Tuesday 31 January 2012

Vamping Up A Fangtastic Genre . . .

I've been surrounded by vampires just recently - well, not literally - but it seems everywhere I go there's talks of the vampire genre, or there's a vampire show on TV, or someone's blogging about them. Vampires vampires vampires. They're everywhere.

I used to love the vampire genre when I was younger. Back in 2000 I even wrote a script (later to be converted into a novel) and a group of us got together and made a film. It helped being part of an amateur theatre. I was surrounded by actors and people with the right equipment needed. We even comprised our own score for it. We were all really proud. The story line was your typical vampire plot. Old vamp makes new vamp; new vamp falls in love with girl; old vamp kills girl; new vamp leaves and swears that if ever they meet again he will kill him. Hundred years on new vamp meets girl who reminds him of old girl; new vamp and girl fall in love; old vamp returns and attacks new girl; new vamp kills old vamp, can't save girl and commits suicide.

Sounds like an okay plot, right? Wrong. As I said it's a typical plot. It's been used, used again, and then strained like a tea bag to get the last few drops out of it. The TV show The Vampire Diaries, I believe, may also be loosely based around this. The few episodes I've actually seen never persuaded me to believe otherwise.

Because of this I sadly lost interest in the vampire genre. The Undead were being killed. Then I picked up Anne Rice's Interview With a Vampire and I had to read more. Now she's one of my favourite authors. I love her vampires and they're not all stereotypical. It revived my interest for the subject.

AND then along came True Blood. I have to confess now, I'm a Truby fan. Maybe it's the whole Stephen Moyer or Alexander Skarsgard thing, or maybe it's the fact that again, like Anne Rice, I feel these vampires aren't stereotypical. Twilight, even though enjoyable, still revolves around the whole stereotypical plot of vampire falls in love with mortal girl. It does have a slight twist when the werewolves are introduced, and I have to confess, I like the background history that Stephenie Meyer introduces, but as Stephen Moyer said in an interview with Jonathan Ross, 'Edward Cullen is the SlimFast, Diet Coke of vampires'. With this I agree - but then Twilight is aimed for teenage girls (and in no way am I cussing the actors themselves).

So anyway, I've decided to revive my interest and write a vampire novella. The story line has been brewing since the days of us filming but I've never taken that step. Now I feel I have to. Vampires are calling me. Can you not hear them? This one, I hope, will see the return of dark vampires, to remind people that these are supposed to be predators. Maybe it might even reach Starfish PC's second launch in June.

Oh, and one last thing before I finish rambling: What is it about vampires and Louisiana? New Orleans seems to be the vampire capital of the world. Is this something that has been set in concrete since the days of Lestat and Louis or have I missed something...

Thursday 26 January 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Marcela Bolivar

My ickle fluffy kittie had a vet appointment yesterday. Can you believe it's been six months since she was diagnosed with heart failure? It's gone so quick. Anyway, she went for a six month check up, something she has to have before the vet can issue her medication.

I've not seen this vet before. The lady I usually see wasn't there, but this man was very nice - Australian and...er...did I mention that he was very nice?

He listened to her heart, he listened to her lungs for fluid, and he felt for any fluid build up and all in all he said he's very impressed with her. She's even put on a few pounds in weight, which is unusual for a cat with her condition. So I'm very happy. My kittie is coping well and her medication is doing what it's supposed to do.

So I get to keep my feline writing buddy a little longer :)

Anyway, for this weeks Pic of the Week I was going to go along a Feline theme, but there wasn't that much jumping out at me to be honest, nothing that screamed 'I want to feature on your blog!'. I went the route of cats in general, Egyptian cats, witch's cats, but nothing caught my eye. However...something else did.

Introducing Marcela Bolivar. She's a photo manipulator and her work has definitely caught my eye. You should really check out her gallery. This piece came to my attention after googling witches so I can still get away with the feline theme.

I hope you enjoy and all have a fab weekend. 'Till next week...

Wednesday 25 January 2012

News Flash . . .

I interrupt this week's blogging schedule with an announcement that Starfish Publishing has finally got their blog off the ground.

Yay Starfish!!!

(*Reaches up to give an eight-handed Hi-Five - or can I just call it a Hi-Eight???)

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Awards! Passing On That Smile...

Yep, I'm passing on that smile. I've been awarded with not two, but THREE blogger awards. Aren't I the lucky one.

Rules are the same as always: list seven random things about myself and then award seven (ish)others. As much as I love receiving blogger awards, I hate choosing which blogs to award. They're all fantastic!

But first, let's thank the bloggers that awarded me.

Kelley from Between The Bookends kindly awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award and the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you so much xxx


Nick Wilford from Scattergun Scriblings awarded me with yet another Versatile Blogger Award. Am I that versatile? So a huge thank you, Nick xxx

Go check out their blogs :)

So, seven things about myself. Hmm...here goes.

1: Yep, still blonde. This fact was reaffirmed after I tried to bank some money into the wrong bank at the weekend. The bank I needed was actually opposite. Opps...

2: I'm getting lazier by the minute. Working from home needs strict exercise regimes, something I'm not quite disciplined to uphold yet.

3: I'm addicted to the new version of Pacman on PS3.

4: Also addicted to LoveFilm (not Netflix)

5: Also addicted to Sherlock the series. I grrr in the direction of the BBC for only making three episodes per series and making me wait until later this year before I get to watch the next installment!!!!

6: Launched myself into the world of audio books while working.

7: My first audio book was Twilight. I've now moved on to NewMoon just out of curiosity. Yes, I'm enjoying them - they pass the time - but I can never see myself buying the books, I can't see what the huge hype is about and MY GOD do I want to slap Bella!!!

There you go. Now, who to award these to....hmm...

Jillian Kent at her blog 'Author Jillian Kent'

Blaze McRob at Blaze McRob's Tales Of Horror

E Arroyo at Chandara Writes

Mike Keyton at Record Of A Battled Spirit

Michael Offutt at Michael Offutt

Amberkraken at SuperZero (Still gotta love his blog)

And, new to the world of blogging...

Nephy over at Nephy's World (comes with a warning of adult content ;) )

To all of you, please accept both your awards with pride...

Friday 20 January 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Victoria Frances

I've tried something I never thought I'd try the other day. I was sitting at my computer, working through the most mundane job and surprised myself by feeling bored of all the music I have at the moment (which is a lot). I fancied something different, something to help take the boredom away.

So, flicking through YouTube (I wasn't skiving off the job, honest) I come across some audio books. I've never listened to an audio book. I've always read a book when not working, and when I am working, I usually listen to music. Anyway, I thought I'd give it go. What harm could it do? I have to sit here all day, and if I don't like it I can always switch to something else.

One of the first audio books YouTube took me to was Twilight. I'm not a huge Twilight fan. The films are okay but I don't ever see me buying the books, despite their popularity. It was then I decided to see what all the hype was about, and so clicked play on the first part.

Within three days I had listened to the entire book. I was stunned at how easily I adapted to listening instead of reading, and how it didn't interfere with my work. In fact it helped me concentrate on the mundane (is that a good thing or a bad thing???). I still haven't changed my mind about Twilight. I still won't be rushing out to buy the book, but at least I can say I've read it - ish (and yes, I'd still like to slap some sense into Bella a few times, but then I need to remind myself that is YA).

I like the vampire genre, but they have to classy for me to rave about them. One author in my eyes who has succeeded is Anne Rice. I love her work and her vampires. I don't know how she done it, but I instantly fell in love with her character Marius. Beats Edward Cullen any day.

So, for this weeks Pic of the Week, I thought I'd go for the vampire theme, and who better to revisit than Victoria Frances. I really love her work - almost as much as Marius, which is why I chose this particular piece.

Enjoy and have a bazinga of a weekend...hee hee...

Wednesday 18 January 2012

I Have A Big Bang Theory . . .

I've been VERY slack when it comes to blogging - and writing as a whole for that matter - since it turned 2012. I've been letting my allocated slots, or mainly my Tuesday slot, slip by without a batter of an eyelid. Why is this? Why have I suddenly gone from feeling excitement about my next post to 'meh!!!'?

One theory is that I sit here and read all your wonderful blogs, each recounting steps on a written journey that we're all taking, and I realise that you're all bloody good writers. I initially started this blog to post the random pieces of flash fiction we often write at our Writers' Group. It then evolved into a journal about writing, about my struggles along the way and posts I thought would help and encourage new writers who were struggling. However, as the saying goes:

Don't Teach Your Grandma To Suck Eggs

You all know the do's and don'ts of writing, you're all aware of what it takes to create, to edit, or love and destroy, of the months spent hunting for an agent and of the disappointment felt each time you get a rejection slip. We learn all this through time and experience, something we've all shared. So I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm running out of topics that I feel won't make me look stupid! In other words, my blog is going through a little low self-esteem at the moment.

I'm sure it'll pass.

I have, however, been busy creating a new blog for our Starfish PC. This will be a joint venture where we'll have, say, a subject a month and we'll each a post about it. There are no posts at the moment as this is still a growing thing, but I'm sure it won't take long. Check it out here. I'm pretty proud of it.

I'd also like to thank Kelley for her two wonderful blog awards that she's given me. Kelley, I would have thanked you in the comments but blogger seems to crash on me when I go to reply (is anyone else having that problem?). Still, this will give me reason to blog next Tuesday :)

And on a happier note, I'd like to share with you my all-time favourite scene from The Big Bang Theory. I suddenly find myself at the mercy of this sitcom which is strange for me, and this scene makes me laugh everytime I watch it - and not just because I got stuck in a ball pit when I was a kid, drowned under the balls and had to be rescued (something I've never been allowed to forget...). It brings a smile to face everytime and I just had to share.


Friday 13 January 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Mark Molnar

ON THIS DAY: Friday the 13th - Unlucky for some.

It's not exactly known where the superstition surrounding the unlucky Friday 13th originated from. Some believe it is just because 13 is an unlucky number, and that the 6th day of the week is an unlucky day. Put them both together and you have double trouble.

However, another theory has it connected to Friday October 13th 1307 and the era of the Knights Templar. I'm sure you're all aware of who the Knights Templar are, so I won't go into detail about them. However, it was on Friday October 13th 1307 that King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Templar's Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and many other Knights. The King was deeply in debt with the Templars through his wars with England and seized the opportunity as a way out of paying. Many Templars were burned at the stake having been accused of crimes for which they were innocent. This was the grisly beginning of the end of the Templar era.

So, for this weeks Pic of the Week, I thought I'd go with a Knightly theme and found a couple of gems. After toying with two pieces and trying to decide which one to use for today, I discovered that both were by the same artist . . . so I'm going to use them both.

Introducing artist, Mark Malnar. For those interested in Sci-fi and the likes, you have to check out his gallery. He has some stunning futuristic pieces.

Anyway, enjoy, and may the rest of Friday 13th be lucky for you :)

Tuesday 10 January 2012

An Idea If You're Struggling To Name Your Characters . . .

Peggy Eddleman over at Will Write For Cookies (love that title) wrote an interesting post the other day about names and choosing the right name for your character. There were some good comments too.

The mind works differently for everyone. For some, names come easily, names that fit their character perfectly, but for others it isn't as easy. Characters may start off with a name but by the end may have gone through several different ones because the last just didn't fit.

So how do you find the perfect name for your character?

I fit in the catagory where names come easily to me. I've never changed half way through a WIP. Once I've created a character and given them a name, it's like I've created a living, breathing person. I can't change their name half way through. For me, that's like changing a kid's name when they reach six years old because you feel you prefer another. Once I've named a character, it sticks.

But I don't give my characters any old name. Just like the plot, it takes planning and tweaking. As many of you know, I'm always plotting and planning, and as I write my current WIP, I'm working out and tweaking the next. Along with this comes characterisation. Within this time I explore my character's personality and learn who they are. They grow and evolve, and more often than not they do this before your very eyes without you realising. All of a sudden your characters are real, and when they get to that stage they tell you their name.

But if it doesn't work like that for you, then it's down to you to play parent and choose.

One idea on how to choose is to look at your character's background. Who were the parents? We're they busy business people? Family orientated people? Or maybe even go-with-the-flow-laid-back people? Having a rough idea of the environment where your character grew up can help a huge amount. Someone who is brought up in an environment where society plays a big part, where trends are there to be followed, or someone surrounded by traditionalists will more than likely have been given a popular name.

If there is someone famous who influenced the family household, could they have been named after them? For example, years ago in the British soap, Eastenders, Alfie Moon played by Shane Ritchie, graced our screens. He was a huge hit and after that little Alfies started springing up left, right and centre.

Did your character grow up in an environment like that? Were they named after their mother's dream date?

Or were the parents gypsy travellers or people who refused to follow the paths that society expected? The names they choose would be unusual and uncommon; something that matches their surroundings.

However, if you like the uncommon name, it would be wise not to choose something too long or awkward to read. Remember, you have to type this name for an entire novel, and if a reader is faced with a name that can't be pronounced, it can be off-putting.

You don't need to go overboard when working out your character's history. You only need to touch the surface. And by doing this, you also get to learn a lot more about the person you intend to write about; you get to see what drives them, where their passions came from, their fears and their hatred. It gives them reason and this gives them depth and makes them feel more real to the reader.

Friday 6 January 2012

Pic of the Week . . . Lauren K Cannon

I had a power cut last night - or yesterday afternoon. 4.20pm it went out, rendering me with a dead computer and a list of work that I couldn't get done. And what made it worse was the fact it went off before my central heating had a chance to click on, leaving me freezing.

Luckily I have an open fireplace but I'm useless at building fires (the primeval need to make fire is lost in this day and age). I had a fire log, a prepacked, ready-to-burn concoction that kept me cosy for about two hours, but then it died. After that I made good friends with all my candles as well as my hat, scarf and a good few jumpers, and together we sat amidst flickering shadows listening to the gales whistling though my windows (my house if over 300 years old and a tad drafty).

It made me realise how much we rely on power. A mere hundred - hundred and fifty years ago, people would be in my exact position only they would expect it every night. They knew how to build fires, and they knew how to entertain themselves without the need of computers, the web, TV or radio - and they were perfectly happy. They didn't know anything else. Today, I believe we rely too heavily on electronics to keep us entertained and living comfortably - and it's something that most of us take for granted.

I was glad when, at 2.30am, the power company remembered us and switched our power back on, giving me some heat!! Despite the chilliness, I quite enjoyed a quiet evening reading and sketching by candle light. It made a huge change.

And talking of power cuts, I thought I'd go for something a little dark today for Pic of the Week. I'm returning to Lauren K. Cannon, an artist who I absolutely love. If you visit her gallery, all her pieces come with a little tale or explanation. You'll also see close-ups of the detail gone into her eyes, her headdress and each little bluebird. Stunning. Here's the piece for this work, titled Baalhu:


'She is Baalhu, one of the Ancients. Legends say she dwells in the mountains, waiting for the brave and desperate to seek her out. She richly rewards those who find her, granting them anything they desire… and taking their souls as payment. Before they die, those mortals are forced to return to her. She places their souls into the bodies of bluebirds, cuts out the heart - - staining their chests red - - and sets them free into the world to be her eyes and ears.

Never tell a secret when there is a bluebird nearby. She might hear you.'

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Artistically Sidetracked . . .

I apologise for missing my blogging slot yesterday. It was going to be the first for 2012 but I got sidetracked. As much as I love writing, not a lot has happened since before Christmas. I know the weeks have been busy with the build-up but I'm not using that as an excuse.

Instead I'm going to use the fact that I've been drawing a lot just lately, and when I'm not drawing, I'm thinking about drawing. I can't focus on writing when I'm in a drawing mood, and it made times whilst writing Son of Jack a tad difficult.

You see (and if you've been following for a while, you may remember) ever since I drew that picture of a few Marvel Characters for a friend, I've been almost to the point of obsessed with Marvel Art and wanted to continue with my gallery. I was so eager to start but knew I had a deadline to meet with writing, so put it off. Now I find myself able to pick up where I kinda left off a couple of months back.

So, with no real deadlines to heed to, I'm allowing myself some time off to fulfill other creative urges. Here's a sneak peak of one of the pictures I've done. It's a little dark, but that's what you get using a bog-standard camera phone. For those who are unaware, this is The Phoenix. . .