31 October 2008

Halloween!!!

Party time!!

Little kids dressed up like hobos, and babies that look like bumblebees, and older boys all wearing some variation of the slasher/zombie look while the pre-teen girls...

Shudder.

Have y'all seen what passes for tween/teen girl costumes at the stores lately? There's more fabric in one of my dishtowels, for pete's sake! When did all the costumes suddenly become prefaced by the word "sexy."

Sexy Dorothy.
Sexy vampire.
Sexy witch.
Sexy axe-wielding serial killer.

Skank alert!!

And when did everyone start buying their costumes? I consider it a challenge to get two kids costumed for $10 or less. I had to go to $15 this year, though. Had to replace our make-up. I was bummed, too. I lost my challenge!

My daughter is 11. She's going as a Bela Lugosi style vampire. Long cape from the Goodwill. One of dad's old dress shirts and a waistcoat scavenged from something else. Slicked back hair and a pair of fangs. Cool and classy without showing far too much skin.

My 8yo son is going as the Grim Reaper (shades of Ankou, anyone?), so I bought a black dress at the Goodwill, tossed some black fabric over his head for a hood, and made a scythe out of a broomstick and tin foil.

I'll never forget the year that we had just moved to the UK. We were still in base housing and Halloween was the last thing on my mind. DS had just turned 1, and I happened to have a bright orange footy jumper. Well, I found some black electrical tape, stuck some random lengths of it onto the jumper and voila! A baby tiger! I was so proud of that little costume.

My kids aren't going as the newest, coolest version of whatever's hot this year, but it's so much fun to get creative with costumes. That's what Halloween's about for us! A chance to see things for more than what they are.

After all, in the dark, no one can see the duct tape.

28 October 2008

Print Release: Beaudry's Ghost

Today's the day!

It's the official release day of the print version of my award-winning paranormal romance, Beaudry's Ghost.

The sequel, Legends, Book 2: A Ghost of a Chance, comes out Dec. 30 in ebook, with print release about this time next year.

Watch the Beaudry trailer

Read an excerpt

27 October 2008

Seeing The Unseen


I'm aware of Halloween's rapid approach, due less to the costumes and candy, and more to the ever increasing closeness of the monstrous friends in my head. As the veil thins and the collective consciousness of the country shifts to embrace the paranormal and supernatural with its tightest grip, the journey to my otherworld grows easier until it seems I never leave.

Most around me would already attest to my fringe-mentality. I think in concepts and patterns that the “norms” do not, and wouldn't have it any other way. The difference is that now I see the paranormal everywhere all day long. The customer in line is obviously of werewolf stock, the woman behind him a prominent otherkin. The androgynous fae-blooded that served me lunch is cute and the pizza delivery guy just might be biting his customers in the dead of night by the mischief behind that grin.

Everything is everywhere and the best part is that I'm not the only one who sees it. Even the skeptics and the norms look a little closer, dig a little deeper, this time of year. They can laugh it off later as seasonal flight of fancy, but for the time being, especially this last week, they seek out the things that go bump in the night with open hearts. It's what makes the rest of the terribly mundane year bearable no doubt.

Of everything we look too, vampires, shapeshifters, ghouls and beasties, the most unifying phenomena seems to be ghosts. There's an old adage that we're all haunted by something. Perhaps this is truer than it seems. Perhaps in those days of wide-eyed childhood when we could see more than we ever shall again, we each glimpsed a truth. We each saw something that let us know there was more to the world than the eye could discern or that science could give name.

Some of us carry that truth our entire lives, never growing blind to that which dwells beyond the veil. Seeking it out in literature and visual media, in conversation and collaboration, in our experiences and the factual and fictional experiences of others. The lucky among us even embrace it in our working lives and get to share our visions with the world. But even more who see, forget. They look away and pretend, until what the world tells them isn't there...ceases to be. Of seems to. At least for eleven months out of the year.

For a brief window it's okay to see with unclouded eyes again. It's okay to sense what sight and sound cannot verify but what the heart knows to be true. It's no accident that Halloween is only behind Christmas in the money spent and time dedicated to celebration. We all want to see, even those who once looked away. And as for those of us who have always seen/heard/felt, we all want to share our truths openly, even if only for a few weeks a year.

So tell me...what do you see?

Thin Veil Ramble, Done.
~X

25 October 2008

Sometimes You Eat The Book, Sometimes The Book Eats You


My internal drivers tell me I haven't done a thing today.

Technically, this isn't true. I shopped and set up the house for weekend guests. To make sure the dh has some choice in his dinner menu while I'm away at my next convention, I panbroiled lamb chops. This is in addition to the spaghetti sauce I made from scratch for his birthday last Sunday. Then I read three manga. (Research--honest! Next month I hope to be on deadline for an illustrated YA vampire romance. I hope. I hope. I most fervently hope.)

Noodling in the kitchen, I came up with an idea for a short short story, ran to the computer and typed it out. Four hundred twenty words later, I shipped it out to my best beta reader for short fiction. Finally, I rounded out the evening with an illustrated blog in support of one of my soon-to-be guests' latest release. (It's only fair. She's making tomorrow's lunch. Yes, I will work for food.)

But none of that matters, because it wasn't work on the book that's been riding me like some demon jockey. And I'm not even writing the book yet, as I normally understand the meaning of the term. I'm just throwing down plot and dialogue in thousand word chunks. No description. No refinement. Not only that, I'm writing it faster than any fiction I've ever written, except those creepy little short shorts that appear fully formed in my thoughts from time to time.

I'm going to a con tomorrow with friends I love, and I almost can't stand it, because it means three days away from the book. Worse yet, when the con's over, I'll have less than five days to finish it before heading off to yet another convention.
The book has entirely possessed me. But please, don't call the exorcist. I'm having entirely too much fun.

24 October 2008

All Hallow's Eve is a week away...are you ready?

Ghost stories…goblins…werewolves…monsters…vampires…

Yep, it’s that time of year again! The one night of the year where kids can get excited about bleeding on your front doorstep.

Halloween.

Do you have your candy? Costume? Plans for the great Friday night? The mischief potential is totally out of this world. *grins*

I pity everyone who’s working for the police, fire department, or hospital next Friday. It’s going to be a crazy night.

But do you know what’s best of all? As paranormal authors, it’s the one time of year where we can simply be ourselves without being treated like someone’s eccentric aunt. After all, people tend to think you’re a little crazy when you’re talking about the latest adventures of the fictional werewolf lurking in your house of muses. Or the supernatural sidekick you’re working to perfect.

On a sidenote, while I was driving my children to home from school not too long ago, my sons were discussing a mutual friend who was in their class last year…and one of them felt the need to specify that the girl was human. I kid you not. It went something like this:

“She’s human, you know.”

“I know that. She doesn’t look like anything else.”

“Well, I just thought you didn’t know.”

I was laughing so hard I nearly had to pull over because I was laughing so hard. Maybe that’s a sign that I need to stop rambling out my character sketches and personalities to my friends and fellow authors.

Speaking of which…what kind of story would you like to see? A ghost? Goblin? Werewolf? Monster? Vampire? What suits your fancy?

22 October 2008

Puma

My new book, Puma, a cat-shifter romance, is now out. I'm excited that it is featured at Books on Board, made #2 on the My Bookstore and More bestseller list and got an 81 from Mrs. Giggles!

BLURB

Only in each other will they discover how to be truly free.

Callie, a cat-shifter, is a loner by virtue of the puma that lives inside her. After a job gone bad, her very human need for contact sends her in search of the only family she has. Callie finds her foster sister in a disturbing living arrangement. Something is seriously wrong in a place where people “belong” to one man and silence is enforced to the point a seven-year-old girl pretends to be autistic.

Dev Malik thinks it’s odd to see a strange woman in the tall grass behind his house, but he doesn’t have the time to ponder why. He’s too busy trying to shelter the child and woman in his household from Scott, the control freak who lives with them.

The truth is more dangerous than Callie imagines. Scott’s control is powerfully real. And Dev’s need to protect the vulnerable is as strong as Callie’s own. Their desire is as inevitable as it is frightening, for only by looking deep within each other will they find the strength to free them all from an unspeakable evil.

Warning: This title contains explicit sex.

EXCERPT

Instead of replying, or even responding to her statement, his gaze dropped to her mouth. His hand slid over her shoulder, across to her neck; fingers forked up into her hair and made a fist to anchor her head so she couldn’t move. His mouth was a mere breath from hers.

“I’m going to kiss you, Callie.” He watched for her reaction and she didn’t know if she was supposed to give a verbal yes, or not. He must have seen something to encourage him. She thought he would kiss like before: sudden, deep, all his for the taking.

His lips brushed hers and before she could protest his leaving, he returned, caught her lower lip between his gentle teeth, scraped it lightly. Like the end of this morning’s kiss, but this was a beginning. A noise rose from her throat, in question, in desire, and with the fist that held her hair in his grip, he angled her head.

“God,” he said, a guttural sound, before his mouth covered hers, forcing her mouth open, stroking her tongue with his. He tasted of mint and chocolate and Dev; and she tried to welcome him though all she could do was accept as he devoured her. She’d been kissed before and hadn’t much liked it, hadn’t liked the invasion. Dev was different, demanding, yes, but focused on her. His large hand splayed across her back, between her shoulder blades, and pushed her flush against him so they had full-body contact. The flood of sensation, from his talented mouth—she had never felt so thoroughly kissed, his tongue demanding hers to dance, then withdrawing to explore her lips before delving in again—to the warmth of his body pressed against hers.

She actually went weak in the knees.

As she sank against him, he cupped the back of her head, holding her in that kiss, while the other arm wrapped around her waist, anchoring her to him. He slid his hand under her T-shirt and clasped her ribs, his palm and fingers warm against her skin.

His tongue released hers, and he retreated to nibble her lips. He kissed across her jawline and descended to her neck where he sucked at the sensitive skin there. Her throat vibrated, half-groan, half-purr, all pleasure. As he kissed across her collarbone, he said, “Callie, Callie. I want us to make love.”

He pulled back sharply then, as if to give himself a shake, and she reached for him, hands on his shoulders, scared he would go away. She couldn’t stand it, couldn’t take being released by him now.

He eyed her while he raised his hands to rest upon hers. For a terrible moment, she feared he was going to remove her hold on him, return to that “don’t touch” manner he sometimes projected. Instead, he caressed the backs of her hands, feather-soft strokes of his fingertips over her knuckles, between her knuckles and, most sensitively, between her fingers. She trembled in reaction, amazed that her hands could react to his touch so. A warmth gathered in her belly.

He did lift her hands off, but linked fingers with his and brought their arms down together, pulling her up against him again. Perhaps he too craved touch despite his… She bit her lip.

“What, Callie?”

“Earlier you said you weren’t interested in sex.”

He stiffened and she closed her eyes, wishing the thought hadn’t flitted through her mind, wishing she could have lied or at least fobbed him off with a “nothing”, though it was important to her that she be honest with Dev.

She rested her face against the crook of his neck and willed him not to push her away after her reminder. When she kissed him, he shuddered. They were soft, almost chaste kisses, not like his that had ravaged her neck.

He brought her arms behind her, clasped both wrists in one large hand, while with his other, he pressed a palm against the small of her back. Her belly felt him hard against her. Aroused.

That made her smile into his neck.

“Look at me,” he demanded, so she tilted her head back to meet his gaze. “You like that, that you’ve made me hard, that you’ve made me want you?”

“Yes.” She struggled a little, which resulted in her writhing against him, but he didn’t release her arms. Lifting his free hand to her face, he held her gaze to his, palm on her cheek. With the pad of his thumb, he traced the bone just under her eye, traced her cheekbone, then ran that thumb over her lips.

“You’re beautiful.”

It made her breathe faster, these words, these intense caresses, this attention. He trailed fingers down her neck to the swell of her breast. He was watching her very carefully as he lightly palmed her breast and her sensitive nipple began to ache.

“Dev?” She wasn’t sure what she was asking.

“Hmmm?” His mouth dipped to her neck, teeth scraping the soft skin, then soothing it with a kiss. And again. His hand slipped under the hem of her T-shirt, and rose to catch her nipple between thumb and finger, rolling the nub. “Do you like that?” he murmured as he kissed her throat.

She arched against him and he swallowed her “yes”, his mouth taking hers in a punishing kiss.

Her knees gave out this time, but he caught her, finally releasing her arms, though not her mouth, as he lifted her and she wrapped herself around him. He brought her to the bed.

She tried to contain her disappointment as he set her down on the mattress. He yanked off her shirt, then his, her shorts then his, all in short order. It had been a revelation, this kind of foreplay, but now he was ready to have sex.

He crawled over her and for a moment she thought he was going to move up so he’d take her mouth, but he reached back and pulled her up so they were face to face again, her under him. He’d wanted to make love, she remembered, and that reassured her.

“You make me feel, Callie.” The words seemed almost to be dragged from him and she touched his face, roughened because he hadn’t shaved.

“I think you’re beautiful too, Dev.” She wanted to offer him something of her feelings, though that barely described her real emotions. Tentatively she ran a hand through his short hair, which was surprisingly soft to touch.

“Are you scared to touch me, Callie?”

“No.” The question caught her off guard, and it must have shown.

“You prefer that I touch you?” He skimmed a hand down her side and across her stomach. Her underside. It made her feel vulnerable and he seemed to notice, because he crossed his palm back and forth across her soft belly until she relaxed into the touch. “Tell me what you like,” he urged.

She didn’t know. He traced some ribs, but he didn’t release her gaze so she said, “I like you.”

He smiled then, so pleased, the smile wider than she’d observed before, like she was seeing a new Dev.

“I like everything you do. You make me feel so warm. Inside.”

His slightly bemused expression made her add, “Is that wrong to say?”

“No,” he said immediately. “Nothing is wrong to say.”

Jorrie Spencer
Buy Puma here.

20 October 2008

Plowing the Creative Back Forty

I’m writing three books at a time. That’s right. Three.
I’m insane. I’m a glutton for punishment. I’m masochistic. As my grandpa Eldred would say, “I’m working like a rented mule.”
But mostly I’m desperate, because the seeds I sewed in my imagination are ripe and ready to harvest. That creative harvest must be done quickly too, because I know that when these creatively fertile fields dry up I undergo a fallow period where I couldn’t squeak out one single solitary word now matter how hard I try. So when those creatively fertile fields are ripe, I spend my time reaping the harvest, and have learned not to despair too much afterwards when there’s nothing to glean. I use that time for rest, and tend to other projects. Like that cross stitch project I started six months ago. Or baking for Christmas. Or doing the tsa-tsa practice I promised my lama I’d do.

Once upon a time I thought I was something of an anomaly. Even my hero Stephen King only writes one book a time. Granted he writes great whoppers of books whereas mine are fairly short. Okay the great Sai writes one and edits another, but still. I have him beat on productivity if you count that I’m doing three in one blow. He writes 2k a day, every day. I write a minimum of 2k per story, and if my creative juices really start flowing, I can bounce out between 6-8k a day per book. But that doesn’t’ happen quite as often these days. I usually get 6k in a day total.
Of course he just makes a hell of a lot more money than I do. And he’s a better writer and infinitely more successful. But I consider that something to strive for. But I digress.

I went and did something I rarely ever do, I watched the View. I haven’t watched this show since the blow up with Rosie O Donald and the little blonde woman whose name escapes me. Even the new host, Whoopie Goldberg, whom I always liked, did not entice me to watch. I had heard of the odd ditzy moments when the hosts (if that’s what you call them) said some unbelievably stupid things, and that in an of itself was enough for me not to watch again.
I relented when Daneille Steele came on. Not my favorite author, but a successful one. And I’m always interested in what a successful author has to say.
So.
I watched the episode and paid close attention (strangely enough with notepad and pen handy in case she offered pearls of wisdom) to what Danielle had to say. She happily told Whoopie Goldberg that she writes five books at a time. When Whoopie asked her how she managed to do such a mind boggling task, she simply shrugged and said, “I do the same thing a painter does. I move from project to project.”

I’ve been painting and drawing since I was five years old. In fact, I had considered a career as an artist before I settled on writing. So that idea really resonated with me. It has been something I’d done for quite some time; write several projects at once although my husband says I’d stay on task better if I managed just one at a time. But then, I reasoned, what am I supposed to do when one story plays out? Sit and wait for inspiration? Bah. No. I move onto the next project.

Right now I’m writing three novels concurrently. “Love Fiercely,” Is a paranormal romance set in Rapides Parish, Louisiana, at my Caucasian family’s home site of Eldred’s Bend. It has to do with an unhappy mother, an arranged marriage, and a strange but kindly gentleman who comes to stay with them at the plantation house. And of course, knowing me, I can’t leave it at that. The stranger comes with terrifying incidents and a frightening past. And of course the plot is set in an isolated area of Bayou Beauf. It really brings out the paranormal creepiness I totally enjoy writing.

“The One True Thing” Is a novel set on a space port in the 25th Century. I’m having a ball with this story because my ensemble cast are medical examiners working aboard a space port. Camy Lancaster is the chief Medical Examiner who is trying to solve a very puzzling mystery in regards to several miners who have died from a very bizarre disorder. She has to work against time to make sure a plague doesn’t break out on the vast space port. Meanwhile, one for her fellow ME’s, Jerrod is having problems of his own. His fiancĂ©e, Kitra, is undergoing a transformation that will change both their lives in ways they cannot currently imagine. This is the second of the “Mariposa” stories. Mundania Currently has the first story entitled “The Psionic.” I’m hoping that they’ll be popular enough to warrant a series.

The last novel I’m working on is called “Absolute Zero,” a straight science fiction novel set in the present, literally down the road from me and probably one of the scariest stories I’ve written since Mercer’s Bayou.

And like I said, I’m working against time here. I know that eventually, and it usually happens in the dead of winter, that my creative fields will become fallow and it’ll be time to rest.
Sort of anyway. I have other projects to do. Like beading and painting and doing some sculpting work. So I guess you can say that I’m still plowing in creative fields, just different ones.
So how do you sew and tend your creative gardens?
Patricia Snodgrass
Texarkana, TX

19 October 2008

Steampunk!

I'm still kvetching over the third LoA book, and working on the promo for the paperback release of THE CROWN OF ZEUS (available for pre-order now!) that I failed to think of something to write this month. So if I amble about a bit, please forgive me. :)

After Jean-Marie's post a couple of weeks ago, about her new-found love of automatons and things of that nature, I decided to do a bit of a follow up on Steampunk. It's sort-of the newest thing in fantasy - leaving behind sword-and-sorcery, elves, dragons, magic schools, vampires, and fairies. What is steampunk? It's a new sort of fantasy that's over a hundred years old. Jules Verne could technically be called the father of steampunk - but in HIS time they were called science fiction.

Lost ya? Okay, lemme 'splain (no, there is too much; lemme sum up). Steampunk is a crazy little subgenre where the stories are set in the 19th century - the Victorian era. In place of magic, there are machines. Like submarines, or flying machines. Inevitably, these are all powered by...wait for it....steam! Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth were written and set in his own time, but the machines were fantastic to his readers (and to us, I imagine). To HIS readers, they were futuristic, to us, they're nostalgic. Cool, huh?

There are some movies that you probably know but don't realize are actually steampunk. Wild Wild West and the corny but always entertaining League of Extraordinary Gentlemen come to mind, although WWW is set in the old west, it's still the right time period.

What's appealing? Besides the fact it's different, the costumes are awesome! Even superheroes look good in Steampunk:



What does it say about me that I want these action figures? Somewhere inside me is a comic book geek dying to get out. Back, you!

I've become really interested in this genre, because I want to write my next book (or series, haven't decided yet) as a Steampunk fairy tale. I have some neat ideas that use historically accurate things (like the influx of illusionists during that time that used mechanical devices for their illusions) and some old fairy tales. It may turn out the Brothers Grimm make an appearance.

My fingers are itching...now I just have to find the time! Sigh. When I grow up, I wanna be one of those authors that doesn't have to work at anything but writing. That and I want a condo by the sea where I can just look out the window while I write. (hey, I write fantasy, right? This is mine.)




18 October 2008

The Great Pumpkin

It’s less than two weeks to Halloween, and the season of the spirit has taken over our house.

 

Pre-kids (PK), Halloween was another reason to go out with friends.  Almost 10 years in the bar/restaurant biz had given me a party view of the holiday.  It was a fun night to work – costumes were encouraged, the more extravagant the better, as long as they weren’t going to dip into the broccoli cheese soup at the wrong time.  And heels were out, since they’re a no-no on often slippery kitchen and bar floors.  But I perfected the gypsy, the pirate, and a rather unimaginative one year when the date caught me unprepared.  Once work was over, it was a blast to head out to the parties still dressed in our holiday garb, and get to play at being very grown up kids for the night.  PK Halloween was all about the parties.

Halloween after kids (AK) is a whole different kind of day.  It becomes a several week event of decorating (“The bones have been placed by the gravestones with care, in hopes the Great Pumpkin soon will be there... “), pumpkin patches, and costume shopping.  AK, it’s hard to go into Target without the pleading starting.  “Can we get some more decorations?  We still need to get our candy!  I don’t like my costume; I want a new one.”  We’re avoiding Target for the rest of the month.

This is the first year my daughter has really liked the getting scared part though.  She’s found “Goosebumps” on one of the kids channels, and she begs every night to be allowed to stay up and watch it.  She’s only 6, and I was worried the first few episodes that this slightly spooky show could lead to some nightmares, so we compromised.  Record at night, watch in the light of the day.  And she absolutely loves getting just a bit freaked out.  Several of the neighbors do dark-and-spooky for Halloween, and in the past she’s preferred to skip those houses.  I think this year she’s going to love them.

So our countdown to the big day has begun.  How will you be spending the scariest night of the year?

15 October 2008

Why I Keep Submitting


The other day I was reading agent Jennifer Jackson's blog and she had a great post asking writers why they keep submitting when the odds are so stacked against them. It was interesting and something I'd never thought about before. Certainly something no one has ever asked me. Her question intrigued me. She wanted comments and mine was "because there is always hope". But after thinking about it some more, it's more than that.

Like many writers out there, I have hundreds of rejections under my belt and, yes, I'm still receiving them. Even though I'm published with the fabulous, wonderful Samhain Publishing, I still want more. I want the carrot at the end of the string. I want the ring from the merry-go-round. I want to be able to support myself with my writing. So, why after hundreds of rejections am I still putting myself out there?

Because someone has to get that publishing contract and why not me?

Fourteen years ago, my husband walked into an auditorium to take a test for the local police department. He had just lost his job with the federal government due to cutbacks and we had a brand new baby. All his life he wanted to be a cop and when he walked into that auditorium to take that test there were nearly 400 other people there. For one position.

Instead of thinking the odds were stacked against him, he said to himself, "Someone has to get this job and it could just as easily be me as the person next to me."

He didn't let it get him down. He took his test, he finished all the other physical requirements--and he got the job.

He is why I keep submitting.

13 October 2008

Ghosts and Hauntings


It's that time of year again - my favorite time. Halloween Time!!!

Every since I was just a little writer, I loved Halloween. The entire fall thing, with the leaves all bright colors, the scent of them burning on the air, excitement over costumes and dreams of the veil between worlds growing thin.

Oddly, enough I'm not one to write many ghost stories, even though I love them - both watching them in movie form and reading them in novels. There is just something so poignant and lovely about spirits who can't move on due to some horrible tragedy that befalls them. Which makes it odd that I've taken on the task of writing a modern Gothic complete with several tortured souls. I'm close to finishing this opus of ethereal proportions, but wouldn't you know it...one of my soul sisters on Romance Divas mentioned one of my secondary characters in the book as being too yummy for words. "Will he get his own book?" - Oh, jeez! Did she have to ask that question? As soon as it was out in the atmosphere storylines and plot points starting flying around my office like ectoplasmic thought balloons, wafting skyward.

So, now I have the rough beginning of a second ghost story. They're cropping up like skeletons in a graveyard. However, I needed this one to be different. One ghost story if written in a series shouldn't be in the same vein as the first - right? I'm only saying that because I try to make books in series different no matter the genre. Why should ghosts be any different.

Which brings me to another point - types of haunting. There are so many different classifications and areas of hauntings that the way in which an author can present the spectral visitations is as vast as the afterlife itself. This really left the field wide open when considering the second book in my ghost duo. I really want to go in the opposite direction. The trick is to make an unconventional haunting real and believable to a reader who may not know how many different kinds there are. To accomplish this, I've decided to tie the haunting to an item rather than a place. I'm just hoping that in my quest to make something original or different, I don't stumble across a plot that tired or been used to death - no pun intended.

Happy Hauntings!

-Kat

10 October 2008

Shadow Self


I've been researching ideas for a new story that's brewing -- something which is a bit of a departure from what I'm working on otherwise. During this Internet hunt, I came across an interesting concept that spans not only Pagan beliefs, but that of Shamanic Celts and Lakota Sioux. It's even something passed along in more modern times by Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology.

The Shadow Self is said to be the part of people that is rejected. The side that they do not like or even fear. The dark side of human nature. I found this very interesting because not only does it fit the state of mind of my main character, I also feel that myths and legends take on a whole new sense urgency and authority when shared across cultures.

When looking at the concept from the Lakoa Sioux perspective, it gets even more interesting: "Nagi is one of the Sixteen Great Mysteries of Lakota Sioux tradition. Nagi is Ghost and Shadow Self. Ghosts are the humans’ shadows." The article goes on to say that the belief further states there is a circle -- between Earth and the Spirit World -- where those spirits who did not walk uprightly must go at death. A sort of hell or purgatory, from what I gather.

The Celts believed that "Shadow Self is the part of a person’s mind and being that have the parts of us we reject and keep hidden from others." Sometimes the negative, but it can include positive traits, as well. Anything that the individual fears will cause rejection by others.

No, it's not a new concept to most of you, I'm sure. In truth, it mirrors some of the things I believe personally, even though I've never quite heard it phrased this way. I think that's why paranormal is so popular. We find ideas or concepts that make us think, but also many that resonate. They feel right, somehow. They seem to fit within our own view of the world. Sometimes they merely reflect our own hopes or fears.

Either way, I love it when an idea speaks to me as a writer. That's how we keep those stories coming -- and I see a number of possibilities reflected in my Shadow Self.

If you'd like to read more of the article, check it out here.

08 October 2008

13 Paranormal Television Shows



Like most of my fellow bloggers here at Beyond the Veil, I'm drawn to paranormal stories--writing them, reading them...and watching them! This is a great time in the history of the boob tube if you like to watch boobs (on reality tv) or supernatural dramas the rest of the time. I haven't done any kind of official, data-based calculation, but during prime time hours, there seems to be a higher proportion of television shows with supernatural elements than I can remember. It helps that there are a lot more channels to choose from than when many of us were growing up. When I was a kid, we got three channels and the only thing with fantastical elements involved an island and a mysterious, handsome man who could work magic. No, I'm not talking about Lost, I'm talking about Fantasy Island and Mr. Roarke!

Anyway, it's a good time to be a tv and paranormal fan. Here are 13 paranormal programs my husband and I usually try to watch whenever we get a chance.

1) Heroes: First on my list because I just watched the latest episode! This show is jam packed with characters, plot twists, grey areas and fast-paced action and while it has a dearth of non-blonde female characters, I enjoy it quite a bit. Paranormal factor: high. Romance factor: inconsistent. I heard there was supposed to be some shockingly awesome sex scene this year, and although I've seen a sex scene, it wasn't shocking or awesome enough, so I'm still waiting.

2) Pushing Daisies: The quaint, thoroughly enjoyable fairy tale with likeable characters and fantastical sets is set in a pastry store called the Pie Hole. It features two lovers who can never touch or the female will drop down dead. What's not to love? Paranormal factor: medium. Romance factor: high and sugary bittersweet.

3) Supernatural: It's way low on the romance and way high on the spooky with a heavy dose of brotherly love and extremely attractive male protagonists thrown in. Usually I give it two thumbs up, when it isn't give me nightmares. Paranormal factor: medium to high. Romance factor: inconsistent to low, but whenever it involves one of the brothers removing their garments, I'm in favor.

4) The Sarah Connor Chronicles: How did John Connor of Terminator fame turn into the man who was the savior of the human race? It was all thanks to his mum, of course. The show has a touch of sophomore slump but it's very high octane and is sprinkled with just enough humor to get you through a typically tense episode. Paranormal factor: medium to high. Romance factor: Pretty low.

5) Chuck: The supernatural elements are space age instead of paranormal, but it's consistently enjoyable, consistently funny and even surprises me sometimes. This season seems to be playing the romance between the main protagonists as very star-crossed. Paranormal factor: low. Romance factor: medium.

6) Lost: We've been watching this twisty psychedelic island caper since day one and honestly don't know much more than we did when we read the previews. However, we keep coming back for more anyway! Paranormal factor: low to medium. Romance factor: medium to please can Kate just make up her mind now?

7) Battlestar Galactica: The darkest and most bleak television series I've ever managed to keep watching. I'm so thankful the final season is at hand. They've discovered Earth and all that's left is the final Cylon and all the rest of the WTF elements. Paranormal factor: high. Romance factor: medium but kind of twisted.

8) Eureka: This summer season delight gets way too little credit, with a super genius town full of freaky, competitive scientists who nearly blow up the world once a week. Everyman and jokester Sherriff Carter has to save their genius butts each time. It's rarely dull and doesn't even make sense, but who cares? Funny stuff. Paranormal factor: medium. Romance factor: low to medium.

9) Stargate Atlantis: Recently canceled, I hear, but we will bid the last of the Stargates a fond farewell when it goes. Set in the Pegasus galaxy, it's a nerd boy's wet dream of how brainiac Rodney McKay was almost cooler that Colonel Shepherd. But who'll get the girl? Paranormal factor: high. Romance factor: as unsatisfactorily done as the original Stargate.

10) The late, great Buffy/Angel: Included here because it's now continuing in the comics as Seasons 8 and "After the Fall" respectively. Buffy was one of the first big splashes of the urban fantasy craze that has proliferated on bookshelves everywhere. It's a staple and doesn't need description, although I'm finding the comics don't seem to be headed in a direction that will lend itself to any kind of happy ending, which makes me nervous, because this *is* Joss Whedon we're talking about. Paranormal factor: high. Romance factor: high and angsty.

11) Fringe: Arguably, since it involves "science", it could be left off this list, but it's fringe science and weird things frequently happen. FBI (or CIA, I forgot) Heroine lost her illicit boyfriend and to save him she got involved with a crazy scientist, his brash, prodigal son, and a scary conspiracy to overthrow the world. I will . Xfiles meets CSI. I admit, I only watched 2 episodes of Fringe and wasn't impressed, but you're welcome to try and change my mind in the comments! Paranormal factor: low, since it's "science". Romance factor: undetermined, but sparks were obviously meant to arise at some point between the sad heroine and the brash son.

12: Sanctuary: I haven't had a chance to see this one yet, but Amanda Tapping's part of the cast plus a dude who looks like Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), so I'm in for the first several episodes, at least. Seems to have something to do with people who chase down paranormal creatures and give them....sanctuary? Paranormal factor: probably high. Romance factor: It's the SciFi channel, so probably low and awkward.

13) Smallville: Young Superman resists his destiny ad nauseum. This is the last show on my list, even after shows that have been cancelled or that I haven't seen yet, in order to express my disdain for the current quality of the show. And that's all I'm sayin'. Paranormal factor: medium. Romance factor: soap city.

What do you think of the proliferation of paranormal television right now? Which ones do you watch that aren't on this list and what do you think of these or any others? Let us know in the comments!

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/
SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--Available now, Samhain Publishing


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


04 October 2008

Divination: Celtic Ogham - Onn

Welcome back to my series on divination with the Celtic Ogham! To see all the posts in this series, click on the "ogham" tag at the end of this post.

Name: Onn (pronounced "ohn")
Plant: Gorse (other sources say similar plants such as heather, ash, or rowan)
Letter: O
Color: Gold
Animal: Rabbit or Cormorant
Month: March - Spring Equinox/Lughnassagh
Deities: Lugh
Planet: Sun
Crystal: Golden topaz or citrine

Gorse is a tall, thorny, brushy evergreen tree that grows on moors and open woodlands, and bears a bright yellow flowers that are popular in Pagan fertility rites. Honey bees love it, as to livestock for food. In the spring it is set fire to clear away old growth to make way for the new.

When Onn appears in your reading, it symbolizes that you are getting near to your goal, whatever it is. Information is coming that may change your life. It may also mean it is time for you to shine your light of wisdom and knowledge with others, like a bee gathers pollen and spreads it to other flowers. Sharing with others brings rewards to you!

03 October 2008

World Tree


I recently went though the list of specific mythos I’ve blogged about here: Breton, Irish, Slavic, Basque, Egyptian, Norse and Central American mythologies, as well as the occasional touch on Classical mythology. One thing that stood out is that several of these cultures share a “world tree.”

The Norse have Yggdrasil, where Odin hung for nine days to receive knowledge.
The MesoAmericans have the ceiba tree.
The oak tree of the Slavic gods.
The ashvastha, or sacred fig, of Hinduism.
An ancient religion of the Mongols and Turkic people believed in a world tree, culturally linking Siberia and Koreans. The Crown of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, portrays a world tree.
Judeo-Christian beliefs begin in the Garden of Eden, and Eve’s incident with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Even Charles Darwin utilized the metaphor of a “Tree of Life” to illustrate his theory of evolution, where different species share a common ancestor.

The tree is a universal symbol of the different planes of existence. The branches in the realm of gods, the roots in the grasp of death, the solid trunk of mortality.

The Tree of Life is the constant in a constantly changing world, representing immortal wisdom, giving protection, rest and nourishment to its people. Only the brave and true may climb it and take its fruit and gather its strength. To become part of the tree, as Odin did in his sacrifice, is to become part of the godhead, part of eternity. To become part of the tree, or partake of its fruit, however, also requires sacrifice. Odin lost an eye for the privilege, Adam and Eve lost Paradise because they knew too much of sin.

It’s the permanent nature of the tree that draws us, as well as its ultimate mortality. The roots that draw food from the earth, the solidity of the trunk that provides a strong base, the branches reaching toward the sun, toward the light. The metaphor crosses all boundaries: no mountain or ocean can contain it, no language can distill it.

So next time you look out your office window, see what place the tree has in your story.

Image: World Tree by Doug Stapleton
Resources: “World Trees” by Hazel Minot
Wikipedia: World Tree See also, Tree of Life

01 October 2008

Conned

I went to my first writer's conference this weekend. It was fascinating. Liberating. Terrifying.

I spoke to more people in a two-day span than I normally see in a month. I talked a lot, which will surprise no one who knows me well. I gathered email addresses. I chatted with people whose names I know from seeing them on the spines of my books. And I dreamt that it might, one day, be me up there at the podium or behind the table, signing piles of books for a local bookstore.

Mostly, though, when they did speak, they were just ordinary people. Like me. Moms balancing writing and kids and day jobs and husbands, and doing so with some success. I'll admit, it was humbling to see one author up giving a speech while her mother sat with her 3-week old in the hotel room.

All the excuses I've ever had to not-write sort of evaporated in that moment. I came home jazzed, psyched, pumped...(erm, use your thesaurus if you like to add more words to my list.) So I'm going to work now. I'm going use the creative energy I leeched from being in a room with a hundred other authors and do something with it.

The hard choice really, is where to start...