Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen

Okay, so probably not the most original title for my post, but I think it fits.

Like most writers, I’ve always dreamed of writing, starting my ‘career’ at the tender age of seven. Yes, seven. I began an autobiography and to this day, I remember the first line of that book I never finished. It went something like ‘Ever since I was a kid (neglecting to mention I was still a kid), I wanted to be in show biz.’ Now, this isn’t true any longer, thank God. I’m not tempted to act or sing (lucky public), but I am drawn into writing.

I sometimes feel like I might’ve wasted too much time in jump starting my writing career, but on the other hand, I think I needed to experience life and love and hurt before I could write a credible story. Does this mean that I’m being published and didn’t tell anyone? Nah. The furthest I’ve gotten in my ‘career’ is to finish one MS and actually get a request for a partial from an agent. I don’t mean to sound blase about it, however. I’ll admit that I sat at my computer screaming OH MY GOD a few times before getting up to run through the house to let my family know that someone was interested in reading more of my story. This was my third response to a query letter and first acceptance. The other two were rejections that really had me wondering if I was cut out for this writing career thing or not.

I hate doubting myself and that’s why it’s taken me so long to finish something. In the past, I’d start writing and absolutely loathe what I put on paper. A couple of years ago, I joined RWA and it took me a while to decide that I was serious about writing. That’s when I began my current finished MS. Half-way through the MS, I got discouraged again, feeling blue about my life (what life! lol), and thinking that I’d never get anything completed.

Then, I joined the FF&P chapter of RWA. Suddenly, I was (lurking) in a group loop of women going through the same process I was and it felt…wonderful. It truly is amazing how being a part of that chapter instigated my joining the local Southern Louisiana Chapter of RWA and finishing my novel. It was a process that took me until this week to finally put together. Having the support of other pre-published and published authors made me feel like I was part of a sisterhood. Instead of passing a pair of pants around, it’s a pen, a website, a kind word, a tough critique, or just a shoulder to lean on when we start thinking we really suck.

Even if nothing comes of this completed MS, I have to admit that I’m happier than I’ve ever been. The rejections did get me down, and I’m sure it will again, but seeing how excited other members of my chapter have been for me, makes me feel like I’m not necessarily alone anymore. I think that’s very important for writers. Friends and family can only do so much, but unless they too write, they won’t realize the struggles we suffer with writer’s block, or plotting, or even coming up with a title. That’s what chapters and your fellow writers can do for you, and you can do for them.

So, everyone repeat after me…Ya-ya! haha, just kidding. 😉

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Putting a spin on Supernatural Beings

Beth mentioned elves and witches in her comment on Vamps and Weres. This got me thinking.

When I came up with the idea for The Veil, I wanted to incorporate every supernatural being I’ve always been fascinated with. The bestiary (I hate to call it that, but well…that’s what it is) of beings in The Veil is long and growing. I’ve listed Elves, Fairies, Minotaurs, Centaurs, Nymphs, Vampires, Werefolk, Dryads, Satyrs, Angels, Demons, Dwarves, Sirens, Amazons, and I’m pretty sure there’s another one…what is it…*sound of head thumping into the desk* oh! Succubi, and Incubi. That should be it. Oh and the ‘humans of extraordinary abilities’ like witches, warmages, aura seekers, etc.

So, when I made up this world, I had to seriously think about what rules each race was going to have to follow, because there has to be rules. For instance, some of my races can only produce children of one sex. Some of my races can only have one lover (those poor nymphs), while other races are notorious bed hoppers.

Now, just because I have all of these races, it doesn’t mean that every race is going to get a book. Right now I’ve got the Vampire and Amazon book finished and am working on a Halfling (succubus/weretiger) and Werewolf story. I’m not sure which of my characters is going to demand a story, but I have a feeling it’ll be a new race I haven’t mentioned here.

The point I’m trying to make (and probably not doing a good job of) is that putting your own spin on these beings is all about what you want them to do. Do you want your vampires to drink blood or drain emotional/mental energy. Do you want your elves to be like traditional elves, or funky and flighty? What about fairies? Are they the little beings who flit about on wings, or can they be humanoid and eat more than twice their own weight? There are so many endless possibilities that I don’t think they’ll all be touched, no matter how many paranormal books come out.

If there is one thing you’d like to change about one of your favorite supernatural being, what would it be? I’ve decided that succubi and incubi aren’t demons. They’re just like normal people but with extraordinary sexual prowess, pheromones that drip from every pore, and they live in either Pleasure Houses or Sin Dens.

On a completely different note. I’m so glad it’s Friday that I’m totally beside myself.

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Hell Hath No Fury…like Furries? Vamps vs. Weres

Well, it sounded good when I thought it up. It has absolutely nothing to do with this blog, by the way. Well, maybe in a way.

I remember taking a quiz several years ago when I first began reading the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books. The quiz was something along the lines of are you a vampire, shapeshifter, or something else (I can’t remember now). I came up shapeshifter. I had to give this some thought. Is it better to be a shapeshifter/weretype person than the always cool (pun intended) undead? Let’s think about this in terms of pros and cons:

According to well-known vampire lore, vampires are susceptible to crosses, silver, holy water, sunlight, garlic, stakes through the heart (but what being ISN’T susceptible to this?), can’t enter where they aren’t invited, have a very strict diet of blood (hello! I hate to diet!), and I’m sure there’s another one I’m missing.

Now, look at shapeshifters (werefolk as I like to call them because I don’t think they should JUST be wolves). Werefolk change during a full moon, have to dodge silver bullets, might have to shave more than the average human, don’t have a restrictive diet, and that’s about it unless there’s some lore I’m not aware of.

That’s it! I mean c’mon…okay, okay I didn’t mention the pros:

Vampires are so popular everyone and their mama is running around with fangs and goblets. (This could also be labeled as a con if you’re nonconformist…which is really funny if you think about it since they want to be vampires because they’re nonconformist…I’m shutting up.) They live forever unless they get a tan, a stake through the heart, shot with silver, eat some garlic, or get doused in holy water. They always have the coolest names. They’re considered schexy (just like Sean Connery cause the older they get, the better) and they generally have servants willing to do anything for them.

Werefolk aren’t as popular unless you’re talking about werewolves. They can live a somewhat normal life as they aren’t always furry. They have the strength and abilities of their animal half (which is really cool cause I always wanted to be a cat…preferably a tiger or jaguar. Thundercats was the best cartoon of my childhood.) They don’t live forever as far as I know, but they live longer than humans do. They have a certain (yes, I’m going to say it) animal magnetism, muhuahaha. They can come in any form: wolf, tiger, lion, dragon, etc. They aren’t restricted by diet or time of day.

To me, werefolk have it hands down. Don’t get me wrong I think vampires are cool, otherwise I wouldn’t like writing about them, but weres just come in more shapes and sizes which means they’re almost an equal opportunity supernatural group.

What do you think? Which would you rather be? Keep in mind that I’ll probably blog about witches and demons and angels and others at a later date.

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Who’s a ‘Normal Female’?

I’ve heard this phrase several times over the years. Mostly because some people don’t think I’m a ‘normal’ female. Why? Is it because I dress up like a man and call myself Steve? No. Is it because I dislike children to the point that I run away screaming at the thought of the little terrors touching me? No, not all the time. It’s because I have interests in things that aren’t considered especially feminine.

I like cars. I like to look at cars, watch cars, drive cars. I’ve always been like that. I enjoy learning about new cars and how fast they go, or how strong they are. I’m not restricted just to cars either. I like trucks and SUVs and motorcycles and everything in between. I’m not into racing though, so that’s one boon towards my questionable girliness.

I LOVE football. I was in band for nearly 10 years, playing in high school and into college, so football games were required and I grew to love the sport. I’m a rabid fan, screaming my fool head off for my team (the New Orleans Saints, of course) and cheering for homeboys who make it to the NFL. I don’t know all of the penalties (not yet) but that doesn’t stop me from assuming something is pass interference when it’s a legit play. When I get together with my older sister, we talk about two things: football and food.

I also love to fish. I’m usually the only girl when I go fishing and it’s okay. I don’t have my boys (nephews, brother, brother-in-law, cousin-in-law) do anything for me. I bait my own hook, reel in my own fish and clean it too. This is a great change from the much younger me though since I was once convinced a seven pound catfish could pull me into the water. Yeah, I wish, lol.

Does this make me an unnatural female? Does the fact that I don’t mind watching UFC matches make me less feminine? I don’t think so. In fact, I think it makes me more so. If you think about what I say I’m interested in, you’ll see that they generally involve men (and in the form of football: men in very tight pants and bulging muscles). I love men. I like to watch them interact with each other, I like to watch them walk, and sometimes I like to listen to them talk. 😉

Women should be able to appreciate anything they want to without having their femininity come into question. You like Lumberjack competitions? Good for you! You really enjoy hunting? Go for it, sister! Do what you wanna and enjoy it with all of your girlie heart!

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Hello again, Cookies and Query Letters

I realized that I haven’t blogged for at least 4 or 5 days. OMG. I know you’re all just dying to know what’s been going on (well, maybe not, but thinking it was a great ego boost).

Cookie is home finally. She came home complete with a cone around her head on Saturday. She hates the cone, hates having to take her medicine, and is eating like a little pig. Her stitches look good and she’s becoming more accustomed to having us around. She likes to greet us with an extended paw and a Darth Kitty purr (because of the cone, when she purrs it sounds a bit like Darth Vader…too cute). She’s gaining weight and attitude and we love it.

I sent out five or six query letters last week and got one rejection so far. In thinking that the query just wasn’t strong enough (because apparently the story was ‘intriguing’ but didn’t make the agent enthusiastic for more), I posted it in the Absolute Write forums in the hopes that some tough criticism will help me. I’ve only had a couple of reviews, but it did help a bit. I rewrote the query and reposted, so hopefully it’ll be better than the first.

I have a feeling that there are some people out there who just NAIL the query letter and pitch, while others struggle mightily. I have a feeling I’m in the latter group. I’m long-winded and grinding a 93,000 word story into 250 words or less is downright scary. I think I’m no longer afraid of the synopsis. No, it’s the query letter and pitch.

Speaking of pitches, I’ve got to get working on mine soon. Next weekend is the Writers for New Orleans Workshop and the editor appointments. Maybe working on the query letters will help me get through the pitch, or is it the other way around? Mais, this is so confusing.

That’s about it really. Life has been busy with Cookie and the family, oh and a wardrobe malfunction at work yesterday. About halfway through the morning, I realized that my jeans had ripped right next to the back pocket. A HUGE rip…straight down my butt showing off my bright colored undies. Can we say ‘OMG’? Oh yes, people. I was laughing hysterically, praying that no one at work saw it before I bustled out the door so fast that I think I kicked up dust. This is really no different than my very FIRST day at this company, when I went the entire day with my fly undone, or the day that I realized that the slacks I was wearing were not only on inside out, but also backwards. I’m a disaster when it comes to dressing myself apparently. I hope that got some laughs out of ya’ll. 🙂

So that’s all for now folks.

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Writer’s Block? What Writer’s Block?

Hey all, for the last couple of days I haven’t been writing much. I don’t know if it was writer’s block so much as it was just lack of motivation to write. My WIP was stuck in a sex scene and I just couldn’t motor through it (although who wants to motor through a sex scene? It’s supposed to be savored, something that makes your body heat up, your eyes water because you haven’t blinked from reading it, and give you all sorts of ideas to try with your special someone! Right?)

I didn’t motor through the sex scene. Oh no. I rolled, sauntered, swayed, moseyed, sashayed, basked in it, soaked it in, ate it up with a wooden spoon…this scene is H-A-W-T. I just have to decide how long Connor’s um pleasure can last *cackles*. Poor, poor werewolf. He doesn’t know what he’s messing with. Piper is going to wring him dry. Tsk.

Anyway, I think letting something stew for a while rather than forcing it to happen is best. I’ve read some authors who swear by writing so many words or so many pages a day no matter what, but I can’t operate that way. If I force myself to write, I don’t feel creative. It feels like ‘work’ and that’s something I really don’t like (being innately lazy). If I take time to read or watch a little television, it gets my mind off the scene I’m stuck on and allows my brain free reign.

I was supposed to have tried hammering out that scene last night, but instead I watched ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’. I LOVE this movie. It’s fabulous, thought-provoking, and just flat out weird. Not to mention Gary Oldman looks good in this movie with that hair. Rar. I think actually watching the movie helped me get over the slump.

Do I recommend doing as I do? If that’s your thing. You have to realize that I’m the type of person who only does well when working under pressure. Sounds lame, but there you have it. How many of my best papers in college were written the night before they were due? Tons! One was just short of being a thesis, written in twelve hours. Not everyone operates this way though. Some people plot and plan for hours before even opening a book or putting words to paper. Those are the people who had their papers ready three weeks before they were even due. I admired and envied those people.

So, that’s how I got over my writer’s block this week. A good movie based on a good play by the most famous writers of all time. How great is that??

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Love and Laughter

I love to laugh. Who doesn’t? When I go to the movies, I’d prefer a comedy over a traditional ‘chick flick’. Laughing, for me, is one of the best ways to pass the time. I can easily spend hours on www.icanhazcheeseburger.com just because I’m a cat lover. (Okay, so my family thinks I’m sad to laugh uproariously at pictures of cats with silly captions, so what?)

I try to bring my love of laughter to my writing. I like to think I have a good sense of humor (sarcastic, biting, sharp enough to pierce at fifty feet) and want people who read my stuff to laugh. Lord knows I laugh when I’m writing what I think is a particularly funny scene.

So my finished MS has a farting English bulldog. I think it’s funny. I never said that I had the most high-brow humor in the world. I go around quoting Monty Python (and they aren’t exactly subtle), or Airplane!, or Kung Pow, not to mention Napoleon Dynamite, Anchorman, and 40-year-old Virgin. Silly or, some might even say, downright stupid, these are movies that earn a chuckle from me. I’m not saying that my book is filled with slapstick comedy, but it does have some funny parts.

Love should be filled with laughter. Does that mean my characters go around telling jokes? No, but they do react to the humor in situations that surround them. I crack myself up sometimes (most of the time), so I begin to worry that my story isn’t as funny as I think it is. It isn’t meant to be completely funny though, so don’t go away thinking I wrote a paranormal comedy romance. It just has funny parts. Writing a story filled with doom and gloom isn’t my style.

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