With NaNoWriMo fast approaching, there are a lot of people out there gearing up for marathon writing sessions to reach that 50,000 word mark. For those unfamiliar with the event, the challenge is to write a novel in a month with minimal edits and rewrites. You just type like crazy, and then you go back to make it all look nice. It’s a useful event to get writers going (because, let’s face it, sometimes it’s easier to procrastinate and put off the finish in favor of tinkering with one particular chapter). But it doesn’t make for good quality writing. At least not on its own. Sooner or later, you will have to face the dreaded edits. So let’s talk about those…
So I recently had this long conversation with a vampire in my head. Don’t be alarmed, it’s just one of the many weird things authors do. Seriously, I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested. But since it’s Halloween season and I’ve already exhausted the alien angle, I figure I’d touch on some old age-y lore for a change. It’s a topic of great interest to me because I’m a die hard werewolf fan (especially in romance). I used to be a vampire fan also, before the concept of the vampire got dragged through mud. However, recently the two species have been getting pitted against each other (again, especially in romance) and I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.
Writers always like to say, “One day…” and imagine what life will be like when they finally hit it big and become world famous for their writing. I will admit I have given this some thought, and my version goes something like this:
I will make my first million, and I will invest in something that will guarantee me income for the rest of my life, no matter what. Because fame and riches never last, especially when they’re interconnected. I will retire from my day job (that will be topmost on my list after securing other income) and move to a cute little house in a cute little town where nobody goes around punching people’s lights out for the fun of it.
My little house will have a south-facing bedroom and library, with all natural wood floors and accents, including window frames and door jambs, and wrought iron handles, chandeliers, and coat hangers. There will be a guest room, and a small deck with a garden which will be tended to by a dedicated gardener to make sure no spiders survive. I will have a sun-filled attic where I’ll store all my treasures in antique wooden treasure chests. There will be old manuscripts, acceptance/rejection letters, copies of my printed books, and samples of all the little promotional thingamajigs I’d made for them over the years. You know, keepsakes. (As you can see, I’ve pretty much designed and decorated all this in my mind) I’ll have a fireplace in the living room, and a special corner next to it where I’ll put up a Christmas tree every year. There will be a pizza oven in the kitchen, but I’ll probably be a regular at the best pizzeria in town, where they’ll know me by name and have my “usual” on the table for me within minutes of sitting down. The owner and I will get to know each other really well. LOL
The house–more of a cottage, really–will be close enough to town that I can walk to the store for whatever I need, stroll the main street and meet the happy residents, but far enough that I am not bothered by neighbors dropping by at all times of day for tea and biscuits while I’m trying to work on a new novel. I’ll know the town’s bookstore intimately, and drop by often to check out new stuff. They’ll have a Local Authors section where my books will be displayed so I can go and pet them, and reminisce about what a pain in the ass that character was to write.
And the best part: I’ll spend my days exactly as I want to spend them. Whether it’s staying in bed all day, or going for a stroll to people watch, or hiking by the river, or flying out at the spur of the moment to visit friends or family (don’t worry, I’ll call first ;) ).
Because life should be about more than just the 9-5 daily grind, and petty politics, and hours stuck in traffic with broken air conditioning and bad music on the radio. I said once, years ago, that I am a person happy to be content in whatever situation, no matter how far removed from where they really wanted to be. There is virtue in loving what you have, rather than yearning for what you never will, but my fear has always been that I’d get voluntarily stuck in that kind of complacency, and never find my way out.
So this post isn’t just a far off fantasy for me. It’s a promise to myself to keep looking up, and never stop reaching for my dream. It’s such a simple dream, after all…
Unscheduled post this weekend to announce the pre-release of Virtual to the… erm… virtual shelves. *pause for applause* Thank you! Thank you kindly! ;) The sweet, contemporary romance novella with a hint of sci-fi is now available for pre-order at Smashwords.com, and as soon as it is approved for the Premium Catalog, it will be sent to Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, and all those other nifty places which allow pre-orders. It has also been uploaded to Amazon today, but that takes a few hours to go live, so please be patient if you can’t find it there right away. For now, you can add it to your TBR list at Goodreads.com, read the first 15% on Smashwords, and get ready for when it goes live on November 15, 2014!
*Just to let you know, the price is now set to $0.99, but that will be changing once it releases in November. Take advantage of the low price and get it early. ;)
Also, a very special THANK YOU! To Kimberly Grenfell, a wonderful editor who, despite her busy schedule, found a way to slot this project in so it could make its way out into the world. You rock, Kim! If you guys need an editor, check her out.
Last week was my four-year anniversary as a published novelist. I want to thank everyone again for coming to hang out with me at the chat party. If you haven’t received your winnings yet, you will very soon. ;) Four years can seem very long at times, but then you look at the big picture, and it’s really just a drop in the bucket. It’s not all flowers and rainbows, either. More like a crazy roller coaster ride with a schizophrenic at the controls. You learn a lot along the way. I mean, you read all the advice online of what to do and what to avoid, but even when you think, “Pfft, that’s common sense,” it’s very different when it actually happens to you.
But this isn’t about lessons. It’s about the experience itself, and what every author out there has felt (or should feel) at one point or another.
This morning I turned on the news, and during the commercial break between the stories about iPhones, sports stars, and wars, I saw this:
Obviously, I’m going to be one of the crazy people standing in line for the very first showing. But that’s besides the point.
The point is as follows: Contrary to popular belief, Vlad Tepes was not the source of what we call vampires. If that were true, they’d be called draculas. No, vampires existed in Slavic mythology long before Vlad. But while vampires have evolved into sexy, seductive creatures of the night, Vlad himself remains mostly a monster outside the Balkans, which is why I am so happy about this movie coming out–it depicts him as a hero, and truth be told, that’s kind of what he was. It might not seem like it to outsiders centuries removed, what with all the putting people on spikes and so much death going on, but don’t forget the context. Europe was being invaded by the Ottoman empire. They’d already conquered a huge part of it, and weren’t about to slow down for tea and crumpets when they came to Vlad’s doorstep. Vlad’s cruelty and his apparent lack of reverence for life in general terrified the Ottoman forces so much that they tucked tail and ran. They believed he was inhuman, and they didn’t want to have anything to do with a creature like that. Because if he could do all those horrible things to his own people, what on earth would he do to them?? Vlad didn’t just save his own country from invasion, he saved many others.
If there is a lesson to be learned from Vlad’s story, it is the concept of necessary toughness. Sometimes, to defeat monsters, you must become one yourself.
It’s not the PC way of doing things. We like to think of ourselves as a civilized people, often forgetting that deep down, we’re nothing but animals with slightly more efficient brains. We want to believe that kind words and compassion can solve any problem. Well, they can’t. Not always.
I don’t envy Vlad, or anyone else in a similar position, the choices he had to make. I don’t delude myself into thinking I could have done anything other than lie down and die in their place. I am, however, in awe of the story at its core, of what happened, and what didn’t happen, and why we’re all still talking about it centuries later.
I am very much looking forward to watching this new interpretation of it.
Anyway, just wanted to share. =)
Happy Friday, everyone!