought. Let’s face it, there’s never enough time to read every single book with Vampyres in it, so reaching out to fellow readers/authors is extremely important.

     

    Make it Fresh

     
    Take all that wholesome paranormal knowledge you’ve gained and twist it so bad it screams for mercy.
     
    Now I don’t mean to make it as crazy as you can possibly get it. Know your limitations and keep future readers in mind.
     

    • Keep the basics
      • Every fictional Vampyre known to man possesses one common trait: BLOOD. If you take this away then I’m sorry to tell you I don’t think anyone will really bite into your story and stay there. And if you do take this away…the plot better shine. True Vampyre fans enjoy the blood-drinking aspect. It brings a sense of danger to our otherwise normal lives.
    • Freshen up their origins
      • Keeping the blood drinking in mind, think of where your version of this creature comes from:
      • Is there an ‘Original’ Vampyre who started it all?
      • Are they essentially a creation by an almighty being: A religious-type creature, maybe?
      • Can you add in a bit of mythology to their origin story? Hmmm…..
    • Freshen up their characteristics, weaknesses, strengths, and twist the old clichés
      • Are your Vampyres more human than monster? Or more monster than human?
      • Are they ‘mainstreamed’ or still living amongst us in the shadows?
        • True Blood vs. Interview With the Vampire
      • Can they drink blood from just anyone, or does it have to be from one of their own kind?
        • J.R. Ward’s Vamps can only drink the blood from their kind – and not just anyone. It has to be from the opposite sex for them to be at their strongest
      • Are their weaknesses the same as the traditional Vampyre?
        • Holy water, crosses, garlic, sunlight?
        • Deborah Harkness’s Vamps can walk in the sunlight. They’re so pale it’s obvious they’re not human. But in the right environment and/or time of year, nobody does (unless they’re surrounded by other creatures, then the weather, time of year, and location don’t really matter, someone’s gonna notice).
      • How can your Vampyre be killed?
        • Dismemberment, decapitation, silver, stakes?
      • Do your Vampyres have powers/abilities?
        • Extra strength, super speed, shape-shifting, mesmerism, teleportation, etc., etc.?

     
    Push the boundaries here. Create a creature unique to your story, and build your world around them. Every choice you make has a tremendous affect on how their world works, thinks and acts.

     

    What if I Prefer Traditional Vampyres?

    If you prefer traditional, that’s okay. Twisting a tale-as-old-a-time such as Vampyres may not be for you. If you’re going to go this route there a few things to keep in mind:
     

    • The plot, characters and world-building have got to be pitch-perfect!
      • When agents say if you’re going to do Vampyres it’d better be something different, I tend to believe they don’t necessarily mean the Vampyres themselves. I tend to think they mean the story surrounding these creatures had better be stellar.
    • Even with an original and/or unique telling of a Vampyre story, it may take a while before you nab that agent/publishing contract.
      • The industry is still getting over the latest Vampyre boom. Yes, there are still a ton of readers out there who only read Vampyre novels, but with that said it does not mean openings for more are everywhere; they’re still few and far between right now.
      • Work hard, persevere, find your voice, make your writing shine, and learn how to be patient. Because the industry isn’t wide open to Vampyres at the moment doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It simply means you have to work that much harder to find an agent willing to take a chance on a Vampyre again – and not just any Vampyre…your Vampyre.
    • Continue to do your research. The traditional Vampyre has changed throughout the past century. During my research I read there are a few traditional characteristics of a Vampyre that have fallen by the wayside in the past few decades: apparently it now takes one bite to turn a human vs. the drainage and replacement of human blood with a Vampyre’s (ahem – Twilight would be one). These are great points to make in your story (similar to how Damon in The Vampire Diaries mentioned the Twilight vamps on the TV series) when you’re presenting your traditional Vampyre.

     
    What are some other twists on the old Vampyre tale you’ve read recently? Did you enjoy that version of these creatures or do you prefer traditional? If you write Vampyres or other supernatural creatures into your stories, what are some of your tips to assist writers with create the unique? Are there any stellar examples of unique/original Vampyres you’d like to share?