by Camela Thompson
I took a break from my day job on Friday to check my personal e-mail. I had a suspicion the note from my publisher wasn't good news, but Booktrope's announcement still came a shock. They are going out of business and nearly all books (mine most definitely included) will no longer be available for sale as of May 31st.
My first reaction? Disappointment. Then I texted everyone I know and scoped out Facebook. Not everyone took the news well. I vented a bit in private, but ultimately life as an author is not for the faint of heart. I'd like to point out that this is a very difficult time to be in the industry as a publisher. The ease of self publishing and sheer volumes of titles per year have made it critical to hang on to proven authors and shy away from the risk of new talent. Success as an author is greatly determined by perseverance. I know many very talented authors who have given up after years of rejection where others succeeded because they moved on and kept trying. It didn't take long after receiving that ominous email to realize that it was time to roll up my shirt sleeves and make the most of what has happened.
Booktrope had a unique approach to publishing. They screened incoming novels then stepped back and allowed their authors to negotiate and develop their own teams. From start to finish, Booktrope provided little interference, allowing the team members to work together and decide on the final product. Team members received compensation over time from royalties. The driver to success had to be the quality of the product put out by the team.
I don't know what drove the decision to close shop, but I could see a few flaws with their approach. Leaving a team alone to produce a product doesn't always work out. Sometimes there needs to be a bad guy who holds a person accountable for not doing their share (fortunately, my teams were wonderful). The biggest issue had to do with the compensation model for the team members who were not authors. Productivity, or enough sales to generate sustainable revenue, has a very slow ramp in this industry. This penalized creative team members who agreed to work with new authors. The adage is that an author will experience consistent sales after five quality books are published, but this takes time. It could be years for team members to see a profit, and sometimes good books fail. They couldn't make a living while they waited for sales to ramp.
When you decide to self publish, you assume liability. You choose how much time and money to invest. Your decisions ultimately determine success. Traditional publishers assume a lot of risk by paying the editors, copy editors, cover designers, marketers, and distributors up front. They must be picky about who they accept if they have a chance at succeeding. The wonderful thing about Booktrope was that the risk no longer fell squarely on the author or the publisher. Unfortunately, this meant that those of us who were new, niche, or non-compliant dragged others down. As someone averaging one book per year, I felt guilty that I didn't write more, market more, sell more.
I've met the people who were at the heart of Booktrope, and they cared deeply. They wanted us all to succeed and they had an innovative approach. They gave me my first break as an author, and I've learned so much. I'm thankful for all of the connections I've developed because of Booktrope. I have no complaints and regret that things didn't work out.
I'm responsible for negotiating with my creative team members to come to an agreement on compensation for their contribution if I wish to use their work. Because the majority of my team members preferred up front compensation, my out of pocket expenses and the short amount of time to turn a product around make self-publishing the most logical choice.
There was a bit of pride in having a publisher. Someone chose my work and gave it a stamp of approval. The longer I write, the less I need the added pat on the back, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting a little. That said, I'm in a better place than most because of the connections I've made through Booktrope. I'll have help from people I respect.
I'll do my best to get All the Pretty Bones and Blood, Spirit & Bone back online as quickly as possible because I don't want to lose the momentum I've worked so hard for. It's going to be a bumpy road, but as I joked to my editor, this was the kick in the pants I needed.
It's time to note the lessons from this chapter and move on.
Camela spends her days as an operations analyst looking for potential pitfalls and creating efficiencies, driving results with the numbers to prove that change is worth the discomfort. She realized early on that a company's success is entirely dependent on people. Product and planning mean little without proper execution. In the evenings she writes about things that go bump in the night with her adorable terrier mix by her side.
by Camela Thompson
I spent the last week in a cold medicine fueled fugue. I typically prefer to consume only naturally sourced foods, teas, and products. When it became too difficult to suck down enough air to cross a room without being dizzy, I gave up and went to the doctor. I felt honest-to-God joy when she gave me an inhaler and a prescription for an industrial strength cough suppressant, and I'm counting down the minutes until I can dose myself with NyQuil Severe Cold and Flu and set up my humidifier. The one positive to being sick is that I can finally relax and give myself permission to do absolutely nothing. My week was spent binging on Netflix, consuming books, and easing back into work. I found a few gems I thought I would pass along.
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
Anthony Bourdain's approach to travel is one I appreciate. The areas he covers have experienced deep, often recent, trauma. He'll try any food and not look down his nose at it. He also tends to abide by local customs. There are a few unusual reasons I love this show. Systemic lupus and a list of food allergies makes traveling difficult. Living with a dysfunctional immune system piles additional risk to exposure to bacteria and parasites foreign to what I'm accustomed to, making travel to South America and much of Asia problematic. I'm content to watch Bourdain try foods I'll only dream of from the comfort of my couch.
My most loyal companion has insisted on staying by my side all week.
Chelsea Handler Does
I squirmed through the first episode on marriage. Handler's disdain and jaded view of marriage were extreme even for me, but I appreciated her approach. Her episode on racism was thought provoking. She didn't deny her position of privilege and questioned her own view points while rigidly maintaining others. I appreciated that she faced several groups who had protested her humor and had an open discussion without it escalating into a room full of yelling people. I feel the material she shared and viewpoints she highlighted were relevant and even necessary. I wish more people would face awkward conversations and challenge their own thinking.
The Great British Bake Off
It may seem very strange that a Celiac loves watching people make foods she'll never enjoy, but the contrasts between American and British society fascinate me. The baked Alaska incident highlights my meaning. Where Iain ultimately blamed himself for an emotional outburst after finding his ice cream removed from the freezer and thoroughly melted into his glorious sponge cake, I would have drained what I could and kept it as evidence of malicious conduct by a competitor. When winning is at stake, I don't see a problem with throwing someone else under the bus (if they were at fault, of course, and she was).
Concealed in Death by JD Robb
A few chapters in, I was convinced I knew who the killer was, but I didn't anticipate the twist at the end. I totally knew who the killer was, but it didn't impact my enjoyment of the novel. I have to say I really enjoyed Susan Erickson's narration.
Who needs another crime series? Apparently, this girl does. While it's yet another middle-aged white guy with a traumatic past, the story line was compelling and fast paced. Was it on par with True Detective season one? Of course not. It's still good enough that I would recommend it to crime mystery fans of the CSI and Law & Order vein.
I've also been watching and rereading some of my favorites. I'm rereading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. There are some things I would do differently (I say the same about my own first book), but the concept is hilarious and her descriptions are fantastic. Supernatural has jumped the shark so many times the poor creature went belly up, but there are still moments I enjoy. I'm currently listening to Anonymous Source by A.C. Fuller on Audible and reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
Do you have any current favorites you would like to pass along?
by Camela Thompson
"Writer's block is a bitch." I found that little gem while reviewing older versions of a published manuscript. The line sat neatly tucked underneath complaints about my characters. I expressed my concern that Olivia didn't display enough strength. A character who had the canniness to avoid a stalker for ten long years still wasn't ready to turn on him and do him harm. Lucian presented a larger problem. One moment he offered to help a perfect stranger, and the next he displayed a level of selfishness that made him completely unlikable.
The concerns punctuated by my obvious predicament of writer's block reminded me of some solid advice I've passed along to others. It's something I have to relearn from time to time. Write your characters as they are, not as you want them to be.
My process for writing a novel usually begins with a compelling concept, or even a single line that sticks in my mind. Then the plot comes together. The lengthy part is getting to know my characters. They don't jump out at me during the first few pages. I get impressions of their quirks and some broad strokes of their overall demeanor, but that isn't enough. A story isn't convincing without a strong understanding of the characters. I've broken the factors that drive rewrites and writer's block into three main points.
How Do You Motivate a Character to Show Up?
Consider a character with severe social anxiety. I need her to go to a party to meet another character who is motivated to help her find a serial kidnapper. A serial kidnapper who (unbeknownst to my main character) is targeting her. What would make her agree to attend a party? It's not likely that her extrovert best friend would be able to simply talk her into attending.
If my character is told it's a small get-together and she has a favorite activity that will be the focus of said get-together, she may consider going. If her friend had given up something meaningful in order for her to attend, this may also motivate her. A guilt trip or expressed concern may help push her over the edge. The social anxiety would likely require all of these combined to allow her to make herself uncomfortable. If I can find something that helps reduce her anxiety, I may have a shot at keeping her at the party long enough to interact with someone without having to resort to removing her ride home.
How Do Characters Form Bonds?
Let's go another layer deeper. What would compel two opposites to bond? My main character's best friend is an extrovert. If they shared something in common, perhaps a secret or a fundamental difference from the people around them, they may have enough in common to bond. Perhaps our extrovert knew what it was like to be different and stuck up for her new friend?
Considering my difficulty in getting my main character to a social function, it's unlikely they met at a party. My main character is in college, and it's not impossible to imagine that she hit it off with a new roommate or a classmate. But with an introvert who has the added burden of social anxiety, it may make more sense to have my main character attend a large school if she were able to attend with a best friend. While it's possible my characters met more recently, she would be more likely to tolerate a difficult environment with someone she loves. It would also make my main character more likely to subject herself to discomfort if it were someone she cared for deeply.
How Do You Motivate a Character to Act Out of Character?
An introvert woman with a kind soul must kill someone.
There are several circumstances that could push someone to kill, but the most compelling in this instance is protecting someone my main character loves. Self-defense could also push her to defend herself, but I've seen people who refuse to stand up for themselves put everything on the line for someone who is incapable of defending themselves. Perhaps they wished someone would have done the same for them, but the more likely reason is they know how it feels. And no one should have to feel like a victim.
Creating motivating factors that are both internal and external are crucial, but how do you figure out who your character is to being with? I've heard a lot of great advice:
Finally, keep in mind that readers are willing to suspend belief to a point. The reason why it's so important to keep in mind what I've outlined above is because you don't want to lose your readers. If you haven't provided compelling reasons for your characters to act as you need them to, or if you put them in a scenario that doesn't make sense, the reader may walk away from your story. Compelling characters have flaws and quirks, but they also do everything for a reason--whether we agree with them or not.
Who is your favorite character and why do you like them? What kind of motivations made them who they were?
by Camela Thompson
The weather in Seattle is gorgeous right now. Yesterday I spent most of the day working in the yard. The occasional dog barked, a car whizzed by now and then, but the drone of lawnmowers provided the primary soundtrack. We've had the wettest winter on record, and all of that torrential rain started in January. These past few days have been a very welcome break and our neighbors have responded by attending their yards. A few blocks down, a middle-aged man has been tackling projects to improve a very neglected yard. Because of the temperature, he shed his shirt.
A petite woman walked up the hill, stopped on his sidewalk, and proceeded to launch into a litany of loud "compliments." Apparently this gentleman has dreamy blue eyes and a figure she approved of. I stopped walking the dog and watched a very awkward exchange that only lasted a few moments. She walked off grinning from ear to ear, and he stood leaning his gut on his shovel with a flummoxed look on his face.
The scenario provided a clear example for the term "catcall" (a shout or call that's negatively perceived by the recipient), but it was the reverse of what I've experienced in my life. He was visibly upset. My response wasn't empathetic. I had to fight the laughter percolating. It proved what I'd told many men: If someone did this to you, you wouldn't like it either.
There are some people out there who think yelling "nice ass" or telling people what they want to do with their body is a compliment. I really shouldn't have to explain why this is degrading. But I will because I've seen it so many times. Catcalls are inherently aggressive. Words are spewed without any regard to how the person on the receiving end feels about them. Telling someone what you would do to their body is threatening. It reduces the recipient to an object, and even if that object is being admired, it's dehumanizing. Suddenly I'm reduced to a body part and cringing for the follow-up grab or lean in by someone who's much larger than I am. It's disrespectful and not okay.
My neighbor got a window into life as a woman. When I explain to men what happens to women, especially at night clubs and bars, they're horrified and shocked. They haven't had to decide whether wearing a short skirt is worth looking cute because you know there's a risk someone will try to flip it up. Many of them haven't been groped in passing only to turn and see a wall of men looking in different directions. They probably haven't been relentlessly pursued around the bar after trying to nicely tell the guy you're not interested. They always get confused by the polite part and insist it only encourages people. Being rude escalates the situation in my experience. A flat out rejection leads to accusations and even being burned with a cigarette (that was a bad night).
Many of us understand that accepted "bro" behavior is destructive. My neighbor should now. Maybe if this scenario was more common, we'd see less of it. I'd rather treat my fellow humans with some respect and hope for the same in return.
by Camela Thompson
There are millions of book titles published each year, and much of this is due to the ease of self-publishing. The sheer volume makes it harder than ever to be noticed as an author. I thought podcasting might be a way to get my personality out there in a way that engaged potential readers. As I consider disbanding the podcast Shadows on the Sound, I've thought a lot about what I've learned, both positive and negative.
Anyone with a laptop can have a podcast. Setting up with iTunes is very simple. Don't stop researching there. Read their best practices section, join podcast groups on Facebook, and don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. It's critical that you choose a name that is eye catching and gives insight into your topic choices (oops). Tags and descriptors will determine whether or not people find your show. Take the time to listen to the shows that already exist in your genre to make sure you're not trying to fill a niche that's already at capacity.
Consider Your Content
As an author, it's very temping to develop a podcast centered around writing. Don't do it unless you have something unique to offer. Very unique. Because there are a billion writing podcasts out there already that are phenomenal. We decided to focus on mythology's influence on popular culture. I enjoyed the topics and we had some wonderful guests. Towards the end, I know I struggled balancing health, work, book stuff, and the podcast. It showed. I didn't feel prepared and spoke less. Knowing your subject matter is important, but so is preparing for each individual show.
Research Audio Hosting Sites
I went with the first site I stumbled on despite urging from a fellow podcaster to go with a different site. See my earlier comment about joining Facebook podcast groups and asking a lot of questions. Some sites offer advertising in addition to hosting. Any ounce of advertising helps.
Invest When It's Smart
There are a lot of low cost ways to record a podcast. We used Google Hangouts on Air to record our podcasts. It's simple to set up the recording to feed automatically to a YouTube channel. I locked the recording to private and then used programs that came with my laptop to strip the audio from the video, then fed that file to Audacity--a free audio editing software you can download. It made editing simple.
You will have to spend money, but spend it on the following things: a decent microphone, internet speed, and hosting sites. I used a Blue Snowball microphone and liked it. I've also heard good things about the Yeti. Unfortunately, I didn't figure out some quirks until the last few episodes. I had to throw away one episode because I didn't realize the headphones I used also had a microphone built in that banged against the zipper on my jacket. I spent several other episodes clueless that Google Hangouts wasn't registering my very nice microphone and defaulting to my laptop. I also learned to coach other participants to use headphones because audio loop is highly distracting and not something you can edit out.
We tried reading from a script and it sounded very unnatural. We tried free flow and the conversation went off the rails. A good middle ground for us: a set agenda with bullet points so that one of us could steer us back on track if we went down a rabbit hole. In all cases I had to do some considerable editing. The occasional "um" or pause is natural, but there were times I had to take out a lot of content to save an episode for a general audience. If you're trying to build a brand and someone goes on a political tirade, it's wise to consider what you publish.
Ask your friends, acquaintances (if they know about the topic), and people you consider famous. You'll be surprised at who says yes. Besides, the worst they can say is no. Another opinion offers diversity and can make the topic more interesting.
Market, Market, Market
This is where I feel we fell flat. Working full time, pushing myself to get multiple books out per year, marketing my books, managing social media, and spending multiple hours per week recording and editing podcasts leaves zero time to market. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do it justice without throwing money at the problem. A friend has done a wonderful job on our Facebook page, but without advertising, tweets, and posts to drive listeners to our page, we peaked at 21 followers. My author page has nearly 700. I know I could have done better, but I ran out of steam. I didn't have the energy to spend on advertising, and grew frustrated over time.
Shows like Serial (which I LOVE--If you haven't heard it, check it out) have raised the bar for podcast professionalism. It is more difficult to be noticed and gain traction with a home grown show, but it's possible. Network and research prior to posting your first episode. Advertising is a must.
We learned as we went, but if I had to do it all again, this is not the approach I would take. I'm considering coordinating with some writer friends and starting a Youtube station based on Google Hangouts that have live participation. This time I am going to research and try to be realistic about the time I have to dedicate to a new project. What's tough is a topic choice. I'd love to have a show that focuses on writing challenges, such as representing more diversity and writing with a social conscience, but I'm not convinced these topics would resonate with readers. I'm at a bit of a loss. For now.
Do you listen to many podcasts? Which are your favorites? Is there a topic you'd like to listen to but haven't found yet?
Do you like vampires with bite? Do you enjoy a mystery with plenty of twists and turns? Do you like strong heroines who face adversity and come out the other side stronger? Then it's time to check out The Hunted, a highly rated paranormal suspense series. Both All the Pretty Bones and Blood, Spirit and Bone are only $0.99!
See what reviewers are saying:
"Loved this book. I one-clicked this book, without reading the description, based on a recommendation, and I was not disappointed. "
"I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the next. The characters are well constructed and the story was exciting!"
"It takes an awesome author to make you feel what the characters are feeling, and this is one of those kind of authors. I loved this book!"
In addition to the sale, I have a contest running for a $25 (US) Amazon gift card. You can enter below:
Good luck and I hope you enjoy the world of The Hunted!
by Camela Thompson
I've talked about my reality check after publishing. The odds of having a hit out of the gate (much less a hit at all), are slim. It takes years and multiple quality releases to build a career as an author. Because this means years without an income, authors must choose to tighten their belts and supplement with any work they can get related to writing or keep their day job and work around a full time schedule. I chose to continue working as an analyst because I enjoy making companies more efficient and pointing to tangible results. That and the pay is good. I felt like a climber with the right equipment and environment. Now that I've hit a health crisis, I'm back to questioning everything.
Before you think I'm a wimp, let me explain what I mean by health crisis. I have been diagnosed multiple times by rheumatologists with systemic lupus. You'll notice my phrasing is a little odd. Systemic lupus is a thing that can come and go, and lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on symptom manifestation. If I manage my stress, eat an insanely healthy diet, and exercise daily, I can lead a normal life and forget about lupus. At these high points, my doctors question the diagnosis. Unfortunately, stress isn't something people can eliminate from their lives. Every couple years the symptoms come back, always with new variations and months of tests. Lupus is scary--it's an autoimmune condition that translates into organ systems being targeted by your own cells.
This summer, I made the decision to start a new job with a smaller company. The great thing about small companies is the potential for one person to institute a great deal of change. Most corporations have moved towards leaner development cycles, but companies with established infrastructures and multiple overlapping systems require more planning and more people to buy off on the change, which takes time. Smaller companies are more nimble and the influence of a single person can fuel or hinder success. The down side to small companies is that the strain on the individual trying to implement change is greater with less people to help tow the line.
Changing jobs carries risk for someone with a chronic health issue. Change is stressful, even if it's positive change. I knew the amount of writing would go down initially while I adjusted to new expectations. I suspected the autoimmune would kick up, but I couldn't be sure what that would look like.
I did okay for the first five months. My writing suffered, but I finished book three and revised it with feedback from beta readers. January marked the point when my health got in the way of meeting book related deadlines and I had to back out of participating in a convention panel. I not only felt like a bad co-panelist. I was angry I couldn't get on a plane and weather a few days in a different city. That was bad. February and March brought challenges that impacted my ability to get to work. Spinal pain interferes with my ability to sit and write or edit. My stomach issues made it impossible to go on vacation. My energy goes into making it through my work day without wearing my issues on my sleeve. By the time I get home, I can make it through eating before I crawl into bed. I no longer felt like a climber ascending a mountain. I felt like a climber dangling from a cliff space suspiciously eyeing a warped carabiner.
While I weather the coming deluge of blood tests and medical procedures, I'll need to cut back. I don't know what that looks like yet. My podcast has already suffered from infrequent posts, but my cohost has been patient. She's known me since we were eight or nine, and understands this happens every few years. For the first time, I may have to push back a book release. Only my publishing team is impacted by this change since it's not public facing. It bothers me, but I'll get over it. Writing will happen when I feel well enough. I joke that authors need a little bit of misery to fuel their stories, but too much hinders creativity.
The big questions encompass my day job. Perfectionism is destructive and causes harmful stress. Can I back off the throttle? Did I set expectations at a level I can't maintain? The potential for improvement drives me, but I need to pace myself. There are negative aspects to every job, but I realize the largest hurdles are self-inflicted. I love writing, but it's not feasible to lose a regular source of income.
What comes next?
by Camela Thompson
Last week I stood on a sidewalk in the shopping district of Seattle while a pickup truck rolled to a stop at the light. Beat up trucks are rare in Seattle, but that didn't hold a candle to the man belting Italian opera in a beautiful tenor from the cab. Last night we went out with friends to a shady little bar that could be straight off the pages of my upcoming novel. The decor hadn't been updated since the seventies, and the tabletops were as sticky as they were drab. The real scene stealer sat at the bar in a shimmering gold dress with a bow. The thirty-something man sitting next to her did his best to take her home, but the poor guy was left in the dust as she worked the rest of the room before leaving early. She had to be at least sixty-five.
You go, girl.
Extraordinary inspiration springs up in the most ordinary places. If I take the time to pocket my cell phone and pay attention to my surroundings, I'm typically rewarded with an idea for a character. Sometimes a scene unfolds that is too unbelievable for even my brand of fiction, but it could be fodder for a new spin later. The trick is finding a large group of people and allowing your imagination to run away.
Here are some of my favorite people watching spots.
Living near a city makes finding new characters easy. Look for facial features, tics, and traits that are interesting with the right backstory. Observing demographics can help give balance to your books. The world has a lot of variety walking around on it that likely expands beyond your peer group.
If you're on a normal commuter line, there are still interesting things to see. Almost daily I observe a petite woman wedge herself between an entitled oaf who sits with his knees going east/west and a slob with his laptop bag on the seat. Most riders put their noses in a phone or book, but occasionally you get a talker. The downtown lines are even more interesting. I spent forty minutes stuck in traffic next to a guy so out of his mind he repeatedly set his stolen coat on fire instead of springing the security device. Avert eye contact and take notes.
The woman reaming her boyfriend over his shampoo selection may have finally hit the last straw after months of bigger problems stacking up. Who knows? Clerks witness the strangest behavior and this is just grocery shopping. Malls can be amazing people watching territory, particularly if there's a food court known for table top gaming meet ups.
This is a chance to watch family dynamics or a date in progress. I love going to restaurants with friends and weaving backstories for the people around us. I'm certain we're completely off base 99% of the time.
Second only to public transit. If you sit in an urban coffee shop long enough, you will see and hear some disturbing things. It's also a chance to observe at least one or two earnest writers trying to hit their word count for the day.
Keep in mind, this isn't about making fun of people. It's about observing and exercising your imagination. Anywhere you go could lead to your next great character or a new twist in your story. If you already have a character but don't feel like you know them yet, hang out where they would go and watch the crowd for a while.
Do you have any places that bring you inspiration for characters?
by Camela Thompson
I've been on a Pride & Prejudice kick lately.
Anyone who really knows me experienced shock upon reading that sentence. I'm not what you call a romantic. My idea of a date night involves comfy pants, an oversized sweater, a lot of chocolate, and binge watching action movies on Netflix. I feel Valentine's Day is an effective marketing ploy that took hold over the years and I'd rather sprain my ankle than cry over a Hallmark network movie. Disney's version of true love makes my eyes roll back in my head, but there are love stories that I admire and enjoy. Pride and Prejudice happens to be one of them.
My husband listened to our recent podcast covering Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and expressed surprise at my dislike of the book. In his mind, the only way to make the book enjoyable is the interjection of zombies. I disagreed and pointed out the subtle but vicious wit he enjoys in Downton Abbey (we love Maggie Smith). The tension conveyed through dialogue or, more poignantly, a lack of dialogue is a magical thing. Too often today's movies rely on explosions and CGI rather than writing. He expressed his disbelief.
So I was a jerk and played the poor health card so I could binge watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. My husband does this thing where he pretends that he's dying when he really hates a show. His head lolls back and he groans. It's quite dramatic. Despite his best intentions of shutting out the show and focusing on the latest update on Peyton Manning's retirement status, he giggled when Mr. Bennet subtly implied his wife missed the big picture only for her to drone on about something mundane. Only then did he admit that perhaps high school wasn't the right time in his life to read the book and he enjoyed the subtle humor.
Colin Firth's rendition of Mr. Darby gives the broodiest of vampires a run for their money. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy begin with an apparent dislike of one another, only to discover they have both been deceiving themselves. It's a classic ploy, but effective in its simplicity. Miscommunication exists everywhere. Personality conflicts also get in the way. The growth both characters must display to make a romance between the two of them believable is epic. Jane Austen makes it work. Unlike Disney' true love, their affection is messy and complicated, but it prevails.
I mentioned that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was not my favorite book, but I enjoyed the movie. My friend heard about my recent kick and suggested Pemberley Ranch. This is a rendition I can get behind. The author used the same premise, major plot points, and many of the character names, but changed enough of the details to make it his own. Remaking a classic takes more than employing a thesaurus and interjecting content. The characters must also change to fit their surroundings.
What is your favorite love story? Do you enjoy true love or are there elements that must exist to make the romance real?
by Camela Thompson
Say 'vampire,' 'werewolf,' or 'zombie' and anyone with a television knows you are talking about a very specific kind of monster. This isn't a bad thing. Despite the lectures I've heard from agents and publishers, if someone manages to find an interesting spin on these creatures, people will read or watch it. That said, there are thousands of creatures to draw from. Why not mix it up a little?
While I work through The Hunted series, I try to throw in mythology I don't hear on a regular basis. The heroine of my series is a vampire (kind of), and I wanted to avoid the werewolf-vampire love triangle. I adore werewolves, but it wasn't right for the series. I needed a fierce warrior, and a timely reminder of Vikings flashed on the History Channel in my living room. Why not a Berserker?
Some coworkers thought the creators of Clerks conjured the word 'Berserker.' These warriors existed and they were terrifying. These men were minimally armored and rumored to be immune to fire and iron. They wore the hides of their totem animal (a bear), ran into battle, and welcomed death. They were also high out of their minds on a hallucinogenic plant blend that numbed them to pain, creating the illusion they were invincible. Like I said... terrifying. When a rich foundation in reality reveals itself, building a fictitious creature is easy.
In the world of paranormal writing, reality is just the starting point. Options are plentiful. The berserker could be a shapeshifter, adopt some of the animal features, or maintain human features with limitless strength. The creature could fight with skill or it could adopt additional powers more fantastic than legend. I chose to use the myth about iron and use it as the catalyst that changed the berserker from human to other. I exaggerated fire and gave them the power to wield lightning. Instead of having the berserker shift fully into a bear, I chose to have the features distort in the flashes of lightning.
The key to writing a paranormal creature is consistency. Develop a lore that works with your world and stick with it. I use Scrivener to help keep track of both characters and the mythology built into my world so I don't contradict the biology or magical constraints that have been established. If you're writing about a common creature, you can choose which features to keep and which to throw out. If you find a rare creature, there isn't a precedence to compete with, and that can be freeing.
Is there a rare creature you wish was featured more often in paranormal books? Do you see something in paranormal creatures you wish wasn't featured as often?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.