Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Vernal Equinox

Vernal translates from Latin to Spring,
Equinox translates from the Latin words aequus, which means equal, and nox, which means night.

Welcome to spring and the day when the hours of daylight and nighttime are nearly equal. I love the equinoxes, which won't surprise anyone who has read Struck. In my novel, the earth was threatened from a ritual performed in Chaco Canyon on the vernal equinox, and whether or not Earth would survive was determined on the next autumnal equinox.

I enjoyed making multiple visits to the Anasazi ruins in Chaco Canyon as I geared up for, wrote, and refined Struck. Like many ancient civilizations, the ancestors of today's Pueblo Indians were very much in tune with the solar and lunar cycles. There are still big events at the ruins in Chaco Canyon to mark the summer solstice, the longest day here in the northern hemisphere and the start of summer. There may be celebrations for the winter solstice and equinoxes as well, but the summer solstice is the flashy one, as I've mentioned in a previous blog.

I still like the equinoxes, though, especially the vernal equinox, or as I like to call it for the rest of the day, today. Buds ready to burst forth with leaves or blossoms, warmer days coming, lots of sunlight. So happy vernal equinox, everyone, and enjoy the spring.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Unplanned Characters

Writers, what do you do with an unplanned character who decides he wants a bigger role in your novel?

I'm only in chapter 2 of my work-in-progress, and I've already got one of those. This happens a lot to me, probably to many fiction writers, so I'm not surprised. Many times this situation has worked out well for the unplanned character (and me!). In fact, every one of my novels has at least one major or very strong minor character who started out as a one-page toss-away, but after they'd served their purpose, they came back with big ideas of sticking around. Other times a persistent toss-away character's efforts aren't rewarded with a significant, long-term presence, but they still end up with a bigger purpose.

Then there are the ones I end up resenting. Maybe they frustrate the crap out of me by popping up all the time without ever finding a purpose in the story, and I have to delete every trace of them and fill in the holes they left behind. One character I resent but still love stayed in the novel--a fairly significantly role for the section she was in--but she caused extra work because I had to continually cut back her character development. Still, she kept popping up, demanding more examination. So I killed her. What did she do? Half a novel later, here she came again, a "cold spirit" with a warning for the main characters, and she was just as relentlessly insistent to be heard by them as she'd been with me.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Horror Novel Contest at JournalStone

Have a horror novel you'd like to get published? 

JournalStone Publishing is having a contest for horror novels that looks interesting. I'd never heard of JournalStone, but now I've done some research, traded emails with the owner, purchased one of their books for my Kindle, and read their standard contract (seems very author-friendly). They're a young small press but make no pretensions about themselves or their capabilities. I'm not qualified to endorse a contest, but I'm seriously considering entering this one. A few basics:
  • Horror novels only, at least 75,000 words
  • $2000 advance against future royalties with a publishing contract for 1st place
  • $500 advance and publishing contract for 2nd
  • $200 advance and publishing contract for 3rd
  • Submit full manuscript according to guidelines before 11 PM Pacific time, June 1, 2011
  • Novels that don't place are still considered for publication
Here's a link for full details on their website:

Let me know if you enter, and good luck to all who do.

   **3-3-11 update: I entered. Please wish me good luck too.