Thursday, October 28, 2010

What SCARES You?

Boo! Mwahahaha, welcome to my special Halloween post. What SCARES You? This isn't about writing horror, or monsters, or scary scenes. Though there are many wonderful posts out there about these things, including this post on Enchanted Inkpot about how to write a monster.

No. This is about writing what scares you, as the writer. Possibly the most frightening thing you will face. But also the most necessary and powerful step forward in your journey.

I know I've mentioned this concept before. That my hero, Libba Bray, spoke about this at the LA SCBWI Writer's Day conference last April. She encouraged us to banish our "inner editor" and for that first magical draft, to "write what scares" us. I was working on a new WIP at the time. One that seriously frightened me. Not only was it a new style for me (alternating POVs AND present tense, neither of which I'd attempted previously), but the subject matter itself was dark and intense compared to what I'd done previously.

The thing was, I loved it, and I knew that. But I was terrified what others may think. Was it really any good? Or was it all in my head?

My wonderful agent had already encouraged me to challenge myself, but hearing Libba's speech was perfect timing for me. It gave me the confidence to carry forward and just let it all out. To NOT censor myself. And it was exhilarating. I was on fire. I've never written a first draft that fast. Or felt so totally wrapped up in it.

That's how I want to feel when I write. And you know what? Yes, I had to revise it. No, it wasn't perfect. But, it turned out to be a clear improvement in my writing. A leap beyond what I'd done before.

Isn't that what we all want? To improve in our craft? To enjoy it? So I'm here to tell you that when the wind howls, and the shadows seem to swell, don't hide beneath the covers and ignore it. Open up your computer, and type what scares you. Because it may just be that little part of your soul that you've kept trapped inside, knocking to get out.

Really, what's the worst that could happen? You don't have to ever share it if you choose not to. But you might surprise yourself.

Now tell me, have you written what scared you? If not, will you try it now?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Top Ten Vampires of All Time

Okay, sure, it's my opinion. But my opinion matters!! In honor of the week before Halloween, I list below the top ten vampires of all time:

10. Count Scary
What??? You've never heard of him???? Well, let me enlighten you. He was probably the first vampire I ever liked. And he was HUGE. In Detroit. In the 80s. Just watch this clip if you want to get to know him better.

9. Edward Cullen
Okay. He had to be on the list somewhere, right? I admit it. I like him. I still don't understand his choice in women, but whatever. That's his prerogative. He's still got that whole brooding but dangerous thing going on. So yeah, he makes the list.

8. Nosferatu
Creepy. Need I say more? I mean for the time this movie was made, I'd say it was pretty good. I know I had nightmares after seeing his face for the first time.

7. Blade
I grew up with a comic book addict brother, so through osmosis I picked up a thing or two. One of which was the character Blade, later made into a movie which some of you might just be familiar with. I love the tragedy associated with Blade. That he's half-human and hunts other vampires.

6. Dracula from the movie Love At First Bite
If you haven't seen this campy movie, go rent it immediately. It is silly and wonderful. A good introduction to vampires for those a little less comfortable with the whole scare factor thing.

5. Spike
I admit that I never watched Buffy faithfully (a mistake I want to rectify as soon as possible) but the little I have seen of Spike, I LOVE. Who wouldn't love that attitude of his?

4. Eric
Yup, I picked and he beats Bill hands down. At least in the books. Don't know who I'm referring to? Get out from under that rock and watch True Blood. Or better yet, read the Sookie Stackhouse books. Eric the viking is one tall drink of.. well, blood I guess. But Whoa. Yeah. He's just plain awesome.

3. Dracula
As in the original BOOK people. Classic vampire all the way. Not the first of his kind, but truly the quintessential vampire. Smoldering sexuality and danger. Now that's what I'm talking about Bram.

2. Damon
Have I MENTIONED Ian Somerhalder on this blog? Oh YEAH I have. Here. I was tempted to put him at number one. Because I love Damon. Do you notice a pattern here? Hmm. Eric not Bill. Damon not Stephen. Spike. Yeah, I like the dangerous ones, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

1. Lestat
Why is Lestat number one? He's the original bad boy vampire with redeeming qualities. The one that came first. At least for me. In fact Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire series was the first I ever read. And I've been hooked ever since.

So there you have it. My top ten list for Halloween. What do you think? Have any suggestions of your own? Thursday I will be covering another wonderful topic in honor of All Hallows Eve, but with great info for writers. So be sure to stop by because I LOVE when you visit me!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Zombies Vs. Unicorns - So Which Is It?

Recently, I finished the book Zombies Vs. Unicorns. For those of you not familiar with it, it is an anthology featuring stories by some of my favorite YA writers, including Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, and Naomi Novik. The whole thing is divided into teams - The incredible Holly Black heading team Unicorn and the incomparable Justine Larbalestier heading team Zombie.

I felt like a kid in a candy store. But which side to take? Follow my inner child, admit that my old room at my parent's house still has unicorns plastered all over the walls? Or embrace the darkness within and go with those stylish Undead, the Zombies? I decided I would read first and decide later.

I have to tell you that some of the stories in this book were UNBELIEVABLE. My favorites? On the Zombie side: LOVE WILL TEAR US APART by Alaya Dawn Johnson. The Unicorn side: Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot. Both freaking brilliant.

Still confused after I finished the book however, I thought I would invite an actual member of each team over to debate the issue. So I have with me today a Unicorn and a Zombie.

ME: So, some people say Unicorns are passe. That you've had a good run, but now it's the age of the Zombie. What do you have to say to that?

Unicorn: I'm above such foolishness. Can't you see by my shiny coat and rainbow colored hair that I don't care what others think?

Zombie: Waaawoooowoooahhhaaaaaaddddooooooowwaaa

ME: Uh huh. And you aren't afraid you come off as just a teeny bit, well, overinflated?

Unicorn: Nonsense. I simply tell the truth. I mean really? Look at me. Now look at that. Ew. Don't breathe on me.

Zombie: Ooooohhhhwwaaaaaahoowwwwweeeeeeeaaaahhhhh

ME: Great. Um, excuse me Mr. Unicorn? Please don't nibble the upholstery. And Mr. Zombie, please stop, um, yeah. Never mind. I think I have enough information to make an informed decision now.

So, as short as that interview was, I think we can all say we gleaned some seriously enlightening information from it. Right? Can't you see the answer now?

Team Unicorn or Team Zombie? I don't think so.

I'm Team Gnome. All the way!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Madness - Leslie Rose

Today's Monday Madness features my friend and critique partner Leslie Rose.

Now if you read Leslie's bio, you will see that she has great credentials. She has a Masters in Design from UCLA, and taught there for many years. She now teaches upper elementary kids and writes YA.

What you don't see in her bio is her personality which, and I can say this from firsthand knowledge, is bigger than King Kong. She's not only open, friendly, approachable, and kind. She's FUNNY, energetic, outgoing, and crazy (but in a good way).

And this translates to her writing. Which is incredible. I have no doubt that she will find representation and publication. You can have all the credentials in the world, but be unable to write like that.

Leslie keeps me fresh. She keeps me thinking on my toes. And I love her for it.

So what is she?? Well, lets see.. The ability to go between teacher, friend, and writer while all the time being both hysterical, supportive, and intellectual?

She's a Shape-Shifter! Well, either that or an alien. But I'm going with Shape-Shifter here. It just sounds better.

Now, go forth and clicky-clicky the link. Leslie's just started a writing blog and she needs your support. I promise she's worth following.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Werewolf ABCs

My Vampire ABC's were so popular, I thought I'd go ahead and write the sequel for you all.

Werewolf ABCs

A is for Abs, again it's a must.
B is for Buns, cuz it's all about lust.
C is for Cats, which he likes to chase.
D is for Dangerous, your heart starts to race.
E is for Ending, inevitable and true.
F is for Flesh, only yours will do.
G is for Glare, when you both have a fight.
H is for Howl, at the moon every night.
I is for impressive, there's really no doubt.
(Except when he licks himself but we'll leave that out).
J is for Jumping, you wish it were you.
K is for Kiss, because that will do.
L is for Lust, can't stress that enough.
M is for Muscles, even non-wolf he's tough.
N is for Now, cuz you just can't hold back.
O is for Ouch, he thinks you're a snack.
P is for Power, which attracts you - admit it.
Q is for Quiet, hope you don't need it.
R is for Rough, I don't need to explain,
S is for Slobber, you wish he'd refrain.
T is for Tush, yeah I know, already said buns.
(But come on you know it's all part of the fun).
U is for Useless, he doesn't do much.
V is for vampire, now you long for HIS touch.
W is for WEREWOLF, what else? That's just him.
X is for Xenos, this one's for you Tim.
Y is for Yummy, what you are both thinking.
Z is for Zombie, but only after you're drinking.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Madness: L.J. Boldyrev

Today's Monday madness features an amazing writer, blogger and all around person - L.J. Boldyrev.

This is what L.J. had to say about herself:

I'm a YA writer, lover of motorcycles, elephants, Elvis Presley, and really
big dogs. Also extraordinarily bad at math. My short fiction, PARALLEL, was
published in the UK by Rebel Books. It can be found in REBEL MOON: An
Anthology of Supernatural Tales and purchased via the publishers website,
amazon, and a number of other online retailers. I'm working on (a few) YA
Paranormal novels.

I'm also a co-author of the Sisters in Scribe blog, and a contributing
author to the Tangled Fiction blog! Yay!

If you want something interesting or strange, I grew up on 500 acres with 13
horses and a Timber Wolf for a pet. I wear a crapload of turquoise jewelry
and I was given the name Dancing Horse by a Native American Shaman at a
Pow-Wow when I was about 14 and I helped my mother build a sweat lodge in
the field behind our house when I was 12.

Now that's a bio!!! That's what I'm talking about. L.J. opened up and now I know what she really is.

Lets look at the facts: She's obviously taken with Native American tradition, being given the name Dancing Horse by a Shaman, and wearing turquoise jewelry. She loves nature and communicates with Animals, she even had a wolf for a pet.

She's a Kachina!

What is a Kachina? According to Monstropedia, a Kachina is a Native American deity that represents life and personifies nature. The Kachina is called upon to bestow many things including power and long life. They are also entertainers.

Well there you have it. Not your average paranormal creature. But then again, there's nothing average about L.J. Don't ask me about the Elvis thing though. Maybe Kachinas gravitate toward royalty!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why Demons Don't Write

Have you ever wondered why it is you never see a book by a demon? They're clever, surely. But The real reason became crystal clear last Monday when temperatures in Southern California reached 113 degrees. Hell is hot too. And it was nearly impossible to write in that kind of heat.

Werewolves don't write because they don't have any fingers. So that kind of puts a damper on things. Paws are cute and fun, so are claws (okay debatable), but neither work well with a keyboard or even a pen.

Ogres don't write because they tend to get easily frustrated. Then they smash the computer or eat the paper and well, it's a vicious cycle.

Only good witches write. I can tell because the other writers I've met are all way too nice to be secretly evil.

Writers don't write when they are down in the "dumps." When they've received their 458th rejection. When they think their first draft was embarrassing. When they get writer's block and don't know where to go next.

Writers don't write for lots of reasons. But the difference between Writers and demons, werewolves, ogres, and evil witches is that Writers persevere. They pump up the air conditioning when it's 113 or go to Starbucks. They find voice recognition software or just wait till the fool moon is over if they lose use of their fingers (not that this has ever happened to me). They remember to be nice because we're really all in this together.

They take a deep breath, send out a new query, dive into revisions, and start writing stream of consciousness or take a walk.

Or if all else fails they eat chocolate.

But Writers keep writing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Madness: Stina Lindenblatt

Well it has certainly been a while since I've done a regular Monday Madness post. There are so many great bloggers out there!! The main problem - as I've stated before - is that you don't necessarily have quite enough information for me to go on when I'm digging around your blogs and bios. Soooo, here's what I'm thinking, because anything is worth a try once or twice, right?

I'm going to select someone (and please feel free to comment if you are interested or would like to see a certain someone featured), and email you. Then if you send me a list of five clues, I will post them and let you know what I think that means you really are. As in vampire, ghost, fairy, etc. Then we'll see if all of the rest of you agree with my assessment. Sound good? Great!

In the meantime, I'd like to feature Stina Lindenblatt!! Stina is an awesome blogger, whose Friday Links are something I can never wait to check out. But she also blogs about photography. How to get just the right shot, which is something I know I can use a little help with. Have you seen some of her photos? They're incredible! But the coolest thing is that I can always see how her photography advice can be applied to writing. Not that she pushes that, in fact more often than not she doesn't even mention it, just lets us make the connection. According to her bio, she is also a mother and a lover of chocolate and exercise.

So what does all this tell me about Stina? It tells me that she's capable of seeing something special in the ordinary. She can take a ray of light and make a picture in which a child looks like an angel from above.

She's clearly a Magician.

Not the David Copperfield kind. But the kind of ancient wielder of magic, able to divine the impossible from the ordinary. And I don't know about you, but I think all writers should strive for that!