Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mary Shelley: Building a Story

An idea takes root in your mind and you decide to make it a story. Ideas could come from a news story, trivia , or even a dream, as was the case with Mary Shelley. Like most of us, she had an idea and had to nurture this idea into a story.

It was a dark and stormy night (no, really) when Mary sat in the parlor with three friends on a bet. The four were bored and decided on a ghost story challenge. It is rumored the men teased her saying she was at a disadvantage as a woman, for she was unable to grasp the elements of horror.

She stared at a blank page for the longest time before remembering a conversation about Erasmus Darwin and the ideas he had about the possibility of returning a corspe or assembled body parts to life. It is said she had a waking dream which gave her the ideas for FRANKENSTEIN.

A plot seed needed nurturing to grow from there: A sceintist would create life from the dead, in a lab, using his scientific skill. If she made an outline it might look like this:

I. Scientist creates a living being (story begins)
a. His desire is to learn the mysteries of life and death and overcome them
b. He would have to rob graves to obtain body parts
c. Jail would be the penalty if he were caught. Stealth would be a must

This would establish goal, motivation and conflict for the main character. From here, Shelley would have to decide how the scientist's (Dr. Frankenstein) decision affected himself and those around him.

Instead of the growling brain-dead monster of many Frankenstein remakes, Shelley's monster was intelligent, multi lingual, and became a person with his own agenda.

II. He's created a monster (the story middle)
a. The monster cannot be controlled.
b. the monster has his own demands (wants)
c. The monster proves a threat

The monster wants a mate, the scientist is appalled. At first the sceintist tries to escape the monster, but the monster becomes adamant and threatens his creator.
(establishing his own GMC)
Unable to fit into society the monster wants a companion, one like him. (goal)
He promises his creator the to leave all in peace if he is granted this request (motivation)
He is denied (conflict).

Details often grow out of story ideas as you get to know your characters better and start to think as they would. Events escalate, the monster will not be ignored and lives are at stake.
The sceintist has to resolve the problem.
It is his creation; therefore, he is responsible for the monster.

How will he appease the monster? Can he appease it? Refusal means the death of his family.
Ultimately, the monster leaves for the artic circle, leaving the scientist broken.
A lesson learned about playing God. This is taken from her book:

"I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world."

FRANKENSTEIN was meant to be a short story, but the ideas grew and the tale grew longer. Outline your thoughts and play with the characters.

Can the monster die?Are there lessons he can teach us?
Will Frankenstein's intended dump the doctor and take up with the monster? This happened in Mel Brook's YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN with hilarious results!

Outlines are only guides. Getting the main ideas down for beginning, middle and end give a starting place for further ideas. Like a seedling, the ideas will blossom into something, a real story.
But keep in mind, you alone are responsible for your own creation.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More Notes From The Desk Of A New Author.

Okay pushing aside real life to write can be hard enough, but when it comes to promotion its even harder. Why?

Well I think for most new writers like me it has a lot to do with not knowing where to start. I've asked around to see what other authors found worked for them. The most resounding thing I heard was write that next book. Well I took that to heart and kept tapping the keys with my fingers.

I do post excerpts and blurbs on few yahoo loops I'm a member of.

Other than that I've given out dozens of bookmarks, some magnets, and things like that. I held a Halloween giveaway and am doing one for Christmas too over at my website. The only benefit I've seen so far is the increase in traffic on my site. I really didn't expect, thought I hoped, this may help my sale. Truly I just figured I enjoy winning prizes so why not give some away.

So between dealing with real life, which includes dealling with the fact I just found out my dog is about to have puppies, and writing I'll have to find creative ways to promote and just hope that getting a backlist built helps bring sales my way.

So if anyone has ideas on ways to reach readers give a shout out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When you’re in love, magical things can happen…

Wow, where did 2009 go? I can’t believe this is my last blog of 2009. What better time to tell you about my newest book, Sleeping With Fairies that’s released on Monday (December 21st) by Lyrical Press.

When I started writing, I always dreamed of one day setting a story in Ireland because my paternal grandmother was born in County Cork. This story came about in the days when I all I could manage to write was a short story. The characters of Claire and Michael jumped into my head and Ireland seemed the perfect setting for it. I mailed it off to the People’s Friend, a UK magazine. It came back a month later with a rejection letter. I put it aside for a few months but the story and the characters wouldn’t leave my head. My next idea was to write a novella and expand on the short story I’d created. Half way through writing, I realized this story had taken on a new life, the characters had grown and they deserved nothing less than a full novel.

I’ve always enjoyed both Irish fairy tales and ghost stories. Maybe it’s my Irish heritage but I believe magical things can happen if you truly believe in something. For me, that magical thing was becoming a published author.
Here is the blurb and an excerpt for Sleeping With Fairies. I hope you’ll read the book, find yourself transported to the Emerald Isle and that something magical happens to you too.

Oh, and did I happen to mention the book makes the idea last minute holiday gift!

Magic is a big part of Claire Mahoney’s life, but that gift comes with the burden of a curse. The man she marries will die a month after the wedding. A gifted landscaper, she beautifies people’s gardens but is missing the light of love in her own life.

Michael Finnegan swears he will never be romantically involved again, not after the death of his wife. His daughter, Rachel, is of another mind when they move next door to Claire, whom she suspects is a witch. Rachel also begins to look up to Claire as another mother, thwarting Michael's desire to remain casual and distant from his new neighbor.

Sparks fly and the magic of true love follows. But when the curse rears its ugly head, will Michael and Claire be destined to never live happily ever after again?

Beads of sweat popped out on Michael’s brow. He swiped at them. He knew he should take a walk to cool down, but Rachel was in bed. He didn’t want to leave her alone in the house.
When he glanced out again, he saw Claire standing close to her window. There was a pair of binoculars around here somewhere. He’d packed them where they would be easy to find because he knew the house was by the sea, and the village had lots of interesting things for him to look at, although he didn’t quite expect one of them to be his neighbor. Michael glanced around the room, searching for the box he’d packed them in. Spotting what looked like the one, he made his way over to it. Rewarded for his effort, he pulled them out, making fast work of removing the covers from the lenses. He hid around the side of the drapes so nothing but the lenses were visible. All of a sudden, Claire came into full view. With the help of the binoculars, it looked like she was standing right in front of him.
He wondered if she had a boyfriend. In fact, it would be a blessing if she did. Michael almost dropped the binoculars when he noticed she was about to unbutton her blouse. He had to quit looking right now. He had to for his sake—hers too.
“Put the binoculars down, Finnegan,” he said under his breath.
It was impossible, because something was drawing him to her. He sensed it. Rachel’s story could be true, maybe Claire was a witch. Perhaps none of this was his fault. Just maybe he had no control over the situation.
For goodness sake, who was he fooling with thoughts like that?
She’d started to unbutton her blouse. She was about to slip the last of the buttons through the hole. Now she was pulling the blouse open, then she was sliding it off her shoulders.
He took a deep breath. What if she wasn’t wearing a bra? Some women didn’t. Did Claire Mahoney seem like the sort of woman who went braless? His heart pounded like the first time he’d set eyes on her. He licked his dry lips.
He took another deep breath. The blouse was off—yes, she was wearing a bra. He felt a hint of disappointment. The bra was a lacy one. Only a half one, mind you. What did women call them? There was a special name for them, but he couldn’t recall it.
Her breasts spilled over the bra. He licked his lips again. This time they weren’t dry. Michael imagined his lips grazing the tops of her breasts. He’d slide his tongue back and forth across them, making her think she was being tickled. Maybe she’d even giggle at the sensation.
Oh no, she’d seen him.
He’d been caught.
Michael sprang back from the window, almost tripping over his own feet. Now what was he going to do? He’d been caught red-handed. Would she knock on the door any minute? She knew he was home, so he couldn’t pretend he wasn’t. He’d have to go open the door. She’d probably slap him across the face. And he’d deserve it.
Then he had another fantasy. After she’d slapped him, they’d look into one another’s eyes. She’d make a mad dive for him. They’d kiss, fall to the floor, then she’d beg him to make love to her.
“Snap out of it,” he ordered himself.
Michael glanced back at her house. She’d pulled her drapes across the window. Did that mean she was on her way over to his house? Was she mad at him? Was she about to call the police? Would he be arrested for being a peeping tom, a pervert? What an awful way to begin life in a new village. Not to mention, embarrassing for Rachel.
“Da, what are you doing looking out the window at night with your binoculars?” He almost jumped out of his skin when Rachel spoke. Michael turned to his daughter who stood in the doorway, wearing her PJs and rubbing her eyes.
“What are you doing out of bed?”
“I couldn’t sleep. My new room seems strange to me.”
“You’ll get used to it.”
“But I’m scared. Is there something to be frightened of outside? Is that why you were using the binoculars?” She walked over to him, still rubbing her eyes. She flung her arms around his waist. He patted her head.
“No, sweetie, of course not. I was just looking at the stars. You can see them so much clearer than you ever could in Dublin.”
Heaven help him, what was happening to him? He’d been in Findale no more than a few days and already he’d turned into a pervert watching his neighbor undress while having sexual fantasies about her. If all that wasn’t bad enough, now he was lying to his little girl

Wishing you all Happy Holidays.

Susan Palmquist is a freelance writer/publicist and author of four novels. She’s currently at work at a contemporary romance, a contemporary novella and two historical novellas. Besides blogging at Romance Writers in the Rough, she also writes a monthly blog for Between the Lines and More where she interviews authors and publishers/editors. She is also the new marketing director at Breathless Press. For more information about Susan and her work check out her Web site at

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hot vampires for the holidays!

I still can't believe it's December. I'm waking up to below freezing temperatures but am still passionately in denial. Summer was next to non-existent and fall went by a little quickly this year. It's been a cold, cold, cold year.

But the world of vampires remains HOT! I have two short reads that are holiday themed in the Dark Moon series about vampires celebrating the Winter Solstice. It's their most sacred time. Think about it; for a vampire to get one day per year where the night is longest given their proclivity to darkness is a good thing!

On the Winter Solstice, two couples are able to spend some special time together and honor memories of the past by celebrating the present--and looking forward to the future. Each story picks up from two different books in the Dark Moon series. A Memory on Record takes place after Blood of the Dark Moon, and The Longest Night happens right after the events in Blood and Mint Chocolates.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your holidays and what you wish to celebrate most, I hope that every one of you have a terrific holiday season. Eat good food, have good times, and enjoy it all with those whom you care about most.

Love & Magic,

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