Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My once in a blue moon Promotion Pitch!

I have a new book coming out tomorrow!
Llewellyn's Song
It's an erotic fantasy set in the magical world of Hivernia.

Llewellyn goes to the far north, seeking Frostbone, the ice-demon king in order to save his people. But on the way he finds a wounded Dark T'uath, one of the women warriors of the hidden valley. Proud, untamed, these women have no use for men...but Tamara finds herself falling in love with the tall, one-eyed elf who resued her.
Tamara and Llewellyn have to learn acceptance of each others' beliefs in order to join forces and warn Hivernia of impending war. Acceptance soon turns to love, and love to searing passion. But separation looms for the lovers as both accept the responsibilities thrust upon them by their leaders.

Llewellyn's Song
from Ellora's Cave


Agony unlike anything he’d ever felt tore through his body. Everything shook—his hands, his legs, and even his teeth chattered uncontrollably. Darkness crushed him like a physical thing and he tried to push it away, but it pressed down, harder and harder. Confusion followed the shock and pain, and then little bits of memory trickled back. Visions flashed across his mind, bringing with them more terror and pain.
Dragons with dull, iron-gray scales and rusty armor stalking next to hordes of enemy soldiers. The Mouse King, a shape-shifter with a talent for controlling dragons, riding the mightiest dragon, his scepter held aloft. Prince Branagh, in a last, desperate try to stop him, knocking him off the dragon and fighting him in vicious hand-to-hand combat. And he and his brother facing the enraged dragon on their own.
They’d succeeded, killing it when all hope seemed to have fled. But the beast had lashed out one last time, catching his brother across the chest and belly with its razor-sharp claws. Elloran had died in his arms, his pain first washing over Llewellyn then slowly ebbing into cold and darkness.
“No!” An agonized scream echoed in his ears and Llewellyn shot up in his bed, arms outstretched as if to ward off blows. His breathing whistled in his throat as he fought to control his racing heart. Icy sweat trickled down his back and chest. No dragons faced him, no screams assailed his ears, only the silence of the night and his heart pounding in his ears. Slowly he pulled the covers up over his shoulder with hands that still shook from the nightmare.
He wanted to die, for surely death would take away the anguish. He wanted to die, because each day he lived, each minute, every hour, his brother’s last minutes came to him as a torture. He rubbed his forehead and a sigh shuddered from him. Elloran had been his twin, and everything he’d felt, Llewellyn had felt, from joy to love…to excruciating death. Sometimes he feared to open his one good eye after the nightmare, sure to find his sheets drenched with blood. His other eye was nothing but a memory, and an ache sometimes when the weather turned. One battle had cost him an eye and his twin. Some days are better not lived.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The French National Anthem

The other day it was the anniversary of the liberation of Lisieux by the allied forces. In commemoration, a ceremony is held each year in the park in the center of town. This year, I was at my friend Marielle's house when she said to me, "I have to go sing the Marseillaise in town, do you and Julia want to go with me?"
I didn't know the words to the song (I vaguely knew them) but my daughter had sung for the WWII and WWI ceremonies in our town and wasn't shy, so we said yes. (And I figured I'd just move my lips, lol)
We got to the park and I realized this was an official ceremony, and I was given a paper with the words to the song, and everyone made a nice fuss about how great it was that an American was there, and I had to shake everyone's hand and meet the mayor.
Marielle was a member of the chorus, and so we stood in the front facing the guests of honor and the crowd. Everybody who was anybody was there that day - including five 'ancient combatants' which is what the French call the soldiers. The men were from England and Scotland and the mayor gave a speech in English that left them mostly perplexed - (I could see their faces as we were behind the mayor in nice rows, being the chorus.)
Then the mayor finished massacring the English speech and switched to French, and then he nodded to us to sing.
We all took a deep breath, and the choral leader sang the first note - and it was WAY up in the stratosphere - she was a soprano - and we all sounded like a chorus of mice. (Luckily I'm a soprano so even if I didn't know the words I could match her note for note, lol.)

Afterward we were invited to the town hall for traditional speeches, champagne, and little cakes. Yum.

Anyhow, it has often occurred to me that any country thinking about invading another country should study the French national anthem. Take a good look at the words and you will see why.

"La Marseillaise" was written and composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, captain in the Engineering corps garrisoned in Strasbourg during the night of 24 to 25 April 1792.

The lyrics, speaking of bloody battles and a call for citizens to take up arms, have been debated endlessly whether to alter the words to suit the more peaceful times that France currently enjoys, but the original words, capturing the spirit of the French revolution, remain. This is probably due to the fact that "La Marseillaise" is now inexorably linked to France in the mind of the world.

1. Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé !
L'étendard sanglant est levé !
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Egorger nos fils et nos compagnes !

Aux armes, citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons !
Marchons ! marchons !
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !


1. Arise children of the fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny's
Bloody flag is raised
The bloody flag is raised,
Listen to the sound in the fields
The howling of these ferocious soldiers
They are coming right into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts
To arms citizens
Form you battalions
March, march
Let impure blood
Water our furrows!

Yes, when you see the words you realize that any man will defend his country against invaders, even, as in this case, when they are in a civil war. (So imagine how they feel when another country invades...)
Something to ponder upon.

Friday, August 25, 2006

What we did in the Rain

The house stands on the high point of a vast prairie. To the south, the land slopes down steeply and the roof of a ruined cider house can just be seen. An apple orchard stretches to the south - it is long past its prime and the trees are stunted with age and bent by the incessant wind.
Two new buildings are nearby on the plain: a round tent with an exercise machine in it for horses, and a brand new aluminum barn with over forty boxes for thoroughbreds. A new track has been laid just west of the house, the orange sand like a raw wound in the deep green grass. Every morning the young horses are cantered along the track, their heads tossing, their tails whipping, their riders dressed in windbreakers and scarves.
The house was chilly and damp, so we loaded the car with firewood one rainy morning and piled it in the entranceway. From then on there was always a fire in the dining room chimney. I set up my computer next to it, we sat around it, and we grilled our dinners there: hamburgers, steaks, and one night we splurged and had salmon.
We went to the Basilica of St. Therese of Lisieux - just beautiful. And we visited a cheese factory in Livarot. It was really fun to see how the cheese was made and the best part of tasting it, of course. And we went to a zoo run by a conservation group called Cerza - and saw four white tigers - two of which were baby cubs. We saw lots of other animals, but these were so lovely we just stood and stared. A white tiger with blue eyes! The zookeeper told us that all white tigers are descended from a single white tiger born in captivity in 1952, and are all fragile because of their consanguinity.
It rained every day. The polo games were cancelled because the grounds were water-logged and sodden. Clouds as black as soot lumbered over the plain, and the wind whistled in the chimney like a locomotive. The twins took my old VCR camera and made a ghost movie using Julia as actress and victim, lol. They also played cards endlessly, as there was no TV or anything else.
We had dinner with friends, and on the next to last day, my daughter and I were invited to sing the Marsaillaise with the Lisieux choral group for the official ceremony of the liberation of Lisieux by the allied forces.
Tomorrow I'll blog about that!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A haunted house, an ancient treasure...

This weekend I'm leaving for Normandy. We're going to spend a week in an old house on a windy, treeless plateau. The house hasn't been finished yet - friends of our bought it and plan on renting it out, so there isn't any furniture except for beds, one table, and two benches. There are fireplaces in every room, the floors are wooden and creak upstairs and heavy terracotta farm tiles downstairs. The kitchen is pretty much finished, so I can cook, (and since I just broke my stove, this will even be a move UP from where I am now, lol)
We stayed at the house last week for a night, and my daughter had a terrible nightmare. She dreamed there were two jealous children in the house who wanted parents like she had, so they were going to kill her and take her place. Needless to say she woke up in a state of terror and spent the night curled up next to me. And after she told me her dream, I didn't get much sleep either! I heard creaking floorboards, knocking, and the sound of whispers. So I think the house is haunted. Probably by two children. Creepy, no?
I can't wait to stay there and take notes. Authors are definitely a crazy bunch, I'm already plotting a story about the house.

And speaking of plotting, I'm working on the proposal. I sent the rough draft off and my agent loved it. We are now fleshing it out - and I'm keeping the setting (France) and I'm adding the backstory - the Protestant's treasure which was hidden at the end of the 14th century during the war between the Catholics and the Protestants. It happened here, or very close to my village, and people still seek the treasure, sure that it is buried somewhere nearby. There are caves and passages in the limestone hills beneath our village, and the town hall has an old map or two of these passages - and one lies just beneath my house and goes to the church.

What do you think about books set in other places besides America? My agent says it will be harder to sell, but she said to go ahead anyway, because she loved the premise. Are you open to books set in other countries?
Let me know!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Paranormal Books we probably won't see

Sleeping with my Dog
Glenda put up with Ron turning into a wolf and mauling her every full moon, until the night he ate her precious poodle. Then she packed up and left. But how can she escape a man with a nose like a bloodhound? Especially since she can't seem to give up her exclusive perfume...

My Ex Vampire
Sharon broke up with Dexter, but now she fears for her life. She bought a sun lamp and sleeps with it on all night long. Her worse fear? Lighting storms will knock out the electricity - and Dexter will come and get her.

The Ghost who Stalked Me
Sally Mae can't get rid of the feeling someone is watching her - all the time. In the office, at the club, in her house. Day and night. And then she meets Fred. He's dead. But he's decided to stay in with her to watch her every move. Forever and ever.

Bringing Back Baby
Zelda loved George so much that when he died she begged a bokor to bring him to life. He agreed, in exchange for a lock of Zelda's hair. And now George is back - but he's different somehow. And Zelda is terrified of her zombie husband. Something is not right. And what is that smell?

Look Who's Coming to Dinner
Trish just met Henry, and she wants to introduce him to her parents. But he's a werewolf, and they're both weresheep. She's afraid Henry will cease to love her if he knows she's a weresheep too. Is there a future for a weresheep and a werewolf? And what will their children be? WereWeeps?

A Vampire's Book of Southern Style Living
Mary, a 600 year old vampire, is bored, so she gets a group of southern vampire women get together on the porch every night and they talk about life and love and trade recipes. Blood pudding, blood sausage, bloody Marys and such. A cute book about friendship in the afterlife and recipes galore for the picky vampire.

The August issue of the Sirens newsletter is now online!

The August issue of the Sirens newsletter is now online!

Beat the heat with cool Margaritas from our recipe section while you
enjoy the heat of a different kind with our smokin' excerpts.

We've got lots of news about your favorite authors, too.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Writing a proposition

I've sold a few books on proposition, and I remember when I first heard about that I was amazed. You always hear the advice "finish the book before you start to shop it around." But sometimes the idea is so original you're not quite sure if it will interest anyone, and in that case it might be better to approach a publisher with the idea to see if there is any interest. Another reason could be just the opposite -you have a great idea you know will be a hit, and you want to get to work on it as soon as possible, so you shop it around first.
Another reason for writing a propostion can come from an agent, an editor, or a publisher. I had my editor suggest a book, we wrote up a proposition, and it was contracted before it was written by EC. Changeling Press were launching their line and wanted something original, so I proposed an m/m sci-fi romance, and they contracted the series on proposal. Right now my agent has an idea she thinks would be right for me, and she wants me to write a proposal for it.
What is a proposal?
It's a synopsis and about three chapters. It can include a full outline (or not). Some authors are pantsers and couldn't outline to save their lives - but no problem, most publishers and editors have worked with authors of All types and don't ask for outlines very often.
So what am I doing now? Well, I finished the synopsis and I'm writing the first three chapters of the book. I'm writing a rough draft - no worries about making it perfect yet - what my agent is looking for is character developement and mood.
I'm also doing it in first person POV, which is actually my favorite POV to work in, and I'm hoping it will work for this story. I have a little research to do right now - I'm setting the story in an actual town, and I need to get the street names right. Luckily it's a place I've been to many times, so I know more or less how it looks and what the surroundings are like, but I am a perfectionist...and besides, research is another name for procrastination, and we all know that I am the Queen of Procrastination!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Plot plot, fizz fizz....

I'm plotting another book. Having fun too. It's nice to invent a whole new cast of characters and set them loose in a whacky world of my invention.
There has to be a heroine and a hero - and there has to be a bad guy (or gal) and a Plot Arc, and all that fun stuff.
And I don't know how other authors plot and plan, but I know I nearly always start with the Heorine.
Is that usual?
I have my new heroine - and then I try to imagine the perfect hero for her. Her soul-mate - her 'one and only'. And then I invent the meanie(s) and all the trials and tribulations and subplots and secondary characters and...
Oh my. I feel a head-ache coming on. I think I need an Alka Seltzer.
I have to leave now - my dog just rolled in something AWFUL and he smells DISGUSTING!
I am off to give Auguste a Big Bath.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Igor the Giant Suitcase

This is a silly post, I warn you ahead of time. Fact is, I do most of my shopping at the Thrift store in the US. (I didn't get to go this year so I didn't get to change my entire wardrobe and will have to continue wearing my last-year's Thrift offering...luckily it includes a soft gray sweater that goes with anything.)

Last year I went several times to the Thrift and bought far more than one suitcase could hold. So, I went back to the Thrift and found another suitcase. Choices at the Thrift, as you know, are limited. There were two - one was a very small toilet bag and the other was a HUGE suitcase on wheels. It was the size of an oil barrel, square, and was made of a sort of 'faux taspestry' material in green, magenta, and black. Hideous is the word that comes to mind, but at the time I was only thinking 'Lots of Space' and plunked down seven dollars for the suitcase. I wheeled it outside to the car and got my first shock. It BARELY fit into the trunk. I looked closer at the monster. It was a lot bigger than I'd thought. I got in the car, and my mother and daughter looked at me and said, "Why did you get such a huge suitcase? It's monstrous!"
I leaned back in my seat and shrugged. "I'll call it Igor," I said.
"Igor?" My daughter giggled, but the name stuck.
We drove around to the grocery store and bought our groceries - and we couldn't put them in the trunk because of Igor. We put them in the backseat - and I started to have doubts about Igor. I imagined myself pulling him through the airport - he was nearly as tall as my ten year old daughter. He would weight three tons. He had wheels, but they were wobbly. And once full of clothes - he would weigh...three tons. Three tons. The words were a death knell for Igor. I turned to my mother and said, "We have to take Igor back to the store. He's too big."
My mother bit her lip then said, "you mean, he doesn't fit in with the family?"
My daughter howled with laughter at that one.
"No, he just doesn't fit in." I was giggling too at this point. "But I'll miss him."
"We will all miss Igor," my daughter said.
"Actually, he's hard to miss," my mother said.
Visions of me dragging the monster along the hallway, crowding people to the side, squashing anyone in their way assailed me. Yes, Igor had to go.
We dropped him off at the Thrift. They gave me a gift certificate for seven dollars. We went to another store and bought a normal-sized red duffle bag with two small wheels at one end and a big 'W' on the side.
We called this one Mr. Wilson. On his first trip he got a rip in the wheelie end and now sports a large patch of silver duct tape.
He's still with us. It makes people turn and stare at the baggage claim when he pops out of the chute and my daughter yells "There goes Mr. Wilson with the tape on his butt! Get him quick!"

But we still think of Igor now and then...