Sunday, April 22, 2012

Just For Fun: Vampire Diaries Fan Fiction

I recently was turned on to the Vampire Diaries. I have read all the Anne Rice vampire books and always enjoyed the Lestat/Louis dynamic -- so jumped in right away to the Damon/Stefan frenemy relationship. Yes, I have a crush on Stefan (never did on Louis -- far too melancholy) and his tattoo, kissable pout, and intense gaze. I also have developed a mini-crush on Damon and his brat prince, great ab, snarkyness. I am not ashamed to find them hot. Plus, it's nice to be able to appreciate the male form without feeling like a pedophile (both actors are within an reasonable age range from my own). Besides the eye candy aspects, I enjoy the characters and appreciate that Elena has a brain and personality of her own and is not defined by her love for Stefan.  I'm almost to the end of season one and don't want any spoilers. In all, I'm enjoying the series and am not embarrassed. I never boarded the Twilight train, but I did used to make a point to be available every Thursday night for Buffy back in the day (I was more a Spike fan than Angel).

Yesterday my husband joined me for an episode and wanted a full explanation of what was going on. As annoying as this was, he redeemed himself by misreading the title, Vampire Diaries (that, and not complaining as I drooled over Damon while he got Elena to button his shirt). This inspired my tasteless fan fiction. I hope you enjoy it and understand that it's meant in fun.

Stefan reclined in his bed, brow furrowed, his gaze unfocused on the portrait in his hand.
“Ever studious Stefan, deep in thought yet again.” Damon's slight drawl drew out the last syllable in a playful purr. “And what are we so engrossed by today?” He sought the answer to his own question, but by the time his hand reached for the item in Stefan’s hands, his brother was across the room.
In a blink Damon was there before him, hands on his throat.
“Step away, Damon.”
“Make me.” Damon smiled, his playful grin not quite reaching his eyes. “Oh wait, you can’t. I will always be stronger than you, better than you, because you refuse to accept who you are,” in a blur of wind, Damon was lounging at the foot of the bed, portrait in his hand. One brow rose in mild surprise. “Katherine? Really?”
In a burst of preternatural speed, Stefan was beside him, looking over his shoulder. “How can two women who look so alike be so different?” 
Damon drew one finger softly over antique photograph. “They’re not so different, not really. They both are determined, strong, beautiful…”
“But Elena cares about people other than herself. She is sensitive, giving.”
“She is weak.” Damon murmured his gaze still on Katherine. “Once you turn her, she’ll realize her nature.”
“I’ll never turn her. I love her and would never curse her to our… sickness.”
Damon barked a laugh. “You call our life, our power, a sickness?”
“Isn’t it? I heard you this morning, groaning. Our power comes with so much pain.”
“This was what we were meant to be. The immortality, the beauty, the speed, it has a price and I’m willing to pay.”
“I’m not.”
“Then let yourself die. Take off your ring and step outside. It’s a beautiful morning.” Damon opened the curtain and stared outside. “You think I like having this,” his mouth turned down in distaste, “disgusting, debilitating problem? By the way, have you told Elena yet?”
“I don’t think she’s ready.”
“How is this worse than knowing you’re a bloodsucking killer?”
Stefan looked away, grinding his jaw. “It just is.”
“If you don’t tell her, I will. She deserves to know.”
“I don’t see why it matters to you.”
“It doesn’t. But I’m bored and the idea of her expression when she realizes what you’ve really been doing, alone, after ever meal – well, it intrigues me.” He smirked. “Will love truly conquer all? Will she be as accepting as she’s been of everything else?”
Stefan crossed his arms over his chest, scowling. “Damon, is it worth it to risk Elena’s happiness just to see me shamed?”
Damon paused, considering. “Since you ask that way,” he smiled, this time his eyes glittered, “yes. Definitely worth it.”
“You know you’ll be exposing yourself. She’ll know about you, too – only not how much worse it is for you, considering you feed on human blood.”
“I think she may already suspect me.” Damon tossed the portrait of Katherine toward the bed.
Stefan caught it, frowning. “Why do you say that?”
“Well, I left her a little…” he paused for a moment with a smile, “present in her bathroom.”
“You disgust me.”
“I know.” He clapped his brother on the shoulder, “I know.”

Yes, I know -- I am somewhat déclassé. I've accepted it. And yes, I know my attempt at the Vampire Diaries logo and red swirl is not up to par. I did my best using Paint and it gets the point across.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Start the Story Where the Story Starts

pic by Steve Ohlsen
In my first book, the first three chapters dealt with backstory and the main character's post-partum depression. She finally got to London in chapter four, and we met the hero for the first time in chapter five. It's my love child and I've tried to right by it, but the book, in its entirety, will never be published.

My second book, chapters one and two were character growth. Yes, there was action and dialogue, but the story didn't really start until chapter three. Solution? I cut out chapters one and two. It hurt, but it was necessary -- like deadheading.

By my third book you'd think I knew what I was doing, right? I started with action and some humor, then some snappy dialogue and set up the love triangle. Problem: I spent a lot of face time on the guy she was not going to end up with. I also, since it was book three, gave too much time to the characters featured in books one and two. Yet again, we do not meet our hero until chapter three, which is when the story starts. Chop. Chapters one and two, gone.

I am currently reading through a story for a friend. The first fifty pages are so are character development and back-story. When I finally give my critique, it will be to start the story where the story starts -- something I obviously struggle with.

I like to think that someday I'll learn from my mistakes. 

So, without further ado, here is the NEW first 1000ish of Courtly Abandon. If you take the time to read, please let me know if you get a sense of the time/place, who the main character is, and a feeling for where the story is going. Most importantly, where you hooked?

If being ladylike meant wearing corsets everyday, Jane would just have to suffer through it. Even in one of her less ornate courtly gowns– a wool dress more suited to her station, she had to wear the full ensemble complete with corset, bumroll, and farthingale. Given the confines of fashion, this was as comfortable as it was going to be. At least the wool was fine and the moss green dye was even and smooth. Of all the gowns she bought at court, this was the plainest, but even this one was trimmed in dark green velvet. It seemed silly to get done up for a dance lesson but if she wanted to get used to movement in courtly gowns, she had to actually wear them regularly.
She locked her chamber door behind her, tucked the key into her bosom, and practiced walking gracefully down the corridor. She imagined herself gliding, her hem just dusting the floor. Instead her legs became the clapper for the bell of her skirts. If she bent her knees a little with each step and tucked her hips forward, her skirts did not sway so much. Walking like this must make her at least an inch or two shorter – at barely an inch over five foot, she did not have much height to spare. If being a lady meant shrinking, she wasn’t sure if it was worth it. Cursing at her self-defeating attitude, she continued to put one awkward foot in front of the other. The woven rush mat covering the floorboards seemed to go on forever.
“Mistress Jane!”
The high squeal was the only warning she had before little Elizabeth LeSieur barreled into her arms. Luckily, Jane’s somewhat crouched walk gave her the stability not to fall flat on her back. Jane settled herself and shook out her skirts to fix the hem while Elizabeth babbled excitedly.
“Elizabeth, what has gotten into you?”
She was gyrating in place. “Mother has brought in a new tutor. He is a gentleman and able to give dance instruction!” She twirled once more and her ribbon slipped off the end of her braid.
Jane picked up the ribbon and gestured Elizabeth to stand before her. “You have had dance lessons for years.” She re-plaited the errant strands and fastened the ribbon.
“Yes, but only in country and French. The French dances are so boring. These new ones, the Italianate ones, those are what the ladies do at court.” Elizabeth did a series of mock steps in a circle that was probably intended to look courtly. “Mama says if I am to be a lady, I must know the dances. She told me to make sure you joined in – that you need the practice.”
Jane groaned inwardly. She’d had that same lecture from Frances, herself.
“Well then, let us march forth and meet our fate.” Jane took Elizabeth by the hand as they reached the stairwell. “Today we shall both continue on our quest to become proper ladies.”
Elizabeth giggled and hopped down the steps, two feet at a time. “Oh Mistress Jane, you cannot be a lady. You are my friend.”
“You have no idea how correct you are.” Jane smiled as she stepped onto the landing of the second floor and crossed the broad balcony to turn and head down to the first floor. Midday light poured through the long, narrow windows, sending shafts of sunlight to guide their way to the main hall.
The hall was at the center of the great home. It served as a banquet hall, a ballroom, and for tenant meetings with the magistrate of the shire, Master LeSieur. The polished oak floors were usually covered in braided rush mats, but in honor of the dancing lessons a quarter of the room had been cleared. For the first time, Jane saw how Holme LeSieur could indeed host visiting nobility. Perhaps Frances’ house party idea would be a great success.
“Ladies, pray sit you down. The fiddler will be joining us anon.”
At the sound of his voice, Jane’s eyes flew to the young man sitting by the massive fire place. He rose and walked toward them, as proper as a gentleman scholar should be. Stopping to reverence, he met her eye without any sign of recognition.
 “Mistress Radclyffe, I am Master Percy Mortimer. I will serve to tutor you in dancing for these next weeks.”
Jane stood rooted to the floor, her heart pounding in her throat. Percy was here! She swallowed and remembered to breathe. Somehow she found the presence of mind to respond. “God give you good den, Master Percy.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “What would you have of us?”
He directed them to sit on the chaise before the fire and began talking about something. Dancing.
God’s blood, what was Percy doing here? Why hadn’t anyone told her he was here? Why hadn’t he sought her out?
She sat in stunned silence, just staring at him while he continued his discussion about… French bransles. How could he talk about dancing at a time like this? He had changed so much; he was bigger now – a man. Still, with those thick sandy lashes and the serious set to his jaw, she would recognize him anywhere. She had not seen him since her marriage four years ago, since they day he told her he loved her…
How could he talk about dancing at a time like this?
Well, he was the LeSieur’s tutor – he was doing his job. Wait, why had he become a tutor?
“Mistress Radclyffe, are you well?”
Jane looked up into Percy’s heavy lidded, hazel eyes. His face was so close, she wanted to reach out and drag her fingertips across the hint of shadow on his chin, down his neck, beneath his proper pleated collar. His tawny curls, tied back, secure under his velvet cap, showed no hint of sun kiss they way they used to. He had always been serious when it came to scholarship, but the intensity in his eyes made her step back. After all these years, and here he was.
           She wasn’t sure if she should laugh or cry.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Brushed My Teeth, What More Do You Want?

From Hyperbole and a Half
Almost five weeks since the break. Three weeks since surgery. I am officially on disability now through mid-May and I hate it. I am a troll living in a cave. I’m going to get bed sores on my butt. My left calf is now Jello™ and even the Achilles tendon on my right foot is tight from disuse.

I got an orthotic boot the other day, but it wants my foot to be a right angle – so I’m still in the splint until the doctor can x-ray again on Tuesday. When I called the doctor’s office to ask about the angle of the boot, I made the mistake of saying a “90 degree angle.” The nurse asked me what I meant by that. I explained it was a flexed foot. She said, “Oh! You mean a right angle.” This does not inspire confidence.

Today, as I wrote about how I was doing to a friend (honestly – not just ‘fine), I realized I had hit several symptoms of depression. Me? Depressed? Nah – I’m just irritated at everyone. I mean, I would feel better if everyone just left me alone, let me sleep all the time, and stopped making me eat and groom myself.  Huh – maybe that is depression. Maybe I should change the tank top I’ve been wearing for the past few days (maternity, used to say ‘baby’ in now-missing rhinestones) and brush my teeth.

Having done that (and a little more) I still want to go to sleep. I’m convinced I’ll feel better once I’m mobile. It’s soul sucking just waiting for time to pass. And now that I’m on disability, I can’t even stress myself out with lesson plans.

All the help I’m receiving is making me crazy. Even worse – I actually do need that help. It’s painful to converse and be pleasant as someone reorganizes my pantry or my kid’s dresser. It’s the same as receiving a critique – it may be hurtful, but it was well intended and remember, every critique is a gift. Well, my family is awesome and very giving – and I want to burrow under my blankets and not speak to any one.

Speaking of critiques, I recently got feedback from YellowRose RWA’s Winter Rose for unpublished writer’s competition. Totally worth the $25.  I sent in the first 25 of Courtly Scandals and Courtly Abandon. Courtly Scandals is clean, has been queried, had interest, etc… Courtly Abandon is not even finished, really. The judges confirmed both. Scandals did very well in all, averaging 85/100. Abandon averaged 65/100 and I learned what I have learned with all my books so far – I started the story in the wrong place.

In RWA Golden Heart you get the judges final score. In Winter Rose, the judging sheet had many categories with room for feedback. They even inserted comments into the Word doc and emailed me the attachments.  It was a great experience. Of course, I have fixated on the 51/100 I received from one judge on Courtly Scandals more than the 99/100 I received from another, but when I step back I’m able to use both to make myself a better writer. (Amongst other things, the 51/100 really did not feel I fleshed out my world enough – something I either do too much or too little, so err toward the latter. I need to find a balance where descriptions do not detract from story.)

I am forcing myself to stop wallowing today. Yes, I am hiding in my room, but I have my computer and WILL NOT play any games on Facebook. I will write – maybe not anything productive, but I won’t cocoon myself with my quilt and have bad dreams about my foot. I will also wear deodorant. 
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