Monday, July 23, 2012


Perspective of yourself and your work is often the hardest part of being a writer.

For the last two weeks I've been meticulously stressing over details of my WIP. I'm not even talking about word choice (I won't even let myself go there yet.). I'm constantly doubting, and second guessing my choices. Should I pick one central protagonist? Or push forward with my feeling that there are two? Are their POVs balanced? Is my setting developed? Do I have to many additional characters? Are my main protagonists fleshed out enough? Is the romance even working?

One corkboard of index cards later, I knew I needed a new perspective.

A lot of writers recommend taking a break. Taking time off from the story. This isn't always the solution for me. When I first wrote this manuscript nearly 3 years ago, I had to put it down for some of the very same issues I'm fretting over now. If 3 years isn't enough shelf time to separate myself from these issues, no amount of time will be.

When I talk to some of my friends, they're advice is to just keep writing. Keep telling the story and worry about that during revision. Well this is revision. I have the story done. I'm trying to iron out kinks. Smooth over the rough draft. What is there to keep writing? AHG!

So I did something different. I sucked it up and sent the mess of a 3rd draft to some alpha readers - the lovely ladies I met through Camp Nano in July. Many of us writers have heard of beta readers, those wonderful critiquers who point out all the plot holes so we can cement them in. A beta reader should only be reading a draft once you've reached the point where you can see nothing wrong. A alpha reader is more or less someone who can keep you on track. Someone to run a messy draft, a preliminary idea by, that will let the writer know if she's on track or not. They offer general ideas and suggestions, knowing you're probably aware of the nitty gritty of revision you still have to complete.

So far, it has given me some perspective. I'm clearly worrying about POV entirely too much. I'm trying to pit all the rules of writing I've been taught against my storytelling instinct. Letting others read it is allowing me to get over that hurdle. Yes, my story can be successful while having 2 POVs.

Instead I know I need to focus on some world-building and exposition. Make sure all my plants are in place and clear. These are things I thought I had succeeded at, but, I hadn't.

Writing cannot be a solitary art form. This is in part due to the fact that in order to be a novelist, you need readers. I mean that's the point isn't it? The writer has a story to tell, but she needs the reader to hear it. Writing is the the medium of expression.

Locking myself up in my office and obsessing over details and lessons was becoming detrimental not only to my story, but to my mental state. I felt lost and hopeless, and all my confidence in my project ptttph out like a deflating balloon. I needed that outside prospective to keep me on track.

And this Panic! At the Disco Song to jam out to.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Splash Into Summer: Artist Highligh Jessica Cox

Splash into Summer

In honor of The ZBBC's new design going live, I thought I'd highlight the amazing artist Jessica Cox. I have two 8X10 prints of her mermaid designs in my office, plus 3 mini prints scattered about.

I saw Ms. Cox's designs from across the room at Coast Con, and knew I desperately wanted them.

I've mentioned before how I like my mermaids rather fishy, and Ms. Cox delivers.

Ms. Cox designs more than just mermaids, and each design is just stunning. All of the pictures in this blog are for sale on her website, plus, many, many more. Check the rest of her designs out today.

In closing, I'm leaving you with this awesome video I filmed of my husband interviewing Ms. Cox at Coast Con this past spring.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Splash into Summer Movie Review: She Creature

Splash into Summer

Being a filmmaker, I really wanted to review a movie for Splash. One immediately came to mind, a personal favorite of mine.

If you're reading this blog, I'm sure you can agree that the best part about Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides was the Mermaids.
They were cool and dark and monstrous! Totally not Ariel. Too bad it wasn't just about them.

However, they reminded me of this very neat Mermaid Horror film She Creature (2001).

Never heard of it? Not surprising. It was a Showtime original that I'm pretty sure I caught when it originally aired late one night in high school.

She Creature is set at the turn of the 20th century, and follows the tale of a side show circus that acquires a real mermaid. It starts Rufus Sewell and a bunch of people you almost recognize.

Angus (Rufus Sewell) is the proprietor of the circus, and his lovely lady Lily (Carla Gugino) is the show's mermaid. Of course, hers is just a costume - a hoax like the rest of a circus. But everything changes when Angus and Lily ofter to bring a drunk patron home. Turns out, this drunk guy, actually has a real live, murdering mermaid! Yeah, the mermaid totally ate the drunk's wife. Now he just wants her to die.

Angus can't get the mermaid out of his mind. So he sneaks back to the drunks house and "procures" the creature. Now, the circus is trapped on a boat with a beautiful and deadly mermaid as they cross the Atlantic. But worst of all, Lily seems to have developed a deadly link with the mermaid.

She Creature really creeps me out while being totally awesome, especially for a low-budget film. Lily and the creature are both fascinating strong female characters played by great actresses. The story is solid. The pacing is good. The creature - is totally awesome. The mermaid portrays an inhuman beauty, and the make-up and effects hold up. Plus, she has really nice boobs. Which are everywhere in this movie. I'm sure part of her casting involved how good her boobs look in water.

So, if you're a mermaid fan who can deal with horror movies, you must check out She Creature. It's a lot of fun, and a great creepy take on the myth.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Splash into Summer: Part of my World - Creature Creation

Splash into Summer
Today for Splash into Summer, I'm going to talk about my mermaids. How I came to creating them and what they sorta look like.

When I decided I wanted to write about mermaids, I knew I didn't want my mermaids to look like this:

I'm not even sure what kind of pose Ariel is doing here.

 Instead I wanted incorporate my love of saltwater fish into my creatures. I want my mermaids to be based on actual fish.

Ok, so maybe she's based on a koi not a saltwater fish, but you get the idea.
Image by Bamfette

Mermaids aren't an unusual creatures. Their imagery is all over the place, especially around any location that has water. Their image is as iconic as unicorns and fairies. Mermaids are typically visualized as top half very human and bottom generically fishy. Going outside of the box is a glitter tail and gils. Using actual aquatic inspiration for mermaid designs seems rare. I have found some, and they're based on dolphins. (I am not, nor have I ever, been a dolphin person.)

My family has been aquarium hobbyists all my life. In fact, they bread freshwater angelfish on a fairly large scale for a chuck of my childhood. Then when I moved out, I didn't last a year before I bought a betta fish and put it in a giant martini glass.

When I got my first apartment, I set up my first saltwater tank. It was big and I kept lion fish, though I desperately wanted a Harlequin Shrimp.

 These are totally my favorite aquatic thing ever! The EAT starfish! How cool is that?
Plus they look like aliens.

Anyway, times pass, and I get this inspiration for writing a mermaid book. Immeadately my years of fishkeeping come to me. I know that my mermaids will take on characteristics of specific fish. Razor fins! Venomous spines! Yes! I start browsing images online, looking for mermaids that resemble mine...

I don't find much.

I start reading more mermaid books to examine how other authors building their creatures and worlds. Still nothing quite like I imagined. 

I often feel sad seeing this lack use natural inspiration. Aquatic creatures can be down right cool and weird. They have some of the craziest color combinations on the planet. I knew immeadately, that I would attach a fish inspiration to all of my merfolk. That I would drawn from all my knowledge about cool aquatic creatures. I'll incorporate razor fins and juvenile color patterns.

 The Emporer Angel juvinile. My MMC still has this pattern and is teased by his sister for it.

Creature creation is a very difficult part of writing. Mermaids are both over explored and underexplored. The word itself brings to mind a very specific image, yet, it's not the image I want. I'm very excited to mold that image into something new and unqiue. There are so many cool things in nature to take inspiration from. When it comes to mermaids, I want to see this happen.

The Mermaid combinations are endless!
Picture by Doodlebuggy
So, take time to create your creatures. Draw from inspirations you know and love. Google cool pictures and keep a folder. And sometimes, the thing sitting in front of your nose is the best place to start.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

Splash into Summer

I promise, by the end of this blog, I'll have a Splash Into Summer tie-in.

It's the beginning of July, and the end of Camp Nanowrimo. In case you were wondering, I did not have a miraculous finish. Actually, I'm not even sure of my final word count, but I estimate it's around 30k. I am still okay with this.

This weekend, I've been sitting down with my work, backwards engineering an outline. This is exceptionally rough for me. This draft isn't half bad, but, I'm having a hard time looking at it as a whole. I kept saying, "This writing thing is hard!"

I was feeling particularly down, so I asked Twitter what I should do when it was tough to keep writing. I got the best answer ever.

@MegTao just. keep. writing.

It was the perfect encouragement. Something so simple, how could I have forgotten it? (I'm totally thinking of printing these words out and gluing them to the wall behind my desk. Oh, and check out the awesome MegTao's blog too.)

Then I read this in one of my camp buddies blogs:

"Things Camp Nano Has Taught Me:
5.) I will never quit writing."

There's something so profound in that statement that I nearly fell out of my chair. 

I will keep writing, and I will never quit.

This totally reminded me of...

Which it totally fishy, and fits right into the Splash into Summer theme! Plus, I'm gonna attempt to post a new post every day for the rest of the week in celebration of Splash into Summer! Booyah!