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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. 

 

 

 

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Usually I do this from Wordpress so I can post to all my blogs at once, but apparently something happened last night and my WP blog has disappeared.  I can't access anything!  (Yeah, it's not a good day so far.)  Anyway I wanted to drop a note to say that I have a new novella being released today from Dreamspinner Press.  It's entitled "The Vampyre's Revenge" and is the story of a sad fanboy who finds love in an unexpected place.  Here's an excerpt:

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, growing roses and feeding stray cats.

That night, as he was on his way up the stairs, she'd 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 housedress 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 very 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 smells awfully good, and I always
get a bit peckish after feeding.” Frank didn’t know if he found that funny or not.

He ended up eating pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza and drinking tea with Mrs. Carlson in her cheerful, bright yellow kitchen, playing with her
cat and asking her questions about being a vampire. Forties-era music played quietly on an old radio in the living room.

“How did you become one?” he asked.

“My grandson found out my heart was going and couldn’t stand the idea of losing his old granny, so he turned me." She sighed. “David never
was one for thinking things through. He was a good boy,” she said. “He worked at a large accounting firm in New York. Unfortunately, he was
killed in an auto accident about five years ago. A bad accident can kill us,” she told Frank as she fed a morsel of pepperoni to Mr. Biggles,
who had jumped up on the kitchen table. “He really should have been more careful. But that was like David; he didn’t think things through,” she repeated. “I appreciated the thought, but I wish he’d just left me to live out my years the normal way.”

Frank stared at the cat, who glared back at him. “Is… is Mr. Biggles….”

“What, dear? A vampire?” She chuckled. “No, he’s just a cat. Mind you, he’s a bit of a monster, aren’t you, my sweetheart?” The cat rubbed
his face against hers, then stared at Frank again with suspicious golden eyes. “He’s like my child, only less irresponsible and ungrateful
than my children were. And he keeps me company. No, I do not feed off of him,” she added with a touch of asperity that suggested she’d been asked such things before and considered them offensive. Frank scratched that question off his mental to-ask list.

“So, I mean… needing blood all the time can’t be easy for you.”

“I have an arrangement with a local butcher. A lot of our kind go to them for blood. Only this week I simply wasn’t able to get down there to
pick up my order on the day it came in, and they gave my blood to someone else. Imagine! And me such a good customer. So I had to find,
well, a donor. I don’t like the word “victim” much, do you?”

“Not so much, no. So you could turn someone into a vampire?”

“I expect I could, though I never have. David’s well-meaning gesture notwithstanding, I never thought turning someone into a vampire was a
very friendly thing to do.”

“Even if they asked you to?”

She peered at Frank over the top of her blue-framed glasses. “Franklin, do you mean to tell me you want to become a vampire?”

“Well… yes. That is to say, I guess so.”

“Now why would you want to be a vampire?” she asked, setting Mr. Biggles on the floor. He glared up at them for a few moments, then
meowed and stalked off.

“Being a vampire seems kind of glamorous.”

“Oh no, it’s not, dear. Would you like some more tea?” she asked, pouring herself another cup from the rose-patterned teapot. Franklin
thought that she was probably right, but the vampire life still seemed miles ahead of where he was in his friendless, dead-end existence.

“No thank you. But vampires seem…. I mean, being strong and supernatural is like… well, it’s something big. Isn’t it?” Frank shook
his head. “I’m not making myself very clear, but what I mean is, it’s not as if the life I’m living is so great, Mrs. Carlson.”

That was the problem, the truth stripped down to the skin, as pasty and bland as Frank. His life was anything but great. He’d been a geeky
kid and had grown up to be a geeky adult. He’d only ever had one girlfriend, who moved away the day after he lost his virginity to her,
and he spent his free time playing computer games, watching movies, and reading. He had a boring job that didn’t pay well and no real friends because most of the other geeks had moved away and gotten jobs that were better than his. Nobody else had ever cared much about getting to know Frank. His sex life was limited to fantasies set in his favorite television programs, and the occasional internet porn, which was as dull and joyless as his single sexual encounter had been, though rather less anxiety-ridden.

By contrast, everything about Mrs. Carlson seemed so bright and colorful. When he considered the difference between her life and his, he
felt such despair he thought he would choke on it. A vast, empty life stretched out ahead of him: fifty, sixty years of nothing very special
or interesting or even colorful, and he broke down and began to sob. “I hate my life. I don’t have any friends, I have a dead-end job, and
nothing good ever happens to me. I couldn’t even afford to go to college where maybe I’d have met some people who didn’t want to make fun of me.”

“Oh, poor Franklin,” Mrs. Carlson crooned, stroking his head. “I didn’t realize. I guess I forget we don’t all prefer a quiet life.”

“It’s okay,” he said, sniffing loudly. She got up and brought him a box of tissues. “I’m sorry about blubbing, Mrs. C. I don’t usually… you know.”

“I understand, dear.” She patted his arm, and then, as Frank watched in horror, she picked up a pair of elegant little embroidery scissors
and cut open a vein in her wrist. “Here, Franklin, drink my blood.”

“Moonlight Serenade” was playing in the living room; time seemed to have stood still. “Will drinking make me…?”

“Yes, it will, though I still don’t know if I’m doing you a favor.”

He caught hold of her arm and pressed his mouth to the oozing cut. He drank deeply for a moment, then realized what was in his mouth and
began to gag. “Oh God, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry,” he blurted, drooling blood all over her tablecloth. “I’m such a loser.”

“I could barely bring myself to drink when David offered. Did you swallow anything?”

He imagined the mess of blood, tea, and pizza in his stomach and had to suck air to keep everything down. This wasn’t going well; becoming a
vampire wasn’t remotely like what he’d imagined it might be. “Yes. Some.”

“Good, then we’re done here. And now I think I’m going to send you home, because I’m getting a bit sleepy. I have to be up early tomorrow,
too, because there’s a rummage sale at the church.”

“You can go out in daylight? I mean, we can?”

“Yes, of course. Oh, Franklin, how many times have you seen me in my garden during the day?”

“And you can go into churches too?”

“Yes, of course we can, dear. Goodness, you do have a lot of strange notions about our kind. It must come from reading all those comic books of yours. You’ll need to feed about once a week. A pint should be sufficient for you. Two at most or you’ll get sick.” She scrawled a name and address on an old fast-food receipt. “This is the butcher I mentioned. You’ll probably need blood tomorrow. What else can I tell
you? You’ll heal fast, and you’ll be stronger than the average human, though in your case, dear, I expect you’ll only be stronger than the
average out-of-shape human.” She gave him a wee poke in the love handles area. “You won’t live forever, but you’ll have a longer life and won’t get sick.”

“Really? We’re not immortal?”

“No, dear. Did you think you would be?”

“Well, I sort of….”

“Remember what I told you about David?”

“And if I don’t have an accident?”

She shrugged. “I was never quite clear on how much longer I’ll live; David never liked talking about those things. I gather that one day
everything vampiric wears off and we stop, but I could be wrong, and even if I’m not, I can’t tell you when that will be. Not for many years
in your case, so don’t worry yourself, Franklin. You have a long time to enjoy these changes. Oh, and be nice. Don’t give our kind a worse
reputation than we already have.”

“Uh… okay.”

“Good night, dear. Thanks for the blood. And the pizza, which was delicious. Next time it’s on me.”

Frank took the rest of the pizza upstairs and put it on his coffee table, got a bottle of Dr Pepper from the fridge, and popped a Buffy DVD
into the player. He sat there for most of the night, just staring at the TV, and by dawn he’d decided to take the day off work in honor of
his having become a vampire, though he wasn’t quite sure how to celebrate.

To start with, he called in sick and said he couldn’t come to work today because he’d been turned into a vampire. The receptionist said,
“I’ll let them know” in her usual disinterested manner and hung up. It'd serve her right, he thought, if he showed up there after her shift to
suck her blood for being so blasé about his transformation. In all fairness, though, he’d already called in sick earlier that year with the
St. Mary’s virus and a brain cloud, and she hadn’t bothered to ask about those either. That was the problem with this town; nobody got him.
Belatedly, he began to realize becoming a vampire wasn’t going to help him connect with ordinary people. In fact, it was likely to hinder the
process of making friends.

“Hi, my name is Frank,” he said aloud. “I’m a geek vampire.” Oh yes, the folks in their town would come a-runnin’ to befriend him now. Why
didn’t he ever think things through?

Rather than worry about it, Frank decided he should go down to the butcher shop and set up a regular supply of blood. He wasn’t ready to
think about the alternatives, and it seemed like a mysterious and vampy thing to do, stealing down to the back door of the butcher shop at
sunset in a long black coat and sunglasses and paying in cash, saying something like “Just call me….” Frank tried hard to think of a good
vampire alias. He didn’t feel right about using “Spike” or “Angelus,” but nothing else occurred to him. Franklin, maybe. Or not: it wasn’t
sinister enough. He’d have to give the name more thought. So anyway, then he’d take the unmarked parcel, the jar of blood in a plain brown
wrapper, to someplace quiet to drink and contemplate the tragic romance of his new life. The mental image of the wretched loner, shadows lying heavily upon him, made Frank a bit happier.

In the end, though, he settled for phoning the butcher shop. He hemmed and hawed so much about what it was he wanted that the guy on the
other end finally said, “You want a pint of pig’s blood a week, right?”

“Um… yes.”

“Fine, give me your name and number and I’ll put you in the book.”

“Book?”

“Vamps. Gotta keep track or things can get confused. What day do you want to pick yours up?”

Nonplussed, Frank blurted, “I could come by now.”

“No can do, buddy; last shipment is sold out. Next one won’t be in until after three today. We’ll be open until seven.”

Sold out? How many damn vampires lived in this town? “Fine, fine.” He felt okay; he could wait. He probably hadn’t actually turned anyway. He
sure didn’t feel any different. Probably he hadn’t swallowed enough of Mrs. Carlson’s blood to do any good. Relief and disappointment churned inside his belly. “I’m okay,” he managed.

“Okay then, blood’ll be ready for you any time after three this afternoon.” The guy didn’t even sound scared. In fact, he sounded bored.

This whole creature of the night thing wasn’t working out quite the way Frank was expecting. 
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I finally figured out how to use this new web builder program… after a fashion.  At least enough to get my author site updated.  I’ll continue to work on it, of course.  It’s sloppy not to keep it somewhat fresh, especially since I shut down my author Facebook this week.  (Facebook’s new pay-to-play policy on posts.  I don’t think so!)

English: Standard ingredients of chocolate-chi...

Anyway, tomorrow Devil in the Details is being released, and it’s time for a contest!  Now a lot of you will remember my infamous Breakfast Cookies, aka Never Twice the Same Cookie, so called because what I put into the basic batter is always different. Always.  Sometimes it’s several different types of dried fruit, other times its a mix of chopped nuts.  I’ve used cocoa nibs, crystallized ginger, garam masala… you name it, I’ve probably tried it.  Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always an adventure.  I’ve posted the recipe a couple of times and I’m reliably informed that the cookies are always a big hit.  They also play a part in the seduction of my hero.  Oh yes, Rafe can be had for a couple of these cookies, though he wouldn’t actually admit it.

So here’s the deal: I’m going to publish the ingredient list for the basic cookie below.  What I want from you lot is your ideal NTtSC cookie.  Tell me what you would add to it to make it the cookie of your dreams.  Peanut butter?  Cocoa powder?  Rose water? Yogurt? Ground beef? (Yeah that would be a hard sell, but maybe you could convince me.)  I’m going to pick the cookie ingredient list that sounds the best — and most likely to succeed — and award a copy of Devil in the Details to the hedonistic cookie lover who thought it up.

So here’s the basic ingredient list:

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

You don’t have to give me quantities; the only reason I include them above is that it will give you a bit of an idea of what the cookie is like. (For non-bakers, it’s a big, soft, almost cakelike cookie.)  Just tell me what you’d mix in.  Spices, maybe herbs? (I love basil with chocolate!), fruit, dried or fresh; nuts, nut butters, some form of chocolate, flavoring agents… seriously, people, knock yourselves out.  What blows your skirt up, cookiewise?

I will give you until 6 p.m. central time Monday to come up with your grand creation.  I will announce the winner either on Monday night or Tuesday morning.  And I may just use your ideas to make my next batch of cookies!

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I received my personal and review copies of “Devil in the Details” today which means that it’s really, truly going to happen.  Woo hoo!  Here’s an excerpt for you to whet your appetite:

“So I can expect your answer tomorrow, then?” Gavin asked, brushing Rafe’s face with impeccably-manicured fingers. “I know it will be the right one.” There was no tenderness in either his tone or his touch. He was threatening Rafe.

Rafe slipped free of his seatbelt and opened the car door. “I’ll call you when I get home from school,” he promised. Once out of the car, Rafe had to will himself not to run to the door of his apartment building. He unlocked the door with hands that shook. Only when the door was closed and locked behind him, and Rafe heard Gavin’s car pull out of the driveway, did he allow himself to relax. He slumped against the wall and took several deep, calming breaths. The dancing skeleton decorations that lined the hallway grinned down at him. Normally Rafe liked Halloween, but those skeletons were laughing at him.

Rafe was in trouble. Unless he could find some way out of this mess before the end of the school day tomorrow, he was going to end up spending the rest of his life with Gavin. The idea made him physically ill.

Rafe jumped as the elevator door slid open with a rattle, and Mrs Lempo’s dog, Romeo, came bounding out. He was followed by a somewhat more staid Mrs Lempo in her tatty old fisherman’s sweater and granny shoes. Romeo was so happy to see Rafe that his tail wagged the whole back half of his little sweater-clad body.

“Hey, boy!” Rafe squatted to pet the dachshund, who gave him adoring kisses, and made Rafe laugh. He was grateful for the distraction, and for the opportunity to be uncomplicatedly happy for a few moments. “Mrs Lempo, it’s too late for you to be walking Romeo by yourself.”

“Nothing will happen to us. I have my police whistle and Romeo is a very brave dog, aren’t you my angel?”

Romeo answered with a joyous yip that lifted his front half an inch or two off the ground. Rafe could swear Romeo was grinning. In his orange sweater he looked a bit like an elongated jack-o’-lantern.

“You see?”

Rafe was unconvinced. Brave wiener dog and police whistle notwithstanding, he still didn’t like the idea of Mrs Lempo out walking this late by herself. He also figured a little decompression time would be a good thing. “Well then let me walk with you for company,” he told her. A stroll in the cool night air and some easy conversation would be good for him, help him clear his head.

“Rafe, you look unhappy. Are you all right?”

“I have a lot on my mind is all.” They stepped out and he took her arm. “It’s a beautiful evening, isn’t it? Autumn is the best season here in Chicago.” He liked Mrs Lempo, but Rafe didn’t want to talk about what was going on in his life. Instead they chatted about the weather, the new coffee house nearby and how time tended to fly as one grew older. Rafe, who had recently turned twenty-five didn’t quite have the perspective she did, though he wasn’t certain how old she was. She could have been a well-worn forty or a well-preserved two hundred for all he knew.

“The place is beautiful!” she was saying, talking about the coffee house. “You really should see for yourself.”

“I plan to, but when I’ve got a bit more time.”

“Oh you kids, you think so many things are more important than coffee.” She laughed. “I admit they don’t make coffee as well as I do, but the pastries are superb.”

“I’ll be sure to try it soon, I promise.”

They took a pleasant stroll around the block looking at the Halloween decorations. It was a popular holiday in the Chicago area, and a great many homes and businesses went all out to decorate. Grinning pumpkins watched them pass, and strange, half-glimpsed, and often unsettling things swung from tree branches above them.

Romeo did what he needed to do, which included chasing a large maple leaf that was skittering down the sidewalk, and Rafe returned to the apartment building feeling a little calmer. Mrs Lempo was good for his perspective.

Unfortunately, as they were entering the building, Rafe spotted Gavin’s car parked down the block and realized Gavin had parked there to spy on him, a notion that made him feel sick to his stomach. Was this what his life was going to be like? He thought seriously about marching over to the car and smashing the windshield with a rock. “There’s your answer!” he wanted to shout, and maybe smash Gavin’s face, too.

“You coming, Rafe?” Mrs Lempo was holding the door for him.

Anger gave way to brief, overwhelming despair. How could he live like that? How on earth could he allow Gavin to dictate everything he did, everyone he spoke to?

But then despair gave way to determination. As he rode upstairs with Mrs Lempo and Romeo, he decided he wouldn’t give in to Gavin’s demands without a fight even if it meant getting help from some dangerous sources.

Rafe walked Mrs Lempo to her door, which was just past his own. He told her he couldn’t let her walk the whole way by herself at this hour of the night.

She seemed amused. “You’re such a nice boy, Rafe. Could I interest you in a cup of coffee?” she asked. A glittery black wreath hung on her door, and Rafe thought he really should put up his own decorations, though he simply wasn’t in the mood to celebrate anything.

“Normally I’d say yes, but I know your coffee all too well, Mrs L. I wouldn’t get to sleep until December if I drank a cup now. ‘Strong as temptation, hot as Hell, and black as sin,’” he quoted, making her laugh.

“Yes that’s the way I like it, poppet. Where I come from, we all drink it like that. But I do have some half and half for the less adventurous.”

“Another time, thank you. Night, Romeo.”

The little dog yipped again and trotted into the apartment.

“Night, Mrs L.”

“Night, Rafe.”

Once safely inside his own apartment, he took off his jacket and went to fetch some salt and a photo of Gavin. He didn’t normally resort to this sort of thing, but living with Gavin was the worst fate he could imagine; going to Hell didn’t seem a lot worse, particularly in his circumstances. He drew a circle with the salt, sat down in front of it and began to chant.

“By my will I invoke thee, Agrimillit, by my will I call thee to my circle.” He couldn’t fight Gavin’s money and power, so if he needed to get help to level the playing field a little, he was willing to do it. “By my will I invoke thee…”

There was a fracturing of light within the circle and the funky smell he’d learned to associate with demon summoning. “By my will I call thee…” A flash of light blinded Rafe momentarily and as his vision cleared he saw the demon in all its hoofed and horned glory.

“Who invokes my presence?” it intoned. “Oh, it’s you, Rafe. What’s up?” The demon was looking down at Rafe, scratching the base of one of his curving blue horns with a wicked looking claw. Little licks of flame flickered across its head and shoulders.

“Shit, did you have to blind me?”

“Sorry, sorry. That light flash isn’t really working for me either; I can’t see a damn thing for the first few seconds afterwards.”

“Yeah that could be a problem.”

It’ll be out officially on Saturday but you can purchase it now if you want.  You do want to, don’t you?

I’m also attempting to update my website.  I’ve been having a hard time trying to find a web editor that I like and that likes me.  The free ones were quirky at best and at worst made me jump through hoops before I could publish.  I finally opted for a mid-price program that’s supposed to be easy but I’m not finding it to be quite as simple as promised.  Still, the project is coming along and I hope to have it finished by the end of the weekend.

In honor of that and the publication, I’ll be running a contest for a copy of Devil in the Details.  Stay tuned for details!

 

 

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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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