Valentine's Day is coming up, and while I'm not big on celebrating all the fuss (I'd rather get a random gift or declaration of admiration, thank you very much), I do love the hearts and flowers. Possibly because they brighten up the dulled grays and washed-out whites of a Michigan winter.
V-day also makes me think of dates, both good and bad. The one I'm posting here, I might have to put in a book one day and have Fiona give some comments about it.
She would not approve.
In my college years, when I lived in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, I once went on a date and a guy brought me some flowers. They were red and white, not 100 percent my taste, because I'm not wild about those deep red roses, but it was a sweet gesture. Until he told me they were plucked from a funeral home. I guess he'd been in town for his aunt's or uncle's funeral or something. That's where you self-edit, though. Bring the flowers. Don't say where you got them. Unless you know your date will find it awesome that the flowers you bring got to spend the afternoon standing next a an embalmed uncle, I say, leave it unsaid. (And I'm fully aware there are people who are into that, and that's fine ... it's just not me.)
Have you ever had a romantic gesture that fell flat? Feel free to share in the comments.
I was reading a review of another writer's latest book and the reviewer complained about what she thought was a too-common trope: The male gay best friend. Admittedly this particular writer (and many others) do have the gay best friend routine down.
I have a gay character or two in my Poppy books, too. Jordan Keep joined in the second book, Plenty of Trouble. I purposely didn't want to make him flamboyantly, stereotypically gay. Yes, he has some artistic flair and can make some fantastic store displays and arrange furniture like a dream, so I guess that's a bit stereotypical, but I didn't want a gay man mincing across the page.
I made some fantastic friendships in college, with mostly gay men. No one lisped. No one squealed or demanded glamming up. (Though my character Fiona might in many ways have a lot in common with stereotypical gay males, now that I think of it.) My friends usually liked what I considered really good dance music. (I mean, Madonna's Vogue or some Diana Ross disco jams ... bring it ion!) But otherwise these were guys who seemed mostly like any other guy, except they liked guys. In many ways they were like Max Blum from Happy Endings, but not likely to devour a deep dish pizza in one sitting and use the shirt they were wearing as napkins...
But this reviewer made some intriguing suggestions: Why not have a lesbian best friend? Or a gay lead character?
That would be interesting, I thought. I do have my gay Jordan and his boyfriend Ash. They just happen to be guys who date, and, yes, probably dress nicer than your average fellow, but they're not going to be rocking sequins and boas any time soon.
I also introduced the character of Meadow not long ago either. She's not really gay or straight, however. She has an affinity for sweets, and is drawn to people she finds to be sweet-natured. It doesn't matter if they're male or female. I kind of think of her fitting some nature vs. nurture theories: If we weren't nurtured into gender roles and expectations, would any of us be gay or straight? Tina would like Tammy. Tammy might one day like Tom. Tina would move on and date Sharon. And so on.
That's a post for another day, perhaps.
But a prominent lesbian character might be an interesting challenge. The wheels are turning. ...
Book 5, titled A Cold Spell, is done! I'm not as fast as many authors, but having written five whole novels feels kind of awesome, I'm not going to lie.
That said, it's not ready to publish yet. It's in the hands of my editor, who, I hope, with some not-so-gentle nudging, will have it done soon. Then it'll get cleaned up and given a couple final reads, and poof, book 5.
In this one Poppy and Roger go to his family cabin for a romantic winter getaway. After they return the area is hit by an ice storm. Roger needs to go back to survey and fix the damage. Poppy remains behind because she's got to hawk her wares at a festival.
When he returns, he's acting differently. Is it because they had a bit of tension over the pace of their relationship? Or is there something else at play?
In the meantime there will be an outing to Drag Queen Bingo and lots of mayhem at the Outhouse Races. (Yes, you heard that right... )
And Fiona, Poppy's outspoken mom, will be around. (Would she have it any other way?)
Stay tuned for some excerpts and other goodies, including some teasers for another book (or two) that I'm working on.
It's been a wild year, hasn't it? I'm nearly done with the fifth book, titled A Cold Spell. (I know. I've been saying that forever.) Set in the dead of winter, it's influenced by some mythology pertaining to fairies.
I've covered fairies (at least Pukas) before. I think I like the mythology. Plus my mom told me a lot of fairy stories when I was a child. Fairies and mermaids.
Shifters are popular in a lot of books, but I'm not a fan of shifters in fiction. Something about it irks me. I think the armchair shrink inside my head wonders if it's some secret desire for bestiality or something? (Ewwwwww.)
Though in northern Michigan, a shifter angle would be a natural fit. (Maybe I should do my own thing with shifters. A trout shifter with a witch who has lots of cats. Hijinks ensue! Or a deer shifter. Hunting season means no forest walks ... or a murder-mystery that turns out to be a hunter shooting a deer shifter. Hmmmm?)
I think that oddball angle could lure me in, but I don't know.
But, back to book 5: I'm not going to say what happens, but Poppy has another big problem brewing. (Duh?) This one is (hopefully) not so obvious to most, but she senses something is off in her day-to-day life. Eventually she'll figure it out, and have a scary battle (albeit just between her and a foe) to contend with. And the stakes are high.
How is everyone faring in the midst of this global pandemic? Hopefully everyone is hunkered down, safe and sound. And if you do get the COVID-19, may your symptoms be mild and the duration be brief. And hopefully we'll all be back to work and happily moving along soon.
In the meantime I can't help but think of my mother, the inspiration for my character, Fiona.
My mom loved to read up on disasters. In part it might be because she was born in 1937, in Germany, no less, and well, let's just say she saw a lot of shit as a kid.
She has a real zest for life, for exploring and traveling and trying new things. At least until dementia robbed her of the ability to travel so readily.
But she also liked to be prepared. In the 1980s she brought up the threat of nuclear destruction. How were we going to survive the fallout? (I'm still not sure that's a desirable outcome, to be honest.))
In the late 1980s and early 1990s she liked to bring up climate change. One day the ocean levels are going to rise, and temperatures will get more unpredictable. (Damn, she was reading up on some good sources back in the day. As for me, at the time I was a moody teen listening to goth-adjacent music and writing cruddy woe-is-me poetry, so the less said on that, the better.)
Later she liked to just go on about disasters in general. She was pretty calm after 9/11 but she did like to keep supplies on hand. An extra jug of bleach. Some extra beans and rice. If a snowstorm was imminent, let's get some meat, potatoes and onions, because it makes an easy soup. Especially potatoes. I cannot stress how much the woman loved her potatoes.
Now with people hoarding hand sanitizer and toilet paper, and bread and other staples flying off the shelves as we self-isolate, I think of her often.
I also can't help but think, if she could see what's happening now, she'd just light a cigarette, and nod her head knowingly.
She didn't, and couldn't, predict the coronavirus, but she always did like to say, shit sometimes happens. May as well be a bit prepared.
Did I listen?
I've got a few rolls of TP in the closet, and I've got some potatoes and canned goods in the larder. (Bought on sale, of course, because mom liked to stash a bit for a rainy day, and dad loved a deal. Actually, they both did. As do I.)
Stay safe everyone!
On June 15, 2019, my mother passed away.
She was 81, and in declining health, but she was a huge (huge!) inspiration for the character of Fiona Wheeler in my books. I could go on and on in tribute, and go wild with memories, but to be brief I'll just say a lot of her is in Fiona. Sometimes I make up the words that come out of her mouth and the situations that take place around her and the other characters, but honestly she's the easiest for me to write, because when I write about her, I just think "what would my mother say?" My mother, never being shy of offering an opinion, seems to "speak" freely from my fingertips.
I will add Fiona is a bit different from my mother (Fiona is born and raised in the U.S., while my mother was born in Germany and came to the U.S. in her 20s), but the opinions, the love of animals, the sometimes inappropriate comments, the love of sumptuous and flashy fabrics and sparkly things, that is all my mother. Honestly the best tribute I can make to her is to make her as loud and sassy and glittery as can be in my books.
The photo I've posted here is one of my mother from probably around Christmas-time 1989 or 1990. She found these sparkly stilettos and a feather-trimmed satin robe, and decided she needed to ham it up for the camera. It's a lot how I see her in my mind, too, except as a blond, because she would rotate hair colors a lot, but most frequently went back to being blond.
RIP, Mama. I'll always love you, and never forget you.
I haven't had a book out in a bit, but I have been steadily working. My fourth book is written and with the editor. I'll need to give it a final go-through after that, but I intend to work fast on that once it's back in my greedy palms.
That one's titled A Spot of Bother, and in it Poppy's ex (Scott) is having loads of problems trying to get his brewpub ready and open for business. I also introduce a couple new characters in that book, including a new addition to Poppy's world, and someone who may pop in and out, but she'll ultimately end up in her own series.
I am in the meantime working on book five. Initially it was going to be set in the spring, but an idea popped into my head so that one is set to the side for a bit. Book five, tentatively titled A Cold Spell, is set in January. Poppy and Roger go away for a romantic weekend, and when they return back to town, a nasty blizzard hits the area. Once the roads are clear, some other matters don't seem to be. I can't go into much more detail on that yet. But once I had this lightbulb moment, mapping it out became easy. A few changes will inevitably take place in the writing (as in, changes from my original outline), but I like where it's going. Hopefully my handful of readers will, too.
I do read up on so-called Up North legends and events, and some more ideas are coming for future books. There's a dog sled race that hits Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula each winter, and I'm thinking that one will have to get into a book or story. I keep imagining Fiona doing something with her two pet beagles and somehow magically boosting her dog sled. That's just a fleeting image in my head at the moment, but I'm certain there's some kind of dogsled race in their future.
I also discovered an annual outhouse race. It's not unique to the area, as I've read up on other communities doing them as well, but I'm definitely including that somewhere. More than likely in book 5.
I've also written a short on how Vanessa ended up getting hired. That one's titled The Witching Hire, and it'll come out close on the heels of (or preceding, I'm not sure yet) of A Spot of Bother. More than likely The Witching Hire will be free for a while and then rolled into a collection of shorts. (Yes, I have other ideas, including when Fiona briefly became Poppy's college roommate.)
So, I'm writing. Not as fast as I'd like (one day I hope I can do this full time and then publish faster, and multiple series), but words and stories are pouring out. The goal is to turn the trickle into a waterfall. Consider yourself warned
I've had an idea in the back of my mind for some time, for a series I'm calling Happily Hereafter. There aren't a lot of details to it yet, but I know this much: The main character's name is Catrina Shaw, and her magical talent is as a matchmaker. For ghosts.
I've been noting this or that detail, how Catrina does her job, where she lives, how she gets on with her landlord (not always very well), and so on, but as a launching point I'd been struggling.
And then, as I work on book four for my Poppy Blue series, the problem that is plaguing that gang in that particular installment, well, it suddenly came to me: Catrina would be the perfect person to contribute to the solution. I'm still writing Poppy's book four, titled A Spot of Bother, but I was thrilled when it came to me that Ms. Shaw's skills would be extremely useful pertaining to one troubling matter that needed a solution.
Unfortunately I can't say more. One, I don't want spoilers -- though mentioning Catrina's talents may be a giveaway, but there's the how and the where and the why, which should remain a mystery, and she may surprise me as I write (oddly, I sometimes feel like I'm channeling these characters, like they take on a life of their own in my mind) -- but two, I also am still developing it. But when A Spot of Bother is released, it'll be set during the Thanksgiving holiday, and readers will have a chance to meet more of Roger's family, a familiar character will return, and Poppy will be all over town trying to help a good friend who's dealing with a bad problem. Seeds are also being sown for some future developments as the series progresses.
And in the meantime, because I like to play around with design, I decided to mock up a cover for the first Happily Hereafter book. It's tentatively titled Diva de los Muertos, but I have no idea if that will stick. Being a writer and a bit of a goofball, the pun called to me. Plus I love sugar skulls and the whole Day of the Dead tradition, so there's that.
I'll post updates and snippets as A Spot of Bother comes closer to completion, and possibly a few other goodies as well, both pertaining to Poppy's world, and to Catrina's story. I hope you'll enjoy.
I've been running into Tarot cards a lot lately. A weekend excursion to a festival resulted in my husband and two other friends of ours making our way into a new age bookstore. I hadn't been in the shop in many years, but it was a lot as I remembered: crammed with books, incense perfuming the air, silver and semi-precious jewelry near the cash register, plus oils, little bags, candles and more. So much more. It's a place to get lost in, for sure.
One friend ended up purchasing a book on reading Tarot cards, and the shop itself had a massive assortment of different card types. I don't really know the craft. I've read a bit about it, but want to learn more. I only have one deck at home, and it's been looked at more than anything, as it's a Cat People tarot, and the art is beautiful and intricate. Perfect for someone like me, who loves cats and art.
But the Tarot keeps coming. I was proofreading a book for a client, and Tarot was referenced in there, too. And it keeps sticking in my brain.
One of my characters, Poppy, actually reads cards and palms in her magick shop, and I've long been wondering what deck she uses. Finally it came to me. She'd have designed her own deck. And since she likes herbs and studies the magical properties of plants, she'd probably have a deck of herb-inspired cards. From there I got to thinking that I want a crack at designing a deck of my own, as I'm also interested in plants, for their healing and magical properties, as well as their history.
I see a winter project in the works, with a rosemary card perhaps indicating memory, or a sage card pointing toward wisdom. I'm really just spitballing here, but it sounds like a fun, and dare I say enchanting, project.
Once I get some cards planned out, I'll share sketches here. I really love the idea of such a deck, where someone who relies in great part on instinct would concoct her own divination system from something that holds a lot of meaning to her.
Hi everyone. I just released my third book, Tricks and Treats, this week, but have the first one in that Poppy Blue series, Giving Up the Ghost, available for free today (8/16) on Amazon.
In Giving Up the Ghost, flame-haired witch Poppy Blue has some major magical talents, but is also encountering some major paranormal problems.
Sure, seeing and speaking to ghosts may be an amazing ability, but when one of the see-through set has plans for her ... oh, boy.
That's in addition to trying to get her love life (wait, what love life?) in gear and coping with her meddling mother. Click here or on the book image to purchase. And if you enjoy, two more are available (Plenty of Trouble and Tricks and Treats) and book four is in the works.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I'm Magenta Wilde, author of the Poppy Blue paranormal fantasy series, and the forthcoming Happily Hereafter series. Hint: It involves ghosts.