Thursday, September 26, 2013

Contemplation: a Halloween-themed short story

Yesterday, we were going into Home Depot and they already had pumpkins out front.

I was thinking about how I had no idea what I wanted to carve into my jack-o-lantern this year.

A couple hours later, not only was I starting into an idea, but started brainstorming about a potential short story with all kinds of Halloween-themed imagery.

I drafted a list of key words last year with the intention of writing this story.
Only now I have a protagonist.

In some way, my pumpkin is gonna have the image of a witch (possibly "witches") brewing a potion in a cauldron... perhaps with the silhouette of a cap on the edge of said cauldron.

I'm not the best artist in the world unless they happen to be animé characters.
But I'd love to have the chance to carve a pumpkin from my own sketch.


Some ideas I have so far.

The witch is brewing something in her cauldron that'll be important later in the story.
In the long run, I'm thinking it has to do with a vampire bat. That maybe a friend of hers or her vampire boyfriend was turned into a bat by a jealous warlock.

When I think Halloween, I think about bats. Cats are familiars to witches... now I'm thinking about "Kiki's Delivery Service", how her best friend was a black cat named Gigi, voiced by Phil Hartman in his final movie appearance.
Should probably add that to my list of Halloween movies alongside:

Young Frankenstein
Sweeny Todd
Sleepy Hollow
Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video

I kinda came to realize the other week that because of Halloween, October is a month that belongs to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp... but Captain Jack Sparrow is good for any time of the year (although a pirate was what I did on my pumpkin last year).

I really ought to take to my movie blog to go into that kind of stuff :-P

Black & Orange are the official colors of Halloween, so there should be plenty of that.
There has to be at least a black and she has a vampire bat as a frequent visitor.
A couple of birds I associate with witchcraft and this time of year are owls and crows. I saw a couple of washcloths in Target featuring ravens and "Nevermore"... I ought to reread The Raven within the next month.

Autumn leaves go without saying. Imagery with the phases of the moon might be cool and perhaps integral to the storyline.

All of the typical "horror movie monsters" come to mind. A lot of them are featured in the Mortal Instruments series (I'm not quite halfway through "City of Ashes" right now). Vampires, Werewolves, Warlocks and Fairies.

Not sure if I have room for a werewolf in addition to a witch, vampire bat and [potentially]  a warlock, but I'll see what happens.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Revelations about Amber and Figuring Talia

No matter how much time has passed and how many drafts later I am, it still hurts getting negative feedback on "White Tiger."
How I look forward to seeing my latest reviewer flip out when the pages disappear and there's no ending...

I think I kept my story on fictionpress so I'd have proof in that one author tried to get rich off my story... just as a bit of insurance, but it really isn't fair to be on full display when I know I'm not at my best...
Nonetheless I still feel a little self-conscious about it.

I'm self-conscious about a LOT of things.

But after reading and hearing some encouraging words from Zooey Deschanel, my looks might be one thing I'll be less worried about in the future.
Supposedly she wrote a letter to Vogue when she was 17, stating how they should use their platform to promote beauty instead of giving girls a picture of what "ideal beauty" should be. And saying something to the effect that girls need all the confidence they can get.


Having that to think about, I really hope that my story isn't construed from the wrong perspective...
It isn't as if I'm promoting or okaying prostitution as an occupation or lifestyle.
My thoughts on the subject is that life is hard and they shouldn't be reprimanded or thought of as second-class citizens.

Now, that thought pattern might not go for everyone in that business. I'm just saying that they shouldn't automatically be looked down on for living life as they do.

Why am I taking it upon myself to send that message?
I'm not entirely sure.
It's not as if I knew anyone in those shoes or I saw a movie specifically about that.
"Suckerpunch" is something I'm drawing influence from, but it isn't a direct homage..

The idea started with music. Seeing choreography to some energetic music.
Kinda putting my love of dance, my imagination when I listen to music.
Then it became about women being comfortable with their bodies and flaunting their sexuality. And building on that, it was about overcoming less than pleasant circumstances to become stronger individuals.
Gaining confidence in themselves and feeling empowered in making people happy entertaining with their varying routines.

I guess the way Talia tells it, anyone with an open mind would believe as she does.
I listed a couple of the big questions I wanted to answer about her and came up with an interesting one.

If she got so bent out of shape after what her stepfather put her family through, why does she dismiss the thought of him from her mind... yet she still hangs onto the beliefs he bestowed on her over the years...
you'd think after such a betrayal that anything he said to her would have no hold over her.

He spent all those years having her believe he loved her and what they had was perfectly all right. How she was gullible enough to believe he loved her and their relationship (physical and otherwise) was perfectly okay?
The main difference between her story and the Rasmusen twins (Scarlet & Ruby) is that her stepfather seduced her. He didn't force her into anything, he manipulated her and had her believing everything he said.

Hmm... maybe the Montiels caught up to him and rubbed him out because he'd done it a few times before...
make a family fall in love with him, take them for suckers money-wise and move on... only one of those times, he did it to someone in their family... perhaps someone whose money went into the business... either that or Talia helps out because she sees its in dire straits.

I'll have to take that done for future reference...
given their mob-like mentality, it does make a lot of sense...

I hadn't had any thoughts about Talia for a while, but the few times I had, it's me wondering why the story is about her :-P

But after listening to some Nelly Furtado, I had a few thoughts about her motivation behind why she turned to this type of business.
Then after coming to those conclusions, what did Carmen (soon to be Amber) and Scarlet think of her?

I see Scarlet being in awe of her (much the way Emilia will be when the actual story takes off), admiring her attitude about how she turned things around for herself, and wanting to follow her example.
Carmen spent a long time (not sure how long yet, whether it's a few months or years) trying to improve Scarlet's morale, but Talia somehow turns it around quickly.
She just happens to be the right person... at least that's what my thoughts are at the moment.
Carmen leaves that life and name behind under the impression Talia bewitched her best friend away from her the way she had with Alejandro...
also, after hearing her reasoning behind why she's in this business, Amber thinks she's a bit of an idiot for dealing with it the way she has.

Which brings me to the "great reveal" in Amber's life... why she truly hates the idea of prostitution.
Originally, I thought it was because she was assaulted regularly at the group home where she grew up. But her hatred stems from the fact it ruined her mom's life.

I will leave it at that. I've given too much away already.

I have this whole plot line set up where Emilia is victimized because Amber encouraged her into the risqué part of the business.
Now, the story is that Amber didn't mean for it to get as out-of-hand as it got... just that she wanted to make a point to prove to Talia that the business has its dangers and shouldn't be approached as half-hearted as she believes she does.

So I guess the message I'm sending is that I'm against the business to a certain extent. It just shouldn't be a fallback position for a long-term commitment because you don't know what might result and the list of regrets aren't worthy having to go through.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Taking Inventory of Scarlet and Ruby

Except for most weekends, I've succeeded in writing a page about one of my girls every day.

Now that things have gotten a little heavy and I might be in need of a time-jump, it's a good time to establish where I am.
As well as pose questions to myself about how to proceed next.
Because I definitely have some questions in need of answers.

But first, I have to establish how far I've come so far.

I wrote two entries from Ruby this week. It looks like she's been looking for Scarlet just as much as Scarlet has her. I keep impressing that they're twin sisters and Scarlet is the older of the two, but I've gone back and forth about which of the two is more mature.

Based on some things I've found while writing for Ruby, she might be aware of so much more. A great deal of it has to do with the fact Scarlet has told her everything or that she's easier to read when the latest episode occurs.
Ruby was threatened with secrecy. Meaning that if she told Scarlet anything she went through, Scarlet would suffer for it, leaving Ruby all alone with their father for the rest of her life.

As much as I've made my own skin crawl by writing and thinking up the things I've been, part of this feels oddly freeing. Maybe it helps to write to work through things in life that terrify me deep down. All the while, my scribbles might just be proof I need to get laid :-P

The unfortunate truth in the Rasmussen household is that their father manipulated Scarlet into making a deal with him. If she didn't fight him when he wanted her, he wouldn't go after Ruby. Yet, all that was was a ploy to get "permission" to take advantage of her when in fact, he'd been traumatizing Ruby.

Having said all that, I'm not sure if I've fully answered one of my questions. If he prefers one of the girls over the other.
Scarlet is always the one subjected to pressure, whether it's obeying every rule, maintaining top grades or making herself available when her father needs to satisfy his sexual urges. (Bleck, I feel gross even typing that). With her, the name of the game is manipulation. Having her believe she deserves what she gets and she has no other options in life.
Perhaps that's just punishment for their mother's death... how it's her fault, I still haven't figured out.
Having said that, it sounds like Ruby is nothing more than a tool in this grand scheme. She's aware that some sort of deal is going on with that... although I haven't had her imply that she's resentful about it. She just knows the deal stinks.

I've written maybe 2 or 3 pages for Ruby so far. She's currently locked in the cellar and keeping a journal so that if someone finds her there, they'll have some record of what happened and it'll put their father away for a long time... assuming he's alive when the authorities catch wind of this.

At age 7 when Scarlet was being beaten for the slightest bits of rule breaking, he started molesting Ruby, touching her inappropriately and swearing her to secrecy. She even acknowledges that she knew it was wrong, but over time, she believed his actions were normal because he said so.
She even considered the possibility that he might have tested her out to see how much her body could handle.

Fast forward to age 12 and Scarlet was raped for several consecutive days until her body hemorrhaged and couldn't handle anymore... then he turned his attention to Ruby because his needs that particular night HAD to be dealt with.

After that entry, I turned my attention back to the present. Supposing I ever take these stories the next step, I'll have to do a little more research to make my writing convincing. But a few weeks after she was found to be pregnant, she developed an infection made her miscarry.
Sure, I might have taken the easy way out on that storyline, but I couldn't ignore that scene as it was playing out in my head.

When I consider the vicious nature of what she endured, it's a little far-fetch'd that her body finally revolted after this had gone on for at least 3 years. The doctor even confirmed beforehand that she didn't have any STDs, so it had to be something else... assuming I have to make it a little more convincing if I chose to take my story beyond my eyes.

I did make a significant break-through this week with one of the key scenes in their storyline.
Listening to "Blown Away" by Carrie Underwood, I envisioned Ruby's plot to escape her living hell with her father.
She has to get access to a phone and she needs a weapon. She also needs to set up a scenario so she can get away with murder on grounds of self-defense, meaning that she needs to convince her father to assault her...
so maybe in her time in the cellar, she figured out how to have the door be unable to open from either the outside (so the cops will believe she's locked in the cellar) and the inside (to supply motive for the assault).

It and "Two Black Cadillacs" sound like they could be great for performance numbers from Scarlet and Ruby. With the latter, I see the two of them being dressed for the Paso Dablo while addressing a man strapped to a chair and they'll play out his demise in retaliation for him cheating on them with each other.


So, so far what I know about Ruby is that she's vastly underestimated.
Scarlet doesn't believe she'll be able to handle their father by herself.
Her father believes she's under his power and he's calling all the shots.
Ruby is perceptive and Scarlet believes she's the better actress of the two of them

Aside from how far ahead I want this time jump to be, my biggest question is:

How on Earth Scarlet is able to overcome the horrors in her past?
How is she the sweet person I know her to be when I think of her as one of Talia's closest friends?

Right now, I just don't see how she bounces back from this.

I just gotta remember to mind my timeline.

Ruby comes AFTER Talia.
Talia is vastly more mature than the other girls... so I might have to make her 21 or older when she finds about her stepfather's deceptive ways.

Meaning that Carmen must be going on 17 when Talia arrives.
And Scarlet is technically around the same age, so both of them must be 17 when Talia arrives.

Ruby needs to come at least a year later when she's 18 (and out of school).

Therefore, my time jump needs to be at least a year or two. Scarlet is still unsure, but she's better off than she was when I last left her.


Something else that's been bugging me... and for whatever reason I can't remember what it is... most likely it'll appear in my next posting 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Getting to Know Scarlet- Part 1

It's been a tough journey so far.
I'm going into things here I haven't addressed in great length before.
For some of it, I feel like I've been tapping into some of my own fears.
Then again, by the end of this, I'm sure all of the girls will reflect me in some way.

Too bad it isn't as easy professing each of them to represent a deadly sin.
The only ones that seem to come into play are... well, actually...
Amber is definitely Envy.
Talia is Pride.
As for Lust, Anger and Greed... those are harder to place because Amber represents some of those as well.

But I'm here to talk about Scarlet.
Because I didn't go into great detail about Amber's past, I feel like Scarlet had the roughest childhood of all the girls.

She got more attention from her father than her sister Ruby...
I started out in saying she got beat up when her grades slipped or she missed curfew... minor things, this abuse starting shortly after their mom died, something her father apparently blames her for (although I haven't quite figured out what the cause of death was).

Then I changed course a tiny bit. The one time (as far) where I have Ruby getting beaten is when her father finds out she has a boyfriend. "Beats her within an inch of her life" as I wrote it.
Somehow that doesn't quite fit into my scheme of things when I piece it together in my head... Ruby didn't get nearly as much attention from her father, but mainly it was because she stuck by his strict rules and was an excellent student.
Is it also pushing it that the girls are 12 when this happens? Is 12 too young to even talk about boyfriends?

...although the punishment does make sense when I write it like that.

Scarlet ends up making a deal with the devil, promising to take all of Ruby's punishments from now on and in return, she'll follow all the rules, including never to date.
This deal is sealed when he cuts her hair short when she's sleeping so no boy would ever take interest in her.

Quickly I follow this rough patch up with another one. I don't openly address women troubles in my writing... I have trouble enough writing parts of the male and female anatomy.
Scarlet hits puberty a short time after making this deal. She tries to keep it under wraps, but ultimately her father catches wind of it.

Oddly enough, he is so mindful of her cycles that he chooses when to take advantage of her for his own gratification... kinda strange, but it was either that or him slipping her birth control pills... bleck, getting into the psyche of a rapist creeps me out and I'm not even going all out with it.
But as far as I took it while writing Scarlet being pinned down against his bed and it ending with her blacking out... it goes with the territory of the type of story I'm writing, but I'm not proud of it.

After maybe three chapters of Scarlet storytelling, I went back to Amber to get her take on the events. The first chapter afterwards is when she gives Alejandro the short version...saying she's giving Scarlet a place to stay because she ran away from an unfit home... respecting her privacy as much as possible.
It ultimately becomes part of the girls' code: "It's your story to tell and it's up to you whether or not to do so".
Amber is extremely considerate and wants to be there for Scarlet... perhaps to make up for the fact nobody was there for her when she went through the horrors of her past.

It ended off the other day with a pretty scary proposition that I'm still considering whether or not I want to continue with it... for the moment, I'm still good to go.

And for the moment, I think I've established a distinct difference between Amber and Scarlet's speech patterns and how the stories are written.
Amber is more about what she sees and how she feels. Scarlet's story so far is more about flashbacks, telling about what happened to her, almost like it runs like a narrative.

Scarlet's kindness is also well established, how she thinks about other's welfare before her own. Yes, she's rattled about the fact the last time she stepped out of line with her father resulted in her becoming pregnant...
she's also not the kind of person who would take the easy way out by getting an abortion.

Personally, I'd like to have a choice in the matter (rather than leave it up to the politicians and Jesus freaks to tell me otherwise), but if I were in that kind of situation, I doubt I could go through with it.

Plus, this being set in a 2nd (even 3rd) world country, that can't be a safe procedure to go through... images from "Dirty Dancing" come to mind and there's just no way I'm taking that route.
But the biggest question is how this will resolve: will there be a miscarriage? will it be stillborn? will it be put up for adoption or will everyone present in my story beat the odds and raise it amongst themselves?

I'm sure Amber would be skeptical about the adoption situation unless she knew the baby would go to good parents (seeing as she went through hell in "the system" of parentless kids)...
geesh, maybe I should have taken the "corrupt foster system" route... to be fair, I could still go there, but only in the third act of my main story...

No matter how everything plays out, Amber will not be pleased with Ruby when she and Scarlet reunite... because Ruby will have made a habit of performing as a stripper to earn her income... and taking that further... more or less making everything Scarlet went through to protect her absolutely worthless
How much hell I'm willing to put her through to make a valid point, I'm not sure yet... either way, it's a terrifying prospect, but for the sake of telling this story, it has to be breached.

Before finishing this entry, I had another break-through that could add to the overall madness...
Ruby might, in fact, be jealous that Scarlet procured her father's attention... she never got the praise for all the hard work she did at school because Scarlet's failure to meet expectations resulted in physical abuse...
Jealous might be the wrong word, but either way, Ruby wanted her father to know she was there.

I still play around with the idea that Ruby lowered herself to that level to gain her father's affection... and maybe how she chooses to punish him (either killing him or getting him arrested) is to make sure Scarlet doesn't steal his attention away from her again.

That just might be something I'd rather imply than say upfront.
Amber's enough a handful as it is.
If anything, Ruby's greatest flaw could be that she's a sex addict for the sake of attention...
Talia could be described as a sex addict as well, but she does it in an effort to fill the hole inside of her that craves unconditional love.

How those two things not the same?
It's hard to know where to begin...