Monday, December 10, 2012

Stanzie Gives Her First Interview

My blog tour with Buy The Book Tours kicks off today at MJ Schiller's Blog!

Both Stanzie and Scott Charest, the Alpha male from Mayflower that you'll meet in the pages of Inside Out give an interview.  Scott cracks me up. I love him.  He was his typical humorous self.  Stanzie was earnest and remarkably upbeat for all that happens to her.

I'd love for you all to go with me and Stanzie on this two-month blog tour.  There's an Amazon gift card in it for one lucky person and several copies of the book will also be given away.  Plus it's going to be fun.  Stanzie's got several interviews coming up and Murphy is going to come along on at least one.  Maybe Councilor Allerton.  I also get interviewed so many times my head is spinning.  And there will be reviews.

So take a break from holiday shopping and Christmas carols and spend some time with my wolf shifters in their world.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Come Learn More About The Wolf Within

Today I'm being interviewed by the talented and fascinating Nerine Dorman at her blog This is My World.  I talk a lot (a lot!) about Stanzie's world and her adventures.  There's is even a photo of MOI!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stanzie Is Heading Out On Tour

Starting in December, Stanzie and the rest of the characters from Inside Out are going on a blog tour to promote the book.  I will give several interviews and so will Stanzie, maybe even Murphy can be enticed out to try to explain himself.  Who knows?  There will be giveaways and reviews and all sorts of madness.

You can find out more here:  Inside Out Blog Tour Dates

See you there!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Inside Out is Available

The fourth book in The Wolf Within series is available right now for purchase.  Inside Out

Inside Out

To whet your appetite a bit, here's an excerpt:


The restaurant was dark. Candles in glass jars flickered on the tables next to bud vases full of wild flowers. A massive oak bar ran the width of the room and a huge fieldstone fireplace sat cold and empty on the eastern wall.

Two tables were shoved together in front of the fireplace. Faith’s blond hair gleamed in the candlelight. She and her bond mate, Scott, sat backs to the fireplace, with the younger generation of the pack ranged around them.

Those of my parents’ age and above weren't there. I couldn't imagine Paul deigning to eat at an establishment that served bikers. A cold spurt of relief swept over me. I’d have to confront him eventually, but it wouldn’t be tonight.

I’d grown up with six of the seven of the people gathered at the tables. The oldest, Tony, was fourteen years my senior but, of course, he could pass for anywhere from late twenties to mid thirties. He’d been Alpha when I’d left the pack, and he’d rescued my wolf the first night she’d shifted and had been scared of her own heartbeat. I’d crushed hard on Tony at one point in my life.

The youngest, Alan, was eleven years my junior. I knew it was him only because he looked so much like his father. The last time I’d seen him, he’d been nine or ten, a little brat of epic proportions. I’d been his primary babysitter and he’d driven me frigging crazy most of the time, but I had a soft spot for him anyway.

When he saw me, he leaped out of his chair and rushed me so he could envelop me in a huge bear hug.

“Stanzie Newcastle, my favorite sexy babysitter,” he growled then hugged me again.

“Alan Perrault, if you don’t cut the crap I’m going to kick your ass,” I warned which only made him laugh.
“I couldn't believe my freaking ears when Faith told us you were here.” He wrapped a strong arm around my shoulders and steered me to the table.

At ten, he’d been a skinny little kid with sly blue eyes who could run like hell when he was in trouble, and that had been nearly all the damn time. Now he was taller than me by at least five inches and, while still on the thin side, had muscles in all the right places. His innocent choirboy face had morphed into sensuality. He was a damn good-looking guy.

He nuzzled my ear with his nose. “Stanzie, don’t trust anyone except for me and Faith, okay?”

I gave him a sharp look but didn't say anything. I found it extremely interesting that he hadn't included Scott, Faith’s bond mate, in his short list of exemptions.

Pack structure centered on the Alpha breeding pair. Unless there were twins or triplets, generally the children in a pack were separated by five or more years. This made it a lonely time for only children.
My closet pack mates in age had been Mark Drake, who was five years older, and my cousin, Faith, who was five years younger.

Mark’s cousin, Tony, the man who had been Alpha when I had left the pack, was bonded to Susan Driscoll, who at forty, was only eight years older than me but we had never had much use for each other. She’d been far closer in age to Rachel Costello, and they had been best friends forever.

Tonight they sat next to each other and I assumed things had not changed between them.

Proximity had led many pack children to bond with each other when they grew up. Mayflower was no exception. Mark, between me and Rachel in age, could have gone either way with us, but when he’d hit puberty I had definitely not been interested in boys. Rachel, five years older than Mark, had been a much more receptive target. Mark was more like a brother to me. Big and burly with dark brown hair and a mustache  he could have blended with the bikers outside in a heartbeat.

Rachel’s hair was blue black and styled in short layers that framed her face becomingly. Not conventionally beautiful and far too strong-featured to be considered pretty, she stood six feet tall and was built like an Amazon. She and Mark were focused on fitness. They spent hours in their home gym and it showed.

Susan, by contrast, was small and plump with light-brown hair and a China doll lovely face. It was a mistake to be fooled by her demure exterior. She had a razor-sharp tongue that could cut anyone down to size in fifteen seconds or less. The only person in the whole world who could intimidate her was my father. My status as an Advisor and so-called member of Mac Tire would probably cut zero ice with her.

She gave me a frankly suspicious look as Alan and I approached the table. “It’s crap that you’re here to visit, Stanzie. You’re wearing your Advisor cap, aren't you?”

Her bond mate, Tony, winced. Rachel grinned, clearly entertained, her dark eyes weren't hostile, they were curious.

“Could be,” I said with my most enigmatic smile. Alan pulled out the chair beside him and I sat. Faith, seated almost directly across from me, sipped ice water and played with her appetizer of split pea soup. She avoided eye contact.

Susan’s eyebrows elevated. “Since when did you get all dark and mysterious? Stanzie Newcastle, you’ve always worn your heart on your sleeve and blurt out everything you think the minute the thought hits your brain.”

“I’m not twenty years old anymore.” I unspooled my cutlery from my napkin and arranged it on the water-marked wooden table.

“Is it true your wolf tore out Nate Carver’s throat?” Mark leaned forward, fascinated.

The table went dead silent. The only one who moved was me as I spread my napkin on my lap. My seat was close to an open window that overlooked a tobacco field in back of the tavern. The steady song of crickets was loud in my ears while the scent of growing tobacco and weeds stung my nose. I wished I had a drink.

“It was either that or be raped and tortured to death,” I said. On my left, Alan shuddered. On my right, Tony’s face hardened.

Mark sat on Tony’s other side and he leaned around him so he could meet my gaze.

“I never liked that sorry sonofabitch in the first place,” he said and raised his beer. “Good job, Stanzie.”

The others raised their drinks in a strangely gleeful toast that made me uncomfortable.

It didn't seem right somehow to celebrate the fact that my wolf had broken Pack law and gotten away with it. Been commended for it.

“I have to live with Nate’s blood on my soul for the rest of my life,” I said.

“You’re a hero.” Was that mockery in Susan’s voice or admiration? “Everyone says so.”
I shook my head.

“I know. It seems a little weird that you, Stanzie, would grow up and become responsible instead of running away from your problems or ignoring them as usual, but maybe being an Advisor has been good for your character development,” Susan mused. She contemplated the inside of her beer bottle before she swallowed the rest of the contents.

Okay. Mockery.

“Can we lay off her, Susan? Jesus.” Faith’s mouth tightened.

“You always worshiped the ground Stanzie walked on, but you were younger and didn't know any better. The rest of us weren't so blind, Faith.” Susan patted Faith’s hand and Faith jerked away from her. Before her ice water could tip over, Tony grabbed for it and managed to save it.
“I didn't ask Stanzie here so you could rip her to shreds.”

“Why did you ask her here? Not that family reunion crap again, Faith. Please. She walked away almost fifteen years ago. We’re not her family anymore.”

“Paul renounced her as his daughter.” Rachel’s dark eyes turned judgmental as she looked at me.

“That’s just so much melodramatic bullshit,” argued Alan. A lock of wheat-colored hair fell into his blue eyes and he brushed it back with impatient fingers. “You can’t renounce your own children, it’s ridiculous.”


“Stanzie walked away from Mayflower. She was fifteenth generation of the founding pack family. Paul waited twelve years to do it and it was only after Stanzie threw away her chance to come back after Grey and Elena died that pushed him to it.” Rachel transferred her intense dark gaze to Alan. The breeze from the open window stirred the layers of her jet black hair.

My eyes bugged and I nearly expected to see them bounce on the table and roll into Rachel’s sanctimonious lap.

“Come back to Mayflower?” I shook my head. “That was an option? Paul knew damn well I’ve been in Boston for nearly three years and not once did he deign to visit or even return my phone calls.”

“You called?” Rachel was more surprised than she should have been since she knew Paul.

“Every month, regular as clockwork.”

Rachel considered my answer. One thing about Rachel--she didn't rush into judgment. However, once her mind was made up, it was nearly impossible to get her to see the other side. Convincing a stone statue to dance would have been an easier task.

“He made it sound like he offered to take you back and you all but spit in his face. Wes still wanted to bond with you even after the way you treated him.” She wasn't convinced I told the truth, but the slight doubt in her voice let me know there was still a chance she’d see my side and even believe it.

I couldn't repress a shudder of revulsion. Not Wes Hanover again. Rachel’s sharp eyes missed nothing.

“Well, who else did you expect to bond with, Stanzie? Susan and Tony? You always had a thing for Tony, didn't you?”

A hot blush stole across my cheeks and I damned the fact I’d put up my hair and had nothing to hide behind.

“Well, you have to admit he’s a hell of a lot closer to my age than Wes,” I argued, although I probably should have kept my stupid mouth shut.

“A snowball has a better chance in hell than you do of bonding with us.” Susan’s mouth stretched into a sardonic grin, but her eyes sparked with jealousy. I’m sure if she’d known her jealousy had shown, she would have gouged out her eyes with her salad fork.

“I’ll bond with you,” Alan offered gallantly.

Susan snorted. “You’re not old enough to bond with anyone. Why would Stanzie want a baby like you, Alan?”
Alan’s blue eyes narrowed. “ I've been old enough to bond for two years. Stanzie bonded with Grey at twenty. I’m twenty-one.”

“Stanzie’s almost thirty-three. Talk about an age difference.”

“Wes Hanover is almost sixty-three. You should shut up about age difference, Susan.” Alan gripped his beer bottle so tightly I feared for its continued existence.

“Bonding with someone because you have the hots for them is hardly a basis for sustainability, Alan.” Susan’s smile was condescending to the max. “At your age you think with your dick, not your brain. Just because Stanzie starred in your first wet dream when you were twelve doesn't mean you have to bond with her. She’s here for a visit. You should sleep with her, get her out of your system.”

“You’re just jealous because you’re nobody’s wet dream material,” Alan muttered and Susan threw her ice water at his face. Not only was he doused, but I was as well.

With a curse, Alan shoved back his chair and stalked to the back of the tavern to the rest rooms.

Ice water trickled down my cleavage. This was typical Susan behavior. I remembered it well. Dramatic bitch. I refused to give her the satisfaction of any sort of surprised reaction, but damn that water was cold.


“I have a bond mate. Can we stop this ridiculous discussion?” I asked. Tony handed me his napkin and I dabbed at my neck and chest. I wasn't precisely a liar. I did have a bond mate--at least for a couple more months.

“Where the hell is he?” Mark leaned around Tony again and I busied myself with the napkin to buy some time.

“He’s in Dublin.” The longer I stalled, the more curious they’d become. “My pack is Irish, remember?” Maybe they’d think Murphy was on pack business.

“What the hell possessed you to bond with someone Irish, for Christ’s sake?” Mark’s expression was baffled. “You’re American.”
“I met him at the Great Gathering in France. Not everyone at the Great Gathering is American, Mark.”
“But Irish?” Mark shook his head.

“At least he speaks English,” Tony remarked. Susan’s eyes narrowed.

“Stanzie’s always had a thing for foreigners. Remember that German boy?” Rachel said. “Paul nipped that in the bud, didn't he?”

Rudi’s face flashed before my eyes. I remembered the feel of my hand on his taut stomach, the press of his mouth against mine. The way he’d said my name, as if I’d had the power to save him, just before he died.

“Whatever happened to him?” Mark asked and I stared at him in shock before I remembered Mayflower members never went to Great Gatherings anymore.

“He’s dead,” I said, and more deafening silence descended upon the table.

“We’d know all this if we went to Great Gatherings and Regionals.” Faith pushed her cup of soup aside.
“We go to Regionals,” Susan’s smile was nasty. “At least you do, dear.”

Resentment flared in Faith’s brown eyes. “Three years ago. If I hadn't  I never would have met Scott.” This was an old argument, I could tell by everyone’s faces and body language.

Admiration warred with anger inside me. I was proud of Faith for defying the pack so she could attend a Regional, but angry that she’d had to do that. Everyone had a right to attend Regionals and Great Gatherings. The only thing that ought to hold someone back was whether they could afford it.
Faith and Scott had been Alphas for only a brief few months. Perhaps she was so stuck in the previous mindset of the pack she forgot she could now set policy. She didn’t have to carry her resentment around like a smoldering torch any longer because she could do what she wanted and, even better, encourage the others to follow in her footsteps.

Just then the waitress appeared with a platter of food--including my fried clams and French fries. When she took drink refills I ordered a Stella Artois for me and another Bud for Alan.

“What’s wrong with Budweiser?” Mark asked as he leaned around Tony again. I almost wished they would trade seats. Tony had barely looked in my direction the entire time I’d been there. That probably was so Susan wouldn't go off on him.

“Are you going to give me shit about the beer I drink?” I rolled my eyes and Mark grinned at me. I remembered how we’d always squabbled like brother and sister.

“If you drink that foreign shit, yeah.”

“Oh, jeez, all right fine.” I changed my order to a Sam Adams and Mark gave me the thumbs up.

Alan slunk back into his chair. His hair was damp from the ice water and his blue t-shirt had wet patches but his face was dry. He picked up his beer, discovered it was empty, and swore softly beneath his breath.
“I ordered you another one.” I gave him a friendly nudge with my elbow but he didn’t smile.

“If you’re going to be pissy all night long, do the rest of us a favor and go home,” suggested Susan as she dipped a chicken tender into a small bowl of honey barbecue sauce.

“Maybe I will.” Alan shoved back his chair and stalked out of the tavern.

“I’m not paying his tab.” Faith glared at Susan. “You do this almost every week, Susan, and I’m sick of paying for food he barely gets to touch before you drive him off.”

“He’s a big baby.” Susan popped the dripping chicken tender into her rosebud mouth and chewed with a blissful smile. “Samantha and Shane have spoiled him rotten. You and Todd haven’t helped. He’s twenty-one frigging years old and still hasn't initiated his wolf. I was bonded for a year at his age. If he can’t make nice with the grown-ups, he should stay home and play WoW on his computer.”

She gestured at me with another dripping chicken tender. “You’re the one who gave him the idea he could pick and choose who initiates his wolf, Stanzie. He and Faith both looked up to you back in the day, but you never thought it was important to teach by example.”

“Maybe I did,” I retorted, stung. I dipped one of my fried clams into the paper container of tartar sauce on my plate and tried to enjoy it. “Not that I want to get into this discussion right now, but what the hell is wrong with wanting to choose your own partner for initiation?”

Tony pushed back his chair and mumbled something about the men’s room before he beat a hasty retreat. It took every bit of self-control I had not to roll my eyes.

“You should be initiated by your pack, Stanzie.” Rachel answered before Susan could finish her second chicken tender. “There’s time enough to go out and choose partners for sex and fun or for bonding after you've been properly initiated. Look where rebellion got you.”

A slow, simmering anger sifted through my blood. The first person who said anything derogatory about my wolf was going to get a beer bottle upside their head. “If I’d been allowed to have the partner of my choice, it would have been someone in the pack.”

I stared hard at Susan. “My choice just wasn't the one everyone else wanted to make for me. If you’d let me do what I wanted, I wouldn't be getting this stupid lecture.”

“It’s not stupid,” Rachel protested as she waved her fork in the air for emphasis. “Who knows you better than your pack mates?”

“I’m not arguing that point,” I said with a sweet smile when I really wanted to snarl. I swirled another fried clam in the tartar sauce and wished like hell the waitress would hurry up with my goddamn beer. I was sure as hell going to claim Alan’s too while I was at it.

“Because of you Faith snuck away to the Regional in New Hampshire and got initiated by Scott. Then she wanted to join his pack after they bonded. Luckily, he talked her out of that one. Can you imagine where she got an idea like that in her head?” Susan gave me a hard look. “She wouldn't let Wes initiate her. Wouldn't think of making a triad with Mark and Rachel. No, she had to go outside the pack for no reason.”

I expected Scott to say something at this point but he just sat there and placidly ate his cheeseburger. He hadn't said a goddamn word all night. Not even hello.

When I reached across the table for the ketchup bottle, I took a better, longer look at him. Dark hair, silver gray eyes, razor stubble across his cheeks, dressed like a New England jock--Boston Bruins t-shirt, bond pendant tucked beneath the collar, baseball cap--another Boston team, the Red Sox, and while I couldn't see them I knew he’d have on a pair of well-worn baggy jeans and equally beat-up sneakers. He was heartbreakingly gorgeous and I don’t know why that surprised me. Maybe because he made no effort to play it up.

He caught me scoping him out and gave me a frank appraisal in return. I’m not exactly ugly and I looked a lot like his bond mate, but not a flicker of appreciative lust flared in his eyes. He might have been looking at a not particularly interesting painting in an art gallery for all the interest he showed.

The waitress arrived with our beers and his face lit up. Beer he could appreciate--me, not so much. Tony was right behind the waitress and slid into his seat without a look toward me. He busied himself with his fried shrimp and kept his head down.

“Why is it so damn important to bond within the pack?” I asked. My voice was coated with an oil slick of bitterness which I’m sure they all heard. I hit the bottom of the ketchup bottle with the heel of my hand and used more force than strictly needed. Had to bleed off my aggression somehow.

“We are the oldest continuous pack in New England. Third-oldest in all of America. We have a heritage to preserve and protect.” Rachel waved her fork again for emphasis, her dark eyes aglow with an almost religious fervor.

“Oh, God, not that old tired line.” I snorted and someone kicked me hard in the shin. I pretended not to notice but it fucking hurt. I’d probably bruise.

“Bonding outside the pack brings in new blood. It doesn't dilute. If anything, it makes the pack stronger and gives it an opportunity for growth.” I tucked my feet beneath my chair, out of reach.

“So speaks someone who couldn't wait to rush off to some no-name little pack in Connecticut. Someone with purer and older blood than any of us sitting here at this goddamn table.” The blatant ire in Tony’s voice surprised me, although I guess it shouldn't have.

“You had your chance,” I said with soft malice and, when he shoved back his chair with explosive violence, I ducked because I expected a blow.

Instead he stalked for the door. He turned around halfway there and glared at Susan.

“You coming?” It sounded like an order she’d better not refuse.

“Nice, Stanzie. Some family reunion.” Mark watched Susan gather her purse and walk after Tony who, once he saw her push back her chair, started for the door again. “You come in here and start shooting off your big mouth when you don’t know a frigging thing about us anymore. What gives you the right to judge us? Are you so goddamn successful and superior? Did your choice to leave lead you to some fairy tale happy ending?”

“You know it didn't,” I snapped as the hot sting of tears burned my eyes.

Thank you, Mark, for pointing out just how shitty my life had ended up. Fuck you.



Mark got up and threw a wad of bills on the table. Rachel flung me a black look and got to her feet.
Scott drank his beer and watched them stomp out as a small grin curled the corners of his mouth.
Faith bit her lip and set down her forkful of broiled fish.

“Want me to go home now?” I took a gulp of my beer and contemplated my French fries. Was I or was I not hungry?

“Hell, no. You’re picking up what’s left of the tab. Cheapskate Tony and Susan didn’t leave a dime and neither did Alan.” Scott reached across the table and scooped up the money Mark had contemptuously thrown down.

“Seventeen bucks. Won’t even cover their goddamn bar tab.” He threw it back down with another grin.

“What is so funny?” Faith snapped at him. She pushed a lock of blond hair behind her ear and yanked on her silver hoop earring.

“You hate these Friday night dinners from hell. Why are you giving me shit about thinking it’s funny your cousin got under their skin instead of them getting under yours for a change?”

“Can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs,” I remarked and Scott guffawed into his beer.

“I don’t like conflict,” Faith muttered. She stabbed at her fish with her fork but didn't eat any.

“Babe, if you don’t like conflict, you’re in the wrong pack and the wrong place. Alphas don’t get to cower in the corner at the first sign of tension. They get right up in the middle of it.” Scott’s eyes gleamed as if he relished the prospect of a good fight. He threw me a look. “They don’t call in the goddamn cavalry before the first shot’s been fired.”

“Scott, we've been through all this. Stanzie’s here and maybe she can help us. Why do you have to be like this?” Faith let her fork drop to her plate and pushed more hair behind her ears. Sweat beaded her forehead and I wondered if she felt sick.

Scott snorted. “Because we can handle this shit ourselves. You underestimate me, as usual. You always have. Thought I’d be an easy lay at the Regional, someone to initiate your wolf and get your ass out of Mayflower so you could join my pack. You saw how that went. So let’s cut the crap. Your cousin is not going to waltz in here and magically solve all your goddamn problems. The biggest problem you have is you don’t have the balls to be Alpha.”

Tears glimmered in Faith’s eyes then streaked down her cheeks. She swiped at them with the back of her hand. Scott gave her an impatient look devoid of sympathy. When he stared across the table at me, he shook his head.

“Yeah, I know. You think I’m an asshole. I read that loud and clear. What you don’t understand is that I have to listen to this crap day in and day out. I don’t even know why the fuck she agreed to be Alpha because she’s hated every second of it.”

“I wanted a baby. A baby.” Her voice was vicious but clogged with tears.

“And you’re going to have one.”

“There is something wrong with this pack,” Faith insisted in a low voice.

Scott’s face hardened. “There’s something wrong with your head. Jesus.” He got up and drained the last of his beer before he walked for the door.

“I’m sorry.” Faith groaned. More tears poured down her face. “I’ll call you tomorrow morning. We...we can have breakfast.”

She struggled with her purse and I held up a hand. “ I've got the tab. Go on before he leaves you behind. I didn't bring my car, so I can’t give you a ride home.”

She looked like she wanted to argue, but in the end didn't.

As I waited for the bill, I drank Alan’s beer. It tasted like shit.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Babs' Book Bistro Blog Radio Interview with Moi!

Tonight I was interviewed by the lovely Babs Hightower at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/broadcast-from-the-bistro/2012/09/07/author-amy-burgess.

My phone had stage fright -- I swear it wasn't me -- and so I come in at around  2:20, but I talk, somewhat coherently, about Stanzie and Murphy, beta readers, why wolves are extinct in Ireland and what makes my wolf shifters different from the others in the paranormal genre.

Check it out!  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lyrical Press Author Review Contest

Hey Everyone!

I'm hosting a Lyrical Press Author Review Contest this month on the Lyrical Press blog here: http://lyricalpress.blogspot.com/2012/09/review-contest-september-amy-lee-burgess.html

All you have to do is link a review of a book written my a Lyrical Press author in the comments section of the Lyrical's blog by following the above link.  Yes, feel free to link a review you've made of one of my books if you like!

Grand prize is a piece of custom jewelry crafted by Cemetery Cat http://www.etsy.com/shop/psynde

The cool part is that it will be based on pack jewelry found in my novels.

The contest is open the entire month of September and the winner will be announced at the end of the month.

Have fun!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Do You Really Want To Wear Those Shoes?


Okay, so finally after months of concentrating on my novels, I've got a Friday Flash.  I hope you like it

***

“You aren’t seriously going to wear those things, are you?” Mimi’s brows contracted with distaste and doubt. The skin between her eyes wrinkled ever so slightly.  Sometimes I suspected she’d indulged in secret rounds of Botox because she never seemed to age.  We’d been best friends since freshman year in college and we were now way closer to forty than thirty, but she could still pass for a college co-ed.  At least to my jealous eyes. 

She’d seemed to put the aging process in a holding pattern around the time she took that night job and began sleeping during the day. 

I couldn’t fathom the reason for a single woman who had just turned thirty to voluntarily cut short her available night life hours.  I guess her biological clock did not tick as loudly as mine.

I’d turned thirty and panicked and ended up marrying the first available jerk that I met. I wanted a baby in the worst way.  It turned out that I hadn’t counted on how much I didn’t want a husband.  Or at least the one I’d married. 

Three years of hell and he’d walked out on me.  No baby either so it was a total waste of valuable time.  Now at thirty-six, I was panicking again.

This costume party tonight would be bound to attract lots of single guys or even unhappily married ones that I might attract. 

I wasn’t as co-ed gorgeous as Mimi with her raven black hair and mysterious blue eyes, but I wasn’t chopped liver either.  So my red hair tended to corkscrew curl unless tamed with a flat iron and maybe I could stand to lose a few inches around my hips, but what the hell, I wanted to be a mom not a super model.

“I wish you’d wear something else,” said Mimi.  She was going to the party as Cleopatra and the gold painted vulture and cobra diadem she wore made her look twice as mysterious as ever.  Her short white toga and gold belt didn’t hurt either.

Mimi could pull off costumes like Egyptian temptress queens, but I knew better than to try.  I probably could have managed the first Queen Elizabeth, but those high ruffed collars did nothing to show off my greatest asset – my tits. Plus going as the Virgin Queen would really be delivering the wrong message in my case.

So I’d gone prosaic and predictable with the vampire costume.  I loved my slinky black spandex dress that did marvelous things for my figure, low cut enough that I’d have to be careful not to get too drunk and break out my spastic dance moves for fear of a costume malfunction along the lines of Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl.

But the original shoes I’d chosen, a basic pair of black gladiator sandals, had been too close to what Mimi had chosen.  Hers were gold and flat, mine were black with four inch heels, but still, gladiator sandals are gladiator sandals and we were best friends.  It just wouldn’t work.

So I’d scrounged around in her massive walk-in closet at her apartment.  We wore the same size shoes if not dresses, and I’d been confident I’d find something sexy.  Mimi might work the night shift, but when she did get out, she knew how do it right.

After ten minutes of trying on and taking off, I’d found the perfect pair.  They’d been hidden in a box beneath an avalanche of winter sweaters.  Mimi had tried to steer me away from that end of her closet, but I’d ignored her. I‘d seen messy closets before.  Hell, I had two of them in my own apartment two floors down.

The shoes were wild. Not Mimi’s style at all. They were gaudy, overstated and ridiculous. Six inch platform sandals, silver metallic spikes alternated with red plastic dots. The platform part had been hollowed to resemble a life-like mouth complete with curled pink tongue and teeth, including long white fangs.  Vampire shoes.  So perfect for my costume it wasn’t even funny.

“How come you didn’t suggest these first, Mimi?” She was unbelievable.  You’d think she didn’t want me to know she had them, for Christ’s sake.  “You know they’re perfect for my costume.”

“I wish you wouldn’t wear them, Nicole.” Mimi tried to give me her patented “Listen to me and do what I say” stare but I knew how to avoid those x-ray eyes of hers.  I slid my gaze away from her face and turned my head as I marched past her out of the closet, the vamp shoes dangling from my fingers.

They were surprisingly light for shoes with spikes and fangs. Nearly weightless.  Maybe they were made of some sort of plastic. The leather covering them was soft and supple.

I sat on the edge of Mimi’s bed.  An irresistible urge to touch one of the fangs on the left shoe overcame me.  I reached out a curious fingertip – were they plastic too?  Before I could connect, Mimi knocked the shoe out of my hand.  She had a pair of sexy red pumps in her free hand and waved them beneath my nose.

“I think these would be better. I really do.” Her voice sounded almost frantic and I frowned at her.  What the hell was her problem?  She’d never been territorial before.

“I know they’re a little wild and certainly unique. What’s the issue?  You think that if I wear them tonight you’ll never be able to?  I’ll tell everyone they’re yours.”

“No!” Her luscious red lips curled back in an almost snarl and I drew back in shock. 

“You are being weird tonight,” I stated huffily. 

“Wear the red shoes. Please,” she begged.

“No.” I didn’t know why she had to be such a pain in the ass.  I was going as a vampire and they were the perfect shoes so what the hell was her damn problem?  I was getting seriously pissed off. “Look, don’t we have a standing pact to share everything?”

“It’s not a question of sharing, Nicole. Please.” Mimi tried to push the red shoes into my hands and I took them and threw them across the damn room.  She was being childish and completely unfair.

I picked up the left vamp shoe and, once again, the glittering fang beckoned me to touch it.  I just had to know.  Was it plastic or not?

“I’m warning you,” said Mimi.  “For the last time.  Nicole, you do not want to wear those shoes.”

“Bullshit,” I said and touched the fang.  “Ow!  Sonofabitch!”  Something red appeared at the tip of my finger. Blood.  That fang was sharp. 

Mimi licked her lips.  “You’re an idiot, Nicole.”

“Gross.” I regarded my bleeding finger and looked around for something to wipe it on.  Mimi’s purple and white batik bedspread was handy but that wouldn’t be nice.  I didn’t want blood on my dress, so I popped my fingertip into my mouth and sucked.  Blood usually tasted horrible to me, but wow, tonight it had a strangely erotic tang. 

I looked at Mimi and for the first time ever wondered what it would be like to kiss a woman. 

“Balls,” I muttered and put on the vamp shoes. 

“Now do you understand?” Mimi’s voice sounded like silvery bells. The whole world was bright and surreal.  The night pulsed in my blood like a lover. 

“Guess I’ll need to find a night shift job now,” I said as I rose to my feet.  Strength, vitality and lust flowed in and out of me.  I looked in the mirror and damned if I couldn’t have passed for a college co-ed.  Those extra inches around my hips had melted away too, just like the years. 

“I never really wanted to be a mom anyway come to think of it,” I said. 

Mimi laughed and arm in arm we ventured out into the night. Screw costume parties, we were the real thing now. 





Monday, July 9, 2012

And The Winner Is...

Sonya Clark!  You won a copy of Hidden in Plain Sight.  Congratulations!   Thank you to everyone who entered the contest.  You all had the right answer - Murphy's Irish of course!

I pay such attention to detail I drew the names out of a pewter mug with a wolf-shaped handle.  Now that's apropos for a wolf shifter novel contest, isn't it?

Since I'm so happy it's release day, I'll give you two links to reviews I've gotten already!

Here's one:  http://www.darkissreads.com/2012/06/hidden-in-plain-sight-by-amy-lee.html

Here's another:  http://www.romancewritersreviews.com/index.php?option=com_sobi2&sobi2Task=sobi2Details&catid=12&sobi2Id=286&Itemid=30


Friday, July 6, 2012

Stanzie Faces a Serial Killer On Monday!



Okay, people, guess what?  Monday, July 9th, is right around the corner and with it comes the release of the third novel in The Wolf Within series - Hidden in Plain Sight. 

Here's the synopsis: 

Where is Bethany Dillon? The seventeen-year-old girl is missing from the Maplefair pack and Constance Newcastle--Stanzie--and Liam Murphy must find her. Fast. A serial killer still has not been caught. Bethany could have run away, or killed herself. But no one in her pack seems to know the truth. Or, they’re just not telling.

Constance’s knack for uncovering secrets leads her into peril, and to save Bethany, she must break every rule. She risks losing everything, including Liam...and her life
 
Whoa!  Melodramatic, huh?  But it is true.  Stanzie does risk everything.  You'll have to read it to find out how.  And maybe this is your lucky day!  Does anybody want a free copy?  Here's how you could get one. 

Read the excerpt from the novel below and then answer this question in the comments section. Names of everyone with the right answer will go into a hat and I'll make a random drawing. I'll announce the winner Monday.

Here is the question:  What nationality is Liam Murphy? (Could the question BE more easy?)

***
By the time Murphy caught up to me I was soaked. My dress was plastered to my thighs. My hair hung in damp strings around my cheeks. I walked steadily around a small apple orchard. Apple branches, thick and stunted, twisted up toward the rain as if to beg for release. A drift of white blossoms littered the ground. I was barefoot and the petals were soft against my toes and soles.

Maplefair operated a small year-round produce stand. Mostly the pack grew corn, tomatoes, strawberries and apples. This orchard was one of theirs. In the fall they’d handpick the apples, sell some in bushel bags and bring others to a cider mill to be made into cider.

The last time I’d seen Jossie had been the autumn before Grey and Elena had died. The three of us had
taken a foliage tour to see the eye-popping beauty of the turning leaves. We’d driven through Easton on our way to Burlington and Lake Champlain and had stopped to buy cider and apples. Jossie had been minding the stand that afternoon and, while it had been tense for a moment, Jossie and I had hugged before we’d parted and I’d planned to keep in better touch but somehow never had.

Today the white blossoms gave promise of the apple harvest to come. I doubted I’d taste any of the fruit. By fall I should be in Dublin.

As if the thought of Dublin had summoned him, Murphy fell into step beside me, and waited for me to talk first as he usually did. Ilooked down at my bare feet and saw that the knuckles of his right hand were raw and bloody.

“What happened to your hand?”

He gave me a slanted smile through the raindrops. “Well, I thought I would give that little bastard with the big damn mouth something real to complain about to Allerton if he wanted to talk about how to choose Advisors.”

“Murphy.” I heaved a tired sigh and brushed some wet hair out of my eyes. “You know Allerton doesn’t want you going around punching people. Remember last time.”

“You make it sound like all I do is haul off and hit people.” Murphy snorted. “I’m Irish, woman, I’ve got a temper and that little shite had it coming.”

I didn’t say anything.

“You mad at me, Stanzie?”

“For hitting Gary?”

“No, for convincing you to shift when you didn’t want to.”

The words hung there between us, wet and heavy with the rain so that I could almost see their shapes, their individual letters. My wolf’s reaction to all the things he’d tried to teach her spelled the same inevitable thing in the end. She was not the same as everyone else’s.

“No, Murphy. I’m not mad. I told you what would happen, you said that was all right, and everything I told you would happen did. You said you’d stay with me and you did. Why would I be mad?”

“Well, you’re something,” he said. “You’re out here wandering in the rain for one thing. You’ve got that look on your face I don’t like for another.”

“What look?”

“The look as if somebody kicked you in the stomach and you don’t want anyone to know how much it hurts.”

I looked down at the mud and apple blossoms again. Something struggled inside of me, something dark and desperate I did not want to acknowledge but was powerless to hold back.

“I really thought until today that she might have a chance at being normal, don’t you see?” I tried to explain myself to him, but I knew by the confusion that spread across his face he didn’t understand.

 “My wolf, Murphy, is never going to catch up. I failed to take into consideration the fact that while I might be evolving my wolf, everybody else was too and most of them have years and years on me. Why, I’ll bet that grandmothers and grandfathers can barely tell the difference between themselves as human and themselves as wolves. Maybe that’s why they don’t shift all that often. What’s the point except you can run on four legs and old wolves aren’t that fast. Isn’t that true, Murphy? That your wolf is still evolving? That every year you get one step closer to yourself in wolf form?”

A pulse beat thickly in his throat. “Maybe. But that doesn’t mean...”

I held up a hand and he stopped talking. Soft spring rain dripped through the cracks of my fingers and down my bare arm.

“My wolf wants the names for everything. Everything, Murphy, and she won’t move on until she has the names. Only she’s never going to get them all. There are so many goddamn things in the world with names that she will never know, not if she shifted twenty times a day for the next hundred years. All she’s ever going to do is discover things she doesn’t know the names for and then sit there until she finds them. Not only is she never going to catch up, she’ll never be halfway normal. She never has been.”

There. It was out. I’d said it. Not normal.

“Stanzie,” said Murphy, helpless against my onslaught of logical insight. “Don’t do this to yourself, please.”

“People have been calling my wolf a joke for years. I didn’t even hear it half the time. I tried not to let it matter because I thought I was the lucky one. I thought they missed it all--the beauty and the fun and the sheer weightlessness of not having to think about anything, of not having to be anything but a creature alive and full of joy. She was blissfully asleep and I let her be that way. But then I woke her up and now she’s a broken, defective thing and there’s no joy in shifting anymore. She doesn’t feel alive and connected anymore. She feels trapped and disconnected, shut out from all the names of things. She thinks if she finds the names, she’ll be safe again and full of joy. But she won’t ever find all the names.”

Murphy bowed his head and the rain ran in rivulets down his cheeks in a parody of tears.

“I did this to you. Me and my vain confidence that I could show you something better, something
different.”

“You didn’t do it,” I said gently. “I did it. I agreed to it. I knew what I was doing and knew it would change everything. I thought it was time to grow up.”

“You did it to please me. You wanted to please me. I know you did. You’re always wanting to please me as if just the fact you’re alive and with me isn’t enough. You’re always trying so hard, Stanzie. And your wolf’s the same damn way. It’s not good enough to learn words as they come, one or two at a time, no, yours has got to know them all before she can go to the next step. As if anyone could know everything. They can’t. They don’t. Your wolf’s not defective, Stanzie, she’s stubborn. She’s become self aware, don’t you see that? She’ll come around, you watch. Just let her get her feet underneath her. If she wants more words, let her find them. We have time. It’s not a race.”

“I feel so out of my league with you.” I stumbled over a tree root and he caught my arm and saved me from a fall. I turned toward him, shivered in the rain and took hold of both his arms. “I am trying to run with you and with Councilor Manning and Councilor Allerton, and I can’t keep up. What the hell am I doing? I’m trying to be somebody I’m not. Christ, I couldn’t even keep my place in a pack of misfits with the lowest status in all of New England. And half the reason the damn pack was so low in status was because of me--because of my wolf. Now you’ve got me running with Mac Tire and the Councils, and I can’t do it! I can’t do it!”

I shook him as if that would make him see my point but he just stared at me. “Your wolf is evolving. I’m proud of you for what your wolf did today, believe it or not.”

“Proud of me?” I couldn’t take it in. “But I disgraced us. I was the Council’s representative and I disgraced us.”

“Why? Because your wolf sat in the yard and tried to find the word?"

He looked over my shoulder and stiffened a little, my first indication that someone approached. I heard squelching footsteps in the mud and turned to see Vaughn huddled up against the rain in his leather jacket, hands shoved into pockets.

“Christ, what filthy weather,” he remarked to me and Murphy as he drew close.

I wanted to ask him why he was out in it then, but Murphy spoke first. “I’m glad you’re here, mate. I’m at my wits’ end with this woman. Can you say something to make her see reason?”

Vaughn looked straight at me and said, “Gary Planchett is a giant asshole.”

I laughed, I couldn’t help myself. Murphy and Vaughn did too.

At some point my laughter began to ease the terrible pressure that had built up inside my chest ever since I’d shifted back.

“Oh, by the way, that little rat bastard’s got a black eye to go with his fat lip.” Vaughn took one hand out of his pocket and displayed his bruised knuckles.

Murphy grinned and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. We started back to the farmhouse, the rain cold on our faces.

***

Now leave me a comment with the answer to the question above and see what happens!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Inkarna! Author Nerine Dorman Guest Blogs





The End is the Beginning

Inkarna came into being through death. 2010 was not a good year for me. Not only did a musician whose work meant a lot to me pass away, but a close friend and mentor passed a few months later. The first death was more symbolic—part of my past turned to dust. I never knew the man but during the months after his passing, I grieved for an aspect of my young adulthood that was gone. The second death hit me hard. I carried residual guilt for not having had the courage to go see my friend in hospital when he was ill. I felt like I was the one who had been the bad friend. I’d been editing a book of his, about mapping out parts of the psyche. This will now never see print.

I had two dreams that year. Both were vivid, lucid. Both were assurances from these men that I don’t feel regret; that I approach life on my own terms and frame my experiences in my own words. The words of another are anathema. Dreams are open to subjective interpretation, but I still drew comfort from the experiences.

I wrote Inkarna in a fugue state over a period of two months. After that I still had to pass through my own Black Gate as I battled depression, but I pulled through. It’s not always easy seeing the forest for the trees but being able to put words down helped… and still helps. I can’t afford the psychiatrist bills, so writing steps into the breach.

What you see when you hold Inkarna in your hands is the result of my grieving process, of finding that kernel of hope within the emotional devastation. We will all die one day. Death is inescapable. But it’s what we do with our time here and now that matters. Every day might be our last, and that is how I try to live each day: as if it were my last.

In setting down Ash’s story in Inkarna, I wanted to illustrate a theme that had been haunting me for a while. What if death is not the end? What if the Egyptians had the right of it? What if there was a race of beings that were functionally immortal—body snatchers who hand-picked which bodies they would return in?

The idea of possession has always frightened me, and I wanted to break away from the standard tropes of vampires, angels and werewolves that are so popular in the media at present. This is how the Inkarna as a type of supernatural being coalesced. I’ll admit to being influenced in part by the Highlander mythos, as well as the old White Wolf Mummy gaming supplement, which went with Vampire: The Masquerade. I’d always thought that a character that kept returning—albeit in a different body each time—was a very cool concept to run with. This was especially since killing the physical body wouldn’t work in the long run—and a problem for a vampire faced with an eternal and implacable enemy.

I’m well pleased with my Inkarna. They’ve got their own magical system and the milieu as a whole dovetails nicely with my existing stories concerning my black magician and other supernaturals—so there is a fairly good chance I might write a crossover at some point. In fact, there’s already a crossover out there for those who’re interested, written in collaboration with Carrie Clevenger (http://www.amazon.com/Blood-and-Fire-ebook/dp/B006SD3F2S/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1333356333&sr=1-3). It was a bit of a challenge to write so that I didn’t give any spoilers, but Blood and Fire has been well received.

So, the question is, will there be more of the same? Definitely. There’s more than enough scope for intrigue at the end of Inkarna to suggest follow-ups. I’m tickled enough with the milieu to consider setting several novels in the world of my ancient Egyptian reincarnation cult!

Follow me on Twitter @nerinedorman or see my website at http://www.nerinedorman.weebly.com



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Author Interview - DC Petterson

Today I welcome fellow Lyrical Press author, DC Petterson.  He very graciously granted me an interview about writing and his latest novel, A Melancholy Humour.  A book about werewolves, it had me up late one night frantically turning the pages.



Q. How long have you been writing?

I started writing soon after I learned to read.  I think it’s a genetic disorder. I’m one of those pitiable souls who can’t not-write. It’s rather like trying not to blink your eyes -- the effort can only last so long.

I tried getting a few short stories published when I was a teenager. Once out of high school, I got a good job, and started making decent money. That’s a bit of a trap -- it removed any economic incentive to publish. I couldn’t stop writing, though, so I wound up with stacks of unseen manuscripts. The more recent ones are all on computer, with hard disks stuffed so full that bytes keep falling out the side. But I do still have an amazing amount of ancient and yellowing paper in various closets.


Q.  Who are some authors who have influenced your writing and why?

As a kid, my favorite authors were Arthur Conan Doyle and a handful of Golden-Age SF writers -- Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury, Wells, Verne. I discovered Tolkien while in the sixth grade. This was back when it was still hard to find his books. I also read a lot of Lovecraft and Edgar Rice Burroughs. These guys all taught me that the world is far bigger and stranger than anyone can imagine, and if you can imagine it, a story can be woven out of it.

All that is old stuff. More recently, I caught on to Anne Rice with her very first books. I loved Randall Garrett’s “Lord Darcy” series. From them, I learned how to integrate fantasy into a modern setting, though I confess some of my writing still bears a Lovecraftian darkness.

A nonfiction writer who had a profound influence on me is Joseph Campbell. No one is better at explaining the meaning and uses of myth. Creating fiction is an act of mythmaking. I urge all aspiring writers to read everything of his you can get your hands on.


Q. Do you have any authorly quirks you’d like to share? (Like you only write by candlelight or something unusual like that?)

Candlelight? What a great idea! I love writing at night. I’ll turn off the lights and work by the glow of the computer screen and my backlit keyboard. A handy glass of good scotch is always a plus. Finding music that evokes the mood of what I’m writing is almost essential. (Try reading “A Melancholy Humour” with Linkin Park’s “Somewhere I Belong” in your headphones.)

But I suppose my most useful quirk is that I find myself having long conversations with the people I’m writing about. Stories are about people, and it’s my job as a writer to act as a go-between. My readers can’t possibly get to meet these folks if I don’t know them well.


Q. In your novel, Melancholy Humour, you have a man in his late 40s falling in love with a girl of 18. Can you explain your choice to make the age difference so vast?

Well, first, the plot demanded it. A great deal of the story deals with Vincent’s struggles in handling issues of childhood abuse. He has to separate his own past from the realities in front of him. Stories about ethical and moral dilemmas are far more interesting than clear black and white choices.

It’s also about renewal and a recovery of youthful enthusiasm. Vincent has given up on life. Celia offers a kind of rescue. There’s a contrast too of time and eternity -- the ancient and preternatural realities they both have to deal with stand in stark silhouette against her youth. It gives me a chance to explore the interplay of violent death and vibrant life, truly ancient fears and springtime vigor. I like extremes.


Q. You have one of the best werewolf “hooks” I’ve ever read. Can you explain the legare in more detail without giving spoilers to those who haven’t read the novel yet?

Legare” is the Italian for a tie or a knot. In the Middle Ages, “legare” was a word for a love spell.
I use it to describe a link between a human and a wolf.

Even between a dog and a human, a very special bond can form, something deeper than friendship but very different from romantic love. As one of the people in my story says, “a dog is just a wolf you feed.” Wolves were domesticated tens of thousands of years go. The legare between humans and wolves has been around a very long time. We have hunted together for as long as we’ve been human.

In the world of my stories, wolves were bred to form these ties, to need them almost like food. Some humans are particularly open to them. It makes for a symbiotic relationship, one that neither can deny, a loyalty that transcends death, but something that has been ignored and pushed aside for so long that none now clearly remember.

There are dark aspects of it too, things that can be misused. It’s something I’m going to explore many different ways in future stories.
  

Q. Was your journey to publication an easy or difficult one? How did you find Lyrical Press?

As I said, I started submitting stories as a teenager in high school. I’ve got a collection of professional rejections slips of which I’m very proud. A few years back, I stumbled upon a publisher who was just starting out, and was looking for new talent. I submitted a short science fiction novel I’d been particularly pleased with (“Still Life”). They bought it, giving me bragging rights to being a published novelist.

As for Lyrical, I met my editor, Nerine Dorman, though an email list we both had joined. She announced that Lyrical was looking into publishing some darker fantasy. I had just completed “A Melancholy Humour,” so I sent it her way. It apparently fit with what they wanted to do.

I guess the moral of that story is twofold. First, never stop trying. Second, keep your eyes and ears open, and actively look for openings in the areas you want to write.


Q. Any advice to aspiring writers out there? What are a few tips and tools you use in your writing?

There’s the usual advice -- learn how to spell, use proper grammar, learn punctuation. Boring but necessary. Beyond that, here’s what I have to say to beginning writers. Once you’re established, you’re on your own.

Know your audience, which is only secondarily the readers. When you’re just starting out, your audience is the publishers whom you want to buy your stories. Get familiar with what they like to see, in subject matter, tone, and style. If you don’t like the kinds of things they publish, don’t submit your stuff to them -- they won’t like your books any more than you like theirs.

Be unique. Follow a publisher’s offerings as a guideline, but do something original and remarkable with the plot or the characters or the situations. Do something that stands out.

Write what you love. That’s different from the usual advice to write what you know. Writing what you love means writing with passion and conviction. Readers love passion. Besides, if you love it, you’ll have learned about it, and writing what you know will come as a natural side-effect.
  

Q. Where can we find your book to buy it?

You can get it from the publisher, Lyrical Press

Or from Amazon

or Barnes & Nobel



9.) Where can we contact you?

I can be emailed at dcpetterson@rocketmail.com

I occasionally tweet @dcpetterson but my life is boring enough that I seldom have anything interesting to say. I play guitar and keyboards -- but doesn’t everyone? I’m deeply in love, but being incredibly happy doesn’t make good publicity copy. No one wants to hear about my kids or my dogs or my day job writing software or the gnomes and faeries who live in my basement.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hidden in Plain Sight Cover Art

I'm fantastically excited to share the cover art for the third The Wolf Within series novel, Hidden in Plain Sight. 

The series takes a darker turn in this one - Stanzie and Murphy are sent to Maplefair, a Vermont pack, to help them discover what has happened to one of their own - a missing teen named Bethany. Was she secretly pregnant? Did she run away? What does her boyfriend, Cody, know? Does Bethany's disappearance tie in with a series of Other missing teen girls?  Has she become a victim of a serial killer?

These are just some of the questions the Advisors have to answer.  As usual, Stanzie's knack for uncovering the truth leads her into very dangerous waters. 

You can read more here:  http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=97_139&products_id=532

Let me know what you think!  This title releases July 9, 2012.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review of Nerine Dorman's Inkarna

What if you belonged to a secret cult that knew how to transfer the soul from one body to another?
This is the fascinating premise upon which Nerine Dorman’s Inkarna is based.  Who hasn’t wondered what happens after death and if it’s possible to come back?
For Lizzie Perry, a member of House Adamastor of the Inkarna, eternal life in a succession of different bodies is all but assured. If her heart is pure enough and if she has attained the necessary power while an initiate on earth, she will cross over to Per Ankh where she shall await her time on earth again. She will be reunited with her husband, also a member of Inkarna, and others of her particular house.
The problem is – one day she opens her eyes and finds herself in the body of Ashton Kennedy, a young man who has been in a coma.  This is wrong on many levels. For one thing, Inkarna come back in the bodies of children so as to grow into their powers and because it is easier to integrate.  For another, Ash is very definitely a man and Lizzie has always envisioned herself as being eternally female.
The biggest problem is that she cannot remember why she was sent into Ash’s body and it becomes very clear in no time that there was a reason.  Places and people she needs are no longer there. She can’t seem to control the powers she’d developed as Lizzie – they are erratic and scary in the Ash body.  And why is there a plot to destroy her? Is it Inkarna-related or is it the fact that before the coma Ash Kennedy was a real bastard?
As if Lizzie hasn’t got enough to do to figure out why she’s been abruptly stuffed into Ash’s body, she has to relearn the geography and culture of Cape Town – it’s changed quite a bit in the fifty years she’s spent in Per Ankh. There’s also Ash’s clingy girlfriend, Marlise.  And Ash’s ghost – who very much wants his damn body back. Yesterday.
I loved this story for many reasons. First and foremost, Ms. Dorman has written a novel based on Egyptian magic that is both credible and impeccably researched.  Her love for the Red Land is very apparent. I have a passion for Egyptology too and found myself in awe of her grasp of both the metaphysical and mythological aspects.
The juxtaposition of a female soul in a male body was another of my favorite things. Lizzie as Ash is both humorous and moving. As she navigates deeper into the psyche of Ash and becomes more at ease, the reader is taken on a fascinating psychological ride.
For most of the book I thought of Lizzie trapped in Ash’s body, but slowly, believably, I began to think of her as Ash.  Lizzie become more male, but never lost her essential self. 
The more Lizzie discovers about Ash Kennedy and his life before the accident that put him a coma, the more she despises him. The bar scene when Ash is confronted by an ex-lover is especially well done and memorable. I found myself sympathizing with Lizzie as more and more of Ash’s despicable character was revealed. Could she take over and change the world’s perceptions of this flawed man?  Well, possibly, if she didn’t get killed by the rival House Montu of the Inkarna or Ash’s own enemies first.
Ms. Dorman has a wonderful hand with description.  I felt as if I were familiar with Cape Town when, in actuality, I’ve never set foot there. Ms. Dorman’s love of South Africa is evident on each page.
At just under 300 pages, this novel is rich and complex, dark and intriguing and well worth the time it takes to read it. It is not a fast read because attention must be paid to the details, the Egyptian terms and concepts and all the twists and turns of the never predictable plot.
I eagerly look forward to devouring each of Ms. Dorman’s novels as they are bound to appear.
Here is a handy link where you can find the book:  http://www.amazon.com/Inkarna-Nerine-Dorman/dp/0983160392/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1336767973&sr=1-1-catcorr

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Flash - Staring Out To Sea - A Story About A Guy, A Girl and Possibly a Timewarp, But Maybe It Was Really a Ghost After All

I wrote this six years ago for a ghost story weekend with my friends.  I wrote two that year, and this is the one I didn't read aloud .

STARING OUT TO SEA
A Story about A Guy, A Girl and Possibly a Time Warp, but Maybe it Was Really a Ghost After All
I've never been a particularly lucky person - unless you count bad luck which I don't because it makes me feel shitty about myself and who needs that, right?
Anyway, the reason I'm telling you this is because for the first time in my life I've had some good luck. I didn't know it at the time, but I know now.
Here’s the story. I was sitting on the beach staring out to sea attempting to look manly and commanding. You know like a ship's captain gauging the tide before setting sail for the Great Unknown or maybe a pirate surveying the white capped waves looking for my shipmates to show up with the treasure we would bury.
I don't think I looked particularly manly or commanding. Mainly because it was a cold, grey day and my butt felt like a block of ice sitting on the grainy, uncomfortable sand and my nose was running a little. It's hard to look manly with a runny nose.
I was wondering whether or not it would be too gross to wipe my nose on my sleeve, because of course I didn't have a tissue, when I saw a girl's head bobbing in the waves close to shore.
Well, I say a girl's head, but I do want to assure you that there was a body attached to the head and that the head (and the body) were very animate. She was screaming at the top of her lungs. She probably had been for quite some time only I thought it was the seagulls that always swooped around and sometimes  looked ready to attack me because I never have any bread to feed them.
 Heck, I hardly have any bread to feed me. Stupid birds.
A real manly and commanding sort of guy would have rushed straight into the ocean to save the damsel in distress, but I have to admit I hesitated because, well, it was cold out and also? I can 't swim.
So she sort of just washed ashore in a soggy heap.
Casting me a baleful look not unlike the glares I got from the sea gulls, she fumbled to her feet. This was hard for her to do because she was tricked out in some sort of old fashioned long gown, complete with a really deep neckline.
Her hair was waist long and it looked like it might be red, but it was plastered to her skull and face and it dripped sea water .
"My hero," she sputtered
I sincerely wanted to help her, but I was just the tiniest bit afraid she might disembowel me with her fingernails. I thought damsels in distress were shy and swooning creatures; this girl was more like a Mack truck in overdrive. Well, a four foot seven, 90 pound Mack truck. Okay, I know, I'm not good at metaphors. Or is it analogies? Whatever, you know what I mean - the girl was pretty pissed off.
"Uh, do you want to wear my jacket?" I sort of hoped she would decline. It was, as I told you before, cold.
"That is an excellent idea. Give it here!" She held out a peremptory hand. Her long sleeve dripped a steady stream of water to the damp sand.
I divested myself of my jacket. Okay, I took off my jacket and handed it to her. I know, I can't use words like "divested" and get away with it. Flashback to my college writing class and the professor actually spitting coffee all over his desk laughing at me. I didn't think teachers were allowed to be so cruel. Students, sure, but not the teachers.
"Are you going to stand there shivering like a dolt or are you going to take me someplace warm?" She struggled to put on my jacket. I guess her fingers were too cold to manipulate the zipper because she gave up after a few tries.
"Uh," I said. I'm so witty and clever it kills me. "My house is just down the beach a little way. You could go there with me."
"Wonderful. Is it warm?"
"Well, sort of There's no heat actually because I kind of lost my job and didn't pay my gas bill, but ... "
"What? What are you babbling on about? How about a fire, man! A nice roaring fire! Could you perhaps accomplish at least that much for me?" She sounded really mad.
Almost as mad as my mother sounded when I told her my gas was shut off.
"Zachary," she had shouted through the phone in a towering rage. She was always shouting at me in a towering rage. She'd been in a towering rage since I was like seven years old and the time I tried to cook mud pies in the oven and the smell didn't go away until she had professional carpet and drape cleaners in.
"I cannot believe how irresponsible you are. Just like your father! Don't expect me to send you money to pay the bill. You need to learn how to take care of yourself. I won't always be here to do that you know!"
I very nearly said, "Thank God" out loud but managed to disguise it with a coughing fit.
'”And you can stop pretending you are sick to play upon my heartstrings. No money!" She hung up in my ear.
"What are you doing?" I jumped in shock. The girl’s face flushed dark red. "I am soaked to the bone and you stand there with your eyes glazed and mouth hanging open.  Are you mad? Are you simple?"
''No, I was thinking about my mother. Sorry," I muttered. I led the way to my little house. Okay, my little shack.
Back in the summer when I'd rented it from some old guy who said he was sick of nature and the seagulls and wanted some action with the ladies and the dice and moved to Las Vegas, I thought the shack was perfect. It had an ocean view - well, sort of if you craned your neck just the right way while peering out the tiny bathroom window, you could catch a glimpse of the ocean. Otherwise it was sand dune and giant rocks on one side and two lane highway on the other.
In the summer it was cool. Literally because the air conditioning was on full blast. In the winter, because I couldn't pay my gas bill,  it was not so great really.
I fumbled with the key in the lock and I could feel the girl's gaze penetrating my back like icy little daggers. The more she glared, the more I fumbled until finally she shoved me out of the way and did it herself.
She stopped dead just inside the door and stood there staring around like she'd never seen a living room before.
Well, okay, my living room was pretty awful. A ratty old couch I picked up on the side of the road, and ripped old recliner that one of my college roommates gave me when I flunked out . It was sort of a memento of the keg parties we used to have. The makeout sessions we'd had on that recliner were always a highlight of those parties.
When I say makeout sessions, I don't mean with each other. I mean with girls that came to our parties. Or, okay, this one girl that came to our parties. She was sort of weird and she smelled kinda funky, but she really knew how make out in a recliner and once you drank six or seven beers, she was pretty cute.
Anyway, so I had this horrible furniture and I suppose the girl was used to nicer stuff because she looked absolutely shocked.
"What, what, what is that?" She pointed a cold finger directly at my battered old television set. Some really dumb car commercial was playing.
"Yeah, I know. I hate that guy too. Galveston Stan let me sell you a sedan – how stupid. And they play it like a million times a day."
"How does he move within the frame? Is it witchcraft?" The girl’s lips were icy blue.
"Huh?" I said,
"And what sort of iron monster is he petting?"
"You mean the Honda?" I was totally lost. "It's not really an iron monster. My uncle drives one. It's kinda mainstream if you ask me. Not that I have one. I should talk, huh?"
"Where on earth am I?" The girl asked. “'This is not the same as it was."
"As what was?" Again with the witty remarks, I kill myself.
Her gaze strayed to the calendar I had tacked to the wall. Harry Potter was riding his broom with a big dragon in pursuit.
"Is is witchcraft!" she howled. "But why doesn't he move within the frame?"
''That's only in the movies. I don't know how they do that. Special effects are awesome. But he's not a witch, he's a wizard."
''This does not bode well for my soul." She moved closer to the calendar but slowly, as if she wasn't sure whether or not it might bite her.
"February 2006?" Her voice was a whisper. "The year 2006?"
"Ever since midnight on New Year's Eve," I said, trying to sound cool, but really coming off sounding stupid.
"But when I went overboard, it was February 1846. I don't understand."
I goggled at her. Your eyes feel funny when you goggle, you know that?
"You can't be serious. 1846. That's like a hundred years ago. Okay, that's like almost two hundred years ago. Okay, that was like a hundred fifty .. anyway. that's a long time ago. You can't be here. You'd be dead by now."
"Maybe I am. Maybe I drowned. Maybe I'm a ghost!" The girl sounded ready to scream again, only this time not at me in a rage, but in a panic. I'm not good around panicky girls.
"If you're a ghost, you shouldn't be freezing cold or solid." I said.
"You know the truth of ghosts? You're an expert?" Now she sounded like her normal self
"Well, I never heard of a ghost like you. You seem pretty substantial to me. Maybe you hit a time warp or something."
"A what?" Her lower lip started to tremble and I have to say even soaking wet and her hair all stringy, she looked really cute. Certainly way better than the girl from the recliner. Even after six or seven beers.
"Like you went through a thin space in the fabric of time and ended up ahead in the future."
"We're back to witchcraft again. I knew there was something strange about Captain da Silva beside the fact that first he proposed marriage to me and then he threw me overboard the minute I said yes. He's a witch. He threw me into the future. I don't understand because I agreed to be his wife. Would a man do that to his betrothed? Even a man who practiced the Black Arts?" She paced as she spoke, dripping water over the dirty hardwood floor.
''This Captain da Silva proposed to you on the deck of a ship? Wow. That's seriously romantic. Guys in the olden days really knew how to do things right.
"Of course he proposed to me on the deck of a ship. It was his ship and when my father died of influenza, I had no chaperone aboard. It was the only thing a chivalrous man of honor could do."
"Well, maybe he was a chivalrous man, but sounds to me like he didn't want to get married. So when you said yes, he freaked out and threw you overboard." I said.
"The impertinence!" screamed the girl, stomping her foot.
"He threw you overboard awfully close to shore. Was it really necessary to propose? You would have been unchaparoned for about five minutes before docking. That 's not so bad, is it?"
"I would have been ruined," spat the girl. "Five minutes, five hours, five days, it is all the same in the eyes of society."
"Say, you're unchaparoned right now. I mean I like you and all that, but do I have to propose to save your honor? That might be cool. None of my friends had to get married to save a girl's honor. None of my friends are actually married. Or have girlfriends even."
"I would rather die than marry an oaf like you." Her eyes flashed and I thought she might hit me. "Don't you dare insult me."
"Fine. The thing is, you're here in 2006 and everyone you know is in 1846 and you don't want to marry me because I'm oaf but I'm also the only person you know in 2006. So you're screwed basically."
"What is this 'screwed’?" She asked. "Is it some sort of dark magic?"She dripped more water on the floor.
"I want to go back." Her voice was decisive.
"Well, I guess you need to find the time warp,” I said"
"I know nothing of this time warp. You are a babbling idiot, but it appears you know more than me about this subject. Take me to the time warp."
"We haven't even established that there was a time warp. How do you know that you' re not a ghost, cursed to haunt Galveston after drowning in the ocean a hundred years ago?"
"I refuse to be a ghost. I have my whole life ahead of me. Even married to that odious lout Captain da Silva, I would still be able to go to dances and suppers and wear beautiful clothes and have my maid pile my hair upon my head and slip expensive jewels on my fingers and around my throat. Especially married to him. He's extremely well off. One of the richest man in Texas. I swear Papa died on purpose in order to see me well matched in matrimony."
"Do people get to refuse to be ghosts?" I asked. "I mean that's fucking with fate and destiny. Can we do that sort of thing?"
"I can do anything I set my mind to do. You, on the other hand, seem imminently suited to be a puppet dancing on the strings of fate." She smiled as if this actually amused her.
"No sir!" I yelped, stung to the core. "I can do things too. I didn't want to work so I sort of just slacked off until they fired me. I got what I wanted - free time to sit on the beach and stare out to sea."
"I refuse to be trapped here in this pestilential time with this ridiculous little boy." She stomped her foot again. "Perhaps if I return to the ocean I could swim out to sea and be returned to my own time. It's worth a try!" She took off running for the beach.
"You'll kill yourself!" I ran after her. She could really run fast for a girl in a long, wet dress.
"I thought I was already dead!"
She had too big a head start and I was too heavy of a smoker. I didn’t catch her before she threw herself into the cold ocean and swam, her long red hair floating out like strange seaweed behind her.
''This is what you get for skipping swimming lessons to go read comic books in the park," I told myself as she got smaller and smaller.
One minute her head was there, bobbing on the waves. The next it just wasn't.
I waited a long time for her body to wash ashore, but it never did.
I never told anybody about her. Well, nobody until you today.
I know I was slacking off and not cleaning the men's room like you told me to, but you see, on the way to the men's room I had to walk past the new display here at the museum. The Girls of Galveston , that's the one. All those old fashioned photographs and old jewelry and tiny tiny shoes. Why were people so little  in the olden days? Nobody's ever been able to explain that to me.
Anyway, there's this one photo of this girl wearing a long gown with her hair piled up on her head and lots of jewels on her fingers and everything. It's black and white so you can't tell the color of her hair, but I bet you it's red. It’s her, the girl from the beach.
The weird thing is, the picture's dated 1852. And the caption under her name is "Mrs.Juan da Silva at her beach estate". Da Silva is the name of that captain who threw her overboard. She did it. She made it back. She married that guy. which I can't understand because I don't think I would marry anybody who tried to kill me, but the thing is - she did it. She said you could do anything you wanted if you wanted to bad enough and she was right.
I wasn't even going to tell you this story, but you looked upset when you were yelling at me and I think you must be a nice guy deep down. So, don't feel bad about firing me. I’m a slacker, I know.
But the thing is, I'm not going to be a slacker anymore. That girl said she would get back to her time and she did it. So why can't I do what I want? I don't want to live in a shack with no heat and work cleaning out restrooms at a museum. I don't want my mom bossing me around for the rest of my life. I don't want to be a loser staring out to sea.
What do I want to be? Well, that's the hard part. But at least I know what I don’t want. It’s a start anyway.
I'm gonna leave now. When I walk out that museum door, my life starts over and is going the way I want it. What? Yeah, I’ll take the back entrance to the employee parking lot, that's cool.