Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Find Motivation

As you may or may not know, I am doing an personal experiment with this story. I am trying to write at least the first five chapters 'by the seat of my pants,' otherwise known as 'pantsing.' I am a HUGE fan of organizing and creating a skeleton to work from. But, as my writing to date shows, it is possible to organize your thoughts so much that on paper they are confusing, or worse, boring.

I have been writing this story on and off for a year, according to the blog date entries, and have only gotten through chapter four. Why? Did I follow the rules of religious writing that say to force yourself to write everyday, and the story will come? Yes and no. I tried that. My husband, Brant, is a follower of this idea, and tries hard to write something most days. And for him it works. For me... I am just not that kind of person. I really... REALLY don't like being forced to do something, and the work tends to come out as, well, crap.

I write when the urge takes me, like when I have a really good idea on how to continue. How do I find motivation, that spark that makes me want to write? I simply utilize the tools at my disposal that I love to use: those things that make me happy. Recently, those have been my husband, my work, my MST3K, and even my dreams.

Most of you that have read my first chapter know that I got the inspiration by watching the MST3K movie "Werewolf." I just thought 'I can write a better story than that,' and started hammering away at the keyboard as the movie progressed. By the time it was finished, I had my first chapter. It had flaws, and apparently spacial anomalies. But it was interesting enough for the editors (The Magic City Writers group) to want to read more.

The second chapter was written while I was in a bubble bath. Well, dictated. I was totally relaxed, and sort of day-dreaming, listening to music, when I started thinking about my story. Then I turned on a recorder (yes, I had one nearby, I planned it that way) and started talking it out. Again, the work was rough but pretty good. The third chapter was written just after watching another MST3K called 'Space Mutiny.' Basically, it relaxed me so I forgot about my looming deadline and just wrote the darned thing.

This fourth chapter I wrote in pieces, not in whole as the other three. I had no idea where to take the story, now that it could go in several directions. So I split up characters basically into pairs and had them talking to each other. I used some of the problems Brant has talked to me about with the computer software he uses at work to mock up a reason why the computer is not cooperating with Ran when he needs it too. I used my work to allow the two doctors to converse with each other on how to prove a gene is one thought to be extinguished from our gene pool long ago. And I again used my husband to ask what he thought of my infection ideas, which came to me in a dream the night before. The end result: a new chapter in (really) about 3 hours of work... spread out over a few days. Brant said at the last meeting that the work in this chapter was very high quality, and only had minor editing notes about rephrasing confusing sentences (something I am prone to).

Bottom line, the 'trying to write something everyday' can work for many writers. But for those that just can't seem to do it, like me, try surrounding yourself with stuff that motivates you, and be prepared to write when any inspiration hits you.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meet the Character -- Dr. Cian

Name: Dr. Zared Cian
Age: 59 Sex: M
Family: Son (Chance, 31)
Infection: Immune / OFAR 'hunter' gene

Zared Cian is a doctor for one reason: a stable income for himself and his son. Fortunately for those under his care, he is naturally gifted at his job. A smoker for years, he is almost always trying to light up. He is often foiled in his attempts by Dr. Ophie. He is affable and hard working, but a little more self-centered than the average doctor. Dr. Cian's speciality is genetic abnormalities. So when the FLI set up its first agency in the state of Alabama, he was called upon to make sure that the lycanthropes were properly identified, both by type and infectivity.

We don't know much about his past, but he must have had one because he has a son older than many of the others in the book. Zared talks about his son a lot, but not much else concerning his personal life. His role in the story is as the pathology lab director. He does genotyping for those wanting to join the FLI in Alabama, as they are required to have the OFAR 'hunter' gene. He also determines which strain of Hensen's disease patients have, as well as their level of infectiousness (or how long they have been infected). He job sometimes also requires him to determine the type of lycanthrope and their 'age' (how long they have been infected) that may have injured or killed a patient/victim. Grim, but someone has to do it. When he can, he aids Dr. Ophie with the patients in the clinic, but he usually stays behind the scenes.

His first name, Zared, is a derivation of the Hebrew 'Jerod,' meaning verdant or of strange descent. Dr. Cian is an African American of the Jewish faith. I really don't know why I decided to do this, other than as a small nod to Sammy David Jr., but I am sure it will come out in the wash eventually. A close relative of a name in the dead sea scrolls is "Yar-rod" which means perpetual leader, something Zared feels like he always is.

The name Cian (pronounced "Kee-an") is Gaelic for ancient, which speaks to his age. 59 isn't ancient, but he is older than his counterparts in the book. Because he is older, he feels that he must be a leader to them, although he doesn't really want to be a leader. If he had his way, he would just be allowed to do his job, and leave the leadership to ALF and Dr. Ophie.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meet the Character -- Lexi

Name: Alexia Lyall, "Lexi"
Age: 26 Sex: Female
Family: None or unknown
Infection Level: Immune / OFAR 'hunter' Gene
Race: Caucasian / Strong Russian Height: 5'1"
Eyes: Mulled-Cider Brown with deep-set, hooded eyes
Face: Pointy, rather thin nose, well groomed eyebrows, cupid-shaped mouth, high cheek bones and a well-defined jaw.
Hair: Ashen brown (probably dyed), long thick and straight hair, normally pulled back in a ponytail
Body: Small chest, muscula physique typical of those with the tracker gene, especially fond of her muscular calves

Lexi is a new recruit to the FLI unit, as noticed by Ranulf almost exclusively calling her 'Rookie.' She went through the Alabama police academy before deciding to take a tougher career turn and applying for the required genetic testing to be in the FLI. She is very gung-ho and sticks to her training to the letter. However, she is also wet behind the ears, and lacks the experience to deal with a lot of the real-world problems that differ greatly from her training. She is Ranulf's new partner, replacing Lupe, who recently went into semi-retirement. Ranulf is loathe to admit it, but he finds her sometimes overwhelming enthusiasm refreshing and a bit addictive. And he appreciates early on the speed with which she acts. In the first chapter, it was Lexi that downed the third werewolf, by tazing it from behind immediately upon arriving in the squad car.

The biggest thing Lexi has in her favor so far is being so obviously new. Even the lycanthropes underestimate her ability. In chapter three, she gets to register her first werewolf, Boxer, before questioning him about the attack on Lyka and Lowell. Lexi quickly sets Boxer straight on a few things, much to his chagrin. I don't want to give anything away, but I really liked writing the registration scene.

Her call name, Lexi, is a shortened form of a Greek name meaning defender of men. I think this is appropriate for a newly recruited FLI officer. New recruits tend to be the most tenacious in abiding the letter of the law. Her name, Alexia, means defender of mankind. It is a little variation on my wolf-themed names, but I thought the meaning was appropriate for what I envision for her character. As for Lexi's last name, that has gone through many changes. I firstly wanted it to be a solid Russian name, but instead have opted for Lyall, which is Scottish for shield wolf. As a defender of men, she would be a shield between them and the lycanthropes.

A Word or Two on Names

As I worked on writing chapter three of Moonlit, I noticed something I never really saw before. I have and awful lot of people whose names begin with "L." First we meet Lyka and Lowell Theron. Not too much of a stretch there to imagine twins with names beginning with the same letter. Alf also has an "L" name, as his call sign is his initials - A.L.F. But, we don't know what his middle name is at this time. Then we hear about Lupe, a retired FLI agent, who lives near Lyka. Lupe's real name is Lorelai, adding two more "L's" to the mix. Next there is my current favorite, Alexia "Lexi" Lyall, her name chock-a-block with "L's." Even one of the bad guys has an "L" name. Boris's last name is Lyulf.

In fact, as I am going over all the names of the (mostly) good guys in this story, the only one without an "L" somewhere in his name is Duncan MacCoinin, a character only mentioned so far as a FLI officer who is good with codes. I don't know if it really bothers me that there are so many "L's" in this story, but I thought it was noteworthy. So I looked into the (mostly) baddies in the story. The only ones with names so far are: Boris Lyulf, Arnulf Boxer, and Kendra Kenley. Not too uniform there, but I am going for a theme with the bad guys. I am not quite ready to reveal that yet, because it may not work out the way I hope.

Bottom line: I have obviously decided to put a lot of thought into the names of my characters, and strangely enough a lot of them are "L" words. If you keep track of the names, it will become more and more obvious which side you should root for and which ones you should anxiously await their defeat scenes. Happy hunting!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meet the Character -- Alf

Name: Aiden "Alf" Fillin
Age: 42 Sex: Male
Family: None
Infection Level: Immune / OFAR 'hunter' Gene
Race: Caucasian Height: 5'8"
Eyes: Dark brown, large eyes, well hooded but not deep set
Face: Slightly arched brows, well separated; prominent nose, fairly Romanesque, square face, flat hairline, thick jaw
Hair: Rust colored hair in a shaggy, mop-top style hangs just over his ears
Body: Well tanned skin; very muscular, especially arms and upper legs

Alf is the no-nonsense leader of the Federal Lycanthrope Investigation unit stationed in Birmingham, Alabama. He reeks of former policeman, and I love him that way. He likes to keep a tight ship, but with people like Ranulf under his command, a tight ship is unlikely. When it comes to the small section of the FLI that he commands, he is very protective of them. Even when they retire, he keeps watch over them as much as possible. Alf doesn't ask his officers to do anything he isn't willing to do, and they love him for that.

Having been an officer for both human and lycanthropes for decades, Alf doesn't really do field work anymore. He prefers instead to control the situations from the main office, rounded out with visits to the FLI clinic for newly infected and occassional trips to Ran's desk for a chewing out.

Alf's call sign is based on his initials, A. L. F. His first name, Aiden, is sometimes used in the story, but being that he is the boss of this unit, they usually just call him Alf. The name Alf is a diminuitive of Adolf, which means noble wolf. He does try to be noble, forcing his unit to do the right thing, even when it may seem better to do something else. His first name, Aiden, means little fire. I believe this is fitting, because he has a passion for his job of upholding the law, even when it comes to werewolves.

Fillin is English for little wolf, and is a derivation of the Celtic name Faelan. I picture Alf as a beefy Irish guy, like a prize fighter. I didn't want his name to sound too Irish, so I chose the English name instead of the other. It doesn't give him more respectability, just sounds a little less stereotypical. As for his middle name... well, I haven't actually decided what it should be. All I know is that I want it to start with an L.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meet the Character -- Lyka

Name: Lyka Rebecca Theron
Age: 30 Sex: Female
Family: Twin brother, Lowell; Father, Willis (location unknown)
Infection Level: Immune / OFAR 'tracker' Gene
Race: Caucasian Height: 5'6" Weight: 120 lbs. (about)
Eyes: Dark green eyes; rounded shape
Face: Groomed eyebrows, slightly arched; small pug nose; full lips, tilted slightly downward; delicate features, thin face, single dimple on right cheek
Hair: Very light brown; wavy hair, reminiscent of surfer hair, which falls to just below shoulders
Body: Fair skin, lightly tanned; average chest, slim build, light muscle structure; ears pierced; small pink and purple butterfly on inside right ankle

Lyka Rebecca Theron was born and raised in Alabama. Her parents are divorced. Her mother died four years ago from cancer, and the whereabouts of her father -- Willis Theron -- is currently unknown. Her twin brother -- Lowell Theron -- lives in Boston, Mass.

The heroine of this story is Lyka Theron. At the beginning, she is just your average Alabama girl; who loves to hang with the guys as well as with the girls, ignorant of much of the world around her. Her job is a wildlife manager and patholigist who works freelance, often taking cases for the city of Birmingham and surrounding cities, as well as the state. When she needs a little down time, she usually spends it at home curled up with a good movie and her mixed-breed basenji, Zeeva.

In her world, the neighborhood is calm, and no harm could possibly come to her there. But, as in real life, statistics show that most accidents and attacks take place close to home. The same goes for her and her brother, Lowell.

After the attacks on her and Lowell, Lyka begins to learn that the world is not black and white. Everything she knows about the world is a little bit skewed, including what she knows about herself. Now she must sort out the real truths around her, as well as realize who she can and cannot trust. Like most people, she does make the occassional mistake, misstep, or mistrust. But, unlike a lot of people, she is willing to go out of her way in the quest of truth and justice.

One of the items I am trying hard not to lose in Lyka is the ability to still see the good in people who seem to everyone else to have changed for the worse. I want to show that you can still have hope and a little innocence even though the world throws you a few curve balls. But, I also want to make sure that she won't be pushed around. At least, not too much.

Her names, like everyone else's, have meanings. Lyka, which is the most recognizable name, is a shortened form of Lykanios, a Greek name meaning wolf. Her last name is also Greek, Theron, meaning hunter or untamed. So her name literally means "wolf hunter." Technically, she is not a werewolf hunter, she is a wildlife biologist. But, let me just say that her name will take on more meaning as time goes by... hopefully.

Her middle name, Rebecca, is for her grandmother, who died shortly before the twins were born. It is a Hebrew name meaning peacemaker or trustworthy, something that I think fits in well with her character. Lyka feels more for those around her than for herself. She even puts the need of her dog, Zeeva, above her own after she is attacked by lycanthropes. Rebecca was definitely a great choice for her inner self name.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A little background

Now, anyone who has written a book or short story knows that the ideas for the book change as you go along, scripted or not. Minor or major, they do occur. What I am listing here for you are my first thoughts on the history of lycanthropy. I like to read historical things, and I was trying to make this sound real. Enjoy.

For as long as there have been lycanthropes, there seem to have been people born to deal with them. In the beginning of these records – around 300 b.c. – they were pretty much indistinguishable between ‘real’ werewolves, and were hunted and killed in the same fashion. Around 236 a.d. it was observed that there were some people with many traits of a werewolf without actually becoming a werewolf. They were called the ‘Chosen of God,’ given the same strength or senses as a werewolf with none of the terrible side effects. As they were first recognized in the village of Norov, Russia, they were called the Norovites, eventually turning into two versions, the Norovites and Norites. For centuries both strains worked together in a ‘bonded pair,’ meaning that together they formed the equivalent of a single werewolf, and fought them on equal footing.

As the Norovites pulled together and honed their skills, the werewolf population began to dwindle. It was thought that the werewolves were on the verge of extinction in the early 20th century, when it was discovered to be caused by a mutating virus. By that time, the second strain of Norovites, the Norites, had fallen out of favor with the general populace. The Norovite strength was seen as a great thing, while the Norite sensory capabilities were seen as strange. Norovites started working without the other half of their ‘bonded pair.’ The Norites, with only their senses to guide them, disappeared from the written records in the early 1800’s. Their last known use in catching werewolves was in 1826, where a ‘bonded pair’ from a religious sect tracked down werewolves and tried to ‘convert them to normalcy.’ They were annihilated.

The Norovites and their extinct counterparts are both highly resistant to the lycanthrope virus, or Hensen’s Disease, as it is now known today. Each has two genetic markers, one for the resistance to the disease, and then a gene that turns on either a dominant or resistant trait. The dominant gene gives the bearer great physical strength like that of a lycanthrope, increasing their muscle to body mass ratio and even increasing their running speed. The recessive gene, to the best of current knowledge, gave the bearer the senses of a werewolf, including a keen sense of smell that was utilized in tracking werewolves. It is not known for sure if there were other senses, but many historians believe that they also could attract werewolves, giving off a pheremonal scent that mimics the smell of fear.