Monday, March 25, 2013

Found Book Trailer

Check out the trailer for my mom's, Deborah Johnson, up coming new book of poetry and short stories- Found. It's the sequel to Finding Me...Again?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hold On

Being a full-time writer can seem impossible. You wonder why you can't desire a normal job when you have tons of bills and no money- when you read articles about how much published authors make (it's tragic.)

Dreams may not seem logical. Achieving them won't always be fun but regret will eat you inside out for years. If your dream is to be a full-time writer, you grab that bastard with both hands. That is our daylight. How do you know your dream is impossible if you don't try.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why Do We Like Horror?

I'm hearing more people say they can't do horror. They don't like being scared. Understandable. So, then why do we like it? Do we enjoy being scared? For me, I do like a book or movie that gives me the chills and I'd love to spend the night in a potentially haunted house but even still, I wouldn't say I enjoy being scared. Then why?

I've been thinking about this for a while but I can't come up with a reason why we would voluntary subject ourselves to several heaping doses of fear. I'm not talking about "torture porn" like Saw or Hostel. I mean movies like The Omen, Silence of the Lambs and The Thing or modern ones like Woman in Black, Sinister and Dark Skies.

When I Googled the question, I got a lot of science related websites. Didn't expect that.

1. Science Daily
Here's an explanation from Why Do People Love Horror Movies.
"The first is that the person is not actually afraid, but excited by the movie. The second explanation is that they are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end."
 No complaint here. For some reason, horror movies make me really happy. If' you've read any of my reviews, you know I get super excited over a good scary story. 

As for relief... I'm on the fence about that one given that most horror movies/books have tragic endings. Sometimes, we may not fully understand why the events took place.

Relief isn't a word I'd use to describe how I felt at the end of The Mist. Unless they mean relief in the sense that the movie is now over- we no longer have to experience the terrifying events the characters were going through. 

2. WedMD

Why We Love Scary Movies said, 
 "Many young people may be attracted to them merely because adults frown on them. For adults, morbid curiosity may be at play -- the same kind that causes us to stare at crashes on the highway... Humans may have an innate need to stay aware of dangers in our environment, especially the kind that could do us bodily harm... Yet another theory suggests that people may seek out violent entertainment as a way of coping with actual fears or violence."
I don't agree or disagree. I find it amusing scientist have studied this so thoroughly. I'm that person who, when asked this question, will shrug and say, "Just cause."

3. Yahoo Answers
Someone posted the question on this site and was given a very thought out answer.
"The appeal in horror movies lies in their excitement and danger. There's a real thrill in being thrilled. Some people enjoy being scared because it provides a surge of adrenaline (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween). Others like to be disgusted or revolted because it challenges their appetite or their "strength" (Saw, Hostel, Night of the Living Dead, Dead Ringers). And others just like to experience disturbing events because it gives them an opportunity to peek into the world that no ones has ever returned from: lunacy (Shutter Island, Girl Interrupted).
Horror movies appeal to our fantasy-yearning side. We WANT to experience horror and thrill because it's an exciting experience that doesn't happen to us everyday, from the safety of our sofas. Today's society is too safe and too politically correct, so horror movies are a form of escapism. 
But horror movies also appeal to our taboo side. We want to experience things that we're not allowed to experience otherwise in real life" (Why do people like horror movies?)

Now, I can get behind this answer. When thinking about people's appeal to the genre, the shot of adrenaline had occurred to me.

4. Stephen King

What would a horror discussion be without Stephen King. In his essay, Why We Crave Horror Movies, King claimed we flock to scary movies:
"To show that we can, that we are not afraid, that we can ride this roller coaster... It urges us to put away our more civilized and adult penchant for analysis and to become children again, seeing things in pure blacks and whites. It may be that horror movies provide psychic relief on this level because this invitation to lapse into simplicity, irrationality and even outright madness is extended so rarely. We are told we may allow our emotions a free rein... or no rein at all.?"
For me, I think my love of the genre feeds my fascination of darkness and my love of stories that see a boundary and make a point of crossing it. 

What do you think? Why do you like horror- books and/or movies?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fantasy and Photoshop

I've been having like a nerd- week. It's awesome. In the post, "Writing is About Giving Your Blood" (TAP!), I said I attended a publishing conference in Orlando. There, I won a year subscription to Adobe Creative Suite. I was like okay- I'd never won anything. This is cool.

I didn't realize what this actually meant until I got my membership info and signed in to Adobe Creative Cloud. Then, I had a full on freak out when I saw all the products I could now use, for free, for a year.

Photoshop was my first stop. Since I'm a more visual person, I plan to use it for World Building. I tried creating a bust of one of my characters just to see if I could. Turns out, it was a bit over my head. So, I went smaller.

Nothing to do with my story but it is fantasy related. This is three images and going into it, I didn't know if it would work. I put an image under the door then cut out the black space between the bars. 
This took forever. After a while, my eyes started going cross but, I like this kind of work- repetitive, takes all your concentration. Everything in me focused on this. It was a great way of relaxing my overactive mind. I had another awesome freak out when the fiery scene underneath unfolded the more I cut.

The next one was a lot harder but so much fun. I'm still working on how to blend images seamlessly into the background. I played around a lot with Blending Options and the eraser. Google helped but not by much. Mostly, I found information on things I already knew how to do. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out but there's still room for improvement. I'll figure it out eventually.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Writing Your Character's Voice

How do you make sure your characters don't all sound the same? If you think about it logically, it shouldn't be possible. I mean, we are just one person. There's a name for people with a crowd of voices in their head. How can one person pretend to be several and portray each character realistically?

I've been struggling with this while working on the second novel in my series. In the past, I've made a point not to work backwards but I've broken my own rule when I wrote a scene and realized later the character wouldn't talk like that or she wouldn't act like that.

How do you solve this? I'm reminded of a scene in the Harry Potter series where Harry's scar had hurt and he was thinking of what Ron and Hermione would say if he told them. Think of your characters as your best friends.

You know how your friends would react in any situation. If a transparent figure floats past them, you know if they'd run screaming or chase it. This can get a little tricky if you have a Game of Thrones size cast. I listed all my character's personalities and put them on my wall for easy reference.

If you have a big cast, don't worry too much about voice in the first draft. In my edits, I plan to focus on one character at time. It'll take forever but my novel's worth it.

On the subject of character voices, can a female author convincingly write a book from a male's perspective and vice-versa? Of course. Mary Shelley did it. J.K. Rowling did it. Most of my second novel is from the males' perspective. Come to think of it, not one my female characters are very girly. I'm kind of a tomboy. Been that way since elementary school. I don't think I could write a girly character. Well, I could but she'd annoy me.

Also, can an author write a book from the perspective of a character outside their own race? Yes, but I don't know how often that's done. This one, like writing outside your gender, can go really wrong. With my books, the main characters aren't human so their race isn't determined by skin color. Their complexions range from dark brown to very pale.

I'm not one to stifle creativity. If you have a book in you and the characters aren't your gender or race, go for it. Just don't rely on stereotypes.

Don't take the "write what you know" advice too literally. With the proper amount of research, we can put any type of character in any setting and make the reader believe it- without offending anyone.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Anti-Hero

I don't like Superman. He's just so...good. Annoyingly so. I'm more of a Batman fan. He's far more entertaining and far less self-righteous.

In a book I read, the female protagonist's life was being threatened by a group of psychopaths. A male saved her by killing them. She called her savior a barbarian because he killed the guys trying to kill her. I'm like seriously. Seriously?! I was done with her after that.

In a post, Liking the Bad Guy, I mentioned my love of anti-heroes. They're prevalent in Dark Fantasy. Why do we love these characters so much?

Wish Fulfillment/Escapism 
You have your tyrant of a boss screaming at you for something you have no control over. You grin and bear it then curse them out when no one's in earshot. The anti-hero would bash the person's face in, say "screw this job" and leave. 

People on the metro have gotten into the annoying habit of listening to music without headphones and singing along. What do we passengers do? Deal with it. What would the anti-hero do? Grab the phone and throw it across the train or bus.

These characters with a skewed moral compass do things we can't because we like receiving a paycheck and we don't want our faces rearranged by an irate metro passenger. This is why I love characters like these. They aren't restrained by consequences and, as a reader, I'm living that life right along with them.

Anti-heroes say and do what they want no matter the social norm. Their lines are hilarious and a person's reaction to them is classic. Some of my favorite lines are from characters being douche-bags.

Most anti-heroes are controlled and extremely intelligent so, it's fun watching them solve puzzles. On the other hand, some are "don't think, just do" which is just as fun to read and watch.

You mess with something or someone they care about and they suffer no qualms about bringing down anyone who gets in the way of their plans for rescue or revenge. In most cases, they aren't the villain so it's okay to root for them.

They're Realistic 
Heroes like Superman are perfect and no one is perfect. Anti-heroes are great examples of the flawed character which makes them more relatable and less predictable.

I'm not saying all traditional heroes are vanilla because they aren't. Some are pure awesomeness. But, if I had to choose, I'd pick the anti-hero.

It is easy, though, to create a flawed yet unbelievably cliche character- the bad boy. The only way to prevent this is to read...a lot. Movies and TV shows are great resources as well. My favorite anti-heroes are:

Lucivar : Black Jewels Series
Jorg: Broken Empire Series
Geralt de Revia: The Last Wish
Bones: Night Huntress Series
Vlad: Night Huntress World and Night Prince Series
While writing this post, I realized I kept thinking of anti-heroes as male. There's a feminine version of it- anti-heroine- but I didn't know it existed until today and it's not as catchy. I Googled it. Unless I did something wrong, unlikely, there isn't a lot of information on anti-heroines besides the definition. Something's wrong with this picture.

I can only think of one anti-heroine- Surreal from the Black Jewels Series ...and Catwoman. Maybe I'm no reading the right books. What do you think? Are there a lot of anti-heroines?
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