Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mind of Their Own

Here’s a great blog post about allowing your characters to make their own decisions. I think it is vital to do so, especially in the discovery stage – the first draft.

My first draft is full of garbage that is going to be edited. Why not save myself time and subdue the voices of my characters? Because it could be gold. Because to me, these are real people. Because, why not?

Anyway. Read this.

Mind of Their Own

Want Some Bad Advice?

No, I don’t really either.

First, my apologies for standing you up yesterday. Just wasn’t feelin’ it.

Second, my submission for Thesaurus Thursday:

Helena’s fingernails dug into the palms of her hands. The incident with the prince in Tuscany had been quickly hushed up. Everyone involved agreed to never speak of it again. Not meeting his eye, Helena fretted at the edge of her silk shawl.

Finally, here’s a bit of advice from my new book. First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S Wiesner:

If you’re writing a paranormal or horror novel, there’s less of a need to include personality traits or background information in your character sketch for the villain (who might be a vampire, demon, or some other creature that’s not human). Readers don’t have to understand a paranormal villain, because it’s often simply the embodiment of evil. Therefore the reader is rightfully expected to feel nothing for the villain except fear, revulsion, and possibly helpless intrigue.

I call bullshit. I don’t care if your villain is evil incarnate. If he or she is not fully developed, I won’t be interested. Especially if you’re writing vampire fiction. You know, those formerly human undead? Yeah. All those personality traits didn’t just disappear along with their pulse. Villains are not just some walking stereotype.

Want good advice on writing villains? Get it here. Or, here. Both are by the same Author, K.M. Weiland, but one is a guest post on another blog. My good friend really likes her writing advice, and frankly – I find myself turning to it more and more.

What do you think?

Retractions, of a sort

I keep hearing differing opinions on the matter of sharing parts of your work – both publicly and privately. I mean, if you can’t share your work privately, how the hell are you supposed to improve it? I’ve heard not to share more than 10% of it.

Luckily, a good majority of what I’ve shared so far will not make it into the final edit. Even the story of Celeste and Thomas is no longer canon. So much has changed since I started everything. All for the better, naturally.

Which leaves me wondering – how do I continue writing the story of Thomas and Celeste when it has changed so drastically? Guess I’ll have to sit down and think it out before I continue.

Now then, it’s Tuesday. So here is my tidbit:

When only McGillicuddy, Helena, and a handful of rough looking gentlemen were left, Helena went into overdrive. The salty air mixed with the smell of rotting fish and unwashed bodies. A flock of gulls swarmed above hr, their sharp calls assaulting her ears. In the distance, she heard the clip-clopping of hooves. Lord McGillicuddy tossed aside the pretence of reading the paper and headed her way.

Sidling to a stop at the edge of her view, Lord McGillicuddy towered over her, which he had not done on the ferry. Once more, Helena dismissed him as a silly, vain creature. Likely, the ladies of the Ton would love him. Had it not been the same in all the fashionable circles her mother introduced her to?

Clearing his throat, the older man said, “Now, I understand my proposal might seem rather forward Lady Helena, especially to one of your delicate sensibilities. I do not mean to offend or appear false.”

“Of course not, Lord McGillicuddy,” she murmured. Turning her head, she watched the thick fog rolling in off the churning sea. Perhaps he would grow bored and leave her in solitude.

And, as I do each Tuesday, a bit of advice from the Emotional Thesaurus. I seriously cannot wait to pick up the next purchase.

Weather details can add texture and meaning to a scene. Consider how a character’s mood can shift because of the weather. It can also stand in the way of their goals, providing tension.

This advice could not have come at a better time. Like I already said, I chose 1816 because of the unusual cold that earned it the Year Without A Summer. And yet so far, no use of the weather. I have a notebook with a list of my “must occur” scenes – and some notes I’ve made about occurrences within my story world. Changes I’ve already made to the list of scenes, Back story that I’m just now discovering. That sort of thing. Perhaps it is time to also add a list of things I must check for once I’m done with the first draft.

1. Add more weather, but not boring. Use it to create tension. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll determine how I can build up the tension  throughout the book.

2. More sexual tension between Helena and Duncan

3. And so on…

(Can you tell I’ve lost track of the things I was supposed to be keeping track of? Clearly, a list is required…)

Yellow Cake Batter Gelato

One of our local gas stations sells frozen yogurts and gelato under the name The Creamery. I mean it’s a Shell station. Perhaps you’ve seen them in your neck of the woods? This yellow cake batter gelato is just ridiculous. Yum.

Anywho….

I vacillate between blue and black ink the way I stoically refuse to adhere to one single style of hand writing. What fun is it to choose something then stick with it forever? At least, when it comes to ink color and handwriting style, that is?

I can stick with certain decisions – I chose one husband, and to him I shall cleave. Or some other such fustian nonsense that means I love my husband. For me, there is no other.

Not so for Thomas and Celeste. He is fixated on Esther as some sort of prize. She, of course, is mesmerized by Baldwin. Is it love? Infatuation?

I intended to write yesterday’s scene from the perspective of both Thomas and Celeste. In the end, I think only his was necessary. For some reason, Celeste hasn’t yet thrown in the towel. To this man, she intends to cleave.

Thomas though? Well, he’s pretty damn broken. Can she be far behind?

I know, I promised you some discussion of villains. Soon. Soon.

Cypress Swinging in the Breeze

351-800 Here is today’s installment. I hope you enjoy…

Thomas stood on the terrace, surveying the lands now belonging to him. The sloping lawns, the wooded acres. It was all his. All except the great meadow. He could still hear his father’s recriminations. The last they had spoken, his father had once again blamed him for losing that precious tract of land.

The vigil period had been short. Celeste had called the tradition barbaric, and refused to allow it longer than twenty-four hours. Claimed it would scar the child. The procession to the family cemetery had been short, too. Only Baldwin had accompanied him. The majority of his father’s friends had paid their respects then left. The old man had driven away more friends than Thomas had realized.

Celeste stepped into the foggy gloom. Placing a hand upon his arm, she said “Thomas, you must come inside. You’ll catch a chill standing out here in the rain.”

Thomas took one look at his wife’s glowing face and jerked away from her touch. The severe black of mourning should have washed her out, as it did him. Instead, the black served to highlight the glow of motherhood. Even in mourning his wife stirred desire.

“I cannot Celeste.” The bloody woman understood nothing. What had he expected? “I need to be out here. The rain matches my soul. Do you not understand?”

“Now Thomas, that is no way to speak to your wife.” Esther’s soft voice slithered over his skin, sinking its claws into his heart. She came! And looked appropriately horrible in the somber black, as was expected. As was proper. Celeste shrugged her shoulders quietly before slipping past Esther to return inside.

“She does not mourn my father, Esther, not as I do.” Thomas wanted to confess his darkest secret to Esther. But would she still love him if she knew he was glad the rotten old bastard was dead? “She cares only for young Duncan.”

“She is a new mother, Thomas. It is only natural she is consumed with your son,” Esther said. Slipping onto the terrace, she came to stand next to him. “Don’t forget, everyone knows your father held no tenderness for her, nor she him. I certainly would not mourn someone who despised me.”

With Esther by her side, Thomas looked for the sun to break free of the fog and clouds. Instead, a fat drop of rain landed on his upturned cheek. Esther watched him, her gaze closed, unreadable. The weight of her stare became too much for him. Grimacing, Thomas lowered his gaze, fixating on the stone patterns at his feet.

“Come inside, my friend. When did you last eat?” Baldwin joined his wife speaking to Thomas in a cajoling tone. “Cook says you have refused all trays since Lord Blacke passed. Three days with no food? Think you to chase the old man to the grave?”

Oh, heaven save him. Was Baldwin making fun of him? Did Cook know he snuck into the kitchen pantry? Had she yet noticed the ham he had taken? How could he justify eating when his father was dead, and he not there to ease the passing?

Celeste’s husky voice echoed once more into the fog, breaking the silence that had grown after Baldwin’s accusation. “When last did you hold your son. That is a better question. You held no more love for that man than I, Thomas.”

Duncan. His perfect child. His heir. The one who would be a better man than he. His salvation.

“I am not hungry, Celeste,” he said.

“And what of your son, husband? Do you no longer wish for a son?” Celeste’s voice raked across his skin, shredding his dignity.

Thomas jerked at the accusation. Had the gypsy witch read this thoughts. “What was that, wife?”

“I asked if you would like to hold Duncan. He just fell asleep, and Nurse is about to take him back to the nursery.” Celeste tilted her head, looking at him quizzically.

He was going mad. There was no other explanation. Must be the sun peeking through the clouds. Thomas swept into the library, his long strides taking him to the sideboard covered with decanters and glasses.

Glancing at the tiny bundle cradled in Nurse’s arms, Thomas felt a momentary pang in his chest. Every night, while the household slept, he crept into the nursery. He watched tiny Duncan sleeping, his chest rising and falling with each breath. He undressed him, marvelling at the magnificent, tiny toes at the end of magnificent, tiny feet. He had even once endured the humiliation of being sprayed as he removed the swaddling cloth.

But hold him? Sweat broke out on his temples at the thought. Swallowing several times, Thomas said, “No. Take him away. In fact, take yourself away. All of you. Get out, now.”

Turning, Thomas ignored his wife and their friends. From a crystal decanter, he poured himself a generous amount of amber liquid. The glass was empty in one long, fiery swallow. He relished the burn of the smuggled Brandy. Pain was all he deserved.

How Do You Feel About Your Own Writing?

Ooh. Tough question this week. Well, not really. I knew the answer immediately. Here is what I shared with my writing group:

Every day is a struggle to put pen to paper because no matter how many compliments I get, I think it’s garbage. (And this is not a fishing expedition. That’s seriously how I feel.) The thing is, it doesn’t matter how I feel – I have a story, and it has to come out. 

That’s the long and short of it. I struggle every single day to do a lot of things. Like almost everything else I struggle with, I continue to put pen to paper. I may never sell a single copy of my writing. Hell, I may never even attempt to. That hasn’t been my goal. I write because I must. And, because I enjoy it.

I know, I know. There are people who say you have to be talented to be a writer, that not everyone can do it. I call bullshit. Anyone can write. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good. If you have the story in you, let it out.

If everyone around you puts you down or tells you to stop, come share it with me. I might be honest and tell you it sucks. I’ll tell you why it sucks, too. If I can, I’ll help you improve it like many have helped me. I mean, let me tell you – the things I wrote 20 years are ridiculous. If I weren’t a sentimental pack rat, I would throw them away. But when I started writing again last year… I’ve surrounded myself with people who not only care about me, but who are honest about my writing, and have helped me improve it.