Monday, November 29, 2010

WORDSMITHING 101 - Part Five: Problem Solved

I'd been trying to figure out a segment of my book for a few weeks, and the moment for when I would have to confront it was last night. I'd gotten so far and, since it was time to go to bed, anyway, I simply stopped there.

My character is a clairvoyant, but she's also becoming more magical as the days go by (or as the series progress), because she is also a sibyl. As a sibyl she is able to see things that others cannot. She also now possesses a very, very old dagger which had belonged to the last sibyl, and has been handed down to her. She really doesn't know how she will use it, but she has a terrible feeling she's supposed to be killing undesirables with it.

In my third book Sabrina is in another world where vampires actually run it, and humans are nothing more than walking blood banks, and for sexual gratification. Oh, and vampires are viable here, thus we have half-vampire, half-humans walking about.

But other things, darker things, roam this place, and although the humans can't see them, Sabrina can—and so can vampires and the half-breeds. These beings are cloaked from head to foot, and normally simply stand in a corner doing nothing.

My actual first idea was to have them interact with humans, or the vampires, and then I decided not to.

Jett is one of the half-breeds that Sabrina gets to know, his mother is very sick, and they go to her bedside, and low and behold, here stands one of these black-cloaked individuals. Sabrina sees it; she's seen them before and so simply presumes they are hanging around for some reason. She senses nothing from them at all.

Then the dagger, which she has strapped to her leg, flies out of the sheath and kills the being, and it collapses, the body disintegrates.

This scene was going through my head last night as I went to bed. I knew now why this woman--Jett's mother--was sick. As the creature dies, the woman suddenly opens her eyes and begins to gradually feel better.

Prior to this I knew I wanted Jett's mother to be sick, and I was trying to figure out what she was sick from. Something they couldn't cure on their world, of course. But I could come up with nothing. For weeks I'd been pondering this question. And then, last night it simply came to me.

These cloaked creatures create sorrow, depression, sickness, wherever they go. And they will remain wherever they find someone weak enough to infect.

Sabrina's knife, obviously, is able to kill such beings, because it's magical. She and Jett are both startled by this outcome. The fact that she can see them is also startling. Jett tells her no one has ever killed one before, and that they can't ever get rid of them. Usually once one has infested a family, it's not uncommon for the family to die, one by one.

Solving this problem I can now move on. I knew, eventually, the answer would come to me. Pondering it, but not worrying about it was the key. When I went to bed, my mind was going into a restful state. I used to be amazed by this ability to find an answer to some plot problem, or story situation that needed to be written and I had no idea what I would do. Seems that whenever I come to that point of writing it, it usually works itself out. As though the answer was just laying within reach. Just underneath the surface.

I think of my finding such solutions like an archaeologist may uncover some treasure. Even as the solution might be elusive at first, dogged determination, and following leads, soon you unearth this treasure and maybe more to follow. And soon you'll have a string of discoveries, and they all fit together like a large puzzle.

The life of a writer is that of solitude as we work. But in that solitude comes wonderful discovery of who we are. We become amazed at how our talent grows over time, and the workings of how we solve these little writing problems seems to become part of the process. If we don't push a panic button, learn to relax our mind, the answer eventually comes along.

Discovery of the very depths of our imagination is part of who and what we are: Writers.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blood and Sunlight by Jamie Wasserman

I have to say this was a good book. At one point it made me teary-eyed. I didn't want to put it down, especially at the end. I wasn't disappointed in how it ended either. I thought it was a good fairytale-come-true sort of story.

I found the protagonist, Melanie, terribly flawed, in a relationship with a guy who wants to believe he's a vampire, but isn't. And she wants to believe there's something better out there, but she can't really find it, or doesn't have the guts to look. The whole vampires exist idea seems to also be too unbelievable to her—and yet she wants to believe—until she meets the real deal, and has to learn a whole new way of life.

The tale revolves around a small Maryland town, and place called Hell House, a place with some bad history. It's like one of those places you might remember as a kid, whispering about it when no one is around, or around a campfire at night, daring one another to walk up and ring the doorbell. Only this place is hard to find.

Wasserman mixes the elements of a love story, danger, death, and hope exquisitely, challenging the vampire folklore as fact, even adding a few new ideas to it.

I also liked how Wasserman worked in two different stories along side one another, that was different. I can see a lot of thought and work went into this novel. I liked the local background, the dreary small town, the girl who wants to escape, but can't, and seems to be all she'll ever know. A great ending.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Deathly Hallows Part I

My husband and I went to see the latest Harry Potter movie this afternoon. A number of people showed up for this (two theaters had showings today), and there were a number of middle-aged (like us), and older who came in pairs, and just a few were families, and then a couple of small groups of teens.

My husband had not seen the last movie, so he knew he would be lost, and so I had to whisper things to him so he understood what was happening. This was fine. He never made it through the first book, so the movies are all he ever knew of the Harry Potter series, and he said the movie was "excellent".

I also enjoyed the movie. Usually I would read the book first to renew my memory of what was to happen, and this time I didn't. I didn't want to try and compare the movie to the book--not that I do. I felt that every H.P. movie I've seen so far has taken the essence of the books, put in what needed to carry the whole story--because, let's face it, this is an on-going story--and from start to this point, I feel that the director, and the actors, and all that goes into the "magic" of making a movie, has done a great job in suspending our belief systems where we "believe" in magic and that witches can fly on bloom sticks and so forth.

What I'd like to say is this: When an author's work is sold to a production of a movie of the book, you, as the writer, are lucky that they actually take the book and use what was in it, and not do much dabbling of their own garbage. A number of authors either back out of a book/movie deal mainly for the reason that the producer wants to change a lot of the basic character of a book. For Rowling to have had the people behind her that she did, and they worked with her, and followed the books to keep the essence in tact is simply awesome.

Just to see your own book come to life must be thrilling for Joan Rowling. I don't know if I could get past the thrill of it. I would have passed out from the moment someone said they wanted to make a movie of something I'd written. It's an opportunity of a life time. I wouldn't know how to properly act. I'd have to be hidden away for the giddiness I'd be in. "Ms. Bell can't be interviewed--uh--because she's just gone to cloud 9 for a few--um, er--weeks?"

I wanted to say my favorite part of the movie was when Doby appeared at the home of Malfoy, and the whole bit there was a pivotal moment. Even as Doby was killed--that's what magnifies what the main character's ordeal is about, why they have to fight, why they have to go on, and the ending, where it shows evil Voldermort stealing the wand from Dumbledore's tomb. It shows that this villain will go to every nasty depth of depravity to get what he wants, and that's to kill the one person who stands in his way of taking over the world: Harry Potter.
So, the hero is placed at an even higher level than before, where danger is around every corner, and he can trust no one--almost--but his dearest, closest friends.

When we write, we need to take a page from this. We need to see just what J.K. Rowling did. She made boxes of notes before she even put pen to page. Why? Because, this is a complicated series. What was to pull every reader through all 7 books? Her masterful, wonderful story-telling, and the way she could pull it all together at the end was, in my opinion, nothing short of genius.

Thinking a plot through is one thing, deliberating how a 7-book series must go, had to have kept the woman up nights. I remember in her interview that she'd said she was on a definite schedule of books, and that the fourth one--Goblet of Fire--"nearly killed" her. That was a long book!

So, I'm inspired, of course, as always with the instalment of yet another Harry Potter movie.

And I hope all you Muggles out there sleep well tonight, for Harry Potter is still your champion.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday--No Way!

I have to admit something to you. Not until maybe ten or so years ago, I didn't know what "Black Friday" meant. I didn't pay too much attention to it, really. I was too busy either writing, or probably cooking up some turkey gravy to go over left over biscuits. Either way, I don't like getting up that early to jump out into a cold car, drive around a parking lot--anywhere--and then being pushed, shoved, trampled by crazy nuts trying to get a bargain.

No thank you. I don't even like to go into a WalMart on a regular shopping day! That is not what I live for. And you know that this day was created by the retailers just to get you in there, they will have limited supplies just to turn everyone into sharks trying to get one little fish. That's nuts. Our server yesterday seems to think this is part of the fun. I get that sort of fun driving a bus. Thank you.

I protest this day by staying home. *raspberry*

Besides, on Saturday, when I go into the store (WalMart), it's dead. I can get everything I need get out safely and go home.

So, I'm going to get some writin' done today, folks. Hope you'll do the same.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

December Release Around the Corner!

December 3rd Copperhill Media will have the first copy of my book in hand!

List Price $16.95

As soon as it is available on they will send out press releases, and initiate a book review by a professional service. (Wilfreid said not to worry about it. He said my book is really good.)

I think that the first proof copy being in hand by December 3rd was quite wonderful, since that is our wedding anniversary, and we'll be celebrating at the cabin that weekend on our little get away. There will be champagne for sure!

Meanwhile work on the second book is nearly done. I do need to go through that during my 3 weeks off, and the third book in a first draft, is wanting to be written so badly, I think it will be nipping at my ankles if I don't get something done today!

There is the news. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Words & Dialogue

Tillie eyed Dorian. They stared at one another for a long moment. Zofia wasn't sure if they were putting hexes on one another, or just trying to win a staring match.

Just when Zofia thought she should intervene, Tillie spoke up. "I, on the other hand, have in my possession two Grimoires." He snowy eyebrows dancing high. To have even one Grimoire in one's possession on Euphoria was against The Code of Ethics, thus both Zofia and Dorian were both staring at her dumbfoundedly.

"You do?" Dorian broke the stunned silence. There was a dark, conspiratorial glint in his eyes to go with his crooked grin. "I would never have guessed you, of all people, to possess such a thing." His sarcasm wasn't lost on Zofia.

"Where on Ugwump World would you come across two Grimoires, Aunt Tillie?" Zofia asked, astonished.

"Ive my sources," she said airily.

"Oh Ebay?"

The look of superiority deflated on Tillie's face. "Yes," she hissed lightly.

The above is from my book Spell of the Black Unicornn.

I had fun with my characters in this book. Dorian is Zofia's husband--who was once a wizard, now he's a vampire and wants to be turned back to his former self.

Tillie is a wizened sorceress--obviously she has resources at her disposal.

What do you notice about the conversation above? How do the three interact with one another? Who seems to have control of the situation? Dorian has a droll sense of humor, but he certainly knows how to insult his wife's aunt. It's almost a relationship one might see between a mother-in-law and son-in-law. But that's really what this is, since Zofia's parents both perished when she was young, and Tillie raised her.

Now, let's see how things turn around in this scene:

"I don't suppose you could look through them to find some sort of counter curse, or spell, could you?" Dorian asked.

Knobby finger tapping her chin, she hummed in thought. "I might."

"Please, Ottillie? I'd be forever in your gratitude."

Tillie smiled with a sinister gleam in her eyes. "A Grandier showing me gratitude--and pleading! I'll be a troll's fanny! I think I like that. I like it a lot. But you'll owe me, Grandier . . . and much more than mere words of gratitude, I'm thinking. After all, besides Zofia with the Stone, I'm the only one on First World who can perform any complex spell which might return your soul, and change you back into a wizard again."

"I-I can't use the Stone to--" Zofia started, but Dorian interrupted.

"Anything, Ottillie. Name it. If it's within my powers, I promise I'll grant it," he said.

"Seal of Katowice?" Tillie held up her left hand, palm out to him, index and middle fingers crossed as were the third and pinkie in the sacred pledge.
Dorian held up his hand in the same way. "Seal of Katowice."

Clapping her hands, Tillie jumped up and down excitedly, her braids became white ropes with life of their own."So mot it be!" She stopped jumping. "Tonight I'll look through my Grimoires." She pointed at Dorian with her crooked finger. "Mark my words, Dorian, you'll not regret this . . . neither will I." And then she left them.

excerpts from Spell of the Black Unicorn copyright by Lorelei Bell

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Finding the Historical Dracula

Last night I opened up the book In Search of Dracula, and read about the historical accounts that the authors, Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu--serious scholars of Eastern European history, who spent ten years investigating and researched Dracula, aka, Vlad the Impaler. Dracula--this historical, real Dracula--drove back the Turks in numerous battles, sat on the throne 3 times , and eventually, in one last battle stand, was beheaded--no one knows exactly by who--and his head was taken to Constantinople to be viewed there, and then his body buried in a mysterious grave at a monastery in Snagov.

I remember reading this book back when I bought it in 1973. On the fly page it claims that "Americans--at least for the present--are in love with Dracula." I was a serious fan, to say the least. I still am. But up until then, no one had bothered to find out who Dracula really was. Bram Stoker had researched about Dracula in his day and from a 15th-century Slavic manuscript, he found what he needed for his book Dracula enough to intrigue him.

For me, researching vampires, vampirism, Dracula, etc. has been a past time, but one that I enjoy. This book has always been with me. I can't part with it. No where else could I find so much on vampires, the historical Dracula, and anything relating to him.

Needing to find a villain for my present novel, and leaning toward using Dracula--but wanting to use the historical man, not the manufactured one, I decided I would read the book again. Although the prince's notoriety for impaling those who would defy him, he was considered a hero in his land for the Danube Campaign, gaining the reputation as a Christian crusader and warrior. Bells tolled from Genoa to Rhodes for his offensive against the Turks who called him Kaziklu Bey. He struck terror wherever he went. Let's face it, would you want to have the Impaler come to your village and rip it apart and then impale thousands of people along the way?

Well, things were done differently back in his day--1440's through 1460's.

I learned that Dracula was 45 when he was beheaded. That I would need for what I'm writing. I had to get a feel of this terror, and what made him tick. Being held captive along with his brother by the Turks when a child would probably do quite a bit to your psyche. His animosity toward them was clearly understandable. To give this character his voice, I have to know him inside and out. Any character you write about, you'd better know how he talks, looks, acts, reacts, and so forth. Especially your villains. Villains are important to the story. They can no longer be a typical bad guy; the cardboard cut-out no longer works.

As feared as he was, when his people stood side-by-side with him in battle, he repaid them with anything they wanted.

Once, it is said, that in escaping over a perilous mountain range, his bastard son was lost to them. They figured he had died. Actually a herder had found him, raised him--the boy was in his teens, so he knew who he was. Because of the terrain of this area, it wasn't until the youth had become twenty, when he returned with this herder, and Dracula bestowed him generously in gratitude.

When I began this novel I'm now writing, my aim was to keep the plot simple, not muddle it up, like I usually do with some second minor plot. Hopefully I can cling to that plan. So far I think I can. Taking my main character, Sabrina, to a new world is something I enjoy, because I can invent a whole world. That's always fun. The other parts that get sticky are explanations. With fantasy, you need only to explain so far, and then allow the readers to accept it. If your explanations are good, they will. This isn't going to be rocket science. It's not science fiction. Explaining how Dracula's head was reunited with his body so far removed wasn't that difficult, really. And even explaining how Dracula came to be in this different world--or anyone, for that matter--won't tax me either, after having already put in place that there are portals and ley lines.

So, when I woke up this morning, I had a scene in my head--like usual--and I wrote a little of it down early, then came back to it and entered it into my notes on the computer. It seemed to flow, so I spent about two hours just writing what came to me. I don't worry about working from where I left off so much, when I'm writing a first draft. The in between spots can be filled in. I remember being so worried about filling those spots in, I wouldn't be able to write. I later learned that allowing myself to just write is the freeing part of being a writer. You are the only one who sees it--so what if it's crap, or has holes in it?

There's a good reason I would never be able to sit and just write so many words on a daily bases. And the NaNoWri-thing . . . it's too much like homework--which I always hated. I don't like to be pressured into doing something. I'm a free-minded spirit and have to be able to write whatever it is that's there. Even if it's merely notes, or my musings. There has to be some fun involved, plus, if needed, some research done--which also consumes your time. I think I may have read for 2 hours last night and 2 today from the book.

Learning something over again is fun too. I've forgotten a lot of this about Dracula. I really owe Raymond McNally and Radu Florecsu a big Dracula thank you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part I

Alright all you Muggles, aka Harry Potter fans, the movie Deathly Hallows Part I was just released as of midnight, this Friday.

Who of you out there went to see it at midnight, or are going to later?

I usually wait until all the crazy hyped-up Harry Potter fans have gotten their fill, and then I go, and there's about 5 people in the whole place. I like seeing films when I'm nearly the only one there. Sort of spooky too, but I love to be scared in a huge movie theater.

Here are some facts I've dug up for you. The Harry Potter series is the highest -grossing film franchise of all time with 5 of 6 films in the top 25 films of all time, as far as the box office grosses. We're talking a projected $60 million for this Friday's opening day alone, and then the 3-day debut weekend could be in the range of $130 million plus. I dare to think what it will rake in after it's all said and done.

I'm going to just step out of the reporter's mode, here and get my writer's/fan cap on for the remainder of this post.

I recall when the first movie came out, I admit, I was totally clueless why people were clamoring to watch the film and stand in lines to buy the books—not only children, which the book and film were aimed for, but adults.

Then, curious, my husband bought the first book. Now, my husband is not a reader of fiction. He likes articles and real stories (however, he read my first fantasy book cover to cover and loved it). So, since he was “lost” in what was going on in the first Harry Potter book, I picked it up and began to read. And I really could not put the thing down. I don't remember how many times I read the first book, and the rest of them, over and over, but I fell in love with Harry Potter, his friends, and his world of magic from that moment on. I became a Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling fan. For life.

From that point on I knew that what I wanted to write was fantasy. Fantasy was easy for me, because I love magical things, I love mystical things, I love to make things up out of my head and because I could put vampires, witches, werewolves, ghosts—anything really—into the mix, I knew that was what I was going to write about from that point on, after having tried nearly everything in between.

When you know that something works, that it feels right, that's when you just do it. Rowling had no idea what she'd done when she began writing about little Harry Potter and his world. She really had no idea that this book—and her series—would become so huge. The world was Harry's to take and by golly, he took it. Now you can go to Harry Potter World down in Florida, if you need a real fix, after all the movies are done.

And that's the way of it, really, in the world of writing a novel. We, as writers, never know that perhaps some day something of ours might hit the big time.

Although I don't see how any writer could ever beat Harry Potter, either in book sales or in movie sales, and I recall that when the first movie came out they were comparing it to The Wizard of Oz. I said, “No. Harry Potter will be bigger. Much bigger.” It became a classic within the life-time of its creator. That's hard to beat.

Oh, and by the way, there is a Madam Rosmertas Cook Book with all the things that Harry Potter and company enjoy, like butterbeer sorbet and caldon cakes, if you want to see any of this and other muggle stuff here's the link.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Edits Are Done!

Yes. The edits of my book are finished! They arrived (disk via snail mail) on Tuesday. I conquered them in two nights. I simply have a system, and since I didn't have any trouble with the changes--mainly spelling, grammar, some punctuation, and mostly extra spaces--I was able to merely copy the document onto another document and went through to double check, and it went really fast.

I've just sent the chapters in segments that ranged from 90-31 pages, and that took me 10 minutes to send 5 emails with attachments out. Hopefully they arrived and are awaiting Yolanda's laser-eyes to make sure things are good.

Now I sigh slightly, and have a nice white zin while I write this.

The possibility of this book being available end of the month rests in Coppherhill's hands at the moment.


Because I was on this short hiatus, I've been unable to post anything, obviously. And my other host bloggers are quiet as well. I know why Sumiko hasn't submitted, and that is understandable. When life happens, we are unable to do much about it, so I'll have to pick up the slack here.

I hope to this weekend.

I've been working on the third novel in the vampire series, and have made a little progress on who my villain is, and have written--as I so often do--a scene ahead of where I am. I write what's in my head. It's not always in sequence. I can fill things in. And another scene I've been thinking about is there, but--well, I've got 5days off from work for Thanks Giving coming up, and that will probably be when I begin to find time to work on it. (I have plenty on my To Do List)

I've advised Yolanda (editor for Copperhill), that I hope to send her the next book--which she is very excited about reading--in January. I hope to do edits--to my best abilities--during our Christmas break, which we, at Huskie, have learned will be 3 weeks, not the normal 2. It will be a lean, lean Christmas, here in the Bell house. So, to work on the book is what I will do, working when we are able to (about 10 days prior, and maybe 5-6 after). My husband has taken the second shift, and I have taken the first shift for those days we do drive a limited service for the NIU buses. Then we go on unemployment. Yippee.

Well, my hope is that Vampire Ascending sells like eggnog on a cold Christmas Eve. I will be contacting the manager at Borders as soon as I know this is available. Or sooner. I may jump the gun and try and get in on anything going on in December for a signing.

When I get information on the book; when, where, how much, etc. I will post it all over the place, so stay tuned.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's In A Name?

Taking a break, because I need to, while waiting for the edits to get to me via mail, I'm posting this instead of the usual post I make on Mondays. But this isn't all that different from my WORDS post, because as much as I love words, I love unusual names even more.

Do you collect names? If you don't, and find yourself wondering what to call a character, you should begin a little notebook of names.

I definitely love to find unusual names, either for a town, a street, or a person. I love to find new ones. I just never know where I might hear, or even see a great name, and believe me I'll use it, if it's good and I feel it fits my character.

Back when I began my first fantasy book Spell of the Black Unicorn, I needed an usual name for my main character. Then, one night while watching news, I heard the name of a woman who had come from some eastern European country. The news was sad; she had died sustaining head injuries from ice falling from the tall buildings in Chicago while Christmas shopping with her sister. The story was such a tragic one, and her name Zofia was just perfect and I felt that immortalizing her name in that of my main character was a fitting tribute to a woman I never knew. Zofia happens to be a sorceress from another planet. She had her own voice, born inside my head, deciding who and what she was right away. She was my version of Samantha on Bewitched.

Another way of finding names—aside from watching news, but I hardly use any more—is to thumb through the white pages of the phone book (now people have cell phones and there are so few names in the phone book any more), but I got my villain's name this way and switched the letters just a little bit and added the last name that went so well with it: Vesselvod Blood.

Because I needed a few character's names to stand out, I needed one for an unusual invisible, and cantankerous servant and named him Biddle.

And in the second book, just for snickers, I'd named a woman character, Mrs. Clutterbutt. Well, I have to have fun once in a while. And this series was meant to make readers snicker, even if at a name.

Another character who is barely in the book, yet has a role was the Immortal, Paradeep. There were other interesting characters, like Blood's evil sister, Xilamorah. I'm not even sure where this came from, but possibly it was born from something said in a Harry Potter movie.

Names can be found everywhere. If you need a name for a character—or several—to stand out, look around you. I'll bet you can find a few here or there, while driving around, or even on products. I found Azalea, once on some bath tissue. There's lots of old-time names, which have come back in style, too. In fact my sister's name, Charlotte, is a pretty one. And I've found an unusual way to spell it and am using it in my third book for a minor character.

You can look up Greek, and Latin names, just look on the surface of the moon and find craters, like Eratosthenes, Theophilus, and so forth for unusual place names. Stars have great names too, like Rigel, Vega, Capella.

Sometimes using a book on baby names is good place to look. I've also gotten some first names on a site for vampire names, like Argent, Bram, Draven, Leopold, Refuge, Rogue, Skyler, or Strigon. For women: Amaranth, Argent, Chalice, Cordelia, Essence, Lenore, Lilith, Lucretia, Mist, Pandora, and Omen. Although I think Omen sounds more male. Also Zillah is a cool name, as is Zephyr. Brings up lots of images there.

I sometimes mix the letters in names too, or just switch them around. I have a new character in my next novel and wanted something with a Q. I believe I experimented a few times, and found that Quist was a great last name, and it fit him.

One name struck me just recently; it was the name of a female horse that won all but one of her twelve races—Zenyatta, and I'd learned that this came from an album (although I don't know the band, now), and have used it in my third novel, but changing one letter keeps it fresh and not exactly a copy.

So, if you find yourself scrounging around for names for characters, or street names, or towns, you'd better begin writing names down that you come across. I love to have something to write on while traveling, because some states just have the weirdest town names, that could be used for common names, too. Like Iliff, Brule, Darr, Eustis, Gandalf, or Anavida.

One last name I want to share with you, and the unusual place where I got it. I needed a name for a forbidden place on Zofia's world. I tried for weeks to come up with something, and it was staring right at me—or rather I was staring at it. It was the name on the side of an antique cheese box where I kept pens and such on my desk. The word? Hamparzum's.

Happy name hunting!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November Chill & Other News

My writing friends to the north are experiencing SNOW. We, here in northern Illinois have said good bye to the unusually warm, and dry weather of October and have been re-introduced to November, and saying hello to cold, windy, rainy weather we all know and hate.

Well, I warned them.

I'm to work on edits for my book. I was told it was sent (I'm supposing a disk), to me priority mail. Yeah, I have stupid dial up, so having them send the whole thing to me over the Internet could take hours. I chose not to go that route.

Oh, my due date (to think I'd have a due date for getting edits done on a book is still making me pinch myself), is on this coming Friday--the 19th Is it coincidence that the second to last Harry Potter movie opens that date? If they hope to get the book out at the end of this month. Well. The disk had better get here on Monday, or it's going to be shaving it really close.

I've been in touch with Michele Hauf of VampChix, and she has slated me for a December 8th feature @ VampChix! I was very excited, and have held off posting about it, but wanted to get this out a little before. I'll remind everyone about it when the day nears.

My husband did a wonderful thing, and made reservations at a nearby restaurant for Thanks Giving. We have no children, and we don't go anywhere any more, and the workout on getting such a meal for just the two of us cooked--and the dreaded clean up after--has just been exhausting, lately. So, that's a thing to look forward to. Aside from our get-away the first weekend in December, for our 22nd anniversary, to White Pines Inn. We've a cabin for two nights, and a theater-dinner booked for Saturday--the comedy version of Scrooge. We have been looking forward to that date for months, now. Not sure that we should have, since we will have no work for 2 weeks during the Christmas break, but we haven't done anything special for the season in years. We simply need to treat ourselves. This should be really nice, quiet, as it's situated in the state park. I'm hoping for snow. I'll take pictures, and eventually get them on disk. Should be a great time.

I've also gotten the book by Jamie Wasserman, who'd had his book featured over at VampChix. It looked interesting, and I tried to win it in the contest, but when I expressed interest in it, Jamie simply sent it to me. I offered to do a review here at Muse, and maybe an interview. Jamie's work has been nominated for Pushcart. But I'll reserve all his information at a later date. However, this book is quite interesting and a little different.

I'd finished Dead Koontz's 1st book in this Frankenstein series, "Prodigal Son", and need to write a little about that, but I just haven't had time. Believe me, getting up at 4 a.m. to get ready to go to work doesn't leave much time for me to do much writing. When I get home, I have to measure out the time I do everything, or nothing will get done. Thus, this morning, when a scene was in my head--a future scened--for the book I'm writing now, I wrote it down while drinking coffee, watching the news, and trying to keep it all in my head while my husband talked about things on the news, or such. I feel terrible, but he's used to me half-listening. He knows what I'm doing may lead to us getting out of here, someday.

Well, I haven't checked my numbers over at Vampire Ascending facebook page, it was up to 12 last time I checked. If you are interested in hitting the LIKE button on my book at facebook, please do stop by. I'd like to see the numbers grow as the date of my book's release date nears.

(sorry if the web page doesn't go through. Just type in book's name: Vampire Ascending and it will come up. )

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Welcome "John's Corner of Horror"

John became my friend years ago (he was once my boss), and we discovered we had a common interest in Dracula. I'd found that his knowledge of the old classic horror flickshas always kept me informed, enthralled, and entertained as well. I always know who to go to for some little tidbit about the old classics. If anyone knows about the old black and white horrors, it is John.

I've been able to persuade (manipulate, twist his arm, torture into submission, etc.), to do a spot for me occasionally here at my blog. I'm calling it "John's Corner of Horror".
John has delved deep into his catacombs, crypts, and/or vaults of information concerning a very, very old flick, in fact it was the very first Dracula film—or rather—it was based on “Dracula” Please welcome John:

Nosferatu is a silent film from 1922 which starred Max Shreck as Count Orlok. The movie was directed by F.W. Murnau who is today considered a genius in the art of film making and most certainly a prominent figure in the expressionist movement in German cinema during the 1920s. Nosferatu was to be the first film about Dracula but the Stoker estate would not sell Murnau the rights to the film so he took the script already written changed the title to "Nosferatu" and called Dracula "Count Orlok". He also changed all the English locations to German locations so as to avoid too much reference to Stoker’s novel. I think doing that made for a more unique vision as they made Orlok look like a giant hideous rat-bat like creature and when he came onto the screen he appeared almost to "ooze" from the shadows. The movie also benefited from on location filming and natural sets like Orlok’s castle which was not something designed for the film.

Orlok was also a carrier of plagues and rats so not only did he terrorize the town himself, but the healthy people that went unscathed had to worry about bubonic or something nastier. Anyway it might interest you to know that it is one of the first silent movies to use "special effects" and they are very interesting for their time. The average silent film was usually a melodrama or a comedy so movies like Nosferatu and “The Lost World” stood out from the rest.

The hero is actually a heroine and she sacrifices herself to save her town and husband. Unfortunately for the cast and crew Murnau was sued by the Stoker estate (Stoker's widow) and the court ordered all existing copies destroyed and the film banned from playing in Europe. It had few viewings, but did not benefit from those to help the film gain any sort of reputation.

It most likely would have been a classic horror film much sooner had it been spared the litigation. Fortunately someone was wise enough not to let the authorities get their hands on all of the copies and we have several beautifully restored versions of it today with symphonic scores and small group scores and organ scores to enhance the drama. The finest so far is available through Kino International which is a 2 DVD set entitled Nosferatu: The Ultimate Edition. This has the original score that was written for the film when it was debuted in 1922.
It also features the original movie tinted like it was then.

Another point of interest was that Max Schreck (Schreck is also the German word for fright, or terror) was a method actor and was never seen out of makeup or character while filming Nosferatu and a rumor spread that Murnau had hired a vampire to play an actor playing a vampire. This inspired the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire which is a fictional account of the filming of Nosferatu starring Willem Dafoe as Shreck/Dracula.

If you are a fan of vampire movies and have not seen this movie yet you have not seen the first vampire movie that set a standard all that followed. I highly recommend it.

There you have it; John's first of many--I hope--instalments at Muse. Keep checking back next week for his next one.

And thank you John for the new-sized header!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sumiko's Reads ~ A Bibliophile's Foibles

I wanted to talk about the Jane Lindskold trilogy that starts with Thirteen Orphans, continues with Nine Gates and ends with Five Odd Honors. But this brought up another issue: I discovered Thirteen Orphans at the library, and I loved it so much that when I saw it was out in mass market paperback I bought it. Then I went on a bit of a reading hiatus and when I came out of it (like coming out of hibernation - starving for good stories) I found that Nine Gates was available in mass market paperback so I bought that.

And loved it. . .and the third book Five Odd Honors is out - but in hardback. Now, I love having related books all in the same format.(This is the reading adjacent bit.) You can shelf them or stack them together. Chances are the artwork will also be related so they look like they belong together too. Sensible people are now saying: get it out of the library - buy the paperback later! But my reading hibernation incident means that I owe my library big bucks and two books. And I keep not going there. Sigh. And I want that book.

Now, I have broken my matched series thing lately with both the Dresden Files books and the Sookie Stackhouse books. . . but they are long, long, multi-book series and not so much a set as a neat little trilogy is. What shall I do? Am I just trying to talk my self into breaking the set? And does anyone else out there have similar book

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Muse's Changes & Additions

My new header in place, I think it suits the site. What do you think? My friend John created it. I won't say how, perhaps something like when Frankenstein made his monster--only this came out so much better! He was sending me all these great wallpapers (my two footers here) with the old film legends in them, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and I asked if he could make me a new header.


Speaking of additions, John is joining my blog to infuse it with his knowledge of the great horror classics; the wonderful black and white films that many of you either grew up with and fell in love with, and still find enjoyable. I plan to introduce him this week, so please come by. He will be giving us insight into the film Nosferatu, this week. John's post title: John's Corner of Horror--which suites his expertise and knowledge of a subject the both of us found a common ground with. He is especially fond of Dracula films, but others are just as interesting to him, and I think everyone will enjoy reading some of the facts many of us never knew the behind-the-scenes, or where a film was made, and the actor(s) involved, and their little quirks.

And I'm nearly done with Dean Koontz's Prodigal Son I'm hoping to make a full report on it this weekend. There's much to say about it, and thus I don't want to wander into a review here. Koontz's work deserves a whole post on anything I've read by him. This work is still an on-going series. I know, for a fact that another book in the series is coming out in 2011. I'll have more on that, once I can get my notes together.

Tomorrow is Wednesday and Sumkio has sent me her post for this. I know that many of you enjoy her take on things she has been reading. This week she gives us a little insight into her own tastes on A Bibliophile's Foible (see? there's that word again).

This week should have something for everyone, so be sure and stop by.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Being a wordsmith, I, of course, love words. I love to discover new ones that I've never heard before, or maybe I've heard them, but never knew what they meant, and need to go look them up. That's when I jot them down for later.

Such words are always cropping up. I can remember where I've seen/read nearly every one of these that I'm going to give you today. Yes. Always I find them in books, of course. But each one I remember what author, and even which book I've found them in. Dean Koontz has always been a great word master, thus a number of my special words have come from him, through the years. Another author would be J.K. Rowling, mainly because she is British, and I may need some British slang, or word that is particular to them for some character in my book.

My first word I found in the book by Dean Koontz Face –an excellent book, by the way.

foible: strange behavior trait particular to an individual.

This one is from J.K. Rowling:
queue: (British) a line—as in people waiting in line to be served.

Sometimes you need an odd word or two to add to the distinctive diction of a character. Here are a few that would probably be considered colloquial enough that might not be found in a dictionary. I see that nearly all of these my spell check found offensive enough to underline.

Okee dokee
har de har

The above I've found in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I love her wacky character in Stephanie Plum.

And I have one more. This one is actually a phrase that, if you can't spell worth a damned, you will spell it wrong, but think you've got it right because your spell check will not catch it:

death throe(throe means pang)

That's it for todays WORDS.

Happy writing, everyone!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Not Into Compitition And Writer's Block(Head)

I've seen all over the blog-sphere, some of you are into the NaNo(oh-man-oh)WriMo Race.

I'd forgotten about it from last year. But I remember it sounded horrific. You have to write approximately 1,666.666 . . . words per day to do this. On an average its about 4.5 pages, depending upon if there is a lot of dialogue, and then it would be more. This is nothing, if you have the time to do it. And you have to do it, otherwise you have to catch up at some point. 50K words in a month. Piece of cake.
I'll pass, thanks.

It isn't because I can't do it. It's because I don't have time.

Oh. And I don't need to prove anything to myself.

I've been a writer for decades. I know how much I've written in my life--or approximately. A lot of first drafts that went nowhere. A lot of first drafts which may never have had endings to them. A lot of crap, in other words. It was a process of writing, and learning HOW to write. Which was fine. I may have several boxes of said manuscripts still around. And others from my high school and early college days have been since destroyed.

But this was me writing. Writing, day in and day out. I had no real life. If I got asked out, I went. A lot of times I wasn't going anywhere. I didn't like the bars. I mean suck-ville. So, I sat home and either read, watched TV, and wrote. When I married, I wrote, during summers I had off, I wrote, wherever I had a flat surface: I wrote in the dining room while the TV was blasting in the next room. Sometimes I wrote in bed, to get away from the noise. I didn't have a office then, like I do now.

I don't need anything to motivate me to write. I just write. I can't help myself. I have six different blogs, and I've started two novels this year. Each one in different stages--one is finished, save for some last moment edits, one is not. I'm currently writing the third one in this series. I'm not in a hurry. I want to allow my creative juices to pour over what I'm writing. I think this is something like a lovely home-made soup. I consider what I want to put into it and let it simmer as I chop and cut and stir, flip through a magazine, day-dream . . .

The over 1,000 words a day is nothing in a writer's life--if you don't have children, a husband, a job, and whatnot holding you back. I know that my mother-in-law wrote doing exactly that. Plus had a garden and made breakfast, lunch and dinner for 4 children and a demanding husband, canned, made homemade breads and other things. She went to New York twice, but was unable to get to that exciting crowning glory. Whatever the reason, I couldn't unravel it the three times I'd asked, and the truth, I think, went with her.

I remember, back when I'd written 22 pages--all in long hand--in one day. I was quite proud of that. Imagine, if you will, if I'd had had a computer. I might have done 50 pages in a day. My verve is quite strong. As I recall, my finger ached so much I had to stop.

A writer is not the equivalent, or the amount of words written in a day, a week or a month; it is not just the sweat, tears, heart-ache, joy, sorrow, despair, the countless nights of lost sleep because you stayed up WRITING, merely because you were inspired by the need to get the damned thing down!

It is the complicated, combination of all of the above, and then some.

A writer doesn't need to be motivated to write by dangling a carrot in front of them to do it.

My dear gentle readers, you are writers because you enjoy writing. Why else would you write? Why bother? What did writers do when there wasn't NaNo(oh-man-oh)GoingNuts?

Oh, yeah. There was that one excuse.

Writer's Block(head).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What a Week; What a Year!

After a very nice day of shopping on Monday--our day off--the next day my husband's back went out on him. We have no idea what he did. Probably a combination of things. He tries to drive, but sitting kills him. He goes home. Because of his back actually puts him on the floor when he gets home, I have to bum a ride from my boss. My boss is a nice guy, but . . . he's my boss.

Wednesday Dennis stays home. He feels better but, has a scratchy throat.

So, the next day--today--Dennis tries to go back to work. However, now the scratchy throat is a sore throat--which means (you guessed it), a cold. And his back is still killing him. He goes home again after the first shift (4 hours of agony), but at least today he was able to get into his truck to come and pick me up. Something that was entirely impossible on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, my publisher, Wilfried, tells me that they will certainly do the dedication to my mother-in-law (In Memory of), and they're working on my photos I'd sent them for the book--and maybe elsewhere on my blog at their site. And he tells me that if all goes well, my book will be on Amazon as early as the end of the month.

Exciting. Yes. But the other stuff just pulls me down. Dennis will have to stay home tomorrow. There's no question about it. This looses pay. There are no "paid sick leave" in our company.

In the meantime, if anyone out there knows how to make a fan page on facebook, tell me how, or contact me via my g-mail. I'm scared I'm gonna screw up. I'm just putting the all-call out. I'll go to my page at Writer's Digest, and maybe at Author Nation, see if anyone can help me. Between all this and at facebook, I'm sure to find the answer by Thanks Giving.

Also, my new blog for the book is up/ready to be viewed. You can get to it on the left hand side column, click on the book's cover. Or click here I've created it to give a little more information on the book, and even on the main characters, just little tidbits about them. Wish I had pictures that I have in my head to go with. But, the book has descriptions in them.

This year has had a lot of strange/nasty things happen we've had to endure. The worst was, of course, the death of Dennis' mother. I screwed up a few things and really feel terrible about the phone thing. But you make mistakes. It's all the stupid other things in life that just keep on happening and we'd just like to have a run of good luck for a while. Maybe the book will do well. I sure hope so.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Having Halloween withdrawals. Just can't phase into a new month. I mean we're about to go into the dullest part of the year. Trees become naked, and the sky usually becomes gray. November in the mid-west, esp. northern Illinois, is the ugliest month, aside from March--which is opposite it on the caledar--we have to go through.

So, I thought to keep people's mind active--because we all go into the doldrums as humans during this time of year--I'd post something new, until I run out of these little gems.

Why? I'll tell you why.

Okay, let's say you are at your computer, typing along on your current story, and you need a word. Not just any old word, either. This is a special word. It's one you don't see often, and you're not sure how to spell it. You try looking it up in your dictionary. Can't find it. You try using your word check on your computer, and even it is no help—because you are no where near being correct.

What do you do? Where do you look?

I've been down this road way too many times. I'm not good at spelling. In fact in high school I was pretty lousy at spelling and got very bad grades in English. Unless you are a better student at English than I was, you have no trouble spelling words like kamikaze, sepulchral, or kaleidoscope, you won't need to read any further. I give you leave. Unless you do find some words that give you a little trouble once in a great while, read on my gentle readers, and fellow writers. Read on.

For those of you who are not great at spelling—I have become much better than I was back in high school (yes, there is hope for you, too, just like in anything you do over and over again, you will learn how to spell words that give you grief, eventually), you may want to check in weekly for this post. I will give you several unusual words that might give you problems. These will be posted here, but also, I will add these to a side bar with the picture of the neon WORDS so that you may write them down without going through all the past posts of “Words”, should you pick up on this later.

Another little hint I will pass along to help you: keep a notebook beside you—doesn't have to be a large one, something about 3”x 5”--when you read a novel (or any book, really), and you come across a word you never knew how to spell, but golly, it would be nice to know how to if you ever want to use it. So, in your little notebook, jot the special word(s) down. I've collected a lot of words, but eventually, once the computers began spelling for me, I didn't need the large notebook any more. But I do need a small one. I even keep it on my computer and open it now and then.

Now for the WORDS of the week.

How many of you know how to spell that noise you make with your tongue against the teeth when your exasperated with someone, or something?


I found it in a Sherrilyn Kenyon book (and couldn't find it again until I read through a goodly portion of it!)

I had difficulty finding the word kamikaze, too. I mean wow. You don't come across it much, do you?

Then another one that will make yo scratch your head and you will not be able to use your spell check:

Fu Manchu(as in mustache)

There, now you have three new words that you may not have known how to spell. I will add to this list on a weekly bases, until I run out of words.
And here is one for those of you working on vampire novels:
this is any chemical substance released by an animal that serves to influence the physiology of behavior of other members of the same species.

Are there certain words that really make you nuts and you can't find anywhere? If you have suggestions, or have a word that has given you problems, please leave them in comment section. I love when people share with me.

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