Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Saint Who?


Heh. Bet you thought this post was going to be about St. Valentine’s Day.


Oh, I have nothing against an excuse to buy chocolate. I am so there if it involves anything from Salzburg wrapped in blue foil with Mozart’s profile on it.

I was thinking more along the lines of holidays and commercial interests. Ever notice how many more jewelry commercials appear around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day? The “big” thing these days? Chocolate diamonds. Not the kind you can eat, but brown diamonds. Yes, brown. “Chocolate” sounds so much better than “brown” when you’re marketing something.”Brown” is, like, blah. “Chestnut” is fun. “Mahogany” is fun. Even “brunette” is interesting. But brown? That’s like saying poop-colored.

I suspect the truth is someone had a whole lot of brown diamonds that no one wanted because, well, brown. Who wants a brown diamond? White–hell yeah. Pink–okay, I loved those movies (if you need a hint, look up Peter Sellers on IMDb). Blue–there’s a famous huge pendant with a blue diamond. Green–I suppose there are green ones, but I’ve never seen any. Yellow–ugh, like crystalized pee (that’ll be the next marketing push).

So, before the preponderance of jewelry-quality created diamonds (De Beers loves that–not), I’ll bet someone went through the mined diamonds and chucked the brown ones into the Reject-for-Now pile. And some young marketing geek came upon the pile and said, “Hey, what about all these diamonds here? What are we gonna do with them?”

And someone replied, “Hell, kid, if you can convince people to buy ’em, we’ll cut you in for half.”

Okay, maybe not realistic, but fun to imagine. So, what has this got to do with writing?

You’ve heard the rote about coming up with a new take on things for your book to make it stand out from the crowd, right? I mean, how many vampire books are out there? Were-whatever books? Even zombies have moved into the mainstream–hell, even the classics (what would Jane Austen say about zombies in Pride and Prejudice?) No one wants to read another star-crossed lover story about a vampire and a human. Or another love triangle involving werewolves and vampires. Gawd, I don’t.

So, how do you make a vampire/werewolf/human/demon/angel/zombie romance fresh?Β  Well, you could try the old “I’m supposed to kill you but I’ve fallen in love with you so how do we get out of this mess” story line. Not for romance? How about the old “we need to convince our families to put the feud aside and work together to fight this new threat” trick.

How do you make vampires fresh? How far can you break from the mythology and still have a recognizable vamp? A vamp that can walk in daylight? Yawn. A vamp that doesn’t need human blood? Heard it. A vamp that can control weres? See Laurell K Hamilton.

Or, you could try the “chocolate is the new brown” method. What mythic creatures have been tossed aside because they’re “brown”? Basilisks. Gargoyles. Dwarves. Selkies. Pucas. Ogres. No one wants to hear about an ogre, even if he has a talking donkey sidekick. Unless he sounds like a Scottish Mike Myers and the donkey is a smart-ass.

Basilisks? Remember those, with the stone stare? Look how JK Rowling turned it from “brown” to “chocolate”. Gargoyles? I know there’s at least a couple urban fantasy series featuring the brutes. Dwarves? Hello, J. R. R. Tolkein. Selkies? Try Anne McCaffery’s Petyabee series. Pucas? There’s a contemporary fantasy featuring a Puca co-protagonist by this new writer, J. M. Goebel–wait, it isn’t published yet. Disregard. And there’s a two-fer by C. S. Boyack with both dwarves and a basilisk.

So, sift through the “Reject for Now” pile for a “brown” diamond you can make into a “chocolate” gem. Bigfoot. Nessie. Mothman (check out Mae Clair). Wendigo. (Damn, I’ve been binge-watching too much Supernatural.) Will o’ the Wisp (C. S. Boyack again). Mer-people (though that’s almost played out now). Better yet, pull something out of the bin from Norse, Egyptian, Native American, African, or Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese myths. Shine ‘er up. Tuck a Thunderbird into your fantasy. Add a touch of Horus. Mix in a Valkyrie or two.

Damn. Too many cool story ideas, not enough time. Besides, I’ve set my fantasy aside for now. Needs revision, but not until I’ve got my WIP polished, and I’ve got a different fantasy I want to work on. Alas, my Irish myth-based contemporary fantasy will have to wait for a bit.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day weekend. Me? My hubby isn’t what you’d call romantic by anyone’s measure, but after 25 years, we’re good with a TiVO-edΒ  episode of Supernatural and a glass of wine.


Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, two chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

9 thoughts on “Saint Who?

  1. Its also a valuable life lesson. What is it that we dislike in our life that we can redefine as something desirable? What could changed to chocolate? It often really is just changing the defining quality from brown to chocolate to make it interesting.

    It reminds me of the saying that goes something like – If you are being run out of town, get in front of the crowd and make it look like a parade.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So very true. The old saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” reminds us that often it’s a matter of perception. If we can change the way we or others look at something, it may make all the difference in the world.

      Love the saying about the crowd and the parade!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a FUN post! I was laughing all the way through. πŸ™‚ Thanks for brightening my day….and for the lovely shout-out about my “creature” books. Honestly, I’m with you on the supernatural front. I just can’t read another vampire or were-book. I think I’ve reached saturation point. But Norse, Egyptian and Native American mythology have a lot going for them and I’d be easily hooked on one of those stories.

    Chocolate diamonds….I will never look at them the same way again, LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae! I’ve been trying to come up with something to post, and this just kinda fell out of the brainstorm. Every time I see a commercial for “chocolate” diamonds, I always wonder what they did with them twenty years ago. There’s a few urban fantasy authors I like that use the rote, including Jim Butcher (soo good!), but yeah, I roll my eyes and think “another one?” A lot of agents seem to be expressing interest in something other than the usual Greek myth-based stuff, and even the Norse stuff is getting a lot of play. Too bad so many are looking for YA. Us Adult mystery/romance/fantasy/scifi authors have to stick together! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, YA is really a strong market, but I haven’t had any inkling to try it. I’m too hung up on the other stuff. And oh, Butcher is good! Which reminds me I have to get back to reading the Dresden Files series. I wonder if any chocolate diamonds will turn up in there, LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post. And the thing is… earlier this evening, one of those commercials appeared on my television screen and I went off! Chocolate diamonds? Who on earth wants those? They look like dirty mistakes. They are hideous! I’d rather have cubic zirconia or… rock candy. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was just thinking this morning about a third-written book that I abandoned. There are parts of it I love, but it just wasn’t coming together. It was brown, going nowhere. Maybe next year when the current WIP series is done I’ll dip it in a vat of chocolate. Hey, where’s the muse off to? On vacation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mmm, chocolate books… πŸ˜€

      I was going to bring my Muse back this post, but the whole Valentine’s Day chocolate thing kinda took over. Chocolate will do that πŸ˜‰ He’s working on patience, I think. I’m noting revisions for my WIP, but I’ve got a feeling he’s almost run through his bucket of patience (and his case of craft beer). πŸ˜‰ I’m sure he’ll stop lurking soon and break out the writer’s whip πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

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