Just Write Cat

One Writer, One Journey

Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies…Oh, My! Part One October 28, 2009

The first in a three-part commentary on Mythical Creatures.

Before I get into this, let me state that I love vampires.   Unequivocally, unabashedly, eternally.  And yes, I realize they’re not real.  Let’s move on.

Vampires

My first novel, completed this year, is about vampires.  A tale of longing and hunger; of lust and regret.  My story introduces medical examiner Joe Cooper-a vampire with an insatiable appetite for booze, blood and women.  And a hunger for justice.  He represents many of the qualities I’ve always admired in (fictional) vampires.  Inhuman abilities-check.  Rugged good looks-oh, yeah.  A thirst for human blood-absolutely.  He’s dangerous when he has to be; charming when he wants to be.  He also has (forgive the pun) a heart.  Because one other thing that’s always drawn me to certain fictional vampires is their sense of loss.  Of what might be, of what can never be.  I’m a sucker for a sad story.  

Let me also say that I adore the Twilight Series.  Just like many others out there, I quickly found myself caught up in the story of Bella and Edward.  I felt like a teenager again, except only the good parts.  And while many have said that her vampires weren’t fierce enough, or that the love story wasn’t graphic enough – hey, it was intended for a young adult audience.  Just because those of us who are…um…not young adults, also fell in love with the story, does not mean we should judge it as if it was meant for us.  Don’t judge it at all.  Just enjoy the story.  Because it’s a great one.

But…my novel is for a more mature audience, and as such, brings vampires back to the darker side of their existence.  In other words, Joe ain’t a vegetarian.  And he likes sex.  Nothing smutty, mind you.  But I did worry about sending the first draft to my mom to read. 

I’ve heard the complaints – “if I have to see another vampire on t.v. or read about another vamp book, I’m gonna hurl” (or something to that effect).  O.k. – so you don’t like vampires.  Or maybe you’re just tired of them, you want something else to entertain you.  Fine, but you’ve got to admit that vampires are one type of mythical creature that’s not going anywhere.  There’s an allure there…the vampire mythos speaks to us (women and men, both).  For different reasons, and in different ways, but still–the appeal remains relatively constant. 

And there are so many ways for writers to explore this legend–to sculpt their characters and build their worlds in ways that reflect that which they find the most alluring/seductive/frightening.  Writers write about vampires to appease the multitude of readers out there who are clamoring for this genre.  But we also write about vampires to satisfy our own creative selves. 

Urban, paranormal, supernatural – call it what you will, but this genre of fantasy fiction is popular.  And for good reason. And while vampires are but one of the many creatures that can be given life in such fiction, to me–they’re the most beguiling.

My thoughts on Werewolves and Zombies later this week…

Happy Writing!

Cat

 

Going Social (Media) with Your Novel… October 22, 2009

Filed under: Where Did That Come From??,Writing — justwritecat @ 12:44 am
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I’m intrigued by the concept of creating an online presence for my characters and stories.  A place for readers to learn more about a character’s history, to experience their stories in different ways….

And I’m also eager to give my characters their own breathing space.  Or rather, give me mine back.  Because sometimes they won’t leave me alone!  Driving about, running errands that have nothing to do with my stories–just living life, and mutter, mutter…here come the voices.  Whispers in the background are wonderful when you’re sitting down writing their stories–but when you’re just trying to enjoy dinner with your family.  Honestly, it gets frustrating (not really, I love it).  So, I decided to give my protagonist, Joe Cooper, his own platform.  I started http://twitter.com/BloodRunsRed and http://cooperjoe.wordpress.com so that readers could follow his exploits outside of the novels.  I’m not exactly sure how it will work out, but I think it could be fun.  Perhaps too much fun. 

Of course a website is a must, so that is something else I’m working on.  Joe never calls any place home for more than a year, so perhaps an online interactive map of where he’s been, what he’s done might be of interest.  I want to include vignettes on other characters in the series, too (as I would love to write a series based on at least one other character introduced in the first novel). 

I’m still in the learning stages of this phenomena called Social Media.  Sure, I have a facebook account to keep up with family and friends and thoroughly enjoy twitter…but there are so many other media out there that I’ve yet to explore.

Here are a couple of articles on using social media to promote your books/stories:

http://alturl.com/4tce  (love the You Tube idea, but might get in trouble with the law if Joe ever did one)

http://alturl.com/ua4u (frequent blog posting is always a challenge, but so important to do)

http://alturl.com/c7ud (interesting take on using Twitter to create a novel or twovel.  Could be interesting to allow others to write next line in story you start, similar to what BBC recently did.)

So tell me – how do you share your stories and characters outside of the (traditionally published) novels you write?  Or share before your book is published?

And if one of your characters has a twitter account, blog, facebook page or anything else online – please let me know.  I’d love to follow.

Happy Writing –

Catherine

 

Keeping Busy… October 15, 2009

Filed under: Life,Write,Writing — justwritecat @ 7:09 pm

I’ve not heard back on my manuscript, but I have learned how to temper my impatience.  Let’s see, over the past week I’ve worked out, picked pumpkins, entered another contest on a blog, listened to the new Michael Buble cd several times, and oh, yeah – started my next novel.  All in all, not a total waste of nervous energy or time. 

When I started my first novel – the first in what I hope will become a five book series featuring Joe Cooper – I began to follow blogs posted by other writers.  A common theme seemed to be their constant writing, even in the face of uncertainty (or sigh, rejection.  Such a horrible word, really).  It amazed me to learn that so many writers kept right on…writing.  They would send out a query or partial or full and get right to work on their next novel.  And even if they received several rejections (again, bad word, bad), they would keep at it.  And I have to admit, while part of me admired their tenacity and belief in their craft, a small part of me wondered how the hell they could keep writing without some sort of validation of their work.  Then, I started writing my first novel.  And now – I get it.

Honest to goodness, it’s not about the validation.  Yes, of course we want an agent to sit up, notice our lovingly crafted tale, and offer representation.   Well, what we really hope for is that what we so lovingly crafted is worth noticing.  The validation may not be driving us, but it sure as heck doesn’t hurt.  So what is it about?  What keeps a writer glued to her screen/notepad/whatever plugging away with the very real possibility that it might take a long, long time before her work is visible to others?  For me, a big part of it is getting those voices out of my head.  Because sometimes, they won’t shut up.

All the characters (who often seem more real to me than they should) and their stories, heartaches, happy times…getting all of that down is a heck of an experience.  Working on my first novel was amazing.  I went through a full range of emotions every week – excitement, uncertainty, hope, anxiousness and many more I couldn’t quite pinpoint.  At times I would think of a line and laugh out loud.  My family quickly learned to ignore my outbursts, as it were.   “Mommy’s thinking of her story again,” one of my boys would say.

As I begin work on my second novel, things are different.  I feel as if I have more control over my words, certainly a deeper appreciation for the craft.  And I’m even more committed to this life.  And with the transition from writing my first novel to working on my second (and a couple of short stories), I think I better understand why writers keep at it.  Why as each idea begins to take root in their minds, they nurture it – hoping it will grow into something that can survive.  Because to not do so would be like killing off a part of you, some part of you that whispers ‘what-ifs’ and ‘could-bes’ and dreams of other lives and their hopes, desires, and needs.  Maybe some – some who are not writers – might say it’s crazy to do this, to keep at it when you’ve no idea if you’ve got what it takes or not.  But I say, to not do it…to keep hearing all those voices in your head and not get their stories out, that would be crazy. 

Happy Writing –

Cat

 

The Waiting Game… October 8, 2009

Filed under: Where Did That Come From??,Write,Writing — justwritecat @ 5:24 pm

Humming The Waiting Game, to the tune of The Crying Game…

My manuscript is with an agent right now.  Could be waiting in his inbox, or perhaps on screen as I type this blog.  Don’t you wish you could send a little spy camera along with your queries or partials or fulls?  O.k., that might be borderline stalker…maybe a meter or something that lets you know your manuscript is being read, what the response is each page, that sort of thing.  Anything to keep the waiting jitters in check.  Because let me tell you, those jitters have me…well, jittery.  I’ve hit two happy hours this week trying to take my mind of it.  Yeah, real hardship.  If nothing else, I can say my husband and I found a new place to enjoy a glass of wine and take in the sights of Portland. 

It’s been a challenge to work on the second book in my series not knowing if the first one will be well-received.  I know they say not to think about that, to just keep writing.  But it is hard to keep the spirit high.  And there’s a part of me that wants to go back to my manuscript and make changes!  Not good when you’ve sent it out, of course – but still, that mind keeps churning over ideas and lines and scenes…

My protagonist is a guy who never stays in one place for more than a year.  The first novel takes place in Baltimore, the second one will be – well, somewhere else.  I’ve decided on a city, but want to do more research to ensure the place has the right feel for the story.  Ok, that’s a lie.  I’ve already picked the setting for each novel in the series (there will be five).  Just not ready to share, I guess.  I’ve even prepared a blurb for each novel and a first draft of the next three opening scenes.  That’s my ‘keeping things optimistic’ side showing through. 

So what do you do when you’ve got the nerves?  When you’re in between hearing back from an agent, or if you’re agented – from publishers? 

Happy hour is always nice, but here are a few other ideas because a writer cannot live by house wine and discounted appetizers alone (though the yam fries were really, really good).

 1.  Visit library and read back issues of Writers Digest.  Then sign up for subscription.  You’ll probably want to read each issue in one sitting, the information is that good.  You may also be able to find issues of local writing journals, such as the Willamette Writer (WA, OR).  Check them out for local events, ways to meet other writers, writing opportunities and how-to articles.

2.  Go somewhere new – a coffee shop other than Starbucks, the local mall, a park – anywhere you can observe others going about their day.  Take notes on mannerisms, clothing, snippets of conversation.   Now, don’t get all freaky and invade someone’s personal space.  Just observe and be open to seeing/hearing things from a different perspective.  You never know what tidbits you might use down the road in a story. 

3.  Attend a writing workshop or other event.  I’m considering an upcoming Fire in Fiction two-day workshop in Seattle.  It is relatively affordable (hotel aside) and a mere three hours away.  Plus, Donald Maass knows more than a thing or two about helping writers improve their craft.  It would give me the opportunity to get away from my routine for a few days, which is a great way to spark your creative muse.  Bet I can do some cool people-watching in Seattle.  Last time I was there, Pike’s Market proved a breeding ground for…ecclectic.

4.  Catch up on social media – Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, what have you.  I have to admit staying on top of such things has proven difficult.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy my time on twitter or working on my blog, but there are days when other duties beckon me.  The time ‘in-between novels’ might be a good time to work on those things.  And you can pick up so much inside information by following agent blogs and tweets. 

5.  Do something that has nothing to do with writing.  Yeah, I’m not sure that’s actually possible.  It seems that whatever I’m doing, my writing self is simply there.  An idea, a line, a twist – you can’t help it when those just happen, nor should you try to stop it.  Keep a recorder or notepad/pen handy, jot down the idea, then go back to what you were doing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the gym, on the treadmill or something, and an idea hits me.  

Same thing happened last night – during my happy hour jaunt.  There I was, sitting at Three Degrees, enjoying the view of the water, sipping my white wine (I usually prefer red, just so you know), spending time with my husband.  When wham, I noticed a harmless looking couple walking by the river.  It was around 7:00, the water had that ripple of lights from the bridge you get in the evening – serene, hopeful.  And all I could think of was wouldn’t it be cool to have something come out of that water and drag the girl into the river so fast no one but the guy saw anything?   And then of course no one would believe him, because really – have you ever heard of the Willamette Water Monster?  So he’d be arrested, all the time frantic with worry over his gal and his own skin, most likely.  Looking around to see if anyone else saw what happened.  And he’d see someone, someone sitting on the deck of a boutique hotel, sipping a glass of wine, eating a yam fry.  And they’d make eye contact.  And he’d know that the other person had seen it all, but wasn’t going to do a thing about it because sometimes people are mean that way.  Or because maybe the person was in on it, knew what lurked beneath the calm waters of the Willamette River where laughing families learn to kayak and many a well-toned collegiate takes his turn sculling to and from the bridge.  Where a few homeless sit and wait for a better day, and maybe one or two go missing but no one has noticed because sometimes people are also blind that way.  This couple’s whole story played out in my mind while I was sipping my second glass of white.  The couple walked on – and away, but still the idea lingered.  And lingers still.  Hmmm…I think I’ve found something to do while playing the waiting game.