Tag Archives: Stephan McLeroy

Preserved Rituals

A guest post by Stephan McLeroy.

The stars align, again, an offered choice. In Bearer Thomas’s hands: a jar of strawberry jam and another of apricot.

The pitch portal coalesces over chalk symbols. Gangrenous tendrils burst forth. One preserve falls, the other leaves with Thomas into darkness.

Cultists scramble, inspecting portents divine. The creature beyond wonders why sacrifices are always fruit-flavored.

 


 

About Stephan McLeroy:

Stephan McLeroy is a historical urban fantasy writer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently working on a new novel when not bearing the burden of process management and implementation at a local cider house tasting room. If you’d like to hear more of his thoughts on things like writing and Elder Fashion Cocktails, check out his blog: http://stephanmcleroy.com/

I Would Do Anything for Love…

 

But I won’t do that. You know what I’m talkin’ about, Meatloaf.

 

Instead, we did all of this:

Victoria Morris Threaded the Tapestry

Gregory D. Little Subverted the Meet Cute

Ace Jordan did the Science of Love to Explain the Murky Middle

Mary reminded us that All You Need is Love

Joshua Essoe gave us advice about Writing Sex ScenesIn two posts!

Clancy showed us the Flip Side: Bad Girls and Anti-Heroes and Why the Guys Love them

Travis Heermann Examined and Bound

Kim May Pleasured us with Pain

Stephan McLeroy no longer Struggles to Define Love

Leigh Galbreath Drew us in with Dysfunctional Relations

Tracy Mangum gave us a master class in Love in Screenplays

Jace Killian showed us the Try and Fail in Love

Matt Jones made Ignorant Secret Troubled Love to us

Tracy Mangum followed up with Sex in Screenplays

Lisa Mangum reminded us that First Comes Like

Frank Morin pushed A Life of Passion

Colette advised us to Let Love Simmer

And RJ Terrell wrote On Love

 

Sure, this month is over, but we know you’ll be back. If you fall we will catch you, and we’ll be waiting. Time after time.

 

Struggling to Define Love

A guest post by Stephan McLeroy.

Acid bubbled in my gut as I stared down at Jamie from the front door of my double-wide.

“Pat, come on, just let me in, just for a second.”

I took hold of the screen door’s aluminum frame and gripped it for support. The urge to look away so I could think through things for a moment itched at my eyes. But I didn’t. Jamie’d seen through my bullshit yesterday. Now I had to at least seem resolute as I made my choice: would I let us be together, or would I keep running the safe play.

“Damnit, Jamie, why can’t you just cut your losses and get the hell outta town.” I said, my voice stumbling over every syllable.

Jamie moved up onto the first step below the screen door. The rubber of Converse high-tops scraped against the sandpaper laminate, shaving away the edges of composure. Bright eyes, the color of pool table felt, stared at me with an understanding that called my bluff.

“Pat, come on, this isn’t cards here, I’m tryin’ to show you that you can have something better, something real, and I’m willing to work through all that baggage you got, but you haveta stop pushin’ me away.”

Without warning, I felt my sinuses tighten up, and fluid fill my eyes. I started to close the screen door, but Jamie had mounted the second step. Long, rough fingers slid over my hand and I felt my tight grip on the aluminum melt to butter. I tried to inhale, ready to make some excuse neither of us wanted to hear, but the air caught in my mouth as Jamie pressed against me. A river flowed through me, washing away the fear, the doubt, crashing through the calloused sphere I’d worked around myself. I’d loved and lost, loved and been hurt, but all of a sudden, with Jamie’s soft lips pressed against mine, it all didn’t matter anymore.

*

Whew! I hope that was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write. Love is fantastic isn’t it? For me, I’ve always been keenly interested in the subject. It’s incredibly challenging to try and define love for others, but the task is extremely important when writing love relationships between characters. When it comes to love, however, there is one thing you can always count on: Everyone’s version is unique.

Let’s go back to the little scene I wrote above. You might have noticed I kept the two characters gender neutral. For fun, I let three friends read the scene and then asked them two things. First, I asked them what gender the two characters were. As you might have guessed, the genders of the characters changed with the gender of the friend being asked. Then I asked them to describe Pat’s relationship with love prior to the events of the scene. All three agreed that Pat, whether they were male or female, had been hurt and, as a result, had developed a fear-based relationship with love.

Now, don’t get me wrong, gender is a major source for experiences we utilize while building our individual definition of love. We use experiences to decide what we associate with love. For some that love feeling could come from a sense of security, for others, it’s centered on unconditional trust. Then you have other people who associate love with something specific like height or weight or how obsessed the person is with the band Gwar. A definition of love for any given person can be associated with almost anything. This can create great differences between two love definitions, but it can also allow for some similarities as well. We empathize with friends and connect with stories of love gained and lost because the love definitions we encounter resemble ours. However, at some point, deep down, these definitions will all diverge from your own.

Okay, let’s get back to your characters. As with real people, each of your characters will have been formed by their unique experiences; their current and former relationships create the patterns for how they love someone. With this in mind, you’re going to have to define love for them. Then the problems arise: how do we define someone else’s love without having lived through every single moment in their lives that could have affected their love definition? Ah, the glorious struggle of character development. I’ve found that dealing with this problem is often quite similar to dealing with other character development issues. For each writer it might be different, for me, however, it came back to that idea of people with similar life experiences. Who do I know that would be able to empathize with a character I have no shared experiences with?

To answer this question, I revisited some of my favorite fiction for characters I felt would have connected in the ways I was struggling to define. Not for a mirror but for a frame of reference. More importantly, I began talking to the people around me. At first, my intentions were to go about this wholesale; I intentionally went to people who either grew up in extremely different cultural environments or had very different love relationships from myself. I found that having these conversations expanded my view of what could mold love into definitions completely different than mine. Although I couldn’t experience the feelings associated with those different kinds of love, I could at least begin to see how my characters could begin to form their own love definition.

Love is a tricky thing to nail down in the real world and in fiction. Your definition will be different than anyone else’s, including your characters. If you choose to speak with other people about defining love, consider how the elements of their experiences could help to frame the ways in which your characters love. By reaching outside your own personal frame of reference, you can, in a way, ‘experience’ many definitions of love; perhaps foreign to you, but perfect for your character.

Stephan McLeroy is a historical urban fantasy writer based out of the San Francisco Bay area. He is currently working on a new novel, The Adventures of Lockwood and Blackfox. If you’d like to hear more of his thoughts on things like writing and Elder Fashion Cocktails, check out his blog:http://stephanmcleroy.com/

Blogs and Your Cash: Thoughts on Starting a Blog and Where Your Money Should Go

-1A guest post by Stephan McLeroy.

Hello Fictorian loyalists!

Blogging, the soapbox of our generation. And just like finding a soapbox down some random alley, it’s actually really easy to snag a blog these days. So easy, that, according to blogging.org, in 2012, there were 42 million blogs in the U.S. alone. With about 315 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2012, that means there was one blog for about every 7.5 people.

Then, on top of that, I’m sure there’s a cacophony of questions singing through your brain as you consider your own blog: “What will I post? How is this going to supplement my writing career? How many cats should I have on the site?”

These are all important questions. However, I would propose that the most important question you should be asking right now is, “How much money am I willing to spend?”

What I want to do is help you navigate a couple of the financial decisions that go into making a respectable blog. I hope that, after this, you’ll have your blog up and running, and be well on your way to creating a site that will blow the blogosphere away without breaking your wallet.

Number one: Getting your website hosted

To own any website on the internet, you need to get a domain URL (for writers, usually our name). Once you’ve thought of the URL you want, write it down on your best stationery along with two or three alternatives and go to the next step: finding a hosting site. There are tons of hosting sites out there, all vying for your business. If you ask around, you’ll find out people have vastly different preferences for what they want/require from hosting sites. However, being an active writer, you probably don’t have time for that, so I did you a solid by running a basic search for “best hosting site” on Google and got this sweet LifeHacker article. You can thank me later. Once on a hosting site, do a search for the URL of your choice by following the site’s instructions and sign up for hosting. You are well on your way to becoming a bonafide blogger.

Number two: Pumping money into your blog

Deciding how much money to spend on your new website falls along a spectrum. At one end we have the penny pincher who declares, “I will do everything myself!” To them, I say, play on! You have a lot of research to do. There are plenty of How-To books, YouTube videos, and, funny enough, blogs about what you need to learn in order to set up and maintain a blog successfully.

But if you’re like me, your dollar-per-hour rate is probably a lot higher than the gentleman or lady I was speaking to in the last paragraph. I have a day job and a very limited amount of free time. I need professional help. Oh, and a small team to help me with my blog (Hey-Yo!). I currently have a webmaster, a web designer, and a publicist friend who manages my posts, all for reasonable sums. The main thing I do is generate content for my blog (my editor, btw, reviews the content I make).

To make this type of set up work, remember that your blog is only a component of your publicity efforts. It supplements writing by being a place to post updates and work. With that in mind, I, for instance, set a budget for myself and my blogging exploits. Under no circumstances do I allow myself to blow that budget. If I need more for my designer this month, I reduce the amount of work I send to my publicist. Is there a broken plug-in on the site that needs addressing? Then design gets suspended until the plug-in is fixed.

This brings us to the next piece of advice.

Number three: Communication

No matter what team you set up, you gotta communicate with them to get good results. For me, at the end of each month I take a few minutes to have a discussion with my team, letting them know what I see as a priority and then getting their input. Everyone wants money, yes, but usually the work of one person directly affects the productivity of another, so that, 99% of the time, everyone is in agreement on where the money should go. We then create an in/out list for the month and boom! The well-oiled machine continues to crank out a respectable blog.

Number four:  Make sure you trust your team

Just starting out, you’ll probably end up working with people who are your friends, but they may not be; they may be people you’ve met at work, at a convention, or online. Make sure you trust them, because without trust, you will not be able to have open, frank conversations, which wastes precious time you don’t have.

Your team may look smaller than mine, or larger, depending on your own needs. I would suggest, if anything, that you at least have someone who can design the site, someone who can manage the non-design programming, and someone who can help you keep regular posts going. From the successful bloggers I’ve spoken to, these seem like the bare essentials for running a site when you can’t do it by yourself.

 

I hope this little post helped get you started on your blogging exploits. I can say that I am still a novice at this and my advice is not the end all be all, but it’s what I’ve learned in the time I have been blogging. Feel free to leave comments or questions.

Good day!

 

Stephan McLeroy Bio: Stephan_portrait
Stephan McLeroy is a historical urban fantasy writer based out of the San Francisco Bay area. His current work, The Adventures of Lockwood and Blackfox can be read for free on his blog at stephanmcleroy.com. He recommends “Death on the Pearl River Delta.” It’s his favorite.