Thrills, Daydreams and Delusions of Invincibility!

My husband and I just bought a Polaris Slingshot.  Is it a bike? Is it a convertible?  It is a Batmobile?  You be the judge. 

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What it is…is a sh*t ton of fun!

My parents tell me the first time I rode on the back of Dad’s motorcycle, I was in a car seat, and I can’t remember him being without a bike for more than a year or two since.  He’s 60(ish) now.  Every summer, we took a motorcycle trip through the mountains to Boone, NC.  When I married my husband, it wasn’t long before we took the trip on our own Honda Valkyrie. 

Years after that, my Dad hit a patch of oil on the interstate and laid down his bike.  His shirt sleeves and the skin on his forearms were shredded, but he was otherwise unscathed.  I was not.  For the first time since I rode on the back of my father’s Honda Goldwing with my hands out to catch the wind, daydreaming all the stories I would eventually write as we navigated the twists and turns on the Blue Ridge Parkway…I realized my Dad could fall.  And if he could fall, so could my husband.  And if I was riding with him, so could I. 

I rode less and less after that because it was impossible to keep the ‘what-if’s at bay long enough to enjoy the ride.  For my husband, the risks were worth the reward.  I told him I’d be more comfortable if he’d ride on three wheels instead of two.  I tried to convince him to look into a Cam-Am Spyder for the added stability, but he couldn’t stomach losing the authentic motorcycle ‘lean’ for something that wouldn’t be any more comfy or cool than his cruiser.

Until he discovered the Slingshot.  Enter his boyhood dream of driving a Formula One racer.  This thing is classified as a motorcycle because it has no airbags, but what it does have is a roll cage, seat belts, traction and stability control, side-by-side seating and a low profile design that handles the mountain twisties like its on rails.  And three wheels!!!

I got to take my first ride it in this weekend and for the first time in ten years I felt like a kid again, hands out to cup the wind, perma-grin on my face, daydreaming about what’s to come in the Blood Toy series (and a few other stories I have in my head ready to be written down) as we navigated the twists and turns on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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The Making of an Assassin

I’ve been asked if Diane, Blood Toy’s tough-but-tortured heroine, is inspired by Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake. I actually discovered Anita mid-series when I picked up Micah at an airport newsstand and read it cover-to-cover on the flight from North Carolina to California. I was hooked enough to read most of the books that follow in the series, but I have an avid hatred for prequels, which is what books 1-12 would feel like after reading number 13 in the series, so have not read any of her earlier books. I am not even sure what the phrase “early Anita” means except that there is less sex. So, to answer, no, Diane was not inspired by Anita (though I have been told fans of hers will enjoy Blood Toy.)

Recently I blogged about the origin of one of Diane’s distinct persona’s, the Dreamer.  I would guess the persona that most reminds readers of Anita is the Assassin.

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Unlike the Dreamer, for whom I was unequivocally my own inspiration, assassin material I am not. I trip over carpet lines; I have tripped standing still. True story, waiting for an elevator in an office building in front of my colleagues, I shifted my weight slightly wrong on my sensible two inch heels, and down I went. I have never thrown a punch at a real, live person. I do know weapons, I am damn good shot, and, like Diane, I’ll take a shotgun or a wheel gun over semi-automatic any day of the week, but there my resemblance to the Assassin ends.

So I asked myself, what or who did inspire the Assassin?

My favorite cartoon as a kid was He-Man. I watched She-Ra too, though as female action figures went, Jem was much cooler. I also watched Thundercats and GI Joe. When I outgrew cartoons, my hero fantasies were fueled by the 80s and 90s action blockbusters. “Die Hard” and all its sequels.  In fact, you could just name most any Bruce Willis blockbuster “The Last Boyscout”, “The Jackal”. But Sarah Conner in “Terminator 2” probably reminds me most of the Assassin. They both totally own their antisocial, keep-going-no-matter-how-much-you-have-to-bleed attitudes and could probably use a Xanax or few. My obsession with female protagonists started there and continued with “Point of No Return”, “A River Runs Through It” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight.”

So despite a ton of great female characters who’s adventures I enjoy reading, ultimately the Assassin was inspired by a long and expensive education in big screen heroes.  Who said movies rot the brain? (No one, that’s TV I’m thinking.)

I was a Teenage Witch?

Funny enough, my daughter had to sign a “no witchcraft” contract for her school last week. Apparently announcing “I am going to cast a spell and turn myself into a werewolf” is NOT appropriate at a Christian school. I tried my best to be convincing when I said I could not imagine where she might have gotten the idea. Really, she isn’t allowed to read my books!

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My mom once thought that I was a witch. It was back in the mid-nineties when the movie “The Craft” came out. My best friends and I were obsessed with it and watched it at sleep overs. That and a few candles was all it took for her to confront me in front of my friends. She would not have this evil in her house. (Though it was her Blockbuster account that rented it and it was before her devout christian days.)

My friends all laughed it off after she left but the truth is that she was serious. My mother is a good person and I love her, don’t get me wrong, but my dealings with ignorant people started with her. She would confront me many times after that, cornering me and telling me of my place in hell for things that she assumed I was doing. When I…

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The Dreamer: An Origin Story

Dreams and out of body experience factor heavily into my writing. I thought I’d take tonight’s blog to give a little insight as to why.  Interesting story…

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Have you heard the song “Silent Lucidity” by Queensrÿche?  A child of the 90s, I was obsessed with it as a freshman in high school.  Because by then I had already achieved dream control, something the creepy, synthesized voice during the bridge claimed was possible.  Not everyone believed it; not everyone had believed me that I claimed to be good at it.  Now a wildly popular progressive metal band was freaking singing about it.  Take that, chumps, told you so!  Ahem, ok I might have had a teensy-weensy chip on my shoulder by then from being teased one too many times for being the “weird girl in the trench coat.”

Lucid dreaming is an awareness that one is dreaming.  One step beyond that is dream control. Basically, if you can manage to recognize a dream while you are dreaming, you can control it.  I’ve heard of a simple way to teach yourself to lucid dream.  Simply ask yourself at regular intervals throughout the day, “Am I dreaming?”  The answer “no” will be easy to determine when you’re awake.  Inevitably…eventually…once asking yourself this question has become habit–I’ve heard it takes 3 weeks for form a habit, so maybe even in less than a month–you will ask it when you actually are sleeping, and the answer will be “yes.”  Once you achieve awareness, you just have to convince yourself the dream is totally within your control.  Sometimes the subconscious is stubborn about giving up the reigns but, with practice, taking over gets easier.

That is NOT how I learned to control my dreams.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as lucid dreaming when I taught myself to do it.  I posed this question to my dad out of pure curiosity one day, “Why is it I can remember my dreams when I wake up, but I never can remember actually falling asleep.”   My dad told me no one could do that; it wasn’t possible.  So like any healthy pre-teen, I set out to prove him wrong, to catch myself in the act of falling asleep.

Instead of asking myself if I was awake randomly throughout the day, I began to do it as I was falling asleep, as my body and my mind relaxed, as my thoughts became precocious and disjointed, maybe even as I started to snort a little in between the breaths, a prelude to snoring.  I asked myself gently over and over again, “Am I asleep?” I had to do it gently–as one might acknowledge a candle flame during meditation–because concentration on the question pulled me closer to the waking world and farther from the dreaming.  So I asked myself over and over again and I asked myself gently…until one morning, when I decided to grab an extra hour of sleep in my dad’s recliner before school, my answer was finally “yes.”

Even so, I could feel my body–my sleeping body–in the chair, I could feel my heart beating…its rhythm increasing as I realized I had done it!  I had actually identified the moment I slipped into unconsciousness! The excitement of it woke me up.

It took a few more tries…a few more morning naps…before I caught the moment again, and that time–one foot in the hazy not-yet-formed darkness of dreaming, the other still in my dad’s recliner–I kept my breathing steady and deep as I slipped father into Stage 2 sleep. I also decided I needed to get away from my body as quickly as possible.  To distance myself from that beating echo that was my heartbeat, my link the the waking world. 

I remember clearly the feeling that first time stepping out of my body, weightless, into a dimly lit living room I formed around me exactly as I knew it in the waking world, of crossing it to a front door that formed in front of me where I knew it should be, of opening it up into the predictable pre-dawn darkness.  And of my first lucid dreaming feat…making the sun come up. 

I only lucid dream occasionally now, though I always get a little thrill when it happens, when that moment sleep comes and I am aware enough of it to choose what happens next.   

In Blood Toy, Diane has three distinct personas, one of which is the Dreamer.  The Dreamer, as you might have guessed, is inspired by my own lucid dreaming self and experiences, some of which I think I might even tell you about some day. 

It just so happens last weekend I had a lucid dream.  Several actually.  I was sleeping only an hour or two at a time and lightly because of an upper respiratory infection.  And in that series of dreams, I finished the next chapter of Diane’s story:  Blood Toy Book 2, Kindred Shadows.  And I even remembered the whole thing when I awoke! 

Look for teasers for Book 2 coming next month, and my next Kindle Countdown deal for Book 1 just in time for Halloween! Can’t wait?  Read now for free on Kindle Unlimited.

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