Reading and Writing: A Good Story

Let’s talk about reading and writing.

My sister-in-law Verity recently threw a stack of books into the recycle bin. That is a habit she got from me. If a book is too stupid/bad/boring/offensive to finish then why risk someone else wasting their time on it? Just throw it out.

Her reason for the latest toss out was, “I hate it when favorite male authors get old and decide to write sexist drivel about older men with hot young things, or two guys in competition over the same hot young thing. What is up with these authors? They used to write the best books.”

We talked some more and decided that this is not the rule. Most male of our favorite authors we read are on their mark. They still write witty characters, and if anything else their female characters have become more realistic, believable, and entertaining.

Another thing we decided gets a book into the recycle bin is when authors (usually female) start writing about either weak female characters who are always victims, or characters who are so snarky towards the poor smitten male characters that we’re shaking our heads and thinking what the hell is wrong with these people?

Books, like real life, should be populated with a variety of characters. With so many variations and personalities why depend on cliches?

I see that a lot, cliches, in online writing groups. Those who want to be writers ask questions about such things. They often don’t realize that they just need to write in their own voice, or the voice of their characters. They struggle with trying to describe something on paper, when all they really need to do is open their mouths, say the words out loud as if telling a friend, then write THAT down.

The same goes for writing dialogue. Be natural. Be real. Listen to how people talk to each other in real life. An author should be like an actor and get into the character, and even become the character they are writing about.

I had to admit to Verity that I am not the best at editing, but sometimes I can tell a good story. I’ve also read thousands of books over the years. I love a good story. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate my favorite authors (both indie and mainstream) who can write a good story.

What I love about bloggers is that they tell good stories. Bloggers write like they talk, and boy do they talk. Blogs are usually so spontaneous. It makes me happy, even when the subject matter is deep and depressing. I’m happy because it is fluid, entertaining, and as if I’m right there with the blogger. It is that intimate voice that I love so much. There is also the interaction with the readers that is so rewarding as well.

My advice to people who’d like to dip their big toes into writing and see how it feels is to blog first. Why? It is good practice. You can write whatever you want. It is totally yours. You can try things out. You don’t have to worry about rejection. Blogging has a built in community – believe me, you’ll find it, or it will find you.

Verity went through a bag of books I brought her and found something new to read. I gave her recommendations for books to download too. She’ll find something she likes. There are so many good books. As much as we all complain about everything it is nice to know that we live in a world with so many wonderful story tellers.

And speaking of wonderful story tellers… I can’t go without saying something about the new anthology from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) Goin’ Extinct Too! Apocalypse A-Go-Go. Nineteen authors share their stories, essays, poetry, and visions of a sometimes grim, and sometimes hopeful future. You decide, and if you like it leave a nice review.

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What are your pet peeves about books, story lines, and characters?

What do you like the best about your favorite books or types of books?

What makes you dump a book into the recycle bin?

What makes you keep a book and want to read it again?

Any other thoughts on the subject?

Did your cat do anything cute today?

Let me know. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Social Distance. Read a book. Stay safe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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What we’re taking about today: Things we find stupid, frustrating, or maybe good.

Even my kids are weary of people asking Star Wars or Star Trek, or what Hogwarts house do you belong to, or anything about super heroes and their powers.

My kids were home for a while. Garrett left yesterday. Clara leaves tomorrow. They were here for three weeks.

We talk like we always have, about everything and anything. We discuss the news, but try to avoid it. They talk with me. They talk with their dad. We go for walks and talk in the car, and just hang out at home. We’re like everyone else. Maybe we talk a little bit more than everyone else.

Garrett, his friend Randy, and their other temporary roommate Alexis are all graduating from Grad School with no graduation. I plan on doing something for them all but don’t know what yet.

We’ve done drive by graduations and birthdays during the lock down for high school students.

The whole shut down has stopped Garret’s usual romantic head spinning. Seriously, his head is in the clouds when it comes to girls, but there has been a turn in my son lately. Maybe it is Randy’s more casual approach to girls. It could be strange Alexis and her tendency to just shrug off absolutely everything that is thrown her way, but always with sort of a smile and a let it roll attitude.

Garret is waiting for a new job to start. It might start in June. It might start in August. Nobody knows at this time.

Clara is still studying for finals and writing her last papers of the quarter. She is looking at internships. Her boyfriend has plans for the summer that will advance his goals. They’ll drive home in the morning.

My husband Teddy is over the top anxious about both of the kids. I keep telling him that we raised them right. Then again when Teddy was just a few years older than Garrett his entire world was turned upside down in an extremely jarring and unimaginable way. He worries about bad influences, bad directions, bad people, bad career paths. I remind him of house stupid we were at that age. Or at least I used to remind him about how stupid we were but stopped doing that this week. It didn’t seem to matter.

We’re all tense. We’ve been at home. Teddy boarded up his business and will start back later than expected. College is still online with no word of what will happen in the fall. I don’t know what is going on with my work. Everything is up in the air.

We talk about all of the issues that 2020 have brought. Any planning for the future seems strange. We try, but it still seems strange. We’ve had to put off or cancel almost everything.

We don’t talk politics. That is beyond frustrating. OK we do a little bit because it can’t be helped.

We garden. We read. We sit together. We pick out paint colors, pet the cats, walk the dog, and putter around.

The world is never a calm place but lately it seems there is little calm. So within our walls, our neighborhood, and our own souls we try to find that cam place. We do yoga. We laugh at stupid jokes. We tell funny stories.

No matter what our kids are growing up to be their own people with their own lives.

It seems odd that when I started this blog that they were in middle school and high school. We talked about middle school issues, summer camp, school shootings, and dress codes.

Now we talk about the environment, human rights, and the state of the laundry rooms at their apartment complexes. They talk about beach closures, park closures, and where to get the best vintage clothes in Southern California.

My husband and I tell them to be extra careful when they go out at night. I know they will be careful, but we have to tell them anyway.

I raised my birds to fly. Now they’re soaring off in different directions and I can’t see or follow them all the time. I have my own directions to go in.

I will miss my children. My husband will miss them as well in his own way. Then we’ll miss them together as we talk about how proud we are of them. We’ll also talk about how proud we are of ourselves for doing such a fine job of raising them.

The house is quiet now, and for a rare hour I am alone. Even the cats are off sleeping in their corners, or under a bed.

I should be writing new stories, Vampire lore, or complaining about ghosts.

But I’m not. Just waiting till 4:30 when I take the dog to the pet place to get her nails trimmed. Don’t tell me to do it myself. I have a 90 pound drama queen of a German Shepard. I can’t do it.

So that’s it.

  • Stay safe.
  • Feel love.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Listen to your favorite music.
  • Call someone you love and talk.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

In the Distance on a Hot Day – Random Thoughts from Vampire Maman

In the distance

From my street

I can see snow

On the mountains

It was a hundred degrees today

I think of creatures

In their dens

In their trees

The hummingbirds

At the feeder.

 

Then you have to wonder about the Vampires under the floorboards drying up only to be found later by someone like me because my brother Aaron said I’m the best at finding them. I remind him that we’re not like them. Then he smiles at me with a flash of fang, and I wonder why I ever helped him in the first place.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

Stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid large gatherings, don’t be fucking stupid.

Fun at home and stuff for you to watch

I’m at home drinking wine and doing stuff.

My husband Teddy asked me if I was still posting Burning Questions. I told him occasionally. I do need to start that series up again. Anyway his question suggestion was “What is the best cover tune ever?” Evil Squirrel do you have an answer?

My favorite cover is:

  • Tainted Love – Gloria Jones (1964) | Soft Cell (1981)

 

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If YOU have a burning question let me know. Just leave it in the comments box below.

I hope you’re all staying safe and in good humor.

 

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I’m working on a story for the next WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and busy organizing my house and doing a zillion other things related to being at home way to much. That includes a video called Passed the Brush which I’ll share with you right now. It is right below my aka Vampire Maman sign off. I love this video so much. I’ve watched it like three thousand times.

Have fun. And don’t forget Dave’s Bottle Shop is having a sale on Type O and Poet’s Blood.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Don’t ask me…Vampire Fun and Games

My phone made a meowing sound. That’s my brother Aaron’s ringtone.

“Hello,” I said. I wondered what he wanted.

“Juliette, how’s it going?”

“I’m not crawling under any houses or going into any basements for you.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because whenever you have to get rid of, or otherwise deal with dried up musty old Shadow Creeping Vampires you call me to do it for you.”

“Juliette…”

“Isn’t that what you have your Vampire Hunter for?”

“I’m not going to ask you to kill anything. Well, not technically. You know what I’m asking. You and Val are the best. He’s on his way over right now.”

“Does Val know what you want Aaron?”

“No, I neglected to tell him.”

This reminded me of an event a few months ago. One of my daughter’s good friends from High School started sending her fervent religious materials and calling her about church events and sin and it was strong and negative. My child was offended and told her friend that she was offended and then told him to never call her again. He was such a nice kid. I’d hoped they’d stay friends.

So when my brother Aaron calls me to do something I’d never ask my kids to do I sort of cringe. There are some things I did in my past, with and without my brothers, that I would never want my children to do.

One of those things is converting regular people into Vampires. And the worst thing about it is that my brother Val and I are the best. Yeah, I don’t talk about that a lot on this blog, you know the whole Vampire thing.

We’re the youngest two of five siblings. Val and I are little more than a year apart. Aaron is five years older than me. Then there are the two older brothers who are eight and ten years older than me. I don’t want to get them involved with this at all because one knows everything and can be a real asshole and control freak. The other is just, well weird and always defers to the eldest when things turn stressful. Either that or he’ll tune out and find some back door to sneak out of.

Our brother Aaron is smack in the middle. I’d like to smack him right now.

Then he said, “Do you mind stopping for coffee on the way?” Then he proceeded to give me an order for six different cups. It made me wonder who would be there.

“Do you want any pastries?” I had to ask in my most snarky voice.

“Very funny. Just get here soon baby sister,” he said. Vampires don’t eat pastries. I wish we did but we don’t.

So to make a long story short I showed up at the Victorian house we all still own in the middle of downtown.

A thirty something couple greeted us. Aaron claimed he’d known them for a while. They’d been thoroughly vetted. He thought they’d be good Vampires. Whatever. I knew I’d be the one who’d end up helping them through the transition.

My great great great great grandmama Lola was there as well. She was uncharacteristically quiet. On the other hand she looked quiet lovely in a flowered sundress covered by a denim jacket. At six hundred and seventy five years she still looks like a twenty six year old young woman. Val and I kissed her cool cheeks and thanked her for being there. You know, just in case. God only knows (or maybe not) how many Vampires she has brought into the world.

Val and I asked the obligatory questions. Do you understand that you’ll be dead for short time before we bring you back. Do you know there is a risk of losing your soul? Do you understand what it means if you lost your soul? Do you know there is a huge risk death, as in final death? Do you understand that you will need to consume human blood to survive? Do you understand that you will have to actually bite into a live human body every once in a while? Do you understand that you will outlive everyone you know? Do you understand that once you become a Vampire you will not be immortal? You can die. Someone can kill you. You can suddenly die for no reason as well. Do you understand that this can’t be undone? Do you understand that once you become a Vampire you will ALWAYS be a Vampire?

I didn’t ask, “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

There was more but I won’t go into that right now. Actually there is one more item that Aaron, Val, and I stressed more than the other points. “Do you understand that if you tell anyone, or show anyone what you have become that you will die in an extremely unpleasant way.” That is one of the ugly points of being a Vampire that I don’t cover on my nice humorous feel good parenting blog. We don’t take blabber mouths lightly.

“Want to go to Target with me when we’re done here?” I asked Val.

“Sure,” he said. “I need shampoo.”

“I hear you’ve never lost anyone,” the woman said to me. “How many have you converted?”

“How many Vampires have I made?” I glanced at Val. “A lot.”

Val just smiled. Asking a Vampire how many people they’ve turned into Vampires is like asking someone how many sexual partners they’ve had. It is something you just don’t ask anyone.

Then we did what needed to be done. Lola had agreed to stay for a week to help with the transition. It isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. Aaron was going to stay at least for a few days, but he lives walking distance away so it isn’t a big deal.

I watched him as he took off his Hermes tie and rolled up the sleeves of his custom made shirt. Always the best dressed Vampire in the room. I love Aaron but I wish he’d occasionally relax (and I don’t mean just rolling up sleeves.)

Val and I ended up finding a dark neighborhood bar and sat for a while doing shots of tequila. We talked about our three elder siblings. It wasn’t all bad. A lot of it was. At least they respected us for our talents.

Then we wandered around Target for about two hours laughing and filling our basket full of all kinds of fun stuff. My kids would have been proud of us, just because of how much fun we were having.

And now I’m home with nobody but my cats and a dog. The husband and still at home child are away. The other child is living far far away. OK, only about six hours away but that is really far if you’re a mom.

I’m not even sure that I’ll tell them what I did today. They won’t approve, or they’ll have questions I don’t want to answer. Everyone has strong opinions on the matter. Vampire families are like all others – we all have strong opinions.

So that was my day. I’m tired and… sometimes when you’re a mom you just don’t need to be bugged. And sometimes when you’re a mom you just want to smile and listen as your family gathers around in the evening and forget your day. Even if you’re a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette by the window

 

 

 

 

 

Musings on a Winter Afternoon

The weather today is cold and crisp and clear. It is a good day to work in the yard. We can see snow far away in the mountains, but we don’t get snow. We get squirrels and birds. Today I’ve heard eagles, gulls, songbirds, humming birds, crows, hawks, and jays. I’ve seen buzzards. I have no idea what they sound like. The turkey vultures tend to be quiet as they spread their wings and soar overhead with great beauty, in contrast to their homely faces. There are also wild turkeys but I haven’t seen any of them today.

Even in the daytime I see the shadows of ghosts trying to figure out where they ought to be. I wonder why some people won’t let go go the Civil War and realize that the South lost. It isn’t just the Civil War – it is a lot of wars that were lost years, even centuries ago and nobody has the heart to say “move on,” except the ghosts, who would like nothing better.

Because we know that people (especially politicians and religious leaders) don’t read history, or learn from the mistakes in history. They don’t even learn from their own mistakes. If they do they are more rare than a California Condor, or an alien from space.

As I look across the room the 1876 Seth Thomas clock strikes 1:00. It still runs. Things always keep running when they are made well, with pride. Remember that when you raise your children. Teach them to run well with pride. Life will be easier that way (figure it out.)

Anyway, there are patches of color where we’re trying out different paint colors. No rain is predicted for next week so I figure it is a good time to start painting. I fully expect the dog and cats to turn golden yellow, white, and green as their curiosity and sense of territory kicks in.

There is a lot to do before night, when I’ll get to relax with friends, with wine, and a movie, and some fresh blood, and fresh conversation. Fresh conversation is always good.

Have fun. I’ll have a new story tomorrow for Short Story Sunday. And don’t forget the free science fiction poster deal. CLICK HERE to find out more.

And tell your kids you love them. If you don’t have kids, tell someone else.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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