Or the Amazon Goddess and Raging Big Sister Syndrome
It's like a car wreck. I know I should keep driving, but I couldn't look away. This takes the cake, it's not just an author upset at a reviewer, it's one author trashing another personally because she didn't like his book.
He attacks her personally and implies that if she lost weight, she'd get laid and that somehow has something to do with why she didn't like the book, even though it was filled with typos that the author was aware of and still sent it to be reviewed.
Some of the comments by the author were deleted, but you get the general idea. You can read here. Behaving Badly
What the hell is wrong with people? Seriously, I want an answer to this question. It's great to follow your dreams, but unemployment and a mass of word vomit on a page doesn't make you a writer. Especially if you can't be bothered to proofread your offering.
Neither does selling.
What? Did I just say that? I did. You know what makes you a writer? Loving your craft, holding it close to your heart, your soul, but knowing when it's ready to be kicked out of the nest. Always learning, striving, and honing your talent and weaving a story where the colors merge into each other in a seamlessly beautiful design. That's what makes a writer.
Of course, the selling part is great too, but you have to keep doing the other stuff.
Putting on your assbag hat and stapling it to your head with behavior like this doesn't fit the bill.
Color me disgusted.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Or the Amazon Goddess and Raging Big Sister Syndrome
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Trying to find a way to keep the spirit of NaNoWriMo alive all year? One of my writing groups, Club 100, is doing this with virtual write-ins, a/k/a “Word Wars.”
Not to be outdone by the Olympics, we've gone international. Our war last weekend featured five writers in three time zones on two continents. We had three writers in the U.S. Central time zone (in St. Louis and San Antonio); one in Portland, Oregon in the Pacific time zone; and one in Canberra, Australia on their Eastern Summer Time.
The word wars are conducted on a Facebook page specifically set up for that purpose, using the chat feature (when there are only two of us) or a discussion board. The page is open to members of Club 100 and other writers who have a Club 100 member willing to vouch for them. We post on the wall of the page to let each other know when we’re available. Some wars are planned in advance, but unplanned skirmishes can occur any time two members happen to be logged on at the same time and are in the mood to create. Usually each war lasts for 15 minutes, then we report back with our word counts and to offer each other encouragement. Typically we'll do three wars in an hour before everyone goes back to their own business.
One member of the group suggested we should have "Word Peaces" instead wars, because there's already too much war in the world. However, we ended up deciding that war didn't have to have a negative connotation, because we aren't at war with each other. Instead, the "war" is with our procrastination, our Inner Critics, and other bad habits keeping us from being our best writerly selves.
Sometimes armed with Write or Die, Dr. Wicked's fabulous writing productivity tool (http://writeordie.drwicked.com), and/or websites featuring writing prompts, such as author C.M. Mayo’s (http://www.cmmayo.com/d5mwe.html), our group is soldiering on to turn our works in progress into full fledged manuscripts. Peer pressure, support, and companionship are helping each of us to overcome the inertia that can so easily prevent writers for achieving the "butt in chair, hands on keyboard" state necessary to move our visions from our imaginations to the printed page.
Do you participate in any group writing activities? Tell me about what works for you!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Recently Divas Robin Wright and Shannon Delany started chatting about books and movies--specifically what happens when books become movies. This is a continuation of the trouble--erm--conversation Robin Wright started on Thursday of last week. ;-)
It's no big secret I signed a trilogy contract with St. Martin's Press (at least I hope it's not ;-). At the same time that contract was being looked over we (my agent and I) were dealing with interest from a movie producer. Please keep in mind a movie producer doesn't have to be anyone with amazing Hollywood know how. Generally producers bring one area of expertise to a show's production. And money.
You've probably noticed a good number of actors being named as producers. They bring their talent, their connections and their money to a production. So there are many producers in this world. Keep that in mind.
Signing with SMP as we did, we handed them film rights--not something an author has to do, but something somewhat expected in deals with newbies. I mean, let's be honest--what was I going to do with film rights--13 to Life: The Local Musical? *snort* And, although there were multiple parties interested, I had no idea what would be a dealbreaker. Contracts can make you twitch.
Here's how my contract reads (I know--*snore*):
(b) Grant of Rights. The following additional and subsidiary rights in the Work are hereby included in those granted and assigned to the Publisher by subparagraph 1(c):
(i) The sole and exclusive possession in the United States, its territories and dependencies of:
* (A) Selection Rights;
* (B) First Serial Rights;
* (C) Second Serial Rights;
* (D) Microfilm Rights; <==YES. Microfilm. LOL
* (E) Electronic Text Rights;
* (F) Translation Rights (note: in the United States, its territories and dependencies only);
(ii) The sole and exclusive possession in the rest of the Exclusive Territory of Print Rights and Translation Rights;
(iii) <===This one was struck through, so it was removed. Buh-bye!
(iv) The sole and exclusive possession throughout the world in all languages of:
* (A) Sound Reproduction Rights;
* (B) Multimedia Rights;
* (C) Movie and Television Rights;
* (D) Game Rights;
* (E) Live Theatrical Rights; <==Noooo! There goes my musical! ;-)
* (F) Cartoon strip, novelty, advertising and other commercial use of characters, fanciful places, situations, ideas, events and other material from the Work ("Merchandizing Rights").
Now, looking at that, it appears to royally suck. I mean, seriously, I gave them everything. However. I have a nifty-neat-o clause that says...
If the Publisher has not optioned or licensed Movie and Television Rights in a Book by the end of twelve (12) months from the date of publication of the Publisher's initial publication of such Book, the Author shall thereafter have the right to revoke such unoptioned or unlicensed rights in such Book, by giving written notice to the Publisher by registered and certified mail, return receipt requested, which notice shall not be effective unless received by the Publisher prior to the Publisher's agreeing to an option or license.
So. One calendar year after 13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale is officially first published I can have my movie and tv rights revert back to me. This puts me in an interesting situation (because I really, really want a movie deal). Honestly, I'd like SMP to make the deal. They have lawyers and people to handle that sort of stuff and sure--I'd only get the lion's share of the licensing fee, but it's still potentially a chunk of change. If I have to try and make a deal yes, I may make more money and have more control but I'll also spend more time and money on lawyers. Blech.
If you think visually (and I sure did for this series) you'll probably want to think about your production rights and who would handle what if you get asked about a movie (or other) deal. I hope this helps with that a little bit.
And, although I agree with Robin that most books can't be expressed very well on the big screen, I'm still a movie girl. Besides, I promised the Divas a while back that if I landed a movie deal we'd have our red carpet moment (and I doubt it counts if I roll a red carpet out at my house in the middle of nowhere and microwave popcorn ;-).
Off to watch something!
Friday, February 12, 2010
For the last week or so, I’ve spent most of my “spare time” (ha ha!) judging entries for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Golden Heart® contest for unpublished writers. The Golden Heart® is my favorite contest to judge because, comparatively speaking, it’s an easy job. Sure, the entries are long (55 pages, usually in Times New Roman 12, which can be murder eyes that aren’t getting any younger). However, all you have to do is read the entire entry (granted, a couple of times getting all the way through an entry has been torture!) and rate it on a scale of 1 to 9, with 5 “specified as average for an unpublished manuscript.” Unlike most RWA chapter contests, there are no specific areas, such as plot, characters and mechanics, that must be rated separately. Furthermore, comments aren’t required or even allowed. In other words, there’s no heavy lifting.
The subjectivity and lack of feedback is one aspect of the Golden Heart® that some writers don’t like, but I don't mind, because to me, this reasonably approximates what happens when our babies land on the desk of an editor. Either she’s excited by our story or she isn’t. She doesn’t have to say why, and she certainly doesn’t have to offer us a contract just because our manuscript scores high on preselected technical criteria.
This year I’m judging the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category. The Golden Heart® rules define this category as including “works of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries... A romance must be an integral part of the plot or subplot, and the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.” In contrast, the Contemporary Single Title Romance category includes “romance novels which focus primarily on the romantic relationship... The love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.”
What has struck me most this year is that at least four of my entries, in my opinion, are not novels with strong romantic elements – they are romance novels, damn it! The love story is the main focus of the manuscript, and there’s a “happily ever after” ending. Under the official definition, those are the only two criteria for a romance. (And by the way, all of these entries involve a man and a woman, so I don’t even need to wander into the minefield that is the subject of gay romances, and RWA’s reaction to same).
So, I can’t help wondering – why do these authors want deny that what they’ve written is a romance? My first thought was that they wanted to avoid the steep competition in the Single Title category, but a look at the statistics on 2009 Golden Heart® entries ruled that out as a valid conclusion. While both categories had the maximum of 8 finalists, Single Title only had 111 entries, while Romantic Elements had 152 – over a third more. In fact, Romantic Elements was the most competitive of all the Golden Heart® categories.
Another possibility is that these authors don’t want their stories stigmatized by being called a “romance” – but I’d certainly hope and expect that anyone savvy enough to understand the career value of winning or even finalling in the Golden Heart® wouldn’t think that way.
My best guess is that these writers believe their works would be perceived to “fall outside the traditional romance boundaries,” and penalized by judges in the Single Title category, even though the love relationship is the heart of the story (pun intended). This old school thinking would say, a romance heroine can’t be snarky; a romance hero can’t be battling addiction; romance authors can’t color outside the lines of the traditional.
Since I’m entered in the Single Title category, I suppose I should be glad that a number of potential competitors have gone elsewhere. But I can’t help thinking it would be better for the health of the genre if romance was seen as a “big tent” that could include many kinds of heroes, heroines and stories.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Recently, Divas Shannon Delany and Robin Wright fell into a deep discussion about authors points of view and the technicalities of screen adaptations of novels. They decided to do a little series about the subject. Read on for the next two Thursdays and Tuesdays!
I have a soft spot in my heart for books that are translated onto film. You can blame it on SWEET VALLEY HIGH. Yeah, you read me right. Francine Pascal's super awesome(!) book series that came to life on my small, 13” black and white screen forever colored my view of screen translations. I never, not once, thought “What does this author think” when I watched each episode. The author must totally be stoked (I feel I must apologize here for the early 90's slang that will most likely be sprinkled throughout this blog post. Dude, I just can't help it)!
Well, surprise, surprise. That is so not the case.
Stephen King, for one, has yet to find a way that makes him completely pleased with the outcome (about 70 of his works have been made). So, he gave up. In an interview with TIME magazine, he says
“I don't try to maintain quality control. Except I try to get good people involved. The thing is, when you put together a script, a director, and all the other variables, you never really know what's going to come out. And so you start with the idea that it's like a baseball game — you put the best team you can on the field, and you know that, more times than not, you're gonna win.”
Is that what most authors feel like? I have a feeling that we are going to find out.
I don't know exactly when the boom in making novels fit for life on the screen happened. Perhaps it was with the supersonic success of HARRY POTTER, or the Stephenie Meyer's dream come true (that almost didn't happen) of TWILIGHT.
Way back when, when I had no kids and worked as a Youth Coordinator at the local library, I was given an ARC (advanced reader's copy) of TWILIGHT. Little did I know my life would forever be changed. OK, so that wasn't the case, life stayed on course for me, but the phenomenon of what TWILIGHT would become was not lost on me. I was excited to read on her web page that MTV had picked up the rights to make it into a movie! This was in 2005.
I'd say about a year later, I read on her web page that MTV lapsed the right to have a movie made of her first novel, and she was bummed. Some smaller studios were interested, she had said. (Click here for her blog archives detailing what happened and who her original choices for the characters had been.)
The rest, as they say, is history.
Shannon Delany and I recently had a very interesting discussion about movie studios interest in soon-to-be published works and the variety of ways they can come to life. There is the:
Television Series (True Blood)
Made for T.V. Movie (Lifetime Movie Network has a deal with Nora Roberts)
Television Mini-series (Alex Haley's Roots)
Big Screen (Um, yeah. Pick one.)
Which do you prefer? For me, a book is too complex to be made into a big screen movie. Even GONE WITH THE WIND, as amazing an epic as it is, cannot compare to the sweeping drama in the novel. I would love to see it as a TV Mini-series. I feel it is only in that form a book can truly unravel the way an author intended.
Take TRUE BLOOD, for instance. That show is amazing to me. It's like a bunch of fanfic writers gained control and decided to create a season of shows from every book. In fact, that is exactly what happened. The author, Charlaine Harris, gave them permission to do what they will to her novels. Why? Because she'd like to be surprised, too.
Chances are, when you finally get your book deal, there will be some movie studios and production companies sniffing about, as well. What are your choices? What rights should you expect to keep control over? For the technical stuff, Shannon will fill us in. Meanwhile, I'm going to dig out my copy of Richie Tankersley Cusick's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. (Published in 1992 to go be released at the same time as the movie. 5 years later, it became the T.V. series. Talk about the best of all worlds!)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
So, I'm ankle deep in my third book of the 10 Days story arc. I have plans for three more.
I thought I would take a break after the first book. Then I said I would take a break after the second book. Now, I've jumped right in to the third book with plans to take about a week after that one is completed. I'm anticipating it will be done early April. Since that's RT month, I might actually take that break.
I've written three books since August and while I'm giddy, I'm still learning my own process. At least, a process that works. The first book I wrote took me years. YEARS. And I hated it.
I've had so many authors tell me that they feel so drained when they finish a book and me, I'm just excited to start the next one. What about you guys?
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Okay, so I had absolutely no idea what to blog about today and although a pal suggested zombies, I'm just not that into them. BUT. Instead of people and animals that just won't die, what about ideas that won't quit either?
You know, that nagging little voice in the back of your head that sits in the Internal Editor's classroom, eager hand raised shouting "I have an idea! Oh! Oh! Pick me, pick me!" (I have a mental classroom filled with those little buggers.) They can be eager little zombies. They have only one thing on their minds (no, not braaaiinnss) and that's getting their idea in front of you. Oh, man. They're just like us and editors!
You have gobs of choices when dealing with an idea that just won't die.
Here's what I had to do recently...
- Pause with your other writing to quickly zip the zombie idea down on paper or notecards (this helps shut 'em up--errm--appease them). Seriously. Write it down even if it seems lame or incomplete.
- Give yourself a full day of just mentally poking at that zombie idea (I've found that if I don't give it some attention it'll try to grow and wiggle its way into my other stuff regardless of if I jotted the bare bones down).
- Write a scene or snippet of the idea that helps demonstrate the voice or mood you feel it needs so you have that as a reference later.
- Try and figure out why that zombie voice is so insistent NOW. Has it figured out that this idea could actually jigsaw into your current project? Is there a date or event that your subconscious realizes is coming up and this might be perfect for if you pursue it now? Be open-minded. Zombies can surprise you.
- Decide if there is a legitimate reason to switch gears entirely from your current project to the zombie suggestion. If there is (like the idea has emerged fully formed from your skull like Athena poppin' outta Zeus's thick skull), pursue it. If you aren't sure, run its general appeal and the reason you think it's the one to pursue past a CP or beta.
- Then get back to planning, imagining and writing.
UUUnnnnGGGGhhHHH! Umm... Take care!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
I admit it. For the last few months I've been horribly derelict in my duties as a Diva. While I was buying a home, selling a home, moving 1600 miles, and starting a new job, as well as recovering from the emotional hangover that came with the end of the America's Next Best Celler contest, I kept letting the blog fall to the bottom of my priority list.
Hell, I kept letting everything about writing fall to the bottom of my priority list. My muse stopped talking to me.
Now I've been in my new city for three weeks. I'm getting settled in. My condo is in a brand-spanking-new building right downtown. I'm within walking distance of the Alamo and the riverwalk, where the fiesta attitude and energy pulse nonstop. The neighborhood's filled with a colorful variety of people from tourists to Air Force basic trainees out on passes to panhandlers. There's plenty to get the creative juices flowing.
And my office is in a wonderful old building with a carved wood ceiling in the lobby (see pic) and rumor has it, a ghost or two -- not your typical Federal box. From 1937 to 1996 it was a hospital, and I'm told the area where my office is located used to be the nursery. That has to be good juju, don't you think?
I thought I'd have to hit the ground running, as the Army puts it, at the new day job. I had two hearings scheduled within my first month. But things didn't go as planned -- in a good way. One case settled, the other was dismissed by the judge at the last minute. For the moment anyway, things are under control.
In short, I've run out of excuses. It's time to get back to writing. Past time, I hear my muse grumble. Point taken.
So, now what? Do I go back to either of the light paranormals I started over the last couple of years? I started both with boatloads of enthusiasm and ideas I thought were unique, or at least not totally done to death. Somehow I ran out of steam both times. I need to decide if either manuscript is salvageable, or if I should start something new.
And what do I do with my fourth place-finishing Next Best Celler entry, Confessions of the World's Oldest Shotgun Bride? Rewrite it as erotica? Submit it to some e-publishers? Feed it to the paper shredder? (Just checking to see if you were paying attention with that last part - I wouldn't disrespect my work that way).
I have all kinds of options. But one of them isn't to keep pushing my writing to the margins of my life. I'm a writer. Writers write, everyone else makes excuses. It's time to get back to work.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Before the world finally sits up to take notice of our greatness, we have to make money somehow. So while waiting for that amazing editor or agent to get through the slush pile to find our gems, here are some places asking for our creative genius. As always, be careful and do research before you submit to ANY website. It takes five minutes to do a background check, and will forever protect your work and your pocket. Best bet: Twitter the publisher you are thinking of using to see what other authors' experiences have been.
Textnovel: Their annual contest is up and running! Prize is $1000.
The Enchanted Conversation: Looking for rewrites on popular fairy tales they've selected. Payment if selected=$.04 a word.
Samhain Publishing: Actively seeking three submission categories right now, including Steampunk.
Erotic Readers Submission page: A very comprehensive list of erotic-themed magazines, e-zines, traditional publishers and e-publishers looking for your work.
LL Dreamspell: Is looking for submissions for 3 of their anthologies--
Erotic Dreamspell - Sizzling erotica - paranormal themes preferred
Romance of my Dreams Volume 2 - Mainstream romance - sexy but not erotica
Dreamspell Revenge 2- Suspense, Mystery, or other genre stories with a revenge theme
Pine Hill Press: Looking for just about everything, from space science fiction, to werewolve, to halloween myteries, check out this extensive wish list.
DRT Press: Quote-”is your child easy to love, but hard to parent? drt press wants your stories about parenting a child with adhd/add/odd or other behavioral issues for our upcoming anthology.” It look like this would be a fundraising anthology.
Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition: $3000 grand prize and a trip to NYC.
2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award: I know, I know, Amazon, Macmillan, and the lot are all being greedy buggers and playing with author's and agents livelyhoods, but it still is a way to get published. If you are against Amazon and their bully tactics (Yes, I am taking sides, here) then ignore this one. If you want to get your stuff out there, they try for it. Quote-”a chance to win one of two $15,000 publishing contracts with Penguin USA and distribution of your novel on Amazon.com. “
Literary Market Calls For Submission: An nice list of markets looking for more *snort* literary work. (Why did I snort? I'm not much of a literary girl. I like me some rolling in the hay, if you know what I mean.)
So there are a few that have been going around. As always, join and search through Duotrope's amazing list, organized by category, of submission calls. They are a truly amazing resource for us starting, and I donate a little each month to keep them running, since they give out the info FOR FREE.
And no, I did not get to finish my novel WICKED ENCHANTMENT in 31 days. I tried, and wrote everyday, but of course, at the last leg, some things came up that derailed me. So, My aim is to finish it up this weekend. I may have been knocked down, but I'll be damned if I stay there!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
When I started writing years ago I did lots of research. Research on writing, research on editing, research on character and world-building. Lots of that research came from reading (in various genres, magazines and writing books).
But, like so often happens, all the book-learning in the world doesn't prepare you for reality.
Today, I'll just share one thing I never thought I'd need to worry about when signing with a big, traditional NYC publishing house:
the supply chain/distribution of books
Those of you following the news (or publishing in general) may have noticed the Amazon vs. Macmillan scuffle over ebook prices which resulted in Amazon removing all the buy buttons on Macmillan books (ebooks and print). Pre-order pages also suddenly had no option to actually pre-order. That was Friday.
Macmillan is one of the "big six" (actually, according to some resources, the smallest of the big six publishing companies). This would lead one to believe there's some security there. That isn't so much the case.
So much business is done online now, that large distributors like Amazon (who recently decided they'd be willing to drop their take of ebook sales from 70% to the 30% Apple's doing IF Macmillan kept all ebooks at $9.99) are powerful players in the publishing business. When they decide to throw a hissy fit, it gets noticed.
And when they throw a hissy fit that impacts the livelihood of writers--guess what? It gets written about.
So, from Friday to today sort of looked like this: can't pre-order 13 to Life at Amazon; search for other distributors pre-selling; update all links to Amazon's competitors; move Amazon's link to the bottom of the list; blog and read about the situation to educate writers and readers and self; watch my sales at Book Depository, Borders and Barnes & Noble go up; hope editors aren't stuck in meetings all Monday as a result of this fiasco; buy candy for editors in case; have Jackie Kessler's posts quoted to me by the husband and laugh; ship candy to editors; read John Scalzi's posts and laugh; host contest to give away books that *still* are not available for purchase. <--That excludes my 7 hours driving Sunday and keeping up with the farm and house chores. Life doesn't stop because you're a writer.
How much writing did I get done outside of blogs? Not nearly what I hoped.
I never thought I'd have to do so much scrambling beyond the writing and editing of the books (which was easy in comparison). I guess my point is this--educate yourselves about all the things you can in regards to the craft and business of writing.
And then be prepared to move fast when the unexpected comes.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Welcome to our newest honorary (and soon to be permanent!) textnovel diva, Deborah Blake. Today, Deborah encourages us to color outside the (paranormal) box. Deborah, take it away! :)
Beyond Fangs—The Tale of an Online Workshop
As writers, we strive to constantly hone our craft and improve our skills. Preferably without spending too much money or taking a lot of time away from our current manuscript. Online writing classes are the perfect solution. Most of them are fairly inexpensive, and you can devote as much or as little time as you chose.
I’ve taken a number of great workshops, many of them from the Low Country RWA chapter. Recently they asked me to come up with one myself. At the time they asked me, I’d spent months working on the world and character building for my current urban fantasy, PENTACLES AND PENTIMENTOS. I started out by asking myself a simple question: What kind of paranormal characters can I use to people this world, without resorting to those that are currently somewhat overused. In short, NOT VAMPIRES.
Don’t get me wrong; I love vamps. And werewolves, and such. But I wanted to create a world that was completely different from anything already out there. And that meant coming up with unusual paranormals. Hence, the workshop—
Beyond Fangs: Creating New & Interesting Paranormal Characters
The class will cover what’s already out there and a few ways to make the more common your own. It will also explore some alternatives, as well as suggest a few helpful resources for creating something new and different. And it will give an example or three from PENTACLES AND PENTIMENTOS. The Divas asked me to give their readers a sneak peek, so here are the notes for one of my paranormal races:
Ulfhednar: Traditionally known as werewolves, although not.
The legends of ulfhednar mentioned in Vatnsdœla saga, Haraldskvæði and the Völsunga saga may be a source of the werewolf legends. The ulfhednar were vicious fighters similar to the better known berserkers, who were dressed in bear hides and reputed to channel the spirits of these animals to enhance effectiveness in battle; these warriors were resistant to pain and killed viciously in battle, much like wild animals. Ulfhednar and berserkers are closely associated with the Norse god Odin. [This is the quote from the source I used to springboard the original idea for this species. Below are the notes from the creation of my own twist.]
As a species, most of the Ulfhednar are simply stronger, more aggressive, more pack oriented than humans. One out of about every 100 Ulfhednar has the potential to become a true Ulf by undergoing strenuous training and rituals. Once done, this person (usually but not always male) can channel the spirit of his/her totem animal and become nearly unstoppable in battle. Becoming Ulf is a great feat and brings honor to the entire family. Ulfhednar traditionally reproduced in great numbers, in the hopes of producing a child who can become Ulf, and few who can achieve it turn away from the opportunity to do so, although many of those who try die in the attempt. Ulfhednar live in extended families ruled by an Alpha female. Family lines include bear (original), wolf, boar, wildcat, elk and badger. Ulf animal is dependent on family totem. Once they become Ulf, they must wear totem talisman around their neck to help them channel the animal traits through themselves. If the talisman is removed, they cannot change.
*God worshipped is Odin, who started the Ulfhednar lines in pre-history. Also worship totem animal.
Most Ulf serve in "Alpha male" positions, such as Special Forces, Navy SEALS, SWAT members and sometimes firemen and policemen.
This gives you a pretty good idea, I think. There are also lots of other really good online classes out there. The LowCountry RWA offers classes by many authors, and the wonderful Candace Havens runs her WriteChat loop, on which she often has guest authors who offer classes for free.