Monday, August 30, 2010

Creepy Childhood.

“Beth, Beth, the wife of Death.
Had a crying baby.
She tanned his hide, and she cried;
'now he's ready for Daddy'.”

- A rhyme I made up for my current WIP.

Childhood is brutal. Remember.

The WIP I am working on deals with children being hunted by a supernatural creature. Luckily, they have some werewolves that decide to protect the children. While I researched what type of creature would attack children. I was reminded about all the scary things we were told as kids.



"Ring around the rosies,
a pocket full of posies.
Ashes, ashes we all fall down" *


Since WWII the rhyme has been explained as a reference to the black plague. The rhyme is well known throughout the world, in its many different variations. The version I learned is a little creepy.
When I said, Ashes, ashes, we all fall down, I grew up in the late 70's and early 80's my mind would fill with images of nuclear war. When I heard the black plague explanation, it actually was a relief.

"Rock-a-bye baby
On the tree top
When the wind blows
The cradle with rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
cradle and all."

Do we still sing this to our kids? It creeped me out when I was a kid so much, when I had my own I swore I wouldn't sing it. I still sung it to them.

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan.



I would always say this rhyme when I saw a ladybug. And think of the poor baby ladybug under the frying pan trying to hide from the fire.


Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

I knew this rhyme before I knew who Lizze Bordon was.

Then there are the stories. Little Red Riding Hood deals with hungry wolves and dead grandmothers (depending on the version). Snow White has abuse and murder. The original Little Mermaid commits suicide.

Why do we keep these stories and poems alive?

Because children need to face their fears. In my WIP the rhyme was only part of the folklore surrounded the creature hunting the children. There were urban legends, and rumors, that were all told by children, or adults remembering the stories from their youth. It was a way to make the object of fear more understandable, even silly.

Sometimes you hear people say that when they have children, they can't believe what a horrible place the world has become. I got news for you, it's always been horrible. And these little stories and chants are one way to deal with it.

Remember kids are resilient. Think of all the children you read about, or have known that have gone through some horrific stuff. Monsters, horrible creatures, gross and scary songs, only help them deal with it.

So like the kids in my WIP that have to face this creature, making a silly little song helps.


* This is how I remember chanting the rhyme in school. I realize depending on where you are from it would sound a little different.

PS: this artist also uses fear and childhood for his art. I like the infant full plate armor myself.  If It's Hip, It's Here: Rock a Bye Deadly Baby: The Ne Zha Works of Shi Jinsong

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's in a name?

Moving from one identity to another.

A lot of people on the Internet know me as LeaPetra. There is a long history with that Internet handle. Before I seriously took my writing from hobby to profession (still need my day job, damn) I signed up with Twitter with that name.

Now, with over 1500 followers the question is; Was that the right thing to do?

Author branding, that phrase gets thrown around a lot now-a-days. Some people are scared when they see it, some shrug. I thought about it. I am familiar with branding, where I work, everything we do is a reflection on the image the store wants to promote. And we are told that is exactly why we do things a certain way, why we say certain phrases, etc.

So what is your brand? At it's simplest, it's your public face. The image you want complete strangers to have of you. The polished look, if that is what you want.

Some people take personal branding to the extreme. Look at Lady Gaga; she has a certain look, a certain attitude, all in the public eye. But I will bet you that if she wants some privacy, she will do nothing special to her hair, wear no make up, throw on jeans and a t-shirt and NO ONE will recognize her. Her outrageous look gives her a bit of freedom in her private life.

You do not have to go that intense. Terry Pratchett has his beard and hat. Neil Gaiman has his black t-shirts. Willie Nelson had his ponytails (fans mourned when he cut them off). Simple little things that will always be associated with you.

So what the heck does this have to do with LeaPetra?
Simple, that was my brand, so to speak, when I wanted to be unknown. It was my safe name. And now, my real name is being connected with that one. Which might cause some issues when I get famous (think positive!). But nothing that should harm my image, besides if it becomes controversial, embrace it and use it.

Now I am getting my real name out there. Slowly Mari Miniatt is becoming more noticeable than LeaPetra, and LeaPetra has over ten years of internet time backing it up. My twitter account is the nice bridge between the two. I do have a twitter feed, that I do nothing with, for Mari Miniatt. I will admit I am sitting on that one, you know, just in case.

So what is my brand? Me, just me. What you see is what you get. I did make a decision to wear t-shirts, either homages to my heroes and mentors, or ones I decorated myself. I could wear outrages items, but why. I would feel uncomfortable, and it would show. Otherwise, nothing special.

The hardest part was using my real name. I hid behind LeaPetra. But now I have to come out and let the world know who I am. I not really a shy person, but extroversion is hard for me. This was a big step.

I could have stuck with LeaPetra, I realize that now. I think I will save that for some special niche writing. Or something else. LeaPetra isn't going away,  she's just has to share the light with the person behind the curtain now.

My poor blog I have not forgotten you!

I feel like I have neglected this blog. But I have a good excuse I swear!

End of this week I send the last bit of editing to my editor. Then it's layout and proofing. Soon, oh so very soon, Killer will be out.

Here's a tease:
Killer is the second book of the Corrie series. This one will feature Vincent. He is bored. He likes his life around the Rathskeller, but it's getting repetitive. Along comes an old friend, Verina, and another vampire, named Nathan. Things start to look up. But Nathan is not the "nice" vampire he seems. Vincent finds himself having to bring back a part of himself he had forgotten about. The part that made him a killer.

Cover in progress:

More to come in the following weeks. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I want to start a movement.


I want to make sure Bela Lugosi name trends on Twitter on October 20th!
WHY? You ask!

Do you need a reason? Okay I have a few.

  1. October 20th is his birthday. 
  2. Lets remind people who was the original suave, sexy cinema vampire.
  3. He was a good actor, unfortunately typecasted, but he always loved his work.
  4. His Dracula didn't need fangs!
  5. He's Bela Lugosi!
So all you have to do is tweet about him. Tag each with #BelaLugosi.

I would recommend you brush up on his filmography, play Bela Lugosi is Dead by Bauhaus, and have fun.

For those of you that follow me on Twitter I will put reminders up.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nothing for you today, but a cute kid

I have been busy editing, writing web site pages, and WIP wrangling. So the post I was going to put up today, will go up later this week. So in it's place I give you one of the cutest, and amazing three year olds I have ever seen. He recites the poem"Litany" by Billy Collins. Its not just his memorization of the words, it is how emotional he gets while reciting. Amazing.



Saturday, August 21, 2010

Press release for latest book signing.

Seven Rays Bookstore Hosts Local Author Book Signing.

On September 11, 2010 from 1 pm to 5 pm. Mari Miniatt will be signing copies of her debut novel, 'Fledgling: Coiree Guardians – Book One'.


Syracuse, NY (FPRC) August 21, 2010 -- Fledgling: Coiree Guardians – Book One has been receiving rave reviews on sites such as Thiszine, Amazon, Smashwords, and Goodreads. It is yet another vampire book, but one that takes the reader on a thrilling journey. The novel is centered on a different type of female lead for a book about vampires, Rebecka 'Beka' Saberhagen. Beka relies on her brother to take care of her, with a place to live and a place to work. It is while she is working for her brother, at the nightclub, she finds out that her brother's friend, Vincent, is a vampire. Before she has time to even accept that fact, she is attacked by another vampire. A giant named Steopa. It is Beka's will to survive that leads the reader into a deeper mystery surrounding the club and the other vampires.

The novel has been described as a mystery thriller with vampires. It is the first part of the series, but there is no cliffhanger ending. The novel can stand alone as a story, but leaves just enough questions to make a reader want to read the next book. This dark urban fantasy has already built a small fan base. Readers that are looking for something a little different on the vampire myth, should find something to enjoy in the novel.

The book signing will be held at Seven Rays Bookstore, 222 Walton Street, Amory Square, Syracuse NY. 315-424-9137. On September 11, 2010 from 1 pm to 5 pm.

About Mari Miniatt

Indie-Author Mari Miniatt lives in Syracuse, NY. She lives with her husband, two teenage sons, and two cats. If she did not have to work, she would spend her time in libraries and museums, becoming inspired.

For more information on the author visit: http://mariminiatt.com. For more information about the book visit http://coiree.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 16, 2010

Unethical or Brilliant Marketing

crosspost with Self-Published Author's Lounge


This week I have ran across a few articles that complain about some of the marketing done by popular and not so popular books, music, and movies. Some people think that this sort of guerrilla marketing is unethical. Or is it jealousy.

I have a few examples and give my points as a consumer and a writer trying to promote.

Blair Witch Project:
Remember that movie. I thought it was okay. The ending was the best part. This article from Salon from 1999 claims the movie "faked" its fan base.
"'The Blair Witch Project' filmmakers are using their friends to generate their fan sites," says another industry executive point-blank. "That was an organized effort. What happened is that they tricked the press."

Consumer: I would not know if the web site owner was a "friend" of someone with the product. That might be where the "unethical" idea lies. So that makes paying a large firm to do the same thing "ethical"?

Author: No marketing budget, sounds like a great idea. Problem is finding the right friends to maintain it. I have a few fans/friends that would be perfect.

Paying actors to promote your book

Jennifer Belle hired actors to read her book in public and to have small teams of them talk about her book. Some people complain that it's unethical because the public didn't know it was a "commercial".

Consumer: I wouldn't know, but I would be wondering if it was a stunt. Especially if I have never heard of the product and suddenly I see 20 people with it.

Author: F-ing brilliant. So she hired actors to go into the public and promote her book. A lot more fun than having flyers thrust into your face. hmm maybe I need to organize a flash mob.

"Fake" Web sites:
HERE
I loved the Doctor Who and the Heroes fake sites. In the bottom there was always a disclaimer of what the site was. Some people enjoy playing around on the fake sites, other might be totally taken in.
Problem: Do people realize it's fake?

Consumer: I'm savvy enough to look for the disclaimer or other signs it's fake, but some people aren't. I think if the site is engaging enough, it would spawn enough interest.

Author: Great idea, but for me, I would have to pay someone else to develop and maintain it. Budget nothing, so out of the picture for me.

I think true unethical marketing is when you sell something that you know will harm people. But using creative ways to sell your book, doesn't seem that bad. Also if you notice in the examples if an relatively unknown uses these techniques its "questionable", but a big name does the same it "amazing"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Exciting week and a tease!

I got a great review on Amazon: http://amzn.to/9mD0zs


And a wonderful interview here at Lexi Flint's Author Alcove: http://bit.ly/9wPl3e


I am also gearing up for my book signing at Seven Rays Bookstore in Syracuse on September 11. Their new address is 222 Walton St. Armory Square, Syracuse, NY.  Irish fest will be going on the other side of downtown, so you could stop in, say hi, then go have some great Irish food.

On the book end. Editing is slow going, but I see the end of the tunnel. Killer will be out in October, I swear!

Here is the tease:
Verina met him a block away from the event. The line had already stretched to where they were standing.

“Hmm.” Vincent walked closer to the crowd. “What do you think?”

“I rather be dancing,” Verina said.

“Come on, they are filming his book at my club,” Vincent said. “Let's see who is behind those books.”

Verina shrugged. They walked past the long line. Vincent passed one of the men, who gave him a 'why me?' look. Verina wrapped her long fingers around the door handle and looked up in surprise.

Vincent could feel it now.
'Another vampire?' Vincent asked.

'Feels like it.'

They walked in. Vincent bought one of the books titled Hot Ashes. A woman glanced at Vincent and him a strange look. He handed the book to Verina. She took his arm. The line snaked through the book shelves. Vincent walked up to a couple of younger women at the front of the line.

“Hey thanks for holding our spot,” Vincent said. Remember, we asked you, he thought. They smiled and nodded. Vincent and Verina got in line behind them.

Five minutes to midnight. The crowd behind Vincent and Verina surged ahead. A man in a business suit came out of the back of the store. He walked up to a podium and coughed. The crowd became silent.

“I want to thank you all for coming,” he said. “I want to introduce you to the man that brought Stephan Ashington back from the dead. Nathan Stout!”

The line surged forward. Verina slammed her pointed heel into the woman's foot that almost knocked her over. The vampire came out of the back of the store. Vincent laughed. Verina rolled her eyes. The rest of the crowd screamed.

Nathan Stout wore long black leather coat, with a tall black top hat. He had pulled the lace down from the brim of his hat to cover his pale face. Vincent admired the red silk shirt, and black leather pants that Nathan wore.

'That must have set him back a few hundred dollars.' Vincent thought.

'More. That coat is an antique.'

'I think I have the same one in my closet.' Vincent laughed.

Nathan Stout shook a few hands of the people in the front of the store. Under the lace, his face glowed like a half moon. His black beard that was trimmed close to his chin. He took off his hat and the women screamed, again. His black braid had a single black ribbon holding it back. Nathan glanced in Vincent and Verina direction and gave them a small smile.

He sat down and waved to the woman at the front of the line. She squealed and walked up to the table, holding her copy of the book like a religious icon. She took off her jacket after she handed Nathan her copy. She wore a low cut shirt. Nathan signed his name on the cover and then motioned her closer with a curl of his finger. He reached up and signed her breasts.

Verina rolled her eyes, again. Nathan caught Vincent's eye and smirk. Then Nathan
gave the crowd a wide smile, showing off his fangs.

“He's got style,” Vincent said.

Verina gave Vincent a blank look. She flipped the book over in her hand and read the back cover. The line moved ahead. Nathan stood up and had his picture taken with an elderly woman. He stopped the photographer, so he could put his hat back on. Then he pulled down the lace and nodded.

Vincent and Verina were next in line. Nathan waved them over, grinning. Vincent held out his hand. Nathan shook it with a firm grip.

“You've never read my books,” Nathan said, low enough so the crowd could not hear. His voice had a soft English accent to it. It was not as posh as Ogden's, Nathan's sounded rougher like he was from the working class.

“No, but your movie is being film at my club,” Vincent said.

Nathan took the book from Verina. He signed it, and gave it back with a wink. They moved on. The girl behind them screamed and almost collapsed.

Verina opened the title page, and read what Nathan had written. “I would like to meet you again. I have not seen many blood suckers around.”

Vincent smirked. “Well, I hope he doesn't do anything to piss me off,” he said.

Verina laughed. “You were the one that said he had style.”

“Yeah, I'm already jealous.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Semi-new Idea for Bookstores

Cross post with http://selfpubauthors.wordpress.com

I had a vision.

It came to me while I was thinking about how indie published authors could get into the “big box” stores. The vision was not about that. The vision was what a large, mainstream, book store might look like, a few years from now.

Why do we go to book stores? To find books we want to own. It like a scavenger hunt. We browse among the shelves looking for the right title to jump out at us. We take a look inside and then decide if we want it. Around us is the smell of the other books, other people looking, and the smell of coffee, even if there isn't a coffee shop.

But things are changing. Ebooks are becoming popular. Not many new authors can break into the business, so many go indie publish, the book stores are nervous about carrying them because no guarantee on buying back the books that don't sell. The Espresso Book Machine® can print books out in a matter of minutes. More people are getting their books online and not stopping in the bookstore. So how can a brick and mortar book store compete?

By changing their focus from a place to find books, to a place to socialize about books. Some smaller bookstores are already heading this way, so this vision is not something new.

This would be a simple change. First combine the best aspects of a coffee house with a book store. Many have already done this. So not a big change for some. This would allow you to have access not only to food and drink while you browse, but perhaps some live entertainment as well.

The books will not have disappeared. The big names will still be on the shelves, some of the lesser known ones as well, but you will notice that instead of fifty copies of the latest Stephan King, they would carry five. Why? To cut down on space and storage, you would have to cut back on the amount of books you physically carry. But what if you want a book that they don't already have on the shelves?

Enter the Espresso Book Machine, or a similar item. I could see at the tables, and at the counters, computers hooked up to the ultimate database of books. You could browse in the catalog and order your book to be published. As you wait, enjoy your coffee or tea. A few minutes later, your book is ready at the counter, hot off the press.

Of course you could down load the ebook at the same time if you wish.

To keep the customers coming back the book store would have to throw more “entertainment” in. More book signings, some stores only do one a month. What about 3 times a week? What about special nights geared to genres. Book clubs hosted at the store? Writer clubs? Heck even an old fashion D an D session now and then.

Do you see where I am going with this? It would no longer be a place just to buy a book, but a place to experience and socialize with other lovers of the same genre, hobby, and author. Not like a library which is great for research and quiet time. I could see the new book store being like a nightclub for us bookworms. Of course I could see it closing at 10pm due to the fact most of us don't stay out that late (at least I don't, not much)

It would be a combination of embracing the changing trends and utilizing social networking. I would love to have a place like that. Managers of the stores could offer more indie books because they would be printed as needed, the fear of not being able to send back the unsold ones would be gone.

And a place like this would not be like running into a big box store and picking up a soft-cover while buying milk. It would be an experience. One that you would want to do over and over again.

This would not be a used bookstore, or a specialty bookstore, they serve their own functions. But I think if the larger chains or even the independent bookstores are going to survive, they have to change how they present their books and open up to more ways to enjoy a book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teaser Tuesday- Minstrels Fight in the Alley

Another very rough, very unedited part of my minstrels story. The main thing to remember is that Carey left a religious order that is not well liked. They have very odd ways, including killing anyone that tries to leave.

Carey stopped at a booth selling shaved meat. The server piled the meat on a half loaf of bread. She handed it to Carey. He paid her, then looked at his meal and tried to figure out how to eat it. A nearby building had cider, he sat at one of their tables.

A waitress came out and handed him a tankard. He paid her. He sat back on the chair watching the crowds walk by. He ate the meat with his fingers. No one seemed to care. With a tankard in front of him and the food filling him up. He was feeling good.

He drank two more. The sun had made its way closer to the horizon. Carey stood up and swayed. The cider had gone down too smooth. He belched and chuckled. This time of day, they would have been heading to supper. It seemed so long ago. But it wasn't.

He wandered through the stalls some more. The sun had gotten lower. Carey looked around, he had no idea where he was. He had been a country child. Cities were not something he was used to. The sun had been moving over their camp. He walked in the direction it was setting.

A drum caught his eye. Carey studied for a moment, then continued on his walk. He noticed a man in a black cloak following him. Carey felt his stomach tightened. It could just be a thief, or it could be a follower of Byleth.

Carey picked up his pace. He glanced around him. Two more men in black cloaks. His heart skipped a beat. He looked around. In the main streets there were too many people around, too many witnesses. He stayed on the main streets. It would be quicker to cut across, but he didn't want the men on his trail to have a reason grab him.

The crowd started to thin out. Carey looked around. He had to stay around people. He counted the black cloaks, he had four of them following him. He took a deep breath. He could take on two of them, if they did not have weapons. But four?

He saw a larger crowd forming on the other side two buildings. He turned quickly down the alley. Two black cloaks walked into the alley from the front. Carey turned around, the four were already inside the alley.

Please let them be thieves, Carey prayed.

"Former Brother Carey." a deep voice rumbled from inside one of the cloaks.

"Damn," Carey said.

"You are guilty of heresy."

The black cloaks surrounded him.

"And of leaving the Brethren."

Carey focused on the speaker. He lowered the neck of his shirt. "It came off, and I am still alive."

"Blasphemy."

Carey tensed. "I know what you are going to do. Come on then."

They attacked. Carey had speed on his side, but they had numbers and experience. He blocked, kicked, hit and dodged. He couldn't block all of the blows. He knew that. He protected the more vital areas of his body, while letting the other hit slip through.

One hit his side. The sharp pain made Carey drop his hand, leaving his neck exposed. Another blow to his lower neck, blocked him from breathing for a moment. He slid down and rolled.

One of them tried to pick Carey up. He smashed his elbow against his attackers face. He glanced up and saw a young man looking down the alley in horror. Carey's vision blurred, blood dripped down from his face.

The group stopped pounding him. The stepped back. Carey brought himself to his knees. They only beat him this far to make sure he did not run.

"No one who follows Byleth, leaves alive."

Carey spit blood on the speaker. "Who says?"

The speaker pulled out a large knife, almost as long as a short sword. The tip of it was wider then the handle. Carey knew what the blade was made for. It would cut though his neck in one movement.

Carey closed his eyes. I failed, he thought.

Then something exploded. Turning the darkness of his closed eyes into a red glow. He took a deep breath. His head was still attached. Carey opened one eye. The other had swollen shut.

Morvana held her hand out. "Can you walk?" she asked.

Carey shook his head and fell over.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How to make up a character that you need-RIGHT NOW!

Some writers spend months or years delving into their characters. They write long biographies, interview the characters, set up psychological profiles, and figure out what type of ice cream they like. I have done that. Those are all wonderful tools.

But there are times you need to make up a character, sometimes a major character, on the spur of the moment. How the heck do you do that?

First thing is to think of what is the character's function in the story. Are they there to do an info dump? Are they there to add color, like a movie extra? Or are they there to help or hinder the main character? Will their role be large or small? When you determine how large the impact the character will have on the story, you can make up the character.

Minor characters, such as the shopkeeper, or the cab driver, can be your stock characters. Here it is okay to have the old guy selling the newspapers, or the teenage cashier. You don't need to develop any background for these characters. You just have to have them be more like a prop, not a philosophical being.

So what about the characters that take up a larger role?

I have a few tricks.

If the character is a helper, start with a caretaker stereotype, then give them a twist. Better yet, at least three unique traits.

For example:

You need a mother-hen like character. You decided on that because you need the protagonist to have help, but annoying help. So what would define a mother-hen character? Over-concern, nosy, they want to do everything for a character.

What type of twist would make this character unique? Making them male would be the obvious choice. But I want to do something different. So I make the character a counter worker at the local deli that the main character always eats at. She is a fixture of the deli, every regular knows her. But only a few become her “children”. The other regulars can get jealous of her attention to her “children” because she will give them free samples, or extra meat, etc.

There you go, a quick character sketch.

What about the antagonist?

Much easier. Just flip some characteristics of the character they are going up against. You have a strong male character, but he is nervous around women he doesn't know. He is smart and hard working.

Take one or more of his aspects and flip them. So you could end up with a strong male character, who is confident around women he doesn't know. He is smart and delegates work, so he doesn't have to do his work. You can flesh them out later, but at least you have a quick sketch to work with.

Another trick, is to figure out their archetype, and use the stereotypical example. But again, make a small twist, if they are going to have a larger role. Such as you need a wise, old wizard. But you make them a drunk.

The more you practice with coming up with quick characters the easier it becomes. Who knows maybe that one character you came up with, the one that helped your main character out at the toy store? Maybe something will click when you are writing. And you will want to develop them more. 

Some tools to help you when you need to come up with a character quickly:

Collect stock characters. A good list is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_stock_characters and here http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StockCharacters

Read TV Tropes, just for ideas.

Have a list of random generators that you can access. I use Seventh Sanctum.http://www.seventhsanctum.com/

Naming a character: Behind the Name the best naming site.

Become familiar with archetypes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archetype This will help you quickly assign the role of the character.