We've Moved!

The authors of FaE have relocated to the Beyond the Veil castle keep. BtV is now your one-stop blog for Samhain Publishing's paranormal and fantasy romance authors!

Come on over! Just be careful when you cross the moat. The mermaids are still getting settled in with the Cracken. The drawbridge might be a little slippery.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

No Unibrows, Please!

"Hogmanay" is a Scots word which means "the last day of the year." The date is actually Dec. 31, but the celebration carries through the night to Jan. 1, also known as "Ne'erday." And if you're going to be in Scotland, you might as well keep partying, because Jan. 2 is a bank holiday!

There are many traditions associated with Hogmanay, not the least of which is "first footing." This is the first person to set foot across your threshhold after the stroke of midnight, often bearing gifts and best wishes for the new year. From Scotsman.com:

On the stroke of midnight it is still common for houses to be "first footed" by a tall, handsome stranger bearing gifts. Although the first-footer is seldom a stranger, it is preferable that he is dark. This harks back to days of Viking invaders when a fair-haired man knocking at your door was more likely to inspire terror than pleasure.

Until quite recently the first-footer was subject to a rather rigorous code of looks. Out-of-date now, there was a time when a first-footer should not be flat-footed, cross-eyed or have their eyebrows meeting (thought to denote the evil eye).


I'll be offline for a few days, visiting family. So Happy Hogmanay, and may your first-footer be tall, dark, handsome, and two-browed!



Slan,
Carolan

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Most Dangerous Gift


Forget the Red Ryder BB gun guaranteed to "put your eye out kid". The Christmas gifts you have to watch out for are the ones that leave your eyes wide open.

On the first day of this Christmas, the Darling Spouse Person gave to me a copy of Stork Club, Ralph Blumenthal's account of the club that defined New York nightlife from the 1930s to the '60s. Better yet, in the p. 19 photograph of the club's Cub Room, the tall, lanky guy in the back of the picture looks a lot like my dad.

I grew up listening to Dad's stories of working at "the Stork" in the late 1930s and early '40s--of Hemingway's brawls, of stocking Walter Winchell's apartment with booze, of owner Sherman Billingsley's "calesthenics" with Ethel Merman in "the Gym". Dad said he started at the club switchboard with Victor Mature. Gertrude Stein loved them both so much she asked them to try out for the role of the spear carrier in her (then) new play. Dad blew it off. He wanted to make his career in the club business. But the role propelled Mature to stardom. Well, it got him cast in a lot of bad movies, at any rate.

Over the years, the DSP heard these stories so often, he could recite them by rote. So he was delighted to find a comprehensive history of the Stork Club complete with a juicy bibliography and lots of first-person anecdotes.

There was just one problem. The stories in the book seemed to run at a tangent to the ones we knew from my dad. Walter and Ethel and Damon Runyon were there. George Raft acted the part of the tough guy gangster my dad said he was. But Victor Mature and Gertrude Stein were nowhere to be found.

The DSP was apologetic. I was suspicious. In the early 1990s, I'd successfully pitched a book proposal based on my dad's Korean War experiences only to be forced to withdraw it. It turned out my dad borrowed some of his favorite war stories from movies and newspaper reports. To this day, I thank my writing stars I found out before the contracts were cut.

I hit the web. The weakest link in the story was Gertrude Stein. Somehow she didn't seem the type to go ga-ga for a couple of big strapping guys. Face it, Alice B. Toklas they weren't.

I quickly discovered Gerty Gerty Stein so rarely visited the U.S. during the '30s and '40s, her lone book tour, begun in October 1934, made national headlines. But there was no way my dad could've connected with her at the Stork Club while she was on the 1934 tour. He was still toiling away in a Lackawanna, NY, high school until the spring of 1935. I've got the diploma, pictures and clippings to prove it. In addition, the only Gertrude Stein stage production around in the late 1930s/early 1940s was Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights, an avant-garde opera generally performed as a stage play. Hmmm, an opera so out there it can't be sung... Victor Mature was famous for doing anything for a laugh (witness Head), but my dad? I don't think so.

Plus, I couldn't find a whiff of a hint of a suggestion anywhere in Mature's Wikipedia entry, his IMDB bio or his major fan site of any connection to Gertrude Stein. Gertrude Lawrence, whose 1941 production of Lady in the Dark marked his Broadway debut (in pink leotards and a leopard loincloth, no less), yes. Gertrude Stein? Never.

Okay, so maybe my dad or I screwed up the name. Thirty years had passed from the time Dad worked in the Stork Club to the time he began telling me the stories, and there were grounds for confusion. After all, they were both Gertrudes, they were both short, and even though Gertrude Lawrence did frequent the Stork and adored a "big beautiful hunk of man", she was rumored to have enjoyed a lesbian adventure or two.

But as far as I can tell, Victor Mature was one Hollywood actor who never ever got anywhere near New York, much less the Stork Club, until after he was a star. He left his home in Louisville, KY, for California in 1935 and stayed there until he had several movies under his pelt--er, belt, including the infamous One Million B.C.

So how did he work his way into my dad's Stork Club stories--and why?

It couldn't have been to impress me. When I was growing up, I didn't know jack and cared even less about the celebrity names sprinkled through dad's stories. Gertrude Stein might as well have been Gertrude Lawrence for all I knew. The Broadway and movie stars he talked about were all old enough to be my grandparents. Many were already dead. He was my dad and, by definition marvelous, and it was kinda cool that he worked in a nightclub and knew people who used to be people. But that was it.

I don't think they served a professional purpose either. After the draft caught up with him in 1942, Dad went Army all the way. Affiliations, no matter how past tense, with a former bootlegger perennially in hot water with the unions weren't exactly the sort of thing to advance a career in military hospital administration.

Another weird thing is how much truth was mixed in with the blarney. Dad did work at the Stork. When I was growing up, the priest who got him the job--Father Vincent Donovan, brother of the founder of the C.I.A. (for somebody weaned on James Bond movies, The Avengers and Man from U.N.C.L.E. reruns, that defined cool)--visited us whenever he got the chance.

I can also verify Dad also rose to a fairly high position in the club hierarchy (though for obvious reasons I'm no longer certain he was the "celebrity manager" he claimed to be). As late as the 1980s, Dad's Rhode Island cousins still talked about the hand-tailored suits he bequeathed them when he left for boot camp. Billingsley paid well, but then as now, you had to be very close to the top of the food chain to afford a bespokee suit, much less a full wardrobe with custom-tailored shirts to match.

Maybe the tall tales had something to do with Dad's never-realised ambition to write. The brutal realities of his early life forced him to abandon his dreams of writing The Great American Novel long before he ever landed on the Stork's doorstep. But there was nothing to stop him from fictionalizing his own life, as pointless as the effort seems to me now.

With Dad and Mom both dead, I'll probably never know his reasons. But that won't stop me from turning over rocks and chasing down any promise of insight to support my guesses. It's what writers do.

Besides, in many ways, the quest is its own reward. It speaks directly to the development of myths and legends. For example, there's a lot of talk in connection with the hero stories of the ancient Greeks and the tales of King Arthur about the validity of oral tradition. Supposedly, culturally important stories can be accurately handed down from one generation to the next without benefit of pen, paper or pixels.

My and the SDP's experience with the details of my dad's stories (barring the whole Gertrude thing, of course) suggests they can. But what if the stories or the details are themselves nothing but fabrications? Suddenly we're in that very interesting place where history and fantasy collide.

Back in late 1930s New York with Tallulah Bankhead and Orson Welles ("of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin" not!), gangsters, spies and restaurateurs. Now if my plot hamsters can just figure out how to squeeze a dragon into the subway, I'm in business.

Cheers and grins,

Jean Marie

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Father Winter's Solstice Tale


Many thanks to my friend Nancie Baden for giving me permission to share this lovely poem with you. Happy holidays, everyone!

Father Winter's Solstice Tale

'Tis the eve before Solstice in the evergreen woods
Not a creature is stirring, not even the Druids
Mistletoe has been sickled from the great holy tree.
Magic sprigs hung o'er doors to ward off folk wee.

Fearsome Goddess Cailleach has transformed every bower
This crone of cold stark Wintertime has stolen every flower
The villagers in fear and awe are as hidden as the light
But lo the hour is drawing close to have their Solstice Night

As day breaks on the mountaintop of frozen land so dire
Druid priests and priestesses are readying for fire
Great logs of ash are dressed in finest thistle, bay and sage.
Carried to the fields below, as bonfires they shall rage.

Children venture out of doors with wreaths of pine and ivy
And hazelnuts and fruit with cloves and singing carols lively.
Fragrances do waft on high of wassail, meat, and spice cake.
The vigilant can now rejoice as sacred King Sun does wake.

Seasons' wheel has slowly moved, the longest night does fade
The warmth returns and life renews at every hill and glade.
At Yule as icy hearts now thaw in flames of holy rebirth
Father wishes us a Good Sabbat and peace to all on our Earth

Copyright 2006-2007 Nancie Baden, All Rights Reserved. Posted with permission.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Solstice!

From Newgrange.com:

For the first time ever, the 2007 Winter Solstice illumination of the passage and chamber at Newgrange will be streamed live on the internet.

The webcast and an exhibition at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the re-discovery of the Winter Solstice Phenomenon at Newgrange by Professor O’Kelly in 1967.

The Winter Solstice event from inside the chamber at Newgrange will be broadcast on the mornings of Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd December 2007. If conditions are good the rising sun will illuminate the passage and chamber between 8:58am and 9:15am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

To view the webcast click on the Heritage Ireland website.

Edit: I watched the webcast and it is wonderful! They had perfect weather. The entire show is about an hour long, and sunrise occurs about 20 minutes in.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Holidays from Bianca!


Just a quick post today to say Happy Holidays! My newest book came out a week or so ago, called Sweeter Than Wine. Thanks to all of you who've read it already! I'm already working on my next release and a few other projects besides. Things are a little crazier than usual around here lately, so forgive me for the abbreviated post. I just wanted to come in and wish you all the best.

Bianca

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On the Second Blog of Christmas


The Fantasy & Enchantment Blog gives you two little mysteries in a single package.

Once a year in Abbots Bromley, a little village in England's West Midlands, twelve dancers set out from the St. Nicholas Church. Six of them carry reindeer antlers--three racks of black horns and three racks of white. The other six are stock figures from pantomime--Maid Marion (always played by a man in a dress), Hobby Horse, Fool, a boy with a bow and arrow (Cupid?), a boy with a triangle and a musician.


The twelve follow a fourteen-mile circuit from the church to Blithfield Hall and back again. At various sites along the way they stop to perform a winding circle dance. Finally, around 8 p.m., the dancers return the horns to the church and stay for Compline.


Mystery One is the is the origin of the dance. One theory says it originated in 1226 when the local lord granted certain villagers the right to hunt on his land. (This was a very big deal in the Middle Ages, as any fan of any version of Robin Hood can tell you.) But the year and the date of the original performance is subject to dispute. One group associates it with Barthelmy Fair (aka Bartholomew Fair), held in late August or early September, depending on your choice of calendar. Another tradition says it was originally performed at Christmas, which makes a lot of sense if St. Nicholas and reindeer equals Yule.


Mystery Two concerns the horns themselves. Radiocarbon dating puts their age at around 1065 A.D., about two hundred years before the grant but long after reindeer had disappeared from the England. They were probably imported from Scandanavia, but that doesn't explain why.


And if that doesn't get your plot bunnies hopping, you might try feeding them a couple of these links:


Wikipedia


Abbots Bromley Web Site


Abbots Bromley Horn Dance (created by one of the dancers)


Happy writing!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Shapeshifters in Romance Fiction

Picking up where I left off last time, today I'm contemplating the current popularity of shapeshifters in romance fiction. Last time I blogged here, we discussed werewolves, but now I'm expanding the topic to include all kinds of shapeshifters. While werewolves are probably the most common and popular in romance fiction right now, there's a lot of interest in other kinds of shifters as well. I, myself, have written dragon shifters (in The Ice Dragon and Prince of Spies) and will introduce my first cat shifter in Sweeter Than Wine, due out in ebook on March 11th (in print next year).

Here's what Wiki says about shapeshifters: "Shapeshifting is a common theme in folklore, as well as in science fiction and fantasy. In its broadest sense, it is a change in the physical form or shape of a person or animal...shapeshifting involves physical changes such as alterations of age, gender, race, or general appearance or changes between human form and that of an animal, plant, or inanimate object...Shapeshifting may be used as a plot device, as when Puss In Boots tricks the ogre into changing into a mouse so he may eat him; it may also include a symbolic significance, as when the Beast's transformation at the end of Beauty and the Beast indicates Beauty's ability to accept him despite his appearance."

I don't think I've ever gone quite that far, though Lana's discovery of Roland's ability to shift from dragon to human form in The Ice Dragon does come as a bit of a surprise to her. ;-) I think it's intriguing to find out there's more to the person or animal one meets at the beginning of a novel. And the way those new revelations play into the story make it interesting and fantastical. Of late, I've really been enjoying writing a series of cat shifters.

For some reason, cat shifters fire the imagination and make one think immediately of the pleasures of the flesh. Cats are sinuous, slinky and sexy, where wolves seem tough, mighty and all alpha. Cats on the other hand, have cunning, stealth, soft fur and a very sexy way of moving. Seems natural we romance writers would take them to our hearts and turn them into heroes and heroines in our flights of fantasy.

Check out my upcoming book, Sweeter Than Wine on December 11th for a look at my version of a very sexy cat shifter. ;-) In the meantime, what's your favorite form of shapeshifter, other than wolves? Dragons? Cats? Snakes? Sea creatures? What's your take?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thirteen Random Birthday Thoughts About Writing…

…and life in general. It’s my birthday. I’m allowed! :)

1. There’s no great mystery to being a writer. A writer applies the seat of her pants to the seat of her chair, and writes.

2. First drafts are not the time to be careful. First drafts are designed to let you glop it all out, get the voices out of your head, unleash whatever beast that’s hounding you to get the story down on paper. It’s meant to be messy. Roll in it! Get your hands dirty!

3. Write every day. Even if all you can write is “I don’t know what to write,” do it. Over and over again. Fill pages with it. Eventually your brain will get bored and want to write something else.

4. Waiting for your muse to inspire you, IMHO, is just nuts. You want to be a writer? Siddown and get started. Your muse will just have to eat dust until it catches up with you.

5. Read. Widely and often. Never stop learning.

6. Observe.

7. Listen.

8. Don’t be afraid to try out any story idea. 100 pages that don’t pan out are still 100 pages of learning experience you never would have had if you hadn’t tried.

8a. Don’t be afraid. Period. I mean it. Just stop it right now. :)

9. All reviews are good. Really. So what if a reviewer hated your book. Did they spell your name right? Then it’s a good review.

10. On the other hand, learn to put aside your emotional attachment to your manuscript, and listen to constructive criticism. Your editor is on your side!

11. You’ll never make story perfect. There will always be a typo, a flaw, something accidentally left hanging. It’s possible to revise the life out of a story. Learn to let it go. (This is one I’m still working on—note the claw marks on my manuscripts where my editor had to tear them out of my hands!)

12. You will never please everyone. Write for yourself first, the markets second. Make the market follow YOU.

13. Learn to love your Shadow Self. She is the part of you that makes you—and your stories—fully human.

~Carolan
www.carolanivey.com
Now available: Wildish Things

More Thursday Thirteens!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monkeys...Why Did It Have To Be Monkeys?

Sometimes I wonder why people call what I write “fantasy”. The world out there is a lot stranger than anything my pitiful imagination could dream up.

For example, the current crime wave in northeast India has local police at a loss. Not because they don’t know the culprits behind the rash of home break-ins, and the thefts of mobile phones and soft drinks. They do. The problem is what to do with the the crooks. The laws on the books don’t apply to monkeys.

Yes, you read that right. Monkeys. Monkeys who slap around their pursuers and mug tourists for their eyeglasses. You could even call them murderers. The deputy mayor of Delhi fell to his death when a gang of monkeys jumped him on his balcony.

I suspect Indian law enforcement officials secretly wish they were dealing with a real gang. At least with a human gang you could identify the perps from their tats. Monkeys don't give police sketch artists a heck of a lot to work with. When the description for all the suspects comes down to “hairy”, how do you tell the good monkeys from the bad? And even if you did, there's not a lot you could do about it. The Hindu religion considers all monkeys sacred to the monkey god Hanuman. So the military solution is absolutely out.

My plot hamsters are wearing out their wheels on this one, folks. In my head, the monkeys aren’t sacred--at least not to Hanuman. They’re his minions. I’ll figure out why mobile phones are such a hot item later. The death of deputy mayor was either a tragic error or the result of something a lot more complicated than accident. The glasses are no problem. Hanuman broke his, and the tourist’s happened to be almost the right prescription. After all, it’s not like he can visit the optometrist.

Or can he? He’s a god after all. Who knows what forms he could take? He might even be kinda cute. And his ability to super-size his tail…

No, don’t go there. Stick to the plot. Why couldn’t Hanuman go to a doctor?

Maybe it has something to do with the fossil of an eight-foot-long sea scorpion discovered in Germany not long ago. In theory, Hanuman should be okay with that. Scorpions are part of Shiva’s bag of tricks, and Hanuman is one of Shiva’s many incarnations.

Wait, I’d better tread very carefully here. The way my plot hamsters work, they’ll have Hanuman conspiring to pump up the world’s oxygen levels to create an army of giant bugs. Worse yet, the cockroaches will probably develop some kind of rudimentary intelligence and strike out on their own--“strike” being the operative word here. Oh, ugh!

But bad as that scenario is, it can’t compare to something I saw for real in the Crystal City Underground Monday afternoon.

The Boeing Company has apparently decided it isn’t enough to be the world’s largest manufacturer of airplanes. After all, the market for their products is so limited. Only governments, multi-national corporations and a few select gazillionaires can ever hope to find a Boeing under their giant redwood Christmas tree. To be truly successful these days, a company’s gotta merchandise. Forget “A chicken in every pot”. That’s so Twentieth Century. Make it an airplane. Then you’ve really got something.

So they did. Sort of. John and Jane Everyperson can now purchase models of Boeing planes and other memorabilia through the Boeing Store web site, various traveling stores and over a dozen fixed locations in the US. The Crystal City, Virginia, store opened last week.

That’s not the scary part. I admit I never felt the need to take home a souvenir of the countless hours I've spent hurtling across the stratosphere in pressurized tin cans operating on physical laws so abstruse they might as well be magic. I’m usually so pathetically grateful to arrive at my destination with body parts and luggage intact, I bow down in the direction of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and kiss the concrete until my insides stop shaking. Afterwards, my goal is to get as far away from anything resembling a flying machine until my return trip forces me to defy the laws of gravity yet again. But hey, if people feel compelled to take home a mini-plane or a logo-emblazoned pen or even a rolling briefcase like the pilots use, far be it from me to criticize.

No, the scary part was the store’s centerpiece: a big, red, fully functional airline seat just like the ones inside a Boeing jet.

The horror! My left eye started to twitch and my head began jerk convulsively as I stared at the monstrosity. Forget waterboarding, airplane seats qualify as the most prevalent form of torture in the civilized world. No one is safe, either. First class, business class, steerage--I mean, economy class--it doesn’t matter. They strap us in and we’re trapped between the infinitely reclining seat in front of us and the rock hard headrest behind. Bands of roaming tray tables strive to bisect us and repeatedly slam against our unsuspecting thighs.

Worse yet, I seemed to be the only one to understand the nature of the evil in our midst. Grown men climbed all over the awful thing like it was some kind of forty-something playground. Hello, Mr. Middle-aged Executive. The Comfy Chair is not your friend. Sitting in it could kill you. It will suck you into the maw between its nubbly red cushions and never let you go.

But nobody cared. Mine was the voice crying in the wilderness--well, gibbering to myself while the Crystal City lunch crowd steered as far away from me as the limited space allowed.

Monster scorpions, sentient cockroaches and an army of evil airline seats together in a fiendish plot conceived by the simian brain of a Hindu god with an infinite number of primates with opposable thumbs at his disposal...

The weird part is it’s so close to reality it almost doesn’t count as fiction. But please, let's keep that our little secret. The plot hamsters think they're being so original, and it really doesn't do to upset them. The results could be downright ugly. Remember, myopic monkey gods and gargantuan sea scorpions are their idea of a good thing.

Cheers,

Jean Marie

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Do wishes come true?

I know we all have those moments in life where something we've wanted or needed finally comes to pass. The contract, the baby, the house, the milestones by which we often measure our lives.

And I have to wonder...how many of us really believe those wishes come true by some magic of karma, or how much of us believe that it's simply a matter of hard work to accomplish a goal?

For example:
Hubby and I are expecting baby #4 in March. Granted, we were obviously doing That Activity which leads to a child's birth. (and that's as close as I'm ever getting to talking about my sex life on this blog, thankeemuch.) However, we'd been not-preventing childbirth since August...and found out we were pregnant the following July. It'd never taken that long before. So how much does little4 have to thank 'fate' for his/her existence...or does he/she just have to be grateful hubby and I hadn't stopped...well...yknow.

The contract for a book...how much do we say "oh thank goodness I got in front of such-and-such editor, because she loved it and accepted it and took it." (fate). And how much do we say "well, I subbed 900 stories in a year, one of them was BOUND to be accepted. (working hard pays off.)

I guess I fall between the two camps. I like to think that working hard produces the karma which results in good things. What do you think?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beowulf:

How many of us read Beowulf in high school?

Not me. I remember I read In Cold Blood and To Kill a Mockingbird. And more importantly I remember Shanna by Katherine E. Woodiwis. My senior literature teacher was a romance reader and thankfully shared her love for the genre with me!

My twins both read Beowulf this year and Nick wanted to see the film. I can’t say how closely the film was adapted from the classic. But Beowulf was a very good action/adventure fantasy. The animation was great! And the drama…such woes! There was plenty of swordplay, monster-slaying and a naked Angelina Jolie. Which I'm sure was the real reason Nick wanted to see it.

Basic plot Beowulf arrives to save the day. He takes out the monster Grendel. the beast's ruthlessly seductive mother, uses any means possible to ensure revenge.

The highlight of the show for me was when we walked outside. My barely 19 year old son looked at me. “I can’t believe Beowolf did that.”

“What? Slept with the gorgeous demoness Angelina?” I stared in surprise.

“Well, yeah. He was supposed to be the hero and he had it bad for the blond.”

I came away from the film a happy mom! And a satisfied movie goer.

Until later~
Mel

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How far would your hero go?

I've been graced with my first (probably of many) upper respiratory crud of the winter season. *sigh* So as my decongestant wears off and before I take another one and zone out, I figgered I'd better post while I'm semi-coherent. [grin]

"Red Haired Girl From The Bog" by Patricia Monaghan is a book I keep going back to whenever I just want to disappear from this world and retreat into her engrossing search for the Goddess.

The section of the book that fell open today yielded a little nugget of legend that "spoke" to me, meaning it will probably become my next erotic novella.

The tale tells of the god of metalworkers, Goibniu, who was so busy at his forge he had no time to keep track of the sacred cow Glas as she ranged the countryside freely giving her bounty to the people. He found a herdsman named Fin and set the young man the task. The caveat - Fin had to track the never-resting cow 24/7, never any time to sleep. Well, you can imagine what eventually happens! Fin stopped for a little shut-eye, and a greedy man, Balor, stole the Glas for himself.

Under threat of death, Fin set out to retrieve the Glas for his master. On his search he came across a tall tower containing a lovely maiden. (What, don't all towers contain lovey maidens?) The maiden, Eithne, was imprisoned there because the Druids had predicted that she would someday kill her own father. The father? Yep, Balor.

So, as any lonely, red-blooded son of Ireland on a quest would do, he killed two birds with one stone. Dressing as a woman, he disguised himself as one of Eithne's handmaidens and gained access to the tower. He seduced Eithne and lived as her handmaiden until she bore his child, getting himself both a lover and getting the Glas back for his master.

So what's that old saying about "why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free"? :) Looks to me like Fin willingly paid dearly for both!

Have a good week,
Carolan
www.carolanivey.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Creature Feature: Werewolves in Romance Fiction


What is the mystique of werewolves? When I was growing up, they were scary creatures from old movies that would tear you to pieces and howl at the full moon. But today they've morphed (pun intended) into something more... romantic heroes who turn shaggy every once in a while. A pet, guard dog, and husband in one - what a time saver!

Here's what Wiki has to say about the topic: "Werewolves, also known as lycanthropes, are mythological or folkloric people with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or wolflike creature, either purposely, by using magic, or after being placed under a curse. The medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury associated the transformation with the appearance of the full moon; however, there is evidence that the association existed among the Ancient Greeks, appearing in the writings of Petronius. This concept was rarely associated with the werewolf until the idea was picked up by fiction writers."

Yeah, I'm guilty of being one of the "fiction writers" who have "picked up" on the werewolf phenomenon. I've also read a lot of werewolf and shapeshifter romance books by my contemporaries and there are subtle differences in the characterization of the affliction between one author and another, particularly in the way the shifters change. Some authors have the change be total, from human to wolf. Some go from human to some weird wolf-like creature, like the werewolves in most of those old movies.

In my case, I have given my characters the ability to shift from human to wolf, but they can sort of pause in the middle to that half-formed creature that has the strength and senses of the wolf and the ability to talk and walk upright like a human. Of course, I didn't make it easy for them to do it. ;-) (The details are in my book, Lords of the Were.)

So what's the allure of the werewolf? Is the idea of magic made flesh? Is it the wildness of the untamed wolf mixing with our domesticated lives - spicing it up a bit, if you will? Is it the return of the Alpha Male and the desire for his dominance - if only in our escapist fantasies? I really don't know, but I suspect it might be a little of all three and some other things I haven't thought of besides. What's your opinion?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thirteen Pieces of Music to Get Your Fantasy Groove On


Sometimes the best fantasies have an instrumental track. Sometimes they have no words at all.

1. Rimsky-Korsakov, Sheherazade

2. Azam Ali, “In Other Worlds”

3. Cruxshadows, “Ariadne”

4. Cream, “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

5. Enya, “The Celts”

6. Fleetwood Mac, “Riannon”

7. Loreena McKennit, “The Bonny Swans”

8. Jethro Tull, “Mayhem Maybe”

9. Sting, “Synchronicity II”

10. Yoko Kanno, “Magic Sweets”

11. Jefferson Airplane, “White Rabbit”

12. Steve Vai, “Asian Sky”

13. Voltaire, “Zombie Prostitute”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sleep is a good thing

Having been woken every. twenty. minutes. last night, I'm a little obsessed with sleep. And the lack thereof. And...because I haven't slept...my mind's doing weird and wonderful things. Like so:

  • Do you write when you're tired? I don't just mean 'sleepy', I mean..barely able to keep my eyes open tired.
  • Do you read when you're that tired?
  • Do you prefer to read/write in the morning, or late at night? (and are you a Morning Person?)
  • How often do you read about people sleeping in books, unless they're a) attacked by bad guys or b) have a prophetic kind of dream?
And the question I really want to know...

Have you ever read a book where the main character has been deprived of sleep for so long that they simply can't think properly? And if so...what book is it?

Because I've got to say, I haven't slept since Thursday night. Not properly, anyway. And it makes me punchy. (It also makes me try to pour my kettle into my toaster while making breakfast, too.) And I'd love to read a writer who can capture that whole feeling.

And now...it's time for either more caffeine...or a nap...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wildish Things

I had nearly finished my novella for the Love & Lore anthology before I came up with a title. I mean, it had one, but it didn't feel right. But titles have a way of plopping into your lap when you least expect it.

For this one, it was a rainy afternoon where I had carved out a bit of time to catch up on some non-fiction books I was partway through. In this case it was Patricia Monaghan's "Red Haired Girl from the Bog." I was reading along about her experiences as an American on an extended stay in Ireland, and I ran across a phrase where she was saying that in the past, a woman like her would have been referred to as a "wildish thing."

Plop.

I'll treat you with the prologue to Wildish Things, now available in eBook and in print from Samhain Publishing. Enjoy!

---

The Hag turned over onto her pendulous belly in order to warm her craggy back under the near-midsummer sun.

Earlier in the day a pesky bulldozer had approached one of her favorite wells, but she had taken care of that problem with no more effort than it took to sneeze. One well-aimed glob of snot had glommed up the machine’s engine and sent its muttering human driver in search of a tow truck. Her work was done for the day.

Yet she found she could not relax and soak up the Irish sun in peace. Her breasts were turgid with unspent sexual energy, her legs restless and rubbing against unsatisfying stone. It had been too long since she’d had a man. Centuries. Of old, few were strong enough to withstand her appetite for more than a few minutes. These days, even the few who remembered her name spoke it timidly.

Bollixless creatures, these new men were.

She heard a noise overhead. Head turned to the side, pillowed on a mountain, she opened an eye to peer at one of the silver-winged beasts and its snow-white vapor trail. These days, few people scratched her back with their traveling feet, muttering prayers for safe passage in hopes the Hag would let them pass unharmed. Oh no, it was all smooth wheels and shiny wings. People with things plugged into their ears so they couldn’t hear themselves think, much less hear the cry of a bird, the splash of a salmon in the river, or the very heartbeat of the land as the seasons turned.

Her sounds.

Something about the silver object flying overhead tickled the Hag’s attention. She rolled to her back, cracked open the other eye, watery gaze following its path. She expanded her nostrils and took a sniff. Overhead, the silver bird hit what the pilots thought was a random air pocket. Below, the Hag closed her eyes and sorted through the scents in her nose.

Ah. She smiled and stretched. A woman rode that bird, one who was ready. A wildish thing. She may not yet know it, but soon she would understand. Like the Hag, all she needed was a man. One strong enough to fulfill her every desire without cracking under the onslaught of a woman’s true power.

The Hag shook her mossy hair out of her rheumy eyes, opened her full lips, and called.

Satisfied that events would now unfold as they should, the Hag spread her bare arms and legs wide to the sun.

And awaited her pleasure.


Copyright 2007 Carolan Ivey, All Rights Reserved
www.carolanivey.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hmm... Forgot It Was My Day to Blog... :P

Yeah, yeah, I got the reminder email that it was my day and everything, but I've been pulled in a bajillion different directions lately, that it kind of slipped my mind until I was able to take a breather this evening. *sigh*

So, I'm going to ask a question of you, something I've often wondered.

Why are most fantasy settings in a Medieval-esque world? Even my own books are patterned after this. Swords, princesses, castles. What is it about that particular "knight in shining armor" flavor? Why not pyramids and pharoahs? What's wrong with feudal Japan? Or perhaps Vikings and such?

Is it because all of those other cultures had their own set "rules"? Was it because Medieval England (and/or Europe) might have actually believed in magic and dragons at one time? (ie. King George & the Dragon, etc.) Is it the myth of Merlin and King Arthur that did it? The magic and enchantment... Was it the bards and minstrels who sang songs of noble dragon-slayers and the beautiful women who won their hearts?

Is our perception of the "fantasy world" because we (Americans) came from England (Europe)? If the Egyptians had discovered America, say, would we be telling fantasy stories of fell beasts with human heads and animal bodies? (or vice/versa?)

And why haven't these communities advanced in technology? If they have magic that will do this or that for them, you'd think they'd invent some kind of magical cars/trains/guns/etc. Perhaps that would be too close to steampunk, or adding some sci-fi into your fantasy.

But these are the questions I ask myself. LOL Anyone else wonder these things?

~~Becka
http://www.rebeccagoings.com/

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New Cover & New Ideas...

It's November crunch time again. The time of year when I always seem to bite off more than I can chew. This year, I'm doing not one, but TWO writing challenges - NaNoWriMo and 70 Days of Sweat. So far, I have little actual word count to show for this month because of edits. I've been working dilligently on my upcoming paranormal/fantasy release, Sweeter Than Wine. It has a sexy werecougar, a vamp couple, a fey knight and some magic users lobbing fireballs around. Lots of fun! But I haven't done much new writing and that always makes me cranky.


Like a dragon with a stone stuck under one of its scales, I've been itching to get to something new for a while now. I've decided what - I just have to get the time to actually work on it. I'll give you a little hint: it's a new dragon series, set in a different part of the same world as my Dragon Knights series. This new series will be a little more heavily epic fantasy - with romance, of course - but I'm thinking a tiny bit less explicit. Maybe. I still haven't quite decided yet, but I'm definitely enchanted with this new part of the dragon world.

In the meantime, I'm still glowing about my new cover. So please forgive me for posting it here for your perusal. I just got the cover 2 days ago, so it's still shiny, sparkly new in my eyes and I'm beginning to really dig it! ;-) Oh, and I'll post info about my upcoming fey holiday short story, coming in December, next time. I promise. :-)
Bianca
Come over to the D'Arc side... www.biancadarc.com

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Love & Lore Anthology has been released!



The Love & Lore Celtic anthology is now available for sale from SamhainPublishing.com!

Blurb:
Journey to the heart of Celtic legend.

Samhain is pleased to celebrate its second anniversary with three novellas that will lure you into the labyrinth of Celtic myth and legend.

In WILDISH THINGS, Carolan Ivey brings together an artist who is wounded in both body and spirit, and a sexy Irish bad boy on a Harley. Their whirlwind fling across Ireland takes a dangerous turn when their sexual chemistry awakens the deadly lust of an ancient goddess.

Gia Dawn’s offering of A FAIRY SPECIAL GIFT has it all: A woman who can see fairies and wishes she couldn’t, and a man who promises to help her with her “problem”-for the price of a kiss. Stir in the Celtic god Lugh who wants the woman for himself, rowdy flock of untamed pixies, and a pining Banshee in need of a makeover, and let’s just say there aren’t enough fairy traps in the world to control the chaos.

The HEART OF THE SEA beckons in Sela Carsen’s take on the Selkie legend. When a woman accidentally falls into the sea and turns into a seal, the man she loves believes her drowned. Seven years later, she rescues him from a shipwreck and for one blissful night, she returns to her human form. But only for a night. Can true love overcome the Selkie curse?

Warning: This book contains graphic language, explicit sex, mild bondage, wildly unpredictable gods and goddesses, unruly fairies, wet Selkies, and loads of fun.

Each novella is also available separately as an eBook.

www.carolanivey.com
www.giadawn.com
www.selacarsen.com

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween contest!

I'm taking part in a Halloween contest hosted by my pal Sam Cheever. We're giving away a great "trick or treat" gift bag! Take a look!

http://melissa-lopez.com/contest.html

Good luck to all those who enter!
~Mel

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Thinning Veil

I adore shows like Ghosthunters. It's got its cheesy moments, but I can't seem to get enough of it.

But I've discovered that I can't watch it when I'm alone in the house late at night! Now, my people are from North Carolina, a species that lives comfortably cheek by jowl with some of the the scariest legends and folklore on earth, so it's hard for me to admit that certain things about Ghosthunters (which is like cotton candy compared to some of stories I grew up with) still gives me the heebies.

It's not the sightings, it's not the dark rooms. It's the EVP recordings - Electronic Voice Phenomena. Voices that live far below the range of human hearing, but when played back on a special machine, you hear what sounds like spirits trying to communicate with the living.

I'm not sure if these things are staged or not, but it's still creepy creepy creepy to hear a whisper, a sigh, a cry. I have to turn on all the lights in the house, and only turn them off as I retreat to my bedroom for the night.

I'm even afraid to glance in a mirror!

This time of year it seems to be worse, this sense that the veil is thin and anything could pop out at me when I least expect it. The dogs bark more when they're outside at night. The sound of a squirrel skittering around in my attic brings me bolt up right in bed. I leave the radio on so I won't hear the tree branches tapping the upstairs windows in the wind.

I make up stories in my head to distract me. This year I'm lucky to have an outlet for these stories - the Halloween round robin story on my other group blog, Beyond the Veil! We'll be giving away a collection of free short stories on Halloween.

I've also been immersed in final edits for - of all things - a ghost romance coming Jan. 4, 2008 from Samhain Publishing, "Beaudry's Ghost".

AND ramping up for the Nov. 1 release of Wildish Things, part of the Love & Lore anthology from Samhain Publishing. Gia Dawn, Sela Carsen and I will be list moms on Nov. 1 at the Samhain Cafe. Much fun will be had, a full day of excerpts, contests and general mayhem. Faeries be afoot, so you never know what's going to pop out at you! Hope to see you there!

(Image from http://shisa.ukzn.ac.za/)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Comedy? Tonight.

Twenty years ago, my dad developed an aortic aneurism. Hopelessly devoted to Mom, he ignored the symptoms while he nursed her through pneumonia. By the time he went into surgery, it was a life or death situation.


From the moment my dad was diagnosed until he was back on his feet, my reading habits underwent a radical shift. Suddenly, I couldn't handle the cutting edge literary fiction or nervy thrillers. I read one writer and one writer only: Georgette Heyer. For weeks, I read nothing but books I'd read in high school--Faro's Daughter, False Colours, Sylvester, Behold Here's Poison, Footsteps in the Dark...


Fast forward to the last two weeks, when I was tending Mom during what proved to be her final illness. What was I reading as I rubbed her hand, pretending not to cry as she struggled for breath? Smoke and Ashes by Tanya Huff.


The two writers might seem miles apart, but the differences are all external. The same things that drew me to Heyer--snappy dialogue, solid worldbuilding, big-hearted humor, romance and the all-important happy ending--also shine in Huff's writing. The characters face challenges, danger and intrigue, but you know the people you care about most will come out okay. It's a series, after all. They have to!


Life doesn't give you those kind of assurances. In fact, it's a terminal condition. Unless there's more to the fantasies I write than I realize, none of us get out of here alive.


The deeper my understanding of that truth grows, the more I crave the magic of fantasy and romance. I remember how embarrassed I was when Dad got sick. I felt like such a fraud--a pretend grown-up hiding behind a kid's books. Real grown-ups read epics and important fiction where everybody dies.


I know better now.

With that in mind, I want to share my own version of a Samhain blessing to all our readers--and to my fellow bloggers slogging through all the muck real life throws at us. It's not a prayer, exactly. It's a quote from one of my all-time favorite characters, Pseudolus, the lying-est, sloppiest, cheating-est slave in all Rome. Hey, who better to know what's important as we race to another shiny new year?


No royal curse.


No Trojan Horse.


And there's a happy ending, of course.


Goodness and badness,


Man in his madness.


This time it all turns out all right.


Tragedy tomorrow.


Comedy.


Comedy?


Comedy tonight.*




*From "Comedy Tonight", A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, music and book by Stephen Sondheim

Fantasy with your Romance? or Romance with your fantasy?

I've been wondering about this lately. In my own reading preferences, I have to say, I prefer a little romance with my fantasy, instead of the other way around. The more sumptuous the worldbuilding, the more intricate the plot...the less demand I'm going to put on the writer to flesh out the romance. I can catch on from subtle nuances when two characters are going to get together. In fact, I can remember reading a few books where there was no real reason to think the characters would get together...but it seemed only right that they would.

And lately...I've read a few books where the romance is so obvious, so..."beat me over the head with it" that I wonder if I'm just a big ole cynic. I mean...bodyparts are moistening, and hearts are thumping...on page three.

So I have to say I like me some romance with my fantasy, but gimme the plot, the good v. evil, the magic, mayhem, and decadence of it all (and my all important happily ever after) and it's all good.

But what about you, dear readers? Do you want Romance-Fantasy, or Fantasy-Romance?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

All Fantasy is not Romance, But All Romance is Fantasy

My DH thinks I'm crazy for writing romance. Often he makes fun of me because I don't touch any other genres when I want to read. "How can you read that stuff?" he asks me. Well, because I love the fantasy. This doesn't mean every romance is filled with dragons and unicorns, but that it's women's fiction, or rather, women's fantasy.

We might not actually want to have an Alpha male in our lives, but we sure do love to fantasize about it, about the take-charge, annoying man who can make us pull our hair out while crying out in ecstasy at the same time. :P We love being taken away to a different place, or a different time, to read about the trials and tribulations of two people falling in love.

What my DH doesn't understand is the draw of romance. He's called it everything from uber cheesefest to woman porn. Perhaps it is. But that doesn't deter me from wanting to read it. I don't read romance for the sex scenes. They're definately a bonus, but I love the aw factor, the stirring emotions, the excitement of "new love". It's a welcome change from the humdrum world of my boring, every day life.

So in that way, I get to go on fantastic journeys and be swept off my feet by billionaire Greek tycoons. :P How often does that happen to a housewife from Hillsboro, Oregon?

~~Becka
Sexy. Sensual. Seductive, without an ounce of cheese (DH's tagline edit lol)
http://www.RebeccaGoings.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spooks, Magic & Writing Goals

Ah, Autumn... my favorite time of year! The harvest is on, crisp apples, yummy veggies and the air is growing colder, but not quite frigid yet. It's snuggle time and time to find my Winter clothes and warm blankets. And for some of us, time to think about the year past and make plans for the new cycle to come.

I've been clearing away a lot of my old projects in preparation for starting fresh in November. I'm finishing up some things that need finishing and plotting out plans for new directions come next month. One of the tools I'm using to help with this is the 70 Days of Sweat writing challenge. The idea is to write between 750-1200 words each day for the next 70 days. I write very fast, but not every day and sometimes I go weeks without writing a thing. Not a good habit for a professional writer.

The challenge started yesterday and already I'm ahead of the goal, which is just great. There's a certain accountability that spurs one on when competing against yourself. If you want to keep up with my progress, I've put a tracking meter on my blog and will be posting little tidbits from my WIPs there as I go along.

I'll be working on multiple manuscripts (as I always do) from fantasy, to sci fi, and back again. Some contracted, some just in their beginning stages of development. But here's a little about two of the contracted projects waiting for me to finish working on them (because they release this December!):

- My holiday short story "Solstice Dreams" from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid -
Two elves searching the northern wilderness. One light. One dark. Forbidden to each other, yet drawn by the same yearning for... something. They seek the Jolly Old Elf, to learn his secrets, but neither can find him, until they find each other.

- My vamp/were menage paranormal novel, "Sweeter Than Wine" from Samhain -
An abused woman has the power to unite werefolk, fey and vampire against an evil that would see them all dead—if she can learn to love again.

So spooks and magic are in the air for me... how about you?

Bianca
Website: http://biancadarc.com/
NEW Blog: http://biancadarc.com/blog/

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...

October. The temperature is dropping, along with the leaves, the hemlines of pants, and the humidity. Thank god, the humidity. I am, after all, a fragile flower and I melt in heat and humidity.

But the falling humidity means my skin starts to look like the Wicked Witch of the Northwest (Ohio). Which means it's time to dip into my arsenal of cold weather skin care products - oils, body butters, the white cotton gloves. Yes friends, I am turning into my grandmother. Hand cream and gloves - an over-40s gal's best friends. But did you ever read the label on one of those tubs? Can you pronounce half the names? Not me.

So here lately I've gone in search of my inner Kitchen Witch, looking for ways to incorporate more organic foods and other products into my life. And that includes skin care I can whip up in my home cauldron. Er, mixing bowl.

Here's a recipe for an organic pumpkin mask I've found that purportedly eases dry skin, shrinks your pores, and leaves skin soft. And at my age I'm not above throwing in a spell or two to make me look a few years younger!

Organic Pumpkin Mask
About 1 cup diced organic pumpkin, peeled (use the leftover pieces from carving your jack-o-lantern)
1/2 medium organic apple, peeled and cored
1 Tb. honey
1 or 2 Tb. organic goat's milk
2 drops lemon essential oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until thick and smooth, adding more pumpkin if the consistency is too thin. Spread a generous layer on freshly cleansed face, avoiding eye area. Fend off the cat, dog and/or your significant other from licking your face for 15 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and apply your favorite moisturizer. Repeat once or twice a week. Store leftover mask in refrigerator for up to one week.

Source: Caroline Bourke, beautysecretsworld.com

Wildish Things, available Nov. 1 from samhainpublishing.com.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Magic Math by Dayna

My husband and I recently added a puppy to the mix of things at our already insane house. A week later, I found out I was (am) pregnant with our fourth child. It's been a rollercoaster.

I have a manuscript I've been sending to agents, and I hit a wall one morning. "I can't send this. I'm going to have a baby...how on earth can I get an agent NOW? I don't know if I'll ever be able to write again once little4 gets here." Of course, all this angst finds its way into my writing, which I'm hoping is a good thing.

So, instead of worrying about it too much, I decided to break my life down into some Magic Math:

A heightened sense of smell + a beagle = nausea.
Nausea + morning = no coffee
No coffee + Dayna = problems.


Three kids + beagle + one more coming = fear.
Fear + writing = dark stories
Dark stories + faeries = twisted fun.

If pregnancy = cravings, and cravings = irrational yet acceptable...
Dayna's cravings = Pringles for breakfast.


So, do some magic math of your own and give us a rundown on your life today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Unicorns



You know what I want? I want fantasy of the "Legend" kind. When I was a kid, I ADORED pegasus' and unicorns. I had many fantasia-esque pictures like the one above on my walls. One of my favorite movies as a kid was "The Last Unicorn" with the Red Bull (before it became an energy drink), and I even have that movie on DVD. :P It was on the cheapo rack.

But in our romance nowadays, we see fantasy elves, fairies, dragons... Where are the unicorns? Where are the pegasus...es? (Seriously, what IS the plural of "pegasus?")

There is an author (can't think of her name right now) who wrote a series about winged centaurs. I haven't read it, but I seriously want to. That looks awesome.

I guess I just want something different. And no, right now, I'm not going to write it myself. I have WAAY too many projects going on to fit something like this in. Perhaps "someday", I might try my hand, but the point of this post is to challenge all you writers and hopefuls to think outside the fantasy box. What is something that NO ONE ELSE is doing?

Seriously, I think perhaps unicorns and pegasus' are it. Imagine a Narnia-esque world, where animals talk and glitter abounds (because I love glitter, just go with it lol) and magical creatures appear to save the world... Whatever it is, they don't have to be a "shifter". Can't we just have a unicorn be a unicorn?

This is why I love rich, new fantasy worlds, because they challenge us to think outside the "norm" of castles, dragons, wizards. Even I myself am "guilty" of this kind of fantasy world. But I want to see someone shake things up a bit. Because seriously, who wouldn't want to read a fantasy story about perhaps an army of unicorn or pegasus' warriors kicking the ass of some Big Bad? :)

~~Becka

http://www.RebeccaGoings.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Update on the Magical Worlds of Bianca D'Arc

I've been very busy since my trip South. First, I caught a nasty flu bug and have been sick for about two weeks, but getting better every day. Second, I've been writing some new stuff in a couple of different worlds - my contemporary paranormal world and a new contemporary urban fantasy setting that I hope to pitch to one of the larger "New York" publishers this Fall.

I've also been dabbling with fairies. Well, editing in the fey realm at least. I'm happy to report that everything's on track for a pre-Christmas release of a short story I wrote last year about this time called Solstice Dreams. It's the tale of a High Court Sidhe Knight and his forbidden love for a Dark Fey Sorceress. They're both on a quest to find the jolly old elf who lives near the North Pole, but neither can find him until they find love.

It's a short, sweet, hot tale about forbidden fey love and a shared quest that becomes not-so-important in the face of passion. It will be coming out from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid - my first publication with them - in December. We're editing it now. It'll be Volume 7 of their Celtic Love Knots series and my story will be in with one by Barri Bryan.


Aside from my fey folk, my dragons are doing very well indeed. I came back from my trip to find that Prince of Spies had been released in paperback and was bopping around the Fantasy, Futuristic and Ghost Top 100 Best Seller List on Amazon.com. Yay! For some odd reason, it's also listed on the Contemporary Top 100 Best Seller List, which is great, but kinda weird too, since this book is set in a medieval-ish fantasy world. LOL.

In other dragon news, Wings of Change tops the MBAM Best Seller List and I couldn't be happier! Thanks to everyone who's already bought the novella and especially to those who've let me know how they liked it! I'm working feverishly on FireDrake, the next Dragon Knights novel, which should be out in ebook formats next May.
So I've been kept really busy with dragons, fey and other magical creatures. I hope some of you will come see me at the booksignings I have lined up for every weekend this month. I'll be signing at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference book fair on October 6th at the Woodbridge Sheraton. The following weekend, I'll be signging at the Borders in Middletown, NY, and the weekend after that, I'll be at the Borders in Marlborough, MA. Details are on my website, so please come out and see me if you're in the area!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ogham Reading


Hey folks,

Sorry I missed my post yesterday! I was off playing with my friends at the annual Central Ohio Fiction Writers conference, and didn't have web access until today.

I'm also working on a final sweep of a manuscript before sending it off the line editor, and being the obsessive-compulsive writer that I am, I'm determined to make it as clean as possible before emailing it.

This is sort of like tidying up your house before the cleaning lady gets there. Unnecessary, but you just can't help it.

So after reading Gia's excellent Friday post, I remembered there's also a free Celtic Ogham reading site out there called Voice of the Woods. It's pretty similar to Gia's link, but you type in your question.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We Who Are About To Rewrite Salute You

I’m back in the Rewrite Room of the Damned, and it’s all Diane Whiteside’s fault. Recently she volunteered to look over my current work in progress, Highway from Hell, a retelling of the Orpheus myth from Eurydice’s point of view. Greater love hath no writer than this, that she will lay down her critique for her friends.


Of course, this meant I actually had to pay attention to the crit. To make things worse—er, better—er, way scarier, Diane phrased her remarks so much like Teri Smith, my late writing partner, it lifted the hairs on the back of my neck.

“You’ve got a great character in Eurydice,” Diane said. “You’re right in there with her, feeling everything she feels, right from the start. But your readers will be coming to this from the point of view of Orpheus. Everything they've ever read has always been about him. Your challenge will be to show what Eurydice is fighting for. Is it the sex? Is it the lifestyle? Why would she go through this kind of hell to get back together with him?”

Although she didn’t get to write as much of the story as she (and I) would’ve liked, Teri helped me develop the plot for Highway. She hated Orpheus. She thought he was pond scum, and she fought me tooth and nail every time I tried to give him a redeeming feature.

But at the same time, like Diane, Teri never lost sight of the image our version of the story was going up against. Orpheus, the poet. Orpheus, the doomed and driven lover. Orpheus in Hercules, the Legendary Journeys, and Xena, Warrior Princess.

Diane’s critique also reminded me of comments I’d received from three beta readers who, unlike me, didn’t spend their teenage years in a purple fan girl haze looking for raspberry berets in the second hand store. These beta readers couldn’t understand why Eurydice got involved with Orpheus in the first place. He’s a demanding, narcissistic snot.

Well, duh. He’s also the sexiest, demanding, narcissistic snot on two legs, with a voice that makes trees dance and goddesses wail. Just hanging with him turns you into one of the cool kids. Living with him means you never have to wait in line. Bouncers and Line Nazis fall over themselves ushering you behind the velvet rope. Maitre des seat you at the best table in the restaurant, even though you don’t have a reservation and the place is booked until the next millennium. Whatever you wear, it’s in this minute. Cartier and Tiffany’s beg you to wear their bling. The hottest designers fawn over you and send you next season’s shoes wrapped in hand-printed tissue paper.

And everybody on earth is pea green jealous of the very air you breathe. Even the old farts who say they aren’t. They’re just so bitter they’re lying through their teeth.

It doesn’t hurt that so many hit lyrics come down to: “You do me wrong, but still I’m crazy about you.”

It’s part of the package. It’s expected.

Just like it’s expected Orpheus will act like a hero.

Oh.
Oh *bleep*! I gotta write that in, don’t I?

Diane’s critique and my response to it also highlight another aspect of the writing process we writers tend to overlook. We don’t always speak the same language as our readers, even when we think we’re all working in English.

Those three readers were telling me the same thing Diane did. But when they said it, all I heard was: “Orpheus is a jerk, and Eurydice was Too Stupid To Live for getting involved with him.”

Well, she was stupid for getting involved with him. But music junkies like me couldn’t imagine a young woman not falling for the glamour Orpheus represents. To us it’s a perfectly understandable stupidity. We’d commit it ourselves—if only someone would give us half a chance.

But my challenge as a writer isn’t just to play to that particular choir. I need to convey that glamour, that sense of earthy divinity rock fans invest in their idols, to the people who didn’t grow up with my passions or my expectations. Otherwise, they won’t get the story. It’ll be nothing more than a race of pretty words to “The End”. I bleed too much in my stories to settle for that.

###

(Lyrics from "Ain't That Peculiar" by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin, Robert Rogers and Warren Moore)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Remember This Movie?

Ever watch a movie trailer and hear that ONE song and wonder where the heck it came from? Do you remember watching this movie when it came out 11 years ago? Did you ever think this movied kicked ass because it had an awesome intelligent dragon?

This clip from YouTube gives me chills. I fashioned Mynos after Draco. If you watch closely, you'll notice a few moves Draco does that I had Mynos do in the Legends of Mynos books from Samhain Publishing. Breathing fire down a straight line... Balls of fire from his nostrils...

Dragonheart is one of my all-time favorite movies. Not necessarily because it's such a wonderful plot, but because of the inspiration it sparked in me for my fantasy romance series. I really wish they would make more movies about intelligent dragons like Draco, who could maybe wield magic and shape-shift like Mynos.

Watch this clip and get chills, y'all. Oh, and that music you always wondered about? Yeah, it's part of the Dragonheart soundtrack, one of the best and well-known movie soundtracks ever, in my opinion, of course.

~~Becka
http://www.RebeccaGoings.com/
http://www.samhainpublishing.com/authors/rebecca-goings


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dragons, Dragons, Everywhere!

I don't know if I posted this here yet... My editor went above and beyond the call of duty and created a GREAT video for the I Dream of Dragons anthology, of which my story, Wings of Change, is part.






The anthology will be in print next May, but all five stories are available right now as individual ebooks. Thanks to all of you who've helped put Wings of Change on the Best Seller List over at MyBookstoreAndMore.com! :)


In other news, I spent last weekend at Lora Leigh's Reader Appreciation Weekend (RAW) and had a blast! I met a lot of readers and some of my favorite authors, including Lora herself, Lorie O'Clare, Christine Feehan, and a whole bunch more! I'm still recovering from the sleep deprevation (LOL), but I had a really great time and enjoyed meeting everyone. Watch my official blog next week for a contest where I'll be giving away a T-shirt and some other goodies from the event. :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Urban fantasy: Who’s your favorite?

I’ve recently learned my Netherworld series kicking off with Dark Sentinel in March will be listed under paranormal romance since it’s considered a catch all.

My goal for each story is to provide a HEA...so it’s not quite considered urban fantasy. Although, the leads change with each story in the series there will be certain characters who put in an appearance in each story. So, I’m going to cross genre market the series because fundamentally Netherworld is dark urban fantasy.

Dark fantasy, often a euphemism for horror with supernatural or fantastic elements or else fantasy with disturbing or horrific elements, can be bold tales of fantasy featuring discovery.

Urban fantasy, "contemporary" fantasy, is set in the city, often dealing with shamanism, the New Age, and/or Amerind (or other minority) cultures in today's world. Urban fantasy focuses on the human condition and magic realism.


Here are a few of my favorite urban fantasy authors.
Kelley Armstrong
http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/
Kim Harrison
http://www.kimharrison.net/
Charlaine Harris
http://www.charlaineharris.com/
Jim Butcher
http://www.jim-butcher.com/

Who are some of your favorites?

Until later~
Mel

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 13 DragonCon Pics

After teasing you with all the good stuff to see and do at DragonCon 2007, you didn’t think I would just leave you hanging did you?

Well, yes, I am that mean. But you’re in luck. Becka, Bianca, Carolan, Dayna and Gia threatened to track me down and beat me with their books if I didn’t come back with pics. (They’re so mean!)

I didn’t manage to snag any photos of the celebs I mentioned in my last post unless you count a very badly focused shot of somebody who might be James Marsters toting a “Stunt Kisser” sign across the Buffy Horror Picture Show on Friday night, August 31. Was he or wasn’t he? Only the cast member playing Buffy knows for sure. All I can say is she took an awfully long time to come up for air. :D

1. Dragons were everywhere, of course. But to my mind one of the best was this Chinese parade dragon in the Exhibit Hall.

2. Costumes ranged from twin Goth cabaret chicks to Stargate System Lords. But this Medusa was one of my favorites. I particularly like what she did with her snakes.

3. Since its inauguration in 2002, the Saturday morning DragonCon parade has become one of everyone’s favorite events. It opens with bagpipes and ends with Stormtroopers. In between you can find representatives of everyone’s favorite fantasies—including those of the participants. Shown here are some of the folks who drum and dance at the nightly Drum Circles. Leading the contingent is Joshua, whose dancing has graced the DragonCon Masquerade for two years running. Dina, a fellow Masquerader, can be seen in the second row. She’s the one wearing a jacket over a brown top and playing zills.

4. If you think most of my fantasies involve fit guys, you’re right. Here’s the DragonCon Spartans. The tans were fake. The bods weren’t.

5. Writers parade too. This year, Sherrilyn Kenyon (centered, carrying the fan) temporarily abandoned the conference rooms and Exhibit Hall to lead the characters of her Dark Hunter novels onto the streets. I can’t help wondering how the sun-phobic Dark Hunters felt about that.

6. I included this just so you’d know what a dangerous writer you’re dealing with. I’m front and center in this scurvy crew of scalliwags, otherwise known as the crew of the good ship DragonCon Press Room: (top row from left) Randi, Leigh, Phyl, Mark and Dorie; (front row from left) me and Dave (a.k.a. Silent Bob). Although I no longer attend DragonCon with the sole intent of snagging interviews, the con’s media liaison staff lets me play dress-up with them. Maybe it’s my winning personality—or maybe it’s my way with weapons. Dave, true to his Masquerade alter ego, never uttered a peep, despite the angle of my sword.
7. I didn’t stay long enough at the Masquerade to photograph the prize-winning “Wallace and Grommet” team. (Things to do. Parties to crash.) But like Masquerade MC Kari Byron (far left) of Mythbusters, I was charmed by this hookah-smoking caterpillar. The fabric costume was entirely handmade—and worn by the seamstress who created it.

8. DragonCon is many festivals rolled into one. In addition to the gaming, media guests, movies and writers, it boasts several live concerts every night. This year the musical options ranged from perennial favorites Emerald Rose and Voltaire to newcomers (to DragonCon) Lost Boys and Last Dance. But for me, the musical highlight is always the Cruxshadows show following the Masquerade. Lead singer Rogue (pictured here in a rare moment of stillness) is the only person I know who can rock the Trojan War.

9. In addition to the Masquerade and concerts, Sunday night’s entertainment included a Pirate Gathering and a Secret Room rave with a pirate theme. The Ball featured live music from Three Quarter Ale and (reportedly) Voltaire, but I got better pictures from the Secret Room’s Pirate Rave. Where else could you see a guy in a kilt dancing with a Boxtrooper?

10. After the parties were…more parties. With bartenders who delivered. The big guy on the left carried his bar in a backpack, dispensing parrot-colored libations via a small hose.

11. Ruth Glick (Rebecca York) preceded me in the autograph area Monday afternoon. Unlike the media stars, bestselling writers like Ruth, Terry Brooks, John Ringo and DragonCon 2007 Guest of Honor David Weber sign and pose for free.

12. An unadvertised benefit of the DragonCon autographing sessions—for the writers that is. Joshua came to talk to psychic Chip Coffey and paranormal investigator Patty Starr, whose autograph session coincided with mine. But he graciously agreed to be photographed with swords…and me. You know, it’s hard to look endangered when you’re grinning like an idiot.

13. For me, this is always the saddest part of my annual DragonCon adventure—packing up and going home. Good thing there’s next year.

These and more shots can be found at my Flickr page. Eventually I'll caption them too. 'Til next year!

9-11

I have to admit I groaned when I saw I was slated to blog today. Who wants to write something on the memorial of the most devestating event in recent American history? And yet, here I am. First I'm going to say to all those who lost friends or family in 9-11, our hearts go out to you all.

And then I'm going to talk about post-apocalyptic fantasy. One of the best and most popular examples is Stephen King's The Stand. Good v. evil in a world all but destroyed by plague. I read this when I was a teenager, and the world was very different then. Although the idea of the world ending was terrifying, and plausible, it was a rather distant possibility.

The world I live in now, just a dozen years later, is very different. And the idea of a world-altering catastrophe isn't all that much of a stretch. In fact, there are a lot of different ways it might happen. Imagine how it might happen! Imagine how you'd live without all the modern day conveniences. Imagine if things you once believed were only urban legends found their way into the new reality.

How terrifying.

Yet, it's also what gets fantasy writer's motors running ;)

So, with all that in mind...do readers want to read P-A fantasy? Do writers want to write it? Or is it just too scary?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Special: I Dream of Dragons Anthology

On September 11, five dragon stories will release as ebooks from Samhain Publishing. One of them is mine - Wings of Change - with the lovely cover you see on the left.

What you may not yet be aware of, is that all five of these stories will also release in print as part of a 2-volume anthology in the Spring. The anthologies will be called I Dream of Dragons I and II, and they will have two different covers (see below).

Wings of Change is one of my Dragon Knights stories and acts as a sort of bridge between the first series of Dragon Knights, which told the love stories of a mother and her three daughters, and the next set of books. Wings of Change picks up with new characters, introduces new magical creatures and will lead to a new series of Dragon Knights stories focusing more on the men. Mmmmm. ;-)

Here's the blurb for Wings of Change:

One young woman could be the miracle that heals a dying dragon—and unites a family with her love.

Lucia, born a lady in a foreign land, now waits tables for her keep. When she sees Sir Reynor wasting away, she storms the Castle Lair seeking help for the dying dragon. What she finds is a dashing rogue, a mighty dragoness, and a contrite knight who blames himself for his dragon partner’s injury.

Marcus is enchanted by the foreign beauty and intrigued by her mission. Few women will go near dragons and fewer still can communicate with them. Marcus recognizes Lucia for the treasure she is and knows she is meant for him…and for Kaden.

Kaden is wracked with guilt over the injury that has grounded the dragon—possibly forever. He knows Lucia is special, and he wants her. Lucia just might be the missing piece they all need to form a family. But with Reynor unable to fly, how can any of them be happy?

To make this family whole, they need a miracle. And love—the greatest miracle of all.

My partners in crime for the anthology (volume I) are Summer Devon and Marie Harte. I'm fans of both those ladies and can't wait to see what they've come up with in the dragon realm!

Bianca
Website: www.biancadarc.com
NEW Blog: http://biancadarc.com/blog/

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Becka's World Building Workshop ~ Post #7

A little late in coming, but here nonetheless. This is the LAST post of my World Building Workshop. I know it's been a long few weeks, but I hope you guys got something out of it... :P Here are the links to the other posts just in case you missed them:

World Building Workshop Post #1

World Building Workshop Post #2

World Building Workshop Post #3

World Building Workshop Post #4

World Building Workshop Post #5 & #6

~*~*~*~

TECHNOLOGY, MAGIC, AND OTHER ODDS AND ENDS

Okay, now that you have most of your world in place, and even an easy way to quickly think of names, now is the time to get down to the nitty gritty with regards to details.

First of all, we'll start with technology. How advanced is yourworld? Are they truly a Medieval society with swords and crossbows? Or is there gunpowder? Steam engines?

What about a Sci-Fi world? Do they have lazer-blasters? Ion-cannons? Aside from weapons, what kind of medical technology do they possess? Tricorder-type things? Nanosites? Or just your good ol' water & bandages?

Is magic present on your world? If so, can everyone do it? Or only certain races? Is it an inherent trait or do you need items to do magical things? If there are magical items in your world such as a glowing sword or pendant of invisibility, write out exactly what their powers are. Maybe even write some powers that your characters don't know about. Makes it fun when they use a magical item and it does something totally unexpected!

Other odds & ends would include fleshing out your cities, deciding what's a large Mecca and what's a small hamlet. What is life like in those cities? Can anyone buy magical items or are they only for the rich and famous?

Once you have the little details fleshed out, then you are ready to begin writing in your world. There are some things you can make up as you go, so don't feel as if you can't write if you don't know everything there is to know about your world. I've learned that sometimes, it can be a lot of fun for the writer if you don't know what's beyond those mountains. If your characters don't either, then hey, that's an avenue that can be explored along with them.

Sometimes impromptu world building such as that can be great, just don't forget to jot down notes on what you make up. You don't want to forget it!

~~Becka

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Crature Feature: Cat Shifters

Cat shapeshifters offer a unique and interesting opportunity for fantasy writers. First, there are so many kinds of big cats to play with and so many of them are related to various degrees.

In the genus Panthera, for example, are the lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar. These are the only big cats able to roar and are sometimes distinguished as the "great cats" to differentiate them from other big cats who like the cheetah, snow leopard, clouded leopard, and cougar. Another little distinction is that the babies of the great cats are called cubs, while the babies of the other big cats are called kittens. (More on all of this minutiae can be found in the Wiki entry.)

The creature I find most interesting is the cougar. Bigger than the jaguar, but not considered a "great cat" it goes by many names and roams most of the Americas. Also called Puma or Mountain Lion, these cats are huge and very efficient predators. They learn and adapt to their environment and the kinds of prey they find there. I saw a show on Animal Planet the other day on bighorn sheep in the Canadian wilderness. It turns out that scientists were able to discover that one particular cougar in the area had learned how to efficiently hunt the bighorn lambs and for the last two years of the cougar's life, it ate almost nothing but mutton and put a big dent in the local bighorn population. But another cougar wasn't as smart. It fell to its death off the rocky slopes while chasing a bighorn lamb and both were found dead at the bottom, killed by the fall. So it takes a sure-footed cougar to even attempt to hunt those kings of the mountain in their rocky, dangerous domain.

In my own writing, I've created a few different big cat shapeshifters. The one you'll be able to read first is Matt Redstone, a character from my upcoming novel, Sweeter Than Wine. He's a cougar and has the cunning, speed and agility of the cat, even in human form. He's also really sexy, just like the cat. ;-) In my little world, he's the youngest of a group of cougar-shifter brothers and I plan to feature each of them in upcoming works. I'm also working on an urban fantasy world, inhabited by leopard and tiger shifters, as well as Others. More on that, when news becomes available.

For now, I continue my research in to the ways these big cats are related and the fantasy of how to make them purrrrrrrrr.

Bianca
Website: www.biancadarc.com
NEW Blog: http://biancadarc.com/blog/