OA Today

I'm on Operation Awesome today with some short, jetlagged reflections on my trip to the UK and Ireland! Click on over to see!

Ebb Tide

Back in the Spring of 2010, my short story "Ebb Tide" won 3rd place in WOW! Women on Writing's Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest. Although I've always had it linked on my Short Fiction page, I've never actually posted it here. But I needed another "rerun" post for today, so I'm sharing it now!

Dear Diary,

Dr. Zimmer says I have to keep this journal as part of my therapy; he promised no one would read it. He thinks I have trust issues along with my “fascinating emotional complex.” Duh. I tried to tell him what happens when another person touches me, but he didn’t believe me.

I’ll try again here. Even the lightest brush of another person’s skin opens me up to their deepest sadness. It hits me like a tidal wave before seeping into my every tissue. Then their heartbreak is a part of me as much as it is a part of them, and I can't get rid of it. It’s like a sorrowful osmosis.

I used that word, osmosis, and Dr. Zimmer looked surprised. He’d probably read in my file about the low IQ I’d been saddled with early on, after all the tests ruled out a physical reason for my screaming and thrashing whenever anyone came near me. The autistic diagnosis came later, and I thrived under it, mostly because those therapists respected my physical boundaries as long as I made cognitive progress. And of course I made progress, there was nothing wrong with my brain, other than being cluttered with other people’s regrets.

Although I couldn’t really understand yet, by the time I was three I knew about my Gran’s first child, the one she gave up and didn’t tell her other children about. I saw that my mom had never gotten over her first love, even when he’d married another woman. And that my father knew about the whole thing, but he loved my mother so much he was willing to live with this shadow man lingering in her heart.

By fourteen, I learned to live with these backstories inside me—as long as nobody touched me and introduced new ones. I was doing so well that I got mainstreamed into high school, and that’s when it hit the fan.

Last week, this boy Gerome cornered me and held me down, while his friends gleefully took turns poking me with a finger. It left me raging (I broke Gerome’s nose and some of those poking fingers) and then catatonic, until I woke up in this facility.

Dr. Zimmer let my mom come see me today, and to take away the power of my “delusion,” he encouraged my mom to give me a hug.

She offered me her hand instead. Under Dr. Zimmer’s gaze, I knew I would have to touch her, and it wouldn’t be so bad since I already knew about her lost love.

But that’s not what rushed into me; instead it was her pain that she had this smart, beautiful, funny daughter, and she’d never been able to hold her. I gasped with the shock of it, and Mom let go, apologizing. But I was already stepping forward to put my arms around her, and after a moment’s hesitation, she hugged me back and our shared sorrow flowed away. Out of both of us.

WOW currently has their Spring contest open, btw, until May 31. There's a $10 entry fee if you're thinking of sending something in.

OA Today

I'm on Operation Awesome today, with a post on mental illness and fantasy fiction. Click on over and see!

Urban Fantasy Q&A

NOTE: I'm revisiting a post from Oct. 2012 today, since it offers some insights on my thoughts on urban fantasy. Enjoy!

So the fabulous Yelena Casale, writer of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, got this idea to do a Halloween Urban Fantasy Blog Hop, and I got on board. My current work-in-progress, Crow's Rest, is my first full-length urban fantasy novel. I've written some UF short stories (which will likely never see the light of day) and I've always been a fan of the genre as a reader, so I figured why not join the blog hop?

All of our posts will go up on our blogs today, October 24, and each site is offering a giveaway! And we're answering some questions (brace yourself, it's going to be a long post) to help you all get to know us better. Here are my answers:

1. What do you love about the urban fantasy genre (reading and writing)?

For urban fantasy, it's the possibilities that hook me. Like magical realism, it's our own, recognizable world, but with the possibility of magic and something extraordinary. That's been my favorite part of writing Crow's Rest.

My first book, Spirits from the Vasty Deep, is historical fiction and I did a ton of research before even starting to write. Historical fiction involves world-building as well, but there's also a lot of pressure to get the details correct.

But with Crow's Rest, I had the freedom to indulge all the possibilities without the restrictions of a historical basis. I've made up words, folklore, spells, traditions, an entire present-day town. Sure, I drew on Celtic and other mythologies, but it was more of a guideline.

And urban fantasy is a great place to get your geek on, both as a writer and a reader. So many esoteric facts and fantasies come together within the genre!
2. Who is the sexiest supernatural creature? Who’s the scariest?

The sexiest supernatural character? That would be Damon Salvatore. Oh wait--you didn't want that specific of an answer? But seriously, I don't actually think that vampires are inherently sexy (necrophilia, anyone?)--I think that comes from some brilliant writers and Ian Somerhalder actors having fun with those characters.

I do think it's curious that you can find examples of the same creature as hero and villain within the paranormal and urban fantasy genres. A demon might stoke one person's fires, but be the worst nightmare for another. Except zombies--for a long time, that was the creature I was most scared of, and I can't imagine anyone thinking an animate rotting corpse would be sexy. Oh wait, I just remembered the movie Fido.
3. If you could make any supernatural creature, what would it look like and what powers would it have?

I created a type of fae called a corbin for Crow's Rest. The corbin usually cross over into our world by inhabiting crows, but in specific circumstances they can take over human bodies. If it's with the host's cooperation, then the human takes a dreamy sojourn into Fairy while the corbin inhabits the body. If it's without the human's cooperation, and both consciousnesses are fighting for the body, it usually ends in madness for the human.

In Crow's Rest, some of the corbin are no longer satisfied with crow bodies. Or even the occasional accommodating human. They want to come here in their natural forms, with their full, terrible powers intact. It’s happened before, leading to the fall of Rome and the Dark Ages.
4. Do you have any Halloween rituals?

I don't! I've gotten kind of lazy about Halloween since we don't have kids, my nieces and nephews are mostly grown, and our isolated house doesn't lend itself to trick-or-treaters.

But last year on Halloween, I was actually radioactive. The radioactive iodine for my thyroid cancer was administered on October 31, and it's a little different from most radiation treatments because you are radioactive yourself for some days. So I spent it locked in a room, alone and watching stuff on the computer--interrupted by phone calls where everyone joked about if I was glowing!

So if I go for a costume this year, I'm thinking glow paint or glow sticks.
5. Walking at midnight in a forest on Halloween – crazy, scary or adventurous?

It would be adventurous for me--I'm kind of a nature girl, and as long as I could stay awake until midnight I'd be up for it!
6. What is your worst fear?

Yeah, I'm not answering this one. I'm just superstitious enough to not want to attract the attention of what scares me most!
7. What is one of your character’s worst fear?

 For Lonan, the corbin who's been sent to stop his scheming kin from invading, it's fear of what happens if he fails. There was an attempted invasion years before, which was stopped--but not without casualties. And see question number three above for the stakes if he fails.
8. What is your favorite Urban Fantasy novel?

I have lots of favorites (all of Charles de Lint's books, the Borderland series, the first few books in Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, and Christopher Moore), but the Charles de Lint book I often recommend is Svaha. I think it has some great concepts, including a dystopian twist, and the story and writing is more accessible for a newbie to the genre. My favorite Christopher Moore book is A Dirty Job.
9. Who is your favorite Urban Fantasy hero/heroine?

There's some definite crossover between paranormal and urban fantasy, so I would have to say Evie from Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series. She's fun and sassy at first, and as she develops as a character, reveals surprising depth.
10. Which hero/heroine would you love to be on Halloween?

I'd love to be able to dress up as Xena, warrior princess, because it's such a combination of badassness and ridiculous campiness. Hmm, I used to be able to manage her ululation--I wonder if I still can?