Friday, April 30, 2010

Horror Excerpt

Today I thought I'd do an excerpt from the YA Dark Urban Paranormal (aka Horror) novel that I'm working on.

As I said yesterday, there is an essence of good vs. evil in horror. It creates both the internal and the external conflict of this story. Some basic background here.

Parker is a 16-year-old boy who sees other people's dreams when he goes to sleep at night and it's killing him--literally. That is, until he meets Mia and his brain can finally enter REM sleep inside her dreams. The sweet sleep is more addictive than any drug and he finds himself stalking her in order to get his fix.

This scene is after he's already got her extremely freaked out. She receives a threatening e-mail and assumes it's from Parker. This is her dream that night.

~~~

I’d watched Mia’s dreams, and now her nightmares. I didn’t care what anyone said—I knew her. I cared about her way more than I should and if she kept looking at me like a monster it was going to rip me in two.

The scene changed and we were at school. It was dark and there was a thunderstorm outside. Mia ran to the wall and flipped the light switch, nothing happened. This was a typical nightmare scenario, but for some reason my muscles tensed. It was like they knew this dream wasn’t going to get any better.

A low, devious chuckle came from the end of the hall and then footsteps. I squinted in that direction as Mia froze, both of us trying to make out who it was. The figure stayed in shadow and I couldn’t discern any features at all.

The footsteps moved faster and a primal growl filled the air. It made my hair stand on end, but Mia sprinted down the hall in the opposite direction from the figure. I was jerked along with her, the jolting movements totally disorienting. Finally, I got my feet under me and ran beside her and the jerking stopped.

The hall seemed to go on forever, the pursuer coming closer with every breath. Mia pushed until she was panting and clutching her side. My heart pounded in my ears from the exertion. Finally we got to the end, but instead of the doors that led out to the back parking lot, it was just another wall of lockers—a dead end.
Mia looked around for something to defend herself with, but there was nothing. She tried to open a locker, any place to hide, but they were all locked.

The footsteps slowed, and again the chilling laugh echoed around us.

“Please—leave me alone,” Mia whimpered.

“You know I can’t do that.” The voice from the shadows was distorted and gravelly. “I told you in my love letter.”

“Threatening someone isn’t love,” Mia spat out the words like they disgusted her.

“Maybe you don’t know what real love is.”

The monster was just feet away now and still I couldn’t really see him until he lit a match. I choked as I watched myself lift up a torch and light it. The sneer on my face and cold light in my eyes looked inhuman. Mia cowered away from the flames as the monster-me walked closer.

I didn’t want to see what she thought I was capable of, but I couldn’t drag my eyes away. Standing in the corner, I shook as the monster-me reached out and touched her face. She cringed and he grabbed her hair, smashing her head into the locker. Mia screamed and blood ran down the side of her face.

“You’ll learn to love me—and no one else.” The voice was mine now, not the gravelly distortion of before. I felt sick.

Mia whispered something too low to hear, and the monster-me brought the torch near her face. She froze, wide-eyed unable to move with the flames so close. After seeing the nightmare of her parents deaths, I knew why.

I watched as I—he grabbed a strand of her hair and touched it to the fire. She squeaked as the flame leapt up almost reaching her head before the monster-me squished it between two fingers. He laughed—he was enjoying this.

I knew I had to stop him—me, but I doubted I could. Apparently, I could affect the dreamer—but I knew from experience I couldn’t affect the dream.

Monster-me opened a locker and pulled a metal stand out. He placed the torch in it, tilted at an angle that placed it far too close to Mia’s face. Her entire body was shaking so hard the locker behind her made a strange rattling noise that echoed through the hall. The monster grabbed the hair on the back of her head with one hand and crushed her face to his. His other hand wandered freely over her body, as she squeaked in protest.

No matter what he did, she couldn’t seem to move. Her eyes locked on the flame that was inches from her face in paralyzed fear.

I felt the same. I knew it was irrational, that it was only a nightmare—but I’d never experienced anything so terrifying in my life. It was like my worst fear was playing out before my eyes. The fear that I’d become this monster. That somehow it was within me, aching to get to the surface.

Monster-me rammed Mia’s head into the locker again, growling, “Kiss me back, or I’ll make you wish you had.”

Mia didn’t blink, she didn’t lift her eyes from the flame, but she was still in there—striving to fight back. I could almost see her stubborn streak flare as she opened her mouth and brought both lips inward until there was only a thin strip of pink showing. I was so relieved I almost laughed. She was still herself, just paralyzed in fear.

The monster roared. It was a sound of pure fury unlike anything I’d ever heard before. He rammed Mia’s head against the locker again. Ruby blood started dripping down on the floor. He did it again—again—again. Her eyes were still open, but they started to look unfocused as the dream began to blur.

“Stop!” I felt my real voice tear lose from my throat. “Stop hurting her!”

Nothing changed, no one heard. I kept yelling until my throat was raw. I pounded my hands against the locker behind me until they bled, but it made no sound. I crouched further into the corner, quivering and sobbing as I watched myself beat Mia to a bloody pulp. Her face was unrecognizable except for her violet eyes. They weren’t looking at the flame anymore. It almost seemed like they were staring straight at me. Then with one more bone shattering smash against the locker, they closed and I was finally released from my own private hell.

~~

Okay, so that's one of the most violent scenes in the book, but (in the way of horror) it's far less scary than some others. It's difficult in such a small section of the book, but did it achieve any physiological reaction from you?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Be Afraid - Horror Post

Thanks to everyone that expressed interest in a post about Horror. It seems like quite a few of you think of slasher movies when you consider the genre of Horror. I used to think the same way, and I think that's probably why the genre has kind of disbanded with all of it's parts joining other genres.

Horror and slasher are not the same thing. In actuality, Horror is essentially a study of morality. It always deals with good vs. evil as well as life vs. death. Generally it has an aspect of the supernatural, although it doesn't necessarily have to.

Another defining characteristic of Horror is that it tries to achieve a very specific physiological reaction from the audience. A shiver down the spine, a rapid pulse, an inability to sit in dark places again for days--weeks--months. There is a kind of catharsis involved with movies/books of this nature that is a large part of the draw.

What I love about Horror is the ability to deal safely with things that are not, in reality,
safe.

One interesting thing about me (and my lovely friend, Suzette Saxton shares this attribute) is that both of us like writing darker Horror-tinged topics and scenes... but neither of us can watch scary movies. We have a theory about why that is. We think it has to do with the fact that with books your mind controls what it visualizes and it sticks within an area you can handle. With writing, we know how it's going to end and that helps make the darkness a little less scary as well.

So really, maybe I'm on a power trip. The idea of something I'm writing eliciting a physiological reaction from my reader makes me want to purr.

What do you think? If you write dark, what do you love about it? If you don't, did this definition of Horror surprise you? Do tell.

Tomorrow I will post some darker scenes from my current WIP, Insomnia. :) Also, on Monday, I'll be participating in Elana Johnson's "Spread the Awesome" blogfest and I'll be highlighting debut-author and Horror-master Dan Wells. I'll also be giving away a signed copy of his book "I'm Not a Serial Killer." One of my all time faves.

It is full of awesome.

Be there, or be...scared? ;)

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Happened to Horror, Anyway?

Since my WIP is, in fact, borderline horror--I've spent a lot of time lately wondering what happened to the horror genre as a whole. I mean, you don't see that section in bookstores anymore. I don't even think I've seen it in a movie store in a long time. So what's up? Where did it go?

The answer is...it didn't go away, it kind of dispersed. It was absorbed into a whole bucketload of other genres. I mean, I'm pretty sure my WIP would be classified as Dark Urban Paranormal right now, but horror has been absorbed into many other catagories - Dark Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller, Dark Sci-Fi.

It got me thinking. How many of you would consider there to be aspects of horror in your books? Do you have a light and fluffy mind, or are you (like me) all kinds of dark and twisty? If many of you are twisty like me, I think I'll do a post about what horror is really all about. We shall see.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Going to a Conference, Talk Amongst Yourselves

I'm spending the next few days at the LDS Storymakers Conference, so I'll be um... learning stuff. :)

In the meantime, chat amongst yourselves. I'll give you some topics. Can you believe what happened with Morgan on Chuck? Jack on Lost? or Jack on 24 for that matter? What about Rachel and Finn on Glee? Can you believe they sent Tim home on American Idol? Did Idol Gives Back make you cry too?

Discuss. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Kind of Writer Are You?

I've been thinking a lot lately about what kind of writer I am. I think there are two types of writers. Starters : who excel at the first draft writing phase, and Finishers: those that excel at editing/revising etc.



I have come to accept that I am a finisher. I trudge and drag my feet through the first draft phase, but once I get to type the words "The End" that's when I really enjoy myself. I love adding/polishing/finishing more than the actual writing. I've gotten the impression lately that I may or may not be a little weird.



No, seriously, it's possible.



Many of my writer buddies are hard-core starters. They live off the rush of the first draft and dread revision. So, now I'm wondering about everyone else. What are you? Which phase do you thrive in?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thoughts on Earthquakes

Be forewarned, this post has nothing to do with writing. Today I'm kicking it retro and trying something educational. Bear with me.

Some of you may know I live in Utah and that we had a minor 4.9 earthquake yesterday. No, I didn't feel it and I'm really nowhere near where it happened, but let me tell you something about Utah. The mountains are gorgeous and most of the cities are built right against them. That means the majority of us live on or pretty darn close to a fault line.

I did some research last night because it feels like there have been an inordinate amount of natural disasters occuring lately. First all the earthquakes and now the Icelandic volcano. It made me wonder what was triggering all of it.

I figured out there are basically three groups of thought out there when it comes to the recent seismic activity.

1 - People (mostly scientists, but pfft...what do they know) who say there isn't an increase, we're just paying more attention now.

2 - People who believe it has some form of religious significance.

3 - People who think it is being caused by either spies or aliens--no, I'm not kidding.

Here is the only confirmed truth I found in my research. No matter what is causing it or whether it has, indeed, increased or not--it's never a bad idea to be prepared.

So, take a few minutes and check out this website on earthquake preparedness. I had a talk with my kids about it this morning, and I'm glad I did. Hopefully, we'll never need the tips we talked about, but if so--I feel better knowing the we all know what to do.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Las Vegas Learning

My vacation was a blast. I've never been to Vegas and not had a great time. :) not to mention interesting...very interesting.

A wise person once said (Yes, I am calling them this because I can't remember who said it. You want to make something of it?......I didn't think so), "The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to be believable."

That statement is the essence of tourists in Las Vegas. Here is a list of 5 things I learned about people/the way of things in Sin City. I'm going to preface this list by saying that you shouldn't write any of these people into your books because they just simply aren't believable enough.

1 - Austrailian male rugby players love the Bellagio fountains. How do I know this? Because they told me. Loudly. Multiple times. In fact, according to them, they had been standing in the same spot, watching the fountains for nearly 24 hours. Now, a person wise to the ways of good ole' LV knows that the fountains aren't on all day long. But let me ask you, if you were confronted with a large group of burly men, all wearing viking helmets and rugby uniforms...would you correct them? I think not.

2 - Most people think the many spectacles in Vegas are there to increase tourism. This isn't true. The blinding lights/signs/Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty replicas/etc. are there for a completely different reason. It's so the locals can wallpaper the ground with pictures of naked women and guarantee that children will never look down. Tricksy little hobbitses, aren't they?

3 - Normal rules of attire don't apply in Las Vegas. In one city block, I witnessed a woman in shorts and a bikini top, another woman in a tank top and bikini bottoms, a man in a bikini, a clown in a bikini and a monkey wearing a top hat--and a bikini. One thing is clear, sanity is not required to enter Las Vegas, but a bikini is.

4 - People are overly emotional in Las Vegas. In the couple of days I was staying in the city, I witnessed: eight people weeping in the street, six people arguing in the street, three people singing in the street, random people shouting out things like "Las Vegas, WooHoo!" in the street regularly (that may or may not have been me), as well as a pirate painted gold from head to toe arguing with his golden parrot.

5 - The rules of natural selection don't apply in Vegas. I figured this out because I witnessed drunk people do very stupid things - marry someone they can only refer to as 'that one guy', place bets on anything that moves, dance through a water fountain created by a broken fire hydrant, talk to horses, and try to convince a man dressed up like Captain Jack Sparrow that he was, in fact, Johnny Depp. All of these things were legal. The one thing people aren't allowed to do while drunk? Drive. Do you see where I'm going with this? Idiocy breeds in Las Vegas. It may be in the water. I'm not sure. But if I didn't find it so extremely entertaining, I might suggest we assign one lonely desert road for drunk drivers in go karts only... a few cacti up your tailpipe might help reinforce natural selection once again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Me? Yes, You. Couldn't Be. Then Who?

I'm back! My vacation was wonderful. In the interest in promoting the activity of people watching (after all being observant is a necessary characteristic of any good writer) I'll be doing a post on Wednesday that will detail the many--many things I learned about people in good old Las Vegas.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

For today, I want to direct you to my very FIRST EVER blog interview! Yes, the lovely Dorothy Dreyer somehow confused me with someone important and asked me to do an interview. (Don't tell her she intended to interview someone else, it will be our little secret. ;) )

So go stop by my interview and tell me what you think. I had a fun time with it and my odd personality may or may not have shown up in full force... I promise nothing.

I'm happy to be back. See you on Wednesday! :)

Also, go check out Sarah Wylie's blog with what could possibly be the Best. Contest. Ever. ;)