Friday, June 22, 2012

Vampires Along the Silk Road ... and Beyond

Did you know that vampire mythology has been around for more than five thousand years? Neither did I, until I had to do some research into the subject. I hadn't had a whole lot of interest in the blood suckers (or, more correctly, life suckers) since I was about nine or so and I ran home every day to watch Dark Shadows. But then my friend Jacquie Rogers and I decided to give a series of workshops about the myths of well-known fantasy creatures and how they differed depending on where in the world they were. First we looked at faeries and dragons, and then, much to our surprise, there was ... Edward. (Okay, not Edward. Lestat? Barnabas? There are many others. You get my drift.)

I learned a lot. I didn't realize that they were blood suckers and blood drinkers, life suckers or essence drinkers, some alive, some not, the deceased possibly becoming the blood-thirsty creatures of the night because of improper burial procedures. And there were psychic vampires! Who would have thought? And even succubi could even be referred to as vampires, apparently.

And yes, those myths have been found pretty much all over the world, from ancient Mesopotamia and ye old Mexico all the way to Malaysia and Morocco. (But not Japan; the only thing I found about Japan was that they took their vampire myths from the West, not even a borrowing from China, with their myths of the hopping vampire. Odd.) And we had to check them out, too, for our workshop. I think Jacquie had nightmares after all this research. I know I did.

Anyway, we're doing a workshop for SavvyAuthors.com starting this Monday. We're both sort of weirded out about the topic, but it was all fascinating. Yikes.

Eilis Flynn

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sweet Summer Associations



“it's a smile, it's a kiss, it's a sip of wine ... it's summertime!”~ Kenny Chesney

Ah, sweet summer, what memories does the season inspire? What do you think of when you contemplate summer?
Header courtesy of samulli
Here are thirteen things that say summer to me.




  1. Watermelon seed spitting
  2. Kitten cuddles
  3. Shorts and t-shirts
  4. Iced lemonade in a sweating glass
  5. Walks after dark
  6. Sun kissed skin
  7. Raspberry picking
  8. Tubing on a lake
  9. Swimsuits, sunscreen, snorkels and flippers
  10. Toes wiggling in the grass
  11. Hammock naps and dog-eared paperbacks
  12. Long summer nights
  13. Stargazer Lilies





What do you think of when I say, “Summer”? Please share. Oh, and happy summer!

Sources
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/summer

Monday, June 18, 2012

Indie Publishing: Book Lovers Buffet



This Monday is usually my day to post a review of an indie book, but I'm doing something a bit different today (forgive the blatant promo). From June 8 through June 22, I'm participating with over 60 authors in a huge e-book sale: The Book Lover's Buffet Vacation Getaway. There are over 150 indie romance books offered for only 99 cents, perfect for loading up your Kindle or Nook with awesome beach reads. Most of these books usually go for $2.99 and up, so this limited time sale is a steal for many of them. I've already filled up my Kindle with over 30 new paranormal romances, eager to discover new authors -- and possibly review them in future blog posts. Stop by and check the sale out at http://bookloversbuffet.com/. Oh, and there's some amazing prizes to win too! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Fun


I’ve been thinking about how different Summer2012 has been from that of 2011. This time last year, I was hip deep in home improvements and paint, unpacking boxes and going through seven years of clutter. To say Summer 2011 was not a creative climate is to say the desert is a wee bit dry. Dry. My creative juices had all but evaporated and my DIY genes were in overdrive. One bathroom remodel and complete interior repaint later, and I was ready to climb back aboard the editing train. Summer 2011 was a writer’s nightmare. I couldn’t wait for September, back-to-school, and Halloween.


Thankfully, Summer 2012 has reminded me that I actually like the months between May and September. I’ve once again discovered the joys of research, of beginning a new project, of developing characters, plots, cultures, and languages.

 Starting a new story is like falling in love. Your heartbeat speeds up, you get butterflies in the belly, and a tingling in your extremities. You treasure every minute with your new love and are miserable when you’re apart. These feelings are what keep me writing. I can’t wait to see what happens next, what exciting plot point lies around the corner. I dream about the characters and am generally obsessed with this baby story. It feels just like new love. Now, if I could just bottle it and pull it out when I’m in the trenches fighting with edits!   

What keeps you writing? What do you enjoy most - the research? Or is it the story? How about characters? Which comes first the story or the players? 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

13 Quotes to Celebrate Graduation



         Announcement cards, senior pictures, farewell speeches, yearbooks, caps, tassels, gowns and diplomas. ...
          You know how, from time to time, your mind sticks on a topic and it’s all you can think about or talk about? At the moment, that’s how it is with me. My head is full of party plans, grocery and guest lists -- and all because my son and his friends will graduate from high school this weekend.
          To celebrate, I’d like to share 13 quotes on graduations.
    Header courtesy of samulli


  1. “Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After years of child-raising, they are unemployed.” -- humorist Erma Bombeck
  2. The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.” -- former New York Mayor Edward Koch
  3. “There is a good reason they call these ceremonies 'commencement exercises'. Graduation is not the end, it's the beginning.” -- Sen. Orrin Hatch
  4. “The tassel's worth the hassle!” --Author Unknown
  5. “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” -- South Africa's Nelson Mandela
  6. “A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that 'individuality' is the key to success.” -- comedy writer Robert Orben
  7. “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” –- Confucius
  8. “Graduation is only a concept. In real life, every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you'll make a difference.” -- author Arie Pencovic
  9. ”You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.” -- broadcaster Tom Brokaw
  10.  “At commencement you wear your square-shaped mortarboards. My hope is that from time to time you will let your minds be bold, and wear sombreros.” -- Law Prof. Paul Freund
  11.  “Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.” --cartoonist Garry Trudeau
  12.   “Just about a month from now I'm set adrift, with a diploma for a sail and lots of nerve for oars.” -- American adventurer and author Richard Halliburton
  13.  “Your families are extremely proud of you. You can't imagine the sense of relief they are experiencing. This would be a most opportune time to ask for money.” --Gary Bolding
          Do you have anyone graduating this spring? Or a bit of cap-and-gown wisdom you’d like to pass along? Please share. I'd love to hear from you.
                                                



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bald Heroes: Would They Still Be Good If They Had Hair?

Bald Heroes: Would They Still Be Good If They Had Hair?
by Eilis Flynn

Last month, I was speculating whether bald villains would be as evil as they are if they had hair. Is it the hair? Hard to say. This time, I have to wonder the converse: Would bald heroes be good if they had hair?

All this musing came about originally because the hub and I were having dinner a while back when I asked if bald villains in pop fiction would be evil if they had hair. We are old-time comic folk, so these questions are not unusual in our conversation. We identified the bald villains (Lex Luthor, Dr. Sivana, Mr. Freeze, among others. Oddjob, but he’s a henchman), and pondered the amazingness of hair.

The hub then sent me a link to a website on TV tropes, so we could continue to pontificate the point.

So what about bald heroes? Yes, there’s Charles Xavier of X-Men fame (who was bald long before Patrick Stewart sat down in the wheelchair for the movies). There’s Chameleon Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who’s bald, but he’s an alien. He also has antennae, but that’s another topic too. Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen notoriety? Don’t know if you could really call him a hero. An anti-hero, maybe. Bald heroes just don’t trip off the tongue. Also, he was blue and nude, but I didn’t say anything about color, so I guess he doesn’t matter. (And Chameleon Boy is also yellow, but again, he’s an alien.) Also, Dr. Manhattan destroyed the world, so he’s not really a hero. In fact, forget I mentioned him at all. Maybe if I ever do a post about bald villains. Or maybe bald hero/villains. Or maybe I should find another topic.

Anyway. Why is society so against baldies? It can’t be, you know: Think of how popular it’s gotten for men with thinning hair to decide to shave their heads, I think thanks to basketball players who do so, and then it spread like baldy wildfire. Perhaps society’s just a little slow to catch up with the nonhirsute times. Or is it pop culture who’s a little slow this time? I can’t recall reading a novel in which the hero is bald. Balding, maybe, but not completely bald. So there you go.

Do bald villains resent being cast as bald villains? Or do they relish it? Dr. Sivana always seemed to relish it, but then, I think anyone would seem like a villain compared with Captain Marvel (now known, speaking of confusing, as “Shazam”), the goodiest good guy around. With a full head of hair, but I think that goes without saying. But of course, there’s that old saying: Everyone is a hero in his own story. Lex Luthor is a hero in his own mind, although how blaming someone for turning him bald is a heroic act, I don’t know.

Now here’s a thought: Are these bald villains so evil that they couldn’t be turned for the forces of good if they had some of the diner’s apple pie? Did they turn evil after losing their hair or having bad pie at the greasy spoon down the road?

But that’s another question for another blog post.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Isn't it Obvious?


You might not be aware of this important warning on your pet's medication.






When was the last time you purchased something that didn't come with a warning label? 

The American consumer is bombarded with these cautionary instructions to the point where we ignore them. And why not? Here's a sample of some of my favorites.



On my DH's razor: "Caution. Do not shave while sleeping." So that's how my DH woke up clean shaven, eh?

On my waffle iron: "Warning. May be hot during and after operation." Come on, really?

On an electric rotary drill: "This product not intended to use as a dental drill." Hmm, I think my husband thought of this one. 

On a package of nuts: "Warning: May contain nuts." Ya think?

On cardboard sunshield that protects your dash. "Do not drive with sunshield in place." Seriously? Has someone actually done this? 

On a 7in x 7in plastic bag: "Do not crawl inside this bag and zip it up. It can be fatal." (Okay if an alien midget crawled into it, maybe.)

(Get ready for this one.) "May irritate eyes." On a can of pepper spray.  

So, do you think this is getting out of control? If you're still undecided. Let me offer a tale that recently hit the news. A man recently sued his doctor for malpractice after he had a heart attack while in bed with two women. Yes, two. He'd been to his doctor who set an appointment for a week later for a stress test. His contention was that the doctor should have warned him. (Warning: having a menage a trois with two women other than your wife may cause you to have a heart attack.) Believe it? Well, the jury awarded the man $3 million dollars. 

Some folks in France obviously see how much attention is paid to warning labels. They included a political message at the bottom of their translation on the label. Read the translation of the label.

So what do you think? Have any favorites? Would you like to create one for something in your life? 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Indie Publishing: Swag

First off, what exactly is Swag? Swag is a term used in the publishing community to describe items an author gives away to help promote their book. This typically includes bookmarks, monogrammed pens, notepads, stickers, buttons, and book plates. I’ve also received key chains, magnets, tissues, matches, chocolate bars, USB drives, and even a tiny sewing kit. If an author can put their name or book cover on it, they can turn anything into swag.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never been a big collector of swag myself. Do I use the pens and notepads I get? You betcha. Do I buy the author’s book because of it? Um, I’m afraid the answer is no, not usually. It takes more than a cute tchotchke to get me to purchase a book. But I do believe the more unique and useful the item, the more apt a reader is to remember the author and buy one of their books later on down the line. You know, name recognition and all that jazz. So, with that thought in mind, I jumped on the swag bandwagon so I’d have something, anything, to hand out at my book signings.

The first thing I did was have the tried and true bookmarks printed up. I’m a Kindle reader, so I have little use for bookmarks myself, but lots of people grabbed them off my table when they stopped by to look over my books. I used Got Print (http://gotprint.net/) and I was able to get 1000 bookmarks for $30. They turned out really nice. Good, thick stock and high quality printing. I’ve heard a lot of people also use Vista Print (http://www.vistaprint.com/) with good results.

But what else could I do? I’d heard that the hit at the last RT Convention was romance novel trading cards. They said people were snatching them up like crazy and some avid fans had special photo albums to display them in. I had to see what this was all about so I went to http://romancetradingcards.com/. There you’ll see samples of romance novel trading cards from a multitude of authors along with instructions and templates so you can make your own. Got Print refers to them as collector cards. They’re 2.5” x 3.5” and look very much like baseball trading cards. And like baseball cards, most authors put their cover or a stock image of one of their characters on the front and put character stats on the back: height, eye color, shifter animal, astrological sign, you name it. Being as my characters in Out of the Ashes have been reincarnated many times (thanks to their bumbling guardian angels) I thought it would be cool to list all of their births and untimely deaths, leading up to their present lives. Below you can see the front cover of David's trading card and the backs of both David and Sera's with their 'stats.' The readers stopping by my table thought it was pretty cool, too. I had several who grabbed them and then came back later and bought the book just because of the trading cards (they told me so). So that investment in swag definitely paid off for me.



So let me know what swag works best for you, as a reader or as a writer?





 
ja