Announcing: The Real Me :-)

The first quarter of 2011 has been a real rat-race. I’ve been wrapping up the first draft of a new story, the plot of Blood & Sex, Vol. 4, making plans for a new non-fiction with a top paranormal investigator, and a few short stories for ezines.

It’s been a busy time personally, too. January, I turned a year older. February, I spent fighting one illness after another in my family. Then March brought plans for my oldest child’s Sweet Sixteen, had food poisoning, and had my right hand slammed in the hall bathroom door. Now, it’s sort of yellowish, has a knot over the pinky bone behind the knuckle, hurts like heck when I bump it, and still has scabs from the cuts, but it’s much better!

So, while I’d planned to make this announcement before, I’m pleased to do it now. You all know me as Angela Cameron, my pseudonym (pen name) for grown-up stories, but my real name is on my new site that will serve as the home for my non-fiction and mainstream work at http://angelawgrace.blogspot.com/

Scoot on over to my new home-away-from-home, say “Hi”, and see the first preview of my new book “Dark Angels Revealed”, which will hit shelves May 11th. I’m curious to see your comments on this vampire non-fiction’s eye-candy. If you like Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, or any of the top vampires and dark heroes, you’ll enjoy this new book.

See you there!

When Vampires Hit Suburbia with Lisa Lane

Please welcome today’s guest, author Lisa Lane, to the blog.
She’s the author of The Darkness and The Night series, and all around vampire expert.

When Vampires Hit Suburbia

I’ve noticed a trend in the modern vampire, a movement fitting for the twenty-first century, when humans really should be evolved enough to handle something as trivial as a vampire or two living (or unliving) in the neighborhood.  Still, it has been interesting to see what has become of the twenty-first-century vampire through hits like Twilight and emerging possibilities like The Gates.  What do they have in common?  They approach human/vampire interaction in deeper or more innovative ways, creating unique relationships between unlikely people in ways that, to varying degrees, make us think about ourselves and the world around us.

This can be unfortunate for some vampires, however, as the poor things find themselves suffering greatly in their futile attempt to pretend they are still human.  Humanity is a lot like virginity: once it’s lost, it’s gone for good.

These unfortunate suburban vampires use various coping tactics in order to keep their cover, from living “vegetarian” to keeping blood in the back fridge.  One must give them kudos for their efforts, as unnatural as they are.  Karen Xavier, the protagonist in my erotic horror trilogy The Darkness and the Night, is among those growing numbers.  Luckily for her (and after much strife) she now has a blood donor to keep her satisfied, but she does also have the problem of raising her seemingly human daughter and son in as “normal” an environment as possible.

With poor Karen and others in mind, I thought I might compile a basic list for vampires attempting to fit into suburban life:

  • Know your story and stick to it.  Some of your suburban friends might want to know why they never see you during the day.  Pick a human condition that causes sunlight allergy and research it.  The information will come in handy eventually.
  • If you’re one of those rare nightcrawlers who beat the odds and had kids, never assume you know what they’re going to grow up to be.  A seemingly human child can mature into something altogether different.
  • If you suspect your child is undergoing his or her “second puberty,” be sure to check the neighborhood parks and ravines regularly, to ensure he or she has not been misbehaving. (Poor Karen once had to deal with her son accidentally biting his girlfriend, then burying her by the creek when he mistakenly thought he had killed her.  Learn from her mistake.)
  • Pretend you’re camera shy.  It will pay off in the future.
  • If you remain in one place for longer than ten years, always act flattered when someone says you look good for your age.  If need be, tell your friends that you have a fantastic plastic surgeon.
  • Keep your cupboards and refrigerator stocked with various foods.  To keep them rotated and avoid waste, go to the grocery store and your local food donation center at least bi-monthly.
  • Most importantly, always be patient with your suburban friends.  Remember, they’re only human.

For more tips on fun and interactive suburban living, check out The Darkness and the Night III: Twins of Darkness.  For more about Lisa Lane’s works, go to http://www.cerebralwriter.com.

Getting to Know Your Characters

I’m asked a lot of questions about characterization. That is (apparently) one of my strong points, but I’m not exactly sure how to explain it.  So, I’ll do my best.

It’s a feeling as simple as knowing whether you want chocolate or blueberry ice-cream. Sometimes, you just know the character. For me, I get to know the characters as I write and then they do what they want to. There is some plotting that I do in the beginning. I sit down with a legal pad or Microsoft One Note and sketch out the basics of the main characters as they are in my head. At this point, the story has already begun to form, though the end may not be clear. Or perhaps the beginning and end are defined, but not the middle, depending on the story.

In any case, I don’t learn every detail of the character in the beginning. They come out as the story develops. Most of the time, I’m writing along and suddenly I realize that I just wrote something about a character, whether it’s the way he speaks, a part of his history, or simply a trait that I never knew was there. The characters reveal themselves to me rather than me forcing a life upon them.

Characters have personalities, too!

Some of them are strong, like Jonas. When I wrote Blood & Sex, Vol. 2, he was almost like another person living with me. I’d be working on something else and start hearing his voice in my head or see images of him in my mind, trying to coax me back to writing his story. He was very demanding, and I loved him for it.

Other characters are harder to get to know. In Night’s Fall, James was dark and mysterious. His personality came out slowly, through edits and scenes that I wrote from his point of view simply to get inside his head. The differences between the two processes were as different as the characters themselves.

Confused yet?

If this explanation has been as clear as mud, that’s because it is to me, too. So, let’s look at the process I generally go through.

  1. First, write down any basic details on the characters in your mind.
    1. What does he look like?
    2. His name?
    3. How old is he?
  2. Focus on one of those characters, think about what he’s like. Is he wild and untamed? Or maybe he’s shy and reclusive? Now go to the net (I prefer YouTube) and start searching out music that fits this guy. What would he listen to? Make a list of five or six songs. That’s your playlist for working with this character.
  3. If anything comes to mind while you’re listening to this playlist, whether it’s a scene, wardrobe, or just his mode of transportation, JOT IT DOWN! He’s showing you things about himself.
  4. Fill in a little more detail. Imagine that you’re interviewing this guy. Write down the details of where you two are at and your initial impressions. Things you might notice are:
    1. Age
    2. Height
    3. Weight
    4. Hair Color
    5. Color of eyes
    6. What he’s wearing, drinking, eating, etc.
    7. Visible scars, tats, etc
  5.  Then, ask him about the following: (keeping in mind that he could be lying, jot down if you think he’s telling you something other than the truth)
    1. Scars, handicaps (physical, mental, emotional)
    2. Sense of humor
    3. Basic nature
    4.  Ambitions
    5.  Philosophy of life
    6.  Hobbies
    7.  Kinds of music, art, reading preferred
    8.  Favorite colors
    9. If it’s a woman, what does she carry in her purse? If it’s a man, what is in his pockets?
    10.  Education
    11. Occupation
    12.  Best friend
    13. Enemies and why
    14.  Parents
    15.  Family background (economic, social, nationality, religious)
    16. Description of home (physical, emotional atmosphere)
  6. By now, my characters are usually tired of answering questions unless they’re attention hogs. So, feel free to just watch them interact with other people in your setting. Note the following on your character notes:
    1. What are this character’s strengths. This could be trouble for them. (i.e. If he’s a financial wizard, maybe a jealous supervisor frames him in an embezzlement scheme.)
    2. What are this character’s weaknesses? The biggest weakness may be what changes in him by the story’s end. (i.e. Is he lonely but scared to be vulnerable? Maybe he has to be to win the heroines heart.)
    3.  Sees themselves as.
    4.  Seen by others as.
    5.  Most important thing to know about the character
    6. If it’s a villain, name something good about him. A hero? Name something negative in his character…a flaw.
  7. You’ve just met your character. Now, if you need a character photo, cruise the net to find one that you can tuck into your notes and refer to when you need to see him clearly.

 

That’s it.

If you don’t have all the answers to these questions, don’t worry. Just start writing your story. Sometimes you just have to watch and see what happens. And don’t be surprised if your character lied to you about something. That’s all a part of who they are.

Now, share your tips with me, if you have any. I’d love to hear how you work on characters.

Just finished reading…

Just finished reading a book that I really enjoyed, and now it’s time for me to confess. When I first read the cover copy for DUSK on it’s release, I though “Eeesh.” It sounded impossibe to pull off in a roughly 200 page vampire novel. Boy, was I wrong. Lana Griffin not only manages to pull off the most original cast of characters in a vampire story that I’ve seen in a while, but she does it with a fantastic wit that had me laughing out loud.  It’s hard to say more without giving away the intricate plot, but I will add that mathematician-turned-voodoo priestess, Alexandra Leveau, as the voice of the story, is purely entertaining.

Even more impressive is how Griffin can keep even the most vampire-weary reader (me) devouring the pages. I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to trying new vampire worlds and authors. Rice, Hamilton, Ward, and few others occupy my automatic buy list. Having ventured a trip into Griffin’s world, it’s no surprise to me now that she’s the alter-ego of a NYT bestselling author, and I can’t help wondering who that alter is.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the story was that it ended. So, I’m hoping that Griffin finds the time to take us back to Havenshire soon. Her imagination is a fertile playground that I’ve truly enjoyed visiting.

DUSK
by Lana Griffin

Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Publish Date: 2009-12-30
ISBN:  97816077730613160

Buy it at: http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/dusk.php

I’m Hunter S. Thompson? Ha!

Okay, so I took one of those fun little quizzes the other day to find out which crazy writer I am. The results of the quiz from http://roflquiz.com/r/134337/ are in (and they’re hilarious!)…

Hunter S. Thompson

Well hot damn. You are a hard-drinking, hard-living adrenaline junkie with a taste for fast vehicles, altered perception, and dangerous firearms. You also have a remarkably strong sense of justice, and a very distinct moral compass. Good god, man, people keep expecting you to meet a grisly, messy end, but we all know damn well that you’re not going out unless it’s on your own terms… you simply won’t take any guff from these swine! Mahalo.

My First Bookmarks!

I suppose bookmarks for an author as a promotional tool are a bit cliche at this point, but I caved and ordered some. I sweated the design a little, since these were the first that I’ve ever designed. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I was doing. I do. I’ve got years of print design under my belt. But it’s just different when you design them for yourself. I bet I changed the design ten times.

Anyway, here’s what they look like. If you’d like one (or some), just check out my website for information on how to get swag.

bookmarks_Web

 

bookmarks Angela Cameron