Only Occasionally the Color of Blood

Some of my teas are red. Rose, hibiscus, cranberry, strawberry, there are plenty of tasty fruits and flowers that can impart a blood-like hue to my daily cuppa.

Some of my smoothies are also red. Strawberry, cranberry, blood orange, watermelon, ginger-beet, tomato, rhubarb, and so forth. They all make good smoothies and I do use them. Not every day, of course. My teas are more often than not amber-to-brown and my smoothies progress through a rainbow of colors, but I did say they were only occasionally the color of blood.

I am not the main character of my novel, but while putting together the promotional biography, it seemed appropriate to draw on some parallels. It’s hard to reduce a human life to one paragraph. You have to pick and choose and decide what the situation calls for. I selected a handful of active elements in my life and presented them with a certain tone to fit the genre of the story.

MS Whatsit

Elizabeth Toll is usually hidden away in an office room, creating tales for her Manx cat. When not thus occupied, she plays a folk harp that is much smaller than the one in her novel, enjoys teas and smoothies which are only occasionally the color of blood, and cultivates a garden of pale roses, dark nightshades and odd miniature landscapes. Be afraid, be very… On second thought, be courageous and check out her blog. There’s a lot more here than meets the eye...

I felt strange about writing it. I’m from a background in which honesty is demanded and any indication of hype is sneered at. Faced with the task of promoting myself, I’d rather go hide in my walk-in closet behind the black silk shirts and velvet cloaks. Every word of the above biography is true, but it sounds a lot more romantic than my real life. I could just as easily have written the following:

Liz Funny1  Elizabeth Toll has operated rides at an amusement park, delivered singing telegrams, and more recently worked as a clown in party venues and large events. When not thus engaged, she can often be found dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, making outrageous puns or singing something ridiculous. She likes polka dots, Weird Al Yankovic, Marx brothers movies, and Terry Pratchetts Discworld series.

This just as true and yet it’s a completely different take, one on my silly side.  It’s the sort of thing that would be more useful to promote my entertainment business. Despite being a closet goth (translation, I have a bunch of dark cloaks, poets shirts, veiled hats, and wonderfully spooky, vaguely historic things I only take out of the closet when I’m in the right mood), I also have a lot of bright polka dots, colorful wigs, and funny shoes. Additionally, my wardrobe contains some simpler, more neutral attire, for times I need to go about disguised as a normal human being. (Not that it necessarily fools anyone. 🙂

My point is, no one is a paper cut-out. When writing a short biography, I did my best to pare it down to a few facts relevant to my writer aspect.

I write in the spare bedroom next to a snoring cat. I guzzle lots of tea and often substitute a quick blender drink for a proper meal.  Then, when I can’t take another second of writing, I escape outdoors to tend my garden or sit down and play something ridiculously inappropriate on one of my musical instruments.

Then I prettied the language up a little and posted it.

I looked at the resulting biography and the accompanying picture (taken on a day I wore something dark and delicious out of my goth closet) and said to myself, “What an interesting person. I’d like to meet her someday.” Since I already lived closely with her, this worried me.

Scroll down among the titles of my last several blogs and you may notice they follow the script of my author’s notes. That’s me going through and fact checking my own biography, looking for hype and exaggeration and trying to figure out how a boring person like me managed to look so good on a computer screen.

So far, it has survived every fact check. I actually am the romantic entity in the first biography. I am also the goofball in the second one, and the disorganized nerd in the third one. I could probably write a dozen more biographies in different tones and convey a lot of different first impressions using just the facts. They would all be true and accurate and none of them would really tell the whole story. A life story takes decades to develop and cannot easily be summed up in half a dozen lines on a page.

Ah well, if it’s hype, at least it’s honest hype. Greetings from your friendly neighborhood cozy vampire murder mystery writer. Of course I’m a little strange, look what I’ve been writing for the last five years. Get yourself a copy. Come on, you know you wanna. 🙂

ROW#80 Update

  1. Got the cover for Hunt Club set up. We’ve done three test prints and it still isn’t right. Upgrading the computer art for printing is becoming quite the learning experience. One thing I’ve learned from my e-book experience is patience is a big asset during the final phase of editing. As long as I don’t get discouraged and give up, every little step moves the process forward.
  2. “Average ½ hour a day working on new novel.” Nope.
  3. “Average ½ hour a day on promotion and blogs.” Up to date and then some.
  4. “Finish reading a book and write a review.” Nope.
  5. This wasn’t really on my list, but I’m going to acknowledge it anyway. I got in seven hours of work on the sequel to Hunt Club. I blame Isaac Asimov, who once said he fought insomnia by going over story plots until his mind, outraged at having to work at such a ridiculous hour, shut down and let him fall asleep.

    Sometimes the advice that works for our heroes doesn’t work for us. I plotted till four am, continued to plot in my dreams, then Saturday afternoon I was at the computer for six straight hours, absorbed in imaginary adventures as I tried to write the entire sequel to my novel in one day. It doesn’t work, but I sure had fun trying. It was a creative distraction from the boring task of trying to edit two manuscripts.  I really miss flat-out scribbling. It’s the most fun part of the entire process and sadly, the most brief.

    I intend to start plotting in earnest next month, but it was fun getting my feet wet again. Next time, I probably won’t count such a detour from my current goals, but just this once, I think I will.

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8 thoughts on “Only Occasionally the Color of Blood

  1. I love all three biographies, which I know is not very helpful. Biographies are hard! I had a hell of a time coming up with mine.

    I love drafting the most, too. I also love getting lost in a story. I’m almost to the end of my current WIP, and I am slightly stuck on some things which has slowed me down. Maybe I’ll try the insomnia method. 😉

  2. There are so many steps along the path to getting our stories out into the world. Kudos for sticking with it and learning new skills. I’m in the process of doing so myself. I’m hoping to get my first indie-published book out early in the new year.

  3. The beginning of the bio on my blog:

    I am myself. Like most other selves, I don’t condense well into a few simple lines of text. Like a schoolbook, these words can only trace the shape of me, hint at the light and shadows within.

    There is far more to me than you will see here, on this page.

    I wrote that a few years back, but I still believe it. I love all of your bios, but I think the first one is my favorite. =D

    I always try to fall asleep telling myself a story. I don’t sleep much, but I don’t call it insomnia – it’s more an acceptance of my father’s genetic inheritance. I put it to good use on a regular basis (it’s nearly 3:30am as I type this beside my sleeping spouse.

    Seems like you did, too. =D

  4. Having multiple biographies is great, especially if you write different kinds of stories, so you can match them to the appropriate tone! And all were interesting and engaging. Totally agree that drafting is the most fun part of writing, and am gradually refining my process to minimize revision and do with less time pre-planning. Not there yet, but it’s a work in progress. Have a great week!

  5. Each bio has a place… I’m not sure which one you would prefer to choose for where, but then… not being you, I imagine that I don’t have the right perspective. And really all three are good (though the third seems a bit too scattered to “sell” you well).

    Really love this exploration though… thank you for the sharing.

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