Monday, July 18, 2011

Casting muse

I love to cast my characters.

I always begin with a fresh palette, thinking about the broader details like hair colour, general build, overall "look." As I start filling in the details - like the scar under one of my protagonists' eye - I begin flipping through the online catalogue of ready-made faces until I find the model/celebrity/random Joe Blow that best suits the image in my head.

Because I tend to write everything with a movie or TV show in mind (go big or go home, right?), I often pick celebrities to represent each character. 

Not often do I get it THIS right.

JAMES PUREFOY is the perfect Torek, the love interest for one of my characters. You may recognize him as the mysterious Colville (prince) from A Knight's Tale. His role was small, but I've never forgotten him. (Ironically, that movie is also where I first formed a great affection for Paul Bettany, who has been my muse before!)

This week, the awesome Judith Graves and I will embark on a full-on writing blitz, where-upon we'll create great things together. Or kill each other.

This character will play an integral role in that. The writing. Not the potential death.

Which of course makes him a perfect muse avatar. I have a feeling Judith and I will have no problem referring to this picture, repeatedly, for some additional inspiration.

- Dawn

Monday, July 11, 2011

Repeat offender: Eric FTW

Oh. My. Gosh.

Am I the only one still left with their mouth gaping after last night's episode of True Blood?

I. LOVE. Vulnerable Eric.


I know, so out-of-character for me. I've always been on Team Eric, primarily because between Eric and Bill, Eric is the clear bad boy. And yeah, I go for that type.

But there's something so downright adorable about the softer, clueless Eric. I admit after last week's cliffhanger ending, I worried about whether I'd get used to an Eric with less power, less overall "badness."

Turns out I can.

I've also developed a lot more respect for Alexander Skarsgard, the actor. Vulnerable Eric is a tremendous flip in character, and his portrayal was spot on. He made me laugh. Cringe. Melt.

But he also got me thinking about character development, and how important it is for writers to show diversity in their story's cast. This morning, I made a list of the main protagonists for each of my (billion) Works in Progress (WIP) - and you know what? I've got some work to do.

Eric/Alexander is going to help with that this week.

I know it's only been a couple of weeks since this True Blood hottie served as muse avatar, but after last night's performance (and the general fact that I'm still quoting some of the best lines from the episode), I'm quite comfortable allowing him to repeat the role.

Unconvinced he's worthy? Picture #2:

Um, YUM?

- Dawn

PS - Speaking of beautiful creatures, did you know that the original Frankenstein wasn't the monster Hollywood has made him out to be? He was actually rumored to be so beautiful his creator couldn't even look at him. Over time, he's turned into one creepy character though, a monster we all should fear. Want to know more? Check him out at the Most-Wanted Monsters blog where every Monday, Judith Graves and I will be profiling one of the world's most-wanted monsters.

But wait there's more! Every day this week, you'll find a creepy or cool Frankenstein fact on Twitter. Follow MWMonsters to learn more. Know your monsters before they GET you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A flash of inspiration

I'm not going to lie - I don't scare easily.

I've been reading horror novels for as long as I can remember, and once owned every single John Saul, Dean Koontz and Stephen King - in hard cover. I love scary movies, but admit few have made me truly jump in fear...except maybe the first Saw. Oh, and maybe The Collector... I digress.

But nothing - not even Pennywise the Clown - has given me as many goosebumps as the storm that blew over our house last night. For almost two hours, I stared out the window watching brilliant flashes of lightening illuminate the angry sky, wondering at what point one of those bolts would zap a nearby tree, or worse, our loft rooftop. I listened to the eerie rumble of thunder, sure the resulting boom would jar pictures off the walls, or elicit howls of terror from my dogs (no howls...just whimpers.) And when the rain hit, it pelted with enough force I thought my windows might smash in. Seriously.

Thankfully, the storm passed through Busby with limited destruction - though, I'm a bit nervous to check out my garden today. Other parts of the province were not as lucky. Tornadoes swirled above central Alberta, and according to reports, three touched down. Scary stuff.

My husband is teasing me this morning, but I admit, if our basement wasn't a cold, cement oubliette, I'd have dragged my family down there, along with our pantry of canned goods. (We are not, I assure you, stocked enough for the Zombie Apocalypse, but we could survive a few days on chick peas and corn...well, not my stepdaughter. She's a picky eater...)

Ironically (says the thriller writer), I would have been alone in that basement. Handsome husband slept right through most of it, and my stepdaughter scurried to the window with the best vantage point. Typically, that's me - we once drove to the top of a hill to watch a thunderstorm, and witnessed a bolt of lightening set fire to a building in the city. Some of my best stories have been written in bed as I listen to the unrelenting downpour.

But last night, it wasn't until the worst of the lightening passed that I felt the zap of inspiration my muse avatar had failed to produce this week. Yesterday, I spent hours (literally) organizing the various projects on my plate this month, and though I'm surviving on just a few hours of sleep, I feel electrified, ready to get writing. Finally!

Of course, I'm also thankful that sound outside my window is merely heavy rain. My heart can't take another thunderous boom...yet.

- Dawn 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Back to basics

Jensen Ackles was my original muse avatar.

Ever since Karen introduced me to the show Supernatural, I've had a slightly unnatural affection for this half of the Winchester-brother team. Not that Sam (Jared Padalecki) isn't good looking in his own right - there's just a little something extra about Jensen...

Despite valiant efforts to the contrary, I've not had a great creative run this past few weeks. It's true there's a lot on my mind, but I think the primary contributing factor is this: I've lost touch with the basics.

Step one: Open laptop
Step two: Write

I've had several mentors over the past few years, but the strongest pieces of writing advice came from Steve Berry and James Rollins.

Steve: Write Tight.
James: I give myself permission to write crap today.

Back to basics.

At one time, both of these messages were taped to the side of my computer. They pushed me through the tough times, when the words weren't flowing, or my prose was padded with adjectives and run-on sentences. But somewhere along the way, the tape unstuck, and the advice dropped out of my view. Out of sight...

Not surprising, this basic" philosophy applies to my everyday life challenges. I've gained back a lot of the weight lost at the start of the year, despite my goal to lose 50 pounds. I've tried to place blame on a multitude of things - moving out to the country where there is no J'Adore dance and is too far for work-out dates with my friends. A sudden aversion to raw vegetables since I can't find my favourite hummus in our small hamlet. And on and on...

But really, I just need to get back to basics: Work out. Eat healthy. Make time for ME.

So this Monday, I'm making a promise to myself to take it slow.

Get back to basics.

And return to when I first made Jensen Ackles my muse avatar. He was my lucky charm then. Let's see if I can count on him again.

Happy Monday - and to my American friends and family, happy July 4.

- Dawn