Saturday, October 31, 2009

Social Saturday: Haunted House

Today we are going to visit a Haunted House!

Don't worry, it's not that scary.  After all, we do have our own vampires, ghosts and even a djinn and a fairy to protect us.  And some of us have magic powers as well.

This charming Victorian mansion is up for sale at a very reasonable price.  The realtors are serving free refreshments for anyone who wants to visit today.  Wouldn't you like to see this lovely piece of history?

We might also see a cat, a bat or a ghost or two. But not to worry!   I'm sure they're friendly.

But perhaps there is something you are just a teensy bit frightened of.  What would that be?  How do you think you could overcome your fears?

Or, just perhaps, you are a character who likes to frighten others.  Why do you do that? Who is your favorite victim?

Images courtesy of: Totally free clipart,animations and graphics

Friday, October 30, 2009

Character of the Week: Nutmeg!

Welcome to Come In Character, Nutmeg. Please tell us about yourself...

Hello, everyone! My name is Nutmeg Cross. I was born seventeen years ago in the piney woods of southern Mississippi, where my father, Thomas, runs a vision quest camp for troubled teenagers.

Nutmeg is an usual name, I know. My folks named me that because, well, they were hippies, see, and apparently, nutmeg can be a rather toxic hallucinogen. My dad never admitted whether he and my mom used it or not... guess it can be really dangerous. But Mom liked the name, so there you go.

My family and friends just call me Meg. Less weird, I guess.

Anyway, my mom left when I was just a toddler, so my dad had to raise me on his own – which I don’t think was terribly easy for him. Over the years, he never talked about my mom. Eventually, he met and married a nice woman named Billie Appleton, and five years ago, they had a kid – my half-brother Jonathan. After a while, I realized that I didn’t really fit in the family snapshot. In fact, Dad and I have never gotten along. I always found it strange that he took so much time helping out other people’s kids, but never seemed to notice that I needed some help, too. For one thing, I don’t think I’ve ever quite accepted my mother’s disappearance – and my father’s unwillingness to figure it out.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved growing up in the country, learning about Native American traditions (like red roads and teepee councils and medicine wheels), and meeting the people that came to my father’s land. I felt at home in nature, and I was happy to be home-schooled up until my high school years. But, still, something was always missing for me. So, several months ago, I hit the road – in search of my real mother. Maybe I was too young to set out on my own, but I was sick of waiting for answers.

Along the way, I met Indigo Cypress – an amazing, resourceful, full-blooded Cherokee with a talent for tracking, living off the land, and surviving in the wilderness. When we met out west, he was living on a reservation with his siblings – and he was ready to hit the road, too.

I’m so grateful that we met. It was lonely, scary, and fairly dangerous traveling by myself – and Indy and I get along so well. He doesn’t even mind helping me find my mother, going from clue to clue – no matter how disheartening the search seems at times. Guess you could say he’s my first love - and my own personal dreamcatcher.

So, that's my story – in a nutshell, so to speak.

Well, what about you? How far would you go to find someone?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Emote This: Mischief

Our recent trick-or-treat discussion has made me wonder about our collective capacity for mischief. Although most of us are fond of treats, quite a few of us have several tricks up our sleeves as well.

So, let’s fess up. What are some of the naughtiest things you’ve ever done?

For instance, have you ever teased an animal?

Have you ever swiped fruit from someone else’s property?

Have you ever been somewhere you shouldn’t have? (I’m talking to you, Buddy.)

Have you ever misbehaved in a church – or an equally sacred place?

Come on, everyone! It’s time to share your high jinks and shenanigans with the rest of the class.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting to Know You: Trick or Treat

With Halloween right around the corner, let's talk trick-or-treat!

Do you prefer tricks?

Or Treats?

What's the best trick you've played on someone, or that someone else has played on you? And what's your favorite treat?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Author-Character Chat: Zombie Writers

Today we are going to discuss a common malady called "writing zombie-ism." The Zombie Writer is recognizable by a number of clear symptoms:

1. Walking stiffly, as a result of spinal compression due to sitting most of the time

2. Clenched hands, which have become gnarled from using a pen or keyboard for countless hours

3. A perpetually glazed expression, and the tendency to speak in monosyllables, if at all, in response to well-meaning attempts at conversation. This is due to the fact that the zombie is not actually present with the speaker, but is living inside his or her imaginary world

4. The tendency to mumble to himself or herself while performing mundane tasks. See above.

5. An unkempt appearance, including rumpled clothes and wild hair, as a result of rushing to his or her desk immediately after waking, and then subsequently losing all track of time.

6. The tendency to eat nothing for long periods of time, and then suddenly be overcome with the urge to eat, at which time s(he) either empties out the refrigerator, or orders and consumes an entire large, deluxe pizza

7. The tendency to prowl around at night, unable to sleep but also too exhausted to write, resulting in daytime sleepiness, paleness and optical sensitivity.

8. Lack of communication with family and friends, until said family and friends show up on the doorstep wanting to know if the zombie writer has fallen and can't get up.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Are you a zombie writer?  If so, how is that working out for you?  Are you making progress on your manuscript, or do you feel as if you are stuck in the Land of the Undead?

If you are a character, is your author a zombie writer?   Is he or she wasting away in pursuit of your future publication?

Or, is he or she not working hard enough?  Are you, perhaps, feeling as if you are stuck in a state of partial death, trapped in the same scene for eternity while your author pursues his or her own selfish interests?

Authors and characters.... Let's talk!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Character of the Week: Amy!

Hello everyone. My name is Amy Thompson, and I’m very nervous about introducing myself. Though I have the honor of being the main character in a trilogy, I am most comfortable in obscurity.

I grew up in the small, Northern California town of Oroville. My father was a functioning, abusive alcoholic; my mother a shy, beaten woman who spent all her energy surviving her marriage and had nothing to give her two children. I survived my childhood by hiding and keeping my mouth shut at all costs; my brother succumbed to our father’s method of coping - booze and violence.

On my eighteenth birthday I found my mother lying dead at the foot of the stairs, and as I left my home for the last time, I vowed I wouldn’t end up with my mother’s fate. I closed the doors on my childhood, and everyone who hurt me.

My story is journey of self discovery.

To avoid the fate of my mother - a life of fear lived and ended at the whim of an alcoholic - I first had to journey in her shoes, and make my own choices about love, and loyalty. Had either of my great loves been the abusive monster I remembered my father to be, the choice to leave would have been easy.

First there was Robert Crane; impulsive, romantic, devoted to his family and religious beliefs. More boy than man; with a multitude of fears and insecurities. Watching his alcoholism develop, I was able to see how my mother could have lived with such a brute as my father. Love supersedes logic; until it is too late for choice.

Then I met my soul mate: his best friend Calvin Mertz. Over the next four years of emotional turmoil, I fell in love with Cal. Though the attraction was instant, and mutual, Cal’s brotherly loyalty to Robert forbade our love. Finally I was willing to leave both for the fulfillment of my vow; but fate intervened, and with Roberts death, an opportunity for true happiness.

So begins the second novel, and the convoluted story of marriage to an addict. Deeply involved in his cousin’s illicit organization, but driven by his passionate love for his father’s small construction business, my husband was again torn between loyalties.  As for me, I had to decide which was the greater act of courage: to abandon my husband and in his hour of greatest need, or trust his word this was the final job for organization, payment for a new beginning for them all.

Have you ever faced an insurmountable choice? How do you react in the face of your deepest fears?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Group Story: Horror Comedy

We’ve created lots of group stories at CIC – from mysteries to science fiction – but surprisingly, we’ve never collaborated on a horror comedy. You know the sort I mean – stories with laughs as well as scares (or, at the very least, freak shows) – in the vein of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or the recently released Zombieland. Given all the, uh, interesting characters that frolic here, it’s a wonder such a story has yet to be told.

With only ten days to All Hallows’ Eve, it seems the perfect time to give it a go – so, let’s do it already!

Although I might regret this by tomorrow, I don’t want to put any limitations on our horror comedy, so feel free to be as silly or as gross as you like – as long as you mind the official CIC site guidelines. At this point, the story is wide open, so you’re welcome to include vampires, zombies, fairies, goblins, trolls, werewolves, djins...

undead brides...

murderous pimp daddies...

even coyote skeletons that make sea coconuts ogle in fear.

Authors, characters, and lurkers, too – keep the laughs and scares coming! And maybe, just maybe, we’ll create a horror comedy that’s never quite existed before.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting to Know You: The Weather

"Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it." — Mark Twain

Today, let's talk about our favorite (or least favorite) weather. Do stormy days energize you?

Or do you wait for rainbows?

What weather do you like best? What do you do when the weather isn't to your liking? If you have the power to change weather, tell us about it! Then tell us what you'll charge to attend our next picnic.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Social Saturday: A Deserted Island

Today we are visiting a deserted island. A very small deserted island. In fact, if the tide comes in any further we might have standing room only.

But, the water is warm and clear and the air a balmy 86 degrees Fahrenheit.  In short, a perfect day! And it looks shallow enough to wade in the water as long as we'd like. 
If you could only bring three things with you to this island, what would you bring?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Character of the Week: Devi!

Welcome to Come In Character, Devi. Please tell us about yourself...

Hello, everyone! My name is Devi Marconi. I was born in 1936 in Memphis, to a pious mother and a free-spirited father – a match I never understood. It was Dad – a lover of Indian culture – who named me Devi (Da-vey). When he died in World War II, my mother moved the family (including my brother, Seth, and my sister, Linda) to her hometown of Lexington, Kentucky – the land of bourbon and bluegrass.

From then on, I was a pretty miserable child – ignored by my siblings and emotionally abused by my mother. But life changed when I was thirteen, on a Thanksgiving trip to Mammoth Cave National Park.

While I longed to see the caves as my beloved father had described them, I ended up on the most boring tour imaginable. So, when I spotted a culvert beside the trail, I took my chance and escaped. At first, it was incredible – the blackest black I’d ever known – but it didn’t take long for me to become lost, hurt, and scared.

Attempting to reach the tour group, I fell down a shaft, where I would’ve died had a boy named Jesse Littleton not found me. Soon afterward, I awoke in the secret, subterranean village of Ruby Hollow. I spent six weeks down there, recuperating from my injuries, exploring the Hollow’s many intricate levels, and getting to know Jesse and the rest of the Hollowites. I learned to play the guitar, became an integral part of the community, and helped Jesse discover some underground hot springs. Though I felt at home, I eventually had to go back to my family.

Growing up, I longed to return. After high school, however, I followed my older brother down to New Orleans – for one last worldly experience before committing myself to a life underground. But, alas, I met a man named Patrick Marconi, and when I discovered that I was unexpectedly pregnant, I decided to marry him and stay in New Orleans. Though I cared for my husband, our three girls, and the charms of southern Louisiana, the Hollow was never far from my heart.

One day, I shared the legend of Ruby Hollow with my youngest daughter, Olivia. For years, she believed it to be a made-up bedtime tale... until she discovered a chest filled with love letters from Jesse. Realizing the Hollow was real, she confessed her find. Instead of being angry, though, I felt relieved.

After my estranged mother passed away, I asked Olivia to accompany me to Kentucky for the funeral. It gave me an excuse to introduce her to the Hollow. Seeing the woods above Mammoth Cave after all those years was a thrilling experience, and I knew that I had to stay. It wasn’t an easy decision: Although I knew my family would be all right without me, I was afraid of losing Olivia.

We’ve stayed in touch over the years, but it’s not the same. Of course, I’m happy that she’s found such a good man, even had children of her own, but I wish we weren’t so far apart. Still, I can’t imagine being anywhere but Ruby Hollow.

So, what’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Emote This: Silliness

This morning, I was looking over the emotions we’ve explored in recent months, and I made a curious observation. It seems that some of the negative feelings – like frustration, alarm, sadness, and fear – inspired more discussion than the pleasant ones – like happiness and joy.

I’m not certain what that says about us as a community. Maybe we just find it easier to talk about things that scare us, anger us, torment us, and make us crazy. Maybe we find it comforting to know that we're not alone in feeling out of sorts on occasion.

Well, today, I’m feeling particularly silly. I’m not sure why exactly. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been working on a book proposal for two weeks straight, and my mind is frazzled. Whatever the reason, I’ve got silliness on the brain – and a giggle fit isn’t far away. Guess we all deserve to let loose sometimes – dance a jig, laugh uncontrollably, do something we wouldn’t normally do.

So, what’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done? What makes you feel giddy? Goofy? Ludicrous? Foolish? Absurd? Maybe even a little juvenile?

Messy babies?

Wacky dancers?

Crazy Halloween costumes?


Authors, characters, and lurkers, too – feel free to share your silliest moments with the rest of us! Don't be shy - we're all friends here (well, at least most of us are).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Getting to Know You: Home Town

When you think of your home town, what comes to mind? Is it the place you were born?

Is it the place you spent your most memorable childhood years?

If you moved around a lot, do you feel like anyplace is your home town?

Tell us about the place that feels most like a home town to you, and if you no longer live there, do you want to go back some day?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Social Saturday: A Football Game

Today we are going to take part in an American fall tradition... football!

Football is a very odd sport.  For one thing, the players don't touch the ball with their feet very often.  Mostly they throw or carry it.  It is played on a field with two large tree-like structures at each end, and the field is painted with white lines to mark the ball's position.

However, the ball is not actually a ball, but shaped like a large, brown egg.  It looks quite a bit like a chocolate egg, actually, which may be why all of those overweight men are fighting over it. 

In any case, the overweight men chase the ball up and down the field in a game that resembles Keep Away.  Sometimes, they also jump into a huge pile.  At other times they get turnovers.  However, I don't know if they are apple or cherry.  Or perhaps they are pizza turnovers.  I've never actually seen the turnovers, but I assume they get to eat them after the game.

This type of contest appears to be a way for the various states in the United States of America to work out their aggressions and prevent wars from breaking out.  It seems to be effective, despite the fact that the men wear their armor underneath their clothing instead of over it.

It's a bright, sunny day here at the stadium.  While we are waiting for the game to start, would you like a hot dog? I don't think they are really made of dogs, but then... you never know.  Perhaps we should stick to soft pretzels and beer instead. 

Here come the players and cheerleaders now!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Character of the Week: Charles!

Welcome to Come In Character, Charles.  Please tell us about yourself...

Hello, I am Charles Owens. It's a pleasure to meet you, I'm sure.

I grew up in England, near London, in the early 1800s. Being of a somewhat richer family, I was part of an arranged marriage, and my wife and I quickly had two children, one boy and one girl.

My life took a sharp twist when I found out my friend, Alexander Clark, was getting involved in the occult. I tried to stop him, but instead got sucked in as well. It was one of his experiments that turned Alexander into a werewolf. He also claimed his meddling summoned the vampire that turned me.

I met the vampire, Chanel, during a trip to London. She was a local business girl whom I hired one night. She was rather disturbed by the minor detail that was my wife. Apparently she too had been married, but her husband had left her for some tramp.  So as a punishment for my infidelity she turned me. I stumbled home that night and ended up crawling into bed next to my wife. Probably one of my biggest mistakes.

I went into a frenzy as my body realized its need to feast on human blood. I didn't know what I was doing. I ended up draining my wife and children that night. When I realized what I had done I ran to Alexander. He cleaned me up, and kept me sane, ignoring the fact that I had just murdered three innocent people.

My brother-in-law, Stefan Swane, enraged with the death of his sister, sought out a vampire to turn him as well. He seeks revenge, probably won't stop till I'm dead. His first attempt on my life was the night of Alexander's first full moon induced transformation. Let's just say it was a bit of a disaster, and Alexander ended up destroying his precious home while in wolf form.

We've traveled from then on, never staying in the same place for too long, least the body count gets too high. (I have a tendency to totally drain a person of their blood. If they had wanted to live, they would have run faster.) We moved to America in 1893, Stefan following a few weeks after us.

I'm supposed to start a discussion now, correct? It was suggested that I ask if anyone knew how to get rid of someone intent on causing you a horrible painful death. However I believe that topic would either be too grisly or too hard for some to relate to. And so in honor Alexander and his most recent request for me to "get off [my] lazy butt and actually do something for once," and my total lack of motivation to do so, what is it that motivates you? Why do you drag yourself out of bed in the morning? Why do you try?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Emote This: Wonder

Recently, we discussed our earliest memories, and though some of them were rather sad, the discussion made me recall what it felt like to be a child, filled with wonder for the world around me. When I was a little girl, everything fascinated me: the varied faces, overheard conversations, movies and music and books... and so much more.

The beauty and serenity of the natural world amazed me.

Skyscrapers seemed to go on forever.

Even animals intrigued me – especially the big ones.

So, what filled you with awe and curiosity as a child, and what continues to captivate you in this or other worlds?

Authors and characters, feel free to share your most wondrous moments!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Getting to Know You: Earliest Memory

Today, let's talk about our earliest memories!

What's the first thing you can remember? Where were you? Who were you with?

How do your early memories shape who you are today?

Let's reminisce together!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Social Saturday: The Mall

Today we are going to the mall.  What is a mall?  Well, it is a huge building containing a marketplace.  One can find practically anything here.  Clothing, footwear, jewelry, art, scented candles, sports equipment, electronics, lotions, toys, candy, furniture, cooking utensils, reading material, stationery, gifts, music... the list goes on and on!

In addition to all of those things, there is also food.  Malls sometimes contain restaurants, but they also usually have a food court.  A food court is a courtyard surrounded by vendors, who sell different types of food from around the world:  Chinese, Mexican, Greek, Indian, Italian and of course a lot of traditional American food like hot dogs, deli sandwiches, and fried chicken. My favorite is the gourmet coffee and pastry stand.  The food court is usually very pleasant, with tall plants and glass ceilings to let in the light. 

Malls also contain amusements, such as video games, miniature trains for children to ride, places to have your photo taken, and places to create your own stuffed animal.

What stores look most appealing to you?  Where would you like to go first?  What would you like to eat? 

The mall is all yours!