Saturday, May 26, 2012

Audio Book Giveaway! Secondhand Spirits, read by Xe Sands

I received this amazing package in the mail the other day...with Secondhand Spirits read by Xe Sands

It's a 7-CD set, and Xe reads the book all the way through in a melodious, graceful voice.

It's so funny...there are sections that she reads in a different way than I heard them in my mind, and yet  somehow it seems right.

So for the long Memorial Day weekend, I'm announcing a contest:  leave me a comment that includes an idea for future blog posts, and 1 week from today I'll pick a winner and send out the audio version of Secondhand Spirits, read by the wonderful Xe Sands!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

 Yesterday I started out researching the Fire Elemental, and stumbled onto the funniest looking critter, called the Axolotl.

 Now, I ask you, doesn't this look like some kind of critter Pixar might have invented?  But it's a real creature, complete with feathery external gills and that little mouth. Unfortunately, it's endangered these days, as clean fresh water around Mexico City is harder and harder to find.

I learned about this guy while I was researching the Aztec god known as Xolotl, who was said to have transformed himself into an Axolotl from time to time.  Xolotl was the "dog-faced" god of the underworld, of fire, and of misfortune and bad luck; he also escorted the dead to the underworld.  He was the twin brother of the more famous and revered "feathered serpent" known as Quetzalcoatl. 

Nice article on the link between the Xolotl and the Axolotl, here:

Anyway...this is how my mind works.  From the Fire Elemental, represented by the salamander, to the Aztec/Mexican salamander known as *know* this is making its way into a book.

By the way, every wonder why the Fire Elemental is a salamander, of all things?  Apparently when people threw logs into fires there were often salamanders hiding within.  Upon landing on the fire they would emerge and run to safety, leading people to believe that they had risen from the fire, wet and sleek and impervious to the heat.

Mythology is so much wilder than anything my imagination could ever cook up!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Awkward Adolescence

The last couple of weeks, my manuscript for the fifth book in the Witchcraft Mystery series, Tarnished and Torn, has been in an awkward adolescence.  Scenes and sentences stick out awkwardly, smashing themselves on door frames and knocking over mom's favorite vase.  It's geeky and clumsy and doesn't quite know what it wants to say.  Too loud in some areas, too hushed in others...the timing's lousy.

It would be easy enough to give up on it...except that I'm its mother.  I can see a brilliant future shining through T&T's acne and braces.  There are occasional moments of grace and humor that catch me by surprise, and instances of vulnerability and beauty when I can see the sweet curve of its neck and want to reach out and stroke it, but I hesitate: I don't want to embarrass it. 

So instead...the two of us will keep living together, working toward maturation.  It's a difficult process, and like the proverbial making-of-the-sausage, it's probably best not to witness it, but to wait for the final product. 

Fingers crossed, it will be worth the struggle!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The long slog

Writers are whiners by nature.  By far our favorite complaint is that we don't have enough time to write our novels: between bookstore/library visits, conferences, workshops, writing blogs and interviews, correcting proofs and making editorial changes...well, sometimes it feels that the true work of a writer is anything *but* writing. 

However...give an author a couple of weeks of full-time writing, and you'll hear us complain about getting precisely what we wished for:  "I'm tired of sitting at my computer.  I have a backache.  I have no new ideas..."

So here, for what it's worth, are a few tips I've come up with to stave off the mental and physical effects of the long slog at the computer:

1) Drink lots and lots of water.  This is good for your kidneys and skin and a number of other items...but it's also good at reminding you to stand up and move around every half hour or so (depending on bladder size)

2) If you find you're not standing up every half an hour or so (despite my water trick) set a timer -- I have a half-hour glass that I love.  Stand up and stretch, lift your arms over your head at the very least.  Even if you do no more than that, it's good for your circulation and your brain.

3) Do a few jumping jacks, or touch your toes...or if you live in a two-story house, climb the stairs a few times.  Anything to get the blood circulating.

4) Choose small projects (15-20 minutes) to do a few times a day. Clean out a drawer, do a little gardening.  If it's a bigger project, just make sure you can put it down and start up again without any trouble.  Lately I've been painting my ceiling, a patch at a time!

5) Take a real lunch/snack/tea break a few times a day, and if possible go OUTSIDE!  The sunshine or even cold air will invigorate you...a brisk walk is one of the best ways I've found to shake out new story ideas.

***And never forget to carry a tiny booklet or piece of paper and pen to jot down ideas!***

Any ideas you'd care to share?  I'm always looking!


Wow.  I  I blink and a couple of years go by!  Sorry about that I've discovered my password, I'll try to post more regularly on this blog! 

At the moment I'm deep in the writing of Tarnished and Torn, the fifth Witchcraft Mystery.  But I just realized the fourth in the series, In a Witch's Wardrobe, is coming out in a month and a half...yay!

More soon...