Sunday, November 30, 2008
Magic costs the user. Every writer of speculative fiction or fantasy knows that.
Industrial Light and Magic (TM) has its cost. So does technology. I wonder what the long term cost of being "beamed up" was? I know that NASA astronauts suffer for their science. They may not be beamed up, but weightlessness causes their bones to lose calcium, and guess where the calcium goes?
Kidney stones! There are some doozies of kidney stones on display at the Johnson Space Center.
Which brings me to another cost of modern magical conveniences. Privacy.
George Orwell was right about Big Brother!
You can hardly make a Medicare election, reserve a plane ticket, collect your Office Max reward for recycling HP toner cartridges without having to supply your phone number, complete home address, name, date of birth and so much more! Moreover, banks, utilities, my child's school, and everyone else attempts to force me to use the internet for all my business and pleasure. I've even received reproachful letters informing me that (Fidelity "Private" Group) unsuccessfully tried to email (whatever private info I didn't want emailed to me). Instead of wasting valuable ink on the info they weren't able to email me, they direct me to go on the internet to find it and print it myself!
Yes, I may save a copse of trees, and I want to do that. But I know that spammers and hackers are reading my email and tracking my treks around the internet. I can tell (not always) by the sudden deluge of emails from names very similar to those of my friends, offering me cleverly disguised products to enlarge private parts I do not possess.
A few years ago, we were all outraged by Zabasearch, and wanted our names removed from their system. Now, dozens of pop up Big Brothers make names, addresses, phone numbers, maps to guide perverts to your basement window, and even credit reports available to every potential terrorist who wants to know.
Personally, I don't think the credit reports are accurate. I've been getting a lot of threatening telephone calls from the implausibly named "Credit Services" telling me that this is positively my final notice that I may borrow money from them. I've started to press button One, because pressing button Two to be removed from their calling list (I thought it was my final notice???) only encourages them. So, I am very nice to the telemarkers, until I get their names, phone numbers and so forth.
Then I go to the National Do Not Call Registry (now bookmarked on my toolbar) and report them.
I wonder whether the National Do Not Call Registry is as much of a misnomer and George Orwell's Ministry of Truth!
How do I relate all the above (kidney stones, telephone directory searches, phone spam etc) to futuristic, alien romance fiction?
Well, almost anyone can be virtually omniscient these days, if they know where to look. A self-styled "god" could be a high level hacker and an eavesdropper. The difficulty and the challenge (and therefore the fun) would be making him romantic and heroic, wouldn't it?
That's what I'm working on with the god-Emperor Djohn-Kronos.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Have you ever seen a problem, and had an idea for a fix, but no one to tell? Moreover, your idea wouldn't fit into any science fiction or fantasy work you have in progress? If so, please comment. I'm looking for some guest blogs to put up over December/January.
Bricks and Mortar Chain Bookstores
I'd like to sort out the bricks and mortar book chain stores, such as Barnes and Noble, Borders. They've become glorified warehouses with a few comfy chairs, a coffeeshop, and soft toys and confectionery. While it isn't impossible to find any book that ought to be in stock, many books might as well not be there. They're at ankle level, or you get a crick in your neck looking up; they're spine out and jammed together. If they're autographed, no one can tell.
Honestly, my local Borders Books is like a really bad website. A booklover has to know what he or she wants before he or she goes there, and the chances of being distracted or frustrated and leaving without buying are quite high.
My local library is much more welcoming. At least, I'm allowed to use the computers to help me find what I'm looking for.
Barnes and Noble, Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon (not that Amazon counts), Borders. Books-A-Million all have websites and online stores. Some offer book clubs. Some offer discussions and forums and book-related social networking. Some are well done, and some are not very easy to navigate.
The only problem with buying a book on the internet is that you have to wait until and while it ships, and you may have to pay postage (and even tax). The advantage of your local chain bookstore is that you don't pay postage, you get your book immediately as long as it is in stock, and you can read as much of it as you wish to make sure you've a good chance of enjoying it.
So here is what I envisage as the future of chain bookstores:
Barnes and Noble (et alia) as a book-related internet cafe! (Warehouse attached).
I foresee lots of chained-down, but free-to-use computers all around the perimeter, and in a central reservation, too. I mean LOTS!
Booklovers would go to a comfy captain's chair, log in with their Barnes and Noble card number (or not), check their own emails (because we all do, don't we?), then migrate to the B&N bookclub and bookstore online...
Or, they'd simply type in the name of their favorite author, or the title of the book they want, and call up covers, back cover blurb, first chapter, last page, author's blog, author's website, author's booklist, book-trailers, reviews... all that useful stuff.
Of course, this could be done from home, too, in the same way that we can buy a flash drive at a compelling price online from Circuit City, then drive fifteen miles to the nearest participating store to pick it up.
Books could be sorted by subgenre. Award-winning, humorous futuristic Romances with plus-size psychic heroines (such as Insufficient Mating Material) could be virtually "shelved" in all six categories.
Book store patrons would choose, click, discover where the book was shelved (or else, they'd order it from the comfort of where they were sitting and a bookseller would fetch it from the stacks and have it waiting at checkout), pay online, then maybe finish their beverage, check their email again; pick up their purchase, and leave.
Local authors might take advantage of the facilities and actually write in the bookstores. (And be available to autograph books on site). Virtual signings could be a snap.
Anyone with a power outage or ISP downtime (or unpaid cable bill) could use the bookstore computers. What a service!
It could take book related social networking to a new level. Hey, the bookstore might replace the bar, though nothing could ever replace Linnea Sinclair's Intergalactic Bar and Grille.
What do you think?
What's your beef? And what's your solution?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Not that I write it, yet, but Steampunk is where the writer changes one invention from the time of the industrial revolution, such as H.G. Wells's "The Time Machine". That was the "age of steam", hence steam punk.
More recently, there is "cyber punk" which I suppose relates to choices made in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. One of the hallmarks of punk writing is that it explores the road not traveled and the consequences of a different decision whether made by a scientist, a businessman, or a politician (I assume).
I'm using "gunk" punk because if steam is what the Nineteenth Century machines are remembered for, then gunk might be what petroleum-driven cars leave behind. Or maybe I've been watching too many STP commercials.
This is a car made by my husband, with his own hands and the help of a few people he contracted with privately. He burned his hands on hot clay, he came home with his eyebrows covered in dust from sanding... he lost 10lbs from all the exercise. This photo was taken at SEMA by Jonathon Ramsey for Autoblog.com http://tinyurl.com/5kv9jf
So, what if... in the 1940s American didn't have a manufacturing industry and depended on Germany and Japan? I'd probably be blogging in German, right?
History is being made right now, that's why I'm laying claim to "gunk punk" (unless someone has already thought of it, or someone has a better name). Peter M DeLorenzo of autoextremist.com
http://www.autoextremist.com/current/ may have done so, but he doesn't write fiction as far as I know. He has a jaw dropping rant going on.
Peter is also selling an alarming book (non-fiction) titled "The United States of Toyota."
Alarming cover art.
I am now imagining myself as a writer in, say 2020 (hindsight pun!) looking back on the third week of November 2008 when Congress made a catastrophic vote NOT to make a loan to the last American car companies.
It's a "Mad Max" world now. Or perhaps it's Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow" world with a touch of "1984". The Jesuits and the Japanese rule. We have an Emperor. And a Pope. And a third Minister of some sort, because good things come in threes.
Onstar speaks to us in Japanese in our cars. We cannot turn it off. They got Murdoch, too. And Comcast. All our Direct TV has Japanese subtitles. We cannot turn it off. Big Brother looks a lot like Vladimir Putin with Botox to get rid of the ugly Western crease in his eyelids. He tells us what to think.
America is bankrupt. When the world bank foreclosed, one of the creditors took Hawaii, another took the island of Manhattan, another took the Great Lakes for the water. No one wanted Detroit... I could go on. In a grim way, this is rather fun.
Maybe my imagination is overactive. I hope so! I was having trouble fitting any kind of Romance into my budding novel of milieu.
My point is, pay attention to the information that is available, and store it up for future reference. (Thank goodness for flashdrive!). There's a massive dissonance right now between the truth and what people are saying in the media.
If interested in GM's version of car myth vs fact visit http://gmfactsandfiction.com/
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Ten Reasons Not to Read My Vampire Novel DARK CHANGELING:
1. If you don't approve of "good" vampires, you won't like the hero, psychiatrist Roger Darvell.
2. The vampires don't conform to the traditional undead template, because they're products of natural evolution.
3. Not only is Roger unafraid of crosses, he's a Catholic who attends church, er, religiously.
4. He can't turn into a bat or a wolf.
5. He moves around freely during the day (just like Carmilla and Dracula in the classic nineteenth-century stories).
6. The book contains some steamy love scenes.
7. But there's very little conventional sex, because male vampires have certain limitations in that area.
8. There's a brief passage making erotic use of menstrual blood.
9. A sympathetic character succumbs to a gory death.
10. Roger's partner and lover, Dr. Britt Loren, has bumper stickers on her car that read "Blood Donors Make Better Lovers" and "Don't Blame Me, I Voted Democratic."
Margaret L. Carter (www.margaretlcarter.com)
Friday, October 10, 2008
Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Chapter of Romance Writers of America
HomeOur AuthorsNewsMembers OnlyContestsJoinLinks Contact UsRWA National
Congratulations to the 2008 PRISM Winners.
1. Dead Girls are Easy by Terri Garey
2. More Than Fiends by Maureen Child
3. Highland Guardian by Melissa Mayhue
1. Wired by Liz Maverick
2. Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue
3. Forgiveness by JL Wilson.
1. Mona Lisa Blossoming by Sunny
2. Pleasures of the Night by Sylvia Day
3. Double Dating with the Dead by Karen Kelly
1. My Favorite Earthling by Susan Grant
2. How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 days by Susan Grant
3. Insufficient Mating Material by Rowena Cherry
1. Over the Moon by Sunny
2. Street Corners and Halos by Catherine Spangler
3. Wild Hearts in Atlantis by Alyssa Day
1. Immortals: The Awakening by Joy Nash
2. Betrayed: A House of Night Novel by PC Cast
3. Touched by Darkness by catherine Spangler
1. The Eternal Rose by Gail Dayton
2. Lucinda, Darkly by Sunny
3. Voice of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready
Best of the Best
Wired by Liz Maverick
Best First Book
1. Grave Illusions by Lina Gardiner
2. She Wolf by Teresa D'Amario
3. Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue
Friday, October 03, 2008
(Ten reasons not to—may be a new, contrarian trend among authors who blog.)
10. It's long. It has 340 pages, and most new Chapters do not begin on a fresh page.
9. It has a Prologue and an Epilogue. That's two beginnings, and two endings!
8. It's going to take about eight hours to read
7b. Disrespectful words such as tallywacker and joystick are used with reference to male body parts
7. The hero is a virgin and proud of it
6. The heroine is locked in a chastity belt, and she doesn't have a key
5. The family tree is so complicated they needed to spread it over two pages.
4. If you read in bed, your significant other might be disturbed by your giggles
3. The F- word is used, but only by villains, and only in conversation
2. If you read it in public, someone may ask why the naked man on the cover is lying in a puddle
1. If you don't read every paragraph, you may ask yourself why the naked man is lying in a puddle
What are your ten reasons for your book?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Three other reviews have been posted on Amazon, and the book is in stock, as are Forced Mate and Insufficient Mating Material
What is a queen to do when the sperm donor of her dreams says no?
Carpe Scrotum. Seize Life by the Testicles! The Queen Consort of the Volnoth needs a sperm donor and only one green-eyed god has the right stuff. Little does she know that she has pinned all her hopes on the crown jewels of the fabled Royal Saurian Djinn. Not only is he the son of her greatest enemy, but he has taken a vow of chastity.
Knight's Fork continues the alien romance series of the god-Princes of Tigron, begun with Forced Mate. It takes up right after the grand downfall of my most heinous villain in Insufficient Mating Material, and this time the hero is 'Rhett.
'Rhett has incurred the resentment of his elder brothers/cousins for his more-virtuous-than-thou attitude, his spoilsport interference when they want irresponsible sex with unsuitable partners, and simply because he is his father's only son. They decide that he must be hiding a sordid secret, and they set out to find out who she is.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I’m thrilled to announce the publication of MIDNIGHT TREAT, an anthology from Pocket Books reprinting three erotic paranormal romance novellas from Ellora’s Cave by Shelley Munro, Sally Painter, and me. Meet three ravishing, not quite human heroes—a gargoyle, a ghostly werewolf, and my vampire, Claude, from “Tall, Dark, and Deadly.” Here’s the Amazon.com link:
Here’s a teaser from my story, in which Eloise, a writer of fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance, tries to persuade actor Claude Darvell to produce and star in her screenplay adaptation of VARNEY THE VAMPYRE (a well-known Victorian “penny dreadful”). Little does she suspect that he’s actually a vampire himself, hiding in plain sight by performing in horror roles. They first meet at an SF convention awards banquet, after which they go to her hotel room to discuss the potential film.
Excerpt from “Tall, Dark, and Deadly,” by Margaret L. Carter:
When Eloise opened her eyes, a rosy mist clouded her vision, and her throat felt dry. After dragging herself to a sitting position, she rubbed her face and looked around. *Oh, Lord, I can't believe I acted that way! How can I ever face Claude again?*
Come to think of it, where was he? His cape still hung over the chair, but he was nowhere to be seen, and she didn't hear any sounds from the bathroom. No way could she look him in the eye, at least not until she'd put some distance between herself and her humiliating cat-in-heat behavior. Maybe he'd be gentleman enough, next time they met, to pretend the encounter had never happened. Meanwhile, she had to get out before he reappeared. When he saw her gone, with luck he would return to his own room and leave her alone.
Standing up, she had to grab the bedpost until a surge of dizziness faded. Noticing how loosely the bodice of her dress hung, she reached behind and pulled up the zipper. Muzzy-headed, she staggered out the door and along the hall to the elevator, one hand on the wall for balance. By the time she'd ridden to the ground floor, the danger of toppling over at every step had passed. Her brain still felt like oatmeal, though. She drifted through the lobby to the main doors, with a vague idea of letting the night air clear her head.
She shoved through the double glass doors and meandered to the corner of
* * * * *
Claude came back from his foray to the vending machines with a full ice bucket and a can of Coke. After her involuntary donation, Eloise would feel dehydrated. Even before unlocking the room door, he sensed her absence. What the devil had got into the woman? He hadn't expected her to wake so quickly, but what had possessed her to run off the moment she did?
And without her shoes, he noticed. Or her key, which he'd taken with him. While these thoughts ran through his mind, he was already heading for the stairs. He could dash to street level on his own power faster than the elevator could arrive and carry him down. If Eloise hadn't gone all the way to the first floor, he could search the hotel at leisure. The first priority was intercepting her if she was indeed wandering around the lobby barefoot and half-conscious. Damn, this was the last thing he wanted to be doing after the mutually satisfying "dessert" they'd sampled.
Hurrying from the stairwell into the lobby, he scanned the area. Just in time, he caught a glimpse of Eloise disappearing out the main entrance. He strode after her as fast as possible without breaking into a trot. She paused at the corner. As he walked toward her, he noticed the dreamy vagueness of her gaze. She stepped off the curb with no sign of noticing the red stoplight. Claude darted into the stream of traffic, wrapped his arms around her, and flashed back to the sidewalk too fast for human eyes to follow.
Clinging to him, she shook her head in obvious bewilderment. "Claude—?"
He sensed the fog lifting from her brain. In a second she would start complaining about the way he'd chased and grabbed her. He also sensed eyes boring into him. Not just the curious glances of people who wondered how a man in a tuxedo and a barefoot woman in a formal gown had suddenly appeared on the sidewalk. Hostile eyes that felt not quite human.
He wasted no time processing this impression. Choosing action over analysis, he draped himself in a psychic veil that repelled vision. He projected a "you don't see me" aura that amounted to invisibility. With Eloise held close to him, she fell under the same curtain. Casual passers-by would blink at their "disappearance," then instantly forget about them. As for the watcher who troubled Claude the most, if he, she, or it existed at all, the illusion might provide enough time for an unseen retreat to the shelter of Eloise's room.
Claude carried her, murmuring confused protests, up the stairs to that refuge. "What the blazes is wrong with you?" he said as he plopped her on the bed. "Where did you think you were going?" And why did his own heart hammer with alarm at her narrow escape? He tabled that question for the moment.
"Out, if it's any of your business." Her flushed cheeks stirred his appetite, even though he'd just feasted on her.
"It's my business when you nearly get yourself killed. What the devil did you want to run away for? Surely I didn't do anything to frighten you, did I?" He smoothed the hair straggling out of her braid.
She jerked her head away from his hand. "Of course not. I just wanted to be alone."
"Really?" He captured her eyes with his.
"If you must know, I was embarrassed." She gasped at her own frankness. He knew she must feel baffled by the way the truth had popped out.
Maintaining the gentle pressure of his mind on hers, he prompted, "Why in the world would you be embarrassed?"
"Humiliated. The way I acted when you, you know, touched me." The heat radiating from her skin made him want to absorb every drop of her essence.
"I enjoyed every minute of it. And so did you, didn't you?" He stroked her head, and this time she didn't resist. His hypnotic gaze and touch already had her partly tamed. "Here, you're thirsty," he said. He held the cold soda can to her mouth. She drank half of it and licked her lips in a maddeningly sensual way. He held her close and crooned a wordless song of languid pleasure until she went limp in his arms. "Don't worry about it. Lie down and rest. Everything is all right now."
He lowered her head onto the pillow and turned her on her side to unzip her dress. After peeling it off, he folded back the covers and tucked her in with the sheet up to her waist. He knew he ought to leave now, but her half-closed eyes watched him with drowsy lust that sparked a burning in the pit of his stomach.
*Damn, I want her again! I can't remember the last time I was this hungry for a donor!* If he couldn't remember, he told himself with an ironic smile, maybe the answer was "never". In any case, resisting temptation had never been his forte. Earlier, he could have satisfied his thirst without bringing her to climax. Her arousal alone would have spiced her blood. Her eagerness, though, had inflamed him past caution. Now the sight of her bare breasts, flushed with passion, and the aroma of her female musk, tinged with traces of soap and bath powder, overcame the remnants of his scruples. After all, what harm would another sip do?
-end of excerpt-
Margaret L. Carter
My monthly newsletter includes excerpts, book reviews, and guest author interviews:
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I can't resist a totally --well, not totally-- gratuitous hunk to start the day. Look out for further news from me about how this manly pose was transformed into a poster representing 'Rhett (Prince Djarrhett) the hero of the sequel to Forced Mate and Insufficient Mating Material. Or maybe you've seen the ad with the temporary cover?
Mitchel Gray, my photographer friend with the unerring eye for a great pose helped me out with this inspiring view.
Anyway... Not only is today (Sunday) Mother's Day, but it is also the start of
Bear Awareness Week.
Angie Fox, Carrie Masek, Sandy Lender, Cynthia Eden and Charlee Boyett-
Compo are joining me on internet voices radio tonight between 9pm
Eastern and eleven pm to give a whole new depth of meaning to Bear men and Romance.
We'd love some listeners, even for a little while.
FOR CRAZY TUESDAY: In the last program, Jade Lee and Emily Bryan (aka
Diana Groe) talked about everything below the belt in honor of Earth
Day... from Brazilian waxes for courtesans, to castration, to foot
FOR CHERRY PICKING SPECIALS, which is the irreverent and irregular
Sunday night-time show about Romance heroes and the animals they shift
into being when the right female comes along.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Check out this way cool Better TV video on how to make a romance novel cover, featuring my very own editor at Dorchester, Alicia Condon!! Looks like things can get steamy on the photo shoot...
All the best!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Fabio might be pushing fifty (truth be told, I'm not so far off myself) but he is still hot, hot, hot! His Italian accent is to die for! And he's very gracious, too.
All the best!
DEEP MAGIC: Druids of Avalon #2
Gwendolyn risks forbidden magic and forbidden love in her quest to forge a magical sword in Avalon's defense.
Coming Oct 2008!
IMMORTALS: THE CROSSING
When Mac sets out on the trail of a dangerous death witch, he never dreams the chase will lead him straight to Hell.
Monday, April 14, 2008
As fast as we discover another site where our books have been illegally scanned, turned into e-books, and are being "shared", then spent half a day writing to the site's moderators, and perhaps getting the links removed... the thieves go elsewhere.
I saw a journalist blog the other day that because J K Rowling won't miss the royalties, it is acceptable for readers to steal from every other author, too.
It's not OK. Not all copies that are read illegally would have been paperbacks sold, but some will, and for some authors, those lost sales will make the difference between whether or not they are ever offered another contract.
When I see that JK Rowling's books are also on the pirate site, I'm glad, because I know that eventually, that site will be shut down, because she is good at defending herself, and the big guns sink pirates faster than lots of little pop guns can.
Today I'm cheering, because I keep the rights to my characters. Don't you? I don't know how someone can publish an Encyclopaedia of Harry Potter without mentioning any of the characters!
I hope the New York judge sides with Ms Rowling!
Anyway....If you think it is only fair that the government defends the book industry's copyrights with the same vigor that they protect the music and movie industries, please consider signing this petition.
Or, pass on the url. Let's make a stir!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The cover model competition will be sponsored by Dorchester Publishing at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention on Saturday April 19 in Pittsburgh, PA. The Dorchester judges are looking for your votes - even if you're not going to be anywhere near the convention.
Check out the eight Mr. Romance 2008 competitors and cast your vote NOW!
All the best!
Monday, March 31, 2008
Find out which Immortal Warrior is your soul mate :-)
Take the Immortals Quiz now!
All the best!
Friday, March 28, 2008
What a thrill! Last night, Thursday, I received a notification that Preditors and Editors had awarded my site the Author's Site Of Excellence Award.
Needless to say, I am thrilled, and would like to thank anyone who had anything to do with it!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
And when you're writing a paranormal or fantasy book - there's what sci-fi and fantasy authors call worldbuilding. A story's unique mythology. Sometimes this intersects with real history, and mythology from the real world.
This is what's happened with my Druids of Avalon series, including DEEP MAGIC, which won The Romance Studio's Psyche Award last month. Preceding Deep Magic in the series is THE GRAIL KING, which won a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice award for Best Historical Fantasy.
These books sprang out of my own musings about the history and mythology surrounding the Holy Grail and Excalibur. But I wasn't entirely satisfied with existing stories and legends. So I had to create my own...
Who are the Druids of Avalon?
In my story world, they're a clan of Celtic shamans who were forced to abandon their sacred isle when the Roman conquerors outlawed the practice of Druidry in Britain. Two generations later, a handful of those who survived the purge, along with their children and grandchildren, secretly return to Avalon and begin the painstaking task of reclaiming their lost power. During the years of exile, the identity of the Celts have become inextricably entwined with those of the Romans living in Britain, and the union of these two fascinating and diverse cultures has given rise to a new people. They call themselves not "Celt" or "Roman," but British.
It is no longer so easy to determine friend or enemy simply by knowing his heritage. And in centuries to come, it's the best of each culture that will unite to create a Future King.
And so the story begins...
I. Druids of Avalon: The Lady
On a storm-swept night, in the year counted later as AD 33, a tiny boat navigates the treacherous coast of southwestern Britain. The craft is owned by Joseph, a merchant from the town of Arimathea in Judea, a man with trading contacts in the tin-rich British countryside. But the boat is not journeying for trade; its cargo is something much more precious. The lone passenger, a young woman, is fleeing turmoil in Judea following reports that a great prophet, an executed criminal who had once been a simple carpenter, has risen from the dead.
As the boat rounds the southwestern tip of Britain, the storm intensifies. The captain orders his crew to sail up the Sabrina Channel, hoping to find a safe haven in which to put ashore. As the channel narrows, the craft navigates the treacherous shore bordering the Mendip Hills. The woman rests her hand on her belly and prays the vessel will land safely.
It is not to be. Winds drive the boat onto the rocks; the craft splits apart. As the water rises, the woman grasps a piece of the ship's bow. Miraculously, she's swept past the rocky coast and into the inland tidal swamps.
The next morning, as the winds calm, a Celtic holy man, troubled by his dreams during the stormy night, poles his raft along the edges of the swamp. He discovers the young woman, lying cold and all but dead. Gathering her onto his raft, he brings her to his village on the Druid isle of Avalon.
The woman survives. She does not offer her name, saying only that she's traveled from Judea. Her message to the people of Britain is that of the Carpenter Prophet: Walk in Light. She carries a token from the prophet, tied in a sack about her neck. It's a simple wooden cup the holy man used during his last meal.
It's clear to the Druids that the woman is touched by the Light; it's equally clear that she's heavy with child. Calling her simply "The Lady," they care for her. The Druids recognize her cup - the cup of the Carpenter Prophet - as a powerful relic. The vessel is imbued not only with the magic of the Light, but also more powerful, more dangerous magic. It is not the power of Light, nor of Dark, but something older and greater than either. The Druids call this power Deep Magic: the power of the gods.
The Lady's time soon comes, and she is delivered of twin daughters. The next dawn, she disappears, leaving the infants behind. One Druid initiate reports seeing The Lady walking upon the swamp before the rising sun. But though the Druids search and search, no body is ever found.
But the story doesn't end there...visit my website - www.joynash.com for parts 2 & 3 of Druids of Avalon: The Legend!
All the best,
DEEP MAGIC: Druids of Avalon #2 Jan 08 Gwendolyn risks forbidden magic and forbidden love in her quest to forge a magical sword in Avalon's defense.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Stop by Barbara Vey's Publisher's Weekly Beyond Her Book Blog to celebrate one year of Barbara's blogging for romance fiction.
A bajillion or so of your favorite authors will be there, too. And you may even win a prize.
DEEP MAGIC: Druids of Avalon #2 Jan 08 Gwendolyn risks forbidden magic and forbidden love in her quest to forge a magical sword in Avalon's defense.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
In February, Ellora's Cave (www.ellorascave.com) published my erotic paranormal romance LOVE UNLEASHED, in which a modern wizard gets changed into a St. Bernard by a vengeful witch. He finds his way to the heroine, a veterinarian's assistant he'd known slightly in his human life. She takes in the "stray dog," and the fun begins. Here's the opening scene of the novel:
A chill slithered down Stefan’s spine in spite of the sun that shone through the high, narrow windows. The minute Diana invited me here in the middle of the week, I should have run the other way. Candles in sconces on the walls shed their glow over the labyrinth painted onto the polished floor of the below-ground chamber. Noticing the rope of twisted crimson cords she held, he had a feeling he also should have insisted on finishing the conversation upstairs in the living room. Although dressed in cargo shorts and a casual blouse instead of her ceremonial robes, the tall blonde looked imposing enough to intimidate a novice. Which he wasn’t, of course.
Still, he knew he’d been wise to keep Diana at a coolly friendly distance, treating her as a colleague, not a potential lover. And not because she had a few years on him. With her firm, high breasts and ice-queen beauty, she looked so youthful for her mid-forties that he suspected her of enhancing her charms with magic.
He faced her with his arms folded, striking a deliberately arrogant posture. “What happened to ‘Do what thou wilt’?”
“What happened to the ethics of not violating the will of another? I trusted you, Stefan.” She untied one of the nine knots in the rope. A whisper of power ghosted across the bare skin of his forearms.
So that’s what this is all about. He stifled a sigh. “I didn’t do anything against Tanith’s true will.”
“My daughter is too young to know her true will, especially when she’s dealing with an adept like you.”
“Thanks for the compliment. She isn’t a kid, though. She’s over twenty-one. I think she can make her own choices.” He mentally kicked himself for getting involved with the daughter of his coven’s priestess, even briefly. Not that he made a habit of more than brief relationships with any woman. He hadn’t kept his past liaisons a secret from Tanith, so what did either she or her mother have to complain about?
“What you did to her—how do I know choice had anything to do with it?” Diana’s hands shook as she untied the second knot. The late afternoon sunlight momentarily dimmed as if obscured by a thundercloud.
Stefan brushed aside the uneasiness that stirred in him. Indignation replaced his mild annoyance. “I have never used magic to lure a woman into bed. Never.” He tamped down the anger and shrugged. “A little aura of attractiveness to get things going, at most. I didn’t need that with Tanith.”
If human eyes could flash, Diana’s would be shooting sparks. “You’re the priest of her coven. She looked up to you. Of course you had no trouble seducing her.” She moved on to the third knot. Shadows deepened in the corners of the room.
Illusion. She’s trying to spook me. “Seducing? You sound like a Victorian novel. She needed comfort and I happened to be around. It was mutual.” He sighed aloud this time, spreading his hands in a conciliatory gesture. “What are you so worked up about anyway? It’s not like she was a virgin.”
The girl had at least one prior relationship that Stefan knew of. In fact, she’d been going with another man in their circle, one closer to her own age. After she’d had a fight with him, she had accepted Stefan’s shoulder to cry on. When comfort had heated to passion, he hadn’t hesitated. He and Tanith had enjoyed two months together. At least, he’d enjoyed it, he reflected with a reminiscent smile. He hadn’t noticed any indication that she’d felt otherwise.
Diana’s face momentarily contorted with rage. Unclenching her teeth, she smoothed over her expression, though her fingers kept untwisting the cords. “Yes, and thanks to you, Rob won’t have anything to do with her. He was good for her and they would have gotten back together if you hadn’t interfered.”
“Damn it, I’m not responsible for Tanith’s love life. We had a casual thing. That’s perfectly legitimate in the philosophy this coven follows or have you switched the rules and I missed the memo?”
“It’s legitimate between equals. Tanith is twenty-four. You’re thirty-five and far more experienced. She thought you meant something by it. I could have told her different but of course she wouldn’t listen to her mother. Even when her mother is also her priestess.” By now Diana had worked her way up to the sixth knot.
“I never made any kind of commitment. I didn’t lead her astray with false vows like a helpless maiden in a melodrama. Crawling Chaos, next you’ll try to force me to marry her.” He glanced up at the patch of daylight visible through the nearest window. The longer this conversation went on, the more trapped he felt. He hoped Diana would finish her tirade soon so he could escape.
“That’s the last thing I’d want to foist on her. But I’m not about to let you get away with this.” She finished unbinding the seventh knot. Her magic blew past him like a gust of wind.
He ignored it and smirked at her. “Breach of promise lawsuits are out of style too.”
The darkening of Diana’s aura warned him that mocking her was a mistake. “My daughter’s been crying her eyes out over you for the past week. Granted, I think she’s acting like an idiot. You aren’t worth it. You don’t know how to care about anybody. I believe the only creature you’ve loved in the past twenty years was that scruffy cat of yours that died a few months ago.”
He winced inwardly but kept his face carefully neutral. Damned if he’d let Diana guess she’d succeeded in wounding him. One reason he’d stopped hanging out with Tanith was the well-meaning way she kept nagging him to find another cat. She insisted he needed a new pet in order to “get over” Caesar’s death. “Animals don’t lie to you. They don’t make unreasonable demands. They seldom let you down and they’re much more relaxing company than people.”
“Just the kind of thing I’d expect you to say.” The chill in her voice seared him like dry ice. “I’ve watched you jump from one woman to the next like a dog chasing bitches in heat. For a powerful magus, you have a worse case of arrested development than any other man I’ve ever met. But it wasn’t any of my business until now.” The eighth knot came loose.
“I don’t see how it’s your business now, either. It’s between me and your daughter. Why don’t you bring her down here and let her speak for herself?”
“I wouldn’t force her to set foot in the same room with you. You’ve done enough to her already.” Power shimmered around her and an aroma like wood smoke scorched the air. “Did you know she’s pregnant?”
“What? Wait a minute! Surely you don’t think it’s mine?” Impossible, he’d been much too careful.
Diana snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous. I know it’s Rob’s. But it’s his belief that matters. His doubts make things that much worse between him and Tanith.”
Stefan fingered the silver amulet, engraved with a pentacle, that he’d worn since his old mentor had presented it to him upon his initiation. It served as a reservoir for his magic and he felt the need for its occult energy now. “Look, Diana, I’m sorry she misunderstood my intentions. She’ll get over it. Just one of those things everybody goes through sooner or later.” He meant that statement sincerely enough. He’d never wanted to make Tanith miserable. He liked her. He just couldn’t fathom why Diana had to turn the situation into such a big deal. Women!
“So you don’t intend to apologize?”
“For what? Like I said—she’s a big girl. What are you planning to do about it? Put a curse on me?” His smile faded as the mist of power around her coalesced into a thundercloud. Loki and Hermes help me! That’s exactly what she’s going to do!
“You’re going to pay. You will become what you are. You will stay in that form until you learn to care, until you become truly human. So mote it be.” She released the ninth knot then tied the ends of the rope together into a circle. Arcane syllables poured from her mouth.
Powers of Chaos, she had a spell stored in it! Cramps seized his arms and legs. His stomach clenched in agony. His whole body doubled over in painful contortions, while an itch like a thousand fire ants swarmed over his skin. He collapsed onto hands and knees in the middle of the circle. Blinded by a dark cloud that churned before his eyes, he struggled for breath against a weight that crushed his chest. In the midst of the torment, he was dimly aware of his clothes ripping and falling off. Gods, I had no idea she was this powerful! Naked, he clutched the silver disk hanging around his neck. Focusing on it, he groped for the dissipating threads of his own power. Through the confusion howling inside his skull, he realized his only hope was to shape the spell Diana was casting on him.
As the magic ensnared him, he grasped and twisted it. He sensed he had little time left before she completed the curse. What is she trying to do? The next moment, he knew. He felt his nails turn to claws, his teeth and ears lengthen, fur sprout on his skin and something rip from the base of his spine in a final burst of pain. He was becoming a beast, a literal one. Become what you are, she’d commanded. He diverted as much of her power as he could through the channels of his own will. Let me keep my humanity—some of it at least. Don’t let me lose myself. And don’t let her hold me captive. Shield me from her magic. Guide me to a place of refuge. Darkness thickened around him.
When his vision cleared a second later, colors had faded to grays and pastels. Odors, on the other hand, had sharpened to stinging intensity. With no effort he recognized the bayberry fragrance of the candles, the dust under the altar, Diana’s Chanel perfume, the musky aroma of her flesh and the charred scent of her anger. He glanced down and saw his arms transmuted to legs covered with white hair. He opened his jaws to scream and the sound came out as a howl.
Panic flooded him. Diana’s invisible web entangled his limbs. With a surge of terror, he shredded the strands of power and dashed out through the adjoining room to the stairs. Her shriek of rage pursued him. He felt a bolt of magic strike him and dissolve on contact. Good, the shielding worked, he thought in the small corner of his brain that remained rational.
Mindlessly barking, he charged up the steps to the kitchen, redolent of a spicy bean soup simmering on the stove. The tiny human compartment of his mind noted an open window with an exposed screen. Diana’s footsteps clattered up the basement stairs after him, while Tanith’s scurried down from the second floor. As she ran into the kitchen, Stefan heard her yell, “Mother, what have you done now?” He ignored her, pouring all his strength into a leap onto the edge of the sink. His momentum propelled him into the window and knocked the screen out.
He hit the ground with his front legs, rolled onto his side and sprang to his feet. The noise of his own barking made his ears hurt but he couldn’t stop. Fear and the urgency of escape consumed him. Although no longer able to form coherent thoughts, he sensed how important it was to evade the woman who chased him, bristling with magic. He rushed toward the back fence—solid redwood, four feet high. He jumped, snagged his front paws on the top and braced his rear paws on the crossbar halfway up. He scrambled over, dropped onto the ground on the other side and stretched his legs to their top speed.
The shore cut off his escape behind the fence. He circled around the side yard of Diana’s waterfront lot and ran parallel to the street. He needed a refuge, somewhere to hide or someone to shelter him. That place or person called to him, though he had no idea what or who it might be. It drew him like an irresistible scent. The afternoon heat smothered him like the inside of an oven but he didn’t dare slow down. Panting, his lungs aching and his heart pounding, he raced toward that call.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
My other books, and most other romance novels, are just one or two dollars more than that Valentine's card. Most mass market paperbacks don't even cost as much as two greeting cards.
Which only goes to show what a great deal paperbacks are! Everyone, rush out and buy a great book at a great price today! You'll get hours of entertainment, and make some author somewhere very, very happy.
And now my Immortal Valentine to you - the initial mockup of the cover art for the next round of Immortals books, pre-lettering. Four connected covers similar to last year's books, but in a new color scheme. (And I'm offering an exclusive sneak peak excerpt, keep reading for details).
My October 08 book, Immortals: The Crossing, is in the upper right, with the Immortal Sidhe demigod Mac on the cover. Mac is so hot! The artist got him just right.
Jennifer Ashley's September 08 lead off book, Immortals: The Redeeming, is in the upper left. Jennifer's hero is Tain, the fallen Immortal brother who caused such trouble in the first round of Immortals books. He's a good guy now :-)
Robin T. Popp's November 08 book, Immortals: The Haunting, is in the lower left, and the February 09 Anthology, Immortals: The Reckoning, featuring novellas from all three of us, is in the lower right.
Can't wait for more Immortals adventure? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a free sneak peek excerpt of Mac's book!
Happy Valentine's Day!
DEEP MAGIC: Druids of Avalon #2 Jan 08
Gwendolyn risks forbidden magic and forbidden love in her quest to forge a magical sword in Avalon's defense.
Monday, January 21, 2008
"...a beautifully depicted love story...5 Hearts." ~Laurel Letherby, TheMysticCastle.com
The smithy door was open. Intent on his drawing, Marcus was not aware of Gwen's presence until she stood almost at his elbow. He jerked, his head whipping around. The back of his hand smacked the ink jar, knocking it over.
"Hades!" He righted the jar, but not before the ink spattered across the table.
"Oh! I'm sorry."
"No matter," Marcus mumbled, grabbing a rag he kept nearby just for this purpose. He sopped up the mess, scrubbing across his work table as Gwen snatched several drawings out of the spreading path of ink. "You can tell from the stains on the table I've spilled ink before."
He was a bumbling fool. And he'd proven it by nearly assaulting Gwen in the forest the day before, insulting her with the insinuation that she was needy enough to fall into his bed. Even if she were inclined to take a lover before sacrificing her life to her grandfather's choice of mate, what possessed him to think she would choose him? She hadn't even appeared at dinner afterward, pleading a headache. It had been plain enough to discern what that meant. He'd disgusted her with his crudity. He'd retreated to his smithy and spent half the night trying not to think about it.
But he'd known sooner or later he would have to face her. She needed him to forge her sword.
"Did ye not hear me enter?" she asked, laying his drawings on a clean spot on the table.
He straightened and looked at her. Her front teeth worried her lower lip, and her eyes avoided his gaze. Her cheeks were pink. She was nervous, he realized. Perhaps even as nervous as he.
His mood abruptly improved. "I get very absorbed in my work. Breena knows to bang loudly on the door."
"I'll remember that trick in the future."
Marcus felt her eyes on him as he crossed the room to dispose of the soiled rag in the barrel by the door. He was a disheveled mess, he knew. He'd slept in his clothes, and he had ink stains on his sleeves. He'd meant to bathe at dawn...
He glanced out the door. "Why it must be near noon," he said with some surprise.
"Past midday." Reluctant amusement threaded her voice. "Do not tell me ye were up all night again."
"No, I dropped like a stone right after dinner. I woke just after midnight, with a dream of a sword vivid in my mind. I started drawing..." he spread his hands. "It's often like this for me. I don't keep regular hours. Sometimes I get days and night completely switched around, arriving at dinner as if it were the morning meal. Other times I forget to eat at all." For the first time, he noticed the basket on her arm. His stomach rumbled in sudden hope. "Is that food?"
She laughed. The sound went right to his groin. He took the basket and half-turned to the table, not wanting her to notice.
"When ye did not appear to break your fast, nor to eat the midday meal, Rhiannon asked me to bring ye a bite," she said. "Meat and bread, and some cheese and apples."
Marcus had already uncovered the food and downed his first mouthful. "Thank you. I'm half-starved." He finished off a hunk of cheese and rooted around for an apple. He eyed her. "You look a little tired. Did you spend the night with Breena? Did she have another one of her dreams?"
"I stayed with Breena, but she had no dreams."
"Because of a spell you taught her?"
"Nay. She had no cause to try it. No vision came. She slept peacefully 'till morn."
"But you didn't?"
She blushed and looked away. "'Tis nothing new. I told ye, I often have difficulty sleeping."
He set his half-eaten apple aside.
"I could help with that," he said softly.