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Monday, May 18, 2009

In the Moonlight: Rie McGaha

Pump Up Your Book Promotion
“We take books to the virtual level!”
www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com




AUTHOR BIO:

Rie McGaha was born and raised in northern California along the shores of Humboldt County where her grandmother often took her to search for seashells and watch the humpback whales migration. Though her father was a bit of a gypsy and moved his family all over, Rie always enjoyed the trips back to Eureka, California where many of her 12 children and 23 grandchildren still live.

As a dreamer of dreams and being born with a a gypsy soul, Rie has lived all over the United States. Settling in SE Oklahoma with husband, Nathan, she enjoys a quiet life in the Kiamichi Wilderness where she takes in abused and neglected animals, nurses them back to health and tries to find them new homes. The ones that don't find new homes remain with Rie and she currently has 18 dogs and 1 cat.

Between her husband, children, grandchildren and all of the animals, Rie tries to find a few moments to write. She is currently working on Ancient Blood, the sequel to Blood Line, and Caleb and Arion the second and third installments of the My Soul To Keep Trilogy. She also writes reviews for Romance Writers United.

For more information, visit Rie at www.riemcgaha.com or read her blog at http://riesreviews.blogspot.com/
www.youtube.com/NovelsByRie

ABOUT THE BOOK:



Truck driver, Joshua Kaine and his wife, Jessie, enjoy the freedom of the open road until one night on a lonely country road Josh is attacked by a rabid dog. After killing the animal, Joshua becomes very ill, but quickly recovers. Weeks later, when the full moon rises and Josh begins howling, the trouble has just begun.

Drawn by an unknown force, Joshua finds himself in a remote mountain area at The Gathering where he meets Garan, a gray wolf who has walked the earth for thousands of years, and Joshua learns the rabid dog was actually a werewolf and his clan is now after Josh.

On the run, hunted by a clan of werewolves, and searching to undo his plight, Josh ventures into the swamps of Louisiana in search of an old, black woman who holds the key to his existence. Josh is pushed to the limits, and when the merciless werewolves kill his wife, the hunted becomes the hunter.



GUEST POST:


A Little More Moonlight & Lace...Lots of Mayhem!

Thank you for having me as your guest. I love the name of this site, it fits my novel, Blood Line, perfectly!

Blood Line is a modern-day werewolf story unlike any I've ever read, and hopefully, unlike any you've ever read. This novel pushes the envelope with deadly sword fights, witchcraft, werewolf battles to the death, and of course, hardcore sex, none of which is for the feint of heart!

Blood Line wasn't my idea, it was actually a dream my husband, Nathan, had. He's a truck driver and a huge sci-fi fan, and one night while on the road, he dreamed he was attacked by werewolves. Of course, I just laughed at him. Believe it or not, this isn't the weirdest dream he's ever had either! Later on, as I thought about his dream I began to think, hey, this could be a book, and then the voices in my head started talking and didn't shut up until I had written the entire book. Although the original manuscript took about a week to write, it took nearly three years of rewrites and editing before it was actually published.

I love to write in this genre because anything is possible. Characters and events can be skewed to fit whatever the imagination can dream up, and my imagination seems to find the edge and then jumps right off.

Blood Line was written as a stand alone, but one of the main characters, Ganda, who is half witch and half werewolf, become one of the favorites not only of the readers, but of reviewers and myself alike, and the voices in my head demanded she have her own novel. I've been working on the sequel, Ancient Blood, that takes us back to ancient Egypt and tells Ganda's story, for about a year and a half. I was beginning to think it would never be finished but then archeologists discovered a new pyramid last fall and it was exactly what I needed to complete the story!

My current novel, Calen-is the first book in the My Soul To Keep Trilogy is due to be released this month. I am currently working on edits and hopefully, it will be available the time this goes to post. My Soul To Keep is a paranormal, time travel, erotic romance that has elements from nearly every genre!

I think it's a lot of fun to write wherever my mind takes me and to just let my imagination flow in whatever direction it chooses. I never know what's going to come out because the voices don't consult me, they just get my fingers going over the keyboard! Right now, they have a great vampire story in progress and I'm really excited to find out where it's going to go!

Rie McGaha...fantasy that keeps you up
www.riemcgaha.com


Thank you, Rie, for stepping into the Moonlight with us today and sharing a little bit of your Mayhem with us! The Moonlighters - Carrie, Gracen, and Margay

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dragons, Sea Creatures and Camorses - Oh My!

Happy Sunday Everyone!

This week, I decided to blog today (Sunday) so that Rie McGaha could join us on Monday.

Right now you might be thinking, I know what dragon is and I could hazard a guess what might be meant by sea creatures, but what the hell is a camorse? I’ll get to that...eventually.

In regular novels, besides well-developed characters, creatures and pets that exist in a story can help anchor a character in the reality of that story, and by extension, the reader. We have furry and/or scaly friends that put a smile on our faces just by looking at them. For many readers, the pets and animals that characters encounter or see along the way help to make the setting feel more real. If an author wants a reader to believe they are in Africa on a safari, there best be mention of rhinos, elephants, giraffes and anything else that might be expected. If it’s not there, there should be a very plausible reason offered to the reader.

With this in mind, what do you do in a futuristic society on the other side of our known universe and then some, where things change and the normal earth pets may not have been able to survive space flight? You make up new ones. This is easier to do if enough time has passed from when the colonists arrived and when the story is being told.

As with any world, there are always things that need to be considered when creating new creatures and pets for people to encounter. Are the creatures a common sight, are they rare or dangerous, do they have special abilities, and do the people that encounter them have special abilities? Plus there’s the, “when,” to consider, such as when in my planet’s time-line is my story taking place? Have animals been domesticated into pets, or is it something that all children get to do as a rite of passage? Is the setting a city, village, farm, desert-like or jungle-like and is there order, chaos, or savage-like qualities involved? Will the pet be just a pet or will it become a companion and protector? Then of course one has to consider if the pet is right for the person receiving it. How well will they get along?

That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg here because I know at some point after my original group has arrived and made its home on the planet, a drifter colony ship arrives bringing with it many earth things (some readily accepted, some not so accepted), including animals. Then there becomes the question of what animals were able to survive on this ship? How will they react with the animals and ecosystem already in existence on this planet and what effect does the planet have on these alien animals? Some people might say I’m over thinking the matter, but I can’t just have some earth things effected and not others and the effect needs to be across the board and consistent, at least that’s how I see it.

Originally, when I started this whole mess, I didn’t have the original settlers bringing any pets, but I couldn’t figure out why, until it was revealed to me that almost every animal was stored using a DNA profile to be, “brought to life,” after arrival and success of the colonization process could be determined. It was later that I determined the colony ship would contain, "live," animals. How else could one live on a ship with the same people with no true means of escape? Animal companions of some sort would be required to retain sanity. Even Data had a cat. The question now is, what kind of pets and animals will survive with the drifter colony?

As I didn’t originally know what the new planet’s effects on earth stuff would be, I began mapping out some of the indigenous plants and animals that could be found. There are aquatic pets, aquatic foods and land pets. The first pets I started to map came to me this past Christmas, but I’m still working out the exact details. I have two similar species that aren’t related but seem to look similar, but that appears to be changing everyday, along with the names.

Since there is still great mystery surrounding the Founding Families’ bloodlines, they have a special pet of their own. Not sure of the name yet. In fact, I thought I had written down all of the details, but I can’t find where I wrote them (too damn many notebooks to look through!), so they might still be just in my head. One name that came to mind just now is something like Neon-Globe or something like that, not sure if I like it though.

Since colonists arrive later and bring non-Founder DNA with them, the non-Founder bloodlines had to have access to pets as well, just not the same ones. The name given to the generic aquatic creature that anyone can have because they are as prevalent as goldfish are here on earth, is the Disco Ball, but even that could change as I am, at this moment beginning to get a more distinct picture of these creatures in my head. The name was given because it is spherical in shape (but that shape doesn’t seem right anymore) with fixed eyes and at night can give off soft, relaxing hues of purples to reds and back again. They tend to make great natural nightlights for small children.

The indigenous land creatures needed to be just as interesting as the aquatic life. The first creature I developed was thanks to my husband and because I love them and feel there really aren’t enough of them anywhere! Steve plays Strato-Baseball and every year we always go in search of interesting names to go with the teams he makes. I started helping him name his teams. He can be quite creative, but he does like rhyming names. He said that, since I help him out with his team names, he should be able to help me with my creatures. He is just fascinated by those dogs with the fur that grows to look like carpet piles called the Commodore DogCommodore or Komondor. That morphed into the Common Door Dragon. For this one, I took my idea for their arrival from Jayne Castle’s dust bunnies. In her books, the dust bunnies just show up on your doorstep one day, but not to everyone and never when you want one and when you least expect it.

My common door dragons are relatively small in size (about the size of a large cat to medium-sized dog – as far as anyone really has stated anyway), at least as far as the duration they remain with the person and they like to hang out on the ceilings, especially above door frames and entrances. Their favorite hobby is hiding in the shadows and dropping down onto unsuspecting people entering a room or the house/castle. They are known to make a laughing sound when they make people scream. Running gets them to roll around on the floor. The colors range all across the spectrum as well. They can be one color or many. There are generally two ways to distinguish between male and female dragons: size (males are generally larger) and eye shape (females have pointier eye sockets but rounder, doe-like eyes and things that look like lashes coming from the lids at the outer ends of the eyes). Yes, they can fly and start fires, but if you’re lucky, they’re already house-trained when they arrive. There have been a few unlucky receivers that had to deal with fire damage as their young dragon learned to control its fire-breathing.


As much as I love pets, I had to devise a non-motorized form of transportation that directly tied in with why they left earth in the first place. The first two things that came to mind as inspiration were horses and camels. Since I didn’t want anything in this project to be simple, I chose a sort-of combination of the two. A swift creature with working capabilities and could survive under the hot desert suns and can go for longer periods of time without water. What to name it? Well, I started by trying to combine the two names of the creatures that inspired it. The first one that came to mind was, well, just not acceptable, and I think you’ll understand why: Hor + mel = Hormel.

Now these wouldn’t be good for eating, so I decided to keep looking. Then I thought of Hamel. Well, all that does is make me think of a really great figure skater named Dorothy and a certain Jedi Knight. There was another one shot down. Next option was Cam + orse = Camorse. I liked that one and it showed promise. However, I think the name needs to change so that I can use the name Camorse to classify the creature that occurs when they try to breed old earth animals (it has to do with the planet’s effect on anything earth related).

Aye, there’s the rub, the naming conventions for the indigenous creatures needs to be different than that for those brought from earth. That means I am either on a quest for a new name, or on a quest for a new indigenous creature that can be used for transportation. I'm beginning to think that I just might go the mythical route entirely, but not quite sure. We'll see what happens in the upcoming months.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Moonlight Shines on Juliet Waldron

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us. Juliet Waldron’s newest release is an old-fashioned romance/family saga. Hand-me-Down Bride is available in paperback and in Kindle format as of April, 2009.


Websites: http://www.amazon.com/Hand-Down-Bride-Juliet-Waldron/dp/1935171224/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242245879&sr=8-1


This book is available in Kindle format @ Amazon.com


http://www.secondwindpublishing.com


When did you know you wanted to write?


I had my first play produced in the 4th grade—for the other 4th grades. I loved to read, and so it just seemed to naturally follow that I loved to write, too.


How long did it take you to become published?


I’m still working toward the big time NYC goal, but I’ve been published in e-book and small press format since 2000. It’s been good to receive validation from readers!


How long does it take you to research and to write a book?


Depends on the book. A big semi-biographical historical takes a long time, at least for me, because I like to study the characters carefully and really do the primary source digging that it takes to find the real story. I'll tell the truth as I see it, even if it isn't pretty. Romances take me about 14 months. I’m not a fast writer, and I always do a lot of chopping and changing, especially after the characters stand up, begin to walk around--and start arguing with me!


What advice would you give to those who are trying to become published?


Learn the craft before you go public. Work is involved, not just desire.


Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters?


Always. Fortunately, I’ve known a lot of really off-the-wall people!


You were recently published. How does this feel?


It’s always good to get another “baby” out of the drawer! It makes me anxious, too, though, because I hope readers will like my story.


Getting back to your new book. Tell us a little about what to expect.


I wanted to write a traditional romance, and had a true story—of my immigrant great-grandmother--upon which to base it. Hand-me-Down Bride is set in Dutch country, quite near where I now live. More than sixty percent of Americans have German ancestors, but because of two terrible world wars, this heritage has been swept under the rug. Germans might not seem, on the face of it, to offer as much sexy fun as those hot-blooded Celts, but their traditions are a strong influence upon today’s American. And even these stolid, stern farming volk had story-worthy family problems—and romance!


When and where can we purchase your books?


Now! At Amazon.com


http://www.amazon.com/Hand-Down-Bride-Juliet-Waldron/dp/1935171224/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242043542&sr=8-1


and at Second Wind Publishing


http://www.secondwindpublishing.com


What are you reading right now?


Audrey Braver’s Helluva Guy, Badeaux Knights by Suzette Vaughn, and Firefly Beach by Meira Pentermann, and The Free Negress, Elizabeth," which is based on a remarkable true story from 18th Century Suriname.


What was the book that most influenced your life?


Many, but I’d have to single out The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Although this is ostensibly a mystery, it started me on the path to a deep study of history, and to look further than mass market biographies for true story. I’m a huge fan of primary source.


If you had a book club, what would it be reading?


Well, my books, of course! These are Mozart’s Wife, Independent Heart (A Revolutionary Romance set in the Hudson Valley), and Hand-me-Down Bride, all available through Amazon, as print and as e books. Genesee, winner of the 2003 EPIC Best Historical, is set in Leatherstocking Country in N.Y. State.


Give us some “good to know” facts about you.


I’ve lived in Barbados and in England, in fact went to school there. My Dad disappeared in my early teens and my Mother took off for “more exciting” parts. We didn’t live as wealthy travelers, either, but as ex-pats, scraping by. I learned a lot in those days about how “the other half” lived, and in the W.I. saw the Third World up close. The experience has served me well as a writer. I was always an edge of the playground kid, so this “exile” was an extension of being outside looking in. It reinforced my tendency to listen and watch others.


Favorite ways to unwind?


Music, from Classical to Rock, Folk and World. I like to dig in the dirt. Gardening sounds a bit too organized for what I do. Every year I get tomatoes and salad, at least, and I’ve planted 25 trees on our small property. I’m definitely a tree hugger. Everyone ought to hug a tree once in a while, just to feel it “being.” I’ve got grandkids, but they are at a distance, so we’re into presents, phone-calls, and emails to keep up. I ride my bike and I walk, but I’m sightseeing, not speeding. My husband and I ride his Hyabusa, but for both of us this is more enjoying the countryside than zooming. Fortunately, we live in a little motorcycle heaven, here in Pennsylvania, with lots of scenic back roads and old time diners. The other fun thing is cats. I’ve got four, and they are all huge characters, and they require a lot of my time, because I’m their resident doorman, groomer, and housekeeper. As my lonely, now deceased neighbor lady used to declare: “Kitties are a whole lotta company.”


What role will the Internet play in the future of publishing?


It’s already playing it, by providing niches for writers who don’t fit into the NYC molds, writers who have talent and something to say. I look forward to the break down of these traditional monopolies, who really haven’t served readers particularly well.


What’s your next project?


Wish I had time for some new creation, but at this point, I’ll probably be re-working some of my 13 “drawer babies.” (They should be called “file babies” or something now, shouldn’t they?) I am the re-write Queen!


Have you ever got to the point where a story won’t come?


Never, not once I write that first chapter.


What is the most important characteristic of the prolific writer?


As Jimi Hendrix said, “Get Experience!” The stories will come.


How do you come up with original story lines?


Ever heard that old joke about “stranger than life?” Look around. Stories are next to you in that line at the supermarket.


Some authors start with plot, some with characters. What works best for you?


If I’m writing historical, the plot naturally comes first. It isn’t always clear, even with the big fat biography in hand, who the characters really are. That takes time to understand.


Many writers have success switching genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch?


Well, I have no inclination to write chick lit, (I’m too darned old) but I could go to paranormal, fantasy or S/F without difficulty . I love messing with Time and building worlds.


Critique partners?


I believe in ‘em. I’ve belonged to some wonderful writer’s groups, too, and received a lot of constructive criticism there. No group or partner at the moment, and I miss it. However, if there is a lack of sincerity and helpfulness in the group—run like mad. Negativity, cruelty, and one-upmanship are poison, and can easily kill a budding writer.


Are you a full time writer?


Yes, for years now, thanks to increasing age and my husband, generous patron of his own starving artist.


Conferences?


Yes, I go to a few as they are the only way I know to get a face-to-face with an editor or agent. They are expensive and can be demoralizing, but they can also give you lots of information on publishing, and you can meet some terrific people at conferences, too. Some huge ones, like RWA Nationals, are mostly marketing extravaganzas for the multi-published. Stick to regional conferences, if you’re interested in that market. You can still talk to editors and agents, go to informative presentations, and come home with both your ego and your pocketbook intact.



Reviews:

Rich in detail amidst the charm of Pennsylvania Dutch country, HAND ME DOWN BRIDE is a tender love story set among family rivalries and powerful enemies. This is a book that will grab you by the heart strings from the very first sentence—and never let go.

--Jacqueline Lepore: A HANDFUL OF DUST




From the first page of Juliet Waldron’s tender romance, the reader will be rooting for beautiful, mail-order bride, Sophie. Far from home, newly married and even more newly widowed, she is left virtually penniless and adrift in post Civil-War Pennsylvania. Unfamiliar with the language and resented by her dead husband’s family, the last thing she expects is to be is attracted to another member of the haughty Wildbach tribe. Karl Joseph is still trying to forget his wartime experiences, and the painful relationship he had with his late father.

The author has a way of blending all the special elements which make an engaging romance, from the old time country setting to the twists and turns of the love story, as Karl and Sophie rebuild their lives and discover a surprising new love.

Barbara Workinger,

Author of Amish Country Mysteries


Friday, May 15, 2009

Please Welcome Author...Kenzie Michaels!!

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us. Kenzie’s first release is All She Ever Wanted, which arrives Tuesday, May 19th. Her books can be found at www.freyasbower.com and www.mollydaniels.com

1. When/how did you know you wanted to write?

Kenzie: My imagination was ‘unlocked’ at age eleven, when a student teacher in my 5th grade class introduced us to the concept of listening to an instrumental song and writing down whatever happened to pop into our heads. My dad had just taken me to see Logan’s Run, and so what ended up on my paper was my first attempt at a sci-fi story. Not pretty!

My first attempt at something longer than two pages occurred in the ninth grade. I decided to write my own ending to Star Wars. Forget the fact Darth Vader had dropped a bombshell on Luke; I focused on getting Han and Leia back together! Again, proof I should stay away from sci-fi and stick to romance!

2. How long did it take you to become published?

Kenzie: I started communicating with a group of Indiana authors, who led me to a much larger group of e-book authors, in 2007. I was intrigued by the erotic romance genre; read many of these ladies’ books, and began writing my own stories. Last July, I wrote a short story for an Ellora’s Cave anthology submission, but it was rejected. Instead of being depressed by the rejection, I turned around and sent it off to Freya’s Bower, who three weeks later offered me a conditional contract; the editor felt the plot was rushed, and wanted the story expanded. I added a few more chapters and at the end of January was offered the contract. Now, four short months later, it’s being released! So actually it took less than a year, which is rare.

3. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Kenzie: I’m an eclectic reader. My favorite print authors vary from Nora Roberts, Lavryl Spencer, Michael Palmer, James Patterson, and Marion Keys. Right now my favorite e-book authors are Anny Cook, Kelly Kirch, Barbara Huffert, Dakota Rebel, Bronwyn Green, Brynn Paulin, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape. And my TBB (to be bought) list is back under control at two pages.

4. Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?

Kenzie: E-books are real books. They are simply read electronically, via either a hand-held device or on the computer screen. And some e-books are now being offered in print. So no, I don’t think it’s simply a trend. E-books are cheaper, and with today’s economy, easier on the wallet, LOL! Also, the publishing time is faster, and with things going ‘Green’ right now, e-books are very environmentally friendly. They take up space on your hard drive, not your bookshelves. Kids won’t have to carry heavy backpacks; they’ll simply carry a flash drive to school.

5. How long does it take for you to write books?

Kenzie: This may seem weird, but I wrote most of All She Ever Wanted over the July 4th weekend. It just so happened the words were flowing, and I had uninterrupted work time:) Two other wips each took a month to write, and I have six other wips which have stalled on the second chapter. So who knows when my muse will return? I just hope it is soon!

6. Do you see yourself writing in the same genre in 10 years? If not then what?

Kenzie: Funny you should ask that. I had a character jump into my head about a month ago, demanding I write down what he was saying. I didn’t know what to do with it after I was finished, so I sent it to a friend of mine, who passed it to a friend of his, who them emailed me, saying he totally saw zombies in the next scene! I wrote him back, saying ‘You want zombies? YOU write it!’ And so it’s become a collaboration between the three of us. If this one gets published, I may end up a horror writer on top of erotic romance!

But I love contemporary romance, so yeah, I’ll stick with it. Even if some of what I’m writing ends up with my alter-ego as Women’s Fiction.

7. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

Kenzie: Keep writing; never give up on your dream. And ask for help…get online; find a writer’s group and ask questions! And don’t get discouraged if things start out rocky. Just keep trying; your time will come

8. Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?

Kenzie: A lot of my stories are pulled from real life ‘What If’ instances. Teacher’s Pet, which was my NaNo project last year, came about because of my children’s school hiring the most handsome man…and my son had him for Social Studies. I went into the parent-teacher conference praying I was sounding like an adult, rather than a schoolgirl with a huge crush. My other ideas have popped into my head while out shopping and overheard part of a conversation; at the amusement park; or simply brainstorming with my critique group. All She Ever Wanted, Off The Clock, and Appetite For Desire were all formed while cooking different meals. Maybe I just need to get myself back in front of the stove, ha ha?

The book Wild at Heart came about because of a news item on the radio. I was driving to visit my MIL and a blurb came on about prisoners being rehabilitated. Next thing I know, I have a character in my head, telling me what he had done and how he planned to turn his life around! He yelled at me for two weeks until I could finally sit down and write it!

9. When and where can we purchase your books?

Kenzie: Here’s the preview link:
http://www.freyasbower.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7&products_id=208

It will be released next Tuesday, May 19th at Freya’s Bower.

Thanks for having me, Gracen, and for giving up your normal blogging day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cher Gorman Prefers Lace with a Side of Mayhem!

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Today I have the opportunity to bring you a friend who I met while swinging in the trees over at Plot Monkeys,

Cher - Shaped
Cher Gorman.


Cher, like me, may not be a Plot Monkey herself, but loves swinging with the pack and soaking up what they have to share.

While I am not new to writing, I am to the online writing environments and many of the communities that exist here in the wide sea we call the Internet. I am even less familiar with the ePublishing world. I know how to do research, but imagine my surprise when I found out that Cher has had some of her work published! Why didn't I know? Well, I guess she didn't know if she should have them listed since they are no longer available for purchase.

**Aside: Here's a question for those in the know - Should a published writer continue to have eBooks listed on their site even if they are no longer in print? Should we new writers consider these eBooks that may only be available for a year or two with an ePublisher as part of a larger resume?**

So, I asked for the titles, genres, publishers, release dates and formats. Here's her list:
Title: Wolf Island
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Loose Id
Released: September 2005
Format: E-book only

Seductive Reasoning
Sexy Contemporary
New Concepts Publishing
June 2006
E-book only

Cursed, with Love - referred to as The Dove on The Writing Show
Romantic Suspense
Loose Id
November 2006
E-book only

Sheriff in her Stocking
Sexy Contemporary
Loose Id
December 2006
E-book only

The Secret Truth at Dare Ranch
Sweet Contemporary
Wings EPress
February 2007
E-book and POD

What's The Writing Show? Glad you asked! Cher was interviewed back in 2006 by Paula B. with respect to characters and sexual tension. Very interesting and education interview! Click here to listen. [Please be patient for loading time may be slightly slow. To listen to this interview while reading this one, pause the audio briefly to let it build some buffer space or it will cut out on you.]

These books may have only been in print for a year, but, as far as I'm concerned, it is an impressive list that demonstrates her growth by the fact that she reached beyond the romantic suspense genre and into others. It takes a certain level of comfort with your craft to try your hand at something new! But her list doesn't stop there. With fellow authors Sue Viders, Lucynda Storey and Becky Martinez, Cher Gorman helped to create a workbook that writers can use to learn how to build characters called, 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters.

This title made me curious, so I asked her about it.

Q. What brought about the creation of your book, 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters?

A. I was in a critique group with my three collaborators at one time. One of the authors, Sue Viders, has several non-fiction projects on the market and she suggested we write a book together.

Q. What parts were you specifically responsible for writing?

A. It’s hard to pinpoint specific areas because the book was a group effort. We all had input as to what went into the book and we didn’t always agree. *smiles*

Q. Are the exercises that you provide ones that you actually used yourself and do you still find helpful from time to time?

A. The exercises were provided for the beginning writer. I have a process that is mine alone but I build characters in much the same way as we built our three characters in the book. However, in collaboration on a book you have to mold your ideas to fit with the ideas of your partners otherwise nothing would make sense and nothing would get written. Clear as mud? *smiles*

Q. How long did it take you to collect all of the information you discuss in your book?

A. We had a LOT of meetings over a period of several months in which we discussed not only how we wanted to present the material but exactly what the material would be.

Q. Where did the information come from? Who and what were your sources?

A. We were our sources. We took what the four of us had learned through the years from writing, entering contests, submitting and making tons of mistakes. Our goal was to help the beginning writer not have to endure the mistakes that we made.

Q. What kind of feedback have you received from industry professionals regarding your information?

A. The Midwest Book Review had this to say:

"Writers serious about learning how to create and develop memorable characters will relish 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters: A Writer's Workbook. It packs in forms, checklists, and exercises to help both screen and fiction writers develop personalities, teaching the basics of building multi-layered protagonists and showing the foundation keys to possible success. It's a 'must' for any public library lending collection strong in writer's guides, as well as for many a high school or college-level collection catering to student creative writers."

I looked at the first couple of pages and decided to order one for myself because you never know what you'll learn, where you'll learn it or who you'll learn it from. I figure if I find myself stuck with a character, I'll have a tool to get myself "unstuck!"

But this wasn't the only book I had to discuss with Cher, because she's got two books that are, what we Moonlighters would call, "In the Works," and one WIP.

The first one I want to mention is as yet untitled but is for Harlequin Blaze. When I asked her, why she chose Blaze over the other possibles out there, this is what she had to say: "I want to write for Blaze because I love the line and I also want to write for Brenda Chin, editor extraordinaire. My other books are single titles, which I will be marketing to other publishers."

I don't know about you, but there are two questions that I would love to ask every author if I could:

Q. What did you like most about writing this novel?

A. My characters! I loved Raine and Kyle.

Q. What did you like least about writing this novel?

A. The hardest part was staying within the Blaze guidelines but I enjoyed the challenge.

Now for the skinny on this untitled story:

"Raine Carlisle has never been adventurous as far as her love life is concerned. Her life in general however was a different story. Her parents were hippies and she grew up living the classic flower child lifestyle.

Frequent moves forced Raine to think and react fast on her feet, adjust quickly to sudden changes, make quick but temporary friendships, since a move was always looming on the horizon. But she craved a real home, a regular routine and stability. She wanted somewhere to store her clothes besides a garbage bag. When she was seventeen, she’d had enough of moving and stayed in Denver while her father moved on. Saying goodbye to her beloved father ripped her heart in two, but she knew she had to take care of herself first.

She took a job waiting tables at a restaurant. She made everything run so efficiently at the restaurant that she decided to start her own organization business on the side. She was organized, determined and goal-oriented so naturally her business grew. Her future success depended on her present success, so she made it happen.

Inspired by a client who’d made a list of all the adventures she wanted to have before she got too old to enjoy them, as her 30th birthday approaches, Raine decides it’s time for her to escape her dull routine—in one certain area—her love life. Tired of the boring vanilla men she’d dated—the opposites of her wild-child father—and the boring vanilla sex she had with them, she makes her own list of men she wants in her immediate sexual future, the kinds of sex she wants to experience with these men and the sexual fantasies she wants to act out with them.

When Raine meets her new client, Kyle, he’s exactly the kind of bad boy stranger she had in mind for her first foray into her new sexual adventures. She plans to take charge, have sex, then move on to the next guy on her sexual to-do list. But Kyle has other ideas and she begins to doubt that she can fulfill her list of sexual plans with a variety of different men."

Here's where I wish I had some emoticons because the word HOT! just doesn't cover it! If that were written on paper, I might just burn my fingers, and let me tell you, I have a very high tolerance for heat!!

Okay, now that I got you all hot and bothered, I need to cool things off, just a bit. How about a nice dip in a private spring located in a cave on some Greek island in the Ionian Sea? Sounds good to you, doesn't it? Sounds exotic too? Don't get me wrong, but I'd take a look around you, and be careful. If you aren't, you might find that the spring, or The Morakeen, just might transport you to the magical world of the Naiads.

This brings me to Cher's urban fantasy called, The Morakeen.

Q. What made you decide to write an urban fantasy over a paranormal?

A. I didn’t. My friend, Jeanne Stein who writes the wonderful Anna Strong vampire series suggested this story was more of an urban fantasy than a paranormal and I think she’s right.

Q. Is it still a romance novel at heart?

A. You betcha!

Q. What did you enjoy most about writing this particular novel?

A. Exploring the very complex multiple characters in this book.

Q. What did you like least?

A. World building. It’s hard! [**Aside(as Spanky and Alfalfa would say): And How!**]

Q. Urban fantasy is really becoming big right now. What, in your opinion, sets your story off from others out there? What do you feel will make an editor take notice of your story?

A. My story is not about vampires, werewolves, demons or vampires or werewolves or demons or…*smiles* You get the picture. The market is flooded with those stories. I wanted to do something different and I hope that this will make my story stand out for an editor. My book is about Naiads, the keepers of rivers, springs, fountains, wells and brooks.

Q. What can you tell us about this novel?

A. The book is about two Naiad kingdoms, The Gendawns and the Drugonians. These kingdoms exist in a parallel universe along with the mortal world. At the harbor head of Ithaca on the Ionian Sea in the Greek Islands is a cave that is sacred to all Naiads because it contains the Morakeen, a spring that flows perpetually. The Morakeen is the gateway between the mortal and magical worlds.

Okay, I know I'm excited already! Darn, I wish we had an excerpt. Well, maybe later, closer to publishing time. What I can tell you, is that this book is the first in a series!

That's all I have for The Morakeen, but not all I have on Cher's projects. There's one more, her WIP. In a recent conversation with Cher, I discovered that she paid for plot help and told me that she didn’t regret it at all. I asked her to give us some idea of what went on, in case there are some other authors out there that maybe have the same problem and are not sure what to do. Here's what she had to say:

"The experience was phenomenal. I told her my story, sent her what I had so far. She read my notes then gave me some ideas, some possible directions. I took those ideas—which were fabulous by the way—and ran with them. As a result, I have a wonderful book. Her name is Andrea Raines Waggener. You can find her at www.novelwritingmadeeasy.com."

The title of this piece is, Something Old, Something New, Something Dead. Catchy title, huh?

I thought I'd continue with some general questions about the hardships she's faced as a writer and what advice she might have for other writers:

Q. In listening to your interview with Paula on The Writing Show, you talk about the difficulties you faced early on as a writer, one of which was that you didn’t really know of RWA’s existence. What, if anything, would you change about your writing path? Do you wish you had learned something sooner than you did?

A. Oh, heck yeah!! I wish first and foremost that Deb Dixon had written her GMC book sooner rather than later. I also wish that on-line workshops had been available at the time I started writing. I also wish that I had known other writers when I first started then I wouldn’t have felt so alone and isolated. They would have been a great boost when the rejections came pouring in.

Q. Do you feel that the market is still as hard to get into as you thought it was three (?) years ago on Paula’s show (Sept. 2006?)?

A. YES!! The market is like trying to break through a six foot thick lead wall with a nail file. An author’s work has to shine like a klieg light to get noticed. It’s definitely not for sissies.

Q. What kind of support network did you have when you first started writing?

A. My husband and my mother-in-law. They have supported me wholeheartedly from the beginning through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Q. What kind of support do you have now and how did you come by it?

A. I have a network of writer friends, both published and unpublished. I am a member of RWA, Colorado Romance Writers and Heart of Denver Romance Writers. I also connect with a friend through e-mail twice a week for support not critiquing. We encourage each other, give each other pats on the back and kicks in the butt when needed as well. Knowing I have to report to her twice a week keeps my fingers on the keyboard.

Q. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

A. You need courage and perseverance. And without these two things the world of the working writer is a brutal, cold and unforgiving place. You need stamina and stick-to-it-no-matter-what-comes-down-the-pike perseverance or this business will crush you like a bug. And it nearly crushed me. I can't tell you how many times I thought about quitting but every time I saw my special needs daughter step on the ice and skate I knew I couldn't stop. I had to keep going. I had to keep trying. I had to keep looking forward.

Repeat after me: Publishing is about MONEY. Publishing is about MONEY… Don’t ever, ever forget that. Publishers are in the business to make money not to help authors get their words into print and not because they love to read. Keep this in mind when the rejections come fast and furious. Try and look at your work objectively. This is probably one of the hardest things an author has to learn to do but with practice you can do it. Publishers have to buy books they can market and sell. Period. I don’t care if your book is the greatest book every written. If a publisher doesn’t know how to market and sell that book THEY WON’T BUY IT!! Take on-line workshops that address your weakest writing problem. Turn that weak problem into a strength, a negative to a positive. Look at your writing problem as a challenge that you can and will overcome.

Don’t compare yourself to other writers and don’t let anyone, anywhere at anytime manipulate your voice. Your voice is your voice is your voice. It will be what sets you apart from the crowd.

Repeat after me, publishing is about MONEY!

If you enjoyed Paula B.'s interview style and voice, find more at The Writing Show.

To learn even more about Cher Gorman, visit her website www.chergorman.com.

Thank you for joining us today, but please don't forget to comment because I know Cher would love to hear from you!

Carrie

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What a Character

Have you ever had a character invade your mind? When you thought you were done with him, has he ever come back to haunt you, or to prove otherwise? It happened to me. When I began to write Nora’s Soul, the character of Dante was just a satellite character in my mind, a device to move the story forward. But he had other ideas and he just wouldn’t be silenced. He invaded my mind, took over my thoughts, and even tried to –

Dante: Stop, woman! You like to think you’re my creator, but we both know the truth of that, don’t we?
Margay: But I did create you.
Dante: Tell them how I came to you in a dream.
Margay: All right, so you came to me in a dream -
Dante: I love invading dreams. I don’t get to do it very often.
Margay: Can I tell the story?
Dante: Oh, yes. Please do.
Margay: Thank you. As I was about to say, it was one of the more vivid dreams I’d ever had, a fully realized scene of the two of us on the dance floor, dancing the night away.
Dante: I love dancing.
Margay: Dante, please.
Dante: Oh, sorry. Go on.
Margay: But you were something of a devil and that is how I first thought of you. But as the story came to develop, I realized that you were more of an angel, just a…misguided one. You’d lost your way somehow. You’ve been rather stingy on the details.
Dante: If I told you everything up front, what fun would that be?
Margay: Yes, I must admit it’s been more fun pulling the details out of you with a pair of tweezers. I just wish I didn’t have to go through Nora to get them.
Dante: Ah, yes, Nora. Sweet girl.
Margay: We’ve talked about this, Dante. You can’t have her. She’s not meant for you.
Dante: Can’t I have anyone? What kind of power do I have if I can’t take whomever I want?
Margay: Don’t forget free will. It’s all about free will. You see, they have to choose you. If they don’t choose you, you can’t have them.
Dante: I never did like free will. It’s always messing things up.
Margay: Dante, come on now. Maybe we should just talk about the book.
Dante: Yes, do that. Talk about the book.
Margay: At its core, Nora’s Soul is a story about one woman’s journey to rediscover her faith – in herself, in her beliefs, but along the way, she is challenged by two angels, one light and one dark. The light angel, Peter, wants to help her reconnect, but the dark angel, Dante, wants something entirely different. He wants her soul.
Dante: Nice summary.
Margay: Thanks.
Dante: I just hope you got the story right.
Margay: Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait until the release date to find out.
Dante: So you’re not even going to give me a little hint about how it turns out?
Margay: Nope. But if you go to my website http://margayleahjustice.com, you can read an excerpt.
Dante: And you thought I was the devil.
Margay: If you’re done, I’d like to regain some control over this article.
Dante: Oh. Sorry.
Margay: Right.

Well, there you have it. Character. You just never know when a character is going to invade your thoughts – or take them over completely and try to run your life. But what are we without the characters that populate our books, our movies, our lives?

If you would like a chance to get to know Dante better, read about the havoc he wreaks in Nora’s Soul. He is quite a character. Hope you enjoy him as much as I do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Share the Moonlight with Christine Husom and Win a Copy of Murder in Winnebago County


It is my great pleasure to share the Moonlight today with a fellow Second Wind author, Christine Husom. Please give her a big Moonlighters welcome! And be sure to read to the end where we tell you how you can be eligible to win a copy of Christine's book, Murder in Winnebago County. You don't want to miss this!



When /how did you know you wanted to write?

I was so excited when I learned to read because I finally had a means to get the stories out of my imagination and onto paper. I would sneak out of bed, stand by my dresser under the glow of my night light, writing little stories long after my parents had tucked my sister and I in.

How long did it take to get published?

I finished “Murder in Winnebago County” in 2003 and searched for an agent for several years, as my schedule allowed. I had 21 rejections and got notice one agency had closed. I entered a crime writer’s contest on gather.com and met Mike Simpson, the man who started Second Wind Publishing. Fortunately, he liked my work and published my book in 2008. I am very grateful to have him as my publisher.

Research?

I served both as a corrections officer and a sheriff’s deputy, so I have some working knowledge of law enforcement procedures. But, in “Murder in Winnebago County”, I did spend some time researching the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. In my upcoming book, “Buried in Wolf Lake”, I spent a fair amount of time over the course of several months studying psychopaths, sociopaths, serial murderers, sexual sadists and the like to get a true grasp of my bad guy. He’s pretty scary! I also studied horses and the diseases they suffer for part of the storyline.

Relate to character?

I relate very closely to both Sgt. Corrine (Corky) Aleckson and to her mother, Kristen. Both share my basic moral standards. Corky has a true heart for, and dedication to, her work. She is young, inexperienced in love and still a bit naïve about life, even given her deputy sergeant position. Kristen is closer to my age and a mother hen. I can relate to that, though I am a little less neurotic about it.

Ideas come from?

“Murder in Winnebago County” was born when the death of a family member didn’t have a good explanation. A year after the fact, I was struck with the thought, “What if it wasn’t accidental, what if it was murder?” Characters, motives and plot came rushing to mind and I had a book in the works. There were many times when writing I could hardly see the computer screen through my tears. I have a strong emotional connection to the one particular death.

Next project:

“Buried in Wolf Lake” is the second book in the Winnebago County series, featuring most of the same characters. It begins with a dog bringing home a young woman’s dismembered leg and was inspired by an actual event that happened when I worked for the sheriff’s department. But my story is completely fictional. You can see why my bad guy is one scary, creepy dude! Many of the questions readers have from the first book will be answered in the second. The big one concerns Corky’s love interests. I wrote a mystery thriller and people are wrapped up in the romances--go figure ;). That’s why you romance writers are so successful.



Advice:

Persevere and you too may get published. Ask a lot of people read your book. It’s important to get people from all walks of life as your readers. Have a person who is a good editor/proof reader go over your work before you submit it. If you are looking for an agent or publisher, be sure you follow their submission guidelines.

3 get to know facts:

Writing a synopsis is the hardest part of the writing/publishing process for me. Running three to five miles a day is my therapy. Having grandchildren warms my heart and gives me an inner smile all the time.

Switch to another genre?

I am currently writing in the murder mystery/thriller genre, but I have written two romance novels and have a stack of unfinished mainstream fiction novels as well. I find it easiest, at this juncture, to continue writing novels in the Winnebago County series, but I may bring out the romance or mainstream novels at some point--in fact, I plan to. I would love to be able to write full-time. My dream.

Valuable lesson?

I learned the importance of taking critiques to heart to be a better writer. I wrote a romance novel some years back and asked a fellow writer to critique the book and give her honest opinion. Of course, I hoped she would return it with adulations of how wonderful it was and how she couldn’t put it down.

Instead of rave reviews, I got pages of criticisms. I will call they constructive criticisms because she was offering them as an aid to make me a better writer. The thing that made the greatest impression on me was her suggestion to do a better job of developing my characters. I thought I had developed my characters just fine. After all, I knew who they were.

My reviewer wrote some things that made me think more about who my characters were: What motivates them? How do they feel? What are their strengths, their fears, their vulnerabilities? How are they connected to each other? What role do they play in the story? I took her suggestions to heart and read various articles and books on the subject. When I began writing my first murder mystery/thriller, I wrote a background for each of my main characters to have a base for their motivations, their beliefs, their morals. Much of what they had become was based on their life experiences. Some aspects of their past lives were incorporated into the story and others were not.

My best advice to unpublished authors is: study, read and interact with other readers, writers and publishers. Keep writing. When others tell you you’re a good writer, believe them. It’s a very competitive field, but if your goal is to get published, don’t give up. You all know the stories of famous authors who get hundreds of rejections or have over twenty books in their coffers before they sell one. Let that be an encouragement!

About me:
Christine Husom lives in Minnesota with her family. She enjoys solving mysteries in her stories as well as in real life. She often ponders whether it's the crisp, cold winters that clear the cobwebs from her mind so she can create tales to excite and entertain. Christine is the author of several books. Murder in Winnebago County is the first to be published.

Blurb:
Sgt. Corinne Aleckson and Detective Elton Dawes are investigating the suspicious deaths of prominent people in Winnebago County when Aleckson discovers they are all connected. Will they learn the killer's identity in time to stop another murder, or is Aleckson the next target?
Reviews:
"This is very well written . . . intriguing story line . . . rich descriptions."~Scott Whittenburg, The May
Day Murders, See Tom Run

"Excellent visuals and introduction of settings. All of the locations are so vivid--she puts us right there."
~Deborah J Ledford, twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, is the award winning author of six published short
stories.

"This is really good story-telling - nicelyplotted, with a detailed, rich setting. A great job of introducing exposition without drowning the reader in it yet still giving us a clear sense of place and character.
~Lisa Brackmann
Book is available in Minnesota book stores, online at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.html
Links:


Christine, thank you for sharing the Moonlight with us today! Want a chance to win a copy of Christine's book, Murder in Winnebago County? Leave a comment on this post and your name will be dropped into the handy-dandy Random.org generator!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Characters On and Off

Hi everyone.

The winner of a signed copy of Black Magic Woman is....

drum roll please....

Sheila Deeth! Congratulations Sheila!

Please email me with your name and address to carriehgill@yahoo.com so that Justin can send you your copy!

I had intended to start a weekly ritual this past Saturday called Saturday Sillies. Unfortunately, it didn't work out because the Sandman forgot to shut off my dose of sleeping dust and I slept all day, except to use the facilities, and then it was back to sleep. In fact, he not only forgot to shut it off, I think my regular dose has been doubled! I overslept my post, which doesn't normally happen since I am usually awake all night, but again, I slept all night. I was lucky that I remembered to get Justin's post up for Sunday. Even now, after all of the sleep I did get, I still feel sleepy and groggy. I've been up for over an hour and half.

In my sleepy haze, I tried to think of what to write about, but I was drawing a blank. Not sure what exactly inspired the thought, thank you muse - wherever you are - for the inspiration of today's topic.

I'm a big sci-fi fan but I can appreciate softer side of sci-fi that is represented in paranormal and urban fantasy as well as the likes of J.D. Robb's In Death series. With all of these types of stories, science isn't really counted on to explain what's going on, so you have to be what's called, "suspended in disbelief," in order to accept certain unrealistic or unbelievable things and situations that occur in these stories.

Think of an author you've read that fits the criteria.

Tell us, what is it for you that grounds you into the stories that author writes? What is it that helps you relate to the characters and make you feel like you're really there? What helps you feel like these situations are occurring as you're reading the story?

Similarly, what is it that can make you feel like a character is just a bit off, not quite believable? Nothing necessarily so major that you wonder why the story got printed, but something that can make you disconnect from the character somewhat, but not necessarily from the story itself? It might be something slight enough that you can ignore, but it still has you wondering, even after the story was over.

Please provide examples wherever possible. Thanks!

Carrie

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Day of Mayhem with Justin Gustainis - Part 2

Happy Sunday Everyone!

I hope that part of your celebration today involves checking out the second part of our interview between Libby Chastain and Quincey Morris. This is the third part in a series of blogs by Justin Gustainis.

Last week Sunday, Justin graced us with the real ending of Bram Stoker's Dracula, a tale that fell into his hands through a twisted tale. If you are just coming in and would like to catch up with the intro and part 1 of the interview, follow the links below:

How Dracula Really Ended

A Day of Mayhem with Justin Gustainis - Part 1

If you've read those are waiting on pins and needles for the second part of the interview, as am I, I won't waste any more time and we'll get right to it.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Yes, Cecelia was a nasty piece of work. And not the only one we’ve faced, recently.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Well, it comes with the job, Libby. If it was like petting baby bunnies, then anybody could do it.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Well, there were for sure no baby bunnies in Idaho last year. Or if there were, we didn’t get to see them.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Idaho, or Iowa? I always get those confused.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Idaho. Coeur d”Alene, to be exact. Where Walter Grobius—

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Crazed zillionaire Walter Grobius. Precision is everything, Libby.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Well, if you want precision, it should be the late, unlamented crazed zillionaire Walter Grobius.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: (Laughs) Okay, you win. Let’s just call him Walter Grobius. And you’re right, it was Idaho. At that huge estate he had out there.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Not much left of it, now, is there?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: No, I had a guy fly me over the area a few days after … well, you remember.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: The late unpleasantness.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: You always had a talent for understatement, Libby. Okay, a few days after the late unpleasantness, I flew over Grobius’s estate. Looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off in there.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Whereas the reality was so much worse. Hellfire doesn’t discriminate. Ait destroys everything – and everyone -- in its path.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Served the bastard right. You were almost killed twice during that mess.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Three times, actually. But who’s counting? And we both nearly bought it in Kent, Ohio, when Grobius hired that sorcerer to get rid of us.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Oh, yeah, the devil bats. I still have nightmares about those things.

[Editor’s note: Readers curious about Morris’s reference to “devil bats,” may find the following passage enlightening]

Roderico Baca stood on one of the hills overlooking the Shady Tree Motel and prepared to release Hell – or a reasonable facsimile thereof. He knew that Chastain was down there – he could smell the bitch. He would assume, for now, that the man was with her.

Baca had spent almost an hour in preparation, once he had set upon the method by which he would destroy Chastain and her companion. Several others might well join them, constituting what the U.S. military calls “collateral damage.” Baca was not bothered in the slightest by this prospect.

He had chosen the spell he was using with great care. Pardee had said he wanted Chastain’s death to be nasty. “Nasty” was one of the things that Roderico Baca did best. He had drawn the necessary symbols in the earth, using a silver dagger he had made with his own hands. Then he mixed four of the key ingredients in proper proportion, all without the use of any kind of light. Baca had acquired the ability to see in the dark. That was appropriate, since, in a sense, it was where he lived.

Once the dry ingredients were mixed, to the accompaniment of the proper incantation, Baca was ready to add the final component. He reached into his leather bag and produced a small glass vial of baby’s blood. The ancient spell specified that this ingredient be fresh -- blood that is not refrigerated tends to congeal into an unworkable sludge vey quickly.

Baca had made one stop on the way here. He knew the ingredient was fresh.

Although it is theoretically possible to perform black magic at any time, Baca much preferred the night for his work. Quite apart from the symbolism (and in magic of any kind, symbolism counts for much), it was known that the Dark Powers were stronger and more active after the light had fled. The darkness was also beneficial for a more pragmatic reason: some of the creatures that a black magician will call to do his bidding only come out at night.

Bats, for instance.

Despite their association with vampires in popular culture (which was a laugh, because, as Baca knew, vampires had no power to take the form of these creatures), bats are generally harmless to humans, the exception being the rabies virus that they sometimes carry. But rabies takes weeks to incubate before it kills, although its victims’ final hours are very painful, indeed.

Disease aside, bats constitute no threat to people. They are generally small creatures, and most species eat nothing but insects or fruit. Even the fabled vampire bat, native to South America, will take less than a fluid ounce of blood from its host, whether animal or human.

But just because bats were harmless by nature didn’t mean that they had to remain so.

Baca first sent out his power to call the bats to him, and from the skies for miles around, they came, by the thousands. Soon, they were flapping in the air above Baca in a great, circling cloud. He had them flying high above, lest the squeaking they use to navigate be heard on the ground and give warning of what was to come.

The Summoning was done. That was the easy part of the spell. Now for the Transformation. Baca spread his arms wide apart, summoning the power of the Dark master he served, directing that power into the great mass of bats above him, causing the creatures to transform.

To grow – the bats began to double in size -- some of them, to triple

To change – even the largest of the bats had fangs less than a half-inch long. But no more. Under the command of Baca’s magic, the bats’ teeth grew, until they looked like parodies of Halloween decorations. The teeth were long now, and they were pointed, and they were very sharp.

Then, to become savage – bats have little capacity for emotion, but Baca’s spell increased that capacity, then filled it with rage and the need to destroy. Any moment now, they would start fighting among themselves. But Baca had better quarry in mind.

Finally, he said a word of power five times and pointed at the motel room where Chastain and her boyfriend were staying. The bats could not see him point, of course; Baca’s purpose was to focus the bats’ energy and fury on one place.

And so he did.

Thousands of the devil bats dived, almost as one. Their goal was the building down below. Their need was to use their new, razor-sharp fangs to kill the warm-blooded creatures inside.

They descended on the Shady Tree Motel like a great, black tidal wave of death.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Those bats were about the scariest things I’ve ever seen. And it seemed like there were millions of them.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Yeah, we’d have been right screwed that time, if it weren’t for Hannah.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Poor Hannah. She had issues, for sure, but there’s nobody I’d rather have watching my back. Present company excepted, of course.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Of course, and thank you. I don’t suppose there’s any chance that Hannah made it out of there?

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: I don’t see how. You saw what was left of the place, Quincey.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Yeah, but her body was never identified.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: There were quite a few bodies in there that were never identified.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: I know, I know. But if anybody could get out of that conflagration alive, it’d be Hannah. What did that FBI guy, Fenton, say about her?

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: I believe it was, “That lady’s just too damn mean to die.”

[Editor’s note: This appears to be a reference to “occult bounty hunter” Hannah Widmark (1966-2008?). Readers unfamiliar with this remarkable woman may find the following passage interesting]

Gunther Krause slipped into the abandoned house through the back door a few minutes before sunrise. There were stories that the undead could take the form of mist that could be directed anywhere they wished to go. If that were true, Krause had yet to figure out how to manage it, which was a pity. It would have made his existence much easier.

Krause was four paces from the basement door when he suddenly realized he was lying on the floor. A moment later, the pain hit him – a searing, merciless agony at the base of his spine that only one thing could have caused. Silver.

He heard them then, the sounds of boot heels crossing the uneven wooden floor. A few seconds later, the owner of the boots came into view. Krause didn’t really need to breathe anymore, but he gasped, nonetheless. He had in an instant taken in the black hair, the pallor, the scar along an otherwise beautiful, if hard, face. The woman’s shirt and pants were black, to match the boots. In one hand she held the still smoking, silenced .25 automatic that she had used to fire a silver bullet into his spine.

Through teeth clenched tight in pain, Krause managed, “They say you don’t … exist A legend … a myth, no more.”

The woman let a tiny smile appear on her face. “And now you know better,” she said, in a beautiful soprano voice that sounded like angels singing. “Pity you won’t get the chance to spread the word.”

“Who … who sent you?”

“The family of your second victim. The second in this town, anyway. You didn’t disguise your work quite as well as you thought. They figured out that it was one of you leeches who killed him.”

Her boots tapped out another slow rhythm on the floorboards as she walked over to the nearby window. Miraculously, its shade was still intact. She moved it aside a few inches and glanced outside. “Sun’s almost up,” she said, conversationally, and walked back to where the wounded vampire lay.

“What are you … waiting for?” Krause moaned. “Finish it.”

“In due time,” she said. “Which will be very soon, now.”

“Just … because your first shot … missed ….”

She laughed with what sounded like genuine amusement. “Missed? Oh, dear gracious me, no. That bullet went exactly where I wanted it.”

“Why maim … not kill?”

“Because I wanted to spend a few minutes having this little chat with you, Gunther. You don’t mind if I call you Gunther, do you?”

A few minutes later, she sauntered back to the window and peered out again. “Ah, sunrise!” she said. “Looks like it should be a beautiful day.”

She turned back toward Gunther Krause again, and for a moment there was something in her face that would have frightened half the demons in Hell. Then she reached down slowly and grasped the bottom of the window shade.

“Any last words?” she asked pleasantly.

“Screw you … you sick, twisted … bitch.”

Hannah Widmark, known in some circles as Widowmaker, smiled broadly. “Well, those will serve, I suppose.”

She yanked the bottom of the shade down hard, then released it.

She stood there for a full minute longer, watching impassively and listening to the screams.

Then she left, her boots crunching as they walked over the gray ashes that lay strewn across the floor in the shape of a man.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: So, what’s next for you, Quincey?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: What’s next for us, you mean?

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: If you prefer. I’m just trying to maintain some literary distance here.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Well, I recently stumbled upon a rumor that bothers me some. And if it’s true, I expect it’s gonna bother me a lot.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: If you’re waiting for me to feed you the next line, then I will: what’s that, Quincey?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: It’s possible, just possible, mind you, that a future Presidential candidate is … possessed by a demon.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Isn’t that usually the province of Vice Presidential candidates?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: I’m serious, Libby. And if it’s true, and this dude manages to actually get elected, the result could be ….

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Hell on earth. Literally.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Exactly.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Well, then I suppose we’d better do something about that, shouldn’t we?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: I was fixin’ to. Can I count you in?

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Can’t you always?

The End

Hmmm. I'm not so sure about that. It's quite possible we might see these two again when their next story is ready to go public. I'll keep you filled in!

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