i don’t save drafts

[I wrote this as a comment to question posted on Book Country and thought it’d make a great blog post here, so here it is!]

The only ‘draft’ copy I’ve ever kept was the first completed copy of Midnight back in 2004. It’s in a sealed manuscript box on a shelf in my closet.

I write longhand and am one of those “edit as you go” types. (so when I write, it looks like this:

kitchen table

(ignoring the gaming monkey, of course!)) I will read what I’ve written before I sit down to type it up. I find everything that’s a mistake or that I don’t like, fix it, then type it. Other things might get changed while I’m typing, too. As I type, each chapter gets its own file under the main story folder. (something like this:

example of file tree

)

I also save a document called “unused bits”. That’s where I stick stuff that I decide doesn’t need to be in the main story body. Sometimes these come in handy – a phrase or two might come back into the story somewhere else; or a whole scene (or paragraph or snippet) might come back in another story, reworked to fit.

Once a document gets typed up, though, it’s subject to any and all kinds of reading, editing, hacking, you name it (because I never can just “leave it alone”).

Once the story is finished, then the files get arranged in chronological order and printed out. This is when they get their first “heavy hand” line edits. Those edits get typed into the existing files. The the files get put into one document. All those individual files (except the “unused” files ones) get deleted. The full document, then, is my “official first draft” – even though it really isn’t; it’s probably draft twelve squillion and a half, but that’s the process that works for me.

From this point forward, it’s the full document that’s going to be read by readers, editors, etc, etc.

This is all probably about as clear as mud.

by way of reminder

i will be afk from tomorrow morning until either late sunday or early mondayI’m on my way to Louisville to attend Fandomfest/FrightNight Filmfest to get my writerly convention .

I’ll be able to send tweets, but I won’t be able to respond to them until I get back! (unless you’re one of the three people I follow on my phone! o.O)

Y’all be good, now, and don’t break the internet while I’m gone, y’hear?

eta: btw I broke my MSN messenger. I fubar‘d my contacts list. Now I can’t see who I was following. So if you chat with me on MSN, the solution is to dump me off the list and add me back! Contact me via e-mail for the address if you don’t have it. Sorry!

and that’s when the dog bit me

or: “What Happened When I went to Harlan for the Poke Sallet Festival”

I picked up my rental car on Wednesday afternoon. When I got there, they didn’t have the car I reserved, and I almost cried. I thought to myself, If I don’t get to go this time, I’m just giving up and never trying again. This is ridiculous – you know, as if something was trying to keep me from going back again for whatever reason. But before I could complete the thought, the clerk said, “Let me call New Circle and see what they have.” They had a white HHR with XM Radio. I almost panicked, then he said the magic words. “Free upgrade and free XM.” I almost fainted. My system can’t live at that speed! I hated to give that car back Monday afternoon. It handled like it was on rails, got great gas mileage (I spent $40 on gas on a 500 mile trip), it was comfortable, and I lost the XM signal in only two places in Harlan County. I was surprised; I didn’t think I’d have signal down there at all (and had taken my mp3 player just in case), but I lost it for like three car-lengths in Baxter and about two car-lengths in Mollus. I would spend the extra $5 a day, if I had it, to rent an HHR again.

I swear it took me all day Thursday to get to Harlan County. I got up at 6, took Miss Kitty Thing into Banfield at 7, and then sat and waited. I forgot that when you get the cat’s teeth cleaned, the cat has to undergo sedation, and then you have to wait for the cat to wake up and be semi-normal before you can pick it up and take it home. I didn’t get her picked up until 4, didn’t get home until 4:30, and then didn’t get on I-75 South until 5:05. At least it wasn’t Friday so the traffic wasn’t that bad – but it was bad enough. Thankfully, I know the back way around and didn’t have to sit in the Clay’s Ferry Bridge construction traffic along with everyone else.

My original plan had me leaving Lexington between 10 and 11 Thursday morning. I thought I’d stop in Woodbine and spend a couple of hours with Bill before I went on into Harlan around supper time. I didn’t cross the Harlan County line until right at 8. That’s partly because I spent probably half an hour in Corbin when I got there. I thought since I needed to eat, I would go to the Rootbeer Stand and pig out, then head southeast. The place was packed elbow to asshole, so I drove around the high school to take pictures. I took one picture. Apparently there was some kind of ballet recital or dance team something or other going on there. I didn’t want to attract a ton of attention, so I went on.

Now, I’m not very sentimental about Corbin. I never have been. I couldn’t wait to get out of the place after high school – although I went back to have my boys there but left promptly after Tayler was born. I stopped and took one picture downtown. Otherwise, basically cried from one end of downtown to the other. Even though I’ve been back there several times over the last ten years, nothing was the same. Everything was different. Shop names, business names. I didn’t recognize much of anything except for the huge bank where the Hippodrome used to be, Hardee’s on its usual corner, and the Moonbow Coffee House (which is new, but I had a signing there two years ago). And now instead of going down Main to Center and going through the railroad underpass and turning onto Laurel to get to Masters, they’ve taken out a chunk of mountain and built a bridge over the railroad (and made Main Street one way north and Kentucky Avenue one way south). I recognized very little on Masters, as well. East Ward is no longer a school. Vankirk’s Funeral Home is still there and still looks exactly the same. Even almost everything at Trademart Center was rearranged and different.

I ended up picking up dinner at Arby’s and eating while I drove toward Harlan County. In Pineville I managed to get a picture of Chained Rock and part of Pine Mountain. But I didn’t get a picture of The Narrows. I always try, but it’s a short distance through to the light at the Highway 119 turn off – and busy. I’m probably going to have to stop at the Marathon at some point, run out into the middle of the road, snap my picture, and run back, all while praying I don’t get flattened by car, RV, or coal truck.

I passed some dude from out of state doing 30mph around Varilla. The entire way around the curve, I was thinking, Come on, boys, you can do this at 60 both ways if you know the road. Either they were overly cautious or they didn’t know the road or both. Of course, if you fuck up driving west around the curve, if you fly off the road, you land right through the Missionary Baptist Church. I’m sure they’ll take great care of you. (“Lord, be with us as we commit car, body, and soul…”) I generally fly through Bell and Harlan Counties (when the roads are dry), but I know the roads and could likely drive them in my sleep. We won’t test that, though.

The rock slide in Coldiron had been cleaned up – it got repaired not long after I was there in February. But I could see places where it had already started falling again. But the way Highway 119 is cut through Harlan County, I’m surprised the entire road hasn’t been covered county line to county line at one point or another. There are places where I swear the rocks defy gravity. If I hadn’t been so tired and in such a hurry just to get home, I would have stopped and taken pictures of a few of them on the way in – and on the way out, I was an hour late, so I didn’t stop then, either. Maybe next time.

The sign telling you where Dayhoit is was missing. Or if it was there, I just didn’t see it. While I was pondering this, I drove right by the Loyall turn off, which is right around the corner. So I said, Self, this is kismet. Hie thee straight to yon Dairy Hut and purchase thine ownself a peanut butter milkshake. And I did. After I drove around downtown to familiarize myself with where I needed to be at the tourism building the next morning – which I already knew, but still. As hot as it was Thursday (albeit much cooler than it had been the day before), I wasn’t surprised to find Dairy Hut jam packed with people. I cleaned out what garbage I had in the car and went inside and up to the counter, also jam packed with people – customers and staff. One of the staff asked, “Have you been waited on?” And I said, “No, but I want the biggest peanut butter milkshake you can make me!” She said, “Are you sure?” And I laughed and said, “Of course. I drove down from Lexington just for a Dairy Hut peanut butter milkshake!” And everyone laughed. While she was away making my drink (dessert?), the woman beside me and I waxed poetic upon the wonderfulness that is the Dairy Hut peanut butter milkshake.

I had to carry this thing with both hands, y’all. I’m fairly certain it was in a 32oz cup if not a 40oz (what’s the largest to go cup you can get?). I would pay $10 for one of their milkshakes (I did pay $4.29 for it, no joke). I drank it so fast that I got brain freeze by the time I got back around to Dressen, and by the time I got back to Baxter, the whole thing was gone.

I pulled up in front of the house, took a picture, and sent it out with a “Now, I’m home!”, to which Preston replied that no, I wasn’t. Art turned Tasha, their Yorkie, out to meet me on the driveway. She remembered me from last time and wanted to play. She kept looking up at me and grinning and sneezing. A sneeze is her way of saying, “Yes.” Art asked what had taken me so long, and I said, “Well, you see, there was this fairy that met me in Dayhoit, and I don’t know what happened.” I held up my empty cup from Dairy Hut and jiggled it. “But next thing I knew, I had a Dairy Hut peanut butter milkshake in my hand!” Art and Jan laughed. We didn’t get to visit very long until I had to go to bed. I was just too tired to sit up very long.

Friday was good on the convention hall floor. I sold seven books. Which, to be honest, I thought if I went to Harlan and sold two books, I’d be happy (and make back my booth fee). And I laughed so hard all day. The day was good. My first sale, a man managed to draw blood with one of my bookmarks. I offered to dip my thumb in the blood and thumb print the book beside my signature. We laughed. One guy came by my table and said, “You know what the real Harlan County horror is?” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “Being stuck in this county with $4 gallon gas. There’s no way out!” I ached I laughed so hard – and Jan, who was on the opposite end of the hall selling cookbooks for The Relay for Life, heard me. Where my table was, I could look up through the windows and see straight onto a funnel cake cart. I starved to death all day. Funnel cakes are required summertime food, but I made myself behave. At one point, Jan watched my table for me while I walked across downtown (a whopping two blocks, let me tell you!) for some one dollar bills. I got sunburned because I didn’t have on any sunscreen (it’s almost useless on me, anyway) and because of the beta blocker I take for my blood pressure and migraines. It had turned into a nice tan by the time I got up Saturday, though, and I’m not someone who tans. After we couldn’t stand sitting any longer, Art came and picked Jan up, and we drove out to Dairy Hut (duh) for supper.

Saturday was slow, but it was so damned hot. I don’t know how the people who were outside working stood it. I couldn’t have, that’s for sure. Even though I was inside in the air conditioning, I still wore my hair in a ponytail and wished I’d worn shorts – I was in jeans and comfortable, but going outside at all was miserable. Art came in at lunchtime and gave me $10 to get a funnel cake. So of course I trotted off like a good girl and fetched myself a funnel cake. These were delicious. They had just a sprinkle of cinnamon mixed in with their powdered sugar. I died of delicious. With Art at my table all day, knowing everybody like he does, I sold another eight books. For a total of fifteen sold for the weekend.

After we I finished up at the convention center, I went upstairs and left some business cards and bookmarks on the information desk with all the other stuff. Then I drove out to the mall to run into JewelCraft and got there just in time; they were closing for the night. But I collected what they owed me and left them with six more books. They asked me to a signing on July 10th. It’s tempting, but renting a car over the weekend is so expensive, and I want to have as much cash on hand as possible when I go to Louisville the 22nd. I met Art and Jan at Ken & Paul’s for supper. Jan and I went to claim ‘our table’, but a family was already sitting there, so we took a booth. They left not long after, though, and we moved so we could be more comfortable and have more room. I told myself, Don’t order dessert. Don’t order dessert. So what did I do? I ordered dessert. The waitress came back to the table with my hot fudge cake and told Art the price, and looked at me and said, “Unless it’s your birthday. Then, it’s free.” I said, “Sure. I’ll turn 42 again right now for free cake.” It took them a good fifteen minutes to put my cake together, though. They were putting fresh cakes together when I placed my order. I kept making jokes about someone having to go out to shoot my fresh, wild, hot fudge.

Back at the house, I brought in the box with what books I had left, took one out for Bill, paid for it, and put it in my backpack, and gave the rest to Jan. She was going to buy one or two for gifts and take the rest out to the hospital to put in the Gift Shop. We sat up talking until almost midnight – until the three of us just couldn’t go any further.

We got up Sunday morning; Art went out and brought back breakfast from Dairy Queen like he had the last three mornings. We had coffee and talked a bit, then decided we were tired, and went back to bed. I didn’t mean to, but I slept (I even dreamed!) until 11:30. I had told Bill I’d be in Woodbine by noon. Whoops. I left the house around 12:30, and Jan promised not to watch me leave – it’s bad luck. Neither one of us promised not to cry; it’s futile, anyway, because we always do. I stopped at the county line to take pictures of the Air Mail box and the “Welcome to Harlan” marker that’s set in a base of Harlan County coal. In Barbourville (you have to pronounce it right – “bar-vull”) to use the restroom and to call Bill to let him know I was definitely on my way. I was almost there by then. He asked me where I was, and I told him, and he said, “Driving and talking on a cell phone. Don’t do that.” I told him to stfu; that’s one thing I refuse to do. We guessed it would take me about fifteen minutes to get from McDonald’s to the new little cut off on the Corbin bypass. We timed it right because we pulled up to the corner at the same time. He turned around in front of me and led me out to his house in Wilton.

And that’s when the dog bit me.

We pulled up into the driveway and parked and hugged, and he shut the gate and yelled at Matthew to let the dog out into the yard. Before anybody knew what happened, Blackjack had jumped up on me and bit my arm twice. The first bite was the worst, but I hadn’t even realized he’d gotten me until it was all over and Bill was sending the dog back inside and making sure I was okay. Lucky for me, Blackjack’s canines are blunted, so he neither broke my arm nor ripped meat from the bone. It sure felt like he had, though, and still does! Now Blackjack ended up being a really sweet dog, and in his own way, he really did try to apologize for hurting me – and Bill didn’t stop apologizing the entire time I was there! (He probably still is, and I just can’t hear him from this far away) We treated the wounds with Neosporin, so I wasn’t too concerned. I figured, I have medical financial aid with UK Healthcare until the end of this month, and if it looked too bad, I could take myself to the ER when I got back to Lexington. As it turns out, my arm is black and blue from the wrist to the elbow. I look like an assault victim, and I guess in a way, I am.

We had a great visit. I just wish we had more time. I could have spent the night, but I had so much to do on Monday and was so tired that I just wanted to get back to Lexington and crash. Bill and Blackjack went into Corbin to pick up pizza, and while he was gone, Matthew and I found out we both like Seether, Breaking Benjamin, and Three Days Grace. He found out I’d seen them all in concert and laughed and said, “You suck,” just like Tayler always does. I gave him my external drive so he could rip my music off, but I’m not sure if he ever got it to work or not. We both also like Pantera, Megadeth, and Staind. Bill gave me a cd full of family pictures, and I swear I look like Nannie and Bertie. We didn’t talk about half what we should have. There just wasn’t time. It would take a month of sitting and talking to completely catch up, I’m afraid. And then a month after that to fill in all the gaps. It makes me mad that they were in Winchester until right around the time Thomas moved in in 2009 – and I didn’t start seriously searching until the beginning of this year. I can’t let it piss me off too much, though, because there’s nothing anybody can do about it.

And that’s about it, really. I got back into Lexington around 9:30, went to the bank and Kroger, and unloaded the car, came in, piddled around a bit to calm myself back down, and went to bed. I’ve not gone to bed that early on a Sunday evening in a very long time.

[june 13 eta: I totally forgot to blog this part! I was busy selling books, and this little boy yelled, “Mom! Mari Adkins!” And his mother looked at the table and at me and burst out laughing. She said, “I’m Mary Adkins, but with a Y.” I laughed and said, “My legal name is Mary with a Y.” We laughed and laughed. Then I got up and went around the table and asked if I could give her a hug. I’d never met another Mary Adkins before. We hugged, and she told me that Adkins is her married name, and I told her it didn’t matter. I should have gotten a picture!]

[pictures follow]

organizing writing and research

This picture is an example of how I organize my writing and research files:

In the top directory, you’ll see a folder titled ‘FAQs’ – that is absent in the rest of the directories. That’s because I don’t use that folder any more. While Evernote was still in beta, I started using it, and now that’s where my writing/research notes go. Tremendous help – it allows the notes to be sorted/organized/tagged, and I don’t have to worry about losing anything if my computer decides to go belly up.

The “in progress” folders house each story by chapter. Because, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t write in order. I write totally out of order. I write by scene, not necessarily by chapter. If a scene comes to mind, I write it down, or at least take notes. Everything gets pieced together much, much later. Some scenes get dumped into the ‘unused’ folder while others get reworked, redrafted, and added in where they belong – and sometimes are moved elsewhere in the story. Each story gets its own ‘unused’ bin until I get far enough along that I don’t need it any more – then those unused pieces go into the main ‘unused scenes’ folder.

‘News’ folders hold my templates – such as the notes I send out to readers, the contracts I use for permission to use my friends’ stuff, etc – reviews and notes from my readers, and anything related. ‘Pictures’ hold just that. Pictures. I have floorplans I’ve drawn, mock-ups of the new high school in Harlan County, maps and directions, etc. For Eventide, for example, I have a folder that includes pictures of downtown Harlan and Corbin from the 1930s to the 1960s as well as pictures of what homes would have been furnished with back then, what people wore, etc.

And that really is pretty much how I work. I used to work like this:

Then I got a laptop, and it started looking more like this:

That purple binder is my Harlan County Bible. (what’s a series bible?) That’s where I keep all of my working notes, timelines, calendars, Harlan brochures, the L&N Railroad passenger train schedule / menu I found, physical maps, and all that other stuff that won’t scan into Evernote. (I’m not going to take the time to scan a 3 foot by 3 foot map of downtown Harlan, for example; that would be suicide and counterproductive aside.) One thing I don’t have in that book are all the notes, etc, etc, from when I first started writing Midnight. I kept nothing. I tossed it all out. I regret that! All I have of that are the bits and pieces I did manage to save somehow.

I went psychotic last month and took my entire Devon Family Tree and plugged it into FamilyTree Maker. That was a chore. But now I can easily see who’s who and where and how everyone is related to everyone else – without having to scroll / flip through thirty pages of screen / paper. This proved a much saner way of dealing with it.

And I think that’s it, really. Questions? Answers? Beer?

family accents

[repost from Multiply blog from Nov ’05]

family accents
Nov 25, ’05 5:02 PM

Last night, I was heavy with the ink in reworking a crucial chapter in “Book Three” (still no clue what to call it – maybe one day it’ll tell me!). Yes, I’m writing this one out-of-sequence, as well; I learned my lesson with Midnight – I’ll never push myself to write “chronologically” again! When I finished, I handed Preston the pages to read, which he hates because he never knows what’s going to happen or what’s going to be said next, especially since that one crucial chapter in “Book Two” … He hates this particular chapter just as much, if not more, as the one in “Book Two”. (Honestly, I have to read both chapters with Kleenex in hand – and I wrote them!)

But he made some interesting comments that have my mind racing – I didn’t sleep much last night because my mind wouldn’t shut off (again; this is becoming more and more “normal” for me).

Anyway. He said something about one thing he liked about my books so far is how I have the Family organized, that the Family is very structured. He said that the organization of the Family has a White Wolf-ish city structure, but at the same time, the everyday terms and customs have a very “old Appalachian family” feel to them.

Yet another thing I did subconsciously, I think. I bleed words, you see, so I do things sometimes and don’t realize I’ve done them until someone reads my stories and points those things out to me. I’ve had a lot of “Oh, I see!” moments while rereading Midnight lately …

While I was putting “Book Two” together, I created the Harlan Vampire FAQ to help keep myself straight on terminology, abilities, structure, etc – the further I got along, I realized that the FAQ would be useful for readers of the series, so I posted it up on my website. I knew that the Family had to “be” a certain way. No group, no matter how large or small, thrives without a given structural ladder. A strong, long-lived Pagan-vampire Family requires clear-cut hierarchy and hard-and-fast rules. I guess I just have Anethdraeg [An-eth-dray-ehgg] worked out in my head more than I ever realized I did. (And perhaps it’s time to update that FAQ!)

Too, the bits about “old Appalachian family” … I guess it stands to reason since I grew up in Appalachia that my characters’ lives would be colored by that. Appalachian families tend to look after one another and are (usually) close-knit. (I say “usually” here because my own is anything but – but that’s an entry for my personal journal at another time! – and if you read there, you already know how it is, anyway.)

As well, Appalachian people have words and phrases that others don’t – and these vary from region to region, adding complication. I’ve done my best to weed out any “nobody from here would ever understand that” words and phrases, with the exception of one or two characters (Lynn, for example, from the prologue of Midnight; he speaks exactly like someone from my hometown would.) Preston has been a great help with this sort of thing. “Honey, I don’t think you want/need to say this here,” he’ll tell me. “Your characters sound like they’re from Harlan again.” (Which brings up a whole other issue – people in different parts of Harlan County have their own sayings, customs, and accents! Yes, even the accents are different!)

So, where am I going with any of this? I’m not quite sure right now. Just thinking out loud mostly!

how you know you’ve had too much midnight to drink

I’ve told some of you about how I’ve always had these dreams about someone(s) trying to kill me. Last night it took on a new spin, although going to sleep thinking about my writing is probably 98% or more to blame.

A bunch of us were in Corbin – and I have to assume that’s where we lived – and word got out that someone / a group of someones was after the Anethdraeg Family book of law. For some ungodly reason, everyone decided that I had to get to Harlan and give it to Michael who could take it to his bank and put it in his safety deposit box. It would be safe there, barring nuclear explosion or supernova.

This was a weird Corbin. It was more like Lexington downtown. But it was Corbin. And on Depot Street where the old L&N passenger depot was, there was a shiny Amtrak station. An honest to gods Amtrak station.

The idea was for me to Amtrak to Cincinnati, cab back down to Hebron, and fly to New York City or Boston. From there, I would fly to Chicago. Then Amtrak to New Orleans and on to Atlanta. From there, I would fly into Knoxville, then rent a car and drive the rest of the way in, on back roads, to Michael’s.

I hate to be cliché and say “it was dark and many people died”, but it’s the truth.

From three streets over, it took me and the woman who volunteered to go with me two hours to get from Poplar Street to Depot Street in Corbin. Much running, ducking, dodging bullets, and hiding. Then, just when we thought we were standing in the train station Scott-free, the whole place got shot up. We managed to dodge more bullets, someone threw us his keys, and we raced off in his car. I found the backest back roads I could find to get us to Cincinnati.

I have no idea if we ever made it. We stopped at one point at this farm somewhere on the other side of Georgetown, and there was a little dog there that someone had abandoned, and the woman I was with insisted we take it with us. All I wanted was a hot meal and some alcohol. I didn’t care about a dog. Wherever this was, the people were supposed to be friendly and give us whatever we needed and take care of us without question. The only problem was, when we got there, they weren’t home. I can’t remember if we dug around and found a key or ended up breaking in, but we did end up well fed, cleaned up, patched up, and back on the road.

The dream ended when we were somewhere just south of Hebron.

wrong impressions

Even after five years, it seems like some people are still confused by my vampires. So, I think it’s high time for a(nother) explanatory blog post. (See also, my bibliography page) For the record, the questions here pertain to Midnight.

I’m going to start with these questions:

  • What is the core of this story?
  • Who is the antagonist in this story?
  • What does Sami have to lose?
  • What does Sami have to learn?
  • The core of this story is Sami losing herself only to find herself and where she belongs. Learn, laugh, live – and remember that Darkness Doesn’t Have To Mean Evil.
  • Samantha Clark is her own antagonist. I know a lot of readers expect for some villain to rise out of the shadows. In this story, that isn’t necessary. As cliché as it is, Sami is her own worst enemy. She’s been abused and told she is neither wanted nor loved over the course of her lifetime. She comes into the story lost, depressed, and with little will and no direction. She believes her ultimate goal is to regain the life she had made for herself and had had ripped away from her in Richmond. If she can get back to Richmond, she can rebuild what she’s lost.Over the course of the story, Sami falls further into the darkness and comes close to losing sight of everything she ever was and ever had. She drowns herself in alcohol and marijuana to hide from the pain that awaits her in reality. That rope with the knot in it that she clung so tightly to? she feels she slipped off of the rope and lost sight of the knot months before, if not a year before, she ever came to Harlan County. How to get it back within sight and reach, she doesn’t know.
  • Sami has to learn that some things she thought were real aren’t and some things she thought weren’t real are. She had to learn that she does have a home, that she does belong, and that there are people in the world who do love her. Within the darkness, she must find herself and the source of her own personal power. Also there, she must come to terms with the life she ran away from and face her new beginnings.

Now this group of questions:

  • I like how “human” your vampires are. But I’d lik them to seem more dangerous.
  • Where’s the danger in these vampires?
  • Where’s their power?
  • Where’s their rage and conflict?
  • These questions make me scream, “You’re missing the point! at the top of my lungs until my voice cracks. But, like Sami, most people expect classical, Bram Stoker-like vampires. Mine just aren’t like that. And no matter how much people complain, my vampires never will be like that, either.Being human with human issues is the point. As I’ve stated before, my stories are more about ‘humans having a vampire problem’ than anything else. My point from the onset of the idea of Midnight was that my vampires had to be as human as possible. In my Harlan County, more danger lies in not awakening to the vampire within than lies in the actual becoming.

    From my own notes:

    In those who aren’t given the change to ‘become’, awakening may manifest in actual physical or psychological illness or even debilitation untraceable by the best of medical professionals to any one specific source. These people become empty due to their ‘illness’ without knowing or understanding as to how to fill those voids. Their bodies rebel, then, shutting down vital functions seemingly at random, filling the hollows with cancer, depression, or other maladies. These people sometimes turn to self-harm or even suicide.

  • As for their ‘power’, it isn’t the same as the run-of-the-mill, overused supernatural tropes. This is in part where the ‘paranormal‘ – not the same as supernatural – comes in.My vampires have their metaphysical skills tested during the earliest stages of their awakening. If they’re found not to be adept, not to have any Pagan leanings or magical skills, they are introduced to someone outside of the Anethdraeg (House of the Dragon) clan who will help them – unless they are found by the others first. If they’re found to be adept, then they are given some training, helped through the awakening process, and are adopted into the Family.

    Their power comes from their own metaphysical prowess, from what lies within their own chemistry, through their relationship(s) with their god(s), and from genetics. Some have more, some have less. Except for the Elder. He has his own basket of idiosyncrasies. As a whole Family, this balances out when they all have need to work together.

  • What rage and conflict they do have, if any, is what they bring with them over the process of being turned and through the course of the change. Anything they’re hard-convinced of, any vices they have, any deeply-held beliefs, they bring those with them into their ‘vampirehood’ (ha! I just made up that word!). And there’s what Stephen Young calls the ‘infamous vampire guilt’. Many vampires spend too much time wallowing in the regret of things they’ve done or left undone. Both Steve and his friend Michael Devon are infamous for their ‘brooding’. As for the rage? Well, some have that, but it more boils down to ‘genetic temper’ than vampireness.

Next, these questions:

  • Where are the compact discs, the Internet, and cellular telephones?
  • Why can’t Michael call a cab for those who are too inebriated to drive after a party?

These questions make me laugh until I ache.

  • On the very first page of the story, it says in clear letters and language: 1985 – September. Ergo people:CDs arrived in 1982, yes, but in the Kentucky mountains in 1985, we were still fairly clueless about CDs; we still had our LPs and .45rpms, didn’t have the hundreds of dollars required for a CD player, and were convinced vinyl would live for eternity.

    Cell phones. The first 1G (yes, 1G, we’ve come that far!) network in America came online in Chicago in 1983, and cell phones were gigantic and weighed ten pounds. I’m not certain when cell phones made it to Kentucky, but I bought my first cordless telephone in 1989 – they’ve been around since 1968 but became popular / more common in the mid to late 80s.

    The Internet. ARPANET came around in 1962. E-mail was born the same year as I was. Public access to either wouldn’t come until much later. While I took programming languages classes all through high school, I didn’t really know what a ‘net was until 1987 in college when I had my introduction to the VAX. Back then, it took webmail ten to fifteen minutes to go from my terminal to the one beside me; so while we waited, we would talk or do actual homework! We had our EKU-BBS, but even that took time. NSF released its sponsorship of the Internet in May 1995, four years after Al Gore ‘created’ the Internet.

  • This brings us to Michael calling a cab.I’ve also been asked about passenger rail service. First of all, passenger rail service died in Kentucky in the early 1960s – and it’s not the kind of rail service you’re probably thinking of, anyway. If we want to ride Amtrak, we have to go to Cincinnati, Louisville, Maysville – or gods forbid, Atlanta, Charlotte, or St Louis. So trains are straight out. The trains we’ve had in Kentucky for over forty years now are of the freight and coal variety. And there is no such thing as ‘light rail’ here.

    When I first saw the question about Michael calling a cab, I stared at it a few minutes, then I laughed. Out loud. You might even say I guffawed. Because only people who live in major metropolitan areas and / or who don’t understand how back of beyond rural eastern Kentucky is ask questions like this.

    Harlan downtown has a cab service, but if I remember correctly, it doesn’t do much service outside of Harlan, Baxter, Rosspoint, Loyall, Browning Acres, and all points in between. I don’t know their rates and can’t find them online (no surprise there), so I’m using Lexington rates as an example. Anybody who’s read Midnight knows Hensley Store is twenty-five miles from Loyall. Lexington cab fares start at $2.50, then it’s twenty-five cents every tenth of a mile thereafter. If the math was done right, that’s a $65 ride. I don’t know anybody in the real Harlan County who could ever consider such a ride, never mind not knowing anyone down there with that kind of available cash. The county is populated with people on welfare or Social Security (or some combination of both), and the majority who have jobs outside the coal mines work for minimum wage. $65 for a cab? Infeasible – even in my Harlan County. (See, I like to keep things as realistic as possible, and that’s not a crime. Yet.)

Now with that silly out of the way:

  • Is it possible to start the story with Sami meeting Michael at the party?

Absolutely not. That’s one thing I refuse to change. The story starts with Sami crashing into Loyall after a panicked three hour drive which started with her running away from her abusive boyfriend. This gives the reader Sami’s mind state along with other information that would be lost or too ridiculous to put in as asides or memories. I won’t cheapen my story or lessen Sami’s pain and experiences this way.

  • Why can’t there be more interaction between Michael, Steve, and Jeremy?

First of all, the story is set completely within Sami’s point of view. It’s called ‘limited narrator’. The reader perceives the story through Sami, and she’s unable to tell the reader anything she doesn’t know outside her own experience. If those three men have contact with each other and Sami isn’t there, then it’s impossible for her to relay those meetings to the reader – especially when she doesn’t have a clue they exist. The concept is very simple, and I have trouble grasping why it’s difficult for some readers to understand. I learned how to use this in seventh grade Language Arts class. If the narrator doesn’t know, the reader doesn’t know. “Limited omniscient allows the narrator to relate the thoughts and feelings of only one character”.* If Sami isn’t in the same room with Michael, Steve, or Jeremy, then she doesn’t know what they’re doing or what’s being said – or even if or when all three are together or not together. Therefore, it’s inconceivable that she could communicate that information to the reader.

  • Why is Shelly in the book?

Jeremy Bradford can’t spend all of his time at school, in band practice, or with Michael, can he? When he isn’t in scene with Sami, he doesn’t always run home to his mother or to The Market to Steve. Shelly is important to Jeremy, which is why he introduces Sami to her. The reader doesn’t see Shelly in the sequel, but she is mentioned and plays a critical part to Jeremy’s future. Between Midnight and the sequel, Shelly and Sami develop a strong, sisterly friendship.

The better question to ask might be, “Why is Angela in the story?” No, really. Why is Angela in the story? We meet her on the first page, and her name is mentioned in the narrative a whopping nineteen times. The reader never sees her outside of The Market – except that first night when she brings Sami’s car to Steve’s.

Shelly’s name is mentioned fifty-five times, and Sami has quite a bit of interaction with her as they build their friendship. Shelly is important to the story.

Angela is just a clerk in a corner convenience store. Someone has to mind the place when Steve can’t be there, right?

I think that wraps up this session. If anyone has any questions, please post them in the comments. I’ll compile them and create another post later.

* Basic English Revisited: A Student Handbook, 1985.