Tuesday, December 19, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit

We're delving into another of the three elements of story: character. (The three elements being character, setting, and plot ๐Ÿ˜„) I'm not going in any special order with these. 

Last month we built a character starting with an archetype. The last piece was Goal, Motivation, Conflict, a huge subject in its own right.

So let's put it in a nutshell, shall we?


NAMEINNEROUTER
GOAL

MOTIVE

CONFLICT

Just fill that in and you're good to go!

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits

Okay, maybe it needs just a little more ๐Ÿ™‚. How about an example?

Here's my matrix for Kat in Night's Kiss. I switched the headings because to me, the internal goal is the underlying "why" for the external goal. External goal why? Because internal goal.

NAME:Kat Kean 
OUTER GOAL
INNER GOAL
GOALKill all vampires, especially King Vamp.
Fight back against the evil suckers.
MOTIVERevenge against the suckers who killed her parents and traumatized her sister.
Never feel helpless again.
CONFLICTKing Vamp is hard to kill and harder to find.
She's falling in love with a vampire.
 

 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

2T Repeat Performance - 6 questions

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 24, 2012 for Identity Discovery


1. How did you come up with the name Biting Oz?

The long way around :) And with much good help. For most of the rest of the Biting Love series, I’d been riffing off of song titles--Bite My Fire, The Bite of Silence, Biting Me Softly--so I originally titled this Biting the Rainbow, like Judy Garland’s signature song but with bite. Anyway, The Powers That Be thought there might be some confusion as to the type of book it is, so they asked for a title change. Note, this is a good thing. My first book sold was titled Nixie: A Biting Novel of Passion, Punk Rock, and Polkas. TPTB thankfully changed it to Biting Nixie. Anyway, I’d done a short story prequel last year (which originally was Off To Bite the Wizard but which readers kindly informed me via a poll should be Oz Bites. They knew much, much better than me). My editor liked Oz Bites, but since it was already taken, we played with alternatives. Biting Oz was the happy result.

2. How much research did you have to do for all the sausage references?

A lot. I do far more research than I need to for most things, so the story is as solid as possible. I looked up how to make sausage, what the various ingredients are, how they’re seasoned...you name it. Then I match the reference to the mood at the time. Our heroine Junior does not make humorous sausage references when she’s in the midst of a tragedy. Some of my references simply come out of growing up where I did. Wurst, brats, and beer were just part of life. Made for some great cookouts :)

3. Why didn't Junior ever move out of her parents place even if she wasn't leaving the city?

Money. Her full-time job was her folks’ store. She wasn’t earning any cash--what little profit the store made went to things like the family’s food and clothes. The only cash she got was from the gigs she did, and that wasn’t enough to pay for outside rent and utilities.

4. What was in the cheese that caused the town to go crazy?

Camille spiked it with drugs both highly addictive and hallucinogenic. Those drugs weren’t part of the cheese originally, though the hydrogen was.

5.what is the history between Glynn and Camille?

Oh, there’s a grand question. About eight hundred years ago, Glynn and Camille and a few others were made vampires around the same time. The young vampires met up and banded together, to survive, to find blood and comfort, and to keep each other from going rogue.

As a human, Camille was an ambitious woman at a time in history when that often meant realizing ambition through a man via sex. Before becoming a vampire, she’d trained as a courtesan. She was used to working through men, used to working outside of society’s strict boundaries. She still uses that early training today. She wants to be universally desired but suspects in her heart of hearts that she's not. So she keeps trying to prove men can't resist her and is piqued when they do. Since she’s willing to fight dirty and backstab to get what she wants, the men in her life need to be on their toes.

Vampires are sexually charged creatures. Glynn and Camille, as well as the rest of their small band, were lovers. But because of vampires’ blood-tracking sense, blood is shared only among the very closest of friends, allies, and lovers; none of the youngsters were blood lovers. For the first hundred years Camille was sweet although not exclusive--none of them were. As she grew more confident, then became cocky, she decided she wanted to found her own household (although she would use her humans, not live in harmony with them. She thinks vampires are better than humans). She wanted to use the strongest vampire of their group, Glynn, as her enforcer, planning to hold him to her with sex. Glynn objected to her keeping people like a herd of bloodsheep. His rejection broke up their group because he appealed to the other vampires' better natures and got them to walk out with him. Though she says otherwise, Camille has never forgiven him for any of it, for getting the rest to leave her, for screwing up her nefarious plans, and especially not for rejecting her.

6. I haven't read any of the other books in this series (but I want to). Would you mind sharing a little about the series in general and where it is heading?

The series started when I combined everything I’d gotten good feedback on in my writing (humor, first person, riveting action sequences) with vampires. The first story, Bite My Fire, was centered in the little German-settled town of Meiers Corners, which is outside of Chicago, and was about a local murder. The series started expanding when the nearby cadre of bad-guy vampires, the Coterie, started trying to take over the Meiers Corners blood center. The problems will escalate as the scope of the series gets bigger. For example, the next planned book takes place mostly in Minneapolis, although the book after that will return to Meiers Corners. Some of the storylines will also turn a bit darker and more serious. In the next book there’s an embedded mini-novella that reveals the secret of vampire healing in a rather terrifying way. I have four heroes definitely planned and a handful more that readers have been asking about. Currently I’m planning the end of the series to feature the Ancient One.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit

We're delving into another of the three elements of story: character. (The three elements being character, setting, and plot ๐Ÿ˜„) I'm not going to go in any special order with these. 

There are a ton of ways to develop characters. Here's one that builds on July's introduction of archetypes.

Start with a character archetype.
Add specific characteristics.
Build a backstory.
Give them quirks, faults, flaws, characteristic(s) in contradiction with the archetype.
And then the piรจce de rรฉsistance: GMC, or goal, motivation, and conflict. More about that next month!

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

2T Repeat Performance - Hot Alpha or Sexy Beta—which would you really choose?

 

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 22, 2012 for the Samhain Blog

Hot Alpha or Sexy Beta—which would you really choose?

The Alpha. Highest rank. Strongest and most courageous, or best able to forge alliances. The Leader. Gets the best of everything.

The Beta. Second-in-command to the Alpha, ready to step in if the Alpha dies. May aid the Alpha in courting.

Alpha men are massively hot. Testosterone pumps their muscles huge and fills their step with self-confidence. It also may make them hotheaded and prone to listening only to their own opinions. They may eventually settle down with one woman but in the meantime they have lots of encounters. They’re leaders and at some point, if they don’t put the group first, they may not have a group to lead. So sometimes the heroine comes second.

Beta men have all the same characteristics but for one thing—they’re not leaders. Yet. They can indulge in side interests like running the computer lab or being a bodyguard for the heroine.

Which do you prefer? Alpha? Beta? Or...?

I write strong heroes, vampires males who are powerful, assertive, and protective, even if the heroine can protect herself. These males are leaders, but always put the heroine first, especially in their thoughts and hearts. They’re muscular and masculine, but they’re also thoughtful and caring when needed. Is that alpha or beta? Or...?

I also like loners, the males who don’t follow anyone’s rules but their own, but have a strong code of ethics. Neither leader nor follower, they don’t seem to fit into neat categories either.

And I love the strong, independent, driven males who are a bit of both, like Glynn in my brand-new release Biting Oz. He does his job as he sees fit. Yet he integrates easily with other vampires in the Alliance.

My big bad alpha, the Ancient One, is stuck in Iowa running the Alliance. But Glynn can travel as bodyguard with the Ancient One’s young ward Dorothy—where he can meet heroine Junior. Instantly his desire surges, crashing into Junior's own. Their passion erupts first as arguments, then as a kiss hotter than the sun, and then as far more. Glynn is strong and intelligent, manly without beating on his chest, powerful but not a tool. He commands attention everywhere he goes yet helps Junior run her store’s register. He saves the show literally by stepping onstage. Yes, real vampires do indeed do musicals.

So is Glynn alpha or beta or...? Here’s a short excerpt. Let me know what you think!

In the theater. Junior is late and rushing to get to the pit, but is blocked by a sea of Munchkins.

I screeched to a stop on my toes, off-balance. My bag slipped, dropped off my shoulder, jerked me into stumbling. I nearly dropped the sax, did drop my stand, tangled feet with it and had to wrench myself backward to keep from falling.

Except the sax didn’t hear about the change in plans. Momentum carried it in my original direction, popping it from of my grip.

To my horror, the tenor case pitched straight at the kids.

The man turned instantly, as if preternaturally aware of the danger. But he was behind the kids. He’d have to hurdle like Jesse Owens to get between the deadly sax and those small bodies.

Palming the wall, he levered against it to kick up and over Munchkin heads, clearing them with incredible grace and ease, landing on my side.

On the way he snatched my tenor. Midair.

I set down my instrument bag and blew out my tension. “Wow. Thanks. I...”

Straightening to his full height of six-OMG, he faced me, emanating strength and energy. Powerful chest muscles pushed into the jacket’s gap right in front of my nose.

I gaped, realized I was starting to drool and looked up.

Sondheim shoot me. His face was all dark, dangerous planes. His eyes were twin sapphire flames that hit me in the gut. My breath punched out and none came to replace it. Bad news for a wind player.

He turned to set the sax down. I started breathing again.

A tapping caught my ear, the conductor ready to start. I needed to get into that pit now.

Half a dozen kids and two makeup adults were still in my way.

I’d have crawled over the seats myself but my joints weren’t as limber as the kids’...unless I used my black Lara Croft braid as a rope. I was desperate enough to consider it.

The man, turning back, saw my predicament. He lifted my instrument bag and music stand over kids with the same strength and grace as when he’d snatched the tenor. Then he turned to me.

And swept me up into his arms.

An instant of shock, of male heat and rock-hard muscle. A carved face right next to mine, masculine lips beautifully defined--abruptly I was set on my feet beside the pit. The sax landed next to me with a thump.

“There.” His accent was jagged, as if he were as rattled as me. “There’s your instrument.” He bounded to the back of the theater and was gone.

Biting Oz available now!

Hugs!
Mary

http://www.maryhughesbooks.com

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit

 

We're delving into another of the three elements of story: character. (The three elements being character, setting, and plot ๐Ÿ˜„) I'm not going to go in any special order with these. 

Here's a provocative sentence I came across: 

Archetypes are masks of a complete human being.

Last month I unpacked the complete human being. Let's put it all together.

Our characters start out with a vision of themselves, either good or bad. They see themselves perhaps as the Hero, a Captain America, or perhaps as a Villain, like Felonious Gru in Despicable Me. More, all their actions and attitudes consciously reflect this archetype -- they wear their vision of themselves like a mask.

But it isn't their real selves. Real people, and characters who feel real, are messy. Conflicted, inconsistent, flawed. They change. They grow, they shrink, they lose, and they win.

Because their mask isn't their real self, it keeps that character separate and distanced from change, contradiction, interaction with other people, and even fully understanding themselves.

So, like a real person, they must learn and change to embrace their own truth, to remove the mask of the static, idealized archetype or even burst it, to become a complete and full human being.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

2T Repeat Performance - what makes your vampires different?

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 22, 2012 for My Odd Little World

What makes your vampires different from the others out there?

Keeping it real.

I can’t claim to have read every vampire book or seen every movie or show. But there are three ways I know of to “make” a fictional vampire—physically (like the plague in I Am Legend), magically (like the witches’ spells in The Vampire Diaries), or morally (divinely cursed like Dracula). Mine are the physical variety. The underlying mechanism has yet to be revealed, but there’s one noticeable aspect that sets my v-guys apart.

My vampires don’t drink blood for their stomachs—they drink it for their veins.

Like humans who can’t make their own blood, my vampires must have regular transfusions (taking their transfusions by mouth).

I like this a lot (especially for romance) because it’s hard to have a real relationship with someone who looks at you as a giant barbequed chicken. My humans are donors, not dinners. Even better, vampires only have to drink about three times a month (just often enough to replace dying red cells).

Now, I do have to say that my vampires have many similarities to those out there. They’re strong, fast, rich, highly sexual and fall in love hard with one person. There’s a group of savvy warriors united by the mysterious Ancient One to protect humans.

But real physiology grounds my vampires, no matter how whimsical the plots get. The blood they drink goes directly into their veins instead of their stomachs, which is frankly more authentic to me because the stomach digests blood. Mini-rant here—feel free to skip to the next paragraph :). That’s one reason I have a problem with turning rituals where the human drinks blood. How effective can blood be, churned up with gastric acid? Assuming it stays down, that is. In humans, blood is an emetic—drink enough and you, um, you know. Email me if you don’t :).

Of course, because my vampires don’t use blood for food, they have to get their energy another way. It’s not revealed yet, but there are indicators they get it from being buried in the soil (perhaps like plants do) honoring the “native soil” needed by Dracula, and the vampires-sleeping-in-graves legend.

The physical differences also have a real social impact. Those who successfully make the change keep their human intellect and morals: silly, smart, wise; good or bad. So on one hand we have the Iowa Alliance living in harmony with humans, and on the other we have the Chicago Coterie trying to take over the world. Some vampires don’t make the change successfully. They lose what makes them human, becoming pure vampire hunger uncontrolled by their rotting human brain. There’s a nice tension between the good guys protecting humans, the bad guys using them as minions, and the rogues mindlessly hunting them.

Lastly, some vampire characters are developed ignoring popular lore. Lore may not be real, but popular means a lot of people understand vampires in terms of the legends. I try to honor all legends that are physically based. My vampires are hurt by silver. They get a buzz from running water. Sunlight fries them. They do have reflections, but no reflection is part of the divinely-cursed vampire mythos (no soul). After being undead long enough, they can turn their bodies into mist; longer yet and they can shapeshift. These all have real reasons tied consistently into the physical nature of my vampires. Which will get revealed eventually :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit

We're delving into another of the three elements of story: character. (The three elements being character, setting, and plot ๐Ÿ˜„) I'm not going to go in any special order with these. 

Here's a provocative sentence I came across: 

Archetypes are masks of a complete human being.

Last month I unpacked mask. Let's look at the complete human being.

It's a fact that no character, not even Pinocchio, can be a real human being. But you can make them feel more or less like a real person to the reader. How is that?

In researching archetypes, I came across a Between the Lines Editorial blog that explains it very well. There are flat, static characters who are one- or two-trick ponies and never change. There are also rounded, dynamic characters. These characters change over time (like we do) and have many personality traits, some of which vary over time and are even contradictory (like we do!).

So make your Pinocchio, not a static wooden puppet, but a conflicted being who wants to be a real boy but can't, until he understands the truth and changes his life.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

2T Repeat Performance - tell us how the series began

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 21, 2012 for Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

 Tell us how the Biting Love series began?

 Backwards. Seriously, I submitted the third story first, the second story second (which was the first sold) and the first story…well, maybe I should start from the beginning :)

Back before my first sale, the rejections were getting to me (I am not terribly thick skinned and tend to write two novels for every rejection I get), so I decided to throw everything I’d gotten good feedback on—sex, love, humor, and vampires—into one story. (If I’d had an extra kitchen sink, that would’ve gone in too :) By layering each element, I quickly wrote Bite My Fire (cop Elena, master vampire Bo). That went so well I dashed off Biting Nixie (punk rocker Nixie, vampire lawyer Julian).

Problem was, nobody knew how to sell that kind of…well, to put it kindly “fusion of styles” (and to put it realistically, “mishmash”). I got even more (shudder) rejections.

And then Samhain Publishing had a special call for hot paranormal romance with humor, exactly the elements in my books. (Author Snoopy dance.) I wrote a fresh novella for the call, which would become the spine for Biting Me Softly. That didn’t make the anthology, but it did interest an editor into opening the door. I quickly wedged in my strongest foot (Biting Nixie) and she bought it. (Author fainting dance :) Then she went back and bought Fire. So Book Two was published before Book One.

I then expanded the novella into Book Three and she bought that, and that ought to be the end of the story. But a call for New Year’s novellas came. I’d been wanting to feature city admin Twyla and got a great idea for her and Spartan vampire Nikos, set on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I sold that and The Bite of Silence (a novella) was published four months before Book Three—which then became Book Four.

Fortunately Biting Oz has always been Book Five (although the original title was Biting the Rainbow). I’m working on Beauty Bites now, slated to be Book Six, but I’ll let you know how that actually works out.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit

How about delving into another of the three elements of story: character? (The three elements being character, setting, and plot ๐Ÿ˜„) I'm not going to go in any special order with these. 

Here's a provocative sentence I came across: 

Archetypes are masks of a complete human being.

Last month I unpacked archetype. Let's look at the mask.

 Literal masks usually represent supernatural beings, ancestors, imagined figures, or non-human beings.

Literary masks are the representation of an ideal worn by a character. As such, they keep that character separate/distanced from change, contradiction, interaction with other people, and even fully understanding themselves.

The character's mask is formed by their attitudes and actions (but not reactions) and are usually a conscious commitment to the identity of the mask.

An example of a mask: I am a truthful person. (No real person is entirely truthful.) When faced with a situation in which the truth would cause harm, I don't lie, I only embroider what I say a little. (Note the denial of reality. When this character is caught in a lie, they will deny it to themselves (action) but feel bad for some unknown reason (reaction).)

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

2T Repeat Performance - How do you develop your characters?

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 20, 2012 for Blackraven Erotic Cafe

How do you develop your characters for the Biting Love series?

 Take a strong man and a strong woman, throw them into an explosive situation, stir and serve!

Okay, it’s not quite as easy as that :) Let me explain by first breaking it into pieces.

Developing the Hero—I love strong men, but there are different kinds of strong. My vampire heroes are all powerful, handsome, smart, with deep voices that buzz along your spine…you get the picture :) But each hero has unique traits. Master vampire Bo carries the responsibility for the whole town of Meiers Corners (thank goodness he has miles-wide shoulders). Julian, a lawyer, is hella smart. Each hero also has at least one emotional scar; and one quirk that drives the heroine nuts (just like real life couples :).

Biting Oz’s hero is black-haired, sapphire-eyed bodyguard Glynn Rhys-Jenkins. This vampire is determined and loyal. He’s also a bit of an enigma. When visiting Meiers Corners, the first thing he does is set up a table of homey knickknacks. That’s his scar; he had no true home as a child and is searching for one.

Developing the Heroine—My women are independent women who earn their own way. They’re not looking for a man to take care of them, or even a male who can complement them—they’re looking for the guy who can keep up with them. Each has a major hurdle to overcome, usually tied to the theme of the story and most often in direct conflict with the hero’s issue. For example, while Julian keeps strict control of his vampire nature, Nixie is all about personal freedom of expression.

In Biting Oz, heroine Gunter Marie “Junior” Stieg is a musician whose strong sense of family duty keeps her stuck working in her parents’ sausage store. But she dreams of heading for Broadway. This conflicts nicely with Glynn’s need to find a real home.

Developing Others—The plot suggests people our heroine must meet. They usually lay flat on the page until I remember to flip them one-eighty. Example: cop Elena needed a partner. The cop stereotype is tough, street-smart, closed-lipped and stocky. So I paired her with gangly, clueless, lips-flapping Dirk. Taking a stereotype and adding a twist tickles me almost as much—in Biting Oz, beautician and town gossip Dolly Barton (some say the FBI get their best tips from Dolly) drops a stunning vampire secret on Junior.

Combining more than one purpose in a single character adds richness. Nixie, heroine in Biting Nixie, plays in the pit orchestra with Junior and also runs the townhouse where Glynn stays. She urges Junior to find out what’s behind his mysterious table of knickknacks.

Putting It All Together—So those are the pieces! I work them around until they fit, then augment each other. I have dozens of heroes and heroines floating around in my head, and it can take months of trying various combinations until a pair clicks. Then I go back and forth between character, theme and plot, sharpening each against the other. Start the book with an explosive meet (Junior’s blocked by a sea of Munchkin kids—Glynn picks her up and carries her over their heads) and away we go!

 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit

We've been reviewing plot structure the last several months. How about another of the three elements of story: character? (The three elements being character, setting, and plot ๐Ÿ˜„)

I'm not going to go in any special order with these. Here's a provocative sentence I came across: 

Archetypes are masks of a complete human being.

Let's unpack that over the next few months. First, what's an archetype?

In general, it's like a sewing pattern, something from which copies are made. Note in this simile, the archetype isn't real. A dress pattern isn't a dress. That'll come in handy down the road.

In literature, there are anywhere between 3 and 13 main archetypes, depending on who you Google.

  • The Caregiver, the Creator and the Explorer.
  • The Hero, the Mentor, the Everyman, the Innocent, the Villain.
  • The Hero, the Mentor, The Threshold Guardian, The Herald, The Shadow, The Trickster, the Shapeshifter. (These are courtesy of the Hero's Journey.)
  • The Hero, the Caregiver, the Innocent, the Creator, the Explorer, the Jester, the Lover, the Magician, the Everyman, the Ruler, the Sage, the Orphan, the Rebel.

I don't even really need to spell out what they do, do I? That's what makes them archetypes. Mention the type, you instantly picture an actor or character in a book or play or movie or show who personifies that archetype for you. Here are a few examples:

The Magician: Gandalf as played by Sir Ian McKellen.
The Hero: Captain America, either Chris Evens's Steve Rogers or Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson.
The Explorer: Dora the Explorer as voiced by Kathleen Herles

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

2T Repeat Performance - Why a Druid?

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 17, 2012 for Harlie's Books

Why a druid?

Myths and mysticism fascinate me. As a child I saw magical possibilities in everything around me. Finding the magic in nature, in life, is as wonderful and natural to me as breathing. Between that and my Celtic ancestry, it was perhaps inevitable that I found myself interested in druids.

A decade or more ago I came across a book, Life and Death of a Druid Prince. It’s an enthralling tale about the discovery of a bog body that bears all the markings of a druid prince who sacrificed himself to save his world. I decided to do a contemporary romance about a druid book and the mysterious professor who’s tied to it. I didn’t finish the story (it’s currently at 27K and I may finish it some day) but I researched druids then, and their courage and daring in the face of the seemingly inexorable Roman conquest remained strong in my mind.

I’ve also been looking to create a hero from Wales for some time now. The characters I write are all seeded in my reality—that is, every character has a bit of my “real” life inside them that’s the grit to the character’s pearl. In Glynn’s case, it’s my husband, whose rebellious streak I never understood—until I discovered one of said husband’s ancestors was a rebel in the Welsh equivalent of the Boston Tea Party. It’s not willfulness, it’s a strong will to see that right is done (and my husband comes by it naturally :) Glynn has this strong sense of what’s right, and the will to fight for it when it’s threatened.

Born in the 1200s, Glynn isn’t a druid. But he is a vampire who encapsulates the spirit of the druid prince: the enigmatic warrior-priest, a thoughtful man who is capable of swift action, and who does what he has to in order to save his world.

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit

Occasional randomness:



Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

2T Repeat Performance - Inspiration behind the book

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 16, 2012 for the Brunette Librarian

Inspiration behind the book?

 As a musician, playing for live shows is one of my joys. My pit orchestras are usually a small group, generally friends, often including my husband. Not only is the show fun and exciting, but we have plenty of laughs and disasters both onstage and off.

As a writer, my prime goal is entertaining readers. Biting Oz immerses you in the world of theater, from the bright glitter of the show to the nitty-gritty action behind the scenes.

Much of my inspiration comes from direct experience, enhanced by imagination. When I starting Biting Oz I had just played Reed II for The Wizard of Oz and it was fresh in my mind. I myself lugged around a huge tenor sax (and it was as bone-numbingly awkward as Junior says), although I admit I never whacked a vampire with it. Our real life Toto was a hoot, getting bored and plopping down to lick his, um, scenery. In the book my Toto gets even more creative J

Other real-life Oz stories: friend and trumpet player Karen W remembers “having Toto come up and sniff you at the edge of the pit.” A musical friend recounts “Professor Marvels’s camp site was complete with a camp fire (light and fan, etc.)…[and]…during one performance, Toto (a real pooch) kept sticking his nose in the ‘flames’ to see if there were more hot dogs in there!” That was the performance where “the music room below stage began flooding with sewage from the sump pump. [They] closed the doors and the show went on.....Later captioned by [a national news source] as ‘If I only had a drain!’”

I’ll just share two other pit stories (not in Biting Oz but maybe a future book :). 

My husband nearly got beaned by a croquet ball in Little Mary Sunshine (the pit is below the stage) and took to wearing a hard hat to rehearsals. 

Reed player Leah D remembers a production of Into The Woods. “We had this ugly little cheap stuffed animal as our ‘pit mascot.’ Mostly, we’d stick him in funny places on someone else's stand, horn, music, gigbag, whatever. Our drummer, Barb, was commissioned with finding just the right sound for the giant’s footsteps. She found that holding the feet of the ugly stuffed animal and whacking its head into the bass drum was exactly the sound the director wanted. Heh heh...”

As you can see, quite a bit goes on offstage too. Excitement, laughs, disasters, and relationships. What better inspiration for a story?