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Last night I received a contract from Dreamspinner Press for my novella "Call Me But Love."  It's a group of four stories all based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and comes directly out of a fannish sub-genre known as "(x-number) Things That Never Happened to (character)"  I wrote one in "Brokeback Mountain" fandom, a number of years ago ("Five Things That Never Happened to Ennis del Mar" for anyone who is curious.) and got a taste for the format.  Alas, it's really only good with characters who are known to your audience.

The stories in "Call Me But Love" (From the play: "Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized; Henceforth I never will be Romeo.") are set in different places and eras.  The first, "His Timeless End" is set in Renaissance Verona. The second, "Give Me a Case to Put My Visage In" is set in Victorian England.  "By Any Other Name," which is the third story of the group, is set in post-WWII U.S., and finally  "The Children of an Idle Brain" is a contemporary story set in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

When I posted the news on Facebook last night, I promised an excerpt.  From the second story, "Give Me a Case to Put My Visage In,":

"Arrogant, self-important, little trollop," he growled. There was laughter from the shadows and he was suddenly worried that perhaps some kinsman of Juliet's had seen the entire performance. "Who's there?" he demanded. "Come out if you dare."

It was only Mercutio who stepped out of the shade of the garden wall, applauding softly. "What a show.  I thought for sure you had won the maiden or at least her maidenhead, but I guess true love doesn't buy what it used to."

"Shut up."

Mercutio laughed. "Oh by Rosaline's bright eye, you gave it your all and I applaud you. And speaking of Miss Gordon, she's left the gathering, so I guess your evening has been wasted. Lovely girl, Miss Gordon; rather wealthy if I remember correctly. Sheep."

Romeo stalked off, determined to find a way out that didn't lead back through the ballroom.  He did not want to see Juliet again; his pride wouldn't withstand another blow that night.

Mercutio followed, humming a little tune. "Why don't you go away?" Romeo snapped.

"I'm protecting my winnings."

The memory of what he had promised was like a blow. "You knew I wasn't serious about that bet."

"I knew no such thing. You made a bet with me; you lost. Will you be a gentleman and honor that wager?"

Romeo turned sharply and scowled at him. "I suppose one of us must be."

At that, Mercutio drew very close. "I suppose you're implying that if I try to collect my winnings, I am no gentleman. I'll tell you what Romeo: I never claimed to be a gentleman. You, on the other hand, are puffed up with your position in life, swaggering about and using people without ever a thought to what the consequences might be. I watched you with that girl and she had the better of you, my friend, in spite of all your efforts to win her with sweet words and cheap lies. She put you right down in your place. Your family might be rich, but you'll never be nobility, not for love nor money, my sweet, lovely boy. But all she has to do is marry Paris and her path in life is charted. It seems a shame, doesn't it, that you can't just lie down and earn a title, too?"

Romeo struck out but Mercutio saw the blow coming and danced away from it. Thwarted, Romeo snarled at Mercutio, "You would know how that's done, wouldn't you? At least I can't be arrested for what I am." He saw that the dart hit home and he was glad of it.

Mercutio made a low bow.  "As ever I yield to your superior wit." And with a sardonic smile, he started up the street alone, whistling that irritating little tune.  Romeo watched him disappear into the darkness and then began to walk in the opposite direction, towards his club.  It had been a wasted evening, and had, he feared, cost him a friend into the bargain.  But there was nothing for it; he was not like Mercutio, not...

The words wouldn't form in his mind; he feared them. 




persimmonfrost: (caddy)

First big news is that I’ve sold a novella to Dreamspinner Press.  The title is “The Vampyre’s Revenge” and here’s a little teaser for you:

Frank went out one night to pick up a pizza and came home a vampire. It wasn’t what he’d imagined. He’d assumed vampires would be scarier, like the ones on Buffy with their game faces and all. But the vampire who turned him was Mrs. Carlson, his sweet-faced, elderly landlady who lived downstairs, grew roses and fed stray cats.

That night, as he was on his way up the stairs, she stopped him and said she thought there was a cat in the garden who was hurt and would he please help her? And then she’d lured him out to the old garden shed where she’d said “I’m terribly sorry to do this to you, Franklin, but I’m afraid I need to drink a little bit of your blood.” Then she’d held him down, this tiny little white-haired lady who looked like his grandmother, and she’d bitten his neck and drunk his blood.

When she finished, she wiped her mouth on a red-flowered handkerchief (“The blood doesn’t show as much.”) she’d had tucked down the front of her plaid house dress and said “Thank you, dear. Now you won’t tell anyone about this, will you?” Then she patted his cheek.

“Is that it?” Frank asked as he followed her out of the shed. He didn’t even feel much different. A little weak, but otherwise unchanged.

“Is what it?”

“Well, I thought there’d be more to someone drinking my blood.”

“Really? Like what?”

“I don’t know… that you’d be scarier or I’d feel different. Or you’d get all young-looking after you fed.”

Mrs. Carlson laughed. “Franklin, how long have you known me? I’m an old woman. “She shook her head. “Why don’t you come in the house and I’ll give you some tea; you’ll feel better after a nice cup of hot tea. Bring your pizza along, will you? It smelled awfully good and I always get a bit peckish after feeding.” Frank didn’t know if he found that funny or not.

I’m pretty juiced about it.  It should be coming out in late winter/early spring.  I’ll post more details when I know them.

Souvenir de Malmaison

Souvenir de Malmaison (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Also, I finally got the rose I’d been coveting for decades now.  The name is “Souvenir de Malmaison” and it’s a very old Bourbon rose with a heavenly scent.  Stories about the rose vary from source to source.  I’ve heard it said that it was Josephine de Beauharnais‘ (The Empress, Josephine, the “godmother of modern roseomaniacs” ) favorite rose, and also heard it said that it was only named after her rose garden at Malmaison.  This information comes from A Guide to Antique Roses:

“Originally known as ‘Queen of Beauty and Fragrance’ this rose received its present name when one of the Grand Dukes of Russia obtained a specimen from the gardens at Malmaison for the Imperial Garden in St. Petersburg. ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ produces large, flat, quartered blossoms with petals of pale, almost flesh colored pink, and a delightful fragrance. The compact bush rarely grows more than three feet, seemingly spending all its energy on blooming rather than growing.”

Français : portrait (inachevé?) de Josephine d...

Français : portrait (inachevé?) de Josephine de Beauharnais par Prud’hon, situé à la Malmaison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In keeping with our habit of giving our roses names, we’ve named this one “Josephine” in honor of the woman who is her godmother in spirit if not in fact.

The Japanese beetle adult--an attractive pest....

Alas, all is not mazel in Roselandia. Glinda noticed that Therese was being chewed, and this afternoon I discovered the culprit, a gorgeous, golden Japanese beetle.  I confess I dispatched him as quickly as I could, but hopes for an easy fix were dashed when I read about their mating habits.  So it’s milky spore and nematodes for us in the spring, and a couple of beetle traps for us now.  I put up with a lot in the interest of having a welcoming garden for our bees, butterflies, birds, etc., but I will not have my roses eaten, even if the diner is as handsome as the bug I picked off of Therese today.

Ornamental Chives

Ornamental Chives (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Karen rose

Karen rose (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Our Alter Egos

Our Alter Egos (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)


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Tracy Rowan

August 2013

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