The Truth About Witches (from a non-witch)

local childrenThe rumor mill in the small town I live in–or at least in my corner of it–is absolutely hilarious sometimes.  I’ve been everywhere and done everything according to the clucking cluckers I’ve encountered, and nearly 99% of it is untrue.  Recently, I’ve been accused of being a witch.  The kind that rides a broom, has a wart, and boils children alive under the full moon, or whatever. I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but for some reason, the witch thing keeps coming back.  I’m starting to think I should write a book about it (grins!).

I laugh at this because it’s absolutely ridiculous.  Obviously, some folks wouldn’t know a real witch if she walked right out of the broom closet in front of them. Or he. Men are witches, too.

The truth is, witches really are out there.  They walk among us! In peace, though.  Keep in mind, I’m not doing any research whatsoever for this post.  I’m sharing with you things I already know because some folks have knowledge about witches that is even more limited than mine.  What I do know is that witches aren’t out to snatch your kids from their beds at night or turn random people into frogs.  They are more likely to have a basket of organic apples on their coffee tables than carry a basket of poisoned ones through the woods–really? Who does this anyhow?–and, I’m assuming none of them are out to get anyone.  They don’t have magic mirrors on their walls and could care less who is the fairest one of all.

Real witches are Pagans and Wiccans.  They live all over the place and they’re nice people.  Upstanding citizens.  They pay taxes and raise well rounded children like everyone else.  I can’t speak for all of them, but I doubt they have nasty warts on their noses.  If they do, there is surgery and creams that can cure that kinda thing these days.  If you have a nasty wart, though, I’m willing to bet you could find a natural cure for it if you were to come out of your shell a little bit and ask a real witch for one.

And while we’re on the subject, I’d also suggest you do some research before you accuse someone of witchcraft without knowing the facts.  Things like this caused many, many women and men to lose their lives and be burnt at the stake in centuries past.   Show those people some respect and stop being an idiot already.

To my pagan and wiccan friends, Blessed Be.

See.  That’s how you treat everyone equally. Not hard, is it?

Hemlock Grove–Review

Hemlock 3Netflix has released a new series called Hemlock Grove (available–of course–only through Netflix) and I finished all thirteen episodes in two days.  And, frankly, it wouldn’t have taken me that long had it not been for my kids running in and out all day yesterday to enjoy the weather lol.

I have to hand it to Netflix, as this is their first original series–they did a damn good job.  The cast is wonderful. Famke Janssen (Olivia) is awesome, as is Dougray Scott (as always), but there are actors in this series I’ve never even seen before.  In the interest of NOT giving away too many spoilers, I’m going to tell you my two favorite characters and then elaborate a little about them so that you can sort of get a feel for why I adored this series.

Hemlock 6Landon Liboiron plays a gypsy werewolf named Peter (with Lili Taylor as his mother).  However, the werewolf transformations are unlike any I’ve seen ever before (unless I just don’t remember).  The wolf literally comes right out of the man/woman’s skin.  Skin and tissue–and eyeballs!) just fall to the ground as the transformation takes place and, afterward, the wolf will eat his own skin.  GROSS! Peter, however, is probably one of my two favorite characters.  Maybe even the favorite. Peter is very likable, he is nice to other people unless they’re not nice to him, and he’s good to his mother.  Peter is also very resourceful, which I imagine comes from being a gypsy/werewolf and living here and there and in trailer parks for the duration of his life with nowhere in particular to lay down any real roots.

Hemlock 7And then there’s Roman…Played by Bill Skarsgard.  Skarsgard is the perfect choice for Roman Godfrey.  Roman was born into luxury and has had everything in the world brought to his fingertips.  He was born, as they say, with a silver spoon.  His mother is a little controlling (okay…A LOT controlling), but he doesn’t have friends until he meets Peter. Roman is a loner, very dark and gloomy, very brooding–perfect vampire.  He does seem to have a very healthy sexual appetite and, at times, this appetite was a bit daunting and repetitive and had me wondering why on earth they kept throwing in all these sex scenes.  Some of them were completely unnecessary.  Roman’s character does show the most growth of any of the characters in the show, from start to finish, though, and that’s one reason why he’s a favorite.  You see him go from gloomy gus kid in high school, to 18 year old owner of a mega-company, as he inherits everything.

Hemlock 2Oh, and there’s the whole vampire thing–no sparkling whatsoever.  A+ for Hemlock Grove for the lack of fairy dust.  Even though there are no sparklers or hopping through the trees on piggy back, the writers obviously took vampires into a different direction, something I’ve never really seen before and I won’t explain how.  I’ll just say it’s awesome and I love it.

Roman's BIG little sister, Shelley Godfrey.

Roman’s BIG little sister, Shelley Godfrey.

Themes explored in the series are great, too.  Friendship, loyalty, abandonment, entitlement, jealousy, teen pregnancy, immaculate conception (or the question of its existence), grave re-opening, mental illness, medical experiments, ooooh, the list goes on! Peter (gypsy/werewolf) has a fortune teller/prostitute cousin named Destiny who is an absolute hoot.  Also, the gore is pretty extreme in some cases.  Dead bodies…ooooh, the dead bodies! I absolutely adore the soundtrack for the show and fully intend to explore it further on Youtube or somewhere.  I would advise you to not eat or at least eat slowly while you watch (if you’re squeamish) because there are scenes in there that turned my iron stomach in knots.

Hemlock 5 Hemlock 1I hope Netflix is planning on a second season.   If not, I’m going to write very strongly worded letters until they do!

I give this series a full two thumbs up. Maybe even some toes up.

Naming characters…and I got a new book, too! WOO HOO!

I’m horrible at naming characters.  Every writer has their own method, but I figured I’d share mine since it appears I’m not the only writer having trouble with this.

When I wrote Immortal Ties, I had a perfect vision in mind for each character and had them all named except one.  The character would be a vampire that my main character, Dagan, had known for centuries and he was going to be tall, a biker, and German.  I went ahead with creating a background for him, figured out what his likes and dislikes were, created a good, thorough character sketch and THEN began researching German names.  I wanted popular names and unpopular ones, too.  I eventually settled with Simon Nikolas as his name, even though it’s not a name I’d choose for my child.  I chose a name that I knew would carry the character and serve a purpose, which it did.

But, I also chose this name because it started with an S.  No other characters in that book had a name beginning with an S.  At least not a main character and I already knew that Simon would be the hero in the next Immortal book.  I don’t like having too many characters with names beginning with the same letter unless there is a set of twins named Tim and Tom or something like that–and even then, I shy away from it as much as possible.

I also try to choose names that are relevant to the character’s background.  For example:  If your character lives in medieval Romania, I find it highly unlikely his name would be Randy. Gyorgy, maybe. Or Fitzkobal. Or Pal. Not Randy.  However, medieval Romanian people did have a lot of names that are just earlier versions of names we have today, so you can always choose a name like George and convert it to Gyorgy for your story.  It just takes a little bit of research.  And if your character is a vampire, he may have started out as Gyorgy and lived several centuries to become George.  Finding names for historical characters can take a little bit of research (and this is where Google and Bing come in handy), but finding a relevant name is rewarding in the end.  Never settle for guesses.  Your readers are smarter than that and they deserve more.

Sometimes names for characters just sort of come out of nowhere.  When I began writing Willow Lake, the name for my main character was just the first name I thought of.  Celia Burne!  I love the name Celia, though, and always wanted to use it, so I did.  After I chose her name, everything about her seemed to just fall into place.  Of course, most of her personality was already there, but little bits and pieces I hadn’t figured out began to weave themselves into the Celia Burne fabric lol.  It’s perfectly fine to pick names this way, so never feel horrible or unprofessional because the names of your characters do not have some sort of special meaning.

A good way to find names you might like is to use Google or Bing to find baby names.  When you find a name you like, read the meaning and sometimes that meaning can help you figure the rest of the character out if you haven’t already.  If you have written a character sketch already (or developed one in your head), but you hadn’t chosen a name, sometimes the name meanings can help you write out scenes or visualize this character further.

There is one thing I want to give warning about, though.  When you’re writing a book and you choose your names, be careful about the connotation that comes with certain names.

Example:  Ellen.  Just about everybody knows someone named Ellen and there is also Ellen Degeneres.  We all know who she is also.  When you hear the name Ellen, you might think of your aunt Ellen who always wins the prize for best pie at the family reunion or you might think of Ellen Degeneres, which would take a reader’s mind away from the Ellen you want to write in your story because when you write a sentence that says, “Ellen walked down steps” your readers are imagining Ellen Degeneres dancing up and down the aisles at the studio where her shows are filmed. Be mindful of things like these–most popular names already have a connotation with readers.

This is where I’d say making sure your characters are very well fleshed out helps a great deal.  This can ensure that your readers aren’t picturing Ellen Degeneres dancing every single time they read about your main character, Ellen.  (As a side note, I’m now picturing Ellen Degeneres dancing in my head because I love her! HA! )

Go through lists of names before you decide and read through those lists until you find a name that stands out to you.  Read about that name.  Google to see if anyone famous has that name if you want to (just because it’s fun).  But, you should never think that it’s harder than it is.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be a serious pain in the butt, but when you find names you like and they work with the story, it’s great and it helps your story along.

In other news today…

TPhoto_00466 TPhoto_00462

I got a new book in the mail.  I won a contest recently.  Rhiannon Frater had written a new novella in the Pretty When She Dies universe, and she couldn’t choose a name for it.  The contest was that the name with the most likes (I think…) won.  Mine won. The title is Pretty When They Collide and the cover is great and I’m going to start reading it tonight just as soon as I finish helping my son with his homework.

A good book to read is what the doctor ordered, folks. Seriously, lately I’ve been running on fumes! And with that, I leave you 😀 Night, folks! ~Rhiannon Mills

Best YA Vampire Books I’ve Read

I haven’t pimped any books lately, so I thought I’d gather a list of YA vampire books I think you should check out.   Remember, these books are all on this list because they were favorites of mine at one point or another or are still a favorite of mine.

My preciousss.....

My preciousss…..

1) First, it’s been brought to my attention that there is a Thirst No.5 by Christopher Pike! How I missed this is well beyond me.  I already own the first four so now I have to make it my mission to buy the 5th and any subsequent books he brings forth to the world of vampire goodness.  The first four books are awesome and I love his female vampire lead (Sita…such a lovely, lovely name), the way he describes surroundings, and the way he moves his stories. Keep in mind that each Thirst book is made up of about three YA novels he wrote previously in the 90’s, so this is like repackaged goodness with a little bow wrapped around it.  Although, in this case, the boy may or may not have been dragged through a blood filled mud hole first (cause that’s how Pike rolls–always action packed!).  You should also consider that, though these are YA novels, there is absolutely very little young adult about them.  Adults who do not read young adult books will love them, too.  AAAAANNNNNDDDD, when compared to the Twilight books, I think Christopher Pike has better vampires and story lines.  There is something for every vampire lover in here, but no sparkling and no dancing through the treetops piggy back style.

 

VVV

2)  Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde.  This author is wonderful and writes beautifully.  The book that comes to mind when I hear her name, however, is Companions of the Night.  It’s not a long book (more novella length than novel length), so you can possibly read it in one sitting, but the story is built incredibly.  The characters are wonderful and the terrifying at the same time.  Vande Velde’s vampires are absolutely horrible monsters, which is a plus in my book.  

 

Silver

3) The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klaus.   This book is the one that made me really think about writing vampire fiction.  I’m still thinking about writing more vampires and vampires are creatures I’ll never shy away from all because of this little gem of a book.  I’m told this was the author’s very first book, which makes sense because every single little detail is absolutely meticulously thought out.  The story centers around a young girl named Zoe and a somewhat brooding vampire named Simon.  I don’t want to give out spoilers because that’s just not nice, but I will say that vampire authors everywhere could learn a thing or two from this story.  It doesn’t have a fairy tale ending–and who says all books have to have a fairy tale ending anyhow?  What it does have, however, is a satisfying ending because it’s more real than most.

Also, from Annette Curtis Klaus is a book called Blood and Chocolate (werewolves this time).  Sound familiar?  That’s because some genius made it into a movie, although the movie isn’t exactly like the book. It still ROCKS.

blood and choclate

 

 

Also, I’ll be posting something other than book listings and suggestions in the next few days.  The last few weeks have been hectic and I’ve had little blogging time 😀 ~Rhiannon.

How To Support Authors

When I decided to write this post, I had independent authors in mind, but I do believe this also applies to mainstream authors because, let’s face it, everybody knows writers starve! It’s not a profession to enter into lightly, though when a writer is bopped on the head by the writer fairy, they must answer the call.  Support from readers who love them is sometimes the only thing to keep them from losing faith in themselves because sometimes it’s extremely difficult to keep going when you’re not sure if anyone out there is even reading your work!  BUT, if you love books and you want to keep books by authors you’ve enjoyed readily available for you and others to enjoy, please keep reading.  There are ways you can help.

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1.) Buy some books instead of getting illegal downloads.  Most authors hate the pirating sites and I can see why.  You spend months working on your book (which is quite a detailed process in itself) and then some jerk comes along and offers it for free on a free books website.  Yeah. The little devil comes out! But, there are readers out there who can’t afford new books sometimes and they get these free books on pirating sites.  So, if you’re one of those readers who uses pirating sites, at least have the damned decency to take the next few steps (below).

2.) Write a review.  Post this review on Amazon, Goodreads, and in your blog if you have one.  On Amazon, click “like” on the book’s page, share the link on facebook, tag the book, and make sure you’re honest.  In your blog, make sure to add the purchasing link to Amazon and–if you’re feeling froggy–anywhere else the book is sold.  You can leave links to the author’s website, blog, and Facebook/Twitter.  That helps, too! But, whatever you do, make sure you tag your post appropriately.  For example, if you wrote a review for The Demon King by Rhiannon Mills, you could use the tags Rhiannon Mills, The Demon King, demons, paranormal, horror, paranormal romance, romance, etc.

3.)Tell your friends you read X book by Y author and it was FANTASTIC. Or not so fantastic. Be honest, but word of mouth is great. Sometimes friends are so similar they have similar tastes in books, too.  And once you and your friend have both read the book, you can talk about it together.

See.  That was easy, wasn’t it? Independent authors desperately need the support to keep going and so do mainstream authors.  No author could make it out there without the support of their readers and fans and, believe me, we love you all.  And this is also the bit where I go into the fact that authors should also support each other. In most cases, I’ve seen nothing but support from other authors to each other and to me, which is very helpful, too.