Friday, July 23, 2010


I sometimes get emails from people who want to know what happened to the third book of the Tuonela series, and they especially want to know what happens to the characters. And the baby! What about the baby?

My old publisher wasn't interested in a third book, and I seriously doubt I'll ever write it, so I decided to post this rough synopsis. Keep in mind that I write a horrible synopsis. This was more an outline written for my own benefit, and much of it won't make sense if you didn't read Pale Immortal or Garden of Darkness.

FYI: Digital versions of Pale Immortal and Garden of Darkness can be purchased through Smashwords.

Book 3 in the Tuonela series

Every tattoo tells a story. Of the land of the dead and the nightbirds. Of Michael Fontaine’s upcoming death.
Michael began tattooing himself in his early twenties. Now his body is a story of the past and the future, the story of Old Tuonela and new Tuonela, of dark events yet to unfold. "Don't love me," he tells women. Not because he won’t stick around, not because he isn’t interested, but because he knows his days are numbered.

Evan Stroud and Rachel Burton have at last found happiness and are living a relatively normal existence in spite of Evan’s disease and his allergy to sunlight. But Evan and Rachel’s newfound fragile relationship is built on unstable ground. Evan has more than a disease -- he is part revenant and part Pale Immortal, and he keeps his dark side suppressed with drugs. Rachel is in denial about her own lineage and their baby’s aversion to light.

Evan’s father moved back to Florida, and Evan and Rachel have returned to the house in Tuonela, the house on Benefit Street. Alastair Stroud’s job as Chief of Police was filled by a young outsider named Michael Fontaine.

One evening Evan and Rachel go out for dinner. Upon returning home, they find the sitter dead and their baby kidnapped.

After baby Aiden was born, Evan and Rachel discussed leaving Tuonela to start over in a new town with new names so the baby could have a normal life. But in the end they decided the child was safest in Tuonela where everybody understood their situation and for the most part accepted it. Wrong decision.

Graham Stroud and his girlfriend Isobel are touring prospective colleges when Graham gets the news that Aiden has been kidnapped. He drops everything and returns home to Tuonela.

Police Chief Michael Fontaine has secrets of his own. He spends his evenings tattooing his flesh with the visual story of Old Tuonela, a story that his police uniform hides. From the time he was a small child he drew pictures of people he didn’t know and a place he’d never seen. When he got older he apprenticed under a tattoo artist and began tattooing his collection of images on his own flesh. Research finally placed his family in the area of Old Tuonela at the time of the mass exodus, and he realized the images and people were from that dark past. And he suspects he might be a descendent of the Pale Immortal, descendents he calls nightbirds. Outsiders, lost souls who walk in two worlds.
How many of them are there?

Kidnappers leave clues and ransom notes, but they are nothing more than false leads meant to keep any remaining legitimate police tied up with misinformation. Aiden is safe and alive, hidden underground, below Tuonela.
Fontaine is active in the investigation, but Rachel doesn’t trust him. Not only is he an outsider, she senses that he has secrets. Dark, deep secrets, and she even suspects that he may have been involved in the kidnapping.
But Fontaine is innocent.

The mayor of Tuonela is behind the kidnapping and murder. He knows the baby is the offspring of a revenant and the great granddaughter of the Pale Immortal himself, and he knows the child is the key to a race of immortal beings. He’s convinced he’s doing what’s best for the child and what’s best for the town. He’s hiding the baby from darker powers while a team performs tests on the infant hoping to unlock the secret to their own immortality.

Tuonela corruption runs deep. The mayor and his helpers fake the infant’s death with the body of a dead baby they’ve robbed from a grave. Many of the townspeople are in league with the major, and by switching DNA they are able to “prove” that the dead infant is Evan and Rachel’s child. At the funeral the mayor tells the grief-stricken couple that they must move on, and that they can have more children. Evan refuses to accept that the child is gone, lunges for the mayor, but is stopped by the sunlight.

Evan, who belongs more to the land of the dead than the land of the living, controls his darker cravings with the constant sedation of powerful drugs. The kidnapping and death of his child sends him spiraling into despair. The drugs are abandoned and he becomes the one he has always feared becoming – the Pale Immortal. Even his love for Rachel isn’t enough to save him this time. He vanishes into the darkness, and his shadowy form is spotted along country roads and in the heart of Tuonela. The townspeople are terrified and no one remains on the street after the sun goes down.

Kristin Blackmoore came to town for the funeral, and ends up drawn to Michael Fontaine. She spends the night with him, but doesn’t see his tattoos because he insists upon having sex in the dark. She has died more than once in her young life, and something about Fontaine speaks to the part of her that has experienced the other side.

In the morning, Fontaine is dressed in his uniform when Kristin wakes up. But as his fingers nervously hurry over shirt buttons, she catches a glimpse of black ink and he finally lets her see what his clothes have been hiding. Skin as art. Skin as history.
Every tattoo tells a story….

Rachel begins to feel uneasy and distrustful of the DNA test results, and asks that her child’s body be exhumed. When she can’t get permission, she and Graham dig up the infant’s body in the middle of the night. She takes DNA samples, sends them to the lab, and discovers that the baby is no relation. Which gives her hope that her child is still alive.

She tries to find Evan to tell him the news. She can feel him watching her in the woods. He attacks. The information about the baby means nothing to him. He is no longer Evan but some mad creature. Rachel escapes, and once home she begins to plot how she can catch Evan. It will take light and restraints. A cage to lock him up.
Evan is no longer Evan, but a being very close to the Pale Immortal. He attacks a young girl and is arrested and put in jail by Michael Fontaine.

Fontaine has very little space left on his body, but he adds one final tattoo – this of a dying man with nightbirds above him, waiting to carry him off.
Fontaine discovers the mayor is behind the kidnapping. He knows he can trust very few in Tuonela, so he decides to enlist Evan’s help. Unsure if drugs will subdue Evan’s darker side, he sedates him and waits for signs of a change.
Could this new person be the old Evan? Or evil in disguise? Fontaine takes the chance. He and Evan rescue the baby, but Fontaine is killed, his premonition coming true. The mayor and his henchmen are arrested.

When Fontaine’s body is on a slab in the morgue, Rachel discovers the tattoos. The history of Old Tuonela. The great exodus. The birth of her child. Fontaine’s death.
And people. Many other people. The undead. The nightbirds.

Every tattoo tells a story.

Evan will write the history and the truth of Tuonela. It is time. All secrets will be revealed. And more people like Fontaine will come, looking for answers, looking for their roots.
And many will stay.

Author’s note:
If you are someone fortunate or unfortunate enough to find Tuonela on a map—and if you go there—you might really be returning home. You might be a descendant of the Pale Immortal.

Monday, July 19, 2010

You Don't Complete Me

A lot of people have asked me what I'm working on now that the memoir sold. Good question. I've been vacillating between another memoir and literary suspense. Can't decide, but leaning a little more toward another memoir, one that would focus on growing up in southern New Mexico during the Vietnam war, the setting a town located between Roswell and White Sands Missile range where the first atomic bomb was tested. The story would cover four or five years, kind of a dysfunctional Freaks and Geeks. But I'm having trouble nailing down a main theme. Have some ideas, one would be to focus on people who marry the wrong person, and the reasons behind such destructive decisions and the far-reaching impact such decisions can have. And how children have a tendency to repeat the choices made by their parents, not recognizing the same patterns in themselves. This would also explore the loss of true self that goes along with many relationships.

The suspense involves an injured cop on sabbatical who questions her decision to abandon her true passion to go into law enforcement. While recovering from injuries, she uncovers a mystery from her childhood. (Don't want to go into too much detail here.)

I know it's early, but I"m putting together a blog for The Orchard. Although I guess it's not that early, because galleys will be going out in just about a year. Can't believe that!! Does it look okay? Especially in Internet Explorer? (I have a Mac, so I don't use Explorer.)

The Orchard

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A new writing contest at The Clarity of Night! These contests are always so much fun, and it looks like Jason has really outdone himself this time.

From Jason's blog:

In one mere (less than a week now!) week, the "Uncovered" Short Fiction Contest will open here at the Clarity of Night! It will be my lucky 13th contest!!

And this one is special. (Of course, they all have been.)

We will be welcoming Stephen Parrish and his debut novel, THE TAVERNIER STONES. Stephen is an old salt of the blogosphere, and we're lucky to have him join us in the festivities. The contest theme and photo is inspired by his novel, which opens with the discovery of a 300-year-old corpse holding a massive ruby. Is it one of the lost Tavernier Stones? Are you ready for a treasure hunt??

Because, get this. With the very kind assistance of an anonymous donor who loves writing, the prize pool is downright MASSIVE for this contest. In total, $290 and two signed copies of THE TAVERNIER STONES is on the line. There is a $100 prize for first place alone! Not bad for 250 words, my friends. Not bad at all.

So stay tuned, get thinking, and spread the word. The last contest was huge enough with 237 entries and tens of thousands of visits. You are NOT going to want to sit out on this one.

July 19th. Then 10 days to enter.

The clock is ticking.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Couldn't resist!

I write like
Jack London

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Oddly enough, this is the second time my writing has been compared to that of Jack London. The first was in a recent review of The Lineup, Poems on Crime. I don't think I've ever read any Jack London.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I use google reader to keep up with blogs, and if your blog has no way to add you to my reader then I'm most likely not reading you. When I first began blogging, I didn't mind visiting blogs, making my daily rounds to see what others were up to. I didn't mind signing up for email updates. I don't do that anymore. Occasionally I'll visit a blog I haven't seen in a while, thinking to add it to my google reader, but I'll then realize no RSS feed exists. Or if it does, I can't find it. If your blog has no way for me to add you to my reader, I'm probably not reading your blog.

Do you use some type of reader to follow blogs? Or do you just drop in on your favorite blogs to see of anything new has been posted?

Thursday, July 8, 2010


My Smashwords stories

When I first started doing this, my Amazon sales were much greater than my Smashwords sales. Well, in fact I had stories sitting at Smashwords for months without any purchases. But now I'm selling four times more at Smashwords. I'm not going to say I'm selling a lot, but I can definitely see a fairly rapid increase. But of course I'm also putting more titles on Smashwords, but for the same title (Pale Immortal) I am now seeing slightly more sales at Smashwords.

I just uploaded Play Dead last night. Have to admit it's my favorite Frasier title. Love Savannah, love spells, love characters who believe in that crazy stuff. My short story in the Once Upon a Crime anthology featured the same characters, and last night I was thinking how I'd love to write another Elise Sandburg, David Gould book. Don't think that will happen, but I'd love to do it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Signed the contract for the Halloween anthology!

Yesterday I met with Norton Stillman, the publisher of Nodin Press. If you haven't heard of Norton, you may have heard of The Bookmen, the adored and much missed book distributor. Booksellers loved The Bookmen, and waayyy back in 1988, I bought cases of my books from The Bookmen because Norton and his brother gave booksellers and authors such fantastic deals. Most publishers don't allow writers to resell their books unless purchased through a bookstore or a distributor. The Bookmen gave writers and booksellers such a good deal that writers could actually afford to buy and resell their own titles. But after four decades, The Bookmen were forced out of business. They closed their doors in 2002, and booksellers and writers alike still mourn the loss.

The Bookmen warehouse was turned into lofts.

Nodin Press is located directly across the street from the lofts in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis not far from the new Twins stadium. When I arrived at Nodin, Norton was on the phone, hidden behind the floor-to-ceiling boxes of Nodin Press titles, and a Twins game blared on a radio that wasn't quite tuned to the correct station.

The anthology, which still needs a title, will be released September 2011. We talked about holding signings at Halloween festivals around the state. I'm already excited!

Contributing anthology authors:

Bill Cameron
David Housewright
Jason Evans
J.A. Konrath
Heather Dearly
Julia Buckley
Kelly Lynn Parra
Linda Rigel
Marilyn Victor
Mark Hull
Leandra Logan
Pat Dennis
Patricia Abbott
Paul Brazill
Michael Allan Mallory
Shirley Damsgaard
Stephen Blackmoore
Lance Zarimba
Paula Fleming
Anne Frasier

Story descriptions:

1. J.A. Konrath, Mr. Spaceman

A hooker ends up in an encounter of the strangest kind when her client turns out to be a new-in-town alien who has one thing in mind: making babies.

Joe is one of the funniest people I know, and his humor is evident throughout this delightful story. Laugh-out-loud-funny.

2. Bill Cameron, Sunlight Nocturne

Ex-cop Skin Kadash spends Halloween day building a bat house with his neighbor, four-year-old Danny, while helicopters circle overhead looking for a murderer who might be hiding nearby. This wonderful story skillfully contrasts a lazy fall day with a brutal murder and police search. Bill Cameron writes crime fiction, and is the award-winning author of Lost Dog, Chasing Smoke, and Day One.

3. Pat Dennis, Dead Line

Sibling rivalry and a suburban Halloween decorating contest cause Kate to take a pitchfork to her sister’s yard display. As she dismembers a stuffed goblin, she discovers that her annoying husband needs to be taught a lesson. Pat is a stand-up comic, popular writing instructor, publisher, and published author.

4. Marilyn Victor, The Ogre of Her Dreams

Fledging witch Aurora Piddleworth wants a soulmate, but when she blackmails instructor Olympia Dalrymple into creating the man of her dreams, he turns out to be an ogre who lavishes attention on the young witch and won’t give her a moment’s peace. The spell cannot be undone, yet Aurora agrees to go to extreme lengths to banish the new beau from her life.
This is a clever, well-drawn, delightful story from beginning to end. Marilyn Victor is half of the crime-fiction writing team of Marilyn Victor and Michael Allen Mallory, known for their zoo mysteries.

5. Patrica Abbott, The Angel Deeb

When a pickpocket begins to grow wings, he finds himself contemplating a new line of work. If you’ve never read Patti Abbott, you’re in for a treat. Patti is truly one of the best short-story writers around today.

6. David Housewright, Time of Death

A young girl under arrest for the brutal murder of her cheating boyfriend attempts to convince the investigator that she is innocent, claiming the murder was committed by a ghost. David is an Edgar-winning author, and writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

7. Stephen Blackmoore, World’s Greatest Dad

By the time Franklin Delacorte wakes up, he’s been dead six hours and is unsure of how he feels about his sons turning him into a zombie. When Franklin begins behaving...well, like a zombie, the boys feel compelled to undo what they’ve done. But Daddy knows best, and Franklin doesn’t want to stay dead.

Stephen Blackmoore has an uncanny skill for writing black humor, and World’s Greatest Dad is a hilarious zombie tour de force. Stephen recently signed a two-book deal with Daw.

8. Shirley Damsgaard, Bewitched

So what if you don’t have the right ingredients to cast a spell? Rachel buys a magic book from an antique store and uses household ingredients to bring Mr. Right back into her life. Only Mr. Right turns out to be Mr. Wrong. Shirley is the author of the popular Ophelia and Abby mysteries.

9. Lance Zarimba, Fangs and All

It’s love at first bite for Billy Joe Jim Bob when he brings his first vampire home in this hilarious and deliberately cliché-packed story. Lance is a multi-published author.

10. Leandra Logan, You Called

A bitter, lonely woman spends Friday nights drinking cheap wine and entertaining herself by redialing the days unanswered calls to harass telemarketers. She finally meets her match when a mysterious man answers one of her calls. Leandra is a multi-published, bestselling author.

11. Julia Buckley, Motherly Intuition

A mother’s job is never done, and death is no reason to keep Daphne’s mother from looking out for her daughter. Julia Buckley always delights, and Motherly Intuition is a great showcase for her charm and humor. Julia is author of the Madeline Mann series.

12. Anne Frasier, The Replacement

After a young man is reanimated, he has forty-eight hours to find a replacement for his empty grave if he wants to remain above ground. The best candidate for replacement is the man who murdered him. Anne is a USA Today bestselling author, and recently sold a memoir to Grand Central Publishing.

13. Jason Evans, She Came on the October Wind

A stray black cat appears nightly at Natalie’s window, bringing with it memories of a sister who ran away years earlier. Jason is the author of the blog, The Clarity of Night, where he hosts and judges a popular fiction contest.

14. L.K. Rigel, Slurp

Feed your Muse takes on a whole new meaning when a writer has a breakdown just as trick-or-treaters arrive at her door. A wicked, fresh, and clever tale by an emerging writer.

15. Kelly Lynn Parra, Graveyard Soul Sucker

It’s Halloween, and group of college students visit a graveyard in an attempt to reanimate a dead serial killer with a ritual found in an ancient book of spells. Kelly Parra is the award-winning author of Graffiti Girl and the more recent Carina Press release, Criminal Instinct.

16. Heather Dearly, Troubled Water

The anniversary of two deaths brings about the return of the Grim Reaper to Anya Madjigijik’s house on Cemetery Road. A haunting, moody, and beautifully written tale by this previously unpublished author.

17. Paul D. Brazill, This Old House

If you want a job done right, do it yourself. Or in the case of This Old House, never hire an idiot to burn down your home. A plot to collect on homeowner’s insurance goes horribly wrong when the man hired to carry out the deed gets his holidays confused. Paul lives in Poland, and has quickly established himself as a masterful short-story writer.

18. Michael Allan Mallory

19. Paula Fleming, Tricks, Treats, and Terror in Tin Lake

Halloween is the one day of the year when alien Adeela can shed her costume and walk freely among the humans. Until someone burns down her house.

Paula Fleming is a short-story writer and busy freelance editor living in Minneapolis.

20. Mark Hull, Friday Night Dining with Marianne

It’s Halloween, and a food critic finds herself dining on chubby Boy Scout, mountaineer eyeballs, and sea monkeys. As Marianne finishes her meal, she decides the mysterious restaurant is the perfect place to bring an annoying associate. If Bram Stoker had written comedy, it would look exactly like this. Mark Hull’s Friday Night Dining is pure charm and delight from beginning to end. Mark is a contributor to The Rake, a Twin Cities lifestyle magazine.