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I’ve been doing some research on Vampires–yep, Vampires, thanks to the third book in my Apprentice Angel series. Tentatively titled Unworldly Angel, the plot revolves around a young girl who’s really into *gasp!* Vampires! Something I swore I’d never write about but…never say never, right? Anyway, I started researching Vampires and I kept getting lots and lots and OMG, tons of sites dealing with Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series. Now, I’ve never read the first word in any of her books but when you’re researching Vampires, the Twilight series is all the rave right now and you can’t get away from it. Seeing all the sites, I couldn’t help but click on a few. The first one I ran across that had me stopping to read was called Reasoning with Vampires where the blogger first read the series then posted about the many mistakes/errors in the books. From the blog:

Before I had any right to dismiss Twihards or criticize the psychologically unhealthy relationship model that Bella Swan and Edward Cullen present, I felt obliged to read the books. So I did. All four novels, one novella, and an incomplete document in portable format.  The content lived down to my expectations, but I was unprepared for how poorly crafted the saga is.

Pretty funny stuff–and boy, I can’t tell you how much I would hate to see my own books held to this kind of scrutiny!

From Reasoning with Vampires, I found another blog, Mark Reads, where the blogger reads books and reviews them chapter by chapter, including the entire Twilight series. Hilarious, so much so I’ve added it to my Favorites list and am slowly, slowly, like I’m savoring every word of every post, working my way through his reviews. Like I said, he doesn’t concentrate solely on the Twilight books but since my chief interest right now is with Vampires, I haven’t clicked on any of the other chapter-by-chapter reviews although I hope I’ll find the time to read them all one day.

Anyway, I’ve made my way through the first two books, Twilight and…uh-oh, can’t remember the title of the second one…Eclipse? No, New Moon. Yeah, that’s it, New Moon. After the last chapter of New Moon, there’s a post entitled “Mark Reads ‘The Story Behind the Writing of New Moon’” from Ms. Meyer’s own website. And it was in that post that I finally–finally!–found something I disagree with Mark about–sort of–and OMG, I hate to say it, agree with Ms. Meyers–um, partly, anyway.

She writes:

…I am a character writer. I write my stories because of my characters; they are the motivation and the reward. The difficulty with strong, defined characters, though, is that you can’t make them do something that is out of character. They have to be who they are and, as a writer, they’re often out of your control.

Mark’s response:

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. There are few times you have ever kept your characters consistent. May I remind you of the bizarre, unnatural things you’ve made Jacob do? You are ABSOLUTELY in control of your characters! THEY ARE NOT REAL PEOPLE.

The thing is, I understand exactly what Ms. Meyer is saying. She has a point about strong characters being the “motivation and reward”–and I have to add that was beautifully expressed!–and she’s also right when she says “you can’t make them do something that is out of character.” Except, according to Mark, Ms. Meyer manages to do that a lot. And judging from Mark’s chapter-by-chapter reviews of the first two books in the series, I have to say Ms. Meyer’s characters are definitely inconsistent.

And if they are, that’s all on Ms. Meyer. There are times when my characters do what they want instead of what I want. Yes, characters, as Mark says, are not real people but they can certainly drive the story down a different road than the one the author had in mind. And I know Mark is talking more about keeping the characters consistent, which is a must, but I have to say I’m with Ms. Meyer on the strong characters “are often out of control.” Witness Betty Sue in Storm Shadows. I almost didn’t finish that book because she was so adamant about taking the story in a completely unexpected directionand it’s not always easy to force a character to do something they don’t want to do. They may not be real but when you’re the author, they are very real to you and sometimes it’s impossible to argue with them.

But, and this is a big BUT, if they’re acting out of character, it’s your job as the author to take over the wheel and drive them in the right direction–even if you have to sneak and do it!

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I’ve been AWOL from this blog for way too long. I don’t have an excuse really, unless you count breaking my foot two days after my birthday, working pretty steadily on editing Whistling Woman, setting up the blog for same, trying to contribute to the two other blogs I’m a member of, and okay, I’ll be honest, quite a healthy dose of laziness.

The thing is, everything else has fallen by the wayside and that includes writing. I know, I know, broken foot and weeks of not being able to move around without crutches should equal at least one book, right? Not for me. I have been trying but I just couldn’t seem to get into anything. I have 30,000 words written on Sun Shadows and I’ve hit the mid-book slump that I always seem to hit. But that doesn’t worry me, it will work itself out in time as it usually does–fingers crossed–but I haven’t been able to get into anything else.

Until today, I’ve been doing a little research on cutting, vampires, specifically Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows, and this morning I actually got about 2500 words written on the next book in my Apprentice Angel series. What did it? What finally broke the block? Composing an email to one of my publishers asking them to please heed the certified letters I sent them last September telling them I did not want to renew the contract on the first book, Unwilling Angel. The contract expired in November of last year and after sending the certified letters, I sort of forgot about it and assumed the book would be taken down when the contract expired. Oh sure, I knew it might take them some time to get it down but we’re nearing a year later and it’s still up there so…I’m writing an email and hoping the publisher will respond.

While I waited, I read through the second book in the series, Unruly Angel, which I finished last year and it sparked an interest in the third book, tentatively titled Unworldly Angel. I’ve known for quite a while what that one’s going to be about so I got off my lazy duff and finally started researching. Reading through all the info I could find about Dark Shadows got me interested in writing again.

Whew! Thanks Barnabas, you’re still the only vampire I ever loved!

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams