Coffin Hop | Something walks in the dead of night…

Click on this image to tour the Coffin Hop.

Here are the gory details for the Coffin Hop!

1) HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME!

2) INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND SPREAD THE WORD!

3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 24, 2011 at Midnight (PST)

THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST)

Winners will be drawn and posted November 1, 2011

4) MEET AND MINGLE WITH THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP! PARTICIPATE IN EVERY SITE’S CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!

5) PARTICIPATION AT ALL SITES IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. THE MORE SITES YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES.

6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME?

***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this tour is subject to these rules***    

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Monday = Murderers

Life is precious and fragile. We are all part of the animal kingdom and supposedly we are the most intelligent species. I am not so sure about that. But I do know that we are the cruelest species. Death is a natural part of the circle of life as are predators and prey. But though animals hunt for food and sometimes kill for dominance, animals do not murder.

Murder is something that is the reserve of humanity. A murder was the first crime in the world when one brother murdered another out of jealousy and envy and then covered it up. So Murder is truly as old as humanity itself. 

Some psychologists believe that everyone is capable of murder but that some are not capable of controlling this black streak. But some murders don’t fall into the murder category, they fall into manslaughter or self-defense. When you hear those terms, you can understand the theory that anyone of us is capable of taking a life especially if it is to save another person’s life or to save your own life. Does this make us more human or less human? No matter how murder is justified, killing is killing. A life ends at another’s hands.

Murder does lend itself to the world of cinema and fiction. There is nothing as riveting as a good old-fashioned murder mystery. There is nothing as thrilling and spine-chilling as a psychological thriller. There is no antagonist/villain as frightening and horrific as a psychopathic, cold-blooded serial killer.

I write dark paranormal fiction and in my stories there is always a lurking ghost, a psychological twist or a cold-blooded killer. Many people ask me why I write about the stories that I do. Am I that fascinated with ghosts and murder? Yes I am. I am fascinated and horrified by ghosts, spirits and killers because like it or not they are there. That scares me. To conquer your fear you have to face it. So I face it by writing about it. Often this means I do not sleep at night and this is caused by a combination of my imagination and my insomnia.

My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?

Prize Time

 

So…this is where you blog-hoppers come in. I need you to put your creative hats on and spin me a first name and surname for my sadistic killer.

The best name will win three ebooks by three phenomenal authors. (I will be announcing the names of the authors and their books closer to Halloween but believe me you will want these ebooks.) 

The best name will also become the name of my sadistic killer.

You need to be subscribed to this blog to enter (so join up if you are not already) as well as leave your best answer (along with your email address for winner notification) in the comments on any of this week’s posts on this blog. You also need to have visited and commented on at least 5 of the CoffinHop bloggers.

The winner will be announced on this blog on 5th November. 

Meeting the Antagonist | Drew Cross

We all know what a hero looks like. We also know what the Bogey Man looks like. But it is an art form to write a Bogey Man that jumps out from the pages of a story and truly scares you. Today I have asked one of my favourite writers to guest post on this topic. Drew is perfect for this topic because not only does he have real life experience in chasing down the bad guys but his antagonists are truly original characters who will definitely haunt you. 
 
When Kim asked me to guest blog about scary antagonists I was well and truly in my element!
I’ve had to invent a number of ‘bad’ characters in my crime and children’s novels to date, and I have something of a formula for what I personally find scary and how as a writer I project that fear onto the reader.
 
Here are my tips:
 
1. Outward normality.
 
I don’t know whether it’s residue from my time in the police force, but I’ve generally stopped thinking about antagonists as hideously ugly and obviously frightening to behold. I think it’s infinitely more terrifying to take the real life psychopath/sociopath as a starting point for your antagonist – outwardly there’s nothing unusual about most of them (I’ve met a few in prisons and on the streets, and they look just like me and you), but if you’re able to peel back the mask of normality then there’s something truly scary underneath. Letting the reader in on the secret thoughts and actions of such beings is always good fun and practically guarantees a shudder or two.
 
2. An obsession.
 
Whether it’s the obsessive urge to murder and mutilate of the serial killer, (Dr Lecter step forward) or the erotomania (obsessive love) of a stalker (think Ian McEwan’s ‘Enduring Love’), a memorable antagonist should have something at the heart of their desires that preoccupies them and drives them to evil acts. That obsession could be for revenge, the desire to possess something or someone, or taking simple sadistic pleasure in the suffering of others; but it’s memorable because we recognise it as being at odds with what it means to be truly human.
 
3. Insanity.
 
Rightly or wrongly we tend to fear the seriously mentally ill; unpredictability and irrationality threaten our love of order and control, so a character who exhibits these behaviours is a frightening prospect for the reader. I studied psychology some time back, and there are a wealth of different personality traits and disorders that translate into useful fodder for the writer: Glenn Close’s character in Fatal Attraction, the archetypal ‘bunny boiler’, exhibits strong characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder, for example.
 
4. Originality.
 
Finally, and here’s the most difficult part, you need to find something original (or nearly so, since there’s precious little left that hasn’t already been done) about your antagonists. That might not necessarily be the nature of the character’s actions themselves; it could be the setting, or something about their life or motivations that sets them apart (The character Dexter of book and TV fame is a good example), but unless you’re entirely happy with being considered derivative, you need to be able to point out what sets your bad guys apart.
 
I hope you find this interesting and/or useful, but I’d love to hear your thoughts too.
 
Drew X.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Drew can be found at: Twitter – @authordrewcross                                                                                      Website – authordrewcross

Subconscious Hauntings…

A Haunting
Image via Wikipedia

“You write out of your subconscious hauntings.” ~ Susan Cooper (Born 1935) British Author


This quote came up on my Tweetdeck this morning and it struck a chord with me. This perfectly sums up how I have been feeling about my writing lately.

I have been editing my November WIP for a full request I received. Being busy with the other WIPs and my short story, I had not re-read the entire draft for at least 6 weeks. This month while I have been editing it, it struck me that I wrote this MS almost as someone else. Does this  feeling have something to do with the fact that it is a Supernatural Horror/Suspense? Does it have something to do with writing the story in 1st POV through the eyes of the antagonist? It could be none of these reasons, it could be both of these reasons.

I do have the feeling that my subconscious was haunted for a while when I wrote this story. I believe that any good story can take over the direction of your writing from your conscious self.  I know that I physically wrote this story but in re-reading it I find that I am in as much suspense as a reader might be. The Story’s twists take me by surprise. I forget what is coming round the corner even though I know that I wrote all the scenes. 

Susan Cooper writes fantasy novels. She is most well-known for “The Dark is Rising“. Stephen King also mentions something similar in his book “On Writing“. In it he says that his mind is often filled with different people all clamouring for his attention. 

So it begs to be asked of your characters….

Do you create your characters?

Or

Do you characters already exist and introduce themselves to you?

This is a difficult question and throws me into a quandary. I would like to think that I, as the writer, have created my characters but with some characters it is not so cut and dried. Some characters, like my antagonist in this November WIP, arrive with fully fledged personalities and backstories and I seem to take dictation.

Who is to know whether that character was in the Ether just waiting for a willing ear and an obedient pen? Can you safely answer no?

For me I feel that when the character arrives in my thoughts that is when the writing just flows. There seems no effort. Indeed it is all I can do to stem the tide. 

For this specific character, I viewed the story through her eyes as she took me through it. I was a participant in the story rather than just the Story Teller. The Story is so real in my mind that it invades my dreams while I sleep. Dreams being the seat of the subconscious, you could safely say she has haunted my subconscious.

Have you ever had that experience with any of your characters?

Do they direct your story or they purely directed by you?

Have your writings haunted your subconscious?


© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Characters and their secrets

Secret Passageway
Image by Stuck in Customs via Flickr

Have you ever had reticent characters? Many readers and some writers believe that once you have written a book and created characters it gives you an omniscient presence in your character‘s world. For some this may be true. In my experience though, the opposite is true: instead of being creator and puppet master, I – the writer – am the servant and puppet. For me, my characters lead me down the twists and turns of their story. You see they have already walked it and lived it or are right in the thick of it, if anything I am an observer or a recorder of what they want me to tell the reader.

In my interviews on Warrior Wednesdays I always ask the question: What is most important or what comes first in your writing? The Story or the Character. You may wonder why I ask this. I ask this because in my own writing whether I think I get a story idea first or whether a certain character pops into my thoughts and hearing, ultimately it/they come from somewhere. I could say that I am brilliant and have a million and one stories within me but that would be false. I believe that as a writer we are a medium and a vehicle for our characters to tell their stories when, where, how and why they want to.

OK, I hear you say: so are you hearing voices from the deep dark and beyond. This is getting a little loopy! While if your right brain – creativity – rules you then count yourself loopy. Now don’t worry or look all shocked. I mean that yes you are loopy by the definition of a society where left brainers are the majority. I mean you imagine worlds, people, events, places in your head. By left brain definition you are deluded or hallucinatory or in a simple term loopy.

So back to the question: Do I hear voices from the deep, dark and beyond? To be honest, yes sometimes I have and do hear a voice. It pops into my thoughts and starts speaking. I know it is not me because it does not sound like anything I would say. Sometimes the voice is loud and sometimes it is quiet. For me though, I tend to stop and listen. I have tried the ignore button, even tried the mute button but then I end up with sleepless nights and eventually I just learn to respond. All that is usually needed is for me to listen and then a picture forms in my thoughts of who is speaking. Sometimes this is done by showing me a place first and sometimes it is like staring at my reflection in a mirror and slowly see a figure emerge from behind the door that is closed behind me. Then the who of them becomes a basis of their story. They live and breathe so they must have a story. That is when I put the pen to paper or finger to keyboard, whichever is in the closest vicinity, and write. Voila` a story is born and a character is on the page.

But some stories are different. Some characters like to keep secrets. They may even keep their identity a secret. You may be able to picture them but they do not tell you who they are. This may be because they enjoy the game or the control they have over you and your curiosity at this point. It may even be a method they are using to firstly get your interest in a story and then to keep it by leaving you with mysterious threads. For me this is very frustrating. I am a type A personality and like to be the one in control (blame my german roots) and I do not like surprises. If I am being honest here I also struggle with patience. So this character is like a double-dare and a red flag all at once for me.

In my new WIP, new in that I am at the start but not brand new story in that this story and these characters have haunted me for a while now. I knew I had to get this story written no matter how difficult the telling may be but somehow was coming up against a block. Then last weekend I had the epiphany to switch tracks from the German Professor Perfect to the train conducted by the 6-year-old curious and emotional Kimmi. Voila` the flood gates of inspiration started opening. But I still had a major problem. I did not know the identity of the antagonist. I kept on bumping up against this character. I could see the character but could not get a feel for this one like I did for the other characters. So I set it aside for a while and concentrated on talking to my characters in my NaNoWriMo novel and having a lot of fun with them on Facebook.

In the meantime I had also begun work last night on two writing workshops hosted by Savvy Authors. In one of the lessons, I had to write a full-page synopsis/outline via question and answer mode. So I decided to do the synopsis on my difficult WIP. It was late last night when the email had come through with the first lesson. So I looked at it and thought I would sleep on it and write it up first thing this morning. Well, the sleep idea soon turned out to be turned on its head. The synopsis kept on playing over and over in my head like a stuck gramophone. It got to the point that with 2 hours of broken sleep, I decided enough was enough. I would have to get this synopsis out my head and onto the screen. (The Macbook is never far away.) As I started answering the questions and the synopsis started fleshing out, I felt what could only be termed as a CLICK like something had locked into place or been opened. Suddenly as large as standing right in front of me, I met my antagonist. Just by finally knowing who this character was, a myriad of loose ends that had me stumped were tied up and the whole plot revealed itself to me. You see I could not see past the middle to the climax or the end because this story’s antagonist had hidden their identity from me. Suddenly I also knew why the identity had been hidden. This identity is the secret key to the whole story and demystifies both the protagonists as well.

Now I am not saying that I enjoyed meeting this antagonist as the character is the most sadistic and cruel character that I have yet met in my own thoughts. Just by this I know that I have not created this character. I have never actually known someone this… lets call it shadowed  or darkened. But as much as this character scared me to the depths of my soul, I suddenly had the key.

So yes characters keep secrets. Sometimes you find out through clues. But sometimes all of a sudden the secret is unlocked in an instant and it becomes a Pandora’s box. You will not be able to put the secrets back in the box once it is opened. Instead, try to rein in the secrets into one place: Your Characters’ Story. They know who you are. Now it is up to you to find out who they are.

So I ask you now, in light of my character unveiling, what comes first character or story?

Are you – the writer – the creator and puppet master or are you a mere medium and servant?

Ask yourself do you really think you just imagined some of those characters in your head and in your stories? Or are they the Storytellers and you are just a pen and paper?

– Kim

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

Monday Mental Muscles

I have decided to create a new weekly category called Monday Mental Muscles.

Mondays are a Chore for most people being a day that people want to get over as soon as possible. For traditional workers Monday is the signal that the weekend has ended and the work / school week begins. So I have decided that Monday should be the day set aside for my writing challenges. Fortunately for me, Monday is a day away from the dj (day job, not club cd mixer). On Monday I like to stretch my creative muscles by giving myself writing dares or writing challenges. So from October, I am now incorporating this into this blog.

Think of Mondays as gym for your imagination. You may have been busy with rest & relaxation on the weekend. At the end of Monday, you may be feeling stressed, frustrated, imaginatively “flat” and mentally tired. This is the time when you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and do some Pilates for the mind by attempting a Monday Challenge.

The Rules & Requirements:

  1. Pick at least 1 of 3 challenges to complete before Tuesday midnight.
  2. Comment under each Monday challenge on which challenge you have picked.
  3. If you have blogged about the challenge, link back to my blog.
  4. Pay it Forward – feel free to pass on my Monday Challenges to any writing buddies.

Happy adventuring in Monday Challenges!

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Monday Challenges – October, 4th, 2010

Focus on the Protagonist & Antagonist

  1. Interview: Call your Protagonist and your Antagonist in for a job interview. The jobs that they will be interviewing for are their roles in your WIP (work in progress) or MS (manuscript).
  2. Blind Date: Set up your Protagonist or your Antagonist on a dating website where you have to answer questions relating to what the perfect blind date (person, time, place, activity) would be for your character.
  3. Lottery Ticket Winner: Either your Protagonist or your Antagonist has won the big prize draw in the Lottery. Interview your character and find out what they would spend their winnings on.

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© All rights reserved Kim Koning.