Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red-Headed Stepchild

Red-Headed Stepchild: In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina Kane has the only profession fit for an outcast: assassin. But, her latest mission threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races and Sabina must scramble to figure out which side she's on. She's never brought her work home with her---until now.

This time, it's personal.

Yes, my long-time blogging buddy, Jaye Wells, has a lot to celebrate today. Because her wonderful, debut urban fantasy novel, Red-Headed Stepchild, is being released!! I'm so thrilled for her. Jaye was one of the first people to stop by my blog, and I've been following her journey for some time. It's a cool story...her entry for a Clarity of Night contest was the genesis for this novel. Go, blogging!!

Now, I haven't read the novel yet. But I know it's a great read, anyway, because I thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter and have been watching Jaye's wonderful reviews pour in. Here are a few choice ones.

Hold on tight — a gritty new heroine has joined the pantheon of shoot-first, ask-questions-later protagonists. Despite the blistering pace and darkness of the plot, [Wells] neatly balances things with a deft smattering of humor. 4.5 Stars! -Romantic Times Book Lovers magazine

If you love the Urban Fantasy but have been seeking something a little different to the multitude of offerings out there then this really is the book for you. Why? Well, to be blunt, this novel has something for everyone, be it the spartanite style of description or matter of fact kick ass combat tied up with a storyline that really will grab you by your literal jugular and keep you gasping for more. - Falcata Times

Jaye Wells dishes up a read so satisfying that you can’t wait until the next serving.
Cheyenne McCray, New York Times bestselling author

So what are you waiting for?? Pick up a copy of Jaye's debut right here. I can't wait to read mine.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Love in the Time of Twitter

(For anyone unfamiliar with Twitter, discover it here.
Basically, users select a real or fictitious username to
communicate with friends, family, and strangers
by "following" them and using a shorthand system
of "tweets." And yes, I just joined Twitter here. )

Ginny feels like the world is conspiring against her. Oh, and I’m out of Blow Pops. Sucks, hard.

Cap'nCrunch wants to know what Ginny's favorite flavor of Blow Pop is. And what her favorite film is. And anything else about her, under 140 characters

Ginny thinks that strawberry is divine. But not on Cap'n Crunch. And movies? Hmm……………
…………………................................................ ....

Cap'nCrunch is now bummed. My favorite film is Lost In Translation, btw. Bill Murray is hot.

Ginny admits to laughing at "O Captain, My Captain" over there. So I'll say my favorite film is Dead Poets Society. Robin Williams is way hotter.

Cap'nCrunch sees your dead poets, and raises you a Patch Adams.

Ginny runs screaming from keyboard, stubs her toe, crumples, curses, and screams louder. Decides never to eat nautical-inspired cereal again. :(

Cap'nCrunch has lost his sailor's smile with Ginny's Mr. Frownie. Was prepared to follow her until the edge of the earth. And topple over.

Ginny wonders if Cap’nCrunch means “follow” in a Twitter-ese way, or in more of a U2- I-will-follow-stalker way. And world is round.

Cap'nCrunch has already been “following” Ginny’s tweets for several months. But neither of those. *sniff*

Ginny is just teasing Cap'nCrunch. It’s the lack of Blow Pops. Makes me as dry and crunchy as cereal without its milk.

Cap'nCrunch is glad. Was getting all soggy over here.

Ginny wants to know where “here” is...

Cap'nCrunch can see the Empire State Building from my window. And some guy taking a whiz in my alley. Ahh, New York.

Ginny lives in Brooklyn. Ahh, Brooklyn.

Cap'nCrunch is slack-jawed (<--seriously, look). They gotta sell Blow Pops somewhere between those two sighs, yeah?

Ginny is scared to take this relationship to an over-140-characters-reality-based level. What if you are, in fact, Cap'n Crunch?

Cap'nCrunch has no epaulets. Can’t promise more than that.

Ginny thinks that epaulets are almost as smokin’ as Patch Adams. Shame.

Cyrano is following Ginny and Cap'nCrunch and wants them to just do it already. Everyone else following 2 lovebirds who agrees, say “tweet.”

Galadriel says, "tweet."

cwalken says, "tweet?"

Cap'nCrunch says, "tweet, tweet."

Ginny still feels like the world is conspiring against her. On a happier note, things are looking up in the Blow Pop department...

Thursday, March 26, 2009


“There’s a new moon tonight,” the mother said.

“It's just all black.”

“It’s still there, honey. Circling somewhere. Waiting to grow again.”

The daughter picked a piece of dead skin from her lip.

“I know,” she said. “I-I’m sorry.”

“What for?”

“I don’t know. I thought saying it might help. There’s this weight on my chest. I can’t break free. I keep trying, but—” She struggled for breath. “It just sits back down.”

“Push it away.”

“I don’t know how.”

The mother took her daughter’s shoulders, searching for her eyes. “Yes, you do.”

“No. It won’t leave. Trying and failing makes me feel worse.”

“What’s your answer, then?”

The daughter choked on her teeth, hair slipping over her eyes.

The mother sat back. Listening to the pulse of the night.

“Come with me,” she said.



The daughter's cheek twitched. “What do you mean?”

“I mean we’ll drive until we find a place where the moon is always full.”


“All right. Then until the weight is gone.” She placed her palm over her daughter’s heart, feeling its shredded beat. “And if that doesn’t work, we’ll come up with something else.”

The tears came, but the daughter didn’t hide behind her hair. Instead, she found the clear, blue moons of her mother's eyes.

“Okay,” she whispered.



This vignette was inspired by Bon Iver's song, re: Stacks.

--This is not the sound of a new man
or crispy realization
It's the sound of the unlocking
and the lift away
Your love will be
safe with me

Monday, March 23, 2009

Grave Rubbings (Meme Time)

I run my fingers
over the coil
of your words,
hoping the rubbing
I take will
plunge deeper
than paper
to smudge the blood
of this heart
with the ink on
our soul


Karen, at Keeping Secrets, was kind enough to tag me for this 25 Most Influential meme. I found the task rewarding, if difficult, as I can't really say how much these writers have influenced my own work. It's difficult for me to chart a straight line between Dostoevsky and myself (what, you don't see it, either??). And yet I remember reading Crime and Punishment in college and being floored by its acute psychological depiction of a man's tortured internal struggle. That novel lingered with me, while others floated away. And so I take it more on instinct than direct proof that Fyodor Dostoevsky belongs on my list.

Others' influences are more obvious, or equally as obtuse. But this is the list as I saw it, in roughly chronological order of my discovery of these brilliant writers. I've also included my favorite work in parenthesis, just for overkill.

1. L.M. Montgomery (the Emily series)
2. Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
3. Jane Austen (Persuasion)
4. Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)
5. Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence)
6. Edgar Allen Poe (The Raven)
7. Henry James (The Portrait of a Lady)
8. Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
9. Fyodor Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment)
10. Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)
11. Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms)
12. E.M. Forster (A Room With A View)
13. Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)
14. Anne Tyler (Breathing Lessons)
15. Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day)
16. Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections)
17. Milan Kundera (The Book of Laughter and Forgetting)
18. E.E. Cummings (somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond)
19. W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge)
20. Jhumpa Lahiri (The Interpreter of Maladies)
21. Ian McEwan (On Chesil Beach)
22. Colette (The Vagabond)
23. Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns)
24. J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series)

And for my final entry, I'll cheat a little and say:

25. You

Because all of our supportive interactions, and your fine examples, have helped shape my writing and feed my daily inspiration. So thank you. :)

I will now challenge three more writers to share their influences. Vesper, Jennifer, and David -- I'm calling you out!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Fortune Teller

“She’s never wrong, you know,” said the gal behind me. “Stacy says she’s 5 for 5, far as the people she knows who’ve died.”

I felt squeezed. Too many people at this goddamn party. I wedged out my elbows, but got stepped on anyway.


I stared at Madame Olenska as she offered her two-word prediction to a sweating, fat man with a damp whistle in his breath.

“Heart attack,” she said. “Next.”

A woman with an insulin pump fastened to her belt sat in the plush chair across from the crystal ball.

“Kidney failure. Next.”

The fortuneteller had one talent of prophecy. The means of death. That’s it. Not the time, nor the place. Just the fatal click.

She scarcely looked at me as I assumed the position. So I cleared my throat. But she was too busy dissecting the silvery entrails of her orb to offer so much as a nod.

I puffed the hair out of my eyes. Scratched my neck.

She squinted harder.

The walls of the room jiggled. My heartbeat slammed a wicked bass line inside my ears. Why was I here again? A stupid midnight party parlor trick, was all this was. I was plastered. Done for. None of this was even real.

So why couldn’t I suck any oxygen?

“Sorry,” I said, starting to rise. “I don’t—”

“Gunshot,” she said. Her eyes flicked to mine briefly, before glowering at the red velvet curtain behind me. A line slithered into the living room, where dance music hammered. “Next.”

I laughed and hiccupped simultaneously.

She lifted a two-pronged eyebrow. “Funny, is it? Madame Olenska is never mistaken. You wait and see.”


People looked at me with a little more respect the rest of the night. Suddenly, I had all the room in the world. Of course, I just laughed the whole thing off. But that stupid Stacy had to go and tear up. Hugging me like it was the last time.

Never liked her, anyway.

I preyed over the fortuneteller’s words on the trek back to my apartment in the lower east side. Tasted their gritty talc on my tongue. Digested their dark cancer as my gaze flicked around the nearly abandoned city streets. Shadows inked walls darker than any graffiti, while alleyways gaped like dumpster graveyards. Strange men’s eyes soiled my body, even as their hands remained hidden things in oversized coat pockets.

Dry-mouthed and heaving, I tried running in the three-inch heels, but their clicking was too sharp an invitation of the softness of my skin. How pitifully breakable I was, chalked the car headlights outlining my horror as my heart lunged for home.

How pathetically human.

When I finally got to my apartment, I didn’t attempt sleep. I was too busy barricading the door, and listening to the scratches and rustles camouflaged as wind outside my window. Didn’t fool me. Things were out there. Underneath the soulless sirens and the dogs who barked to hear the proof of their thinning mortality.

So many things.


One year later, and I’ve barked long and loud enough to run everyone away. Not to be trusted, people. Especially the men. Much more likely to own a firearm. Had to quit my job, and dropped the boyfriend from sometime status to get-the-fuck-out. Even my sister, lately, has started looking at me funny. Like I have things crawling from my ears or something. Makes me wonder what she’s keeping from me, to be looking at a sister like that. No matter.

I’ve bought a pistol. (Yeah, so what.) Going to deliver myself some relief. Hold that hard barrel to my sweetly supple temple, and squeeze.

Right after I finish this drink.

So let’s all raise a glass. To Madame Olenska!

6 for 6.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


They will meet under
a magnolia's leaves
as northern buds pucker
with a pink, southern heat

She will touch
his lips,
that neck,
the grip of his chest

but only with her eyes

as he ripples atop
the stiff, new grass
and pitches a sun
across its sky

Until she shares,
with the bud that
swoons into its bloom,
the debt spring owes
to winter’s terrible

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Letters: Homecoming

This is the video vignette I wrote to complete my series,
Letters. I apologize for the blurring that occurred during
the upload to youtube. If you would rather view it
in a larger format (recommended!), click here. I hope you
can read the text clearly, and that you enjoy the
conclusion of the series. I will miss these characters,
and our discussions of them, too.

(For those of you new to the blog, Letters is my
series exploring a war-time relationship across
the miles. To find the beginning, click here.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Forward

“Amazing,” he said, sitting next to her.

She placed her wine glass on the bedside table.


“That they can legislate the sunlight. Give us more of it.”

She burrowed into his side.

“It’s not really more. We’re just awake for a better part of it.”

“But it feels like there’s more.”

She yawned and pitched herself into the pillows.

“All I’m feeling is the loss of that hour.”

He smiled down at her.

“It’s kind of a leap of faith. The spring forward. I like the sound of that. Much better than falling back.”

She tugged on his sleeve, until his head hit the feathers.

“I don’t know,” she murmured into his ear. “I kind of like falling back. Don’t you?”

“When you put it like that. Yeah.”

“Do you think ‘they’ could legislate something else for me?”


“That no matter where we are, you’ll always be with me. Whether springing forward or falling back.” She looked into his eyes. “Or staying perfectly still.”

His six o’clock shadow scratched the pillowcase as he inched closer.

“I passed that resolution a long time ago,” he said. “Didn’t I tell you?”

He kissed her. She grabbed on.

“I love you,” she said.

“I know. I feel that, too.”

“I bet you do,” she said, nails tracing the hours on his back. Before rubbing them all away.

He leaped, she sank. They stayed perfectly still. Until a confused sun gave up, and went to sleep.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Would you believe me
if I told you that this sand
still longs to be waves?

(Screw tyrant haiku,
I have so much more to say
of desert sand, those—)

((Drowning or drifting,
drowning or drifting, drowning
or drifting, drowning))

(((My head bobs above,
body hangs buried below,
could this be standing?)))

((((The cave of swimmers
hides somewhere in Sahara,
let me look to them))))

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Letters (Part Thirteen)

(Letters is my series exploring a war-
time relationship across the miles.
Find the beginning here.)

Dear Mrs. Freeman,

It is my duty and honor to inform you that your husband, Lt. Patrick Freeman, has secured passage on the USAHS Blanche F. Sigman, a Trans-Atlantic hospital ship sailing for Charleston. From there, he will be transported by Army hospital train to Cincinnati, and onto Athens.

Lt. Freeman wished to notify you of the journey himself, but there was a last minute reshuffling of patients here. We are desperate for ward beds, and your husband is better off than most of the boys from the field. The transport medic roused him at dawn this morning, gave him the good news, and had him in transit after breakfast. Your husband was insistent that I immediately write and inform you of his discharge.

Given the slowness of the mail in these parts, it is possible he will be home before you receive this letter. In which case, I hope you will have enjoyed a joyful reunion, Mrs. Freeman. Many of my men would sell their souls for such a homecoming. And such a wife. The lieutenant has sung your praises often. I don’t mind telling you that he’s like a brother to me. Tighter, I think.

He is still weak and will require a long recuperation. But rest assured that your husband will be tended to by one of our finest nurses on his journey home. Nurse Abbott has requested and secured leave, and the permission to accompany your husband and others from our company on the long trip home. She lives but a short distance from you and Lt. Freeman, and will be by his side for the duration of the journey. He will be in good hands. Nurse Abbott is a particularly caring and capable young lady. One of our best.

Mrs. Freeman, your husband’s war is over. By God’s good grace, we’ll all join him soon enough.

Yours truly,

Cpt. John Barker


The conclusion is here