Not Quite Dead is back!

Yes, bloglets, it’s been a very long since I was first published. Now, let me get my cane and we’ll hobble over to the rocking chair on the porch while I tell you a story. I can shake my cane at the neighbor kids on my lawn while I talk.

Lo, these many years ago…about 8 years, in fact, I was on the cusp of seeing my very first novella published by Samhain Publishing, courtesy of the vision of Angela James who took pity on me when she saw how gifted I was at shoving my foot in my mouth.

Not Quite Dead was the story I wrote when I finally hit the wall with The-Regency-That-Wouldn’t-Die. A quirky little thing that unfolded to me day by day until it finished itself back in the days when there was just one trad publisher who would even look at novellas from unknown writers. (RIP Kate Duffy, who wrote me a personal rejection letter that I still have.)

I was on a roll. After Not Quite Dead, I wrote constantly and published several more stories within the next 4-5 years. Then life hit. Hard. DH retired from the military. We moved. He got downsized from his civilian job, but found a better one. My mom moved in with us and had to go through several surgeries. We moved again. One child cracked from the stress, so we homeschooled for 2 1/2 years.

But not even valleys last forever.

The requisite 7 years of my contract passed and the rights to NQD reverted to me. Whereupon I simply sat on the story for several months thinking, “I should really self-publish that puppy and see what happens. Eh. Mañana.” Y mañana y mañana y mañana.

With Shawntelle Madison kicking my butt the whole way, I finally contacted Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs and she made a gorgeous new cover for me. Then Shawntelle did my formatting while I whimpered in the corner.

I started a DBA and a business account and wrote a business plan. And this week, I finally wrestled Kindle and Nook and Kobo and D2D into submission and started the uploading process.

Everything is finally ready to go.

So after almost 8 years and a hiatus of half that length, I give you…

SelaCarsen_NotQuiteDead_HR

Available at Amazon ~ BN.com ~ Kobo ~ iBooks

I’m not dead! And I’m holding a contest

It’s been a while, I know. And I’m sorry about that.

The good news is that I’ve been writing!

The bad news is that I’m slow. Of course, that’s not news to anyone who actually follows me. ;-)

So. About this contest. I’m a member of a mom’s website called CafeMom. It’s geared towards women and families and all that stuff, but there are small groups that focus on any number of different interests – from healthy eating, to varying beliefs, to writing and reading.

Well, I like hanging out in one of those small groups called The Book Cafe and I’m running the easiest contest ever. Comment on my thread and you’re entered for a random giveaway for an e-copy of one of my novellas.

Boom. That’s it. Simple, yes?

The contest runs through the month of March and I’ll announce the winner on April 1. So stop by – you probably have to become a member of CafeMom (free registration) – and comment to win one of my stories!

See you there!

The Book Cafe Join Us! @ The Book Cafe

 

Why I trust Morgan Freeman

Have you ever noticed that those moments right after your brain realizes it’s awake are a fertile breeding ground for bizarre thoughts? My first thought this morning was about Morgan Freeman.

It occurred to me that it’s no surprise when he gets cast as father-figures or God or god-like figures. We trust him. Do you know WHY we trust him? Because he taught us to read.

I actually remember his voice sounding out words on that long-ago show, The Electric Company. He and Rita Moreno were shadow silhouettes, sounding out phonemes together until they blended and made a word. And for serious? I would totally lay down my cloak for Rita Moreno to walk over a puddle.

But if Morgan Freeman ever runs for God or Guy Who Makes Gotham An Awesome Place to Live or something like that, I’m in.

I can hear them laughing

Ah, those goofy gods. My life is a major yuk-fest. Like the Keystone Kops where I’m the only Kop.

Monkey Boy is on his 2nd day home from school. He has the kind of sore throat that makes breathing an exercise in agony, and a slight fever. But his tonsils aren’t swollen and I didn’t see any white spots or even angry red when I looked down his throat this morning. Still debating whether it’s worth a call to the pediatrician. For now, it’s warm tea with honey and the occasional squirt of Chloraseptic.

But he’s napping now, so it’s time to write!

Homeschooling

I don’t know if I’ve posted about this, but I’m homeschooling my 15yo daughter this year. Long story short, high school is hell, but she’s getting much stronger. Anyway, we’re doing American Lit concurrently with US History and we’re a weee bit behind due to some earlier schedule conflicts. So we’re just starting the Revolutionary War, which has thrown off our Lit studies. We’ve read The Scarlet Letter (I loved it, she hated it), Legend of Sleepy Hollow (she was bored and I kind of was, too), and The Masque of the Red Death (we both enjoyed it).

Since we were supposed to be coming up on the Civil War (I told you we were behind), the plan was to start The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We’re so not ready. Instead, we’re going to read a different Revolutionary War novel. I’m seriously considering Laurie Halse Anderson’s YA novel, Chains, which is the story of a slave girl sold to a Loyalist household in occupied NYC. It’s got good reviews and there are several study guides and discussion questions available, including some from LHA’s website.

We’re also watching John Adams, the HBO series, and reading Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts, as well as Common Sense and chunks of The Federalist Papers and all that good stuff. Reading novels and watching movies is fun, but unfortunately not enough.

We’ll get to Huck Finn in due time.

NaNo? Please. I’m edjikatin’ my kid.

The gods conspire against me

Seriously?

It’s Nov 3 and we all know what that means. It means that I’m trying NaNo again. My goal isn’t to win NaNo officially. My goal is to get 25K, so I’m doing a half-NaNo. Like a half-marathon, except without the weight loss and increased muscle tone.

The other night, I settled in to write in the kitchen after dinner, which is usually abandoned. The dishes were done, everyone was scattered to their various screens and entertainments, and it was just me and my laptop. And every single member of my family who decided to wander through and try to chat with me, despite the fact that my headphones were in and I was answering in grunts. When the grunts began to verge into snarl territory, they went away.

This morning, I got up nice and early. Before anyone else in the house. Ahhh, bliss.

The dog rolled in deer crap.

I had put him out for his morning snuffle around the yard and he returns ecstatic, covered from shoulder to flank in smears of cervidae feces. Because now, you know, they won’t be able to see him coming. He’s camouflaged. He smells just like them!

So after standing outside in the cold in my nightie, scrubbing him down with a warm soapy washcloth, he’s laying in front of the fire and I’m writing a blog post and not my wip for NaNo. It’s okay. I don’t want to write about deer-reek in my wip and I had to get it out somehow!

Disproportionate interest, or lack thereof

Oh. My. God.

This is nearly as bad as Twilight. I cannot go anywhere right now – online or off – without someone gushing over these books and/or this movie. And I’m one of those backwardsly obstinate people who will resist in direct or greater proportion to the amount of encouragement I receive to get in on whatever the latest craze is.

So if you, too, are sick of this nonsense, you may find a safe spot on this blog for getting on with your life without Katniss and Peeta (really? All the names in the universe and that’s the one she chose?) and whatever else is up with this story.

 

Mythology Monday: Beauty and the Beast

It’s no great secret that Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale. It has themes of transformation, sacrifice and redemption, plus one of the smartest fairy tale heroines ever. What’s not to love?

Beauty and the Beast appeared in its current (or relatively current) form in 1740, when it was written by Gabrielle–Suzanne de Villeneuve. It was a critique on the sale of women into marriage, never knowing “if they’d find a beast or a lover in their marriage bed.”  Since then, it’s transformed from a tale in which the genuinely fierce and beastly hero must change for love, to one where the heroine must learn to love despite appearances, to, well, the Disney version. (God save us all.)

The story takes its cue from myths that were told centuries before, when Hades kidnapped Persephone. A powerful man, a pariah, banished to a solitary realm. A girl taken from her loving family to alleviate his deep loneliness and perhaps save his soul. While the story can certainly be related as one of violence and rage, there are versions that are more sympathetic to Hades’ desperate act.

*sniffle* I’m getting all emotional just thinking about it!

Sacrifice is one of my favorite themes – a tangible demonstration of what love is worth and what we will give up for its sake. The Beast knows the his heart will break and he will die without his Beauty, yet he lets her go so that she can rejoin her family. And Beauty, torn between love for her family and her growing love for the dangerous monster who needs her, knows that choosing one will irrevocably harm the other.

Redemption is another element of the story. The original Beast is truly a beast. Dangerous, vicious, threatening to the heroine both physically and sexually. Yet under for influence and for her sake, he puts aside the animal and reclaims the man he once was.

Transformation is the heart of Beauty and the Beast. The Beast is the obvious character for this transformation, but in Robin McKinley’s second interpretation of the story, Rose Daughter, the change is not the one we’ve learned to expect. Nonetheless, the animal is rendered human by love for his Beauty – not mere desire or animal passion, but a heart fully given to another’s keeping.

In the best stories, Beauty isn’t always perfect, sweet, forgiving and saintly. She must change from a young girl occupied with her own thoughts and plans into one who is capable of seeing what lies beneath and beyond the surface. To facing up to danger, and being willing to both stand for what is right, as well as bend to what may be. There are no easy choices for her in this story and it requires a strong, smart, steady heroine.

There is no shortage of Beauty and the Beast stories and each one brings something new to the table. I can’t think of another fairy tale that can handle so much revision, yet remain true to its heart.

What’s your favorite version?