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An update is in order December 18, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in 2012 plans, a-writers-life-is-never-dull, Drum Mage, Heart's Master, Ta-da, to-dos.
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Since I finished Heart’s Master, I need to update the to-do list. So here’s the queue, going in to 2012.

I’m bumping Tales from the Arena down to the outline list,  because I need to figure out where that story is coming from and where it is going. Which means that my first 2012 project will either be the YA romance The Willow Sword, or diving back into Sea Prince with Danielle (who I worked with on Nomad’s Moon).

And I might spend the holiday break doing the outline for Holy Orders, which will be the next in the Drum Mage series. Yep, another Nick and Steven novel. Since I have them on the brain, planning out the next one might not be the worlds worst idea (especially since Holy Palmer’s Kiss is ALSO a Nick and Steven story!)

To Revise:

  • Holy Palmer’s Kiss (due end of January)
  • Heart’s Master

To Write:

  • The Willow Sword
  • Sea Prince (To be written with Danielle Jones)
  • Wanderer’s Moon (next book in the Midnight Moon series. Not to be done until we sell Nomad’s Moon)

To Outline

  • Playing For Keeps (short story to launch Tales from the Arena)
  • Coral Throne (sequel to Sea Prince)
  • Hidden Things (Mystere Book 1)
  • The Lady and the Sword (Mystere Book 2)
  • Ashes and Light (Mystere Book 3)
  • Tablets of Stone (Mystere Book 4)
  • Rainbow Wars (the teach-in idea. Definitely a  YA. And it needs a better title)
  • Holy Orders ( Sequel to Heart’s Master)

To Sell

  • Nomad’s Moon
  • Exile’s Moon
  • Infernal Machine (reprint, sent to Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica)

That’s a draft! December 17, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in happy-happy- joy- joy, Heart's Master, Ta-da, writing.
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Heart’s Master is complete! Well, the first draft is complete. And, just for grins, I went back into my files to take a look at when my first notes date from, and I realized that I’ve been working on this in one form or another for almost six years!

Final word count: 98,403



Holiday Cheer December 16, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in advent Calendar, Happy Holidays!, Heart's Master, short story.
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In honor of the holidays (whatever holiday you celebrate), here’s a holiday story that I wrote, and that appeared last year as part of the Circlet Press Advent Calendar. The main characters, Steven and Nick, are two of my favorites – the stars of my short story  The Hand You’re Dealt, and of Heart’s Master, the novel that I will be finishing today (Deus volent and the creek don’t rise…)

Have a happy whatever-you-celebrate!


Elizabeth Schechter
(copyright 2010)

“It’s coming down pretty hard here, Mom. Nick says that he can’t even see the car in the driveway, and he doesn’t think we’d be able to get off of our street, let alone to the airport…”

“Which, by the way, they just closed,” I heard Nick call from the other room. “Steven, nothing will be flying into or out of BWI for days, they are saying.”

“Did you hear Nick, Mom?” I asked. She had, but some maternal need to have me home for Christmas for the first time in six years, combined with Irish-Catholic guilt, required one more foray. Not that there was anything she could really guilt me about — Boston was currently bracing for their turn with the snowstorm that was burying Baltimore. But, she was my mother, and she had to at least try, for form’s sake. I sighed, “Yes, I know that Dad wants to see me. I wish we could be there…”


“Tell her we will come for Easter,” Nick said as he plopped down next to me on the couch. “We’ll come for all of Holy Week. I’ll change the tickets once I get back onto the computer.”

I coughed and covered the phone, muffling my mother’s delighted burbling. “Nick,” I whispered, “Do you know what you’re getting us in to?”

“I do. Talk to your mother.” He nudged me gently, and I shook my head and uncovered the phone.

“Mom, will that work for you and Dad? Having us for a week at Easter? Great. I’ll send the presents up as soon as we can get to the post office. No, really. I want to. Okay. Oh, Mirage is fine. Nick brought the snow-blower up onto the covered part of the deck, and he’s been going out every couple of hours to clear the snow off the rest so she can get out. Yeah, it’s going to be a mess come spring. Not much else we can do. Okay, Mom. Love you, too. Give our love to Dad.” I waited until I heard the phone click, then pressed the disconnect button and put the handset on the table next to the couch. “Nick, you’re sure about this?”

“Styopa, I was raised Russian Orthodox. Easter services started on Saturday night and ended at dawn. And involved a costume change. I can do heavy incense and Irish Catholic aerobics for an hour if it will make your mother happy.” He slid one arm around my shoulders. “You’re only just starting to talk to them again. I don’t want to endanger that.”

I nodded and snuggled into his side, listening to the hiss of the snow against the windows, and the crackling of the burning logs in the fireplace. It was still strange to me, having my parents talking to me again. Really talking, not just the furtive phone calls that I made at Mother’s Day and Christmas.

I suppose it really happened after Dad’s heart attack last summer. Mom had called us in the middle of the night to tell us that Dad was in the ICU, and wasn’t expected to make it. We’d caught the first flight to Boston, and while Nick and I were sitting at Dad’s bedside, that weird magic I still couldn’t control had flared up and taken over again. I wasn’t sure at the time what I’d done, but then Dad had made what the doctors all called a miraculous recovery. I was never going to tell him that it had less to do with miracles and more to do with me.

Once Dad woke up, things got little strange for me. Stranger, anyway. I mean, this was the man who had thrown me out on my ass for being gay. And there I was with my lover. What was I supposed to say to him?

It had been Nick who said it. Once Dad was out of the ICU, Nick escorted me to my father’s room, and without hesitation told my father that he loved me and that he wanted my father’s permission to marry me. My heart had just about stopped when I heard that, and I missed the rest of the proposal, which Mom later told me involved Nick giving his pedigree and his professional CV. Dad, with his usual irascibility, had thrown me out, telling me to go wait in the hall while he “discussed things with Mr. Rozhenko.”

Which was how I ended up engaged to be married. It was something that I still had to keep reminding myself — that come next June, Nick and I were going to be getting married. The reality of it all made my head spin. My father, not only welcoming me back into the family, but welcoming my lover in, too? And agreeing not only to my marrying Nick, but offering to host the ceremony in the backyard of the house where I’d grown up. I felt like I’d fallen down the rabbit-hole. And I wasn’t all that certain I wanted out.

Part of me was a little worried that I’d done something, changed something in my father. That when I’d healed the damage done by the heart attack, I’d also changed something in his heart. Nick keeps telling me that magic doesn’t work like that, that I couldn’t have brought out anything that wasn’t already there. That it was probably the near-death experience that had driven it home to my dad just how petty he was being, and how much he missed his only son. I hoped he was right.

I decided I didn’t want to think anymore and rested my head on Nick’s shoulder, breathing in the scents of the fire and the live Christmas tree that Nick had insisted on buying and decorating for me.

“Happy, mily?” he murmured into my hair.

“A little sorry that we’re going to miss Christmas with the folks,” I admitted. “But otherwise? Yes, I’m happy.” I tipped my head back, expecting him to kiss me. Instead, he ran his finger down my exposed throat to hook on the chain that I wore, the one that marked me as his. He tugged gently and laughed.

“Shall I make you happier?”

I smiled, “Is that a proposition, Kolya?”

“Do you want it to be?” This time he did lean down and kiss me, his arm around my shoulder tightening as he pulled me to him. I closed my eyes and leaned into him, sliding my hand up under his sweater and tugging on his undershirt. He laughed against my lips and pulled back. “Not yet, you don’t,” he said, pushing my hand down. He gently pushed me back and the couch shifted as he stood up. “Take your clothes off. I’ll be right back.”

(Read the rest here!)

Santa Baby… December 11, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in public displays of geekery, random thoughts.
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I wrote these a couple of years ago for a Mom’s group — we were talking about Santa and someone asked where Santa came from.


Way too much information on Santa Claus!

All right. Here goes (I can’t just let research lay and wait…)

Nicholas of Myra was a 4th century Greek Christian bishop in Turkey, who was renowned for his generosity. The famous example is when he broke  into the house of a poor, pious man in order to leave dowries for the man’s three daughters. Without the dowries, the three girls were going to be forced into prostitution. Nicholas is the patron saint of  children, pawnbrokers and thieves(!).

Now, the gifts come in from borrowing from the Germanic traditions. In  ancient Norse mythology, Odin Allfather is also called Jolnir, or the Lord of Yule. He is usually pictured as an older man with white hair and a long white beard, wearing a hat and carrying a staff.. Odin would ride his white horse, Sleipnir, across the skies on the Longest Night, and would leave gifts for the children who left treats out for Sleipnir. When the Norse became Christianized, the traditions kept on, but were  assigned to Saint Nicholas, who was represented in the iconography as an older man with white hair and a long white beard. Some of the oldest images of Saint Nicholas show him wearing a hat and carrying either a staff or a spear, and riding a white horse…

When the Germanic immigrants (German, Dutch and Belgian) came to the New World, they brought those traditions with them. The modern name of Santa Claus come from the Dutch Sinterklass (Saint Nicholas). The image of Santa in red is also Dutch in origin, where they depict him as a bishop in a long red cape, wears a white bishop’s dress and red bishop’s hat.

The images of Santa Claus became unified in the US after Clement Moore wrote “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (otherwise known as “The Night Before Christmas”) Santa’s history came from L. Frank Baum (yes, the man who wrote “The Wizard of Oz”).In 1902, he wrote “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus,” which you can now see occasionally as a Rankin-Bass Christmas special. And the very modern images of Santa are the direct result of a Coke ad from the 1930s.

You know, since I put in the anthropological Santa info, I should probably throw my two cents into the ring.

I totally believe in Santa Claus.


Now, let me back up and explain that. Santa Claus is, in my mind, an archetype. One of that timeless class of characters that lives on through the ages and shows up again and again in myth and literature. (Think Luke Skywalker and Han Solo – the innocent who becomes a hero and the rogue with a heart. Now, how many OTHER instances of hero and rogue can you come up with? See, archetypes.)

Santa is the universal father figure, the one who gives without expecting anything in return. In short, the heart and soul of the generous nature. As I pointed out in that other post, the Lord of the Yule predates Christianity by a good bit – and yet he’s STILL here. He hasn’t been abandoned the way so many of the other pagan gods have been. He’s been adapted. His name has changed, and his appearance, but I’m willing to bet the pre-Christian Norse would still recognize Jolnir. Because he’s at the heart the same. And I think he always will be part of this season, because we need him. We need that spirit of giving, because it also gives us hope.

I learned something this week. Publishing numbers are down, across the board. With one notable exception. Fantasy literature is UP. People are buying fantasy like they never have before. Quite possible because they need the escapism – why deal with things in this world when you can forget them by going to a world where things are all going to be better by the time you hit page 400?

Humanity needs faith, and it needs magic, and it needs something to believe in.  It always has, and it always will. And right now, the needs are especially great, when things are so… unsettled, and we’re learning that our heroes all have feet of clay, and the ones that we’re supposed to be able to trust have been laughing at us behind our backs. I think that’s why the election went the way it did – people NEED hope. They need to believe in something.

I believe in Santa. I believe in Jolnir. And I believe that the editor of the New York Sun had it right when he wrote back to Virginia:

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

(You can read the whole editorial here: http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/)