Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions - the New Year kind

So I promised I'd go over some New Year's Resolutions last week, and being that we have only a couple of days left of 2010, I thought now would be the time. So here is my list of what resolutions these beings might be making...

1. Vampire:
Might resolve to lay off the teenage girl blood. It was fun at first, but now he's noticed a definite increase moodiness.

2. Zombie:
Might resolve to be more discerning in which brains he decides to eat. Those TSA agents for example? Talk about indigestion...

3. Werewolf:
Might resolve to howl a bit more quietly at the moon. Last time it was quite the fiasco when the neighbors called the police.

4. Ghost:
Might resolve to move on and let go of the past already. It's really been holding her back.

5. Author:
Might resolve to go out in public more. Not counting Starbucks and bookstores, and without the laptop and/or Kindle.

Of course all of these are simply wild imaginings. Kind of. Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paranormal Metaphors

Do you ever think about the greater meaning when you read a paranormal novel? I thought I'd take a look at some of the larger metaphors involved in some of our favorite themes and creatures. Of course it can vary book to book, but overall, this is what I see.

Werewolf: The animal instinct inside that fights to come out of us all. Our wild and uninhibited side. But also the one that we fear, and that makes us feel inhuman.

Vampire: Eternal life but at a price. Oh and SEX. Think I'm kidding? Check this out from the Huffington Post.

Ghost: The inability to let go of someone. Fear of death.

Zombie: Loss of control and higher reasoning.

Magic: Power. Wish fulfillment.

Wand: Sometimes a wand is just a wand, you know?

What do you have to add to my little dictionary?

Thursday, December 23, 2010


We all know what New Years means. Resolution time. But I'll be discussing that kind of resolution next week! This week I want to talk about the resolution in our writing. As in, how the heck do I tie everything up with a pretty bow and still leave myself open for the the other five books I hope I get signed for?

Rule number one: Write a book that stands alone

Yep you heard me. I don't care if you've spent years partitioning out a seven book series that's hundreds of thousands of words long. I (and agents and editors) don't want to know about it. Sure you can say there's series potential when querying. You may even have an outline ready. But the single most important thing is to have a solid, well-written manuscript to hand over that stands on its own two legs.

Rule number two: Dynamic Characters

Now that we've established that your problem must be resolved (at least to some satisfactory level) you have to round off that character arc too. The plot and character arcs don't necessarily have to line up exactly, but the person (or demon, or vampire, or ghost, or whatever) we meet in the beginning of the story should not be the same person we end up with. Whatever you've done, whatever he or she has gone through, we want to see that it's changed him or her. Give your character time to come to grips with whatever earth shattering thing has happened at the end. If I'm invested, I want to see what happens.

Rule number three: Don't meander

Just like sometimes we have trouble knowing when the story really starts, so do we have trouble knowing where it ends. I just said above that we need to see the characters come to grips with whatever the big changes were. But we don't need to see them continue on in their day to day lives for another full week just so that we know they can handle it. Let's look at Harry Potter as an example (since I hate ruining endings for you if you haven't read another book I might use). At the end of Sorcerers Stone (and most subsequent books) we see the school year come to an end at Hogwarts. We finish the big fight with Voldemort. But we also decompress by having the big heart to heart with Dumbledore, see that the school remains intact, wrap up subplots like Gryffindor winning the house cup, and resolve ourselves to the idea that Harry must go back to the Dursley's but with the hope that it will work out when he returns next year. Nice and neat. And still room for a sequel. We don't have to see him actually get back to the Dursley's house because it does nothing for the book as a whole.

Rule number four: Don't rush it

Sometimes we've gone so far with this thing that's taken on a life of its own that when we finally see the finish line looming ahead, we take off at a run. Slow it down. Keep the pacing right for the moment. I (the reader) have waited the whole darn book for this. I've ridden the roller coaster with the characters, invested my time, and now I want something that satisfies me. Which brings us to-

Rule number five: Don't pull it out of your you-know-what

I'm a pantser folks. I hardly ever plan my manuscripts out from the get go. I take notes. But I don't outline. I like to be surprised (yeah go figure that one out). But I know that in order to wrap it up in the hero's favor, I need to give both he and the reader the tools to be able to do that along the way. Clues and information he can use. His friends can help, but he needs to have to make a choice that results in the outcome, whether good or bad. And that's all on him. So if suddenly the magic fairy shows up and sprinkles fairy dust on the villain, the reader's going to be pissed and rightfully so. Just like Harry had to face down Voldemort himself.

What rules do you have to add?

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Impatient Fairy - a writer's fairy tale

Once upon a time I wrote a blogpost called the Ogre and the Slushpile. Others seemed to enjoy this, so I thought I'd give it another try with my newest story, The Impatient Fairy. I hope you enjoy. Oh and don't forget to enter my contest!

Claire didn't like being a fairy. Of course she enjoyed the whole being absolutely beautiful and able to wield magic parts. But other than that it kind of sucked. So she decided to do what she'd always really wanted and became a writer.

At first Claire wasn't sure how to become a writer. Then she decided for lack of any better instructions, to just start calling herself one. The only trouble was, then the rest of the fairies all wanted to read something she'd written. So she locked herself in her hollow tree stump and wrote. In only a few short days she had the world's greatest masterpiece in her possession. It was 200,000 words long single spaced in a lovely curly font, and it was titled, THE BEST BOOK EVER.

Claire flew right over to the biggest publishing company she could find, and handed it to them. "Today's your lucky day," she told the editor, whose mouth had fallen to the floor. "You'll want to get this out right away."

Now it isn't every day that a fairy flies into your office with a manuscript, so the editor decided to forgo the usual lecture in these situations and actually take a peek. Wouldn't you be curious? Unfortunately after the first page, she shook her head and said, "Miss Fairy, I'm afraid this isn't for me."

So Claire turned her into a caterpillar and flew to the next publisher. After ten editors she couldn't hold back the tears. She was so certain her book was perfect. Plus she was sure to get in trouble for over-inflating the caterpillar population.

Claire had a lot to learn. And as we all know fairies are quite impatient. So after another couple of days on the internet, she sighed heavily and considered giving up. Apparently this writing thing was harder than it appeared. But Claire was determined. Plus all the other fairies were starting to tease her. And she couldn't have that.

Claire worked, and researched. Read and studied. Even joined a critique group over email (lucky for them she couldn't do her caterpillar spell through the computer). Finally, a year later she had a manuscript she was confident was ready.

This time she queried agents. She used a little fairy potion to help her out, and she landed one almost right away. Claire ignored the part of her that said she was cheating and got ready for the offers to roll in. When they didn't, her agent assured her that these things just take time. So she waited. And waited. And waited. She waited for an interminable three whole days!

Claire decided to use her potion again. And she had an offer within an hour. Then she had to follow the editorial notes and revise her whole book all over again! After several of these horrible interludes, she was told her book would be ready to release in eight more months. Eight months! Claire threw her arms up in frustration. Clearly there was only one thing left to do.

Claire settled into her feather bed and used a powerful magic potion to put herself to sleep. That way she wouldn't have to sit around waiting, she could just bypass it all and wake up famous. And indeed when she woke, she rushed to the bookstore to find her own book at the top of the best seller list!

Claire patted herself on the back, and flew home to check her email. She skipped to the most recent messages to find that she owed her editor and agent the second book in the series and an outline of the third. Claire's eyes teared up. She had to do all the work all over again, and she missed out on all the fun of watching her book release and hearing from the readers. Claire decided to quit writing and go into acting instead.

The moral of this story? Be patient because if you can't enjoy the process then what's the point? Oh and if you aren't a fairy don't go barging into an editor's office. Just stick to querying.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Little Experiment OR How To Manage an Online Presence as an Author

My experiment? Yup, you probably already guessed it. Do I get more traffic just by putting up pics of hot, shirtless vampires? Well, I'll let you know the results in a week or so. ;) But that does tie in to what I want to talk about today. Platform building for writers. I know, it's been discussed, but let's summarize what I've learned:

1. Is an online presence helpful to a yet-to-be-published author?
I've heard both sides of the argument, and what I take away is this - and I speak from experience folks! I've been blogging for nearly a year now. If you HATE it. I mean have to force yourself to blog or tweet like taking a spoonful of castor oil. Then you shouldn't invest the time it takes. On the other hand, if you like it (and let's face it, most of us writers do because it's another outlet for our creative side), go for it!! You build contacts, yes. But most importantly you connect with your peers. And you will find that those peers are an invaluable resource of support, friendship, and information. And when that book finally comes out? You have a place to market it. A place that is more likely to be visited by the young audience you may be targeting, and a place you are now comfortable navigating.

2. Which platforms are the most useful?
Well, I have personal experience with the "big three." Those being Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging.

Let's start with FB. I find it a little more difficult to use for marketing myself, though some people love it. I think it's a personal choice, but I'll show you why I prefer Twitter and blogging.

Twitter is not only fun and addictive, it's easy to participate. Especially with free programs like Tweetdeck to help keep you organized and up to date. You don't have to spend forever on there, you just check in say a few times a day or go for an online conference like #kidlitchat, #yalitchat, or #scribechat.

Blogging is a great outlet for your muse as a writer. I've used three major platforms. Blogger (obviously), Wordpress (undead poet's society and Scribechat), and Livejournal (Enchanted Inkpot). They all have ups and downs. Personally, I find Blogger the most user friendly, followed by Wordpress. I also like how blogger keeps me connected with so many other's that use Google.

3. What do I say?

Keep your personal life private. That's my biggest advice. Do I mention my kids occasionally? Yes. But you notice I don't give specific names and locals. Nor do you want to hear it. YOU as my guest want something of value in return for visiting with me. And I want you to say, I like that Lisa Gail Green chick! She's funny, uplifting, a little quirky, and I learn things by talking to her. So aim for those things - whatever you want someone to come away with - and give it to them! On Twitter I tweet links of use, tidbits, and (hopefully) funny anecdotes. I also converse with friends, and offer/receive encouragement.

The biggest thing to remember is that you are interacting with real people who are in much the same boat you are. Yes we want to hear about good news and share in disappointments with you, but overall, this is a give and take. Comment on others blogs! I love hearing from you!! I really mean that. I answer just about every time. And I try to reciprocate by going to your blog as well. I love the people I've met here! I enjoy doing this! And apparently I also enjoy exclamation points!

What did I leave out? Tell me what you find helpful online.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Madness - Jamie Manning

Please give a warm welcome to fellow writer Jamie Manning, who blogs at Writers Write, Right? Go check him out, I'll wait. Okay, back? Now look at what Jamie had to say about himself:

So, a little about me. Hmmm...awkward! Well, I'm 33 years old, soon to be 34 (in a month) and up until about a year ago, I've never really thought about trying to write a book. I mean, I thought about it when I was younger - I even tried it a couple times - but no /serious/ thoughts...until I read Twilight (I love any and all things vampire).
Now I know what most people are going to say. Twilight?! What?! But that book really turned me on to the writing world again. It isn't the greatest piece of fiction, but it lit a fire under me!
Since then, I've discovered this wonderful world of blogging and I haven't looked back. I've enjoyed discovering blogs and authors and tips on the craft of writing, all of which have given me some much-needed self-confidence (I honestly didn't have much before).
I'm a HUGE animal lover...if I had a dime for all the turtles I've helped cross the road I'd be rich! I have 3 awesome dogs that are the most important things in my life. No matter my day, I know they're anxiously waiting for me to get home so they can jump in my arms and lick my face and that knowledge brightens my mood every time.
I don't have children, but I do have a slew of nieces and nephews that I adore and don't get to see often enough. I'm a confessed TV junkie (seriously. I watch many many hours a week!) and movie nerd (horror movies, of course, are my favorite) who gives up waaay too much of my precious free time to mindless entertainment.
The term "accident-prone" had to have been created for me. When it comes to freaky, out-of-the ordinary accidents, I've had them all. I've been knocked unconscious after falling from a garbage truck, dragged across a highway by a car, driven my car through a bedroom wall... yeah. Weird.
But I've survived it all, and I'm hoping it's so I can share the stories in my head with the world! (cue cheesy music).

Hmm. Let's see. Jamie clearly has a suppressed death wish. I mean, he's not only frighteningly accident prone, and has had more real life adventures than most heros in a book, he's also drawn to vampires. He loves animals, and kids. And he's just a plain ole nice guy! It comes right through the computer. So what is he?

An Elf.

Hear me out. Elves (light elves of course) are good, peace loving folk, who adore nature (thus the animal/kid love). They are easily led astray (thus the vampire attraction), and are prone to adventure. So is it true, Jamie? Are you one of the "Fair Folk?"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is Santa a Gnome?

So here I sit, wracking my overused brain to find a topic for this post - something of such unbelievable value to everyone that it becomes a permanent bookmark on your browser - when it hits me.

My gnome looks a lot like Santa.

I know what you're thinking. Genius! Right? I mean he has the red hat, white beard, and is admittedly pretty round. Plus who's to say Santa doesn't change his clothes specially for the holiday?

In all seriousness (and this is where I tie it all in to writing and offer you free stuff, so watch the brilliance unfold). We don't normally connect garden gnomes with Santa Claus, but that's where our creativity as writers comes in to play. We see connections between things that are unique. We can look at a picture of a house and suddenly our mind is making up a story about the mysterious widow that lives there waiting for the ghost of her murdered lover to return. Okay, maybe you didn't think of that, but you get the idea.

So I don't want to hear any complaints about not having any good ideas. Got it? Pick up a random object off your own desk or shelf and make something up about it. Something not obvious to the rest of us. Then convince me. No really. Go do that and email it to me at paranormalpov at gmail dot com with "contest" in the subject line. I'll take the most creative one and post it right here on my blog, linking back to you. Then, if you are in the U.S. I'll give you a prize to boot! You can choose between a book (either Clockwork Angel, Personal Demons, or Beautiful Creatures, or anything of a comparable value) or a critique of up to ten pages. Go ahead, impress me! In two hundred words or less of course, since I anticipate the entire blogosphere participating. Why yes, I have been told I'm an optimist! How did you know?

You have until December 31st - 3 weeks from tomorrow. So get to work! Yes, I am aware that's New Years Eve, think of it like a resolution you can keep now. Not letting your creative juices sit on the back burner while keeping up with the holidays.

*Please note that I am changing the rules slightly. My contest after all. He he he. I'm extending the word limit to no more than 1000. That should give you some more wiggle room. But if your piece is shorter, that's fine. This is an exercise in creativity not length.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Celebrity Monday Madness

photo credit
1. Bristol Palin - come on folks! You know I had to go there. I'm going with Mind Controlling Alien on this one. She gave it an admirable go on Dancing with the Stars, but finals? REALLY? Those susceptible to her mind rays must have felt an undeniable compulsion to call in votes until their fingers bled.

2. Adam Sandler - if I say he's a demi-god, do I get added to his holiday party guest list for next year? Cuz, it's not beneath me...

3. Taylor Swift - She'sjust so darn adorable, and talented to boot! I have to go with Fairy on this one. She has that grace and charm that mesmerize the simple human folk.

4.Robert Downey Jr.
- Hmm. He's a great actor. He's versatile. He's a hotty. But we also know he isn't exactly perfect. Werewolf is where this is headed. Hot and unpredictable. Yeah.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hush Hush Review

With me today I have Damian. Damian is a Fallen Angel, and I've asked him to review the book Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick for us.

Me: So, Damian, what did you think of the book?

Damian: It sucked.

Me: Excuse me?

Damian: You heard me. People who read that book might end up having feelings for Fallen Angels. We don't want you to have feelings for us. We enjoy being hated and feared. I hate it when authors make you like the bad guy. What self-respecting Fallen Angel wouldn't?

Me: So what you're actually saying is that the author does a great job sending the reader on an emotional rollercoaster. Making us actual hope that the "bad" guy isn't really bad?

Damian: Stop twisting my words. Wait. You know, you'd make a great Fallen Angel. Interested in a career change?

Me: Um no, I like writing, thank you very much.

Well, if you want my opinion, I thought the book was AMAZING. I rushed right out and bought the sequel CRESCENDO. Which was good as well, but HUSH HUSH was a truly gripping page turner. I honestly wasn't sure what was going to happen - meaning who was going to be "good" and "bad" until the end. Don't worry. I'm not going to tell you. But I sure had an emotional investment in how it turned out. I actually found it scary as well. Which I can't say happens very often for me, even in books labeled horror. So yeah, I recommend it. Oh and if I haven't convinced you yet - those steamy scenes with Patch and Nora? Whoa. Can you say sexual tension? Wow.