Monday, June 29, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Devin longed for the sight of Castle McLoch and its high stone walls, instead in the endless battlefield that strecthed out before him. MacGavin, the dirty cur, -laird of the land lying north of his clan’s-- along with at least a hundred of his kinsmen launched an attack on McLoch land at daybreak. Caught by surprise, more than half Devin’s numbers fell, cut down to lay strewn about the ground they had sought to protect. The laird, his father, had been among those killed. Bloody, bruised, and heartbroken with so few left of his clansmen, defeat sought to claim him, but he fought like a lion. He sliced through each man who came close to his blade with the ferocity of the desperate and determined. He now stood alone, bloodied and broken, but not beaten, never. He was McLoch and he was forever.
His body declared mutiny as the opposing clansman's sword sliced through his bicep. Devin’s blade fell to ground, slicing a gash across his palm. He felt his fire lurch toward freedom and vengence. Knowing without seeing, his father passing in the makeshift tent in the trees. Laird but a day and he would die on his own land. Mac Gavin stood above him, his own sword held high and sure, ready to take his life.
“You die this day, Laird McLoch.” He said mockingly as he brought the blade ever closer, slow and torturing. “All you have will be mine. Those of my blood will claim your land and holdings, kill your kinsmen, and rape your women. Die Devin Brannon McLoch, knowing it was you who failed to stand in my way.”
At that moment the vision spun in his mind, two women, his cousin Daemon performing powerful magic. Three elements trapped and spinning together, Devin knew he would complete them and was the fourth, the Fire. He felt a force surge through him like nothing had before or again since. Devin couldn’t stop the fire raging in his veins not bothering to try, rode the primal wave of energy and exhilaration that had MacGavin dropping his sword and shouting,
“Demon, changeling! Stay back. The Devil take you!”
"My father was Laird, but my mother is faerie. It is you who dies tonight."
Devin glowed like a thousand candles lit all at once. Fire sprang from within his cupped hands and created a ring of flame around all he sought to save. Yet never burned him and was a cool as a mountain spring. This was his gift, his element. He was Fire. How could he have forgotten this?
“The Devil won’t have me. Ring of fire, strong and sure, I entrust you to endure. From that which seeks harm in deed, shield all charged to me. By my blood, bone and fire I seal this circle. As I will so mote it be.” Every last MacGavin ran from him and the horrifying wall of fire, but not before it licked out to burn them to ashes. None of his men had survived the battle to celebrate the victory.
His magic hadn’t failed him, but when the rush he’d felt withered and died so did the wall of fire. He’d have to remember to thank his cousin when next he saw him. Wearily he picked up his fallen sword, much heavier now with fatigue and grief than when he’d proudly charged into to battle behind his father, and trudged toward home. The fire, which he’d created, burned a blackened circle around his holdings. Try though he did, he couldn’t breach the shield of his own making. Nowhere in his spell had he blocked his own entry, nor the leaving of those who dwelled there, only those who would bring harm. Maybe the spell being cast had triggered an adverse effect with his?
He was as dead to the clan as their fallen Laird. ome Devin woke feeling hollowed out and empty. The emotions of the young man walked around in the much older skin of a man who had seen and done more in a thousand years than could bear remembrance. He remembered his long ago spoken words, blood sealed. He was McLoch and he was forever.
Friday, June 19, 2009
By Elizabeth Eagan-Cox, author of the Shannon Delaney paranormal mystery novels.
Death’s aftermath leaves intriguing clues to a decedent’s identity and lifestyle. Telltale clues found on gravestones and tombs hidden in the artwork and symbols are keys to the decedent’s interests, activities and associations.
My use of grave art as a subtext in my cozy paranormal mystery series of novels is by design. I use knowledge gained from treading lightly over burial grounds spurred on by genealogical research. I am a member of one of the oldest lineage societies in the U.S., namely the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. Yes… that D.A.R.
In D.A.R. documentation for lineage is stringent, to say the least. Proof requires hard evidential documentation from vital records, military records and official documents, such as census files, court papers, property records and so on. Family say-so and church affiliated files won’t hold up to D.A.R. scrutiny. Just so you know… as a person who hunts down her ancestors, I regard the topic of grave art with profound respect… it has revealed a world hidden from the view of documents.
More to the point of this web site’s focus, grave art can be used in defining a character or plotting a story, so, let’s take a journey into Death’s art.
Graveyard or Cemetery? A graveyard is a burial ground connected to or adjacent to a church. A person must be a member of the church or the denomination to rest in eternal peace in its burial ground. On the other side of Death’s fence is the public cemetery, available to all and often will have sections designated to specific religions and denominations.
The change between graveyard and cemetery began in the mid-1800s when public memorial parks were born. A catalyst to the memorial park was new restrictions forbidding church burials. Many churches were running out of room, thus burials were one on top of the other with scant topsoil to cover up the dead! In this wake came the less expensive community-public cemetery. To summarize; Graveyard equals a religious affiliation. Cemetery is public and may have sections designated for specific religions.
Plot potential is in the query: Why would one member of a family be buried in a common cemetery while all other family members are buried in a graveyard?
Death’s Fashion: Time and space doesn’t allow in-depth discussion of this topic. It’s too complex and would require a book, not a blog! For the sake of you, the paranormal writer, I am giving brief esoteric examples focusing on the 1800s and early 1900s. And, I finish with three authoritative and free Internet sources!
Grave art of the 1800s was Victorian in sentiment and style. Key elements include:
· Life-like angels: often portrayed with expressions of agonizing grief.
· Arches in the shape of a gravestone and/or in decoration. An arch symbolizes victory over death.
· Broken column. Three-dimensional or a decoration, a broken column indicates that the deceased was a family patriarch. This tidbit of info is especially helpfully when a gravestone inscription has weathered beyond recognition.
· Open book/Bible: the deceased was a highly regarded teacher or ordained minister. Ordained is an important clue as there were hundreds of lay ministers in the 1800s.
· Anchor/ships: Seafaring profession, but not necessarily in the military. This was before military emblems became popular. Don’t be fooled, but you can fool your readership, good device for plot confusion!
· Breasts! As portrayed by a pair of gourds or pomegranates. This symbolizes nourishment of the soul. Potential here for all sorts of creative musing and imagery!
· Bugle(s): As tempting as it would be to think military, you’d be wrong (a red herring?). In Victorian times, a bugle symbolized heralding the soul into Heaven.
· Corn: Not a symbol of farming. Another red herring, perhaps? An ear of corn, a stalk or a field indicated the decedent lived to a very elderly age… (Perhaps immortal in some form or another?).
· Portals, usually an archway, door, path, or road indicate the route of an eternal journey. Take note, there is no mention as to where the journey leads to. Heaven or Hell… or another place?
· Snake with its tail in its mouth. Popular in the least decade, and greatly misunderstood, this symbol is rooted in the ancient Celtic beliefs of founding ancestors in America and elsewhere. Right out of Ireland and the U.K., the Celtic Snake represents everlasting life in Heaven. I found the Celtic Snake on graves dating back to the 1700s in Anglican/Episcopal church graveyards of Virginia’s historic tidewater region.
Death Goes Deco in the 1900s: Victorian sentimental art gave way to Art Deco in the early 1900s. Art Deco style remained popular up to World War II. Key elements include:
· Geometric, angular and stepped patterns such as Greco-Roman lines, Greek key and Egyptian pyramid. Think mythological!
· Birds stylized in Deco motifs to represent: flying = resurrection and/or perched = at peace.
· Butterfly, a short-lived life, most often cause of death was an illness. During the great flu epidemic of 1918, from which thousands of people died in a brief time frame, more butterflies were requested for grave art than any other symbol!
· Sun rising and setting paired on opposing sides of a gravestone represent birth (rising) and death (setting) with a long successful life in-between. This motif was popular in the Southwest and lent itself to Deco Southwest Indian style.
· Tree trunk chopped down indicates a life cut short, often by a willful act of murder or suicide.
· Urn with a lit flame depicts a person of charitable heart and goodwill, a dedicated servant to the community. (Hmm…or was the person just a ruse?)
· Winged face, be it the head of a cherub (child) angel (female) or skull (male) indicates a soul in flight… to where?
The Final List: Many motifs have remained fashionable through all centuries including:
· Lambs, cherubs, sprouting flowers or buds depict children.
· Flowers, especially rose, lily or poppies represent women.
· Botanicals such as ivy, oak or acorn depict men.
· Thistle for Scottish.
· Shamrock for Irish
· Fleur-de-lis (white lily in profile) for French. In the U.S.: particularly in Louisiana.
Additionally, numerous cultural, ethnic, lineage and fraternal societies have art and symbols uniquely attached to them. I advise researching these symbols through a particular society’s Web site and I advise not using an all-purpose one-stop source for information. (That so-called encyclopedia that’s Online). Conduct an Internet search for the society of interest and look for an official source.
Just the Facts, Please: Are you ready to dig deeper into the art of Death? Here’s some excellent free Internet sources:
· Find a Grave. Still looking for Elvis? Or maybe a great-grandparent? Or maybe you want to window shop for a creative idea, as all good writers do from time to time. Use the name search feature to locate a decedent’s grave or peruse cities of the dead using the cemetery location search. Good research tool to learn more about grave art because photos are often in the results. www.findagrave.com.
· Military Funeral Customs. No better source than U.S. Arlington National Cemetery. www.arlingtoncemetery.net
· Understanding Funeral Customs is an insider site devoted to educating the professional journalism community with factual information regarding various funeral customs around the world. www.religionlink.com Use the ‘tips on topics’ menu on the right or type in ‘funeral’ in the search box at the top. Fascinating!
Dead End. Visit me Online: www.ElizabethEaganCox.net
In June and July I am the guest on numerous paranormal talk radio shows and will discuss a variety of topics near and dear to my heart: Blood Memory, Quiet Wakefulness, Belief in Ghosts, and more on Grave Art. Stop by and say hello… and may we all R.I.P.!
I'll leave you with a couple of snips from my wip Circle of Seven-Shadows of Light (formerly called Bite Me!) Here's a quick blurb and the beginning (unfinished) of the last chapter.
In 600 a.d. a Council of Elders met with the hopes of forming a defense against the oldest vampire and his kind. To save mankind from extinction, seven powerful witches were chosen to form an alliance, each from a different continent with power unique to their people. These women were known simply as "The Seven". When erotic romance author Brianna Hughes begins receiving pictures of ritually murdered women and then one of herself, naked with blood streaming from the bite wounds in her neck. Brie seeks the last man she wants to run to for help, vampire Kail McKenna.
Kail has seen more than his share of death and destruction in his fourteen hundred years. When Brie walks back into his life as living proof of the Seven returned, he has no choice but to honor his charge as Guardian of the Seven. Death stalks Brie and craves not only her blood but her power. Thrice the Seven have returned. With only Brianna the Light left to battle the darkness, will Kail be able to save his love and his soul?
Chapter (the end)
Kail lifted his sword high and poised to strike. A thousand thoughts, scenes, memories flashed through his timeless mind. Each one led to this moment, and now he would destroy the Seven completely. If I send Shade to hell, they’ll be no coming back for the others. Brie would be free. I’ll finally be free.
He slashed downward, his blade sang as it met Shade’s. The force of the blow rang through his hands up his arms. So, this is what its like to fight another vampire whose strength so perfectly matches my own. The Darkness. Maybe the elders had made a mistake when choosing to add that final lethal power to their perfect number of destined warrior women. I see that now. It was always Shade who wrought destruction. Shade killed Ari the first Light, and then turned Cailin the second Light. Darkness will always war against the light of hope. Here I am, the darkest of immortal men, fighting for a hope I’m afraid to believe in, a love I can’t feel and a woman I can’t keep. I don’t know who’s the bigger fool.
“Give up, Kail McKenna. Keeper of Seven, Guardian of Times. I am the Seven now. Darkness was always meant to swallow the others and step into the fold.”
“No. Elias has twisted your mind, Shade. I can’t believe that.”
“Fool. These mortal women were leaders of their people. Wherest they go so did their followers. What better way to rule man’s world than to use the humans’ loyalty against them?”
“There are but two left. When I have them, I’ll unleash a force so powerful, you’re humans will beg to be changed.” The onyx in Shade’s pendant began to give off a strange black light. It pulsed and wavered with a life of its own. Dark clouds and lightening wrapped around her sword turning the blade obsidian….
Oh, I forgot to mention a couple of weeks ago I submitted this proposal to Jessica Faust of Book Ends. She has requested a partial, so wish me luck. I'm shootin' for print this time.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
But I can say that to me, I always wonder what the story behind each one of those stones represents. What did life mean for those people who've gone before? Did they love? What did they do for a living? What was their life like? Were they happy? Did they own a cat?
And then I catch myself making up a life history for some of the names that catch my eye. I guess that's what happens when one is a writer. No rest for the imagination.
So I guess if at the end of life we all return to dust, put something catchy on the stone to help another passing-by writer out :-)
Monday, June 15, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Nope, not a line from a paranormal novel, just lyrics from The King--Elvis.
Recently, I've found myself listening to Elvis while writing love scenes. However, I think in the future I'm going to need something a little stronger. Music seems to help me over the initial uncomfortableness of those sort of scenes and adds a bit of fun as well.
Sometimes, while writing, I do need music. At those times, I listen to soundtracks from Broadway musicals and lots of Disney music, jazz, pop, whatever and where the mood takes me.
Other times, I need quiet when writing.
Whatever you listen to, it's interesting to see if that music influences writing.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I can even map out particular characters personalities by the music I have playing as I'm writing them. I'll listen to their playlists over and over again, until I've got a good handle on their persona, the way they think. Olivia's Ipod playlist is a mix of BADII, Dave Navarro, and Tori Amos covers. Steven is a lot of 80's and 90's metal bands. My killer's playlist consists of tribal drums and chanting. There are a couple of characters that I havn't flushed out yet, so their playlists are pretty empty at the moment.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Choice of music is important when writing is important for me. In fact, Gypsy Moon, started out as a picture of this drool worthy werewolf and a gypsy that came to me as I was driving to work. My son flipped the station and "Into the Night" by Santana and Chad Kroger was playing. There they were. Instantly born in my mind. It happens like that for me, sometimes. I'm always very careful not to play a song that inspired another story while I'm working on a wip.
If I'm writing a battle scene or something gritty, AC/DC, Poison, Guns and Roses, Metallica, (you get the idea) will be playing in the background (not out loud of course, unless its censored). Three Days Grace, Creed, and Three Doors Down are others I'll listen too if the scene is dark or heavy with magic. For the lighter stuff, Celtic Woman (I totally LOVE them. Can't listen to it without bawling my eyes out.) anything Irish or Scottish (you know jigs.) I have a cd that has thirty Irish songs on it in celebration of St. Patrick's day. Can't think of the title, but my favorite song on it starts out "As I came home on Monday night, as drunk as I could be..." Oh, Its hilarious! So if the scene I'm writing is comedy, that will be in my ears.
I like an ecletic mix of music, 80's rock (hair bands), Fleetwood Mac, Mozart and all the Classical stuff, The Eagles (I love that band, never goes out of style), big band, jazz, some country (not the whiny stuff, ugh I know why "Bubba shot the jukebox" to put it out of its misery), pop, and occasionally for some perverse reason, Brittney Spears. Rap is too full of stories to help tell mine, so I generally steer clear of that.
Sometimes, I make what I call a musical outline. Let me explain. A certain song triggers a scene in my head. It goes into a sequential playlist. When I am working, or editing a book, that playlist of outline songs plays back to me to keep the order of mood or setting. Its a strange system, but it works for me.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Darn pushy vamps.
So, before I begin, for your reading pleasure is the unedited opening of my soon to be released novel entitled The Art of Fang Shui which will come to you this January from Eirelander Publishing.
“I searched the world for two years until I found you.”
Ordinarily, those words would have flashed a thrill or three down her spine, but Hannah knew better. In her convoluted life, she’d heard much stranger stuff.
She gaped at the man who lounged casually against the self-help bookshelf. If tall, dark and handsome was an overdone cliché then she was face to face with the best-looking cliché she’d ever met. Actually, it was more like face to shoulder, but what did that matter? The man before her was serious eye candy.
“Pardon me?” Hannah abandoned her task of rearranging bookshelves. He stared at her with eyes the color of Alaskan glacier ice and just as cold. “Are you sure you need to speak specifically with me? I mean, there are several clerks that work here. Perhaps you need to see one of them?” A curvy girl with an hourglass shape, Hannah struggled with the fact men could find her attractive. “Give me a name, and I’ll call them over.”
“I am not mistaken.” A curt nod followed the statement. “You are the one I desire.”
I think we can all agree that vampires are still one of the hottest leading men in all of romance right now. And no, in case you want to know, I haven’t read the Twilight books and have no plans to.
But there’s something about these blood-sucking, undead men that capture our hearts and stir our blood (no pun intended.) They’re strong-willed creatures, full of angst, usually dragging luggage carts full of baggage behind them, and more than likely will be called upon to save the world or some other big issue. Why? Because we’re all suckers for men with issues. Seriously. As much as we complain about our husbands, boyfriends, or men who are friends having mommy issues, etc., our womanly hearts melt into puddles of goo for a hero who needs saving—either from himself or his circumstances.
The best thing? Vamps are almost always good-looking, dependable, loyal, and deep down, they want to change into the very men their women think they are. That makes them human, and that’s why we connect so strongly with them.
As for me, I love writing about them, or the paranormal in general. Rules and boundaries can be manipulated to my twisted author’s will at times but yet the story is still believable. How would I react if I happened to meet a vampire in real life? I have no idea, but I hope I’d do my profession proud and be a brave heroine from a book.
I’ll keep you posted…
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Today we've got a real treat for you, a cage match, Dracula VS Wolfman! And here's the first bell! Dracula comes out from his corner looking a little disoriented.
I think the lights may be a problem for him Wink.
Right you are Skippy. Now Wolfman has entered the ring and immediately starts circling Drac. It is just eerie to see.
Well Wink, it does look strange to see a wolf walking around on his hind legs like that
Isn't that the truth. Wolfman takes the first lunge, clawing at Dracula across the chest! THE WOUND IMMEDIATELY HEALS!! We are witnessing history today folks! Dracula steps back. He comes at Wolfman in the form of two hundred bats! That has got to cause a lot of confusion for Wolfman.
Sure does Wink.
Wolfman waves the bats away with tooth and claw. I think he's got one in his mouth! That has got to hurt!
Those jaws can bite through steel Wink.
Thank you Skippy. Wolfman spits out the bat, and Dracula reassembles himself. Yes, Yes, there is a large chunk missing now out of his right side. Wait, what's this? Dracula has pulled out a silver dagger! He is going for the big guns now!
Silver is deadly to werewolves Wink.
Really Skippy? Dracula lunges at Wolfman. Wolfman dodges out of the way. He seems to be looking for something at the side of the ring. Looks like he's found it. Oh my God! He's found a wooden stake! They are matching each other, weapon for weapon.
You're kind of a moron, aren't you Skippy?
Sure am Wink!
Ok, there going at it folks, dagger against stake. Dracula is starting to look a little tired. And Wolfman pounces! Dracula is down on the ground! He goes in for the kill... The stake is in! Dracula is dust! This fight is over folks! Remember to tune in next week when we have Swamp Thing VS The Creature from the Black Lagoon!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Even though I'm writing a vampire tale right now, I'm itching to start something new. Something that pushes the limits further, and steps away from the norm. I'd love to write a series with the flavor of the old Dark Shadows tv show. Each one would be tied together with overlapping characters, but the paranormal elements would change. In just a few years, the writers of the show managed to incorporate not only Barnabas Collins, vampire, but phoenixes, ghosts, witches, time travel, past lives, alternate reality(different time period), parallel time different reality, future time (with an alternate), Dr. Jekyl/ Hyde, Leviathans(demons), werewolves, gypsy curses, witches curses, ancient Eyptian curses, some sort of ancient Eastern out of body thing(you throw these black and white sticks on a table and your mind went through a door.), Ghosts, tons of romance and suspense, zombies, and I think voodoo. AND they managed to do so with a tiny budget, laughable special effects, and awesome actors who made you believe there was a Collinwood and a tortured family who lives would never be normal, not even when the show ended. What about the Highlander series/movies? Another great premise.
I just realized this post doesn't have much to do with writing, lol. Just call it an inspiration burst. I'm off to write.
Monday, June 1, 2009