Sunday, October 31, 2010

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!




As is tradition, my husband and I watch the old horror flicks of Dracula, Mummy, Frankenstein throughout the month. Today we had Dracula with Bela Lugosi, and then the comedy, Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein, which features Bela Lugosi as Dracula, and the comedy skits in it are really good.

Halloween's traditions go way back to at least the Romans and Druids. It was once called Allhallows Eve, the night before All Soul's Day. It was a secular observance of Halloween, derived from the Druids who celebrated the day of Samhan, when the Lord of Death called together the souls of the wicked who had died during the past year. The theme, of course, was the harvest. You must understand in a time when there was no electricity, and the ways of keeping your harvest in tack in order to survive a harsh winter, was very important. Thus a seasonal holiday made sense as the days grew short, and colder.

The fact that this date is considered the eve of the day of the dead, is pretty much where the Jack-o-lantern came from. I'm consulting Wikipedia for some of this, but I do recall that turnips were hollowed out in Europe, and used as lanterns. The faces were created to scare away the departed souls, as this is the time of year when the veil between our world and that of departed souls was thinnest, and it was believed that they could communicate with them, as well as be visited by them. Thus, superstitions abound during this time of year.

It came to my attention that many states, this year, had declared that the little ones go trick-or-treating on Saturday (the day before--which is called Beggars Night), instead of Sunday, fearing, I guess that it was a bad theme to mix with Christianity. Bah Humbug. According to what I've found it is a tradition from back in the Medieval day of "souling" when the poor went door-to-door asking for food or money.

Well, it matters not. This is my holiday. I collect pumpkins of every kind, and love Jack-o-lanterns. And as I sip on hot cider and one of my home-made cookies, I count my blessings.

Happy Halloween, and I hope you allowed your little ones to celebrate the day as they always have, in their costumes, and getting sugar highs!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

VAMPIRE ASCENDING Release In December!



I was so very excited last night when I had e-mail from Wilfried Voss, my publisher, who sent me a link to view my book's cover.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but once I saw it, I was drop-jawed excited and all thumbs up.

I posted the picture at my facebook page, so those of you who are there also have seen it, and thank you for your support and kind words of encouragement. A number of the people who come to Lorelei's Muse on a continual basis, or even to check in once in a while, I thank you.

I also would like to thank any of you who have come to a book signing, or purchased my very first book, Spell of the Black Unicorn. I will eventually get the sequel to this series out, I hope, in the near future. This series is very special, and I love all the kooky characters in it, and my vivid imaginations was allowed to simply sore. The next one will be even better. I promise.

But my concentration is on my vampire novel, Vampire Ascending, the first in this series.

I've written it elsewhere, but I'll write it here. I've always been deeply interested in vampires since I was a teenager--and that was some time ago, before the subject was considered cool, or the in thing. It was before Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire, too. Because of my interest in the horror--that's what it was called back then--I was probably an out-cast in many ways. Not that it worried me a great deal, because I was more a loaner, and eventually it lent itself to my writing. I've written two vampire novels prior to this one, and nearly had an agent, but that fell through. Now, I've got a good POD publisher who is interested in the product and wants to make this work as much as I do.

Mr. Voss told me in his e-mail to me that as soon as they have a print proof in hand, they will begin the promotion process through press releases, and it will be reviewed by a professional service and this will be posted far and wide, including at Amazon. He also told me that he was impressed by the good writing style, what portions he did read. Now, that I had not gotten from any one else I ever sent my book to, and I had sent it out to at least two other places. *snap* He was the only one at the very beginning who had said, when he viewed it at Author Nation, that he found nothing wrong with my writing--after I'd been told it would need editing from one place that wanted to charge me, and an editor who would not get back to me as to whether or not she actually wanted the book at all. I mean that was 3 months I could have been getting this thing out there!

Well, this is my first post for this book, but won't be the last. Also, I'm developing a "book launch" site just for the book where I will be adding to it information on the book, and I'll have to check and see if it will be alright to place a teaser chapter there as well.

This is a long time in coming. I feel that things could go really well from here on out. Please check in for the official place to go and purchase a book when it is available.

And if anyone wishes to interview me or feature me and the book at their blog, give me a yell at loreleibell4@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sumiko's Reads ~ Poison Study


Poison Study is a 2005 fantasy novel written by Maria V. Snyder, and the first book of a three-part series.

The first book "Poison Study" - introduces us to our heroine Yelena whose life is taking an unexpected turn. (Trying not to be spoilery here.) The books follow her as she discovers who she is as she comes into her powers. Yelena lives in a land where magic exists but is outlawed because the previous rulers were overthrown by a military leader who feels that magic by it's nature corrupts. The abut a country which is ruled by a council of master magicians. The second book in the series follows Yelena into that other country as she learns to use and control magic. ("Magic Study") In the 3rd book both countries are involved in a battle against a joint enemy as Yelena tries to reconcile her allegiances to both places.

Man, I think I've managed to make these books seem very dry - but they are not. I really enjoyed them. Snyder has invented an interesting world and filled it with characters that I really enjoyed following. Perhaps this is why I felt a bit sad at the end. I know, I may see these characters again in her current "Glass" series but they will never be as central as they were here.

(I have ordered the first book in the Glass series - I believe that all three are out now.)


Maria V. Snyder's website:

http://www.mariavsnyder.com/

Monday, October 25, 2010

WORDSMITHING 101 - Part Four POV




What point of view are you using? First person? Third person limited? Or third person omniscient?

All of them have good and bad points. The first person is easiest to maintain, I think, but limits the readers to just one character, and what they see, hear, feel, etc. In a way this is good because the readers can be kept in the dark along with the view point character.

Many writers like third person. This is because they can write from different characters. The third person is a good way to go when you have a lot of characters who can put a different perspective on what is happening. Controlling when to slip into another character's mind, or view point, takes some discipline. The best way to change view point characters--a lot of writers do it this way--is to begin a new chapter. It's cleaner, and there is a definite pause. Dean Koontz will use this method, and many other thriller, mystery, and horror writers use the third person POV.

Another way of showing a shift from one character's POV is to have a space before we go to the next character.

The omniscient POV is nearly the opposite of first person. You can go into any one's POV, but you need not allow the readers to get too deep into their head. This is a good POV to use when showing the villain(s) in your story. I've been reading the first in Koontz's Frankenstein series, and he is the master of using the two types of POV. He allows you into the mind of many of his characters, but if you read along, you will notice that he will not allow you into the mind of the creator/villain, Frankenstein--not too intimately. This is done in omniscient and done so well, and seamlessly, you barely notice.

Third Person limited is similar to first person, but the author only stays with one character. All of the Harry Potter series was done this way, with exceptions of the first two chapters of The Half-Blood Prince, and possibly the very last book, where she has chosen to put us into a different character's perspectives.

Which ever authors you enjoy reading, make note of how they work their POV. Especially when it comes to switching the POV character. It's very easy to slip into another character's mind, when we're supposed to be in the other one's. When this is done, it confuses the reader. And you may not want to provide this information from that character's POV in the same chapter. Leave something for another chapter so that you can really go into detail.

Other authors who do a great job of third person: Jeaniene Frost, Michele Hauf, and if you've never read anything by Sunny, you'll see what she does with POV--she mixes the first person and third person limited, as well as the omniscient in one novel. Very delicate balance, and at first, in Lucinda, Darkly I was confused, but once I got the idea of what she was doing, I thought wow

That's all I have for today. Halloween is nearly here!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

When Lightning Strikes--WRITE IT DOWN!



It has been a month, or so, since I had written those few chapters that would become my third vampire novel/series. Life's dramatic episodes just took precedence, and it was tough for me to get back to this. Plus, I've been working six days a week. It was difficult to reacquaint myself with the story, and the plot idea.

My problem was I hadn't had a chance to think it through. I didn't even have a clear idea who my villain was, nor why things were going on the way I'd had them.

Rule of thumb when a story just isn't jelling for some reason: Wait it out.

The waiting is worth it. Other things in life might help bring things into a certain light that you at first hadn't thought about before. Once I allowed my mind to not worry about this story, it relaxed enough so that I was able to do this question and answer series of why this and what if game. You need to question the why part, and then ask what if mainly because the what if's pile up and you suddenly have inspiration for some better plot line, something that hadn't occurred to you before, when you began. This is why there is a first draft. Every writer worth their salt knows that it is going to change drastically. I think when we write something down, we do merely because it does feel like a good start. And there's probably some good stuff in there that in a second draft could stay, but you change it around to go with the new ideas.

I sometimes take from real life. But most writers do. We watch the news, read articles in newspapers. Many horror fiction writers take from real life and tweak it, sometimes a lot.

In my area right now a college student has gone missing for more than a week. It's a terrible tragedy. I'm trying to put myself in the place of the parents, or someone--like a sister--close to her. My heart-felt wishes for her to be found safe.

Taking from such a tragedy makes me feel a little guilty because it is still on going. The weird twist to this story is that another man--I think he might have been in construction--disappeared in the same general area about 5 years ago. Never seen. However this isn't related.

But my mind is doing the "what if" thing. Since I deal in urban fantasy, my what if is what if the missing people came across a portal that took them to another place/another world plane? My heroine, being a clairvoyant, is asked to look for the sister of her brother's wife. She stumbles across that same area, that same portal.

In reference to such things, I looked up black holes, looked up the Theory of Relativity, to help base my story on these ideas loosely. There was a picture in a book I had that showed black holes, and lines going from one black hole to the other and it suggests that these networks might allow objects to travel through time and space--according to some scientists. Another thought I gleaned from this article was that objects that go into black holes may re-emerge elsewhere . . . and elsewhen. Then it goes into the idea that UFOs are actually visitors from a parallel reality, or from another dimension.

So, my gentle readers and fellow writers, when looking for something to spark your imagination, open up a good book (Mine happened to be Into the Unknown by Reader's Digest, copyright 1981), and articles in the newspaper. I save a lot of articles in a big bin and look through them once in a while.

When lightning strikes, you'd better have your notebook and pen at the ready, just in case.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sumiko's Reads ~ Cold Magic



My friend, Sumiko, has been busy. Besides reading her books she is also busy knitting a sweater. I almost fear she may loose herself in the knitting and reading and we'll never see her again. Just one large sweater walking about the campus with a book in her hand.

Without further ado . . .

Hi everyone!

I finished Cold Magic in a rush of adrenaline. And it was both enjoyable and very satisfactory. As I may have mentioned last time, I was a teensy bit worried about finishing the book and then having an unspecified time to wait for the next one to come out due to my experience with her Crown of Stars series. (That one was originally planned as a trilogy and wound up as a series of seven books.) I think that anyone with similar fears should not worry. Cold Magic ends with our heroine in a pretty good place. You can definitely see where the story continues but it is by no means a cliffhanger.

Moving from an incomplete trilogy to a finished one - on Sunday I read Fire Study, the 3rd book in Maria V. Snyder's "Study" series. I am serious - I received the book sometime last week and started reading Sunday morning and stayed in bed 'til I was done. My cat was not pleased but I was happy and possibly a bit sad to be leaving the main character. I know that Snyder is writing another series set in the same 'verse but it just won't be the same, will it?

I will post Sumiko's comments on Maria Snyder's series on Saturday, so please swing by for that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

12 DAYS UNTIL HALLOWEEN . . .


DID YOU CARVE YOUR PUMPKIN YET?

I did. Just a little while ago. I'm drying the seeds and keeping some to plant for next year, and bake the rest to eat. Yum! This is the first pumpkin we've bought in ages--since I'm the only 12 year old in the house (tee hee). And love Halloween so much I want to change my birthday to October 31st.

So, I'm feeling a little lazy, and am not posting my usual Wordsmith 101 article today. It might have something to do with the fact that I had only one day off this past week, which was yesterday, and had to clean the house and go get groceries.

Plus, I've been working on my 3rd book's plot. I want to post something on this, but haven't got anything ready. (Did I say I was feeling lazy?)

Also, I'm entering the Publishers Clearing House. I've been doing this for decades now. You never know when you might be the one who wins. A couple who live right here in DeKalb just won the lottery, and they had been playing the same numbers for 25 years.

Do I feel lucky? I don't know if it's a feeling. I just think you throw the dice and if you win you win. That's all there is to it.

My husband procured three novels by Dean Koontz today when he popped into one of the student halls. That's what's so great about working around a college, you just never know what free stuff you might find. The titles are: Prodigal Son, City of Night, Dead and Alive--these are three of his Frankenstein novels. I've wanted to read them ever since I'd read about them in Koontz's "Useless News" newsletter--which I get every now and then. The man is not only prolific, but an absolutely flawless wordsmith. He can scare the heebeejeebees out of you, and on the turn around make your heart wrench enough to produce tears. If you have never read anything by this man I urge you do do so. If you enjoy a pulse-pounding tale, this man can spin them. I've also enjoyed a few where he could make me laugh, and then dread what the mad man/villain was about to do. I don't think there is another writer who has mastered not the suspense novel, keep horror/terror level up at such a high place, and still is able to spin such wonderful prose as he does. Merely reading through the reviews in the front of the book will make you ashamed you haven't read him, or genuinely proud that you have.

So, here I sit in my room, drinking a chai late--or my version of it--writing this on a lovely autumn day. I need to return to my notebook to jot down some things I've been working on.

I think I'll wait till next week to return to my Wordsmithing 101 post.

I'm just in a lazy place today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Interview With Director Justin R. Romine










All photos: Curtis Clegg


Actor / Part

Tom Lodewyck - Senator Neil Oldman (the man who turns into the the vampire)
Deneen Melody - Ryder, Vampire Hunter (Blonde in the red dress)
Elana Cohn - Prostitute (girl that gets bitten)

Director, Producer: Justin R. Romine Director of Photography: Don Ford
Script: Andy Schatner


Justin R. Romine graciously answered my questions about his up coming film, “Afraid of Sunrise”. I wanted to better understand what he was trying to do, and hope to do with the short version. When they are finished with it they will be taking it around to many film festivals around the country. “The more people that see it, the better chance we'll have at selling it, or the idea of the feature,” Romine told me in a chat over at facebook.

Here are more of my questions and his very detailed answers. It's wonderful to get to know a little bit more about a subject I know so little about—film making.

Lorelei: I understand that you are going back to a more graphic style of vampire film. What known film can you name that would be similar in what
you are trying to accomplish?

Justin: That's a very hard question to answer honestly. I don't think that what we're doing has been done before. I'm mixing my influences from a myriad of sources and genres. My director of photography, Don Ford, and I are reflecting on our favorite film styles and weaving them creatively into the film. For example, we are using themes and elements from the Spaghetti Western when introducing some of our characters. When we are first introduced to Ryder we beckon back to the Western. We also are shooting and lighting the film in a film noir style in which we utilize shadows as well as darkness into our film. We also have the idea of the femme fatal in Ryder. Another piece of magic we've been able to pay homage to is the films of Stanley Kubrick. We've done an amazing job of doing a hallway shot in the hotel that reflects the seminal film The Shining. I'm really trying to incorporate a multitude of styles into my film in the hopes to making something that will stand on its own. I'm kicking back to the old horror films made in the 40s that weaved elements from other films into their projects.

Lorelei: Is there a darker, or underlying message in the movie you're trying to bring out?

Justin: There is a real message in the film as well that mirrors the police state and government control in which we live in. You'd have to talk to Andy Schatner more about that as we wrote the script.

Lorelei: How many actors do you have working on the film?

Justin: All together we will probably end up with over 50 actors working on this film. We have a main cast of about 10-15 and we have an extra cast ranging from anywhere between 30-100 people depending how many people we get to show up to our extra casting call.


Lorelei: Is this something you've wanted to do for a while, this type of film? A vampire movie?

Justin: I have been interested in making a vampire film since I was a child around the age of 8. I used to watch the old Dracula movies and became obsessed with the Nosferatu darker edge to the stories. Nothing scared me more than those OLD movies Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein.

Lorelei: Cool. How long did it take to pare down the major film script to where you wanted it for this one? Was that difficult?

Justin: So far we haven't had to cut anything from the script except a couple lines of dialog. This script is based on a full length feature script called "Afraid of Sunlight" in which Andy wrote as well. The short film we're making is a fraction of what goes on in the feature script. Different characters, settings, and stories all fill the feature script which we hope to find funding through Afraid of Sunrise to make. It'll be a much bigger budgeted film.

Lorelei: I understand that it will take you until about January to have this film finished. How long do you estimate the full-length one will take?

Justin: Making a full-length feature, especially a funded one, will be made a lot quicker believe it or not. When you have a nice sized budget where you're paying people to be on set, people work more efficiently because it's employment. We're paying them to be there, it's a job. That being said, if we're paying people, like actors, we pick the best ones available to shoot. Since it's a paying job we have the power to schedule consecutive shoot dates. If you get the film shot quicker you can move on to post-production. When you're making a low budget film, you have to work around people's schedules and that seems to spread out a shoot some.

Lorelei: Will you be able to use the same actors?

Justin: Some of the same actors will probably be invited to audition for the roles first and foremost. Some of the actors may be replaced with bigger named actor, that's just how the business works. Actually some of the actors do not even show up in the feature film. A couple of the actors caught wind late of our casting but we were ecstatic to have them interested so we wrote them parts.

Lorelei: When did you first decide that you wanted to become a director?

Justin: I've wanted to make films since I started becoming mesmerized by the magic of movies. I have always been an imaginative person. I used to act out plays and movie scenes in my bedroom. I would play all of the characters and sometimes I'd even video tape them. Thankfully non of them exist anymore.

Lorelei: Where did you go for schooling?

Justin: I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Film from The University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I also have many years of technical experience and training in the television production business.

Lorelei: What do you like most about directing a movie such as this one?

Justin: I love meeting new people, bonding with them, and creating something magical. I love working with the actors. Sometimes directors and actors
talk about very private things when discussing how to approach their roles. I feel like a mentor, giving my spin on things, and ultimately letting them push themselves as actors.

Lorelei: What is the hardest part, or something you don't enjoy?

Justin: Sometimes time director has to be the bad guy. Sometimes we're forced to put people into uncomfortable position, working long late hours. Also,it's my job to make sure everything is professional on the set and everybody knows what they're doing. You have to keep things moving or scenes will take forever to get shot. You have to keep the crew moving quickly, yet efficiently.

Lorelei: How did you come to choose some of the places for filming, like the Stratford Inn? How did that come about? Did someone suggest it?

Justin: Photographer Curtis Clegg first suggested the Stratford. He lives in Sycamore and is familiar with the hotel. We were in the process of setting up another place to shoot, but we thought we'd give it a try. The Stratford was extremely accommodating and excited to have us there. Really cool locations can add production value to your film. We like using unique places so they can be a character in the film as well as a location.

Lorelei: Where are you at in production now, or where are you filming?

Justin: We're shooting again on Sunday and after that we have a handful more scenes to shoot and we'll e done. I'd say after Sunday's shoot, we'll be about half done with shooting. Again, we're working on many schedules so our shoots are spread throughout October and probably a week or two into November.

Lorelei: Is there anything you'd like to add that I may not have thought to ask about?

Justin: This film has been funded entirely through donations. We allow people to contribute as little as 5 bucks. We offered many perks for the donations too. We offer a chance to be an extra or to even be in a scene with Deneen Melody. We'll be giving away autographed scripts, photos, and props. We are now raising money for post production (editing, sound, ect). We are giving away one of a kind props with donations as well T shirts and dvds. People can check out how they can be involved by going to our IndieGoGo page here:http://www.indiegogo.com/afraidofsunrise?i=pite
They can also see the short teaser trailer we put together of the footage we've already shot.

Also if any one wants to check out his site: www.fatheadfilms.net

Justin tells me that they are hoping to show this film at many film festivals, not just one. "The more people that see it the better chance we'll have at selling it, or the idea of the feature."

Also he hopes to show it at local theaters. I know I'll want to go and see it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome Sumiko to My Blog!

I want everyone to welcome Sumiko to my blog. She loves to read. She told me she can read a book in a week. I told her that I just don't have the time to read that much, but would love to be able to post more often about books, and asked her if she would like to do this. She accepted. I swear I didn't bribe her.

So, without further adue . . .

Hi everyone!

I am Sumiko - a friend of Lorelei's. My qualifications for this are mainly that I am her friend and that since I was first taught to read, I have been reading almost constantly. I read many things - fantasy, mystery, romance, literary fiction and non-fiction. Of course, what I most want to talk about are the fantasy novels that I am ingesting like potato chips!

Currently, I am reading Kate Elliott's novel Cold Magic. This was a recommendation from an online friend. She had just finished the book and was enthusing. I checked it out and when I saw it was by Kate Elliott I HAD to have it. Elliott is an author I've read for a number of years. The first books of hers I read were the Jaran books. I read those so long ago that the most I can say about them was that they were intriguingly set in a world that was based in Russian culture rather than the more usual Germanic-Celtic culture.

Then I fell into her Crown of Stars books - loved them. Did the whole - read the book, wait for years for the next one, re-read incessantly, etc. with that series. It was intended to be a trilogy and wound up as a series of 7 books. I can't say that they all stayed at the same high level as the first couple but they were good.

She has a gift for creating characters that you love and then doing horrible things to them. I am in the middle of Cold Magic and there has just been one of those exciting turns of events that makes me wish that I didn't have to put the book down!

According to her website, this is the first book in a trilogy. Oh dear, I fear I am in for another round of read, wait, re-read, wait, etc.

Kate Elliott's website is http://www.kateelliott.com and she is also on facebook and twitter.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Feeders by Anita E. Viljoen ~ Review


The very inventive idea used by Anita, that humans who have a certain blood disorder of producing too much blood, could become “Feeders”--that is give blood to vampires--was a new one I hadn't seen used before. I was curious to see how she would bring this together.

I liked the beginning. Anne Patterson, believing she's hit a dog on a dark road at night goes to investigate, only to be attacked by a vampire. Fortunately for her two men, Luc and Roman, were on this rogue vampire's trail and come across Anne's hot Shelby GT 500 pulled over on the road. Then finds Anne bleeding and in need of help right away.

We learn that Roman is a vampire, and Luc is a human Feeder. They are part of Sir McKay's Coven, chasing down the rogues which a vengeful vampire by the name of Sir Raymond Pitout has been busy working to keep them busy. But the McKay's Coven doesn't hunt humans for blood, they pay those who they determine are Feeders to give blood on a monthly bases. They discover quite accidentally that Anne happens to be a Feeder, just like Luc.



Anne, the heroine, eventually accepts that she is actually a “Feeder”. She soon becomes infatuated with another Feeder, Luc, but the romance seems never destine to bloom until the two finally face up to what they are, and that they're in love. It takes them a few fits and starts before they realize they are perfect for one another.

Once it is learned that Ann is a Feeder, she is soon Pitout's prey, and she is abducted. The team must save her from the rogue vampire's plans to auction her off to the highest bidder.

One other interesting aspect of the vampires is that the female vampire is more powerful than their male counterparts, and if a male is brave enough to enter her domain and become intimate, he'd better be prepared for some adventurous, and dangerous sex.

Feeders: A lot of action, plenty of romantic threads with the vampire equation for those who enjoy their vampires hot, dangerous and sexy. Fast cars and hunky men caught me right away with the wonderful backdrop of British Columbia, and the large estate on an island adds to the backdrop.

Monday, October 11, 2010

WORDSMITHING 101 ~ Part Four: Plot

You know what it's like when you have a great idea for a new book. It's exciting! You have a scene, characters, some dialogue. You can't wait, and have to begin writing, because all this stuff is inside you. You want to see it come alive on the page.
So, you get a chapter down. You have a few more characters to add. Scene upon scene evolves. Then, before you know it, you have another chapter, and things are beginning to take shape, and you think this might just work. And then you get a few more chapters and you come to a screeching halt because you have hit a wall.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has done this. I get into writing a new book, and the it's like being inside a corn maze. I don't know which way I'm going once I get inside, and sometimes, I come to a dead end and have to go back!
You're asking yourself: What do I want to happen, and what do I need to do to get from one end of this story to the very end? How can I write all that—60K to 80K words, or more—and come up with all the middle stuff and make it all work toward a climax, and then that good ending I know I want to write?
Well, plotting. Of course!
But HOW do you plot a whole book?
Good question.
When I first started out—this was back in high school and college—I just kept on writing and writing. My novels just were going on and on. Maybe there were some high climax parts, romance, etc. But I know I had no idea about plot. I call these my beginner novels. Practice. Boy, did I do a lot of practicing.
The plot of a book is much different from a short story. You have all these sub-plots going, maybe a romantic sub-plot (sometimes called threads), too. How do you mix it all in there and keep the story knitted together? You have to consider the genre as well, because some restrict you from doing certain things. That's why I like urban fantasy. I can do it my way, pretty much.
The basic plot is like a weird looking M with an extension (I had a drawing, but it didn't go through, unfortunately)
Your beginning (first ¼ of the book), should introduce characters and a situation, which is compelling enough, that it will carry your story to the end. You want to start out with some excitement, of course, start out with a bang, but it can't out shoot the climax, because it's up there (notice that the climax is at the very top. Think of these peeks in the plot as you would a mountain range with peeks and valleys. The highest peek is your climax. You need to begin to build tension, holding the reader with all the threads up until the climax, you may have several threads, but not too many for your reader—or you—to keep up with.
Your hero may have to try and resolve a big problem almost right away, complications set in—your character is drawn off what they need to do to take care of this other thing, which seems insurmountable, and your readers have to be allowed to pause and wonder how she will get out of this, or what she will do.
This is called a cliffhanger. To create a cliffhanger you need to ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen here? And have some way of resolving it, but not let your readers see how, and yet do so believably. Conflict isn't easy to put on your characters, the ones you really like, but you need to do it to keep the tension tight, and to show how your character reacts, and changes, or grows, emotionally because of it.
The middle of the book needs to have more cliffhangers, and tension in order to keep the reader interested. If there is a romantic thread, milk it until there is no way to keep the two apart (Michelle Hauf and Jeaniene Frost authors of romance/paranormal romance). If the romance is not an important equation to your novel—just a side dish—you need to bring in something that fits your genre, like a mystery writer needs to build up to her climax (Janet Evanovich). But you don't want to let your readers down in the middle either. So what do you do? What you want is to bring in some dark moment. A different mystery or problem that your character has to solve (J.K. Rowling). But even once she/he solves it—if she solves it—she finds that either doing so creates more problems, or something else happens as a result (Charlaine Harris).
Brainstorm the cliffhangers first, see if they'll work. If they don't you'll think of a better one, I assure you. Keep a notebook handy, by the bed, or somewhere you know you can get to it in the middle of the night—because believe me, as soon as your mind relaxes, you turn out the light, that's when inspiration kicks in.
And notice that the resolution is not very long. One to two chapters at the most, or have a epilogue. Your climax has happened, and now you need to have the bad guy pay, or in some cases, get away, but thwarted, and the rest of your characters lick their wounds and tie up loose ends.
To help you plot your story:
On a piece of large paper—if you can get a roll of newsprint, that is best—draw the plot line in a thick marker and then either write on this paper, or on separate note cards, all the different scenes you have in mind and either pin or tacky-glue them to areas along the plot lines. This will help you see where you are going with your plot. I'm a visual person and have made this plot line permanently on a large sheet of heavy newsprint I got from a printing company, and tacked it onto a large sheet of blue insulating board—tacks go in easily.
If you need more help with plotting I highly recommend “Plot Whisperer” http://plotwhisperer.blogspot.com Her site is devoted primarily on plotting the novel. She even has informative videos, and eBooks, etc. that you can find through her site.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Beautiful Afternoon . . . A New Feature Coming To Lorelei's Muse


My husband and I drive transit buses for NIU in DeKalb, IL. We decided we would come home and take a walk in the park--the one we manage--and I collected some leaves that had changed from the trees which had splashes of color on them. We still need a bit more frost to change them all. But the red ones are really brilliant this year.

Yes, I'm hoping to add a new content to my blog. I'm calling it "Sumkio's Reads". I will introduce it, hopefully next week, or at least introduce Sumiko Keay, who I've known for at least 2 years, maybe going on 3. She loves to read. And my thought was, why not have a person who loves to read do reviews on the books she is reading? I seem to be working far too much, both in the bus company and on my novels to bring any worthy reviews in a timely fashion. But someone who loves to read and claims she can read a book in about a week, I thought would be the answer to bringing a little something extra to my blog. I hope you'll all tune in and welcome her.

Also, I've been in contact with director, Justen Romine, who is working on the short film "Afraid of Sunrise", and he has reacted positively about my interviewing him, any old time. So, I'll get to work on that over the weekend as well.

I think my head may pop off any moment here.

Still no word on when my present book will be ready. Can anyone blame me for getting fidgety?

Monday, October 4, 2010

WORDSMITHING 101 ~ Part Three: Dialogue

Today's entry in WORDSMIGHING 101 is, Dialogue  Their Mechanics.
I thought I would set things up with something from deep within my own book, Vampire Ascending:

“I spoke to Nicolas,” Tremayne informed, coming out of his distracted expression.

“Yes?” I reached for the water glass, took a couple of sips from it, wishing it was a glass of wine.

“They finished questioning the woman. Her name was Solange, just as you'd said. She's from L.A., and, as you so brilliantly detected with your powers, is a shiftchanger. She changed into a cat to gain entrance into the garage.”

I nodded. Swallowing, I replaced my glass on the table. “What about the bag?”

“Leif and Darla have gone down to find it.” He went on swiftly, “She wasn't aiming for Heath, by the way. She was aiming for you.”

Shocked, I stared at him open-mouthed. “What? Me?”

Tremayne drummed the fingers of his free hand on the armrest. “Yes. My educated guess is that our killer knows about you, and wants you out of the way. You are the only one who can identify him, with your clairvoyant powers.” He shifted in his chair, staring intently at me. “I've been informed she was bitten. My guess is a rogue vampire is behind this.” His gaze went off me, looking pensive.

“But I thought we agreed that the killer was human.”

“The one who shot Letitia, yes. But the master-mind behind this must be a vampire. A human can't be hypnotized to the point of killing another person, unless they were already a killer, so she was enthralled by a vampire. We've identified our little shiftchanger as Solange LaPrima. She's from L.A., and that's all we got from her.”

“But you're saying a vampire bit her and sent her here?”

“Yes, sent her here to find and shoot you.” He squeezed his eyes. “I don't like that they knew where to wait for you. Or what you liked like.”
Me either. Where was that wine?strong>
©2010 Lorelei Bell

If you will note the dialogue moves along well, and we learn about something that concerns both speakers. You will also note that between the dialogue the two are doing something. These are called beats. The places where you identify who is speaking (he said/she said) are called speaker attributes. Also there is one instance of what is called interior monologue, at the end of this section.

Before I even go on, I have to make an admission. Not long ago I actually didn't know the mechanics of dialogue at all. I was doing it all wrong. Funny, people who read my material, never made note of it. Let me show you an example of what I was doing, and see if you catch it.

“I spoke to Nicolas.” Tremayne informed. . . .

It is quite subtle. But if you look closely at the punctuation, you'll see it. I'll make it easier:

“I spoke to Nicolas.” He said.

Now do you see it? There needs to be a comma after Nicolas, and before the quotation marks. Plus, He said, shouldn't be capitalized. I made this mistake, thinking I was doing it right.

How embarrassing! I was sending my books out with dialogue like this. The most aggravating thing about it is, I had written a novel and sent it off to a romance publisher, now more than a dozen years ago, and they were slightly interested, but said that there was a problem with the dialogue. Well, they didn't tell me what exactly. I didn't know what they'd meant. Had I known my mistake, maybe, just maybe, I would have had a first novel published back then.

I sort of stumbled upon my error when I decided to pay more attention to how books were written. Remember in my last post in this series I said to write down whole sentences of writers you like and examine how they write? I mean really pick it apart from word usage, to how they set up the whole thing, and right down to the mechanics of it.

Dialogue in a work of fiction is there to help you build characters, create tension between them, to inform the reader of certain details, and move the story along. In the above example, my main character—Sabrina—is given information in doses. By not having Tremayne go on and on in a long paragraph (which can get boring), I feed it to her—and to my readers--in sections. To break it all up, they are doing something. People fidget, or make some facial expressions, or move. Tremayne's shifting in his chair denotes that he is somewhat agitated by what is being discussed*. Even though he is a vampire. I don't like having a vampire not show some emotion, even in the minutest way. Instead of saying, he was nervous, I show you that he seems uncomfortable, or uneasy. At one point he “drummed the fingers of his free hand on the armrest”.

I do the same with Sabrina, who is drinking water, and wishes it was wine, instead. Having your characters doing something, is fine, but while something very important is being discussed, you don't want to put too much detail into what they're doing. That can make a reader loose interest, and take away the importance of what is being said. So, beats are alright, as long as you don't do it after every bit of dialogue. You want a balance.

Also you might note that no where in that above scene do I have a “he said/she said”. Why? I'm not really sure why this one example I chose didn't. But you will also note in some places I have no speaker attributes at all. You don't need to tell the reader who is speaking every time if there are only two people in the room. After the first few times this should be enough. But you also need to put some beats in, just to break up a string of dialogue. Unless you're trying to go for intensity in what is being said, of course. One writer I can think of who is very good at dialogue is Dean Koontz. He's an excellent writer, and I think anyone who picks up any of his books will see the man has the English language down so well, he could teach it. He's entertaining as well as well-learned, as he researches everything he writes about, and has written about a vast number of things in his writings. He is what is called a suspense/thriller writer.

One thing to remember as a writer, your characters are not in a blank room with nothing in it. There are plenty of “props” one can use to help make the characters in your novel feel real. You don't want to use too many, and in some cases, if you're cleaver, and can use it, the props can be somewhat suggestive toward what is going on, or what the other person might be thinking about instead of what is being said.

Let me take out the props in the text above and see how it sounds:
“I spoke to Nicolas,” Tremayne said.

“Yes?” I said.

“They finished questioning the woman. Her name was Solange, just as you'd said.

She's from L.A., and, as you so brilliantly detected with your powers, is a shiftchanger. She changed into a cat to gain entrance into the garage.”

“What about the bag?”

“Leif and Darla have gone down to find it,” he said. “She wasn't aiming for Heath, by the way. She was aiming for you.”

“What? Me?” I said, shocked.

“Yes. My educated guess is that our killer knows about you, and wants you out of the way. You are the only one who can identify him, with your clairvoyant powers. I've been informed she was bitten. My guess is a rogue vampire is behind this.” He looked pensive.

“But I thought we agreed that the killer was human,” I said indignantly.

“The one who shot Letitia, yes. But the master-mind behind this must be a vampire. A human can't be hypnotized to the point of killing another person, unless they were already a killer, so she was enthralled by a vampire. We've identified our little shiftchanger as Solange LaPrima. She's from L.A., and that's all we got from her.”

“But you're saying a vampire bit her and sent her here?”

“Yes, sent her here to find and shoot you,” he said, squeezing his eyes at me. “I don't like that they knew where to wait for you. Or what you liked like.”

Me either, I thought. Where was that wine?

In this version, I took out the props. Not as interesting, is it? It's sort of bland. Plus the speakers are just sort of floating. You don't know what they're doing—if they're seated or standing. I also added an -ly adverb in the speaker attributes and I also did the readers job in places where I shouldn't. Plus, if you will note at the end, where I have the interior monologue, I've placed the allocation: she thought, which is not needed. If we put in the italics, this speaks for itself. You, the writer, must not be visible. Saying “she/he thought” after the interior monologue, you've just talked down to your readers. If you've done it correctly, it should come across as the character's thoughts. That's all that is needed.

The she said/he said is fine in places you need them. If you are working to snag an agent, you don't want too many places where you've placed anything more. If it's a question the speaker is saying, then he/she asked is fine. Once in a while a little tweaking of speaker attributes helps, but never explain the emotion, unless this is your style. J.K. Rowling gets away with this continuously. But, we aren't J.K. Rowling or other fine best selling authors who add emotional tags such as:
stated flatly
informed quickly
said glumly, solemnly, casually, mildly, hastily, etc.


This isn't a hard and fast rule, and rules are meant to be broken, but don't have a string of these tags down a page. One per page is fine. Otherwise he said/she said works because as we read these attributes become invisible, the reader doesn't notice them and we can read on. By adding some beats, as I've shown, adds a quality, a depth to the characters themselves, shows their emotions without the writer having to say he/she was nervous. (Showing and telling will be another subject of a future post in this series)

One side note: I enjoy having my characters sit down to a meal, and figure out how they are going to say things while eating. It's a challenge, and it's fun. Plus, I don't like to starve my characters. My human ones, or my vampires, and so on. I hate reading a novel where the main character never eats—or is shown eating, or even mentions food, or having had anything to eat prior. If the task of placing people at the table and eating and talking is a bit difficult to manage, merely give them the props. Snagging a bit of food with a fork, cutting into a steak or some meat, a character shoving a bit of food to the side of their mouths, or slipping a fork between their lips, is enough to suggest that they're eating. Also, the little basics of life, such as jumping into the shower, or, in my case, my female characters love bubble baths. But we don't need to go through the whole moment by moment of them washing—unless this is a sex scene and we need to get into these details. Any of these scenes are up to the author, and how to work them in, if the scene calls for it, of course.

Another trick in dialogue to use, just to keep your readers interested, have your characters misunderstand one another, or not answer a direct question. This can show subtle tension between two people. They can also quickly change the subject. But if they do this, please don't say “She changed the subject”. Instead, the other character will note that the other person has changed the subject. I blew a strand of hair from my eyes. She always does this, never answers me . . . This is better than just stating it. We writers have to do our job, and we must allow the reader to do theirs.

Another note: We don't want our dialogue to sound exactly like the way people talk. We are trying to mimic real speech. We may tend to write dialogue and it seems stiff. Read it out loud to someone and see if they hear it, if you can't. Or, if you have a way to record it as you read it, then you might hear when you play it back how it sounds.

Don't forget using contractions, like don't, wouldn't, hasn't in the dialogue. People do not speak stiffly. In stead of them saying

“I do not know.” you want “I don't know.” Unless you are trying to get across that the person is more eloquent of speech, of course.

Interior Monologue, is a bit harder. The whole idea is we are getting into the character's head. I'd rather touch on this in another entry, since the mechanics of this can throw a lot of people. I know it did me for a long time. Signaling the interior monologue can be done with italics or without. I'd rather go into this in another series, rather than devote too much of it here.

The last thing I want to address is when dialogue is used, and you have one or more people speaking, when a new person speaks, you want a new paragraph all to that person, and what they're saying.

Also remember that ellipsis . . . are for gaps in speech. Dashes – are for interruptions.

*for information on body language here is a handy site for you:
http://www.businessballs.com/body-language.htm

Also recommended: Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Film Made In Nearby Town of Sycamore IL.

But don't get excited. This is a low budget film and will be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival when it is finished in December or January.

"Afraid of Sunrise" is described as "very different" vampire film, by Andy Schatner, who wrote the script, along with director Justin Romine. With a budget of $3,000, and just this last Wednesday was the first day of filming in the Stratford Inn, in Sycamore Illinois. The 50 crew members, extras and actors will head to Belvidere, Rockford and Chicago during the next few weeks, hoping to finish filming at the end of this month. Many of the actors and actresses are local, some of who responded to cast calls on Craigslist.com.

Clips of the scenes from the film can be found on the producer's website, www.fatheadfilms.net

What's so different about this film from others. Their vampires "don't sparkle" and takes a grittier approach to vampires than those of the Twilight epic. The story takes place in the near future, where vampires are known to exist and are running rampant and the government--a police state--tries to use surveillance in society. "That's the underlying theme of the film," Schatner said. Schatner has acted in numerous films, and has written the script for "Afraid of Sunlight", a short version of a full-length one they would like to some day produce.

The Sherlock Holmes Theory

I haven't posted here in a while. I'm either too lazy or too busy. My current work, the third in my mystery series is taking whateve...