31 October 2013

Werewolf. Smerewolf. Neither Here nor Therewolf.

Ah, Halloween. This is MY holiday and instead of enjoying the festivities, I'm sitting at home. If you can't see me, I'm over here beneath this gigantic pile of unfinished homework (all due tomorrow) and trying not to have a panic attack. But instead of freaking out and forcing myself to breathe into a paper bag, I decided a blog post may be in order. Just what the doctor recommended.

I could drone on and on about how I'm the Queen of Procrastination, but I'll spare you for the time being. No, what I want to discuss is Halloween. Or, more specifically, werewolves. Because hey, what's Halloween without werewolves?!?! And since I'm in the festive spirit, I'll give you a lesson on the mythology of werewolves in the Netherworld in FAQ mode.

LESSON #1 (and perhaps the most important): What are werewolves?

Werewolves are:

 From Wikipedia: "The word werewolf continues a late Old English wer(e)wulf, a compound of were "adult male human" and wulf "wolf"."

Thus, you get a human/wolf hybrid. I like to change things up a bit by including female werewolves in the Netherworld. You know, just to keep you on your toes. 

Werewolves are not:

This is a wolf. And if they also have a human form, then they are a Shifter. Shifters don't have to change into wolves, although it is the preferred animal shape of some. They are able to shift into any mammal they choose to. If you are in the wild and are approached by a wolf (usually a lone wolf) and you are unsure whether or not he has a human form, look into his eyes. The iris color is the only thing that doesn't change when a shifter is in an animal form. It doesn't change for werewolves either.

LESSON #2: What makes Werewolves different from Shifters in the Netherworld?

First and foremost, Werewolves transform on the full moon. They have no choice in the matter. They can also transform voluntarily any time they choose, but on the night of the full moon they have no control. Shifters do not transform on the full moon unless they choose to.

While Shifters are able to maintain their human thought processes when they change, Werewolves do not. It is a split personality type characteristic. There's the Beast and then there's the Man. They do not intermingle. Shifters in a wolf (or any animal) form, think like humans and have human thought processes. Werewolves do not. They recognize people by smell, especially their mates.

LESSON #3: What about that nasty Werewolf bite?

In the Netherworld, a werewolf bite is intended to either A) kill you or B) claim you. A bite will not turn a human into a werewolf at the next full moon. Werewolves are born, they are not the result of a bad bite and thwarted dinner plans.

If they choose to claim a female, they are typically in (mostly) human form. Their bite marks are distinct to the werewolf. There are not bad human dental impressions left on the skin. The next morning, the female is left with never fading scars of werewolf teeth usually seen on the shoulder/neck area.

[Just as a side note, a claim cannot be completed unless the female bites back. This doesn't have to occur at the same time as the male bite although it's nearly impossible for it not to. Ultimately, the claiming is a blood exchange of sorts and involves sex 99% of the time.]

If a werewolf's bite is meant to kill, they will usually be completely transformed. Oh, and their intended victim will be dead. They like to go for the throat but will sometimes delay their kill if they're really pissed.

LESSON #4: If I see a werewolf, should I run?

Hell no. If you see a werewolf, the best thing to do would be to stand very still and try not to act like a threat. Werewolves see potential threats as a challenge and they see runners as prey. Werewolves will not attack other werewolves unless there's a challenge made. They will also not attack their family members or mates. Their mate could be a raving lunatic who repeatedly bashes the werewolf over the head with a frying pan and still the werewolf will not attack her. He may growl. He may bite. He may try to have sex. But he will not attack. Ever.

If you made the mistake of running or trying to show dominance to get the werewolf to back down and are now royally screwed, try calling his human name. The only thing that can snap a werewolf back to their human form is hearing their name called. If you're trying to injure or kill them or their mate, this trick will not work.

LESSON #5: So... I accidentally got claimed by this werewolf last night... It wasn't my fault. It was definitely the alcohol. I got carried away, ya know. He was just sooo cute and I couldn't help myself...

Sorry, sweetie, but you're in it for the long haul. There is no divorce for Netherworld creatures, not just werewolves. If you get claimed... well, tough shit.

The best way to think of it is like a dog. He will be happy to see you when you get home. He will cuddle with you at night. He will lick your... face. And he will probably try to hump your leg. He will probably eat the contents of your fridge if you give him the chance. He will also be loyal. He will act as a protector and be outrageously territorial. And he will never voluntarily leave your side. Congratulations. You just got a best friend for life.

There is a downside however, that differs from dogs. Once a mate-claim is made, that's it. And I mean, that's it. One mate cannot survive without the other. If your mate dies, accidentally or otherwise, you will die. The good news: you probably have a couple days to get your affairs in order before it happens. But it will happen. That's a guarantee. Grief will overwhelm you until you can't take it anymore. Your body shuts downs and you join them in death, either naturally or via suicide if you can't stomach living the few days without them.

LESSON #6: Whoops! That pesky condom broke and now I'm knocked up.

Congrats! You are now impregnated with a werewolf baby. First and foremost, that was a very difficult feat that you managed to overcome. Infertility runs rampant with werewolves and even if your werewolf is fertile, reproduction is very difficult. Typically if you never, ever used condoms or any other method of birth control for twenty years and you had sex like rabbits, you may end up with one or two children. If you're lucky, you'll have three. It's very very rare to see a werewolf family with more than three children. If that happens, usually one of the parents is not a werewolf and the non-werewolf partner has been on fertility drugs for a long while.

Werewolf babies are born after the typical 9 month gestation. They are born in their human form, so don't worry about being bitten from the inside or freaking out the doctor when you're precious newborn is covered in hair. They are typically large babies (like 10+ lbs.). The good news about giving birth to a gigantic baby? Your body will heal faster than a normal human's. To date there has never been a maternal death in or just after delivery.

The father will probably know you're pregnant before you do thanks to the werewolf's increased olfactory senses. He can smell the changes in your body and will even be able to tell (based on smell alone) whether or not the child is his. Other males will also be able to distinct who the father is. Since the olfactory senses are stronger in males than they are in females, female werewolves will probably not be able to tell you who the father is with as much certainty as a male can. 

Your wittle bitty werewolf baby will not transform for the first time until puberty, so no need to worry about those terrible twos resulting in a pissed off little werewolf bent on destruction.  I would, however, recommend that you keep him or her close to you during those teenage years. The hormones and the need to reproduce for werewolves is much MUCH worse than for humans, so if you don't want your precious angel out humping everything in sight, I'd recommend keeping them on a very short leash.

Just an FYI, those hormones never fade. They do tend to become more selective about who they sleep with as they age, however.


Ah, reproduction. Just for kicks, we'll say that the male in the relationship is the werewolf and the female is human for the sake of simplicity, since it differs slightly than if two werewolves were baby-making.

First, say he knocked you up and he didn't claim you first. Well, now you're preggers with his child, so the chance of escaping a claim is almost nil. Remember that part about werewolves being territorial? That's only part of it. It's ingrained in them to protect their families and if you're human and pregnant with a werewolf baby, you may not survive the delivery (most werewolves have unsupervised home births). To protect you and the young, they will claim you because claiming equals increased strength and healing for the partner and the higher probability that you and the child will survive.

Werewolves naturally have increased senses, strength, speed and healing abilities. They can recover from near fatal gunshot wounds within hours if the bleeding is controlled and their airway remains patent. You could push out a 10 to 15 pounder with a lot of destruction to you physically, but you'll heal within a few hours. Although it'll probably hurt like a bitch. If the baby gets stuck, bones will probably get broken or they'll take him by ceasarian. But no worries, you'll heal. Although you'll probably feel most of it. Sorry about that.

Births are attended by close family and friends. Your mate will stay very close, perhaps too close sometimes (within hitting distance) and will usually be the one to catch the child. The females you choose to have with you (no males besides the father allowed in the room - family or not - or there will probably be a fight with the father) will help the father with the delivery by either acting as your emotional support or being another pair of hands if it's required.

You may feel lucky that getting pregnant is so difficult in the first place after reading that.

LESSON #8: I survived the birth, now what?

Now you report the birth to the Netherworld Council. You can send them a nice little letter stating the child's name, the date and time of the birth as well as the parents names and territory they belong to. You will probably not receive a congratulations in the mail, but you will be certain to receive a fine and the father will perhaps receive imprisonment if you do not do this within a fortnight.

If you and your mate are different Netherworld species, be prepared to have someone from the council or working for the council pay you a house call with your district leaders. If the child is deemed unworthy (this is based solely on the parents) be prepared to have your child taken and exterminated. The good news is that this hasn't been done in over two hundred years and it was usually seen when one parent was magical and one was not (i.e. a fairy mother and a shifter father).

Oh, and you can also apply for a birth certificate and social security card so your child can get around in the human world.

That was probably way longer than it needed to be, but I hope that you get the point. Those are my werewolves. So now, get off your asses and go celebrate the best holiday EVER and let me get back to my never ending school work so I don't get fussed at tomorrow when I don't have it. ;)


27 October 2013

[Insert Title Here]

Pride and Prejudice. Where the Red Fern Grows. 50 Shades of Grey. All are books, some good, some poor, but I'll leave that to the reader to decide. The point is that they are titles and there's something about them that makes the reader either A: pick up the book or B: keep passing by.

Ignore the cover art. Ignore the type face. What I want to know is: What makes a good title?

I am currently facing a dilemma. I'm sure I am not the first one to have this problem, but for the life of me, I can't figure out a title for my book. Between clever puns to random generators to just stupid names, I can't come up with something that ultimately says, "READ ME!".

I'm so tired of calling my book "Netherworld Book 1" (of 7). It doesn't say anything about the contents which are a type of erotic romance, paranormal thriller kind of deal. Lots of sex, lots of blood, lots of mayhem. And the best I can come up with is Book 1? I've produced a novel of 70k words and the last precious few are lost to me.

So instead of banging my head against a wall, how do I come up with a relatively decent title? I've already given up on anything awe-inspiring. Now I'm waiting for an epiphany. May lightening strike (and may it not hurt too much when it does) and may a title come within my grasp. Hopefully it'll happen before the book's ready for release.

For all the writer's out there: How do you produce a title for your books?

20 October 2013

Beta-Reader Extraordinaire(s)

Have I mentioned that I have the best friends ever?

I'm sure I have.

But let me repeat myself, just to make sure I get the message across: I HAVE THE BESTEST GREATEST MOST WONDERFULEST FRIENDS EVER!!

You may be asking why? Or you may not care, but I'll tell you anyway. They are my beta-readers.

Many people dispense advice that includes not giving your WIP to your friends for editing. Although I understand why that may not be an author's first choice, especially if they only tell you what you want to hear, I'll tell you why I disagree.

1. They never tell me what I want to hear. When I ask if I look fat, their answer will be yes, especially if I'm wearing those one pair of pants that look better on the rack at Goodwill than they do on me. When I say I'm sorry that my house is a mess, they say "Sweet Jesus, fold some laundry!"

2. They tell me the honest to goodness truth. I can ask if a scene sucks and they'll tell me yes. But what makes them brilliant is that they'll then go on as to how they think I can improve upon it. Sometimes I take their advice, sometimes I don't, but the point is that they're willing to give me an unbiased opinion.

3. They don't cry when I hand them a 323 page manuscript. Okay, granted it's double spaced and single sided, but anyone receiving 323 pages to tear apart can be daunting task to say the least. Instead they take it, tell me to take a break for a little while and get to work.

4. They know what writing means to me. I've always wanted to write and my friends get it. They don't advise me to throw in the towel even after my first draft is such crap that it's better used as kindling than anything else.

5. They're grammar nazis. I took Latin in college (even have a degree in it) and enough English courses that you would think I know how to construct a decent sentence. Unfortunately this isn't always the case, especially when I get caught up in the heat of the moment and the words start spewing from my fingertips at an outrageous speed. Luckily one of my gal pals is someone who is more proficient in grammar than I could ever hope to be. She also doesn't have that filter most people have between their brain and their mouth. Bonus.

6. They read the genre. I can't emphasize this enough. They know what I'm going for. They know what readers of my genre expect and they help me deliver. When they read something of mine that sucks, they go tell me to pick up such and such author to see what they did and then try to get back on track.

7. They give me kickass playlists to listen to while I write. 'nough said.

8. They do all of this for free. This includes designing book covers. And no, they're not just proficient enough in Photoshop to slap something together. They make beautiful, inspiring, eye-catching covers that depict exactly what I've been thinking about all along.

9. They inspire me. They tell me what kind of books they want to read. Then they tell me to go write them.

So now that I've handed off edited copies of my manuscript to my beta-readers, all I have to do now is wait. Wait to be handed back shredded pages, mutilated characters, axed scenes and enough red on the pages to make the whole pile look like one big bloody mess. I can't wait.