Let’s Talk about Vampires

Oh man, Galder did a wonderful job with the art piece of my character holding a glass of blood. It’s of my San’layn in World of Warcraft. For those unfamiliar with the game, they’re essentially undead vampire elves. Hopefully they’ll be truly playable one day!

But I’m not here to discuss vampires in video games. Not now, at least. No, I wanted to talk about common vampire mythos and my personal opinions on each little trope. Now, the thing is, I’m in the ‘unpopular opinion’ crew for many vampire fans, I feel like, and as you read this post, you might see why. For an especially particular reason, of course–I don’t like the ‘undead vampire’ trope. Yet, I have a species of undead vampires in my book! I also love many of the stories that feature undead vampires. So, what am I going on about?

Well, that’s simply one aspect I just don’t like as much. Vampires classically drink blood (I firmly believe it’s not a vampire if it doesn’t) and I feel like that makes them more alive than dead in most cases anyway since they’re processing food. I can understand the undead thing, though; in most cases, they are a magical species. However, I can’t lie and say that when I read lore from a book where the person’s vampires are alive and a species, I get a little bit giddy. My living vampires, for example, are a biological species, however it’s my particular series so of course I’d write to my top preference!

My work was actually inspired by vampires in L. J. Smith’s Night World. Yeah yeah, laugh it up, but really. While my book takes it into a very different direction, Night World is the first time I actually read living vampires. Or, well, “born dead” as one of the characters (John Quinn) puts it in one of the stories, but hey they can at least reproduce which is neat and unusual for vampires.

I’m just a picky person though, the ‘undead’ thing isn’t even that big of a deal, and even in my own series do I break my personal promise of ‘not having undead vampires’. However, there is one element of vampire tropes I hate and I might actually offend some people by saying this. However, do keep in mind not everyone subscribes to the same religion in the entire world. I’m pagan, after all. But the trope that vampires are evil/from the pits of hell/repelled by crosses and churches isn’t something I’m a fan of at all. Here’s why.

In any story, I’m not a fan of a species being strictly and purely evil. I see that as lazy, and yes I know I’m bold in saying that. But it’s true and it gets so old. “This entire race is evil! No matter what, no exception!” It’s obnoxious and I hate it. Yes, my words will probably miff some people, but eh who cares. Every single vampire being evil doesn’t make for a good story if you’re trying to depict them as having any semblance of intelligent. Killing/feeding being in their nature, sure, that makes sense as they’re a predatory species. There’s heavy debate as to that being baseline evil, but I’m talking in a religious context here. Don’t even get me started on demons, because my opinions on those are probably even more offensive. (Granted, there have been a few stories that have made me eat my words, because the ‘all evil’ trope can actually be done well. But still, GENERALLY I’m not a fan!)

Here’s another unpopular opinion, though with a different section of vampire fans. I dislike ugly vampires, the Nosferatu-looking vamps. To me, you might as well just have a blood-sucking zombie if you’re going to ugly-fy them. A healthy mixture of both beautiful and ugly vampires in a story is much preferred for me, and I’ll always favor the noble/regal-looking one. I feel like that romantic allure trope is perfect to lure in prey. Ugly nosferatu have to take the direct approach of just attacking someone. After all, how are you going to lure in someone looking like a zombie that fucked a slug? It’s much more haunting and offputting to have a dark force behind a pretty face.

People complain all the time about vampires being romanticized and turned away from the monsters they once were. I’m sorry, but I disagree. I know a lot of vampire enthusiasts are scoffing at me right now, but I feel like you can have a regal/noble monster yet still. Just like how an angler fish lures in prey with a beautiful light, a vampire that looks good can do the same.

Take this piece of one of my vampires, Goliath Elapid, by Harcloniter:

As he puts it, if he’s going to be a killer, he’s “going to have looks to kill” as well. Goliath here is no pushover, I write him to be rather dark. Several times in my series does he rip someone’s heart out and eat it. He also completely rips his enemies apart. Hell, before he changed into a protagonist, he was a dragon slayer that devoured their blood to grow even more powerful. The ‘beautiful monster’ trope can certainly be done right.

But if someone makes their vampires look good, they have to have the bite to back it up. Twilight fails at this miserably, again in my personal opinion. I’m a firm believer that vampires should be depicted as horrifying predators in many aspects. Giving them personality, emotion, and love, are wonderful, yes. That makes for a good variety of characters, and I do that myself. But even my most ‘innocent’ vampires will rend their enemies into a pulp, and violently, too.

Now, as you can see from the art depiction of my character, I don’t actually embrace the ‘two fangs’ trope. I actually do love vampire fangs, aka their upper and lower canines being longer and sharper. Mine are a bit more brutal since they have no flat or human-like teeth at all. I describe it as ‘having the dentition of a pure carnivore, similar to serpents or felines’. I feel like that makes them a bit more terrifying, and it makes sense too, since in my story they’re a living predatory species.

Vampires being caused by a parasite falls under that category of ‘living species’ technically as well, which is another neat take. Writers embracing that trope will often make it a permanent change, which makes sense. Some parasites alter your entire biology and cycle.

Related, there’s the garlic trope. I don’t use it myself, and it’s based on the idea that vampirism is a disease of which is repelled by the antibacterial properties of garlic. Vampirism being a disease (beyond porphyria) is a cool trope to me, honestly. While I don’t use it myself, I love the scientific basis. In that sense, I guess garlic does make sense. I just, well, do find it kind of silly. Wouldn’t, in that case, most herbs with antibacterial properties repel vampires? Why is it only garlic?

Unpopular opinion number 3, but again with a different section of vampire fans, because I’m on a ‘WHAT IS SHE SAYING!” roll today! Although, I feel like I’ll have many agreeing with me either. Just not…this particular fanbase. I. HATE. TWILIGHT. So much. The vampire mythos in that novel series is one I’m shaking my head at. First of all, apparently they sparkle because their skin has a similar consistency to stone. It really sucks that every time I say I’m a fan of vampires, someone immediately is like “Oh you love Twilight?” No, Jerry, I fucking hate it, go jump into a dumpster.

The whole “I drink animal blood therefore an a ‘vegetarian'” thing is dumb as fuck, sorry not sorry. In many vampire books, some vampires can sometimes drink animal blood for a time before snapping and having to go feed upon humans. That’s the proper way to do it, in my opinion. But you’re not a vegetarian if you’re still drinking animal blood, that’s absolutely ridiculous. And any self-respecting vampire species would snap eventually to feed upon humans. Otherwise, what’s the point? You’re just a glorified meat enthusiast at that point, you might as well be a human.

Anyway, the needing to be invited into a house is an interesting trope that I enjoy the idea of. Some sort of magical deterrent for vampires, and while I don’t use it, I’ve seen it done very well. Particularly with those that include witches in their stories, actually. It can force the character to play a game of cat-and-mouse. “Little pig, little pig, let me in!” sort of thing. But here’s an interesting thought–what if the vampire somehow manages to destroy one side of the house, or the house itself, without harming the resident? Causing the walls to whittle away, for example. At what point does a sanctuary no longer protect the one inside?

As for the trope of not being able to cross moving water, well, I find that one silly. I can’t really explain why, it just makes me roll my eyes. Not a fan of it, and won’t ever use it in my mythos. Same with the “needing dirt from birthplace” thing. While that one has merit to be interesting, I’m still pretty iffy on it.

One thing I wish people did more in vampire fantasy was emphasize a behavior often seen in vampire bats, or reciprocal altruism. If a bat comes home hungry, a friend (they don’t have to be blood related) will regurgitate blood for them. Now, I don’t think that exact behavior should be reflected in vampires, more like “you help me hunt prey and I will return the favor”. Sure, vampire covens or clans are pretty commonly seen, but they often are at each other’s throats (pun intended).

Vampires turning every single person they bite is kind of silly to me. That makes no sense, they’d run out of prey so fast. The people that either give vampires the ability to control such a thing, or put other methods on turning someone else into a vampire have props from me. Stories make way more sense in that respect.

Now, to burn in the sun, or not to burn in the sun–that’s the question. Vampires in many, many books ignite when sunlight hits their skin. Heck, I even use that trope for my undead vampires, as a magical side-effect to the ritual that created them. I feel like the sun should either burn or inhibit the vampire in some way, or do nothing at all. Other effects like sparkling are silly. It’s a hindrance to my living vampires since they’re a nocturnal species, and therefore more sensitive to it. They, however, do not ignite.

Not being seen in a mirror has always been silly to me, and I don’t see it used much these days. Apparently it’s due to silver being a “pure” metal in a religious context, and therefore vampires couldn’t see their reflection if the mirror had silver in it. As I mentioned before, the religious tropes in vampire mythos make me roll my eyes. I gave that sort of thing the middle finger by causing my undead vampires to burn when touched with objects ‘blessed’ by Hades. Irony down to the blood.

However, silver as a poison to vampires is a solid trope that I use myself. I have it so that it inhibits vampire healing in my book. I’ve seen some others doing so as well, which I give a nod to for sure.

The ‘turning into a bat’ trope is something I really love, not going to lie. First of all, I find bats pretty awesome. Second of all, being a bat hanging there in the middle of the night doesn’t seem all that unusual. Ominous, sure, but you wouldn’t suspect anything until it’s too late. Apparently, Dracula could turn into a wolf and rat as well, in some mythos, which is also pretty neat. That one I don’t see often in vampire stories, though.

I didn’t touch every single vampire trope in this post, but I think I covered quite a bit of my thoughts. In conclusion, I’m a HUGE fan of vampires and love reading the different pieces of lore people have created for them in their stories. I’ve been reading a few different takes and have enjoyed my time. Yes, I know, most people make all of their vampires undead, which is fine. Like I said, just a personal preference.

I’ll probably do a post on its own about the vampires v. werewolves trope. It might be done over so many times, but I think it can have merit when people use newer takes rather than just copying past authors.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this article! In the dead of the night, don’t let the vampires bite!

My First NaNoWriMo Journey

With November over, I feel a little bit accomplished because this has been my first year participating in National Writing Month! November was also when I started this writing blog, but I didn’t count anything I wrote here for my project, for it didn’t relate to A Bloody Spring, the novel I’d been working on. It’s book four in my Kingdoms of Blood series, but also works as book 2 in the standalone Cobratongue University series. The first book of that ‘magical college’ series is here.

Typically I write roughly 2,000 words per chapter in my novels, which meant a chapter a day kept the writing monsters at bay, right? Wrong! This month was a little bit tough, I will admit, due to stress. In real life, I’ve been adjusting to a big cross-country move, trying to also get a job right after college. Let me tell you, that made things a bit rough.

Some days I didn’t feel like writing at all. I certainly didn’t get the streak badges, but that’s how it goes. Some days I can write up to 10,000 words if and only if my muse is very strong. Other days, well, nothing comes to me at all. I might have a very fast typing speed, but such a thing does not help if my muse is abandoning me. Here’s a look at my stats:

As you can see, they are very bouncy. On the big spike days, my muse was very strong. Typically that happened when I was either in a good mood, or when there was an action/world building part to my book. Things were difficult in this project, because I had many plot ends I wanted to expand upon and then tie up.

For example, a villain named Astral played a major part in book 1 of the Cobratongue series, and two more major villains were established in that book as well, just not emphasized. In A Bloody Spring, I want to emphasize just how evil they are after that proper build-up. It took a while, but I finally accomplished what I wanted to do, and couldn’t be any happier.

After I finished hitting my goal on November 27, I decided to take a break. I’ve been editing The Vampire War: Conclusion in preparation for self-publishing. Both that sequel and the first book, Red Viper and the Vampire War will be self-published and buyable on my birthday, December 7. I’m both super excited and nervous, to be honest.

Sadly, I haven’t had an agent pick up my book. Either the subject matter is too dark, they don’t like my characters, there’s too much heavy action in the start, or they think vampires are overdone. But I’m not going to let that bring me down, for self-publishing can be valuable. I’ve learned quite a bit from my experience on Twitter and its #writingcommunity. People are very supportive on there, and I’m confident my book can get pretty far.

I’m hoping to someday have a show or anime series for my Kingdoms of Blood series, but that might be reaching a bit far. Still, the idea is a fun one to harbor. Heck, if it ever happens, I can look back on this post and smile.

Character Themesongs: Why They’re so Fun!

Imagine you’re listening to a song and suddenly, right before your eyes, some of your original characters begin singing it or dancing to it. Sort of like a musical. Well, this is what happens in my head every time I hear a song appropriate for my own novel characters (and sometimes my roleplay characters too!) It’s one of those very strange things about me. Free music videos in my head, yay!

But why is music so enticing for me and various other writers as well? Well, it can express the personality of a character through song. You can also potentially hear the voice of your character through music, though singing voices are typically different than speaking. Still, hearing a song and saying, “Hey, that’s what my character sounds like!” is tons of fun.

I’m someone that tends to have multiple songs for characters or ships. In fact, I have a playlist for my story, which I’ve seen other writers have as well. Of course, people wouldn’t know the context of some songs, and I’d have to explain in depth. Perhaps I’ll do so with some of my themesongs in another blog post, but that’d be more for the benefit of my readerbase, which I still have to build.

Sometimes, a song actually inspires the creation or backstory of a character for me. Not even the original, either! Chase Holfelder for example does tons of “minor key” covers of songs that I enjoy (highly recommend checking out his music by the way). One of his covers, House of the Rising Sun, inspired my character Ernest from my Cobratongue University series. Not just the lyrics, but the sound of the song itself–its haunting, sad melody ended up forming a backstory for him in my mind. In addition, his cover of Kiss the Girl inspired a major scene in the second book of my Vampire Wars series.

Sometimes there’s songs that fit for my character but are sung by someone of a different gender. Which still fits, of course! But I like imagining my character singing it, so at least having somewhat of a voice match makes me ecstatic. I found a woman that does amazing covers of various songs, and her name is J.Fla. A great example of her work is her cover of Natural by Imagine Dragons. I’ve been able to expand my playlist like crazy by finding some of these covers, and it makes me so happy.

I write to music sometimes, as well. It helps my muse for sure, especially during some heavy action scenes. Sadly I falter and delay a bit when I write “slice of life stuff”, even though in a paranormal situation I actually kind of like reading it, depending on how well a writer can do it. For some reason those slower scenes make me take much longer. Music can sometimes help with that, of course.

One day, if I ever actually make it with my series, I want to potentially purchase the services of an animator and create a music video for my story. It sounds crazy ambitious, about as crazy as an animated web series or something, but hey, it’s a dream! A dream’s a dream no matter how unreachable, eh?

I highly recommend writers at least consider making a playlist if they haven’t already. It could spark some inspiration or help you write, after all. Expanding past the usual genre you listen to can also help–and I’m not saying to force yourself to listen to songs you dislike. But I, for example, have found some music that isn’t mainstream in my travels, like “Killer Inside of Me” which has a great sound and fits one of my characters (Goliath) perfectly.

You never know what you can find on your search for a song!

Why I Love Commissions and Artists

Goliath and Sambuca–the poster children of my Kingdoms of Blood series. Harcloniter did an amazing job with them, really, and the first time I got a picture from him, I realized that his style would be perfect to represent my characters. If you go to the character corner section of my website, you’ll notice the art he’s done for most of my characters. As of right now, no art from Cobratongue University is up on that section of my website yet, but that’s because I want all of the characters to have art before I start adding them.

Commission artists rock my world, let me tell you. I love selecting a style I enjoy and seeing how an artist depicts my characters. Sometimes I’m picky, but usually I’m open with artist interpretation so long as it matches the description I give.

Could you believe that the way Harcloniter drew Goliath influenced my vampire lore? Originally, living vampires didn’t have pointed ears, nor did they have fangs that were all jagged. After seeing the design for Goliath, of course, I fell in love. He’s the sinister-looking vampire wearing a tophat with his hand on Sam’s(the half-dragon) shoulders, of course, in the picture above.

As a writer that honestly can’t draw for the life of me, I’m thrilled that I can purchase artwork and support artists. I do feel a little bit sad that I’m incapable of depicting my own characters via drawing, however, but I might eventually work on practicing that. For now, buying art of my characters will have to suffice.

Just like writers do artists fall in love with the characters they create; I’ve seen some that write full out stories as well for them! Bringing characters to life this way is just so much fun, and my folly of course is almost having an addiction to it. What can I say, I just love buying art! I like cartoony, anime, and realistic styles, of course. Sometimes realism can be shaky, however, and I think I’m the most picky when it comes to that. That’s because it can stoop into uncanny valley territory quite fast if done wrong. Here’s an example of two realistic pieces that I’ve gotten for my characters.

This dastardly vampire is Jasper from my Cobratongue University book. His art isn’t in my character corner yet, but will be when the rest of my characters get some too. I’m also getting him in Harcloniter’s style as well. This wonderful piece is done by Stillblade, who’s doing some more realism pieces for my characters as well. Her work is an example of realism done right.

This piece, by Galder, is of Elias Cipher, my San’layn Death Knight from World of Warcraft. Now, he’s not a novel character of mine, but does have an extensive story of his own that I wrote for him. This is another example of realism done correctly, where uncanny valley does not come into play.

Here’s another piece by Galder of Blood King Kael’thas. This is one I commissioned for the community I run in World of Warcraft. I run a San’layn/vampire discord, and people were a huge fan of that piece when I showed them. If you play the game and know the character I’m referring to, I’m sure you know why. Even if it’s not your favorite concept, it does look really cool being brought to life.

There are many ways to commission an artist. Many of them are those of whom I see on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or Deviantart. There’s portfolios all over too, not just there. Artists will typically use tags to mark their price pages. Most of my experience has been paying artists through paypal. There is also another website to go to that I’ve had mixed results with. Some artists have ghosted me, and getting replies at times is a bit obnoxious. But the art I have got from there are pieces that I appreciate. This website is known as artistsnclients, where you can look through artist styles and set up a commission. I think it’s blossoming right now, and is a rather wonderful idea.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a website like that for writing commissions? That’s something I’ve wanted to get into, of course, but I don’t think it’s taken off quite yet. It’s definitely not as easy selling a bunch of words as compared to solid art where you can see a character, of course. At least, that’s what I’ve come to understand.

Anyway, here’s an example of a piece I got from that website of a character from Cobratongue University, Derek:

This lovely piece was done by Yozora on artistsnclients.

Harcloniter is doing a piece right now for me of Derek in his own style, of course, and from the sketch, it looks wonderful. I can’t wait to share it when he’s done!

Now, there’s been pieces that I’ve gotten of which I really don’t like. I always feel so terrible for not ever posting or using them, but it’s because I don’t like how they came out. I paid the artist regardless–that’s what you should do. You also should, out of courtesy, be honest without being rude. The pieces I’ve gotten in which I haven’t really liked are those that I weren’t sure about at first. Slowly they began to look odd, uncanny valley, and I realized that I truly didn’t like how they came out. I really, really wanted to, but couldn’t. Which is just fine, and I wish I could appreciate the work more, but when it comes down to it, I won’t always be satisfied.

But, yes; pretty much you browse through an artist’s work, decide whether or not you like their style, look at their prices, and pick how you want your character done. My experience has been: usually artists will show you a sketch or two before the final product to see if you like how it’s coming along. You can request changes during that time, but be sure to speak up! It’s harder to change things later in the process than earlier. The artists I’ve worked with like details such as faceclaims and personality traits, as well.

As for paying them, some artists ask for half payment right away, some for full, and some for payment after they show you the sketch. Unfortunately, commission artists can be scammed by clients–that is, putting hours of work into a piece only to be ghosted or never paid. This is why their precautions are necessary. Of course, there’s the reverse–paying an artist and them running off with your money without doing the piece, or switching up styles completely, or taking much longer than they claimed while working on other client pieces first.

It’s always important to keep communication going if you have a time expectation, and you can’t be impatient, though. If the artist is taking months later than they said, without any communication to you? That might be cause for alarm. Do be understanding, however, if things come up. They’re human too. If they give you a time in which is super long? Don’t pester them constantly in a rude manner! Just ask nicely every now and then if you’re curious.

It can be rough for the commissioner and the client, for both scam situations are terrible. My experience hasn’t been terrible with the artists I’ve worked with, but I rarely wander aside from one websites like artistsnclients, where they have built in systems to ensure artists get paid and clients get their art.

So, yeah! Next time you crave seeing a character done up in a different style (if you can draw) or even at all (if you can’t draw, like me), consider commissions. Respect artists, do your research, and give feedback. Artists love feedback as much as writers. I know the ones that have done work for me love it when I share their work.

Credit, credit, credit! Artists put signatures in their work, but the people who draw your characters tend to make a living off of this stuff. You help them out if you credit them, like I am in this post.

Here’s a sneak peak of a comic that’s being worked on for one of my book scenes by Sasmi. The work she’s done so far is AMAZING, and I’m really excited to see the final pages. Can’t wait to share them with you all either! But as you can see, it’s not just drawings you can commission–you can get comic/manga pages as well. Artistsnclients has a lot to show for that one.

I’ll end things with a commission I got of Fallynn from Cobratongue University. Again, Harcloniter did a WONDERFUL job with her, and I’m so happy with it.

In conclusion, getting commissions are an awesome way to bring your characters to life, and be sure to do your research and pay your artist!

How Roleplay has Helped my Writing

Let’s start things off by taking a look at an art piece I got for my current main roleplay character, Lady Fallynn Iceblood. This artist, MizunoSuzuka, created this image when I commissioned her based on the description of my character. Now, in game, Fallynn doesn’t have wings–she doesn’t even have them in the roleplay story I’m in. No, it’s just for a fun concept, really, and to depict a little bit of symbolism: The Blood Queen.

This post isn’t about dear Fallynn, though, as much as I adore her. No, it’s about how she, and all of my other characters, have helped me improve my novel writing. People don’t take roleplay seriously sometimes and call it “just for children”, but in reality, it’s so much more. These improv pieces of writing help build story and imagination, along with seasoning a writer on other writing styles in the moment as well.

Not only that, but the fast-paced atmosphere of roleplaying has actually skyrocketed my typing speed. I’m a bit insane, admittedly, and play multiple characters at once when roleplaying on World of Warcraft. I tab between two characters and type out a paragraph or two in the span of roughly a minute. My typing speed is 85 words per minute! No, seriously, I’m not even kidding. Now, why can’t I pump out novels faster, though? That’s a matter of my muse misbehaving, there. Sometimes even those with the fastest typing speed can’t write a bloody word if their muse isn’t cooperating!

Anyway, I roleplay primarily in World of Warcraft, but the most famous example of a roleplaying game has to be Dungeons & Dragons. Typically in these games, you aren’t writing your adventure so much as rolling the die and speaking for your character. I know of many DnD players that have written entire books on their characters, though, so the absence of writing during the game itself isn’t really that big of an issue.

One game that I really haven’t gotten into yet but has concepts I simply adore is, unsurprisingly, Vampire the Masquerade. I think the clan I’d always pick would be the artistic vampires, or the Toreador. What can I say, I love the idea of art being a weakness. Not just painted art or something, though. If I had a modern day vampire character, she’d probably be stunned by video game art!

As a vampire author, the concepts in that game and such are fun to consider in my writing. Naturally I’m not going to mirror everything, as I have my own vampire lore, but regardless the ideas do flow freely. I can take a character I create and twist it to fit into my own novels after I roleplay them a bit, which is fun. Such is the case with Fallynn Iceblood and Fallynn from my series Cobratongue University. The characters are definitely not mirrors–they look completely different from one another, for one thing. But they do have very similar personalities, and would probably be good friends if they ever met.

In conclusion, roleplay has helped me with my idea flow, typing speed, and character creation. I highly recommend authors trying it out sometime, as it can bring about new concepts and allow you to think outside of the box. After all, you have complete control in your own novel. That isn’t the case in roleplay–anything can happen!

As a treat, here’s another piece I got from Mizuno of another WoW character of mine, or Elias Cipher!

All Genre Have Merit, and Criticism is Fine too.

I was chilling on Twitter, which I use as a ‘marketing platform’ (or am trying to, technically as of now I’m not selling anything and my books are free) when I came across this article. It’s about how several authors tweeted out against a college student that stated college books should be a bit more complex than Young Adult novels. And this got me thinking quite a bit.

There’s words being tossed around like ‘sexist’ and ‘misogyny’, and I’m sorry (and will probably get heat for this), but I couldn’t care less, that’s not the subject I was thinking about when I saw this. I just looked over the situation briefly, admittedly, and have two opinions on the matter:

  1. That all genre of books are valued and most probably have some lessons. So what if they’re not the next huge classic? Every single reader out their has different preferences and needs. Saying someone just “writes shitty teen fiction” or something isn’t cool. Heck, I criticize Twilight on a regular basis because I genuinely despise it. But Meyers did work hard on the book, and it was well received by many. To me, the book isn’t good, but to others, it’s amazing. And that’s just fine.
  2. People need to be able to take criticism. Not every genre is a fit for everyone. Heck, I only read fantasy, because other genre bore me to tears. And that’s just fine too, I like the escapism and being able to visit other worlds through literature. In my own writing, I know that it won’t be taken well by everyone. 30 agents have rejected it already, after all. Does that make it a bad series or book? Maybe. To some people, certainly. To me and other fans of the series, though, not quite.

And so, that brings me to the next point. Regardless of the opinion on the situation and who’s involved, I want to step back and think about the core message here. There are two issues: One, authors getting told that their work is lesser because of their genre. And no, I’m not talking about the comment by that college student. That was her opinion, and she’s perfectly open to having it.

But some of the responses I’m seeing, like this one, are going a bit far. “Sarah, you write shitty teen romance YA, you’re not out here writing the next Booker Prize novel. “

This right here is uncalled for, in my personal opinion. Who the fuck (don’t pardon my language) cares if her genre is young adult? Why does that make her work ‘shitty’? Why is romance such a bad genre, especially if it depicts a relationship that isn’t toxic? Something else we need in books, nowadays. Again, not sure how or what she depicts, but it being YA and romance shouldn’t automatically make it trash.

Yes, the authors bombarding the criticism on the college student might have gone a little bit far. I don’t know, I didn’t look into it as much and didn’t care to. But seeing things like this makes me shake my head. The core of the issue is this: The superiority complex some readers and writers have toward each other is pathetic. Uncalled for, not cool, who cares if people have preferences.

Let people enjoy what they want. Sometimes even the smallest lessons are important. We learned from children’s books some of the most important lessons, did we not? Some of us cherish Disney, ‘silly’ romances from our childhood. Some of us like being taken away by these crazy adventures seen in YA novels.

Now, I’m not published yet. Not even in an indie fashion. But my words are just as valid as anyone else’s, because indeed I’m a thinking individual who has something to say.

Onto the other root of the issue now–criticism. I touched upon this before, but the reaction of many people in outrage is a bit much. This is where the other half of preferences comes to play. So this college student feels as though a particular novel isn’t worth reading. Hell, I think Hemingway is a waste of time to read, boring, and tasteless. Meanwhile, I’d champion things like Lord of the Rings any day, while still pointing out my likes and dislikes for it. No doubt people will HARDCORE judge me for that, but to that I merely shrug. I don’t really care what you think about what I enjoy.

In conclusion, all genre are valid. Be it a best-seller, YA, adult novel, nonfiction, erotica, who cares? If people enjoy the book, let them. We as authors put a lot of effort into our craft. There’s plenty of bad books out there and strong opinions. Which is why it’s also important to be able to take criticism. But do you always have to agree with it? No.

Slave to the Muse

Sometimes my muse looks like this art piece I did many years ago. Oh trust me, I still suck at drawing, though someday I hope to at least try and refine my skills. But, alas, it’s crooked, has an evil smile as it stares upon me, and has been all ripped up and put back together again. The life of a writer relies upon their muse, after all. What is a ‘muse’, to those unfamiliar with the word? Well. It’s your inspiration and motivation, something that gets you to create a piece of art, be it writing, drawing, videos, music, or whatever else your heart desires.

The worst feeling in the world is the ability to write when your muse is begging you to. This often happens when I’m driving home from work and listening to music on the radio. Or at work itself. My muse chimes in, evil as it is, and says, “You know what you should be doing right now? Writing!” And of course, I can’t write. Not until I get home, that is.

But when I get home, damn it! My muse has gone to sleep, ran away, or is doing something other than letting me write. It’s fun personifying my muse, but at times it can be frustrating. I want my characters to speak to me, and I want my plots to flow. Sometimes, though, writer’s block gets the better of me even if I had a very strong muse earlier in the day. Listening to music helps with that, of course, but not all the time.

My muse can be very obnoxious. It gets in the way of me reading or watching movies. Why? Well, when I try to do such things, my muse yells, “WE SHOULD STOP DOING THIS AND WRITE!” It’s a blessing and a curse. Sometimes the ideas I get aren’t meant for the part I’m at in my story, after all.

For example, I have in mind the adventures I plan on writing for books 5 & 6 of my series, but am still working on book 4! It’ll be halfway done upon the conclusion of National Writing Month, but I’ll still have a long way to go until I can write up my future adventures. I feel like writers often struggle with either not enough ideas, or too many that aren’t relevant to their current project.

And so, that’s where I’m at. I want to get some more writing done tonight, and need to decide the direction of my story. I’ve had so much bloodshed happen in these first ten chapters to demonstrate the severity of the ‘dystopia’ I’m building. It contrasts heavily with the ‘utopia’ safehaven I’m trying to set the story in. Granted, it’s far from a real utopia, as it’s always on the fringes of utter chaos due to the constant attacks. Vampires as the dominant species take their place seriously.

My muse keeps telling me to add to my compendium of lore. I’m heavily considering just adding it as another section as my website–it’s free on wattpad right now, of course, but having it built as a website section could be cool too. I have tons to add to it as well, including how my magic systems work. When I get into self publishing, whenever that might be, I’ll make it so that people can purchase a hard copy. I figured it’d be a good idea, dedicated fans to the series could hold the compendium of my urban fantasy lore in their hands.

Anyway, hopefully other artists have muse that behaves for this month, if they do have National Writing Month goals. If not, hopefully it behaves anyway!

I’ll have some more art of my characters soon. Here’s a piece of Fallynn that I haven’t added to my character corner yet. I don’t think Cobratongue characters will be added to that section of my website until I’m finished getting a piece for every single one. Credit to Harcloniter for this wonderful piece 🙂 I love how well he depicts my characters. He’s making some sketches for a couple more of them now. Can’t wait to share them!

Writing at Full Speed for NaNoWriMo!

Gosh, the fourth book in my Kingdoms of Blood universe is coming along very well. The way I do my books is kind of weird, though. Red Viper and the Vampire War and The Vampire War: Conclusion are both linked and important to be read together. However, Cobratongue University: Spring Semester and Cobratongue: A Bloody Spring don’t require the Vampire War books to be understood.

I basically have two book series in the same universe, however they do technically go in order timeline-wise. The Cobratongue University series is standalone, in which the events from the wars aren’t required to be read beforehand. It sounds really complicated, though, now that I’m actually putting it down on paper. Oh well, it’s like two mini series.

I subscribe to the notion that reading Wars would give a better experience when going into the Cobratongue University series. However, as a magical school series with more slice of life stuff, the university series is a bit slower. It still has tons of action and gore though, but the tone is a tad different. Granted, it still highlights the dystopic nature of the Kingdoms of Blood urban universe, and how humans have fallen to vampires as dominant species.

Anyway, as of now I’m at roughly 21,000/50,000 words. By the time I finish with my goal, half of A Bloody Spring will be finished. I plan on working on my compendium of lore when I do reach my goal. I know leaving a project unfinished is unsavory, but I have so many lore ideas I need to put aside so I can reach my project goals.

I think using this blog to do tiny canon sidestories is also a pretty fun idea. I have no idea if other authors do such a thing, but I figure, why not? I can talk about my writing process, what inspires me, yadda yadda, but surely some bits of canon here and there would be fun for fans of my series.

Canon: Vampires playing VtM

Art Credit: Rammaru, of Ares Arcachnida.

Elapid Kingdom’s most famous gang sat around a table in their clubhouse, and the tension in the air could almost be cut with a knife. Ares, the leader of said gang, glared down at a sheet of paper in silence, his fangs bared in disbelief. Frustrated, he let out a sigh, staring up to Clarice, of whom wore an agonizingly smug grin upon her face.

“So, you gonna make a character that won’t be killed off within the first hour this time?” she asked, plush dice jiggling upon a chain on her neck as usual. The gang leader bared his fangs at her and let out a loud whine. “Oh,” Clarice cackled. “Don’t start with me, boss. You’re the one making stupid decisions! Maybe if you’d listen to m–” the vampiress tried, her red eyes gleaming, though she was cut off by Ares’s loud, immature grunt.

“No!” he exclaimed. The royal vampire was having none of her speech. “I want to make a Brujah and keep him alive, alright?! Listen, fuck being a Toreador, I’m not going to sit here in some fancy bullshit and be boring!” Ah, these vampires were playing Vampire the Masquerade. How utterly ironic, and yet, well…fitting. Unfortunately, Ares couldn’t keep his character alive.

Exasperated, Clarice rolled her eyes, baring her fangs right back at him. She didn’t give two fucks anymore that he was both cannibalistic and insanely powerful. Hell, he could probably rip her limb from limb at any given moment if he pleased. He wouldn’t, though. He was like an older brother to her, one that she had no qualms with beating up in situations like this. That’s what he got for giving her noogies and messing up her hair on a constant basis.

“You’re an idiot,” Clarice snarled, pointing a claw to one of the many books stacked upon the table. “You can give your damn character a high strength rating and still be Toreador, alright?! You just won’t be prone to getting pissed off every five seconds! Vampires don’t work like we do in this game, Ares. Your bullshit natural power here does nothing for you there, just like Dungeons and Dragons. Royal vampire?! HAH! Doesn’t exist in this. So shuddup and character build.”

“I’m making a Brujah, this time he’ll live,” Ares growled firmly, grabbing the sheet and filling it out. Clarice, of course, facepalmed, holding her hand on her forehead practically the entire time while he did so. When he was finished, she sighed.

“Fine. What’s your new character doing now, then?” she muttered.

“I’m walking to the fucking club,” Ares replied confidently, sneering at Clarice and sticking out his tongue. “Nothing you can do no–“

“You get ripped apart by werewolves, because you needed to go through the park to get there,” Clarice sneered.


Here I am!

I never thought I’d be making an extensive website, nor did I think I’d run a writer’s blog. What do we put in here, anyway? Our writing progress? Well, I’m working on Book 2 in the Cobratongue University series (or book 4 in the overarching Kingdoms of Blood world) for National Writing month. It’s going pretty well, and I have many ideas on how I want the story to progress.

I didn’t think I’d write in this format ever, to be honest, but perspective switching is a lot of fun. I’m hoping it doesn’t confuse my readers too much, but that’s why I mark who’s perspective we’re seeing from when I do write. My mentality renders it easy to swap my mindset from one character from the next, and that could be due to my roleplay experience.

Anyway, my next plan is to work on my “Compendium”, where I keep all of my lore. I’m thinking of self-publishing the Vampire War series, though I’ve sent out a few queries, I’m not confident I’ll get any manuscript requests. Still, perhaps I will from now until I make a final decision. Regardless, I’m taking books 1 and 2 of the Kingdoms of Blood universe off of Wattpad soon. I need to take more pride in my work, and having those books just rot away on that website isn’t ideal, you know?

So, the next steps are upon me, and I’m super excited.