Monday, October 29, 2012

Into vs. In To - Which Should You Use? #WriteTip

Have you ever been merrily typing along and suddenly stopped when you got to a word that could be spelled in more than one way? Some words, such as you, your, and you're are pretty easy to discern with just a quick glance, but others aren't so easy.

Take "into" and "in to," for example. Which do you use for what type of circumstance? Or are they interchangeable?

The answer is no, they are not interchangeable.

According to, "into" is a preposition that refers to motion (he walked into the room; she climbed into the bath), whereas "in to" is a construction that arises from a phrasal verb ending with in (for example, "be in," "break in," "come in," "hand in") being followed by to as either a preposition:
  • You should hand the form in to your teacher
or part of an infinitive verb:
  • The plane came in to land
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wh-What? Hold the phone on the grammar speak, woman! Yep, I can feel your heads spinning. Mine did, too, but being that I'm committed to learning the distinction between these two words (they're one of my trouble pairings), I force my head to stabilize and hunkered down to figure this bad boy out.

So, here's the skinny:

If you can replace "into"/"in to" with "out of" and the sentence still makes sense within the context of the sentence, use "into." If you can't, then the choice is "in to." Additionally, where you can break a sentence down so that it's still a complete sentence will give you a clue as to which version to use. Let's look at some examples (and I apologize up front, because I'm going to make you think with these):

He walked into the room.
I could easily say he walked out of the room, so "into" is the correct usage here. Also, "into the room" modifies the verb "walked." Consequently, we could say "He walked" by itself and it's a complete sentence, but "into the room" gives us more information about where he walked.

Janice climbed into the bath.
Again, since "Janice climbed out of the bath," makes sense, "into" is correct. As with the above sample, saying "Janice climbed" still works as a complete sentence, but "into the bath" tells us where. This is another prepositional phrase modifying the verb "climbed."

You should hand the form in to your teacher.
Obviously, "You should hand the form out of your teacher," doesn't make sense, so "in to" is the correct version to use. With this example, "You should hand the form in" is a complete sentence. It works. But let's take a look at other ways we could write this. "You should hand the form." Nope. That doesn't work. It's a fragment. "You should hand the form into." No again. This doesn't work as a complete sentence. You might be saying, "Well then add 'your teacher' and it's complete and 'into' works." The problem with that is that "your teacher" is not a prepositional phrase and can't stand as a modifier. So, "You should hand the form in" is the only functional, working version of this sentence, and "to your teacher" is the prepositional phrase that modifies the verbal phrase ""

Oh my God! That was tricky even for me to flesh out, but the point is, if you break down the sentence, you can figure out whether to use "into" or "in to." Yep, this is where all those horrific exercises in English class come in handy, where you break down a sentence into all its different parts.

Tricky Sample
Okay, so what about: "Tell him to come in."?

This is one of those blurry areas. Technically, the sentence is "Tell him to come into my office," (or my room, my house, or wherever) but that's not how we speak. So we stop at "in." This is okay. Just know that if you tack on the additional ending, you will need to use "into" and not "in to."

Keep in mind, one version of the into/in to pairing refers to motion and is a preposition, while the other is part of a verb phrase and could be modified by a prepositional phrase starting with "to." Also keep in mind where the sentence can stop and still be considered a full, complete sentence. If you stop before "into," then "into" is the right choice. If you stop at "in," then "in to" is the right choice.

I know. This is still tricky, but at least it's a start to understanding this confusing word pairing.

Happy Writing and Reading!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Earning and Losing Reader Trust - The Author/Reader Contract

Have you ever read a book that you wanted to throw against the wall? It made you so angry that you just wanted to go Nolan Ryan and pretend the book was a baseball and you only needed one more strike to win the game? When this happens, it means the author broke their contract with you.

Contract? Yes, there is an unspoken contract between author and reader. Whether an author likes it or not, when she writes a book and a reader buys it, she has entered into a contract with that reader. Many call it "trust" instead of a contract, but call it whatever you want, there are expectations (terms) on both sides.

This is why when I hear a writer say she writes for herself, I get a little frustrated, because if an author is selling her books, she is NOT writing for herself. She is writing as a means to generate income, and as with any income-generating venture, she has an obligation to her customers, who have certain expectations. So, she is NOT writing for herself. She is writing for others. She may personally enjoy writing, but she can't say she is only writing for herself (which would be called journaling) when she expects people to buy her work. beaten dead, but if I hear one more publishing author say, "I write for myself," I think I'll throw something, especially if they follow up that statement with complaints about their books not selling or that they're not getting enough good reviews.

So, what constitutes the author/reader contract? If you do a Google search, you'll find all sorts of information about this vital agreement authors would be wise not to ignore. Below, I've expanded on the basics I found here and added a couple of my own.

1. Know the material.

If you're going to write about present-day Middle East, you need to know about present day Middle East. What's the desert ecology? How do people live? When is it cold and when is it hot? What do the people drive? What do they eat? How do they speak? What are their customs? Nothing is more embarrassing than writing about a topic and having an expert on that topic say, "Um, no. That's not how it is." If you're going to write about a window breaking, make sure you know how different types of glass break. If you're going to write about painting restoration, you need to know what chemicals are used, how to use them, when to use them, and how long the restoration will take. If you're going to write about a character who goes blind after an accident, make sure you understand what types of accidents and injuries cause blindness, whether or not the blindness is permanent, and if there are surgical corrections to the blindness. In other words, do your research.

2. Know how to write.

That speaks for itself. I already discussed this topic in a couple of previous posts, but serious readers will not take authors seriously if their books are riddled with mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, content, and story structure. If an author is content to continue selling only to a relatively small group of friends or niche readership who don't care about the mistakes, that's fine, but if an author wants to attract a wider readership, agent, editor, or publisher, knowing how to write well is crucial. An author who can't write won't be taken seriously by serious readers, wider audiences, and industry "scouts" looking for new talent.

3. The author will respect the intelligence of the reader.

This means the author won't dumb down the story to the most minute detail. While it's important to give your readers enough so they can build a picture in their mind, you don't have to tell them every last detail. For example, we know that people reach with their hands, so to say, "Angelo reached with his hand to caress Jana's face," is redundant. Just say, "Angelo caressed Jana's face." The reader knows he caressed her with his hand. There's no need to tell them so. And this also means you don't have to tag every piece of dialogue. Readers can follow along pretty well if you give them a couple of key dialogue tags.

4. The reader will be entertained.

This goes without saying. A reader's expectation when they buy your book is that they will be entertained. If you fail to entertain them, you've broken the contract. How do you fail to entertain? One way is by presenting them with a story that is full of errors that impede their ability to become fully immersed. I mean, when you're reading a book and trying to immerse yourself in the story, if you can't get past all the missing punctuation to understand exactly what's being said, how can you immerse yourself? Nothing is more disruptive to story immersion than a sentence that has to be read over and over before the reader understands what's being said. Imagine you're watching a movie that keeps stopping and starting, or where the sound cuts out and comes back on at random intervals. Is the movie entertaining or aggravating? That's what bad grammar and punctuation do to your writing.

Breaking any of the other clauses in the contract can also prevent readers from being entertained.

5. The author will not waste the time of the reader (The author will not deceive the reader).

I've read stories where the author threw in what I called bait. This bait misdirected me and made me think something else was going to happen and took my focus away from the primary plot. Then nothing ever came of the bait, leaving me thinking, "Okay, what was that about?" I recently read a story where a character had to make a trip but kept receiving signs that this trip was dangerous and that he would only find evil and despair. Such a big deal was made about this that I sat on the edge of my seat, eager to see what all the fuss was about. What was the character going to find once he got to his destination? The setup made it sound like he would be in grave danger. But the character made it to his destination, nothing happened, and nothing "evil" or dangerous cropped up. And the story ended. I felt cheated. I was like, "Okay, so why was he warned so vehemently about going? Why did he see all these signs that the trip would put him in peril?" Don't do this to your readers. Make sure everything has a purpose.

6. The writing will be clear and understood.

Again, this goes back to punctuation, spelling, and grammar. "I lost mom," and "I lost, mom," have two very different meanings. All it takes is one missing comma and we go from the character losing a chess match to the character losing their senile mother in a mall. I could probably write a whole blog post on this subject, but that's for another day.

7. What the author puts in the story will have a reason, and MATTER by the end.

As I said in bullet #5, make sure everything has a purpose. Don't make your reader think about ABC if you aren't going to do anything with ABC. According to Goal, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon, you have more leeway on this point in a series than in a stand-alone novel. If you give your readers ABC and only give a partial view of what happens with ABC in book 1, as long as your readers know that ABC will be addressed in book 2, they'll be more forgiving. Otherwise, tie everything up by the end of the book.

8. The author will provide a story and characters to care about.

I recently edited a short story where the protagonist was an awful, selfish, hateful, pretentious cuss. I hated him. I wanted to see bad things happen to him, and he aggravated me so much that if I hadn't been editing, I wouldn't have gone much beyond the first page before moving on to another story. In short, the character was a dick! I didn't care about him or his story. This is not the kind of character you want to be creating. Readers don't like dicks, and they won't read a dick's story, because they won't care enough about him to be concerned with what happens to him. Same with weaklings or characters who are "perfect." Readers like damaged, but otherwise strong characters with good hearts. They like seeing a character in pain for no other reason than he fell in love with the wrong person, and they want to see him fight back and overcome. I think this is why my characters, Micah Black and Traceon, are so popular. They are severely damaged individuals, but at no fault of their own, and they have good hearts. Readers care about what happens to them, and they've let me know how much they care through emails, Facebook messages, etc. If you want readers to continue buying your books, make your characters likable.

9. The ending will fulfill the promises made during the course of the story.

Several months ago, an indie author was complaining on Facebook that she was getting several negative reviews and comments about the ending of her book not living up to reader expectation. They had liked the story, but when they got to the end, they got upset and angry. I didn't read the book, but apparently, the ending turned out to be this big twist that went against the grain of the rest of the book and didn't give readers the happy ending they wanted. She knew the ending was unorthodox, and she readily admitted that she knew ahead of time that it wouldn't be what readers expected. But she didn't care because it was how she wanted the story to end. BINGO! Did you catch that? It was how SHE wanted the story to end.

No, no, no, no, no. As an author, it is not about her. It's about the reader. It's always about the reader. It's like I said earlier, an author is not writing for herself when she intends to sell her books. Unless you want to break that trust with the reader and risk losing fans, you will give your readers what they want. It's damn hard to get back their trust and encourage them to buy another of your books once you've lost them.

At any rate, this author knew her ending was unorthodox, and yet she was upset that readers got pissed and felt cheated. I felt like asking, "What did you expect? You knowingly cheated them. Of course they're going to be pissed." These readers sat through an entire story, perhaps 100-300 pages, and they got all the way to the end where they should have gotten their reward...and instead they got cheated.

How would you feel if, after working for a week on a presentation at work, you were told an hour before the presentation was supposed to start that it was being canceled? You'd feel like your time had been wasted and you'd done all that work for nothing. Same thing with an ending that doesn't delivery.

Readers want happy endings. Period. Be warned that if you don't give them one, you are risking losing their trust. Readers want to know they can pick up one of your books and will get a great story, free of errors. One that will entertain them and not lead them astray or waste their precious time. They want to know an author knows the material and what they're writing about. This is the unspoken promise an author commits to when she writes a book: I will give my readers what they want and expect of me.

Don't break your promise.

Happy writing and reading.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The End is Just the Beginning

For a lot of authors, "The End" is the most beautiful phrase they've ever typed. They get excited, celebrate, give themselves a high-five. It's truly a wonderful moment.

But... (yep, there's a big but here)

"The End" means you're only about a third of the way toward being finished. "The End" signals that the hardest part of writing a book is about to start.

Damn you, Donya! Yep, I can hear some of you cursing me for taking the joy out of "The End."

Okay, calm down. It's still okay to celebrate "The End." Because reaching that point is crucial to the rest of the process. Without a story, nothing else can happen and you can't fully reach "I'm Finished." So, take a day or two, go to a movie, make a celebration cake, or shoot off fireworks. Do whatever you need to do to celebrate that the end of the draft has been reached.

And then tuck your manuscript away.

Yes, tuck it away and let it rest. Stephen King suggests six weeks, and I have found through experimentation that 6-8 weeks is just about perfect. While your manuscript rests, and after you've celebrated "The End," work on something else. I work on the next novel in my AKM series or an independent story, but Stephen King works on short stories and novellas. This accomplishes a few things: 1) It allows you to work on future manuscripts and keeps the ball rolling as well as the income train on the track, 2) It shifts your mind from the resting story, which is important because, 3) It allows you to put fresh eyes to the story once you pull it back out.

Fresh eyes are crucial to a story. Fresh eyes allow you to see all the mistakes. They allow you to see plot holes and to identify where the story fails to deliver. If you go right into editing before you've got fresh eyes, you will miss all of those problem areas, because your mind will still be seeing what it saw as you wrote the draft. The problem is, oftentimes what we see in our minds isn't conveyed on the page. Only with fresh eyes and a clear mind can you see the mistakes when you start the edit.

Here's one thing I do while my manuscript is resting, and WOW! has this ever helped me in the editing phase:

I send the first draft to my beta readers (Stephen King actually sends his second draft). I write "The End," and I immediately email it off, mistakes and all. And then I let it sit. Even as the beta feedback comes in, I don't touch the manuscript. I might read the feedback immediately or I might not, but I don't touch the manuscript for 6-8 weeks.

The trick with beta feedback is that you have to tell your betas to be brutally honest. I tell mine that I know there are problems in the story, and I want to know exactly what they think. Can they see the same problems I've already earmarked? Can they see other problems? The beta feedback for my latest book, Rebel Obsession, was so brutally honest, yet constructive, that it enabled me to identify two characters who needed revamping, as well as how to revamp them. My betas and I engaged in intense dialogue for about a week, bouncing ideas off each other, and suddenly, magic happened. Two of my characters were suddenly deeper, richer, more dynamic characters who **popped** in my mind, whereas before they had been flat. But if I hadn't been open to the brute honesty and negative feedback of my betas, I would have missed this entire opportunity.

Relating this to my previous 3-part series on authors and editors, this is where many authors need to get out of their own way. They won't even entertain discussions that criticize their work, but in so doing, they are missing a valuable opportunity to create magic. Whether these discussions happen with beta readers (who serve as content editors for me) or editors, authors need to be engaging in these extensive, constructive conversations that, yes, pick apart their work. They're the most valuable tools in my writer's toolbox, bar none.

At any rate, the resting phase is crucial.

So is the beta feedback phase.

Next comes editing. With your beta feedback in-hand, you can begin your first edit, which I like to call a rewrite, because I will literally rewrite large passages or even whole chapters. I will also add massive amounts of material, including whole chapters, as I identify where I've fallen short. And, yes, I will cut out huge chunks of material, as well. In my first edit of Heart of the Warrior, I added about 30,000 words and rewrote one entire chapter. In the first edit of  Rebel Obsession, which I just finished, I cut the entire epilogue and rewrote 75% of the last chapter, shortening it considerably, and have cut several scenes that I realized belonged in the next book of the series, and ultimately added only about 2,000 words to the overall manuscript. I cut way more than I added. So, some books get a lot added, while others have a lot cut out.

"When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story." - John Gould (some might say he was Stephen King's first editor)

After the first edit, or rewrite, is finished, you should let the manuscript rest again, but I've found the rest doesn't need to be as long this time around. You can even send out the manuscript to another set of beta readers or to a couple of betas in your first set. Then the process continues as follows:

2nd edit
3rd edit
4th edit
[each subsequent edit is like running a finer-toothed comb through the manuscript. In the first edit, the changes are on the multi-paragraph, scene, or chapter level. In the second edit, they are on the paragraph or partial-scene level. In the third, they are on the phrase or sentence level. By the fourth, changes are on word level. Sometime four edits is enough, but what I've found, especially for newer authors, is that 5-10 edits are necessary. EDITS! Not spot-reads or re-reads. EDITS, where the full manuscript is being read, word-by-word, each time.]

I do employ an editor who reads my manuscript three times, usually at the beta stage, the first edit stage, and final edit stage. All authors should have a good editor helping them out.

After the final edit, you proofread. If you make further changes to the content during the proof, you proofread again.

And once all proofing is done, you format the manuscript and can say, "I'm finished."

Writing the first draft is about 1/3 of the work that goes into writing a book. It's the easy part. It's the beta phase, rewriting, editing, and proofing where you'll find the work. The final 2/3 is the hard part, because it can be hard to listen to negative feedback and realize you have to make major changes to certain elements of your book. It's hard to cut out chunks of material you worked hard on, and which might even contain little gems you're uber-proud of. And it's hard to re-read your manuscript over and over, editing and searching for mistakes, tweaking and refining, and rearranging elements to improve flow.

But when you say, "I'm Finshed," it's worth it. Because then you can REALLY celebrate.

Happy writing!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Authors and Editors Together - Synergy or Failure? Part 3 of 3

Synergy results when multiple elements come together and produce a result greater than the sum of all the parts individually. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “We can do more together than we can apart,” that’s what is meant by synergy.

When an author and editor work together, they create synergy. The author writes, the editor edits, and together, they pull the best out of each other and create a story that neither could have created on their own. Or rather, they should be able to do that.

Unfortunately, at least from what I’m seeing in indie circles, this relationship has suffered a severe breakdown. “Authors” (and if you’ve been following my posts the past couple of days, you understand what I mean by “authors” vs. authors and "editors" vs. editors) bash editors everywhere—in Facebook groups, on blogs, in chats, on walls. They gripe about such-and-such an editor’s too-harsh comments or lack of knowledge and make terrible comments about editors. And “editors” aren’t doing themselves or authors any favors when they don’t know the most basic of grammar rules. But in an “editor’s” defense, some of them probably aren’t speaking up for fear of an "author’s" reaction. Because it has been my personal experience that “authors” are pretty nasty about vocalizing when they aren’t pleased with an editor’s or “editor’s” comments.

As a result, good editors are walking away from editing for indie authors. I know. I’m one of them. My editor is another. I got tired of dealing with the arguments and backtalk, as well as the snide back-stabbing and public, passive-aggressive hissy fits some of these “authors” threw on their Facebook walls after they asked for my feedback, got it, and got pissed off because I didn’t just say, “This is awesome. Good job.” And I know if these “authors” are throwing public hissy fits, they’re in their private chats with their friends cussing my name up and down. I don’t need that crap. No good editor does. And as more good editors walk away from editing for indie authors, what does that leave indies to choose from? “Editors” who have no business performing an edit. So it's a lose-lose.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that authors need to get out of their own way. And the above is a perfect example of what I mean. When working with an editor, an author needs to check her ego and pride at the door and refrain from throwing temper tantrums when she doesn't get your way or hear anything but praise, because it’s an editor’s job to make her better than she already is by shedding light on her shortcomings. Yes, good editors will point out where an author needs to work (and all authors need to work on something). They will cut up her manuscript. They will slice open its belly and poke around its organs, and they’ll tell her what she needs to do to get those organs where they’re supposed to be so the story can live and breathe, and then they will leave her with the responsibility of sewing the belly back up once she's fixed everything. At least, that’s what a good editor will do.

That. Is. Their. Job.

And it's the author's job to fix what the editor points out. There are grey areas where an author can overrule an editor, but those are usually in small, subjective areas such as whether to write the possessive of Jonas as Jonas' or Jonas's.

If all an author wants to be told is how awesome she is and how perfect her story is, she needs to hang up her typewriter, because that is not how it works. She’s just wasting everyone’s time, including her own, because she’s not writing for the right reasons or with the right expectations and frame of mind. Writing is painful. It hurts. It wounds the pride as well as the ego at times.

Even so, when it comes to the writer/editor relationship, without doubt, the editor draws the shorter stick. I’ve been on both sides of this coin, and as painful as it is for the author to receive a negative critique, it is much easier to be on the author end than the editor end.

Why is that?

As an author, it is my job to write. I love writing. I take an editor’s comments as a challenge and look forward to the ensuing chaos of fixing what an editor tells me to fix. Authors should embrace this phase, because it is at the very heart of what they supposedly love doing—writing. Right? If the author doesn't want to write, why are they writing in the first place?

On the other hand, when I was editing, when I returned an edit, I felt the hate fly at me from all angles. It takes a thicker skin to edit than write, because I know from experience that I’ve been bashed about twenty ways to Sunday over what I’ve suggested and pointed out in my edits and/or critiques. I know I’ve been cussed and spit at and flipped off every which way. It seems that the majority of indie authors only want to hear, "This is awesome!" when they ask for feedback, but I won't sacrifice my integrity and lie, and I certainly won't try to "not hurt an author's feelings" by lying, or lie simply to "keep the peace." That's not fair to anyone and doesn't do the author any good to hear lies like that. However, I would say 90% of the indie authors who have asked for my feedback, in one form or another, threw a fit when I had anything but positive things to say. Even when I voiced both positives and negatives about a piece, the reaction in at least two cases I can think of was for the author to go into a passive-aggressive meltdown on their Facebook wall. There are certain author circles I don't even participate in anymore because of the reactions I've received to my editing comments. All because I did my job...well.

In fact, editing feels like the one job that the better you are at it, the more pain it causes. At least that's been my experience.

And that’s why I no longer edit except in special circumstances.

Here’s what I think needs to happen to bring the synergy back into this crucial relationship:

First: “Authors” need to learn how to write, and “editors” need to learn how to edit. Without that, this relationship is doomed to failure.

Second: Authors and editors need to perform their respective jobs. Authors are supposed to write. Editors are supposed to edit. Editors should not be expected to rewrite poorly written work or ghostwrite for free, and authors should not be telling editors how to do their job, which leads to…

Third: Authors and editors need to listen to one another, but authors especially need to listen to what educated editors have to say and not argue with them, blow up, call them names behind their backs, go passive-aggressive against them on their Facebook walls, and otherwise act like two-year-olds badly in need of a nap. As an editor, I'm over being argued with and treated like shit, which is why I quit.

When an author argues with an educated editor, she is more-or-less wasting the editor’s time and hers. As an editor, I wouldn’t be pointing something out in the manuscript if it didn’t need to be addressed, and I always wanted to say, “Why did you ask me to edit if you’re just going to argue everything I suggest or point out and tell me how you want me to edit your work? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?”

And what's really funny is when someone argues with me and tells me I'm being too harsh in my edits then turns around and betas one of my scenes and says, "Take out that stupid comment." Really? I'm too harsh? I may be harsh, but I'm always professional and objective, and I certainly never sling personal insults or call any part of an author's work "stupid."

“Authors” need to quit arguing and get out of their own way as well as their editor's, and they need to learn that there's more to writing than just writing a story—a lot more (I'll talk about that in my next post). And "editors" need to realize they don't know everything. I just learned something new yesterday. That's the beauty of continually studying and listening to others regarding the crafts of writing and editing: You learn more and can correct old habits. :)

In yesterday's post, I said that if an author isn't feeling pain and discomfort after receiving an edit back from their editor, then the edit wasn't good enough. A good editor, especially at the indie level where writers have been shown not to have the best grasp of story structure and grammar, should be finding tons of things that need to be sliced and diced. TONS! And that means that an author should have tons of work to do when she gets her edit back. If that's not happening, then she's not getting her money's worth, even if the edit was free.

Now, before I get rotten tomatoes thrown at me for saying authors at the indie level have been shown not to have the best grasp of writing, let me explain that I'm not saying that to be derogatory. I'm saying that because it's true. Indie writing is not at the same level as professional writing. It just isn't. Why lie and say it is? So, I'm just stating a fact.

But the greater point to be noted here is that the field of indie authors is RICH with coal just waiting to be pressurized into diamonds, and then cut, molded, and polished further into beautiful gemstones. But a lump of coal can't become a raw diamond without a LOT of pressure being applied to it first, and and a raw diamond can't become a beautiful gemstone without being cut, filed, and polished. But for the process to be a success, the lump of coal (writer) can't fight the process, and the editor has to know how to apply pressure, cut, and polish.

Of course, all of this is contingent on the author actually wanting to put out the best and highest quality story possible. It that isn't the goal, then my posts of the last three days can be disregarded.

To summarize my last three posts, "editors" need to become editors, "authors" need to become authors, and the two need to begin working harmoniously with one another, allowing and expecting each to do their respective jobs. And that is critical. Authors need to expect editors to edit, and editors need to expect authors to write. And both need to allow the other the room and respect to operate in their roles, which means editors need to be allowed to give negative feedback without repercussions, and writers need to be allowed to rewrite their own work without editors feeling they need to do it for them for free. If authors and editors are just going to bitch, sling insults, and call names, they should get out of the business, because they're pissing away one of the most powerful tools in their arsenal that could propel them to the next level: Synergy.


I plan on getting back to my writing tip posts in the next couple of weeks, because I have a mission to help as many authors as I can improve their abilities. If you have suggestions for writing tips, please let me know what they are so I can add them to my list.

Thank you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Editor or "Editor"? Part 2 of 3

Yesterday, I talked about “authors.” Today, I focus on “editors.” And right now, I'm a little upset about a particular incident involving two "editors," so bear with me.

I recently helped out a friend with an edit. I know, I know...I've said before that I no longer do edits because most indie writers don't have a thick enough skin for my kind of edit, because yes, I'm tough. Thorough, knowledgeable, professional, but tough. I have found that my slicing open the bellies of some authors' manuscripts to check that all the organs are where they're supposed to be is just too much for them to bear, so I saved everyone a lot of pain (including myself) and pulled out of the editing business. However, I will make the occasional exception, and in this case, I did.

See, my friend paid two editors on previous stories to edit his work. He is admittedly dyslexic and has challenges with homonyms, and he wanted to make sure the stories were as clean as they could be and was willing to pay people he thought knew what they were doing to make sure they were publish-ready.

Long story short, he got ripped off, and I have to wonder, was he conned? Or did these editors really think they knew what they were doing? Because, apparently, a couple of reviewers were not so nice about telling him he needed to pay an editor to edit his work.

Umm, he did pay an editor. Or, should I say an "editor." An editor knows what they're doing. An "editor" is someone who likes to call themselves an editor but who really has no credentials, education, and certainly no business conducting an edit. In other words, they charge authors to mess up their work. And in some cases, they charge A LOT.

Now, now, Donya. You're being a little harsh, aren't you? And you're getting upset over nothing, you might be saying.

Well, one thing's right. I'm upset. And rightfully so. Why? Because it is an editor's primary responsibility to make sure an author's story is published with as few errors as possible and is reader-worthy. In other words, an editor's job is to make sure an author never receives a review that says, "Pay for a real editor." For an "editor" to charge for her services and not deliver those services is a breach of contract. It is a legal offense, and I think it's just a matter of time before one of these "editors" is sued in small claims court for not providing the services she was paid to provide. So, yeah, I think some harsh words fit here, because I can be harsh now and possibly save an "editor" a lawsuit, or said "editor" might end up in court someday and have to pay back more than just her editing fee. Which choice do you think is more harsh?

It is also the job of an editor to make sure the readers are taken care of. The readers deserve a story free of errors, as well as a story that flows well and makes sense. By taking care of the reader, an editor automatically takes care of the author. Unfortunately, I think too many "editors" are scared to piss "authors" off with negative feedback. Those "editors" aren't doing those "authors" any favors when they do that, and if "authors" (yes, the same rule between editors and "editors" applies between authors and "authors") get uppity and cop attitudes over negative feedback, oh well. Their problem. They need to grow a thicker skin, because NEWSFLASH! It's not all about them. It's ultimately about the reader.

But I digress…and we’ll talk about the relationship between authors and editors tomorrow.

I've had some pretty shitty things said to me, about me, and done to me because of my "harsh edits." But I'll tell you one thing: A story I edit will never get a review that says the author needs to hire a real editor (as long as the author heeds my advice and suggestions). Cuss my name, spit on my image, flip me off, and call me every name in the book, but I will never leave an author hanging out to the vultures or a reader scratching their head over what they just read. I take the role of editor very seriously, because I know what's at stake...for both the author and the reader. Unfortunately, too many indie "editors" don't. And that ticks me off.

Editing is an important job. It should be taken seriously and done right. And if an "editor" can't get the job done, he shouldn't charge...or should be forced to return his fee if an author receives a review that says, "Hire an editor." Because if an author has a reader telling him that, then the "editor" did not do his job and doesn't deserve payment. Period. Actually, if an "editor" can't get the job done, he shouldn't be editing.

As a writer and an editor myself, I've seen a lot of interesting things "editors" try to pass off as English grammar and punctuation: Using a semicolon instead of a period or em dash; overall improper semicolon usage; using ellipses instead of em dashes or periods; throwing commas into the middle of an independent clause (O.O Say what?); automatically using a comma to set off a prepositional phrase. I even had an "editor" tell me that, according to North American English (because grammar rules for North American English differ from other regions of the world who speak English), there are times when a period or comma go outside a quotation mark. No. According to my two grammar references, a period or comma never, without exception, goes outside a quotation mark. Never. Ever. Period. Not in the United States, anyway.

This "editor," who is allegedly an editor in chief of a U.S. e-publishing house, should know that. That is basic Editing 101 type stuff right there, and yet I was told I was wrong. No. I'm not wrong. I know I'm not. But this "editor" is charging authors to edit their work. If she doesn't even know one of the most basic of punctuation rules, or is too lazy to look it up, what else doesn't she know? Does she even own a grammar guide?

You know, I see this stuff or am privy to these conversations and muffed edits, but I normally sit back, sigh, shake my head, and move on. But it pains me to do so, because I want to help these well-meaning, yet unknowing writers who are putting their precious babies into the hands of clueless, uneducated hacks who have no business picking up the proverbial red pen and marking up these authors' manuscripts.

Strong words? Damn straight. Because I've taken severe heat for being as good as I am at editing when the people these authors should be mad at — and whose names they should be cussing up one side and down the other — are the "editors" who cheat them, rob them blind, perform lackluster and lousy edits, and blow smoke up an author's ass about how great his story is and that it needs no editing when, in fact, it needs major work in the editing department. Indeed, the actual story might be great, but the presentation needs to be fixed.

That's where an editor comes help pull that great story out of the mire of content errors, misspelled words, poor punctuation, poor flow, and lackluster dialogue. An editor is the diamond polisher — the one who gets the story to sing on key, whereas it previously sang flat and sharp.

That’s not to say an editor’s job is to rewrite the story for the author. No. An editor’s job is to correct what they can, and then put the author back to work to correct the content, flow, and structure. Yes, the author should have to work—HARD—after getting their edit back (and for the record, a proofread is not an edit). Nine out of ten times, if an author isn’t working hard and feeling some pain after getting back an edit, the edit wasn’t good enough.

Let me repeat that: Nine out of ten times, if an author isn't working hard and feeling some pain after getting back an edit, the edit wasn't good enough.

In that respect, authors need to get out of their own way and let capable editors do their jobs. I’ll talk more about that in tomorrow’s post.

At any rate, what's the solution? How do authors find themselves a good editor? I've worked with a couple who are good (mine and the gal at Silver Publishing — she impressed me, which is hard to do). The rest of the "editors" I've been exposed to lacked. I mean, when I can go through their edits and disregard 95% of their corrections as mistakes, there's a problem.

I don’t really know the answer as to how to resolve this other than to tell “editors” to take some heavy duty editing, writing, and grammar classes, but if anyone knows of a good editor, or if you’ve got resources where authors can find quality editors, please provide the links and information in the comments. Perhaps we can start building a database of editors and I can add their links to my blog.

[NOTE: Even I struggle to call myself an editor, because my editing skills come primarily from writing courses I've taken and from self-teaching myself how to edit by reading and studying independently. True, my writing courses were extensive and discussed editing, but they were not editing courses, and I've studied straight from my grammar guides and from the books of Big Six editors who have written on the topic of how to edit, but I don't have formal training. I plan on rectifying that by signing up for actual copy editing programs and courses so I can earn the credentials, but I know "editors" who haven't even taken a writing class, let alone an entire course or even basic grammar, and they don't even own a reference manual...and it shows.]

Tomorrow I put the previous two posts together and talk about the relationship between authors and editors, because from what I’ve seen, this relationship has broken down to a destructive state.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Author or Hobbyist? - Part 1 of 3

I love music. All kinds. I even know how to play the clarinet and saxophone, and I can sing well enough that I was once invited to sing in a band (I declined). But just because I love music, can read music, understand some music terminology, can sing, and can even play a couple of instruments, I am not a composer. I’m not even a musician. Why? Because I don’t grasp music theory and composition well enough to understand how to put notes together in a cohesive manner that sounds good. I never understood scales or clefs, or how to step up or down a minor or major note. What the hell is a Coda? I don’t even know what it means to play a B-flat instrument, and I played one. I’m sure I could learn these things with study, but with the knowledge I currently possess, I don’t have the ability or skill to write a musical piece the way musicians like Beethoven, Bon Jovi, or even Eminem could/can.

In other words, music is my hobby, not my profession, because while I enjoy it and can tinker with it, I don’t have a strong enough grasp of the concepts and art to be an actual musician. 

The same can be said of authors. More and more, and in various writing circles, I'm hearing discontent about indie authors and their ability to actually write. One blog I read yesterday went so far as to state that you're not really an author if you don't have a grasp on grammar (in other words, if you can't write well). This blogger had a valid point and made me think, because, much like my inability to be a musician despite my skills and love of music, can you call yourself an author if you really don’t know how to write, which is THE most important part of an author’s job? I mean, could I really call myself a sales manager if I can't sell, a horse trainer if I can't train horses, or a carpenter if I can't saw a board in a straight line? The point is, to be able to call yourself something, you first have to know how and be able to perform the primary task that something performs. Sales managers sell, horse trainers train horses, carpenters build things.

And authors write.

Oh, but anyone can write, you say. Of course anyone can write, but writing does not make one an author any more than my hammering a nail into the wall to hang a picture makes me a carpenter. In the movie, Working Girl, Joan Cusack says it best: “Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna. Never will.”

The point is, just because someone can sit down and plunk out 50,000 words does not mean she's an author. When I can read the first 23 paragraphs of an indie-published book and find over 25 grammatical errors (yes, I did this recently), we’ve got problems in the indie writing world. We’re talking about punctuation that is all over the place, dialogue tags that are punctuated as action tags and vice versa (does the writer even know the difference between an action tag and a dialogue tag?), sentence fragments that are actual fragments (not inserted for emphasis), subject-verb tense agreement that’s completely out of whack, single quotes used for everything except their only acceptable purpose (a quote within a quote), content that’s about as believable as life on Mars, and structure that leaves much to be desired…along with a myriad of other mish-mash. People who write with such inability to grasp even the most basic of grammar rules are what I call “authors,” which are people who want to call themselves authors, but who don’t have the writing talent, knowledge, and skill being an author requires.

Strong words? Maybe so, but if I tried to pass myself off as a musician, despite all my love and (limited) knowledge of music, I'd be laughed out of the room. Same thing with every other profession out there. If you don't have the skills of XYZ, you can't get a job as XYZ. I firmly believe that if you want to be an author, you need to know what being an author means, and you need to write like one. In other words, you need to be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. 

God love ‘em for trying, though, but at some point, someone needs to level with these people and give them the honest truth: Either they need to take some major writing, grammar, and English classes, or they need to leave the writing to someone else. If they don’t want to do the work and master the craft, they are merely hobbyists, not authors, much like I’m just a hobbyist when I put my headphones on and sing to the empty air (sometimes to songs by artists I have no business trying to emulate, like Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, or Lara Fabian). 

But at least I’m courteous enough to not expose others to the pain of hearing me try to hit those high notes. I know my limits, and I think a lot of "authors" need to learn theirs.

Come back tomorrow, because it’s not just “authors” who need a reality check. “Editors” need one, too, and tomorrow is their turn to be in the spotlight.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More Urban Dictionary Definitions of Halloween

Since my previous blog post of Urban Dictionary Halloween definitions was so popular, and since someone pointed out that I left off werewolves (my bad), I thought I would correct my oversight, as well as give you all some more fun definitions. Enjoy! (As before, adult language, misspelled words, and grammar errors might be included since I pulled these definitions straight from the Urban Dictionary website).


There weren't many definitions, but here are the ones worth noting:

Buff guys, that turn into 6' tall wolves. In the transition to their wolf form, they shed all their clothes, yet, when they transition back into their human form, they magically grow them back. It has been said, that this is due to the fact that their genitalia is abnormal, and as an act of sympathy, some wizard enchanted them with the power to grow pants. These werewolves are basically perfect. You will never find one of these in the real world, so if you want to find one, look in some badfics.

[There were 6 entries for the following. I took this one because I thought it was the funniest]: While receiving a blow job the male pulls out before ejaculation and blows on the recipient's face then throws pre-cut pubic hair onto their face thus enraging the recipient into a werewolf like state. [A variation stated that the hair made the person look like a werewolf].

Jack O'Lantern

I looked up Jack O'Lantern and instead found every variation known to man on this term. Here are a few of the best that didn't go over into absurdly gross:

Jacked O'Lantern: The process of having your Jack O' Lantern stolen from your property.

Crack O'Lantern: The smile that a longterm crackhead/cokehead displays due to missing teeth. The remaining teeth are spaced out with the gaps from missing teeth very obvious, thus resembling a classic Jack O' Lantern carved mouth.

The American Jack O'Lantern: On the night of All Hallows Eve, the male proceeds to thrust a carved pumpkin onto his partner's, male or female, head while participating in the act of sexual intercourse. While the male performs these tasks he must yell out "Trick or Treat."

Can you think of more I should look up?

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's Halloween Quiz Time!

First of all, I have to apologize for being tardy with this post. My day job and real life kicked my ass for the past five days, and all I've had time to do is eat, sleep, and work...with an occasional potty break and shower. Ew, right? Anyway, my poor blog got neglected...and during my beloved 31 Days of Halloween, no less. So, I'm way behind. Forgive me.

Now...onward to our Halloween Quiz. Last week, I posted lots of trivia and fun facts. Now it's quiz time to see how closely you paid attention. I've got a $10 Amazon gift card up for grabs. All you have to do is answer eight questions based on last week's posts.

You can leave your answers in a post (make sure to leave your email addy), or you can email them to me at using the subject line: HALLOWEEN QUIZ.

Deadline to submit your answers: October 24th at midnight.

I will announce the winner on Halloween, selecting from those who got the most questions right.

Here goes! Good luck! :)

The first six questions are True or False:

  1. Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, was the first vampire movie. 
  2. Anemia was a condition attributed to vampires.
  3. Female vampires were often blamed for spreading the bubonic plague throughout Europe.
  4. The corpse of Edgar Allen Poe's wife was the source of a portrait of her that can still be viewed in the Poe House today.
  5. The first Jack O'Lanterns were carved from turnips.
  6. Halloween has been called Nutcrack Night in the past because of all the deaths that occur on Halloween.
  7. Which of the following is NOT a term used to describe a group of vampires?
    A.      Coven
    B.     Clutch
    C.      Pod
    D.     Brood

    8. According to legend, a vampire can turn into all of the following except?
    A.     Owl
    B.    Moth
    C.      Cat
    D.     Bat

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Need a #Laugh? The Urban Dictionary Chimes in on Halloween

For kicks and giggles, I visited the Urban Dictionary ( The Urban Dictionary Website )to dig up some fun definitions related to Halloween. If you've never visited the Urban Dictionary, you should. I often find some hilarious definitions for everyday words there. It's definitely a place where you can get a good laugh (might I suggest you look up crack head/crackhead for one or two clever definitions submitted by readers).

Disclaimer: The following do not necessarily reflect my opinions or beliefs, and some of what follows includes language of an adult nature. I pulled these definition straight from the Urban Dictionary website, so they could contain misspelled words and bad punctuation. although I tried to fix where possible to improve readability.

Halloween  Definitions According to the Urban Dictionary

  1. High-school or college-age girl who is high-achieving, clean cut, athletic and good looking by day, and a disturbed, recreational drug or alcohol user by night. Just like the horror-movie monster, a modern vampire looks like a human, but they're blood sucking demons. You don't know about their deadly habits until it's too late. Just like the bite of count Dracula, a vampire will try to suck you into her world of darkness with a kiss or blowjob.
  2. Blond, blue eyes, tall, beautiful, gorgeous, handsome, & someone you want to have babies with so you can produce some vampire babies.
  3. For the love of God, vampires are FICTIONAL! If I see one more fucking "goth" retard on the internet claim to be a REAL VAMPYRE OMG OMG OMG I might explode.
  1. Anyone whom we burn that weighs the same as a duck. (Also made of wood).
  2. A moody white girl.
  3. Your 3rd grade teacher.
  4. A woman who is dressed up in a pointed hat, has a long nose, has a wart, and who is made of wood. They are often burned, and can turn people into newts (but they might get better).
  5. Someone who rips their dick off and uses it as a wand. [Donya - Say what?]

  1. A "safe" and offbeat excuse for guys to horde guns, ammunition, tactical gear and other survival supplies without being tagged as being a member of a militia or other extremist group (although your wife and neighbors may think you are a little crazy).
  2. Humans that at one point were turned to zombies by being bit by another zombie and eventually dying. Extreme stupidity surrounds these creatures as they mindlessly bash on the barracades of surviving humans. They can be said to not be able to "climb stairs," as my friend says...but others may say otherwise while their face is being ripped off completely after the zombie leapt up the stairs. Shotguns are most affective at close range with these beings, the only way to stop the damn thing from moving would be to shoot its brain or completely sever the head...this does not mean cut its head off because it will in fact still be "alive." So the best way I would have to say to survive a zombie attack would be to kill yourself're screwed think you can survive? No you can't. You're fucked.  

  1. Celebration where little kids dress up and get candy; teens dress up, get drunk, and go get candy; and adults dress up, get drunk, and give out candy. Funny how things all work out.
  2. The day that makes the other 364 worth living.
  3. The one day of the year you can beg strangers for food and not get told to fuck off. As long as you're dressed up like a ghost/the devil/transvestite.
  4. It's when you dress up in either cheap, store-bought costumes or elaborate, self-made ones, watch Rocky Horror Picture Show, get your friends to do the Time Warp, and go on a severe candy binge. Until someone spoils your fun by reminding you that it's April.
  5. An annual excuse for girls to dress like sluts and get away with it.
  6. The only day of the year when it's acceptable for guys to dress up as girls in school.
  7. John Carpenter's best movie.
And THAT is Halloween according to the Urban Dictionary. LOL.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sweet Heat Trick or Treat Blog Tour - Meet Traceon

Sweet Heat Trick or Treat Blog Tour

Trick or Treat
Gawd the Heat
Book Boyfriends are mental-sweets!

The word in the photo is your “treat”! Make sure you keep it in a safe place. “Visit” the Road to Hell series ( tomorrow, and each day thereafter, to find the next “treat”! The Sweet Heat Trick or Treat Blog Tour ends October 31st and on Halloween you’ll return to the Road to Hell series blog and receive your final word. Here’s the “trick”—you’ll have to arrange all the words you’ve received each day into a sentence and then provide the sentence in the rafflecopter provided. New entries will be added to the rafflecopter each day so be sure to check back at the Road to Hell series every day to increase your chances of winning!

I'm including a free e-copy of Rise of the Fallen in the gift basket, too, so if you've not read my AKM series yet, this is your chance to get to know Micah Black and his friend Traceon. Based on fan reaction, you don't want to miss out on Traceon. Here, let me give you a tiny taste as to why by sharing an excerpt from Rise of the Fallen (warning: adult language):


Keys jangled at the door, and then John Apostle stepped inside, still in uniform, his gaze sweeping the room in horror before stopping on Trace. Trace held up his hand, fingers splayed. Apostle halted and froze just as he tried to turn and run.

"Please, do come in," Trace said, slowly moving his fingers, manipulating Apostle as if he was a puppet. "Close the door." The dreck did as he was compelled to do. "Now, come here and get on your knees in front of me."

Apostle walked like a zombie. The only part of him showing any animation were his eyes. The rest of him seemed void of feeling. Stopping in front of Trace, he dropped to his knees with a resounding thud.

"Before you die, I want you to know that Micah saved the girl. She's one of us now." He leaned forward and grinned at Apostle. Trace could feel the dreck's hatred and anger pushing through his fear, but it didn't matter. He was as good as dead already. "Micah and I are her guardian angels, now. And I am his. I won't let anything happen to either one of them, but if anything should, I will single-handedly crush your entire race before I take my own life. Do you understand?" Trace pressed closer, his mouth curling into a malevolent sneer. "You failed, you miserable fuck. What I will do to them won't even compare to what's about to happen to you."

With that, Trace stood up and loomed over Apostle then fisted one of his hands. The bones in Apostle's neck began to snap and pop, his spine crushing. Then for good measure, with his other hand he squeezed and felt Apostle's evil, blue heart explode inside his chest.

"That's right, fucker," Traceon released Apostle and stepped over him after he fell over dead. "I'm their guardian angel, and you picked the wrong hand of God to fuck with." His anger charged powerfully through his muscles and he stopped, turned, and punched his splayed hands into the air in front of him. A deep, echoing boom sounded and the floor pulsed like it was a trampoline. The crackle of bones snapping filled the air. All five bodies slumped then burst open as the furniture exploded and wind whipped like a cyclone around Trace before slowly calming. Only then did Trace lower his hands.

Come and see what more Traceon has to offer:
AKM Book 1: Rise of the Fallen on Amazon
AKM Book 2: Heart of the Warrior on Amazon
AKM Book 3 is due out in January, 2013

Don't forget to stop by all the other blogs involved with this hop by clicking on the picture on the top left of my blog that looks like the one below (it will take you to the host blog where you can follow a link to the next blog on the hop and snag another word to complete the sentence on Halloween for a chance to win the price package):

Happy Haunting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On Halloween, It's "Nutcrack," Not Nutcracker

Have you ever wondered where some holiday traditions came from? Why is bobbing for apples and dressing up in costumes associated with Halloween and no other holiday? What about the colors orange and black being the accepted colors of Halloween? Halloween celebrations date back to 4000 B.C., which gives us over 6,000 years of traditions which have led up to how we celebrate Halloween today. Here are just a few facts about where some of our current traditions came from:

The colors black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange symbolizes strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black symbolizes death and darkness and reminds us that Halloween was once a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.

Halloween was influenced by the ancient Roman festival Pomona, which celebrated the harvest goddess of the same name. Many Halloween customs and games that feature apples (such as bobbing for apples) and nuts date from this time. In fact, in the past, Halloween has been called San-Apple Night and Nutcrack Night.

During the pre-Halloween celebration of Samhain, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard winter. Druid priests often threw the bones of cattle into the flames, thus "bone fire" became "bonfire."

Dressing up as ghouls and other spirits on Halloween originated from the Celtic tradition of townspeople disguising themselves as demons and spirits so that they would escape the notice of the real spirits wandering the streets during Samhain.

Halloween celebrations in Hong Kong are known as Yue Lan (Festival of Hungry Ghosts). Fires are lit, and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What do #Zombies and #Snickers Have in Common on #Halloween?

I love Halloween. I love everything about it: the costumes, the treats, the decorations, and trick-or-treaters. But most of all, I love the scariness that goes along with Halloween, which evokes images of fog-laden cemeteries or a full moon with eery, wispy clouds drifting over it to cast a ghostly light over the land. I instantly hear the telltale piano notes of the theme to the movie, Halloween, and I become all giddy like a little girl.

Halloween, even more-so than Christmas, makes me feel like a kid again. I just love it. And here's some interesting facts and trivia about Halloween that you may not have known:

  • The first Jack O'Lanterns were carved from turnips.
  • Zombies were the #1 choice of costume in 2011.
  • Do you have an intense fear of Halloween? Well then, you have Samhainophobia. BOO!
  • Half of kids prefer to receive chocolate candy for Halloween, with Snickers being the #1 favorite chocolate treat. So invest in some chocolate for your trick-or-treaters.
  • Trick-or-treating evolved from an ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
  • An old tradition says that if you want to see a witch on Halloween, put your clothes on inside out and walk backward.
  • The word "witch" comes from the Old English wicce, meaning "wise woman." In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.
  • Speaking of witches, in Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl's call meant someone was about to die.
  • Ever wonder how the Jack O'Lantern got its name? Legend says that a stingy man named jack tricked the devil so many times that he was forbidden to enter both heaven and hell. Jack was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More! More #Vampires!

As an author of paranormal worlds, especially vampires, I have a soft spot for these creatures of the night. And as you saw in my last post, my AKM vampires are all pretty damaged characters.

Something else I like to create in my vampiric world is diversity. Think about it. Humans don't come in one shape, size, or color, and they all don't follow a cookie cutter personality or style. We have Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Indian, and everything in between. Furthermore, within each race, we have even more subsets of people. Plus, we have good humans and bad ones; louds ones and quiet ones; some with addictive personalites and some with incredible self-control. We have athletes, musicians, artists, lawyers. Some humans are psychic, while others are merely intuitive. The point is, we have an unlimited, diverse set of human appearance and behavior.

Why not have the same with vampires? Do all vampires have to be big and muscular? Or with just one set of fangs? Why can't the vampire race have just as many variances of appearance and behavior as the human race does?

This variety is what I strive for in my All the King's Men series, and in my next book, I'll be introducing a new character who is an Ancient who comes from the Old World. He's described as Slavic, and not many of his kind remain alive today, but his appearance has one stark characteristic not found in most of the other vampire races: upper and lower fangs. I think fans will fall in love with this character when they meet him, because he's got severe issues and just jumps off the page. One of my beta readers already told me she is crazy about him — and he was only in the story for maybe all of two pages, if that. Only the right kind of female will be able to save this severely tragic male who has lost his touch on reality (and yes, I have one in mind - hee hee).

At any rate, here is some more vampire trivia to whet your fangs with:

Vampire Trivia - Part II

According to Romanian legend, a child could be born a vampire if a vampire stared at a pregnant woman. If a pregnant woman was stared at by a vampire, she could have a vampire child. It was once commonly believed that children could be “marked” in their mother’s womb by something the mother saw or experienced while she was pregnant.

The Bruxsa, a beautiful female Portuguese vampire that transforms into a bird, leads a human life by day and transforms through witchcraft into a vampire by night. She is capable of bearing children (though she often feeds upon them). If you meet one, bad news: There is no way to kill this vampire.

The Danag, which originated in the Philippines, is an ancient South East Asian vampire that is initially believed to have been a good friend to humans before it got a taste of their blood and decided to feast upon them.

According to Romanian folklore, vampires are most active on St. George’s Day (May 4th on the Gregorian calendar). Witches are most active on this day, as well.

Bavarian vampires sleep with one eye open.

It is generally accepted that vampires cannot enter a dwelling without the owner’s permission or invitation.

So, I Like To Write About #Vampires - 31 Days of #Halloween Continue

Since I was uber busy moving into my new home office this weekend, I got behind on my blog posts, so I'll try to make up for that in the next couple of days. So, onward we go with the 31 Days of Halloween. And remember, I'll post a quiz at the end of this week based on the week's posts, and one lucky person will win a prize.

Drake Mefestta - Proclaimed Real Life Vampire
Chicago, IL
As my 31 Days of Halloween continue, I thought I would talk about vampires today. Fitting since the series I'm working on is about vampires. A few years ago, the buzz was that vampires in fiction were out. "Oh, vampire stories are phasing out. No one wants to read about vampires anymore." I haven't noticed this trend. Fans seem to love my vampires, and the vampire buzz is as strong, if not stronger, than ever. For instance, love it or hate it, Twilight is still popular, and J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series doesn't show signs of letting up, especially with the much-anticipated story of Blaylock and Qhuinn coming out. And then of course, there's True Blood. Countless authors continue to write fabulous stories related to vampires and their realm. And who's that fellow in the pic? Drake Mefestta, who lives in Chicago, claims to be a real life vampire. So, no, I don't think the vampire rage is dying just yet. I think readers want different takes on the vampire concept, but vampire stories are still popular.

My All the King's Men series focuses on a team of vampire warriors-turned-enforcers, but my vampire world isn't the run-of-the-mill world as depicted in tradition or in other books. My vampires can be born as mixed-bloods who inherit special powers as their genetic makeup misfires. Some gifts are more benevolent than others, and while some of my vampires, such as Traceon, have to remain on constant vigil to ensure their powers don't consume and alter them into mutants, others live in relative harmony with their extra special powers.

Some of my vampires can endure daylight, but others can't, based on whether they are full-bloods or mixed, and each comes with his or her own inner demons and quirks. In Rise of the Fallen (book one of the series), Micah's demons revolved around the loss of his first mate. He externalized that loss and became a reclusive yet powerful vigilante...a danger to himself and others until he found Samantha (well, she found him).

As for some of the other characters:
  • Malek, who has known Micah the longest and could pass as his brother for all their physical similarities, also suffers from the loss of his first mate, who was human. Unlike Micah, though, Malek internalized his loss, becoming a sterile, whitewashed version of himself rather than face the reality of his mate's death. I'm writing his story now, and as he finally faces Carmen's death, he explodes into near-psychosis from the emotional upheaval and inner struggle not to defile Carmen's memory as he fights his desire to mate another who has unwittingly stolen his soul.
  • Severin's inner demons involve hiding his genetic ties to the vampires' natural enemy, the drecks, as well as the tragic way he was conceived.
  • Arion? Well, Arion has lived a lie his entire life so he could maintain peace within his family. But when he meets Severin, all bets are off as his true self demands to be heard.
  • Traceon or Trace...well, I can't begin to detail all his demons. That male has stolen the series and has become THE character EVERYONE wants to know more about. He has a good heart, but he is damaged, damaged, and damaged some more. So much has happened to Trace throughout his life, and I allow his story to unfold a little in each book as the series progresses...because if I try to reveal all of his issues just in his book, it will be too much and won't work.
At any rate, here is some vampire trivia for you to chew over, and if you're a paranormal author like me, you might garner a few plot/story ideas from the list:

Vampire Trivia - Part 1

Vampire Trivia

A group of vampires has variously been called a clutch, brood, coven, pack, or a clan.

One way to supposedly deter a vampire is to throw seeds (usually mustard) outside a door or place a fishing net outside a window. Vampires are compelled to count the seeds or the holes in the net, delaying them until the sun comes up.

Anemia (“bloodlessness”) was often mistaken for a symptom of vampire attack.

The Egyptian goddess Sekhmet was known to drink blood, and the ancient fanged goddess Kaliof India also had a powerful desire for blood.

A vampire supposedly has control over the animal world and can turn into a bat, rat, owl, moth, fox, or wolf.

Female vampires were often blamed for spreading the bubonic plague throughout Europe.

According to several legends, if someone was bitten by a suspected vampire, he or she should drink the ashes of a burned vampire. To prevent an attack, a person should make bread with the blood of a vampire and eat it.

Some historians argue that Prince Charles is a direct descendant of Vlad the Impaler, the son of Vlad Dracula.