Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coming out of the "broom closet"

For the past year or two, I've had a rather odd little ritual. Once every few weeks, I would go to my facebook profile page and stare at the Religion box for half an hour or so, trying to get up the courage to fill the thing out. Inevitably, I would chicken out and close the page. Monday night, I finally bit the bullet and filled the stupid thing out.

Why was this so hard to do? I guess that part of it is that I have several people, both friends and family, on my friends list that are rather devout Christians. A part of me may have been worried about offending them. Which is ridiculous. First of all... I write Romance novels. About vampires. Who have sex. Outside of marriage. And I SHOW THEM DOING SO. If I'm not worried about offending my more Christian friends and family with my genre, why should I worry about offending them with my religious beliefs? And second, I admit to sometimes being slightly offended by all the God-talk I sometimes get on my feed. So, if it's okay for them to basically preach their religion on facebook, why is it not okay for me to admit to mine?

Though, that brings me to another reason I was afraid to do it, before. I so don't want to be preached to about this. I'm sure that there are some who will try to tell me that I'm going to Hell, or even call me a Devil-worshipper. Umm... nope on both counts. I don't worship the Devil, and I'm not going to Hell. I don't even believe in either of those things. I'm also, unlike some Christians, never going to try to convert anyone. One of my biggest religious beliefs is that nobody has a right to tell anybody else what to believe. And I believe that that even goes for parents and children.

So, what do I believe? I'm still sorting some of that out. At least the actual religion, Gods and Goddesses, and rituals part. However, like most people, my religion does shape my moral code. The biggest thing is a little something called the Wiccan Rede. While there are aspects of Wicca that don't quite line up with what I believe, I LOVE the Rede: "An it harm none, do what thou wilt." It's like the golden rule on steroids, and I love it. "Why on steroids?" you ask? Because of the ways that "harm" and "none" can be interpreted.

Personally, I include myself and the planet in "none". I'm becoming a bit of an environmentalist. Both for the sake of my own health, and for the health of Mother Earth. I'm not much of an activist, yet, but I do my best with the things I can personally control. Some days I'm better than others, but I suppose that's true for everyone. I read a quote once, that pretty much sums up my feelings about protecting the planet: "We do not own the Earth, we are merely borrowing it from our children." We've spent the past several decades forgetting that little piece of wisdom and caring more about making our own daily lives a little bit easier than what kind of world we're leaving behind. Luckily the younger generation is starting to get it. If we can hold things together long enough for them to come into power, our children and grandchildren just might find a way to fix this mess we've made.

I am also totally against racism, sexism, homophobia, and bigotry of any kind. In a way it both amuses and sickens me when the religious zealots get all up in arms about things like gay marriage. Because I think that that issue shines a spotlight on the amount of hypocrisy there is in some of those religions. Maybe there are lines in the Bible renouncing homosexuality, I really don't know, I've never actually read the thing from cover to cover. But, I do know that there are also lines about not judging others. And let's not forget the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. So, for all the people out there trying to continue to outlaw gay marriage, maybe we should outlaw ALL marriage. After all, if you're supposed to be Christians, then that means that you're doing to them what you want done to you, right? So, if you want to make it illegal for them to get married, then that must mean that you want it to be illegal for YOU to get married, right? Isn't that what the ONE law your savior handed down to you is supposed to mean? I find it amusing that you'll pick out rules for everyone else to follow, while simultaneously ignoring the ONE thing that Jesus himself told you to do.

Okay, off my soapbox, now. Sorry, I just happen to get very passionate about that, which is kind of funny since it doesn't actually affect me at all. So, how does my religion affect my writing? I don't really know if it does. Catie is a Pagan, as is William, and maybe a few others. Eli is a very devout Christian, but he's non-denominational and actually practices the tolerance that Jesus preached. But his faith is a very big part of who he is.  The difference in religion is a total non-issue for them because they both understand and accept the other's beliefs and don't try to change each other. And maybe THAT is actually the religious stance I'm taking. That we can all co-exist quite happily if we would just learn to truly accept each other and not try to change each other. And maybe it's time we all tried.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Help me pick a facebook cover picture

So, I've spent the past few days playing around in GIMP trying to make the cover photo for my facebook page. My original concept was to have a cityscape, some text, and maybe a picture of a wineglass and/or a sword. (I had semi-logical reasons behind all of those elements.) Well, I found a picture I liked for the background, and added my text. And suddenly wasn't sure I really liked my concept. Plus, adding more than the background photo and the text would end up being VERY busy, thanks to cityscapes actually being rather busy pictures in and of themselves.

So, then it was time to play on Morguefile looking for inspiration. And I found it. There was a picture on there that was very similar to the background of the character Siggy I had posted on here a few months ago, only using hearts instead of circles. I fell in love with the idea, though I wasn't all that thrilled with the execution. But, since I had already done something very similar to that, I figured I could easily make my own.

Which I did. I found some great free brushes and made my own background image of floating hearts. Very romance novel-y, I think. And then while playing around with the top layer, I found two different colour schemes I liked. One was a kind of darkened rainbow effect, the other was a straight up wine/blood red colour. I also have three different fonts I like for one of the text boxes.

So, there is my dilemma. And that is where you guys come in. Here are the different pictures I made. I still need to do some tweaking of font colours, I think, but I refuse to mess with it any more until I know which picture I'm using, since that will likely affect which colours would work on it.

Picture 1, the cityscape with the question in Mirage Gothic:

Picture 2 the red hearts, with the question in Cloister Black: 

Picture 3, darkened rainbow with Gothic Ultra font: 

Ignore the green box in the corner and the little facebook banners on the top and bottom. I'm using a template to make sure I have everything lined up correctly, and obviously, getting rid of the extra layers from the template is going to be my last step. Please feel free to comment with any ideas, or suggestions you have. And if you think that any of the options need something more to them than what I have. Graphic design is NOT my strong suit.

And now for the polls:

Which font do you like better for the question at the top?

Which background do you like better?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Introducing: Ana

Name: Anastasia Delaney
Age: 372
Apparent age: 21
Height: 5'6"  Weight: 130
Clan: Basilius

Anastasia's family was titled, but her father had gambled away most of their money. In an attempt to get himself out of financial ruin, Lord Delaney looked for a rich merchant he could marry his only child off to. Anastasia didn't care to be auctioned off to the highest bidder and ran away when she discovered the plan.

After four years of making a meager living as a seamstress, she eventually met a very strange little girl named Polly who seemed to know things were going to happen before they did. Which is probably how Polly found her the night she was attacked. A blow to the head had left Anastasia barely clinging to life, until Polly and another woman Ana had never met before found her. The woman that Polly was with, Rebecca Carter, turned Ana into a vampire to save her.

Several years later, Polly introduced Ana to her brother Nicolaus. Nicolaus was not a vampire, but rather an immortal mage. Ana ended up falling in love with him, and was crushed when he left her one night, with no explanation. 

Two hundred eighty-two years ago, Nicolaus found her again, in order to tell her that Polly had been killed. Ana, by this time, had developed a vindictive streak. She vowed revenge against the vampire hunter that had killed Polly, and hired a mercenary vampire to kill the man. Instead of just killing the man himself, the rogue vampire killed the entire family, leaving only one five year old child, Elijah Cavendish, alive. 

Eighteen years later, that same child was at a ball that Ana was hosting. She tried to seduce him, and when that failed, decided to feed from him. She accidentally took too much and killed him. In a panic, she had one of her servants bring the girl he had been at the ball with to her room, and then she turned him. When he awoke, she offered the girl as his first meal and watched as he drained her dry. Then she altered his memories so that he wouldn't remember exactly how everything had happened.

For seven years he stayed with her. Until he discovered the truth about his family's deaths, how he had been turned, and that Ana had intended for him to kill Josephine. After he walked out on her, Ana vowed to destroy him. She spent the next two and a half centuries chasing him around the world, until the night he came looking for her.

About the picture: I just love Amanda Seyfried. And she looks exactly like how I've always imagined Ana. Yes, the picture is in black and white. I just thought it was perfect for her. Attribution: Amanda Seyfried 09 by gdcgraphics CC-BY-SA-2.0

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Legalities suck, sometimes

So, the reason I haven't blogged last week is because I spent the week hunting down new pictures for my blog. It occurred to me that it wasn't actually legal for me to have the pics I had up here. So, I got to spend a week hunting down Creative Commons licensed images to use. End result is that some of the pictures are even more perfect than the ones I had before. (Go check out Catie's new picture, OMG). Of course, some are not quite as perfect. So, it's a bit of a trade off. On the one hand, some of the pictures are not QUITE right, on the other, some are even better than what I had before, and I don't have to worry about somebody taking my blog down for copyright infringement. 

As a writer, and therefore someone who will have my own copyright protected material out there soon, not to mention the things already on this blog, I totally get the need to protect a copyright. But, as a blogger I can't help being sad about not being able to use some of the really great pictures I've found. So, I got up the brilliant idea that I could set up a Pinterest account for other pictures. Nope. The same legal considerations actually exist there, too. People just tend to ignore them even more than they do on blogs.

On a brighter note, I have found a great website for totally free legal images to use, and will likely scroll through there so that I can have an image with every post, now. I'm going to put a disclaimer up as soon as I figure out how to do that, but I'll put it here, for now. With the exception of the pictures in my Photoshop post, any picture that does not have an attribution in the post is from under a license that does not require attribution. I'll post a link to their license in my disclaimer once I put that up.

So, that's what I've been up to this week. Come back Friday to meet Ana.