What Is Urban Fantasy?

In my mission to better understand & hopefully tackle the Urban Fantasy genre, I present you with wise words from fantastic authoress Jeannie Holmes,


“Urban fantasy is often defined as having supernatural/paranormal elements layered over our recognizable modern or near-future world. The setting is a large city such as Los Angeles, New Orleans, or St. Louis. Often the main character is female and the story is told in first person point of view. The story can have elements pulled from other genres such as science fiction, mystery, horror, and romance and woven together in a cohesive manner with varying degrees of emphasis placed on each of these genre elements. Primarily, the plot will consist of a mystery to be solved or a problem to be corrected before some great calamity strikes. Romance, if present, is usually a secondary plot. Character and story arcs often carry for multiple books. These are “The Rules” of urban fantasy.”

JEANNIE HOLMESARTICLE PAGE LINK


My response? All these traits certainly seem to have a pattern in this sub-genre. And I’ll certainly be keeping them in mind as I work on my new series. If you want to know more about Jeannie and her expertise, visit the links above.

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Tuesday Teaser

I’ve had more than a handful of other things to work on today, from work to finishing up final exams and papers for the end of this semester. Props to those of you who are taking more than two classes! Hang in there, you can do it. But I thought I’d bring back the Tuesday Teaser, for fun and my curiosity. I’m wondering just how many of you read this and what you think of the snippet I’m about to reveal. Care to share?

Source: MorgueStock

Source: MorgueStock


She came from a world of black and white. Their lives played out through the glass of an old mirror, a tainted reflection of truth. After so many centuries of playing it was easy to forget the reflection wasn’t quite real. At times the illusion seemed real enough, but the glass was only so thick and the mirror stretched so far.

The library’s ivory piano keys were scuffed, faded after being worn down by her hands. She wasn’t the only one in the manor who could play, but she was the only one who played to escape. Nights when she could not sleep found her either poking her nose where it didn’t belong or in the melodies of Chopin and Rachmaninoff.

Few Chosen wasted their time on instruments of the past in the House Causing Light. The Gisnu, as they were also known, were the most technologically advanced of the ten Houses and the most closely connected to humans. They offered Ilu’s children their little toys in exchange for power and humans unwittingly gave it. Few outside knew that the toys the Gisnu invented could only be controlled by them. Even though they lived uncomfortably close to the ever flux world of men, there were relics of the past everywhere.

When her guardian dragged them to America a century before, he wanted her to learn everything she could from the Gisnu. They were the reason, after all that the Chosen retained absolute power today.

Of course I should learn their ways, she thought as her fingers hit the keys too roughly. The fact that she despised the sharp angles, the crudity of everything the Gisnu created never made a difference in Etlu’s opinion.

You have a duty to your House, Anu and to your people, her guardian often said.

She couldn’t help the bitter twist of her mouth as she tried to forget her duty and his words in the melody. Here in the manor library it was easy to fade back into time, when days were not filled with constant noise and hours could pass easily. And it was the reason she was in trouble at present.

“You’ve been hiding from me again Anu.”

With good reason, she thought to herself.

“You left the manor again…” he added in a heavy tone. Thick wreaths of smoke blew smoothly from his lips like he had done the simple act thousands of moments just like this. And something must have troubled Etlu greatly. It was the only time he chain smoked in the first place.

She tried to keep her tone polished and even as possible. “Lady Nin does not teach me anything worth knowing. Every lesson is technological progression against the human threat and secret weapons.” After eight centuries of lessons with the rulers of each House she felt she had the right to complain.

Eight centuries of rulers trying to dictate the way I think and feel…

But her anger softened when she looked up from the black and white keys and into his eyes. Etlu was the only thing that made her life tolerable. His steel orbs shone luminescent from the shadows with indifferent sorrow. No matter how closely their fates were tied there would always be a side of him she could not see. And she would never stop trying to see the truth behind his mask.


Any thoughts or suggestions? This is a big work in progress so I’d love to hear from any of you :)

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Anthology Sale!

Great news! The “Other Days” Anthology, kindle edition is temporarily available for free! Sale lasts from tomorrow (Saturday) until Wednesday, so spread the word!

Follow these links to your free copy today:

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Rain, Rain

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Words To Live By

Cramond sea 004 2013-01-10

“Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”

Paul Graham (How To Do What You Love)

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Holiday Movie Countdown #1

It’s that time of year again, folks! Thanksgiving is barely more than a week away and December rolls by so quick it’s almost impossible to keep up. Last year I had just moved to a new city and was feeling awfully homesick throughout the season. Now I’m a little less home sick, since my husband finally grew on me ;p and the holidays have been pumping me up with lots of cheer. This infused my current mission. As you might have guessed by the title, I’m on a quest to watch as many classic & cheesy holiday films as possible! And since I barely saw a handful last year due to poor timing, and realizing there really are too many to see in one week, I’m starting way early this time.


Christhanksgiving Movie Countdown #1

Ernest Saves Christmas – We started the season right, with some good old Ernest. I grew up watching this recent classic on a recorded VHS tape, complete with early 90’s commercials intact. And it’s just as charming and kooky as it was when we were little, turns out. The picture was a lot less fuzzy this time around…

Great Quotes:

Ernest P. Worell: Ahh, smell those Christmas trees. You can keep your ‘Channel’ Number 5, just give me a whiff of the old lonesome pine. That symbol of brotherly love, that centerpiece that all mankind gathers around to share the cranberry sauce shaped like a can.


Ernest P. Worell: What we have here is a failure to accumulate.


Film Studio Gate Guard: [advances toward’s Ernest’s truck to see what is under the tarp in back] I’d better have a look.

Ernest P. Worell: [disguised as a snake rancher, referring to the venomous “snakes” under the tarp] Careful, now… them be “pisin”!

[lunges at the guard, who gasps and winces]

Ernest P. Worell: “Pisin” snakes! One minute, you be a strappin’ young man like yerself, an’ the next…

[imitates a snake’s fangs with his fingers]

Ernest P. Worell: SNAP!

[swipes his “fangs” at the guard, who again gasps and winces]

Ernest P. Worell: Yer dead meat!


White Christmas – The moment Bing Crosby began singing…

I cried like a baby, lol. Hear me out before you think me overly sentimental. I grew up visiting my grandparents and one of the movies we absolutely had to watch was White Christmas. It was their favorite, which makes sense with them being from that generation. Grandma told me that while she was an Army RN overseas during WW2 they sang White Christmas. It was one of the last movies I watched with her during one of our last Christmases as well. But seeing all the song & dance, the good early 50’s feels and good will for “an old pal in the army” made my night.


Love Actually- The first time I watched this, I had borrowed it from my first college room mate and watched it on laptop in my top bunk, surrounded by Christmas lights. It’s not the best holiday or the best rom-com. In fact it’s equal parts cheesy and classic Britt, but it’s hopeful and sweet and let’s face it, way better than any American ensemble romance film made since. And I’d like to add, the girl who sings this song sounds better than Mariah Carey ;)


The Nightmare Before Christmas- I literally just watched this movie on Halloween night. But as the title implies, it is a multiple holiday movie. The best part is I got to watch it with my niece who sang every word to every song. Which, you know, makes her awesome!


While You Were Sleeping- I couldn’t begin to tell you when this became one of my holiday movies. Maybe because they used to show it on TV this time of year? This lovely twist on the Sleeping Beauty tale features 90’s nostalgia, young & sweet Sandra Bullock and Christmas plus New Years themes. It’s bending the rules a bit by not being a strict Christmas movie, but in my book it counts!


You’ve Got Mail- Here’s another rule bender, but as part of the movie takes place during Christmas combined with the chemistry between Tom & Meg, and you get magic.


The 12 Dates Of Christmas- I typically avoid these “Hallmark”-ish, “made-for-a-certain-audience” holiday films. But a former roomie of mine thought otherwise. She was so into these types of films and chick-lit novels she did something extraordinary, partly converted me, lol. Because of this, tonight I took a chance on some cheese and actually loved it! I hated the teeny-pop intro song. Fortunately they didn’t stick with one genre in their soundtrack! The repetition sequence of each time-jumping “12 Days” was a little annoying after a while, but they story managed to stay fresh. And besides one or two overly dramatic moments, it was well done, but more importantly quirky and fun.

And I’m pretty sure this is the first thing I’ve seen “Zach” Gosselaar in since his Saved By the Bell days…


This concludes Part 1 of our holiday movie marathon! Woohoo! And while some of these may be more obscure, I’m working my way up to the bigger guns ;) Sorry but I just can’t watch It’s A Wonderful Life any other day but Christmas!

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Other Days: Anthology Edited by Jessica Augustsson

I am understandably excited to share this update with y’all. You might recall a ghost story I was working on in the last few months, if you’ve been keeping up with my Tuesday Teasers. Now I’m proud to announce the release of “Other Days” an anthology edited by colleague and friend, Jessica Augustsson. I first discovered Jessica in early ’12 while searching for an editor for my sci-fi novella, Qeya. Since that first project, I’ve seen the value of her impeccable sense of pace and taste in the art of storytelling. She is one of those first-class, rare editors who not only cares deeply about the craft, but the people. Without her, my writing would not be what it is today.

“Other Days” is a cumulative project spanning continents and the realm of speculative fiction. If you’re looking for stories that go above and beyond your imagination, look no further!


READ IT TODAY

Visit the following links to read in both ebook and paperback formats:

AMAZON ~ AMAZON U.K.

To learn more about Jessica Augustsson, please see her webpage at: www.jessedit.com


EXCERPT

I cannot remember what I am or who I was before. I am different from the ones who talk and take. Not that I can’t talk, you see. But it has been so long since I needed to know how.

My memory of her is fading now, like paper worn too thin. Eventually it will crumble to dust like the others. But some memories are vivid and clear to me still. From the start the girl learned to look and listen rather than talk and take. Her eyes found my hiding place, could see through the wooden wall. Rather than screaming as she should have, the child spoke to me. It had been so long since anyone had spoken to me. She asked me questions I couldn’t answer.

In the beginning was the most obvious, “Are you a ghost?”

“No,” I replied. I most certainly am not a ghost, not like the ones they invent.

So she pretended I was her special imaginary friend and called me Una because she thought it pretty and I have no name. When she gave me a name I began to feel more solid and less fluid. Instead of fading easily from wall to wall I found I must squeeze tighter between. And the creaky old house became less scary, she told me, less alive. So for a short time I knew happiness. A dangerous feeling.

The family moved away soon after. I heard the father’s whispers to the mother, concerns for their only child. Even her teacher at school had expressed concerns.

“She needs children her own age, Maude,” Father insisted the night before they left.

“Adele is fine. She has not been so happy since the diagnosis. For heaven’s sake, Harold, it is only an imaginary friend,” Mother pleads.

I told my little friend what her father said. She cried about it with her tiny hands pressed against the painted wood over my heart. I told her to pry it open so she could hide her special things inside for safekeeping. She begged me to come out of the wall and come with her and I tried. The struggle sucked me back deeper, so I couldn’t even tell her goodbye, couldn’t speak to her this last time.

Her screams pierced and stabbed the walls as they dragged her away forever.

I mourned.

No matter how many times this happens I cannot fade my sorrow and pain away with my shape.  They linger sometimes like a cold spot in the air. After a while, the others make me feel alive, even if they never learn to look. And they always leave, sometimes because they see their little children talking to empty corners or because I am not careful enough to fade quietly through the walls of their house.

For the first time in a long one, I felt angry at the wood that bound me, at the others who gave me such foolish hope. I forgot how to take shape after this. For years I slept and no family came to share my roof.

I forgot the little girl’s name, but I never forgot the name she gifted me.

Una.

Occasionally, I would hear the others who dared lingered outside the house begin to speak of strange things.

“They say he went missing a week before he was murdered in the house…”

“She broke her neck on the front steps three days after moving in…”

“…haunted…”

“…ghosts…”

All of this is ridiculous, of course. Ghosts are dark spirits that thrive on the fear of the others. I had seen haunted houses advertised on television during Halloween—places where chandeliers flickered and rattled, doors opened and shut on their own. I was honest when I told the little girl who had named me Una that I was not a ghost.

Still they always left. No families came to look or claim my home. The only live souls I saw were the children who threw rocks at the windows, and dared one another to enter the “haunted house.” And eventually this ceased too.

The house had grown musty, filthy and fragile. It was a very old house, added onto and polished every generation by families I only saw as candlelit shadows in my memory now. So dead and peaceful was it that I too forgot I was still alive.

Until they opened the front door.

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Hooked on Star Wars

Hope this makes you smile as much as I did while watching it!

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NaNoWriMo #1

sw_Editing_N10_20130809_230442Hope All Hallow’s Eve was a smash hit for everyone! Tonight I’m bucking down to work on my NaNoWriMo attempt while my husband plays Skyrim. Between that and hot cocoa it doesn’t get much better. But I’m reminded in just dredging up the courage to write that being real and personal is exhausting. It’s far easier for me to write an urban fantasy adventure about kick ace heroines than it is to pull from real life. But here goes nothing. I’m going to attempt to write from the heart and bring y’all along on the adventure with a trail of bread crumbs.


“Write what you know.” — Mark Twain


“One miserable week of feeling sorry for myself later, I dreamed about home. But it wasn’t the home I knew in the present, rather the way it was when I was little. More trees filled our land and we had fewer neighbors. Yet instead of walking through the dream as a child, I was just unspectacular adult me. And something was calling me home, calling me to that mysterious back field with the chest-high grass. I had come back home with a group of family friends but ran to the back field alone.

That was when I felt it watching me, a presence I couldn’t see even though I knew it was there. The ghost never said anything or appeared, but I stood looking and waiting for it to show in the wind at any moment.

I woke up to the sound of the front door opening, more than a little creeped out, my arms covered in goose bumps. Something pricked at the back of my mind.

Am I late for something?

I sighed and stared up at the light peeking past my curtain rod and shining on the glow-in-the-dark stars I’d stuck up there in junior high.

Oh yeah, you got fired yesterday, Gwyneth.

… to be continued

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Happy Hallow’s Eve!

Starting the holiday spirit early!

Savor the lovely darkly frighteningly fun moments today

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

(published 1845)

  Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never- nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting-
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

[This version of the poem is from the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner, September 25, 1849. It is generally accepted as the final version authorized by Poe. Earlier and later versions had some minor differences. Source]

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