Monday, June 25, 2012

Guest Post by Tami Parrington - Author of the Hell's Own Fantasy Series

 Guest Post

Sitting on the Fence Between Plotting and Pansting
Every once in awhile the question arises in the writer's world: are you a plotter or a panster? This question always brings up so many mixed feelings in me. You see, I've often considered myself a pretty dyed-in-the-wool panster. My characters have lives of their own, and they're very clear on their desire to not let me interfere with that.
Oh, it's not that I don't plot at all. I do. I start each piece with a clear vision of where I want to go, and produce an outline of how to get there. Somehow, some way, the characters always seem to have a way of interfering with my "best laid plans" though. That's when I get a little blurry on the plotting/panster concept. Where does one start and the other begin? 

When I first begin a project, I start out determined to not let characters get in the way of my plans again. Oh the glory of what it must be like to be a true plotter. Someone who can outline every detail and really stick to that. For me, my outlines are a basic roadmap. I do demand that my characters obey the signs and signals, and keep to the idea of the story… but when it comes to the nitty gritty of the story, they're in control and they never let me forget that either.

Is Either Plotting or Pansting Really Important?
Obviously plenty of writers do very well on both sides of the coin. It doesn't surprise me to find, though, that many of the writers I talk to find themselves stuck somewhere in the middle of the plotter/panster debate. I think there is a good reason for that--both are pretty important. 

You need a roadmap. Simply letting go and following a character wherever that may lead might be a whole lot of fun, but it's dangerous. You could end up meandering for pages and pages, even an entire novel, without actually getting anywhere or saying anything. A basic plot outline can be as simple as a sort of "mission statement." A, this is what I want to say in this novel, type of idea so that you never lose sight of what impact you want to make. Regardless of whether it is a full-out point-by-point plot development, or just a paragraph of intent, it will keep you grounded when your character wants to stop and enjoy the scenery or go charging off into the sunset.

You need emotion and involvement. If you plot, but never get a connection to your characters and see what "they" see, neither will your readers. Pansting is another word for being "in" the character and that's so important. Even the most dedicated plotters have to make that connection if they are going to reach a reader's emotional core.

The Un-Happy Medium
So why are writers so concerned about what side they're on. I think, here too is just my opinion, or perhaps just my reflection on my own feelings toward middle of the roading it: we feel guilty sometimes that we're not more involved with one side or the other. Or that we're doing something wrong. Maybe that's not right at all though. Perhaps being squarely in the middle of the debate is just the right place to be. It's the perfect place to implement both of the benefits of story line creation. I think I like that concept best of all, and from now on when I am asked whether I am a plotter or a panster I will proudly say I sit on the fence!

About the Books

Tami Parrington's fantasy series begins with Hell's Own. A slightly twisted version of the battle between good and evil that all comes together in the character of Alexander, the discontented demon who finds his way to earth and joins up with an unlikely pair of angels. 

When a disillusioned demon breaks the bonds of Hades and discovers the wonders of earth and its inhabitants, he becomes mankind's only ally in the war between heaven and hell where the human soul is the ultimate prize. Join author T. L. Parrington in this often humorous look at the darker sides of the human spirituality experience as witnessed by two humans each on their own path of enlightenment as they struggle with the realities of hell on earth in the form of an unusual new friend.

Exerpt from Hell's Own
Alexander dropped the fresh kill to the ground and staggered back. He shielded his face with a trembling arm as the corridor spun at a dizzying speed before his eyes. He looked down and focused on the raw meat his stomach yearned for and licked his victim’s blood from his lips.

What was that? Alex drew in a deep breath of the night air as he tried to understand the turmoil in his mind. He looked up at the old man poised at the end of the cavern whose thoughts were etched on his aged face—knowing he should run, fearing he couldn’t run fast enough.

Alex studied him. Beyond the flashes of fear that radiated from the ancient eyes, beyond the drops of water that hovered at the rims, beyond the glassy exterior there was more. More than Alex had ever seen before.

Never had he tasted anything quite like the flesh that lay at his feet, and the difference was what radiated from the eyes of the horrified man who feared a similar fate. A soul, the true living part of a human whose physical body would decay. Creatures like himself had no use for a separate soul. Created, not born, their bodies never gave up on their life, unless terminated by an outside force, and only when completely devoured. Even the demons born in hell, possessing both spirit and soul, missed something, Alex tried to place it, but couldn’t.

He’d tasted the souls of hell. There was no comparison. Alex’s eyes narrowed as he kicked the mortal being at his feet, it would be no less dead if he left him there, than if he swallowed every last morsel.

Then he thought of the excruciating screams as the souls of the damned human creatures were flung into the pit of agony. He remembered the faces of the centrias flung into the pit beside him in his escape. No screams, no agony, just resolve to an eternity of a void filled with tortured nightmares. It was the soul that lived forever, but some lived more fully than others.

It was that soul that was coveted beyond all else in the greatest depths of Hades. A scowl formed on Alex’s mouth as he gnawed on his lip. The human soul that caused the Great War—the eternal battle. What was so special about the human soul? He kicked the lifeless body again.

He turned his attention back to the unsteady vagrant. “Go about your business, old man. I have no use for you.”

The old man fled on buckled legs as fast as they would carry him into the night, and disappeared around a distant corner. Alex crouched slowly next to the limp form on the ground. He tasted again the delectable flesh, and relished the tantalizing glimpses of the remnants of its soul.

A life flooded his mind. Unknown people, places, ideas, sped past his mind’s eye, and lodged there. Memories. What a sweet concept. To remember even after death a life that no longer existed.

Alexander savored the last of the meat and pondered the remaining skins as he picked a final bone clean. He poked at the lifeless cloth. The upper adornment was soft. Alex slid it over his head, and down over his chest, folding his wings to form to his back, he wiggled in the tight cloth, positioning himself. The constricting material was annoying, and his wings pushed against it pining for freedom.

With a graceful swipe, Alexander grabbed the bottom layer of skin, and held it up to the faint light from the outside of the cavern. It was supple—soft, like the fine tanned hide of the arideans whose tender hides created the royal robes of Satan. Alexander ran a hand down the supple, leathery skin that shone like a polished black diamond in the dim glow.

He lifted a leg, and stretched the material over his strong, hard calf, and thigh, then stepped into it with the next. Alexander danced about as he fastened the material at his waist as it had been on his victim. It was a strange contraption, binding, and chafing, and even more constricting to his irrepressible qualities than the top cover was to his wings.

With a final disgusted glance, Alex eyed the heavy bindings that had covered his victim’s feet. He touched one with a long, slender toe, and it rocked over onto its bottom. Alex slid his foot into the opening. It was horribly painful. He scrunched his face and demanded his body accept the pain as he stood on the encased foot and shoved his other foot into the second cover.

Alexander stood straight, and squared his shoulders with his head held high. He took a step, and squirmed about trying to recover his delicate parts that squished against the material when he moved, as he attempted to balance on one aching foot. 

He grabbed hold of the waist of the bottom skin and tugged. A wince of pain accompanied the thrust of the material against his groin. No amount of shimmying could put himself in an acceptable place in the binding skins. No wonder most humans he saw were so stiff, and had such grim expressions.

Alexander steeled himself to the unpleasant restriction.

He strode out of the corridor onto the straight path of stone and looked about. Humans traveled in packs along the sides of the great caves without a glance in his direction other than an occasional look by lovely visions of beauty that would put even Serena to shame, to admire his appearance.

Alexander turned and caught his image in the reflective stone of the cave behind him. It started him. Even he wouldn’t recognize the figure staring back at him. It was foreign, but not altogether unpleasant. 

His large black eyes stared into the shimmering stone and admired the beast looking back. His long, raven black hair flowed down over the taunt black material covering his broad well-muscled chest and shoulders. He looked backwards quickly, then relaxed when he saw the shift of his wing under the material. He returned his gaze to the clear reflective stone. It was strange not to see his wings behind him.

His fire-browned arms, long and sinewy, pulsed with the fresh blood of his latest meal. The tight lower skins showed his muscular limbs to almost naked perfection while warming him enough to be comfortable in the brisk night air.

“Hey handsome. Looking for a date?”

Alexander whipped around to see a lovely creature in much less restrictive skins smiling at him with gleaming white teeth. She had hair dark as the night that curled in wild abandon around a face that was painted with streaks of color. Her breasts burst forth in a glorious attempt to be free of the skin that tried in vein to cover them. A short sparkly skin covered her hips, and little else as long, fine legs exposed tantalizingly to the cold air, standing precariously atop almost non-existent foot coverings with dagger-like heels, stirred his captivated loins into a fiery rage at their confinement.

“Come on, big fella, I’ll let you buy me a drink,” she said in a voice that was warm, and inviting. Alexander followed as she pulled his arm toward a cave lit up with brilliant lights above its entrance.

Alexander sat on the small round perch next to his lovely temptress as she waved at a human rushing about behind a long wooden table.

His eyes widened in amazement at the spectacle as fluids poured from bottles and sloshed over the glasses, spilling onto the wood with careless abandon. He took an offered glass from the woman beside him and raised it to his lips. The aroma seared his nostrils and made his eyes water.

Alexander blinked back the tears and pulled the glass away from his lips. He stared into the golden liquid inside. What kind of strange water was this?

“What’s the matter, son? Not to your liking?” The gravelly voiced bartender said, looking at Alex.

Alex shook his head, and put the glass down on the bar.

“Huh. What’s the matter with you, boy? That’s the devil’s own saliva.” A man next in the chair next to Alex tossed back a generous amount of the hot liquid into his mouth and swallowed with a grimace, then smiled.

Alex looked at the glass again, then picked it up. The devil’s own saliva? He’d never seen such a thing. He put the glass to his mouth and let the water that tasted like the flames of Hades themselves slide down his throat in a burning path to his stomach where it lit his body on fire.

The devil’s own? Nuh uh. This was nothing like anything he’d ever tasted, and he knew the devil personally. It did have a certain quality though. More like the hell-fire his constantly cold body yearned for. A pleased smile spread on Alex’s lips. He hadn’t been that warm since he left home.

He saw the reflective glass behind the long wood table warp. Alex closed his eyes. The firewater had a dizzying affect on his mind. He was imagining things. He opened one eye and looked again at the shiny surface on the wall of the cave. The woman next to him laughed and it echoed in his brain like a zimitar’s shriek.

The reflection warped again. This time he was sure it wasn’t his mind playing tricks. They were here. They’d come for him already. He frowned. It wasn’t time for the next bell yet. He looked over his shoulder. A multitude of human faces swam in his vision. Laughing. Slapping each other. Jostling around to a pounding vibration from a machine by the far side of the room. Nothing to fear.

Alexander slid off the perch.

“Hey, buddy, if you’re gonna be sick, the john’s over there,” the bartender shouted at Alexander’s weaving back.

Alexander winced and shifted from one painful foot to the other, and then lunged in the direction of the designated place.

His human companion laughed as the bartender shouted over the crowd in a voice that faded in Alex’s throbbing head as he charged for the door. “Looks like your customer can’t hold his liquor, Lou.”

The woman smiled, and nodded as she watched Alex fling himself through the bathroom door. “It’s okay, Donny, makes my job easier.”

The laughter behind him faded as Alex slammed the door behind him, and slid back against its hard surface. His eyes scanned the room. “Show yourself!” he demanded.
A sinister laugh ripped through the air like a knife. A ripple in the wall of the tiny room grew into a ghoulish shape as a borh stepped out of the molded form that pooled from the wall.
“You’re in trouble, Alexander.” The borh eyed him with caution, keeping a respectable distance from the centria’s grasp.

Alex braced himself against the wall to hide any weakness the effects of the strange water had on his abilities. He leaned back and tried to appear nonchalant at the visit from below.

“The master sent me to tell you he’d give you one more chance to come home, Alexander. Just one. Come home now before the second bell.”

“Or what?” Alex’s curiosity was piqued now. What exactly did the master plan to send up against him? He forced himself to hold back the laughter at the thought of any besides ones like him having any affect, certainly not a lowly borh. “Will you take me home, borh?”

The creature’s eyes darted about for a means of escape should the centria charge him. “No, no,” he assured Alex with his spindly arms outstretched. “You know I have nothing against your kind.”

How generous of him, Alex thought with a sneer. “Or else what then?”

“Come home now, Alexander. Before the next bell.” The borh didn’t give him a chance to ask anymore. He jumped back into the wall and disappeared with a warping snap.
Alexander relaxed against the door and closed his eyes to relieve the pounding in his head. The next bell was two days away. He stood up, and opened the door to peer out into the noisy cave, and then shut it again and leaned back with his eyes closed once more.

This place was confusing, uncomfortable, and cold, he could do worse than return home and take his punishment like the powerful demon he was. What was the worse that Satan could do? An image of the agonizing pit filled his mind with a sea of tortured bodies reaching out for relief. Yeah, there was that. Next time, he might not make it out alive. In fact, he was sure he wouldn’t. He just had to make sure there wouldn’t be a next time.

Alexander staggered out of the john and stumbled to the door of the cave. Bodies thrust against him, and laughed as they careened about in crowded revelry. He made it to the opening, and pushed the doors wide to suck fresh air into his lungs.
“Hey, asshole! Come back here and pay for these drinks!” the bartender shouted. The woman jumped down from her seat and rushed to his side.

“You’re not running out on me now, are you? I thought we had a date.” Lou ran after him as Alex rushed into the night. She grabbed his arm, “hey, leave if you want to, but you gotta pay for the drinks, and my time.”

Alexander spun around, his eyes ablaze, his mind on fire, and his teeth barred. Lou backed away with a horrified look and gasped as he grabbed her waist and pulled her to him. Passing humans shrieked with terror and he flung around in defense. He backed away holding the captive woman in one mighty arm. She squirmed and kicked at his shins as he looked down on her luscious, terrified form.

“Maybe we can take it out in trade,” he said as the top skin slithered up to bare his chest and free his pinned wings. He covered her mouth with his to block the scream of terror as he lifted her into the cold, dark air and left the earth and its screaming inhabitants behind.
Lou screamed at the top of her lungs as she backed across the rooftop on her heels and palms, belly up, keeping her eyes on the john she’d picked up who’d turned into a monster and carried her over the city.

Alex didn’t move a muscle. He just stood where he’d landed and watched as the horrified female creature moved away as if she could go anywhere useful to get away. He looked over his shoulder at the twenty-story drop. Then back at the woman spider crawling backwards.

He chuckled at the tremble of her lip when her back hit a protective ledge that rimmed the building’s edge.

He waited some more. He expected her to beg. She didn’t. He admired that. Not enough to let her go, but it was nice anyway.

Lou inched her way up the retaining wall on her back. The beast was watching. She rolled her eyes. Why in God’s name did every interesting man she’d ever met turn out to be some sort of freak? If it weren’t for the huge bat-like wings, and teeth that would make Dracula jealous, this guy was a looker in his black leather pants that hugged his muscular frame and left little to the imagination. His bare chest rippled with muscles, and glistened in the moonlight. Damn the luck. But he was a man, right? She took a deep breath, and straightened her skirt that rode up her hips. “I was just kidding about the bar tab, handsome.”

Alexander’s brow raised as he looked about the ledge, then realized she was talking about him. He took a few steps towards her, and saw her shoulders tense. She was a good actress. He watched as she shook her head and her hair spilled over her shoulders in a dark cascade of waving ripples. He reached out and touched the soft curls.
“There’s no reason we can’t be friends? Is there?” she asked.

None that he could think of at the moment. He flung off the remainder of his restrictive clothing.

Whoa, now that was impressive. Lou’s eyes widened at the powerful sight before her.
Alexander’s hands slid up her sides and pushed the top off the ample bosom that had spent the night straining at the material in an enticing effort to escape. They bounced into full view and seemed to rejoice in the freedom. He bent to take them into his mouth when a trembling, but firm hand touched his chin and raised his head to look into the deep green eyes above him. The fear was receding in them, and a spark of mischief replaced the ebbing fear.

“You could use some help here anyway? Am I right?” Lou arched as the demon’s icy tongue slid down her throat in response. He hesitated at the base of her throat and her heart skipped a beat as she felt him tense, as if overriding a deeper desire. The trail of his hungry mouth left a burning sensation on her skin that was a mix of pain, and exotic thrill.

With a gentle nudge she urged him onward. She shivered as his lips surrounded her hardened nipples and moaned when his teeth raked at the tender flesh. A scream leapt from her as his teeth sunk into the flesh. “Hey!” Lou fought to pull away from his grip.
His hands gripped her waist and held her firm. She squealed and twisted to no avail. Her heart hammered against her ribs and her mind swam in drained fatigue, excruciating pain, and delirious ecstasy. She felt him release her waist with one mighty hand, and rip away the material of her skirt. Her mind demanded she stop him, but her body was useless to her commands.

Alexander pulled away from her grip and dove into her breast, they were lush, and the flesh was oh so sweet. He licked the salty skin, and drew in the blood from the open wound. It tantalized his taste buds. As he trailed down the soft skin to her tender belly, he felt the pulse of the blood rushing through her veins.

His hands gripped her tighter and she squealed and wrapped a long leg around his waist, molding to his form.

A dizzying feeling of height as she was swept into the air robbed Lou of what was left of her senses. Just when she thought she would pass out from fear, and loss of blood, she felt him plunge into her. Her body shivered at the hard, shaft that split her with a rending slice like a dagger made of ice. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she went limp in his hands. She forced herself to look back at the ground, and her screams tore into the air until they were nothing more than whimpers as he thrust into her, miles above the earth, filling her, and destroying her.

Her eyes fluttered open when she felt the steel of the building beneath her once again. She lay motionless as Alexander worked his way down with burning kisses from icy hot lips until he got to the tender divide of her feminine valley. His tongue darted into the fleshy folds of moist flesh, and she felt a surge of excitement sweep through her as her back arched while his tongue slithered like a snake, weaving in and out, lapping at the heated tissue. Rage, and horror mingled with pleasure, and lust in her mind as she grabbed his head while he thrust his tongue deeper into her.

The human’s flesh was so warm and moist. Alexander lavished in the wet inner sanctum, and lapped furiously at the combined musky female scent, torn skin and blood, and his own juices combined in the glorious mixture of sexual orgasm as she moaned in raspy whispers and wrapped her fingers in his lush black hair to hold him like an impetuous stallion that could not be controlled.

With a roar that split the crisp night air, Alex tore away from her grip, and rose up on his knees, wings spread wide, muscles throbbing once more, his pulse racing, and his brain on fire. Nothing could stop him now. Her body shuddered and twitched beneath him.

Lou gasped for air as she opened her eyes and took in the mighty figure of a beast above her. As monsters go, he wasn’t so bad. As lovers went he was fucking fantastic. She ran a hand up his rippling belly, then down to the rock hard shaft. She lifted her hips, begging him to continue.

Alexander looked down on the woman’s lusting figure as she squirmed beneath him in a fit of crazed desire. He took her writhing hips in his hands and lifted them to him, and dove with an energetic propulsion that rocked the rooftop as he rammed himself deeper, and deeper into her exotic flesh. With a final thrust, he exploded in passionate energy that left her shuddering under him.

As he lay on her, savoring the feeling of quenched desire, she ran her hands through his hair.

“See, I can help you.”

Alexander nodded. Yes, she could. He licked her musky skin, and took her flesh into his hungry mouth.

Lou opened her eyes wide and looked down for the first time at her ravaged body.
Alexander paid no mind to the horrified shriek that accompanied her glance, and his bite as he tore into the feast beneath him.

Help on this plain? Yeah, he could use some. He’d have to find it somewhere.

Watch for Book Two in the Demon Series "Damned if You Do" coming in 2012 in the fall

A long-time novelist and freelance writer, T. L. Parrington (Tami Parrington) enjoys the simple pleasures of working in the garden, swimming at the health club and playing with her dog when she's not pounding away at the keyboard. As a novelist she has several romance, women's fiction and fantasy books available.
Readers can find out more about Tami Parrington's work at her Amazon Page or her website:
To connect with Tami find her on Twitter at @TParrington or her Facebook page:


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