Day of the Dead is an important holiday in the Mexican culture. You can read about the history and traditions at the website below. I want to share with you how two talented artists portray this holiday. Janet and Sydney are mother and daughter, both with a gift for capturing beauty. Skulls aren't my favorite objects, but the women did a fabulous job with the subject matter, don't you agree?
Sydney McIlvaine Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/Sredisni
Janet McIlvaine http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1030613851417.2005685.1407497343&type=3&fb_source=message
Damn I love Halloween street parties! My honey and I try to go every year. To get us in the mood, we followed our sacred tradition and started the evening watching Michael Jackson's Thriller. Love those dancing zombies.
This year, I dressed as a mummy, and had a sign that said 50 Shades of Dead. I was mummy porn. Bwa-ha-ha! I kept getting attacked by all kinds of creatures. How scary! I hope you enjoy my picture show.
This is Hurricane Sandy at her worst at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The next group of pictures are a surfer's dream. Perfect waves, sunny skies, nature's blessing after a storm.
Prayers to everyone else in her path. Folks up North are not going to have such good weather, I'm afraid.
My winner is Christina S. Thanks to everyone who participated. Have a Happy Halloween!
Oh joy, another blog hop! This time, we get to do a little howling.
My contest is: Leave me a comment about something that makes you howl. It can be a happy howl, a pissed-off howl, or a wild and crazy howl. I'll go first. I howl for joy when the air is crisp and the moon is full, and I howl in frustration when I get the blue screen of death on my computer.
My prize is a $5 Amazon gift card and your choice of a back list Ebook. That's anything except my new one, Out of the Ordinary. Visit my book list page to read blurbs and excerpts. Leave your comment below, then go to the Blog Hop Spot, and hop on to the next author. Thank you so much for visiting with me!
Here is a short excerpt from my soon-to-be-released Out of the Ordinary. If you like and love it, and want more of it, visit Total-E-Bound and pre-order.
Esme began to rub Star’s neck, and Star sighed. Esme's strong hands felt good on Star’s tight muscles. Slipping away to la-la land, Star remembered she had a mission and pulled her mind back to the present.
“So, tell me about this party. Is everybody I saw at the dinner table a guest? Where do they come from?”
“Yes, they’re all guests from our home planet, Kastra. King Gaius likes to have company at his parties so he invites—” Esme suddenly stopped. “I’m not supposed to talk to you. I’m sorry. Here, I forgot to turn on the music. You just listen and relax. I'm going to apply a clay facial mask. We'll let it set while I work on your legs and feet. It will help smooth out those blotches in your complexion.”
Esme flipped a switch and a melodic, pleasing tune began to play.
Do I have a blotchy complexion? Esme needs to talk to those diplomatic relations people. Star knew she would get nothing more from the young pixie, so she let herself drift off and enjoy the experience.
Her mind wandered to picture Adam standing naked near the hot tub. She didn’t want to think about that particular scene, she needed to focus on a way to get out of there. But her brain had ideas of its own, and naked Adam would not disappear. It hardly seemed worth the effort to try to think of something else, and he really did look quite divine, so she let her imagination roam.
In her fantasy, she rose from the tub to greet him. She had the body of an Olympic athlete, and hair from a shampoo commercial. Her skin was certainly not blotchy and her teeth were white as pearls. There were no annoying pixies around for miles.
They hugged, a firm, loving embrace. Both of their bodies were warm. Adam’s hands travelled down her back and caressed her butt, squeezing her firm cheeks. She explored his body, touching every inch of delicious skin she could reach. His cock grew hard and pressed into her stomach and moisture formed between her legs. She stood on her toes and rubbed her pussy against his cock, eliciting a deep moan from him.
Their lips met and Star and Adam kissed, not one of those tender, sweet butterfly kisses that drove her crazy with wanting more. This was a hungry, passionate invasion, both of them tasting each other’s mouth, him biting her lower lip to just this side of pain. The kind of kiss that set her mouth on fire and almost left bruises, the kind Star loved.
His hand stroked her breast, cupping and squeezing the firm flesh, and just as he lowered his head to suck her aching nipple, Star felt something cold and wet on her cheek. Is that Adam’s tongue? She jumped.
“Sorry to startle you. The clay is a little cool at first, but it will warm up,” Esme said.
With a sigh, Star’s allowed her mind to drift back to reality. Damn, it had been a good long time since she’d had a daydream like that. Her pussy was wet and wanting, and raw desire throbbed through her body. Even though she was scared, something about this place had awakened her senses. She actually felt more alive and vibrant than she had in a long time. As annoying as Adam was, a deep desire for him coursed through her. His teasing manner in the hot tub had been for her benefit, she was sure, to help her relax and his words had been sincere—he really did think she had a nice body.
She would have smiled with pleasure had her face not been solidified by the clay mask. This sensation was a welcome change of pace from the emptiness that had greeted her each day for the past year, and Adam was certainly a delightful break from the men she knew. He was strong and seemed smart, without being a bore. His sense of humour, well, anyone who could keep his wits about him under these circumstances was extraordinary. She found she looked forward to their next encounter, clothed or not.
My winner is Andie W. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who participated and left comments. You're terrific!
Time to get wicked! Join me and over two-hundred authors as we kick off a fabulous Halloween celebration. Not only am I jumping up and down because I love Halloween, I'm extra excited, as my new book, Out of the Ordinary, will be released on October 29th. Woo-hoo!
My contest is: Leave me a comment about something you like to do after dark. It can be wicked, or not so wicked. I'll go first, and tell you two things. I like to look at the stars in a clear night sky, and I like to put on sexy underwear when my honey and I go out for date night. Isn't that deliciously wicked?
My prize is your choice of a back list Ebook. That's anything except my new one, Out of the Ordinary. Visit my book list page to read blurbs and excerpts. Leave your comment below, then hop on to the next author. Thank you very much for participating.
It's time to start thinking about Halloween costumes. If you're like me, and really love to dress up, you've been thinking about your costume for awhile. Mine is going to be scary, funny, and yes, there will be pictures here on my blog. My guilty little secret is, I like to dress kind of sleazy on Halloween. I view it as a good opportunity to strut my stuff, while having my face sufficiently disguised so no one recognizes me. I can be cute, funny, or scary, depending on my mood each year, but I like to show some skin.
One of the best parts of designing a costume is going to the thrift store. I often have to also make a trip to a discount store or my local, temporary Halloween shop, but I try to get most of my ensemble at Goodwill. For one reason, because I'm cheap, and also, it's more of a challenge to put together a killer outfit from scratch.
I do peruse the costume websites, and was delighted to see something interesting at Annie's Costumes this year. Some attire that has normally been viewed as men's costumes now comes in women's styles. We can be a knight, a pirate, and even the big, bad wolf, not just a damsel in distress, or a little girl with a red cape. Now that's progress in the right direction!
I also found this site with adorable children in costumes. Almost makes me want to have a baby. Almost.
Tune back in for costume pictures, or send me yours, I'd love to see them! naomibellina AT live DOT com.
The winner of the eGift from Mystical Press is Bebe Balocca. Congrats Bebe, and thanks to all for leaving comments.
It's a tough world out there for us writers, and any assistance we can get is appreciated. When I saw what Mystical Press has to offer, I was excited. Read this post to the end to see how you can win $25 towards their services and classes. A nice deal!
A special thank you to Naomi for having us as her guest today. She was very gracious to squeeze us in on her calendar! Mwah!
Nothing gets a rejection faster than unrealistic characters. From the opening page, everything revealed about them builds expectations. And a story falls flat when the characters fail to uphold those expectations. The result is a contrived story that will make readers put your book down…and that’s the last thing we want!
Behold, 3 Valuable Tips for Creating Realistic Characters
Tip #1—Give Your Character Personal Motivation
Only one thing drives a story forward: Character motivation. A plethora of authors make the mistake of drafting detailed storylines and plugging their characters into place. Though a storyline may give direction, Alan Watt advises we should hold our stories loosely in his book The 90-Day Novel: Unlocking the Story Within.
If the character isn’t motivated to achieve something personal, the story drags. In other words, if your characters don’t care, neither will your readers.
Storyline with No Character Motivation: Tad Smith is determined to follow family tradition and climb Mount Everest—both his father and grandfather tried and succeeded. Tad and his crew encounter trials and tribulations on the treacherous journey and Tad even loses his best friend George along the way. In the end, he reaches the top…but at what price? Tad learns a hard-knock lesson in priorities that forever changes his life.
While this is nice, there’s not really anything driving us to read this story. A bunch of guys climb a mountain, stuff happens to them along the way and in the end they learn a lesson. But there’s nothing to care about. Let’s revise a little, shall we?
Storyline with Character Motivation: Tad Smith’s father believes he isn’t strong enough to carry on the family tradition of climbing Mount Everest…but Tad is determined to prove his father wrong and gathers a crew who are just as resolute. With his best friend George at his side, Tad and his crew encounter trials and tribulations on the treacherous journey, but giving up is not an option. If Tad accepts defeat, his father will be right, and the crew is determined to conquer the mountain for fortune and glory. George is fatally injured and, with his dying breath, tells Tad he can do anything…he just needs to believe in himself. Tad demands his crew turn back. He won’t lose anyone else to his personal ambitions and vows to continue alone. George’s sacrifice will not be in vain. The crew refuses to abandon Tad and they all agree to continue. In the end, they reach the top and Tad can finally gain the respect of his father...but his father doesn’t care and refuses to acknowledge Tad’s achievement. Only then does Tad realize the truth—he didn’t need his father to believe in him; he needed to believe in himself. The crew receives honor, glory and riches for their efforts, but their victory is bittersweet as they toast to George’s empty chair.
This revised storyline is more about the characters’ relationships versus a bunch of guys climbing a mountain. It’s about brotherhood and learning how to believe in yourself. The story has potential because the character motivation is linked to personal goals.
Tip #2—KNOW Your Characters
Many authors make their characters do things with the sole purpose of driving the storyline in a certain direction. All authors should ask themselves one question as they write: “How would my character respond in this situation?” Let’s say you’re writing a sci-fi story and a vicious, drooling alien is about to attack a defenseless child. Your shy, bookworm heroine suddenly finds hidden courage, draws the nearby Samurai swords on display and hacks the alien into sushi. You may need your character to do this, but unless you establish a hidden strength in your shy character early in the story, the actions come off as phony.
Here’s another way of putting it. Imagine someone you’ve known most of your life (e.g., your overprotective, neat-freak grandmother) and plug them into your latest story. Now rephrase the question, “How would Grandma respond in this situation?” Grandma might glance at the swords, but in reality she would pick up her trusty broom, stand like a lioness in front of the child and scold the alien for the slimy mess it’s making before whacking it into submission. The point is you wouldn’t have Grandma wielding Samurai swords and hacking the alien into sushi because you know Grandma hates sushi. All joking aside, you get the point?
This is the level of depth you must establish when creating your characters. You must know them—inside and out.
Tip #3—Listen to Real Dialogue between Real People
Dialogue is a great way to reveal information in a story. However, a lot of authors take this tip to an unrealistic level. Let’s use Tad for our example and engage him in some dialogue with his father.
“I’ve told you a hundred times, Tad, you’re not strong enough to climb Mount Everest. You’ll never have the honor of achieving the family tradition your grandfather and I obtained.”
Tad clenched his fists at his side. “You’re wrong, Dad! I’ve been training for years, just like you and Grandpa did. I’m going to make you proud. You’ll see!”
“It has less to do with physical strength, son.” Jeremy poked his finger into Tad’s chest. “Have you forgotten you were in therapy for three years trying to recover from your mother’s death? Don’t you remember how your grandfather almost died climbing that mountain? He trained for ten years and had two failed attempts before he succeeded. Everest changed him. He experienced hallucinations, lost friends!”
Question: if Tad’s whole purpose is to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, doesn’t he know all this already? Two people don’t rehash information they both already know. The only purpose of this dialogue is to inform the reader about their history. It sounds stilted, forced and contrived. Also, there’s no mystery to make the readers want to keep flipping pages. Let’s try again:
Jeremy crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. “I talked Bradley out of sponsoring you.”
“You did what?” Tad clenched his jaw, waiting for an explanation, but his father offered none. He steadied his breath. “I have plenty of other sponsors I can—”
“And I’ll talk them out of it, too.” Jeremy stalked forward until he was nose-to-nose with Tad. “You know how I feel about this.”
“What more can I do prove I’m ready for this? Don’t you think I’ve trained hard enough over the last ten years?” Tad crossed his own arms in defiance. “I’ve endured—”
“You don’t get it!” Jeremy threw his hands in the air. “Conquering Everest isn’t about physical strength, son!” He stabbed his index finger into Tad’s chest. “You’re not strong here! You’re not like me, and that mountain will kill you like it almost killed your grandfather. That’s why he was never the same after he came home.”
Tad fought the stinging in his eyes and inwardly cursed when tears slipped down his cheek.
“See what I mean? You can’t even handle a simple truth about yourself. You couldn’t even deal with your mother’s death.” Jeremy stomped to the door. “You’re not going,” he said over his shoulder. “That’s final.”
This dialogue reveals their feelings for each other while leaving many things unsaid that scream through the undertones of their behavior. Also, keep in mind the information left out can be woven into the story later where it’s more appropriate. The most important thing is to let the dialogue unfold naturally.
We Can Help!
There is so much more that contributes to realistic, believable and even memorable characters: backstory, foundational behavior that establishes a character’s personality through actions, psychology and human nature. The list goes on and on.
This fall, Mystical Press Services is releasing a list of classes geared toward character development: Character Development Essentials (CDE) Power Class (coming soon) and Crafting Believable Characters (CBC) Class Series (available for pre-order now). We have another class coming in early 2013 titled Creating Memorable Characters (CMC). Why so many? Because crafting believable characters is paramount to writing a great story. When you register on our site, be sure to let us know which blog referred you so your hostess will be recognized. Registered users will be informed when new classes are added to the catalogue.
We encourage you to share some of your experiences with creating characters or valuable tips you may have learned along the way. If you have any questions, please ask! Leave a comment or question and we’ll enter you in a drawing for a $25 eGift good toward any services or classes at our website. Good luck and thanks for participating!
Mystical Press Services is the culmination of two authors and professionally trained editors—Arial Burnz and AJ Nuest—who help authors bridge the gap between the form rejection letter and publication. In fact, we believe in this venture so passionately, our tagline is “Helping authors achieve their dreams.” We also assist authors for self-publication. Come dream with us!
There's a lot going on this month! I'm at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews, talking about why we like to scare ourselves at Halloween. Enter my contest to win an Ebook. http://www.sizzlinghotbooks.net/2012/10/guest-blog-naomi-bellina.html?zx=9bb49b5b74c3a1dd
If you haven't caught Sherlock: Season One, do so right now, because season two is here, and you are going to love the first episode. I know, they've both been out for awhile, but since I watch movies on Netflix and don't have cable, I'm continually behind. Nevertheless, I do eventually see them, and I know there are others of you out there who are as busy as me, trying to play catch-up, and only have a limited amount of television viewing time.
But I digress. Back to Sherlock. Here is a brief description of the series, quoted from Amazon:
"... the BBC puts its own stamp on Arthur Conan Doyle's sleuth--and sets him in a London filled with cell phone and laptops. In the pilot, director Paul McGuigan (a keen visual stylist) introduces Sherlock Holmes (Atonement's Benedict Cumberbatch) as a "high-functioning sociopath" and Dr. John Watson (The Office's Martin Freeman) as an army veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder. Through a mutual friend, the two become flatmates at 221B Baker Street ..."
Holmes and Watson are fabulous in this updated version of the classic. The only downside is, you may have trouble understanding the fast speech with the accents, and some parts move at a very rapid pace. You need to pay close attention, or watch some scenes several times, like I did. Three cheers for the rewind button!
The first episode in season two, (there are only three episodes in each season, boo-hoo), A Scandal in Belgravia, is deliciously sensual. Three scenes in particular stirred me. The first is when Irene Adler, a deliciously, decadent dominatrix, finishes a phone call and enters a room to tend to 'business.' She has a whip in her hand, and all we see in the room is a woman's foot, tied to a bed. Yummy!
The second scene has Ms. Adler in a robe, without her customary 'war paint', looking with admiration as Holmes solves a puzzle for her. She describes what she would like to do to him, on his desk. We can almost smell the fire burning in Holmes as he responds to her suggestion.
The third scene is sweet and tender, as Adler and Holmes gently hold hands. There is more that goes with that gesture, however, but I won't ruin it for you. Enjoy this lovely episode. I know I did.
My contest winner is Lisa Rayns. Thanks for entering, everyone!
I'm visiting Karen Michelle Nutt at her Wicked Haunt-O-Ween event with a vampire flash fiction story. Join me, and start getting in the mood for scary fun. (If your'e not already! Bwa-ha-ha!) There are prizes too.
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I would love to hear from you! Drop me a line at naomibellina AT live.com