Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday's Ask Jullian

One of my favorite characters is Jullian Phiffer. He is what inspired Silver Bullet. I decided that it would be great to really bring him to life by interviewing him. Not just me, but everyone. This week I will be asking the questions, but I'll try to talk him into taking questions from you guys next week and possibly every Thursday in the future. So, this week we start with the basics.

Jullian isn't very tall, only about 6'. He has blond hair that hangs down past his blue eyes and he's a bit on the thin side. If you didn't know what he was, you'd think he had a problem with anorexia.

Me: How old are you?

Jullian: As far as you are concerned, I am twenty-three.

Me: What's that supposed to mean?

J: It means next topic. *glares*

Me: *shudders* Fine. Are you human?

J: *grimmaces* I'll probably have to kill you now. No, I'm not human anymore.

Me: *gulps* Well, what are you?

J: I'm what you would call a vampire.

Me: So, vampires do start out as humans?

J: Are all humans from this decade as simple as you? Yes, vampires are born from humans.

Me: How does that work?

J: No one really knows for sure. The change is caused by exchanging blood. Many of us think our bodies create a specific antibody in our own blood to prevent the human we intend to change from fighting it. At times it seems like an infection, others it's more like a virus, and sometimes it looks almost like a parasite.

Me: How so?

J: In what ways does it resemble what I have just said? *waits for me to nod* It resembles an infection in the sense that it invades the body and begins to kill it. Those who have survived the change know what this feels like. It isn't something easily explained. The organs die while the brain registers all of it. I understand that a virus could be considered a parasite or an infection, but I'm speaking of something different. The virus aspect of vampirism is that it reproduces once inside a living organism. Vampires can share blood with each other and it does nothing to us, but to a human it initiates the change. As a parasite, it feeds on the life of its host. The change is a slow process, often taking weeks, if not months. Humans may not even realize that they are going through it until they have either died or changed. They may believe they have the common cold or influenza. It isn't until they can no longer digest food or suffer from heart palpatations that they realize it is something more serious.

Me: Who was the first vampire?

J: None of us know his name anymore. Or they refuse to tell. As I said, the name vampire is not fitting. Many refer to the first as "the creator." He was a man endowed with immortality. Some think he may have been a god. He was bitten by a spider. That species is now extinct, you see, or we may have found a cure to this life. After being bitten by this fanged creature, it changed him. The spider's blood mixed with his own. He became faster, stronger, and had supurb senses. He found he was drawn to blood. Especially human blood. The spider that bit him was primarily cannibalistic, though it would take its blood from where ever it could get it. That agression came through, also. Oddly, when "the creator" shared his blood, it would kill his prey. It wasn't until he had fed from a beautiful woman that he regretted biting that he figured out how to make others change. He gave her his blood after drinking from her, and she didn't die. In fact, she eventually became like him, even sharing in his immortality.

Me: Well, this has been very... interesting. Thanks for sharing so much. Do you think you might be willing to do this on a regular basis?

J: *purses lips* Perhaps. At least as long as you amuse me.

Me: What if I'm not the one asking the questions?

J: We shall see.

Well, I think that went as smoothly as possible. If you would like to ask Jullian a question, feel free to leave a comment for this post. I will make sure he gets them next week. Maybe he will tell us how old he is next week!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Practical Joke Blogfest!

I am crazy about the blogfests! I try to keep track of all of them so I can either join in the fun or just read what others have said. They're awesome! Sadly, I've been seeing a bit of a theme where they're concerned. Blogfests that I've seen deal with one of two different ideas. Fighting and romance. Now, while those are great things to write and are tons of fun, they aren't always funny. And right now, I could use a good laugh.

This is:
 The Practical Joke Blogfest!

You groan with delight when a character in your book falls for the trap perfectly. Maybe they end up with a bucket stuck on their foot, or covered in chocolate after a steamy night. Maybe their the one pulling the joke and they anxiously await for their victim to spray themselves with the kitchen sink, or rush to the school because another parent chapperone cancelled last minute for a feild trip.

Find that perfect scene in your favorite book, or something you are working on. Or make something up on the spot! On June 9th, we'll all post our Practical Joke scene on our blogs and everyone can enjoy a good laugh (And possibly get some ideas for the next April Fools Day).

Here's what you do to join the Practical Joke Blogfest:
1: add your name and blog URL to the link box on the right.
2: Mention the blogfest on Twitter using #practicaljokeblogfest
3: Tweet the link to this blog.

Okay, the only thing you really have to do to join is the first one, but I think the last two would really help to get the word around. So bring on the pranks and practical jokes!

The birth of a novel

I had sudden insight today. I was thinking about my novel, "A Place Called Earth," and I realized that I was feeling almost reluctant to be seeing it near its finish. I noticed that I often feel the same way when I think about how much my kids have grown. There are so many simularities in the process. From conception to birth, to watching the story grow into its own entity, to leaving the nest. It moves far too quickly for my liking.

The conception part of novel writing is a very dedicated process in and of itself. I can put myself through hell trying to come up with an idea that I like and how to make it interesting. When the idea comes, I find myself almost glowing with the excitement of it. Then the writing starts. Its very much like a pregnancy. I find myself marveling in the way the story changes on a daily basis. How the idea of seeing it through consumes my mind until I can get it all out of me. I get to create new places or make old ones interesting. I get to name characters and watch them grow and learn. I get to watch them get into trouble and guide them through situations.

I feel so proud when that novel is finished. Then I get to go through and clean it up. Mature it. It feels like a learning experience for both me and the story. Like having a child. Find out what works, what doesn't. Come up with a new method. After its all sparkly and perfect its time to set it free. First you do the trial seperation. Just to see if you can handle it. You let it wander out of sight to a couple friends you trust. You feel great when it behaves.

This is so hard. I'm so sad to see it leave my hands. I still need to do a query letter and find an agent, but I just feel sad about it. I don't want the process to be over. It all went too fast! Why can't I just lock it up in a closet for a few more years? I can't because I know that it deserves a chance to stand on its own two (metaphorical) feet. I can only do so much for it, and the rest it has to do on its own. I can't be scared for this anymore. It will fly or it will fail. Either way, we'll learn something. So, here's to the leap.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm getting this figured out now!

I added a new page to the blog today. Its above this right next to the home button! "Works" is my page to show what I'm working on. I soon hope to add a "Published" button next to it. Anyway, feel free to go check it out!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where do you find inspiration?

I have always been envious of song writers. Once upon a time I heard (I think it was in a movie) that people who write songs feel things differently than everyone else. Honestly, I don't really see it being any different than poetry, but that's another thing that I have a hard time understanding. So why do I envy them their skill? Because they can take something so mundane and make it known in a way that everyone feels. One of my new favorite songs is "Numbers" by Hurt. They have been one of my favorite bands since I was first introduced to them with the song "Rapture." Why? Their sound is just so raw. You can feel the emotion. Its something you get when the one singing is the one who wrote it. You can just feel how much this guy has been through.

Someone once asked me where I come up with my ideas for my stories. Where did I find inspiration? My answer has always been the same. I find it everywhere. What kind of writer would I be if I didn't take the time to study the world around me? I had even written a story based on my kids once. It was short, but you could see what I saw. The kids had been playing on the jungle gym and were off to save the baby.

My favorite muse has to be me. My subconcious comes up with some wonderful things when I'm sleeping. Lately I have even been trying to find a way to induce nightmares so I could come up with some unbelievable monster. So far, no luck.

People have a tendency to be oblivious to the things that go on around them. There is so much out there. When's the last time you were just sitting there and found something interesting? When is the last time you went to the park and saw a squirrel fighting with a bird over food? Or almost saw an accident? When was the last time you took a moment and daydreamed? These are important things. Not only do they give you ideas for a storyline, but they allow you to come up with great background. Maybe your main character decides to get her hair cut. The best thing you can do to make it believable is to pay attention at your next appointment.

Today, I put my body through hell. I didn't sleep last night. I went to work, blaring the music as loudly as I could so that I couldn't hear myself singing at the top of my lungs. Why? So I would stay awake through the drive, of course! It was on my way back home that I was hit with sudden inspiration. I was coming up beside a semi in town on the highway. Speed limit was 45mph, but he was only doing 40. We were both going around a curve in the road when I came up on the driver's side. I was equally close to the front and the back of the rig when he started drifting over into my lane. What did I do? I was holding the steering wheel like it was a life raft. My heart was pounding and my eyes got wide. I had started thinking about how I was going to hop the curb and drive onto the median if he was really changing lanes with me right there. kThe one thought that honestly never went through my mind was "HONK!" It made me think about characters. How would a character handle that kind of situation? Would they even panic the way I did?

I guess the point I'm trying to make, is you need to look at a story in pieces. You can find inspiration for any one of those peices, whether it be something that makes you think of character, or the way the clouds looked after the storm finding a way into your setting, or a dog digging a hole finding its way into your plot. Inspiration is all around you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I just finished with my first revision of my WIP. Sadly, I still haven't come up with an amazing new name for it. Looks like it may be forever known as "Finality." Maybe this time through I'll have some genius idea...

I thought (begged, really) that I would feel some relief at getting through this revision. No such luck. I feel more anxious about this project every day. I'm starting to wonder if I'll even publish it. I thought that by the time I got through with the rewrite, I would actually start liking it. Not that I don't like it, I just think it could be better. I can't really see me looking at this and thinking, "This is perfect." I wonder if this kind of thing happens a lot with writers. Regardless, I'm going to get it as sparkly as possible before my June deadline and then it will be getting published and set up on

Another thing I did with the finish of this revision was send it to two friends that are also writers. They agreed to be my betas. I will have to find a way to repay them for this amazing deed. I don't know what it will be, but something will have to be done.

So, for the last few days, I have been glued to my laptop. I have jumped between editing and feeling guilty that I haven't been editing. My computer has this adorable little application on it called Sticky Notes. Quite literally, you get a little thing that looks like your standard yellow sticky note that you can type something on and leave it on your desktop. I have been taking full advantage. My first note to myself was "Why aren't you editing? You should be?" Thus the guilt. Nobody guilts me like I do. My most recent note? "Is the MS done yet?" Yeah, I might be a little hard on myself.

Anyway, back to my original point. I find that this isn't going to be an easy path for me. I'm hoping that in the future, things will be easier, but I'm seriously doubting it. The realist in me knows that the business of being an author is more often met with failure than success. Then again, if everyone that wrote a book was published, people may not be as willing to read. Here's to the practice of becoming better at my desired path and to all the others who aspire to see their name on a bookshelf someday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What's new?

I've made a lot of progress this week. I finished revision for all sections in the POV of Alec and Beth. I'm working with Vaughn right now. He's a bit pretensious. Hopefully I don't start behaving that way. Lol.

Its the goal of an author to make sure that their characters grow throughout a story. It makes for more realistic characters. Some of the growth is more profound in this WIP than others. Vaughn seems to be my prime example. At the beginning of this story he is an arrogant pig. Its very hard to feel for him. He makes no attempt to be anything more than what he is. He doens't apologize for it. Throughout the story, I've watched him grow up, and he even notices this himself. I think the best part of it, is he doesn't fight it. I find that I'm quite proud of him for this.

On my blog list you will find a link to the blog "Labotomy of a writer." Harley, the author of this blog, is a fantastic author and teacher. Every post I have read on her blog is amazing and filled with wonderful tips for aspiring authors. She does it all from character development to planning your plot. I encourage everyone reading this to hop over to her blog and check it out.

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to give an update to the current WIP. Finality has come a long way. I am almost halfway through my characters now. It is currently 112 pages and the word count has reached 58,048. I have  been enjoying spending this time with my characters and finding out what really makes them tick.  As usual, I really hope that it will show.

One more thing. I was procrastinating as usual, and in doing so I found something interesting on Occasionally, I just like to browse the site and see what's out there. I stumbled on a new book from Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight Series today. I have that series sitting on my shelf, as many do, and its one of the things that I will read on a semi-regular basis when I want something to do. I think this would be a nice addition to the collection for anyone who loves the series.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


As a writer, I find that sometimes it is difficult for me to stay on task. I imagine that it is similar for a lot of writers. When I'm writing, I'm surrounded by distractions. The tv is the biggest for me. So many things catch my attention and when I'm busy, that is exactly what I don't need. Once I find my groove, I need to be able to stay in that state of mind, or any amazing idea I may have is lost.

Recently, I was diagnosed with ADD. It wasn't really a surprise to me, I have always had a less than average attention span. I would find myself forgetting what I was talking about halfway through a sentence because someone started laughing... I have always been a planner. I like to make lists to make sure that I don't forget things when going on a trip, or even going to bed. Story planning came to me naturally. I don't plan things like the plot line. I can't know the ending to this story, because it hasn't been told to me yet. I am just the medium. That doesn't stop me from planning a few bumps along the way or even who the characters are. They become so real to me that I can hear them. These voices are one of the things that keep me focused on my writing. They will yell at me constantly until I can get their story written down and out of my head.

Music is my other getaway. When I turn on the music and pop in my headphones the rest of the world disappears. I add to my playlist daily. Anything I remember or hear on the radio that I like gets added. There are things that I keep on the computer that I don't have on my MP3 player and vice versa. I need them to vary a little, but I really don't know why. When I'm writing, or even just busy, the music is just background noise. I don't actually hear any of it.

I think maintaining focus is an important part of being a writer. We all have to be able to give ourselves over to our minds. It allows us to reach our goals easier. I also think it makes our drafts more readable. When you can get something out quickly and in longer sessions, it flows better. Its fresh in your mind. I remember when I was younger and writing one of my first works, I would sit it down for a week simply because life called. When I'd come back to it I would be flipping back 5 pages or more to read what I had previously done so I could mentally prepare myself for what was to come. A lot of times its so frustrating, because you can remember that you had a great idea, but that's the only memory of it. Just that it was great.

So, as I was saying earlier, I have music. It truly does help to have a block to keep from getting distracted, and I hope that it shows in my writing. As a writer, what do you use to keep you focused?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Why am I doing this?

I would love to say that I'm new to the blog scene... I'm not. So, why am I doing this? I wanted to create a blog that was simply about the writing. I needed something with big shiny arrows trained at me saying "LOOK HERE!"

The idea here is to let everyone know what I'm going through as I journey through my life as a writer. What I'm working on, what its doing to me, any new ideas or insights. I need to tell the world! Here I come! I hope you enjoy.

So, here we go... on to it.

I'm currently working on a piece that I wrote for the 2009 NaNoWriMo. While it is currently titled, "Finality" I'm not sure if I will be sticking with that title. It is fitting for the novel, but I'm just not sure its the best fit.

I truly enjoyed NaNoWriMo. I think I was alone in that here at my home. The rest of the fam was glad it was only going to be a one month a year thing. NaNo taught me something. I do have what it takes to actually finish something I start. "Finality" finished its first draft at 50,171 words. As things go, that is a very tiny novel. Only about 120 pages in its double spacing between paragraphs.

Since November, I've been editing. Not as consistently as I had been writing throughout the month, but it is getting done. The first time I went through it, I simply highlighted the things I wanted to change with a comment as to why I wanted them changed. My most common complaint with my work was that things were often too telling, which as we know is a huge no-no for a would-be author. We want our readers to make their own assumptions based on what they are seeing, not being told.

I finally finished reading and commenting on my WIP about a month ago. Since then, I have been spending more time with it. Even though it is still revision, I am writing again. And that is my favorite part. I started this revision on a chapter-by-chapter basis. I've switched since then.

This was a new experience for me in so many ways. I had never written a novel before in the 1st person POV. It was hard for me to go into a mind of someone that wasn't me and write for them. More often than not, it has gotten me into a lot of arguments with myself. Yes, people thought I was actually going crazy. And I explained to them that I was already there... no need to worry themselves. But, it was more than just the POV that was getting me. I don't like things that are easy, so my 1st person POV is split up between eight main characters.

So, recently, I decided that going by the sections headed by a specific character was the way to go. It gives me more time to be in their head and not confuse voices or motivations. Since then, I've found that the whole process was moving much faster. Not only that, I was adding more that actually does sound like the current character I'm working with.

So, I just finished with Ursula. She is a fun, spunky girl from Portland, Oregon. Ursula is in her early twenties and before the book she was a party goer in college. She spent more time drinking than studying. Ursula has a few dark secrets that she doesn't share with anyone, like the fact that her step-dad molested her when she was young and she turned him in to CPS. She hasn't spoken to her mom much since then as she won't leave the guy. Ursula is an amazing character. I identified with her on a lot of things. I hope I did her justice. But that will be up to the readers.

As long as I can keep up my pace, readers should be seeing "Finality" on in July. Buy a copy, and tell me what you think.

Now for the actual update. Since November, the WIP has gone from 121 pages to 116 as I get rid of those spaces between paragraphs. I have finished Ursula's first revision and am working with Alec now. The word count has gone from 50,171 to 56,018. Keep an eye out for the next update.

Until then,

Haley Jo