31 December 2008
"I am," I said. "I write romances."
The cashier got a pained look and said she wrote fantasy but she'd recently cashed in. I raised my eyebrows in inquiry, since I enjoy learning how writers can get cash (legitimately). She confessed she'd started writing one of those fantasy...romances, pronounced with much distaste.
"I hate romances," she said, "but they sell so well!"
My sister looked at me, and I looked at my sister. I'm nonconfrontational in the extreme, but I was high on endorphins from bookshopping for an hour. I commented in a conversational fashion, "Why would you say rude things about romance when I just told you I write in that genre?"
The cashier reddened and tried to explain. They'd had a popular paranormal romance author in the store recently, and she'd sampled a few of the author's stories to see what the fuss was all about. She liked a few but the writing in some, to her surprise, was "so bad". She made several derogatory comments about compromising your writing for the sake of sex scenes and how that obviously had to be the only attraction of this author's work.
Everything she said dug the hole deeper. Aside from online, where trolls roam free, I'd never encountered somebody who took open potshots against the romance genre, especially after being told I write or read it. I didn't want to get into the philisophical debate with her about why people feel so free to insult romance (by women, for women) when I'm sure they wouldn't insult, say, literary fiction. I could tell I wasn't going to get through, but I was stuck there with her checking out my many purchases, and she was still talking.
Since she'd mentioned "cash", I interrupted her rant to explain some cold, hard publishing facts. A writer who wants to sell a book has to strike a balance between complete self-indulgence (writing whatever you want) and marketability. Commercial success shouldn't be our only goal as authors, but figuring out how to share the stories in our head with people who don't live in our head is indeed part of the job. It's not compromise--it's communication.
I know it's routine in certain segments of the population to deride what the rest of the world enjoys. If it has mass appeal, it simply has to be terrible since the "common man" has poor taste. This, however, ignores what authors who catch the public's interest have managed to do.
No matter what you're writing, the ability to please a wide variety of readers is a rare and precious talent. The lack of it -- the lack of a gift for storytelling -- is what prevents people from fulfilling those disdainful "I can do better" vows. That, and it's a hell of a lot harder to write a book than people think it is.
If the author who vowed "I can do better" manages to complete a manuscript and sell it to a reputable publisher, I feel sorry for her, having to compromise her vaulted literary standards in order to eke out a living. Isn't that sad? Such a tragic tale of evil commercialism versus great art. Perhaps that should be the theme of that particular writer/cashier's next manuscript.
Good luck selling it.
My parting shot to the young woman was that you can't call it cashing in unless you actually get cash. Which she had not, so she needed a new insult.
So much cyberspace, so little time!
www.jodywallace.com / www.elliemarvel.com
30 December 2008
Legends, Book 2: A Ghost of a Chance, the sequel to the award-winning Beaudry's Ghost.
Here's an excerpt - the one that prompted my editor to comment "You write the most unusual first-kiss scenes I've ever read!"
He’d never stayed in a materialized state for this long. The strain tore at him, threatened to separate the layers of his energy field and send them flying off into space like water rings from a dropped stone.
It had taken every atom of his strength to stay solid long enough to rescue the woman from the flooded cave. He’d intended to bring her all the way to the top of the cliff, leave her there to be found, and be on his way about finding John.
But the effort had cost him.
Troy glanced down at the face of the woman in his arms, grit his teeth and held on.
If he let go and shifted back to his energy form, she would die.
His superb sense of balance, an asset in life and still now in the afterlife, didn’t fail him now as he crouched on the narrow rock ledge, braced so the woman’s body wouldn’t slide off into the roiling sea that pounded at them, seemingly from all sides. Rain slapped them from above, and the roar of wind and waves seemed to batter him inside and out.
Risking precious balance, he used one hand to gently unwind her long, matted black hair from around his arm and away from her face. Her lips were blue and slack, her eyes partially open and dull. He lowered his face to hers, checking for breath. Nothing. He let her head roll to one side and slid his fingers to the pulse point on her neck. If any life throbbed there, he couldn’t feel it for the vibrations of wind and storm.
“Oh, no you don’t. Don’t do this to me, lady...” He tilted her head back, filled his chest with air and covered her mouth with his.
He blew once, then swayed, dizzy, feeling his grip on his materialized state slipping dangerously with the extra effort it took to breathe for her. He clenched his jaw, tilted his head back and growled deep in his chest, willing his form to stay together, just a little longer. Just until help arrived. He’d seen two people poke their heads over the cliff edge above them, so he knew it wouldn’t be long.
“Not yet,” he muttered, using the vibration of his voice to send binding messages throughout his energy field, reminding it that no matter what the laws of physics said, he was in charge, here. Never mind the fact that before now he’d only managed to stay solid for a few minutes at a time, and only in dire emergencies. The last time he’d done it, was for the lives of his sister and Beaudry, and for his effort he’d earned a bullet hole in his shoulder to keep company with the gaping hole he carried around in his chest.
He lowered his mouth and breathed for her again, turning his head to feel her automatic exhale, this time accompanied by a gush of water.
Yes! Another breath from his lungs to hers. Were her lips slightly warmer? He left his own there for a second or two longer than necessary, testing. A faint green color flickered in front of his eyes, like the brief flash of a hummingbird, there and gone. He tore his mouth away from hers and looked up to see what kind of strange lightning this could be, then he ducked and pressed her body tightly to his as a heavy wave broke over them. The water lifted them both off the ledge, and only by sheer will did he manage to bring them back onto the ledge safely. How much higher was the tide going to rise?
He shook water from his face, pressed the woman’s body firmly between himself and the cliff wall, and bent his head to hers once again. She had to start breathing on her own soon. He couldn’t keep this up.
A movement off to his right snagged his attention. A glowing figure, winged and silent, stood on a nearby ledge, observing, not moving. Her guardian angel, clearly. He spared the being a two-second glare, then lost patience.
“Hey! Aren’t you going to do anything, here?”
The guardian’s expression grew thoughtful, then regretful. But it didn’t move, either to help or to hinder.
“Thanks a bunch,” Troy growled, and ignored the creature, turning back to the task at hand.
Without thinking what he was doing, he willed life into her. Closed his eyes and focused his energy inside her body, targeting her lungs, her barely fluttering heart.
This time, he felt her jaw move under his mouth, and her body flex in his arms. The weird pale green lightning flickered around them again. Her first strong heartbeat resounded like a bell throughout his being, her first voluntary breath sucking in what he’d given her.
Then, before he could lift his mouth from hers, she breathed into him.
Troy nearly lost his balance, and flung out one arm to find a fingertip hold on the rock. Her breath filled his mouth, his chest, and even with his eyes closed he saw the faint green flickers of light strengthen, steady, intensify into a solid glow greener than any brilliant shade Ireland had to offer on its best day. Heat rushed through him, and it took him a moment to register the fact that he felt it at all. As a ghost, normal physical sensations were foreign to him.
He tore his mouth away and stared down at her. Her eyelids trembled, opened, dark brown irises expanding as her pupils focused on his face. The fiery green light burned in their depths. Even with their mouths now separated, her strengthening heartbeat echoed through his being, rushing around him as if he were a child enveloped in her womb.
What the hell is happening to me?
If he were anywhere else but perched on a narrow ledge, an inch from losing her to the maw of the sea from whence he’d rescued her, he would have done a quick about face and put as much space and time between them as possible. But stay he did, her life force growing stronger and flowing like a river under his hands, into him, through him, and back to her. She seemed to be studying him, her mouth moving slightly as if trying to form words. But if she made any sound, it was swallowed by sea and storm. Then her eyes slid closed and her head rolled to nestle against his chest, fitting perfectly under his chin.
Troy swallowed, trying not to breathe in any more of the living energy that still enveloped them both. Something about it was as seductive as it was disturbing, and all his instincts screamed to get outside it and look at it from an objective distance before deciding what to do about it, if anything at all.
He took her cold hands, intending to tuck them inside her coat, when he caught sight of the diamond sparkling on her left ring finger.
She belongs to someone. Absurdly, the thought brought a stab of pain to the empty area that used to hold his heart, before a high-powered bullet had blown it away along with his life.
He looked up, and finally, finally, he saw two people rappelling down the cliff, red-and-black jumpsuits making ripping sounds in the wind, a metal litter dangling between them.
“Take her first,” he yelled above the crashing tide as the rescuers reached them. Their reply was lost in the noise, but they quickly assessed the situation and expertly relieved him of his burden.
The instant body separated from his, he felt himself dissolving, the last of his strength leaving as the green light faded. One of the rescuers cried out in alarm, but could do nothing as Troy’s grip on the rock slipped, and the icy grey sea closed over his head.
Copyright 2008 Carolan Ivey, All Rights Reserved
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29 December 2008
I hope you got everything you wanted for the holidays! I got some very thoughtful gifts from dear people and the gifts keep coming... not physicial items, but good wishes, love and cheer. I also feel like my publisher gave me a little gift this year, in the form of my newest print release, which comes out officially tomorrow.
A lot of you know all about Davin's Quest, so I won't bore you with all the details, except to say that I've long awaited the release of this in print. It's a sci fi/futuristic tale that features people with psychic abilities and some very hunky aliens.
When I first decided to write this series, I wanted to blend a few different elements from my favorite genres to create something a little different. I took a post-apocalyptic setting - a future Earth after a great cataclysm where only people with psychic abilities have survived. But I didn't want it to be a really dark world. I didn't want it to be depressing and bleak. Sure, bad things happen, but I was focussing on the fight against the darkness and the struggle to reestablish the human race's place in the world through love and covert operations. ;-)
I also wanted people to have extra-sensory abilities, but I didn't want to limit it to a single ability. Some people are telepathic, some have the gift of foresight, some telekinetic and so on. Some even have multiple talents. I like to mix it up. It makes it more interesting to write and hopefully more interesting to read.
I'm a strong believer in power of the human mind. I think there are probably untapped potentials in all of us - all that brain capacity we don't use - there's got to be something to that. Don't you think? Perhaps in some future evolution of humanity, we'll use more of our brains and be more than we are now... it's a future worth pondering.
If you think like me on the topic, check out my Resonance Mates series, of which Davin's Quest is the second book. I think you might like it! Happy New Year!
Come over to The D'Arc Side... http://www.biancadarc.com/
27 December 2008
As you read this, I'm in a car heading for North Carolina to spend New Year's with my side of the family. Tomorrow is my very first solo book signing and I'm at once excited and nervous.
I usually do these en masse at big conferences like RT or the Lori Foster reader/author event. There's safety in numbers, and at least if the books aren't selling there's someone right next to you to chat with! This time I'll be at a table all by my lonesome, feeling my facial muscles get sore from non-stop smiling my best I-won't-bite smile.
It'll be easy to smile, though, because the long-awaited, long-angsted-over sequel to Beaudry's Ghost hits the virtual shelves on Tuesday. A Ghost of a Chance is Troy's book, the ghostly brother of the heroine, Taylor, in BG.
I worked really hard to make Beaudry's Ghost compelling, romantic AND believable, because sometimes ghost romances (for me, anyway) miss the mark in the last category. For me it's not simply about suspending disbelief, it's going one step farther so the reader can immerse themselves in the story. Like "Yeah, that could totally happen!"
If Beaudry turned me inside out to accomplish this, Troy's story did all that and tied me in knots, as well! The last thing I wanted was to repeat the same "tricks" that got me through Beaudry. Troy had to find his own unique path to happily ever after with his very-much-alive heroine. Without giving anything away, I think I managed all that and, in the bargain, got an idea for a fresh, new spinoff series! More on that later, but you'll probably figure it out once you've read AGOAC. :)
So without further ado, here's a snippet from Legends, Book 2: A Ghost of a Chance, which releases Dec. 30. :)
One life hangs on the thread of her imagination…
Troy Brannon is a ghost with no time for heaven. Thanks to his well-intentioned meddling, he’s got a missing soul on his hands. Fortunately he’s learned a skill no well-behaved spirit should have—the ability to zip through time and space.
A side trip to revive a drowning woman should’ve been simple. But the moment he locks lips with Carey Magennis, she generates an inner fire he’s never felt before, alive or dead—and his ability to time travel disappears.
When the rising tide closes over Carey’s head, it’s the end—but only of life as she knows it. She wakes up haunted by the idea she no longer fits in, and by the sexy, lion-hearted ghost of the man who saved her. No one wants to hear about the strange things that have been happening to her since her near-death experience, least of all her image-conscious fiancé.
Troy realizes Carey accidentally stole his gift—and she has no idea the danger she’s in. Wherever her imagination takes her, she goes with it. Literally. Plus, that fiancé of hers has an agenda that doesn’t include her survival.
Saving her will be as dangerous to his mission as she is to his heart.
Warning: This title contains some gratuitous bad language; the sex of your dreams with a professional bad-ass hero; bloody Civil War battles; astral joy rides; and a heroine who “gets it” in more ways than one!
Gráinne Cottage, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
“I cannot complete this reading.”
The older woman’s hands moved quickly to gather the Tarot cards spread on the kitchen table, the movement causing the flame of the single white candle at its center to flicker.
Carey Magennis leaned back in the creaky wooden chair, trying to decide if she should be amused or alarmed. For now, she chose the former. After all, Genola’s informal tarot reading was only for fun.
She sipped her tea, enjoying the toasty warmth of the Aga stove at her back and the cool, moist breath of an Ireland afternoon on her cheek where it puffed in from the window. The morning rain had passed, and through the storm door she saw the rich, green hillside below the cottage. Beyond, the sea glittered like muted pewter. Great Blaskett Island lay a few miles off shore like a sleeping giant, half-covered by a fluffy blanket of mist.
She had left Kyle poring over maps and guidebooks while she had gone in search of a cup of tea to settle her still-queasy stomach, the aftermath of getting food poisoning from a Killarney restaurant. Thanks to her twenty-four-hour stint on her knees before the porcelain god, they were now a full day behind schedule. They were darned lucky Genola McCarthy had a vacancy in her little cottage B&B—Carey had been too ill to make it to their original destination.
Kyle had been less than thrilled with the comparatively rustic accommodation, but Carey, now that she was well enough to have a look around, loved the old stone cottage with its thick, whitewashed walls and cozy thatched roof. Traces of the morning peat fire still tanged the air inside the little dwelling, blending with the morning’s fresh bread still baking in the Aga.
Genola had welcomed her warmly into the homey, low-ceilinged kitchen, and cheerfully joined her for a cup of strong Irish tea with plenty of fresh milk and sugar. Spying the new engagement ring on Carey’s left hand, Genola had reached into her apron pocket and withdrawn a set of Tarot cards, saying with a wink that she was going to see how long it would be before Carey and Kyle began adding to their respective family trees.
Carey glanced down now at the sparkling diamond solitaire on her left ring finger as Genola continued to gather the spread-out cards. She’d thought they’d only be spending a few days in Dublin, he making contacts for his fledgling, international real estate development firm, while she wandered in and out of old churches and museums, feeding her insatiable appetite for all things historic. But he’d presented her a ring at dinner one night—in between taking business calls on his mobile phone—and swept her off on a surprise whirlwind tour of Ireland, attempting to see the entire country in five scant days.
She idly turned her hand and wondered why the sight of the glittering stone didn’t set her heart to glittering in return. She ought to be deliriously happy. She should. After all, her life was turning out exactly as she’d planned.
“Are the spirits carrying around erasers these days?” She tore her gaze from the ring and propping her elbow on the table and her chin in her palm, winking to let the woman know she was only kidding.
Genola smiled and winked in return. “Oh, ’tis nothing, darlin’. Simply a mistake, that’s all.”
“What kind of mistake?” Carey was relieved to see the Death card disappear back into the deck.
“This blank card—” Genola held it up, “—shouldn’t have been in the deck. It’s included only to replace a lost card.” She put the card back into a small wooden box and firmly shut the lid, then shuffled the deck three times. “Now, let’s be after tryin’ this again. Please cut the deck into three piles.”
Carey did as she was told, and watched Genola spread the cards across the table with one smooth motion.
“And choose three cards, please.”
Again, Carey pulled three cards at random and placed them face down in front of her.
Genola turned over the first card, and Carey swallowed a gasp. It stuck in a painful knot at the base of her throat before she forced herself to relax.
“Now that’s interesting,” said Genola, unconcerned. “You drew the Death card again. This card represents your past, and at some point…”
“I’m going to die?” Carey croaked, only half joking.
Genola chuckled. “Not at all, dear. You simply underwent a time of great change.”
Carey relaxed, and leaned her elbows on the table again, and allowed a small smile. “Well, I got engaged recently. Maybe that’s it. And I lost my parents at a very young age…” She quickly shut her mouth. This wasn’t something she normally shared with relative strangers.
Genola stilled, her expression distressed. “I’m so sorry, child.”
Carey reached out and patted one of Genola’s hands. “It’s all right. It was a long time ago and my aunt raised me. ”
Genola relaxed, then looked her up and down, eyes slightly unfocused. “Your aura is very strong, particularly around you heart. It’s bright green.” Her eyes focused again and she smiled gently. “I thought when I first saw you, that you had the look of a faerie child.”
Carey found herself toying with one of her wild black curls, a gift from her father’s side of the family. Chemical processing had tamed the unruly mass that was her hair, but the Ireland damp had brought back its tendency to kink. All she had managed to get from her aunt was that they were “Black Irish and Indian,” at which point the woman’s lips would compress into a tight, thin line.
“The faerie. Yes, well, I don’t much resemble Tinker Bell,” she said ruefully, remembering her own mother’s petite, fair beauty, lost to her now except for photographs.
“Oh, the other crowd are a dark, little folk. Nothing like you see in the movies. The Magennis people in Ireland are mostly fair colored, but once in a while they throw a dark one, and it’s said such people are touched by the good folk. You may be several generations removed from Ireland, my dear, but the magic still lingers about you, that I can see.”
Oh, this was getting good. Carey dismissed the uncomfortable notion that Genola McCarthy could somehow know exactly how she’d been feeling these past months. As if she were poised on some great precipice of change. She’d chalked it up to the ticking of her biological clock.
The Irishwoman flipped the next card. “This card represents your present. Oh… dear…”
Carey stared in amazement. She’d drawn the exact same card as last time.
“My, my! The oracle certainly is speaking strongly this morning.” Genola’s voice quavered a little, despite her efforts to sound cheerful. “I can’t remember any other time someone has drawn the exact same cards in this way, in spite of the deck having been shuffled. Very…odd.”
“What do you think it means?” Carey watched Genola’s face. This was only a Tarot reading, for heaven’s sake. She didn’t even believe in this stuff.
“This card represents your present situation. It’s the suit of Wands, which is the suit of change, restlessness, possibly upheaval. And this is the Knight of Wands. There’s a man involved. Quite possibly a blond man.”
Curious, Carey leaned in for a closer look at the card in question. The card depicted a warrior in golden Roman armor standing on a hilltop overlooking an ancient city. The soldier held a heavy sword, and a helmet adorned with a horse-tail plume covered his head. Lion-colored hair flowed out from under the helmet. But it was the warrior’s direct stare that snagged her attention. His vivid green eyes—all she could see of his face—glowed like living things in the stillness of the picture.
She had the absurd notion that she wished she could step into the picture and straight into the warrior’s protective arms. With a hard mental shake, she tore her gaze away from the warrior and noticed a banner flying over the city in the background. It was clearly labled Troy.
Her scalp prickled.
“Interesting.” She tried to sound off-hand. “My middle name is Helen.”
Genola’s eyebrow went north. “Is that so? You should see the queen of this suit. It is, indeed, Helen of Troy.”
An innocent woman who was killed only because she had the bad luck to fall in love. Carey’s stomach started to feel funny again, and she forced herself to relax. “But I don’t know any blond men. At least not well enough to consider them part of my personal life.”
Genola smiled, serenely confident again. “If there isn’t one now, there will be. And I daresay his entrance won’t be subtle.”
“Hm. If you say so.” Maybe Kyle was going to bleach his dark hair or something. Then she laughed to herself. Not bloody likely.
“I certainly do say so.” Genola nodded and reached for the third card. “Well, then let’s see what all these changes and this mysterious blond man will mean for your future. At least we know the card won’t be…” She flipped the card. “… blank.”
Now Carey’s heart really did turn over. What the…?
Genola’s calm demeanor vanished, and she turned white.
The card was blank. Again.
“Impossible,” Genola whispered. “I just put that card back in the box. You saw me put it there, didn’t you?”
“Don’t be silly,” said Carey, reaching for the box and popping off the lid. “Maybe it stuck to your hand.”
But the first blank card still lay inside. She looked up at Genola. “Is there more than one blank card in this deck?”
Genola shook her head. “Only one.”
“Do it again.”
“Shuffle the cards and let me draw again.”
Genola seemed to come back to herself. “Of course, of course.” She gathered the cards and began to shuffle them, then her fingers slowed. “Let’s try a different deck. This one’s new—I haven’t worked with it much.” She leaned back in her chair, reached into a half-open kitchen drawer, and extracted a small, battered wooden box. Sweeping the offending deck off the table and back into its own box, she spread the well-used deck face up on the table, so they could both see that no blank cards lurked. Then she quickly shuffled the new deck, humming softly to herself as she worked.
“Now,” she said confidently, her face relaxing into another smile. “This deck has never failed me.”
Again Carey went through the ritual of drawing three cards, wondering why she was doing this when she ought to be telling Genola “t’anks, but no t’anks”.
“Here we go.” Genola turned over the first card.
Carey gave a bark of surprised laughter and nearly fell out of her chair.
The Death card grinned mockingly up at her.
“Ehm…” Genola turned the middle card. Knight of Wands. Again. “I, ah, don’t know what to say, Miss Magennis. I truly don’t. This has never, ever happened before. To draw the exact same cards repeatedly? From different decks…” She reached for the third card, her hand visibly trembling.
Carey reached out and gripped her wrist. “Let me.” If the woman was indeed doing a sleight-of-hand, she was going to make darned sure it didn’t happen again. Not that she believed in this stuff, not at all. But she’d rather sleep without nightmares, thank you very much.
She turned the card. Blank. She let it drop from her numb fingers.
Get a hold of yourself, girl. It’s a trick. Just a trick.
She forced a laugh and quickly gulped the rest of her tea. “You’re very good. Ever thought of going on the road?” Her laugh trailed off when the other woman said nothing.
Genola didn’t look at her, but down at the cards, her face pale and still. Then she looked up at Carey, her eyes seeing something beyond the here and now.
“I tell you, Miss, these cards have never lied.”
Carey gave the woman what she hoped was a bright smile that hid how rattled she was. “Thanks, Mrs. McCarthy. I…think I’ll take a little walk cliffs before dinner. Kyle should be finished re-planning our schedule, thanks to me and my rebellious tummy.”
Genola nodded and began picking up the cards, one by one, examining each one as if she’d never seen it before. Carey rose from the chair, uneasy and unsure what to say next. Genola touched her arm as she passed, eyes troubled.
“Just be careful, miss. Be very, very careful.”
Carey chuckled again, trying to put the poor woman—and herself?—at ease. “Oh, don’t worry. My fiancé plans everything down to the last detail. I won’t have time to get myself into trouble. Trust me.”
Copyright 2008 Carolan Ivey All Rights Reserved
26 December 2008
Welcome to my Friday.
I'm not actually here. I'm in Indianapolis. Or at least on my way there. I'm also blogging here at Beyond the Veil AND at the Samhain Blog.
So in the spirit of saying "I can't take it anymore!" this is nothing more than a blog post telling you to go to the Samhain blog to read the real post, which should, God willing, go live at 3pm EST. Given the way my luck is running, I'll come home to find that techno-wizardry has bitten me on the ass. Again.
I will be so glad once Christmas is officially over.
23 December 2008
With the fireworks festival to kick off the Kentucky Derby in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, mere days away and the expectation of an onslaught of rogue vampires attempting to crash the party, the Watchers have their hands full. As if Vane didn't have enough on his plate, Evan, a psychotic vampire has plans for Rosa. A second player joins the game with eyes on Rosa as a prize - a drug running Rogue with plans to release a vampire drug which could have dire consequences if it hits the streets. A blanket of roses isn't all that's at stake with this race to to see who will win and who will fall short of the finish line.
After finishing their coffee and dessert, Vane decided to take Rosa for a short walk by the river. They had talked for hours, enjoying each other’s company. He had never spent so much time talking to a woman and found it very pleasant, realizing the act had been something he had missed out on all this time. Whenever he was with a woman, their mouths were too busy doing other things to do much talking.
They walked along the River Walk, watching the flowing dark water of the Ohio River with the image of the bright yellow moon reflecting off the small ripples. Vane wanted to pull Rosa into his arms and kiss her, but he didn’t want to move too fast. She was obviously enjoying their date as much as he was, and he didn’t want to do anything to ruin it.
After a while, they turned and headed to where Vane’s Mercedes was parked, holding hands like a couple of high schoolers. A dark alley loomed ahead, and the closer they got, the more unease he felt. Suddenly, Vane knew why.
“Rosa, I want you to go to the car. Now. Here are my keys, and don’t look back.”
Vane could see he was scaring her, but he had to get her out of here. He didn’t want Rosa to be caught in the middle of what was about to go down.
“Why? Tell me what’s wrong.”
Before he could answer and make her understand she needed to get the hell out of there, a man swaggered out of the dark shadows of the alley.
“Well, if it isn’t a Watcher.”
The Rogue emerged from the shadows showing his bloodstained fangs with a menacing sneer. He looked at Vane, then turned to Rosa. The thought of the filthy vampire setting his gaze upon Rosa, his Rosa, made Vane’s blood boil.
Vane saw a second Rogue cross the street and saunter behind Rosa. It wasn’t a surprise they would plan to use her to keep him off-balance.
Two more Rogues stepped out of the alley, each carrying knives, something the Watchers had noticed they started showing up with. Rogues were acquiring weapons from somewhere, and the consensus among the Watchers was it was from someone, but there was no idea as to who that was.
Vane’s mind reeled. This wasn’t going to be an easy fight, and his concern for Rosa intensified. He berated himself for putting her in danger. How stupid to believe because he was a Watcher they would be safe strolling around downtown alone at dark. He had let his guard down, and Rosa might pay the price for it.
I just want to say thank you to all of our readers for supporting us and making our dreams come true. That's the best gift you could give us.
Now, on to the good stuff.
Everyone who was eligible was put into an Excel file and the names were picked by the Random Generator.
And the WINNERS are...
naughtyforgetmenotfairy: A download of one of Carolan Ivey's titles (unless you've read them all, then a download of any Samhain title of your choice)
Cathy: Bath and Body Works Giftset donated by Kaye Chambers
Vicky: Handmade giftbag and a dowload of any one title by Jody Wallace
Cynthya: Download of Dream Walk by Meg Allison
Sarah J. McNeal: Download of With Nine You Get Vanyr by Jean Marie Ward
jwisley: PDF download of any one title in Biana D'Arc's backlist
Tameka: Download of any one title in Dayna Hart's backlist
Candance: Download of Heart of the Sea by Sela Carson
Joan: Download of Midnight Reborn - The Watchers by Diane McIntire
Karin: Download of Poison by Joely Skye
Tasha: Download of Hunting the Huntress by Ember Case
Robyn L: Download of any one title in Sharon Cullen's backlist
Congratulations to all of our winners and we hope you have a great holiday season!
18 December 2008
But, it’s still Christmas and I have a suggestion. Don’t know what to get that special someone? BOOKS!
And if you’re feeling especially generous this year, you might want to look at those glossy big ticket items associated with them – Ereaders. Both Sony and Amazon have very nice readers worth a look if you’re in the market for one.
The great thing about Books as gifts is that there’s something out there for everyone. There’s men’s fiction and women’s fiction, nonfiction, and children’s picture books and chapter books. If you’re not sure what to get? Try a giftcard to your favorite retailer – or an ebookstore. There are more than just Sony and Amazon ebookstores, too. *coughSamhaincough*
And the best part? It won’t break the bank and provide hours of entertainment.
I know, I hear the grumbling. I’m an author, so of course I’ll say buy books. But you know something?
Before I was an author, I was a reader. My husband bought me my first electronic reader in 2001. Between you and me, I think it was his way of escaping the inevitable hours of waiting while I browsed the bookstore. My Gemstar meant he could stay home and watch television while I browsed the bookstore from the comfort of the couch…and he didn’t have to cringe at the cashier while he paid the bill. When the Sony Reader first hit the market, he somehow managed to find one after trying to order from Sony and told the best they could hope for was Valentine delivery instead of Christmas.
I don’t know how he found it, but I cried when I opened it because I was so excited. And if he wants to make me smile, he’ll slip a Sony Connect Store gift card into a card and mail it to me.
Why? Because giving me books means he knows me…and loves me enough to indulge my hobby. But more than that, he knows that a book is an evening of escapism from the trials of motherhood, career, and the general chaos that stresses us all out every day. It’s his way of saying that he wants me to take a moment to myself because he knows it’s those private moments to regroup that make me a better wife and mother.
So, consider adding the bookstore to your last minute shopping stops. Someone on your list might be hoping that you’ll think of it…
2. It’s easy. All you have to do is attach a comment to any post on this blog—any post!—and provide enough information to allow us to get back in touch with you.
3. It’s completely without obligation. Nobody will be hounding you with newsletters. We’re more scared of those things than you are.
4. There will be twelve winners, one for every day of Christmas—but without all those pesky pooping partridges.
5. You need to pamper yourself…with the Bath & Body Works offered by Kaye Chambers.
6. Dragons, shapeshifters and weres turn you on—especially those penned by Bianca D’Arc, Sharon Cullen, Ember Case and D. McIntire.
7. You love Carolan Ivey’s ghosts and Celtic legends, and have a soft spot for Sela Carson’s cursed selkies.
8. The fairies of Dayna Hart and Jody Wallace are totally your thing—especially when you add Jody’s extra special gift bag to the mix.
9. You long to meet the man of your dreams in your dreams, like the heroine of Meg Allison’s Dream Walk.
10. What rocks your world is Joely Skye’s futuristic m/m.
11. You need more Christmas recipes—and I just added a paper copy of The Write Ingredient cookbook to the download of With Nine You Get Vanyr.
12. You still have time to qualify. Just comment before noon EST, December 21.
13. You know you want to. All the cool kids are doing it. Besides, you’ve been good all year. Santa will forgive a little naughty. Heck, he’s an elf. He’ll encourage it. How do you think he got to be so jolly?
17 December 2008
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the actual festivities. But I find gift-guying difficult, and there just never seems to be enough time in December. It speeds by like the shortest month of the year, even if it's thirty-one days.
I still have to:
1) Buy gifts. Though at least I know what I'm getting (for the most part).
2) Decorate the tree. Though at least the tree is up.
3) Wrap presents. Kids will often help with this one.
4) Prepare for cooking (though I don't have a heavy load)
5) Put up more lights around the house. (I know, they should all be up by now.)
6) Christmas cards, which may turn into New Year's cards.
7) Clean the house!
So, what do you have left to do before the holidays?
16 December 2008
Giftcards are small and convenient, yes, but they can be impersonal. Electronics are expensive, household items can send the wrong message (you need to cook more! your house is ugly!), and holiday themed items can only be used once a year. Clothing in general is dicey, and holiday sweaters in particular are best suited for ugly sweater parties. Food items are perishable. Except for fruit cakes, but chances are if you give somebody a fruit cake, you're gonna get it regifted to you next year. In the exact same condition as when you gifted it in the first place.
What about books? They're portable, economically feasible, varied, multipurpose, and there's one to fulfill anyone's interest. Even nonreaders (gasp!) might enjoy certain how-to volumes, magazines or coffee table type photo books. Plus, the purchase of books as gifts keeps the publishing industry, and authors like us, in business.
Just think of it. One trip to one bookstore (or online bookstore), and all your gift shopping could be OVER. Oh, the pleasure!
So what books do you want as gifts this holiday season? What are some great book gifts you've given in the past to people you knew really well or didn't know that well? What are some books you might have been given (or given) that really missed the mark?
Tell us all about your book gifting experiences and wishes in the comments! And don't forget, anyone who comments on this blog until December 21st is entered in our Cool Yule contest to win FREE BOOKS!
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--In Paper, Samhain Publishing
LIAM'S GOLD--In Electrons, Samhain Publishing
PS: If you must buy a giftcard, make it a bookstore giftcard!
14 December 2008
I don't know how I feel about this. PL is one of my favorite pieces of the late Renaissance period (technically I suppose he falls under The Restoration; he wrote during the reign of Charles I, through that tricky Oliver Cromwell period, and into the reign of Charles II. But I digress), and I actually DO understand it. It's a terrific story, well told, full of thought provoking visual images. If it weren't for the whole Biblical angle, I'd call it epic fantasy. It has the potential to be a spectacular movie, if for nothing else than the images in Book 1 - the lake of fire, the sheer volume of Satan relayed in the words (he was HUGE, apparently), the legion of fallen angels, and of course, the building of Pandemonium, Satan's palace. That's just the first book. We don't even get to the Garden of Eden until much later. All of this, by the way, is even more impressive, this vibrant description, when you consider it was written by a blind man in a age WAY before computers.
Anyway, yes, it has the potential to be spectacular. It also has the potential to fall flat on it's face. Which would be a shame. I would hope it wouldn't be touted as strictly a religious film, because it's so much MORE. It's a story for the ages, and one every genre writer should read, along with Frankenstein and Dr. Faustus. Light and dark, good and evil, and love. There's even some sex. Yep.
At any rate, I hope they get Peter Jackson to direct, but fear he's too busy with The Hobbit. If they can pull off something of that scope, I think it'll be worth seeing. It deserves to be huge, as huge as Satan.
I won't be seeing you again until after the New Year, so have a happy holiday! Oh, and The Crown of Zeus will be out in paperback on Dec. 29! I'm having a launch party at the Mullica Hill Library at 7 pm that day. If you're in the area, stop by and have some cake with me!
12 December 2008
Ok, now back to a blog topic…I really do have one…promise. I’m sure you have been reading a lot of blogs about the holidays, and unfortunately, mine is no different. LOL.
My husband and I do not exchange gifts. I guess, after 19 years, we don’t look at it as any reflection of what we feel about one another if no gift is purchased. I personally look at it this way…If there is something I want…I go out and get it (within reason, of course).
This year I have taken care to get the kids a few items they wanted, but I have also kept my eye open for others around me and what they need. There is a family I know with young children and only one parent employed, though his hours have been cut. There is a guy at my work who does many chores outside, but does not have a coat, although he considers his hooded, flannel sweatshirt a coat. It is here my family and I have decided to focus our holiday attention…those who we know really need it.
Ok – I will get out of the deep end of the pool now and move to another topic along the lines of gift giving. What the heck do you give your dog or cat? Treats? Toys? I have so many toys lying around the house it isn’t funny (dog toys that is…don’t go letting your mind wander). And, treats? My bichon is so fat she really doesn’t need anything more to eat, LOL.
I do try to include the animals in the holiday spirit, though. The miniature horse and fainting goats will get some apples…and then I’ll have apples in return. I guess you can say we’ll have an apple exchange. *grin* A little farm humor for those who got it, he he.
What about you good folks out there? I’m sure you’ve been asked many times what you do for the holidays…so hopefully this one hasn’t been asked. What about your pets? Do you take them along on a holiday vacation? Do something special for them? Do they care? (LOL).
Maybe you could read them a good book! And do I have some suggestions for you! Why not let them hear the tale of vampires in Louisville, Kentucky, hunting Rogues and wondering why the heck Fate decided at that moment to toss some fresh meat of the female persuasion their way.
Check out two reads that’ll warm your heart and curl your toes. Oh yeah, and Happy Holidays to you and yours!!
10 December 2008
Stop. I can hear everyone's groans and all of you saying how you hate people like me who finish early. I haven't always been like that. In fact, this is the first year I've been done this early. For the past five years I've worked in Retail Management and we all know what that means--no holiday time. So I swore this year was going to be different.
As my mind sifted and sorted various blog topics concerning presents, I thought why not GIVE some presents to our loyal blog readers. I sent the call out to my fellow Beyond the Veil writers and suddenly we had this fabulous contest and so many cool gifts to give away that we decided to extend it.
So as a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you, we at Beyond the Veil would like to give you a few gifts. There's a catch (there always is). You have to comment on our blog in order to be eligible. If you post anonymously or from a profile with no contact info, you must leave us an email address so we can contact you. Unclaimed prizes will be reallocated after five business days. Drawing will be held after noon on Dec. 21, 2008.
And to get you started, I'll give you some ideas to comment on. For instance, where's the best place you've had to hide your presents? What are some of your best holiday memories? Like to bake? Share a quick and easy recipe with us. Or just stop by and wish us a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday.
Download of one of Carolan Ivey's titles, unless the winner has read all of them, then a download of an SP title of their choice
Bath and Body Works Giftset from Kaye Chambers
Handmade giftbag and a dowload of any one title by Jody Wallace
Download of Dream Walk by Meg Allison
Download of With Nine You Get Vanyr by Jean Marie Ward
PDF download of any one title in Biana D'Arc's backlist
Download of any one title in Dayna Hart's backlist
Download of Heart of the Sea by Sela Carson
Download of Midnight Reborn - The Watchers by Diane McIntire
Download of Poison by Joely Skye
Download of Hunting the Huntress by Ember Case
Download of any one title in Sharon Cullen's backlist
Ready? Set? Go! Leave us a comment!
09 December 2008
What you don't know (because we just decided) is that we are going to do some holiday gifting here at Beyond the Veil, too!
Check back here tomorrow, Wednesday the 10th, for details. Cool stuff awaits you!
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--In Paper, Samhain Publishing
LIAM'S GOLD--In Electrons, Samhain Publishing
08 December 2008
When Samhain asked their authors to write special holiday themed stories to show their appreciation to the readers, I thought it was a hellova good idea. What better way to spread the love and good cheer of the holiday season than to give a little something extra. But what to write about? I was completely stuck - until an unemployed Christmas elf tapped me on the shoulder and told me her story of whoa. Problem was, did I have time to write something and have one of my writer friends give it the once over before the Nov. 28th deadline?
Lord only knows my plate is full enough as it is, what with writing about five or six books at once, tweaking and editing others and working a full-time job in the medical field. But I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to give my thanks to those who have bought and read my books over the past two years. I appreciate their support so much, that it really wasn't a question of doing it...but finding the time.
But sometimes a character just captures your attention so fully that the story tends to write itself. The author merely a conduit to put the details on paper - or in this case a computer program. Thus it was with A Kringle in the System. Emery Elfsbane and Zachariah Kringle shared a couple of mint martinis and their story with me. It's a light-hearted and rather tongue-in-cheek look at Santa's corporate workshop.
I invite everyone to come and join the fun on Dec. 11th at the Samhellion website when my holiday offering will be the new feature.
Here's a teaser for your reading fun:
“It’s a cruel day when Emery Elfsbane needs the service of a matchmaker to find her a
date,” came the deep masculine voice in her ear.
With her head bowed down to see what she wrote in the dim light, she hadn’t noticed
Zachariah Kringle enter the bar, much less park his finely toned ass on the next barstool. But then he had a talent for moving like a silent night through the world.
Emery raised a brow and glared at him. “I don’t need assistance in finding a date. I am, however, in want of a job, thanks to your dear uncle.”
Zachariah frowned. “What?”
It took all her patience not to yell at him. As if he didn’t know what happened. She closed her eyes and counted to ten.
“Em, come on. What happened?”
She felt his knuckle graze her cheek. Her eyes popped open. There was something
about him. The man was hot enough to melt the entire Arctic zone. He was also the Pole’s biggest player.
Worse for her since she’d had a major crush on him for years.
Annoyance surged up to her mouth, loosening her tongue. “I got canned, all right?”
“Like a tin of peppermints.”
05 December 2008
It's been a long time coming -- but finally! My first full-length paranormal romance is out. :)
DREAM WALK(c)2008 Meg Allison
Some nightmares are deadly real.
The Sentinels, Book 1
Camille Bryant is a gifted medium being slowly driven insane by terrifying dreams. When she is forced to accept help from a Sentinel—a mysterious warrior of her race—her comfort zone is quickly invaded. Try as she might, she can’t seem to stop the erotic visions that fill her mind when her rescuer is near.
Ian Spain is a dream walker who’s been assigned to banish the dream demon from Camille’s restless nights. But complications quickly ensue. This is no ordinary demon and Camille is no ordinary woman: both are far stronger than anyone realizes. So strong, Ian suddenly isn’t sure he has the power to vanquish her demon—not when his own hound his every step.
Their passion ignites even as the body count rises and their courage is put to the test in a battle as old as time. Winner takes all.
Warning: Scenes of leather-clad hero may induce spontaneous drooling, erotic fantasies, and unfair comparisons to spouse or significant other.
Excerpt from a nightmare:
Heart pounding a staccato beat, Camille rushed down the dark alley. If she could just find the little shop again, she would be safe. Madame Virginia would give her shelter—she would know what to do.
A sound grabbed her attention and she almost stumbled as she glanced behind. Shadows moved, slithering over the sidewalk toward her. They extinguished the glow of the street lamps one by one as they drew closer. Like a massive storm, the darkness would soon blot out all light. She would be stranded. Alone.
This time the dream brought her to a different place, but the demon followed, its form concealed in the heavy shroud of black fog. Something hissed. A misty shape reached out of the shadows to touch her skin. A cold, sharp object pricked her arm and she bit back a scream, her feet moving faster. Could she outrun a nightmare?
She jerked to a stop, scanning the alley before her. She was alone. Something fluttered by her ear and she screamed. Instincts took over as she ran into the alley. The blank brick wall rose up before her, barring the way to any kind of safety.
Oh God, he had her cornered. She had always escaped before, had always been able to hide long enough to pull herself from the dream. Heart pounding frantically, she braced her back against the wall and faced her dragon.
Instead of the dark, mythical beast, Ian stood before her. Tall and unyielding, feet planted shoulder width apart, he gazed at her with such intensity she couldn’t draw air into her lungs. He wore a black leather jacket that hung open to reveal his bare chest, and skin-tight pants of the same material. A gleaming saber clutched in one hand, his mane of dark hair blew about granite features. His gaze held hers for a moment before he looked down at the clothing. With a twist of the wrist, he lifted the weapon and turned it so the faint light glittered off the blade. He frowned.
“Is it a knight you’ve conjured, Camille, or a vampire slayer?” He looked at her. “I’m not quite sure I fit the part either way.”
She shook her head. “I didn’t summon you. I’ve never been able to summon help before.”
One corner of his full mouth quirked into a half-smile. A dangerous smile.
“It seems I’m here now, whatever the reason.” He bowed slightly at the waist. “Where is your demon, my lady?”
A hiss filled the air and orange flame shot between them. The rotten-egg smell filled the alleyway. Camille choked on the rancid fumes.
“Please, Ian…” A sob ripped through her. She swallowed and blinked back tears. “I can’t do this again. Make it leave. Just make it go.”
He gazed at her silently and she wondered at the wariness in his expression. “I thought you didn’t need me.”
“Please…” His features softened at her desperate plea. Then he nodded, stepped toward her and turned.
“Stay behind me, Camille. Whatever you do, don’t run. Demons thrive on fear and you cannot outrun a nightmare.”
All Camille could think of was hiding behind his broad back as darkness descended around them. The flutter of wings and a snarling growl echoed off the tall brick walls. Her body shook. Blood pounded in her ears. She could smell the brimstone mingling with sweat and the musty mildew of the alleyway.
Ian stood at the ready, sword clasped in both hands, blade pointed straight up. “Who is it, Camille? Who is your demon?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered, clutching at the leather coat. “It can’t be real. It must be symbolic—”
She jumped at the sound of her name whispered from the shadows. Ian went rigid, but she couldn’t see his face.
“Camille, come to me.”
She shook her head even as her feet seemed to follow a will of their own and stepped around her protector.
“Get back,” Ian commanded, his gaze never wavering from the writhing shadows before him.
Another step and he turned, his weapon clattering to the cement below as he grabbed her arms with both hands and pushed her back against the wall. Rough brick pressed into her spine, Ian’s chest against her breasts. She looked up into his eyes, feeling only the rise and fall of their lungs in unison as they stood crushed together.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured. His eyes darkened to pitch and his gaze slipped to her lips. He swallowed hard.
“Don’t let it control you. Think, honey…who is it? Who is trying to drive you insane? Is it someone from your past? An old boyfriend or lover?”
“I don’t have anyone like that.”
They stood in the churning darkness, hearts pounding as one. Ian held her pinned to the wall, his body hard and shaking. She wondered at the panic she saw flare within the dark depths of his gaze.
“I’m not prepared. Camille, I’m not ready for this. You weren’t supposed to see me this first time.”
A roar shook the building at her back. He spun around, keeping his body between her and the shadows. She could see devilish-red eyes gleaming from darkness now thick as tar. Sulfur made the air hard to breathe and the heat pushed down upon them, coming closer with each rumbling breath the great beast took.
“I’m not ready,” Ian murmured as if talking to himself. “This was not a good idea.”
He grasped her by the arm, all the while his attention centered on the dragon. The beast seemed to grow, its silhouette undulating higher and broader with each snarling exhalation. Ian’s grip tightened until she winced in pain.
“Take us out of this, Camille, I can’t focus. End the dream.”
“I can’t!” Panic gripped her by the throat.
“You can, and you must,” he insisted. “Think…where are you? Feel the sheets…feel the mattress beneath you…hear the sounds of the house, the traffic outside. This is not your reality, Camille. Send the beast away.”
She shook her head frantically. The fear held her in place. It couldn’t be just a dream. Bile filled her throat; her body shook in seizure-like tremors. It was vivid and horrifyingly real.
“Try,” he entreated more gently. “I can’t protect us both.”
She didn’t think she could die in her own dream, but could the Sentinel?
“Leave! I-I’ll be okay,” she insisted. “I’m always okay. I don’t want it to hurt you.”
“No. Leaving you alone is not an option.”
The dragon roared, the sound making her ears ring.
She shook from head to toe but fought to subdue the fear. It filled her so fully she knew this had to be the end. A clawed foot reached from the darkness, cutting Ian from collarbone to navel. He dropped to his knees, a groan of pain the only sound he made.
He looked up, teeth clenched, his color fading quickly as blood trickled from the gaping wound.
“Take us…out!” His head drooped forward and Camille closed her eyes. Tears coursed down her cold cheeks.
She could feel the hot rancid breath of the beast fanning her hair. But she reached past that, past the malevolent image to the reality that would provide refuge. And then she began to remember…a vague sensation of her body pressing into a firm mattress, the cool linens caressing her heated skin. A familiar hum rumbled beneath the noise of the growling demon. The sharp retort of a car horn sounded.
“Awake!” Ian’s strangled command sent a jolt through her and in the next moment, Camille sat straight up in bed, blinking at the soft gray light that filled her room.
She looked down at her sweat-soaked nightgown, the gauzy material transparent where it clung to bare skin. Breathing as if she’d run a marathon, she sat there and shivered as wave after wave of unspent fear coursed through her.
She was whole. She was awake. The dragon had gone.
04 December 2008
Have you ever been cuddled in bed, pondering the intricacies of romance, and been hit by the most wonderful notion that you just had to act upon right there and then?
Have you ever been at your day job, tallying reports or something incredibly boring, and had the frantic need to explore what it felt like to be swept into the lusty embrace of an 1880s cowboy?
Have you ever been in the middle of washing vegetables, maybe cucumbers or tomatoes, and been struck by an inspiration of the sexual variety?
Have you ever been chatting with a pal about writer’s block or love scenes and gotten the sudden urge for privacy so you could take care of a pressing romantic issue?
If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, then you, too, have indulged in “snatch” — snatching some writing time for yourself out of the morass of daily living, that is.
A companion technique to the highly effective Club 100, a writing group established by author Beth Pattillo, “snatch” involves scribbling down whatever story ideas pop into your head, even if they’re chronologically out of whack or in an abbreviated form. When you dream it up, write it down immediately, before it drifts away in the daily grind of meals, wheels and deals.
This includes new story ideas, where a single snatch could turn into pages and pages of brainstorming, but I'm going to focus more on notions about where your current novel might be headed.
Say you get an image of your hero and heroine arguing over whether to drive or fly to Vegas as they rush to marry in time to beat the clock on the reality television program they’re involved in. Hey, hush up, you, crazier books have been written!
My point is, if you conceive that image, write it down! It may get axed in the completed novel. They may get booted out of “Survivor: Wedding” before they reach the final two and have no need to rush to Vegas. Then again, it may end up being one of the funniest scenes you’ve ever written, not to mention inspire you to power through the next three chapters because you know where in the plot that scene takes place and what you have to do to get there.
Snatch works for authors who plot in advance as well as those who write into the mist. For ones who plot in advance, sure, they’ve got the plot down, but not the passion. Not the details. As passionate, funny, or perfect images occur to them, they can record those before they lose the flavor and assemble the pieces when the time comes. (If they're extremely focused writers who power through a whole manuscript in a matter of weeks because of their extensive pre-plotting, well, they don’t need any help and probably aren’t reading how-to articles, anyway!)
For ones who write into the mist, sometimes not knowing what happens next can be liberating but in extreme cases it can cause writer’s block. If you have a great scene for the future of your newly acquainted couple, go ahead and write it. You can fill in the blanks with other great scenes until you get there. Even if the scene is just bare bones dialogue, write it down. Even if it’s just a kiss, a funny expression, or a telling realization, put it on paper (or in your computer). Write yourself notes in the little notebook in your purse or the larger one beside your bed. If you drive a lot, get a cheap tape recorder and talk at it.
You will hopefully discover it frees your muse when you allow your brain to plot ahead a little. As you continue to work your way through the body of the novel, plug your scribbles and snatches into the narrative and build on them. You may get entire chapters in the blink of an eye with the addition of transitions and layering for the senses.
What I’ve found is that I trail off about two-thirds of the way through my manuscripts. If I bull through with my eyes closed, it’s torturous, but if I vault ahead to the grand finale, it’s suddenly easier to complete chapters 17 through 22. Think of it as giving yourself points on a map to drive towards — or veer away from entirely, should the muse strike you. But at least it will be the muse striking you and you won’t be striking yourself in the forehead because your brain isn’t working and you can’t write.
Some authors might fear that if they write the “good parts” first, the rest will be boring and never make it to the screen. Well, that is a concern, but nobody said writing a whole book was effortless, and a successful writer will tell you all manuscripts are full of sections that are exciting to write as well as sections that are less so.
One aspiring author I know says she forbids herself to polish her snatches after she writes them down so that the excitement doesn’t fade and she still has something to look forward to. And too, not all strategies will work for all authors.
Another writer I know who describes herself as midway between a plotter and a “pantser”, told me that writing out of sequence has done wonders for her productivity. She thinks it keeps her jazzed about her story because she gets to write what is inspiring her NOW instead of holding herself back to what's next in the plot.
As with Club 100, writing a snatch or two every day will keep your story fresh in your memory and easier to slip into each time you have access to a keyboard, an AlphaSmart (which is very handy for snatches), or a pen and paper. It’s like all that algebra we learned in high school or college. If you don’t use it, you’ll forget it, so use it every day. Snatch away!
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--In Print, Samhain Publishing
LIAM'S GOLD--In Electrons, Samhain Publishing
01 December 2008
Within the context of the Dungeons & Dragons game, the drow were forced
underground in what is now known as the Underdark after the great war amongst
the elves, a vast system of caverns and tunnels spanning much of the continent.
The drow live in city-states in the Underdark, becoming one of the most powerful
The drow are well adapted to seeing in the dark, and they loathe the light of the surface. Some magic weapons, armor, and various other items of the drow disintegrate on contact with sunlight.
Drow characters are extremely intelligent, charismatic and dexterous, but share
surface elves' comparative frailty and slight frames. Females tend to be bigger and stronger than males. Drow are characterized by white or silver hair and obsidian black skin. Their eyes are red (or rarely gray, violet, or yellow) in darkness and green in normal light. Drow have several kinds of innate spell powers and spell resistance. This is balanced by their weakness in daylight. Also, drow weapons and armor (usually made of adamantite or another metal unique to the Underdark) slowly lose their magical properties if exposed to the sun.
In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons second edition, adamantite disintegrates upon exposure to sunlight unless specifically treated. Drow also employ the unusual hand crossbow, firing small, though very lethal, darts. Half-drow are the result of crossbreeding between another race and a drow, and share characteristics of both. (The term "half-drow" usually refers to one who is half drow and half human.) Half-drow are also generally evil; however, half-drow of differing alignments are more common than non-evil full drow.
Drow males are commonly wizards or fighters. Females are almost always clerics and almost never wizards.
As a race, drow are usually evil.
28 November 2008
Fitting, don't you think?
Or not, based on the straining of my seams today.
Yesterday, we feasted. There were 11 dishes on the Thanksgiving dinner table, not to mention the two desserts. Seven people had no hope of consuming even a quarter of what was made. Dh and I tend to, umm, cook for leftovers. I predict that at this rate, we may finish the leftovers just in time to make Christmas dinner.
Anyway, the way we're waddling around the house today put me in mind of the venial sin of Gluttony. Over-indulgence. Greed. Rapacity. Of ravenous appetite. Pigginess. Even edacity.
Did you know that there are gods of gluttony? It seems reasonable, in fact. Gods were typically aggrandized versions of humanity. Their sins or nobility amplified a thousandfold. Surprisingly, however, there are only two reliably mentioned gods who symbolized indulgence in food.
The first is the minor goddess Adephagia. There is very little documentation about her, but while some sources list her as a goddess of gluttony (phagos means "a voracious man, a glutton.") there are others that hail her as a goddess of bounty, rather than excess. Unfortunately, her name is also synonymous with bulimia: adephagia.
Japan, on the other hand, gives us the shapeshifting Tanuki. Comical and round, the Tanuki is "plump, comical brother of the fox, equally prone to mischief and
shape-changing and the deception of humans."
Tanuki is round and tubby, often depicted holding a big bottle of sake. He can make leaves look like coins, so he doesn't have to pay for his indulgences and yeah, those are his testicles. The money he tricks people with is used to pay for wine and women, so those are...wow. Kind of distracting!!
Modern statues of the Tanuki often leave out this, er, little detail. *gg* But he's a very popular figure in front of bars and stores. No doubt the shop-owners hope that their patrons will pay out in real money what the Tanuki pays out in yard trash and IOUs.
Gods do depict human frailties, and our sins are no exception. Nevertheless, enjoy the after-turkey glow while you can!
26 November 2008
I went to post this morning - my internet was down.
I tried again when it came up, but Monkeyboy, who is sick, started to cry and needed medicine and ginger ale.
I "will come right back". (which of course turned into doing most of the morning and lunchtime before sitting back down.)
I went to post this afternoon, blogger wouldn't let me in.
Double checked my password information.
I went to post once that came in, and my son woke from his naptime, crying and miserable (he's getting teeth.)
Was it a sign I shouldn't post? Or just Bad Timing all around?*
But it got me wondering. How many 'signs' do people need? In fiction, it tends to come in threes - once your poor character has had three warnings, or three failures, or three successes, it's a sign. In real life, every individual seems to have a limit on how many things they need to see/hear in order to believe they're being given some sort of message.
So how many is it for you? How many cute little babies do you have to see and coo over before you're willing to take it as "A sign" you should have just one more? How many books have to fall off the shelf in your local bookstore or library before you decide it is one you should read?
Is it just "internet issues"? Or was there some reason I was supposed to post on this topic today?
I love these questions :-D They're why I'm a writer ;) I can answer them a thousand different ways, depending on my mood.
*I often say I'm going to post these ahead of time, but never manage to do it. Which is just bad time management, and not A Sign.
24 November 2008
If you’re a woman in the world, you’re a person with body issues. Hopefully they’re minor issues, curly hair you want straight, an upturn nose too cute to be taken seriously, things you live with and move on. But all too often they’re major issues that come with negative self-talk, dark thoughts that can number in the triple digits in a day concerning weight, body shape and more. Magazines and other mass media are given the blame for unrealistic expectations, but what part do books play? And if they aren’t part of the problem, have they done enough to be part of the solution?
I read more and more books where the heroine does not have a perfect body by Western standards, many of them romances or urban fantasies where romance plays a factor. This of course is wonderful, but I’m noticing a pattern that disturbs me. The hero, (especially if he’s supernatural and long-lived enough to have seen beauty standards change), is always perfectly happy and deeply aroused by the “curvy”, “womanly”, “voluptuous” body of the heroine. Yay for men who like real women! Our heroine is a different story however.
Many times her negative self-image is displayed on the page and there’s the utter conviction that the handsome hero in question couldn’t possibly want her. It’s real. I’ve had that conversation with girlfriends so I know. But is it helpful? Does it liberate readers to have a main character with the same insecurities they’ve gone through? Or does it make it seem like the heroine is being loved despite her weight/shape/size rather than because of it?
As readers, should we demand more heroines that have found peace with their bodies, or even better, those who revel in who they are? As writers should we work to write more heroines who are bold, sexy, sassy, sizes 12/14/16 and unapologetic about it? And do we fully believe they’d sell? I know I do, but I’m not entirely sure about the industry.
Chick-lit often covered the body-image topic in the aforementioned “he wants me?” pattern of romantic adventure. Or it walked the road of the successful diet where the heroine was finally able to feel good about herself having earned it through sweat and tears and perseverance; becoming a creature worthy of love. I’m thinking we’ve done that dance and can move along. Where are the confident and capable heroines who feel good about their bodies and whose size is a descriptor not an obstacle?
What are some of your favorite books that dealt with average (or near average) size women living their lives without a diet or negative thought in sight? What have you written that fits the picture? What else would you like to see more of on the pages of your favorite genres?
My, this was more questions and than commentary, but it’s what’s on my mind. What’s on yours?
22 November 2008
That thudding you just heard was the sound of my fellow BtV bloggers fainting dead away. I can understand their shock. I thought I’d never find a song that perfectly expresses the totality of my holiday experience.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” always made me want to gnash my teeth. “White Christmas”? Faggeddaboudit. The only thing snow at Christmas ever did for me was turn the three-hour car trip to visit my Philadelphia-based relatives into fourteen hours of white-out torture on I-95. I admit a sneaking fondness for Madonna’s “Santa Baby”, but there’s no way I could limit its application to a single season. One look at my shoe closet and the secret’s out; I’m a Material Girl the whole year round.
Then I saw the first episode of True Blood, the HBO series based on Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire novels, and heard Jace Everett sing the show’s opening theme. Now I realize, the only thing most women think about when they hear “Bad Things” is hot, sweaty vampire sex with Stephen Moyer’s Bill Compton or Alexander Skarsgard’s Eric Northman. Not that I’d throw either of them (or Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen, if it came to that) out of bed for eating crackers, but when Everett wails “I want to do really bad things with you” over the opening montage of car-struck possum and decomposing fox, I don’t think about sex. I think about food—specifically, my mother’s cooking.
Which isn’t to say my formative holidays were roadkill. My childhood Thanksgivings and Christmases were filled with love and the kind of comic catastrophes you can dine out on for life—and where I come from, dining out is very important. I was blessed with a wonderful family and a great mother in every way that mattered. But when it came to all the traditional “wifely skills”… Let’s just say, in my mom’s hands, an oven qualified as a WMD.
Mom was a registered nurse and Army officer. Cooking wasn’t listed anywhere on her efficiency reports until her job description changed from officer to officer’s wife. This was fortunate, because the kitchen was not my mother’s natural habitat. For one thing, her medical training had left her with some rather unique notions of nutritional hygiene. Many was the time I’d come home from school to find her washing frozen steaks with soap and water before sticking them, still hard and glassy, under the broiler. Do you remember the part in A Christmas Story when Ralphie’s about to get his mouth washed out with soap and he fantasizes about going blind from swallowing too much of the wrong brand? The first time I heard his cinematic dad, Darren McGavin yodel “I told you not to use the Lifebuoy!” I laughed so hard I almost needed to change my underwear. I knew that piquant flavor well, though in my case, the taste of soap was more of a seasoning than a punishment.
When Hormel experimented with injecting chili inside their hotdogs, people Mom barely knew wrote to congratulate her on being hired as a consultant. She thought they were complimenting her. But then, she also thought the officers and their wives who attended her cocktail parties adored her Alaskan King Crab dip.
At eight, I knew better. There was a SOP (that’s “standard operating procedure” for those of you not raised on acronyms) passed from the wife of each of my dad’s commanding officers to her successor. The CO, his wife, his executive officer (XO) and the XO’s wife always arrived at my mother’s parties in a group. While the XO’s wife distracted my mom with loud cries of gladness, the CO’s wife would grab me by the elbow and frog march me down the buffet table. She’d point to each dish in turn and demand, “Who made this?”
Since Mom was well-liked, most of the food on her table came from the kitchens of friends and neighbors. But she always included one or two of her “specialties”. Once she identified Mother’s handiwork, the CO’s wife would neutralize it by using the appropriate cutlery to push the contents of the dish under the parsley garnish my mom used to hide the burnt edges circling the plate. Dad’s colleagues and spouses diligently avoided the dishes with the watery holes in the middle, and Mom was never the wiser.
Even my dad, who worshipped the puncture marks in the ground made by the stiletto heels of Mom’s size six shoes, practiced gustatory avoidance tactics. But he was a lot sneakier about it. He’d drag himself home after working a twelve-hour day and croon, “Jean, you look beat. Why don’t you let me take you out?” On a major’s salary, we ate out more often than any full colonel’s family on the base. (Generals’ families didn’t need to eat out; back then, they were entitled to the service of professional cooks. The dogs.)
Thanksgivings we ate in the hospital mess hall. My dad claimed it was critical to the morale of the troops under his command. In fact, since he was a hospital registrar, most of his “troops” were civilians—who were probably at home enjoying home-cooked turkey with all the trimmings. But it was a good line. I didn’t learn the truth until years later, when a medical issue prompted him to confess. I think he wanted to clear his conscience just in case. But it’s telling that, for all confession’s supposed to be good for the soul, he never felt quite close enough to death to confess his dining lies to Mother.
However, the kitchen crimes Mom committed as an Army wife were only a foretaste of mess-terpieces to come. The first years after dad retired weren’t so bad. I learned to cook early. It was a matter of self-preservation, and Dad reaped the giant, man-sized portion of the benefits. But much as I loved my parents, these halcyon days of healthy eating doomed to end. And soon. I always planned to leave the nest as soon as I graduated college.
Still, what happened next was mostly Dad’s own fault. The year after I graduated college, he bought Mom a big house with the spacious, modern kitchen of her dreams and a basement filled the party equipment of the previous owners. These implements of epicurean destruction included something Mom called a “roaster”—a rectangular crock pot with a temperature dial and strange cooking racks studded with circular holes. Then he bought her the ultimate stove—a gleaming, self-cleaning convection oven, which could also be used as a microwave. Mom was so smitten with it, she wouldn’t even use the self-cleaning fixture. She insisted Dad clean it by hand, as he had all her military-issue stoves.
That oven was the culinary equivalent of Pandora ’s Box. It filled Mom with the drive to cook as never before. Harkening back to her days in the military, Mom warmed up by figuring out the formula whereby whole eggs could be nuked into C-rations.
Then she exploded a pot of spaghetti sauce.
She exploded the pot—the porcelain enameled, cast iron pot—of spaghetti sauce. Ironically, spaghetti sauce was the one thing Mom could cook really well. This ability must’ve been a weird genetic memory passed down from her Italian ancestors, because she certainly couldn’t cook anything else. She used to make the sauce in industrial-sized portions and freeze pots of it for when her family came to visit. (Knowing her longer than the rest of us, visiting relatives generally refused to eat anything else she made unless it went straight from the box to the toaster.)
On the evening in question, Aunt Neli and Uncle Mickey showed up unannounced. Mother reasonably concluded she could never thaw a pot of sauce in time for dinner. Since the sauce she needed was in a porcelain-enameled iron pot, she couldn’t defrost the sauce in the microwave, either. So she set it on one of the stove’s electric burners and turned the dial to the highest setting… and forgot all about it while she and Aunt Neli settled down for an intense discussion of the character, ancestry and personal grooming habits of the in-law of a second cousin once removed.
I happened to be home on holiday and looking forward to the one good meal I didn’t have to cook for myself. I moseyed into the kitchen in time to see what I thought was steam curling from under the lid of the pot. It was starting to shake too. I was about to open my mouth to ask if the pot was supposed to do that when I heard what sounded like a shot.
Having been raised on a succession of military bases, I knew there was only one possible response to that sound. I hit the deck. Luckily, so did my mother, aunt and uncle. Believe me, porcelain-enameled cast iron makes some serious shrapnel.
A less loving man—or a less fatalistic one—would’ve declared the stove off-limits at that point. Not my father. He not only paid to replace the top of the stove, he sprang for redecorating the whole kitchen.
As a result, my mother was still committing cooking atrocities when I finally got married and dragged the spouse home to the ‘rents. I picked a man who could cook too. I was so proud of myself. But I should’ve realized Greg’s ability was no defense against my mom’s determination to reinvent herself as a culinary virtuoso.
She fixed him her special eggs. I nearly lost him then and there. If Greg could’ve found where I hid his running shoes, he would’ve been across the border to Maryland before anybody could catch him.
For dinner, Mom asked us to pick up a rack of pre-cooked spare ribs. Words cannot express the relief we felt at this request. What could she possibly do pre-cooked ribs? All she had to do is throw them into Pyrex dish and nuke ‘em for a few minutes.
We sorely underestimated her.
Well, my mother did microwave the ribs for eight minutes on “High”, as specified in the instructions. But she couldn’t smell the ribs when they were done. Being concerned about safety of improperly heated pre-cooked pork, she set the timer for another ten minutes and nuked the ribs again. She still couldn’t smell them, so she repeated the process. After forty minutes, she figured the meat had to be done, regardless of cooking method. She called everybody in the house to the table and, with a flourish worthy of an Iron Chef season champion, opened the door to the oven. A cloud of gray ash billowed from the stove. Even this did not dampen her enthusiasm. She set the smoking plate on the trivets and announced, “Dinner is served.”
Greg and I were incapable of speech. The ribs looked like something from Ground Zero at Nagasaki. There was nothing left except blackened fingers of bone clawing the sky.
My father, on the other hand, was in his element. His face split in his biggest, sweetest smile. “Well, Jean,” he told my mother brightly, “nobody will ever get trichinosis from this pork.”
Then the s-o-b drove up the street to buy himself a hotdog.
After that, Greg and I knew it was cook or be killed. The next year, with Dad’s help, we shanghaied Christmas dinner. We prepared everything, from the fresh-killed, locally grown turkey Dad bought at the Chestnut Hill market to the homemade gravy and mashed potatoes, to the stuffing, the salad, the vegetables and dessert. The only thing mother was allowed to do was pick out the pre-sliced, pre-cooked ham.
She wasn’t even allowed to warm the ham. Earlier that year she’d made Dad Jello with the pineapple she’d cooked on a canned ham, and he’d been off his feed ever since. Considering my dad had been orphaned at an early age, liked mess hall food and had, by that point, survived more than thirty years of Mother’s cooking, that’s saying an awful lot—emphasis on the awful.
Mom’s family raved about the dinner. They couldn’t sing Greg’s praises loudly enough. They even spared a kind word for my contributions to the feast.
Mother could not allow this insult to her culinary honor to go unavenged. She bided her time. The next year, she bought a fresh-killed local turkey. At the after-Thanksgiving sale. She stuck it in the freezer. Two weeks before Christmas, she set bird out in the unheated, glassed-in breezeway between the house and the garage to thaw. Nobody paid any attention, because that’s where she always put gifts of fruitcake and cookies, and any large tchotchkes displaced by her holiday decorations. Who’d notice one more lump of butcher paper and plastic wrap in the middle of all that stuff?
Greg and I didn’t know to look. In blissful ignorance of all her plans, we arrived late that Christmas Eve. Exhausted as we were from work and the after-dark drive from Virginia to Pennsylvania, we immediately inquired about the turkey. Mom ordered Dad to bring it in. Something about the bird didn’t look right. It wasn’t packaged the way it had been the year before. Concerned, Greg prodded it through its wrappings. It didn’t feel right, either. When he said as much, Mom snapped, “Oh, it’s all in your head.”
Too tired to argue, I shrugged and asked Greg to carry the bird to the frig in the garage. “What are you doing that for?” my mom demanded. “It can stay in the breezeway.”
“No,” I said. “It needs to be refrigerated to keep it from spoiling. The temperature in the breezeway’s too variable.”
Mom pouted, but she let me rearrange the contents of the garage refrigerator to accommodate the bird. At that point, I should’ve suspected something was wrong. But Greg and I were so tired. We could barely work up the energy to ask for an early wake-up call and haul our suitcases to our bedroom.
The wake-up call never came. My first clue that the day wasn’t going to go as planned came when I opened my eyes to a light-filled bedroom. The bedroom we used in my parents’ house faced northwest. It never saw daylight until almost noon. Frantic, I pushed Greg out of bed and staggered into the kitchen.
A pot of sausage stuffing was warming on one burner of the stove. Turkey giblets and water—nothing but water—were boiling in another pot. The remaining burners were occupied by the hot water kettle and something that might’ve been oatmeal in another dimension. The oven was cold. I opened it and found the racks loaded with pyrex dishes filled with canned refrigerator rolls and a mush Mother identified as mixed turnips and sweet potatoes. “With the skins,” she added proudly.
“Oh God,” I groaned, squeezing my temples. “The family’s going to be here in an hour and a half. We’ll never get the turkey cooked in time.”
“Don’t be silly,” Mom said. “It’s almost done.”
“How?” Greg asked.
“I cooked it, of course,” Mom replied.
The prospect of any turkey cooked by my mother was bad enough, but what was worse was she couldn’t possibly have cooked it in that cold oven. For one thing, my mom never woke before 8 a.m., and then only with the greatest reluctance and the kind of maddened roaring usually associated with Boris Karloff’s depiction of Frankensteins’s monster. For another, she’d insist on roasting the hapless bird until it resembled cracklings stuffed with sawdust—a four-hour process at the very least. It was barely noon.
“Where?” Greg asked as I croaked, “You didn’t. Not the roaster. Please, tell me you didn’t try to cook the turkey in the roaster.”
The roaster which burned the edges of whatever was cooked on those funny racks with the circular holes. The roaster which left the middle uncooked and runny.
“I don’t know why you don’t like it,” Mom said. “It always worked fine for me.”
“That sounds ominous,” Greg said as Mom left to retrieve her turkey from the basement.
“It gets worse,” I said, pointing to the giblet water that would never in anyone’s wildest dream turn into anything resembling gravy.
Greg gulped. “At least we have ham. You did say she bought a ham.”
“She said she did. I’d better check.” I turned to open the kitchen door to the breezeway. An unearthly keening from the basement stopped me in my tracks.
“You never told me your house was haunted,” said the love of my life. It was as close as he ever came to death at my hands. The only thing that saved him from instant strangulation was the sound of Mother’s feet pounding up the cellar stairs, and the sure and certain knowledge I needed my fingers free to deal with whatever disaster she was about to foist upon us.
Still caterwauling, Mom ran into the kitchen. At first I was afraid she’d burned herself. Steam whistled from the foil-wrapped aluminum roasting pan she carried in front of her. But her hands were safely gloved with oven mitts.
“I think I overcooked it!” she wailed.
Greg pressed his lips together to keep from stating the obvious. “Put the pan down,” I said in a strained voice.
Mom dropped the pan on the hot pads she’d placed on the kitchen table for that purpose. Stripping off her mitts, she ripped the foil off the pan.
The turkey, I swear to you, sighed. Then, with a great whoosh of air, it imploded. All that was left was a concave mass of flaccid, quivering flesh with moist, brown wing tips and legs sticking out like the four cardinal points of the compass.
Eyes wide behind his glasses, Greg stuck a cigarette in his mouth and headed to the basement. It was the only place he could smoke inside my parents’ house. For once, I was tempted to join him, and I’ve never smoked in my life.
Mom yowled an invocation to Cthulhu. Dad appeared. She held out her arms like she wanted him to pick her up and carry her away from all this. She was small enough and he was tall enough that it was still technically possible, despite their age. But like me, Dad couldn’t tear his gaze away from the nameless horror that used to be a turkey.
“Hotdogs. Must. Get. Hotdogs,” he gasped and ran out to the garage. He started his car and zipped down the street in less time than it took Greg finished his cigarette and return from the basement.
“Don’t forget the parsley,” Mom yelled after Dad's retreating back. “If we put enough parsley on the plate, they’ll never notice how it looks.”
“No, Mom, they will. Give me the bird. We need to bury it before Greg’s parents arrive. You don’t want in-laws—” I italicized the word “—to see it like this.”
For once, the terrible threat of embarrassment in front of relatives by marriage failed to bring Mom to her senses. Using the mitts like potholders, she clutched the pan as close to her chest as she dared. “No, it’s my turkey. You had your turkey last year. This one’s mine. Mine! All mine!”
“Okay, Mom, it’s yours. But you need to put it down and get dressed, right?”
“So do you,” Mom said, her expression sly. Think Golem talking about his Precious, and you’ve got the look pasted across my mother’s face at that moment.
Greg emerged from the basement. “I’ll lay out the turkey,” he said.
“You promise,” Mom demanded. “You’ve got to promise.”
“Sure, I promise,” Greg said. “It probably isn’t any worse than a turkey cooked in the dishwasher.”
Satisfied, Mom scurried to her bedroom to get dressed. I crossed my arms and glared at Greg. “How could you serve that, that thing to your worst enemy, much less people who know where you live? And what’s this crap about cooking in a dishwasher?”
“That thing you call a roaster—it’s the rectangular pot with the thermostat on top of the white cabinet, right?”
“Yeah,” I said uncertainly.
“It’s got racks with round openings the size of quarters.”
“And your point?”
“That isn’t a roaster. It’s an autoclave. It’s what they use in hospitals to sterilize test tubes. With steam. Your mom was a nurse. Didn’t she ever mention it?”
No, as a matter of fact, she didn’t. She didn’t mention the whole two week “defrost” in the breezeway either. This meant that no matter how hard Greg, Dad and I tried to steer the company toward the ham, salad and vegetables I prepared in the last hour before dinner, they insisted on trying the bird. To be fair, Greg’s parents and all my aunts and uncles were in their sixties and seventies, and very worried about what the salt in the ham would do to their blood pressure. But knowing Mother, they really should’ve worried more about other parts of their anatomies. Those parts weren’t as young as they used to be either.
But in keeping with the spirit of the season, they were all very kind about it. No one charged Dad for the emergency room visits they all made later that night. Or all the new prescription medicines and antibiotics they had to take. For a month.
Mother thought the party was a tremendous success—a triumph undimmed by the fact Greg’s parents carefully arranged to never eat in her house again. Of course, considering how she felt about in-laws, that might've been made of win too.
She didn’t get sick either. I never could figure that part out. Greg muttered darkly about Lovecraftian mutations, but Dad was the Ward out of Providence. Mom was a Biferie out of Philadelphia, so that couldn’t be it. Even so, I’m awfully glad she didn’t live long enough to see the True Blood credits. I shudder think of what she might’ve done with possum.