Brutal Doom = Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

One of my favorite video games now has three number 2’s associated with it: today Doom 2 is 22 years old. I think that calls for a post!

Doom is a classic video game with many versions, and Doom 2 is my favorite iteration.

The first first-person shooter game I ever learned, I still love it, and now they have BRUTAL DOOM, a version more bloody with updated, more fluid controls, new fatalities, better weapons, and heavily updated graphics. It keeps the feel of the original and brings it into the 21st century.

Why am I telling you about this transition from 1990s cutting edge computer game to revamped and updated classic video game (with many versions in between)? Because it’s something happening constantly with books today. Take Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

This classic book has had many rebirths as films and through alternate tellings, including the strangely popular Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

This is a prime example of taking something people already love and giving it a spin that’s very popular today. I remember when everyone was joking about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but it became a bestseller and will be a film in 2016.

My point is that you never know what will inspire you to write, to imagine. And you never knowFeatured Image -- 1269 what piece of creativity is going to hit the mark with your audience. I’ve read historical fiction books for a long time, but I literally (and I mean that in the literal sense) never thought I would write historical fiction. My exact thoughts: I could never write historical fiction, it’s too complicated. Way too much research. And yet here I am. My first published book is historical fiction, and not only that, I enjoyed writing all the tiny historical details from life in the 1800s. I mean…wow. I went from “never ever” and “impossible” to having a 5-year publishing plan based almost entirely on dark historical fiction writing.

This should teach you one thing: never feel silly for hanging onto a kids’ book or playing an outdated video game. You just don’t know how it will positively affect your present – or your future.

 

Alice in Wonderland is 150 Years Old!

I know I’m a few months late on this (read: 3 months late – “I’m late for a very important date” indeed), but this year Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland turned 150 years old. WOW! Even though it’s been around so long, somehow it still seems new. Maybe that’s because it’s constantly being refreshed through new movies, videos games, short stories, poems, etc. Imagine a 150-year-old story being redone and reinvented so many times. What an accomplishment!

In honor of this momentous occasion, I want to share with you my favorite rendition of Alice in Wonderland.

Have you ever heard of the video game Alice by American McGee, put out in 2000? How about Alice: Madness Returns, a more recent follow-up published in 2011? The former was a very underrated, under-the-radar game with a twist on Alice like you’ve never seen before, and it’s my favorite of the two because of its originality.

In the game, Alice is now a teenager. The beginning sequence shows us that when she was young girl, a fire started in her house, and her parents were trapped behind their bedroom door. She escaped, but her parents died, which scarred her psychologically not only for losing them but for not really trying to help or save them and instead just saving herself. She is admitted to a psychiatric hospital because of this traumatic event, and the game picks up when she’s a teenager still in the asylum. Cue the rabbit hole and Wonderland, which keep her trapped inside her mind as her only way to deal with the trauma in a way she understands. Now Wonderland is tainted and some characters are helpful while others try to kill her. They all represent sticking points in the recovery from her childhood trauma, and she must fight her way through Wonderland and, ultimately, the Queen of Hearts in order to escape her own mind.

That storyline was love at first read for me. What a way to spin a children’s classic into a teenage adventure. It’s also a great way to discuss trauma and recovery through a familiar character. It’s never mentioned straight out in the video game, but on the main menu screen and a couple of images in the video game, self-harm is implied, brought on by survivor’s guilt. Self-harm is a HUGE and important topic for teenagers (and other ages) since many of them deal with serious issues by hurting themselves. For it to be dealt with in a teenager-geared video game, regardless of that fact that it’s only implied, is something to be applauded. Ultimately the video game sends the message that Alice is standing in her own way of recovering and she can only escape if she’ll let herself, a positive message to plant in teens’ heads.

Some may see this as perverting an innocent classic tale, but I think the creativity is commendable, especially the positive message of escaping your own demons with time, dedication, and serious work. (Side note: Recovering from trauma without professional help is not necessarily possible for all victims of varying degrees of trauma, but this is still a positive message.)

Between Alice and its more popular sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, there is a ton of fan art, cosplay, and both official and homemade merchandise due to not only the character’s dark outfit but her strength in the face of inner demons. There are very few positive (and fully clothed) female video game role models out there, and even fewer that send an encouraging message about trauma recovery. I think it’s a great way to integrate serious messages into enjoyable entertainment.

What’s your favorite rendition of Alice in Wonderland? The original or a reboot?

Character Study: Psychopaths Are(n’t) Always the Same

I love studying the way different authors, filmmakers, and artists represent various kinds of characters, so why not share my conclusions with you? Sharing makes these things much more fun.

Let’s start with psychopaths. There are so many to choose from, but I have two particular ones in mind, and they’re not from books. My two favorite but opposite psychopaths are from films: Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death (1947) and Johnny Depp in Black Mass (2015). You’d never normally relate these two characters, but while they have major differences in their superficial characteristics, they are extremely similar in the core of what makes them psychopaths.

How they’re different:

  • Widmark often laughs his insane, maniacal laugh, even during and after his despicable acts, while Depp is very serious and rarely laughs
  • Widmark never carries a gun so the cops can’t pin anything on him, while Depp is unafraid of being caught with a gun
  • Widmark takes his sweet time getting around to eliminating snitches, while Depp moves quickly to get rid of them

How they’re similar:

  • Neither has any mercy or compassion
  • Both know how to avoid being caught for their many crimes, yet both have spent time in prison
  • Both are masters of vetting potential members of their gangs
  • Both have trusted men on their side but turn immediately on those who show a crack in their loyalty
  • Both enjoy violence and not only don’t shy away from it, but they take great pleasure in threatening and hurting others themselves
  • Neither have respect for women and are just as violent towards them as men

But the most fascinating thing of all is how these actors portray their psychopathic characters. Because the characters’ cores are the same, they are drawing from the same place within themselves to outwardly exhibit their mental state. Just look at these pictures and how similar they are, even with the characters’ superficial differences listed above.

Psychopaths Widmark vs. Depp

What does this say? That psychopaths can have their own individual ways of handling things outwardly, but their inner cores are duplications of each other. You can creatively toy with their methods and the cause of their madness, but there’s only so much deviation you can believably make to their psychology. This may sound limiting, but it’s actually really great because it allows for unique characters at the same time that you already know what they’re made of inside. So their baseline creates certain expectations that are always fulfilled. As you can see from the time periods of these movies (and real psychopaths throughout history), the basic psychology has always been the same, something dependable, although that’s a strange word to use to describe it!

Who are your favorite psychopath characters, whether from fiction or fact? Film or book?

 

Why #IndiePrideDay Was (And Is) So Important

There’s no question about it – Indie Pride Day was a major success, way beyond what I expected. TONS of indie authors participated and, as usual, everyone was extremely kind and ready to cross-promote. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to call that sort of behavior “the usual” in any group of people.

In case you weren’t there, the idea was to take a picture of yourself with your book and post it on Twitter and Facebook so that we could all take pride in our work and the fact that we chose to independently publish, and also to put indies on the “trending” map on social media. This further enables those participating to spread the word about their own and fellow indie authors’ works in a way that isn’t advertising. I thought this was a brilliant idea. It was the second annual event, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s!#indieprideday

One of the things I thought was so nice was that I could participate without having published my book yet. Anatomy of a Darkened Heart (AoDH) comes out in October 2015, yet Mark Shaw (creator of the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement) went out of his way to tell me I could still post my picture with the name of my book, just so I could participate along with everyone else. In what other community besides the indie author community can you find people who make exceptions to the rules for you and go out of their way to gather participants when they’ve already got loads? Between the Get Down With The Awethors Facebook group and the IBBS peeps, I’m convinced indie authors are the most dedicated and friendly community around.

Indie Pride Day was not just important in terms of showing the world that indie authors aren’t stuck with self-publishing – we choose it willingly. It was important because our community was strengthened by a snowball effect with a hashtag that gathered writers and readers together. Don’t think that sounds like such a big deal? Many times author events end up gathering fellow authors, which is wonderful, but it’s tough to get readers involved. This event brought people who’d never heard of the group or the event itself into the mix, something that’s hard to accomplish. For that alone, I congratulate every single person who helped put the event together and every single person who participated, even just by retweeting one other person’s tweet. I was thrilled to see random people joining in and tweeting that the event sounded cool and that they were behind it, never mind how awesome it was when readers named their favorite indie authors and the new ones they’d now try. I got the chance to discover india authors I’d never heard of and follow them on Twitter and Facebook as well as promoting their books. It was fantastic to expand my network exponentially in just one day.

Let’s not consider this a one-day thing. Let’s consider this a clear and welcome sign that there are more of us out there than we could ever have dreamed – and we’re all waiting to support each other. We are really just one giant community, and there is room for every single author out there. Welcome. Please bring your friends.

Picture Tour through a Victorian Weekend Getaway House!

I promised in my Characters’ Psychologies video that I’d show you the Victorian house I’m staying in, so here are some great inspirational highlights from it. Hope they inspire you too!

Victorian house bedroom

Let’s start in the beautiful bedroom I’m sleeping in. Maroon walls, pink bed covers and pillows, and a chest with a story to tell. Ideal for me!

bedside lamp

The lamp at my bedside is perfect for reading. Each milk glass section lights individually and together to give you exactly the amount of light you want. The ambient lighting is also great for late-night writing in a notebook.

bedroom chest view

 

Damaged chest, perfect bed. Stories are in the making!

 

mirror and bureau

 

Little corner of cute.

 

glass doorknob

 

The beautiful glass doorknob and lock on my door.

 

hallway light

 

Let’s move out to the hallway. At night, this is the lamp that just barely lights the hallway.

 

blue flowers

 

My mom’s room is more of a beach theme (the place we’re staying is by the beach), so it’s a white and blue room. The owners of the house put these lovely blue and white flowers in her room as a finishing touch. I just think they’re so pretty!

 

blue room glass doorknob

 

Blue room glass doorknob. I love the contrast of colors.

 

child's view

 

A child’s view of the same doorknob. The slightly open door suggests a lot of possibilities to me. I also think the light blue on white seems very innocent.

 

damaged chest

 

Back to my room for a minute. I love this damaged chest so much!

 

lock

 

The paint is chipped away but the secrets remain intact.

 

darkened light

 

There is always light in the darkness.

 

self-portrait

 

Writer as photographer.

 

stairs

 

Let’s go downstairs.

 

mirror

 

Mirror mirror…
lion

 

This regal lion oversees the family room. He tops off a piece of furniture called a hall tree that acts as a chair, a mirror, and a coat hanger. It’s seriously unique.

 

carving detail

 

Beautiful carving details on the same piece of furniture as the lion.

 

lamp

 

The dining room is always dim, and at night this light casts an eerie glow over the wooden dining room table.

 

banister

 

Possibilities…

 

dramatic

And for the finale, something dramatic.

I hope you enjoyed this tour! This place keeps my motivation and productivity high. Do you have a place that does that same for you?

Writing Inspiration: Collection of Old Keys

As you may have seen in my Inspirational Objects video, I LOVE old keys. They are immensely inspirational to me. Not only does my NaNoWriMo novel take place in Victorian times, but keys are going to play a large part in the storyline. I promised to show my collection, so here is some of it:

old key collection

I don’t have any particular favorite thing about keys. I love the character they carry, the stories they tell just by their shapes, their size, and their weight. I can picture so many different storylines for each one. I love how tiny they can be, tiny enough to hide up your sleeve. Some of them are so thin, I can’t imagine how they could be strong enough to turn in a lock. The horizontal-lying one towards the bottom is the one that happens to fit into the keyhole on my notebook (so cool!).

For my book, I’ll be sketching my own key creations to create something original and fitting since they play such an integral part in the story.