Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Monday, January 28, 2013

Release Day: A Fall of Silver

A Fall of Silver has finally been released!

My paranormal romance (or urban fantasy, since it's a bit of both) is out and here is the blurb and a small excerpt to whet your appetite.


Their secrets are about to catch up with them.
The only good vampire is a dead vampire: that’s Quicksilver’s philosophy and she sees no reason to change it. In fact, she’s about to kill one of the undead when Kethan Hilliard confronts her, promising peace and redemption for both vampires and humans in exchange for an end to the slaughter.

But Quicksilver knows that’s not going to happen.

Someone is killing humans and vampires, and sweet words aren’t going to end the nightmare.

The events awaken terrible secrets from Quicksilver’s past, and she’s not about to repeat her previous mistakes. This time, she’s going to end the madness and silence the horror, forever.


“Stop!” A seated man commanded in a deep voice. Pressing his fists against the table, he stood, unfolding until he towered over the other men in the room.

Quicksilver's gaze flicked over him. Stubborn chin, wide mouth, and dark, brooding eyes. An unfamiliar response curled in her belly, reacting to his presence. A feeling she didn’t need, or want, warmed her. She slowed.

Nerves. Don’t let them distract you.

She shifted, orienting again on Jason. As she raised a whip, her glance flickered once more to the tall man. She took a deep breath and forced herself to concentrate. The vampire was dangerous. Leave the humans for last.

“Don’t move, please.” He stepped in front of the three vampires flowing around the table to join Jason. Frowning, he lifted his hand in a gesture of command. “None of you move.”

The vampires froze. Even Jason stilled himself. Shocked, she barely noticed her whip sagging to the floor in an almost instinctive response to the large man’s order. She straightened and tensed her wrist, flicking the whip in her right hand.

The thin, silver lash uncoiled through the air and encircled Jason’s neck. He stared at her, his pale eyes widening with terror. His golden lashes fluttered as his hands hovered around his neck.

“Don’t, please!” Jason’s fingers pressed against his collarbone as if he thought he could hold his head in place. His frantic gaze flashed to one of the vampires. “Stop her! You’re my clan leader, Sutton. For God’s sake, do something! Help me!”

In a burst of unexpected speed, the big man moved around the table. He gripped the lash.

Lose your hand if you love vampires so much! She bared her teeth in a wolfish smile. When he didn’t let go, she shifted her weight to her back leg and prepared to tighten the noose.

“Stop. Now!” The man—and he was a human male judging by the spicy warm scent of his skin—tightened his hand when she gave the whip a small tug. A trickle of blood seeped through his fingers. He did not react.

A small curl of fear tightened her belly.

The other human half stood. “Kethan—”

“I’m all right, Joe. Stay where you are.” He caught her gaze. “Let him go, Miss.”

“No, he’s dangerous. He’s a vampire, and he almost killed a young girl.” If he didn’t let go, he’d lose half his hand. She stiffened in preparation.

“It was a mistake. Wasn’t it, Jason?” the large man, Kethan, asked.

“I never touched her, honest!” Jason’s voice rose sharply. “I wasn’t going to kill her—”

“Enough talk!” she replied in clipped words, edging around to get a clear view of Jason.

“It is enough.” Kethan said calmly, keeping his eyes locked on her face. “You’re interrupting negotiations—”

“Negotiations? What negotiations? You can’t negotiate with vampires! Or don’t you know what they are?” Blood pounded in her temples, deafening her as her fury thrust her into the past.

She’d tried negotiating with Carlos and Carol, once. The two vampires played her like a Stradivarius, promising escape and then…. She swallowed, forcing the pain back.

When she glanced up, his dark eyes caught her gaze. She didn’t notice his body tense until it was too late. 

He grabbed her wrist in a single, smooth movement, catching her off guard. The warm, human strength of his hand enveloping hers surprised her, delaying her recognition of the unrelenting strength of his grip.

“What are you doing?” She jerked her arm, but he didn’t release her. Instead, he  pried the whip handle out of her hand. Then his brown eyes caught her gaze again and held it with the intensity of a master vampire.

Her eyelids fluttered in an attempt to break the connection. She wanted to look away, she had to, but couldn’t force herself to look away. After a breathless moment, she stepped back. Her left hand tightened on her second whip. She had a spare—a third whip—and she wouldn’t be caught by surprise again.

He couldn’t control her. No one could. Never again.

--I hope that small excerpt intrigues you. If you're interested, A Fall of Silver is available as an ebook through Amazon and Smashwords.
Amazon Kindle/Fire: 
Smashwords (Most ebook formats):

Thanks and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Birding

My favorite time of the year for bird watching (birding) is winter. You don't have to contend with the heat and insects and you can see everything much better since leaves don't get in the way so much. When I ended my career as a computer specialist on Dec 31st in favor of writing full time, one of the things I hoped to do was to get back into doing more birding.

Thankfully, I have and here are a few of the glorious birds I've been seeing in our walks to the mailbox with the dogs and rambling through the woods (okay, swamp) behind the house.

Northern Harrier - We've had both male and female Norther Harriers working the fields in front of the house. When I first spotted the male "gray ghost" he was hovering low over the winter wheat before starting to glide back and forth dissecting the field in his search for rodents. The brown female has been here less, but one or the other is always working the fields.

American Kestrel - Every winter, an American Kestrel takes up residence on our phone line, right above the mailbox. From that position, he has a good view of four fields and it must suit him because he's there every day until late spring.

Red-tailed Hawk - A pair of Red-tailed Hawks lives near our house and this time of year, we hear them calling almost all day. They seem to like to hunt the fringes of the fields along the tree line.

Red-shouldered Hawk - In addition to the Red-tailed Hawks, we have a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks. We hear (and see) them a little less frequently, but at least once a day I hear them calling. They seem to like to cross over the entire expanse of fields, going from one swampy woodlands, over the fields, and then entering the woods behind our house.

Honestly, with all these predators, I don't see how the rodents have much of a chance in the area, but we still see a lot of voles, cotton rats, and mice, so I guess they aren't putting too much of a "hurtin/" on the population.

Loggerhead Shrike - We are very privileged to host the occasional Loggerhead Shrike, which upon first glance I often mistake for a Mockingbird with "something just not quite right" about it. The shrike has a favorite perch on a telephone line near a small stand of trees at the edge of our property. I've only seen him twice in the last week, but he does seem to be hanging around the area.

Belted Kingfisher - A very noisy, female Belted Kingfisher has decided to take ownership of our catfish pond. She gets highly indignant when the dogs or one of us humans takes a walk and dares to go near the water. She's a chatty little thing and she's a gorgeous sight swooping low over the water on her way back and forth over the pond.

Turkey - As part of his job, my husband worked on the reintroduction of Turkeys here in North Carolina and his work was a brilliant success. We now see large flocks of Turkeys wandering the fields and I've had to stop short in the car several times to avoid hitting them!

Bobwhite - A small covey of Bobwhite hung around after breeding season and when we walk to the mailbox, we flush the occasional one out of the weeds at the sides of the roads. We've been trying for years to get the farmers to stop mowing the hedgerows, or at least only mow one side. This year, we've still got one side of weedy cover and I'm hoping they don't mow it anytime soon because it's always full of all kinds of birds.

Gosh, I can see I need to stop doing a paragraph a bird or this blog is going to drag on. So what else are we seeing?

Meadowlarks, American Robins, and Eastern Bluebirds are all over the fields, as well as flocks of blackbirds and grackles (mostly Common Grackle and Boat-tailed Grackle). The hedgerows that the Bobwhite like are also full of Chipping Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Song Sparrows, with occasional visits from Fox Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows. Near the feeders we also get a few American Tree Sparrows and Field Sparrows. We also have a few Yellow-rumped Warblers (Myrtle Warbler), Eastern Phoebes, and Pine Warblers hanging around the pecan and pine trees near our mailbox.

Pileated Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Flickers, and Hairy Woodpeckers are having a banner year because we've had several trees fall in the woods, creating snags that are full of insects. I've also spotted a Hermit Thrush in the woods behind the house, busily at work kicking up dead leaves.

On our porch, we've had Cardinals and Carolina Wrens peering into our front window, particularly when we've dared to let the feeders get a little low on food. The Carolina Wrens are also in the habit of stealing dog food if they think they can get away with it during the dog's feeding melee.

Our garden is home to Mockingbirds, Gray Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, Tufted Titmouse, Rufous-sided Towhees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, Cardinals, and a few Goldfinches.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some birds that I've seen this week, but it's a joy to have the time to go out walking with the dogs and my binoculars. You just never know what you will see next!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January and Roses

Seed and gardening catalogs are showing up in my mailbox and now is definitely the time to consider ordering plants for your spring and summer garden. Most of you know I love roses and this month is order time!
Rose Selection

As I mentioned, January is a good time of year to begin selecting and ordering roses, particularly if you purchase them from a mail order vendor.

There are a great many new varieties, but I will list a few new ones from David Austin, which look like they may be good for our area, and mention an entire class of roses which are often overlooked and yet are extremely hardy and disease resistant.

Rugosa Roses
Rugosa roses are sometimes referred to as Japanese roses.  They are fragrant and come in a variety of colors and forms from single, 5-petal flowers to lush double blooms.  They grow well in sandy soil, as well as heavier soils, and do not need spraying.  They have leathery or crinkly leaves and do not seem to get the diseases other roses in our area are so prone to catching, including black spot.  Of all the roses rated by the American Rose Society (ARS), the roses in the Rugosa class have more varieties rated over 9.0 than any other class of rose.

For the most part, Rugosa roses stay relatively short and need little care, including very minimal pruning.  There has been an increase in interest in Rugosa roses lately since they do require so little care, they bloom all summer, and are fragrant.  Even Jackson & Perkins has begun selling more Rugosa because of their easy-care qualities.

Rugosas generally come in colors ranging from white through pink to deep red.

Here are a few varieties which are well worth looking for.
v  Hansa - very fragrant and repeats from spring through to frost.  Double blooms in violet-red.  Grows to about 6’ tall.
v  Purple Pavement - very fragrant and repeats from spring through to frost.  Double blooms in purplish-red.  Grows to about 3’ tall and makes an excellent hedge.
v  Snow Pavement - very fragrant and repeats from spring through to frost.  Double blooms in white touched with pink.  Grows to about 3’ tall and makes an excellent hedge.
v  Thérèse Bugnet - One of the classic Rugosa roses.  Double, fragrant blossoms in medium-pink.  Blooms all summer and has wonderful, attractive red canes with completely healthy foliage.  Grows to be about 4’ tall.
v  Rugosa Magnifica -Very fragrant blooms in deep mauve.  Blooms all summer and grows to be about 5’ tall.
v  Rosa rugosa rubra - Single (5-petals), very fragrant blossoms in deep mauve.  Blooms all summer.  Can grow up to 6’ tall and is extremely hardy.
v  Blanc Double de Coubert - One of the best white roses.  Large, semi-double blooms in pure white.  Very, very fragrant.  Blooms all summer.  Great for a hedge.  Can grow up to 5’ tall.
v  Agnes - Primrose color and very fragrant.  Blooms all summer.
v  Topaz Jewel - Yellow blossoms with a moderate fragrance.  Blooms all summer.
v  Robusta - Crimson blossoms with a moderate fragrance.  Blooms all summer.
v  Jens Munk - Pink blossoms with only a slight fragrance, but a very healthy and well-mannered rose. 
v  Dr. Eckener - Pink and yellow blend rose with a very strong fragrance.
v  Wild Spice - A single, white blossom with a wonderful spicy fragrance.  It blooms continually, all summer.  I got this rose from Jackson & Perkins and couldn’t be more pleased.  It is stays low growing (about 4’) and doesn’t need pruning or spraying. 

These are just a few varieties.  If you have room this year, I would definitely give Rugosas a try, particularly if you live near the ocean.
David Austin Roses
Of course, as always with David Austin roses, you may find that many of them grow much, much taller than advertised, due to our warm climate, so take that under advisement.  I’m mentioning David Austin roses because they do have a very good record for disease resistance.

The following roses may make nice additions to your garden.

v  Carding Mill - Pink, apricot, yellow blend, very double roses with a strong myrrh fragrance.  Height 4’ x 3.5’.
v  Grace - Apricot blossoms with good fragrance.  Height 4’ tall.
v  Hyde Hall - Rich, medium pink, very double flowers with a light fragrance.  This is listed as very healthy, but very large, up to 6’, so I expect you could grow it as a small climber here in NC.
v  St. Alban - Rich yellow rose with a good fragrance.  This will grow up to 8’ tall as a climber.
v  The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild - Peony-like, very large roses in pinkish lilac.  Rose fragrance and a height listed as 5’.
v  Wisley - Large blossoms in deep pink with a strong fragrance.  Height 4’.

A Few Smaller Varieties of Austin Shrubs
Here are a few of the smaller varieties of Austin’s roses, for gardeners with smaller gardens.  They are all around 3’ tall.  None are taller.  Because of the moderate size, they would also do well in pots and since many are also very fragrant, they are excellent on patios or near sitting areas.

v  Alnwick Castle - Soft pink with good fragrance.
v  Ambridge Rose - Apricot pink with a good rose and myrrh fragrance.
v  Anne Boleyn - Soft, warm pink with a light fragrance.
v  Charlotte - Soft yellow with a light Tea Rose fragrance.
v  Comtes de Champagne - Yellow that fades to pale yellow; the blossoms open to form an open cup.  Good fragrance.
v  Cordelia - Medium pink, semi-double flowers with a very slight fragrance.
v  Fair Bianca - Pure white rose with a rich rose fragrance.
v  Ludlow Castle - Apricot-blush color with a Tea Rose fragrance.

v  Mary Magdalene - Very soft apricot-pink coloring with rich fragrance.
v  Miss Alice - Very soft pink coloring with a rose fragrance.
v  Molineux - Clear yellow coloring; this rose has won a lot of awards and is a beautiful small bush.  Slight Tea Rose fragrance. 
v  Noble Antony - Rich, deep magenta-pink blossoms with good disease resistance.  Very fragrant. I have had extremely good experiences with this rose and love it.
v  Portmeirion - Medium sized flowers in clear, rich deep pink with a strong rose fragrance.
v  Sophy’s Rose - Light red flowers on a very healthy bush.  Light Tea Rose fragrance.
v  St. Cecilia - Beautiful soft apricot-pink that age to white with a lovely fragrance.
v  Tamora - Rich apricot flowers with good fragrance.
v  The Prince - Deep crimson with a rich fragrance.
v  Wildeve - Very healthy rose with soft pink blossoms.  Medium fragrance.

Happy planting!

Amy Corwin is the author of more than six historical romances and mysteries. Her latest contemporary mystery, Whacked! was just released in hardcover and is available wherever books are sold. 
As you might expect, she has also written a historical mystery where the clues are roses. A Rose Before Dying is available from Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, as well as for Apple iTunes fans.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Interesting Women

Every once in a while, folks ask questions like, "Who do you most admire?" That's always a difficult question for me because, other than very close family members and a few friends, I'm not big on hero worship and I generally try NOT to find out anything about public figures because inevitably, I wind up disappointed. Frankly, the two people I admired most were my parents--they were two of the few people who didn't disappoint upon closer inspection. They weren't perfect, but they worked hard and had both personal integrity and intelligence.

However, in thinking about public figures, there are four women I find interesting and worthy of note for 4 completely different reasons.

Maureen Bunyan, the woman I'd like for a friend
I grew up in the Washington, DC, area, so the "local" news was more-or-less what others would consider national news. As a young adult, I didn't care much for the news, but every once in a while, I would watch. After a while, I began to realize how "bent" most news folks were. My first inkling came after listening to one of our President's address the nation, and subsequently listening to one of the famous national "big network" newscasters talk about the speech. The newscaster babbled on, trashing the President and claiming the President had said thus and such when the reality was, the President never even mentioned the subject. I actually looked up a transcript of the President's speech to make sure, because I thought maybe I had spaced out and missed what the newscaster caught. Not so. Obviously, the newscaster had an ax to grind and a political orientation that prevented him from being objective when reporting the news. I won't mention names because...well...what's the point?

However, I subsequently listened to Bunyan's report. I found her to be one of the few newscasters who seemed to work on being objective and accurate. She reported what had been said, no more, no less. So I started watching her and the more I watched her, the more I felt she was a woman of integrity and intelligence. I don't know what her political orientation is or was at that time, but I found that whenever I checked the actual facts, that's what she reported, unlike so many of the national newscasters who feel they have to turn the news into a propaganda opportunity.

The other aspect about her public persona that I always appreciated was the sense of warmth and humor she radiated. Sure, I don't know her, or anything about her, but I felt I could trust her. In fact, she is one of the few public folks I'd like to meet and if I'm lucky, call my friend.

Grace Kelly, the most beautiful woman...ever
Not much to say about this pick, except it is my personal opinion that she is perhaps the most beautiful woman, past or present, who has ever lived. Would I like to have plastic surgery to look like her? Actually, no. I am who I am and if I changed that, I wouldn't be me. But that doesn't change my opinion about Grace Kelly. Gorgeous and classy. I will never forget her in "Dial M for Murder" or "The Rear Window".

Jeane Kirkpatrick, the most compelling, intelligent woman...ever
I've always liked being around intelligent people, particularly those who have a sense of humor. Not that I've ever met Jeane Kirkpatrick, but I sure would have liked to. I loved listening to her talk those few times I managed to catch her on the news or other television interview--she could talk rings around anyone interviewing her and do so with style, intelligence and humor. I wish there were more truly exceptional women like her. We could really use them today. Despite the current talk and TV shows about "geeks," folks in the U.S. really don't seem to appreciate intelligence and I've never understood that. The current fascination with geeks isn't appreciate of intelligence--it's making fun of intelligence. Too bad, really.

Condoleezza Rice, the person who should be president, but is probably too smart to run
Will someone please convince her to run for office? President, that is. I'd vote for her in a heartbeat. Like Ms. Bunyan, Ms. Rice seems to be a person of integrity. Like Ms. Kirkpatrick, Ms. Rice is intelligent, compelling, and best of all, has a sense of humor. She also has style and that thing known as "class." I would love to be able to say our President is Consoleezza Rice. How cool would that be? You really have to admire someone who can be calm and witty under fire and Ms. Rice can do so with aplomb.

Well, those are four of the people I most admire, outside of my family and friends. Sadly, I never had the chance to meet any of them. The only "famous" folks I've ever met in real life are Isaac Asimov and Eleanor Clift ("The Mclaughlin Group"). I met Ms. Clift at National Airport in DC way back when. She asked me to watch her luggage for her--a fact that tells you how many years ago that was. Don't know why she picked me, but I dutifully watched it for her. Then a few years later, at historic Williamsburg, I met Isaac Asimov, the writer, while we were walking around the gardens at the back of the Governor's palace. I actually shook his hand and babbled something inane about having read every book he had ever written. True as it was, I regret I didn't have something a bit more intelligent to say.

That's it, then. Brilliant women aren't as rare as you might imagine, as these four show you. And lastly, I'll never, ever forget a radio interview I heard once, back in the 80's. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the woman being interviewed, but she was billed as the most intelligent person in the world at that time. In the middle of the interview, the interviewer commented that it must have been difficult for the woman to get dates because men would be intimidated by her intelligence. Her reply said it all.

She laughed and said, "It's not difficult at all. Most men think I'm just as dumb as every other woman they've ever met."

Food for thought.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The List

As mentioned in my previous blog, I've retired from my day job to be a full time writer. Yippee!
And that also means that everyone has been asking me what I will do, now. In fact, no one can quite believe that I would "give up a career in information technology" just like that. While I'm still trying to figure out if I need to renew my Microsoft Technet subscription, I think in the end I will be able to give up work in IT because my problem is not a lack of interests, but far too many interests to explore in a single lifetime.

I've spent 36 years exploring computers and IT. I'm ready to move on and while I don't really believe in "bucket lists" per se, I do have a lot of things I want to do. Here are just a select few.

  1. Train the Dog - we just got a new Jack Russell puppy and am spending a lot of time with her. She's really good at fetch and I'd like to train her to do a few things - it will keep both of us active outside and she'll be all the happier for it.
  2. Write - I have several books in first or first/second draft stage. I need to finish those and get them "out the door". My first hardcover mystery, Whacked!, is out and while most authors will shake their heads in disgust at me when I admit this, I need to get a second manuscript to my publisher. (I should have already sent them one, but I'm a very slow writer.) A Fall of Silver - a paranormal romance, should have been published, but is still going through last minute edits, so... Work, work, work.
  3. Birding  - I've neglected my bird watching over the last few years and I really want to get back to that. I've even forgotten some of the calls. This spring I intend to do a lot of birding around North Carolina.
  4. Gardening - The gardens are a mess. I need to get them back into shape. Some, I may have to eliminate so that I can keep the rest of them weeded, etc, during the hot summer months. I way overdid it in creating lots of gardens and I got overwhelmed. It's time to correct that. In fact, I need to clean up the kitchen garden and start planting cold weather crops before it's too late.
  5. The House - The old log home has been neglected far too long. It's time to pull up some of the nastier bits of carpeting and put down flooring that can withstand the four-legged creatures running around here. We also have a junk room that I've sworn to clean up and turn into a library. Oh, and let's not forget doing actual housework. :)
  6. Classes - I'd like to take some classes, and to ease into that, I'm looking at ordering some of the Great Courses. I'm particularly interested in Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works  although it is fairly pricey. It strikes me that it would be useful if I continue to write mysteries. I've always been interested in forensics and this one sounds interesting. I'd also like to take some of their history classes and some fun ones like cooking.

That's enough to get me started, I think.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Step One of The Dream

The First Day

As of Jan 1, 2013, I'm a full-time writer, and it's only taken almost 36 years to reach this point. To celebrate, I got up before dawn to take a photo of this grand occasion, and here it is.

Well, okay, that was actually later in the morning, after I realized that the rain wasn't going to stop and my real picture of what should have been dawn looked more like the one here (which is, incidentally, of dawn on 1/1/2013).

It's rained for the last three days, every morning, so I still don't have my beautiful sunrise on the first morning of the rest of my life, but whatever.

Did I mention that I also had the flu and had to go to the emergency room around midnight? That was fun. Dehydrated from being unable to keep anything down and feverish, my husband carted me off to the ER. They tested me and pronounced the dreaded flu (despite the fact I had a flu shot) and they decided to replenish the fluids via IV. That was fun, too. I kept feeling them swabbing my arm and when I finally glanced over to see what they were doing, well, it looked like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 3-D. Blood spurting everywhere. But they finally got the IV in and after a few injections of drugs and a bag of fluid, I was ready to go home.

That's the point at which the nurse said to the lady handing me a fistful of prescriptions, "Can you get the other nurse? I can't get the IV out."

Really? You can't get the IV out? Really?

Another episode of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A few glorious waterfalls of blood later, I was discharged into my husband's care.

So finally, here it is 1/3/2013 and I'm working on being a full time writer, at last!

All hoopla aside, my contemporary mystery, Whacked!, was also released by Five Star as a hardcover. I'm so glad to see it available now. I have every hope I can pull my next mystery into shape and send it on to Five Star for another stab at the big time!

Best wishes to everyone for 2013!