Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How To Write

Since I am a writer, I've been invited to speak at Younger's class. I am going to teach the kids how to write a story. I wrote a basic lesson plan to show the teacher. This is writing 101, how many writers come up with their stories.

1. What do you remember most about a story? Usually the answer is the characters. You can get away with a lot, including weak plotting, if you have great characters. So the first step in writing a story is to create a character.

There are lots of ways to do this. You need to answer three basic questions:
What does s/he look like?
What is s/he like?
What does s/he like/hate?

You can go as deep as you want to make that character real to you. I like to find pictures of my characters to help me describe them. Maggie is based on Inara from Firefly/Serenity. I even dress her in Inara's clothes. Janie is based on the work of a Taiwanese artist. I have a long list of questions that help me find out about the character. When I get stuck, I interview my characters. It's amazing where those interviews go.

2. What does the character want? If you don't know your character's goal, your story is going to wander. If your character doesn't want anything and take steps to get that, the character is weak and will not interest the reader.

3. Why does the character want this? You can make your character want anything if you give them proper motivation. Cinderella is a well-loved fairy tale that's so universal it's applied to sports teams. Most everyone wants to be a prince or princess, but it's the reason Cinderella wants it that hits our hearts. It's the motivation that makes Cinderella a classic.

4. What stands in the character's way? This is the essence of your story. It is conflict that propels the action. It could be anything.

That character, which tends to create the most interesting conflict

Any combination of these. Just keep sticking things in your character's way.

5. You can have an ending in mind, but you don't have to. You don't even need to have a beginning.

Now take all of these and write a story sentence: (character) wants (goal), but (conflict).

That's it. That's a story. Write the sentence in big letters and stick it by your computer. This will keep your story focused. Whenever you get stuck, just look at your sentence and it will kick start your muse.

Let's go back to Cinderella: An abused young lady wants to go to the ball, but her evil step mother won't let her. 18 words.

Your turn. If you do this before NaNo begins, your story will be much more focused.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What do we learn more from: Mistakes or Successes

We've all heard the adage "You learn more from mistakes than successes."

That depends on what you want to learn. Do you want to learn what mistakes not to make or what works? What equals [i]more[/i] learning?

We all make mistakes. Writers make [b]tons[/b] of them just learning our process. We learn what not to do more than what we learn works for us. Each time we learn what doesn't work, we are that much closer to what does work, but ultimately what we want to learn is what works. Quantity-wise we have more mistakes, but quality-wise it is figuring out what does work that we learn more from.

On my desk is an email from August 2009. On it a professional author I adore said "your story gave me goosebumps...when you make that first sale, I'll be in line of release day to buy your book" about an email I posted to a loop. When I met her at RWA Nationals this year, she remembered my email. Her email taught me more than all of my mistakes combined. It said "Here is your strength. This is what works for you." It said "If you use this in your writing, it is something I want to read."

How many of us have gotten a comment, especially by someone we admire, saying something similar? That something in particular moved them? That they loved how you phrased something? That you nailed something? These comments teach us more than our mistakes. We simply don't think we learn from them. Since we did something right, what is there to learn?

The answer is we learn what works. If you take that comment and apply it to your writing as a whole, your writing will jump a few notches and you will gain confidence.

So don't just think about mistakes as learning opportunities. Think of successes that way, too. Below share some comments you've gotten that said "You are doing this right" and think about how to apply them to your writing as a whole.

That email is to the right of my computer. On the left is a quote by Stanislavsky "Craft is always secondary to the truth of emotional connection." As long as I keep that in mind when I write, how important that emotional connection is and how creating it is my strength, my writing stays on track.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

OMG. I have to talk to an agent. What do I do? What do I say?

In our continuing theme of "here's another way to look at things," I offer you my perspective on the all important pitch appointment.

We are writers. We love our stories. If we didn't, we couldn't have spent all that time pounding out 300+ pages and then revising until our eyes bled (your eyes didn't bleed? Go back and edit some more). Usually agents and editors are not writers. They don't think like us. I think that is the most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with the publishing world. We think differently than most people. That's why we're writers.

An editor's job is to think like a reader. Their job is to sell books to readers. By extension, an agent needs to think like an editor, since their job is to sell books to editors. If we want to get an agent, we have to think like one.

This does not mean writing to the market. Evil trolls who will steal your soul lie down that road. What this does mean is when we are pitching (selling) our masterpieces to them, we have to think like them. We are also readers, so let's put on our reading hats. Mine comes with a book light.

You just read the most amazing book and you want to get your best friend to read it. It's 2 AM, so you have to wait until a decent hour to call her (mine wouldn't, but you are nice). You try to go to sleep, but you keep playing the book in your head, thinking of ways you could make everything work out (the sign of a great book). The alarm clock goes off and you can finally talk to your BFF.

What do you tell her?

That's it. That's your pitch. What do you tell your best friend about this amazing, incredible book to get her to read it? Do you pick up the back of the book and read her the blurb? No. You tell her what you love about that book. What kept you up until 2 AM reading?

The blurb works great for the more formal setting of a query letter where you don't have the opportunity to answer questions. When you are at an agent appointment or talking to an agent in the bar, think talking to your best friend. Don't think like a writer pitching a book. Think like an excited reader trying to get someone to read the book.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I hurt myself by hurting myself

We all suffer for our art in some way. I allowed myself to remember what it was like to have flashbacks in order to write a key scene. I thought that was the worst thing I'd endure for this book, I was wrong.

I finally have an opening chapter that makes me go "I want to read this book." In it, my heroine is snatched. At one point, the villains twist her arms behind her back and hold her against a wall with one hand. My villains are vampires, but I wanted to see the logistics of this. (If you know where this is heading, please don't laugh). I twisted my own arms behind my back to see where the wrists would meet. In the process, I sprained my shoulder. The pain is worse than labor and delivery. Now I have Vicodin to help me conjure up interesting things.

I tend to act out a lot of action to see the logistics. Hubby hopes my characters are never shot.

So how have you suffered for your art?

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to Write a Synopsis without Writing a Synopsis

Telling me how to do something never works for me. Whatever my natural inclination is will override what I'm taught. Telling me why something is done will give me a new perspective and allow me to change my set ways.

We freeze at writing the synopsis. How do we boil 400 pages down to 2-3? That's one way of looking at a synopsis, but not what I see it as. It's just another format to tell the story you love so much, you wrote those 400 pages. (I love writing the synopsis now. I'll take every opportunity to tell my story.)

A synopsis is important. It shows you have a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. That is just one function. The goal is to get the agent to ask to see more, to see your actual writing, your voice.

I've heard that the synopsis doesn't need to include your voice. I disagree, but I will qualify that. It doesn't need to include the voice you used for the story, but it does have to include your voice, AKA your excitement and love for your story. That is contagious and will motivate the agent to ask to see more.

Writing the synopsis is like writing the book, and you can use the same techniques you would to plot it out. If you are a plotter or a hybrid, this part is easy for you. If you pants it all the way, I'll offer some suggestions.

The most important part of the story, and therefore your synopsis, is not boiling your story into one sentence. It is the initial idea you had, maybe even the idea of an idea. Think back to that initial idea. Don't think of the synopsis. Think of that idea. Let it wrap around your heart and strengthen you. Let it bring back the time when the words screamed to be let out. It could have been a month ago or several years. Try to think back to that time. You aren't writing a synopsis. You are writing the story that idea generates.

Now, if we were writing a book, one technique is to brainstorm scenes. You already wrote those scenes. I want you to brainstorm what you love about the story. Just list everything. What things made you stop and think "Damn, I can't believe I wrote that?" What things kept you butt in the chair, even when your muse decided to get a tan at the beach? What sweet nothings did he whisper in your ear? Just write it all down.

Look at that list and cross out everything that doesn't have to do with the main storyline. I'm sure it was very interesting when your heroine turned into a seagull, but if that isn't part of the main storyline, it goes. Look at the list again and cross out anything not vital to the main storyline. Can you tell the story without mentioning something or does it become a completely different story?

Take what you have and put them in chronological order. That's the skeleton of your story. Fill in the key points that makes the story flow. Guess what? You have now told your story in a different format, otherwise known as a synopsis.

This isn't a synopsis that just retells your story. It shows your heart, your excitement, in essence your voice. It will get the agent to request more pages.

Why do we write a synopsis? Because we love our story. Because we want to share that story. Because that love is infectious and will get others to read our story.

Isn't that why we became writers- to tell a story and have others read it? So tell your story. Don't freeze. Don't boil 400 words down to 2-3. Do what you do best, tell a story.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The All-Important Pitch

I'm taking a two-week pitching class with Bob Mayer. The sole objective is to come up with that one sentence pitch the fate of our careers depend on (cue scary music). I came up with it in three tries: Endless Lives reimagines Judeo-Christian mythology to transform Lucifer into the first vampire who then attempts to overthrow God because he believes humans shouldn't suffer. (24 words-cue Rocky theme)

I did something last night I highly recommend. Instead of sorting email by date received, I did it by subject. That allowed me to see how the pitches evolved.

And that's the word I'd use. The pitches evolve. This word is changed for a stronger, more concrete word. Order of words is changed. Bob's comments are incorporated, making the pitches longer and longer. What is essentially happening is people are fine tuning their story sentences.

But we aren't writing story sentences. We are crafting pitches. Bob is honing in on the WOW factor, and people are trying to make their story sentence incorporate this.

I've pitched in person and I watched other people pitch. It amazed me how many people didn't even make eye contact with the agent/editors and just gave a prefabricated spiel. That's not what pitching is. It's a conversation and your opening pitch is your ice breaker. Conversations lead to relationships and relationships lead to favorable opinions.

That's what we are crafting, ice breakers.

I became comfortable writing synopses when I stopped thinking of it as condensing my book to 1-2 pages. Instead it was just another format to tell the same story. The word pitch is scary. It is important and the fate of our career rests on it. Ice breaker, not so scary

Friday, June 25, 2010

The all important first line

Everyone has heard of the experiment in writing workshops where you give your first line and the others say if they'd continue to read on. There is one flaw that invalidates this experiment. It is done to other writers. Writers read differently than others, and most of our readers aren't writers. One of my most invaluable friends and beta readers isn't a writer. She is representative of my target audience.

One quote I keep near my computer and will constantly quote in my journal is "Craft is always secondary to the truth of emotional connection" Konstantin Stanislavsky. When writers read, they see flaws. When other readers read, they see pleasure. The most important thing I learned about writing, I didn't learn from a writer. I learned from a very modern major general. "People don't remember what you do or say (or write). They remember how you make them feel."

That all important first line is seen as a gateway to other writers. They will quote some of the great first lines of all time to tout its importance. Those lines are merely synecdoches, one line that stands for the gold of the rest of the book that made us feel something. That is why those lines are quoted.

The MOST important part of the book to a reader isn't the beginning. How many want-to-be-published writers spend all their time of the first line, first ten pages, first fifty because that is what will determine whether an agent will ask for more? Agents know this. How many agents are disappointed after they read that first line, first ten pages, first fifty because the writer didn't spend that amount of care on the rest of the book?

The most important part of the book to a reader is the end. It's the feeling you leave the reader with, the one that they carry with them. It is what determines whether they reread the book again to experience the feeling again. It is what determines if they pick up any of your other books because they trust you to give them a good story.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My beloved

I love using words and phrases in other languages. I use 8 in the book--Coptic, French, Japanese, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin, and Chinese. Yesterday's addition was Ani L'Dodi, V'Dodi Li, from the Song of Solomon. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. Is there anything more romantic for Luke to say to Janie? I think when I get the tattoo celebrating the book, I may include it in some way (written in Aramaic).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Historical Paranormal

Maggie and Joshua's story is fascinating, but it just isn't gelling. I don't want to force it.

I've enjoyed reimagining Judeo-Christian tradition, but what I've enjoyed most is the historical research required for Janie's past lives. I think I'm going to go in that direction instead. History International did a 2 hour show on Medieval Europe (primarily Western) and today my National Geographic Atlas of the Middle Ages showed up. I LOVE Teresa of Avila. I think I may start with her. I'm going to take a few weeks to brainstorm just what periods I want to do and what historical figures I want to include/research. I'll start writing this in September.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

NYC and pickles

Today I had a wonderful day in New York City with my wonderful brother-in-law and equally wonderful sister-in-law.

We went to two bookstores and I bought some books I really wanted.

In between them, we went to Bleeker Street Pizza and had the best pizza in New York. I burned the roof of my mouth.

We walked on an elevated park in Chelsea on our way to a free Monet exhibit at the Gagosian.

After that, we walked to Chelsea Market. We ate the best cookies at Amy's Bread.

Then I found the best pickles. My life is now complete.

I still can't talk, but I'm happy and that's what really matters.

The 16th

I didn't get to send this yesterday, since I didn't have internet.

Yesterday was my 16th Wedding Anniversary. 16 is my lucky number. I didn't get to spend the day with my wonderful hubby. Instead I traveled to NYC to go to the Long Island Romance Writers' Annual Luncheon. There I met with agents and other writers.

I woke up and my voice was scratchy. When I arrived at the lunch, I barely had a voice. At least I'll be memorable. I did get several requests for partials. I'll send those on Monday. I have my foot in the door. Now it is up to the writing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Poor neglected blog

I've spent the last several month emerged in the book and my poor blog hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. Hopefully it won't be too mad at me. If it is, I'm sure it can get together with my livejournal and smother me in my sleep. Nothing horrific or gory. i save that stuff for the book.

Here's a brief list of ways Sophia is killed in the book:

Killed by a Roman centurion in the Second Dacian War
Killed by an Indian during the Schenectady Massacre
Burned alive during the French witch hunts
Shot by a police officer after the Great Kanto Earthquake
Buried alive (event not specified)
Had her heart carved out ritualistically (event not specified)
Hanged (even not specified)
There are attempts on her life, but you have to read the book for that. They are uber-spoilery.

I think the descriptions of these will most likely push the book into the urban fantasy category rather than paranormal romance. There's dark and then there's me.

Another fun fact: the book uses many languages

English (everyone obviously)
Coptic (Valentinus. Talk about a pain to find)
Aramaic (Maggie. Again, total pain to find)
French (Janie. Fortunately, I speak it)
Japanese (Janie.)
Latin (Maggie reads inscription from Saint Peter's Basilica)
Greek (Grigori and Luke)
Hebrew (Melania and God)
Chinese (Semyaza)

I think that is everything.

I love dead languages, but some of the words were hard to find. My favorite word was meli, which is ancient greek for honey as a term of endearment for Janie.

I hope all this work created a believable universe.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sick of Vampires?

I've heard this a lot over the last few months/years, especially with the dominance of Twilight. People are just sick to death of vampires.

But ask people who devour vampire books if they are sick of them and they will tell you "Please sir, may I have another." Vampire books are their own sub-genre with a loyal following. There will ALWAYS be a market for vampire books. Buffy didn't go off the air because people were sick of the show. It went off the air because Joss Whedon had told his story and wanted to move on.

People who are sick of vampire books are typically not the ones who read them in the first place. If people are sick of something, it may be poorly written vampire books, such as Twilight.

Are you sick of vampire books?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Thrill of Writing

I don't know what I love better, adding to my word count or taking words out. There are few things as good as when the words just flow and the only thing slowing you down is how fast you can type, but there is something about editing that makes me feel like a "real" writer, like I actually have a clue and my dreams are all possibl

Friday, April 9, 2010

For Posterity

And because this makes no sense unless you read the book

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Twelve: "To Be With You"

There wouldn't be a 12 Days of Jeanie without my wonderful husband because there wouldn't be a Jeanie. He's the knight who rescued me out of a tower guarded by an evil witch.

Way back in 1992, we were still dating. We met April 1991 and instantly hit it off. I believe in love, but love at first site was too much, until I met my husband. Now in the words of the Monkees, I'm a believer.

He proposed to me with this song. He didn't mean to. This is one of our songs, and he learned not only how to play it on his guitar, but he practiced it until he could sing along as well, something he rarely did. The moment was so emotional, it was the perfect time to bring our relationship further along. I was crying before he even asked me. My first reaction was "Are you sure?" When I realized it was for real, words were no longer possible. I just smiled the biggest smile and nodded emphatically and cried and hugged him.

So I give you, Mr. Big's "To Be With You."

Hold on little girl
Show me what he's done to you
Stand up little girl
A broken heart can't be that bad
When it's through, it's through
Fate will twist the both of you
So come on baby come on over
Let me be the one to show you

I'm the one who wants to be with you
Deep inside I hope you feel it too
Waited on a line of greens and blues
Just to be the next to be with you

Build up your confidence
So you can be on top for once
wake up who cares about
Little boys that talk too much
I've seen it all go down
Your game of love was all rained out
So come on baby, come on over
Let me be the one to hold you


Why be alone when we can be together baby
You can make my life worthwhile
And I can make you start to smile

When it's through, it's through
Fate will twist the both of you
So come on baby come on over
Let me be the one to show you

To BeWith You

Sorry, but I couldn't find the video.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Eleven "Let's Get Rocked"

Day 6 I said I had two key chains. The other one I obtained at a very special concert. What made it so special wasn't just the amazing band playing, but the company I went with. I went with John and our two daughters. I mentioned Collective Soul was their first concert. This is the first one they actually remember. It happened three summers ago, shortly before we moved to Delaware.

Picture this, a young child, age 6 sitting on her daddy's shoulders with little rock hands shouting "We love you Def Leppard!" then believing the band could see and hear her all the way back in the lawn seats.

Today's song was easy to pick. I choose Def Leppard because not only is it one of my favorite bands, but it is one of my daughters' favorite bands. If we can't find one of their CDs, I know its either in the car or in one of the girls' rooms.

I thought it would be difficult to pick a song. Today, I asked both girls what their favorite Def Leppard song was. They each gave me several songs, but one song was on both lists. My husband doesn't like this song, but today isn't about him. It's about two girls who not only can sing along to most of Def Leppard's songs, but can tell you what album songs are on.

The Older in particular has an amazing ear for music. She can tell you who the band is for songs she's never even heard. Give her a few notes, and she'll tell you what song it is, if she's ever heard it before. She works hard at the clarinet and for fun decided to pick up the flute as well. She's learning guitar from her dad.

And before I continue, yes the band is still together, still making new albums and still touring. And yes, Joe Elliot and Rick "Sav" Savage were all over my walls in high school.

So I give you the song which I play in my mind to get myself out of bed, "Let's Get Rocked."

Do you wanna get rocked?
Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked

I'm your average ordinary everyday kid
Happy to do nothin', in fact that's what I did
I got a million ways to make my day
But daddy don't agree
Cause when I try to get away
He says he got plans for me
"Get your butt right out of bed"
Stop buggin' me
"Get up and move your sleepy head"
Don't shake my tree
He said "Mow the lawn" - who me?
"Walk the dog" - not my style, man
"Take out the trash" - no way
"Tidy your room" - c'mon get real
Sorry dad, gotta disappear
Let's get the rock out of here

Seven day weekend, up all night
In at the deep end, hang on tight
It won't take a minute, it won't take long
So get on in it, come on, come on, come on

Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Let's go all the way
Get it night'n'day
Come on, let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked

I'm your average ordinary everyday dude
Drivin' with my baby to get her in the mood
She's dialin' through my radio
And I'm ready to make my move
But what she got ain't rock'n'roll
And it really blew my groove
It was Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven
It makes me wanna scream
Bach, Tschaikovsky, violins
Turn it off, that ain't my scene
Well I'm sorry girl here's my confession
I suppose a rock's out of the question

Seven day weekend, up all night
In at the deep end, hang on tight
It won't take a minute, it won't take long
So get on in it, come on, come on, come on

Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Let's go all the way
Get it night'n'day
Come on, let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked

All I wanna do is take a ride into the blue
Every time I want to love you
I get stuck inside my room
Heaven knows I'm sick 'n' tired of dancin' with this broom

I feel lucky today
Hey look at that, man
Do you wanna get rocked?
Do you wanna get rocked?

It won't take you a minute
It won't take that long
So get on, get with it
Oh, come on everybody

Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Get on top baby
Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Do you wanna, do you wanna?
Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Get on top of it
Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Love to rock your body baby
Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked

Let's go all the way
Let's do it night'n'day
Let's get out and play
Rock the night away
Come on, let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked
Do you wanna get rocked?

Let's Get Rocked

back when MTV played video's Def Leppard was a staple.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Ten: "1985"

To say music is important to my family is an understatement. When we got our new car, we spent more time learning about the audio system than anything else. Today we spent way too much time programming the radio for our favorite XM stations. My favorites are 1st Wave (Classic Alternative, read: New Wave) and Alternative Nation. That isn't to say, I didn't like hard rock. I did and do, but Hubby already has those programmed, so I didn't have to.

My bedroom walls in high school could be divided into two sections, the OMG hot guys from the Brat Pack and the OMG hot guys from rock, especially Duran Duran.

So today, I give you Bowling for Soup's "1985"


Debbie just hit the wall
She never had it all
One Prozac a day
Husband's a CPA
Her dreams went out the door
When she turned twenty four
Only been with one man
What happen to her plan?

She was gonna be an actress
She was gonna be a star
She was gonna shake her ass
On the hood of White Snake’s car
Her yellow SUV is now the enemy
Looks at her average life
And nothing has been alright since

Bruce Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she’s uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985

She’s seen all the classics
She knows every line
Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink
Even Saint Elmo’s Fire
She rocked out to Wham
Not a big Limp Bizkit fan
Thought she’d get a hand
On a member of Duran Duran

Where’s the mini-skirt made of snake skin
And who’s the other guy that's singing in Van Halen
When did reality become T.V.
Whatever happened to sitcoms, game shows
(on the radio was)

Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she’s uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985

She hates time make it stop
When did Motley Crue become classic rock?
And when did Ozzy become an actor?
Please make this stop
And bring back

Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she’s uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 1985



Sunday, January 3, 2010

Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Nine: "Death, Death (Devil, Devil, Devil, Devil, Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil) Song

Above all those books about Christianity is a vampire, You press his stomach and his red eyes light up and he screams a scary scream. I love it. He's ugly and his black hair is a mess.

I'm goth, not morose-obsessed-with-death-because-I-want-to-die goth. I'm fun goth. I like the Urban Dictionary's definition

Someone who likes the darker side of things. They usually listen to death metal and goth music, such as Dismember and Bauhaus. Marilyn Manson is NOT goth. He's just...weird. Real goths are not depressing and suicidal like the posers you see at Hot Topic. Goths are fun to be around and aren't afraid to laugh at themselves every so often. They don't worship Satan and aren't evil despite what some ignorant people might say. Goths don't all dress alike either. They like to create their own unique style. Goths are also very intelligent and creative. A lot of them are writers and artists. Goths DON'T envy the popular people. They are what they are because it makes them happy. Goths would rather stay who they are and be among the so called "freaks" than be like everyone else and be popular. They understand that there are more important things in life than popularity, and usually succeed in life while the popular ones don't become much of anything.

Not so much with the death metal, but pretty much everything else are very Jeanie parts to being Jeanie. I write about vampires. There has to be at least a tiny part of me that's goth. With me, it's more than a tiny part.

Today, I give you a bonus. Victoria Frances is one of my favorite artists. With paintings like these, how can she not be?

Victoria Frances butterfly Victoria Frances cemetary

Victoria Frances kiss

Victoria Frances witch

To me goth is best illustrated by two people--Neil Gaiman and Voltaire.Voltaire is a singer/songwriter/animator/illustrator/graphic novelist/toy designer/writer (I think I got them all) extraordinaire. He has so many fun songs to choose from, this was probably my most difficult day. This song is my favorite, so I give you "Death, Death (Devil, Devil, Devil, Devil, Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil) Song."

My granny while on her death bed
She turned and said to me
"Why must you view life so morbidly?

I tried to teach you right
But somewhere I went wrong
'Cuz you sang those
Death death devil devil evil evil songs"

When six pallbearers put her down
And laid her body in the ground
My eyes were wet
My face was very long

The pastor said "son here you are
Won't you please take this guitar
Sing dearly departed Granny one last song"

And I sang death death
devil devil devil devil
evil evil evil evil songs
Hell you know that's how I get along

The world is full of tragedies
So how can it be wrong?
Singing death death death death
Devil devil evil evil songs

Well I was shopping at Hot Topic
And I was walking out the door
When two dumb jocks came up to me
They said "Hey fag it ain't Halloween"
And they kicked my lipstick to the floor

And I sang death death
devil devil devil devil
evil evil evil evil songs
Hell you know that's how I get along

The world is full of idiots
So how can it be wrong?
Singing death death death death
Devil devil evil evil songs

Well I went down to church on Sunday
I sat up front in a pew
The priest said "Jesus and Mary too
Son what the devils got into you?
Get up and sing a hymn or two"

And I sang death death
devil devil devil devil
evil evil evil evil songs
And you know that's how I get along

The world's full of hypocrisies
So how can it be wrong?
Singing death death death death
Devil devil evil evil songs

I was invited to the White House
The president pulled me aside
He said "Son sing us a song of peace
For those evil doers in the Middle East"
I rolled my eyes and kicked this rhyme

And I sang death death
devil devil devil devil
evil evil evil evil songs
And you know that's how I get along

The world is full of W's
So how can it be wrong?
Singing death death death death
Devil devil evil evil songs

Well then I died and went to Hell
I could tell right away by the awful smell
That this was clearly not the pearly gates
The devil said "come here young man
My wife and I are your biggest fans"
So naturally I felt I had it made

Well then he reached into an iron chest
And he picked a tool that he felt was best
Then he jabbed me in the shlong
With a pitchfork that had sharpened prongs
He turned to me and winked and sang this song

He sang death death
devil devil devil devil
evil evil evil evil songs
Yeah I know that's how you got along

I find your song hilarious
But now your soul's precarious
Singing your death death death death
Devil devil evil evil songs

I'm just kidding kid
Welcome to Hell
Enjoy the buffet

Death death
devil devil devil devil
evil evil evil evil songs
And you know that's how we got along

The world is full of sinners
So how can it be wrong?
Singing death death death death
Devil devil evil evil songs

Death, Death....Song


There are several vids of this song. I chose this one because it captures his humor well.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Eight: "Prayer of St. Francis"

On my desk, to the left of my computer are the writing books I use most. To the right, are the reference books I use most. They are:

National Geographic's The Biblical World: An Illustrated Atlas
Rosemary Ellen Guiley's Encyclopedia of Angels
Ian Wilson's Jesus the Evidence
The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Gnostic Gospels
Susan Haskin's Mary Magdalen
Elaine Pagels' The Origin of Satan
The Essential Gnostic Gospels
and two Bibles (the NAB and the NRSV)

Those are just the books I use a lot for the series I'm currently writing. I also have books like The Bestiary of Christ, Father Boadt's Reading the Old Testament, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, EP Saunders' The Historical Figure of Jesus, A Short History of Christian Thought and The Catholic Catechism. I have a Guiley's Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology on its way.

I tried, really tried, to write a simple vampire story. Somehow Judeo-Christian mythology found its way in. People love the premise of The Mark of Abel (a play on the Mark of Cain), so I'm glad it did. Writing became even more enjoyable when I stopped trying to hold back religion because I feared that the book would appear to be religious.

I am not Christian, haven't been for a long time, but I know Christian doctrine (especially its evolution), mythology and history very well, including its roots in Judaism and other earlier religions. It's sort of a hobby for me. I no longer want to be the first female Catholic Deacon, but I still love learning about Christianity. I will defend parts of it and love the beauty inherent in the mythology.

So to that end, I give you Sarah McLachlan's Prayer of St. Francis. Except for the whole God part, it is very much what I believe and shows true beauty.

Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.

O divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive-
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Prayer of St. Francis

This is a beautiful song, and there are many videos out there, especially since Joss Whedon used it to end Buffy Season 6 on such a beautiful note. I looked at many videos, but I like the imagery in this one best.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Twelve Days of Jeanie Day Seven: "Over the Rainbow"

There are many authors who have influenced me as a writer, four in particular: Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens and L. Frank Baum. When I was a little girl, about the age of my youngest daughter, I would sit at my window and sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Few things captured my imagination like The Wizard of Oz. It was the first "big" book I read. Once hooked, my heart belonged to speculative fiction.

In 1995, The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True came out. It was a benefit concert for the Children's defense fund and stared
Jewel as Dorothy
Natalie Cole as Glinda
The Boys Choir of Harlem as the munchkins
Debra Winger as the Wicked Witch
Jackson Browne as the Scarecrow
Roger Daltrey as the Tin Man
Nathan Lane as the Cowardly Lion
Joel Grey as the Wizard

If you would like to hear clips, you can go here. It's a wonderful production.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby

Somewhere over that rainbow
All skies are blue, oh
And where dreams
That you dare to dream
Really do come true

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
And troubles mount like lemon drops
Way above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly, oh
If birds can fly over the rainbow
Why, then why can't I?

Someday I'll wake and rub my eyes
And in that land beyond the skies
You'll find me
I'll be a laughing daffodil
And leave the silly cares that
Fill my mind behind me

Somewhere over that rainbow
Bluebirds fly
If birds can fly over the rainbow
Why, then why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?

If give you the opening song from the concert and the finale.
Jewel singing
Entire cast