Monday, December 14, 2009

More on Shape Shifters -- Why

Many people have thought of becoming an animal. I know I have. The reason for this is probably unique to each individual. What animal would you like to be. I'd opt for a cat, not a small cat but lately I've been spending some time with the large cats. Lions are group oriented and there is strength in numbers but they're not my first choice. I'm quite partial to cheetahs. In Africa, they're the smallest of the large cats and the fastest. They're also pretty. Leopards are beautiful cats but more solitary than most of the large Africal cats. They eat alone even when they have cubs. That's more aloneness than I'd like.

Now we get to the why. Why do I want to be a cat rather than some other animal? I'm not a dog person. Wolves and bears aren't my thing either. I'd choose a cheetah for all the things I'm not. Fast, pretty and predatory. That may be what attracts us to shape shifters. They can do the things we can't or won't.

Any opinions.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shapeshifters and other weres

I'm fascinated by shapeshifting characters in books and have never written one, but perhaps one day I will. I think I prefer cats or maybe dragons but Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton have done a good job with shapeshifting dragons. At least they had a good way of showing where the extra weight went. Dragons definitely weigh more than men and women. In fact my first encounter with shapeshifters was in Andre Norton's Witch World Series books I've read time and again.

Some of my friends and critique partners write about shape shifters, Jane Toombs recently sent my a blurb about one of her shifters. Dance Of The Cedar Cat from Eternal Press is a werecat story. Sussie has been trained by her grandmother to always go though a ritual on full moon nights where she chants Finnish words and locks a little cedar cat inside a box. As an adult, she sometimes forgets--until one night, under a full moon, something mind-calls to her to strip off her clothes and come out and join him in a dance. The first time, she rushes to the little cedar cat, chants, locks it in the box, and the urge to join whatever it is out there fades. But the time comes when she answers the call--and finds out what she really is... Haven't read it yet but will download it into my reader if it's available.

Jenna Kernan is a critique partner and her shapeshifters come in various kinds. Her first one out is a bear. The book is Dream Stalker and she uses Native American myths as a background for her stories. I've heard the book in part but I haven't read the end which I will as soon as I finish a book about dragons I'm reading.

I met Sara Taney Humphries at a book signing. I didn't buy a print copy of the book but I did download it into my reader. Her shapeshifters belong to one of ten animal clans. In The Amoveo Legacy her hero belongs to the Golden Eagle clan. The woman fated to be his mate is a hybrid whose father was of the Gray Wolf clan and her mother was human. Samantha has no idea of her heritage. The story tells of the troubles they face from others who do not want them to mate. I enjoyed the book very much.

The last one I'll talk about here is a hoot. The Seattle Barista Killer by Murdoch Hughes. We share a publisher in Mundania Press. I heard about this book for several years before publication. His hero is a vegan werewolf detective named Harley. He's really only half werewolf and sort of a loner. This book quite tickled my funny bone and still does with re-reading. As a detective Harley sets out to learn who is killing baristas, young women who work in coffee bars in Seattle. A sense of smell is quite an asset for a detective.

So if anyone wants to share their shapeshifters or help me find a way to turn the large cats I love into shifters feel free to post. Janet

Monday, November 2, 2009


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Monday, November 2, 2009

Creatures of myth. Creatures of dreams or even nightmares. Tales of dragons are found in many cultures. Dragons of the air, the earth or the sea. All types of dragons have been imagined by men. Dragons sitting on their hoards of jewels. Dragons breathing fire to destroy towns. Dragons being hunted by valiant knights to rescue maidens or safe towns. Magic beasts. Ones engineered by science. Dragons who help and dragons who harm.

Dragons have many faces as shown in stories penned by authors.I've read many of the tales of dragons and have a number of stories on my shelves or in my ereader. Among my favorite are the dragons of Pern. Dragons who were engineered for a specific purpose. Yjamks to Anne McCaffrey for many hours of fun. Another of my favorites is Temeraire, a fighting dragon and the hero of a series of books in an alternate world by Naomi Novik. There are probably a dozen or more other dragons and writers who have brought their creatures to life.

On the shelf above my computer is a dragon collection, including one made by my oldest grandson by chance when he was doing splatter art in nursery school. There are cloth dragons, glass dragons, pens and lamps. I'm not sure the menagerie inspire me to keep writing but they have influenced two of my stories.The Dragons of Fyre is the story of dragons threatened by an evil man who sells their hides to the wizards of Fyre. A yellow dragon, the Old One, a green dragon, Verde aid the hero and heroine as they battle to save the dragons. These dragons are magical creatures but they do not flame. Their riders either physically fly on they or fly the dragons during a mind meld.

The Amber Dragon is a novella that will be released next year. Here a spoiled princess is turned into a dragon by an evil magician. To become human again, she must entice a prince to kiss her. Problem is, she has insulted all the princes in the surrounding kingdoms. She does encounter a prince transported from another world to hers. The story revolves around her attempts to gain her kiss and the prince's quest for a kingdom.

So tell me about your favorite dragons, either the ones you've read about or the ones whose stories you've told.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Vampire as a Hero

I like to read and an enamoured of heros and sometimes heroines. The strong, the stubborn, those willing to take risks are often on my hit list. Heroines will have other times here. Today I want to speak of one hero I am not able to love.

To readers -- if you find my least likely hero one of yours make a comment telling me why you find him fascinating.

To writers -- if one of your heroes can claim this status, tell me about him. Either leave a comment here or email me and I'll let you have your say and even post a small except (PG please) that shows why he is entitled to be a hero.

I cannot give my heart to a vampire hero but I'm sure I could be convinced. To me a vampire makes the perfect villain. After all, he'd dead. In my former career as a nurse I came in contact with the dead. Their skin is cold and kind of clammy. Is this the stuff of heroes. Another thing about the dead is the flaccidity of their limbs both before and after rigor has occurred. I ask you, does a woman need a limp hero?

Then there's the blood-sucking aspect. I do not like rare meat. The taste of blood is unpleasant. As a nurse I've dealt with blood including giving transfusions for blood loss. That seems to be the reason a vampire drinks a victim's blood. Except the dead don't need transfusions. What always pops into my mind when I read of a vampire hero feeding is a leech. A creature of the swamp that fastens to an animal or a human and sucks their blood. A leech is not a pretty creature.

I am sure there are more reasons but these are the most important. So tell me why a vampire should be thought of as a hero.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Advice on becoming a writer

Years ago when I first began to dream about becoming a writer, I went to a one day writer's seminar. The main speaker was a well-known author, but after many years I can't remember his name. He said three things about becoming an author that have stuck with me for the forty years I've pursued my dream.

1. You have to wish to be an author. For me this means the dreams I had since I was a child and the stories I tried to write and seldom completed but I kept dreaming even while I pursued other goals, like becoming a nurse and being a mother.

2. You have to want to be an author. To me this means more than just the wish. This means reading other authors, reading books about how to write and most of all sending one's writings into the world. This can be hard because there is the rejection and leads to the third piece of advice.

3. You have to need to be an author. I remember him saying rejections shouldn't matter. You have to keep writing and sending things to editors. This piece of advide was about persistence and about obsession. Persistence is a writer's best friend and obsession is what drives the dream. So it all comes to a circle.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I went to EPICON deciding to do little but of course once there, I decided to volunteer to sit at the registration desk. Enjoy this since it allows me to meet and greet people. I did not get my wish. Carol blessed me for volunteering and asked if I would monitor several of the speakers. Now I hadn't planned on going to anything except maybe the publisher's panel. so I was prepared to be semi-bored. Not bored for a minute. The first panel was run by Lorna and Larry Collins, friends from Virginia Beach. They spoke about Money, Wealth and Happiness. Not at all what I expected but things I quite agreed with, especially the part about neither money or wealth brings happiness. Wealth sort of does but it's a wealth of friends that makes one happy.
Panel I should have gone to but ended up in the bookstore selling a few books. This was Reading on the IPhone. Not that I intend to do this but the speaker, Neelan Choksi was eye-candy. Had time to talk to him later and was proud of myself being able to carry on a normal conversation.
My second monitoring gig was for a panel run by Karen Hobson, Blogging For $$$. Here I learned some interesting facts. The best amount of posts to ones blogs should be Three times a week. Sporadic will never do it. So far I've failed in this area. I also learned I should have more than one blog since I write more than one kind of material. She suggested paying for someone to set up the initial blog and use the free ones to link to the blog. At present not for me.
Now for a bit about the KeyNote Luncheon and the speaker, Penny Sansevieri, a publicist who has a million good ideas and was a very energizing speaker. I bought her book about using the internet for promotion and will start using it soon.
When I blog tomorrow, I'll be talking about the faces I put to names and a lot of old friends.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


On arriving at the restort to check in, the first person I saw was Carol. We'd met in Virginia Beach. Her first words were "Sorry it's so cold." I laughed. Coming from 17 degrees, 70 was hot. Settled and began to explore and find lunch. In Virginia Beach I was five months past a double knee replacement and walking was still not fun. The building we were in was a walk and steps to the place where food was to be found. Walking was great. Ate lunch at an Irish Pub. Potato and Leek soup. Sort of played into part of my heritage since among my 57 varieties I do have some Irish and Scot's blood. Wandered around. Not all of the shops were open but they had some neat ones and some great bargains. Back to the resort and hung out with some of the attendees. Met several people I hadn't met before. Sherry and Honey Jans are two I recall. Brain being partially dead due to the time difference. Found Marilyn and Hap and coaxed him to drag my books to the bookstore along with hers. This is a great couple. Met them at the first EPICON in Omaha and went to a great Persian restaurant while waiting to leave for the airport. Someday I'll write about the trip home a real interesting time. Books settled in and forms filled. Then dinner at a Mexican place. Great food.
Time for the Mixer. Kathy and I were almost the first ones but people began to arrive. Marilyn. Connie Crow came with her amazing machine. Then there was Helen of the Cynical Woman fame. She and I had met in Virginia beach and her darling girls. The girls stayed home with Dad. Talked to a lot of people. Had a couple of drinks and then the time change began to take effect so returned.
This year I had decided I would do no program and just attend the conference. Doesn't always work that way as you will see when I do another part.

Monday, March 9, 2009

EPICON 2009 Part One

Was going to post this later but was informed my granddaughter age 5 will be spending the evening and she believes when she is here I am hers. So now to begin.

March 5 at 5 AM. I am not a morning person but I arise before the sun to leave for the shuttle to Newark with my carry-on bag and the monster purse I bought to carry stuff. No problem on the shuttle but I know it is coming. The dreaded security check. I have two titanium knees. I set of bells and whistles.
I arrive at the airport and get into the long line checking in. Amazes me how many people are fleeing the east coast, hopefully all for warmer climes. It was 17 degrees out and I was wearing my spring coat since warmer weather was promised for the return. I approach the gate, having shed my shoes and all my other stuff. "I'm going to set off the alarms," I said.
"Step ahead." The alarms go off. "Step in there. Someone will arrive to check you." I wait fifteen minutes. The guard smiles. "A woman must check you."
MY mind begins to click. Why a woman? I am old and the wand never touches your body. Perhaps my knees aren't titanium and are really a device to cause trouble. That is a dumb idea. I have no thoughts of self-destruction.
A second thought appears. Perhaps these young men who check you in are afraid of their own impulses. Or have they heard I occasionally write very spicy love-scenes and are afraid I will attact them. Finally a woman arrives and in all of two minutes I am ready to go to the waiting area.
Here, I find a chair. Every three minutes, the following announcement is heard.
So I clutch my purse and keep my eyes on my carry-on. I watch for my roommate who is meeting me at the airport. She is late but does arrive in time for boarding. We did miss the opportunity of trading our tickets for a first class seat on the noon plane plus a 4oo dollar voucher. The plane takes off and somewhere in the heavens I lose three hours but I don't worry because they will be returned when I come back.
We arrive in Las Vegas. That airport is big and spreadout. We walk a mile past slot machines to get a tram that takes us to another part of the airport where we walk a mile to get to the outside. There we find a cab to take us to the resort. Do not ask the price. I thought taxis in New York City were pricey but I learned a new truth. Once we arrived at the resort, we settled in and went to find lunch. I'll tell more tomorrow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Interview with Eileen

I've known and admired Eileen Charbonneau's writing for a number of years. She's also one of the best critiquers in our group. Janet
For you, which comes first the characters or the plot?: Depends on the book, what visits me first!

2. How do you create your characters? This is a great mystery to me. Sometimes they start out as "based on"...someone I know, someone whose essence pops out of an image or chance encounter, but as the book progresses, each charater takes on a life of hisor her own, and becomes very unmanageable. Then, I have to creatively "listen!"

3. Do you plan ahead or go with the flow? Because I write mostly historical fiction, I do a lot of research. I think that's where I'm more methodical and disciplined. Plot and character are more flowing, and that's what keeps me interested in writing a book, and, I hope, will keep readers interested all the way through, too. I have tried mapping out every scene and plot point. I was left with a stack of index cards and I never wrote the book!

4. How much research do you do and how do you go about it? I start with general research...for overview I love well-written books written for young people. Then, if I realize something's going to play a big part, say, my heroine is a Quaker, or my hero is a traditional Navajo, then I find out everything I can about what that life is like. As I write I'm constantly going back to research to keep things how long did the A train take to get from Grand Central Station to Harlem in 1943, or where did Dolley Madison live after the White House was burned during the War of 1812?

5. How do you select goals and the reasons your characters what to accomplish these goals? Ah yes, this is the essence of conflict. I don't select goals, I let them come from the characters. Sometimes they're simple: like a handicapped man who just wants to be able to win the love of a woman he adores and provide for a family, other times they get twisted: like how a life that is based in honesty deals with a sworn duty to a life of espionage? For me, it's important that the goals be important and blocked and involve big ideas.

6. Tell us about your latest release. That would be RACHEL LeMOYNE, which is about a Choctaw woman who goes to Ireland with corn to donate to the Irish during An Gorta Mor...the Great Hunger. She brings home an Irish husband who is a renegade so they light out for the territories on the Oregon Trail in 1848. It was a Rita Finalist.

7. What's on your backlist? I've published nine novels, including 3 young adult novels set in the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains and 3 adult novels set in California, Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri. I'd like to live long enough to honor every state with a story!

8. What are you working on now? I'm revising the second in my World War II Navaho Codetalker series, WATCH OVER ME, and working on a Civil War romance set in Maryland.Thanks for your interest!