At Last! And a Little Preview for You.

I Thought My Career was on its Deathbed, but it was Only a Bad Dream

 

DEATHBED DRAWING

I feel so bad that things have slipped so far as far as this blog and my publishing…I really thought I’d have things up and running sooner than this, but the Vampire 2016 had to eek out the last drop of my blood…

It hasn’t been all bad. I haven’t been idle.  I have six first drafts to edit and all but one should be fairly easy. Dark Reliquary needs a full second layer because of the way the characters worked out. The others won’t be hard. Its just that, while my life was so unstable, all I could write were first drafts. Those kind of poured out, and I wanted to take advantage of the energy while I had it. The second Poppy Farrell Mystery: Taller Than Our Souls, went into a cul de sac plot-wise, so I had to set it aside. for a while. The Russian Doll got longer than I’d planned as did The Vampire’s Bride. This was meant to be a novella. sequel to The Vampire’s Mirror, but it is now a full length novel.

I know there are no excuse,s so I hope to make this up by publishing a lot of things fairly quickly as all these get finished. I hate to let my readers down, but my life has been a roller coaster forever… But—that’s why I have so many stories to tell. I also had a species of writer’s block. It wasn’t for lack of ideas, but lack of words. I couldn’t think in words! Terrible thing for a writer!

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Little Preview

In 2007, I outlined a novel based on some harrowing supernatural events that I experienced in London. I think of the plot as Dan Brown meets Anne Rice: an Occult Thriller. It involves a family curse and how the protagonist, Madeleine Dashwood, deals with her legacy.  It takes place in London, Ireland, New York and finally Salem Massachusetts. I have been in all of those places, but one pivotal scene happens in Toledo, Spain and I haven’t been there. I was waiting and hoping to have the money to take that trip, but haven’t gotten it yet. I also filled up several notebooks trying to find a way to begin this book, how to structure the plot ( it began as a screenplay with a flashback) and whether to focus more on the Thriller elements or the Dark Fantasy. Finally the solution arrived and it merges both very well, and runs in a  chronological fashion. People like that best, I hear. I also found Madeleine wanted to tell the story in her own voice, therefore First Person.

The story is very scary and I think that was another reason I put it off. The things I have to tune into and immerse myself in, are dangerously dark. But the plot is exciting and has great twists and turns. Madeleine is a sympathetic character and her struggle is intense. I think people will enjoy the strangeness and mystery of Madeleine’s quest to understand her nature and find her stolen soul.

I early January, I had a dream of how to start The Demon Lover and it began pouring out of me. So again, I am writing a first draft. What I want to share is the Prologue to this book. It will give you a foretaste, a teaser.Though the Prologue is satirical, the rest of the book is serious. I hope you enjoy this!

I will get these books  done—all 6 novels,plus a few short pieces, by 2018.

I am aware that the title, The Demon Lover, has been used many times before, for centuries in fact, but it is the perfect title for this story. If you think of something better, please suggest away!

 

DASHWOOD

 The Demon Lover

Churchyard Bottom Wood, London

1760

Sir Francis Dashwood, Grand Master of the Order of the Friars of Saint Francis of Wycombe, better known as the Hellfire Club, raised his forked staff to the night winds of the north. He raised his staff to the forest, to the high oaks, copper beeches and mountain ash, to the owls and gathering crows. A ring of tall cathedral candles flared round the circumference of the clearing, while within its orbit, twelve hooded men stood with raised staffs, intoning the incantation in sacred mimicry of their Grand Master.

Though outsiders viewed the Order with skepticism, thinking it a mere front for secret debaucheries and drunken revels, the inner circle quested after more profound mysteries. On this thirty-first day of October, 1760, Sir Francis and his men had slipped away to the Borough of Haringey, marched in procession through the vast oak groves of the Forest of Middlesex, to the secluded glen of Churchyard Bottom Wood to commence their most solemn and nefarious Rite.

They’d performed this ritual many times before with, (they in their besotted minds believed), no result. Still the demonic spirits were said to take notice of them. Drawn to the theatricality of satin robes and gilded staffs shining like jewels in the midst of the wildwood, they waited for greater enticements to manifestation. Barring that, certain alignments of a moon and stars would enable them to step through the curtain of the night and astonish their devotees.

Sir Francis would have liked to perform a blood sacrifice, but could find no volunteers. So pointing his staff at the earth, at the dark depression in the ground that was known as a plague pit because skeletons had been discovered there, he passed a dagger across his palm and let his blood flow freely to the earth. He called upon the infernal powers, by the issuance of blood and terror, to rise. His merry men intoned in unison, the responses to his cry.

The crows circled lower; winds tore through the trees scattering leaves like motes of fire. The etheric flames that marked the Circle of Art sprang up, bright blue in the dusk. Sir Francis marveled at the distant echo of a hunting horn. The trees rustled, and the ground split open, emitting smoke as from the fiery pit of Hell, into the woods.

Every living thing grew still and silent.

The hunting horn echoed again.

Sir Francis fell back, for he saw a sight he never thought to see. Out of the trees, tall and smoky, with eyes shining yellow in the night, stepped a shaggy, naked god. Rising from his head were the horns of a stag; rising from his loins was an enormous cock.

Sir Francis trembled. Gripping his sweaty staff he looked around to see all of his men lying face down on the ground, hiding from the horror of their deity.

The god stared. Its eyes flashed as if lightning crossed them. Its antlers rose up like trees. Though sprouting from the head of a man, they were not incongruous, but magnificent. Primal. Terrifying.

What do you want? the voice growled from the shadow of the god’s head.

The god was outside of the circle of blue fire, manifest in the red-flamed Triangle of Arte, therefore under complete control of the Magus. Watching the creature’s cloven hoof inch toward the very edge of the mystic line, Sir Francis raised his staff.

“Give me power, oh Master. Power and riches and long life. Nay! Grant me the secret of immortality!”

The god seemed to seethe, to grow taller, to loom.

What will you give in exchange for such treasures?

Sir Francis hadn’t thought to wage a bargain. The Rite had never worked before. He didn’t want to give anything up, for everything he owned was precious to him. He had to think fast.

“Money! I’ll leave seven guineas on the altar for you.”

The god roared.

Do not mock me!

“Oh… You don’t want money? What could you possibly need? Being a spirit.”

The god leaned toward Sir Francis, its head transgressing into the protective barrier of blue flames. Its whisper was like a serpent’s hiss.

Souls… I need souls…

Though shaken and humbled, Sir Francis wasn’t about to give his soul to this demon. He thought of something distant, so far away as to render it meaningless.

“A soul you shall have. One of my descendants. Seven generations from now. Does that suffice, Master?”

The god stood up. How tall it was! A veritable giant. Its eyes glowed brighter in its shadowy face and it seemed to smile.

Sir Francis’s head spun. He stabbed his staff into the ground and leaned on it as the entire forest swirled around like a carousel. He tried to focus his eyes on the antlered god, but it had melted into the night-blown shadows of the woods.

“Aaaahhhh!” Sir Francis cried from he knew not where. Utterly bewildered, he doubled over, clutching at his chest. The emptiness was horrible, as if his very guts had been burned out.

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London

Highgate

1978

And round about his home, the glory

That blushed and bloomed

Is but a dim-remembered story

Of the old time entombed.

                                                        —-E.A. Poe

 

The previous pages are from a novel about an infamous ancestor of mine, Sir Francis Dashwood. The minute I read them I knew, deep in my soul, that I was the seventh.

I did not own the book. It was in my father’s abandoned library hidden amongst stacks of genealogies, history books, and various notebooks filled with my father’s feverish handwriting. The book was a dog-eared paperback with a lurid cover of a half naked woman inside a red pentagram on a black background. Hellfire! was scrawled across the top. The author’s name escapes me. Though the book looked as if it been read many times over by my poor, tormented  father, the importance of these particular pages was signified by both a ribbon marker, and a turned down corner.  Though I was taught never to deface a book, I tore them out. I tore them out because they belong to me, and I can’t tear them out of myself.

The sins of the fathers shall be visited on the daughters.

So, somewhat, the Bible says. I know the Bible through and through. It is tattooed on my brain, and shackled to my wrists as tightly as these pages from my father’s penny dreadful, Hellfire!

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Morna: A Novel of Ideas

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Click the name: MORNA: A Celtic Tale of the Selkies

 

One of my fans wrote a review for MORNA saying she liked the book, but not the characters. This gave me food for thought because I like the characters in this book, though they are not the warm and fuzzy kind. They are what I call Elemental. At the mercy of their environment, swept up in the forces of nature so powerful, they may be driven mad, these characters transcend the human and become mythical.

Sometimes a story, though character driven, is not about them being lovable, but about testing their personalities to the limit.

Like many of my stories, MORNA was inspired by a combination of faery tales and folk ballads. There is an English folk song called House Carpenter that tells the story of a woman lured by the promise of material wealth to leave her good but poor husband and join a seductive ship captain that turns out to be the devil. Lady Rowan’s character is based on this ballad while the Selkie seems neither good not evil, but a creature of the elemental sea.

This is my favorite version by Pentangle:

Compelled by this mysterious and  foreboding ballad, I thought it would be fun to take a wealthy, powerful, rather spoiled woman, have her lose everything, and see what she would do. In my mind’s eye, I saw a medieval lady with long auburn hair standing at a tower window looking out to sea. This was Lady Rowan come to visit me and have me tell the story of why she was in the tower looking out, waiting for the ship with the broad red sail. I knew by the energy of the sea and the land that this was Scotland. I knew the ship’s captain was an otherworldly being. But how did a great lady, an aristocrat, end up in a ruined tower at the far edge of the world? Kidnapping was one way she might be there, prisoner of of some thwarted and  jealous  lover. War was another way. I felt this plot was more in keeping with what I wanted Lady Rowan to go through. She must be made to lose, not only her material wealth, her pride, and vanity, but also her dearly loved husband to the ravages of war.

Like the untamed power of the sea that carries the Selkie to her on a dream, or a hallucination, or a fantasy, war is the arena in which Hugh encounters his demons. Rowan is engaged in a struggle against the forces of nature, Hugh against his fellow man.

The children are pawns, as are the two old servants. The young guards, though removed from the fields of battle, nevertheless suffer the onslaught of powers stronger than themselves. Then there come the wizards, the Macloeds, wielding their dark and ruthless magic…

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How much can one woman take before she loses her mind? Or, had she already lost it when she looked out to sea and  saw the Selkie’s ship? So isolated is she, that she has no way of knowing if she is mad or not, because there’s no one to compare herself to.

Was her pride humbled, or not? And Morna…daughter of the sea and two fathers, how does she tilt the scales into the waiting hands of Fate? And what is Fate? How do you know when Reality butts up against the Unseen, and the walls of normalcy give way, what, or whom, could possibly have orchestrated such a descent into darkness? Or why…

 

 

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OMG! Morna is Out!

Morna

On Sale for 99c for my fans!

For those of you who have been patiently waiting for a new book from me,

I have good news! Morna is available on Amazon Kindle!!!! 

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Here’s the link:http://amzn.to/1Q9EvbG

 

What is Sule Skerry, but a sea within a sea and no place on earth…

The year is 1296.
Lady Rowan and her two small daughters set sail under cover of darkness to find sanctuary from the War of Scottish Independence. Their destination grows more elusive, and they end up on an island at the very edge of the known world. Barley surviving in a salt-encrusted ruin of a castle over looking the sea, Lady Rowan sees a mysterious ship with a red sail coming close to the shore. On board is handsome young man who seduces her into his realm, a Selkie who changes her life forever…

 

This book took a long tome to write because of the level of research I needed to do. The Scottish Wars of Independence, Scottish folklore and sea lore, and seafaring. Medieval ships! What a surprise! Thanks to the model-builders, we have some very wonderful material to draw upon.

 

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There was also a problem of style. Morna was originally planned to be a short story inspired by the writings of Scottish poet, Fiona Macleod. As it began to grow in length, it also grew in complexity and needed lots of “shelf time” to resolve the many elements of the story. It is Romantic in the old sense, Mystical and Dreamy as the Gaelic languages convey. It is also very dark.

A tale of survival, reality clashing with supernatural forces and vast, eternal influences symbolized by the sea, Morna leaves the reader to ponder whether Lady Rowan’s visions are induced by clairvoyance or madness. Haunting beauty is the theme, love, loss and creative survival.

Allow the sea driven language to carry you away into the land of the Selkies and you wil find many treasures in this book. You have to just go with it and leave logic to the scientists. The power of myth is at your command.

 

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Where Have I Been?

My dear friends, sometimes life happens. Despite my best efforts, writing has been slowed down and was downright stalled for a while because of various adventures in my life. But! I do have something coming out soon!

A Tale of the Selkies called The Twilight Sea is almost ready to go. I have been unhappy with the male models I tried on the cover—they were just too modern looking— and finally figured out what to do about it. I will share that as soon as I get it.

 

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Here is the cover for the sequel. I thought I would use it, but that was a response to frustration with my progress. Morna is not the main character in The Twilight Sea–her mother, Lady Rowan is. Lady Rowan is a Scottish aristocrat whose husband, Lord Hugh, sends her and his two little daughters out of Scotland to remove them from the violence of the War for Scottish Independence in 1296.  Lady Rowan and her daughters take a ship to far off Norway, but after a shipwreck, they are accused of witchcraft and thrown overboard. They find land on Fair Isle, the furthest north of the Orkney Islands.

Having lost everything and  Lady Rowan and her tiny band of children and servants move into an ancient ruined castle at the edge of the sea, Dun Usgar. While, there Lady Rowan spies a strange ship coming into the harbor, piloted by a spirit, a mysterious lover, the Selkie…

Please enjoy the magic!

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A Work in Progress: The Twilight Sea

SCENE:

As she stepped down the path to the shore, Lady Rowan knew she was risking her very soul, for spilling over with infernal desires, her gown and her hands and her feet, the path running down before her, shimmered with radiance of pure gold.

She’d always had a weakness for gold.

But this realization did not stop her. Surely one night of adventure in all her long months of privation, could not be held against her. She would repent. God was meant to forgive, after all, her sins.

And if the Selkie were real, perhaps, once he knew that she and her little band of Scots meant no harm, he would help them.

A small currach bobbed in the surf as if it were waiting for her. She’d never seen it there before. The two troughs from the Merrow had drifted further down the shore, their long ropes keeping them just within sight. She glanced up at the ship glimmering far out on the low tide, and wondered if the currach had been dropped from that otherworldly vessel to fetch her. But who could have piloted it over the waves and anchored it here? One swift look around told her she was alone on the shore.

It was obvious the currach had been sent for her. What would it mean if she stepped into it? She knew it would take her to the ship. Would she be able to come back? She had her daughters to consider.

But this is not really happening, is it? It is naught but a night vision sent by spirits of the sea. One that will dissolve at daybreak and leave me waking in my bed… .as it has before.

Careful of her shoes, she stepped into the currach. There was no need to row; there were no oars. Before she could sit down, an otherworldly wind blew up. Filling her golden mantel like a sail, it carried her over the water to the gangplank. She saw waves washing through the hull of the ship as if it were nothing more than a mirage, or a phantom, or a dream. The plank, upon which she was to ascend to the deck, was barely visible: a mere line of light.

How could it bear her weight? It was not possible!

Let it be a dream, she thought. She rose up the gangplank to the deck of the ship as if she, too, were a spirit. A wispy bit of nothing….

Was it possible for the soul to leave the living body and wander away on its own?

This notion set her heart pulsing.

Arriving at the top of the plank, she was instantly transfixed by the shadowy figure that awaited her.

Powerful yet insubstantial, like a pillar of smoke or cloud, the young man stood at the prow of the ship. The bright color of his scarlet robes bled through the dark like his own heart’s blood. His face was pensive, his eyes haunted. He took Lady Rowan’s hand in a clasp like ice, and spoke with the low, whispering voice of the sea.

Well met, my love.

“Well met,” said she.

He bowed almost to the ground before her.

“How did we meet?” Lady Rowan asked. “I have no memory of it.”

I saw you at the prow of a ship, a vision of beauty coming through the mist.

So this was indeed the man whose face had appeared before her when she’d bared her breasts on the Merrow, gazing at her through the mist with the black, glistening eyes of a seal.

And as one recalls a fleeting vision, she remembered the first time she’d seen the ship drifting slowly out of the fog appearing among the dolmens of the sea, and unfurling its bright red sail. She remembered her vigil at the narrow window, sensing the presence of a tall, dark figure in the prow, how he’d come to her that night and declared his love.

It seemed the ship, and its enigmatic helmsman, had never been, had always been, just at the edge of her consciousness, for as long as she could remember.

His soft, dark eyes spoke to the ache in her heart. She allowed him to lead her to a pavilion of violet hangings lined with scarlet.

Inside, was a table set with tall, flaring candles, goblets of gold, a cask of wine, and fine platters of oysters and fishes fresh plucked from the sea. There was also a bed hung with red silken veils spattered over with pearls. And folded over the end of the bed was a sealskin as brown and soft as the finest cloak, or the furred raiment of a king.

Taking in the sumptuous surroundings, Lady Rowan sat in the high-backed chair and spread her skirts out around her. The stranger was pouring wine into two golden goblets. His long fingers, flickering with costly rings, were thin and pointed at the tips. What this magical creature wanted of her was clear, but the voices of her children echoed in her mind, warning her to wake and flee this marvelous encounter.

Not yet. Not yet… She would never abandon her girls, but she had a right to a bit of indulgence having been so long deprived.

The man’s face, in the candlelight, was finely composed of high cheekbones, a straight nose and pale, curving lips above a strong chin. The green lights in his deep-set eyes scintillated like embers sinking back into darkness.

He held one of the goblets up for her to take.

Please.

She took it. The wine was richly red and charged with lights. She held her goblet up and joined its edge to his, pledging her love for just this night.

She drank. The taste was unpleasant, salty, like the sea, slightly metallic, heady. She wouldn’t need much to dull the inner voices urging her to run.

“What is your name?” she asked him.

I have no name…

“Where do you come from?”

Sule Skerry…

Sule Skerry was in the far north, a sea within the sea, and no place on earth. The island that, for wickedness, had sunk below the waves. So Fia had told her.

“Who are your people?”

He looked at her with hunger.

My people are dying, vanishing from the world…

Before she could protest, he took her in his arms, and to the strains of distant echoing drones, whirled her round and round. Every beating measure filled her heart with ecstasy; every glance of the stranger’s eyes unlocked desires long denied…

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Winner of Signed Paperback of The Lady on Yellow and More…

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At last! The luck of the draw gets a book to Nancy Hammons! I hope she enjoys it and is not too shocked to see what a doorstopper it is. Kindles and other e-readers are so decieving. You can hide thousands of pages inside these tiny gadgets and have no idea how much you’ve read.  But just think—-with a Kindle, you can prop up the short leg the table with War and Peace!

 

NEWS

I went into 2015 thinking of all the books I would finish, and how quickly, since I have 5 first drafts to work on. But things have slowed down this year. Life has interverned—not least, the need to take care of a health issue that requires several chiropractic ajustments per week and lots of exercise. The good news is that I am recovering very well and hope to get my time and energy back soon, and get these books done for you.

All is not lost, though. Having these first drafts means that when the new books do come out, they will come out fairly shortly behind each other. The first will probably be the Selkie story as it closest to being done. I was thinking of writing 2 of these books, but plan to just write the one now so I can focus on potentially popular series, like the Poppy Farrell Mysteries.

The second Poppy Farrell Mystery, Taller Than Our Souls, will probably be next because of high reader interest. It’s a weird one with Elizabethan magic, a haunted lake, and a black house on the grounds of the boy’s boarding school, Bogg’s House. It may be a bit erudite for YA, but who says teenagers can’t enjoy a bit of history? Think of some of the material Deborah Harkness uses in A Discovery of Witches. 

 

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The Sovay book will vie for completion with The Vampire’s Bride whch is meant to be a novella and may still succeed in staying short. If it does it will win the race to publication. I want to see if this series of erotic vampire novellas will take off. I may hold it back until I have a few written, then set them loose in 2016. We shall see how the cookie crumbles.

Dark Reliquary will be last. It will have to double in size, making it another 100,000 word book.  The story is extremely powerful and dark. Think Game of Thrones with vampires. I really want to develop this book. It has tons of potential.

A side effect of recovering from my injuries is that my mood has lightened up and I am finding it difficult to go to the very dark  emotional space that Dark Reliquary requires. I used to be a actress, and I write like a Method actor in that I must really sink into the scenes and experience the deep emotions they call for in order for the characters to come alive on the page. I just can’t go there at the moment.

I’m sure this newfound happiness is only temporary—so do not despair! I will not change to writing Romantic comedies—-yet.

We can inhabit all realms….good and bad. lol!

Romance pays well.

But, hey! Who needs money?

I’ll be working toward getting The Shadows into print and onto other platforms as well, this year. I can’t believe we’re pushing the end of March already! Look for the a book this spring and the rest in the last 2 quarters of 2015.

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