pretty on paper

steampunk-butterfly2-kelly-berry Steampunk Butterfly, Kelly Berry

Finished Dust yesterday, 8,014 words, 35 pages. I love the story, think it turned out well, and I was so happy to find the end. I’m letting it cool before going over it again. I expect to do a fair amount of editing because I’ve got a fair amount of unnecessary verbiage, some redundancy, and it needs polishing too. I’m looking forward to the job. Word crafting and sentence polishing are two of my favorite writing tasks. This phase is also where I get deeper into the character and also improve setting details.

April 11 is the annual Literary Orange Conference–looking forward to that. Anne Perry was supposed to be a featured speaker, but looks like maybe not. The site says her appearance “cannot be confirmed at this time.” Oh well.

I signed up for Camp Nano. The plan is to write my vampire romance, Romancing the Night. Right now it stands at 6,284 words. The goal is 50,000 by April 30, and it is this  month’s project at RWA’s The End competition, where you have to write at least 2000 words a month during the year.

Also on the agenda is finishing the third rewrite (officially) of my horror novel, Shadow Walk, which has languished for a long time.

And then there’s the coming week’s short story challenge. I’ve set a goal of writing one short story each week for the month of April. One down, four to go. Looks like I’m going to be a writing fool in April! May will be a whole new round. My ultimate goal this year is to greatly improve my production. Let’s see–what else have I got in development …

  • A Lamentation of Swans, fantasy
  • A Useful Blind, steampunk western mystery
  • Chained, fantasy romance
  • The Foreigner, fantasy
  • Tempting Fate, fantasy romance
  • The Friendship Killers, contemporary thriller
  • The Seventh Queen, fantasy historical (brand, brand new)

Today is another golden So Cal day. Such a treasure!

2015!

N08542-52-lr-1A week into the new year and I’m home in bed with a stomach bug. But the nasty pains have subsided momentarily enough for me to think. Must greet this new writing year with my goals. But first a shout out to Becky Lang. Her first novel is at Amazon: The Changelings. Congratulations, Becky!

2015 GOALS, DREAMS & RESOLUTIONS

  • Write Book In A Year (RWA challenge) – will write 2 actually:  Runaway Heart, a contemporary romance, and Tempting Fate, a fantasy romance
  • Rewrite A Useful Blind
  • Participate in Nanowrimo – November Novel 2015
  • Research and write next vampire essay
  • Finish short story, Dust
  • Write one blog post a month
  • Danube River Cruise – June 2015

DREAMS

  • Establish Penpanther Publishing 

RESOLUTIONS

  • I resolve to make weekly writing goals. 
  • I resolve to write every day except Friday:  Saturday and Sunday – writing days and Monday – Thursday – write for 30 minutes each evening after work

OTHER AGENDA ITEMS

  • Renew RWA membership
  • Writing Saturday meeting – First Saturday of the month
  • Little Fictionaires meetings
  • Attend 2015 Literary Orange Writers Conference

Projected Quarterly Goals for 2015

January, February, March 2015 – 1st Quarter

  • Finish writing Runaway Heart as soon as possible
  • Continue with Tempting Fate

April, May, June 2015 – 2nd Quarter5

  • Write Tempting Fate
  • Attend Literary Orange 2015
  • Danube River Cruise
  • Plan vampire essay

July, August, September 2015 – 3rd Quarter 

  • Rewrite A Useful Blind
  • Finish writing short story, Dust

October, November, December 2015 – 4th Quarter 

  • Plan November Novel – October
  • Write November Novel – Nano 2015 – November
  • 2016 agenda – December

2014 ASSESSMENT

It was a raggedy year writing-wise; didn’t get much done at all, most of my plans remained on paper, but there were a few successes. I was especially happy with writing The Dark Angel’s Dilemma, the kick-off essay of a series of vampire essays I pan to do. It was good to finish another draft of A Useful Blind (formerly Sleight of Hand).

JANUARY

  •  Began the year with A Fall of Diamonds, a fantasy historical. Story planning and development. Recorded total of 14 hours work time, although I did much more, forgot to keep track. Wrote 4,936 words. Total ms. @ 26,297.
  • Finished discovery draft of Sleight of Hand, a mystery short story, 14,190

FEBRUARY

  • Edited and revised Sleight of Hand, Word count: 14,725.
  • Organization work on A Lamentation of Swans
  • Romancing the Night. Manuscript total: 2,499 words
  • Worked on Chained, story notes. Revised Manuscript total: 20,712. (2008 NANO)
  • Attended Publishing and Marketing Your Book, Sonia Marsh, El Toro Library

 MARCH

  • 2-day self-designed writing workshop on Chained. 8,431 words.
  • Began drafting “Soul-less Perhaps” for pendrifter. Vampire essay.
  • Expanded Romancing the Night. 2,392 words.
  • Sleight of Hand 2nd round edits/revision
  • Wrote review of Indelible Beats
  • Signed up for Camp Nano, for 4/1. Project: Romancing the Night
  • Attended Little Fict meeting

APRIL

  • Attended Literary Orange Conference, 4/5/14
  • Dropped Camp Nano but continued writing Romancing the Night
  • Sleight of Hand edits, 14,717 words
  • Placed Romancing the Night on hold

MAY 

  • Sleight of Hand retitled A Useful Blind, 14,600 words. Finished.
  • Indio Retreat. Worked on A Useful Blind edits
  • Dust, 2836 words
  • Submitted Parting Gift short to Everyday Fiction
  • Chained, 19,418 words
  • Lake of the Rose story notes
  • Worked on The Foreigner
  • RWA meeting, 5/10
  • Huntington Library meeting w/Michelle, Quarterly Progress Report 

JUNE

  • Finished A Useful Blind edits
  • Story notes: Chained
  • Writing Retreat: Los Angeles Public Library. Worked on Chained

 JULY

  • Published blog, vampire essay, The Dark Angel’s Dilemma
  • A Useful Blind edits
  • Completed insurance study and took California Insurance Licensing exam. Passed.
  • RWA meeting
  • Completed editing Ch. 11, 12, 13 of Becky Lang’s The Changelings

AUGUST 

  • Worked on Lake of the Rose

SEPTEMBER

  • Retitled Lake of the Rose to The Friendship Killers. 17,729 ms. Total.
  • Rewriting A Useful Blind

 NOVEMBER

  • NaNo: A Useful Blind, 50454 words.
  • Continued writing short horror story: Dust

 DECEMBER 

  • Writing Dust. 7312 words 
  • Blog posts: 34
  • Monthly accountability meetings w/Michelle
  • Little Fictionaires meetings
  • RWA meetings

The Dark Angel’s Dilemma

200px-Varney_the_Vampire250px-Vlad_Tepes_002Unknownvampyre

Knowing my obsession with the vampire, a writer friend tossed me an engaging question … does the vampire have a soul? Traditionally the vampire was considered a soul-less creature, having lost its soul to eternal damnation by becoming a blood-drinking monster. I expect someone will remind me that vampires are … not … real, so what’s there to talk about? And they are so right. But I can’t help my idiosyncratic leanings. My head long ago floated off my shoulders and hovers in the clouds. No, I do not believe in vampires (or ghosts, witches, zombies, demons, etc.), but as a fantasy writer, I find the things that come out of the human imagination fascinating, especially that alluring and dangerous monster, the vampire.

638256-blood2We’re familiar with Dracula, (published in 1897), but Bram Stoker did not invent the vampire or the vampire tale. He created Dracula based on the historical Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia known as Vlad the Impaler, and East European folklore, primarily Romanian. That same folklore was used by John William Polidori in his creation of the deadly, cruel, day-walking  vampire Lord Ruthven in The Vampyre (1819); also by Sheridan Le Fanu in writing his seductive vampire Carmilla, (Carmilla (1871), and by James Malcolm Rymer, creator of Varney the Vampyre or Feast of Blood (1845-47), (also attributed to Thomas Preskett Prest, but now thought to be the work of Rymer). All were part of the sensationalistic literature of the vampire, a myth that pre-dates the rise of monotheistic religions and can be found in nearly every culture around the world. When there is not a logical explanation or when one cannot be found for one phenomenon or another, people tend to create one—that’s how we get folklore. The folklore of the vampire was born from ignorance and superstition about the dead and dead bodies. It’s not only nature that abhors a vacuum; the human mind isn’t too fond of it either.

The English clergyman and vampirologist Augustus Montague Summers, states in The Vampire: His Kith and Kin: Throughout the whole vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure so terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet dight with such fearful fascination, as the vampire. Additionally, he reminds us: There is no more terrible tradition than that of the vampire, a pariah even among demons.

A pariah even among demons. Wow. That’s a damning statement, and begs the question, does the vampire have a soul?

The soul can be interpreted as that part of us where resides our mercy, our pity, our compassion, our capacity to connect with others. We can love with all our soul and hate with all our soul too. You’ll hear it said of someone who seems to lack compassion, “She has no soul.”

We have no proof that the soul exists, that there is an amorphous entity inside us that can be called the soul, but we feel we have something more within us, don’t we? We express ourselves as if the soul does exist: “Bless my soul.” “Save my soul.” “She’s a dear soul.” “God took his soul.” (Better than the alternative!) “He sold his soul.” “All Souls Day.” In the Holy Bible, the soul is a prime subject.

638256-blood2 There are vampires who have a soul and vampires who do not. The canonical vampire’s soul was considered damned for all eternity. In the Francis Ford Coppola film, Bram Stokers Dracula (1992), the iconic character was more than willing to give up his soul in vengeance against God, swearing to never die and live in defiance of God for all time. In the television series Angel (1999), Angel, was the vampire with a soul (given back his soul as a curse to never know happiness.) When Angel loses his soul, he becomes Angelus, a soul-less demon vampire from Hell. There is Saint-Germain, the compassionate and caring heroic vampire in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s series of novels, first introduced in Hotel Transylvania (1978). Saint-Germain definitely has a soul.

“If this is about my soul,” Bella Swan declares in Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance New Moon. “Take it! I don’t want it!” But we know Bella’s soul stayed with her even through her death and revival as a vampire. Edward Cullen tells Bella his soul is damned so never mind. But the Cullens are most compassionate, foregoing the traditional vampire’s diet of human blood in favor of the blood of animals. I’d say the Cullens have souls, but the Volturi—not!

638256-blood2 Anne Rice’s romanticization of the vampire in her series of novels, The Vampire Chronicles, beginning with Interview with the Vampire (1976), altered the iconic view of the vampire as loathsome and evil, a soul-less creature by virtue of its murderous existence, killer of the innocent. Anne Rice presented the vampire as a beautiful, irresistible, predatory being tortured by its existence (You can’t be tortured by your existence if you don’t have a soul.).

Whether we can prove it or not, we think we have a soul. The vampire was once human, so the vampire has a soul too. The soul doesn’t get up and walk out after the vampire’s victim is given the Immortal Kiss. However, the other side of the coin is damnation. The vampire may retain his soul, but according to tradition, it is lost to redemption.

dark_angel_by_qiubi-d5asy1mNo longer a repulsive, soul-less creature in  contemporary books, television, and films, the vampire has become an elegant being dealing with the issues of immortality and attempting to reconcile its undead existence within the realm of Life, and yes, contemplating the dilemma of its soul.

long time silence

Astarte.Canty

I’m back for a hot minute! Should blog more often but hey you’ve got to have something to say, right?

I’ve been caught up in writing Sleight of Hand, and, by the way, it has a new title, A Useful Blind, weighs in at 14,690 words. The second revision edits are finished and I’m about to launch into the third and, I hope, final revision and edits. I like both titles, but I think the new title speaks better to the story. Had a successful reading at last Saturday’s writers group meeting too. The weather this past week has been all blue and gold, hot, sunny days–summer’s back!

Also I’ve got a great vampire essay planned, have written the introduction and now wrestling with how to get into the heart of the question: do vampires have souls? I’m thinking I may end up writing a series of essays–there is so much material and ideas have been popping up and waving. The essay is entertaining, informative, and plain fun to write! I hope it’ll be fun reading too!

And I recently rejoined RWA. I belonged to the Orange County chapter years ago. Since I’ve got Romancing the Night and Chained on my agenda, both of them vampire romances, I decided to reconnect. The OCC RWA is a terrific group of writers and the meetings are always a kick!

This coming week I’ll be working on:

  • A Useful Blind, steampunk murder mystery
  • Dust, dark fantasy short story
  • Chained, fantasy romance
  • the Vampire essay
  • Beat sheet and story notes for The Foreigner

 

Not sure if I’ll get to all those things, but as a friend said, set your goals high and you won’t fall short.

 

one sentence at a time

Slide1

The leaves of the basil are incandescent with sunlight, the pot sits in the bathroom window, and I sit facing the start of Romancing the Night for Camp Nano. One sentence at a time, I tell myself. I’m aiming for 1000 words each session. Don’t know if I’ll make it, but one sentence at a time is like one step forward on a long path. I don’t expect to finish the novel this month; I’m not aiming for 50,000 words like in November. At first I thought I’d try to finish it this month, but no, too much stress–instead I want to write 5 chapters and get the story engine rolling. So, 5 chapters, one sentence at a time. One of the nice things about Camp Nano is it’s a free-for-all writing journey and you can do what you want.

I want also to continue writing the vampire essay. I’ve got it started, but have not worked on it in over a week. And then there’s Sleight of Hand in revision hell, 16,406 words.

I’m reading Deborah Harkness’ marvelous A Discovery of Witches, sighing with envy at the beautiful writing and the entrancing story.

Must get on with it–hoping for a good day.

pink

english_romanesque_ornament_2 copy

I’ve not looked at Sleight of Hand in several weeks. I seem to have lost my way with it. The completed draft rests on the top shelf of my desk, gathering dust. I have not forgotten about it yet I’m not inclined to pick it up and continue revising it. Today was absolutely gorgeous, a golden day, hot and sunny, the kind of day that attracts people to California. I managed to get a little sunshine, but mostly spent the day inside working on the vampire essay and I gave an hour to the start of a new beat sheet for the Gaius and Annasara story. I’ve decided to pull it out of A Lamentation of Swans and write it as a separate story, but I don’t want to get caught up in it yet so an hour is all the time I gave it, and I probably won’t look at it again this week.

I’ve got pages of notes for the vampire essay, but my thoughts on it remain unorganized right now. I finally came up with a working title for the vampire romance, Romancing the Night, finished the beat sheet and even created a cover for it, although I think I’ll get a professional cover artist for when it’s finally done and ready to be published.

Camp Nano starts April 1. I may sign up for it for Romancing the Night.

vampires don’t sweat

Vampire_hidden_by_Esther_Sanz

 

Vampire hidden by Esther Sanz

My vampires don’t sweat. They don’t glitter and they don’t sweat. They’re not humans in vampire disguise. They’re made, not born. They’re the undead, faster than the blink of an eye, can hear a blade of grass growing, smell the faintest difference in the air, and heal in an instant–unless constrained by silver. They drink blood, not wine, not whiskey, not water–blood. Human blood. Nothing else.

They feel neither pain nor cold. They burn in the sun. They are unbothered by religious symbols, spells, yadda-yadda. They can hear your heartbeat, your breathing, your pulse, the rush of blood in your veins, but can only enter a human home by invitation. Crossing a threshold uninvited makes them bleed from places they’d rather not bleed from. They have the power of glamour, and some of them have the rare talent of telepathy and some the even rarer talent of empathy. And they have fangs.