Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Writing & travel

I thought of Alex and Nea on the 17 hour drive home from Memphis. Specifically, I thought about the fact that nothing about that trip triggered a single scene or idea for them. They are not Memphis characters. I thought they would be. The Blues City is hot, sexy and vibrant as well as steeped in history; all of which is true about both my hero and heroine.

As much as my characters think they live in the here and now, wring every ounce out of the moment; they are dragged down by the way things used to be. They are both desperate to return to a time that they understood, a life that required little of them.

Both Memphis and Niagara Falls are defined by the rivers that run along the shorelines on which they were founded. The former is slow and steamy, laid-back and ripe for savouring. The latter rushes and stumbles its way to a precipice that takes your breath away.

Last night I dreamt I had to go write a pivotal scene for Nea in which she struggles with the nymph she has become. That's all I remember but I think it's enough. Because nymphs are more at home along the banks of the Mississippi. It's the demon who enjoys being shoved headfirst over the edge of Niagara Falls.

I'm home. I know what to write. All is good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What's sexy?

Everyone has a different idea of sexy, arousing, stimulating - take your pick.

I'm partial to a barefoot man, clad only in worn denim. His shirt, if he's wearing one, will be unbuttoned. But that's merely visual.

Alex's idea of sexy has as much to do with the scent of Nea's arousal; the sound of her uneven breathing; the taste of her. All of his senses are engaged.

Nea has always used sex as a tool; a means to an end. If you ask her, she has no idea what's sexy. Until she met Alex. There's something about the way he reacts to her that stimulates her. She doesn't understand it; doesn't understand him. It's the way he touches her; strokes her wings at the point between her shoulder blades. He doesn't mean to arouse her. He's offering comfort but it's that very act of putting her needs above his that she finds so sexy. Desirable. And incredibly arousing.

Sex is about so much more than the physical. This is a foreign concept to Nea but one that Alex is happy to help her explore; even though she terrifies him. That's sexy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

For OH

This is it. I'm done. I can't do the excerpt challenge any more. Stop shrieking. I have to write. I can't do that if I'm always trying to figure out what to put on the blog and what to save for myself. So while I was originally going to share what was written on the back of my shower wall - I have no idea why I get scene ideas when I'm in there - I decided I'd be able to hear the screaming all the way on the other side of two countries.

So here you go OH. I wrote this today. For you. Now go do your homework and let me write in peace. :sigh: it was worth a try.

With a dramatic crash the patio doors in his bedroom were flung open. Nea swept in with a blast of bitter wind and a swirl of leaves. Her hair and wings were tattered as if she'd been violently shaken. An unholy grin was lit from within.

"Good evening, Alex." She trailed a long nail up his thigh. "Are you ready to play?"

Every muscle clenched as he fought to keep blood flowing to his brain. "No, thanks."

"Really?" She leaned in, let her breath caress the sensitive skin beneath his ear. "I could help you relax."

He wasn’t some hormonal teenager she’d dragged off the street. He could resist her advances. She licked his ear.

Any second now.

A leaf fell from the demon’s hair and skittered across her breast. With her wicked tongue driving away coherent thought, he never would have noticed the leaf his gaze hadn’t been fixated on that tempting part of her anatomy.

The leaf gently undulated then reversed gravity to skitter back up Nea’s neck and tuck itself beneath her hair.

Alex eased away from her. Leaves didn’t skitter. But that one had. Twice.

“What the hell was that?”

Nea delved her fingers into her hair. Smiled, and withdrew her hand.

“That’s Clio.”

How he’d ever taken the ugly brown beetle for a leaf was beyond him. His only excuse was the distraction Nea herself had provided.

“You named it?”

She scowled at him. “Of course I named her. She’s been with me since I was a kid.”

A slender finger gently stroked the shiny brown carapace. The bug’s long nose was almost the length of its body and he watched in mingled fascination and revulsion as it burrowed into Nea’s hand. The affection between the two was out-of-character for the demon.

Tiny wings flicked. Nea inclined her head then it skittered up and disappeared beneath the fall of her hair.

A chill raised his skin as understanding dawned. “That bug lives in your hair?”

“Where else would she live?”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Naming characters

Sometimes a character shows up fully formed,complete with backstory and well-named. Others are less defined, especially secondary characters. You know the ones I mean, the guys who walk on, deliver some important information then exit stage left. They can't all be called stranger number three. Some of them are good friends. Or doctors. Doctors imparting earth-shattering, life-altering news.

Instead of writing that scene, I've been thinking about the doctor. What kind of man he is, where he comes from, how well he knows Alex. He's not a throwaway character. He has to know Alex well enough to anticipate his reaction to the doctor's dictates and demands. Alex is not going to accept the prognosis or prescription easily.

Alex has gone into this scene with a smile on his face. He's walking better, stepping lighter than he has since the accident. His morale is up. He has a game plan. You know he's not going to take it well when it's the opposite of the doctor's.

Remember the old Muppets character, Dr. Bob? He always made me laugh. Always. Alex is conditioned to smile the same as I am whenever he hears, "Paging Dr. Bob." Don't ask me why I still giggle all these years later. I simply do. Dr. Bob is Alex's specialist. He has to be a man that Alex respects enough to get past that lighthearted response. How many Bobs do I know? How many do I respect?

How important is the character's name to my interpretation of him? Fairly important because what Dr. Bob tells Alex is the first link in the chain reaction that has Alex seriously contemplate joining forces with Nea to become a demon.

The doctor's name? I'm sure some of you figured it out. Dr Bob Mayer. You know he's going to be tough, pull no punches and be absolutely correct in his advice, no matter how painful it is to implement. But you're also going to smile when you hear,"Paging Dr. Bob."

It might be awhile before you get to read it though. Because I'm mean that way.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Writing support

Writing has been called a solitary profession. All the words, ideas and characters live inside my head. No matter what kind of input or support surrounds me, it's up to my brain to transcribe my chaos and assemble it into an entertaining format.

There are a lot of days when that doesn't happen. Those are the days that I call my friends, email my writing buddies or read writing blogs. Some days I simply read. It's natural to compare myself to other people. As long as the competition is healthy, it drives me to improve my craft. It always inspires me to write faster, funnier, and with more heart.

There are days when I feel like I can't measure up. I am blown away on a regular basis by the talent of my writing friends. I occasionally threaten to burn my manuscript because there are only so many publishing slots and so many of my friends deserve it.

Then there are the kids, the next generation of writers, who have such enthusiasm for the written word that I have to suck up the insecurity. Some of them look to me for guidance. What kind of example would I be if I gave up when the writing got hard? Finishing the first book is the most difficult. Once you have that confidence under your belt, it becomes easier.

Oh, who am I kidding? Each book presents its own set of challenges - and rewards. Support from other writers, from potential readers,and from people I respect, is what keep me scribbling on the back of my shower wall, sitting up in the middle of the night to jot down ideas or recording snippets of dialogue.

Thank you. Here is a tiny excerpt for those of you :ahem CBs: who have asked so nicely. I have little idea where, if anywhere, it's going.

He had strong hands; wide, blunt-fingered and calloused. They were the kind of hands that would be equally capable of gripping the fraying knot-end of a zip line or stroking the soft underside of a woman's breast. They were the hands of her next victim.

I told you it was short.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

An excerpt for Mary

The rest of you look away :-)
This scene has been permanently deleted for several reasons 1)Alex is physically injured and therefore incapable of this kind of activity 2)Nea doesn't walk away 3)I wrote this scene seven years ago when Alex was going to save the world, a quest I've since given to his sister. But I like it. I like this version of Alex. Alex before his sister's heroics made him feel insignificant. Alex before the accident. The carefree, laid-back Alex who lived each moment fully. This is backstory Alex.
Enjoy him.

The steady phwap, phwap, phwap of the helicopter blades usually drowned out the sound of Alex’s heartbeat as he prepared to jump out of the chopper. Not today. He stared down at the snow covered mountain top and wondered what was different.

Ice cold fingers of the altitude tugged at his wind suit while he braced himself in the open doorway. He watched the ground rush past 10,000 feet below. Overwhelmed by the erratic rhythm of his heart, Alex welcomed the rush of adrenaline like the lover’s caress it had always been.

He shook off the aberrant thought and focused instead on the task ahead. With precise movements, he went over the safety measures vital for a drop like this one. He had packed both the main chute and the auxiliary himself. He checked his bootstraps, helmet strap and snapped the goggles into place.

Once he shoved off there would be nothing between him and the mountain but air. The perfect moment in time. He reveled in it, fed off it, craved that moment like he craved nothing else in life. He nodded to the spotter and let go.

Air raced past him with a loud swoosh.

He screamed out a war cry and stood tall on his snowboard.

He curled his body around the wood and rolled with it through the air.

He’d been doing this for years. Jumping out of planes, careening over cliffs, surfing through walls of water to come through triumphant over nature at its most primitive.

Alex let loose with another whoop but it contained little of the fervor of the first. Something was missing.

He executed a brilliant back flip.

No one cheered.

No one grinned back at him.

No one returned his victory salute.

Freefalling through the sky, Alex had his moment of truth.

And it was nothing like it usually was.

His heart still raced, his breath still caught in a combination of awe and ball busting fear but it had little to do with the loss of control skydiving gave him.
There was none of the exhilaration he’d felt in a different moment.

A clearer moment.

He pulled the ripcord and ended his wild ride.

He didn’t want silence, didn’t want to be alone.

All the excitement Alex craved had walked out of his life two days ago.