Sunday, November 7, 2010

When I'm NOT writing...

I've been writing, I swear. BUT.
I've been working on another project for a month now.
Finally, it's done and I want to share!

I've been paintintg my kids' room. Here's what I started with:


White walls. I sketched in some standard sized blocks just to see where the painters tape should go. Then I put a color on the upper portion of the walls, and a slightly darker color on the lower parts of the walls where my faux "stone" was going.















The boys wanted stone arches over their beds. So I drew a template and painted around it. At this point, I was still excited and eager to see the room come together.









Then I outlined the stones...that took days. I painted in one arch because I had to motivate myself. Seeing how cool the stone was going to be, helped me pick up the momentum that was lost.















Then I painted and detailed each stone.
Individually.
I began questioning my sanity.
Why did I ever start this project?
What the heck was I thinking???
I was in over my head. But the boys were so excited...I couldn't stop and paint over it all in a nice, normal solid shade. No matter how I might want to.




















And this big empty, windowless wall loomed.










I arranged the room and got the border painted.
I put up the props. The shield and helmet. The axes. (All are plastic toys.)
Still there was that empty wall.








It needed dragons.




So, I put in pillars and blacked out the part that would be "open to the outside."









I put in the clouds, the mountains in the distance. The moon and the stars.

And I started to paint dragons...




Finally...it was done.


Friday, September 10, 2010

DRAGON CON 2010 part 2

Here are some of my favorite pictures from DRAGON CON 2010

Of course we have to start with Conan...




So mad at myself for not taking several of this guy. The costume was great but my camera sucks. I got ALOT of blurry images this year. (*insert various creative expletives here*)


Next are the demons of NETHERWORLD...







And because those costumes (above, left) are sooo detailed and dark (I'm sure their haunted house is unrivaled!), I'll next lighten things up with someone's homage to one of my favorite stand-up comedians, Jeff Dunham... here's Peanut and Jose Jalapeno on a Stick:







If some evil scientist plotted to unleash a zombie apocolypse, Dragon Con would have to be among the prime location considered. This year I heard there was a Zombie Prom going on at the big D-Con, but I did not find it, though these two must have been shambling to it....










If I were to write fan fiction that mixed up various alternate and already famous worlds, I doubt I would do Star Wars as sock monkeys, and I'm sure I would not combine that with Halo.


However, my kids would love to have a Master Chief costume like this. (Yeah, the Arteest and the Future Stunt Man made me zoom in on this picture so they could examine the gun and expressed how they wished the guy had been carrying an Energy Sword.) Oh, Halo dude, where did you get the armor, and does it come in boys 14, and boys 10?

And by the way...there are no orange tips on either of the guns these two are carrying, so, as my kids pointed out, they must be real. I'm glad these two were not trigger happy.


Speaking of alternate worlds...

Can you imagine Highlander with Storm Troopers?

"There can be only one!"











My friends have tortured me with the notion that Frodo and Sam were more than adventure buddies, that Aragorn and Legolas had various methods of keeping warm on long dark nights in the wilderness, and that Kirk and Spock are way more than friends (I wish I could un-see that You Tube video featuring scenes from the original series set to Nine Inch Nails' "Closer"), but I didn't see this one coming:








Now just imagine this pic (below) is in the Cantina at Mos Eisley, and that it's Darth Vader's Bachelor Party....







I got a picture of this man's homage to Fransis Ford Coppola's Dracula last year and it was all blurry, so I was delighted to run into him again. Love this costume! Every detail. The Costumes are one of the best things about Dragon Con. People not only come up with the coolest costumes, when they copy one from film/tv/comics/etc. they attend to all the details! (Except for the guy who thought a belt with a towel draped through the front, between his legs, and then draped over the back was a "loincloth." In my opinion, towels aren't really costumes. **The various young men who wore a towel and carried around Old Spice deodorant and said they were dressed as "the Old Spice guy" are an exception, however.


The highlight of the can, for me, as I said in my previous post, was the CELLDWELLER concert. See how excited I was? Below is a pic of Klayton at the keyboard.



















And this is Klayton and Blue Stahli during the uber-cool drumming portion of their show.











I bought various souveniers for the kids, of course, but I got myself something special. Here it is:

Romulan Ale. This proves my Trek fanhood. I have no pics of Klingons or Starfleet Officers, but I bought Romulan Ale and smuggled it home in my luggage. I wonder if Han Solo could use another sidekick? I now have experience as a smuggler....



Monday, September 6, 2010

DRAGON CON 2010

As I walk around the big D-Con, my ears are always picking up bits and pieces of the conversations of strangers. It's become a thing for me, so I'm sharing my favorites...

--but first--

A quickie recap of the highlights of my 2nd D-Con:


* Meeting all the fantastic people--you know who you are!

* Taking pics of the costumes.

* Being on a Supernatural CSI panel with Laura Anne Gilman, Jim Butcher, Laura Bickle/Alayna Williams. Butcher's fans packed the room--it was the most people I've been in front of on a panel. (*nervous* SQUEE!) It was great fun! Carol Malcom is the best moderator EVER!

* Getting to see CELLDWELLER in concert!


When I first wrote about my character Johnny Newman's band Lycanthropia in VICIOUS CIRCLE, I had an idea what they sounded like and described it as similar to Flesh Field, but edgier, with more guitars, and predominantly male vocals. Someone kind of poked me and said, "Hey, check out this band, Celldweller," and provided a link to a video for Switchback. I was hooked immediately. OMG! Kick ass! Getting to see the concert was--for me--the biggest thrill of Dragon Con 2010. I had to get back to the hotel at about 2:30 a.m. and had to pack. I left to catch my plane home on 3 hours of sleep, but it was worth it!

To make it even better...I was on the front row. Almost center! Klayton was right in front of me. So cool!




If you don't have their cd, go buy it now. Really. Seriously. Here's a link to their you tube video for Switchback: http://www.youtube.com/celldweller#p/f/10/8WzPw6hBpkY

I'll post more pictures tomorrow from D-Con tomorrow, but for now, here's my

Top Ten Favorite Phrases I Randomly Overheard at DRAGON CON:


10.) Can we have a king size bed? We're friendly, but not THAT friendly.


9.) You want this? You want this?


8.) Yeah. You're gonna have to drag me.


7.) But it's squishy!


6.) We need to find the long gerbil tube.


5.) I'm suffering from too much boom boom.


4.) I gave you one when we got back to the room last night. I gave you one this morning. Now I'm not giving you any more.


3.)Are you sure you're putting the right end in?


2.) Shake it. It's soft rubber. It won't hurt you.

1.) Ack! My nozzle is gone!

Monday, August 30, 2010

CONTEXT 2010

Context is one of my favorite conventions. It's full of writers and readers! I got to meet Linnea Sinclair who writes sci-fi romance. http://www.linneasinclair.com/ Here she is with the wonderfully talented Laura Bickle (aka Alayna Williams)http://www.laurabickle.com/



Also got to hang out with some established friends--on the left is DeniseVerrico with her book CARA MIA, book one of the Immortyl Revolution series. She has a background in theater, aint' that cool? In the middle is S. A. Swann with a variety of his books (BTW he's won some major awards and has impressive nominations--you should be reading his work!), and James O. Barnes is on the right with THEIF KING. He's an author, a publisher, and teacher.
Their websites are: http://www.deniseverricowriter.webs.com/
http://www.sandrewswann.com/
http://jamesobarnes.com/



And lastly here's me in the Lycanthropia shirt some fans made and gave me at the Romantic Times Convention. It's my new standard book-signing shirt. :-) And I had the honor of sitting with Lucy Snyder, another award winner. (http://www.lucysnyder.com/) I recently finished her Urban Fantasy Spellbent and it was gritty, fast-paced, and full of little quirky details that are highly entertaining but also grounded the story (for me anyway--I have kids and dogs--so unexpected goofy things are commonplace).

I also met Cat, J.M., Trista and Dan, Greg, and so many people who's names I sadly don't remember!! Thank you to everyone who had books for me to sign (squee!), thanks to all the Context organizers, especially Nick and Linda Winks, and on a personal note, my tongue-tied nervousness with public speaking does not yet seem to be abating. I'm fine if I'm not in front of the room behind a table. So if you see me at a con and I seem like a nit-wit on a panel, come up and talk to me when I'm not behind the table. I'm still a goof, but I'm not as likely to stutter.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

EVIL, make up some of your own today...


I'm not one to share recipes, really, but I have discovered the recipe for EVIL and it bears sharing. It has many names I am sure, but I am hereby dubbing it EVIL, because that's what it is. You'll read this and think, "No way," but I swear it is deceptive. If you try to touch mine I swear to you I will get out one of the swords and an axe...but if you want to make some for yourself all you have to do is this:

Set your oven to 400 degrees. EVIL likes the heat. Take out the 10x13 (or thereabouts) pan from your kitchen--NOT a cookie sheet. (Recommend sturdy pan, NOT foil.) This has to have at least short sides.

Grease the bottom and sides lightly. (Also ok to line pan with foil and spray the foil lightly with non-stick coating. Because, EVIL needs to be convenient to the way YOU like to roll.)

Line the pan with saltine crackers. Yes. Regular, ordinary crackers. (I said it was deceptive.)

Get out a small saucepan, melt 2 sticks of butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Boil that mix for 3 minutes.

Spoon mixture(or carefully pour it) onto the crackers making sure to coat them all.

Bake for 5 minutes, remove carefully and scatter some almond slices (1/2 cup or more if you like)on top, then cover with chocolate chips (2cups; minis works best but regular chips are fine. Chocolate can be sinister in any size).

Wait a few minutes for the chips to melt, use a spatula to spread it around and let cool. (If you have space in the freezer, this cools it FAST.)

Cut 'em, break 'em...whatever, just eat 'em. And discover the EVIL part. You can't leave 'em alone. So deliciously rich...so freaking simple.

If anyone needs me next week, I'll be on the bike, the treadmill, or walking the dogs over and over to get rid of what EVIL has done to me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

EXCERPT from FATAL CIRCLE

CHAPTER ONE--------

My living room clock read two-forty-six a.m. It was no longer Hallowe’en night, but All Hallows Day. Or, as some called it, All Saints’ Day. But it was no saint who held me in his arms—it was a wærewolf.

“I think you’d like my apartment, Red.” Red. That’s me. Persephone Alcmedi to the rest of the world. Seph to some. Red only to Johnny, my not-exactly-Big-Bad-wærewolf. “It has that open-living concept.”

I wasn’t fooled. “It’s a glorified dorm room, isn’t it?”

“If, by ‘glorified,’ you mean it has a private bathroom, then yes.” Johnny sniffed, affecting annoyance. “Something I sacrificed when I moved in here.”

I’d had to forfeit my home’s vampire defenses three weeks ago to save a friend’s life, Johnny had temporarily moved into the third-floor attic room—for protection purposes only. In the three weeks since, those defenses had since been reinstated, but he’d remained. Being the epitome of “tall, dark, and handsome,” I hadn’t complained.

“C’mon.” Johnny’s deep blue eyes glittered seductively. His voice dropped low. “Nothing’s more romantic than a bachelor pad.”

We’d both had a hell of an evening. Words like “hectic” or “demanding” didn’t begin to cover it. I must have been the only one suffering from fatigue.

His band, Lycanthropia, had played at the Hallowe’en Ball. Johnny was the vocalist and guitarist for the techno-goth-metal band, and he’d given his all on stage. He should have been as exhausted as I was.

Of course, I’d made quite an effort on that stage, too. I’d fought and killed a fairy in front of hundreds of witnesses who’d applauded afterward, thinking it simply part of the Hallowe’en show.

Killer fairies and rock-n-roll: that was only a small part of what we’d dealt with this evening.

“Do you honestly want to show me your apartment now?”

“My one bulb is burned out so there’s not much you’d actually see.” His lean-muscled arms slid around me. I felt so grounded and safe in his embrace. “But I promise, what you feel will make up for it.”

What Johnny wanted was crystal clear, and so was the reason why he thought going elsewhere was a good idea. I’d already mentioned my fears about the rest of the household learning we were intimate, so he was trying to keep the secret. At his apartment we could have assured privacy and we wouldn’t have to retire to separate bedrooms like we did here. Cuddling and sleeping together after sex would have been nice.

Apparently, to him, if we weren’t actually seen together we had plausible deniability. Not that my live-in grandmother, I call her Nana, would ever believe that we’d visited his apartment in the middle of the night just so he could give me the nickel tour.

Nana and my nine-year-old foster daughter, Beverley, were asleep in their bedrooms—each just a hall’s width from mine. The old saltbox farmhouse had paper thin walls. Even the layers between second-floor ceiling and attic floor lacked the ability to dampen noise. I’d heard Johnny playing his guitar up there when the little amplifier wasn’t cranked up to “1.”

Still, there were things he didn’t know. Like, “The lucusi is coming here at dawn, Johnny.”

He pulled me closer. He’d gotten a shower after the show, washing off the smell of leather stage-clothes and leaving only the cedar and sage that was his unique scent. “Had to try.”

His breath on my neck was warm, his voice just rough enough to catch in my ear and tingle down to my toes. Parts of me were suddenly insisting they didn’t qualify as weary. It made me reconsider the definition of tired. “It’s just so far to drive. All the way back to town, only to turn around and come back here by dawn.”

But people in the throes of new love did crazy things like that.

Did I just think the ‘L’ word?

I stiffened just as he suggested, “You could fly.”

He was right, I could. Due to my performance a few days earlier in the Eximium, a high priestess competition, I’d been inducted into the powerful lucusi led by the Eldrenne Xerxadrea that was due at dawn. A real witches broom was one of the perks. “But…”

“You don’t want to fly?” He nuzzled my neck.

“It isn’t that.” Running my fingers through his long , dark hair, I looked up—way up, he’s six-foot-two—and let him see I wanted him, too. “I have a better idea.”

“Do share.” Another nuzzle.

“There’s only one place in my house with any kind of soundproof privacy.” Tiptoeing, I kissed him lightly before answering. “Your kennel.”

“Oh, that is sooo hot.” He rubbed up and down my backside and couldn’t suppress his grin.

Carrying a lit jar candle and blankets, I led him outside and around the house. Johnny pulled the slanted metal doors open and I descended the concrete stairs.

While Johnny shut the cellar doors, I placed the candle in the middle of the floor and spread the blankets over the freshly straw on the floor of the cage. I glanced into the shadows at the door of the rearmost steel kennel. This was where his beast was unleashed, where the animal in him took over. A shiver of desire ran through me.

When I heard Johnny’s footsteps had reached the bottom stair, I asked over my shoulder, “I don’t suppose you could help me out of this costume?”

He stopped in his tracks.

I tugged on the lacings of the bell-sleeved velvet mid-driff bustier—part of my costume for the Ball—and smiled.

“Actually—” His voice was a little higher than he intended. He stopped to clear his throat and started over. “Actually, I can help with that.” He was by me in an instant, deftly working the knot. Seconds later, the fabric loosened and I took a satisfyingly deep breath. Then those skillful fingers touched the bare skin at my waist, thumbs drawing little circles. “Anything else I can help you out of?”

“I’m not technically out of this.”

“Oh,” he said softly. “My bad.” He began loosening the lace-up strings even more. “Up or down?”

Though I knew he meant should he lift the shirt over my head or push it down over my hips, I went with the word that had more impact. “Definitely up.”

He was so gentle, moving so slowly, careful of my hair and the mask. He was just removing my shirt, but he made it sensual, as if he were rubbing lotion all over me. Tanning lotion. The cellar was suddenly so warm I could have been standing in summer sunlight. The bustier fell into the blanket-covered straw at my feet.

As I kept my arms raised, Johnny placed my hands on the bars atop the open cage door, and squeezed my grip to indicate I should let them remain there.

His warm fingers traced every contour of my arms, slowly descending until he could brush my hair away from my ear on one side. He put the line of his body against the back of me and nuzzled against my ear. While he sucked gently on my earlobe, his hands shifted toward my breasts.

A trembling resonance fluttered up my spine. Heat was building low in my abdomen, and under my sternum. Sensations jolted through me like electricity, and all thought of tiredness fled.

Abruptly, the cellar door creaked open and crashed loudly against the ground outside. “I locked that,” Johnny muttered.

Someone was coming down the steps. We turned as one to see who—

Menessos.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another con weekend...

Laura Bickle (fellow Juno author who's got two names and two releases...Embers as herself, and Dark Oracle as Alayna Williams) and I went to another convention. Lori Foster's Readers and Author Get Together.

A small con, very romance oriented, they had a ton of fun baskets to raffle off, and the money raised was given to a kid's charity. It's mostly a Friday evening and Saturday kind of con, and most folks seemed to have left before the pirate party on Saturday night. We dressed up and went, but ended up leaving and heading to the Dingle House for some dinner. (No we didn't go in costume.) The Irish pub, we'd discovered, has kilted waiters. Alas, many picture on my camera are blurry so here's one from their site:



Sorry, no kilted pics on their site...











Here's me in my BIG pirate shirt as "The Dread Pirate Robertson" saying...
"This is all ye got, me heartie? You mean the rum's gone?"



Here's Laura Bickle releasing the "quaken."




We had fun, enjoyed the pub food(I discovered a new favorite beer: Old Rasputin's Russian Imperial Stout)and we sampled the Skyline Chili fare because, well, it was Cincinntati. We also hit Jungle Jims an amazing 5-acre grocery with specialty foods from around the world (and a selection of specialty beers that is unmatched!!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

MARCON

Marcon is a great con. I always have fun there and meet some great people. This year was no exception. I just didn't have enough time to hang and chat with all the great folks that I wanted to see. I didn't go to any room parties. I meant to do that. I also meant to get my picture made with every Klingon I saw. I didn't see any. Darn it. (That's my only complaint.)

So I had to make due with the storm troopers, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and a handful of bounty hunters...



Not at all bad, as things go.

This weekend is Lori Foster's Reader's and Author's Get Together in Cincinnati. I'll be sure to get some pictures there too. It'll be my first time at Lori's convention, but I know there's a pirate themed party so I know I'll have fun. Hallowe'en & Dragon Con are the only times I get to wear my tri-corn hat...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

RT 2010

Going to writing conventions is always a treat, but the conventions with costuming/dress up opportunities are, for me, the most fun. Here's some pictures.


Left to right this is: Melissa Long of WICKED JUNGLE (check out http://www.wickedjungle.com/), Faith Van Horne (her short story "Revenge Cookies" is listed under the "Rants" tab at Poor Mojo's Almanac(k), www.poormojo. org also she blogs at "Scribatious" http://faithvanhorne.blogspot.com/), me, and fellow Pocket/Juno author Carole Nelson Douglas (http://carolenelsondouglas.com/)


Left to right here is Melissa, me, Shannon, Costie, Beth, and Steve. These folks went to the trouble of making concert tee-shirts for the fictious band that my main character's boyfriend plays in. The back lists the 'tour' dates, and instead of cities they used the book titles and release dates. Of course their tour was sponsored by Strictly 7 Guitars. My fella was in on the whole thing, giving them images to use for the tee's and he kept it secret from me so I'd be surprised.

Here's a closer pic of their shirts:

Friday, February 12, 2010

News, sort of

If you follow this blog, you may notice that the excerpts below are "old news" as in they've been on my website for a while. Well, the website is getting revamped (again) and I'm going to use links there, that forward here so folks can get to those excerpts if they want.

Will make more noise about the website when it's about to launch. :-)
Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

AN EXCERPT from HALLOWED CIRCLE

CHAPTER ONE

“What do you mean, you nominated me?” I held my breath.

“Oh, dear. Shouldn’t I have?”

Lydia Whitmore, a dear old witch who lived about ten minutes from me, was on the other end of the phoneline. I could imagine her startled expression. With her kindly smile and snowy hair, always secure in a precise bun, her looks epitomized those of the cookie-baking granny. She also cornered the local market on being the goody-goody, saccharine-sweet variety of witch—what society’s more mundane humans wanted all us witches to be.

She had called to inform me that the Witch Elders Council had announced their plans to find a replacement for Vivian Diamond, the Cleveland Coven’s high priestess who had mysteriously gone missing.

Not that it was a mystery to me: I’d handed Vivian over to the vampire she’d betrayed. Chances were she’d be missing a very long time.

To determine the new high priestess the Council was, according to Lydia, planning a formal competition called the Eximium. Lydia had, incredibly, nominated me as a competitor.

“Lydia, I don’t want to be the high priestess.”

“Pshaw and gobbledygook!” Lydia said. “You’re perfect for it, Persephone! Knowledgeable, experienced, personable. And such a charming smile, dear. You’d make a fantastic high priestess.”

“I’m flattered,” I said, rubbing my brow, “but I can’t do it. I wouldn’t have time right now.”

“Oh, that’s right! You have the child, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I said. My new role as foster mother wasn’t the only reason I had no intention of getting involved with the Council, but maybe it would be enough of an excuse to dissuade Lydia. It had only been three weeks since Lorrie Kordell, a wærewolf who used to kennel in my basement during full moons, was murdered. Her daughter, Beverley, ended up with me. We’d had the funeral a week and a half ago, and Beverley started school that following Monday. The legal gears and wheels to officially establish me as Beverley’s guardian had been set in motion and we were just starting to get a sense of what “normal” was going to be for us. Beverley needed stability and the security of a routine to ground her despite all that was new in her life. “I don’t want to start anything that will take more of my time from Beverley right now.”

“How’s she doing, poor thing?”

“She’s still grieving, and she will for a while, but she’s tough stuff. We’ll make it.” I truly cared for Beverley. When her mom got a job in the city and quit kenneling here, I’d missed more than just the popcorn and Disney nights I’d shared with the kid. “So, Lydia,” I asked, intentionally changing the subject, “how’d you end up nominating entrants for this…eggzemmyoom thing anyway?”

“Because I’m the oldest!” Lydia laughed. “WEC wants savvy, smart, and pretty young women as covenheads nowadays, what with the internet and media always poking around the high profile urban covens.” She pronounced the acronym for the Witch Elders Council as weck, like a kid who can’t make R sounds saying wreck. “They know I deserve the authority, but can’t keep up with the social scene. This is their way of coddling me for what I can’t do.”

Over the last few years I had become friends with Lydia, who happened to be the previous owner of my old saltbox-style farmhouse. She’d sold off pieces of her land and bought a double-wide, then stuck the For Sale by Owner sign in the front yard. We met shortly after I called the number written on the sign. One-level living suited her knees better, she’d said. The only downside, according to her, was “trading the charm and earthy smell of a root cellar for a sterile, wire-shelved pantry.” A kitchen witch, she canned the vegetables she grew in her garden and made the best black raspberry jelly I’d ever tasted, period. When she shared her scrumptious goodies, they always came with a little checkerboard gingham ribbon tied around the neck of the Mason jar. I was certain that fabric came from her worn-out dresses. She could’ve walked onto the set of Little House on the Prairie and assumed a place as an extra without being questioned. All she lacked was a sunbonnet.

“I tried to tell them from the start that Vivian was a no-good hustler,” she continued. “I tried to stop her from being in Cleveland’s last Eximium, but my objections went unheard. After she reconfigured the membership into nothing more than a who’s-who list of wealthy local socialites, though, they understood.”

“I know.” Lydia didn’t know the half of it. Vivian had done wrong by the coven, but that was only a minor part of her no-goodness. Vivian not only set me up and used me in attempt to gain an Elders Council seat but she had murdered Lorrie and been responsible for the near-death of Theo, another friend of mine. That’s why I’d turned her over to the vampire.

Truthfully, it wasn’t like I could have kept him from taking her, so “I turned her over to the vampire” may be overstating my role in the situation.

My part of it aside, the vampire had taken her and she hadn’t been seen since. Now, Hallowe’en was coming and there was no high priestess to conduct the all-important annual Witches Ball. It was the single biggest fund-raiser of the year for the coven and its largest publicity opportunity. Having a stand-in or temporary priestess just wouldn’t suffice—or so Lydia claimed the Elders had said.

“I wonder what happened to her,” Lydia mused.

“I think she disappeared after she dropped Beverley here. Maybe the role of godparent was too much for her.” That was the angle the media had taken. Any story that left me out of the loop was a good one and I was sticking to it.

“Will you adopt her, Persephone?”

“Sure, if she wants, but I think we’ll just keep me as the legal guardian. She needs to settle in and just be a kid.”

“See, dear, you’re such a responsible soul! You should be the one to lead the coven, not a stranger to the area. You know Clevelanders are slow to warm up to outsiders—and I don’t want another fast-talking swindler misusing the privilege.”

Vivian had carried a vampire’s mark—I call it a “stain”—and that should have prevented her from attaining any authority in the first place. Under the influence of a vampire and in authority over witches? Totally bad idea. Vivian had pulled it off only because of a magical stake she created to keep her vampire master at bay. Now, due to her involving unsuspecting but responsible little ol’ me in her plot, the stake was destroyed, she was with the vampire, and I, too, carried a nefarious stain.

Ethically, I didn’t deserve being high priestess any more than Vivian had, but that wasn’t something I wanted to advertise. “Lydia, honestly, I don’t want the authority.” Not the whole truth, but not a lie, either.

“That’s exactly why your name’s in. They asked me to nominate someone local from the coven to take over and I gave them your name—”

“But I’m a solitary! I may be local, but I’m not part of the coven. I never even attended the esbats, let alone the sabbats or—”

“You’re still the best person for the job, Persephone Alcmedi, and if you want out, you’ll have to come to the Covenstead and formally decline it. Good day.”

The phone went dead in my hand.

So…if she didn’t get her way, dear old granny-witch was going to be difficult.

It’s always the sweet ones you have to watch out for.

AN EXCERPT from VICIOUS CIRCLE

An excerpt...FROM VICIOUS CIRCLE

In the back of my address book was a list of contact numbers for the wærewolves who kenneled in my basement during full moons. My finger ran down to the name Johnny. A last name wasn’t necessary to clarify this guy. There was only one Johnny.

I put quarters into the pay phone and dialed Johnny’s number. It rang twice.

“’Lo?”

“Johnny, it’s Persephone Alcmedi. I—”

“Hey, Red.”

That threw me. My hair’s dark, dark brown. I tried going blonde in my late teens. A week later all the prissy cheerleaders at school started saying things like ‘Your Greek roots are showing.’ I went back to brown; blonde hadn’t been me anyway. I’m a darkling. “Red?” I asked.

“I’ve decided I’m going to call you Red from now on.”

“All right. I’ll bite—no pun intended. Why?”

He snickered in a very masculine way and lowered his voice. “’Cause I like the idea of the big bad wolf visiting you and Grandma.”

I laughed so hard people pumping gas turned to stare at me. Johnny’s sigh made me imagine the satisfied smile he surely wore. He loved attention.

“I knew you’d call me eventually,” he said.

“Sorry to disappoint you, but this isn’t what you think it is.”

“Damn.” He breathed the word more than said it.

Quickly, I asked, “Busy tomorrow?”

“Never too busy for you, Red.”

“Stop it. And don’t read into the words.” On full moons, the wolves let themselves into my storm cellar and locked themselves into the cages they wanted with whomever they wanted to share them with—an important choice, since these caged animals passed the time by mating, and furious mating by the sounds of it. Wæres differ from natural wolves in that they don’t have to be in heat for such activity. When I went to unlock the cages at dawn, Johnny was always alone. He teased me and howled at me, the pack clown, so to speak.

“Aw, c’mon, Red. Go out with me just once. I won’t bite. I won’t even lick if you don’t want me too.”

I grinned, but softly said, “No.”

“Busy or not?” Now I felt guilty for asking.

“I said I wasn’t.”

“Perfect. Would you please go to Cleveland and pick up something for me in, uh, well...your stage clothes.” He fronted an awesome techno-metal-goth band.

“In daylight hours?”

“Mm-hmmm. At four o’clock.”

“Awesome. I love scaring the white-collared types. What’m I picking up?”

“Probably a briefcase or something like that.”

He paused. “You don’t know?”

“Long story.”

“Sounds like perfect dinner conversation to me.”

I rolled my eyes. “Johnny.”

“Okay, okay. Where?”

“From the manager of a coffee shop near the Rock Hall of Fame. On ninth.”

“No way! The place they roast their own beans?”

I had to smile. His enthusiasm never waned. I didn’t mean to be cruel, but if any man would make a good wolf, as in cousin to man’s best friend, it was Johnny. He had the personality of a tail-wagging leg-humper that had just gotten his treat. “Yep.”

“Cool. Wait—what’s in it for me?”

Going with the thought I’d just had, I said, “Treats.”

“Oooo baby.”

“Not those kind of treats, Johnny. I’m talking steaks.”

“Don’t blame me for trying, do ya?”

“Never.” I had to admit, his interest in me was flattering—and his voice seemed sexier to me on the phone than it ever had in person—but my personal rule was direct: Don’t flirt with the wolves you kennel. Kind of like no office dating. Of course I’d only adopted that rule after he started kenneling and flirting with me. But I couldn’t date him. He…he had these tattoos that were just…ominous.

“So,” he drew it out. “Am I keeping this briefcase or whatever until the moonrise or do I get to make a special trip to see you and Grandma?”

In a mocking, child-like voice, I teased, “What big ideas you have.”

He growled low. “I got other things bigger than my ideas, little girl.”

My cheeks flushed red enough to suit the nickname. Johnny was different. The other wolves, in human form, were just people. Johnny had such presence!

I’d always thought he just flat out scared me, but talking to him now—more than we ever talked when he kenneled—I had to wonder. He was funny. He was witty. Was it different now because I needed him to do something for me? Was I that shallow?

No, it had to be because this was the first time I was on the phone with him …hearing him without seeing him.

I realized it was all about his looks. That made me feel bad. I didn’t judge people on looks. Not usually, anyway. And though I’d not thought Johnny was a bad person based on his looks, I’d definitely judged him as not-boyfriend-material because of them.

“I’ll be home; bring it to me there.” I’d have to test my theory and see if he still intimidated me.

He hesitated. “I’m not complaining, Red. I’ll play fetch with you. But why aren’t you doing it if you’re just going to be home?”

“I’ll explain when you arrive. Okay?”

“Okay,” he said brightly. “It’ll be about five-thirty or six by the time I make it through traffic and get to your place, so I’ll just go ahead and pick up something for us to eat. See you then.” He hung up before I could protest.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FATAL CIRCLE cover

Squee!! I love it!!! Hafta wait til July to get my hands on a copy though.



The artist is DON SIPLEY and he's done all three of my covers and I have thought all of them were fabulous. YOu can see some of this other work here: http://www.dripbook.com/donsipley/splash/

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WRITING & SOUP or: Use What You Have

WRITING & SOUP

Let me begin with this: Winter is not my favorite season. Though I love the snow, snowmen, and how the white makes everything look clean—until the plows come through and pile up gray chunks of frozen street grime, that is—I don’t like to be cold. Not one bit. Soup makes the season tolerable.

So. I was in my kitchen, cooking, and thinking about what aspect of writing to blog about. My ideas wandered around aimlessly for a bit, but, like boys when its bath time, they escaped when I wasn’t looking. All that was left was tending to the soup I was making.

I love soup. Beef stew, potato soup, soup beans, chili, veggie soup…you name it, I can make it. But it’s never the same soup twice. You see, my mom, who’s a good ol’ hillbilly born and raised ‘up a holler’ in West Virginia, taught me a thing or two about cooking. “Use what you have,” is her motto.

So, I decided that, since soup was dominating my brain like a tyrannical sovereign with a wooden spoon instead of a scepter, I’d take my mom’s advice and use the soup.

Metaphorically speaking.

Let’s say books are soup. There’s no one way to make a book. Different ingredient combinations(all that makes up a book like characters, plot, setting, dialogue, conflict, etc.) and endless numbers of cooks(writers) means innumerable possibilities. When I was first learning, I started with recipes, for both soups and books. Who among us hasn’t heard of the Heroes Journey? Well, I’m suggesting that Joseph Campbell and Betty Crocker are, to quote Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean, “…more like guidelines anyway.”

I’ve read the how-to books to get the nuts and bolts of story-craft. If you’re reading this, you probably have too. But at some point, there’s an idea, a twist or a turn that doesn’t quite fit within the rules. What do you do? There’s an ingredient that makes you think, “It’s not on the recipe card here, but I bet it would be a good addition.” (Exception: don’t ever add water to melted chocolate. That’s chocolate abuse and the Candy Patrol will cite you.) I’ll ask again, what do you do?

I hope you make an effort to see what happens.

Every soup has a main ingredient. Sometimes it’s meat. Sometimes it’s a vegetable. Sometimes it’s noodles! No matter what though, it’s simmered in a fluid environment. The base may be water or broth—both are reasonably transparent, or it may be a “cream-of” soup that’s anything but clear…and even then it could be thin or thick or viscous. Or it may be a spicy-hot tomato base ready for burger and chili beans.
To mimic that “recipe thinking” in story context, every story has a main character (meat, veggie, noodle). They have to simmer in the environment you drop them in, i.e. the main plot you’ve set up for them.

Then what?

May I suggest, “Use what you have.”

What’s in your cupboard? What’s in your writing arsenal? What else are you going to populate this soup/story with? You know the archetypes. You know the tropes. How can you make this story unique and compelling?

Try something unexpected. No beans for your chili? Open up that box of mac and cheese, stash the cheese flavor pouch for another day and cook up that macaroni!

Your heroine is a Princess waiting for her Prince Charming to arrive? Maybe he’s not coming at all. But why? Maybe she’s psycho and made him up so well she believes he’s real. Maybe she’s not psycho, but he was gunned down on the way over—because of her gambling debts. Maybe he had a drug-induced hallucination(escaping from the pressure of the cost of her wedding plans) and is dying in the ER—but a brilliant doc saves him and the Prince decides to become a monk. Maybe he’s a spy who set the Princess up so she could be murdered at a certain time and place but all this was discovered by the Captain of the Guard who’s been in love with her forever and though he saves her life and reveals the whole ruse…the Princess reveals she was a spy too and the Captain just foiled their one chance to catch the Prince red-handed.

Are you getting what I’m saying? Plots are like soup. Get your environment and your main ingredient, and then anything goes!!!

Every chef has a signature dish, right? Something they’ve put their own personal spin on. When writing, don’t let those ‘guidelines’ confine you. Let some of your unique ideas reside on that page too. But you have to experiment to find out what your unique ideas are. Mix it up.

Try adding the flavor packet from the box of mac and cheese (the one left over from when you cooked the macaroni to add to your chili) to your creamy potato soup.

Push yourself to think harder, one or two or six steps worse than what you’re thinking the plot is now. Push your characters to deal with more or deeper problems. Be willing to try new avenues and learn new methods. In your writing and in your kitchen.

Here’s what I made today:
I’ll call it: NOT JUST POTATOES POTATO SOUP

1 lb. Italian sausage, crumbled and cooked
1/3 medium onion chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, halved and diced
3-4 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
2 ½ cups milk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
2-3 cups water
Salt & Pepper, Ground Rosemary

Cook the sausage and onion together, set aside. Boil the potatoes, carrots, celery together until done. Drain, dump on top of sausage and onions. In the pan you cooked the potatoes in, melt butter, low heat. Add flour a little at a time, mixing it well (or it’ll get lumpy.) Add the milk a little at a time stirring after each addition so it doesn’t get lumpy at this stage either. Add the cheese and stir over medium heat until it thickens. Add water—amount depends on if you like your soup soupy or thick. Pour over other ingredients, add spices to taste, stir and simmer.

**If you rinse off the leaves atop the celery and then chop them up and throw them into the soup, it adds a little color, garnish and flavor.

***Serve with crackers or cornbread.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What do Witch Doctors, Elvis, and the Amish have in common?

What do Witch Doctors, Elvis, and the Amish have in common?

Sounds like a joke, yes?

Before I reveal the answer to the question...an update. I have the one picture from the official HALLOWED CIRCLE release party. Here it is:



Logan and I had Subway. A party, indeed.

NOW...what Witch Doctors, Elvis, and the Amish have in common is this: my weekend.

Yup. Friday night my fella Jim took me to see some friends play at Peabody's. The band is called King Bong. (you figure it out) The bandmembers all dressed up. Curran (guitar) was like a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western character, Fuckin Johnny (vocals, and yes that is his name) was a Witch Doctor. The other guys, forgive me, but I didn't catch their names. They were dressed as Elvis with the white jumpsuit and a thong over top of it, as a Jedi, and the drummer was Santa--as prove to what the jolly old elf does off-season. Here's a pic:



They were goofy on stage, totally having a blast and you could tell. The crowd was into it. Talented musicians, all. :-)

Then, on Saturday, I visited my mom (family was in from out of town) and we went poked around Amish Country a while and had lunch. (YUM!)

I didn't get any writing done, but hey, it was a nice break. And such a bizarre combination that I had to share.