Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School

School started here on Monday. And though I feel sorry for my teen because he didn't get much of a relaxing summer, I have to say, I'm glad to have my routine finally back to normal.

Well, sort of. He plays soccer and his game schedule is pretty packed. My husband and I have vowed to go to as many away games as we can manage, as well as making every single home game. Not that I mind. I'm one of the loudest parents out there. I love sports, and being a former volleyball coach, let's just say that I can get a little worked up.

But what makes me happy is that I get to reclaim my space. There won't be anyone to drive to soccer, driver's ed, the beach, etc. I'll have one less person to cook for and clean up after during the day. I can sit in peace without the sound of Black Ops in the background or Dub-Step (the teen's new music obsession) blaring from his laptop speakers.

For the next few months it's just me, the pets, my laptop, and a couple of deadlines. Bliss.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Everybody Needs a Buddy

Okay, so maybe the title of this post should have been everybody needs a BUNNY. This is the new addition to our "farm." She's a lion's mane angora and in my opinion, she looks a little like a baby Ewok. I mean, have you ever seen anything so freaking cute??

But I digress. Here's why we bought this cute little thing: We had two bunnies and this spring, one of them died. It was pretty sad, and though we didn't do any sort of bunny autopsy, we're pretty sure he just died of old age (Bunnies have a life span of about 6 to 10 years. See, this blog can be educational!). After that, the remaining bunny got depressed. She became easily spooked and took to hiding in dark little corners and behind the hay bails we have stored in the chicken coop. Even with all of those chickens for company, she wasn't happy.

A couple of weeks ago, we came across the angora and of course, how could I resist her cuteness? We brought her home and stuck her in the chicken coop with the old bunny. It took a couple of days for them to get used to each other, but one day when I went to check on them I found the old bunny running around the coop, chasing the new bunny, kicking her legs, and for lack of a better word, frolicking. In the past two weeks, the old bunny has been hiding less. She lays stretched out (a sign that a bunny is content) and has been less skittish.

The hubs was watching Up in the Air with George Clooney the other night (FYI, what a depressing movie!!) and his character said something that really resonated with me: Life is better with a co-pilot. I believe this. We have two dogs, two bunnies, 2 male ducks, 2 female ducks, a flock of chickens, and come next spring, our gander will have a goose again. Animals, just like people, need companionship.

And since I write stories with some sort of romance sub-plot, that desire to connect with another person fascinates me. One of the reasons I'm drawn to romance is that I love to get elbow deep in my character's psyches and peel back the layers of their personalities in order to find out why they need a certain connection or why they've closed themselves off from a relationship. That's why people read romance. They want to experience that spark of connection, relieve the excitement of finding that special someone who can be their co-pilot. It's only natural to want to companionship, no matter its form or definition. Human beings need it, chickens, dogs, and even bunnies need it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ode to the Sidekick

Today's post is dedicated to the sidekick. The unsung secondary character who can elevate a story from good to great. I love secondary characters. Sometimes more than the main characters.

I think what I love about sidekicks is that they tend to let loose more than the MC's. They're given more leeway with their personalities and idiosyncrasies. They can be as bad, as crass, as naughty as they want and the reader will still love them because their outstanding personalities are like a get-out-of-jail-free card for any untoward behavior.

I have lots of favorite sidekicks. Ian from Jeaniene Frost's Cat and Bones series is one of my favorites. Ian is a VERY naughty boy, right down to his--uh--body piercings. ;) But he's so damn endearing, I'd forgive just about anything his rakish behavior can dish out. Another of my favorite Frost sidekicks is Vlad. I'm so happy to see that he's getting his own series. He's a sidekick who could easily carry his own series.

Patricia Briggs has Stephan, the vampire with a conscience, and Warren, Mercy's movie-night buddy with a cute southern accent and an even cuter lawyer boyfriend. JR Ward has Lassiter, the Oprah lovin' fallen angel. Lassiter is another sidekick who'll be seeing his own book. In a word...SQUEE!!!

Sidekicks make a story great. What would Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series be without Pam? And would Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series be the same without Nix? No. We need those secondary characters to help carry the story. The hero and heroine are busy fighting monsters, falling in love, and dealing with emotional baggage. We NEED those secondary characters to give those stories a little extra oomph. The laughs on the side. And in the words of SKY HIGH: Hero Support.

Who are your favorite secondary characters? Are there any sidekicks who just turn you off?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Alphabet Soup

My sister actually came up with the title for today's blog post. We were talking about our favorite paranormal/UF books and the discussion came around to books with large casts of supernatural characters. Hence, alphabet soup. We like our books to be crammed with supernatural creatures from A to Z.

When a story is brewing and percolating in my mind, I already have an idea of who (and what) my major players are going to be. And since I love to write series, I have to be really careful not to paint myself into a corner. A small cast of characters can be the kiss of death to a series.

I need variety. I can't settle for just vampires. Or just vampires and werewolves. I want vampires, werewolves, fae, goblins, ghouls, demons, and as many otherworldly creatures as I can think of. Now, you don't have to cram all of these creatures into every single scene. But, these fringe creatures should be introduced at least once, so they can be brought into later scenes or later books with ease. A series is only as good as its individual stories. And no one wants to read seven books about one creature. That's not what a typical urban fantasy reader is looking for. Neither do they want to read about every single supernatural creature under the sun hanging out in one book. That's just too much, and it's easy for the story to spiral out of control. Not to mention the burden of world-building that the author has to pull off in order to keep the story believable.

But by introducing a large cast, you can have one book that focuses on one creature, another book that focuses on another, and so on. Your world-building is only as good as the creatures in your world. And the story options once they're there, is limitless.

How about you? Do you enjoy an alphabet's worth of supernatural characters in the books you read, or do you prefer to focus on a specific creature? And does the lack or excess of either affect a good series?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finding a Schedule That Works

One of my CP's is going to laugh at me for writing this, but, I'm not a planner. Like not at all. I don't even plan things a day in advance, let alone months. So you can imagine what gearing up for a book release has been like for this non-planner. It's not the sort of thing you can do at the last moment. There's no, "Oh, my book comes out next week. Guess I'll do a couple of things." No, this is a months-long process.

And since I'm not much of a planner, my agent suggested I keep a calendar to keep track of my various social networking and platform building activities leading up to December and my release. So far, the calendar has been great! It's allowed me to see the days/weeks/months right there in black and white and since I'm a very visual person, I can schedule my activities in a way that works for me. I've decided to blog twice a week. I've admitted time and again that blogging isn't my strongest social networking medium. So, I'll blog once a week here, and once at week over at Magic and Mayhem. I'm going to post five days a week on my Facebook page. I LOVE Facebook. The posts can be as short as a sentence or as long as a small paragraph. And I get to interact with primarily readers, which can be really enlightening. I'll pop in and out on Twitter once or twice a day, but I have to admit, being witty in 140 characters or less is really HARD! ;) And I'll be giving away ARC's and jewelry and other goodies on all three social networking sites from August until the SHAEDES OF GRAY release on December 6th.

I have to say, it feels good to have a plan in place and a schedule to go by. How about you guys? Are you the plan-it-out, scheduling sort? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants?