Author Archives: Marcella Burnard
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.
And good bye.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the blog having a series of difficulties resulting in fewer blog posts. It’s been a combination of several factors – technical, writing careers taking unforeseen (but lovely) turns, a few injuries that have since healed and assorted other life intrusions that have interrupted the flow. After some long, hard conversations, we’ve decided to pull the plug and turn out the lights.
Thank you for giving us your time. If you found a new author to enjoy via this site, each of us has a personal blog that a quick search will connect you to. If you’re interested in what I’m up to, you can find me every Friday blogging at Word Whores. It’s clean. Mostly. 😀 My much neglected personal blog is a collection of silly cat stories and tales about boat living and you are always welcome there.
We don’t intend to delete this blog just yet. We may, eventually, but in the spirit of ‘never say never’ we’re leaving it up to preserve the history and the name in case any or all of us find we suddenly have the bandwidth once more. We’re hoping we don’t – it means we’re writing more books. 🙂 We’ll see you in the book store!
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our US readers! It is the national four day holiday dedicated to eating too much, shopping, and football. 🙂 Okay. Not really. Or at least, the last two aren’t supposed to be the point. Family, tradition, giving thanks – those are the actual purpose of the holiday. I’m already at my parents’ house to help with the preparations for our (in theory) drastically pared down feast. We used to do the whole BIG meal: Turkey, Oyster dressing, squash casserole, green bean casserole, baked beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, rolls or biscuits of some kind, and finally, pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Every single year, that meal was followed by an emergency room run for me because of a blinding migraine. I finally worked out that turkey and the oyster dressing are migraine triggers. THEN my mother began adding salmon to the Thanksgiving feast. Just for me. But, you know, my folks are in their 70s. Neither my sister, nor I, have houses, thus there’s no place else to host Thanksgiving. I feel like my parents shouldn’t have to host – not at their age. So last year, we tried going out to Thanksgiving dinner. Not a success. We paid too much money for a solidly mediocre meal, though everyone agreed that trying to take the burden off of my parents was the right thing to do. We just didn’t know how to do that and still have food we liked. That we could afford. Then, late last year, my mother was diagnosed with Celiac. Do you know how many things have wheat and gluten in them?? So much for casseroles. We finally settled on a reduced menu that we made at Mom’s house for this year.It was supposed to be fried chicken (we have a wheat free, gluten free flour mix for coating the chicken), baked beans, Brussels sprouts and biscuits. Easy, right? That menu has since expanded. Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole (my sister found gluten free cream of mushroom soup…we’ll see), and mashed potatoes and gravy. Not the simplified, pared down meal prep I’d envisioned. And hey! We’ve already had one family holiday meltdown! 🙂 Still. I am grateful. I still have both of my parents to worry over. I spent Tuesday evening taking my sister’s 15 year old daughter to her first concert. We saw Bastille. It was awesome. I’m in a privileged position in that my family is healthy and happy. I get to do the thing I love most – write stories. I get to live where I want and in the alternative residence I love – even if hauling out the boat and doing the bottom stressed me in October. Worth it. And above all, I am eternally grateful for my readers. Whether you are in the US and celebrating this weekend or not, I wish all of you good health, prosperity, joy and peace. (This is from a Buddhist compassion exercise: May you have good health. May you have wealth. May you have great joy. May you know peace.) I’ll add in: May you have plenty of your favorite things to eat. 🙂
What’s the one thing your family holiday meals cannot be without? It used to be oyster dressing for us. Until the Celiac thing. Now it’s the baked beans. What’s yours? Pie? Turkey? Football?
Look what happens on Tuesday, November 18! The second book in the urban fantasy Living Ink series comes out.
After being kidnapped and forcibly Inked with a Living Tattoo named Murmur, Isa thought she’d survived the worst her enemies could throw at her. She was wrong. Murmur is walking around her world in someone else’s body, and without him, Isa is losing control of her magic.
Then, in the middle of rush hour, a Live Tattoo comes off its host, killing over a hundred people. Isa discovers that Murmur’s nemesis, Uriel – a demon she believed defeated – is responsible. He’s seeking the power to force his way back into Isa’s world. If he succeeds, everyone Isa loves will be destroyed. There may be a way to stop him, but it will mean sacrificing Murmur – or herself.
A brief excerpt:
A bus lay overturned across the westbound traffic lanes, surrounded by victims who would never rise again. Half of the back section of the double long, reticulated bus dangled over the water. Cars and trucks had been tossed like the blocks of a two-year-old in the midst of a tantrum. One was a fire truck, lights still flashing amid the crumpled, shredded wreck of red and chrome.
News helicopters hung high above the bridge, tottering back and forth in the air.
Dark fluid wet the concrete bridge deck.
Isa’s breath rose high in her chest as her shoulders tightened.
The visual shimmer of here-be-magic resolved into a huge, scaly, five-headed monster of Ink and magic. A hydra. An enormous myth with gleaming, rainbow-hued scales stood splay-legged across the decks of both the east- and westbound lanes. Claws, dripping unspeakable meaty globs of human remains, grasped an SUV. One of the heads bent and ripped the roof from the vehicle as if it were a pop-top soup can. The other heads darted in, picking the struggling driver and passengers out of their seatbelts.
The book is set in Seattle. The scene above is on the 520 floating bridge (if ever there was reason to find an alternate route…) In fact, the tea shop I like to write in got turned into Isa’s tattoo shop. The people who work seem to find the switch amusing – no word yet on what the owner thinks – if she knows. 😀
Happy Halloween! Have I ever posted my very favorite pumpkin recipe? Does it matter? Here it is. Again. Or for the first time. I can’t be trusted to remember.
MAPLE PUMPKIN PIE
1 can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP flour (though I’m wheat free – so I sub in a tablespoon of arrowroot with no problem or even just leave it out)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp maple extract (or maple flavor)
Mix it all up, put it in a pie crust or in custard dishes, bake at 350 until set (a pie take about 50 minutes, start checking small custard dishes at about 25 minutes). Cool. Serve with loads of whipped cream.
You can make this lower fat and lower calorie. Substitute low fat evaporated milk for the cream and something like Egg Beaters for the 3 eggs. It won’t be as velvety as the original, but it’s still awfully tasty.
What are your Halloween favorites? I’m always looking for more temptation!
Arg. I am SO sorry for losing not one, but TWO posts in a row. The first one – no good reason. But this last one? Reasons. Let’s begin here:
It’s never, ever a good thing to have to be dressed in this fashion. Yes. That’s me. Yes, it is possible I’m channeling my inner Martian. Or. This is what happened after a simple haul out (when you pull a boat out of the water to inspect and paint the bottom to keep stuff like barnacles from growing on it) turned into a fiasco. We discovered some damage that had allowed sea water to intrude into the structure of the boat. It meant that what should have taken three days ended up taking two weeks. In this case, I was dressed to handle some of the chemicals required for the job.
Of course, none of us could stay on the boat while the repairs were underway, so we moved me, my husband and three cats into the back bedroom of my parents’ house. My folks are the best.
But after two solid weeks of hard physical labor, lots of brain fry, and anxiety over when we’d ever get our home back in the water, last Thursday – MY day to blog – the boatyard put me on standby. I raced up there. They finally got the boat afloat at 11 in the morning, just as a windstorm was rising. I’d never helmed that boat solo in those conditions before. We were inside a marina so there were lots of other boats to hit if I got it wrong. Can you say terror? I could. I did. But dang if I didn’t get out of the sling and out of the marina without any issue whatsoever. Dad says I even made it look good. Never mind that my hands were shaking so badly I’d never have gotten ahold of the wheel again if I’d let go. We spent the rest of that day on the water taking the boat south to Seattle.
That wind storm that had me so freaked? Died. It was sapphire sky and water the whole way. We watched porpoise feeding in the outgoing tide. We dodged fishing boats and their nets and played chicken with a huge container ship. Spoiler alert: They win. No question. Ever. After seven hours on the water, it was time for another shot of abject terror – docking the boat. Again. Something I’d never done. Mostly because it’s usually my husband at the wheel and me on deck. This isn’t so much some sexist statement about who should skipper the boat – it’s that my balance on deck is an order of magnitude better than his. So we’d fallen into this unquestioned habit. Turns out, there’s a lot to be said for cross training.
Dad talked me into our slip and there it was. Docked on the first attempt. Didn’t hit anything. No blood. Nothing sank. And now we’re good for another three years.
Have you ever done that? Done something you didn’t know you could do until you had to do it? I’m interested because I think those kinds of things are some of the best, most empowering stories out there. I love hearing them. What’s yours?
So my lie two weeks ago? Number 3. Never auditioned in LA for pilot season. Everything else was true. 😀
Ah. Romeo and Juliet. How I loathe that play. It’s not at all romantic. And I’ve always been really curious about why my professors and teachers all insisted it was a love story when I suspect very, very strongly it’s actually about something else altogether. BUT. I’m supposed to write an ending here, not deconstruct the illusion that there’s something romantic about two idiot teenagers committing suicide after their first few sexual encounters with one another.
Romeo studied the still, silent face of his beloved. Almost, he believed he could die just from the searing pain in his heart. But no. It kept on beating. Kept on aching. It should have been impossible with Juliet dead. His fist clenched on the vial of poison. He’d take it. Swallow it and join Juliet in death. But first.
“Let me hold you one last time,” he murmured, drawing her limp form into his arms. Cradling her against his chest, he slid down the cold stone wall of the crypt until he sat on the floor, crooning meaningless, broken words into her sweet-smelling hair. His tears wet her face.
She sighed and snuggled closer.
He gasped. “Juliet?”
“Hmm?” Her eyes opened, but her gaze didn’t quite focus on him.
Laughing while still crying, Romeo hurled the vial of poison away. He kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her hair and finally, when she lifted a hand to brush the moisture from his face, her lips. And tasted the remnants of something bitter. He drew back. She met his gaze no reservation in her eyes.
“You got my message,” she said.
“What message? Juliet. You feigned death.”
“For you,” she said, pulling free and sitting up. “You could have taken my body out into the fields for burial. I would have returned to consciousness and we could have escaped. Together.”
He blew out a trembling breath and glanced at the dark stain his shattered bottle of poison had spill across the far wall. “This is unbelievable. I thought you were dead. I meant to die, too. So we could be together.”
“Don’t you ever do that,” she demanded. “I love you. I will love you whether I live or I die. I couldn’t bear to have you destroy what I love.”
“Then live,” he said. “For I love you more than I love the shattered life that is left to me. I can offer you nothing. No security. No luxury. Nothing of what you so richly deserve – a home, a life of laughter and ease.”
“We are prisoners to hate that is older than we are,” she noted. “I, for one, am tired of it. I have been for some time, but it wasn’t until I met you and learned to be daring and to take risks that I decided I wouldn’t stand for it anymore.”
A smile grew unbidden on his face and he stroked her hair. His body trembled when she leaned into the caress. “You are my lawfully wedded wife. I want what is best for you. I fear I am not it.”
“You are,” she said. “I gladly forfeit my inheritance, for the money is tainted by the feud between our families. I will have none of it. Get us out of the city. Then we’ll go to Cinqe Terre. A friend is building an import/export business there. She wants me to draw her products so that she may show her wares in distant cities without having to travel with them. It will not be luxury. But we will not starve.”
“Work?” Romeo said. He grinned and rose. They were alive. She wanted him. More than she wanted a life of pampered comfort. “I suppose at worst we know I could become a soldier.”
She took the hand he offered. He pulled her upright. “None of that,” she chided. “You’re promising to live for me. No soldiering. Have you considered teaching dance to young noblewomen?”
He laughed. “Let’s get out of here.”
Our theme for this week involves a bit of sleuthing on your part. Or guessing. Whichever you prefer. I will tell you three things. Two of them will be true. One will not. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out which of the three is the bald-faced lie and call me on it in the comments. First, a truth for free: I may have procrastinated this post because I have no earthly clue what to tell you. But here we go anyway.
You know I went to acting school. Here are three facts regarding what happened after graduation. Two true. One not. Which is which?
1. I’ve made twice as much money singing professionally as I ever did acting.
2. I appeared in Sleepless in Seattle, an episode of Northern Exposure, and some commercials for places that aren’t even in business any more.
There you go. What? You thought I’d make this about cats? 😀 Okay here. Your gratuitous cat photo of the day.
The Hulk. Maybe it’s some latent Beauty and the Beast kind of thing that appeals to me. Or more likely the psychological impact of a the Jekyll and Hyde notion that the ravening animal never lurks far beneath the veneer of civilization. I’ve followed the Hulk through comic books, TV shows – no, I won’t admit to how many iterations, and movies. Some of the movies sucked. Watched ’em anyway.
I love the cerebral scientist hero, struggling to contain or at least control the violent, raging monster lurking within. Yummy conflict. And I admit to having great fondness for the latest movie version. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk is, in my opinion, spot on, even if the movie gave us huge, gaping holes in the Hulk’s story. No. Seriously. Watch The Avengers again. First part of the movie, the Hulk IS this big, raging monster with zero control, zero awareness, just murderous fury bent on taking out Black Widow (my other fav). She escapes, he falls into some part of NYC and gets knocked cold. He morphs back into Bruce Banner, has a conversation with a random dude. And then the next time we see him, Bruce Banner has control of changing into the Hulk and the Hulk suddenly (and inexplicably) has control of his actions – he can and does direct his mayhem appropriately. Also. Somehow, the Hulk acquired a nice vocabulary. How many raging beasts do you know who can pull the word ‘puny’ out of thin air? (When he takes out Loki and walks away saying, “Puny god.”)
I suspect the scene(s) hinting at Banner winning some control over his transformation and his monster ended up on the cutting room floor. It’s too bad. Those are the scenes – the struggle between man and monster – that are most compelling. They’re what keep me coming back to the Hulk.
I leave you with a song by one of my favorite bands: Imagine Dragons. Could it be they’re Hulk fans, too? Or just familiar with the struggle?
Even though I have some concerns about inviting Isa and Murmur from NIGHTMARE INK to dinner, I would. But I’m not at all sure we’d eat inside the boat. The two of them in combination contain waaaay too much unpredictable power to have them contained inside something that would sink if they got into a battle over who got to control Isa’s body when.
See, Murmur is a demon. Sort of. Who got stuffed into Isa’s psyche in a bid for his freedom. Not that it worked out the way he’d planned. Isa isn’t the cream puff anyone had pegged her to be. So she’s not giving up her autonomy or her soul with a fight. It’s just a fight that has the potential to lay waste to an entire city block.
So why invite that kind of conflict and power into your home? Isa’s got an artist’s eye and a practical head on her shoulders. She loves animals, which means my cats would be right at home with her – once they got past the demon tattooed on her skin and soul. She’s lonely and sometimes awkward. Things I suspect we all know a little bit about. Underneath all of it is a dry sense of humor and a kind heart. What’s not to like?
Murmur, though, he’s harder to pin down. Maybe it’s because I like watching him experience this world through Isa. You never know how he’s going to react to some new sensory input. Not to mention that while it’s clear he’s willing to be an amoral mass murderer, something has happened to him that forced him to develop a sense of compassion. It’s clear he hates having it. But he does. Watching him vacillate between what’s expedient and what’s right is awfully interesting.
Still. This ends up putting a lot of pressure on supper. I doubt I’d go fancy, simply because Isa prefers simple food.
I’d grill up some fresh king salmon with butter and garlic while we sat on the dock in the sun. There’d be home made guacamole and chips, of course, because tomatoes are in season, finally. Corn on the cob because that’s also finally coming into season for us and corn is sacred in Isa’s tradition. Salad. Wine. Oh. Maybe not wine. Anything that blunts Isa’s will gives Murmur a chance to take control of her. That rarely goes well. So, yeah. Soda seems fine. Maybe tea.
Blueberries and cream for dessert, because the blueberry crop this year has been amazing. Beyond that, I’d probably steer clear of quizzing them about what would happen to the world if Murmur succeeds in taking over Isa. I suspect I wouldn’t sleep any easier knowing that answer.
What is it about the dark? You know the shill about how our brains are still living in caves, cringing in fear during the hours of darkness when humans switched from being the hunters into being the hunted. (A notion recently disproven via some genome comparison wizardry – though how our brains have changed and the effect on specific psychological traits has yet to be laid out precisely.) Sure, here at Darker Temptations, when we say ‘dark’, we mean metaphorical dark – you, our beloved readers rushing in where angels fear to tread, allowing our heroes and heroines to risk their lives, their sanity and possibly their souls by walking face first into whatever scares them. Werewolves. Vampires. Demons. All of the things that could possibly go bump in the night and sure, some us DO mean that in the filthiest way possible. Authors have, in effect, turned a flashlight on in cemetery and have domesticated the creatures that once terrorized people. Our heroines routinely cuddle up with their vampires and some days I wonder what makes that romantically attractive. Then I buy more vampire porn (as one of my friends calls PNR) and just enjoy reading the stories.
But our topic this week is Even *Darker* Temptations. Humanity is rife with some horrific, fetid darkness. We’ve watched terrible things happen this past week in a pair of wars that have turned humans in two different parts of the world into utterly inhuman monsters. Throughout the past two decades, we’ve seen multiple instances of one person reducing another set of humans (usually women and children) into nonhuman possessions. Our identity as humans has been built upon the basis of human sacrifice – the blood, bones and suffering of countless men, women and children throughout prehistory. We, as a species, are a damned scary bunch. The fascinating piece (to me) is the slide from rational homo sapiens in the modern, civilized world into the twisted, inky jungles of the mind. What do you suppose has to happen to a person to make ripping the beating hearts from peoples’ chests in an effort to stave off the end of the world sound like a good idea?
What does darker mean to you? Are there shadowy corners of human fear and/or experience you wish an author would address?