30 June 2008
The Horror Beneath the Bathroom Sink
The ice storm that took out our county’s power grid and sent my husband, son and myself scurrying to the relative safety of my brother’s farm was deadly still and utterly quiet. We sat huddled together next to the wood heater, with Coleman lanterns casting stark eerie shadows throughout the aging farmhouse. Just beyond the blackened windows we could hear the agonized groans from tall pines and hickory trees, and finally the loud snap and subsequent crash as those trees hit the ground. Aside from that, there was nothing. Not even the wind in the eaves or the startled cry of night birds. And we, being of hearty Cherokee, Kiowa and Pioneer stock, did as our ancestors did. We sat by the fire, holding our breaths, waiting out the storm, fearing what we’d find in the morning.
My novel, Mercer’s Bayou was born this night although at the time I didn’t know it. I did know that the silence, the darkness and the cold, punctuated by isolation and the horrid snapping and crashing of trees made me wonder what dark and awful things might be lurking out in the woods. And we living not far from the river bottoms that spawned the legendary Fouke Monster, there was no telling what might be going on out there.
At this time I was feeling a bit nervous. I needed some privacy. I took a lamp, a small notebook and pen and went to the bathroom. I sat on the commode lid and contemplated the situation as I took notes.
What frightened me the most in this situation? Was it the unknown that was occurring out in darkness so thick it literally pressed against the bathroom window, or was it the way we saw our friends and neighbors behave while we were in town earlier that day trying to buy batteries and gasoline?
As I relaxed and thought these things through, a scene formed in my mind of a lovely athletic woman being pursued by men with high powered rifles. If she was hiding in this house out here in the wilderness and they had broken in on her, how would she escape?
The front and back doors would be blocked no doubt. The men would be smart enough to separate and make sure she couldn’t get out of either door. It was quite obvious, no matter how svelte she was, there was no way she could climb out of one of the windows. My heroine was trapped.
My eyes went to the bathroom sink’s cabinet. It was low, true, but wide and built fairly deep. Could a smallish woman hide in there?
I had to find out. So I opened the cabinet doors and looked inside. The sink’s bowl was deeper than I expected and the pipe ran in an S shape down into the floor. There was nothing else inside but even so, it’d be a tight fit. I adjusted the lantern, the shadows in deep contrast against the bright light. I looked in. If I ducked my head I reasoned, and made sure my legs straddled the pipe, I was sure I could get in.
So, for purely research reasons, I crawled inside.
I’m considerably heavier than Megan, my heroine but I was still able to get in without too much finagling. The bowl was hard and crusty on the back of my neck. I didn’t want to think about that, or what might be crawling around trying to find a way into my sweater. I moved one leg carefully, so I could straddle the pipe without kicking it loose. I shoved my shoulders into the very back of the cabinet. With my left hand, I closed the cabinet door.
It was actually lighter inside it than I realized. The light from the lantern shone through the cracks. The cabinet was dim, musty and smelled of old cleansers and dust. A blast of frigid air rose from the hole the pipe went through. It was big enough; I decided that something small could get in if it chose. A rat perhaps. Or even a skunk if it was small enough. I made a mental note to tell my brother about that.
At that moment a blast shook the house. I shrieked, bumped the back of my head on the sink, shoving my shoulder outward and rattling the cabinet door and banging my knee. I heard feet running down the length of the hallway. The door to the bathroom slammed open, then the cabinet door. My thirteen year old niece stared down quizzically at me.
“Aunt Pat, what are you doing in the cabinet?”
“Never mind that,” I replied. “What was that noise?”
“That was daddy,” my niece replied in that bored voice all teenagers seem to have. “He shot a possum underneath the house.”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed while my niece helped me out of the cabinet. On the way back to the living room, we told every red neck joke we could think of.
And here, kiddies, is the scene that came from that night. Happy reading.
Megan yanked open the bathroom door. She slid into the cabinet under the sink, pulling the door closed behind her. Her cheek rested against a rusted pipe and the cramped enclosure smelled faintly of Lifebuoy and rat shit. Her heart pounded in her ears. She bit her lip when she heard the back door crash open.
Despite the grinding discomfort of a leg cramp, Megan remained where she was as they ransacked the trailer. They’re going through the living room and the kitchen now, she thought as she heard cabinet doors opening and closing. What am I going to do when they get here? She could hear their muffled voices, soft oaths coupled with deep southern male voices. Her heart beat a cadence to their chant.
Something smashed to the floor. Something loud and made of glass.
The jelly jar and opened can of peas, she thought. Her mind raced. I left them on the cabinet top. They’ll see them. They’ll know I’m here.
“Looks like the jungle rats bailed,” one of them said.
“Yeah and good riddance, praise God.”
“Any sign of the Whore?”
“Not from any of the other trailers. Haven’t checked the back yet.”
“If she’s here, bring her here. Don’t hurt her. We’re supposed to take her to the preacher so she can meet Jesus.”
“Well, go on down and check the rest of the rooms.”
“Won’t leave any stone unturned,” his partner replied. His heavy boots made the floor underneath her vibrate. “Uh, since she’s a whore, can we?”
“No,” the other voice said. “Just find her so we can take her to the preacher.”
“You ain’t no fun at all, Boss. No fun at all.”
“Just cut the shit and go find her.”
She could hear him moving down the hall now. Tiny beads of sweat broke out on her brow, stinging and blurring her eyes. It ran down to the tip of her nose and dripped onto the floor.
The heavy boots stopped moving. She heard the bathroom door open. Hail Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with you, she prayed silently. She scooted deeper into the cabinet.
As she moved aside, Megan saw a hole in the floor. It was the size of her fist, maybe a little larger. It was certainly not big enough for her to climb through. Her eyes widened when she saw movement in the hole. At the same time the hunter strode into the bathroom.
“Here kitty, kitty,” he said as he moved around the room.
Megan bit down hard on her tongue. Her eyes were riveted to the hole. She sat, stunned as she watched a small, sharp muzzle investigate the edges of the hole. Megan caught her breath. A rat-sized skunk squeezed through the opening in the floor. It shook its greasy fur, clamored up her leg and began scratching at the cabinet door.
Too horrified to move, she remained squeezed against the back of the vanity. The rusted sink bowl shoved against her neck and side of her head while the skunk climbed off her knee. It explored the thin rubber sole of her shoe then began nibbling on the fabric. Megan remained still even though her heart pounded at the thought of contracting rabies if the animal’s teeth should connect with the tender flesh just underneath the sole. She squeezed her eyes shut. Oh God, she prayed. That man’s right next to the cabinet door.
29 June 2008
The Queen of Egyptian Gods! Wife of Osiris, mother of Horus, and the goddess of magic and symbol of motherhood. She tracked down all 13 pieces of her husband when his brother, Set, cut him up after he had stuffed him into a box and Isis retrieved him. If nothing else, she's persistent. Don't mess with Isis.
If he looks like a mummy, well, there's a really good reason for that. At first, he was the God of Goodness. But when his brother tricked him into a coffin during a banquet and he was ressurrected, he became the God of the Dead. Ultimate judge, using the Feather of Maat) of who gets to pass into the afterlife and who gets eaten by the Ammut. Symbol of eternal life (which was THE most important thing to the Ancient Egyptians) as well as fertility.
The falcon headed god, and son of Isis and Osiris. Thoth, the God of Wisdom, offered to help him find his father - all he had to do was look him in the eye. Set distracted Horus by turning himself into a pig, and the result was Horus' eye was burned out. The eye of Horus is a powerful Egyptian symbol. Protector and guide to all the Pharaohs.
God of Mummification. He has a jackal's head, and oversees both the transfer of people to the afterlife and guards the Necropolis (city of the Dead). People who performed mummification were priests of Annubis, and his book is the Book of the Dead. No, it doesn't bring them back to life, but contains instructions on mummification, and prayers and spells for the deceased.
Thoth has the head of an ibis - a bird - and is the god of wisdom, knowledge, and language/writing. He tried to help Horus find his father by using his gift of vision. Creator of magic and writing. The mythical Book of Thoth was said to be able to teach man the language of the animals and birds, to see the wind and hear the secrets of the stars.
28 June 2008
Long sultry days stretch into August, full of morning sunshine, afternoon heat, and four o'clock Florida thunderstorms. Mosquitoes the size of small aircraft and silently watchful black snakes have taken over the back yard.
The season brings built in distractions. The pool all but begs for a raft to linger on its unruffled waters. Of course, it needs to be cleaned first. My back patio would be a great place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee, if I didn't have to wade through dusty bikes, strollers, scooters, basketballs, and a mini artist studio to reach the love seat. Then there are the kids, home for several months and full of great ideas. "Let's go to the movies." "Let's go to the park." "Can I play with my cousin?" "Mom, will you play Go Fish with me?"
Somehow I convince myself every year that summer is going to be a time of productivity. With the kids home, I don't have to bracket my day between mirrored morning and afternoon 90 minute car pool trips downtown. There's no rush to get school clothes clean (put a swimsuit on kid), and no structured homework / meal time. But once summer actually hits, there is instead a slow collapse of the productivity that I thought would flourish.
And through it all, my laptop sits unused. More and more, life drags me away from the keyboard. Sometimes kicking and screaming, more often unapologetic for the loss. Because the things that are dragging me away? They aren't going to be there forever.
There's a song on the radio now, sung by Trace Adkins. Brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it. The chorus goes
You're going to miss this
You're going to want this back
You're going to wish these days
Hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're going to miss this
And every time I hear it, I take a deep breath and remind myself that its true. There are interruptions every day that take me from things I want to be doing. But the things that are interrupting me? They are pretty damn important too. And so I'm trying to learn to relax and enjoy the ride, and stop worrying about how long it is taking me to reach the goal.
Summer has barely begun. Next week brings 8 house guests, a birthday / 4th of July party, and all the craziness that goes with that. There will be little sleep, and less writing. But that's OK - its going to be good times.
Bring on the interruptions.
27 June 2008
Also, if you're wondering just what a quirky, irreverent comic has to do with a blog featuring, paranormal and fantasy authors, well, in a roundabout fashion, a lot. For this author anyway.
I can still remember staying up late and watching him with the sound turned down so my mama wouldn't hear those infamous 7 words you can't say on television. And snickering about them, then, listening when he kept talking.
Carlin, was in a word--irreverent. He talked about everything from the mundane to the sacred, and he talked about in the same disrepectful, but profanely funny way that had me a good southern girl gaping, then letting out shocked laughter. Because, of course, everything he said was right. Slyly, his humor slid into my daily life. People would say stupid things and I'd hear his voice, spewing that blatant disregard for the Great and Powerful Machine of Established Religion (and of course, politics). Soon he had me questioning everything about race, religion, and politics; and I came up with answers that didn't fit in with those around me.
His brand of humor was more than a breath of fresh air in my narrow existence; it was an anti-establishment tempest that blew me so far left, I was never really 'right' again. Because of his 7 dirty words and what they really represented, I learned to make my own decisions. I know that it's not the answers I find that matter, not really. It's that I uses my brain and asked the questions in the first place. That's what's important.
Thanks for those dirty words,George,
25 June 2008
Sounds terrific, huh? You’ve heard about these jobs. Companies pay people to shop, dine out and see movies so they can fill out a questionnaire detailing their experiences. The companies need the information for their marketing plans. They need regular folks to give their opinions to find out what their company or their store is doing right─and what they’re doing wrong..
Can you imagine floating around the mall, spending hours checking out the latest fashions and getting paid for it? Or how about buying a beautiful silk blouse all the while knowing your Mystery Shopper employer will reimburse you? The professional shopper has it made, right?
I wouldn’t know.
Why? Because I Am a Professional Grocery Shopper. Yeah, I know. That one extra word pops the bubble on the fantasy, doesn’t it? Mystery shopper? Sure, sign me up. Grocery shopper? Urgh.
Instead of spending my days shopping in trendy boutiques, scouring the stores for that exact item everyone dreams of owning and getting paid for my opinion, I’m sitting on the floor next to my coffee table with newspapers and circulars spread out before me, cutting coupons and sales ads. Yep. Real fun. NOT.
But it does pay off. I may not have a company paying me to cut out my coupons, but my meager savings do make a difference. With gas prices soaring sky high─actually, I might not hate paying over $4 per gallon if my car could really fly─and everything else getting more expensive, I have to find inventive ways to squeeze every cent out of the family budget. Uh-huh. And you thought published authors led a glamorous life, didn’t you? Ha!
As I flip through my Sunday paper, grabbing the flyers before the dogs get their teeth into them, I find that I’ve sunk to a new low. Did I truly just squeal for joy at the sight of a two-for-one coupon? Oh, Beverly, how low can you go? Pretty darn low. Still, I clip away.
After awhile, however, something happens. My first grocery shopping trip earns over twenty dollars in savings. We’re talking real savings, not just the savings the store gives you with their customer saver card after they’ve already inflated the price. “Well, how about that?” I say. With the success of the first week, I give the whole coupon thing another go. The next week, I clip more coupons and start gathering the local stores’ circulars boasting their weekly bargains. When I get home from shopping, I find I’ve saved over thirty dollars. Could this be real? I decide to keep riding the wave before it all comes crashing down.
Amazingly, after weeks of cutting and filing away coupons, checking for sales, and even adding rebates to the mix, I realize something more. Not only am I saving on average around thirty to forty dollars each week on my grocery bill, I’m─dare I say it? ─having fun!
Therefore, I stand before you a changed person. Without shame or embarrassment, I can now proudly announce…I Am a Professional Grocery Shopper.
Giggle, Gasp & Sigh with a Beverly Rae Romance
24 June 2008
I am proud to announce the release of Dunmore Rising today, Book IV in my Demons of Dunmore series.
Love is mightier than the sword…
Sir Graham Dunmore is looking forward to competing in his first summer tournament—until he gets saddled with babysitting a prince in disguise, three fairy-godmothers he would much rather see fly back to where they came from, and a woman for a squire. Gone for years, Jiliana is now back in Westmyre, older, colder, with a lethal fighting skill that leaves him both impressed and intrigued.
Jili doesn’t recognize this sleek, well-trained man as the awkward friend from her youth. But seeing Graham again brings back painful memories of a brutal past. One that forces her to live a life of tight control, lest one slip unleash a deadly monster capable of hurting everyone in her path.
Yet as Graham patiently teaches her the arts of love, Jili has a glimmer of hope that she can finally control the killer that lurks inside her—until a ninja assassin begins to stalk the tournament.
With a heavy heart, she realizes Graham is going to need every skill she possesses to protect the prince—the very skills that could tear them apart forever.
Warning: This title contains cranky fairies, a gorgeous hero, and a heroine who just about kicks his ass…plus really sizzling sex told in naughty language.
Here is a special excerpt:
Graham knew the minute he entered the prince’s tent the night was not going to go well. Silk pillows and soft fur rugs were strewn over the floor, next to trays filled with wine and ale from every part of the kingdom. Mostly naked dancers writhed to a sultry drum-beat, descending on him like a swarm of locusts as soon as he’d been granted entrance.
And in the midst of all the decadence, Bert sat surrounded by half a dozen of the loveliest women there.
“Well, well, well.” Graham bent over to step beneath a fall of silk draped from the ceiling. “To what do I owe this honor?” He smiled wolfishly at the woman dressed in only several long pearl necklaces who handed him a mug of ale. “My thanks.”
Jili would be appalled at the obvious excess, he thought, sitting where the prince indicated. As his mind pictured her dressed in nothing but strands of jewels, his cock raised its head in anticipation. Decadent it might be, but he knew she would move even more gracefully than the dancers in the tent. In fact, the more he studied them, the more they seemed to lack a certain…elegance. Whereas Jili moved with an effortless poise and style, these women were too practiced. Too vulgar, he realized in amazement as his mind finally grasped the truth. What would have set his loins on fire not so many weeks ago now looked base and pitiably put-on.
He took a long drink and studied Bert over the rim of the glass. What did the princeling have planned for him tonight?
“Beautiful, aren’t they?” The prince pulled one of his harem close and pinched a heavily rouged nipple. The color smeared, and for the very first time in his life, Graham was actually embarrassed to be in such debauched and wanton company.
“You would pay for nothing but the best,” he answered smoothly before finishing his ale and motioning for another. “Surely you didn’t bring them all with you? ’Twould not seem right that a lowly knight could afford such expensive entertainment.”
“A gift from Earl Rulfert to his favorite in the tournament. He sends them from the castle every night.” Bert laughed and nudged his hand between the woman’s legs. She gasped in a contrived voice and licked her lips at Graham.
He smiled back, not enjoying the show in the least. “The earl knows who you are.” On some level Graham had known it all along.
“How many others? Your anonymity grows weaker by the day.”
The prince shrugged one shoulder negligently. “As long as the men continue to challenge me in the lists, I don’t care who knows.” He dismissed the subject in the blink of an eye, his smile growing feral in the flickering light of the candles. “I have a challenge for you.” A motion of his hand had six women flocking to sit with Graham, a perfect match for the prince’s companions.
Graham raised a mocking brow. “A challenge you will undoubtedly fail.” He drank the second glass faster than the first and gestured for a third.
Bert laughed and the women added their chorus of vapid giggles. Graham made a pretense of stroking the hair of the woman who’d put her head on his lap. She smelled of liquor and stale sex, a combination that his treacherous manhood refused to be aroused by.
When her hand inched slowly toward his crotch, he grabbed the woman’s wrist and growled. She laughed, but did not move to touch him again. Bert’s eyes narrowed in dark amusement and Graham knew that he’d seen the gesture for what it truly was…a revulsion he couldn’t hide.
“I heard you topped five women in a single night,” Bert said carelessly. “A record we both share.”
The prince continued without a pause, glancing pointedly at the dozen women between them. “Six each. I’ll wager I finish mine long before you finish yours.” He spread his legs and pulled one woman’s head between his thighs, rubbing his groin into her face. Her fingers caressed him through his breeches as her teeth worked to untie the lacings. The prince gritted his teeth as she stroked him into full arousal.
23 June 2008
Anyhoo, I wrote a humorous post about the little detours I seem to take while doing research. I don't know if I can recapture the levity of the original, but perhaps I can bring you over to the darkside of detours.
Yesterday, I was thumbing through a book of demons and other subversive spirits, looking for a name I could use in my hot erotic paranormal romance (which just so happens is beginning to read like a hot erotic paranormal romantic comedy thanks to my characters putting their two cents in at every turn). But as I'm looking through my reference book, I stumbled across a little tidbit of folklore that was so inviting, I stopped to read it and watched as my imagination took off like a intercontinental ballistic missle. Now, I do not lack for ideas by any stretch. I have enough story files on deck to keep me in plot lines until at least 2020. So, you can imagine how being hit with another flash of creativity wasn't so much a "Voila" as an "Oh no."
Quite honestly, I have a hard time concentrating on the current WIPs when other ideas are swimming around like hungry sharks. I need to get an outline written, explore where the story goes or it will bug the pure shit out of me until I do, clogging up my brain pan and making it impossible to make any headway on the projects I'm supposed to be working on. (Breath). However, I do like the folklore and idea and can see where I can take it to the backdrop of one of my favorite eerie places on earth already rich in folklore: the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
So, when am I going to get to this idea that is tapping me on the shoulder and jumping up and down in place? I haven't the foggiest. All I know is, it's tucked away for future use, or if a special project comes along that attracts my attention and fits the idea.
Take the detours. Let your imagination run wild. You might just find yourself sitting on your next big best-seller.
18 June 2008
Luckily for Tali.
In Tali's Realm, fairies became dependent upon their magic to handle day to day tasks, and when magic disappeared from the Realm for a period of time, there was much hardship, chaos and starvation. Now, fairies are sent to remote areas of humanspace -- our current world -- to learn to get by without magic. They master the basics of building fires, cooking food, setting up camp, digging latrines, avoiding humans, and so on and so forth.
Tali has absolutely no desire to live in a tent and boil water for drinking, so as soon as her survival training teammates turn their backs, she uses some contraband magic to transport herself to Vegas, where the adventure of her lifetime commences.
Me: Tali, what motivated you break the long-standing rules of your people and hightail it off on your own?
Tali: I didn't make those rules, the Fairy Court did. They're over-protective, secretive, ancient geezers who ignore the fact that our salvation -- you know, if magic disappeared in the Realm again -- would be mingling with humans, not sleeping on the ground and eating nuts and berries in some spirit-forsaken wilderness. I'm so sure the Court wouldn't buy some mansion somewhere, to rest their old fey bones on fancy human beds and drive big cars and eat hamburgers.
Me: In other words, because you disagreed with the rules, that means you weren't under any obligation to obey them? What makes you so special?
Tali: I'm a twosies. Come on, human. You created my world. You know that. All fairies are multiple births but twins are the strongest magically, blah blah blah, my sister and I will be part of the Court some day, blah blah, so yeah, I'm special...whether I want to be or not. I was really looking forward to being normal for two weeks. A normal human tourist in Vegas, baby!
Me: But still. Your little side trip risked your safety and your sister's wellbeing, because if you got killed, considering the psychic connection twin fairies have, she might die, too. Not to mention you endangered the whole fairy Realm when it came right down to it. Some readers might say you were a bit TSTL.
Tali: What is this TSTL? That's not a human word I recognize.
Me: You must have skipped that class.
Tali: Human Studies was the one class I didn't skip. I learned a lot more eavesdropping on the Court than I did in History of Magic. You're making stuff up again, aren't you?
Me: It's kind of my job.
Tali: Seriously, what's TSTL?
Me: It's an acronym that stands for--
Tali: Right, acronym! T...S...T...L. The Sexiest Tali Alive!
Me: No, it stands for--
Tali: Terrific Story They'll Love.
Me: Uh, no. Although they will. It's Too S--
Tali: Too Sexy To... Laugh. No, I laugh all the time. Love. No, I'm quite loveable. Just ask Jake. He's too sexy. Spirit! Did I tell you about the time he--
Me: It's in the book, but it's too late in the plot to reveal. That's considered a spoiler.
Tali: You told them that? Can't a fairy have any privacy?
Me: You were about to tell me in a public interview.
Tali: This is public? Hi, you guys! I love humans! (blows kisses) We should do lunch. I'll be having the chocolate.
Me: Can we get back to the interview? Like I was saying, your behavior wasn't what one expects from a mature romance novel heroine. You might be eighty in fairy years, but in human years one might say you acted like a headstrong teenager.
Tali: I'm mature enough to know not everyone has to act, look, dress and think exactly the same as everyone else. I like excitement, intrigue and researching human technological advancements. My version of survival training was for the future as much as it was for myself. It's not like I had magic past that initial transport spell. I used my surroundings to get by as best as I could, and that's what my training was all about. Survival. Do you really think fairies would be better off in some forest if they lost their magic? Heck to the no!
Me: That sounds good on paper.
Tali: Which is a good thing, because eventually it'll be on paper.
Me: I know researching humans as a future Court member was a small part of your motivation, but--
Tali: Small? It was most of it. Some of it. Enough of it.
Me: Yeah, I'm not convinced. Readers still might label you TSTL because of the way you--
Tali: I've got it. Too Sexy To Languish!
Me: It stands for Too Stupid to Live.
Tali: I am not!
Me: It could have gone south.
Tali: To Mexico? I'd like to go to Mexico.
Me: No, that means it could have gone very badly indeed. It didn't work out quite the way you expected, did it?
Tali: Surprises are the spice of life. They taste like chocolate.
Me: Taking off on your own, in a foreign country--
Tali: I spoke the language, I studied the culture, I had an escape tooth, and I had a lot of money.
Me: Gold coins?
Tali: Like anyone would have thought that paper stuff would be more desirable than gold.
Me: I think you learned that lesson.
Tali: Oh, shut up. And anyway, it was worth it. I met Jake. Ah, Jake. Total hottie. And smart! When the Fairy Court tracked me down, he--
Me: That's a spoiler too. In fact, I think they've had enough for today. Shall we sign off?
Tali: Hey, next time, interview Jake. I'm busy. I've got a Chip and Dale ballet to watch, and he said no way was he going.
Thanks for stopping by! You can read an excerpt of Tali and Jake's first meet if you sign up for my newsletter and read the 3rd edition, which I recently released: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jodywallace/ It only comes out once every two months, so don't worry you'll be bombarded by promos and solicitations.
My website can be found at http://www.jodywallace.com and my books at http://samhainpublishing.com/authors/jody-wallace
SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--Coming 7/15 from Samhain Publishing
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--Available now from Samhain Publishing
16 June 2008
The stories One & Only and Rare Vintage have been greatly expanded and essentially re-written. They are the first two of my vampire stories and feature the love stories of Atticus & Lissa and Marc & Kelly, who are featured in cameo roles in subsequent books (including Sweeter Than Wine).
In other news, FireDrake came out in ebook forms since last we "spoke." Here's a little bit about it:
A knight most unexpected...
Fifteen years ago, Drake left everything behind for a life in the shadows. While it broke his heart to leave his grieving dragon behind, serving Draconia as head of a network of spies suited him better. Far better than never quite measuring up to Mace, the “perfect” knight his father wished he could have been.
Mace has always done his duty, and done it well. Drake, his childhood friend and rival, was the charmer who effortlessly stole every woman who caught Mace’s eye. Some things never change—not one day back in town, and Drake’s already putting the moves on Krysta, the woman Mace has been courting.
And now the three of them have taken on the dangerous task of rescuing a kidnapped prince.
With each day that passes on their perilous journey, Krysta sinks deeper into the complicated relationship between the two men and their meddling, matchmaking dragons. Mace is clearly the safer choice for a mate; yet Drake tantalizes her with that unpredictable gleam in his eye. When the three of them come together, any sense of torn loyalty burns away in nights of fiery passion.
The safety of the stolen prince hanging in the balance, Krysta accepts the challenge to unite two strong men—and their dragons—into a real family.
Here's the Buy Link, if you're interested. ;-)
My next eBook release will be in August, with Jaci's Experiment, and then I have two print books coming out before the end of the year. Both Sweeter Than Wine and Davin's Quest are available for pre-order on Amazon right now and will be out at the end of October and December, respectively. Like I said... lots going on here! :)
14 June 2008
Yes, you may all pick your jaws up off the floor now. I'll wait. :)
Beaudry's Ghost finally, finally has its sequel. I just turned it in to my editor yesterday. Yeah, that would be Friday the 13th. That's as good a deadline as any, isn't it?
This book has been too long in coming. I knew I wanted - needed - to write Troy's story, the brother of the heroine in Beaudry's Ghost. Readers were demanding it. But I was at a bit of a loss. A ghost romance is a tricky thing in which the author dances a razor thin edge. When you're dealing with a relationship between a living person and a spirit, readers are only willing to suspend disbelief so far.
I'd turned myself inside out making Beaudry exciting, compelling, romantic - and believable. I was out of ideas for Troy, who was the secondary ghost character in that book. How to write another one that I felt carried on the Beaudry legacy, one that readers will happily go along with me on that ride and think "Yeah, that could happen."
There was only one thing I could do: Trust the characters and let them tell me their story.
My newest baby has taken its first steps out of the nest - to my editor's desk. Now it's nail-biting time. I'm too close to it; I have no perspective. This past week I've swung wildly from absolutely loving this story, to staring at it in despair, sure that a drunken monkey could have written it better. Every author hits that wall during the birthing process.
Now without further ado, I'd like to share a short, unedited excerpt from the sequel to Beaudry's Ghost, working title "Dark Side of Light". Enjoy!
Copyright 2008 Carolan Ivey, All Rights Reserved.
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 make the 3,000-mile spatial jump, on top of staying 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 lost control of his energy and faltered, 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 wind and waves clawed at them from everywhere else.
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 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 into her lungs. 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. Now every drop of rain hitting his skin felt like a needle. And his wounds, normally painless, were now screaming him.
He tore his mouth away and stared down at her. Her eyelids trembled, opened, light grey irises expanding as her pupils focused on his face. The fiery 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, 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 felt like a sucker punch to his solar plexus.
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
12 June 2008
Things are...well...I won't say settling down, but slowing just a bit. Work is over for the summer, and I'm back from the Maryland Faerie Festival (I don't have any pics, because it was just too damn hot to take any) and I've turned in my FLE's and excerpts for The Ankh of Isis. Now I'm looking forward to the fall, and the paperback release of The Crown of Zeus, which you can pre-order on Amazon now but won't be out (officially) until December.
But I'm always thinking ahead. And I have some cool ideas to help promote the book, one of which is to dress in ancient Greek costume for my fall events, like Philcon. Actually, probably for most events I have in the next couple of years, considering the series is the Library of Athena, I'll just use the costume for the life of the series. Anyway, I was considering going with a pre-made costume pattern, but then I did some Googling and found I could get in touch with my inner Goddess and do the thing properly...just like the ancient Greeks.
Of course I'm sharing it with you, so just stop your whining. You can do this even if you don't know how to sew, because there's really no sewing involved unless you want to.
First of all, the greeks did NOT wear togas. The Romans are the ones famous for the toga. The Greeks wore chitons or peplos, depending on how you wore the giant piece of fabric that was your clothing. Yep, one gigantic piece of fabric, folded and tucked and pinned all around you. Come to think of it, it's not much different than an authentic kilt in that respect.
The first thing to do is measure your fabric. Put down that measuring tape! If you want a chiton, which is a simple garment pinned at the shoulders and down the arms, you need a piece of fabric (preferably linen or wool, but a poly/cotton blend that hangs nicely will do) that is as tall as you are and that goes from fingertip to fingertip with your arms extended outward...twice. If you understand DaVinci's Vetruvian man, you know that means as tall as you are twice over. I'm 66" tall, so I need a piece of fabric 132" wide. It's hard to find a piece of fabric that wide, I know, but you can fudge it and get two lengths of 60" fabric and sew it together up one side. If you use fabric with an obvious pattern, try to match it up so it looks like one piece.
Take this piece of enormous fabric and fold in half lengthwise, so it's as tall as you and as wide as your fingertips once and makes a huge tube. Step inside the tube and pin it at your shoulders, front to back. That's it. You can make sleeves by pinning the rest down your arm at regular intervals. It's gonna be long, so get yourself a belt, preferably some kind of pretty rope like the kind they use to tie back curtains. Tie the belt around and pull the excess fabric over it until you aren't tripping over it.
The peplos, which is what is shown in the picture up there, is even easier. The fabric tube only needs to be half as wide, or from your elbow to elbow. I'll make things easy - just get a piece that's as wide as you are tall. The length should be as tall as you are, plus eighteen inches. Take your fabric, fold down the top eighteen inches, then fold the whole thing lengthwise into a tube, just like you did with the chiton. Step inside the tube and pin at the shoulders, front to back, catching both layers of the folded part. Belt around the waist, leaving the fold hanging loose, and pull up the excess length. If you want, you can sew or pin the open side closed, or just make sure you've got on something underneath that people won't be offended by.
The one in the pic is a different type of peplos, with a longer fold that's belted over, so it looks like a second layer at the skirt level. Play around with it.
You can do any color, and accessorize with pretty pins and jewelry. That's really all there is to it. Just folds and pins and you look just like an ancient Greek. It's a pretty ingenious piece of fashion, isn't it? The fabric is so big, it'll always fit, and if you're a kid and you grow, the draping and excess fabric allows for growth. You could have the same peplos for years. Very economical.
And if these directions are too confusing, you can check out this site, which has pictures.
Have fun making your own Greekwear!
11 June 2008
And he is healthy. And beautiful, and he's at that adorable stage where he smiles at everything I say, which is really good for my ego.
So I'm in my happy Mommy-bubble. Which leaves me pretty much unfit for most adult conversation. My friends call and I say things like "Oh, he's doing the cutest thing!" And they say "what?" and I answer "He's breathing." (Though now it's more likely "he's talking", as he sits cooing at my elbow as I'm typing this.)
And babies really are magic. Everything about them, from the way they enter the world to the way they take it over once they've arrived. The way your heart stops when the doctor said his umbilical was around his neck. The way you can't breathe the first time he throws up and you can't be sure he's breathing. The way I can be changing the foulest diaper ever in a public washroom, and women still stop to tell me how beautiful he is. (The fact none of them gagged was magic, too!)
I realise this is the kind of love I've never written about. I'm not sure I have words for it. It turns out, I don't have to...he's got them, and they sound strangely like cooing while having the hiccups.
09 June 2008
If you judged solely by my enthusiasm, you would think that I’m one of the best bowlers you ever met. The fact of the matter is that I don’t recall ever breaking 100, and tend to celebrate scoring anything above a score of 50. Why do I enjoy an activity so much that by most standards I suck at? Perspective.
When I go up and throw my first ball I immediately turn around and go back to get my second one. Once I throw my second one I immediately turn around and go back to my seat and see from there what pins dropped. Nine times out of ten I never see the ball hit the pins, I only see the aftermath of whether or not they did. That’s because my focus isn’t on hitting the pins, it’s on throwing the ball.
I enjoy selecting just the right ball, usually a lovely purple or red, and getting a feel for it until I’m able to heft it and release it just where I want it to hit the lane, (or just about anyway). I have fun throwing the ball and once I let it go, I let it go completely. I have no control on whether or not it hit’s the pins at that point, my influence and ability to manage its fate began and ended with the time it spent in my hands, and I’m okay with that.
My fate swaying abilities, or lack there of, are the same with writing. I enjoy crafting the story, but once I give it up to another I have no control over the reaction of those evaluating it for publication. Some folks will fall in love with my heroine, others will find her too bloodthirsty. Others will not quite get the story and still others will love my voice but want to hear it saying something else.
Once it’s published, some readers will passionately pull for one relationship over another. A segment will fan-girl/boy the story arc while others lament it and call it too dark or too fluffy. Many will be loyal, die-hard fans. A few will never read beyond the first book, or will read but not happily because they need to know what happens despite their personal reservations.
And all of that, to the very last, is just fine.
Agents, editors, and readers are all pins at the end of the lane. I’ll knock some out with my dazzling and true aim. I’ll bypass others with a mile of space in between us. I don’t get to pick and choose. I just get to throw.
Zen Ramble Done
08 June 2008
Balticon’s opening ceremonies go beyond program information. The mix includes comedy and live music. This year’s line-up included the Kalisti Tribal Dancers, shown here performing a sword dance.
Danielle Ackley-McPhail models the Bad-Ass Faerie leather jacket she raffled at the launch party for the anthology Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad.
John Jude Palencar was the con’s artist guest of honor. Several of his disturbingly beautiful canvases were on display in the art show and in the pages of the program book. Funny, he looks like such a regular guy. Must be the artist's version of "He was such a quiet guy..."
Master costumer Marty Gear served as monster—er, master of ceremonies for the Balticon Masquerade on Saturday, May 24, which included the annual Bobby Gear Reading Is Fundamental Charity Auction. He and Castle Blood colleague Ricky Dick will also host the 2009 Costume-Con.
The winning entry in the Masquerade took Princess Aurora through every costume change in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty while still on-stage. Her pink and blue gowns, worn over the green dress shown here, was sewn as a reversible wrap her Prince Charming flipped back and forth as they danced. The winning team comprised Gaia Eirich, Megan Taylor, Sharyn Eirich, Fiona Schram & Brian Harrington.
In her guest of honor interview, writer Connie Willis confessed her love of writing Christmas stories. The one she’s working on now concerns a robot who wants to be a Rockette at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
Writer Stephanie Burke won the Bad-Ass Faery costume competition at Sunday evening’s Bad-Ass Faeries 2 launch party, hands—er, fly swatter down.
Pamela Kinney (who writes erotic paranormals as Sapphire Phelan) vamps out at the Bad-Ass Faeries 2 launch party.
Writer Catherine Asaro (in the red top) performs with the Baltimore rock band Point Valid. The band is recording a CD for Catherine’s next book, Diamond Star, which features a rock star in the future.
Writer Richard C. White holds up the latest Doctor Who: Short Trips anthology. The anthology, which focuses on the Doctors from the early series, features Richard’s story “The Price of Conviction”.
The Toronto-based filk trio Urban Tapestry thought nobody would attend their combination kaffeklatsch/workshop Monday afternoon. Then they moved it to the bar. Suddenly all the tables were jammed. The group consists of (left to right) Jodi Krangle, Debbie Ridpath Ohi and Alison Durno.
05 June 2008
There are a few things I can manage to throw into a pan or crockpot and have turn out fairly decent, but my family gets tired of eating the same things over and over and over. My mother once made the remark that I can cook three meals a day...frozen, canned, and take out...lololol.
I tried to make black beans and rice today. I love black beans and rice at a local restaurant, so I thought I'd try my hand. Found a recipe on the Internet, got the ingredients and put them together with keen anticipation. Now I cannot even stand the smell of the mess...it went out to feed the raccoons--if they'll even deign to eat it.
I invited friends over for dinner once years and years ago. Got everything ready to go and thought I was doing pretty good, until I carried the dish to the table, pulled off the lid, and gazed in horror at a huge roach lying dead on top of the broccoli. How in the hell did I not see the stupid thing while I was cooking? It was totally gross...the kind of eeeewwwwww moment that stays with you forever. Needless to say, we got take out.
And then there was the time I grew maggots in the sink. Really, a great plate of maggots. Now, granted they didn't grow on something I cooked, they somehow appeared on a plate of cat food I left in the sink for a couple of days. The smell was horrendous. My husband was so totally not a help, he went gagging into the bathroom, not to come out for an hour. And even after grinding them all down the disposal and adding plenty of bleach, I had this reoccurring terror that one day I would go into the kitchen and see a ten foot long thing come crawling out of the drainpipe.
Is it any wonder I'm traumatized? My poor children have grown up on whatever I have managed to bring home already cooked or pre-packaged and ready to nuke. No, I'm not proud of it, but a girl's got to know her limitations. Hi, I'm Gia, and I am a take-out food addict. I admit it, and I don't think I can change.
So if I ask you over for dinner--be afraid...be very afraid.
04 June 2008
Lots of exciting stuff!
Coming June 6
Coming June 10
Coming June 17
Coming June 24
01 June 2008
So here I am, writing off the cuff. What strikes me this week, besides the way that sometimes life can quite frankly suck, is the strange way that kismet can find us. My series, The Library of Athena, contains different mythologies from different cultures. The first book, The Crown of Zeus, is centered around Greek mythology. I shouldn't say centered - really the series has bigger things going on, but let's say it's a large component. The upcoming book, The Ankh of Isis, contains a whole lot of research about Ancient Egypt. (reviewers have been saying that the books are educational as well as fun, which wasn't my intention, but that's a post for another day.)
At any rate, the third book, which is just a WIP at the moment, takes us to Ancient China. I wanted to do China, because I don't think it's a culture many books explore. I've been researching for this book for almost two years. There have been difficulties to overcome with the book - China is such a LARGE country, for starters. Having my characters travel all over the country really wouldn't work. And the mythology is so different. But despite these hurdles, I've managed to put something together that I think is exciting and fun. The only component I was missing is that I didn't have quite a good grasp of Chinese culture.
Then on Tuesday I started my college courses, one of which is American Women Writers since 1900. This course has a particular focus on second-wave feminism. What does that have to do with my book? The first novel we are reading is Women Warrior:Memories of a Childhood Among Ghosts, by Maxine Kingston. Maxine is a first generation Chinese immigrant. It tells her story being the child of Chinese immigrants, and more importantly for me, gives me a window into Chinese culture before the Revolution. I couldn't have asked for a better book to help me understand the traditions and mindset of the Chinese people. That this book should fall into my lap, sort of, at this exact time, reminds me that yes, sometimes life does suck, but sometimes fate takes pity on us and throws us a bone. Kismet. Serendipity. Karma. Fate. Whatever you want to call it, something pulls us back onto the path when we need it most.
And on that note, I'll leave you. Next month, I promise to have something more interesting to talk about. I'm almost free of the day job for the summer, AND I'll be talking about my newest book. I think a tutorial on Egyptian gods is in order. :)
If you happen to be in the Bowie, Maryland area next weekend, drop by the Maryland Faerie Festival and say hi! I'll be signing copies of my first two books, and I'll have some promo materials for the new books too!