“Changing with the Seasons”
So I thought about this post for a while, I figure it could mean several things. Obviously, the weather changes with the seasons (unless you live somewhere really warm and you don’t notice) Most people have changes in their lives, you could even say that like the seasons we have spring, summer, fall and winter as we age (I’d like to think I’m still in summer at 37). But I think the most interesting (and perhaps least depressing) thing I could write about here was how my writing has changed since I started seriously a few years ago and how Book one of my Newfoundland Vampire is different from Book two “Killer on the Road” (which I hope some of you reading this will purchase)
Book 1 “The Newfoundland Vampire” took me about 8 months to write and 2 years (including the 8 months) to get published. In Book 1 I wanted to firmly establish both my supporting characters and the mythos of my vampire world. I thought it was important to have an origin story for vampires right away and clearly explain how (most of) their powers worked. I also wanted to make it kind of a tribute to my family, friends, pets and co-workers. It’s worth nothing here that the main character, Joseph, is about 90% me (younger and obviously different as a vampire). I know it sounds cliché to base a main character on yourself but it just seemed like the most natural thing for me to do. This leads me to my biggest issue with Book one.
As the edits began to progress (and there were a lot, 16 in total) I realized a big mistake I had made. I had turned a lot of Book one into a type of pseudo-journal and as my editor Pat (who is fantastic by the way) correctly pointed out, you can’t just put in your own experiences. Most people lead boring lives, when you just write about it the only person who really enjoys it is yourself, it makes the writing dull. Hope wasn’t lost though, I managed to keep most of those experiences in other ways. I learned the trick is to take your own life and improve on it, make it exciting and interesting, weave in into the story. I think the fact that part of one chapter features Joseph playing Risk and another D&D certainly proves the point that it can be done. Writing with a main character who is highly similar to yourself you get to live vicariously through him, he makes the choices you didn’t/won’t/can’t. He or she can do the kind of things you wished you could (or dread to in your nightmares as well).
Most importantly, it taught me that you can’t take criticism about your writing personally, the writing was personal to me but not anyone else. It’s a valuable lesson as any writer will eventually get a scathing review, it will seem personal but it’s not. You can’t please everyone and I think sadly sometimes people attack you in a review because they just were in a bad mood when they vote it, you’re an easy target for them to vent on. I learned more things but I think that’s enough on Book 1, moving on to “”Killer on the Road”, otherwise known as The Newfoundland Vampire Book 2.
In Book 2 I had the experience weaving (and dialog, which was a big issue in Book one) mostly under control. The big writing changes I had to make for this Book was not being so obsessed with sex and making Cassandra (the main female character) more believable and interesting. Let’s admit it, most guys are obsessed with sex. I don’t know the science behind it but I think it’s in our DNA (scientists feel free to chime in here) Book 2 had a lot of sex in it, too much I discovered as my editor ran through it. As she told me, “you’re not writing Penthouse letters.” She was right, my Books while containing sex are not erotica. I had made Cassandra into a male fantasy, she really wasn’t a character at all. So I fixed it, there’s still sex (and some steamy stuff I think) but it’s mutual and Cassandra has wants and needs like anyone else. Speaking of Cassandra the other major change was giving her more to do in Book 2. Not to give anything away but she decides to make the world a better place and is none too gentle about it. This is where the importance of a female perspective (or male if you’re a female writer) comes in. Pat was instrumental in helping me write new scenes for Cassandra and getting into her head (and yes I’m married but still don’t know a lot about women). As you may have guessed the other major change from Book 1 is less focus on my own past experiences and friends. This time I took the opportunity to have Joseph and Cassandra explore the world more. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled a lot in my life and it was great fun to have my characters go to places I’ve been and a few others I’d love to visit one day.
Life is about change, I think you have to be prepared for that and writing is no different. I’ll leave you with a quote from a song I love by Robbie Robertson (music will always be a part of my vampire Books)
There's gonna be a change of season
Indian Summer look around
And it's gone
Why you wanna save the best for last
We grow up so slowly
And grow old so fast
We don't talk about forever
We just catch it while we can
And if I grab on
To the moment
Don't let it slip away
Out of my hand
The Newfoundland Vampire
Book II: Killer on the Road
Genre: Horror / Paranormal / Romance / Vampire
Publisher: Penumbra Publishing
Date of Publication: August 31, 2013
Number of pages: 193
Word Count: 74,020
Cover Artist: Nils Dannemann
Joseph O’Reily is still adjusting to the lifestyle and the dangers that come with being a new vampire. He and Cassandra recently fought to the death with Cassandra’s estranged husband John Snow, and now Joseph has experienced his first ménage a trios, as only a vampire can. As if all of this was not complicated enough, he and Cassandra have been tasked with hunting down and killing a rogue vampire, Donald Rathmore.
Another of John Snow’s creations, Donald is an evil misogynistic killer in his own right. Donald has no interest in avenging his creator’s death, but killing Cassandra is at the top of his list.
While Donald continues his murderous spree, Joseph and Cassandra always seem to be one step behind him. The chase is further complicated as they encounter other vampires and learn more about the mysterious nature of the Vampire Council and the coming war between good and evil.
Joseph is only now beginning to trust Cassandra, and this trust will be shaken when he discovers she has even more secrets than he imagined. Her idea of justice and morality is at complete odds with his own. Despite all his powers and growing skill, Joseph is tested physically as a vampire and emotionally by Cassandra. This time the answers and challenges may be too much for the young vampire to handle.
Charles O’Keefe lives in the beautiful province of Newfoundland, Canada, with his wife and two feline ‘children,’ Jude and Esther.
He works in IT support and enjoys many hobbies and activities that include writing, reading, watching fantasy/science-fiction movies and television shows, gaming, poker, walking, Pilates, and of course fantasizing about vampires.
To find out more about Charles, go to Twitter and Facebook or visit his web site. http://www.charlesokeefe.com/
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