Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lure of the Paranormal

Paranormal is here to stay, because we are drawn to it. I began as a vampire fan oh so long ago, then there was Frankenstein’s Monster, moving on I became fond of wolves and even sprites on an occasion. Recently I discovered an untapped interest in things that are ghostly, but even as I’m busy writing a story about those ghosts my mind has been engaged in an idea that came to mind some time before, of a hairier nature. So as I’m writing what could become my favorite work to date, about ghosts, I’m dreaming about wolves once more.

That got me thinking about this strange lure to the paranormal. What exactly draws us into these tales?

Well first off it’s the paranormal part, they are a little like us, only not. They are relatable because of the ‘possibility’ and yet something inside us says ‘no, not really.’ We accept them because of the last part, we embrace them because of the first. Each one represents its own separate draw too.

Vampires are seductive.

Ghosts are sultry.

Wolves are just plain hot.

Sprites are mischievous and youthful.

Zombies are our fears.

Angels are our hopes but can turn on a dime.

It makes perfect sense then. Although I am thoroughly engrossed and captivated by my ghosts, those dang wolves are just so hot, how can I not dream about them?

I think the paranormal can tackle our worst fears while staying enough out of touch with our lives that we can walk away unscathed by the new ideas which are sparked. I think it can also captivate the highest ideals of our dreams, taking us to a place where the truth can raise us higher than what we sometimes believe.

They are us, only the lows are deeper and the highs are soaring. They are us, scarred and yet unscathed. They allow life and death and possibility to be viewed from a whole new angle, without infringing on our reality. People tend to be more comfortable with that.

Maybe that’s why I like paranormal too. I have my beliefs and they are well defined. People think I shouldn’t be able to write about characters that think differently than I do. But why not? I think it’s wonderful to see life from another perspective. I think that opening up your mind to another idea doesn’t have to mean discarding your own ideas. I think faith is nothing if never tested and what better way to test it than posing questions which you yourself have no answer to? Paranormal characters steal my heart because of their struggles, their hopes, their fears and their great promise. Sounds a lot like people to me, only slightly different. How can I condemn my fellow man when I can fall in love with a vampire? It all comes down to how well I know their story, doesn’t it?

Tell me, what kind of paranormal characters capture your mind, and why?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where do you find your peace?


What does peace mean to you?
Is it quiet, calm, rest?
Is it the place where turmoil and tribulation cease?
Is it something you hope for but never feel like you quite achieve except in infinitesimal moments in time?

I think most of us long for peace. Even those who thrive on being busy must still hope for tranquility in their lives in one form or another.

But what is it we're really looking for when we wait for peace to come?

Where I live we have floating bridges that span a large lake. Invariably when I cross those bridges I'm reminded of peace and what it really means, not what I hope for or expect, but how it actually works.

You see, on one side of the bridge the water will be choppy, rough, storm like as it batters the bridge. On the other side the water is smooth, calm, pristine. There I am in the middle of these two contrasting scenes, on the 'buffer' between turmoil and peace. That's when I'm reminded that peace isn't the removal of turmoil and tension from the day to day world we're in, it's the buffer that protects us from the chaos which would otherwise beat upon us. The turmoil is there, I can see it, I can feel it just beyond my reach, but it can no longer control me. That is peace.

Peace isn't that place where the storm doesn't exist, it's the shelter to keep us safe in the middle of it.

Maybe there are lots of ways you find peace in your life. Maybe when you write it creates a bubble like peace about you. Maybe your home or family or faith bring the calm of peace to your heart. Maybe solitude brings you peace, or you find yours in the company of others. Working at something you love, or something that comes natural to you can be a source of peace. Complicated things can make you feel calm inside, and so can things which turn off your brain for a while.


Where do you find your peace?

And what do you do with it?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Query Rite of Passage

I think I finally get it. I never understood or agreed with the whole query process.

I mean, we’re writers, we write, lots and lots of words. We don’t describe something in one sentence, if we did that we’d never complete a whole novel, just short stories. Therefore it always seemed unfair to me to make us take a novel and put a spin on it and try to get someone to read it. That’s for marketing people, not writers!

I’m not good at marketing me, can you tell? I read all the posts on how to write a query, I studied all the guidelines, I followed all the ‘right’ tweeters. I tried really, Really, REALLY hard.

I failed miserably.

Hence, I was upset with the process. It’s just unfair to make us write a couple sentences and then accept us with open arms or behead us based on that. It’s a NOVEL people! 60-100 thousand words! That’s what it takes to ‘describe’ my story.

I went through the range of emotions, anger, fear, anticipation, regret, desperation, you name it, I felt it. Yet still, I did not understand.

Why do they do this to us? Why?

Well, you know what? I think they do it on purpose. I think they know we might be a ‘best seller’ and we might have amazing ideas or be blessed with great writing prowess. I think they know they might pass up a great thing, but I think they’re ok with that.

I think a query is a rite of passage and mastering it is a step we have to go through to achieve a transition in our writing careers.

They know we stink at writing queries. In fact, someone naturally good at writing them might not be able to write a good novel if they tried. The two skills are vastly different. Yet they are both skills.

Maybe that’s why they have a hard time defining their rejections some times. They know it, we’re just not ready. We haven’t mastered this step, and we need to before we go on.

We have to develop the query writing skill. We have to learn that much about marketing and hook, audience and publishing in order to aide them in selling our book. If we can’t be molded into a good query writer then how can they teach us about all the hoops we’ll have to jump through to gain access into the publishing world?

What does the query process teach us as writers?

            - the publishing industry is subjective

            - we need to handle rejection and keep on writing

            - we need to be willing to alter things about our writing

            - we have to be willing to work in ways that are less comfortable than writing

            - we have to face the public, and sometimes it’s on their terms

            - there’s an audience for our writing and we must know that audience

            - sometimes life’s just not fair

            - know how to find the hook in your book

            - write with your heart, sell with your head

            - you’re not as unique as you think you are

            - even artist must jump through hoops now and then

I could go on, but I’ll let you do that for me. Comment on this blog with what you think the query process teaches writers. There are dozens of lessons to be learned out there in the trenches, share yours with us.

By the way, I think writers are stubborn. Yes, it’s true, my kids didn’t just get that trait from my husband.

We have to be a bit stubborn. We have to be able to say ‘I love this story’ whether or not any publisher is buying vampire-outerspace-drama stories right now. We have to be stubborn enough to get over that place in the middle of a book where you lose direction, forget where you’re going and persist, not giving up on that book. We have to be stubborn enough to think that an agent will select us after having sent out 30, 60, 120 queries. We have to be stubborn enough to not give up on the 100 thousand words we spent time writing, and editing, and be willing to start on another 100 thousand once again. We have to believe in what we do, no matter who doesn’t, because lots of people won’t.

It took me a while to reach the point at which I could accept the query process.

It’s hard to teach a stubborn writer a new trick, but I’m learning!

So now, tell us, what do you think the query process teaches writers?

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Greatest Compliment

As a writer, especially one that is yet unpublished, there are many accolades we can seek, dream about, hope for, aspire to. Then we have these moments which bring us back to our senses and make us love what we do again.

I gave my niece a copy of one of my books several months ago. She read it in one weekend, cover to cover (well, minus the covers, but you know…) Her mom told me that had never happened before. She’s not an avid reader and most writers can’t keep her attention through a whole book, in fact it isn’t often she makes it clear through to the end. Wow, that is what I call a great compliment. That means there is something different about my book, about my writing, which she hasn’t seen yet. That reminds me why I write these stories in my head.

I was just in contact with her mom who was asking me about what I was writing. I have another more recently completed work, but it’s an adult book, not so much for a junior high age. My niece is disappointed. She’s still thinking about my book. She wants more. She wants to read something, anything, by me!

Wake up call!

When I’m dead and gone I don’t so much care that my name lives on forever. I’ll have other things I’m occupied with and that will be of little concern to me I’m sure. Yet, I want to be published. Why? It’s a question writers get asked a lot and we usually have a different answer for it each time we’re asked.

So, why do I want to become published? Why do I keep trying when writing itself is so much simpler than the business of publication?

I love books. Books were important in my teenage years, they helped me to become me, and a better read and deeper thinking me. The thought that a story I love, a story I sat down and poured out of my tired, raw, imagination might do the same thing for another kid like me, I like that. If it happens once, it was worth it. If it happens more, all the better. If no one remembers my name ten years after they read my book, that’s ok. If they never forget how it made them think or feel, that is everything!

I write my stories so I can give back to all those authors who came before me. Yes, there are hundreds upon thousands of books already out there to read. But maybe my book will resonate with that one mind the others can’t reach, maybe it already has.

That is why I write.

That is the greatest compliment any writer can receive.

My niece wants to read more. My niece wants to read more that I write. So, I will write more and more and more.

I write for the ones who want to read, because somebody wrote for me, and I’m so glad they did.

Thank you J, you’ve made my career!

Ghostly Giveaway Winners

Yes, All Hallows Eve has passed and The Feast of All Saints is upon us.

That must mean it’s time to give stuff away!

I loved the ghostly recommendations that all the commenters left on my blog. More Than You Know is now in my Amazon cart as we speak!

Now I get to announce the winners of my Ghostly Giveaway 2011…

Melissa Crytzer Fry… Bone Chillers

Blackest Night Reads… Turn of the Screw

GMR… Nightmare Before Christmas (the book)

But wait… I still have one item that needs a good home!

Tim Burton playing cards are still up for grabs!

They will go to the first commenter on this post to say… Send me the cards!

Give me a way to reach you and you win, that simple.

Thank you everyone!

Look out next year because I plan on making the Ghostly Giveaway my annual Halloween tradition.