Thursday, January 26, 2012

What is Holding You Back?

This is the question woke me up far too early and kept me rolling in my sheets like a pig wallowing in the mud. As I tossed and turned I could not seem to pick apart my thoughts to figure out what keeping me awake when the sun had not yet been turned on. After many waking hours in which I have paced, stressed, dug through my thoughts and worried I think I have a question which sums it all up.

What is holding you back?

I think after chewing on it, letting it swirl around my head and settle into my brain and soul I have an answer. Fear, insecurities and wavering faith not only in myself but in my writing. I am too far into this to pull out now, but I am struggling to find the strength.

I can not find the words to explain the heaviness of these feelings. I fear that I do not have what it takes to withstand the ups and downs of the publishing process. I fear that I did not fully understand the enormity of what I was attempting to do before I did it. I am afraid that I do not have the heart to keep going in the face of adversity in this process.

I have always used my writing as an escape from everyday life. I don't think I ever thought for one moment when this journey started that it would go this far. I am so grateful for the support and faith that my friends and family have in me. I am by no means giving up. I am just trying to regroup and get myself, my writing and my spirits back together after the suffocating disappointment of the last few days. I am well aware of the fact that I am the only thing holding me back. I just hope that sometime soon I find a way to not only accept this, but work past it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Closer Look at the Character Elisabeth Darling

Have you ever spent an entire day constructing what appeared to be the perfect sand castle only to tear it down? That is what it was like creating some of these characters for this book. I had never written anything that went in depth into anything past the characters raw emotions. In fact I had never tackled a project so big before. This whole thing caught me by surprise.

I'm sure there are at the very least a hundred different books on how to write a book. I didn't want to spend the money or waste the time to get a book, an instruction manual on how to reign in my imagination and turn all my crazy nightmares and day dreams into something so solid. These characters had jobs; they had more than just one or two emotions. They had families and reasons that they did the things that they did.

In my first stab at this I had given the name of Mary to my main character. Mostly because I was more focused on creating her, then I was on her name. The first thing I decided was that I was not going to have a cookie cutter heroine. There would be no killing without regret, no bloody struggle without a second thought about the consequences of her actions.

I think what was most important to me when I created Elisabeth was that she wasn't some super hero. I wanted people to look at her and feel her pain. When she loses her best friend she is thrown into this whole depression that seems to consume her very being. I feel like my readers can look at what she is going through at that point in her life and understand why she is drinking and why she seems to cry so often.

On the outside Elisabeth is the weakest person in my book. She only has her one friend and her job. She drinks a lot and fights nightmares. In the beginning she admits to running from her problems and keeping people at a safe distance from her. On her good (or bad depending on how you look at it) days Elisabeth is fully aware of the fact that she is special.The other days she pushes it so far to the back of her head that she isn't even aware on a conscious level that the powers even exist. There is one singular moment in the book that makes it so Elisabeth can never again forget that they are there. I won't tell you what it is, you have to just read the book and find out.

She has these flash backs of visions from the past that leave her feeling empty and drained emotionally. She knows that denying the visions will cause her physical pain in the form of migraines but to her it’s the better option. Once she finds her place on the Blue Moon Investigations Team she starts to get a reign of her emotions and her powers. That’s when she really starts to take control of what she's been told is her destiny.

The transformation from the Elisabeth you see in the beginning of the book to the Elisabeth in the end of the book is amazing. You get to watch her go from this emotionally crippled woman to someone who faces vampires and werewolves with not a lack of fear but rather an overwhelming surge of bravery. To me building this character was very much like building the perfect sand castle, then ripping it apart only to build it ten times better.

I hope you enjoyed today's in depth look at the main character of Elisabeth Darling. Next time I will be covering the next amazing character in my book. The mastermind behind getting the whole investigation for Molly's killers orchestrated, Akiko Nakamura.

Beginning the Journey

Today I'm going to talk to you about how my book Tumbling Down the Rabbit Hole got started. In the beginning it started as a repetitive nightmare. It was really terrifying to me. For a week I was chased and crucified by a man that I didn't know. It was all so realistic that I would wake up in tears rubbing my wrist where I could swear I could still feel where the nails had been driven through. I decided to document the nightmare in my journal in hopes that it would help get it out of my head and onto paper. It actually worked.

After writing it down I eventually forgot about it. During one of the many nights I had nothing to do and I decided to try and write. I wanted to write a short story about vampires, As hard as I tried I couldn't fit everything I wanted to do into a short story and so I decided to just go with the idea's swirling through my head and see where it took me.

From there it took on a life of its own. I write much like I cook. I take a little bit of everything and mix it together to see where it gets me. I like to mix spicy and sweet, tangy with sweet and spicy. My book is the same way. It's made up of so many different things that it's hard to keep track. Unfortunately I don't have the original version of my book anymore. I wish I did so I could compare what it was then to the amazing clump of creativity it is now.

I do vaguely remember taking an idea I had for the beginning of what was to end up a failed attempt at a short story turned amazing. It began with the main character, whose original name was Mary for a lack of anything better to call her at the time, standing in front of the grave of her murdered friend. In the original scenario I believe that it was Mary's friend who was the actual victim of crucifixion. As hard as I tried I couldn't make the crucifixion fit in with the vampires.

Now in my final draft of the book it’s the nightmare of another character instead of a murder. I also took bits and pieces of other books and short stories that were not going anywhere and threw them in. Its mind blowing to think of how this was just a nightmare and journal entry which has transformed into a book sparking the idea to make it into a series.

One of the first things I had to do once I decided to really do this the first thing I decided I had to do was make characters. That has been the one thing that did not waiver much from the beginning except for I changed the names a few times and interchanged a few characters around to better suit the story during my final draft. Now their basic personality traits did not change from how I had originally written and envisioned them. However they did grow and change much like a real person, shaped by events and people in their lives.

The first characters that I actually created were the vampires. They were supposed to the skeleton and flesh of this story, but somehow got pushed not to the background, but more to the side to make more room for the main character Elisabeth Darling. As the author of this book I am still really surprised at the transformation she made from the beginning of the book to the end of the book.

Now there is a character who is mentioned from time to time in this book without a lot of explanation who is referred to just as The Oracle. This was not a part of the original plan. However I could not make the character go away. I used an analogy in the beginning of my book which describes perfectly what this character would every time I tried to dismiss her as being silly, cheesy and unnecessary. I am describing a faint thought that Elisabeth cannot grasp but cannot dismiss.

She'd obsess over it all day in the few spare minutes that she had to think while she worked. If she still didn't figure it out by the time that she was ready for bed it would keep her awake at night. Unless she popped a couple of migraine pills when she had her nightly glass of wine, still that wouldn't help, because it would still be there in the morning like a hungry pet waiting to be fed.

The Oracle did just that to me. If I managed to push her away during the day when I awoke she was there. I had a slight obsession for all things Greek during my junior high days and I suspect this might have been the reason I added her. Am I ever glad I did! I wish I could go into further detail on her character and the role she plays in Tumbling but that would be cheating since I haven't even revealed that in my published work. You will just have to hang tight and get your hands on a copy of my second book when I get it out there.

After establishing Elisabeth the next hardest part was not to create her friend who was murdered, even though that would turn out to be the main reason Elisabeth does what she does, and it gives her the strength to become the warrior necessary to survive. The hard part for me was to create the Blue Moon Investigations team. Prior to this book I'd never attempted to write anything with more than one or two characters.

Suddenly I'm faced with this task of creating a group of people with very different and complex personalities and fit them into a story that I don't know the storyline of. I was literally taken by my brain and led down this twisting rabbit hole with no guidance at all. I felt like I was being kidnapped on a nightly basis by my own writing. I had no idea how it was going to end until I got there. I hope you find it as exhilarating as I did. It was my best adventure yet, even if it was all in my head.

Now I had my protagonist, I had her supporting cast, I had my antagonist. The next step for me was to create the incendiary. I needed to create the character who would get the ball rolling in this book (literally) and launch Elisabeth into the world of the undead and the supernatural. Creating Molly Evans and her son Ethan was easy for me. They needed to be Elisabeth's world.

They were the anchor holding her to reality and essentially to life period. In the end both of the Evan's ended up playing a much bigger role than I had intended. While writing this book I wondered who really is in control of this book, me or my characters. Now that the book is done I can truthfully say that I was not in charge. I went where I was led.

In my next blog I will go a little more into individual characters and how they fit into the book. Please feel free to comment below and let me know what you think.