Saturday, May 28, 2011

Made of Awesome Contest Post

The first 250 words of our manuscript (co-written with Tina Moss) for the Made of Awesome Contest (find out all about it here:

Our novel, called Blood Bond, is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance crossover complete at 80,000 words.


by Yelena Casale & Tina Moss

 The scream died in his throat. A foreign sound he couldn’t set free. The surrounding quiet enfolded him, ironically deafening in its intensity. He closed his eyes, struggling for control.

Blazing pain struck, sweeping through his body like a wild fire. He knelt at the edge of the dark water, watching his muscles contract beneath smooth skin. With a shaking hand, he reached back to touch the empty space by his shoulder blades. He grunted at the contact, an alien noise in the absolute silence of the night.

City lights shimmered in the distance, the only signs of life. No creature stirred in this desolate place. It was as if humans and animals alike felt the dangerous current in the air and chose to stay away. Only the full moon reflected in the water, an indifferent observer to his torment.

He caught his image amongst the water’s ripples and stilled. The face that stared back at him, usually so stoic, now contorted in agony. His eyes held wildness that could not be contained, highlighted by a mess of disheveled dark hair, damp with perspiration. Nothing remained of the control, of the precious order that had been the pinnacle of his existence.

The light autumn breeze cooled his naked body but offered little relief. His blood burned from the inside out. The scorching fire threatened to consume him. Every inch of his being, from the tips of his nails to the ends of his hair, buzzed with soft electric blue energy.

Thanks for all the comments! I will try to get to as many other entries as I can. Good luck to everyone!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Shades of Gray (La Femme Nikita)

What makes a story or a character compelling? What makes us want to keep reading or keep watching a story? What makes us identify with it?

It is very important that a good story has all shades of gray. A character should not be black and white, unless there is an absolute purpose to him being that way. Otherwise, it makes a character flat.

A perfect example that I’d like to use is the series called La Femme Nikita. The original series ran on USA network from 1997 to 2001. The new series I’m referring to is called Nikita and is currently showing on WB11. I watched the original series religiously and have recently re-watched all five seasons on DVD. It was an exciting, insightful show with plenty of internal conflict to add to the action storyline. And this applied not only to the main protagonists, Nikita, Michael and others, but also the antagonists, the “villains”.  Two of those, Operations and Madeline, were characters that you loved to hate. They were often the biggest bastards. But, at the same time, they were also shown to have a different side, a side that cared about certain people, a side that was thoughtful and perceptive. You got to see them in situations in which they were conflicted but chose certain actions because they had to, or because they believed it was for a the best. You got to see their motivations. Even you didn’t agree with their actions, you could understand where they were coming from. They were all shades of gray. And I loved every minutes of that show. You could never guess what’s coming next.

The new show, Nikita, is a total opposite of the original. Most of the characters are one-dimensional, almost childishly cartoonish in their black-and-whiteness. There’s very little tension, and most of the story is held by the external action, which is just not enough. The antagonist, Percy, is a typical “villain” whose motivations are so predictable and not likable, you almost don’t pay attention to him, despite him being one of the main characters and story “movers”.

In the original, there was also always tension of some kind within the story of Nikita and Michael’s relationship, throughout the whole fives seasons. Whether other people were trying to keep them apart or they had an internal struggle within themselves, there was always tension. To the very end the viewer couldn’t decide if Michael and Nikita were going to get a happy end or not. In the new show, they get together before the 1st season is out and have an almost happy-end type relationship going on right off the bat. In a word – boring and not realistic under the circumstances.

When writing, you have to keep in mind the same principles that apply to making a show interesting and watchable. You need to show various sides to your characters, be they your protagonists or antagonists. You need to show their motivations, what moves them, what makes them tick. Like a painter, you have to use all colors in your pallet to make the story more interesting. And that includes using all shades of gray.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Presenting Stylish Blogger Award (plus 7 random facts about myself)

Even though I haven’t had a lot of time lately to post to the blog as often as I want to, I love coming up with new fun topics for it. This post, however, was a no brainer, because my blog got nominated by a very cool person – my awesome writing partner Tina Moss – for my first blog award and I’m extremely excited about it. Please check out her own stylish blog:

 And now, with much pleasure, I’m passing on this award to other wonderful bloggers, with the following rules:

  1. Thank and link to the person(s) who nominated you;

  2. Share seven random facts about yourself;

  3. Pass the award along to five blogging buddies;

  4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

And the award goes to these awesome and stylish bloggers (I’m breaking the rules and nominating 6):

  1. TS Tate

  2. Lela Gwen

  3. Karen Strong

  4. Roberta Walker

  5. Dearhart aka Eri

  6. LM Preston

And now for the 7 Random facts about me:

1)      I’m a black belt in Shotokan Karate, a traditional Japanese Karate and I’m an internationally licensed instructor. I teach women’s and other classes in the Japan Shotokan Karate Association. My husband is a 6th degree black belt.

2)      I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and came to America when I was 13 years old. I haven’t been back since, but hoping to visit in the next couple of years.

3)      I learned to dive before I could swim. My dad taught me both.

4)      I use to paint with watercolors all my childhood and into my teens. I was best at painting still-life and nature but always wanted to learn to draw people. It is still one of my goals when I get some free time (hmmm…when will that be?)


[caption id="attachment_93" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Kirk"][/caption]

  My husband and I had three cats named after the original Star Trek characters – Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock and Bones. Kirk and Spock passed away within the last year and so now Bones is learning to be the alpha cat. Kirk was always the alpha cat and was like a son to my husband especially. I was always a dog person but these three cats became my “children” and I cannot imagine my life without them now.

[caption id="attachment_94" align="alignleft" width="144" caption="Bones"][/caption]











6)      One of my absolutely all-time favorite books is “Master and Margarita” by a Russian writer Michael Bulgakov. The book has been translated in many languages and I strongly recommend it to everyone. Here’s the link to it on

7)      I wanted to be an archeologist and almost majored in it. My grandfather’s good friend is a prominent archeologist and I always wanted to go on a dig. It still remains an activity to do. But I love everything ancient history.

Now please visit the award recipient blogs’ and don’t forget to subscribe to them and spread the word in support. I love being a part of the writer and reader community – it’s one of my dreams come true and I thank you all for that!

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