Monday, January 28, 2008

Blog Contest!

As a way of saying thanks to all you guys who voted for me in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll, I'm running a contest! Just post a comment on my blog and you're entered.

What are the prizes you ask? Well, let me tell you. First off, you get a special LOLCat just for you. (Making LOLCatz is my new hobby--it's totally cool to have some no one else does.) Second, a copy of The Reckoning of Asphodel in the format you prefer. And third, you'll receive a copy of The Gift of Redemption the day it comes out--maybe even a little bit before *nudge nudge wink wink*.

But here's the kicker: If you bring a friend by and they mention your name I'll enter you again. If you have LOTS of friends you could have LOTS of entries.

So, comment away! Contest ends on February 14th, only because it's a great way to celebrate the giving that is part of any kind of love--and I definitely love you guys for your support and appreciation. If it weren't for you, Asphodel wouldn't have near the success it has. I'm looking forward to hearing pithy comments from you all.

New Book trailer

Hey everyone! Go check out my new book trailer. Longer posts coming up tomorrow!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


This is going to be quick. Lookie what I got!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

An Odd Week

Yep, this week has been very strange. We finally have both the invalids back home, out of the hospital, and in the bosom of our family. Last week, I wanted to strangle my daughter. This week, we're close again. Last week, my father in law looked like hell, this week he looks almost normal. I was sick at the beginning of week, now my husband doesn't feel well, and the brat (otherwise known as mini-me) is out for the night at a birthday party.

Thank god.

I received another review today from I was excited about it because it's a more in-depth review with both praise and criticism. The beginning starts like this--

The Reckoning of Asphodel, by Celina Summers, is traditional high fantasy,
with chivalric knights and wood-wise elves, beautiful princesses and wise female
seers, good and evil sorcerers and magicians. It's written in the language
typical of the genre. It is, however, much better written, with more complex
characters and situations, than many similar books. This is a serious fantasy
novel, not the verbal equivalent of a computer game.

I also liked this part:

Summers has created a complex and colorful world inhabited by equally complex
and colorful characters. Minor as well as major figures are quirky and
individual. The dressmaker, Myrielle, advising Tamsen on using proper dress as a
woman's weapon is clever, funny and down to earth - a good supporting

You can read the rest of the review by clicking on the link.

Feel free to read the whole review and leave a comment. I, personally, am pleased by the review mostly because the reviewer got exactly what I was trying to do. There is a lot to be said for having your debut novel compared to Lud-In-The-Mist! I was completely overwhelmed.

This review brought up an interesting point for discussion. The first person POV apparently didn't work for the reviewer--she found it constrictive and limiting and called my villian 'cardboard.' I disagree with that statement mostly because I know what happens next. Spesialle is purposely limited in the first book; we really get to know him in the second book. first person POV really limiting?

I don't think so.

At any rate, check out the review. Once you read it, you'll realize how proud I am. And remember, you guys wouldn't love me if I wasn't an arrogant smartass. I understand that my friends Bibsy and Dan are having a hell of a year already--you might want to check out their blogs. I have them listed on the sidebar. Plus I have another, secret project in the works. *grin* You guys might like it.

Checking out now. See you later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Swore I Wouldn't Post About This But...

...I can't help myself. I swore I'd leave the Cassie Edwards plagiarism quagmire alone. I swore that I wouldn't jump back onto my unheeded soapbox and shout my disguat to the uncaring crowds on the sidewalks of cyberland but I can't help it.

Smart Bitches (God, I love that site) broke this news last week. Now it's all over the web and the AP and various other news agencies. Cassie Edwards, Queen of the Savage Whatever Indian romance novels, plagiarized her research material. Although almost all writers research, very few that I'm aware of lift research word for word from an academic tome and insert it, with a few comma changes or maybe a word or two, wholesale into their fiction. I'm not going to rehash all of that here; head over to the Smart Bitches for the full 100% lowdown on the allegations surrounding Ms. Edwards. What I am going to talk about evolves from a post I had at Absolute Write.

So how exactly does the industry punish plagiarists? This isn't the first name author whose world has collapsed under this allegations; there was a notable case of Janet Dailey plagiarizing from Nora Roberts a few years ago. I'm not talking about the legal actions one author can take against another, I'm talking about the publishing industry at large.

Do authors get asterisks? Do they get their awards pulled? Are they blackballed from the Writers' Hall of Fame? How will the industry penalize Cassie Edwards, a woman who's had more books published than I care to think about? Will they pull all of her books from the shelves? Nooooooo....that would cost them money.

So you tell me: what will happen to Edwards and all the other uncaught plagiarists out there? What is the societal penalty for the wholsesale theft of intellectual property? Anyone? Any thoughts?

Yeah, I heard the crickets too. You see, what makes it so easy for plagiarists to get by in this day and age is that it is an unpunishable crime. Ever hear of someone going to jail for plagiarism? Nope; me either. Janet Dailey is still writing and still making money despite the settlement of the lawsuit in which she admitted she stole from Nora Roberts. Think Cassie Edwards will have a book come out later this year? Although Signet , a division of Penguin, is 'reviewing' the situation, will their review encompass true penalties? Or, will the overwhelming pull of the all mighty dollar keep Cassie Edwards, Plagiarist Extraordinaire, on the bookshelves of stores across the world? Will her agent drop her? Will her readers drop her?

I think I know the answer. I'm sure you know it too. At every level of this business, I have encountered one plagiarist after another. I've seen the victims of plagiarism barred from sites while the plagiarist remained. I've seen plagiarists whine about their various ills and ghost writers who 'screwed' them after their stolen 'book' has been published. And now, this?

Don't you think it's time to lay some of the responsibility for plagiarism squarely where it belongs? How about an industry where, as best I can figure, the criminal is rewarded and the victim unheard?

Nah. A pipe dream. Hand me another syringe, Jose Canseco; I think there's someone needing a fix over there.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How ELF-Killing Took On A Mountain Bike

Okay, enough nostalgia. Let's get back to what I do best.

Which is....?

Ah, a sea of hands waving frantically in front of me, like Horseshack with a bit of a digestive upset. (You have to have watched Welcome Back, Kotter at least once to get that one, kids.)

Yes, yes--you're right. I'm best at ranting in a pseudo comedic manner. Why don't we get started? So anyway, I just checked my blog stats, hoping that they were a little bit higher and guess what? What a spectacular explosion of interest in my blog! Naturally, modest little me thought, "Wow. That's a hell of a lot of hits coming from the Preditors & Editors or LoveRomances and More sites. I'm liking this nomination thing A LOT."

So I checked the reports, to see which of them was the bigger referring site and Lo and Behold! A HUGE report comes up. My weekly average went from 200 weekly visitors to SEVENTEEN HUNDRED unique views. I was so excited I spilled my milk and dropped my Geritol.

Until I saw the referring sites.

Now those of you who really WANT to be here, riddle me this. What, if anything, does my blog have to do with mountain bikes or environmental defense groups?

What really killed me was that people googled in order to get here. Want to know why? Because 'elf' correlates closely to E.L.F.--the Earth Liberation Front--and also the BMX Elf, a popular mountian bike. Now as to why they got directed to my site I have no idea. All I know is that somehow in the cyber-world, some wire got kinked and now I have a bunch of eco-defense people and biker dudes and chicks stopping by my blog.

Welcome by the way. This blog is about ELVES and killing them; it's certainly not about trees or off-road trails. Hope you enjoy your (brief) breeze-by and if you find one of the Elves run over the pesky little bugger.

Now maybe YOU guys can answer just one question for me. How in the bloody hell did you end up at my blog, for Chrissakes? Possibly only Brittany Spears' site is less related. I beat that one because I spell correctly and have all my hair. But seriously, I appreciate the hits and all that but------


Don't get me wrong: I like mountains, and bikes, and trees. I don't really even have a problem with sand if you get right down to it.

Ahem! Now that you're all here, you might as well look around. Be sure you follow the links in this post. They'll get you where you want to go.

Or at least, where I want you to go.

Trust me. My youngest daughter broke her patella and tibial plateau while riding a mountain bike in the woods yesterday. me. If you don't believe me, be sure to check out the keywords I've left for this post. Happy eco-defending and/or mountain biking. Just be sure you buy my book.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Impact a Great Teacher Has

So in my last post, I was talking about dedications for the upcoming Asphodel books and I mentioned that I would dedicate the second book to some of my high school teachers. These educators taught me the rudiments of what would eventually turn into a writing career. Without them, and the attention they paid to me, I would never have gotten as far as I have. Let me explain.

When I started high school in Clarksville, Tennessee, I was really excited about a particular elective I could take: Latin. I still remember my first day in class, when my best buddies Eddie and Jimmy (twin brothers who now have gravitated to the more mature 'Ed' and 'Jim') sat at our desks, opened our textbooks and looked expectantly at the teacher--Grady Warren. He started us in immediately on conjugations and declensions; our first translation work as I recollect was about a pulchra puella and her frog. Before too long, we were competeing in Junios Classical League events. At state, we garnered quite a few first places between us.

Then came summer. During the summer Grady and his wife Kaye (Dr. Warren, who taught at Clarksville High School) held open house for their students. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, hordes of adolescents descended upon the Warren's house, which was tiny and crammed with books and pets, to study willingly during the hot, humid Tennessee days. On Wednesdays, those of us who were chosen for the certamen (Latin for battle--it's Latin quiz bowl essentially) team that would represent Tennessee at Nationals, would gather to practice in some vicious games to hone our knowledge and our skill. My nickname was fauces, which is Latin for jaws. That should tell you all you need to know about my fledgling personality. We played against the certamen greats of the past: college students who, through love for the Warrens and the language and the game, gave up their summers to serve as our teachers. The Warrens provided the chips, cookies, and cola, the study guides, their home (which had a volleyball court where we played as well) and we, unthinking and completely ignorant of the financial cost of hosting a group of ravenous kids, happily spent our summer vacations learning. We went to Nationals, won numerous chapionships for TJCL, and came back to do it all over the next year.

The other teacher, Kitty Savage, is a bit different. She taught English in the hardcore, old-fashioned way. We thought she was older than dirt and meaner than a snake, with her chain-smoking of unfiltered Camels during breaks and her abrupt, brusque way of instruction. Most all of the kids hated her--except for me. She was our 10th grade teacher, and for some reason she saw something different in me. Mrs. Savage turned out to be a wonderful (if gruff) woman. While she hammered the basics of grammar into our heads, she softened the blow with good books and writing projects. It was when she saw my writing that she took me under her wing. For the rest of my high school education, I'd go over to her house quite often with my mother. As they sat there drinking tea, Mrs. Savage would tell me the most wonderful stories with the sole purpose of expanding a young mind to the great stories in real life that could be told. For example, as a young war bride, she had worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on the Manhattan Project. She'd saved all the newspaper clipping in a big album, and I got a bird's eye look at how a young woman lived, worked, and dreamed in the biggest top secret city in the country. She told me a local tale of how a man named William Kelly had invented a cheap, easy process to turn pig iron into steel, and how his British employee stole the secret that eventually came to be called 'the Bessemer process.' She took a girl who spent a lot of time dreaming, and turned her into a hard core researcher who could write a term paper as an epic poem. She, too, sponsored a competition group. She tookd groups of students to state and national History Day competition every year I was in school. She came away with three state champions in Research Papers; twice it was me and both were done as epic poems. She couldn't quite rid herself of my artistic pretensions.

Mrs. Savage is dead now; she died at the age of 92. The Warrens are very much alive, still bringing the joys of the Classics to classes of eager students. One of the twins, actually, is teaching Latin in Clarksville too. Ed married Laura, who was my idol when I was a freshman and she was a senior, and they both teach Latin. When I went home for Christmas, the Warrens' students had a reunion to honor them. I saw people I hadn't seen in twenty years, including the teachers who had impacted me strongly, the older students whose footsteps I'd tried to follow, and the friends my own age who are now doctors and lawyers and teachers in their own right. It was bittersweet in a way, because it felt like we'd never left.

So when someone asks me which profession is the greatest for mankind, I instantly say teachers. I know how mine impacted me, I know how one miserable year of teaching Latin brought me to my knees as a colossal failure, and I know how twenty some odd years later, what they taught me has brought me to my professional destination. Without them, Asphodel (and Darkshifters and Terella and so forth) would not exist. And that's why book two is dedicated to them. Who else, in a book called "The Gift of Redemption" could it be?

Thanks, Grady. Thanks, Kaye. Thanks, Kitty.

It's all YOUR fault!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Residual Anger

Confession time: I am a hot-tempered woman. When I get angry (which is a lot) I get very quiet and icy and that's usually the hint for trespassers to back off before I explode. There have been times in my life where I allowed that anger to overtake my good sense; more times, in fact, than I care to think about. Each of those explosions caused dire consequences, some of which I've had to deal with for fifteen or twenty years.

For example, when my mother passed away I hadn't spoken to her in over five years. This wasn't a one-sided situation, oh no. She didn't talk to me either. It all stemmed from a single incident.

I was catering a large event--about five hundred people for a crawfish boil in Tennessee. After the gorgefest was easing into the 'straggler' time, I sat down to play a game of euchre with some friends and drink a beer or two. In the middle of the game, my mother and brother showed up out of the blue. She started screaming at me in a mixture of English and French which was my mother at her worst. As I stared at her in complete silence, I stewed over my two options: I could stand up and knock her on her ass, or I could just walk away. I chose the latter. Deliberately, I stood up, turned my back on her, and walked out of the pavilion to a mosquito-infested pool. While I cried like a baby, my brother tried to start a fight with my friends. Bad decision: they were all in the military. By the time I got back, my mother and brother were gone and I had made the decision that in order to keep my sanity, I needed to amputate that portion of my life. The anger, the hatred, the sorely troubled love, the desire to please--all of those emotions were jettisoned from my personal baggage so that I could go on living.

And, so I did. I moved back up to Ohio and away from my mother's reach. The next thing I heard about her, she was dead. My anger had prevented me from being there in time to say,"I'm sorry." or "I love you." Any chance of reconcilation was buried, eternally, six feet from my grasp.

This is not a pleasant place to live. Although I've spent much of the last few years trying to tie up all those loose emotional ends, it will still never justify my mother breathing her last without me there at her side. Some of you remember when she died from our association on another website. What none of you know is that every day, at some point, something reminds me of her. In that moment, I'm right back in that self-accustory state.

Today is one of those days for me. I spent much of the afternoon on the cardiac ward with my father-in-law. As my husband and I struggled to find a way to entertain a man who is absolutely miserable and in pain, I wondered what could have changed in my life if I had tried to reconcile with my mother before she died. I realized something very important: it wouldn't really have made a difference. I would have tried to forgive her, but she never would have forgiven me. The last look I gave her was one of disgust, the last thing she saw of me was my back as I walked away from her for the final time. Even then, in the back of my mind, I knew it was the final time anyway. Even if I had been there, I couldn't have found the closure that so viciously eludes me now.

And then, another picture enters my mind: my mom, driving me to competitions, chaperoning our History Day group to the national convention and the look on her face when I won the research paper award, the way she so casually brought up my successes to farmers at the store. I realize how proud she would be of me now that I'm published, and I'd like to think that if she were still alive, she would know that a lot of what I have accomplished is due to her unerring belief in my ability to succeed.

Just that quickly: mother became Mom. For some reason, that one little linguistic change put a whole lot of things about this residual anger squarely into place. So tonight, as I type this long, boring story out into my blog, I no longer think about the mother who humiliated me in public, but about the Mom who drove me all over the countryside in an effort to help me succeed at what I wanted to do most.

So. Asphodel isn't dedicated to anyone. Reckoning will be dedicated to my Latin teachers Grady and Kaye Warren and my English teacher/mentor the late Kitty Savage. I'll tell you more about them tomorrow. Temptation will be dedicated to my husband, of course.

But Apostolate? That dedication will go to my mom. Finally, I think I have found the peace I've craved for nearly a decade.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Awards? Moi?

Okay, it takes a lot to truly shock me. No, really, it does. Getting nominated for awards manages that.

Asphodel was nominated for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novel of 2007 by both LoveRomances&More and Preditors & Editors.

To makes matters even more interesting, LR&M reviewers also nominated me for Best New Author of 2007.

To say I'm in shock is a mild understatement. I will state for the record, however, that I'm not stunned that I can't promote this aberration for all it's worth. So, if you click on the links, it'll take you to a place where you can VOTE FOR ME! With LR&M, you'll have to join their Yahoo group for the LoveRomancesCafe in order to cast a vote... Please join and vote...don't let my bubble burst publicly and in grief!