Thursday, October 24, 2013

NaNo Revisited 2011: Poison in the Blood

Simon and his soul mate were the first Bad Witch characters I created, followed by Emily and Michael. I wrote a bit of a book with them during my last year at college but didn't get far with it. When I started Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, I knew Simon, Michael, and Emily had to be in it, and they stole scenes at every opportunity. I had so much fun writing about Emily and her undead peanut gallery that I decided to write a novella about how Michael and Emily fell in love, and that became The Importance of Being Emily.

I loved writing that story, and it became my best-reviewed book. (Dude. Seriously. RT gave it 4.5 stars and invited me to blog about it on their site.) So when NaNoWriMo approached in 2011, I decided to write the story of how Emily became a vampire.

Before 2011, as part of my "you can do it!" speech about how anyone can find the time to write during NaNoWriMo I used to excitedly tell people about how I'd written my first NaNo the month before my wedding. Then in 2011 my ex-husband dropped the divorce bomb halfway through NaNoWriMo. It was sort of poetic, in an awful "circle of life" kind of way. NaNo helped me through my pre-wedding jitters, and then it helped me survive the first wave of divorce heartbreak. It was my Scarlett O'Hara moment--God as my witness, I was not going to let my ex take my NaNo from me.

So Poison in the Blood became the first book of my divorced romance writer life. (There's a poignant article here about writing romance during a divorce, for those interested in the subject.) My feelings on the divorce are, oh, let's call them negative, so I'll spare you the details. It boils down to this: I still believe in Happily Ever After, even if my first Prince turned out to be charming but not sincere. There's comfort in writing about characters I love and knowing that they're happy.

While TIoBE was my best-reviewed book, PitB is my least reviewed. Actually it's my first book to have no reviews at all. I wonder if that has to do with it being my Divorce Book. Or if it's because I don't have the resources to spend on blog tours and promo like I did with my previous books. But I love this book. I loved every moment of longing between Michael and Emily, every argument between Emily and Simon, and every flustered bit of Dr. Bennett's unrequited love for Miss Dubois. They fight crime! They take a field trip to Faerie! It's a lot of fun. ;) Here's an excerpt from the first chapter:

Miss Dubois straightened and approached us. She was quite beautiful, and I could see why Dr. Bennett was so helplessly attracted to her. She had a charming, heart-shaped face graced with large blue eyes framed with thick lashes. Her hair was arranged in an artful mass of golden curls, and she was positively radiant. Almost angelic.

She eyed me thoughtfully. “I have never met a seer before.”

I smiled as I refrained from commenting on how I had never met a female guardian before. Instead I chose a more polite reply. “Very few people have. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Nodding briskly, she returned her attention to the body. “What do you see?”

Simple. To the point. I rather liked that. It was refreshing to be spared having to justify my abilities, though I suspected that as a woman Miss Dubois was familiar with having to justify her own magic to others.

I stepped away from Dr. Bennett and centered myself, clearing my thoughts of my curiosity about their relationship. When I opened my eyes I winced at the riot of colors emanating from the Undiscovered Country; was nothing calm in this city? The necromancers had cast so many spells upon their building that the narrow alleyway rather looked like our table linens the day the twins had gotten into the watercolors. I turned my gaze to the body itself and found it devoid of energy, as I expected. Mrs. Harding’s dark hair was unbound, and her lifeless eyes stared blankly up at the night sky.

“I should like to see the young woman’s home. I may be able to see a vision of her abduction,” I said.

“That can be arranged,” Miss Dubois replied. “Is there anything of note on the body?”

“No, and there are no strong impressions around the body. It is doubtful that she was killed here, but that much is obvious from the lack of blood in the area.”

“Anything else?” Miss Dubois prompted.

My attention flicked to her, and I winced at her bright silver aura. She was by far the most powerful magician I had ever encountered. Were all guardian auras that strong? There was something odd about her parasol as well. It gave off a bright energy, which was unusual for an object because most items only held residual traces of the person who had been handling them.

Blinking past the brightness, I walked away, hoping to find some sort of trail in the swirling mass of magic. I left the lantern’s light behind me, but my vision was filled with the necromancers’ spells, at least on my right side. The building to my left was plain, dull brick, with no magic whatsoever…except for one spot. Tilting my head, I studied the area. A long gash of unfamiliar energy was torn into the brick, a bit taller and wider than myself. It almost looked like a door of sorts.

“Would you bring a lantern here, please?” I asked.

One of the necromancers obliged, muttering less-than-polite things about meddling women under his breath as he did so. The light bobbed nearer, and I frowned as I saw nothing—the absence of color, as though a dark void was painted onto the wall. I removed my right glove, intending to place my hand against the brick, but was startled by a sudden, angry shout.

I whirled at the sound and spotted two figures approaching, their energy faint in the dark like two ghosts storming down the alleyway. My eyes widened with shock when the lanterns caught them, revealing my nemesis, Simon St. Jerome, with my husband, Michael, in tow. As always, Simon was a spindly tower of disapproval crowned with long chestnut hair, and, also as always, my husband, Michael, followed at his heel like a loyal hunting dog.

The change in Michael’s aura struck me like a physical blow, forcing the air from my lungs until it was difficult to breathe. Though on the surface he was still the handsome man I married, small details of the change in his condition became clearer as they drew to a halt, like the bloodless paleness of his skin and the stillness of his body. Tears welled in my eyes, and I shook my head and turned away, unable to keep looking.

Poison in the Blood is available in ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Samhain Publishing. It will be in print (bundled with The Importance of Being Emily) in June 2014.

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