Monday, October 31, 2011

If I Had All the Magic in the World .....

Happy Halloween, my ghosts and goblins! It's a rainy wet one here in Florida. And I know the American Northeast just got hammered with snow. Hopefully, all those kids out on snow days will get to do some trick or treating. :)

Today is also the release party for Elizabeth Mueller's, Darkspell!

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary ... until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold. As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter's protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own. Will love prove thicker than magic? 

Darkspell is classified as a Young Adult Paranormal Romance that will appeal beyond the genre.

You can purchase it on Amazon here
You can find Elizabeth's blog here
And her website here.

And in honor of Darkspell, we're participating in a Halloween spookafesta. The question is .... If I had all the magic in the world, I'd ....

Here's what I'd do:   I'd use my magic to beam all my blogging friends to Hawaii for a weekend luau. We'd have our own beach to get to meet in person and hula til our heart's content. Wouldn't that be fun?? I imagine meeting all of you in person for the first time together as like a long lost reunion. I just think it's so great how we all have bonded without ever having met in person.

So that's my answer, you can also head over to Elizabeth's blog for a list of others in the spookafesta and see how they answered.

And just for fun, here are some pics from the Halloween party we went to on Saturday.
The zombie couple, Hubby and Me

Dad Zombie and his skeleton son with cousin Death.

Also if you want to see pics from my black & white themed Halloween party, go here.

But how about you? What would YOU do if you had all the magic in the world?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Killer Characters and Scary Monsters!

Part three of the awesome Killer Character blogfest hosted by Deana Barnhart and E.R. King is today, concluding a week long extravaganza. It's been so much fun seeing everyone's choices and why they love them. I've learned some things too! Always a bonus. :)

Today is also my blog chain post, but I promise to keep it all short so you can move onto the next blog.

So who is my all time fave antagonist, who happens to be a killer character???
This was a no brainer for me .....

I wish I could come up with a horror story as unique and fascinating as this. Bram Stoker's Dracula is definitely in my fave book pool. And yes I loved the Francis Ford Coppola version of the film too, even though they differ in many ways.

And, well ... Gary Oldman happens to be my FAVE actor of all time. So I'm a bit biased, but gosh darn he rocked as Count Dracula. He can take me away from death anytime! ;)

Anyway, back to the character ... He was inspired by Vlad the Impaler, Romanian Prince of Wallachia, in the early 15th century,  who was also known as Dracula, or Son of the Dragon. The mythical vampire creatures had been around for awhile, so Stoker didn't create them, but what he did is give it a fresh new spin by creating Count Dracula as a charming aristocrat.

Such a rich character. I love that we see him in all his charm, yet when his plans are interfered with, he flies off the handle, showing the true person beneath all the cordiality.  And the fact he is undead, makes him supernaturally powerful over those who wish to attack him.

He can defy gravity
              communicate telepathicly
              has hypnotic powers

His powers are limited, however... and I'm sure you all know the drill there: daylight, garlic, crucifixes, holy water, running water like streams

Bram Stoker is a genius. It's no wonder people today are still so fascinated with vampires. He really set the bar and creeped the world out with Count Dracula. Bravo!

And as part of my blog chain, and in keeping with the Halloween spirit, Matt MacNish over at QQQ wants to know what our fave monster is. When I was a little girl, my dad loved to rent horror movies--back when VCRs had just been made available to the average home. We weren't allowed to watch all of those films, but the older we got, the more of an event Horror Movie Night would become. Keep in mind, I grew up in the 80s when horror movies were HUGE. And this is the same dad who'd scratch at my bedroom door after watching Freddy Krueger movies. LOL! Yep, I blame him for all my issues.

But it was fun, and it toughened us up. We saw a lot of bad horror films, and some really great creepy ones. And I can truly say, they just don't make them like they used to. But through and through, there was one monster that always kept me up at night... one that felt so real, I could almost feel its breath on my neck when I'd hike up the covers over my head and swear to never watch another horror film again ....

Yep. The ol' werewolf did it to me every time. And my dad loved the werewolf movies as much as I did. They were all over the place in the 80s: The Howling, American Werewolf in London, Silver Bullet ... I can't say exactly what it was, but they freaked this little girl out. Nowadays, horror films are more paranormal and less fantastical in my opinion. And maybe that's why werewolves have remained my fave monster of all time. There is something so wild and fierce and dangerous about them. Wolves on their own are beautiful, but mingled with the human body, they become a grotesque creature that was never meant to roam the earth.

So there you have it. I'll always be a werewolf fan, for the sheer memories of childhood fear alone. Thanks, Dad!

For more on monsters who scare us, checkout others on the blog chain Eric and Michelle McLean.

What about you? Who's your fave antagonist? And what's your fave monster??

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Part Deux Killer Characters

Continuing the Killer Character's blogfest hosted by the charming Deana Barnhart and E.R. King, today's post is on our fave literary protagonist.

This is a tough call. But I've narrowed it down to three.

3. Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair --- Love her bold bravery. When life gave her lemons, she made lemonade. She wasn't what I'd call a sweet, lovable MC, but she was real.

2. Scarlet O'Hara from Gone with the Wind --- Not the most modest or considerate MC, but that's why I liked her. She had spunk, and she got the job done. She didn't let others walk all over her. She was tough as nails, and far from boring. I never knew what this little lady was gonna do next.

1. Edmond Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo --- This could be my fave story of all time. Could be, but the jury is still out. Why do I love Edmond? The tribulations he endured were horrendous. His character arc is unique, in that, he began as a noble, kind man. When wrong was done to him by his very best friend, which resulted in Edmond's imprisonment and the loss of his fiance, he sank into an all time despair--a despair that resulted in a life long ambition to get revenge. The ironic part is Edmond was so consumed with revenge, he was blinded to all the good fortune to come his way after his escape from prison. I loved following his journey.

Tune in Friday for Killer Characters Part Three and find out who my fave antagonist is. I'll also be posting for my blog chain and you can see what monster scares me the most! Ha! I love Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by! I love your comments. :) Who is your fave protagonist (s) ?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Killer Characters

Blogfest, that is!

All week the Killer Characters blogfest is going on, and there's still time to sign up if you'd like to participate. Just hop over to Deana Barnhart's to learn more and see who all is joining the fun. The pic above links you right to her blog.

Today's assignment: Favorite Literary Supporting Character  (any character used to give dimension to the main character)

Alright, so keeping in the Halloween spirit I'm going with a dark theme. But either way, one of my all time faves for sheer creepiness alone, is Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. His whole persona just makes my skin crawl. I love it! lol

I love the Thomas Harris Hannibal Lecter series. All the stories are riveting, as well as the movies, though I think Silence of the Lambs is probably my fave of them all. And I really think it has something to do with Buffalo Bill being so provocative.

You probably remember him most as played by Ted Levine in  the film. Did he do an outstanding job, or what? Buffalo Bill is an excellent example of a perfectly fleshed out character. Here's why:

* His mother was an alcoholic prostitute who abandoned him.
* He was abused by his foster parents, then abused further by his grandparents who adopted him.
(This is why we can somewhat sympathize with him. This is why he's so bad.)
* He murdered his grandparents at age 15
* He was sent to a psych ward where he learned to be a tailor. (how odd and totally cool at the same time)
* He found work after rehab and became involved in a relationship with a man there.
* Once the man left him and found a new lover, Bill killed and flayed the lover.
* Buffalo Bill becomes fascinated with the metamorphosis of the moth, and envisions himself going through such a metamorphosis to become a woman.
* Only he needs to tailor a woman suit, so he pretends to be an injured man loading heavy boxes into his van and accepting help from women, whom he then kidnaps and throws in a pit in his basement.
* Once he has a woman in his house, he starves her until her skin is loose enough to easily remove.
* He refers to his victims as "things." For example, my fave line from the whole story: "It puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose."
* He adores his poodle named Precious and talks to it in baby talk while torturing his victims.
* He collects exotic moths and and places a moth in the throat of one of his victims, the victim that turns up in the river.
* Ironically, it is the moth that brings about Buffalo Bill's eventual capture and death. It's the moth found inside the victim that alerts the FBI of the killer's possible association with exotic moths. It is the moth inside Buffalo Bill's home that signals to agent Starling who he actually is when she shows up at his house coincidentally.
* He adds dimension to Starling's character, allowing her to see for herself what she is capable of.

The whole story is genius, in my opinion. Hannibal Lecter is one of my favorite characters as well, and it's debatable on which is the actual antagonist. They both add dimension to Starling's character, but both are antagonistic as well. Hannibal and Buffalo Bill are not meant to be "liked." But it is the very emotion and repulsion they evoke that makes them unforgettable, powerful characters. Something tells me Thomas Harris didn't just dream them up during a first draft. Buffalo Bill is extremely well thought out and detailed down to the very origin of his existence. There is a reason for everything, and as the reader, we need to know what those reasons are, so we can relate to and sympathize with the character.

Here's to you , Bill!

What do you think of Buffalo Bill? Do you think of him more as a supporting character or antagonist? Who is your fave supporting character?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Invaluable Critique Partners

First off, thank you to all of you amazing peeps who stop by and read and comment, even when my blog hopping has been minimal. I adore you so much and cherish your comments. Hubby and I have been on a staycation and he's a real stickler when it comes to letting me have internet time during staycation. :)

Anyway, I participate in a blog chain with a group of bloggers who all post on different days on a specified topic. It's a lot of fun and if you're interested in joining, let me know and I'll connect you with the right peeps. 

Today's topic is critique partners, and more specifically, where we met them and how they've influenced our work.

Each partner I've ever worked with is someone I've met on the internet. A few years ago, before I had discovered the wonderful world of blogging, I joined the Writer's Digest Community online. It connected me with so many awesome writers--peeps who are serious about their craft and getting published. One group in particular connected me with some great writers ...

It was a forum called the Weekly Chapter Challenge, created by EJ Wesley. The idea was to find partners we could exchange chapters with each week. It was a brilliant idea. And from that forum alone, I met EJ, who critiqued my most recent MG story and was an amazing help. I also met others who have come and gone, but found Kathryn Sheridan Kupanoff, who's writing and storytelling is just scrumptious and I've enjoyed so much watching her grow as a writer. She's been my partner for at least three stories now, and I look forward to her very honest and helpful feedback with every new story.

Also, it connected me with the very talented Trisha Leaver and Florence Fois who have critiqued past stories and given me invaluable feedback to hone my skills with. If you're in need of a critique partner, I highly recommend connecting with other writers via Writer's Digest Community.

There are other great places as well, such as if you write for kids, and Verla Kay,. Or just by connecting with other writers thru their blogs. I exchanged recently with the very talented Lori M. Lee just by noticing she was looking for a beta reader on her blog. The opportunities are out there, and  really you just can't have too many beta readers/ crit partners in my opinion.

With each story, I try to find at least three different people to read them, and with each reader comes more helpful feedback. I've also found that it helps too to seek out readers who can really identify with the plot and characters. If your story is a legal thriller, you better have at least one lawyer read it. ;) And you not only want to have advanced writers critiquing your work, but also, readers who are just looking for entertainment.

Anyway, that's my two cents on critique partners. If you'd like to read more from the blog chain, check out Eric's blog and Michelle McLean's.

Tell me, how did you find your critique partner? And what have you learned from the experience?  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward

Hosted by the ever charming Matt MacNish and Alex J Cavanaugh...

And it's all about the blog love. :) The idea is to connect bloggers with other bloggers. No matter what your reason for blogging is, we're all kind of like a virtual family of friends. We support each other in so many ways, and it never ceases to amaze me that most of us will never actually meet in person.

Anyway, for this blogfest each blogger participating is to highlight three blogs we enjoy reading and send some others their way. Okay, it's next to impossible to pick just three, but since three's the limit, here are mine and why I picked them:

Carla White at The Water's Edge

Jennifer Jackson at Everything It and Tales

DM Yates at Believe in Yourself 

Visiting each of these ladies' blogs is like pulling up a chair in their living room and having them make me tea so we can chat. They're such warm, welcoming bloggers and I know when I visit them it's to escape the madness of the world and spend time with a genuinely kind, caring, and fun person. That's what blogs should feel like... like you can just be yourself and have nothing to prove to anyone.

So do yourself a favor and hop on over to visit them and say hello. You'll be so glad you did. And to each of these lovely ladies, don't change a thing. Just keep on being you.

For a list of everyone participating in the Pay It Forward blogfest, hop on over to Matt and/or Alex's. Just think of all the amazing bloggers we'll meet today!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Halloween Costume

Hello, friends! As promised, here are the pictures from this year's Witch's Ball. Every year, two of my book club girls throw a ladies only costume themed witch's ball. This year the theme was black and white. We could pick anything at all that had to do with the colors black, white, or both. It was a stellar good time as always. And the costumes were as clever as ever!

Don't take my word for it, see for yourself ...

I went as the Black Swan. My girlfriend was going to be the White Swan and we were a team, but she got sick so I was on my own. Yes, I made my costume and did my own make-up. :)

This is me and my good friend, Phuong, who made the dress she's wearing entirely out of newspaper. Not only was it brilliant, but also appropriate for her since she used to be a newspaper reporter. I think she should go into fashion design!!

Isn't that awesome?? Look at the detail of the roses along the waist!

Michael Jackson was there ....

And Cruella Deville ....

The very original Tragedy Ann ...

The clever black & white film star....

The totally freaky zombie nuns....

A Twilight vampire...

The Corpse Bride ....

And of course, what would a black and white party be without the trophy wives?? Steph and Christie here brought their (blow-up) pro-basketball player hubbies and arrived all decked out in heels, hats, and bling. lol

Such good fun! Really sparked the Halloween spirit!

SO many awesome black & white ideas. How about you? What would you have picked if you were attending a black & white themed party?? Please share ....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writers

I am on a brief hiatus from blogging, but wanted to post for this month's Insecure Writer's Group. There's a whole bunch of us and if you want to learn more, head on over to Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog to learn more.

So I have a question for you today... something I've been pondering for awhile now....

Do you think the internet helps you feel more secure as a writer? Or is it the opposite? I know the advice and workshops and all are an enormous benefit where learning the craft comes in. But I'm not talking craft. I'm talking about being surrounded by success stories that could be you, and perhaps, one day will be you, if you should be so lucky.

How do those make you feel? Maybe so-and-so just got an agent, or so-and-so just got a  three book deal, or so-and-so made it to the NY Times Bestseller list. I don't mean comparing yourself with these success stories, because we all know we can't do that. Every path is different. And I'm sure when we do hear these success stories, we're genuinely happy for the writer. I know am, because I know how hard they worked.

But honestly speaking, does being surrounded by it make you feel more secure--that your day is coming if  you keep plugging along? Or does it make you feel like you're in a rat race and you better hurry to get your slice of pie?

I feel both ways sometimes. Sometimes I want to turn the internet off for a few weeks and just do what I love and write stories. Sometimes I don't wanna know what so-and-so author is up to, or what the most popular book is right now, or who got what agent. I don't say this with bitterness. I just say it because, lately, the internet has made me feel less secure as a writer. Now, I know there's only a small truth to that. The internet can't make me feel anything I don't already, right?

That's why I'm taking a brief blogging break and trying to find that magic that exists when it's just me and the keyboard and my imagination. I want to be secure in that. I just want to write.

I hope I don't come off the wrong way here in my honesty. I don't mean hard feelings toward anyone nor their success. I love success stories. I just don't wanna feel like I'm in a race for it. It's not a race at all. And there are so many wonderful things about the internet, like this group, and all the amazing bloggy friends I've made.

So what say you, fellow writers and friends? Do you ever feel this way too? I'm not looking for advice, I get it. I'm just wondering if anyone else feels this or if it's just my own insecurity? Fess up... let's hear it!

Learn more at Alex J Cavanaugh's blog (linked above)