Characters on Couches (1)

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Preliminary cover for Mortality

 

Today, if you did not read yesterday, I am taking part in something called Characters on Couches. It is hosted by the lovely, and perhaps insane, Murphy. *snerk* “perhaps”, I’m funny.

ANYWAY, if you follow that link it will take you to her blog which you should totally check out, you know, once you’ve finished reading here.

Enjoy.

 

Characters on Couches #1
Damon and Nicholai
Here we go. I’ve never done this before, so it will be an experience. But then again, neither have they. I have called in two of the men from Mortality, Damon and Nicholai, both vampires, and both fighting on the same side. Nicholai has an animosity towards Damon that is more than just jealousy, and we are gathering here today to find out just what that reason is.
Damon arrives first, punctual, as usual. He wears black pants, tight, but loose enough to allow movement. His blue shirt just barely shows through the gap in his long coat. I don’t know why he bothers with the coat, we both know he can’t feel the cold. His black hair hangs almost to his shoulders and no matter how pristine the rest of him is, it’s in perpetually disarray. It doesn’t help that he runs his hands through it constantly, as now.
“Come in, come in, please sit.”
His deep blue eyes turn to me, and even as his author a feel a tingle to my fingertips.
“So this is the real world, then?” He does finally sit, back straight, hands palm-upward in his lap. He wasn’t allowed weapons, though he seems quite comfortable without them.
I laugh, sitting on the desk I fashioned for myself, instead of behind it. “It’s my world, if that’s what you mean.”
I decided I’d go with a sort of business-like attire. Keep things professional. But I detest skirts and so am wearing a nice, dark gray suit. My hair is pulled back into a neat pony tail, keeping it out of my face and keeping with the professional motif. The time ticks by as we wait for Nicholai. My foot taps of its own volition, and out of nowhere the song “Some Nights” by FUN begins playing.
Damon quirks an eyebrow slightly as he looks at me, and I can see why Devin would fall for him, even if she didn’t have a choice. I can feel my cheeks redden as, even though this is my world, I put the music back in my head. Just as the silence is beginning to get awkward, at least for me, the door bursts open, slamming against the wall.
“What in the nine hells is going on? Where are we?” Nicholai.
Perhaps at one time he was considered handsome. His hair is short and blond, his eyes are a brilliant, bright green, and his muscles are large and well defined, while Damon is more lean. However, any good looks he may have had are destroyed by the sneer that is pasted on his face.
Damon sighs. “We are in the world of our authour, Nicholai, please try to keep up.”
He is nothing if not polite, though Nicholai sees the hidden insult. It’s cleverly done, if I do say so, but I clear my throat. Arguments like this will get us nowhere.
“Now, do you both know why you are here?” I look to Damon and then to Nicholai, who stands far too close for my liking. “Please, sit, Nicholai, I can’t stand people who tower over me.”
Nicholai does what I asked, sprawling in a seat he scrapes against the floor, pushing it farther away from Damon’s. Damon watches with a bemused little smirk, I swear he knows how good looking he is, but the look disappears before Nicholai can catch sight of it. He looks directly at me, or through me (I’m not so sure), as he answers.
“You have not informed us of what it is you wish, though as it is only the two of us, I can guess.”
I nod, motioning for him to continue.

 

“I wish it to be understood that I bear no animosity toward Nicholai, he has disliked me from the moment we recruited him.”
I swear, I love the sound of his voice.
“And how did you recruit him?”
“His was an abnormal case, you see, normally they come to us. But twenty-eight years ago-. Surely you know this.” His head tilts to the side curiously.
Nicholai continues, not waiting for my confirmation or denial of knowledge. “Twenty-eight years, seven months and three days ago, they saved me from a Hunter.”
“Alright. I’m confused. Why did their saving you make you hate him?”
“I could have handled myself quite well without them butting in,” he shoves his chair back and stands, facing Damon. “You have your precious Devin now, but what about me?”
He’s yelling, but Damon just sits there looking up at him, letting it wash over him.
“You kill the Huntress “accidentally,”” he actually makes the air quotes and I fight the urge to giggle. I never giggle. “and then put in my mind this grand plan to become mortal. What kind of sick game is that?”
Damon still doesn’t say anything, so I ask. “What was this Huntress to you?”
He rounds on me, and if looks could kill, well, his story would never be told. His voice grows quiet, but no less angry. “She was my Soul Mate.”
Damon lets out a small moue of surprise, as I let out a similar squeak. It’s a quite unbecoming sound to make.
Nicholai turns away from me, not looking at Damon as he heads for the door. “I will never forgive him.”
As the door swings shut, Damon looks like if he could, he’d be sick. He can’t go green around the gills, or turn pale, but I recognize that look on his face. It’s the look of someone holding down bile, or holding back tears. But then again, he can’t cry either. He slumps now, the only time even I have ever seen him lose his composure. He cradles his head in his hands and speaks to the floor.
“I had no idea.” At first, I don’t think he’s going to say anymore, but before I can go and comfort him, he continues.
“Normally we try to explain things, set them on the trail of others, some of Damian’s crew perhaps. But she refused to listen. Even then we try to spare them, perhaps knock them out and leave them some place harmless.” He takes a deep breath. “I messed up. I let myself succumb to the Ahrin, and when I returned, well, that werewolf got off easy.”
He stands now, and gives me a sad smile. Like the metaphors I use far too often, it makes my heart ache.
“That is all you wished, correct?”
“Uhm, yes.” As he walks toward the door, I remember what I forgot. “Oh! If you could please tell the girls that I will be seeing them next week?”
His back goes rigid. He stops with his hand on the handle. He slowly turns toward me. “What girls?”
“You know. Helena, Hope, and Dev-.” Before I can finish her name, I can’t breathe.
I’m off the desk and Damon has pinned me by my throat to the wall behind. His eyes are mostly black, though I can tell his fighting the Ahrin. “You are not putting her in a room with the two of them.”
I manage a smirk despite the fact I can’t breathe. As I look at him, the arm pinning me to the wall begins to move of it’s own- well, my own- volition. It’s a battle of wills, and I, as his author, am going to win. His arm is at his side, and I can breathe again.
“You cannot tell me what to do, Damon Fa’erha.” His eyes narrow in surprise. “Yes, I know your true name Mr. Damncry. Now, you will either tell the girls or you won’t. That’s up to you. But I will be seeing them.”
I slip out from around him and pick up my clipboard and pencil.
“Have a good day.” He bows slightly before gliding through the door.
Once he’s gone I throw myself into the unused plush chair behind my desk and finally let out the sigh/giggle suppressed the entire time.
“I take it you enjoyed that?”
The closet door opens and Hilia stepped out. Her almost lemon-yellow hair is loose but for two thin braids that circle the crown of her head. It looks quite lovely. Her sharp green eyes seem to look through me as she looks at me, however, and goose bumps raise on my arms.
“I did. So what do you think?”
Hilia shakes her head, taking a seat in the chair Damon had used. She taps her chin with her thin, perfectly-manicured fingers. “I know Damon’s mind better than he does, and he did not lie. Nicholai, however…”
She trails off.
“Was he lying?”
“Oh no, no, you misunderstand me. I am quite certain he was telling the truth. I do not believe he wishes to become mortal again, however. I believe he sees his existence as penitence for letting the girl he spoke of die.” Hilia’s eyes are distant as she glances at the other chair.
“Really?”
Hilia shakes her head slightly. “I cannot be sure without actually seeing into his mind. But I am quite sure.”
“Damn… Never would have guessed. He always did seem like he enjoyed being a vampire.”
“Oh no, he does not enjoy it. I do not believe any hates it so much as he. He feels he deserves it. He deserves it because for all his strength, he could not save the one he loved.” Hilia stands now and tips her head to me. She leaves without another word.
Setting my clipboard and pencil on the desk, I realize I forgot to take notes. Damn.
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On Writer’s Block

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Today we will be speaking of the myth that is the Writer’s Block.

Now don’t rant and rave at me about how Writer’s Block is real, and you’ve suffered through it. I am not, in fact, saying that Writer’s Block does not exist, but that it is not some intangible, smoke-like substance that clogs the creative mind with no rhyme or reason. There is always at least reason. And a way to break past it.

So what’s your reason?

Stress

Stress is a part of everyone’s life, none perhaps more so than the creative. Writers such as myself, who have never been published, never seen a penny resulting from their endeavors, worry. And we worry incessantly. Is this the right thing? Should I be doing this? Maybe I should put up the pen/keyboard/pencil/paper and get a real job.
These are the thoughts that plague us daily. Those who are not *real* writers will give into them, and will hang up the mantle forever. However, if you are anything like I am, you cannot quit writing for long. You *have* to do it, because if you don’t the voices of the unsung heroes and uncorrupting villian’s in your head will drive you nutty. Well, nuttiER.
Honestly, the easiest way to get through a stress-induce block, for me, has been to just step away from it for awhile. Go do something that needs to be done. Feed the cat, take the dog for a walk, take out the trash that’s been piling up, take a shower, read a book, watch a movie, eat something that doesn’t come in a box ferchristssake. Try coming back to it at another time when you’ve got less on your mind.

Railroading

I use this term for when an author is trying to *force* their characters to do something. In my experience, writing is like a fart, if you have to force it, it’s probably shit.
If you have a plan for your characters and they are just not doing what you tell them to, don’t try to railroad them. Let Chris kiss that girl even though he’s engaged, sell his car, and move in with his best friend. Let them take that dark, scary path in the woods even though it’s clearly marked as dangerous.
This is the easiest block to break, for me. If you want your characters to do A, but you want them to do B, let them do A. Perhaps start another file, or notebook, to keep them separate if you’re not sure. Trust me, if you try to make them do something they don’t want to, most character will rebel and find ways to do what they want to anyway.

Lack of Planning

This is my biggest down fall. I am very much a pantser. Now if you don’t know the word, it’s someone who writes “by the seat of his/her pants”. Or without a plan.
I don’t write outlines. I know many writers do, and it works quite well for them. I, however, cannot. I have tried before and writing an outline is too awkward for me and it takes away the element of surprise when it comes to the writing process. I do, however, start with a clear beginning, and something of a clear ending. Normally I have many possible endings in mind. They get shuffled around and changed as I write.
I have hit this “Lack of Planning” block here recently. I know where the characters are (obviously) and I know where they need to get to. But what happens in the interim? I have slowly been working my way through it, and that’s all you can really do.
Work through it. Keep writing, no matter how much it hurts. To steal words from some author (Idon’trememberwho), “Kill your darlings.” (Maybe it was Stephen King?) Put them through the wringer. I through a werewolf at my vampire and poisoned human. It revealed something of the vampire I didn’t know. And neither did the human. It puts a whole lot into perspective and is something to keep in mind for future reference. So just keep writing.

Fear

To me, this is the easiest, and yet most difficult reason to understand. What do we fear, you ask?
Not getting it right. Finishing. Not being perfect. Not being good enough. Making no sense. Any number of things. It depends on the author.
You know what? STOP BEING AFRAID! It’s *your* book. It’s not going to bite you, it’s not going to run away screaming, no one has to read it until you are one hundred percent happy with it, no one EVER has to read it if you don’t want them to.
I’m going to quote another author here. (AgainIdon’trememberwho, ifyouknowtellme.) “The first draft of anything is shit.” (Was it Stephen King? OrdoIthinkeverythingisSK?) Don’t worry about it not being perfect. I’ll tell you what, I had a problem with this for the longest time. I didn’t want to write anything if it wasn’t perfect.
You know what that got me? An unfinished Work In Progress for eight to ten years. I could have finished it a *long* time ago if I had stopped worrying. So just STOP. And just write it ferchristssake.

Other ways to beat Writer’s Block

Alright, so that’s all the named causes for Writer’s Block I can think of, if you have any, leave a comment below.
I do, however, have means of overcoming writer’s block that do not pertain to anyone type of block, but may help with any or none. Bear with me here, I know this post is long.

Talk to People

Especially, especially, if you are writing fiction/fantasy. Remember, what is fantasy to you, may not be so to someone else.
At work, I recently began asking questions of a gal there, she is a Pagan, and I realized, through the night, that a lot of her beliefs lined up with what I already had in mind or written. And talking to her some more gave me more ideas. So talk to people. Ask them questions, if they’re alright with it.

Google is your friend

This is another side of the same coin. But applies to nonfiction as well.
If you want to know something, google it. Look for forums discussing it. Meet people. Talk to them. Learn from other people, not just the internet.

Anything else

If you’re stuck, and you’re writing nonfiction, pick up a fantasy novel. And vice versa. Go for a walk/jog/run. Take a bubble bath, stand in the shower, talk to the cat/dog/rat/snake. Talk to yourself.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to just do something else. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s true. It works. Sometimes.

Food for thought

What form of Writer’s block do you suffer from the most often? Why?
Do you never suffer from writers block (freak)? Why not?

 

Lichgates (Book Review)

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Lichgates Cover
The cover for S.M. Boyce’s first book, Lichgates.

Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

“The Grimoire turns its own pages and can answer any question asked of it…and a Magari is its next target.

Kara has no idea what she’s getting herself into when she stumbles across the old book while hiking along a hidden trail. Once she opens it, she’s thrown into Ourea: a beautiful world full of terrifying beings that all want the Grimoire’s secrets. Everyone in this new world is trying to find her, but most just want to control the new-found power the Grimoire bestows upon her. 

Braeden Drakonin grew up in Ourea, and all he’s ever known in life is lying. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. He has one question to ask the book—one question that can fix everything in his broken world—and he’s not letting Kara out of his sight until he gets an answer.

There’s no escaping Ourea.”

When Kara stumbles through a Lichgate, (which, I may add, should have been better marked) she is thrown into a world unlike that which she has known her entire life, she is hunted by creatures she barely understands, and has, understandably, a hard time knowing who to trust. Braeden is the first remotely friendly face she meets in Ourea, and even he may lead her to ruin, or worse, her death. However, he has been trustworthy thus far and she is loathe to give up her constant companion as she slowly redraws her definition of normal.

S.M. Boyce has created a vibrant world full of memorable characters. The writing is simple and easy, making for a quick read. The plot is easy to follow, with few subplots to detract from it over all. Written in a limited omniscient style, we as readers are given a glimpse into the minds of Kara and Braeden, immersing us into the story that much deeper. There are a few spelling errors and the like that were sadly missed during the editing process, but only one or two are so egregious that they pull the reader out of the story.
The beginning is artfully done, showing a view into Kara’s “normal” life, just before she is thrown for a loop and pulled into Ourea. The first few chapters bounce between Kara and Braeden’s view points until the two finally meet, each chapter ending with a well done cliff-hanger. I quickly came to empathize and fall in love with the characters. Also well done was the introduction of the antagonist. Carden is a well-created character, and S.M. Boyce has no hesitation in painting him in the worst light possible. It was hard for me to find a redeeming quality in him, though I do admire the reasons for doing what he does, most would agree his means are evil by definition.
The meat of the book shows us Ourea in all its glory. Boyce paints the landscape fully in the mind of the reader, with minimal, succinct descriptions, letting us fill in the blanks. It is done tastefully and with a light hand. In the middle of the book, we are introduced to, I think, all the characters that will play a role in the later novels. The middle moves quickly from place to place, staying just long enough for Kara to grow to love, or hate, it before moving on.
The end of the book is quite sudden. The forward movement of the rest of the book seems to be picking up speed, and it’s just go, go, go, and then when it comes to the end, it’s jarring. It ends on a large cliffhanger, which is nonetheless well done. In the epilogue we are introduced to a character who has, until this point, only been spoken of in absentia. This reader was left wondering just what his role in the grand scheme of things would be.
Things I liked: Characters, Description, Easy-to-read, Pacing
Things I disliked: Too Fast, Some errors, Ending too sudden
Overall, I absolutely loved the book and can’t wait for Treason which comes out this month (the 27th to be exact). Four and a half out of five stars.
You can visit S.M. Boyce here, and I highly recommend you buy the book here, or the paper back here.
[EDIT: The minor errors I mentioned have sense been fixed in later rounds of editing.]