We are very pleased to introduce our special guest, author Thomas Winship, who offers a few tips on guest blogging. Welcome Thomas!
Hello everyone! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Væmpires: Revolution and Væmpires: White Christmas. Both books are part of a new ongoing vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?
I’m so excited to be today’s guest blogger at The Speculative Salon! To be honest, I’m also a bit frightened. There’s pressure enough in just being invited to write for someone else’s audience, but when you’re doing so for a site run by a half-dozen accomplished authors (and those are only the ones I know about! For crying out loud … there could be dozens of ‘em … hundreds even!), that pressure gets cranked up exponentially.
Basically, I’m left with two choices: I can challenge myself to come up with something worthy of the honor bestowed upon me (or at least put forth a valiant effort), or I can throw in the towel and mail in some half-assed piece of drivel.
Which choice did I make?
I’ll let you decide.
So here goes …
I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t have a bunch of guest blog ideas stored away somewhere. In fact, I don’t even have one spare idea shoved under the mattress for emergencies. Every guest blog I write is developed around an idea that comes up for that specific occasion.
There’s no rhyme or reason as to where an idea comes from … or when it comes … or even what it’s about. Believe me, I’m just happy that they come at all.
It doesn’t mean I don’t have a system. Of course I do. Where would we be—as individuals or even as people—without systems? I shudder to think of it.
But, seriously, my system is pretty simple (and, if you’ve read some of my earlier posts along this Blog Tour, you already know it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can go to the front of the line. This is not a progressive environment; it’s all-for-one and one-for-all, so you have to wait for the rest of us). Once I’m committed to a guest blog, I spend as much time as possible doing research on the blog itself—reading through months and months of blog posts and comments, trying to get an overall “feel” for the site. All the while, I’m letting everything sort of percolate through the gray matter (what little I have, that is), hoping and praying that something ignites that spark of inspiration I so desperately need … because we all know that inspiration can’t be forced, right?
It’s been scientifically proven, in fact. Inspiration cannot be forced. Like e=mc2, it’s one of the few immutable laws of nature. If you don’t believe me, just try it for yourself.
Trying to force inspiration is kinda like forcing yourself into clothes that used to fit a few years ago. You can huff and puff and twist and shout all you want, but you’re going to be unsuccessful and all you’ll get for your efforts is sweaty, uncomfortable, and breathless.
So, if full blown inspiration doesn’t strike like a bolt of lightning, the best you can hope is to find a tiny thread of inspiration (or “thinspiration”) and gently coax it along—inching it ever so closer, little by little—until it’s finally within range and you pounce on it, wrapping your meaty paws around it and squeezing it so it can’t slither away. I’m sure there’s a hunting metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m too tired to think of one.
Have you ever tried to rescue the string that’s lost in the waistband of a pair of sweatpants? It’s just like that, only mental. And more difficult.
Well, to get back on track: while doing research for this blog, I’m ashamed to admit that full-blown inspiration didn’t strike. Nevertheless, I couldn’t give up. These blogs don’t write themselves, after all.
So, I went back and forth, trolling all over The Speculative Salon site (figuratively, of course. I can’t even imagine what kind of literal mess a person could make by trolling anything) and banging my head against the wall in a semi-rhythmic pattern that was both painful and comforting.
Perhaps it was desperation. Perhaps it was a slight concussion. I’ll never know without an MRI or at least a WebMD search, but suddenly something did strike me. It might not have been inspiration, but I was in no condition to argue. The answer had been right in front of my face the entire time.
And there’s a message in there. When all else fails, and you’re completely in the dark and lost … open your eyes before you begin abusing yourself and/or screaming incoherently. You might be surprised by what you see. At the very least, you’ll be in a better position to fight off the burly guys trying to put the straightjacket on.
But anyway—public service announcement aside—the answer to my problem was in the blog’s title: The Speculative Salon.
I’m not much of a salon guy … but I can damn well ‘speculate with the best of ‘em—or, at least, those in the lower percentiles. (Oh, I know the apostrophe has no business being in ‘speculate, but it looks like it belongs, doesn’t it?)
So, let’s quit wastin’ time and ‘speculate …
Everyone knows that the pen is mightier than the sword and all that jive … but I often wonder (wonder being an accepted synonym of speculate, of course) about the unintended effect writers have on the world around them—in particular, on their world.
Think about it.
Where do you suppose unused ideas actually go? What about rejected ones? Do they just quietly drift away, never to be seen again? Or do they, perhaps, skulk away, rejected and dejected, to find a dark place where they hole up, quietly stew, and slowly, ever so slowly, morph from little damaged ideas into big ill-formed concepts just waiting for an opportunity to burst from concealment and exact long-awaited revenge?
What about the things I edit out along the way? A word here, a few lines there, here a paragraph, there a chapter, everywhere a page page—just wielding that delete button like an uncaring deity with the power of life or death at my fingertips. (The power is intoxicating and I don’t even want to think about the psychological damage I’m doing to myself.) Conversely, what happens to the things that remain—those that make it to the finished product? Does the constant culling irreparably scar them? Do they suffer from survivor guilt? Will they be forever unable to form lasting, healthy relationships? Does that make my stories nothing more than hollow entities going through the motions? How will I ever know for sure?
Well, I’m going to stop there, because a good writer knows where to start, but a great writer always knows when to stop.
And, honestly, I’m scaring the hell out of myself with all this ‘speculatin’.
Do you see how the word is bracketed in apostrophes? I did that.
I did that.
And how cool is that?
I hope you enjoyed my guest blog. I’d love to hear what you think of it. Comment here, stop by my website, or even drop an email. I’d also love to hear from you if you check out Vaempires. Below are some links where you can find me:
As a final note: I’d like to thank all of you for stopping in and I’d like to offer a very special “thank you” to everyone at The Speculative Salon for allowing me to be a guest blogger today.
Book One The Evolutionary War
By Thomas Winship
It is the morning of Princess Cassandra’s sixteenth birthday. Everyone’s attention is focused on the heir to the vampire throne. World leaders, the rich and famous, and VIPs from every corner of the globe have gathered in the nation’s capital to celebrate the momentous event.
Cassandra’s boyfriend, Daniel, is late for the party. He’s still outside the city when all hell breaks loose. What he believes is an act of terrorism proves to be a full-fledged revolution.
Væmpires—former vampires who mutated into warm-blooded creatures with an insatiable hunger for cold blood—have launched coordinated attacks across the globe, with three goals: the eradication of humanity, the enslavement of vampires, and the ascension of væmpires as the dominant species on the planet.
The vampire and human leaders are killed. Cassandra is missing. Daniel is the acting king. Desperate to find the princess, Daniel and his friends fight their way across the besieged city. With the hopes of the free world resting on the shoulders of four vampire teenagers, væmpires unleash their secret weapons: a new breed of væmpire that is far deadlier than any ever seen before.
What can four teens do against an enemy that can shape-shift, fly, and walk through walls?
Cassie was there, bloody and weary, with a look in her blue eyes that said she’d been to the depths of hell and fought her way back, but she was there and nothing else mattered.
The young lovers fell into each other’s arms and, for a brief time, were the only two people in the world. Words failed and thoughts escaped as they surrendered to the most basic of needs—the need to be held.
They broke apart, neither knowing how long they’d been that way, but both experiencing the same conflicting emotions.
Given the circumstances, it hadn’t been long enough.
Given the circumstances, it had been too long.
“Cassie,” Daniel sighed, “I thought I’d lost you.”
“You almost did,” she said, and what he saw in her eyes—fear, pain, and something else he couldn’t identify—was so intense, his heart broke, releasing the flood of tears that had been threatening to come.
“I don’t …,” he started, suddenly a teenager again, “I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had.”
And Cassie cried too, great big tears that pooled at the bottom of her blue eyes before flowing over her long lashes to run down her cheeks, the salty stream cutting a path through the blood and dirt coating her face. The sight of it was at once the most heart-stopping—and heart-wrenching—thing he’d ever seen.
He took her face in his hands, the tenderness in his touch feeling odd after all the death he’d dealt out that day, and kissed her, a long, lingering kiss that was unaffected by their crying or the taste of tears on their lips or the death littering the courtyard around them.
Eyes closed, Daniel breathed her in, this girl—no, this woman—who owned his heart. Her scent, as familiar as his own, was buried beneath a plethora of aromas. Many, including the stench of bloodsuckers, were unpleasant, but it still made his heart skip a beat.
When the kiss ended, he peered into her eyes and whispered, “Did I ever tell you that I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you?”
She smiled. “We’ve known each other since birth.”
“Okay,” he amended. “Since the first time I remember seeing you.”
“Then, yes,” she giggled, “you have told me on several occasions.”
Daniel realized that her giggle wasn’t incongruous with their current situation as much as it was in defiance of it. They were on borrowed time and they knew it.
“And have I told you that I’m going to love you forever?”
“You’ve done more than that,” she said.
About the Author
Thomas Winship was born in Middletown, NY and still resides in Orange County. He holds an MBA in Management from St. Thomas Aquinas College, where he serves as an adjunct professor of courses in English Composition, Communications, and Business. He also spent fifteen years working for a global pharmaceutical company, specializing in organizational development, talent management, and training.
Tom writes in his spare time. His first novel, a mystery/legal thriller entitled Temporary Insanity (a.k.a. Case Closed), was a 2008 finalist in a national contest but failed to garner industry attention. His second novel, Væmpires: Revolution, was published in October and a follow-up novella, Væmpires: White Christmas, was published in December.
He is an avid collector of books, comic books, music, and movies. His interests are diverse: on any given day, Tom is likely to be found watching a horror movie, attending a hard rock concert, or enjoying a Broadway show.
He is currently working on the next installment of the “Væmpires” series, which is scheduled for an early 2012 release.