Going Select, and a Selection

Just to let everyone know, I’ve pulled Revenants Abroad off Smashwords, so that includes Kobo, and Barnes and Noble, etc (Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart). It was proving to be a dead end. I’ve chosen instead to go with Amazon’s KDP Select because I think it will provided greater visibility and will make the book available via Kindle Unlimited to those who have that. I don’t actually know how that works since I don’t have a Kindle, but I’m sure those of you who do, do. See?

Revenants Abroad - Final Flattened with Text for PrintAnd for those patiently waiting, here’s a small snippet from the rough draft of Chapter 1 of the sequel, “Revenants Within.”

Hope you like it!

Revenants Within

Six hours of bad roads from Montreal to Tupper Lake felt like a week and a half, but neither the old house nor the solemn solitary figure standing in the driveway looked at all inviting to Anne-Marie.

“This is it. Wait here a minute while I make sure everything’s ok.” Andrej parked, opened the door and got out. He walked up to the waiting figure who shook his hand.

“I had no idea traveling could be this painful.” Anne-Marie tried to stretch her back, twisting and turning while she waited with Neko inside the car as Andrej spoke with the man. The guy was young, strikingly handsome with a square jaw and shaggy black hair, but he had a cocky belligerent air that chased away any thoughts of confederacy with him.

“What the hell is going on?”

Neko heaved a sigh. “These guys-it’s just their way. They want to be sure we’re the people they expected.”

“Who else would we be? How many people drive all the way out here? And who is that guy?”

“A pain in my ass. I’ll explain later. Come on, looks like we’ve cleared customs.”

The man had nodded and Andrej turned and motioned for them to join him. Neko hopped out first and opened Anne-Marie’s door for her, and together they walked up the driveway. Andrej put his arm around Anne-Marie’s shoulder, pulling her close.

“Jimmy, I’d like to introduce Anne-Marie. And of course you know Neko.”

Jimmy looked at Anne-Marie while he held out his hand to her. As he and Neko shook hands neither one spoke. He turned back to Andrej with a sidelong glance at Anne-Marie, making her feel more like an intruder than she already did.

“Come on inside. Gaston’s resting, he’ll be up later.”

They trudged up the muddy driveway to the wooden steps of the front porch that were nearly bare of paint.With an exaggerated swagger, Jimmy pulled the screen door open and held it, indicating for Andrej and the others to enter.
As Anne-Marie walked in he said, “Anne-Marie, is it? You don’t look like an Anne-Marie. Sounds like a nice Catholic girl kind of name.”

She stopped and looked him up and down. “Jimmy, is it? You don’t strike me as too bright, trying to pick a fight the minute we get here.”

“Listen, bitch, we don’t need you here…” he started, but in less time than it took for him to turn his head to her, Neko had him by the throat, pinned against the house, choking him.

“Don’t piss me off you little shit. I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.”

“Neko, let him go. Now.” The command came from inside. It was woman’s voice, strong and steady.

Neko snarled and pulled his hand off Jimmy’s throat, letting him fall to the floor, gasping for air.

“You touch him again and you’re out of here, all of you.”

The woman speaking came out on the porch. Her gray hair was gathered in a loose soft bun, and old-fashioned glasses set off a stern face. It was not an unkind face, but she clearly didn’t take guff from anyone, human or vampire. Andrej stood behind her, eyebrows raised, watching Neko.

The woman kept her eyes on Neko as she said, “Jimmy, why don’t you go check on the truck? I may need to go to town later.”

Jimmy pushed himself up off the porch floor, rubbing his throat. He shot a murderous look at Neko, then walked off down the porch and around the house.

“Neko, let’s get something straight. If you want to stay here, and you want our help, you will not lay a finger for any reason on any of my people. Are we clear?”

“He should know better than to insult my friends.”

“Jimmy was out of line. I’ll talk to him. But if you touch him again you’re out of here. I can’t have you killing off my coven, if you want our help.”

Neko shook himself, trying to subdue his own rage. Anne-Marie watched him, wide-eyed. He saw her looking at him, and hung his head. “I’m sorry,” he said.

The woman turned to Anne-Marie and gave her a motherly smile. “And I’m sorry we got started off like this. I’m Sylvia. Come on in and make yourselves comfortable and I’ll get tea.”

Neko made a sour face, but waited until Sylvia was out of the room before saying, “Hope she’s got something stronger.”

Andrej put a hand on his shoulder. “I think it’s BYOB here these days.”

With a sound of disgust, Neko shook his head. “How long did you plan on staying here?”

“No longer than we have to.” He turned to Anne-Marie. “I’m sorry about that guy. If he gives you any trouble, let me know.”

“Don’t worry about me. I’ve dealt with worse than him.”

Neko laughed. “That’s our girl.”

The house was decorated, if you could call it that, with a hodge-podge of mismatched furniture, all well-worn and somewhat battered. The house itself was what interested Anne-Marie most. The old farmhouse dated back to the mid-nineteenth century, and had suffered little updating over the years. Apparently repairs were carried out only when something broke or became unlivable. Even the glass in the many windows looked to be original and had become rippled with time. A large bay window in the living room looked out to the west side of the property. The woodwork and double-hung sash windows looked original.
Sylvia returned carrying a tray laden with mugs and a pot of tea.

“Neko, I don’t suppose you’d care for any,” she said, pouring tea into each of the mugs.

“Thanks, I’ll pass.”

“What are you two planning to do for food while you’re here?”

Neko looked at Andrej.

“We can take care of that, don’t worry,” Andrej said.

“You know we’re all out of bounds, right? We can’t work to protect you if we’re weakened in any way.”

Andrej nodded. “Of course, we understand. Even Anne-Marie is out of the question.”

“Unless it’s an emergency,” Anne-Marie said.

Sylvia raised one eyebrow, looking from Anne-Marie to Andrej. Andrej shook his head slightly, and Anne-Marie knew she’d made a mistake.

“Don’t worry,” Anne-Marie said, “it’s not a regular thing.”

Sylvia cleared her throat, poured a cup of tea, and passed it to Anne-Marie. “Well, whatever you decide among yourselves is your business.”

“Syl, you know me better than that,” Andrej said. He stood next to one of the windows, looking out towards the woods behind the house.

“How long have you two known each other?” Anne-Marie looked from one to the other.

“All my life,” Sylvia said. “He knew my parents before that. When I was little I even called him ‘Uncle Andy.’”

“Really?” Anne-Marie laughed. “How is it you’ve never mentioned that particular factoid?”

Andrej made a face at her.

Sylvia leaned toward Anne-Marie with a smile and said, “He’s always been very tight-lipped.”

“That’s true enough. But you have to admit lots of things have happened in my life, we’ve hardly had time to talk about everything,” Andrej said.

“That is a lot of ground to cover.” Sylvia leaned back with her tea, looking around at each of them in turn.

“So where’s Gaston?” Neko asked.

“He should be down shortly. I didn’t think you’d be so eager to see him.” Sylvia sipped her tea, looking at Neko over the rim of her cup.

“The sooner we get this straightened out the happier I think we’ll all be. Might as well get the show on the road.”

Anne-Marie’s shocked look told him he’d gone too far.

“Sorry, Sylvia. Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate what you’re doing for us, and the risk you’re taking, which is why I think the sooner we move on the better.”

“Neko, this isn’t something that’s going to be resolved quickly. I suggest you find a way to accept that you’re likely to be here for some time. Hiding you from Paimon isn’t going to be easy. But you’re right, the sooner we get started the better. And here’s Gaston now.”

A man had appeared in the doorway to the living room, He looked to be about Andrej’s age, but with thick blond hair, and large blue eyes. He was not quite as tall as Andrej, and not quite as slender.

“Andrej, it’s good to see you,” he said with a broad smile.The two met in the center of the room, shook hands, and embraced momentarily.

“Gaston, you’re looking well. Let me introduce Anne-Marie.”

“I’m delighted to make your acquaintance,” Gaston said with a bow,and taking Anne-Marie’s hand he placed a kiss on the back of it. As he stood again he looked past Anne-Marie and saw Neko leaning against the fireplace mantel. With a wink at Anne-Marie he said, “Neko,what a pleasure to see you again.”

###

Pictures for the Soul

Sometimes the soul takes pictures of things it has wished for but never seen. — Anne Sexton

Poppies

Climbing Joseph's Coat

I think that’s what writers do, try to write the pictures they’ve seen with their souls. And probably why nothing ever quite measures up to the vision in our mind’s eye. I know I’m never satisfied with anything I write.

I’ve been reading Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan, a book I’ve had for many years but never got around to reading. That’s where I ran across the Sexton quote. The book is filled with quotes and anecdotes of writers and artists. I’m only about 50 pages in, but the main message seems to be avoid cliches, make use of the rich language that exists.

4-29-15 sunset2

 

Driving with Jane Austen

What?

Among the many weird and off-the-wall things that cross my mind, I often play a mental game when I drive. It goes something like this:

I pretend Jane Austen is riding shotgun with me, and I get to explain to her the workings of the automobile, traffic, commuting, and we discuss the improvements in modes of transportation from her day to ours.

Jane: “The seats are more comfortable than even Lady Catherine’s barouche box!”

Me: “Oh yeah, we have this stuff called foam now that they put in the seats. It’s a synthetic material.”

Jane: “And this carriage is warm, or cool, as you choose. A vast deal pleasanter when one travels in the winter.”

Me: “Yup. All those knobs and dials pull heat off the engine when you want to warm up the car, or use the cooling system when it’s hot.” Air conditioning takes more time to explain, what with freon and it’s replacement options, and then we have to talk about the ozone and climate change and pollution, which all makes our century sound really bad. But then I get to discuss the advances in medicine and infant mortality rates, and so on.

How would you even begin to explain everything that’s changed between then and now?

And bicycles! I think she would have loved bicycles and the freedom they gave women. Even if originally women were expected to wear seven pounds worth of undergarments (by the 1850s, fourteen pounds of underwear was the norm. Talk about ‘crazypants’).

 

a woman on bike circa 1890s

I bet Lizzie Bennet would have been on one of those in a New York minute if she’d had the chance.

Here Jane’s getting her first driving lesson in the 21st century equivalent of the barouche.

2015-ford-mustang-jane austen

She really liked it; bit of a speed demon that girl. Yeah, I don’t actually own the car either.

So, who’s riding with you?

Interested in Reviewing “Revenants Abroad”?

I should have posted this long ago, but wanted to say if you’re a book reviewer interested in reviewing Revenants Abroad please contact me for a complimentary copy in your choice of electronic formats. There’s no obligation. You can also check out the first 20% of the book at Smashwords (anyone can do this) to see if it piques your interest. Amazon doesn’t give you quite as much to preview, I don’t think. You can contact me through the “Contact” form (see above in the menu) or email me at fillingspaces (at) gmail (dot) com.

And some recent pics. I saw something on the way home a couple nights ago I’m dying to get a pic of as soon as I get the road to myself and don’t have to worry about some tailgater trying to kill me if I slow down for 2 seconds.

Also, I have a huge bouquet of lilacs on my desk this morning stinking up the place.

4-14-15 lilacs at work

‘Cause I Just Don’t Have Enough To Do

So my latest thing is I’m thinking about doing a newsletter focusing on my book and the upcoming sequel as well as other writing, and offering some exclusive content (backstory on characters, new stuff related to the Revenants series and other projects), contests and giveaways. Yeah I know, like I don’t have enough to do already, right?

If you’d like to sign up you can do so here. Unfortunately with WordPress.com sites you can’t embed the forms so I have to have an off-site page for it. I’ll be moving the blog to a self-hosted site soon, though. I’m not sure when I’ll start sending out the newsletter, and it will be monthly if I can keep up. Otherwise maybe every other month, so you won’t be inundated with stuff every week.

The white flowers below are Oregon’s state flower, the trillium. It’s protected, so don’t pick them if you see them.

We’re still getting a lot of fog in the mornings, as you can see.

Revenants Abroad and My Battle with CreateSpace.

Just so you guys know, at this point I do not plan to move forward with paper copies of Revenants Abroad. I’m so disgusted with CreateSpace/Amazon’s destruction of the cover art, I can’t bring myself to sell print copies. I can’t understand why the perfectly good artwork that was supplied to them is turned into a murky mess, and they refuse to do anything about it. Their only solution was to tell me to upload a lighter version of the artwork. I don’t have the original artwork, or Photoshop, to manipulate it in. For comparison, here is the original image:

Revenants Abroad - Final Flattened with Text for PrintAnd THIS is what they did to it. These are the first two proof copies I received, the third is exactly the same. I haven’t even bothered to check the actual text inside. I just want to cry every time I look at this.

Two proof covers

I’ve never seen anything like it. If anyone else has had a similar experience with CreateSpace I’d love to hear about it. I was told this was “within acceptable variances.” They also said something about “spacing” which basically meant they didn’t address the issue at all and all I got was a canned response. Obviously they couldn’t care less about the quality of the books they publish.

Oregon Spring

I’ve been taking loads of pictures lately, just no time to post. Here’s a selection the last week or so. Some of the dates are wrong, typos, ya know. But just in case spring is late in your part of the world, enjoy these pictures.

Not much else going on. Still working with CreateSpace to try to get the cover image for Revenants Abroad printed right. They’ve sent me two proof copies and both were so dark you could hardly see the details and colors in the background. I’m very frustrated. It’s not brain surgery, it shouldn’t be this hard. Let’s hope third time’s the charm.

Imaginary Worlds

These pictures feel like a fairytale world. I need to write a fantasy set in this place. Gotta come up with a name for it. Amazing how it’s never the same two days in a row.

When I look at these pictures I keep wanting to label them “Farksolia.” But I need to think up my own name if I want to create an imaginary world. For those not familiar with Farksolia, it was an imaginary planet invented by Barbara Follett, a ‘child prodigy’ who wrote an acclaimed novel at the age of 12, in 1925. She even created a language for the inhabitants, Farksoo. She disappeared mysteriously in 1939, and I like to think she created a new life for herself somewhere, changed her name, and kept writing. She would have been 101 on March 4. I somehow stumbled across Farksolia years ago, no doubt following one link, then another, and have never forgotten about Barbara.

Anyway the whole thing is giving me ideas for different blog formats, and creating a little world of my own. I owe you for that, Barbara.