Monday, March 25, 2019
Saturday, March 23, 2019
It was my reputation among the local coppers working in this gritty town, that brought me in front of her cold, blue eyes. Consulting successfully on many unusual cases, gave me a certain credibility when it came to dealing with the inexplainable, or in my words, the paranormal. The case of Mrs. Osborne's missing husband, fell neatly into that box of mysteries, so they called me in.
Living in the Bowery District of New York City, wandering its twisting, fetid streets after sundown, is part of my work. I don't need much sleep and in my profession, that's just as well, since closing my eyes in the dark isn't a great idea, if you take my meaning.
The particulars of the Osborne case were chasing around in my brain as I wandered toward the Flatbush Cemetery last night around eleven. It was the closest one to the Osborne residence, so I figured that was the place I needed to visit.
I started out, after a lengthy interview with Mrs. O, monitored by Captain Paddy O'Rourke, my buddy from the Fifth Precinct. He didn't want me upsetting the lady I suppose, slipping in a few words like 'necromancer' or 'possessed' into my conversation.
It seems old man Osborne, described as a portly man in his late fifties, had been enjoying a late night brandy with his wife, sitting in front of a cozy fire in his study. Mrs. 'O' must said she must have dosed off, with the effect of warmth of the fireplace and the exceptional brandy.
When she opened her eyes, her husband no longer sat across from her in their compatible silence. The distraught lady described how she looked around, calling his name several times, before rising and approaching his vacant seat That's when she spotted something extraordinary, in her spotless home.
She discovered piles of sooty-gray ash on the brocade cushion of the seat, on the foot-stool where his slippered feet rested, and around the floor, surrounding the empty chair.
I eyeballed these in silence, not wanting to give away my suspicions. Ms. O. assured me, she'd have them swept up as soon as I left the premises. The sight was "most disconcerting," she told me.
I left in a hurry, making my way to the one place I knew I'd find answers.
When I pulled open the heavy, wrought iron gate to the cemetery, I already had a theory of what had befallen the Steel Magnate. Spontaneous Combustion! I was only going through a few formalities, to confirm my conclusion. I thought visiting the shadow-filled graveyard, was going to be a short visit, resulting in a quick resolution to the man's disappearance.
Even a sleeping city has its sounds. But here, in the gloomy confines of Flatbush Cemetery. they were muted, like screams muffled by a soft pillow,
I walked toward the farthest vault in the sea of gravestones, towering angels and crosses. I spotted a slender shaft of light painting the stairs leading up to the remote tomb.
I was as silent as a hunting cat, climbing the wide, stone steps. Even the leather of my shoes, didn't creak to announce my presence. Pulling the wooden door wider, produced an unwelcome screech, but I wasn't overly concerned. She already knew I was there.
"You left Mrs. Osborne in quite a state! The coppers suspect kidnapping, but I guess it's more like a case of burn and snatch!"
The shade of Charles Osborne had been reclining peacefully on top of a stone sarcophagus when I entered. His corpulent body was well-defined in the scant moonlight filtering into the tomb. Uncrossing his hands from where they lay on his round mid-section, he sat up, smiling fiendishly.
"This one is mine, Ghost Hunter! He burned hot and long for me and is proving a most comfortable fit for my continued possession. He's no good to you, nor his portly wife. Leave me now!"
"You know I can't do that Lucy, dear. The fact that you keep snatching bodies is bad enough, but now you're causing fires to consume otherwise healthy people!"
I talked like a Dutch Uncle to the dead brothel Madame, until she finally gave in, stepping out of the ghost body of Charles Osborne. I was going to report back to Mrs. O that her husband died from the exposure to the fireplace flames, by his toxin-riddled body. Sounded scientific enough and she'd be none- the-wiser.
My pal, O'Rourke, would suspect paranormal activity, but not ask any questions. He really didn't want the kind of answers I had for him.
I was walking back through the graveyard when I felt a sudden stabbing pain in my back. I reached around, my hand closing on a long, cold shaft, just below my left shoulder. The stone Guardian Angel next to me, stood empty handed.
I heard Lucy say, "This just got easier, Ghost Hunter!"
I knew I was a dead man, but I couldn't let this succubus consume my spirit for her own use. I'd been messing with her for years now, interfering with her schemes of seduction and possession. Old man Osborne probably fell for her, when she came to him in her sultry body form.
I had to act fast if I was going to save myself from death and control by this beautiful demon.
Seconds from proving I'm mortal, I called out to old-man Osborne's spirit. I figured he'd be hanging around the gravestones, looking for a place to rest. He came to my rescue, smashing the stone lance to bits. Grabbing the desirable female spirit by her slim neck, he dragged her back to the crypt where I'd found them. I heard the heavy door slam shut, the bolt sliding into place from outside.
"Oh, you ain't gonna like this lady! Locked for eternity with the old fat guy is not what you expected."
I left the dead to the dead and closed the gate to Flatbush Cemetery. There was a new sound added to the night noise that my super tuned ears picked out.
The sound of sobs and laughter.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
For a long time, I would blush or joke it off. I spent years hiding the covers when I read in public (although Kindle has helped with that lol). But honestly, I am proud to both write and read this genre. I don't blush or stammer any more, but proudly proclaim my love for romance.
Even then, I still have some stock answers for folks depending on the way the question is asked. Here are my top 4:
It's my chances to put a little happiness in a world that has way too much of the opposite.
I can hardly stand to turn on the news these days. It is a rare thing that the stories don't display a world in chaos filled with hate and violence. By writing romance--stories inherently about HOPE--I am taking the creativity God gifted me with and putting a little happiness back into the world. Out of curiosity, what are you doing to make this a better place?
It makes me happy.
I write and read romance because it...wait for it...makes me happy. I love the interaction between the characters and their growth on the page. I love seeing how finding love makes them happy. And, again, I love the HOPE. For dragon shifters and cowboys and billionaires and nerds and outgoing people and shy people and people who are hurting alike, the opportunity is out there. Immersing myself in things that turn out beautiful and lovely is a wonderful way to spend some hours.
Why not? Why aren't you reading it?
Love is at the center of all relationships (or it should be). It's at the center of making babies (or it should be). It's not a female-only past time (guys do feel something other than lust, I hope). And it's not just escapism for women. Not when mysteries and action/thrillers are also out there. I don't see most men running around beating up bad guys and solving crimes. Just saying.
So if these books are about hope and reflecting something that everyone on this planet has the capability to experience, and most have a wish to experience it (traditional forms or not), then why not? Please explain to me why more people don't read romance? Maybe if more people did, this would be a happier, more hopeful world than it currently is.
Finally... The voices in my head won't shut up, so I give their mouths something to do. ;)
Come on. You always suspected writers were crazy. I'm just saying...you're right. To sit in front of a computer for hours/weeks/months/days/years torturing myself and my characters isn't exactly an easy task. Even so, I love what I do, and the people I get to meet because I do this, and the happiness it brings. So I guess I'll continue to sing the praises of love and romance to anyone who asks.
Writers and readers alike, what are some reasons YOU love to write/read romance?
Monday, March 18, 2019
Thursday, March 14, 2019
“…Morgan…is a tour de force of egotism, wit, sensuality, and talent…” ~Author Toni V. Sweeney
“Morgan D’Arcy is a class act and the most arresting vampire I’ve ever encountered in literature or films.” ~ Historical and Paranormal Romance Author Beth Trissel
Blurb: The greatest enemy of a vampire is boredom. Four centuries of existence have taught Lord Morgan Gabriel D'Arcy to fear nothing and no one. Humans and their weapons have little chance against his preternatural speed and arcane powers. Vampires are viral mutations of human DNA. Still, the Vampyre code requires secrecy, and he has learned to hide his nature from the world. The lure of mortality, of a life in the sun, puts Morgan again and again at the mercy of calculating human women though they fail to consider his charm and determination into the equation. However, even grooming a future bride from infancy proves to be fraught with heartbreak. And second chances are not always what they seem unless... you are Morgan. Immortality and beauty, aren’t they grand?
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlbRLTFQUHE&feature=youtu.be
Happy Thursday, everyone!
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Thursday, March 7, 2019
December was spent doing a read-through to fix typos and glaring errors and adding comments on everything that needed work, and it took the first three weeks of January to get through all the blanks I’d allowed myself to leave so that I could keep moving forward.
To give you an idea of how that phase goes, here’s a sample I posted on Facebook one night:
Things I have googled in the last few hours while going through stand-in text in my manuscript (this covers approximately 20 pages and doesn’t include the numerous thesaurus lookups):
What it’s called when you put an arrow in a bow
How to nock an arrow
How to describe drawing a bow
How to draw a longbow
How to string a bow
Term for shooting an arrow
How fast an arrow flies when shot from a longbow
Average speed of a thrown stone
Average running speed for a human
How the weights on a cuckoo clock work
Origin and first use of the word “tornado”
Types of flowers that grew in Pompeii
Kinds of wild lilies
Where wild lilies grow
The parts of a door
The difference between a sill and a threshold
Classical architecture terms
Military unit names
Victorian-era military uniforms
Herbs for a glamour
History of the corset
Images of shifts
First use of the term “beck and call”
Victorian women’s shoes
Swarming behavior of bees
That last one’s my favorite—it was for a single metaphor.
And those were just what I looked up over the course of a few hours one night. I did this for three weeks, because there were some 1,600 “check this later” placeholders. Imagine the confusion of the FBI agent who almost certainly has to monitor my internet surfing thanks to some of the even odder things I’ve googled for research in the past. Combined with my personal lookups for various diseases I’m certain I’m dying of at any given moment, including Ebola, it must keep them amused.
Once all the blanks were filled in or corrected, the real work started. I took all my comments and made a list of every continuity problem and every scene that didn’t work and went through it one by one. There were 56 items on the list. Here are a few of them:
The title sucks.
Fix garbage scenes with the Keepers.
Decide whether it’s highwaywoman, female highwayman, or just highwayman.
Change name of Yliastr?
Do any of the other spells mentioned come up again? If not, why mention?
Fix references to what Aoife recalls about the glamouring—was she enchanted or not at the time they did it?
Determine topography of Mount Öde.
Is magic an Undine thing? Or just Keepers? Are Keepers sorcerers? Did Aoife become a Keeper because of her interest in magical practice?
Uhhh…where are the rest of the Sylph?
Track timeline and make consistent.
Now, that last one, OMG. I had to stop and make another list just to figure out what I’d screwed up and how to get myself out of it. Here’s how that looked for the first three chapters:
Some years ago, who knows how long
Aoife and Ismene sneak into a men’s club. The spell begins to fall.
Day 1, after dark
Ygraine up to no good, meets Aoife on patrol.
Aoife performs ritual, pretends she’s still under the spell to keep Eris from suspecting.
Supply convoy to depart in the morning.
Day 3, evening
Highwaymen jump the convoy and are detained.
Arrive in Farstone, Eris delivers payload while Aoife watches prisoners.
So far so good. There are a few glitches here and there over the next dozen or so chapters—but then we get to Chapter 26. And here’s where things really went wrong (the red is everything that’s essentially impossible given the timeline):
Day 54 (should be day 59 and 60)
Ygraine and Eris set out for Goblin country with the two conscripts. (Make it clear that it’s been a week before the expedition was approved; add a day to the trip, and have them camp overnight.)
Timing goes haywire here. Hopelessly f****d.
Aoife meets Severin again.
“Days” pass. A ball is announced. (Delete)
Day 63 (should be 60)
Aoife finds out Arania is pregnant on the morning of the ball.
Day 54 (should be 60)
Ygraine and Eris head back to where they left the boys, and only half a day has passed. (Make it night, so this can come after scene above.) They camp that night on the way back to the front.
Day 63 (should be 60)
On the night of the ball, Aoife leaves early after receiving a message from Severin and meets Maebh. (Need to revise this scene since previous Severin scene has been deleted.)
Day 64 (should be 61)
The following day, the blood court is announced.
And it’s pretty much like that for the next five chapters. This resulted in a list of 18 major time discrepancies that needed to be worked out. (And this is also the sort of thing I could have avoided if I’d kept a calendar of the book or even better, actually outlined.) <pause here for laughter> I gave myself permission to leave all of these things until after the first draft was finished, because I knew I’d never get through it otherwise, but I think I’ve pretty much cured myself of ever working this way again. I’m not a plotter, by any means, but I usually have some kind of structure to what I’m doing. I’m honestly amazed I managed to make any of this stuff come together in the end.
It took me eight months, but it’s done at last. Now it’s with my agent. Just waiting to find out whether I’ve been way too hard on myself in suspecting this is the worst thing I’ve ever written or whether I should change my name and run away to Costa Rica and live on a beach.
Jane Kindred is the author of the Harlequin Nocturne series, Sisters in Sin, and the epic fantasy series The House of Arkhangel’sk, Demons of Elysium, and Looking Glass Gods. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Monday, March 4, 2019
It could be the multitude of changes in my life over the past few months, or it could be the recent losses I've endured that lead me to this piece of flash fiction I wrote about 8 years ago.
A few years ago I spent a lot of time writing flash fiction. These are tiny bites of stories, or ones that are complete with a limited number of words. You might find these types of stories in a magazine, or on a blog. They're often a challenge to write, but really work those writing muscles and make you realize how important each word is when you have to be concise to a very limited number of words.
So for those who have tired of the snow and cold of winter, I offer this piece of flash fiction.
Do You Ever Write, or Read, Flash Fiction?
Saturday, March 2, 2019
BTW--I do a little writing to chase away the blues, too. This