Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bullfrogs and deer ticks

I had a great weekend a few weeks ago: Caught a bullfrog, immolated a deer tick, and donned a dress and makeup for a photo shoot. Not all at the same time, mind you; catching a bullfrog in a dress wouldn't have been easy. Not on the same day, either; the photo shoot was a day later. Still, it was a wonderful, wacky weekend.

Let me explain the bullfrog. I was a tomboy as a child, and catching frogs was one of my favorite activities. So, a few years ago, when traffic was stopped on a local road due to the appearance of a large bullfrog, I pulled off to the side and approached it with confidence. I could save the poor critter's life by carrying him to safety. Or so I thought.

I bent over him, as I had as a child, hands ready to grab his sides, but as I got within an inch of him, I froze. (And he jumped.) I was afraid! I couldn't believe it. I loved frogs. And toads. And lizards. Why was I so afraid? Was I really afraid of the creature? Or just afraid that I'd fumble and embarrass myself?

Last year I was getting out of my car at home and looked down to see the cutest little garter snake. (Yes, snakes CAN be cute, especially when they're barely as big as a pencil and are totally harmless.) I wanted to move him out of the driveway before my husband got home because I didn't want the poor thing to get run over. I used to catch green snakes -- fairly large ones, at that -- and garter snakes, and here I was, afraid to pick up this little guy! I grabbed a tree branch to scoot him along, and even chuckled as the little cutie turned to hiss at me, but I couldn't bring myself to pick him up.

So when we were invited to a cookout and later went out with the flashlight-packing host to view the night critters, I had to redeem myself. There sat a big, fat bullfrog, temporarily dazed by the flashlight beam. I poised over him and quickly brought my hands together around his protruding sides. My hands -- which fit in a women's medium glove -- barely covered him. As I lifted up, he pushed with his strong arms and legs, easily propelling his slippery body from my grasp.

It was at that moment that I realized another cause of my fear. It was not just of making a fool of myself -- no fear in that -- but of hurting him. I didn't want to squeeze hard enough to hurt him. Still, I had to catch him one more time, to redeem myself. Again he pushed easily out of my grasp, but, no longer stunned by his girth and strength, I grasped his legs and lifted him upside-down, like they used to deliver babies, and presented him to the host. "MY GOODNESS. He's a big one."

Again the amphibian slipped from my grasp, and I tried once more to catch him and hold him upright, but he was too strong and slippery for me to hold him without hurting him, so I let him go. I wanted to pet him, feel his little toes, look into his unfathoming eyes. But it was not to be. Still, I redeemed myself. I could catch bullfrogs again...

Now where's that garter snake...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The M.R. Sellers/Doroth Morrison show, Part 2

One of the reasons that I wanted to meet M. R. Sellars was that he's trying to do what I'm doing: merging an existing genre with modern-day witchcraft. In his case, he's merging the mystery genre (sub-genre detective?) with a Wiccan who helps the police using his pyschic powers. In my case, I'm mergin a horror novel (sub-genre vampire) with witches who help a geekette fend off vampires.

We both face similar problems: Our main-genre readers (mystery, horror) won't be familiar with some of the beliefs and practices of our witch characters. Our Wiccan/Witch/Pagan readers, on the other hand, don't want a lecture about something they already know. Our main-genre readers expect the aspects of the genre that appeal to them; that is, each genre has its own set of conventions that an avid reader of that genre would come to expect. For example, in the mystery genre, there's going to be a dead body (usually). In the supernatural/vampire genre, there's going to be a vampire. And blood.

There are other conventions regarding lushness of description (or sparseness thereof), pacing, atmosphere, and so on. People who are reading one of our novels because it's part of their preferred genre will expect those stylistic conventions to be followed. For example, I've heard that in Romance, there needs to be a happy relationship at the end. (Don't know if that's always true, but that's what I've heard.)

Though readers who normally read those genres expect those conventions, people who are reading one of our novels because they're interested in (or are) witches or pagans aren't going to necessarily expect those conventions and might even be put off by them. They might normally read a completely different genre (science fiction, fantasy) or even just mainstream fiction.

Unfortunately, Murv (Sellars) and I never had time to talk about any of that, but we did talk a little about writing. And I did actually talk to "Morrison," too! :-)

Stay tuned for part three...