27 February 2009
For example, the heroine discovers her hero is a vampire. There's a time that she can't believe she's fallen for a monster. How can she love a killer? A predator? Will he turn on her when the blood-count is down?
Of course, as the reader we know that acceptance will somehow follow. It has to -- this is romance. ;) But as a writer, this whole revelation/repulsion/fear/acceptance thing isn't always easy to plan. You can't let your heroine accept things too quickly -- the readers won't buy it. But if you drag it out too long it seems you're just doing so to up the word count.
What's a writer to do?
Now I have a complaint, but I'll admit something before I make it: I've become an extremely picky reader since I started writing professionally. Before I had no idea what 'head-hopping' was, let alone 'point of view', 'showing vs telling', etc. Sometimes all this knowledge makes it difficult to just enjoy a book.
However, I'm currently reading a vampire romance -- not a Samhain title -- and I'm finding this revelation/repulsion/etc stage is really dragging down the plot. Dragging it down to the point of me yelling at the heroine:
"Enough, already! Get over it!"
She loves him. She's slept with him, repeatedly. She's seen by his actions that he's NOT a murdering monster. So it seems, from my viewpoint as reader, that the writer is just dragging it out until all the other issues are put to rest.
I feel the writer's pain. It's so hard to know when to move on in an emotional arc. How much angst should the heroine suffer before she gives in to the dark side? How much distrust should there be before the acceptance sets in? How much is really enough? What about her misunderstood hero? How can he accept his own nature?
That's when an author really earns the honor of that title. They have to connect with those characters. They have to really know them; feel their emotions; understand what makes them tick. It's a bit like psychology for the imaginary friend. ;)
But it's only at that point of almost complete immersion that we writers can understand how long the acceptance stage should be. It's different for each story, for each couple. It has to be or the readers will eventually stop buying our books. Who wants to read the same story over and over and over?
Now, back to my current read. I'll keep reading -- grumbling every time the heroine angsts over her lover's undead status. I'll finish the book because the writer is basically good at her craft. I just personally think the heroine should have moved on by now.
Readers: Have you ever read a paranormal where you felt this acceptance phase lasted too long? Or was it too short? Which is most annoying?
Writers: How do you know when a character is ready to move on to acceptance? Do you think you've ever missed the mark?
I'd really like to know because I have this immortal hero and a heroine who, at this point, thinks the man is simply insane.
25 February 2009
As a result, by the end of a day like that, I am as dead headed as a flower out of season and unfortunately mine won't grow back stronger and prettier if you cut it off. In lieu of a creative and thought provoking blog post today like Bianca's recent one about urban fantasy and violence, I'm going to post a list of links to articles about self-editing, something near and dear to my heart. In fact, incessant self editing is why I only wrote 2000 words today instead of 4000.
But they're 2000 really pretty words.
What are your favorite self editing tips and tricks? I like to reread my text when I'm supposed to be writing new words. Well, I don't LIKE it but I sure as hell do it enough. I also like to use Word's "search" function a lot, though I've learned not to be heavy handed with "replace". That way lies madness.
24 February 2009
23 February 2009
21 February 2009
Built by Henry Pittock, an influential businessman in the early industrial days of the Pacific Northwest. Pittock was a big supporter of Portland's annual Rose Parade, and visitors to the mansion often report the strong smell of roses, though none kept in the house. A picture of one of his children is said to be moved from place to place. Other experiences include an apparition of an old woman, footsteps, and windows that close and latch themselves.
Old Town Pizza
Situated in an historic building that sits atop Portland's Shanghai Tunnels, a frequent guest in this restaurant is Nina (Nigh-nah). Legend has it that she was a victim of the white slavery market, sold into prostitution. She was was convinced to provide information to traveling missionaries who were trying to clean up the town. She was later found dead in this building, having been thrown down and elevator shaft. She is reportedly friendly to diners.
As the name suggests, these tunnels were used to smuggle kidnapped men and women out of the city and into a life of slavery. Victims were often lured to sit in specific locations atop trap doors, then either beaten or drugged before being "disappeared."
Lewis and Clark College
If you find yourself near the center of the old campus around 1 a.m., you may hear the screams and yells of an angry mob chasing someone. You might even see apparitions of the mob - and its quarry. (I guess it depends on how many pitchers you've consumed!)
Not actually a castle, but the ruins of a stone house at a crossroads. Reportedly was a trading post owned by the first person legally hanged in Oregon. Tales of "ghost wars" that take place here abound. Not so sure about that, but it's a creepy-cool looking place!
There's much more, but that's about all I have time for today! If you're going to be at CR next week, look me up and we'll take a ghost walk. :)
20 February 2009
I’m back to my favorite topic today: Mythology!
I’m telling you, though, it’s getting kind of difficult to find Western mythologies to talk about. I really don’t know enough about Eastern cultures to feel comfortable with them, not to mention that some of what I consider mythology is still alive and well in some Asian countries, which makes it more of a religion discussion and to be honest, I don’t want to go there.
However, after some due diligence, I realized that there was one more untapped Norse civilization that I hadn’t discussed. The Finns!
Yep, we’re headed to Finland today.
Now, y’all know that I’m a language geek, yes? So it’s not going to surprise you when I tell you that the Finns have a fascinating and unique language. For its place on the map, Finland shares more linguistic heritage with Estonia and Hungary than with its Norse/Germanic-speaking neighbors, but it’s not mutually understandable with either Estonian or Hungarian. Essentially, Finland is a linguistic island in a continent of Indo-European languages. There. Geekness over. On to the fun stuff.
Today’s New Word is: MONOLATRY. According to Dictionary.com, it means “the worship of only one god although other gods are recognized as existing.” The Finns were monolatrists. And who was their supreme god? Ukka, the god of the sky, storms and lightning. As a sky god, he was literally the most highly positioned god in their pantheon.
The Finn’s mythic history, however, deals less with a pantheon of gods and more with an epic saga of heroes.
The main character of the Kalevala is Väinämöinen. He is the eldest and wisest of the Finns, possessing a powerful, magical voice. His quest to find a wife is what ties the first cycle of the Kalevala together. On his journey, he is accompanied by Lemminkäinen, an arrogant, handsome young god as well as the smith, Ilmarinen.
Love is gained and love is lost. The cycle of young Kullervo is rife with grief, rage and tragedy. But the thing that ties the Kalevala together is a magic mill of plenty called the Sampo. Ilmarinen forms the Sampo as a gift to the Maiden of the North, the daughter of the hag who rules Pohjola, which is the land to the north of Finland.
It’s a full, mythic tale, complete with the origin of man, death, self-sacrifice, rebirth and the end of the age of magic. Sound familiar? That’s because J.R.R. Tolkien borrowed heavily from the Kalevala for his LOTR legendarium.
From that historical tidbit alone, I think that the Finnish hero saga is worth further investigation.
You can find out more about Finnish mythology at these sites:
For more about the Kalevala, look here:
Molly Kalafut’s site
And just for fun, don’t forget to check that ultimate source, Scrooge McDuck! There’s an old Disney comic called The Quest for Kalevala. It’s from 1999, so I bet there are still copies out there at used comic places. Go forth and search!
16 February 2009
In all of that beloved programming I somehow don’t watch a lot of comedies. Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother are the only ones that come to mind. No, when you look at my list of favorite shows, comedies don’t crop up often, but what does occur time and again are paranormals and procedurals.
Supernatural, Medium, and Ghost Whisperer sit alongside Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, CSI: NY, and Bones. Sometimes I’m lucky and I get a mix; Angel, Moonlight, Fringe and Blood Ties among them. But none of them are quite there yet, (although Blood Ties and Fringe are close), wherever there is.
What I need is the perfect paranormal procedural, the kind of smash-up you’d only hear at a Hollywood pitch meeting:
“It’s about a group of vampire forensic specialists solving crimes against their people by the werewolves they’ve fought for centuries. Think of it as CSI: Underworld”.
“Okay, so we have five paranormals working for the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico. One faerie, one shape-shifter, a vampire, a gifted human and a mystery leader all profile crimes that happen in the paranormal underground. It’s Criminal Minds meets The Merry Gentry series.”
“A woman who can speak to ghosts and read objects works as a medical examiner in Boston, solving crimes with her FBI partner by speaking with the departed or reading their remains. It’s Ghost Whisper meets Bones.”
Wait, that last one I really like. It would be refreshing to have a medium that embraces their gift and actually goes into an industry that surrounds them by the dead so that they can get justice. Somebody call FOX! (And then make a cocktail to help with the mourning period soon to follow when they cancel the new fan favorite).
What are your favorite shows? Which ones inspire you to get to your keyboard to write, or that have you guessing and following along on the edge of your seat? Which genres would you love to see put together and which shows would you smash together to make the perfect series?
P.S. "It's about a man with uncanny powers of observation who is brought in on a secret government project to read the body language and demeanor of captives in the government's custody. He finds out that the strange men are really aliens, sidhe aliens and he's one of them. He has to help them escape back to their world through a teleportation ring kept at Area 51 . It's The Mentalist meets Stargate SG1 meets The Fugitive."
14 February 2009
Well, that’s how my family always celebrated it. My dad was a great fan of classic horror films. Dracula was one of his special favorites. As he never failed to remind Mom and me, the 1931 version was released on February 14. Universal billed it as “The story of the strangest Passion the world has ever known”. I think he hoped a midnight showing would eliminate the need to spend the rest of the day chauffeuring Mom from florist to confectionary to jewelry shop. He hoped in vain.
I, on the other hand, was very impressed, especially when someone got the bright idea of casting the then gorgeous Frank Langella as the ultimate vamp in 1977. (He was pretty then. Honest. If you don’t believe me, check out the 1979 film.)
But there’s a lot more to the occasion than my vampire fetish. February is so dreary in the northern hemisphere, people of all places and ages have gone looking for an excuse to party.
The ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia from February 13-15. The festival was partly in honor of Lupa, the wolf who suckled Rome’s founders Romulus and Remus, and partly to honor Lupercus, the Roman equivalent of Pan. According to Plutarch, young men from all walks of life used to run naked down the streets, wielding thongs made from the skin of sacrificed goats. Young women volunteered for a slap, because it supposedly increased fertility—not to mention gave them a prime opportunity to ogle all those hot male bodies.
St. Valentine was a relative latecomer to the party. Correction—the saints Valentine, plural. Very plural. Until 1969, the Catholic Church recognized eleven different saints named Valentine.
Two of them, Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Fermi, shared the same saint’s day: February 14. Both were honored with churches on the Via Flaminia, the road between Rome and Rimini. Valentine of Rome’s church was located about two miles out of town. Nineteenth century archaeologists found two hundred early Christian inscriptions in the catacombs connected to the church. Nothing particularly romantic, though.
There wasn’t any connection between any of the Valentines and romance until publication of The Golden Legend, a mega-selling collection of saints’ biographies, in 1260—and even then, the connection was pretty thin. The Golden Legend conflated the two Valentines associated with February 14 into a single saint. According to this version, “he” was caught secretly marrying young soldiers in defiance of a law supposedly passed by the Emperor Claudius II around 280 C.E. Before he was beheaded, Valentine cured his jailer’s daughter of blindness, but the original story says nothing about notes “from your Valentine”.
The direct first connection between any of the saints Valentine and romance was made by Geoffrey Chaucer in his poem “The Parliament of Foules” (“The Parliament of Fowls”), written in honor of the engagement of England’s Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. In it, Chaucer wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery byrd comyth there to chese his make.
The only problem is birds in England (or Middle Europe, for that matter) don’t mate in the middle of February. As scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly pointed out in his Chaucer and the Cult of St. Valentine, it’s far more likely Chaucer was talking about St. Valentine of Genoa, whose saint’s day is celebrated at the beginning of May.
Numerous medieval letters and poems speak of a “High Court of Love” convened by the women of Paris on February 14, 1400, to deal with crimes of love and violence against women. There is no firm evidence a real, legal court was held on that date. But there are enough references to suggest a group of noblewomen could’ve staged parties featuring mock courts. Flirting with the judge wasn't just allowed, it was practically required.
The first recorded “Valentine” was a rondeau—a poem of fifteen lines featuring only two rhymes—written by Charles, the Duke of Orleans, to his wife in the mid-1400s. After that, Valentine’s Day was a made day. It even rated a mention in Hamlet, though the placement could’ve been better. The newly mad Ophelia speaks of hanging around her lover’s door the morning of St. Valentine’s Day watching his other amours going and coming, and coming and going… And we know what Lili Von Shtupp would say about that.
In England, printed cards started replacing hand written Valentine Day greetings in the early part of the 19th century, but the greeting card industry didn’t really take off until 19-year-old Esther Howland got into the act. The daughter of a successful Massachusetts book and stationery store owner, Howland created the first mass-produced paper Valentines in 1847. Today, Valentine’s Day is the second biggest holiday for sending cards. Roughly a billion Valentines are sent each year, a number only surpassed by Christmas. Howland’s sense of innovation is celebrated each year in the Greeting Card Association’s Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary.
The National Candy Association credits Richard Cadbury, son of the founder of Cadbury’s, with introducing the idea of boxed chocolates for Valentine’s Day. But this momentous event isn’t mentioned anywhere on the Cadbury’s site. Which is truly strange—you’d think they’d want to build him a monument, not sweep the event under the Internet’s version of a rug. I can only guess the site was developed by guys. Women web designers would never be so dim.
In general, flowers and chocolates didn’t become a major part of the Valentine’s Day picture in the 20th century. But American celebrations today have nothing on those in some parts of Asia. In Japan and South Korea, Valentine’s Day is a multi-part holiday. On Valentine’s Day, women give chocolates to the men in their lives. On March 14, the men return the favor. Or not. The South Koreans take it one step further. On April 14, those who didn’t get any chocolates head out to a Chinese restaurant to eat black noodles and mourn their single status.
Any reason to party, I always say. Add chocolate to the mix, and I’m so there. If I throw in DVDs of the Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee versions of Dracula, so is the spouse. Hmm, I may have to work on that.
Wishing you and yours the very best of the day—and absolutely no reason to eat black noodles. Unless like me, you like squid ink with your pasta.
11 February 2009
*dashes to turn off bad elevator music*
Or is it?
Today is Friday the 13th…and the legacy of the Templars still carries on. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day and Friday the 13th, I decided to make a list. The Pros and Cons of Valentine’s Day. For the sake of argument, let’s start with the Cons:
1) Have you ever had a guy you were sure could be the one dump you in January just to avoid the stigma of that awful Valentine’s Day appointment? Why? My guy friends assure me it’s not us, but it’s the expectations brought on by the highly commercial and materialistic interpretation of the LOVE day.
2) For all of us married folk, have you ever checked your husband’s credit cards, debit accounts, or bank statements in March? And the realization that the beautiful bling you showed off to all your friends cost half your savings that could have gone on that car repair that showed up at the most inopportune time?
3) Worse, for all of us who have abandoned corporate America for the joy of jeans and pajamas as daily wear leaving hubby to make all the money, have you ever had him say, “You know I love you, but can we just get a bottle of wine and have some time together after the kids go to bed?” Now, for me? That’s something special since our children and the demands of daily living mean we don’t have those moments anymore. But it’s not the traditional extravagance a lot of women want.
4) Now, have you ever had a Valentine’s gift that just wasn’t right? Something totally not something that you’d ever wear or to your taste? But he had to go get you something, so he walked into a store and let the Salesperson come up with it? Sometimes, that can be worse than not getting a gift at all.
5) And what about the men who just thumb their nose at it? Who refuse to acknowledge the day at all because they don’t want to be forced into gift giving mode? As much as the most forgiving of us can be, the hurt feelings are there even if you understand the rationale.
Pros of Valentine’s Day:
1) It’s a day where your significant other makes you feel special. Now, as a tip for the guys out there (you can link them here), it doesn’t have to break the bank. Get a bottle of wine and write a personal note – or just arrange for a sitter and take your wife for a walk!
2) It’s a day for you to do fun things for the people in your life! For me, part of the fun of Valentine’s Day is planning fun things for the kids to do.
3) Date night. For those of us with families, that’s something we’ve very nearly forgotten existed!
4) Memories. The Mastercard commercial says it best: Some things are priceless.
5) Sex. There, I said it. It’s one of the few nights a year where you set the stage to get lucky…and you’re both obligated to put out. *grins*
So, light a few candles and enjoy the day – and if it’s a bust, there are some really great books coming out with Samhain Publishing this month!
The Tickle My Fantasy books are popping on the stage one at a time (Carolina Wolf and Paramatch.com are already available) – with my personal favorite, The Ghost Shrink, The Accidental Gigolo, and the Poltergeist Accountant, coming out on the 17th! Witches Anonymous closes out the month on the 24th. All of these books are a wonderful read.
The Samhellion has free reads up in honor of the day, too. Shorts that are guaranteed to make you feel better.
And if print books are your thing, my novella Tiger by the Tail, releases in the ON THE PROWL anthology on the 24th. My author copies are in hand and I’m seriously excited about being able to go down to my local bookstore to buy it! AND...I just found out some Barnes and Noble stores have it on the shelf a little early...can we say ROAD TRIP?
And…in case you’re curious…my husband and I have banned the holiday. We have no plans by mutual agreement…and I’m okay with that. Really.
Do you have plans? Or want to share your best Valentine's Day memory? Or worst?
The first documentary is from 60 minutes and is about an elephant orphanage. The very sad thing is that more babies are being orphaned since the ivory trade has opened up again. It used to be that the baby elephants would simply die because humans couldn't care for them even if they wanted to. But someone has created a milk formula that can allow the babies to thrive and with that (and many hard workers), there's now an orphanage.
The second video is about a sanctuary for older retired elephants. They go to this sanctuary and generally become best buds with another elephant. But sometimes friendships can surprise everyone. It's very sweet, even if the reunion is a little heartbreaking.
10 February 2009
A Tickle My Fantasy story.
Dating in today’s world is tough enough. Pair it with a paranormalady, and Lucille Wainwright is living the recipe for loneliness. Born a talentless witch in a family of legendary spellcasters, she’s managed to carve a niche for herself with ParaMatch.com, a matchmaking service for paranormal beings.
What she lacks in the magic department, she more than makes up for with her uncanny ability to conjure committed relationships out of any combination of traits and backgrounds. Until now.
Enter Jager Cronus, deposed king of the Titans and successful paratrader. As a client, he’s a nightmare. As a man, he’s irresistible. When he demands a date with her to the annual Legion Halloween Dance, she’s hard pressed to refuse. With her professional ethics warring with a deep need to prove herself, she gives him two more chances to find love.
That’s all the opening Jager needs. After all, he didn’t survive his downfall without learning a few things about prevailing in the face of the stiffest negotiations.
Now he’s about to negotiate the deal of a lifetime—a future with Lucilla.
Warning: Contains inter-species romance, love potions, fallen Greek Gods, super-morphing wizards, and a male strip-tease.
The intercom sounded.
“There is a Mr. Cronus here to see you.”
What is he doing here? “Tell him to come in.”
Jeez. She really didn’t want to have to deal with him today. Things were going so well. She’d made follow-up calls on three successful matches. The possibility for a fourth still hung sweet in the air. Now, Mr. Impossible-To-Match decided to come by and complain about the lack of compatible dates he’d been on.
Truthfully, Lucilla had doubts there was anything wrong with the women she’d matched with Mr. Cronus. The fault lay entirely with him. However, in the matchmaker business, it was impolitic to point that out to a client. Especially one who paid in cash. And Lucilla didn’t come cheap.
She pulled up his file on the computer. There were several women he had yet to date. There was always hope that one of those would be his perfect match.
Jager Cronus ducked his head as he entered the office. He was the biggest man she’d ever met. As the deposed leader of the Titans, he claimed the mythologies maligned him. After the trouble she’d had matching him, Lucilla was almost positive the exaggerations were few.
“Lucilla.” He crossed the room in a few long-legged strides.
He looked down at her from his great height of six-and-a-half feet. Granted, when one thought of Titans, one thought of giants, but in all honesty, their height had also been greatly exaggerated in the mythos. They were no taller than professional basketball players. But his height wasn’t the thing Lucilla found so intimidating about him—it was his looks.
Drop-dead gorgeous didn’t even begin to describe him. Tightness centered in her chest whenever she saw him. Though the fact he was so hard to please took points off.
Lucilla forced a pleasant smile and indicated for him to take a seat. “Can I get you anything?”
“Yes, you can get me an appropriate date.”
The smile slipped slightly, but she ground her back teeth together and pushed on. “If you don’t mind me asking, what was your objection to Ms. Hyde?”
“With a name like that, do you really have to ask?”
The word jerk did a serpentine inside her brain.
“My understanding is that she isn’t in that particular form for long.”
“No, but then I don’t expect my dates to morph during the soup course.” He raised a brow as if he were lecturing an errant child.
“I can see where that would be disconcerting for you.” She clicked a few buttons on the keyboard and hit print. Two profiles sure to be doomed spit out of the printer.
“I haven’t given up and I don’t want you to either.” She rose to collect the printouts. His gaze followed her across the room.
Mr. Cronus possessed the kind of stare that made a woman feel hot and naked. Even standing in the middle of a blizzard probably wouldn’t cool the heat of his appraisal.
She looked at him over her shoulder. A connection too powerful to name passed between them. He started to rise, but Lucilla was quick to motion for him to sit.
“There are two new women who applied in the past few days. Maribon is a selkie with an impressive pedigree. Esmeralda is a djinn who has just fulfilled her contractual obligation with her master.”
The look he sent her was skeptical. “I’ll try them, but first I want you to do something for me.”
If it moved things along, she’d agree to take up clogging. “What is that, Mr. Cronus?”
“Two things, then. First, call me Jager. Second, fill out a profile on yourself.”
If she had taken a drink, it would have landed in his face. Luckily, her coffee cup was empty. “I don’t think that’s a very good idea.”
“Oh, I think it is.”
“Why do you want me to take the time to fill out a profile when I could be combing the database for more possible matches for you?” She already knew the answer to that question, but needed to hear him say it.
He leaned his big, sexy body over the desk. “I think you’re the best match for me, and I think you know it, too.”
There was no doubt in her mind their profiles would have a very high probability for a long-term match. She’d secretly crunched the numbers when he first applied as a client. The memory of which caused heat to creep up her neck and ignite the tops of her ears.
“Is something the matter, Lucilla?”
“No. No.” She smoothed her hair, pulling it forward to cover the vestiges of her acute embarrassment.
“You look like you’ve done something wrong.”
Lucilla cleared her throat. “Back when I first started the agency, I wanted to test the questionnaire software, so I took the profile quiz.”
Jager grinned at her as if he’d caught her in the middle of doing a striptease. “Do whatever it is you do to compare it to mine.”
Lucilla raised a brow at him. “I do all my comparisons by hand. It takes time and consideration. You just can’t slap people together in a haphazard fashion. Computers can’t give that personal touch my clients pay for.”
“The personal touch is exactly what I’m asking for.” The twinkle came back into his eyes. “But since you’re the professional here, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll go out with the selkie and the other, but you have to agree to go to the Legion Halloween Dance with me.”
Even though she knew she looked as attractive as a freshly caught carp, Lucilla couldn’t help but flap her mouth open and closed. The Legion Halloween Dance was the biggest event in Sleepy Hollow Woods. It was the one night of the year those with any form of paranormalady could go out and be themselves without fear of persecution from the Norms. The catch being that most people who were true Paras attended the dance only if accompanied by another from their community. The fear of going stag and meeting a Norm, falling for them, then having to own up to their affliction was too much of a risk.
However, there was always the chance he’d hit it off with either Maribon or Esmeralda and he’d back out of going to the dance with her. As a matter of fact, it was a pretty good bet he would.
Lucilla leaned back in her chair, crossed her legs, and then folded her hands in her lap. “Very well, Jager. If you agree to go on a date with my other two clients, I’ll accompany you to the Legion Halloween Dance.”
“I’ll hold you to it.” He stood, leaning over the expanse of her desk. Sexual power radiated from him.
If he held her to it, she’d go up in flames along with the holiday bonfire. Or melt into a puddle before he ever picked her up at her door. The man was too much.
No matter how much experience she had with men, it was all on the outside looking in. She understood the male species only insofar as to match them and collect her fee.
But Jager wasn’t finished. He lifted one of those big, beautifully masculine hands and ran his knuckles over her cheek.
“What are you doing?”
“I wanted to see if you are as soft as you look.”
“Yes, well.” Lucilla ran a nervous hand down the pearl buttons of her silk blouse. “Do you want me to email the contact information to you?”
“If you wish.”
Oh, she wished. Anything to get him out of her office and on his way.
Jager straightened then headed for the door. “You are, you know.”
Lucilla’s heart thumped against her breastbone. Oh yeah, she better pray he hit it off with one of the other women.
Copyright 2009 MK Mancos, All Rights Reserved
ParaMatch.com a service provided by the creative mind of MK Mancos and brought to you by the awesome publisher Samhain.
09 February 2009
It started a little before that, when I was unable to write for 5-8 hour stretches. I sat at a computer terminal in a room that was too hot, and highly toxic, causing my eyes to burn and my throat to be so raw that I coughed almost continuously. The instructor was a kid not too much older than my own, and seemed to have genuine trouble connecting with someone older than she.
I was having trouble working the database, trying to navigate a complex series of database windows all the while she sat beside me talking to me as if I were a nursing home resident.
I don’t know what irritated me more; her or the fact the damned computer’s screen saver would turn on every few minutes, sometimes throwing me completely out of the system, forcing me to start over. During this time a woman who sat behind me regaled us with off tune gospel while alternately shoving food in her mouth.
Why didn’t she choke? That my dear ones is mystery for the ages.
The instructor suggested after my torturous crawl through the database system that I should start sending out resumes.
I had no clue, when I took this job, that sending out a repairman to someone’s house was so complicated.
I rode home with another lady who, although helpful at first started encouraging me to quit. On the last day I was at work, she and I had a long talk about it. I know the instructor put her up to it, but at that point in time I didn’t care. I was all for letting that go. I got home, and was violently ill.
It occurred to me while kneeling at the altar of the porcelain god that no job should ever make one projectile vomit.
My husband asked if I was okay, and I told him I was not. I told him about everything that had gone one while at work. I told him I wanted to quit. He shrugged and said he didn’t want me to go in the first place. That my place was home and more specifically in my office. He jokingly threatened to chain me to the desk.
I went back to full time writing. My stomach unclenched. I was able to hold down food again. I was stressed because I had tons to do, but it was a happy kind of stress (if that makes sense) and was glad to work.
A few days after the disaster at the company I worked with I received notification that a book I had written was accepted by a publishing company. Since I haven’t gotten the contract for it yet, I’m not saying much more than that. Later, a friend of mine emailed me and offered to pay for my membership to NETWO (North East Texas Writers Association) as well as their annual conference. This is an exciting opportunity for me because the guests there are agents and editors who work in the genres that I do.
I entered two writer’s contests thus far and plan to do others. One is for NETWO the other is the Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition. That entailed a marathon writing session that lasted nearly four days. I had a novel almost completed, and I spent those days literally from the moment I got up until I went to bed around midnight, working up a proposal, plus polishing and completing the novel that was still in the raw. It was quite an experience, an exhausting one to be sure, I ain’t no spring chicken any more. But the coughing stopped, my eyes cleared, my stomach unclenched. My butt was growing calluses from sitting so much, but I was happy. I was in my element doing what I love to do more than anything in the world.
My husband brought me food, (during marathon writing sessions there has to be dark chocolate) love and encouragement while I wrote, telling me how happy he was seeing me sitting at the desk again doing what I love to do the most.
I found the Texas Book Festival’s site and their webpage for novel submissions. In April I’ll be sending them the two copies of Mercer’s Bayou. I’d love to become an exhibitor, but wouldn’t like to do it solo. I’m hoping I can find Texas Samhain and Whispers authors to join me there.
I still have two more novels to complete; the proposal for one is being sent to NETWO for review from the Tor/Forge editor. I have another novel to complete this spring, and a host of new ideas clamoring for attention for this summer’s writing fun.
And promotions. Of course there’ll be promotions. Books a Million in Texarkana already has space reserved for me as soon as Mercer’s Bayou goes into print.
As the sun breaks out over the horizon, spilling soft golden light through my office window, I feel hopeful that my career as a writer will blossom into something much more that what I dreamed it would be. As I gaze out the window, watching the sun peeking through the pines, I am reminded of an ancient Navajo prayer. Beauty before me, Beauty behind me, beauty all around me. . .
08 February 2009
I did some research and wound up with a Sony Walkman. I LOVED my Walkman tape player. It was the height of technology 20 years ago. Big old clunky thing, but you could TRAVEL with your music. That was the best thing evah! We all thought we were hip if we had a Walkman. It never occurred to us that we'd be using things 1/4 of the size that would hold dozens of albums instead of just one tape (or a mix-tape: you know the ones you made yourself on the dual tape deck of your stereo? Yeah, you were clever, weren't you?)
So I bought this 4GB wonder and I've spent HOURS loading it with music. I've barely cracked that 1GB mark and have something like 7.5 hours of music on it. I have nearly 375 songs stored on my computer. I used to just rip CD's I had at home, but I've since ponied up for the monthly subscription to Rhapsody. It pays for itself if I buy 1 album, for the most part. Since I have so much space to fill, I decided it was just easier.
But I've not been searching through the catalog for today's Hot Artists, no. Well, I have a few; I got some Sara Bareilles and for some reason I've been downloading The Pussycat Dolls. Don't ask, I can't explain it. But mostly I have searched and found the music of my Youth. I have a 70's playlist, which has things like ABBA, Donna Summer, and The Who, with a little Janice Joplin mixed in. I was young in the 70's, very young, but I remember the music very well. Disco was awesome. We need more disco.
And then there's another playlist - the 80's. That the soundtracks for John Hughes films defined my formative years is cause for some to nod in acknowlegement and others to scratch their heads in wonder. I was Gen X, part of the mall-rat, parachute pants, big-haired slackers that were never going to make anything of themselves. The Thompson Twins, The Go-Go's, and The Fine Young Cannibals were what I remember. We had great music.
I hadn't even thought about it in years, but when I got that player, suddenly I wanted it all. I've got dozens of songs I haven't heard in years - like 99 Red Balloons. My teenage years, like most people's, were nearly traumatic and perfectly awful in some respects. But when I hear Depeche Mode, I'm transported, and all that other stuff is forgotten, and all I remember is the good times. I laugh about it all now - we all HAVE made something of ourselves, and not too many of us are slackers. At least we've figured out that higher isn't necessarily better when it comes to hair. Oh, and we got rid of shoulderpads.
Maybe it's all the HS friends I've found on Facebook, making me nostalgic, but I can't seem to get enough 80's music. If my life were a movie, my 80's playlist would be a major part of the soundtrack.
What is the soundtrack of YOUR life?
PS - The Ankh of Isis is up for pre-order in paperback on Amazon...
07 February 2009
Flaws. We all have them.
David Beckham, oh god of Armani underwear,
has a thing for skinny blonds with boy haircuts. Nora Roberts head hops like a Mexican Jumping Bean (although since I still adore her books, is this a flaw or just her style?) I fuss at my kids if they bother me when I’m trying to work - and man, will seeing Coraline ever give you a complex about that.
But there are flaws, and then there are Flaws. The heroine of my new book Flawed – coming this summer from Samhain Publishing – has some pretty serious ones of the capital Flaw flavor.
She’s a princess and heir to the kingdom; life should be pretty good, wouldn’t you think? But happenings in her world of Elfish magic and court treachery has her backed into a pretty tight corner. Her magic? Nonexistent. Her birthright? Seems to have deserted her. And even David Beckham up there wouldn’t be doing anything for her – she’s got a serious problem when it comes to sex.
I think I’ll take my short temper over her set of problems.
Have you got any flaws you want to admit to? Or maybe, as gamers are often sarcastically saying, they aren’t really flaws, they’re features!
06 February 2009
Valentine’s Day…Watcher style
The last flower arrangement sits behind the glass door of the large refrigerator. After doing your usual end of the day shop closing procedures, you check the clock. Eight pm. You stretch the kinks out of your neck and back, then grab your purse and the flower arrangement and head out the back door.
A cold gust of air whips your hair around your face as you step out into the night. Normally, you don’t accept orders specifying delivery after five in the evening, your normal closing time, but today is Valentine’s day. You have busted your ass all week for this day, one of your busiest delivery days of the year. Turning down this particular delivery would not have mattered where the shop’s bottom line was concerned, but the flowers were for someone special. At least the person paying for the arrangement must think so to put out the extra dough for your night-time delivery.
Snow and ice lined the walk, remnants of the recent winter storm. With each step, the sound of your shoes clip-clop on the concrete and echo off the walls of buildings lining the alley. Another gust of arctic air has you pulling your coat tighter to block most of the chill.
The day sounds of downtown Louisville died down hours ago after the mass exodus of the nine-to-fivers. You try to ignore your jitters as you continue to the delivery destination, which unfortunately sits at the other end of a deserted parking garage.
A sound makes you jump and you feel your heart skip a beat. Taking a look in all directions, you don’t see anyone and tell yourself it must have been a cat, or even a river rat. You quicken your pace, your only thought is to quickly make this delivery and go home to your warm, safe house.
A footstep, then another echoed in the darkened structure. You notice how it had started off distant, but grew alarmingly closer with every step. Your heart rate increases, not because of the sound, but because you do not see the person. Even as you break into a sprint, the pounding of feet continue to match your pace.
Holding on tight to your delivery, the reason why your life may be in danger, you strain your eyes with each glance over your shoulder, but see nothing, until you return your focus forward.
Darkness moves, seemingly taking shape before your eyes. You immediately stop, your mind racing to come to a conclusion of what your eyes are seeing. The shape continues to shift, slowly moving in your direction until you realize the mysterious vision before you is a man.
Self preservation instincts kick in and you move backwards. You search your surroundings for protection, your mind screaming for you to run. Just as you turn to do so, the quick flash of another body blocking your way makes you jump. You feel your scream get lodged in your throat, making breathing difficult.
Your senses tell you the other man was still behind you, somewhere, but you are too scared to turn your head to look. Too scared to take your eyes off the man standing in front of you.
Dark eyes meet yours, but a twinkle, a faint glitter within their depths has your rapid breathing slowing without you forcing it to do so. The small smile curving the corner of the man’s mouth doesn’t strike you as malevolent. His presence calms your screaming mind as a voice inside your held assures you were now safe, protected. Listening to that voice, you dip your chin in a slight nod of understanding and take a step to the side, allowing him to continue forward, knowing he was not here for you, but for the one who has ill intentions toward you.
The man moves forward so fast his image is almost a blur to your eyes. His movement is halted by the impact of hitting the shadowed man. Grunts, snarls and muffled cries reach your ears and you find you cannot move from where you stand.
The gleam of teeth, long and pointed sends a bolt of shock rocketing through your body and you gasp in horror. Both men hiss at one another and emit growling sounds you know no ordinary man, no human can make. Your mind repeatedly denies the sight before your eyes and every explanation bouncing around your head.
As fast as it began, the scuffle is over and the silence of the parking garage returns. You unconsciously hug the flower arrangement close to your chest, feeling the sudden silence just as unnerving as the sounds you heard moments before.
Movement from behind a concrete column steals your breath. You realize the man with the comforting smile is the victor of the battle and begin to wonder why you are not afraid of him and running for safety.
“He’s gone. It isn’t safe to be out in the night alone.”
The sound of his voice flows through your mind like water. Realizing you had heard and felt, but not comprehended his words, your replay them in your head. Yes, he is right, but this last delivery was important to you. Someone is counting on you and someone will no doubt be very pleased with the surprise.
Feeling the need to defend yourself, to prove there is a reason for your lack of good judgment, you hold up the flower arrangement. Inside you feel a sense of pride at your work and hope the man is impressed by what he sees.
You look at his face again, knowing the hardness of his gaze should make you fear him, but it doesn’t. Instead, you find yourself intrigued and wanting to sit down with him, talk to him. You want to know who he is and where he is from. What is he doing here?
The look on his face also tells you the things you are thinking are not going to happen. He has done his job and is going to leave. A sudden panic hits your chest.
“I will walk you to your destination, then to your car.”
Shock and surprise wash over you. Did he read your mind?
As you try your best to keep up with his long strides, you feel both uneasy and safe. You want to ask him all the questions whirling around your head, but the vibes you feel from him tell you he mostly likely will not answer.
After making your delivery, you find him standing outside the door when you exit the building. He kept his word.
“My car is…”
“I know where your car is.”
You stop, but he keeps walking. Giving up on waiting for him to stop, you run to catch up with him. Has he been following you? Before you can ask, you realize he is standing next to your car.
Two words, was all he said, and from the look on his face, you know he means it as an order. Unable to speak, you nod and round the car. When you reach the driver’s side and insert your key into the lock, you look up to thank him, but he is gone.
You search the street on both sides, but do not see him, though you still feel his presence. He is watching you from somewhere, making sure you get into your car and drive away.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” you mutter, feeling as though you have just met your knight in shining armor, and you make a wish right then and there to see him again.
04 February 2009
If you've been reading my posts, you know that I've set several goals for myself. One of them was to get two manuscripts to my editor by March 1. I'm halfway there, but along the way I realized that writing is a lot like painting.
I love to paint. I think its a great, inexpensive way to brighten your home. Plus, I just like it. For me, painting starts with an idea. Usually the idea is that the walls look horrible, but hey, its an idea. Then I have to decide what color to paint. This is kind of like trying to figure out what the plot of the book is going to be. Maybe not the whole plot but a rough idea of where I want to start and what its going to look like at the end.
And then you get into it and you realize its not as easy as you thought.
Just like writing. I get my idea, I start to write and suddenly things go wrong. My characters aren't acting the way I want them to, going off on tagents, basically being the bad boys and girls I created them to be. And I'm looking at this work in progress thinking what a mess! Why did I want to do this? Why did I think throwing these two together would be a good idea? I. Am. Never. Doing. This. Again.
And here I am looking at my self-imposed deadline and I just know I'm not going to make it. I don't even have the first coat on and really, I'm not sure I like the paint color. What I really want to do is throw the paintbrush (or computer) across the room and watch TV.
And then suddenly it all starts working out. My hero and heroine suddenly decide to listen to me. The second coat goes on and WOW it really does look good.
This was me yesterday. Finishing up my story. Pulling the tape off the windows, the covers off the furniture. And before I knew it, I had a completed story, just when I thought nothing would come together.
What a relief.
Tomorrow I'm off to pick a paint color for the bathroom. Anyone want to join me?
PS - I just found out that my romantic suspense, Redemption, has been nominated for the 2008 Best Book award at LASR. If you think it deserves the honor, vote for Redemption here!
Also, a few weeks ago I found out that Deception was awarded Best Book of 2008 at eCataromance!!!!
03 February 2009
Come one, come all!
02 February 2009
The magic of three isn't relegated to worship. The symmetry of the number is seen again and again as a writer hones their craft. (Well, at least I keep seeing it, but then I'm a conspiracy theorist so everything has a hidden meaning to me.)
Here are some for your consideration.
1)Beginning, middle, end. - This one is pretty basic, but hey...if you have a story, you have to have this. Otherwise, it's a blurb.
2)Hero, heroine, villian - All right, so you don't have to have one of these. You can tell a perfectly good story without one of these elements, but hey...we're romance writers so the story rocks harder if you have all three.
3) Goal, motivation, conflict - And on the 6th day, thy writing instructor created these and they were good.
4) Plot, voice, pacing - Break one of these in the writing triangle and the entire book crashes and burns faster than the Hindenburg.
5) Grammar, syntax, punctuation - Not the most fun of the writing trios, but important in their own rights.
Taken singularly, each of these topics/categrories help to make your book come to life. Together they make it explode off the page. Like a really good magic spell - or potion- all the ingredients mix and meld together to make a delicous brew your readers won't be able to to put down.