Friday, December 26, 2008


I finished Maelstrom last night. Or rather, this morning.

Sometimes I get a crazy notion and just won't let go, and yesterday that notion was that I would finish, no matter what. It took until 4:00 am, but what the heck, I don't go back to work until January 5. In spite of my earlier worries that I was going to go wildly over my anticipated word count, the draft came in around 93K words. Whew!

I'm not too crazy about the final scenes of the book, but we all know the drill--you can edit crap but you can't edit a blank page. Well, no more blank pages. I'm on to the editing phase!

Overall, this is a pretty clean draft so I'll be needing beta readers sooner rather than later. More on that soon.

For today, I'm just loving my Christmas present to myself--a completed draft!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maelstrom Excerpt: Christmas (conclusion)

We conclude Ricky's Christmas with more than just a bit of holiday cheer.

“Your friends sure are a lively bunch,” his mother said, scanning his face in concern. “Why were you so mean to them? They obviously think highly of you.”

“The bass player kissed my wife,” Mike said darkly.

“Holiday spirit,” Ricky informed him. Then to his mother he said, “I wasn’t trying to be mean. It’s just that I told them not to go caroling. I don’t want them making any mistakes and getting bad publicity.”

“It seems like good publicity to me,” Joanne said, still glassy-eyed over her encounter with Bo. “We should go see their show.”

“Not on your life,” Mike said. He poured himself a drink. Then in an uncharacteristically generous move, he poured one for Ricky. “Cheers?”

Ricky touched his glass to Mike’s and tried to smile, but there was something in his brother's coolly appraising look that he didn’t like. Something had aroused his suspicion and it wasn’t just Bo giving Joanne a holiday kiss.

While the family settled in front of the TV to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, Ricky sipped his scotch and pondered. Where had the band gone next? Were they keeping out of trouble or were they about to ruin everything he had helped them build since summer? And why did Mike keep looking at him that way? Seeking a distraction, he opened his Christmas stocking. Most of what was inside was typical holiday fare—chocolate and peppermint candies, a snowman magnet for the refrigerator, a packet of almonds, and a silver Christmas coin like the ones Nevin had given the children. It was the envelope, though, that Ricky found most curious. He opened it to find a card with a reindeer and Santa on it, and the words, “Holiday Wishes.” He opened the card and what he found inside left him staring in shock.

Mike was watching him carefully. “What’s the matter, Ricky?”

Deep breaths. It had to be a joke, except the band didn’t kid around when it came to matters like this. More deep breaths.

“Love letter from your cute guitar player?”

“No,” Ricky said. “Just an ordinary Christmas card. And my holiday bonus check.”

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and very best wishes to you and yours, whatever you're celebrating this year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Maelstrom Excerpt: Christmas (continued)

Continuing with the Christmas excerpts from Maelstrom, Ricky confronts the band over having ignored his instructions not to go caroling.

Spurning his coat, Ricky chased them to the tour bus, which was painted for the occasion with red and white stripes like a peppermint stick. He ignored Calvin, who seemed impatient to get going, and cornered everyone against the bus door in the lightly falling snow. “What the hell was that all about?”

“Christmas cheer,” Kalila told him. “Really, Ricky, you should study up on your culture.”

“But I told you I didn’t want you to go caroling. Please tell me this was a special thing you did just for me.”

Vic sneered. “You’re not that special, human. We already did Jeff Truitt and a couple other music reporters.”

“And we have several more people on our list,” Kalila said. “So we need to get going.”

“What others? This is not acceptable.”

“Oh, Ricky.” Nevin shook his head sadly. “Where’s your Christmas spirit?”

“We’re conforming to human expectations of behavior,” Bo pointed out. “In case you didn’t notice, I could’ve banged your sister-in-law, but I didn’t. We have things completely under control.”

“That’s because we’ve got snacks on the bus,” Vic said. As if on cue, two blondes in Santa hats opened a window and leaned out, waving and shouting, “Merry Christmas!”

Ricky shook his head. “Jesus Christ.”

Vic adjusted his scarf. “That’s what it’s all about. Excuse me, but one of these young ladies is type O and I need a little refreshment before our next stop.”

He shoved his way past and got onto the bus, with the others following suit. Nevin was the last to go, after giving Ricky a hug and wishing him a Merry Christmas. Ricky watched the tour bus head down the street, then went back into the house, shivering and in need of an egg nog with a lot of extra rum. In fact, screw the egg nog. Just the rum would do.

to be continued...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Maelstrom Excerpt: Christmas (continued)

Continuing with the Christmas excerpts from Maelstrom, Ricky finds himself forced to play host to some unexpected guests.

Ricky sucked in his breath and debated what to do next. “Uh, yeah. This is that big client I was telling you about.” He started to make introductions, but his mother interrupted.

“Ricky, if these are your friends, you need to invite them in.”

“Yeah, it’s cold out,” Adela added, shivering.

He waved the band inside, but grabbed Kalila by the arm. He pulled her aside and muttered in her ear, “Count your blessings that you’re immortal. I could kill you right about now.”

Kalila patted his cheek with a mittened hand. “Merry Christmas to you too, Ricky.”

Ricky introduced everyone, more for his family’s sake than the band’s since they no doubt knew who everyone was already. Then Nevin accepted a cup of hot chocolate and the other band members shed their coats and helped themselves to the scotch. Mike gawked at Kalila in her sexy elf costume, Joanne hovered near Bo, obviously smitten, and Ricky was wondering just how long things could last without a blowup of some kind when Nevin offered to do some magic tricks for the children.

Ricky met his eyes in silent gratitude and urged the family to the sofa to watch. “You’ll love this,” he said, although he had no clue what the fairy had in mind. “He’s very talented.”

Nevin started with some traditional card tricks, then went on to make silver Christmas coins appear in the children’s pockets, in Joanne’s new Coach bag, and behind Mike’s ear. He finished his show by conjuring stockings stuffed with trinkets and candy, which he handed to each family member, including Ricky. Then, while Joanne made cow eyes at Bo, and Mike stared at Kalila’s breasts, the band sang a rousing version of “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” with the children singing along. When they were finished, they shook hands with everyone and Bo gave Joanne a kiss while Mike glared and clenched his fists like he wished he could throttle him. They approached Ricky’s mother last.

“You have a terrific son, Mrs. Landon,” Nevin told her. “He’s been such a help to us.”

“He’s the best manager we’ve ever had, and we’re sure you’re very proud of him,” Kalila added.

Ricky tried to catch Kalila’s eye while his mother stammered something about what a good boy he was and how she always knew he had it in him. Then the band wished everyone a good night and trooped outside and down the steps like an entire parade.

to be continued...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maelstrom Excerpt: Christmas

Continuing with the Christmas excerpts from Maelstrom, we find Ricky having Christmas with his family. The band has been generous (they can afford to be, since immortality allows one to make a killing on long-term investments) and Ricky is having fun showing off to his snobby brother and SIL.

It was Christmas Eve, and for the first time in years, Ricky was enjoying it. His niece and nephew had liked their gifts enough to actually hug him, and Mike and Joanne smoldered with annoyance.

“I hope this didn’t set you back too much,” Joanne said in her catty way as she examined her new Coach bag for evidence that it was a fake.

“This was more than we expected,” Mike added, waving a hand in the direction of his new golf clubs. “Especially when the payments on your new ride must be costing you a pretty penny.”

“Actually, the Lexus is paid for,” Ricky said, relishing the disbelief on their faces. “The insurance is a little high, but it’s within my budget.”

Ricky’s mother leaned toward him. “This is all lovely, dear, and we’re glad you’re doing so well, but we’re a little concerned—” she glanced toward the front door and frowned.

Ricky heard the sound too, and his momentary bewilderment became a sinking feeling.

Adela jumped to her feet. “Carolers?”

“Don’t open that door,” Ricky called after her, but it was too late. Adela flung open the door and there on the doorstep, looking for all the world like ordinary humans in winter coats and scarves, were Nevin and Kalila, harmonizing “Adeste, Fidelis,” while Bo and Vic stood behind them strumming guitars and Lazaro tapped a silver triangle.

Adela and Little Mike clapped their hands and urged “Grandma” to come see. Meanwhile, Ricky came to the door and gave the band the fiercest glare he could manage. It did no good. They finished the song and Bo shouted, “Happy Christmas!”

“It’s ‘Merry Christmas,’” Kalila reminded him. She turned her best smile on Ricky and his family. “You get one more song,” she said. “Do you want traditional or modern?”


Mike looked at Ricky. “You know these people?”

to be continued...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Updates on Maelstrom and Other Things

Just checking in to let folks know I'm in the process of setting up a website for Maelstrom. Until I get my artwork, anything I do will be temporary, but it's fun to start working on the layout now so I'll be ready. I've got two more days of work (one and a half if my boss lets us go early on Tuesday, like she did the day before Thanksgiving) and then I'll have through the first of the year to tinker with the new site, write, and do other fun things.

In addition to the new site, I've got lots of new ideas for my main writer site, so that will likely get a "closed for remodeling" post over the holiday break while I do some mucking around and get ready to launch some new ideas.

Between now and Christmas, I'll be posting excerpts from my draft, so my friends can see how Ricky and his band of demons celebrate the holidays. Enjoy!

* * *

“Uh, Ricky?” Kalila waved a hand to catch his attention. “We have a question for you. Or actually, an idea.”

Ricky was immediately on his guard, but affected an expression of polite interest.

“We were wondering if we could go Christmas caroling.”

Ricky stared in disbelief. “You know what that is, right? Going door to door, singing songs about reindeer and Baby Jesus?”

Kalila shrugged. “Yeah. So?”

“So you’re a demon, pagan, metal band. You don’t think that’s just a little inappropriate?”

“But the songs are so pretty,” Nevin said.

“And it would be good publicity,” Kalila pointed out. “You could find a reporter to do a story about us spreading that holiday cheer stuff.”

“No. I just can’t see a vampire singing ‘Away in a Manger’ while you do guitar riffs in the background.”

“I would take my acoustic guitar,” Kalila said in tones that suggested Ricky wasn’t very smart. “Where would I plug in my amp if I took the Stratocaster door to door?”

“Look,” Ricky said. “I appreciate your creative thinking and your interest in marketing yourselves, but Christmas caroling is just not a good idea. Can you trust me on this?”

Kalila raised her eyebrows and exchanged a look with the other band members, but her words were acquiescent. “Of course we trust you, Ricky.” She picked up her guitar. “We’ve been making some changes to ‘Carrion Road.’ Want to hear?”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Art and Marketing

Yesterday I heard back from Rebecca Gunter, the artist who is going to do a color drawing of the band in my WIP. I told her in November to let me know when she was ready for my info, and last night upon her request, I sent character sketches, an overview of the story, and a short excerpt. Her Livejournal site says she's booked through the end of the year and she previously told me to expect something in January or maybe late December, but of course I'd be thrilled if she could have a first sketch for me to look at sooner.

We shall see. I can be patient, since the draft isn't even done yet and I don't have a website or even a domain name for the project. I've got a lot of ideas for how to market this, though, using the university to build a readership. College students are a great target audience for this type of story and I've got all of Houston's biggest campuses within a five mile radius, as well as the indie bookstores and guitar/drum shops. Catchy artwork and a little perseverance ought to reap rewards.

And a completed, edited, beta-read, re-edited-until-it-hurts novel. Gotta get on that and quit dilly-dallying over my tea at night.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Checking In

Just checking in so no one thinks I've forgotten about this blog. I'm over 75K on the WIP now, hoping I can finish the draft around 90K. I'd like to be done by Christmas so I can use my break from work to focus on editing, building a website, and working with the artist on a nice manga-style drawing of the band.

I'm having a lot of fun with this novel and I'm looking forward to having something I can share!