Happy Halloween

DoW_Cvr_Art-1In celebration of Halloween, I’m re-posting an excerpt from The Dead of Winter.  This is probably my favorite sequence in the entire book.  I call it “Emlyn Ran.”  It comes from a ways into the story, so try to tell your brain not to worry about context or details you might not understand.  All “realms” [think of realms as realities] border one another — and young Emlyn learns that she can traverse them.  However, at this point in the story she doesn’t fully comprehend that.  I think it is one of my best sequences.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.



Emlyn Ran

Emlyn ran.  She panted for breath, but she dared not slow her pace.  She wasn’t sure why she ran, but she knew she must.  One minute she had been holding an ancient skull where she had fallen into a cave, and the next she was in a strange building.  The half-light and washed out colors told her she was in the Realm of the Dead.

The sense of him was overwhelming.  She shuddered.  She felt a horrid taint everywhere she turned.  It even seemed to coat her lungs as she breathed.  His name filled her mind and she could not escape it — Arawn.  Emlyn had not even known the name until the night before, but now it was as if she knew him and knew him well.  She could feel the blackness of his soul.  Arawn.  Everywhere she felt his presence, and she could not find the way out.  Worse, she felt that now he knew her as well!  Arawn.

She didn’t know how long she ran down one corridor after another, or if she had been running in circles.  Her side cramped.  The building seemed to be a palace, though it was empty.  She rounded a corner in the corridor, not knowing where it might lead.  She couldn’t see very far in the half-light of the Realm of the Dead.  However, something red stood out in contrast to the washed out dimness.  It was a window with heavy red velvet draperies.  Just beyond it another hallway crossed the one down which she ran.

She stopped, her breathing ragged.  Emlyn felt panic rise as she tried to decide which way to go; right, left, or straight ahead?  She also wanted to look out that window in hope that it would show more about where she was.  But she was terrified of what might be outside it, looking back at her.  However, she knew that in past dreams, which had taken her to the Realm of the Dead, she had not been able to see anything beyond the windows; only gray darkness.

Her trembling hand reached for the red drapes.  She hesitated.  Her ears strained for any sound of pursuit as she looked all around.  All she could hear was her pounding heart.  Cautiously she moved the drape just a bit.  The chink in the curtains revealed only the accustomed grayness.  Her hand shook harder as she pulled the fabric farther aside.

arawn2The laughing countenance of Arawn filled the window.  She screamed.  Emlyn didn’t know how she knew it was Arawn — she’d never heard anyone describe how he looked, but she knew it to the depths of her soul.  He tossed his straight black shoulder-length hair.  Blood was smeared across his mouth.  He wiped it away.  His long hard fingernails had blood under them.  He smiled at Emlyn in a dreadful insinuating way.

She ran ahead where the corridors intersected.  If she turned left it would seem to take her closer to Arawn, though she suspected it was possible for him to be anywhere he chose in this realm.  She knew he was toying with her.  The way ahead ended at a staircase.  She took a few steps closer to it, but as she looked up, she realized that the stairs went nowhere.  They stopped at a blank wall.

It seemed like she heard distant thunder, but it was likely the pounding of her heart.  She turned to the right and would have gone that way, but she heard a soft yip.  Emlyn turned back and looked up the staircase to find the great white wolf standing there.  She was certain it was the same huge wolf she had seen on her way to visit Osabide on that strange morning just before her journey began.

Stumbling backward, she turned again to her right, now running away from both Arawn and the wolf.  She skidded to a stop; stumbled and fell down to one knee.  The wolf stood before her; head down and growling ominously.  She gazed into its blue, blue eyes.  It bounded past her to the staircase, and looked from the stairs and back again to Emlyn.

She heard a voice, but she wasn’t sure whether it came from within her mind or from somewhere in the corridor.  “Hurry!  Winter is coming,” the voice insisted.

wolf-faceEmlyn took a shaking breath and got to her feet.  Could the wolf be trying to lead her?  “All right,” she whispered and moved toward the white wolf.

He ran up the stairs and disappeared right through the wall where the stairs abruptly ended.  Emlyn braced herself.  She closed her eyes and ran toward the top of the stairs, following the wolf.

She fell forward.  She was dizzy and unable to open her eyes.  Beneath her face and hands she felt damp grass.  After a moment Emlyn opened her eyes to see dew sparkle on green blades of grass.  Sunlight was warm on her shoulders.  She was back in the Realm of the Living.


NaNoWri-Less Three Things

Nanowrimo 1All through October I’ve considered strategies for how to deal with a full-time job, this blog (especially the Three Things Serial), and other un-blogged things, and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), — which begins in a few short days.

Some said “Oh no, don’t try to do NaNoWriMo this year. You already have too much on your plate.”

And then…

Some said “You’re not going to abandon the Three Things are you?”

I felt as conflicted as Mona is when she thinks about Boris!1920s flapper thinking

So I decided to “Wri-Less” in stead of WriMo.  Sort of.  I’ll keep the Three Things Going through November, but only one episode a week.  This particular story line might find its conclusion by the end of the year.  But I can’t really say, since the things you all send drive the plot.

Writing the draft of an entire novel, from scratch, in one month… Nanu Nanu is hard.  Oh Shazbot!  I mean NaNoWrimo.

I might be as wacky as a space alien by December, but I’m going to do both.


And now I bid you a fond, Nanu Nanu.

Three Things: 24 – Tommy and Tuppence

Illustration by Arthur Ferrier of Agatha Chris...

Illustration by Arthur Ferrier of Agatha Christie’s detective pair Tommy and Tuppence, from the December 1923 issue of The Grand Magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’d think I would have thought of Agatha Christie the minute the Three Things Serial became a 1920’s story.  She created so many memorable characters.  Two of my favorites are not as well known, but they showcase the spirit of the 1920’s for me — Tommy and Tuppence.  The first novel in which they appeared was The Secret Adversary.

At any rate, I didn’t think of Tommy and Tuppence until recently, although they could easily have inspired our little story.  With a nod to Agatha Christie, today’s Three Things come from the opening of that novel:

“TOMMY, old thing!”

“Tuppence, old bean!”

The two young people greeted each other affectionately, and momentarily blocked the Dover Street Tube exit in doing so.

Now I give you Three Tommy and Tuppence Things.

  Old Thing, Bean, Dover Street Tube Exit

Frankie had already caught on to the mischievous twinkle in Countess Bepa’s eyes.  Mona would probably faint when she walked in and saw a big cheese like John Ringling — not to mention a for-real countess!  He blocked the door for a second so he would get a good look at her face when she saw the occupants of the cabin.

“Frankie, old thing,” she said.  “I wondered where you’d gotten to.”

The fireman stepped aside and Mona saw the countess.  Even in her disheveled state, right after having been ransomed by dastardly kidnappers, the older woman exuded easy elegance and confidence.  Mona’s face registered recognition, and I knew she was thinking of the night at the Nickelodeon Theatre when we all saw the white-haired woman pulled into a car that careened away.

“Aren’t you the…” Mona began, but then she noticed the owner of the yacht, and she simply stopped, open mouthed.

“Hey, Movie Star, did somebody just bean you?” Frankie asked with a lopsided grin.

The countess chuckled, and even the circus magnate, still worried about his recently kidnapped guest, smiled.  Introductions were made to the astonishment of Mona the movie star.1920s subway crowded

“I heard you refer to this charming young man as ‘old thing.’  That’s a term I’ve rarely heard since I arrived in this country,” Countess Babikov told the aspiring actress.  “Are you perhaps from England?”

“Oh no,” Mona said with an attractive blush.  “But I did go to school in London for a couple of years.  It was near Dover Street.”

The countess looked shocked.  She turned to Mr. Ringling.  “John… I just remembered.  That is where I first saw those men.  I had just parted company with my Boris at the Dover Street Tube exit.  That is where I saw them!”


Ducky-closePeople have expressed an unexpected amount of interest in a video I posted within a comment on my last post about National Novel Writing Month.  The video was about the Neon Sign Boneyard in Las Vegas, one of three things that inspired the novel I will write this November.

(Wow… am I hung up on “three things” or what?  This has nothing to do with our Three Things Serial. Do you think it’s Pip, already nagging for her voice to be heard?)

Anyhow, I thought I’d share another video, with a different interview.  It doesn’t show as many of the signs as I had hoped, but it’s more informational/educational than many of the others.  You can do a Google image search and find loads of pictures of the signs.  Look for the Silver Slipper, the Lucky Ducky, and (I don’t know the name of this one but…) a gigantic pool player.  Any of those might get a bit part in Tatterdemallian:  the Electric Zucchini.

Here’s the video:




National Novel Writing Month 2013: Tatterdemallian

Pablo_Picasso,_1918,_Arlequin_(Harlequin)There are several days to go before November breaks out in full blown NaNoWriMo.  It would be against the rules for me to start writing my novel for this year’s National Novel Writing Month just yet.  I have to wait until November to begin writing.

Planning and other “writerly” tasks are allowed though.  Images help me plan and write.  I was trying to distract myself from a monstrous headache when I had an idea for an illustration.  You could call it a book cover, but it’s too early for me to commit to that.  However, I hope it will help me create this urban fantasy.  I uploaded it as a cover at the NaNoWriMo site, where they list everyone’s novel information.  It was nice to have a picture in that little box — I didn’t have anything like that last year.

Through most of this year I thought I would do a sequel to last year’s novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  I have a vague idea for that, but it just didn’t flow.  Then something completely new came to me.  Images of harlequins, magic, neon signs, and an old VW bus that was all lit up with letters forming the words “The Electric Zucchini.”

So there you have it…Zucchini cover-1 copy


    The Electric Zucchini

The Tatterdemalion character is said to be one of the oldest versions of the Harlequin, dating to the 15th century.  (No, that was not a typo that you may have thought you spotted.  I used two different words.)

Tatterdemallian rhymes with Italian.  It is an archaic spelling of “Tatterdemalion” and seemed more appropriate for the mythology I’m creating.

As for the neon signs… here ya go:

I hope this new series will provide many fun and entertaining things for me to share with you!


Three Things: 23 – Dissolute, Rocky, Bonehead

LifeFlapper1922I’m finally here with another episode of our little 1920’s story.  The characters have been nagging at my thoughts.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with them during November, while I’m trying to write an entire (new) novel in a few short weeks, for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! Maybe I’ll skip the fun part of decorating the post and looking up historic links, because I spend a good deal of time with that.  There’s bound to be some “thing” that pulls me back to the story.

Sometimes a single word conveys so much feeling or imagery.  Flapper is that kind of word.  Wasn’t your mind filled with images the moment you read the word?  Provincial Lady has a talent for thinking of those words.  She supplied three evocative things for today’s post.  As always you can find all the episodes in one place at the Three Things Serial page.

Episode 23 causes Pip to contemplate the unusual events that she and her friends have recently experienced.  Can she put the pieces together?

Dissolute, Rocky, Bonehead

An expression of warmth and kindness came to the white-haired woman’s face when she looked at Frankie and me.  “I worried that my Boris squandered his talents in some dissolute existence,” she began, her accent becoming heavier.  I had to focus to understand some of her words.  “But if he has friends such as you, then I know that fear is unfounded.”

Countess Babikov seemed to be wilting from her burst of energy.  I poured another splash of brandy into her glass.  Mr. Ringling helped her sit back on the sofa and put her feet up.  I spotted a decanter of water and used some to wet my handkerchief and then gently cleaned the cut at her temple.

A plaintive call reached my ears.  “Pip?”

I opened the door to find Mona looking for me.  She held the tin lunch pail that she’d used for a home-away-from-home for Pear.  However, other than the little hedgehog Mona was alone.  “Where’s Flavio?” I asked.

“He was feeling a little rocky, and went back ashore,” she said with an expression that suggested she was pleased with herself for using the term.  “I don’t think he’s a very good sailor, but he’s a sweet guy.”

Frankie gave me a lopsided grin and commented, “Nah, Flavio’s a bonehead.”  I shot the fireman a skeptical look and his grin was unrepentant.  “Okay.  He’s a good bonehead, but he’s still a bonehead.”

“Oh, Pip!” Mona exclaimed, still in the corridor, but walking toward the door.  “You’ll never believe who I heard this yacht belongs to.”

“Pip, dear,” the Countess said with a twinkle in her eyes.  “Do invite your friend inside.”1920s Dime Mystery

I heard the circus millionaire inside, cautioning Bepa or Faith — she asked us to call her one or the other, but I wasn’t quite comfortable with that.  Holy Hannah!  The woman was royalty for goodness sakes!  Anyhow, he was worried about her exerting herself after the ordeal of her kidnapping.

A thought struck me.  No one had ever said what the kidnappers wanted with her…  Of course there was the ransom, but I had a strong feeling that money wasn’t everything they were after.  I was also sure it had an awful lot to do with Boris.   I felt like I was working a jigsaw puzzle and some pieces were missing.  I didn’t like that feeling.

Launch Postponed: Atonement, Tennessee


Maybold-gate-24131862e this is a picture of a gate opening, but I feel like it is closing. (This is actually one of the images I considered for the book cover.)  I really should have known not to put it “in print” last weekend, when I did the cover reveal and said I hoped to publish Atonement this weekend.

There is… well, let’s call it a situation, and I deliberately do not blog about it.  (However, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it, if it is ever resolved.)  Anyhow, it is causing me a tremendous amount of work that will take every spare moment of my time — now throughout next week.  Since I also have to earn a living to keep the roof over my head, I won’t be able to launch Atonement as I had hoped.  Maybe not even any time soon, because I plan to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), on which I should already be doing intensive planning and plotting.

Sigh…  “Atonement, Tennessee” was the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2012.  (That actually happened because friend RC reminded me that it was beginning — I had never participated before 2012.)  So I really wanted to launch the 2012 book before 2013’s novel begins.  I’m extremely disappointed.  On more than one level.  But such is life.

However, I refuse to let that other “unbloggable,” stress and effort intensive situation interfere with writing an entire novel from scratch, during the month of November (for NaNoWriMo)

Applesauce! You mean you’re going to be writing another novel?  What about us?  And what about the great folks that read the serial story?  They’re the bee’s knees!  You can’t just leave everybody hanging.

Calm down Pip.  You and your friends will not be forgotten. Although you might not get as much attention as I’ve been giving you.

Yes, I also promise you another episode of our Three Things Serial this weekend.  Even when I begin this November’s novel writing effort, Pip, Frankie, Mona, Boris, and company will likely keep at me to take your “three things” and let them drive the story to an eventual conclusion.crow

Teagan (eating crow over still not launching Atonement)