Thursday, July 26, 2012

Random Vampires in High School

So this is what happens when I'm tired and my brain is fried. I'm sorry.

What would happen if Edward Cullen had been turned into a vampire as a balding, middle-aged white guy with a beer gut and man boobs? Without the looks, does a brooding pasty-white vampire with no personality even stand a chance of getting the girl? Even if he was superfast and super strong, I can only imagine what would happen if she discovered him lurking in her bedroom and watching her sleep...

He certainly wouldn't pass as a high school student, either, so that blows the whole first meeting out of the park. I suppose he could've instead posed as a teacher, though. Then, when he chased after a high school girl, their forbidden love really would be forbidden, because he'd look like he was old enough to be her dad. Meaning he'd probably be arrested. Huh. I wonder what Bella would say...

"How long have you been 56?" she asks.

"For a long time," he says.

Ha. Doesn't have quite the same feeling as with the young-looking vampire. But when you think about it, even young-looking vampire is kind of creepy. I mean, he was probably what, like eighty when she was born? Why is he chasing after a teenage girl, anyway? Fuck that, why is he even pretending to be a teenager? Why is it not disturbing that she's making out with someone that's old enough to be her great grandfather? Is it just because he looks young?

I'm not really a Twi-hater, by the way. Just...meh. Kinda tired of hearing about it. Don't really care. I wrote this because I was just randomly thinking about the latest vampire fad, how we've gone from blooodsucking monsters to...well, pussy vampire love stories. They can be entertaining, but they're not the monsters I love.

Which brings me to Vampire Diaries (a.k.a. 90210 Vampires) which has yet another vampire who decides to pose as a high school student. And guess what? He is wicked frickin' old too. And he falls in love with a high school girl. Gofigure. I tried to watch this show. I made it through almost the entire first season, simultaneously hating myself for watching it because it was so stupid and not stopping, because for some reason I wanted to know what happened next. Sigh.

Stefan, the love interest of the main character, is a moody, brooding douchebag. But he doesn't kill or drink from people. Anymore. And they go into this whole storyline where he falls off the wagon and drinks human blood. Donated blood from bags. Dude, you're a fricking vampire, that's what you do. Was killing fuzzy little bunnies and squirrels somehow supposed to make you more appealing? Really? And you know what?

This Stefan dude is a little creepy, too. He follows Elena (main character), randomly popping up wherever she goes, and instead of thinking it's creepy and stalkerish, she kinda digs it. Cuz he's cute. Giggle. Even more creepy, is he's doing it because she looks exactly like the vampire who turned him, a woman he supposedly loved, which I don't understand, because this woman was a manipulative, nasty c*** who completely dicked him over.

I found myself rooting for Elena to like his evil-ish brother instead. Damon, the brother, was much more palatable...though still not overly original. He's pretty much the classic bad boy. Zippy, witty dialogue. Likes to cause trouble. Does whatever he wants. Not quite as evil as he wants you to believe. And much hotter than his brother.

But anyway... I just got annoyed with it. Lots of stupidity. Characters die left and right. Too much drama. Too much teen drama. And hey, that's the audience they're going for, so maybe that's just what appeals to the kids these days. (That just made me sound old...) But in the end, I was left feeling: This is not for me.

So that, in a nutshell, is my rant for the day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Riding the wave?

So I've found that the one thing I have to do when I'm in the middle of a creative burst is to go with it. Unfortunately, that means I've gotten absolutely nothing else done in past couple days. Housework? Pffft...what's that? Go outside and weed the garden? HA! Critique for all those lovely crit partners I've promised to read...uh, sorry? I'm stuck somewhere between guilt and euphoria right now. Guilt, because I haven't done any of the things I wanted to do this weekend. Euphoria...because I've cranked out almost 10,000 words of a new novel in just three days. That in itself is completely unheard of for me, which is why I've just kinda gone with the flow. I'm exhausted. Damn, do I really have to go back to work tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Roughing it

Ah, the excitement and the anxiety of a rough draft. I'm a mess when I'm writing a rough draft, because my inner editor is constantly breathing down my neck. Fix that, it's crap, she says. I tell her to shut it and try to keep writing...but it's hard! I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my own work, right down to each sentence. If it doesn't sit right I'll rewrite it and rewrite it and rewrite it some more. Sometimes it becomes the victim of the delete button. The most difficult thing about writing a rough draft is stifling the urge to edit as I go along.

The one thing I do LOVE about writing a rough draft is the thrill of discovery. I'm not much of a planner when it comes to writing fiction. I usually get an idea and dive in and start writing. Sure, I'll have a basic idea where I want it to go. I'll know who my main characters are, plop them in a compromising situation and make them find their way out. But I don't really know for sure how it will turn out. I work out all the kinks along the way and sometimes the things I thought would happen end up not happening at all.

Then, when I'm away from my writing, I'll daydream about my characters. (Did I mention I love daydreaming? Hey, it beats the monotony of my job, and I might as well put my brain to good use...)  I'll imagine what their personalities are and how they'd react in certain situations. They'll act out a scene in my head and get me excited about  typing the words into my computer.

Then words flow into my computer keyboard as fast as my fingers can type them and my inner editor is waiting on my shoulder, saying nope, nope, that's not what you envisioned. She'll tell me I suck and that maybe I should just go have a glass of wine and zone out in front of the television and/or read through some crazy internet message boards. So I cover her mouth with duct tape and lock her in a closet. (No, she's not a real person !)

And the cycle continues until that first draft is finished... 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Got it Covered

Haha, who knew I was talking about book covers. So here's the thing--they mean a lot. It's your presentation, the wrapping for your writing. And a bad one? It's like going on a blind date only to discover he's wearing stained clothing full of holes and he hasn't combed his hair. He MIGHT be a really great guy, but would you still want to take a chance? Would you want to be seen in public with him? Okay, enough with the stupid analogy. Point is, the book cover: It may or may not be the first thing that catches someone's eye before they buy.

I've been meandering through the websites of various small presses, thinking, maybe if no agents take an interest in my work, I could pitch to some of the small presses. Problem is, as I look around at some of their sites, I've found the books they publish have some really horrible covers. And I'm not just talking poor designs, I'm talking really amateurish looking stuff.

I don't know about anyone else, but to me that's a huge turn off. Part of that is probably my art background--I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design, and painting/drawing have been a part of my life pretty much my whole life. So maybe I'm biased when it comes to artwork. But is that really it? Some of this stuff looks really thrown together, cheesy, lame.

These are issues I see in all of them:

The layout. The font doesn't work as part of the whole piece, rather it's just stuck there to show the title. A very basic--yet essential-- aspect of graphic design is incorporating font into a piece. Look at some professionally published books from big publishing houses. It doesn't matter how big or small, or even what type of font they used--it just looks right. It works as part of a whole. A few random examples:

Another thing that really bugs me is computer generated people. I like video games and I can appreciate good graphics, but they still don't look like people. I've yet to see a computer generated person with a natural looking facial expression. So in a nutshell: I've yet to see a book cover done this way that looked good.

Does this seem too snooty or complain-y? I just think that if I had a book published, I'd want it to look good, and I'd imagine  most other authors would feel the same. Which leads me to the next thing: can a small publishing house, e-pub or otherwise, compete with big money? In other words-yes, I know most of these smaller presses likely don't have the funds for a big art department. Their resources may be limited. Maybe they just can't afford to acquire images from professional artists or photographers and have to create them themselves. Maybe they employ people who weren't formally trained in any kind of design. Maybe it's a matter of a one person art department versus several people.

That said, isn't it just an excuse? At the very least, all you need is Photoshop (even GIMP is a decent alternative...and free) and someone who knows what they're doing to create professional looking covers. I don't think finding a design needs to be outlandish in price to get something good to work with. Hell, with digital cameras and computers, it shouldn't even be an issue. I'm sure there are plenty of amateur/unknown models out there you could hire for a reasonable rate to set up a photo shoot if you wanted to use real people. You can also acquire image rights from thousands of artists and photographers from companies like Getty. Or you could inquire with artists from places like

My point is, there are so many options out there, and I think small publishing houses not only owe it to authors, but to themselves to produce professional looking covers. 


Dialogue has always been one of my stronger points in fiction writing. (wow, that sounded really conceited...) I like to keep it as organic as possible (within reason, of course), and it's been easy, because my stories tend to take place in modern American settings. Hells yeah, I know how people talk!! So as I delve into writing a fantasy type piece, this is in the back of my mind: how much will I need to differentiate/change the language without the dialogue coming across as stiff and unnatural?

So far, in the rough draft, I'm keeping it informal as usual for most of the characters, just omitting modern day expressions and words. I mean, a girl living in an alternative magical world is unlikely to use the word douchebag. Right? Right. :P I think this will work fine. I suppose I could always tweak things that don't sound good.

Then there will be a point where the girl travels to 'our world'. She may be human, but because she was raised in the magical otherworld, that life is all she knows. So imagine when she steps out into one of our modern day cities. I will then have the opportunity to contrast the dialects and expose her to modern day slang (as well as modern day inventions and conveniences), which will be just a bit confusing to her. Poor, sheltered girl.


Sunday, July 8, 2012


Went to Maine for the weekend with the kids. My parents have a small place in the north central part of the state so we hung out for a couple days--went to the lake for some fishing, picked some wild strawberries, rode the ATV, and basically just relaxed. It's in the middle of the woods, quiet, and all that good stuff. Too many mosquitos, though. Kinda nice to be without internet for a couple days too (but look where I am 15 minutes after walking in the door...). Unfortunately, back to work tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

Been a pretty low key kind of day for me. Too hot! It makes me feel lazy. Ah well. I did get some writing done, though. It's funny, I've been driving myself nuts trying to crank out the first draft of RM, but my heart hasn't been in it it lately. I mean, book one pretty much wrote itself. This one, not so much. I wondered if maybe I needed to step away from the characters for a while. So I started a new project in the mean time, something to take the pressure off so I can set Reaper Madness aside and look at it with fresh eyes.

This one is actually an idea I came up with a long time ago, but hadn't bothered with it because I felt like everyone was writing about this type of thing. But you know what? Fark it. I'm writing it anyway. Worst case scenario I either don't finish it or I do and it sucks. So bring it on...

 It starts like this: Meet Flora, an eighteen-year-old human girl who was taken by a changeling as an infant and adopted by a fae healer woman named Brighid. She ventures into the forest to collect medicinal plants when she happens upon a handsome young man with gaping wounds all over his abdomen who is still alive, but unconscious. She drags him back home and heals him... 

Of course there's much more to it than that, but I'm keeping the summary under wraps for now. It's completely unrelated to my other works. Instead of paranormal type stuff it's more fantasy type stuff: changelings, wyvern, tuatha de danaan, other realms...all that.  Not sure if it will be novel or novella material yet--yup, that's that panster in me talking--but so far I'm enjoying the ride. Cranked out 3K words in an afternoon without batting an eyelash, so I'd say it's a good start.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I Spit on Your Grave...

I like to revisit the cult classics every so often. This one I think is better left in the vault. Why? Let me count the ways (in no particular order)...

1) 1970's nudity. Nuff said.

2) I wasn't sure if the men in this movie were supposed to be human...or chimpanzees. They certainly sounded like jungle animals at times. I'm sitting there thinking, I've seen bad male behavior at its finest, but I've never seen or heard anything like that. Outside of the Discovery Channel, that is.

3)Matthew a.k.a. 'Forrest Gump' the rapist. Okay, I get the whole premise of this movie--woman is brutally attacked/raped by a bunch of hicks and gets her revenge by killing them. But what's up with the slow guy? Why is he even there? The other guys convince 'Forrest' to have his way with the girl, which, almost comically he can't 'finish' because they're 'watching' him. THEN they give him a knife and tell him to go back and kill her, which he doesn't do. So...he's the reason she's still alive to exact revenge.

4)Did I mention the bad acting? Dialogue was terrible. And not that I actually wanted to see someone raped, but other than the removal of clothing, there was nothing that resembled sex about it...consensual or otherwise. It was actually funny. Which is sad, in light of the subject.

5)Jeans, suspenders and no shirt. I don't remember the seventies. Was this normal? Was it just a  hillbilly thing? Deliverance chic, perhaps?

6)WHY did she stay? They might not have meant to, but they LEFT HER ALIVE, and she could've hopped into her car and gotten the hell out of there. I sure would have. But no. She stays in the secluded cabin and pieces together the torn remnants of her novel.

ANYWAY...I feel like I missed the boat on this one. I vaguely remember watching it when I was in high school, then again, a friend and I used to rent horror movies like there was no tomorrow.

I'll Rearrange Your Face!

I've noticed that my characters tend to do a lot of grinning and eyebrow raising and eye-narrowing and good old generic frowning. What gives? On one hand, I don't think it's always a bad thing. I mean, after all, people do these things in real life. And if I'm trying to give life to a figment of my imagination, they need to be doing something real people actually do. But still, how many grins are too many? Will they get stuck there? Are they just really happy people? Or is it just an easy, convenient action to fixate on? Sigh.

 File under: the things that are running through my mind as I read through the first few pages of my current rough draft.