Monthly Archives: October 2011

Guest Post #7 Sara Reine Demon Power

Standard

Sara is one of those writers who thinks so far outside the box, the box ceases to exist. She takes an ordinary idea and twists and turns and warps it into something new and different, yet still recognizable. She is crazy, fun, and funky. And her steampunk novella The 19 Dragons is awesome, y’all!

 

Thanks for letting me stop by for a guest blog, Ana!

 

Part of the reason that Ana and I became acquainted was a similar love for demons. We were in the same writers’ group for a couple years, and I attribute a lot of my development as a writer from that time to her hepful criticism. Our books were kind of like “brothers from separate mothers”– both urban fantasy with strong female protagonists, with the special distinction of featuring demons. (Of course, my heroine kills demons, whereas Ana’s is a demon herself.)

 

Why demons? Why not vampires, or werewolves, or any of the other popular beasties that populate urban fantasy right now?

 

The fact of the matter is that even though the good ol’ vamps vs. weres is fun, we’ve built a lot of expectations around what these stories should be. We expect vampires to be sexy. To some degree, we expect them to be romantic. Werewolves are ruled by the moon, and while we can get away with them being more violent than vampires, we’re starting to expect them to be romantic heroes, too. The popularity of these creatures has made them stale.

 

Fortunately, we have demons surging in popularity now, too, and that’s partially a backlash against the popularity of vampires. We want to enjoy the trappings of dark fantasy without blood-drinkers or sparkly what-have-yous once in awhile, too, and demons are even older than vampires. You could even consider them the granddaddies of vamps.

 

By creating three-dimensional vampire and demon characters, we’re casting this evil in a new light. We’re making it more human and relatable. At the same time, there’s a core at the center of demonic mythology that cannot be made human, because unlike vampires, demons have never been human. You can write them with pure darkness. The kind of darkness that made you hide under the covers as a child and shiver at the shadows.

 

Plus, there’s a lot of variety in demons. You can have them like they were in the Lesser Key of Solomon, where they usually showed up with chicken feet and goat heads and legions under their control, or you can make them sexy and seductive and indistinguishable from humans. And that’s not even touching on demons from all the cultures around the world! When writing, you can draw from Japanese oni, or the asuras of east Indian mythology, or the violent spirits of animistic societies. Vampries are certainly pervasive in mythology around the world, but even they have their limits. There are no limits with demons.

 

I love getting to write demons. In my books, they’re part of a fully developed society in Hell similar to feudalism, which is kind of a fun way to weave history through contemporary fantasy. I like getting to take advantage of their infinite varieties and insurmountable darkness. And having the ability to write in a sub-genre that doesn’t have expectations that my werewolves do is refreshing.

 

Even though demons are becoming more popular, I don’t think we’ll see the genre become saturated with them the way it has with vampires. They can stay fun and evil, just the way we like them, and have a good long shelf life in urban fantasy.

 

What do you think, readers? Are demons here to stay?


Sara
http://smreine.com/
Twitter: @smreine

Six Moon Summer available now!

Guest Post #6 Jennifer Kammerer-Pulley Writing For The Love of It.

Standard

Jennifer is yet another awesome writer I met through the message board of She Who Shall Not Be Named. When the deletion and banning of those people who disagreed with parts of the book got too bad, we migrated over to a much more awesome message board where we could discuss and snark and disagree with each other to our hearts content without worrying about being banned or silenced.

 

Ana asked me if I would be willing to write a guest blog this month and I jumped on the chance, as long as it got published today, October 29th. Because I turn 30 today. So this guest blog is a birthday present to myself! I’m going to talk about writing for the sheer love of it. Not to be published, not for fame, but just for the fun of it.

I’ve been thinking up stories for as long as I can remember. My earliest stories were cracktastic fanfics that involved the A-Team. I was 5. I had no idea what cracktastic was. I had no idea what fanfic was. All I knew was that my brain was thinking up the most awesome story lines and I could spend hours with my eyes closed watching as they played out on the back of my eye lids. A few years later, the A-Team story lines were replaced with China Beach story lines. And then I saw Lost Boys for the first time. And really folks, it was all downhill from there.

I started writing my stories down. I discovered rather quickly that I didn’t enjoy writing about preexisting characters. I loved thinking about them, but not so much writing them. It hampered my budding creativity. *said with a hoity-toity voice* So I started letting my mind wander through these fictional worlds that others had already created. And I started finding original characters that existed. And I started writing cracktastic fiction in earnest. And continue to unto this day. Although now I create my own worlds as well.

I should note that I love editing other people’s work. I’ve done editing for quite a few friends, and I like to think I’m passably decent at it. When I try to edit my own work, I usually start out ok. And then after a chapter or two I get sucked in. And a few hours later I’m finishing reading the pages with a giant grin on my face, having made my brain happy because it got to hang out with its old friend, cracktastic story, for a little while. My story never really gets past the zero draft stage, but I’ve discovered that really doesn’t matter to me, since I only write for myself.

Do I ever want to get any of this fiction published? Aw hell no! My stories are really rather awful when compared to what’s in print these days. Completely implausible storylines. Mary Sues/Gary Stus out the wazoo. Gratuitous sex and violence. But I love writing them. And that’s what matters to me. I don’t write to be famous. I don’t write to make money. I write because I have a story in my brain struggling to get out, and even if no one else ever reads it, putting it on paper lets it roam free in the world. And there is something ever so gratifying about writing a cracktastic story, walking away from it for a few months, and then going back and reliving every thought that went into it. Even the really embarrassing ones.

I know I’m not the only one who writes purely for the pleasure of making my brain happy. And I think it’s important to recognize and remember that it’s ok to write solely for yourself and no one else. So if you enjoy writing for the fun of it and you don’t want to make it big, go right on a head and keep at it. Do it because you love doing it. And don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong!

 

Now, please join me in wishing Jennifer a very warm and wonderful HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Guest Post #5 — Erin Kendall Surviving My Muse

Standard

I seem to have met a lot of great writers on the message board of the Author Who Shall Not be Named. Erin is another one I met there. Erin has written a VERY interesting Fae/Vampire novel and she’s also a lovely poet.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that one has a muse.  No, I’m not funny in the head.  I know it’s actually my subconscious, but personifying her (yes, she’s female) helps me handle her.  Especially when she’s being difficult.

It’s funny.  I’ll sit here at my desk staring into space, trying to come up with something that passes for good in my eyes (and I am very hard on myself), and my muse will be quiet.  No whispers, no movement, nothing.  I’ll poke at her a few times to see if she’s awake (maybe she’s dead?) and she’ll just…be…gone.

But when I’m not at my desk and ready for ideas?  Oh boy.  I think she takes a perverse pleasure in watching me flail.

Today at work I was copying down addresses and phone numbers.  The most tedious work ever.  So I’m doing my thing, and my muse finally decides to grace me with her presence (should I do a curtsy?).  She’s like, “hey, we need to do this and this and this with this project” and she starts shooting me scene ideas, complete with dialogue and emotions.  What, can’t I just take dictation?  No?  Suffice to say I had to try to commit everything to memory and hope for the best.  Crazy fucking muse.

So later on I’m washing my hands and she perks up.  “Hey, you know, we should do something with this unfinished Nano thing from 2009.”  Again with the details, scenes, and dialogue.  I’m rolling my eyes because that’s not even on the schedule — for this year or next.  Crazy fucking muse.

Once, she held an intervention because I was having a bout of writer’s block and wasn’t writing.  She gathered my characters and they all made their grievances known.  Did I mention that I was at work at the time?  I was alone which was good, but geez.  Wait till I’m home!

But, needless to say, it broke my block.

Speaking of writer’s block, my muse is funny that way.  She’s pretty much ready to go all the time (except when she’s sleeping or sulking) but occasionally, she gets lost.  She’s sending me ideas and all kinds of good stuff, but when I sit down to write, it’s all gone.  Hit and run.  Hit me with it and fucking disappear.  Ooh, I wish I could strangle her when she does that.

The Greek word for muse is mousai (I know this because that unfinished Nano thing from 2009 was a story about a muse, and I needed something interesting to call her besides “muse.”  This has been your useless factoid of the day).  I find that so interesting because it reminds me of mouse.  There’s no way those are connected; the connection is strictly mine (the Greek word for mouse, if you’re interested, is poondiki (and no, that’s not the correct spelling.  It’s phonetic.  I have a Greek co-worker).  But think of this.  Mice are devious little things, aren’t they?  And we’ve got the expression “quiet as a church mouse.”  But sometimes they can scratch walls and make noise and generally be annoying.  They also can hide — especially when one is trying to get rid of them.  (I had a mouse in my office once.  No one at work believed me.  They said I was imagining things.  Please note that I’m not at all scared of mice and do not get hysterical like some people do.  I was very calm and cool when I mentioned it.  A few hours later, after waiting for it to show up again, I spotted it strutting around the kitchen and told my co-workers.  They finally believed me).  Well, doesn’t this kind of describe muses?  Or, my muse?  You bet it does.

We have an interesting relationship, my muse and I.  She can be wonderful, my best friend and my true inspiration.  But she can also be my greatest enemy because she wants to write everything.  If she had her way, I’d be working on at least 3 projects at the same time and that makes me nervous.  I can do it, just not very efficiently.  That’s the problem.  I need to focus on one thing only.  That way, I’m making the most use out of my time.  Because I work and have a husband, I have limited time.  So every minute has to count.

Now, she can be brilliant for plot twists, character flaws, revelations, and mixing things up.  My current work-in-progress hit me a few weeks ago, with everything just there, from the world to the characters to the plot.  To be honest, the plot was actually from my NanoWriMo novel from 2003 that I’ve been meaning to rework.  She hit me with this like a hammer to the head and I spent about 3 days daydreaming, brainstorming, making notes as fast as I could, and figuring out scenes and situations.  The ending eludes me, but that’s not a problem.  By the time I get there, I’ll know what it is.  That’s another thing — she loves to play when I’m rough drafting it.  She believes that the blank screen is there for her benefit.  She frolics around, sprinkling faerie dust and plots.  Then she’s off in a different direction, shaping things to her whim.  And then she overwrites and veers off several times.  After all that, she throws in pointless meandering and a few red herrings and calls it a day.  Meanwhile, I’m sitting here with a mega-manuscript in the bag and a migraine just trying to put the pieces back together.  She pulled that with one book — it weighed in at 399k.  The other big one is currently in 12 pieces and although I love the story, I have no clue how I’m going to make sense of the chaos she inflicted on me (but, to her credit, I did finish the draft, so I guess I can’t complain.  Much).

But you know what?  Most of that craziness brings me joy.  I know it sounds nuts, but she’s a lot of fun, even when she’s shaking things up and creating mayhem.  She’s actually pretty brilliant.  I just wish she’d get more organized.  But hey, no one’s perfect, right?

At the end of the day, I know this: I’m far better with her than without her.  Even if “she” is just a collection of gray matter.  She’s real to me.  Even when she sucks.

website ~ http://www.erinkendall.com
writing blog ~ http://erinkendall.wordpress.com

*Insert Witty Title Here*

Standard

Jim C. Hines has a fabulous re-post up today about Reporting Sexual Harassment in SF/F Circles. I love Jim, he’s a wonderful author and an even more wonderful person. If you haven’t read any of his books, I highly recommend his Princess books. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella never kicked this much ass in the Disney cartoons.

Chuck Wendig has a hilarious post up listing 25 Reasons You Won’t Finish That Story. Chuck is absolutely hilarious and I love reading his blogs and tweets. I don’t always agree with him, but when I do, I really really do! Also, somebody has decided that Chuck’s “Wendigisms” deserved to be cataloged. Reading over that list you definitely see how… umm… creative Chuck gets with the English language.

K.B. Wagers posted this stunning video of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk about Nurturing Creativity. It’s about twenty minutes long, but well worth it. My brain is still trying to process everything she said. All I gotta say is that the “notion of fairies following people around, rubbing fairy juice on their projects” is a wee bit kinky and intriguing.

K.B.’s guest post, btw, is the third highest viewed page on this blog. You all apparently like her more than you like me. I see how it is… *pouts*

Okay, enough of that. I’ve finally fallen into the groove of this story and need to get more written. How do I know I’m in the groove? My dreams are getting weirder. And they seem to be full of Neil Gaiman for some reason. Not that I’m complaining about that. Not at all. Neil can come talk to me in my dreams any time he wants.

Where Has the Time Gone?

Standard

How is it the end of October already? I feel like I’ve got so much to do and not enough time to do it. Halloween is Monday and I haven’t decorated the house this year. Since it’s already so late and I don’t want to dig through all of the boxes in the cellar to find my Halloween decorations, I probably won’t do any decorating. :( Our neighbors are having a Halloween party this weekend and I have no idea what I want to do for a costume. And figuring something out for hubby is next to impossible. I think, maybe, I’ll have him go as a homicidal maniac since they look just like everyone else.

NaNoWriMo starts next week. Eeek!! I don’t know if I’m ready for NaNo.

My horoscope this week from Dr. Rob Brezsny — “Sit, walk, or run, but don’t wobble,” says the Zen proverb. Now I’m passing it on to you as advice worthy of your consideration. Maintaining clarity of purpose will be crucial in the coming weeks. Achieving crispness of delivery will be thoroughly enjoyable. Cultivating unity among all your different inner voices will be a high art you should aspire to master. Whatever you do, Libra, do it with relaxed single-mindedness. Make a sign that says “No wobbling,” and tape it to your mirror. Halloween costume suggestion: Be the superhero known as No Wobbling.

Christmas is two months away. Holy hells… I always stress out about this time of year because I NEVER get my Christmas shopping done on time. I’m always scrambling at the last minute. Every year we say we’ll start things early and every year we procrastinate. This year is going to be so much worse because of all of the additional stress that goes along with being out on sub.

Books I’m Reading

Standard

I’m just about a hundred pages into Where Demons Fear to Tread by Stephanie Chong and I have to admit that I’m underwhelmed. Maybe it’s because this book is more romance than paranormal, but I’m just not feeling it. There have been four different POV changes so far and two of them were completely unnecessary. I know the background and motivations of the two main characters already. I know the motivations of the people pulling the strings in the background. And I’m only a hundred pages in!! That’s less than a third of the way through the book.

Like I said, maybe those things bother me because I’m so used to the paranormal romances that are heavier on the paranormal aspect, but those things could have been drawn out for quite a bit longer. Especially in romances where the reader already knows that they’re going to get together no matter how much will they/won’t they goes on in the story, I like having some sort of mystery to the story.

Also, if that isn’t bad enough, the characters are just so unbelievable. A two-hundred-year-old ArchDemon who calls somebody a “spoilsport” simply because they won’t have a drink with him? C’mon!  A rock star who goes out on an all night coke and whores bender, yet shows up bright and early the next morning to do yoga without any signs of being hung over? I don’t think so.

 

The other book I’m reading is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. Holy wow! I’m on page 87 and I’m already blown away. There’s nothing BUT mystery at this point. And interesting, engaging characters. And a cute, creepy kid who’s also a God. *swoons*

 

Today is.

Standard

Today is the National Day of Writing.Twitter has a great hashtag #whyIwrite where people are adding their thoughts about why they write. My reasons for writing are many and varied, but the most important reason I *write* is to be published. To share my stories with the rest of the world. To entertain people.

Without those, I would have no reason to put words to paper. To write. Oh, I would still be coming up with stories. That will never not happen. Creating stories and fantastical situations in my mind has always been

But without that drive, that need to share them with others, I would just keep them locked in my brain where it’s okay for my main characters to be Mary Sues and my villains to be to stupid to live.

I am thankful every day that I have that drive because it forces me to make my stories better. To push myself further.

Why do you write? If you have a Twitter account, go make your voice heard.

It’s also Spirit Day. I don’t *need* a reason to wear purple, but if you do, today is the day to do it. Wear purple to symbolize your solidarity with the QUILTBAG community. Today I’m wearing a purple silk shirt and purple polka-dot fuzzy socks.