Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back to Ring Out 2009 and Ring In 2010

Yep! I'm back.

After taking a two-month sabbatical from my online presence in order to get a lot of work (and a grandbabies' first Christmas, house buying, lots of editing and submitting) out of the way, it's time for me to return to regular blogging.

And of course, I have a lot to talk about.

First off, the second book in the Covenants gothic vampire romance series I'm co-writing with Rob Graham is in our editor's hands and should be released through Aspen Mountain Press early in 2010. As soon as I have a release date for Warding the Covenants, I'll let you know.

Secondly, my ten book Greco-Roman mythology series, entitled (oddly enough) Mythos, has been bought by my great publisher at Aspen Mountain Press.  The first book, Bride of Death, is the story of the god of the Underworld, Hades, and his marriage to Persephone.  The second book, Daughter of the Sea, relates the myths surrounding Poseidon and Amphitrite.  For these books, I've gone back to the original classical sources--Homer, Hesiod, Ovid and so forth--to relate the actual myths in a modern narrative style. Fair warning--Greco-Roman mythology is all about sex, so while these are not straight-up eroticas per se they are fairly earthy. (In other words, each story has a sex scene. Caveat emptor--these are NOT good study guides for kids unless you want them really educated.)

Third, I finally broke down and submitted my Darkshifters two-book dark fantasy series to AMP. Despite a great deal of agent interest when I was submitting it last year, Darkshifter's Empath appears to be a better fit for e-publishing than traditional big house publishing.

Fourth, we're buying a new house! Hurray!  My husband and I found a 1930 American Foursquare house in Newark, Ohio. I really love it because of the Arts and Crafts style detailing on the house--stained glass, lovely woodwork, open floor plan and a huge...freaking...gorgeous...clawfoot tub that has been meticulously restored. We figure that restoring the house will be a long term labor of love--especially the kitchen which has four...count them--FOUR...cabinets in it.  Fortunately, most of the really expensive stuff (replacement windows, roof, gutters, hot water heater, AC, wiring et cetera) has already been done. The most wonderful thing about the house? THREE bay windows. My dream of having my writing desk tucked away into a bay window in a book-lined study? Fulfilled.  Hopefully, we'll be moving in soon; we're just waiting for the seller to square away his end of the deal.

Fifth, the babies' first Christmas was fabulous. I did all my Christmas shopping online this year--it's a lot easier to enjoy the holiday season if you don't have to knock a little old lady off the one toy left on the rack.  Although at 2 months and 6 months Keelynn and Aurora were too little to get into the whole Santa Claus expectation, they had a lot of fun playing with (and chewing on) their new toys.  My husband and I had a wonderful Christmas ourselves, and between holding the babies and watching my girls enjoy their daughters' excitement, we had a fabulous time.

At any rate, keep an eye out for lots of changes.  My website Shoot the Muse! will be undergoing major changes, as will this blog.  I expect to release a minimum of 14 novels and novellas in 2010 at this time and hope it'll be even more.  Deception Enters Stage Left is still out on submission and garnering enough interest to make me cautiously encouraged, and my editing desk is getting fuller and fuller. But, if Deception doesn't find an agent, I have Terella (my dark fantasy about an amnesiac god who leads a rebellion against her own temple) ready to go out on submission and Harlequin (the second book with the Deception characters) will be ready by October.  And who knows? Maybe some other idea will strike me in between now and then. And there is a rumor...just a rumor, mind you...that a second Asphodel series is in the works. I'll keep you informed.

So happy New Year to all of you--and may you acheive your goals for 2010~! I'll still be elf killing on this blog and shooting the muse on my website, with lots of new stories to keep you entertained. Best of good fortune!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This Post Is Not About Writing

No, it isn't. This post is about babies--my baby specifically, who is being evaluated in the OB triage unit of her hospital and may be about to deliver her baby. Wow. My baby is having a baby. What the hell is that all about?

It's so terrible to see your kids in pain. All parents know this. There's a horrible feeling of helplessness that accompanies it--there's something that Mom (or Dad) can't kiss and make it feel better. It's heartbreaking and exciting all at once. My daughter, who is bright and beautiful and clever, has no clue what awaits her with labor and delivery. I don't believe in sharing horror stories and she thinks she deals better with things just walking into it blind. She may be right; I don't know. I'm one of those weird people who wants to know EVERYTHING that will happen. When I had my artificial disc replacement surgery, I went to the website of the company that manufactured the disc and watched a video of an actual surgery in progress. *shrug* I was going to be unconscious while they performed the procedure, so it didn't frighten me. I wanted to know what would be happening to my body while I was asleep.

Yep. I am weird.

With my daughter, though, I was reasonably sure how her late pregnancy and labor would go and I purposely avoided relating the stories of my labor with her. Why? Because it was HORRIBLE. Things have changed though *since my day now that I'm apparently old enough to be a grandmother* and she won't have to endure 30 plus hours of non-progressing labor without pain medications.

Thank God.

So right now, I'm alone in this waiting room. There's a stupid late night television show on the tube that no one is watching and I'm here busily typing away on my computer. It's one way to spend the time, I suppose. I'm sure I'll post something later, an update at least. If I sit in this waiting room for hours there's no telling WHAT I might post. It could be a verra verra eeeeeeenteresting night.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Rare Day Off

Wow. What am I going to do today?

My editor's desk is cleared for the month and I have promised myself to take the rest of October off. I need to let the Greco-Roman mythology novella rest for a day or so before I revise it. Harlequin is percolating. Plague is stuck. I'm getting ready to go to Tennessee on Wednesday and then stay with my daughter until after the baby gets here.

So what am I going to do today?

Shannon is asleep; he worked overnight on a build. There's nothing on TV, unless you count the Scariest Places on Earth marathon on SyFy. (What a ridiculous name. SyFy. Marketing department-FAIL.) I've spent the last hour or so looking through real estate listings because I will find our new house soon and hopefully will be in it by Christmas.

Which, of course, is all dependent upon when the baby gets here. Have I told you her name yet? No? Audrey and her husband Wes decided on the name Aurora Elizabeth. *looks innocent* I have nothing to do with my granddaughter being named after the Greco-Roman goddess of the dawn. Honest.

Yeah, I wouldn't believe me either.

So both my granddaughters have unusual names, which I'm thankful for. Meredith and her husband Brian named their daughter Keelynn Shea. *This name I really didn't have anything to do with, but I love it.* With a name like Celina, how could I not appreciate having an unusual name? After all, my parents unwittingly named me after the Greek goddess of the moon.

See? Some things are just fated.

So, what should I do today?

If I'm blogging about it, then I already have my answer. Nothing. I'm taking the day off! I may go to the bookstore and get Jacqueline Carey's new book Namaah's Kiss. That way, I can occupy at least a couple of hours of my time tonight.

Maybe things will be more interesting later on this week.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

New Plotline Brewing


Why won't the muses let me finish one story before dragging me ass-backwards into another? I'm getting kind of fascinated with urban fantasy and I'm looking for some directions in the genre that are different than a lot of the urban fantasy currently out there. Of course, there would be a romantic subplot--because I like writing romantic subplots--but for the most part, I want to write an urban fantasy with serious fantasy and horror influences.

I thought I'd start with a twenty-first century version of the plague and eliminate about 95% of the world population right off the bat--like in the first half of the first chapter. Why the plague, you ask?


Why not? It's my opinion that the right strain of an existing virus--the right mutation, if you will--could decimate the world population in days. Besides, I need to get rid of a bunch of people. The survivors would, of a necessity, be the hardiest of the human race. So, I'm thinking surviving the plague would enhance the inherent psychic abilities these last people possess.

Naturally, I have this Armageddon/Apacolyptic kind of plot resolution in mind. *evil grin* Oh yeah, it'll be evil. If I can torture my characters, why write? Temporary working title? Plague.


I'm going to try to hit 25k by Sunday. We'll see if I can do it. I'm almost done with the first mythology novella for Aspen Mountain Press. I should be able to clean that up and get it to my editor fairly soon. And all of this, of course, is contingent upon Harlequin leaving me alone long enough to work on something else.

We shall see.

At any rate, I did manage to get the final versions of two books done this week and have two new submissions to work on for AMP, so we'll see how well I can balance editing and writing over the next few days. As long as Audrey (my daughter) doesn't go into labor before then, I'm off to Kentucky to stay with her until the baby is born next week.

Oh, and next week is my birthday, too. Whoop-di-doo.

So you folks get back to writing and I'll do the same. Au revoir!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Long Time, No See

Gee--sorry, folks. Real life and my parents' internet-free zone have kept me out of the loop for weeks now. Add to that heinous editing deadlines, a new manuscript that just won't shut up and the kids and you'll understand my recipe for blogging disaster.

I'll try not to let it happen again. I promise.

At any rate, it's been kind of difficult to get my head on straight lately. To begin with, Harlequin, the sequel to my urban fantasy Deception Enters Stage Left, is cranking along at supersonic speed. Last week, I wrote almost 50,000 words on the manuscript and am seriously looking at closing the first draft out within days. Naturally, because I overwrite like a check fraud fanatic, that first draft is probably going to close out at 125k plus.

Because I can edit the heck out of anything, I'm thinking I'll be able to trim at least twenty-five thousand adverbs, dialogue tags and unnecessary scenes out of it. I'm really liking the story. I'm starting to play with some new theories about where to take my spec fic work. I'm getting more drawn to fantasy worlds that are shared with our own--without getting caught up in the tropes of urban fantasy per se.

Let's put it this way: anyone who saw the movie Magic when it first came out probably came away with an active dislike of ventriloquist dummies. (I know I did.) Creepy little clown dolls? Not a big favorite since Poltergeist. Now I'm trying to do the same thing for all of those harlequin masks hanging on walls all over the world--save with a lot of commedia dell'Arte influence and a healthy dose of the American theater world to make it more fun.

And, of course, I'm spending a lot of time torturing my characters. That makes everything worthwhile.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Fifteen Minutes of Sunshine

Yep, so I'm taking my medicine.

I was actually prescribed--PRESCRIBED--fifteen minutes of sunshine per day. Now that it's pleasant outside and not nine hundred degree celsius, I'm actually going to obey my physician and leave my dungeon for a quarter of an hour everyday and sit in the sun.

I figure I can make myself productive and use the time to blog regularly. After all, I've not exactly been faithful to Elf Killing as of late; the Other Hobbies have been taking up most of my time.

Other Hobbies at this point would be editing.

Remember how happy I was last year when I got to the point that I could write full time? How excited I was that I could spend all day every day at my computer zipping out stories? Well, I got sidetracked into editing. Don't get me wrong: I like editing. I like seeing how other writers' stories come together. I like helping to make those stories a little bit better in between the writer and the reader. It's fascinating work.

*Is it my imagination, or is it getting hot out here???*

I just never thought it would be so time consuming. I read quickly--abnormally quickly. Gone With The Wind is an afternoon's recreation for me. The Harry Potter books go down like bon-bons. Editing, however, is a bit more than reading quickly. It's grammar books open on the table, looking up grammatical constructions and then coming up with a way to fix a problem. It's continuity plotlines growing on paper beside the laptop, so I can make sure that all the plots and subplots are resolved. It's a lot of note taking: what works, what doesn't, what needs to be changed and what should stay the same because it's awesome. Every pretty little white manuscript that comes my way ends up bleeding like the slow guy at the running of the bulls in Spain.

*is that a trickle of sweat? That can't be healthy.*

But the greatest thing about being an editor? It's making my writing much cleaner. I'm finding fewer mistakes in my own work now, and writing cleaner means writing quicker. What could be more awesome than that? Every writer searches for a way to make the process faster and better. I think I've stumbled on the secret. Editing frequently makes me a better writer.

*has it been fifteen minutes yet? it's awfully bright out here*

So anyway, I'm watching the hummingbirds dive bomb at the feeder. They seem to be distressed that a human is sitting so close to their food source. If they knew that I was the one that fills the darn thing, do you think they'd be a little more polite?

Well, there you go. Fifteen minutes of sunshine aka dialy blog session. Dang, it's warm out here. I can't wait until winter comes so I can be unhealthy and comfortable in my dungeon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Little Perspective...From a Toy

I don't watch a lot of TV. I watch my DVR. That way, when I spend the day working I don't interrupt myself to go watch a favorite show. Then, when I'm done watching the show, I delete it. Entertainment on demand and I can skip through the commercials. It's a win-win situation.

Tonight I watched a show I will not be deleting.

There was a rerun of an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tonight about the Frisch family in Toledo, Ohio. The Frisches are an extraordinary couple who, on a fireman's salary, have adopted five kids from Haiti and three from the US . They're raising them in addition to their own three boys--ages range from 4 to 18. I'm not going to go into detail about them or the show. I'd advise you to watch the show if you can. What I am going to talk about is something one of the kids said.

EHM arranged for trucks full of donated clothes, books and toys (donated by Hasbro!) to go to Haiti to a school there. While the family was vacationing in Florida, they got to help load those trucks onto planes--a donation made in the Frisch family name. And one of the boys said, "When I was in Haiti, I was lucky to even have one toy. When my mom and dad came to Haiti, they gave me a toy. I was like so happy; I know what it feels like. I was just imagining what the other kids in Haiti will feel like today."

And I paused the recording.

It took a minute to sink in: one toy? Can you imagine that? I can't. I'm a writer and I literally cannot imagine what it would be like to only have one toy--to get that toy at the hands of a stranger and experience that joy for the first time. In a life filled with misery and fear, what must that child have thought?

So, I began to picture it in my mind.

A child in a third world country: emaciated, miserable, hot, dirty. He's crammed into a rusty tin-roofed shack with other children just like him. Sewage runs down the gutters on either side of the fly-infested track that serves as a street. He has no mother, no father. He must always worry about where his next meal will come from or whether the men with guns will come to hurt him that night. This isn't a far-fetched description. This description applies to countless children in countless towns in countless impoverished nations all over the world. Let's give this child a name.

Let's call

All of a sudden, you're holding this brightly colored toy--say it's something as simple as a plastic truck--and it has wheels. It's smooth. It's clean. It makes noises. When you roll it across the dirt that is the floor of the shack you're crowded into, it leaves little tracks in the dust. Then all of sudden, that toy opens up an imagination that has been suppressed under the horrors of everyday life. Now if that truck doesn't make the noise, you make the noise for it. You create little obstacles for the truck to drive around. You spill some water onto the dirt floor so you can have the fun of running that truck through the mud, then carefully wash the truck free of all the dirt and mud so it will be as clean and colorful and shiny as it was the first time you saw it. You run the truck up your leg, feeling the treads along your skin.

That truck, that toy, becomes the springboard for all the wonderful places your imagination can take you. Now when you play with the truck in the dirt, it's the dirt of someplace else: an imaginary place, perhaps, where you eat good food and go to school and take baths every day. A place where you sleep in an actual bed, where you have clothes that fit and a roof that keeps out the weather. That place has people--friends, maybe, or siblings to play with; a father who teaches you about life and a mother who hugs you when you're hurt. From there, you can drive the truck into the future--a bright place where you can be whatever you want and be respected for who you are.

The truck, therefore, becomes a goad to ambition. You feel free to make plans for your future--what you want to be when you grow up, where you want to be.

The dirt, the poverty, the terror and the sick loneliness of your existence disappear, even if only for a little while. And it's all because one day, a total stranger gave you your first and only toy.

It made me think. From something as small as a toy, dreams can grow. From those dreams, a life can be brought up out of hopelessness and the world as a whole can gain an individual so valuable, so wonderful, that everyone benefits by it.

From a toy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sometimes Research Is Tricky

...especially when people you don't expect to be anywhere near you read the tabs open on your laptop. Latest moment of horror?

Imagine if you will--a completely innocent person walking by my beat-up laptop and finding about ten windows open on demonology and exorcisms?

Ye-eah. Here's the scene:

When I'm in a working frenzy, it may look like a disaster to other people but I always know where everything is. I'm one of those really annoying people with a little bit of knowledge about a lot of stuff, and that's reflected in my library. I have books spanning a full four millennia, but sometimes they don't provide me with everything I need. Because I like to be thorough in my research, I have to look things up online--if for no other reason than to find out where to go for real (as in book form) source material. So, I was working on my modern day retelling of the Bell Witch legend. I have the two major primary sources for that legend in book form, but I needed more background material so I could set up my plot's climax.

Cue the demonlogy sites.

If you know the Bell Witch legend, you'll know why. (If you don't, here's a brief and not altogether unaccurate summary of it.) The reported activity of the Bell Witch kind of mirrors more recent reports of demonic activity. So, I needed to know not only how to determine what demonic activity would be like but also how to combat it. On tab one--a purported Satanist site. On tab two--a site with the Catholic rite of exorcism.

Cue clueless wandering and nosy human looking at my laptop while I'm occupied elsewhere:

"Celina! Are you a Satanist?"

"Um, no. I'm an agnostic."

"Then why are you trying to learn how to do a black mass?"

At this point, I looked at my computer in confusion. A black mass? You can figure out how to do that online? My first thought (as a writer) was "Cool!" My second thought was "Why would anyone look that up online?"

Of course, my third thought was "You idiot! If you hadn't of stuck your big fat warty nose into my business, you wouldn't be asking such a stupid question!"

After said clueless wandering human wandered off, however, I started to think about the whole situation. It was then that it occurred to me that if for some reason I was arrested for a crime I didn't commit and someone pulled all of the history out of my computer's hard drive, all of this could be used against me. For example--I edit erotica books and my publisher has a very successful erotica division. I pop onto a lot of sites dealing with erotica. If someone like -- oh, I don't know, my holier-than-thou sister-in-law found out about that, she would assume I was either a prostitute or addicted to pornography. Add the demonic activity research sites and suddenly, she would be able to construct a case in her mind that I was a porn-addicted prostitute who practiced Satanism.

(While watching football; most of my bookmarked sites have to do with the University of Tennessee athletic department.)

But just think about that for a moment. We've all heard cases about people accused of child pornography and the things investigators found on their hard drives. What if some bigoted attorney made a mountain out of a molehill--using things like this against a falsely accused person?

Not saying, of course, that the clueless, nosy, wandering asshat who strolled by my computer would ever be intelligent enough to even get into law school, but you never can tell. Am I worried about it? No, not really. It's just one of those things that made me think for a few minutes. And now, naturally enough, I've set up a whole section of my bookmarked pages in a folder that reads "These sites will help you convict me."

I'm such a smartass. Good thing I'm not a Satanist to boot.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To...

Way back in the day, I was a member of the Junior Classical League in Clarksville, Tennessee. My two best friends throughout school, a pair of evil twins named Ed and Jim Long, and I competed for four years for our high school and our state. Every August around this time, we were off at the National Junior Classical League convention, from which we would emerge with lots of awards.

They won more than I did.

I was a two-trick pony. I was the school expert on classical mythology and I was the mean member of our certamen team. Certamen (the latin word for battle) is the JCL version of Quiz Bowl. I was mean and I was quick, so much so that our Latin teacher Grady Warren called me Fauces.


At any rate, we always had a blast. I was the one who had to be constantly watched. I was such a high-strung kid that disaster invariably followed me at conventions. My freshman year, I actually made it onto the lower level certamen team (almost unheard of) and wanted to win so badly. I sprained my ankle on the second day of the convention, and when we lost to Virgina (darn them anyway) I was so upset that I limped offstage in front of the thousands of kids attending the assembly bawling my eyes out.

Yeah, I really was that kind of kid.

At any rate, I think the JCL conventions pretty much helped me to establish my self-identity in high school. I was never as quietly brilliant as the twins, but I was so flamboyantly competitive and so viciously visible that for some reason people equated me with them. I'll never forget how, after two years of coming in second in the mythology test at nationals, in my junior year I finally won it.

Everyone was so pleased that even our villainous arch-rivals from WT Woodson in Fairfax, Virginia, stood up and applauded as I accepted.

Nuts, huh?

At any rate, this evening that same Ed Long (now a Latin teacher in our hometown)posted a video from this year's National Junior Classical League convention. I was so flabbergasted watching it--it took me straight back to high school and the energy, the excitement that overwhelmed those Latin conventions. I spent a little time remembering all the great times, all the good friends I'd made there. I even spared a moment to remember how, when we went to Niagara Falls, I crossed over to the Canadian side with a couple of the chaperones (including Laura Lindsey, now married to Ed Long and a Latin teacher back home herself) for a nice dinner and how much trouble they got into because we were late for curfew.

I didn't get into trouble. I was with the chaperones. *grin* Ah, those were the days.

In case you wanted to check the video out, here it is: The Tennessee JCL won the Spirit award for big states. Once upon a time, I too sat in an auditorium and chanted "T-E-double N-E-double S-double E-TENNESSEE!" while wearing a toga and thinking about my certamen match later that day. Once upon a time, those chaperones were worried about whatever disaster I brought instead of these kids. Once upon a time, this convention was the most important thing in my young life.

The Junior Classical League--one of the great academic testing grounds in the United States. Congratulations to all of them--and especial blessings to Grady and Dr. Kaye Warren, who have taught three generations of Latin students in Clarksville, Tennessee. I dedicated The Asphodel Cycle to these amazing teachers because if it weren't for them, Asphodel would never have come to pass.

Spare a thought for your greatest teachers today. I have, and the memory has been heartwarming.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Melding New Ideas and a New Review

First, the good news.

The Asphodel Cycle 2: The Gift of Redemption has just been reviewed by ChrisChat Reviews. The book was given a four out of four rating! Here's part of what the reviewer had to say:

"...There have been times I have felt cheated when reading a fantasy quest…Ms. Summers never cheats. Each of her books is packed with intensity and gentleness. Still she leaves you craving more.While reading "Gift of Redemption" I felt there was an underlying meaning to Tamsen's journey. There is more to her adventure and battle, she is learning her own truth, her strength of being. How does a writer capture this? This is the craft of writing, which Ms. Summers dominates..."

Zoinks! My day is full of sunshine today! You can read the rest of the review at ChrisChat Reviews.

Now for the rest of the story.

Every once in a while, someone will say something that strikes a chord with me. My husband is particularly good at this. I've been futzing around with some different story ideas for a few weeks. I'm still working on the horror stories, but an urban fantasy concept has been nagging me, a couple of Greek myths, a little bit of traditional high fantasy--and I couldn't settle on one particular idea.

Naturally, this really kind of pissed me off. So I was moping last night, (waiting for Ghost Hunters' season premiere to start) and my husband started to tell me about a dream he'd had that was bothering him. I was pretty much just pretending to listen--you wives out there know what I'm talking about--when all of a sudden something he said struck that idea bell that tolls so infrequently in my overworked head. Before I knew what was happening, we were brainstorming a story plot.

And after he went to bed, it took off. It took off the same way that Deception did; that Darkshifters and Asphodel and Terella did. I'm not going to say much about it, other than this:
Plato, in his Socratic dialogue to Timaeus, spoke of a demiurge which is an ultimate creation myth deity. In some ways, Plato's demiurge was the first benevolent god--once who wanted a world that was completely good but was hampered by the matter of Chaos that he had to work with when he formed the world. Look it up; check it out--then you might have an idea of where I'm going.

Or starting.

Whichever works.

I've never been one for dystopian novels, but this one just might come close. Oh NO! Am I turning into an intellectual in my dotage? God forbid! I've always been perfectly happy being a genre hack writer in the past...maybe I'm evolving.

Maybe it's time I did.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh, The Horror!

Someone asked me once how I decide what stories to write. I responded that I write what I feel compelled to write.

Interestingly enough, lately I've been compelled to write horror.

After delving into the paranormal with Deception Enters Stage Left, I find myself splitting my writing time these days between two horror stories. One deals with the return of an ancient and well-documented (in real life) poltergeist and the other deals withs an entirely fictional demonic possession. Last week, working on the possession story, I actually scared myself enough to dig out my First Communion medal.

Needless to say, I was rather pleased.

Maybe it's because I'm facing horrors in my real life that I am currently drawn to the darker side of things. My husband and I are contemplating a move back to Tennessee. Normally, that wouldn't seem to be so horrible until you consider the terrors of packing up my entire household--including all the cats--and transporting it across two states. That's a hell of a lot of kitty sedatives. It's almost enough to make me groan in horror and the thought of boxing up my library most definitely is.

I've always defined myself as a speculative fiction writer. I don't 'write what I know' so much as I write what I see in the convoluted avenues of my imagination. Lately, I've turned off the broad streets of fantasy and into the back alleys of horror and I've found that I like the detour.

But--back to fantasy for a minute. I got a great review earlier this week from Love Romances and More for The Asphodel Cycle 4: Apostle of Asphodel. In part, the review reads:

"...Ms. Summers creates complex characters that continue to grow as you read this series. All the characters, new and old, will keep your attention as you try to figure out along with Tamsen, what her objective is and if she can overcome the obstacles placed in her path. I highly enjoyed this entire series but am sincerely hoping Ms. Summers continues on with Asphodel and her great cast of characters..."

Apostle received five hearts (out of five possible) and an absolute rave! You have to love that! While it doesn't mitigate the ebony recesses of the manuscripts growing on my hard drive, it certainly goes a long way toward illuminating those fantasy worlds I love and hold so dear. You can read the rest of the review here. And who knows? Maybe I will go back to Asphodel someday--at least when I finish the fourth book of the second series. *wink*

But until then, let the horror commence.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

New Review for The Gift of Redemption!

Sorry I've been away for a while. I've been very busy with my family and adjusting to the whole grandmother thing. I think I'm finally caught up enough to get back into my normal routine of writing, editing, blogging and so forth and it just so happens that today I have something fabulous to talk about.

Wennonah Lyon, one of the outstanding reviewers at Novelspot, has reviewed The Asphodel Cycle 2: The Gift of Redemption. You may remember that she also reviewed The Reckoning of Asphodel; you can find a blurb and the link in the sidebar to your right.

At any rate, she gave Redemption an 8 out of 10 rating and some really kind words. For example:

The Asphodel Cycle should appeal to fans of Tolkien: high fantasy, noble characters, a world-changing quest. Like Tepper and Lackey, Ms. Summers presents a strong, likable and imperfect heroine with a good cast of supporting characters. If you like High Fantasy combined with romance, you should enjoy the series. I strongly recommend it, and am looking forward to the concluding volumes.

Once again, I am flabbergasted by the names she compares me to. In her review of Reckoning, she compared my work to Hope Mirrlees'. Now Mercedes Lackey? I may faint.

What's really fantastic about this review is that she displays a real understanding of what it is I'm trying to acheive in The Asphodel Cycle and my writing in general. That instinctive sort of insight is really gratifying for an author when it happens. A really good example of what I'm talking about is this:

How can a people atone for an act against the Gods? A capricious, unruly set of Gods; pleasing one results in offending another. In the second book in The Asphodel Cycle, redemption seems less a gift than something to be earned. The earning itself, given the nature of the Gods concerned, is an impossibility.

It's the sort of thing that makes a writer feel wonderful. It lets me know that in some aspect at least, I was successful at imparting the overall theme of the work in such a way that it impacted a reader. Novelspot has such an outstanding reputation for review work too--enough of one that it's very humbling to receive a good review from their well-read staff.

You can find the rest of the review at

Have a great day! I'll try to come up with something pithy and amusing to post about tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Patience, Young Grasshopper, Patience

Patience is most definitely my weak point. I don't have any.

Okay, maybe that was a mild exaggeration. I don't have much.

I've always expected everything to happen right NOW. When I was an actor, I expected (wanted? dreamed? prayed?) to be cast from the first moment I opened my mouth. After all, how hard was it? Obviously I was perfect for the part or else I wouldn't have auditioned right?


Writing, however, has taught me patience. Although I'm fast and prolific, you can't write a book in a day. Heck--you can't even write a good short story in a day. By the time you get the darn thing written and revised and edited and betaed and revised again and polished and queried and submitted, well...then you have to wait. An audition was a one-time thing, hit or miss, over and done with (unless you really struck a chord) within a few minutes. A book? Well, it's an investment. A huge investment if you want to be particular about it. I have books I've been working on for what now? Six years? (Darkshifters) I'm fortunate in that I have so many books at varying stages of completion, but still.

So let's take stock. Aside from Darkshifters, both books, I've got Deception and then Harlequin, both set in the same world; I've got Terella, with my atheist goddess and her revolt against her own temple; I've got three more Asphodel books--well, four actually if you count the one that moves on to another series entirely; I've got my horror project based on the Bell Witch legend; and then I've got my Requiem project--you know the one (it used to be about vampires and the attempted theft of Mozart's Requiem Mass by the Count who commissioned it)--well, heck: that's three books right there. So yeah: thirteen books at various stages of the process. That's one hell of a commitment. So riddle me this: why am I so darn impatient?

No clue. All I know for certain is that rushing a story is a bad idea. So for now, I'll forge ahead and try not to hit refresh on my inbox every ten minutes.

Patience is a virtue. It's also well-nigh bloody impossible.

Friday, July 03, 2009

It's Out! Apostle of Asphodel Published by Aspen Mountain Press!

Well, it's finally done. The final book of my epic fantasy series The Asphodel Cycle has just been released. Apostle of Asphodel, the follow-up novel to Temptation of Asphodel is now available from Aspen Mountain Press.

Here's hoping that all of you Asphodel fans enjoy the conclusion of the story. After the other Asphodel novels did so well and won so much recognition, especially Temptation as a Preditor and Editor Top Ten Novel of the Year for 2008 and runner up to Christine Feehan's Murder Game in the 2008 Golden Rose award voting, I'm praying that Apostle keeps the standards up.

I'll just go ahead and cheat and let you know that out of the four books in the series, Apostle is my favorite.

So now I have to ask myself--what's next? Is there another story down the road for Tamsen and Brial? There are other options in the Asphodel world for stories--the next generation, perhaps, or maybe a couple of secondary characters. I've played around a bit with some of them. Who can say? But for now, Tamsen and Brial are quiet. They've earned their rest after all; they've been running around for years now. Maybe that peace they're always talking about will come to them at last. Maybe they can actually have some fun for a bit.

Or maybe they're taking it easy on the Elysian Fields, where all of the other great, dead heroes of mythology end up. They could be hanging out with Achilles and Odysseus for all we know...

Guess you'll just have to buy the book to find out.

Thank you to everyone who's shared the journey of The Asphodel Cycle with me. And a huge thank you to my editor, Sandra Hicks, who is also the publisher at Aspen Mountain Press. If I breathed life into these characters, she made them toe the line. A huge shout out to Renee George, who creates such lovely covers for these books and who I devoutly hope does every cover for every single one of my books in the future.

But most of all, thank YOU for reading--and loving--the world of Asphodel. So for now, from the soaring streets of Leselle and the blossoming orchards of Asphodel and the busy markets of Geochon, we bid you all a fond adieu.

For now.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Apostle of Asphodel--Coming Friday!

Well, The Asphodel Cycle is almost completed. *sniff* Tamsen and Brial's story is coming to an end. *sniff* So here's a little bit of a teaser to get you guys ready! You can read an excerpt at both my website and at the Aspen Mountain Press website. But for those of you who follow ye olde blog, here's a special snippet just for you.

The Asphodel Cycle 4: Apostle of Asphodel

Coming July 3, 2009 from Aspen Mountain Press!


Brial had tumbled out of the way when the severed head fell to the floor. He ran to join Wilden, who was chopping away at the snake’s midsection. The two mages showered fire down upon the beast, keeping up a steady barrage of magical attack.

Rage boiled up within me once more. I could taste it, fiery and caustic against my tongue, as I watched my loved ones battle against this cursed beast of the underworld. It was only a matter of time before someone was hurt or killed in this fight.

Lamashtu sets her traps well. She knows only too well what the death of any of these would mean to me, or what my own death would mean to the world of the Elves.

Rage consumed me, twisting in my soul like a living thing, until my hands shook with fury.

At that moment, the snake’s huge clawed hand swiped along the floor, upending all four warriors with a massive blow. The remaining heads shrieked triumphantly as the hands reached for the closest prostrate form.


My vision dimmed as if someone had dropped a veil over my face. The magic soared gloriously from the pores of my skin to shimmer like an aura of silver in the blackness of the cavern. The magic had never felt like this before.

Always before, it felt different from me, a separate and distinct area where I could sometimes go. Now, it felt like part of me, a living part of me like my skin or my hands but with a mind of its own. I felt its connection to my mind and my soul, feeding from my fury as it flew from every particle of my body. A light hum sounded, building as it drew strength, and the snake turned its heads to me, distracted.

Within seconds, the magic had control of me. Everything was obscured through some strange mist. I did not care.

This was a new Tamsen, neither the half-human Countess nor the half-Elven Queen. I was a scion of the magic, a daughter of the power granted and tended by the Virgin Huntress, who confronted one of the dreaded denizens of the earth with a fury tempered by cold decision. I raised my hands and with a thought lifted everyone back to the other side and safety. Deprived of its prey, the monster bellowed in rage, the four heads thrown back as they howled at the ceiling.

“Tamsen! No!” Brial shouted. He struggled with Anner and Wilden, clawing to get back to the higher plateau of the temple cavern.

My gaze returned to the infuriated monster stomping toward me, its heads snarling and dripping acidic saliva, the huge claws twitching as if preparing to rip me in two. I let it approach while the magic simmered within me, telling me without words that it was almost time.

The creature stood over me. As the mighty hands dove down to hook me, the magic swelled.

The low hum escalated into a deafening roar as the power within me rushed out in a flood. The monster stopped, its heads reared back in surprise.

The magic I bore swarmed from my hand, flying at the monster with a whoosh.

The bolt of energy impaled the great snake at the base of its necks, shearing a hole through scales, flesh, and bone. Blood and venom exploded from the gaping wound, raining down upon the already slick floor with a sick splattering sound.

The monster screamed once; the terrible sound echoed from the vaulted cavern with a reverberating cadence that sent more loose rocks tumbling into the pit far below. It fell backward, one clawed hand tearing desperately at the massive statue. With a grinding sound of ripping rock, the great figure of Lamashtu sheared away from the obsidian walls, following the snake to the floor where it exploded with flying shards of stone. The creature writhed once or twice more, before succumbing to the mortal wound the magic dealt it.

I stood over the body of my fallen enemy, the magic subsiding into the well of power within me. Slowly, the veil faded from my eyes until my vision was once again clear and unobstructed. The corrosive venom was beginning its work on the statue, and I watched as the form and features of the seven-named witch goddess melted into a puddle of indistinguishable sludge on the floor.
I turned then to regard the stunned faces that peered at me from the opposite plateau. In the last seconds before the magic ebbed from me completely, I heard myself say, “So thus shall all the abominations fall when the power of the apostolate is unleashed.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson and My Youth--Dead on the Same Day

*Celina's note--this is an expanded version of a post I made at Absolute Write this afternoon when Michael Jackson's death was finally confirmed*

I was a little girl when Elvis died. Since I lived in Tennessee, we had wall to wall television coverage of the events in between the first rumors of his death to the end of his funeral cortege. It was the first major celebrity death I'd been exposed to and it impacted me quite strongly--strongly enough that thirty years later I still recall specific details of those three days. My younger aunts drove to Memphis for the funeral and we still have old Polaroid pictures of the funeral procession and the tens of thousands of people who crowded the streets around Graceland--a mass of humanity that continued for weeks as loyal fans filed by Elvis' house.

At the time Elvis died, we were learning Michael Jackson songs in my youth chorus. I was staying at my grandparents' house. It was my father's 45th birthday. My younger brother cried.

Thriller came out when I was in high school and changed our perception of everything that had to do with music. The summer after I graduated high school, my mother and I went to see the Victory tour in Knoxville right before I started college. It was one of the last moments of closeness that she and I would ever share.

The Victory concert wasn't just a show--it was an event. We met another girl my age with her mother and younger brother. The girl (who was white) could do an amazing Michael Jackson imitation. we were standing in line to get into Neyland Stadium when a police officer approached us and informed the girl that blackface was illegal in the state of Tennessee. It was one of the most surreal things I've ever witnessed in my life and the thing that stood out the most to me that night wasn't even that moment.

It was the fact that all of the seats closest to the immense stage, the seats placed on the astroturf at Neyland Stadium, were reserved--and given away for free--to underprivleged and handicapped children. Thousands of kids for miles around sat there looking up at their hero.For make no mistake--Michael Jackson was a hero to many kids at that time.

And so now, despite all of the terrible things we learned or suspected about Michael Jackson, despite all of the bizarre moments and curious life choices he made, I find that I, too, am saddened by his death. It's like the final nail in the coffin of my youth--that poor, tiny boy driven by his parents into the dog eat dog world of show business and deprived from his youngest days to his last days of the privacy the rest of the world enjoys. And now, the ghouls are gathering outside the hospital and the freak show will begin--they're already showing up at the hospital in costumes, for Christ's sake.

And at last, I suppose, my youth is finally gone.

I've never been much of one for nostalgia. I've never been silly enough to proclaim that the 1980s were 'the good old days.' But there is some truth to the idea that the world changed after that decade. It became darker, scarier in a lot of ways. Music became angrier. Politics became murkier. Communism fell but revolution rose in its place. And Michael Jackson was an integral part of that last bright gasp of fun and frivolity that the eighties epitomized for me and many of my peers. How could you be depressed by the moonwalk? Oh sure--we laughed at Michael and his pet monkey and his pressurized oxygen chamber. Why not? He was eccentric, but he was also a pioneer. His music changed the industry and established a precedent that may never be equalled. His legal troubles and accusations of child molestation overshadowed the very real and generous work he did for handicapped and underpriveleged children.

In a lot of ways, we--the children of the eighties--were embarassed by Michael Jackson in recent years. How many of you would admit to owning a Thriller jacket? (I didn't.) Or wearing sparkly socks? (I did.)

A few years ago, I met a fellow that was one of the backup dancers in the Thriller video. We were working together on a show in Cincinnati. I was kind of stunned when he confided this to me--he was middle-aged and pudgy. There was no way he was one of the infamous zombies from Thriller!

Then I went to his apartment and he showed me his photo album. Sure enough, there he was. I could recognize his face under all the zombie makeup--two guys back to the right over Michael's shoulder.

And now, all of us who cringed in embarassed squeamishness whenever another of Michael's escapades was reported in the press over the past few years have been forced to sit up and face our own mortality. Michael Jackson was literally a star for my entire life. He was only seven years older than I. And now he lies dead in an LA hospital and the vultures are swarming around the TV cameras and the assholes are posting messages online about all the little boys in the world being safe--

And for the first time in years, MTV is playing videos again. His videos.

All but one. Michael Jackson never got to be a little boy himself. But he tried throughout his Peter Pan aspirations to retain that spark of childhood and to share it, however presented, with the rest of us.

Third star to the right and straight on to morning, Michael. Rest in peace.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Seasons of Life Turn Another Notch

Wow, I've been swamped lately.

First and foremost, I'm proud to announce that I am now a grandmother. My daughter gave birth to her daughter Keelynn Shea, who weighed in at 7 lbs 7 oz. Keelynn and Meredith are both doing fine.

I never thought about being a grandmother when I was still this young. I mean, after all, I'm only 42. My grandmothers when I was a kid were, well, old. They had gray hair and lots of wrinkles and wore old lady clothes and carried old lady purses and had old lady shoes with practical heels and old lady hairdos, short and curly and poufy on top. I don't look anything like my concept of a grandmother. My hair isn't grey, I wear it in a ponytail, I don't have wrinkles and I wear tank tops and jeans. I definitely don't wear practical heels.

But, still, the inevitable circle of seasons in the human life span has turned another notch for me. Last week, I could still consider myself young. This week, for whatever purposes I can come up with, I've come face to face at last with the concept of middle age. I don't feel any different; as a matter of fact I feel the same way now that I did at 25. But I am different, and that change is internal and emotional more than external and physical.

There are up sides to being a young grandparent. I'll probably (God willing) be there for my grandkids as they mature into young adults. I may even get to hold my great-grandchildren someday. That could be a real kick.

But for now, I'm still stunned by the speed of it all. How quickly life has sped by, so that my children are having children and I still occasionally get carded for cigarettes by particularly unaware convenience store clerks! By the time this year turns another notch from summer into the clean crispness of fall, I'll find myself a grandmother once again as my other daughter gives birth to her daughter. At Christmas, I'll have two infant granddaughters and I'll have the incredible pleasure of seeing them on my father's lap so that four generations of our family are in the same room at the same time. How amazing that will be!

Welcome to the world, Keelynn.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Inability To Understand Human Nature

Human nature is a copout. I've been hearing about human nature my whole life. People excuse all sorts of behavior with that little phrase. "Oh, it's no big deal. It's just human nature--"

As if it's 'human nature' to lie or cheat or steal. As if, by token of being born into this species at this stage of evolution we are justified somehow to behave as we please. Unfortunately, I'm no good at deciphering 'human nature.' I find myself, frequently, wondering why it is people act the way they do.

What makes this even more disturbing is that as a writer, my job is to understand human nature. After all, it's that indefinable quality that makes characters have the quirks they do. We create these imaginary people and then we give them personalities and inside those personalities, human nature comes into play. BUT as writers, we have to rely on more than human nature to make a character work. For example, if a character lies we can't just expect the reader to chuck it off as 'human nature.' We have to have a reason for the character to lie, a plausible motivation for that person's behavior in that specific situation or else the reader won't buy into it. But in our everyday lives, we don't look for motivations. We just say it's 'human nature.'

So why do we expect less from reality than we do from our fiction?

A question I've been pondering a lot lately. If I come up with an answer, I'll let you know.

Oh, and by the way--Breaking the Covenants is now available at Amazon! Stay tuned for more information on the Covenants series but first: we're getting back into the realm of Asphodel. I'll have a lot of information on the final Asphodel book over the next few weeks. Let's all get ready for the release of Apostle of Asphodel next month!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some More News

Just a brief blog post today with some news for you:

Breaking the Covenants is now available on Mobipocket. You can check it out here. It will soon be available on Amazon, Fictionwise and other major online retailers. So far, the feedback has been excellent and Rob and I are working busily on the second Covenants novel, Warding the Covenants, which will be released this summer by Aspen Mountain Press.

BUT, even more importantly--notice the new countdown clock? That's right! The Asphodel Cycle 4: Apostle of Asphodel will be released on June 19, 2009! I'm really excited. There's nothing more fun than releasing the last book in a series. Ready to find out the end of Tamsen's story? It's only thirty seven days away!

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Writer's Four Most Basic Tools

Okay, let's have a frank discussion about what you, the writer, must have in order to be successful.

Before anything--before a great story or vivid characters or a knockout plot or an original voice--a writer must have the basic subset of tools that permit you to practice this craft adequately. You cannot be a good writer until you have mastered this list. Period. Before you even think about hitting 'send' on that next submission, step back, take a good, hard look at your work and make certain that you meet this criteria.

1. Correct spelling. I cannot emphasize this enough. Writers use words. You will lose all credibility right from the get-go if you don't spell those words correctly. If spelling is an issue for you, you need to work on it. The basic rules of spelling like "i before except after c" or knowing the difference between homonyms need to be second nature for you. If you get hung up on they're/there/their, then work on the rule until you memorize it. I'm not talking about typos--typos happen to everyone and should be found when you edit your story--but good, old-fashioned spelling. Learn it. Love it.

2. Basic grammar. Sure, everyone is going to get hung up on some aspects of grammar. I'm an editor and I still have to look things up occasionally. However, there's no excuse for any writer not to make the effort to follow the rules of grammar. Here again--words are your tools. You can't use those tools effectively unless you know how to use them correctly. It doesn't matter what experience you have as a writer, it is necessary for you to have a good, current grammatical stylebook or manual--I use the Chicago Manual of Style, personally--and refer to it frequently.

3. The ability to take criticism. This is so important and so often overlooked. Let me pass on a bit of advice that will serve you as you write: artistic license is no excuse for a poor, sloppy story. *editor's hat on* I don't care how artistic you think you are, if you bore me I'm going to red ink the section. Editors, publishers, agents and beta readers don't criticize your work because they hate you/are jealous/think you need criticism whether it's warranted or not--we criticize your work because something isn't effective. Park your artistic sensibilities at the door. Creating a storyline is art. Telling the story is a craft--and as such, you need to be prepared to hear what works, what doesn't and what flat-out fails without whining or getting angry about it.

4. The ability to edit. You need to be your own harshest critic. You need to be prepared to writer your manuscript four, five, ten times if necessary to make it the best it can be. There is no such thing as a perfect first draft. Or second. Or third. There's always room to improve and just because you've typed "The End" doesn't mean the process is over.

Okay, got it? Print this list out. hang it over your desk. Every day when you sit down to write, read this list again. If you don't have these four basic tools, then your manuscript is doomed to fail. There are thousands of writers out there submitting materials and a healthy proportion of them have mastered these basic elements of their tool box. In the end, it doesn't matter how great your story is or how original it has to be spelled correctly, have correct grammar, have been edited stringently before anyone will consider it. And then? Then, you'll have to submit to the publication process and criticism is inherently a part of that. If you can't take criticism with good grace and implement those changes then you're doomed to failure on a bigger and more hurtful level.

And just remember--as with any craft, the more you practice the better you'll get. Writing is a developed skill, one that takes years of work to perfect. Once you've got these four tools in your back pocket, writing itself becomes much easier.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Chat Debacles and Book Release Day!

Nothing like a book release day to get your spirits up...

Which I sorely needed after the debacle of last night. I was all set to do an author's chat at Absolute Write (every Thursday, the chat room there is devoted to SFF). I'd even made notes. My chat was going to be about world building, new mythology and fantasy archetypes. So I'm cruising about Absolute Write about half an hour beforehand, being my usual smarmy self, and the bleeping power went out!

We had some pretty high winds yesterday and the substation down the street blew. So here I am, frantically emailing people on my cell phone, trying to get word to the AW chatmasters that I was having a little problem. I felt like a colossal heel (and a warm one since I didn't get my power back until about six am this morning) because now that's two scheduled events I've missed in the last two weeks--and neither one of them was my fault.


Hopefully we can get it rescheduled. I'll let you know. However, as I'm not one to miss obligations and am one of those annoying people who always turns up early, it really bothered me to not be there. Hopefully, I can rectify that tomorrow: Rob and I are chatting from 12 noon EST to 9 pm at Coffee Time Romance and More e-readers loop. Join us and find out about the world of the Vampire Covenants, the release of Breaking the Covenants, excerpts, fun, jokes, recipes, contests and whatever else nonsensical we come up with to entertain for nine hours straight. Ever see me in a chat marathon before? *rolls eyes* It's nothing if not silly.

So! Breaking The Covenants is now available from Aspen Mountain Press. As always, it will soon be available at Amazon, Fictionwise, ARE E-Books, Kindle, Mobipocket and all sorts of online retailers--I'll keep you posted. So shoot over to AMP and pick up your copy today--it's definitely a departure from Elf-killing.


Now I'm killing mortals and immortals alike. What bliss!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Almost Time For Vampires--And Some Winners!

Yay! Breaking the Covenants is coming out this Friday--after an unforeseen and regrettable delay last week. Rob and I are very excited. We've worked hard on this project (still are--there are more books in it, after all) and are anxious to see what our readers think. For those of you who read the Asphodel series, a moment of warning--this is MUCH different from my fantasy work.

Vampires are fun though. Not as much fun as killing Elves, but what could be?

Tomorrow night I'm doing a chat for writers in the Absolute Write chat room at 9 pm EST. Just click the chat room link at the top of the page. I'll be discussing world building, fantasy archetypes and new mythology--and might very well give a book or two away in the process. Bring your questions and be ready to have a good time!

As for winners---yes I promised you some of those:

Winner of a copy of The Reckoning of Asphodel--Marianne Stephens!

Winner of a copy of Metamorphosis--Babyblue22!

Winner of a copy of The Vampire Covenants 1: Breaking the Covenants--tinkandalissa!

Winner of a copy of ALL my books--Tami!

Congratulations and email me with contact info and the format you want your books in!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Because a family emergency is preventing me from attending a scheduled chat, I'm running a biiiiiiiiig contest today. You can find details on Love Romances ECafe.

Just shout out in the comments of this post, and you can win too!

So sorry--I hate to post and run, but I have to get on the road.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Have You Noticed...

...the proliferation and, in fact, glorification of truly ugly people these days? I'm not talking about physical beauty. Some of the ugliest people I know are physically the most beautiful. I'm talking about ugliness of the soul.

I have the television on today for background noise and, because there is absolutely nothing else on, I've had it on the Oxygen channel. After surviving the hell that is an America's Next Top Model marathon, following it up with the show Pretty Wicked has been horrific. Here are all of these lovely young women with absolutely the ugliest souls, personalities and intellects I have ever encountered in my life. I don't even know these people and I am ashamed for them.


Granted, our society is geared toward the physically attractive. We are pummeled with commercials for weight loss products, cosmetics, clothes and hair care crap from morning to night. Save for the Dove real beauty campaign (which convinced me to spend my money on their products alone) all of the standards our young girls are exposed to for beauty are cookie cutter lookalikes. Women worked way too hard and suffered for way too long to gain equality for the newer generations of women to squander that away on the incessant quest for physical beauty.

I spearheaded a conversation several years ago at a restaurant I worked at. There were probably ten young women there of various ages and I tried to make them all see that a woman doesn't need to be a size two to be gorgeous--or a blonde, or have designer clothes yada yada yada. Even now, it amazes me how little impact my words had. The very next day, they were all dieting again, all caught up in how they looked as opposed to how they felt, what they thought about or how well they worked. In my opinion, it's the fault of "reality" television in a way because that type of programming has taken that type of superficiality and glamorized it to such a degree that that's all our young women think about.

It's very sad.

Beauty is reflected most honestly within a person's soul. Now excuse me while I go touch up my mascara.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Celina, The Wedding Coordinator

I am singularly blessed with my daughters.

Both of them have grown up to be lovey young women. They're smart and working to better themselves. They're independent and likely to remain that way. This weekend, my oldest girl is marrying her fiance' and her sister, who got married last month, is her matron of honor.

Here's where it gets funny.

I hate weddings. I was a caterer for far too long to enjoy weddings. I've set up weddings with over five hundred guests--where indulgent parents spend the equivalent of a house to give their daughters a proper sendoff into the traditional earmark of adult life. I never had a problem charging these people a hundred grand for their sit down dinners with passed hor d'ouerves and a pianist playing until the dance started and everything degenerated into the chicken dance. I always thought that my younger daughter would be the one who'd want a big wedding, but surprisingly and thankfully they just went to the courthouse and got married. My older girl was the one I thought would run away and elope.

I never counted on my future son-in-law wanting a military wedding.

So here I am, two states away, trying to organize a wedding where the bride has very little interest in anything other than showing up to get married. It's actually pretty hysterical; I thought my days of making wedding favors were over. Thank goodness I have all of that experience to fall back on, otherwise this could be just a parody of a wedding. As it is, though, I think I'm going to manange to marry her off with a minimum of expense. Her wedding is labor-intensive as opposed to cost-intensive, which for a poor struggling writer and her family is a good thing.

But man, do I hate tulle.

And then, the dreaded "g" word twice before the end of the year. I am WAY too young to fit into the grandma role but then again being a grandmother at 42 is actually kind of cool. That means I'll be around for my grandchildren's children, God willing. At least I'll be young enough to actually still play with the grandbabies. Meredith (the youngest) is having a girl in June. Audrey (the eldest) doesn't know what her baby, due in October, is going to be yet.

But first, the wedding. Audrey gets married on Sunday, her sister at her side, wearing a dress from a dream and marrying a young man who will be in the Middle East with his unit come the new year. And unlike most parents, who watch their daughers take the marriage vows, I can't sit back and congratulate myelf on a job well done. My daughters being who they are has very little to do with me.

I will be able to sit back, however, and enjoy seeing the happiness of my daughters as they take the final steps from the chrysalis of their adolescence into the big, broad world of 'you're grown up now.' I will know that unlike most of their peers, they are singularly well-requipped to take that step knowing more of the happiness and horrors that await them. And that, I think, is the only thing a parent can't give them.

Bon voyage, girls of mine.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Breaking The Covenants--More News

Hurray! The website for our Vampire Covenants world is up and running! Go check out so that you can find out about our world and how we make our vampires work.

I'm getting really excited by this. Yes, I know there's a lot of people writing about vampires these days but this isn't an urban fantasy. Our vampires are moving through the world of the eighteenth century, when the vampire paranoia was so great that the latter half of the century is called the 'great vampire controversy.' We send them to London, Paris, St. Petersburg, Venice--some of the greatest cities of the era. We take the conventional vampire mythology back to the reader--no sparkling for our vampires, not that sparkling is bad.

A love that blossoms in life can only flower in death.

And this is one hell of a love story. Go check it out and drop back by and tell me what you think!

When the Muse Calls...

...I suppose I have to answer.

I hadn't intended to start writing again until after the first Covenants book was released. Between the wedding and edits and book releases, my plate is fairly full. But today, the muse got angry.

She screamed.

She threw things.

She drank all the beer in the fridge.

Then she informed me, in no uncertain terms, that I was going to by God start writing on a companion piece to Deception Enters Stage Left and that the topic was not open for discussion. Yeah, I know. I'm stupid but I can't help myself. Last night, during the daily struggle to go to sleep at a respectable time, I got this image in my head. I was about half-asleep and I mumbled to the husband to just remind me at some point today about one word.


It was almost the first thing he said to me today and my muse has been having a fit ever since. While I was doing wedding stuff, I was thinking about harlequins. Promo work? Harlequins. Business stuff? Harlequins. Everywhere I've turned today, there's something that reminds me of Harlequins.

(No, not the romance book publisher, dangit! A real, honest-to-goodness Commedia dell'Arte harlequin with red, blue and green triangular patterns on his clothes and a black mask carrying a slapstick. THAT harlequin.)

So finally, I just gave up. I've been writing non-stop since I finished my to-do list and it's all been about--you guessed it!--the harlequin.

Bet you can't guess what the working title is.

At any rate, either I've written my muse into quiescence or she passed out from her Rolling Rock and Killian's binge because now she's curled up in a ball on the couch with a whole mess of slumbering felines. So while she's asleep, I thought I'd share my new obsession with you.

Dream of harlequins. Sleep tight.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Covenants Cover Art!

Yay! We have cover art for Breaking the Covenants which will be released on April 24th by Aspen Mountain Press!

Hopefully, I'll survive my daughter's wedding this week and can get back into blogging regularly. Here's hoping. But, until then, take a gander at this cover (artwork, as always, by the lovely and effervescent Renee George). Rob and I are both pleased and I'm starting to get excited for the release. You may notice in the hour or so after this post that a new countdown clock has been started.
It would be the Covenants countdown.
I love writing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Metamorphosis is Released!

Today's the big day--my short story collection Metamorphosis is being released by Aspen Mountain Press. It's my ode to my classical idol Ovid and his great work Metamorphoses.

Metamorphosis is a journey through the short stories of critically acclaimed author Celina Summers. Every story deals with a transformation--from a world where the Church places the blame for original sin upon men to a New Orleans garden that brings a play to life. The collection culminates with a previously unpublished prequel to Summers' best selling epic fantasy series The Asphodel Cycle. Sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying, Metamorphosis is a romp through the realms of speculative fiction--where anything can happen and nothing is quite as it seems.
You can find Metamorphosis at -- where you can read an excerpt from one of my stories, Funeral Meats. It will also be available soon on Fictionwise, Amazon, Mobipocket, Kindle and other online retailers. And at only $2.50--what a bargain!
I hope that you all enjoy the stories of Metamorphosis, because I certainly enjoyed writing them.
I also wanted to prove that I could write something shorted than 150,000 words. *wink* They don't call my fantasy 'epic' for nothing. The fabulous cover art was done by Renee George and the collection was edited by my good friend Lori Basiewicz.
Have fun and thanks! I'll be spending the day wedding dress shopping in Kentucky with my daughter. In yet another instance of life imitating art, she, too is going through her own metamorphosis. Timing is everything.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Do You Believe in Miracles?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how close the extraordinary truly is to the mundane. What does it take to make a normal happenstance evolve into something amazing? What sort of chrysalis does the everyday world take shelter in so that it can emerge into a new universe and take flight?

Some might say it's God. I refuse to discuss religion in this blog, unless it's one I made up or one that died out thousands of years ago, so I'll leave that distinction up to you.

Others might think that extraordinary circumstances create extraordinary people--that when destiny demands it, there are some few incredible mortals who can rise above themselves and transcend into something more, something we can only hope to achieve or dream to attain. Still others, when thrust into the same circumstances, are unable to do the same. Why is that? How is it that some succumb meekly to their perceived fate while others fight against it in search of something greater?

If you can answer this question, you have discovered the secret to what makes up a hero.

Heroes are on my mind a lot lately. They are hard to find in our everyday world, especially one that seems to be collapsing around us even as I type this. And yet, you can still find a man willing to land an airplane full of people on the Hudson River or a young man or woman willing to volunteer to serve their country in a time of war. On the other hand, you can also find people who are willing to bankrupt the retired and use taxpayers' money to take expensive retreats.

It truly takes all kinds, doesn't it?

A speculative fiction writer, such as myself, is always searching for that miracle of personality that makes a hero--or an anti-hero, or even the villain. Although my worlds are peopled with hundreds of named characters and thousands more the reader never meets, there's a very tiny subset of individuals that have that glitter of persona that lifts them above their peers and makes them into the implements that drive a story. That glitter can be almost indiscernible until a moment of decision pushes that character in one direction or the other--to heroism or villainy--and sometimes only a few keystrokes makes that determination for me.

It's an amazing thing, searching for miracles among the mundane. It is, I think, ultimately what every writer does when developing a character. And in the real world, it's character--the trait--that defines a person with what we, as writers, try to create.

So ask yourself: do you believe in miracles?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Holy Crap! A Golden Rose Nomination???

I nearly fainted when I found out that Temptation of Asphodel had been nominated for a Golden Rose Award for Best Sci Fi/Fantasy Novel of 2007 by Love Romances and More--especially when I saw my idol Christine Feehan's name on the nomination list too. I mean, think about it. Here I am, in the middle of the night (darned insomnia) and I find something like this out?

Wow. Someone hand me the vodka. I need a drink.

But then I started to think about it and I realized what a huge thing that is. For a new writer such as myself, who writes for a small, independent press to even be considered alongside a forerunner in genre romance--a giant, if you will--is a testament to how e-publishing has changed the face of the writing world. The perception that writers who publish with smaller presses are somehow inferior or untalented is fading. There's a heck of a lot of good fiction out there in the small presses and e-publishing houses these days. Now, I'm not saying that I consider myself to be the equal of a Christine Feehan. I'm a journeyman writer; she's a master.

So what else can I say but just WOW?

I love the fact that my Asphodel books are loved by my readers. I write to entertain, to share fantastic worlds and to hopefully transport people from their everyday lives to something magical and heroic and emotionally honest. To see my name alongside the other fantastic writers nominated gives me hope that perhaps I may have succeeded in some way in doing just that.

It is a glorious feeling. Thank you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Life's Little Ironies

This has been a week of ironic suspense in my world. All I want to do is write, but first I have to get all that editing done. All I want to do is go out, but I'm laid up flat on my back for another couple of days at least. All I want to think about is this new idea I dreamed up this week, but I don't have the time to start on it.

I've discovered it is possible to function on a pseudo-intellectual level on less than two hours of sleep. For eight days. Straight.

I feel the cusp of a writing binge coming on. This one's going to be big, I know. I have one novel out on agent queries, another out on a small house submission, one contracted to be written, one ready for the second draft, two ready for pre-publication edits and one coming out in a week. Yeah, I've been just a little busy. Don't even think about mentioning the promotional nightmare the next few months are going to be, especially with the last Asphodel novel coming out in May.

Then on the personal front, the irony becomes overwhelming. I take a look around at my situation, at the situations of my daughters and all I can do is laugh. Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. My younger daughter (probably vastly unaware of this) got married today. Her sister (who is completely aware of this) is getting married in three weeks. Now what are the chances of that--all three wedding anniversaries those close to each other?

It's a good thing I have a sense of humor.

But irony makes life spicy, doesn't it? After all, if everything always worked out the way you planned for it to, what surprises would there be? I love surprises--especially when I'm not told about them and find out anyway like a kid digging through her mom's closet near Christmas time. But see, the kid who looks for her presents and finds them loses something on Christmas morning--she loses that element of surprise, the excitement of holding up a box and wondering what's in it. While everyone else is enjoying themselves, she has to act excited and pleased about something that she already knows and all of a sudden it's not that much fun any more, is it?


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Let Me Tell You a Story About Vampires

I've had several people ask me the same question over the last few weeks that I think bears answering.

"Celina, why are you writing a vampire novel? The vampire craze is dead."

They blame it all on Twilight. I haven't read Twilight so I can't really comment on that. But here's the story of how the Vampire Covenants Trilogy came about.

I was talking to Sandra Hicks one afternoon (she's the publisher of Aspen Mountain Press) and mentioned that I thought it would be a good idea if some of the AMP writers got together and co-wrote novels. My first thought was that if writing a romance, we should pair a female writer and a male writer--the woman would write the heroine's point of view and the man the hero's. She thought that was a great idea and followed it up with, "So, who are you going to write with?"

I didn't even have to think about it. Rob Graham is a friend of mine, we'd talked online and done chats together and I liked his unique writing style. So I said, "Rob Graham." Her reply was, "So, set it up."

I contacted Rob and he was not only willing, he was enthusiastic. As I was a fan of his vampire novel "In the Dark," I suggested a vampire romance novel--but a historical one. I wanted to go back to the era where vampire lore was running rampant throughout Europe and base our story there. So that put us in eighteenth century Europe--just in time for the French Revolution. He knew he didn't want to write a stereotypical vampire for his hero; he wanted a German, a warrior from Saxony--not a high noble like a Count, but a member of the lower nobility. Rob named his hero Gunther von Wittershiem, a vampire some two centuries old. In order to balance that out, I created Marguerite Giffard--a twenty year old English widow reemerging into Court society in Georgian England. She was of higher rank than Gunther and, as a widow and an orphan, had learned to administer both the estates of her family and her late husband who'd died a few months after she married him at the age of sixteen. I based her in a lot of ways personality wise on Emma Harte, the mistress of Lord Hamilton, particularly when I saw this portrait of her:

That mischievous beauty so enchanted the painter George Romney that Emma became his Muse. Marguerite was born out of Emma's character traits and it helped that Rob absolutely became enamoured of Emma's portrait.

So we had our characters. Now we needed a conflict. Rob created our villain, the French Comte de Condé sur Víre, Alphonse de Brunel. With a rivalry between the two vampires that had lasted for centuries, de Brunel was naturally drawn to Marguerite when it became apparent that Gunther, despite the laws that governed the vampires, was falling in love with her. As Gunther and Alphonse continue their private war, Marguerite, unaware that the man courting her was an immortal, is put into great danger.

Considering the turbulent politics of Europe at the time, including the incipient madness of King George, there were all sorts of opportunities for fun in numerous cities across the continent. Our hero and heroine would romp through London, Paris and St. Petersburg as the story unfolded--three cities with dangerous political problems. So we enhanced that, creating the Conclave of vampires that enforce the Covenants--a group of laws all vampires must answer to. If a vampire is found to have broken one of the Covenants--just one--the punishment is destruction. The politics within the Conclave are just as turbulent as the mortal ones. Paris is led by the vampiric Benedictine monk Augustin Calmet (who is a historical character, the author of a treatise on vampires in the early eighteenth century) and assisted by the devious Marcellin Dautin. Calmet's rival in the Conclave is a Moorish warrior in Madrid, Fausto Oleastro. These two immortals have been at odds for hundreds of years and the Conclave is divided between their supporters.

So now, our stage was set. Before we'd even written a word, we had a rich tapestry of elements to work with. As a fantasy writer by nature, world building is important to me--and one of my favorite things to do. Writing the beginning of Breaking the Covenants was exciting. It was fun. While our character flirted and went through their forbidden courtship, we played in the great houses of London and had a ball.
So here's the answer to that question, and the point of this story. The vampire novel is NOT dead. It's a sub genre of literature that has thrived since Bram Stoker wrote Dracula and stemmed from a hysteria so great that the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (Marie Antoinette's mother) issued an edict forbidding the disinterment of bodies checking for signs of vampirism. The vampire novel is a classic archetypal story, one of seduction and sex, violence and evil, danger and sometimes even redemption. No matter how you dress your vampires up, whether in the panniers of the last few doomed years of Marie Antoinette's court, as a rock star based in New Orleans, or as sparkly teenagers in a high school--the vampire is still there. He is iconic and classic, the personification of physical urges discouraged by the staid rules of society (at least until the fifties or so), the silent watcher in the shadows who gauges his prey, the tortured soul who needs the blood of life to maintain the immortality of his death. The vampire is beautiful, desirable, charismatic and ultimately, unattainable. There is a gothic loveliness to his isolation and just as the vampire turns his victims into creatures of the night, there is always one potential victim who turns him in some way--turns him into a protector, turns him into a monster, turns him into a man willing to sacrifice himself for her. There is always the hope that she can somehow redeem him...from God, from society, from himself. As these are motivations that all of us can relate to, the vampire and his literature lives, will always live.
Much like the vampire himself is immortal, so is his story. And that, my children, is why I decided to write a vampire story. It seduced me, like the vampire does his victim, and now I am helpless in its grasp. I'm even keeping vampire hours these days.
Congratulate us, by the way. The second book of the trilogy, Warding the Covenants, will be completed this weekend. The first book, Breaking the Covenants will be released in a little over a month. And then the vampire--our vampires--will have their way with you all.
Sleep, for now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Here it is--the long promised cover for Metamophosis, my collection of short stories being released by Aspen Mountain Press on March 27, 2009! Pretty sweet, huh? Thought you might like it.


is a journey through the short stories of critically acclaimed author Celina Summers. Every story deals with a transformation--from a world where the Church places the blame for original sin upon men to a New Orleans garden that brings a play to life. The collection culminates with a previously unpublished prequel to Summers' best selling epic fantasy series The Asphodel Cycle. Sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying, Metamorphosis is a romp through the realms of speculative fiction--where anything can happen and nothing is quite as it seems.
Coming March 27, 2009 from Aspen Mountain Press.

This collection was edited by my very good friend and outstanding writer in her own right, Lori Basiewicz. You can check out her pet project Trunk Novels for some outstanding pieces of literature that she's set her red pencil to. The cover art was done by Renee George, whose cover for my book The Asphodel Cycle: Temptation of Asphodel was nominated for Best Cover of 2008 by Love Romances and More Cafe.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Read an Ebook Week! And a contest...

This week is Read an Ebook Week and so, in honor of the occasion, I'm giving some lucky person all three Asphodel novels absolutely for free! All you have to do is shout out in the comments portion of this thread and you're entered. At the end of the week, I'll draw a winner and that person will get to Read not just one Ebook, but Three! That way you'll be all ready for the release of The Asphodel Cycle 4: Apostle of Asphodel when it comes out in May.

So this is Read Three Ebooks Week in Elf-Killing land--welcome aboard. It's also a good time to check out my fan page at Facebook and join up. That's the first place to look for news these days.

I just got the cover art for Metamorphosis--it's WONDERFUL. I'll share it with you guys later.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Making Something Old Something Better

I run into a lot of conversations among authors about tropes, archetypes and cliches. "How can I write without using the cliches?" "Anyone who writes about Elves is stealing from Tolkien." "There's no way to write something new."

I usually end up in arguments about this. As a classical mythologist, I am convinced that archetypal themes and characters aren't the anathema so many writers think they are. Sure, you don't necessarily want to write abouta farmboy-turned-savior with a magical sword, an ancient mentor skilled in the ways of magic and the stock secondary characters of the D & D world. However, that doesn't mean you have to avoid them either. The hero's journey, as identified by Joseph Campbell, is a route that all good adventures follow. There is a certain path a writer must follow in order to create a hero. And while you don't have to hit every earmark that Campbell identified, you need to hit at least some of them.

So I have an example, not from writing but from popular music. Michael Jackson's song "Smooth Criminal" is not among my favorites. (okay, I hate it) But look what happens when another group takes that song, the archetypal actions of the original artist, and makes them their own.

God love Alien Ant farm.

Sure, all the familiar elements are there. But the music has been changed, the atmosphere is different, the characters are on a different path. The song is recognizable, but it's been changed from the original into something almost completely alien to the original. We, as writers, can do the same. So don't worry about how Tokienesque your Elves are! Don't sweat over your magical sword/book/ring/necklace/kitten. Just write a good story, tell a good tale, supersede the tropes and make them your own and it will work for you too.

And you won't even need to borrow a baby chimpanzee to do it. You can leave Bubbles at home. What we, as writers, need to be worried about is our narrative voice, the credibility of our characters, the complexity of our plot arcs--telling a damn good story. The rest? It will take care of itself. Oh, and just to top that off, check out Nathan Bransford's blog entry for today. Although he's not saying what I am, this advice from a top and incredibly helpful agent might help you to see the bright side of life. My recommendation: listen to Alien Ant Farm's version of Smooth Criminal while you read it. It makes for an almost orgasmic episode of optimism.

You can take something old and create something entirely new and completely original out of it. So instead of worrying yourself into cold sweats about it, sit your butt in the chair and just write.

Annie, are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?