Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing Nook

I don't like "normal" chairs. Don't know why. I just don't like them. I'm not the writer who goes to coffee shops and the library because they're not comfortable. I usually write at a low table sitting cross-legged in my bowl chair. When it's warm, I grab a blanket and write in Prospect Park by the lake.

I live in Brooklyn, NY- the home of the writer. We have some gorgeous places to write. The New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library's main branches are amazing...to look at. Still have to work in an uncomfortable chair. If they added some cool couches or a spot on the floor for working- I'd be all over that.

Image sources: DigsDigs
I love being surrounded by books. It would be awesome working in these rooms.
Image Source: Curbed NY 

How cool would it be to writer here? Talk about inspiration. Yes, that is a bookshelf and a computer. 
Image Source: Architizer
This is an actual library. Why can't there be more places like this?!
Julian Street Library at Princeton University
What's your dream writing nook? 

Image source: blog.uncovet.com

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fantasy Characters: The Weight of a Name

When you're coming up with a name for your fantasy characters, keep in mind what the reader is bringing with them. You can name your character Dracula. Just note that when readers see it, their first thought will be the vampire among vampires. You'll have to bridge the gap between what the name means in your world and what it means to your readers.

While reading some of the reviews for Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series, I noticed some people were complaining that a character named Saetan is this loving grandfather figure. The books are still popular despite that. Although, in the series, Saetan is still The High Lord of Hell.

I had this problem going into the second book of my Merging Worlds Trilogy. I named a character Belial because he started out as this badass demon. As I tweaked the story, Belial became this nice guy with no demon connection. Nothing like his namesake. However, the name Belial still fit this character for some reason. I didn't want to change it.

For those who don't know, Belial, in the real world, is either another name for Satan or is a high ranking demon. Either way, the name holds a lot of weight.

How do I keep the name without pissing off readers? Create a new mythology. In my world, belials are demons who disguise themselves as beautiful poor children. They suck the souls out of adults who take pity on them.

Now the question is, why would any parent name their child Belial? Because of this name, I've added more depth to Belial and his parents- who by the way, aren't total monsters.

Be aware that when readers see a certain name, they'll expect a certain type of character.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lights Out: Chilling Short Film [Video]

This film even scared me. As a horror fan, this one was well done. Inspiring. Amazing they could capture some good scares and an interesting story in less than 3 minuets.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Creepy Inspiration

Ever have this problem? You want to write a story in you favorite genre but you don't want it to sound like every other story. Despite the number of haunted house movies I've watched and all the ghost stories I've read, I'm having a hard time writing this new short story. The haunted house trope is tough. 

The plot is basically:

  • People move into big house or people spend night in "haunted place"
  • Strange things happen
  • People ignore
  • Stranger things happen
  • People believe 
  • They can't leave house because they have no place to go or spirit/demon won't let them leave
  • People find a way to remove spirit/demon from house or they die. In the case of people being trapped in a haunted place, I don't think I've seen a movie where the people made it out alive. 
The thing I love about this type of story is the atmosphere. It's not gory. It's subtle. It builds suspense. It makes you feel like something is watching you from the darkness. I want to capture this feeling and add my own style to it. 

I've started collecting images to inspire the chilling atmosphere for this story. This story has given me an excuse to go bananas with the creepy pictures. For some reason, I love a chilling images. Here are some for your inspiration. 

Gulliver's Kingdom, Japan.
Hotel del Salto in Colombia
That hotel fascinates me. I modeled a building in my story after it. 


Capuchin friars
I visited this crypt when I was in Rome. I was fine until I saw this sign. 




This sign in front of a crypt filled with actual human bones... creepiest. thing. ever. 

That is atmospheric horror 101. The sentence:
 What you are now, we used to be; what we are now you will be
is not that scary on its own. The human bone crypt, on its own, wasn't scary- at least not to someone who watches a lot of horror movies. Pair the crypt with that sign and we have some willies.



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The Sciell is finally available for Kindle! Here's the link

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Author Talk [Video]

The video of of me talking about my writing life and reading a passage from The Sciell is ready. Well... it's shareable. Sort of.

I mentioned I was editing the video from my author talk. My camera recorded a lot of crowd noise, which drowned out my voice. I had to find some way to lower the crowd volume without touching my voice.

It was harder than I thought. All the forums on Adobe Audition told me it was impossible to reduce crowd noise. I was getting more than a little frustrated. Several times I had to step away  from this nightmare because I wanted to break something.

After awhile, I knew enough about the noise reduction process in Audition to play with it myself. I couldn't remove the crowd noise or other background noises altogether, but I fixed it so you can at least hear me. This is only 6 minutes of the author talk. I have other videos of the talk, which need some help. I'll see what I can do with those.

Well, I learned something new in the process. I owned but never touched Adobe Audition and Premiere. Now, I have a basic understanding of them. I now I know my awesome computer can handle running two even three Adobe products at one time. Adobe is expensive, but if you can afford Adobe Creative Suite. I highly recommend it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Adventures: New Project And Updates

Ever reach a point as a writer where you don't create any new stories, you're just editing ones you've already written. I used to write short stories all the time, just for fun. Now, I don't-which is why I'm excited about my new project!

My favorite horror trope is the haunted house tale. For some reason, I've never written a haunted house short story or novella. So, I'm gonna start working on it today. It'll be different from normal supernatural tales. All my stories surround non-human beings set in fantasy worlds. Even if I start out writing a "regular" horror story, fantasy always finds some way to slip in. I'll be releasing it as an ebook. Don't know when. Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks. I'll keep you posted.


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I had BookBaby create the ebook version of The Sciell. Now, they're distributing it. I didn't expect them to take this long. The Sciell will be available through iBooks, Barnes and NobleAmazon and Kobo. For those looking into BookBaby note- they do good work when it comes to conversation and I like the fact that they distribute my book to different places. However, after distribution, it can take 1-4 weeks for the book to be available. I can upload the book onto Kindle Direct Publishing and have it on Amazon in about 24 hours.

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I was hoping to have the video of the author talk available today, but I need to edit it with Adobe Audition and Premiere both of which I've never used before. The process is taking longer than expected. The pictures are available through this blog and on my Facebook page. I'm thinking of leaving it like that and to remember to do a better job of recording next time. I'm still working with the video. I hope to have at least a sample of the author talk for you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Author Talk

Author appearance are almost as important as marketing and promoting online. This was a tough one for me to accept. I can do presentation, but I've always had trouble with talking one-on-one with people. Because of the conferences I've done, I've gotten a bit more comfortable with it. Still need some practice. But with appearances, you get to interact with people who may be interested in your book but are not in your target audience.

As you know, I did my first author talk yesterday at Rosedale Neighborhood Library in DC and it was amazing. My speech was 40 minutes. Whenever I practiced it, my throat would be sore. The presentations I've done in the past were no more than 20 minutes. I was kinda afraid I wouldn't have a voice when I needed to give the presentation, But, everything worked out.

So, how do you give an author talk? I struggled with this one. I didn't know what I was supposed to talk about. This website helped me a lot.

How to do a Book Talk an Author's Guide

I also learned that readers, even people who don't normally read fantasy, like to hear about the world building process and about what it takes to create a book.

My author talk was intimate, which I liked. Nice small crowd in a nice neighborhood library. I expected it to be in a room away from the main area. When I found out it wasn't I was more than a little nervous. But, I liked that my author talk wasn't separated. People using the library popped in and out of the presentation area to listen. A lot of people were drawn in by my cover! See, the importance of a book cover.

Here are some pics from my author talk.










I need to edit the video of my presentation. I plan to have posted by Friday. Side note, when you plan on recording for an hour with a new camera, make sure your camera can do it. I never recorded video with my Canon SX510. During the author talk, it stopped recording, for some reason, after 16 minutes. Don't think it had anything to do with the camera. More like I didn't adjust the settings properly. Fortunately, my mom and publisher recorded the whole thing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The "Brat Prince" Returns: "Prince Lestat" Announced

I've been a bit sick of vampires. They've all be turned into Edward Cullen from Twilight. All I wanted was for those watered-down, let's call them monsters, to go away. What happened to vampires outside of paranormal romance and urban fantasy? The last vampires I liked were the ones in the Underworld series. They managed to squeeze in some romance without making the story completely predictable. Still waiting for Underworld 5.

Then, I read some good news from Anne Rice.

"I am at last able to announce my up-and-coming new novel," Rice said Sunday on the podcast "The Dinner Party with Christopher Rice and Eric Shaw Quinn," which is co-hosted by her son. "The title is 'Prince Lestat,' and it is a big Vampire Chronicle."
Rice said the new book in the series, out in October, will be a "true sequel" to "Queen of the Damned," the 1988 novel that was third in the series that began with "Interview with the Vampire." The first novel introduced the character of Lestat de Lioncourt, a flamboyant and philosophical 18th-century French vampire." Read more here.
You can listen to her announcement here.

I love, love Lestat. He's one of my favorite characters. Anne Rice is one of the few authors that does vampires right. I cannot wait.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill [Video]

Sin City is one of my favorite movies. I know it's violent and bloody but it's in black and white, sort of. Can you image if that movie was entirely in color?! It's not just violence. It has a good story...well stories.

I love the way everyone talks. Like they're a private detective from those old black and white movies. So badass and I don't usually care for film noir. The trailer for Sin City 2 was just released. I'm usually weary of sequels when the first one was so awesome. This one doesn't look like it'll disappoint. I'm excited! 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hedwig's Theme Played on Twin Harps [Video]

This video makes me nostalgic. I know, we have still have the Harry Potter books, movies and the theme park, but I'mma be greedy. I didn't want it to end. This song makes me both happy and sad.


Still, isn't it awesome how a series can be so popular even when it's been over for like 3 years?! The power of stories. I love being a writer.

Rowling still has a dedicated fan base- proven by the many enraged responses to the article If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It by Lynn Shepherd.
I didn't much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I've never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can't comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there's so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds. But, then again, any reading is better than no reading, right? But The Casual Vacancy changed all that.
It wasn't just that the hype was drearily excessive, or that (by all accounts) the novel was no masterpiece and yet sold by the hundredweight, it was the way it crowded out everything else, however good, however worthwhile. That book sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere. And I chose that analogy quite deliberately, because I think that sort of monopoly can make it next to impossible for anything else to survive, let alone thrive. Read more here.
As you've probably heard, Rowling fans attacked Shepherd online in epic proportions. I'm not going to weigh in on this debate. Others have eloquently expressed how I feel.

An Open Letter to JK Rowling: Please Don't Stop Writing
J.K. Rowling Can Do Whatever the F— She Wants

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mythical Creatures: The Nue

It's always fun learning about creatures I've seen in anime. Here's a fun mythical creature for you.

A Nue is a legendary yokai or mononoke found in Japanese folklore.  Sometimes called the Japanese Chimera, it is described as having the head of a monkey, the body of a raccoon dog (tanuki), the legs of a tiger, and a snake for a tail. According to the legend, a Nue can transform into a black cloud and fly. It is said to have an eerie bird cry. Because of its ability to transform, the Nue is reputed to bring misfortune and illness.
The most famous story involving a Nue is told in The Tale of the Heike, a classic of medieval Japanese literature. According to The Tale of the Heike, Emperor Konoe, the Emperor of Japan, became sick after having terrible nightmares every night. A dark cloud would appear at two o'clock in the morning on roof of the palace in Kyoto during the summer of 1153. The story says that the samurai Minamoto no Yorimasa staked-out the roof one night and fired an arrow into the cloud, out of which fell a dead nue. Yorimasu then supposedly sank the body in the Sea of Japan.

In a local expansion of the story, the nue's corpse floated into a certain bay. When it rose, the townspeople cried out. Fearing a curse, they held a ceremony for the beast and erected a small graveyard is by the edge of the water which still exists today, leading many people to believe this magical tale.

The Nue appears many times in popular culture. A yokai, that looks like a human, in the anime Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan shares the name of this mythical creature.


Sources:
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