Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Choose a Vampire? Fiction and Society

Slowly, blood pooled at his feet. Stunned by the sight, he stared at the slippery liquid as it drained down his chest. The sensation felt both eerie and frightening since it reminded him of slithering snakes, and the inescapable approach of his own death. Yet, he also felt a strange elation, almost erotic attraction.

Unable to speak, for seconds he mentally pleaded with his attacker, Please don't kill me. I have a family. Then felt his muscles weaken and fail.

His heart slowed, stuttered, and stopped. Now, he knew he was beyond the hope of the living.

He felt lips graze his neck, pulling the last drops from within him. Then, as if life was nothing more than a single liquid moment, a large orb of thick cool blood coated his lips, his mouth as he opened it and gasped in air.

His heart resumed pumping, but it felt and sounded vastly different. He could not understand what happened, as strong hands easily lifted him to his feet and a voice said, "Drink this. It is life after death. Do as I command, and live forever."

He obeyed, tasted the eternal elixir, desired another swallow, and begged, "Please, I need more."

He felt too weak to reach out, and leaned against his savior without realizing that he who saved him after death had, beforehand, taken his mortal life without remorse.


In the 1980s, bookstores had shelves established for the horror genre. Those years were filled with the fear of world war, high inflation, recession, corruption, and more.

The 1980s gave writers like Stephen King and Anne Rice an opportunity, which both accepted and prospered from.

Then came the Clinton years. Somehow, Bill Clinton brought with him a new optimism. However, many old style politicians, including younger ones who resisted change, immediately went after him as if hope for the future was somehow a threat to their desired goals, which seemed to be maintaining the despair and fear of the past.

They appeared more interested in stopping change, than in welcoming the future as a time of renewed vigor. Of course, Bill Clinton was his own worst enemy, but those who wanted to destroy him wanted to destroy what he symbolically represented too.

During the 1990s, publishers announced that Horror fiction was dead. Bookstores removed it as a separate genre and combined it with science fiction. True science fiction rebounded and carried with it the promise of adventure, and technological advancements that would create a world of equality and promise.

Then came 9/11. The idea "look what science did or failed to do" eroded society. Humanity's cruelest crept from beneath the rocks of Afghanistan, and reminded us that the past was not the only time when men like Hitler boot stomped across innocent life with unjustifiable motivation.

Fiction horror was back, but this time tamed by "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer." Somehow, the once nearly invincible vampire emerged as a vulnerable lovesick boy. Occasionally, the vampire seemed to miss mother's touch more than he cared for his gift of immortality. Movies, TV, and books hunted these creatures of the night as if to replace, or appease the need to crush those who killed without validation.

So, I ask why vampires? Why praise them? Why hunt and slay them? Why do we fear them, yet cannot get enough of what they offer?

Perhaps what they offer somehow makes their existence desirable to us. Immortality, no death, no disease, no fear, no war, no corruption. Injuries heal themselves. Every person is attractive to them and longs for their touch, in spite of the knowledge that a vampire's gift of death and rebirth may well mean the end of life.

2008 reminded me of 1992. An election of hope. I wondered if horror would again be diminished and replaced by true science fiction or another hope-filled genre.

Apparently not this time. Perhaps the despair and hopelessness -- driven by like-minded people such as those who derailed change in the 1990s -- that haunted us since 2001 remains fixed, an immovable object that divided us as a people, so that we now refuse to seek common ground for the most basic of human needs.

Why vampires?

Why not? At least they act logically. We can predict their outcome, their goals, and find some solace in that knowledge.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Writer's Space, um, I Mean Life

There are days when I cannot see the desktop. --->

And there are days when I cannot find the right book, or books.

And there are days when everything just works out without searching, flipping pages, living in a paperless society.

Um, well that last idea is still a fantasy, but hey, I like tactile. Digital has its place, but just doesn't feet quite right. Flipping the pages, sorting through stacks of paper, that is the life for me. The writer's life.

Read more Books! (if you can find them) lol


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Monday, July 20, 2009

Tell us when you were born

Join a website and you will be required to fill in the blanks.

With some sites, this data seems more important than your user name. If you refuse, you cannot join.

Why do they need to know?

Immediately, I can think of two reasons. First is targeted marketing from streaming video, pop-up ads and email spam.

Don't worry; we do not give out your personal information.

(Right and the thousand people involved in landing men on the moon all kept the fact that it didn't happen secret for the last forty years. Never happen).

Breaking News: Yes they do give out your personal data!

If they did not plan to give out the date you were born, why do they need it? Without a Social Security number, they cannot use your birth date for anything else like confirming you are who you tell them you are.

Well, here is a second reason for them to require that sensitive information.

Age discrimination, which is interwoven directly and indirectly with the first reason.

If you are under ten, or over eighty, there are foods and drugs you NEED to know about. Special clothing styles, insurance plans, movies, toys, books, teething rings, etc.

If you are a teenage male, you have problems with girls. If you are a teenage female, you have problems with boys, although I'm certain they are vastly different from male problems. In fact, some males might be the problem. Sorry, we do not have food or drugs to help you with that.

However, if you click here "Girls VS" we have several books available for the low price of $29.95 each. The information we provide will help you through these turbulent years, and for a limited time, we'll add a coupon for your favorite chocolate bar.

Thirty something male or female? Struggling with family, job loss, debt, and planning for the future? Go here: "Help, I thought I knew" and for a low low subscription price of $29.95 per month, we will teach you how to get it back and move on.

Human over forty-five? Have we got a drug for you! Whether it is flaccidity, or plain disinterest, we can help you today. Click this link, "Gotta Have" and for the low cost of $29.95, we'll help you run the flag up the pole!

Overweight? Wrinkles noticeable? Well, you get the idea.

Now for the largest market segment of all. This is where the real money is tied up.

Over fifty-five? Sex, drugs, and rock and roll a distant fast fading memory? Click here "Back to the" and for as little as $29.95, we'll help you remember it all. (Psst; sure you want to?)

So the next time you are required to report the date of your birth, do what the website did. Lie! Make up a date. Drop ten years, add fifteen years, pick a month you wish you were born or a day with your favorite number.

Do it for yourself, do it for a free America and all of humanity.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why we do not post comments.

I do not know about you, but usually when I do leave a comment one of two things happens. I get either a snide, snarky response or nothing. Like you, my time is valuable. If anyone leaves you a comment, be courteous and type in the following: Thank you for your comment.

Of course when it comes to commenting on a professional’s blog or website, then nearly everyone posts something. This is my chance to be read by all of his or her followers, we think. My fifteen nano-seconds of fame. WFD

Guess what, the more you post on the blogs or websites maintained by ordinary folks like yourself, the more those same people will comment on yours.

Give online etiquette a chance. It will make you feel better about yourself. Furthermore, if you do not leave crappy comments, and you know what I am writing about, you will not get them in return.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oops, did I write that?

About fiction editing with an opinionated advisory.

Fiction writing is difficult enough. Now, with all of the good and not so good people in the marketplace doing everything possible to entice new writers to spend money on their products and or services, writing has become more challenging.

Magazines, ezines, bloggers, newsletters, and the so-called experts all want what writers have too little of, money and time. You have to wonder why, what will you receive?

I subscribe to newsletters from several sources that cover the gambit from editing services to querying and beyond. Most have strings attached, which might include requiring the writer to give out personal information. Beyond an email address, this should be ignored and avoided. Why do they need to know when you were born? Simple, they want to sell the information to sponsors who then will track and target you with advertising. They do not really want to sing Happy Birthday to you.

I wonder about professionals who expend hours every day blogging and firing off Tweets to followers. Where do they find the time to do their jobs? How can anyone feel confident that they will put forth their best effort with each project when a vast amount of time is expended with online activities that primarily are self-promoting?

My advice is simple. Stay away from them. There are a finite number of things a writer needs to know, and by finite, I mean few, very few. Once you know them, start writing.

If you do not know, what I am writing about, take a fiction writer's class, and learn. Buy one book recommended by a professor about fiction writing, which should include advice on editing and rewriting. Do not waste time and money on offer after offer, book after book, blog after blog. They are all telling you the same thing.

Once you have learned the basics, you are ready to write. So shut down the digital world and do it. Forget about writing what you know. Fiction is, well, fiction, imagination.

Writers should write several hours per day. If not several, at least one or two hours. Find the time. Get up earlier, stay up later. Put away the cell phone, PDA, get off the Internet. Writing is a craft. The more you work it, the better the result.

Of course, if you are not writing because you love to write, you will not want to sacrifice the time. Moreover, if you do not love writing, then you will not be happy with the small amount of income the average fiction writer receives.

Writing provides its own satisfaction.

First, always write the complete story from the first to the last word before you seriously edit and rewrite. Always edit and rewrite several times, waiting at least a few weeks or even months between rewrites. The span of time will allow you to seriously step away from the story and when you look again, you will find problems you failed to notice before.

A good example is something I do too frequently. Rewrite a sentence, and miss removing a word, or a comma not needed in the new version. On occasion, I will miss an error repeatedly, until I finally catch it on the fifth or sixth, or whatever reading, hopefully.

Also, do not depend on spell check or grammar check. If you feel you must, click Options at the bottom left corner in the spelling and grammar box in Word. Then check everything. This will give you the best the program has to offer.

Oops. Do not check: Hide Spelling errors in this document, or Hide grammatical errors in the document. Set it to Grammar and Style. These settings will make you grind your teeth, but it will help.

Obviously, a writers group would help with this, too, but not all writers will want to critique as line editors.

I think the absolute best way to rewrite a story is to read it aloud. If this makes you uncomfortable, answer this. How often do you talk to yourself aloud? I will bet the answer is, more than you think.

What is the difference between that and reading your story aloud? The potential of criticism, which you avoid by finding a place where no one will hear you or waiting until you are alone. I used to read aloud in the car while parked at the far end of a huge parking lot. This proved difficult in winter, but I needed to do it. Now, I read in a closed room.

Reading aloud will also help you find sentences that do not work, or sound weird, convoluted, rambling. If the sentence does not roll off your tongue while speaking, it will trip up a reader.

Never, ever, write something that interrupts the plausibility you carefully crafted into your story so your reader will want to turn the next page, or read the next paragraph. If you do, they may not finish.

Do not expect perfection. The most successful writers hire editors. If you can afford to, hire one, but expect to pay around three to eight cents per word. Otherwise, find a friend, or several friends to read your story and ask them to give an honest opinion.

Remember, constructive criticism will help you become a better writer. Destructive criticism is just that, and you will know it when you step in it. Scrape it off and forget about it.

That is it for now. Do not just sit there, create something.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Writing Annie Blaine, Vampire Hunter, LLC.

Dismembering the story for a look inside.

I sat down with a few vague ideas that included story location and the ending.

A rainy dismal day evokes a similar dreary emotion. Old unused railroad tracks tell of a forgotten past. A railroad station once the center of a community, when abandoned often houses the homeless, the castoffs.

Enter famed vampire hunter Annie Blaine. Her name sounded mundanely American, a woman one might meet at work, or a library, or on campus. The name would not draw attention to her. Therefore, she must find a way to accomplish that using wits, intellect, skill, guile, courage, and if all else fails boldness in the face of certain death.

Of course, since I did not want her to be an extrovert who stood out in a crowd. Omitting a detailed description allowed a certain vagueness to define her. Obviously, physical fitness was necessary for a woman in her line of work. That was when I decided that I would not reveal more about her. Let her actions and personality do the defining.

I watched as Annie entered a forest that she'd never before visited, following railroad tracks to a place where she would kill the last vampire. Or so she thought.

Along the way, she dealt with doubts, stubbornness, rashness, ingenuity, and a few obstacles she should've seen, should've understood, but failed to do both.

The story peaks when she is injured, and rides that crest until she accomplishes her primary goal: finding and destroying the last vampire.

The disturbing concept that vampires were frequently considered helpless wimps easily trapped and killed, or worse, desperate for love, played into how I wanted the story to conclude.

When Annie succeeded, she learned that she also failed.

The story marches relentlessly to the ending I had pictured. I'd like to tell it to you, but I've done that already. If you're interested, read the story.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Creating the Vampire Edwin Blutleer

Who did I want him to be and what were his plans and goals? For me, that was the starting point of characterization and the heart of the story's plot.

I knew he was a vampire, and an ex-Templar Knight. In many ways they are opposites and yet synonymous. Both killed without remorse. Both considered their enemies infidels, unworthy of life. Templars were reputedly fearless in battle, loyal to a fault off the field of combat.

Vampires, the living dead, were fearless period. They had nothing to lose, but much to gain. They conquered. They manipulated and walked into the darkness of night without a shadow to mark their passing.

Think about immortality. Think about knowing you would live forever unless you were extremely careless or downright dumb. Immortality was Blutleer's defining trait, which divided Blutleer from his Templar past and contemporaries. 600 years of life, experience and infiltrating societies that changed with each passing war. No vampire with such knowledge would fall prey to any hunter, if such a mortal fool dared approach him.

Moreover, he had medieval combat skills honed under the duress of repeated conflict. Templars trained constantly, knowing a simple injury might end their lives. Additionally, Blutleer struggled with medieval morality, chivalry, and sense of honor.

Then, there was Templar magic. What was it? Blutleer knew it was transmutation, teleportation, and matter manipulation. He learned to use it and the power such magic provided, which allowed him to best any foe or to survive if entrapped without opportunity for escape.

Blutleer was a complicated man due to his history, his experiences, and his well thought out thirst for revenge.

Further complicating his decisions, I chose to have him physically stand out from his contemporaries. Since he was of Germanic ancestry, I selected the classic Nordic appearance of Northern Germans of Scandinavian descent. He was six feet tall, which was well above average for the time of his birth and for the late 19th century.

Of course, he needed an Achilles heel. A weakness that several times in his long life deferred the conclusions he desired. Regardless of all else, he was a man. Enter the Penderfield women. They were a paradox for him and he was the same for them. Neither could resist the other, generation after generation.

In Chapter one, we experience the death of Lilith, a Penderfield woman. In chapter two, we meet Amanda Penderfield Willington and the plot twists like a knife in the heart. Those caught in the middle, well, read the story.

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