Saturday, September 29, 2012

Serenading the Wicked Heart

I've been marathoning Once Upon A Time, thinking I was happily slacking off and taking a break from my writing responsibilities. But while my conscious mind thought it was slacking, my creative mind was buzzing. This marathon birthed a massive brainstorming session that keeps going. (proof that writers never stop being writers, no matter what non-writing hobbies they're enjoying) I rained pages of my villain's backstory all over my notebook once I got alone with my thoughts. And that's what prompted this post today.

Say cheese, Scorpi!
Good villains require a lot of development so they don't become flat, cliche stereotypes. Villains, like ogres, should have layers. There are different types of villains, but my favorite are sympathetic villains. These characters might be just a decision or two away from being a hero, and we might be a decision or two away from being them. To me, that's fascinating.

One of my favorite sympathetic villains is Scorpius from the Sci-Fi channel series Farscape. He seeks the same goal as the hero John Crichton, but his methods for getting it are decidedly more evil and underhanded than John's. Scorpius has physical weaknesses that hinder him, but he's used his intellect to overcome them as best he can. This flaw has created a lot of Scorpi's determination and taught him internal strength, building a villain I would side with if it wasn't for the golden-hearted (and handsome) boy-next-door John Crichton.
courtesy LaDracul from DA

On the fringes of villainy, you'll find another character I absolutely love. The Trickster character. He's slippery, seductive, and you never know what side he's on. Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon A Time is both a villain and a trickster. His fingers are in everything and he's constantly three steps ahead of the other characters. He has a sympathetic backstory as well as circumstances in which he might be either truly evil or unusually kind.

After reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, I was charmed by the Marquis De Carabas. The long coat, the hat, the flashy smile, seemed more at home in a Louisiana gin joint than the Underground of London, but he fit perfectly. Gaiman played on all the traditional trickster qualities and produced a character who walks that fine line between reader trust and distrust. You're compelled to read on and find out more about him.

I think what we love most about villains and tricksters is that they do and say the things heroes never could. They cross lines, break hearts, and pull rugs out from under everyone else. They're shifty, sneaky and clever in ways we wish we could be. They don't have to play fair, but they're seldom very happy for long. So they become tragic figures we secretly wish would come out on top. And in some stories, they do.

Writing villains requires inspiration, motivation, and a deep appreciation for the slipperier critters of the literary world. And musical accompaniment. Here's one that reminds me of the Marquis.

What songs get you motivated to write a villain?

Friday, September 28, 2012

We Interrupt This Blog...

To bring you a very brief update on my life. I'm launching into a birthday weekend for my mom and sis, along with a visit from the brother's big family. Coming up in October I have the one-year anniversary of a good friend's death, which I'm still hoping to create a commemorative artwork or piece of writing for (but I'm having a really hard time). Next week I have to gather pieces for a library display, which might include my wonderful painterly sister's artwork as well as my own. There are also plans upon plans of things to write and draw so I don't feel like such a creative slacker. However, I've been busy.

Also, I've been reading. The latest I've picked up from the library are Divergent by Veronica Roth and Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad Trilogy: Truckers, Diggers, Wings. That and watching Once Upon a Time on netflix pretty much sums up my after work hours. I'll be blogging sporadically until I can set a more regular schedule. So please continue reading and commenting because I really do appreciate it!

How about you? Have any big plans ahead?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Good Stuff Friday: Smooth and Crunchy

Good Fridays are when I focus on the good, the things I've done, the things I want to do, amazing things that've happened. I've been reading inspirational books like Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul and Wild Mind: Living the Writers Life by Natalie Goldberg. I've been making fun plans for the months ahead, and setting goals. I do much better when I'm busy or planning something big and fun - this includes novels, picture books, art commissions. I've written two and a half picture books this week and it feels right. I realize I've limited myself by focusing only on YA. I might've already had an agent if I'd pushed the illustration to the forefront. But now that I've decided, I can change tactics. Who says I have to either do one or the other?

To celebrate Friday, I'm sharing some music. Two smooth and one crunchy. (hint: Skrillex is crunchy)

I recommend turning them up for full effect.

What good stuff do you have to report this Friday?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Your Book Cover

If you had complete creative control, what would you want  the cover of your novel to look like? Would it emulate a cover you've admired or would it be unlike anything you've read before?

Here's a cover I put together for my book A Shadow Story. I know it's not the final design, but I had a lot of fun with it. I really look forward to the ideas my future agent and I can come up with.

Bullied By The Internet

I have a confession. I haven't been writing and I don't feel that guilty about it. The last writing I did was brainstorming a children's book idea last week. But the internet won't leave me alone about it.

istock photo
The internet is like a critical mother who never ceases to remind me of what I should be doing and what I've already missed out on. It tries to guilt me and burden me with concerns that aren't really that concerning. Through Twitter, Facebook, email and blogs, it tells me I'll be the last to find an agent and points out how many of my friends already have one. It says that no one really wants to rep my book, that no one really cares about my blog. It makes me want to stop calling it and stop coming over for visits. It makes me want to spend my time with the 'fun uncle' that is online videogames. And that's just what I've been doing.

I'm tired of the internet bullying me. It knows just what buttons to push and what snide little comments to make. So, I'm going to stop letting it. I'm going to ignore the feeds, the statuses, the announcements, the reminders. I'll use Twitter and Facebook only when I feel like it. I'll blog when I want, when I can, when I get a strikingly profound revelation about writing, or life, or illustration. Right now my strikingly profound revelation is that life is more important than writing. And relaxation and peace of mind are more important than online obligations that render such meager results.

The internet can shove it up its keister.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Twisted Hunt 2012: Favorite Time-Suck

What's your favorite time-suck? 

Let's get Twisted!
Every Fall since 2009 the Twisted Hunt on Second Life has been a favorite time-suck of mine. Even if I've been away from Second Life for months, the Twisted Hunt can always lure me back. I don't know if it's the opportunity for more free stuff to dress my avatar in, the challenge of finding the hunt object in the hardest of all places, or nostalgia that this hunt (in 2009) was my first, but it calls to me. And that's where I've been the past two weeks.

Second Life is a free online virtual world you can explore with an avatar (digital person, animal or thing) that you customize for yourself. There are scavenger hunts across the grid in Second Life that provide you with stuff if you don't want to spend real money. You look for a specific object (dictated by the hunt theme) and when you find it you get a prize - free furniture, clothing, skins, animations, etc. for your avatar. The Twisted Hunt is a gothic-themed, creeptastic hunt boasted as the hardest hunt in SL. And it is. The object (the puzzle box from Hellraiser) is small and dark-colored (this year it's blue) and placed in corners and crevices that are murder to find. There are over a hundred merchants participating in the hunt, delicious prizes, and the chance to make many new online friends. I always end up falling helplessly into it for the good part of the hunt month. This year it's through September.

Here is my avvie before the hunt, wearing a skin from Dilly Dolls. (I'm going to include vendor names in case a fellow hunter stumbles across the blog.)

And two completely different looks inspired by the skins I've found on the Twisted Hunt.

Makeup/Eyes: Songbird
Skin: Aeva//Heartsick


Finally, head to hoof in hunt prizes.
Skin: [Void]
Eyes: Songbird
Wings/makeup: Sn@tch
Hooves: Dilly Dolls
Outfit: Rokumeikan
Necklace: House of Rain
Hair: Gauze(store) Pike(style) in Coal(color) - not hunt.                                    

That's enough about mine. What's your favorite time-suck?

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