Friday, September 28, 2012

Author Interview--Erin Bales

Good Friday,

It’s time for another author interview. This week I’m honored to present Erin Bales. Take it away, Erin.

-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?

Getting into the MFA program? No, that’s not quite right. I’ve always loved reading and writing. Actually, I’m a sucker for a great story in any form, whether it be in a book, a television show, a video game, etc. And I’ve written for as long as I can remember. But I never felt like becoming a writer was something that I could actually do until I was accepted into the program at Seton Hill. I guess I just needed that last push of confidence to make me believe that I was good enough, smart enough, and that, doggone it, people liked me!

-What genre(s) do you write? If more than one, what’s your favorite?

Fantasy, epic flavor. I also dabble a bit in sf, but second-world fantasy is definitely my true love. World building is so much fun, and I really enjoy writing stories where the fate of that entire world is at stake.

-What project are you working on now?

I wish I could work on more than one thing at once, but right now my thesis novel, In Blood and Duty Bound, is my sun and stars. The main character is an irresponsible young princess. In the wake of her oldest sister’s death, the princess begins to grow up and learn responsibility, not realizing that her sister’s death is the catalyst for a series of events that will come to shape the princess’s entire world.

Man, that’s rough. My pitch is also a work in progress, but that’s the gist of it.


This is from In Blood and Duty Bound, in the chapter after Solena, Renn’s big sister, dies.

Under Renn’s riding clothes--she’d refused to change into the mourning dress her maids had for her--the muscles in her thighs, arms, and abdomen cramped and ached, and she wore gloves to hide the chafing and blistering of her hands. She couldn’t conceal her raw lips or her wind-chapped cheeks. The pain was intense, but it was clean. Unsullied. Pure. It was the sort of pain that a salve or a couple of days rest could ease, and she welcomed it.
Malthias and Linore entered the tent with Heshi trailing behind them. Though it was less than a tenday since Renn had last seen them, their shapes appeared strange, and she understood that they too were permanently altered.
Not even a thick layer of powder could conceal the sallowness of Heshi’s skin or the puffiness around her eyes. Malthias’s back was stiff and his shoulders were hunched, as if warding against blows that would not cease to fall. There were black circles under Linore’s eyes, and she moved like a woman carrying an unbearable weight. Linore is the heir now. The very thought felt like a betrayal. Renn turned away from her and faced the pavilion.
Max entered and sat down beside her. Four days worth of ragged stubble covered his cheeks, and the scent of chemicals clinging to him was so strong it burned the inside of her nose. He reached over and squeezed her hand. The sharp pressure brought tears to her eyes. She squeezed back. Pure.

-For other aspiring writers, any tips?

Read, read, read! Write, write, write! The bit of wisdom I have above my computer is something I heard Michael Arnzen say my first residency: “You can’t fix a blank page.” Truer words have ne’er been spoken. Put your butt in the chair and get your words out. Get your story on the page. You can think about things for ages, but until you’ve written them out, you’ll never know what you really have.

-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?

As you may have guessed, my favorite genre to read is epic fantasy, and I love stories with strong female protagonists. I don’t know that I have a favorite book, but I do have favorite authors. Tamora Pierce has been a big influence. I heart George R.R. Martin, Sharon Shinn, and Glena Larke. I will always have a big place in my heart for Stephen King. I think Brandon Sanderson is writing some of the best, most imaginative epic fantasy on the market today.

-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

My current work in progress. It’s still in its dog drafts (rough, rough), but I know it’s going to be better than anything I’ve written so far.

Want more from Erin?

Like her author page on Facebook. Check out her blog and follow her on Twitter @bibliomaniacal1.

About Erin
I'm currently a senior editor at an e-publisher. I'm working on my third English degree. I've lived in Illinois almost my entire life, but I dream of living in Edmonton, Canada, in large part due to the cooler climate. The first book I remember loving was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. I love Bioware video games, Star Trek, and I watch way too much TV. I hope to someday set foot on all the continents (four down, three to go). If it wasn't totally weird, I might have a squirrel as a pet.

This was fun! Thank you so much for the opportunity.
You’re very welcome, Erin!
Writers/authors—want to be interviewed?
E-mail Mary DeSantis.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Five Reasons Vampires Aren't Sexy

Good Wednesday,

K, this week’s post is about something that’s bugged me for years. I can’t recall when I read “Twilight”—I think it was my senior year of college—but, as I’ve said and explained, I’m not a fan. My reasons for this stance are scattered throughout my blog posts at relevant places (Bella ticked me off, Edward was over-protective, sparkling, vampires).

Upon further reflection, I hardly thought “vampires” was a good reason to dislike “Twilight.” I mean, vampires are perfectly legitimate creatures—they were in the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. That’s enough for me. So I tried to give them another chance.

Then I read “The Drezden Files” by Jim Butcher and realized that I was never going to give romance novel vampires a second chance. Butcher has three types of vampires in his urban-fantasy Chicago—White Court, Red Court, and Black Court. The White are naturally gorgeous; the Red glamor themselves up to look gorgeous, and the Black are not gorgeous at all. The White and their beauty worked for me, though, because they fed off of human emotion—drawing it out of their prey like the Red and Black Courts do blood. So, Butcher's White Court is my exception to the rule that vampires are not sexy.

Yes, I said it. Vampires are NOT sexy. And here are five reasons why.

-They’re dead

Necrophelia—*shiver.* In real life, we shudder at the idea of Necrophilia. But when the corpse is undead (basically dead but animated), it’s perfectly acceptable. Excuse me? That’s like saying that it's all right to kill someone with a knife but not a gun. The result is the same—death. Vampires are dead. Corpses are dead. What makes vampires so hot?

-They kill people

Murder is heavily frowned upon. Mass murder is heavily frowned upon. Yet, vampires wander around in fantasy or paranormal books and drain the life out of individual and/or large numbers of humans. Meanwhile, people (usually girls because the vamps are usually men) overlook this and think: “Vamps are so hot!” They’re murderers…hello?

-They suck blood

A friend of mine in college, the day the Red Cross came to take blood, said to my group of friends “I’ll see you guys at dinner. I have to go see the American Vampire League.” I thought that was one of the funniest things I’d ever heard. Later on it occurred to me that said friend was right. The Red Cross shows up to take blood and people reluctantly, but with a surge of guilt or duty, sign up to donate their precious, life-sustaining plasma. There’s nothing sexy about the needles. There’s nothing sexy about watching the little bag fill up.

Yet, when vampires do it, it’s the “hottest thing ever.” I’ve even heard people say that they’re jealous of the girls in the books and movies who have the super-hot vampire suck their blood. There’s a line between wanting to be close to someone because they’re physically attractive and insanity. Wanting to have your blood sucked out of you by the super-hot vampire (when you cringe at the Red Cross van) crosses the line.

-They tend to control people

I feel like this is less common, but I have seen it. Vampires are sometimes depicted as having a mind-control ability. They look deeply into the eyes of their prey (or something like that) and will the fragile mind within to bend to their every whim. As a result, the poor human is left trundling off after their Vampiric Pied Piper, unaware that anything is wrong.

“You’re ugly and stupid. Do you think any other (insert gender here) will want to put up with you? I’m the only person who will.” Sound familiar? It’s every “abusive significant other” speech we heard in middle school when they made us take classes on relationships. When a friend tells us that their boyfriend/girlfriend has been talking to them like that, our first reaction is usually something along the lines of “Get out of there. Break it off. Do what you have to. I’m here if you need help.” In the movies, vampires do their mind-control thing, and people think “Oh, the super-hot vamp has taken his victim under his/her spell. How romantic.” How romantic? It’s psychological abuse!

-They’re cold and pale

No, I’m not being prejudice against people who don’t tan to fit the “American standard.” I don’t tan. My skin is light (darker now because summer just ended). I’m sure there are people who have looked at me and thought, “Ugh, she’s so white.” For any of those people, I do not care. What amazes me is that those same people would look at a vampire and think, “Oh my God, he/she’s so sexy!” You just looked at a pale human and thought “gross.” Why is the vamp so hot?

Similarly, cold people give warm people a jolt. Have you ever high-fived or held hands or shook hands with someone who has chronically cold skin? Your first thought is “put on some gloves” or “rub your hands together.” Vampires are chronically cold creatures. And yet, their hands being colder than the ice cubes is “so hot.” Actually, it’s so cold, but no one noticed because it was a vampire—not a human being.

There you have it. Feel free to argue with me. But I have some points. Humans who exhibit the above qualities are undesirable. The minute these traits are applied to a vampire, however, they become the hottest things anyone could ever be. Vampires just automatically get pushed up the ladder of attraction to the slot labeled “Hotter than God.” I, personally, find them gross. I’m outnumbered, however. So maybe I’m the crazy one.

Wednesday Word Tally

Character info time: Vern Sumac
She’s twenty-seven years old with a B.A. in psychology from New York University. She’s originally from Southern California and a half dryad. Yes, you heard correctly—a half dryad. I’d explain how that works and what that means, but that would be telling.

Vern is the POV character and office assistant to wizard Warren Gazeban—her best friend. Vern runs the office (and does a very good job of it for a dryad). She loves the warlocks, hates the fairy, and has moments of fierce attraction to Warren that she can’t act on. Why? Again, telling. ;)

DayStart CountWrittenFinal Count

Total words written: 5866
Average per day: 838
Words remaining: 45,309

Monday, September 24, 2012

Birthday Post--Muppets

Ah, another week.

Normally, today would be about my next book for my readings in the genre class. But it’s not.


Today’s my birthday!

*Happy dance*

Incidentally, today is also Jim Henson’s birthday—the creator of the Muppets.

I love the Muppets, so for both Henson and myself, I present my top five favorite Muppet Moments.

5. “Wrong Dwarves”

From Sesame Street—Kermit brings us another “Breaking News Story” from the house of the wrong Seven Dwarves.

4. “Light the lamp, not the rat”

From “A Muppet Christmas Carol”—wonderful scene where Gonzo accidentally lights Rizzo on fire.

3. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the Muppets

Awesome—that is all.

2. “Roll Call”

From “Muppet Treasure Island”—I feel so bad for Kermit here.

1. “Muppaphone: Witch Doctor”

The ending secured this video spot #1.

See you out of the box,