30 April 2011

Getting Your Perspective Twisted

I live in the Southeast United States, East Tennessee to be specific. I love it here, I really do. Small enough to be comfortable, big enough to offer almost anything you could want, from ballet to bakeries.

Wednesday we had a history making weather event when four huge lines of storms, including several tornadoes tore through the area. My husband and I spent all day watching TV or listening to the radio. As long as I could (between storms) I got Online and talked to my daughter on the phone. By the time it was over, we were left without electricity or home phone, but thankful that we and those we cared about were alive and safe.

We found later that almost every one of my family and close friends, though spread out all over, had been very close to the path of at least one of the tornadoes. Not little ones either. These were huge EF-3’s and EF-4’s. Keep in mind, I’ve lived in Tennessee my entire life, and have never been really close to a tornado. Even when we get twisters, they’re of the small variety. Not this time.

All day we sat and wondered when the next round was coming (there were 4 altogether). I managed to get a bit of writing done and did a little housework and stuff. But being on edge for so many hours straight was not conducive to getting work done. It was exhausting, however. Two days out, and I’m still tired.

Somewhere, in the middle of all that craziness, my perspective shifted. I’m not sure exactly how to put the change into words, mostly because I don’t really understand the change myself. Yeah, some of it is the clichéd old “I realized life was too short not to live fully.” But it was deeper than that. After all, this was hardly the first time I’ve looked death in the face and walked away. It wasn’t even so much about death and loss, it was about giving myself permission to let passion come out and play. I want to write passionately, to live passionately, to BE passionately. I think I’ve been afraid of that, afraid of the power I sometimes feel shifting inside me, like the magma preparing to burst out of a volcano.

Maybe I’ve kept the real me capped off, held back, caged my whole life. She wants out now. I’m excited. And terrified.

Have a safe rest of the weekend!


27 April 2011

New Contract!

I am so pleased to announce that I have signed a contract with Carina Press for a new paranormal.

Her Dark Knight will be released November 28, 2011.

Below is an unedited version of the blurb:

Christien Chevalier, warrior for the Knights Templar, has been given the task of protecting the Templar’s treasure for eternity. For seven hundred years he has faithfully guarded the treasure entrusted to him. Until one fateful night when Lainie Alexander walks into his nightclub.

Lainie desperately needs her job to pay her father’s exorbitant nursing home bills so when her boss tells her to go to the nightclub on a bizarre errand, she doesn’t ask questions. Until she sees the reclusive nightclub owner and has the strange sensation they’ve met before. In another century.

Seven centuries ago Lainie and Christien fell in love. He a lowly knight, she a countess married to a powerful lord, their love had been doomed from the beginning and ended in her mysterious death that has haunted Christien ever since. Now she has returned and they both fear powerful, evil forces are behind her reincarnation. Soon Christien will be forced to choose between a seven hundred year old love that never died and the fate of humanity.

26 April 2011

Deceptions of Night by Virginia Cavanaugh

Hello Everyone!

Thanks so much to Beyond The Veil contributors, for allowing me to guest blog here today. 

Today I’m here to tell you about Deceptions of Night, book two in the Order of Night series.  This book was interesting to write from start to finish.  The hero, Lex, is very willful, and I had to forcefully steer him back on course a few times.  But there were times that I let him have his way, which in the end gave me some wonderful scenes that were not in the original plot outline.

Here is the blurb and an excerpt from Deceptions of Night.

 Tempers run hot through the members of the Order of Night as Lex tries to settle in as the new Triad vampire.  But when a jaguar attacks him in his bed, his life gets turned upside down, and he discovers a new meaning to keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

Kill the triad vampire or your brother dies.  Shayla grudgingly accepts the assignment.  But she soon realizes that success is easier said than done as she lies prone, trapped against the floor and secured by the body of one pissed off sexy leech.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Lex wants answers, and Shayla wants her brother returned alive.  They form a shaky truce as they seek out the man who has both.  Fierce attraction pushes them closer as mistrust tears them apart.  Deception lays in wait around every corner as they struggle to find the mastermind behind the traitors to the Order of Night.  As the tension rises, desire begins to burn with an intensity that threatens to consume, leaving them to question whether they can find what they seek with their lives and hearts intact.     

Lex had just started to drift off to sleep when he heard a faint whisper of cloth. He remained in the large bed as he listened intently for any noise to follow. After a few minutes of silence, Lex had begun to wonder if he’d imagined the noise but then he heard the near silent footfalls approaching from the hall. He forced himself to keep his breaths regulated as he watched the door to the bedroom through lowered eyelids. Whoever thought to surprise him was about to be surprised instead. He’d been raring for a fight ever since leaving the meeting.

The door opened on well-oiled hinges as Lex willed his muscles to stay relaxed. There would be no giveaway of his readiness for the battle to come. He never thought he would be thankful for the heat, but as he lay on top of the covers that could have hindered him, he sent up a silent thank you. Everything moved in a flash after that.

A jaguar leaped through the air toward him, and he caught its front paws in a punishing grip at the last second as he rolled with it across the massive bed. They landed on the floor with the cat on top; both of them roared their displeasure. The cold hardwood pressed unyielding against his back as the damn cat preceded to claw wildly at his bare abdomen. He ground his teeth together as he tossed the jaguar away from him. With a forceful crack, the cat hit the dresser, but gained its feet quickly. The beast made for the door, and Lex jumped to his feet and gave pursuit. He wanted answers, and he’d be damned if he let the one carrying them get away.

I hope you enjoyed this look into Deceptions of Night.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out the first book in the series, Secrets of Night, you can find it here: http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com/books/secretsofnight.htm

Best Wishes,
Virginia Cavanaugh

21 April 2011

Between Two Fires: Earth Day to Beltane

Eadar dà theine Bhealltainn. The Highland Scots honored the ancient traditions of May Day by casting juniper boughs upon two bonfires, then passing between them for purification and luck.

These days, our planet Earth could use a bit of both.

Here are a few things you can do to celebrate both Earth Day (April 22) and May Day/Beltane!

  1. Declutter and donate. As long as you're spring cleaning, do it right! Be ruthless and get rid of anything you haven't seen, touched or used in more than a year. Don't just pitch everything, though. Your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or homeless/domestic abuse shelters can use:

    - Clothing & shoes
    - Small appliances
    - Toys, games and books
    - Older but still functioning computers/laptops
    - Unused toiletries leftover from when you went crazy at that last 2-for-1 sale

  2. Recycle all those cardboard Christmas gift boxes you've got stuffed under the bed. (Yes, dear hubby, I'm talking to you!)

  3. Your local chapter of the American Association of University Women or Friends of the Library might appreciate your old books.

  4. Send your used paperback novels to soldiers serving overseas.

  5. Plastic grocery bags - there's a reason these are being outlawed in some states. Please don't throw these out with the garbage - save them and drop them in the collection box many grocery stores have their front doors.

  6. Oh, but keep a few to stuff in your pocket to collect trash on your next walk in the park.

  7. Take a stand against climate change and observe Earth Hour. Turn off electrical appliances, lights, computers, etc. for one hour. Do something crazy, like, um...talk to your kids and your spouse! ;)

  8. A great project for schools, churches, scout troops, etc. - Earth Day Groceries Project. "Borrow" paper bags from the grocery store (ask the manager), decorate them with earth-friendly messages, and return them to the store to be given to customers.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

  9. Put your talent to work! Contribute a photograph to the Earth Day State of the Earth photo project.

  10. Learn about kid and pet friendly, toxin-free cleaning products. Can't find these in the store? Make your own!

  11. Take a hard look at your overstuffed linen closet (come one, admit it, you know you have one!) and take out at least half of what's in there. My guess is you've got more towels and maybe sheets than you need or use. Your local animal shelter would love to have them! Here are a few more ideas.

  12. Save a few tin cans from the recycle bin and make Tin Can Herb Pots.

  13. Don't throw out that broken wooden chair - or that half a can of leftover house paint. Make a Faerie Chair!

Happy Earth Day and Blessed Beltane!


11 April 2011

Let's be Social

Greetings, Kittens!
Today I wanted to talk about social media. I don’t know how many of you spend the majority of your free time speaking with other writers, but they’re my core group of friends and I’ve noticed that two major anxieties permeate all of our conversations; the synopsis/blurb obligation and social media. It’s not that we’re antisocial—well we kinda are antisocial, but that’s not where the anxiety comes from—it’s that after thousands of words on the page, we suddenly don’t know what to say.

It’s difficult to know what a reader of even fellow writers want to hear about. Does anyone care about the process? Does it matter that I don’t plot and outline, but instead keep notes of excerpts and try to figure out how the different scenes come together? Is it important that I put the all of deadlines for the year on post-it notes on my wall where I can constantly see them? Do folks really want to know that I sometimes argue—out loud—with a character because I don’t understand the direction something is taking? Okay, maybe that last one is interesting to those who don’t do it; but in general, there’s a balance between sharing and over-sharing and many of us have no idea exactly where it is, so we under-share.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t writers out there doing it right. I’ve read several that know exactly how to document the process, engage the reader, give a forum for feedback and make you go back for more. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who you can barely find online, let alone find them directly engaging with readers and friends. That left people like me in the middle blogging weekly on my own site, here once a month, updating facebook as the mood struck me and joining groups like goodreads in passing. The problem is that the middle isn’t quite good enough.

I still get questions about this whole thing we call writing and how and why I do it. Obviously, I’m not sharing enough or sharing often enough, but like everyone, exactly how to share more effectively eluded me for long time. So I asked. I joined forums, posted in groups, tallied the questions and asked what readers wanted to know about new authors, favorites authors, beloved characters, writing as a whole, genre writing in specific, and what it meant to connect to another human being through the stories they chose to tell. The answer that came back? Everything. Really?

I tried to cast my thoughts back a few years to the days of being an aspiring writer. Was there any detail too small from the authors I read and new authors I’d discovered? Probably not. In fact, writing is so solitary that there’s still a sense of camaraderie sparked by reading another writer’s process. As a reader, was there anything too innocuous or miniscule about a character or a world I loved that I wouldn’t want to read about it? Nope. I’m that person that watches all the extras and vignettes and can’t get enough behind the scenes of my favorite shows and movies and that flows right into books. So yeah, I get it, and I can’t be alone among my friends. I know some of them are the same kind of happy “extras geek” that I am. So what’s the problem?

Ironically enough, I think we just don’t feel that interesting. We assume that the stories we have to tell will resonate with others, hopefully many others, but we don’t necessarily feel that we, as individuals, are of great interests to everyone out there. Many of us are in that early-in-our-career phases where we’re getting feedback and fanmail and that’s all wonderful, but we don’t see ourselves the same way we see other writers. We imagine that everyone we adore has clamoring fans like ourselves flooding their inboxes demanding to know more about, well, everything. In contrast, we get the questions often, but don’t assume that for each person that asks, there are many more out there wondering.

Most of us have heard the advice “write what you know”. Fortunately, many of us have also heard the actual good advice to “write what you want to read”. Adding to that, I’d say “talk about what you want to know about”. Cover the things that you’d want to know as the reader, as a writer and just as a person; it becomes a much less intimidating concept that way. Now as for a synopsis/blurb you have due...yeah, I can’t help there!

So, writers, how good are you with social media and interacting with readers?

And readers, if the authors you love or have just discovered aren't vocal enough, well, what do you want to know?


P.S. To put my money where my mouth is....

ARe Cafe

09 April 2011


Shapeshifters are cool. As disguises go, theirs is perfect. They don’t just look like somebody else; they become something else. But I never grooved on the werewolf thing. Rigid hierarchies, savage fights for dominance, brutal consequences for going it alone—I grew up an Army brat, in what universe would that be my fantasy? And much as I love big cats, their beauty, their grace, their independence, I can’t help wondering, who’d change the litter box? Raptors? I have a picture of myself sporting a live bald eagle on my shoulder. My smile is a terrified rictus. Have you seen the claws on those things? And that beak…less than a foot from my eyes… That thin whine you just heard was me remembering the occasion.

Maybe it’s because I’m a redhead and short, but I always identified with the wolf’s smaller, smarter cousin, the little red fox. Frankly, when it comes to canids, I always thought we domesticated the wrong one. Given the choice between something that’s pretty, intelligent and ferociously devoted to her family, and something that looks at you and immediately starts prepping a nice Chianti sauce, which strikes you as a better candidate for hearthside companion?

Logic notwithstanding, growing up I often felt like the only person in the whole who saw the fox in that light. Despite their presence in our farms, suburbs and cities, foxes have a bad rep in European and American folklore. Aesop accuses them of sour grapes. People use “vixen” as an insult. In the “Uncle Remus” stories, African-American folktales collected by Joel Chandler Harris, Br’er Fox is the villain, devious and cruel. There’s Zorro, of course, but how many people know his name means fox? In a similar vein, the medieval French and Germans devoted several mock epics to the adventures of Reynard the Fox, but the valor and wit of the peasant hero fox only makes sense if you know a lot about medieval Europe. The oppressive collusion of church and state doesn’t translate well to standard fairy tale compilations.

In one sense, the best part of growing up is not having to read in the kid’s section anymore. You can uncover the historical backdrop of Reynard’s jousts with the wolf Isengrim, and so much more. The Internet added another world of resources. Suddenly, the folklore and fairy tales of every nation are no more than a few keystrokes away. At the same time, Japanese anime was making inroads into American consciousness.

To this lone, fox-friendly writer, anime and Asian folklore came as a revelation. In the place of single-minded EBIL BITCHES—er, vixens, you had shapeshifting fox women and men with adventures and love stories as complex as the humans in their world. Sure, there were evil foxes—those who used their foxfire like will-o-the-wisps to mislead travelers or possessed the unwary to eat their fill of fried tofu. But there were also fox patriarchs who apologized to their neighbors when their kids made a ruckus, maternal foxes who risked their lives to protect the children—human and fox—under their care, devoted wives and lovers wronged…by the human half of the couple. They even hold conventions. According to Japanese legend, all the foxes in an area gather around an old tree at the eve of the lunar New Year to receive their marching orders and strategize the year ahead.

Foxes are the principal servants of Inari, the Shinto kami (a kind of divine spirit) of rice, fertility, agriculture and industry. Asian foxes are shapeshifters extraordinaire, and Inari shares their fluid sense of identity. Depending on the temple, Inari could be a young man, an old man, a young woman or a collective of five different kami. Inari can appear as a pure white fox, but the kami also uses foxes as messengers or assistants, as when she helped the blacksmith Munechika forge the legendary sword Kogitsune-Maru (Little Fox).

Implicit in all the Asian fox tales is the idea of perfectibility. All magical creatures grow wiser and stronger as they grow older. They can always change for the better, whether they are a young fox with only one tail or a semi-divine ancient possessing nine. It all comes down to your choices. This notion resonates powerfully with me as a writer and a person. It’s bigger than redemption. It’s self-determination, setting your own course, mastering your fate—all those expansive, broad-shouldered American concepts we don’t normally associate with the lands where karma reigns supreme.

But what of the fox itself? Can it be perfected—er, domesticated? When I was growing up, the answer—and justification for all those evil fox tales—was a resounding no. The fox was a wild and vicious creature that would always bite the hand that fed it.

Turns out “common knowledge” on that front was wrong, too. At the same time people were telling me how intractable foxes were and would always be, Russian researchers were conducting experiments which proved otherwise. By breeding Siberian silver foxes for “tame traits”—willingness to allow humans to approach, curiosity versus wariness, etc.—they created a strain of silver foxes which act like house pets. They lost their distinctive “musky” fox smell, and their colors changed. Domesticated silver foxes display the wide variety of colors and splotches we associate with domestic dogs—without being crossbred with anything except other Siberian silver foxes. They bark, wag their tails and lower their ears like dogs. If raised with cats, they learn to use a litter box, and they love to cuddle. If they weren’t so expensive, I’d be tempted to look into my home state’s exotic animal laws. (Want!)

The Russians weren’t the first to succeed at this, either. Archaeologists recently analyzed a 16,500-year-old burial site in Jordan. The site provided plenty of evidence of the connection between ancient people and their pets. Dogs were interred with humans, presumably their owners, in graves dating from 13,000-11,000 BCE. The shocker for the scientists was what they found in the older graves: people buried with foxes. There’s even evidence the remains of the foxes were moved with those of “their” humans.

It’s a turnaround worthy of Reynard, and it hit the news the day before 2011’s lunar New Year. Coincidence? Probably, but still, I wouldn’t have minded being a fly on the tree where the foxes gathered that night. Something tells me we’re in for a wild year.


Illustrations (from the top):

"The Studious Fox", a margin decoration from The Hours of Utrecht (c. 1460).

"The Forging of the Blade Kogitsune Maru (Little Fox)" by Ogata Gekko, 1873. The fox spirit assisting the blacksmith Munechika is depicted as a shadowy woman surrounded by foxes.

"Fox Fires on New Year's Eve at the Garment Nettle Tree at Oji", a woodblock print from Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo series, 1857.

Jean Marie

06 April 2011

The Five Worst Blog Posts Ever

It's that time of the month again. No, not THAT time of the month, time for me to post here at BtV, my chance to shine and come up with some witty and poignant bit of prose meant to inform or entertain.

That's a lot of pressure. I mean, it's only once a month, and yet some months I get the notice that my day is approaching and I tense up. What am I going to write about? My mouth goes dry - what if no one reads what I wrote, or they HATE it? What if I can't be spontaneous and funny and we lose readers and I get kicked out of the blog? (okay, I don't think they would, but you never know.) I've been working on guest blog posts and interviews for a Special Something I'm doing in May, and I tried to be sometimes serious and sometimes humorous, and here's what I've concluded: it's hard to be interesting.

I mean, with all the bloggers and authors and tweeters out there, I'm just another voice in the wilderness. I know some people have huge audiences for their blogs, cranking out daily articles that aren't too long (because now we know that people want sound bites, not manifestos) and that grab their readers and make them want to come back. It's hard to do day after day. I used to try and blog every day, but it got to be monotonous. Not much happens to me on a daily basis. So I gave up the every day thing and only post on my personal blog when I have something to say, usually related to my writing, or only really important things in my life that I want to share. I tweet and post to Facebook, so if you're really REALLY interested in the minutiae of my daily life, there you are.

But, in honor of those who feel the compulsion to blog every day, even if they have nothing interesting to say, I give you the Five Worst Blog Posts Ever (titles only).

5. Catwatch, Day 65: Hairballs Ahoy!
4. What I Ate For Breakfast  (unless you're talking about chocolate-covered bugs or something, no one cares. And if you ARE talking about chocolate-covered bugs, um, well, I don't need to read about it, do I?)
3.  How to Make Hospital Corners or: My Life in Dustbunnies
2.  Three Things I Found While Cleaning out My Purse
And the number one WORST blog post ever....

1. My Colonoscopy (A Video Blog)

Have a great week!

05 April 2011

Release Day for Wherever You Are

Hello, everyone! I'm super excited that today my pirate time-travel releases with Samhain Publishing. The road for this manuscript was rocky at best but I never lost faith in it. If you love action-adventure, time-travel and pirates, then check this out.

He’s in the fight of his life for a love that defies the centuries. The last thing Juliana MacKenzie remembers is sitting in a friend’s kitchen. In Kansas City. In the twenty-first century. How did she wind up on a burning ship in the middle of the ocean—in the eighteenth century? If that wasn’t enough to get her heart started, some dark corner of her memory responds to the ship’s enigmatic captain. A man whose touch ignites her senses even as he stubbornly holds her at arm’s length. It’s almost too late when Morgan realizes his stowaway is not only female, but a woman from a life and a time he’d almost forgotten. Desire resurges like an undeniable tide—but he is not the man Juliana would remember. She has been unwittingly thrust into a dangerous world, and now she, too, is a target for the pirate who once enslaved him, who still hunts him across the seven seas. Kidnapped by Morgan’s worst enemy, Juliana finds herself drawing on inner reserves she never knew she possessed. No way will she let anyone—not even the man she is growing to love—choose her path for her. And no way will she let him offer himself in trade for her freedom. Buy Link Read Excerpt

04 April 2011

After the Attack at My Son's School

It has been nearly a year since a man who called himself Satan walked onto our elementary school campus in the middle of the school day, opened the first classroom door he came to, and beat a teacher. And that was only the beginning.

If you want to read the whole story, I blogged about it here:

Beyond the Veil May 3, 2010

This is what has happened since:

1) After jerking the judicial system around for several months, the man in question finally pleaded "no-contest" to the charges. He is serving five years behind bars.

2) Sadly, the teacher who was injured has moved away.

3) The school has implemented several "lock-down" changes to the campus and other schools in the area have upgraded their security systems.

4) The two teachers who risked their lives for the students would tell you that they didn't do anything special. We all know the truth. Those men are heroes. Especially the dapper teacher who brought the guy to his knees with a jab of his rolled up magazine. The kids wonder if he is a secret agent. :-)

5) The sixteen-year-old boy who fought with the madman was interviewed on television and the papers as one of the heroes on the scene. He seems like such a nice young man. I wish him well.

6) My sweet boy may not be as innocent as he was before the attack, but he is still just as caring. The day after the incident, he spoke to the Superintendent at the school and asked that new locks be put on all the doors so that the teachers don't have to hold them shut. The Supe had it done within a week and reported back to my son that it had been taken care of.

7) And me? Well, I cried again when I re-read this. It's so easy to forget how each and everyday is a gift. Love your babies and hold them tight. And if you get a chance, thank a teacher.


02 April 2011

Things You Must Know

Today is April 1st

It’s Wednesday

Your watch is an hour fast

You lost ten pounds last night

You really have won Publishers Clearinghouse

Cookies now have zero calories

An editor is about to call you to publish that book you always wanted to write

Your dog took himself for a walk

You won the lottery

Your favorite TV show was just renewed for three more years

You won a new car

Your cell phone bill is $5 for this month

You’ve been overpaying your electric bill and will be getting a refund

Have a happy April the 2nd!!!

Cheryel  (who likes extending her fun)