NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza!

Indie Publishing – My Latest Lesson

It’s rather amazing, how much there is to learn about indie (independent) publishing.  I’m getting practice with blogging.  Now I need to try a pitch.  The NaNoWriMo organization had a “Pitchapalooza” this month.  It’s supposed to be only 200 words… (Yikes!)  This is a random drawing; only 25 entries will actually be judged. I stand a snowball’s chance. However, I need to create a pitch anyway…  So here goes!

Pitch:  Atonement, Tennessee

Esmeralda Lawton is sick of the big city. “Ralda” was betrayed until trust became a theoretical concept. So it’s a dream come true when she buys an old estate, complete with historic cemetery. Okay, she isn’t excited about the cemetery, but she’s strangely drawn to the estate. Atonement, Tennessee, a quaint town, seems like the perfect place for her. However, her new life isn’t quiet.

The house is full of antiques. Some have extraordinary properties — a brass bed causes strange dreams, and a mirror shows the truth of who you are.

A mysterious neighbor secretly watches over the graveyard. There’s more to him than meets the eye, but what? Then there’s Gwydion, owner of Fae’s Flowers. She stubbornly resists her feelings for him.

Ralda suspects that people are drawn to Atonement to, well — atone. She wonders what sins led her there. However, her ancestress made the mistakes.

Atonement is home to more than humans. Supernaturals go there too. Some have fallen far.

This urban fantasy, seasoned with Celtic mythology, comes with a side-order of mystery. Are you sad to see the “Sookie Stackhouse” stories end? Make a visit to Atonement, Tennessee!

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How Winter Began

The Dead of Winter:  How Winter Began

When I think of beginning a book, one thing I consider is how many times it has been done.  Notice I said “how many times,” because I came to the conclusion that everything has already been done – and not just once, but many times.  I even made a matrix to figure it all out.

Several times over the years, I”ve thought that rather than writing about wizards, or elves, or dragons, I wanted to write a book about someone who could see and communicate with ghosts.  (Oh yeah, I realize that’s been done too…)  I approached the idea from a variety of angles, but none worked for me.  A few titles went through my mind, but I’m not good with titles.  Not surprisingly none of those helped either.

Along came the winter when the DC area was slammed with one snow storm after another.  Then snow storms became all out blizzards.  I looked out the window at what most saw as a white winter wonderland.  I however, don’t like snow.  While I admired the innate beauty of the scene before my eyes, all I could think was, “God, it’s the dead of winter out there.”

A fraction of a second later, not only did I have the title, but ideas for the story started to stream inside my mind and come together.

(Maybe I wouldn’t still be working on “Winter” if I hadn’t had a blizzard-related accident, which kept me from working on the book for months – just when I’d really begun.  I know that somehow that’s the root of my slow progress with this book.)

“The Dead of Winter” took a much different form than I had expected during all the times I tried to get the story of someone who saw ghosts to come together.  Previously I had imagined an adult heroine, and a real world setting.  I tried different characters in multiple locations, with various types and degrees of magic involved.  All were far away from what flowed in my mind that day.

Instead of an adult in our world, it was a young girl in a fantasy world.  I’ve enjoyed building the numerous characters, countries, and cultures that compose “The Dead of Winter.”  It’s been almost finished for many months now.  Somehow… before winter is over again…

A Valentine for You: Chocolate with Death

To all of you Valentines… I wrote and shared this short-short story back in 2006.  The basic idea had kicked around in my brain for two years, but I couldn’t make it come together.  Then came Valentine’s Day.  I had moved across the country and wished I had some kind of Valentine to send to all my friends.  Immediately the full story began to flow.  So I’m sorry that I’m sharing it with some of you twice, but here is my Valentine to all of you. Teagan

Chocolate with Death

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

2006

It’s funny, isn’t it, how things that at first seem quite strange – things that are quite strange can come to feel natural, even ordinary.  Yet as I look back, I am amazed that I even answered my door that night so long ago.

***

King cat spumante

The only thing about Spumante that I don’t like is getting the cork wriggled out of the bottle.  I refused to let it get the better of me and kept trying.  This was my holiday celebration, the standard ritual I used for every holiday of the year – a bottle of spumante and an old movie.  (It’s not so bad, really, celebrating alone.  It simplifies things enormously.)

Finally the Spumante gave up its cork with a loud pop.  I placed cheese and crackers on my plate, admiring the arrangement.  Then thinking better of it, I added extra cheese for Mrs. Dickens, who would certainly demand to share my snack.

This “event” was Valentines Day, so I even put on my red Betty Boop pajamas and the fuzzy slippers that had long floppy rabbit ears.  Fizzing glass in hand, I went to the living room to start the movie.  Then, out pounced the cat to attack the rabbit slippers.

“Mrs. Dickens! You won’t get more cheese by tripping me,” I scolded my cat as I stumbled to the sofa.

With the touch of a button I started the movie that Mrs. Dickens and I had seen many times before, and snuggled down contentedly to watch, handing the begging cat frequent bites of cheese.  Then I thought I heard something.  I touched the pause button.  Had there been a soft knock?  It came a second time before I was sure I had really heard anything at all.

I stood and tied on my robe. Normally I would never open my door to the night.  Even as I Doorknobwalked toward it, I knew that I should not answer the door.  However, compulsion was stronger than reason and I put my hand to the door.  I stretched to see out the peephole and found only blackness. I had half turned to go back to my movie when I heard the soft knocking again.

If ever there was a perfect looking man, it was the one I saw when I opened the door.  I guessed that he was about thirty, tall and perfectly proportioned.  Perfectly groomed.  Perfectly dressed.  From his finely tailored wool blazer (complete with a crest on the breast pocket) to the expensive shoes, to the cultured voice, to the perfect hair, he was just — perfect.  Far too young for me, but he was perfect none the less.

At once I was seized by the notion that I knew him, even though I couldn’t say how or from where.  Then I noticed he held a box of the fine dark Italian chocolate that I love so dearly.  Did I mention he was perfect?

I let him come into the house. I continued to ponder from where I might know him.  Was he the son of a friend?  Had we worked for the same company at some time?  I couldn’t for the life of me think where, but I strongly felt that we were acquainted.

He took a piece of the Italian chocolate, and clearly enjoyed it as much as do I.  After enjoying a luscious bite of it myself, I had to admit that I could not place him.  He gave me the same shy smile that he’d worn when I answered the door.chocolate-strawberries

“I can’t say that we’ve actually been friends, but we’ve had many mutual friends and acquaintances,” he said.

As I’ve told you, it seemed strange that I should allow him into my home, and perhaps something beyond the ordinary was happening to make me feel relaxed with him.   Yet we companionably spent the evening chatting over bubbly spumante and darkest Italian chocolate.

He emptied the last drops of the wine into our glasses with an expression of disappointment on his face.  Then he exclaimed as if he’d forgotten something and reaching behind him produced another bottle of the fizzy drink.  I might add that the cork willingly left the bottle for him.

Yes, I thought it was odd that I hadn’t noticed the wine bottle when he entered the house.  It just didn’t seem to matter.  As he poured, the crest on his jacket caught my attention.  There was something strange about the embroidered design.  The shield looked misshapen, and I realized that it was actually an hourglass.  The crest also had a crow and a weapon.   I didn’t even try to hide the fact that I leaned closer to better inspect the crest.

Picture 2107His kind smile faltered, but he didn’t prevent me from looking.  I saw that the weapon was in fact a scythe. I gazed at him with a stupid blank look on my face and commented, “Interesting… those things are… death.” Then comprehension awakened with my goose bumps and I said, “Not just death, but Death.”

“You have named me,” he sadly admitted.

I jumped up; fists clinched.  Me in my silly pajamas and bunny slippers, I fiercely told him, “Fine then!  So you’re Death.  Not quite what I would have expected, but you’re Death.  I get it!  But I’m not afraid of you.  I’ve seen death many times.  I’m no stranger to it.  I don’t fear Death.”

If I was startled by the pain in his eyes, which clearly spoke of endless solitude and loneliness, then I was truly astonished by his reply.

“Well yes, that was sort of the entire point when I chose to visit you,” he said.  “We are not strangers.  Why do you think you felt that you knew me?”

I flopped back into my chair, confused and overwhelmed.  One of my bunny slippers had come off and Death examined it curiously, and then began to refill the glasses with spumante.

“I only came to visit you – I didn’t come for you,” he said.  “I wanted companionship – it’s Valentines Day, for Heaven’s sake.”

“What?” I said in perplexed disbelief.  Leaning forward I took my bunny slipper away from bear n bunny slippershim and continued, “Companionship?  Honey, you’re drop dead gorgeous… no pun intended.  Do you really mean to tell me that you couldn’t get a date for Valentines Day?”

“Of course I couldn’t,” Death defended himself.  “How many people would willingly spend Valentines Day – or any other holiday with Death?  I know that sometimes you call me your ‘old friend’ saying that one day we’ll have our true meeting, so I hoped you would understand.”

I drank the Spumante in a hiccupping gulp.  I remembered saying exactly those words.  Death seemed to be waiting for a reply.  I realized that I really did understand.  I refilled the glasses and lifted mine up in a toast.

“To us, my old friend,” I told him and he smiled.

It has been many years since that night, and on many holidays I have companionably shared fine dark Italian chocolate and Spumante with my old friend.  It was quickly apparent that he loved the chocolate as much as do I. If I desired his company, I found that all I needed to do was put out a box of that particular chocolate and soon he would drop by.

Now I am a very, very old woman, and one day Death will surely come for me rather than come to visit me – but then again… if I died… with whom would he spend holidays, or share darkest Italian chocolate and Spumante?

champagne n glasses 2

***

End.

“Atonement, Tennessee” Copyright Certificate

Wednesday I was thrilled to finally see a letter from the Copyright Office. I did everything to register the copyright for “Atonement, Tennessee” back in December, but had not received the certificate. It was exciting to read over it, and be able to hold it in my hand. However, I’m disappointed about the condition of the document. It’s badly creased, and wasn’t even properly folded – so even more wrinkles.

A few people asked if I was going to frame it. Then I looked at those creases and was sad. A good friend said that the wrinkles are a reflection of the challenges I went through to write the novel. That’s a very good way to look at it – and I’m trying to see it that way… but I must need different glasses.