Monday, July 18, 2011

Public Scandal and the Risks of Desire

Desire Exposed to the Public Eye

Falling in love is a good thing, or so we generally believe. Desire motivates us, charges our lives, and the fulfillment of it is an ultimate goal. But what happens when someone’s desire falls out of the norm, when the person he or she loves poses an ethical quandary? Worse, what happens when that person is a public official whose life is open to scrutiny and subject to society’s expectations?

In Beside the Darker Shore (Patricia J. Esposito, Eternal Press, 2011) Boston’s peaceful community of vampires is thriving. Blood sales are up, blood taxes support a thriving new nightlife, neighborhoods have been refurbished, and deaths by vampires have plummeted. The conscientious and ethical Governor David Gedden is assured reelection.

However, the blood addict, Stephen Salando has returned from exile with one unalterable plan: to turn the good governor into a vampire. Stephen is an immortal dhampir, whose beauty obliterates reason, who rouses in David a fierce desire he’s ignored his whole life.

What might the ethical Governor David Gedden give up for one man’s exquisite beauty? What does he owe his public? For David to have Stephen, he must ally with the community's archrival. To have him, he must become a potential killer himself. What does he owe himself for a chance at love?

Patricia J. Esposito has been a writer of edgy paranormal fiction for most of her life, but always knew she had a romantic heart. Her most recent fiction and poetry reflect that enduring quest for love and joy beneath the human struggle. She’s had numerous stories and poems published in anthologies, such as Apparitions and Lights of Love, and magazines, including Rose and Thorn, Karamu, Not One of Us, Hungur, Sounds of the Night, Midnight Street, Byline, and Clean Sheets. Her fiction has received honorable mentions in “year’s best” anthologies and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Long-time married to the “boy-next-door,” she has two daughters and works at home as a copy editor, when she’s not off exploring the intoxicating realms of the imagination and chasing the muse.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Contest Fest Today!

Author Margaret West is hosting a contest to win all kinds of cool items, just by answering one question--an interesting question too. She also links to other authors hosting contests today, for one big contest fest. Hop over if you want to win things or just meet new authors.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

As early as thirteen years old, author Donaya Haymond has been finding publishing success. She's twenty years old now and has just released her fourth novel, Humans and Demons and Elves.
A creative writing major, half-Thai half-American, she's also team Guy Who Almost Hit Bella With a Truck (which I can't help but support). As someone who experienced early on the challenges of adapting to new cultures, Haymond is able to translate what she's learned about people and society into her own creation of a world of humans and elves and Eudemons. Read on for a further taste!

The Elves of North America use dimension-bending magic to conceal their woodland villages from humans, though it fails to protect them from the beautiful-but-deadly Eudemons. Edofine is less prejudiced than many, even befriending an Archaedemon, whose people are known for switching sides in the ancient conflict. But when young Edofine's clan is destroyed, he has only one person to turn to: his cousin Kryvek, who was adopted by humans who established the Official Magics-Humans Institute (OMHI). Will Edofine be able to adjust to human society? Can the OMHI help him despite facing its own crisis? Could he possibly be falling in love with Kryvek’s friend Lira, a half-Elf half-Eudemon working for the OMHI? His life has fallen to pieces, and the reconstruction is full of surprises.
Sample Passage:
"One more time. You turn these knobs, and water comes out. One knob has hot water and one has cold water. You adjust the amount depending on your preference."
"And then what do I do?" Edofine stood inside the shower, gingerly poking the pipes. He was still in full Elf regalia, complete with dead leaves and grass stains.
"Cover yourself with soap and stand under the water so that it washes off. Do you think you can handle that?"
"You do this every day?"
"Yes."
"What a waste of time and water."
"Way to be sanctimonious, kid. I am merely teaching you how to conform to local hygienic standards. When you live indoors in small apartments, washing frequently becomes very important. Some even enjoy it. I'll leave you alone now to get acquainted with it."
Kryvek was growing annoyed with having to explain these basic things to his cousin. He knew Edofine wasn't being obtuse on purpose, but helping him was like having a child to take care of. Kryvek's stomach growled again and he looked at his watch for the fourth time in ten minutes.
Panic rose in Edofine's throat, which, coupled with his hunger and disorientation, made him worried he might vomit. "You cannot leave me. What if I do something wrong and I scald myself? What if the magic governing these pipes breaks down? Anything could happen."
Kryvek was about to dismiss Edofine's fears, but he saw the hurt in Edofine's drooping shoulders and bowed head and changed his mind. "All right. I'll stand right here in the doorway and talk you through the process. First take your clothes off.” Standing in the shower, Edofine disrobed. Kryvek noted many scars and bruises underneath the grime. “You have to put the clothes outside of the shower, otherwise they’ll get wet.”
“Now turn the hot knob…”
“Aiee!”
“I meant turn it while standing sort of away from the stream of water, so it wouldn’t hit you full force. No, don’t turn it off! Turn on some of the cold!”
“I think you are trying to kill me…”
Other novels by Haymond include

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Win a free e-book: tell me where you'd rather be!

Some days get hectic. Sometimes responsibility tires you out, and you just wish that, for one day, or a few simple hours, you could be away. Carefree, careless, self-indulgent, even pampered.
When I wrote Beside the Darker Shore, I wanted carefree time away. I created a vampire named Arturo who loved to indulge, and had him extend an invitation to his villa in rural Spain. The arrival to his villa appears in the excerpt below. But I'm wondering where you'd like to go? Imagine no job, no family, no duties to fulfill, just a day somewhere--from your own backyard, to an amusement park, to another planet. Where would you like to go?
I'll be drawing names to win a free e-book of the novel from the entries here and on my other blog and live chat as Beside the Darker Shore is launched today. Please join in. I'd love to hear where you'd like to be!
AND if you'd like to join me in a chat about the novel, along with other authors today, please visit me here at 1:00 p.m. CST (2 p.m. for East Coasters). (Login only requires whatever name you choose to be shown as, no registration.)

Buttoning his cuff, Arturo returned his stare. “I can’t ease the world for you forever. You are vampire. You need blood. You will kill.” He pointed to the window. “For now, look. The Picos de Europa.”
They had entered a dark gorge with jagged cliffs rising like castles, mottled limestone, veined in blue-gray, black, and streaks of pink. Water gushed through a rocky cleft, catching the skittish moonlight.
The land had turned savage, David thought, although in the valley at his right, he could make out a small hamlet run with what appeared to be orchards. “Cherry and walnut orchards mostly. There is little wealth here,” Arturo said, “but Tomas has brought food and wines from all over my country. For the festival. Red Riojá, Cariñena,Valdepeña—you will taste these wines on our humans’ breath."
... in the distance, the villa materialized. It appeared at first as a natural rock formation, running unevenly across the valley, but then David could see how the stone wall arced and dipped along the wave of the valley. In one low dip was a higher arch, with iron gates. The entrance.
He turned a smile at Arturo who hadn’t spoken a word since the car. Then he hurried to the gate. Not rock, but marble created the arch over the stonework, and words were carved into the arch: “La mejor salsa del mundo es el hambre.” Arturo stood hands on his hips before the entrance. “My angels recite Cervantes: ‘Hunger is the best sauce in the world,’ they say.”

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Oxford Comma

All this fuss about dropping the Oxford comma? You bet.

In the new open suburb, Max the Dog could run free with Harold and Maude, Rinky Dink, Lulu and Mew, Sylvester and Rat, from morning until night.

The sentence above sets up a list of neighborhood animals that Max runs with. The author combines Harold and Maude as well as Lulu and Mew as one, perhaps because they're from one family, or because they're both cats. Rinky Dink seems to be alone. But what about Sylvester and Rat? On first reading, with our ears attuned to the combined names, we probably heard another combination--Sylvester and Rat as two neighbor dogs perhaps. But then nothing follows the two, and it seems that maybe Sylvester and Rat are meant to be separate. But who knows for sure?

That's where the serial (Oxford) comma comes in. If a comma is ALWAYS included before the last "and" in a series, we always know that the list is ended, that the last does not belong, possibly, with the prior. Sure, some sentences are simple series, one item after another. But our eyes get trained, and if they always see the comma before "and," they will read correctly when meeting the more difficult listing.

In the new open suburb, Max the Dog could run free with Harold and Maude, Rinky Dink, Lulu and Mew, Sylvester, and Rat, from morning until night.

In the above, is there any way to mistake Rat for being part of Sylvester? No. Commas are for clarity.

----

And there's more comma misuses and omissions that make me pause and read again:

Commas surrounding interior phrases and clauses are often left out of works, most often one being used and not the other, such as in this example, which I had to read twice:

Although the period was a time of renewal for the country, during the Restoration battles along the front line continued.

On first reading, I had thought “Restoration” was being used as an adjective to describe “battles,” and anticipated “during the Restoration battles … something something something happened…” Instead, “Restoration” was intended as a noun here, to mean, during this time period, battles continued. A comma after it, would have helped immensely:

Although the period was a time of renewal for the country, during the Restoration, battles along the front line continued.


A comma following an introductory phrase is often omitted, leaving the reader unsure where the break in thought is. Often the last word of the clause can be read as an adjective to describe the next word. And, again, the sentence has to be read twice.

When the queen relinquished her crown jewels scattered the stone path of her exit.

On first reading, I read “her crown jewels” as a phrase, meaning the jewels of her crown. Then there was no subject for “scattered” and I had to read again. A comma following an introductory clause clarifies where the opening thought ends and the following thought begins:

When the queen relinquished her crown, jewels scattered the stone path of her exit.

This is not to say that a sentence can’t be complex. Faulkner is one of my favorite authors. This passage, from
Absalom! Absalom! is long and difficult conceptually, but it is perfectly clear syntactically due to proper comma use:

Perhaps I couldn’t even have wanted more than that, couldn’t have accepted less, who even at nineteen must have known that living is one constant and perpetual instant when the arras-veil before what-is-to-be hangs docile and even glad to the lightest naked thrust if we had dared, were brave enough (not wise enough: no wisdom needed here) to make the rending gash. Or perhaps it is no lack of courage either: not cowardice which will not face that sickness somewhere at the prime foundation of this factual scheme from which the prisoner soul, miasmal-distillant, wroils ever upward sunward, tugs its tenuous prisoner arteries and veins and prisoning in its turn that spark, that dream which, as the globy and complete instant of its freedon mirrors and repeats (repeats? creates, reduces to a fragile evanescent iridescent sphere) all of space and time and massy earth, relicts the seething and anonymous miasmal mass which in all the years of time has taught itself no boon of death but only how to recreate, renew; and dies, is gone, vanished: nothing-- but is that true wisdom which can comprehend that there is a might-have-been which is more true than truth, from which the dreamer, waking, says not ‘Did I but dream?’ but rather says, indicts high heaven’s very self with: ‘Why did I wake since waking I shall never sleep again?’