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October 4, 2011

Sylvia McDaniel: Witches, Goblins & Spooks--Oh my!!

Witches, Goblins & Spooks--Oh my!
Yeah!! October is here and everyone south of the Red River is doing the happy dance. After 70 days of over 100 degrees, we're finally starting to see the temperatures cool down and know that Fall is on the way.  And with the arrival of Fall comes the holidays. I love Halloween just for this reason. To me it's the kick-off to the holiday season.
While I'm a little old for dressing up and I haven't been to an adult costume party in a few years, I enjoy seeing my neighborhood kids all decked out in their costumes trick or treating. Even the older kids I enjoy seeing the costumes they created right up until about nine pm when I turn out the light and some of you just don't get the message. 
 We're done. Go home!         
As a writer, I feel like I get to dress up every day. I get to step into a different costume, make my characters experience the oddities of life and create their world. When I wrote historical romance, I enjoyed doing the research to see what a woman would wear crossing the Oregon Trail and what a Victorian woman wore during the late 1800's.  All I can say is there is no way I would wear all that clothing in Texas Heat.  I'd probably be arrested for indecent exposure as those petticoats would be tossed in the garbage and that dress would be ventilated or shorter.
Part of the fun of creating characters is placing yourself in their skin, describing their clothes, their actions and making that person come alive. For writers Halloween is every day as we dress up and act out. I've written a character that dressed like Elvira, jumped out of a coffin and sang happy birthday. I've written about a wife who confronts her husband at his dominatrix apartment and he's wearing a dog collar and chains. I've written a series about three women who all find out they're married to the same man and he's dead--poison. I have a runaway bride who torches her fianc├ęs car when she finds out he slept with her best friend.  
Yes, it can be fun to torture your characters. Would I do many of the things I put my characters through?  Absolutely not!  Torching a 69 Corvette? Please! Dressing like Elvira? Ha! I don't think they make that costume in a size 12 with a girdle tough enough to withstand my love handles. Confronting my husband at his dominatrix...there would be no need. Instead, papers would be served.
For writers, creating characters that can act out our wildest fantasies and do things we would never do, is the fun part of the job. I can play act all I want and let my characters do actions my imagination dreams up. This week I was pulled over by the Lewisville Police and well...  That little incident will somehow find its way into a book, very soon.  (Thank you, Officer, for being so kind and not giving me a ticket.)

So Halloween is a day that I enjoy watching the kids dress up, handing out candy and thinking how can I use this in a book? But then again, every day is like that for a writer.  
So tell me, what was your favorite costume as a child? As an adult? If you're a writer, what is the worst thing you've ever done to a character?

Sylvia McDaniel walked down the aisle with the wrong man instead of going to college and has been fighting to correct that mistake most of her life. Now married to the right man for almost 17 years, she’s sold nine historical romances and written five contemporaries. After a publishing dry spell of eight years she struggles for a second chance in publishing.  If marriage the second time around has been happily ever after, surely publishing the second time around will give her the success she dreams of.


Judith Keim said...

Good blog, Sylvia! You're right, it is fun to become these characters as you write about them, think about them and even dream about them as they take shape! Good luck with everything!!

Sylvia said...

Good morning Judy,
Characters are fun to write. I'm on chapter eight of a book about a man who doesn't want to be Santa and I'm having so much fun with him. Thanks for stopping by this morning.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. Great writing. I too see Halloween as the holiday kick-off.

Liz Lipperman said...

I love the way you compared dressing up for Halloween to walking in our character's shoes. And yay for the cooler weather, although the high eighties can't be considered Fall yet, can it??

And the next time I see you I want to hear that Lewisville cop story!!

Pamela Stone said...

Fun blog. I always become my characters too. It's fun to think how they dress and act. Not sure I could really write without getting into their skin, err costume.

As a kid I liked to dress up like either a gypsy or a hobo. Not sure where that hobo thing came from except the costume was sloppy and comfortable. Hmm, that style still appeals to me. Lucky I work from home. Ha!

Geri said...

Syvia, LOVE your post. I love Halloween as well. With 9 grandkids I don't have a choice.
Geri Foster

chris keniston said...

good heavens - I remember being a kitty kat in elementary school - not sure if that was my favorite- oh wait - om let me wear her maria antoinette wig one year that was probably my favorite

I've only been to one adult costume party- I couldn't afford two costumes so I bought the oreo cookie and cut it in half - y hubby and I each went as half of an oreo cookie- we spent all night hugging!!

not sure if you'd call it the worst thing - but I remember writing my first book and the only thing I knew about where it was going is there would be a scene near the end when the step mother would not give the father his heartpills and watch him die ala Bette Davis. Turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. LOL.

Sylvia said...

I know it's silly but I really love Halloween because I know the best holidays are yet to come. Thanks for stopping by.

Addison said...


What a fun post!! It really is a wonderful time of year - the weather's getting better and everyone feels like a kid :-)


Sylvia said...

Thanks! Isn't it fun to put on the bad girl character. Yes, I know the high eighties are still warm, but it's better than 105.

The Lewisville cop story...let's just say I cut him off. Then I saw red lights! He wasn't too happy with me.

Sylvia said...

Hi Pam,
We get to try on different costumes and it is fun. Hobo? I can't see you as a hobo. The last time I dressed up for Halloween I went as an old woman. Right down to the house dress, the support hose, the gray hair and a cane. That one came too close to home. The future flashed before my eyes.
Thanks for stopping by.

Sasha Summers said...

I still dress-up, not sure what that says about me. Every costume is my new favorite :).
I totally agree about dressing up for character creation. That is one of the most exciting parts of the planning/dreaming stage - and I LOVE it!
Have to say, you've piqued my interest about the cop story, too! Thanks for sharing.

Sylvia said...

Oh my God, you have 9 grandkids? You look very young to have that many, but I'm sure they keep you young. Thanks for coming by. Miss seeing you at DARA.

Sylvia said...

You and your husband were an Oreo cookie! What a cute idea. And the Marie Antonette wig, nowdays the kids would have it all bloody. Gross.

As for your character the stepmother not giving the father heartpills. That's definately putting your character in an awkward situation. Thanks for sharing!

Sylvia said...

Thanks for coming by. I've often thought of dressing up and answering the door, but just haven't taken the time. If I were a stay-at-home mom, I would do that. I think the kids would enjoy it. As for the cop...a white cop car and my black car wouldn't go well together. I didn't see him and I cut him off big time. Needless to say he wasn't real happy with me. But he didn't give me a ticket. He said he knew I didn't see him, because no one cuts a cop off like that. I apologized profusely and told him I would be more careful in the future. He let me go. I love my car, but it has one big blind spot and I have to be very careful.

Sylvia said...

Thanks for stopping by! Yes, amazing how much happier and how I have so much more energy now that it's not 105 anymore. Now I can't wait for that first big cold front. Bring it on!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Excellent topic, Sylvia. I, too, like to become my characters to make their gestures, movements, and speech more real.

Way to go girl!

Kathy Ivan said...

Love your post, Sylvia.

Fall--I love Fall, when the blasted heat of the summer is over and the evenings start to cool down. Love Halloween, too. I've never been to an adult costume party, but I did dress up once for work. I went as a 1920's style female bank robber (think Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde), right down to the hat. It was lots of fun, since I was working at a Children's Hospital at the time.

Your post brought back a lot of fond memories.

Sylvia said...

Hi Vicki,
Thanks! This blog was fun to write and I think I'm going to go get me some candy corn to celebrate!

Sylvia said...

Hi Kathy,
I think you would look great as Bonnie. You're always so stylish, you could pull that off great. I bet the children loved to see you all dressed up. Yes, I love Fall and this year I couldn't wait for it to get here.

Sheila Seabrook said...

What a fun blog post, Sylvia!

I don't remember Halloween as a kid, although I'm sure I dressed up as a princess but one year I made my boys Ewok costumes. They were so cute ... and very hot! Another year, I made Batman and Superman costumes for them. Ah, such sweet little boys and great memories. :)

Sylvia said...

Hi Sheila,
Thanks for stopping by. I bet your boys were adorable in those costumes. I don't remember much about Halloween as a small kid either, except being terrified by a spook house once. But making costumes for your boys, you are very talented.

Sally Felt said...

A gypsy! I know, I know, you can't believe Madame Woo-Woo loved the schtick, even as a child :)

Worst thing I've ever done to a character? Well, all black moments suck, right? But I reckon the worst thing was when I forced my already-reluctant hero into the mercy slaying of a sometime-colleague/sometime-enemy. Harsh.

Candy corn, eh? A bag leapt into my cart at Target last week. I gorged like a kid, got a kid's bellyache and now I'm over it. Which means I won't be stealing any of yours... at least not until I forget my lesson. Which means, better guard your stash.

Sylvia said...

Hi Sally,
It doesn't surprise me at all that you dressed up like a gypsy. Madame Woo-Woo, knows all. Really enjoyed that evening and the readings by the way.

Mercy slaying? Wow, I don't want to walk in your character's costume.

Phyllis said...

Hi Sylvia,

I enjoyed the post. It made me think of my past costumes. When my body was much slimmer and in shape, I actually created a Star Trek costume that would rival some of the more revealing 1960’s TV series. I learned later that my serious boyfriend (at that time) kept that picture of me by his bed. I try not to think beyond that…lol

I have fun doing things to my characters. I especially like the villains, because I can make THEM do things that I’d never do. I stay sane that way. When I’m ‘playing’ the heroine, I write as much torture (physical, mental and emotional) as I can take and then push the envelope.

It is fun dressing up in my characters ‘skin’.


Phyllis said...

Oh yeah, I forgot about the mouse costume and came in 2nd place!

chris keniston said...

you know - the year I was marie antoinette my best friend was a gypsy - I still have a photo somewhere of the two of us -

I guess it was my destiny to always have a woo woo friend!!

hmm - wonder if I can put that in a small town plot??? LOL

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Sylvia,
Great blog! My favorite costume as a child and an adult is as a witch. Not sure why that is. I tried Elvira once as a teenager, but didn't get enough up top to pull off the outfit. And the false eyelashes! EEK! That was the last time I tried that look. :)

Sylvia said...

Hey Phyllis,
I bet that Star Trek costume was really neat looking. Second place on Mouse Costume, very cool. As for making your villains do weird things, with your background, I bet you know lots of things you can use on your characters.

Sylvia said...

Isn't it fun to go back and look at old photo's. I have a picture of my husband dressed up as a girl when he was five. He looks really cute and now just gringes when he sees it.

Sylvia said...

A witch! I loved the show bewitched and one of these days I'm going to try something with a witch in a plot. I recently bought some false eyelashes, but just haven't had the courage to try them yet.

Angi Morgan said...

Please tell me you'd never torch a '69 Corvette even in your books!!


Great blog, Sylvia. But dressing my characters is complete torture for me. Give me a knife and I can fight it out to the end...but thinking about the clothes? AAAA horror!


Nancy said...

Sylvia, it's so good to see you! I love your post! My characters become my friends - friends I "go out to play with."

I don't remember that many of my costumes. Guess they were run of the Halloween mill. I did do a French maid outfit as an adult. And my mother helped me! That alone was frightening! :)

Nancy Haddock