Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spreading Holiday Joy One Video at a Time...





It's Adopt-a-Fox day at the Witchychicks henhouse, so I thought I'd stick with the holiday theme for today's treat.

For everyone's information, I did search for Christmas videos of Hugh Jackman and James McAvoy, but didn't find any. All of the fine fan-videographers out there need to get on the stick!

Love to all,


Mad {madly!}

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside...



I must admit, the local Wal-Mart has never been one of my favorite places, but it serves a purpose. This afternoon I had to venture out in the cold to do some grocery shopping, so off I hied myself, sans children, and sans poochays. Being without one or the other of the two choices can prove a rare event for me, enough to make even Wally World appealing, so I was determined to enjoy my time. I made a point of meandering through the Christmas area, checking out all of the new-and-improved LED lights--seriously cool {and I think that's the point! LOL...}, selecting wrapping paper and curling ribbon, trying to remember whether anyone needed a new stocking this year. And then, because it's something I think I do nearly every shopping trip this time of year, I swung by the big stands of Christmas music to search for new offerings.

I love, love, love Christmas music. There is something about it that makes the season feel real to me, even when I'm not exactly in the holiday spirit. I love the oldies, by artists such as Nat King Cole and Burl Ives, and I love the new and fresh, too. Certain songs bring memories of long ago rushing back to me, crystal clear in the blink of an eye. Silver Bells. Silent Night. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. Sleigh Ride. Love, love, love. I came home with a Very Special Christmas CD set that I had managed not to pick up before, so I consider the shopping trip a roaring success.

And movies. Christmas movies galore. Anything that features a Christmas setting within it at some point in time qualifies, in my mind. All of the kid favorites, of course, like Home Alone and Elf and Muppet Christmas Carol and The Santa Clause, and then there are the ones that cater more to the adult audience. Besides the old favorites, like Christmas in Connecticut and White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life, I love the newer ones like Love, Actually and Serendipity and even Funny Farm. Mood movies to put you in a holiday frame of mind, necessary when one is decorating the house or making designer Christmas cookies or wrapping presents.

Back to Wal-Marting. {Yes, that's a verb. At least it is around here.} Upon leaving the store and braving the danger zone of a parking lot, I found that even the weather was conspiring to ferret out the holiday spirit in even the Scroogiest of Scrooges. An inch of the finest of snowflakes covered the ground, with more coming down all around, blowing and billowing in freshets of wind. With everything loaded up for home, I stood beside my car for a long moment, eyes closed and face raised to the sky as the wind and icy flakes scrubbed away any residual worries I might have been holding onto. I popped my new CDs into the stereo and blasted the music all the way home, where vegetable beef stew was simmering away in the oven. Yum.

And it's still snowing . . . Yay!!

I think I know what I want for Christmas this year, and it doesn't come with a price tag attached. Do you have your heart's desire fixed in your mind?


Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another View From Castle Alt

Three months ago, I was fairly certain we had all the pets we could handle. With two high-and-mighty Meezer girls and Daisy, a lovable, goofy, anxiety-driven Lab Shepherd mix who acts up when left alone for more than fifteen minutes, but is so contrite afterwards that you cannot stay mad for long . . . well, it's enough to keep any household busy. I think we should own stock in the Dyson company . . . the company that manufactures Swiffers . . . the companies that whip up pet enzyme cleaners . . . the company that bottles Febreze . . . the companies that make Pedi Paws and Scat Mats and those wonderful lint rollers. {Note, I didn't look up said companies. No time. I'm too busy cleaning up all the messes.}
Well, one day in August, one of the neighborhood boys dropped by with a puppy he'd found several blocks away, but which he was certain was homeless and on the brink of extinction. He was a cute little guy. A rat terrier, feisty as all get-out, rather like the Energizer Bunny on a caffeine buzz. But somehow the puppy became our responsibility, since the little boy's father didn't want it at their house, and one look into my nine-year-old's eyes told me there was no way we could take it to the shelter. Not that I could, either. Our local shelter doesn't have the funds to be a No Kill shelter, and his little puppy face would have haunted me forever, not knowing whether he'd been adopted out or not. So we kept him. You know. Just until we were able to find his owners. Just to be sure he was safe and sound.
No owners could be located. Overjoyed, my nine-year-old immediately named him Leo. Which is short for Leonidas , but honestly, I had NO INPUT. Honest.
My Meezer girls couldn't appreciate him. He bounced around too much for their peace of mind. I tried to tell them that he only wanted them to like him, but when he nibbled on their ears and tails and barked at them to come and play, I'm not sure they believed me.

Note the sneer?


Daisy eyed him with curiosity, but also a little confusion. She had gotten used to a very sedate and sleepy existence, livened up by daily walks and an occasional chase up and down the stairs with the cats. Leo ran circles around her, climbed on her, chewed on her ears and her jowls and her belly. He decided that, since he was the only male pet in the household, he should be the Alpha. The girls, naturally, disagreed with that assessment. Every last one of them decided to put the little guy in his place.

All-out war ensued.

While eventually acceding defeat {three against one, such unfair odds!}, Leo has proven incredibly resourceful. The Meezers he likes to keep on their toes . . . on the shelves . . . on the tables . . . on the nearest available human shoulder . . . Or maybe it's just that they prefer looking down at him in sneering disgust to being down on his excitable, playful, rascally level. They know they are the true queens of the household, and never let a chance go by to remind him of that. Daisy has adopted him as her own and lets him have his puppy way with her, serving dutifully in many roles: Chief Chew Toy, Chief Rodeo Clown, Chief Playground Supervisor, keeping him in line with the smackdown of her paw or by sitting on him, and then in quieter moments, Chief Ear Washer and Chief Snuggle Pillow.


Daisy is really good at snuggling. She also makes a good nose warmer.


Leo's not always Mr. Energizer Bunny, though. He does have quieter moments, especially when he doesn't have the girls to distract him. I even managed to capture one.

See?

So, somehow we managed to acquire a fourth furry friend, one who is disrespectful to my furniture, my floors, my shoes, and likes to raid the laundry basket and strew his booty all over the floor. And yet . . . I still kind of melt when he insists on cuddling.

I don't think he's going anywhere anytime soon. Do you?

Love to all on this snowy November afternoon,


Mad {madly!}

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bewitching Watch 2008 has begun!

Good evening, dear ones! Can I just say, I'm baaaaaaack . . . with a vengeance?

What an October! Finishing a manuscript in a blind haze of fury, losing my internet connection for-freaking-ever . . . it's all in a day's work.

But . . . BUT . . . I do have it on good authority that

{Mad clears her throat, ever so delicately}

WE HAVE HAD SIGHTINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Actual, honest-to-goodness, verified sightings of NO REST FOR THE WICCAN, hanging out on bookstore shelves with all the usual stellar company!

That's right, folks. Bewitching Watch 2009 has begun!

Post your own sightings in the comments below, if you like. Or not. I'm easy.

I was even able to hold a copy this afternoon, thanks to my beloved editor, who so thoughtfully FedEx'd one to me, hot-off-the-press. It's beautimous. And on Wednesday I'll be hitting a few of the area bookstores to see if I can find it on the shelves.

So, dear ones, go forth and do a little Bewitching Watching on my behalf? :-)

Oh! And have a happy and safe Halloween and a very blessed Samhain...

Love to all,


Mad {madly!}

Official Release Date: 11/4/08

{but the sightings have begun!!! Woot Woot!!!}

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Event: Mad & Kristy Put the Normal Back in Paranormal

Madelyn Alt and Kristy Robinett
~~ Putting the Normal Back in Paranormal ~~

National bestselling mystery author Madelyn Alt and internationally renowned Psychic Medium Kristy Robinett are just your average, everyday girls . .. . who share a unique approach to life that includes dealing with the supernatural. But they like to think that's part of their charm!

Have you ever been curious about the paranormal, but are put off by subjects and/or presenters that don't fit into your comfort zone? Want to know if what you've experienced fits into the psychic realm? Have you lived with ghosts and want to know a little bit more about how to live comfortably with them? Or are you perhaps interested in writing the paranormal, and want tips or advice from a successful author in how it's done? You won't want to miss this event.

In celebration of the upcoming release of the 4th book in Madelyn's Bewitching Mysteries, NO REST FOR THE WICCAN, we invite you to join Madelyn and Kristy for a spooktacular event that will include Madelyn speaking about her National Bestselling books and Kristy discussing an array of topics, including that of growing up in a haunted house and what you can do if you are haunted. She will also conduct an audience reading where she will relay messages from the other side.

When: November 8, 2008 from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Where: South Lyon Hotel
201 N Lafayette St
South Lyon, MI 48178

The South Lyon Hotel was built on a cemetery…now how spooky is that?

Who: Madelyn Alt and Kristy Robinett

Cost: $35.00 per person

Visit http://www.kristyrobinett.com to purchase tickets via PayPal.

(Food and Drinks are NOT provided in the ticket purchase, but available at a reasonable cost).


Madelyn Alt

Madelyn Alt is the national bestselling author of the witchy and hip Bewitching Mysteries, published by Berkley Prime Crime. These Bewitching books features small town single girl and fledgling empath Maggie O'Neill, her witchy boss, and an unlikely circle of ghosthunting friends, the N.I.G.H.T.S., as they investigate an increasing level of paranormal disturbance–not to mention a series of unrelated murders–in Maggie's hometown of Stony Mill, Indiana. In other words, they are: "Mysteries…. with Hex Appeal.."

A late-blooming sensitive/intuitive, Madelyn writes from her home, an 1870's era Victorian in northeast Indiana, which she shares with an extraordinary number of persons of the male persuasion of assorted ages and sizes, two Siamese cats who rule the roost, and a Shepherd-Lab sweetheart who is only too happy to let them.

So what's a nice girl like me doing writing about ghosties, ghoulies, and things that go bump in the night? Truth is, I've always been intrigued by the paranormal. I've experienced many things throughout my lifetime that have fueled that interest, not to mention experiences shared with me by others, people whom I trust. Isolated incidents can be explained away; these are not isolated incidents. They are also not the kind of things that can be proven easily by scientific methods. While that might sound like a pat answer, I've never been convinced that science has enough technology to have the right to pooh-pooh everything away. It seems the height of arrogance to say that we have all the answers.. The fact is, people are experiencing things that their logical minds want to explain away, but can't. That's not to say that science and the mystical won't some day coexist happily and sensibly, but until that day I think it's possible we're not meant to understand everything. Not yet.

The most important thing about life is the journey. Only at the end should we be able to look back and make sense of the lot of it. Part of the beauty is in the mystery.



Kristy Robinett

There's no flowing gown. There's no crystal ball. There's just Kristy Robinett, Psychic Medium and Life Counselor - an 'Abnormally Normal' all American girl that talks to the dead.

Kristy's involvement with the paranormal began at the tender age of 3 when she began playing and speaking regularly with spirits, labeled "imaginary friends" by her parents. This behavior was unacceptable in her household as her family was very religious. This however did not curb her curiosity for the paranormal and the unknown.

Today, Kristy is an internationally renowned Psychic Medium. Her clientele ranges from young to old, law enforcement, clergy, politicians, celebrities, domestic goddesses, to every day people. Her dedication and passion to her work is performed with honesty, integrity and humor, which sets her apart from the rest.

Kristy donates her time assisting law enforcement agencies with investigations involving missing persons, murder, suicide, arson and psychically profiling criminals. She has earned a solid reputation for Spirit Releases, psychic home inspections for homebuyers and haunted house investigations, lecturer at special events and owner of Encharming Events LLC.

Kristy has the gift of bringing warmth and love when using her gift of insight to help clear the cobwebs of confusion along with helping people embrace their own intuitive gifts. Not always serious, Kristy has a wicked sense of humor that she likes to bring to her readings.

How did I get a gig talking to the dead? It definitely wasn't the profession that my parents were at all thrilled with. Going to parochial school from kindergarten through high school graduation, I was taught that anything to do with psychics were evil, as if I didn't already have a low self-esteem like most kids! It was neat, however, knowing when the pop quizzes would be or when I could shut off the alarm because I knew that there would be a snow day even before the weather men predicted it. So after trying the 'real' world for a long time, I screamed 'Uncle' and gave in to my talent and here I am, day after day, talking to the dead and chasing ghosts.

I believe that we create our own reality. By being passionate about life, you can achieve not just anything, but everything. I mean, it gets boring and depressing waiting for that winning lottery ticket, right?!

****************************

Madelyn's books will be available for purchase at the event, but you are also welcome to bring your own copies for signing and personalizing.

Again, to purchase tickets, please visit: http://www.kristyrobinett.com

****************************

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Night at the Opera -- with the Phantom of the Opera

I wrote this for The Witchy Chicks, so thought I would share it here since I'm still off line and on deadline:


I have been living in a hole lately. Not my fault, but not exactly avoidable. What this means is, I have done nothing, absolutely nothing, that could fall under the "miscellaneous culture" tag. No opera, no concerts, not even a movie. Heck, not even a dinner out!

I am, of late, culturally challenged.

So, with that in mind I bring to you tonight a memory of one of my all-time favorite musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. No, I have never seen it on stage. Yes, I had heard the LP of the music and fell in love with the music. But {but!} when ALW brought it to the big screen and changed the vision of the Phantom somewhat from disfigured psychopath to disfigured tragic man with a few unfortunate psychotic tendencies explained by his need to control an out-of-control world that would never understand him, a world that turned against him the moment he was born with his physical handicap, I fell completely and utterly under the spell. This was a Phantom I could understand. This was a Phantom I could pity. This was a Phantom in which I could see the man, not just the travesty.

The movie did it for me in every way.

I can't even begin to describe the sumptuous sets, the swell of the full orchestra that pours into you until you feel almost bursting with the music itself, the intrigue, the mystery. The sweetness of Christine {in the movie version, she is an innocent and very much naive of her own power over this mysterious man}, and the pure, knight-in-shining-armor love of her Raoul. But the Phantom . . . oh, the Phantom. Dark, dangerous, sinuous, sinister, mysterious, a bad boy in every sense of the word. His love for the music is evident from the first moment he appears on screen as he lurks several levels below the stage and allows the music to fill him. He smolders on screen from the moment he holds out his hand to Christine, a command to come to him. Confident on the outside, but pleading and yearning on the inside. . . The Phantom's power lies in his bravado, and he knows it. What's more, he's learned how to wield it well.


"I am your Angel of Music, Come to me, Angel of Music."


It still sends shivers down my spine.
After three and a half years of wearing out my CDs, I still can’t listen to the music or watch the movie without tears, and I think that's quite amazing in this day and age. The emotional honesty of the premier voices never fails to amaze me. Emmy Rossum’s haunting soprano blends seamlessly with Patrick Wilson’s quietly accomplished Raoul, and the circle is completed by the raw energy and heartstopping pathos in Gerard Butler’s appealing baritone--sometimes rough-edged, sometimes smooth and pure, but always, always compelling with sheer masculine power. If you have somehow managed to miss this, do whatever it takes to get your hands on it. You’ll never forget it.
Here are some favorite scenes/music:


ALW wanted the Phantom to have a kind of rock and roll quality -- and boy, did he ever.


As evidenced by the way he swings that cape. ;>
Music of the Night is one of the most beautiful pieces in the entire production.
Desire . . .


Love . . .


Betrayal . . .


Desperation . . .


And in the end, sacrifice . . .

All the elements of a timeless work that will live on forever.

And Gerard Butler as the Phantom . . . who would have thought at the time? Honestly and truly, Gerard Butler does tortured and conflicted better than anyone. His performance in some of these scenes completely blew me away. So much emotion. I know, as someone with empathic tendencies I'm more than a little susceptible . . . but there is just something very special about it.

I leave you now with a POTO fan video from one of my favorite video editors, BluEyedDaizy Productions. This aria appeared as the epilogue in Ken Hill's stage production of POTO to music from The Pearl Fishers by Bizet. Haunting aria, absolutely gorgeous voices, and Blu's ability to match clips from the film to the music with some truly beautiful special effects all make this an all-time standout for me. Even if you have no time to watch the clips above, please watch this one video and see if it speaks to you, too. :)




Love to all,


Mad {madly!}

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where-Oh-Where Has Mad Gone?

I just wanted to pop in here to let you all know what's been up on my end of things and give you a heads up about where I will be in the immediate future: Conspicuously Absent. :)

You see, I had rather a rude awakening the morning of June 30th. Out of the blue, I was faced with the sudden rupture of two disks in my lower back and a fairly excruciating level of pain that only seemed to get worse, no matter what I did. Bedrest was the only option while my doctors decided the best course of action, but even that and all the best painkillers in the world didn't seem to help. Surgery, however, did, although I am finding myself with widely vacillating levels of energy and am having to face up to the fact that I'm obviously not as young as I would like to believe, which seems to be affecting my bounce-back capabilities.

Anyway, as a result of all this, July went Poof! and here I am now in mid-August, seven days out of surgery and with a deadline fast approaching. Which means, my lovelies, that I am going to have to stick my nose to the grindstone in order to meet my writing commitments so that when next July rolls around, all of you will be able to get your hands on the fifth in the Bewitching Mysteries right on schedule.

For you. Always, for you. Because obviously *I* derive no pleasure from the creation of this morass of the mystical and mysterious.

Ahem.

I'll try to pop in from time to time, but feel free to party on here amongst yourselves without me... :)

Back soon!


Mad {madly!}

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Favorite Paranormal Shows


Having been relegated to bedrest a month ago due to back issues, I've been catching up on a lot of paranormal shows that I've missed or don't have access to, all thanks to the wonders of YouTube. In watching such a broad sampling of shows that come out of the US, the UK, and Canada, I've discovered something -- a difference in approach that helped to solidify in my mind what has been bothering me about a lot of the ghosthunting programs I've seen.

So many participants on the paranormal shows we see on TV here in America willingly--almost eagerly--bait the spirits they are investigating in order to gain a response. I have seen this time and again on a variety of programs. They goad, they curse, they insult, they demand, they annoy. They are all-too-often completely and utterly disrespectful, and it makes me uncomfortable to watch. In fact, the groups often comment proudly on the differences between their "American" techniques as opposed to the softer-toned inquiries made by their counterparts in the UK. In my opinion, bad behavior is bad behavior, and is certainly nothing to be proud of.

Let's say you are a visitor at a place that belongs to someone else. Would you go into their house, guns blazing and mouth running, and disparage those who live there? It would be the height of arrogance and bad manners, and will probably get you booted right the heck out. I can't help but compare this to what the ghosthunters do when they bait the resident spirits, hoping to get a response on camera. It is rude, it is unmannerly, and it's liable to get them more than they bargained for.


In sharp contrast, a month ago I attended a paranormal event at the Riders Inn, a bed and breakfast in Painesville, Ohio that just so happens to be haunted. I was excited to go. Not only was I attending with two of my best friends -- Kristy Robinett, an amazingly gifted psychic medium who could give John Edward a run for his money, and Jen H, a super-talented glasswork bead artisan whose artistry makes me drool -- but also because I was able to take part in a spirit contact group meditation lead by Kristy. This group approach is rare for me. I don't trust just anyone with the Other Side. Unfortunately I feel that a lot of people don't know what they're doing, even when they think they do.

Kristy's approach is a kinder, gentler approach that mirrors my own. Not only that, but she has the ability to communicate directly with the spirits and her Guides in a way that is fascinating to witness. I am sensitive to energies--living, residual and Spirit--but if I were to compare my abilities with Kristy's, mine would be a teensy pocket flashlight shining dimly into the abyss, whereas Kristy's would be blinding, casting the kind of light that obliterates darkness.

We did have spirits around us that night. Everyone at the table felt it, and for some it was a new experience, an awe-inspiring one. Unfortunately the inn also holds at least one portal, so when a negative energy crouched in the corner of the room, watching us, Kristy closed the link down, unwilling to give it the slightest reason to stick around. She didn't try to annoy or insult it. She didn't give it any attention at all. She merely closed the line of communication and quietly told us why. To me, this demonstrated Kristy's inner strength, a quality that I greatly admire and find so much more inspiring than the brash false bravado people see in the shows on TV.

I had a more personal experience the next morning, but I'll save that story for another time. ;>

Of course I'll still watch all of the paranormal TV, but I have found a couple of new favorites:

Psychic Kids on A&E -- This program is all about teaching gifted children how to handle their abilities. Not only does it help them to understand themselves, but it empowers them, letting them know being different is not something to be ashamed of. Many of us have had to come to that realization on our own, so being allowed to witness the transformation of these wonderful kids coming into their own is so positive and life-affirming. I highly recommend it.

Ghostly Encounters on Bio -- I just happened to catch this show on a Bio Preview, and was instantly captivated. It is put out by our Canadian neighbors, and it, too, seems to have that kinder, gentler, more thoughtful approach to the world of Spirit. Instead of sending in teams of ghosthunters, this show has a distinct storyteller/interview format that allows the individuals who have been witness to ghostly phenomenon to tell what they experienced in their own voice. Being quite a fan of storytelling myself ;>, I was instantly captivated. We don't have access to the Bio Channel here, so I am only able to watch this on YouTube. If you aren't able to find it, try this YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/ParanormRUs and search for Ghostly Encounters.

Sharing time: What about you? What are your favorite paranormal shows, and why? And does the antagonistic approach bother you, or is just one of my pet peeves? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Love to all,


Mad {madly!}

Mad and the amazingly cool AshNay, whose mom drove several hours to get to Cleveland for the expo signing... Someone definitely deserves an award!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The View From Here . . .

I've been asked more than once, and since I've been out and about recently, taking photos of the surrounding countryside, I thought I would share a little bit of what it's like in Maggie's part of the world. And since Maggie shares my world, it shouldn't be too hard.

My home is not grand. It's a 140-year-old Victorian farmhouse that rests on a quiet street in a small town in NE Indiana, complete with wraparound porch and matching bay windows that would make lovely window seats if heating registers didn't negate that possibility. :) It was built at a time when things were made solid and made right {for the most part, heh}. Over the years, things have settled here and there--few rooms are square, floors creak and aren't what anyone would call level--but it has seen a lot in its time, and there is a sense of that. It's a work-in-process, never completed--something is always needing fixed, or fixed-up, or torn out and completely done-over--but it's stately in an everyday-familiar sort of way, and it has a grace and serenity that speaks of having seen many days, many families, many lifelines, and much love, and that appeals to me.
Indiana in the summer is lush and green and beautiful in a way that makes me feel alive and very much a part of the inner workings of the world. I mirror this, as many do on a subconscious level, with my love of hearth and home, with my love of neat and orderly vegetable gardens and wildly chaotic flower beds, clipped lawns, and overgrown trees. I love the Midwest. I love the way that the world progresses all around us, and while it does reach us here, we retain a bit of the old ways, kept sacred by a few of us who remember. I love the circular path of the seasons, and the way that no matter how many years and seasons pass, there is always an air of newness to each one, as though it was the first we've ever witnessed. I love the sound of the wind in the trees, the way the sun looks mid-morning as it glints through tree leaves, and the golden glow of it as it begins its descent in quiet evening hours. I love the rain--wild, at times, and at others, as gentle as a mother's kiss. I love the smell of freshly clipped grass, and the first lilacs of spring. I love the way the wind makes ocean waves out of a field of wheat, and I love the way it whispers through the drying cornstalks in autumn. This is Indiana--all of the Midwest, really--and it is not just "flyover territory," as I've heard it so uncharitably referred to by people on both coasts whose lives move a little faster than ours. You may view our ways of life as being old-fashioned, but that doesn't make us relics. We just blend the old with the new and go on about our business the way people of the heath always have. :)

So, what do we do here?

We hang out {though not often in trees . . .}

We get together for backyard barbecues on indecently hot and muggy summer days, when it would probably be smarter to stay indoors in the air-conditioning . . . and I will not mention the mosquitoes. Or the ants. Or even the earwigs.

We go fishing

and sometimes find unexpected treasures.

We talk to frogs,

make funny faces,

and do goofy things.

Some of us grow out our hair and don't really like being caught in the garden,

but we can always find peace in our own backyard.

Sometimes we venture out elsewhere,














where the antics of the natives never fail to amuse and delight,
and where sometimes we unearth more unexpected treasures along the highways and byways.
We might go for a bike ride through the twilight down a long, deserted road
and discover that beauty lies around every bend.
It can be found in simple things, like a freshly tilled field,
in an old bridge that leads to nowhere,

in the sadness of abandoned homes and farms,

in nature,

even in the angular structure of a feed mill

or a water tower silhouetted by the evening sun.

We weather many storms

but stay strong through it all, because we have each other.

Sometimes we even stay up past the witching hour
and gaze in wonder at the moon.
And when it all gets to be a bit much,
we rest.

I hope you all enjoy this glimpse. This place, these people, are special to me. :)

Wishing you all faery kisses and midsummer blessings,


Mad {madly!}


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sneak Preview of NO REST FOR THE WICCAN

Since I am on deadline and will be noticeably quiet for the next couple of months, I thought I would post an early preview of NO REST FOR THE WICCAN, 4 in The Bewitching Mysteries. NRFtW will be released November 4, 2008 {although you're likely, as always, to find it on bookstore shelves a little earlier than that}, and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Also, a side note for my Ohio fans: I will be signing books at the Meet the Spirits paranormal expo near Cleveland, Ohio on June 29, 2008. I'd love to see some of you there. You can read all about the event here: http://www.meetthespirits.com/events.php

Without further ado . . . the snippet. Hope you enjoy!

***********************************************


NO REST FOR THE WICCAN
#4 The Bewitching Mysteries ~ ISBN# 0425224562
To be released: November 4, 2008


My name is Margaret Mary-Catherine O'Neill—Maggie, please, only my mother goes the long way 'round the bend—and I am a lifelong resident of Stony Mill, a mostly uninteresting small town in Indiana.

Mostly.

I used to think that living in a small town meant boredom, monotony, and slim pickin's in the way of potential male companionship. On the other hand, I also used to think a belief in magic, ghosts, and witches was a symptom of an overactive imagination, wishful thinking, and possibly even outright insanity.

Kind of funny, when you think about all that has happened here in the last eight months.
And all in this sleepy little town.

Except you won't find me laughing. Would you, if you discovered within yourself a previously unacknowledged ability to discern, and even feel, the hidden, secret, most private emotions of others? The ones they don't want anyone to know about? It's a little unnerving. Unfortunately there are no twelve step programs for empaths. No magic pill to make it all go away. Just like all the other intuitive souls out there in the world, we empaths are on our own, for better or for worse.

And actually, come to think of it, there was also nothing boring or monotonous about the strange disturbances that had been popping up all over Stony Mill, either. Turbulence of a sort in the fabric of energy and matter that makes up the reality the rest of us see and feel and experience. Ripples that seemed to have opened a door and put out a great, big welcome mat for all sorts of weird phenomena. In the beginning, only sensitives noticed the change in the tides, and only those sensitives with a deeper familiarity with matters esoteric understood the significance of what they were feeling.

That chaos energy was on the move.

Dark energy.

That's where the N.I.G.H.T.S. come into the picture. The Northeast Indiana Ghost Hunting and Tracking Society, that is. Headed up by my witchy boss Felicity Dow (at Enchantments, of course--Indiana's finest mystical antique shop), my band of ghost-hunting buddies have been a big help to me in learning to understand more about myself, and to gain some much needed confidence while together the lot of us plumbed the depths of the mysteries of Stony Mill—mysteries both dark and light combined.

For as any good metaphysician will tell you, one cannot exist without the other. I took comfort in that knowledge. That dark could never overpower light. That light would always exist, no matter what. As long as that was true, there was always hope.

A girl needed to have hope. Especially when all the signs pointed to the weirdness in town getting worse.

Scoff if you will. I know how strange this all must sound. A year ago I would have scoffed, myself, but all that I've experienced has since opened my mind. I'm still not convinced that's necessarily a good thing, but I am learning to deal with it. My way.

As for the charge of slim pickin's, it seems I might have been too hasty. A girl with two very different men vying for her attention can hardly complain. What to do with the two of them, well, that's another problem entirely.
My name is Maggie O'Neill, and this is my story.


In researching my newly recognized "talent," I'd read that many empaths tend to be unusually susceptible to the weather, reacting to it on more than just a physical level. Perhaps there was something to that theory, because there was something about a hot, sultry night that never failed to set my nerves on edge, and this summer had had no shortage of them. Summer . . . that's the thing. Summer, it wasn't. Not yet. Not quite. The formality of the summer solstice was still a little over a week away, but already we'd seen enough searing heat to brown the grass and drive people indoors to the cool relief of overworked air conditioners. Between the hot sun and a shortage of rain, the green lushness typical of mid-June in Indiana had thus far failed to manifest. Fields of soybeans and corn that should be beginning to flourish struggled valiantly to deepen their root systems in the crumbling soil, while above ground their growth had faltered, their yellowing leaves coated with the gray dust that was raised from gravel roads with every vehicle that traveled them. Local farmers eyed the sky beneath glowering brows, searching for a hint, any hint, of the much needed moisture.

How it could be as steamy as it was without rain, I had no idea, but it was enough to try the patience of a saint. And Saint Margaret, I was not. Not even close. I was actually beginning to be glad I lived in the basement apartment in the old Victorian on Willow Street rather than on the upper levels. Home to the occasional shadow creature my dark little apartment might be, but at least the surroundings were always a temperate (if damp) seventy degrees, and without the monstrous electric bills my best friend Stephanie Evans, better known as Steff, endured in her apartment two floors above me.

Still, a girl started to go stir-crazy if she stayed home too often. Which was one reason why I had allowed Tom—Fielding, that is, my on again, off again, not-quite-boyfriend—that steamy, Saturday evening, to sweet-talk me into a moonlit drive down to the sunken gardens in the old limestone quarry. The other reason being that I was still trying to make up to him, at least in my mind, for my unplanned lapse in ethical judgment six weeks ago, when I'd allowed Marcus Quinn to kiss me. Marcus Quinn, the delectable male witch I had once mistakenly written off as being attached to my boss. Marcus Quinn, who'd let me know in no uncertain terms that he was most definitely interested in me. Marcus Quinn, who with his shoulder-length dark hair, blue eyes, and laughing demeanor had teased his way into the illustrious position of Temptation No. 1 in my life.

Marcus, Marcus, Marcus!

Forgive the Jan Brady moment, but I will hereby confess to a general state of man-centered confusion. At least Tom was a known commodity. There were variables when dealing with Marcus. Unknowns. Call me a wuss, but unknowns made me nervous. He made me nervous.
Wow, did he ever.

I'd been avoiding him ever since. Or trying to.

Tom, on the other hand, I'd been doing my best to get to stand still. It had been six months since he'd told me he wanted to date me. I'd been trying ever since to figure out what exactly that meant to him. A lot of things had been implied, but never anything definite. There are just some things that a girl needs to get clear in her mind. Like, were we an item, or weren't we? Enter Steff, my very own bona fide Love Guru. She would just shake her head at me and remind me that love was all about the heart, not the head, whenever I voiced my concerns. But then, Steff had an innate confidence I'd always wished for but had never quite managed to acquire.

Back to my Saturday night interlude . . .

Closed to business long ago, the quarry had found new life in years past as one of the top make out destinations in Stony Mill. Not, perhaps, the usual haunt of a couple of non-teenagers, but desperate times called for desperate measures. We'd been there all of ten minutes, trying to get into the experience, when I remembered why desperation was such a necessary part of the equation for an illicit summertime visit to the local Lover's Lane: overheated lip-locks, a steamed-up windshield, hip bruised by a badly positioned seatbelt, bloodthirsty mosquitoes, and the constant embarrassment threat of seeing someone you know stroll past did not make for full-blown seduction.

What had I been thinking?

To make matters worse, Tom was "on call," which as an officer of the law and Special Task Force Investigator was a nice way of saying he was really on duty, but allowed to do things he wanted to do unless his attendance was required elsewhere. Which also meant that the occasional squelch and squawk of the police radio was our romantic accompaniment. Which also meant that Tom's attention was—how shall I say?—diverted.

When I first realized that he was pausing to lend an ear to the portable police radio he carried as part of the job, I almost thought I must be mistaken. After all, his eyes were still closed; it could just be the heat getting the better of my imagination. With the second lull, though, I frowned and concentrated on putting more effort into keeping his focus on the business at hand . . . so to speak. But by the third breather, when he'd actually lifted his lips from mine and put our proceedings on hold while he trained his ears to the numerical call codes and details that followed, I was starting to feel a bit peevish, pent up, and put out. Between the heat, the steam, and the inevitable hurt feelings, any willingness to participate on my part had evaporated in a way that the sweat dampening my frizzing hair would not.

I extricated myself slowly and began to untwist my clothes. Tom shifted to make way for me, but his body was still on high alert, his eyes focused hard on the red power light on the radio as the call detail concluded with a noisy squelch. I don't think he'd even noticed the loss of our romantic evening mojo.

That hurt my feelings even more.

I tried not to let it. His job meant the world to him, and the last thing I wanted was to be one of those needy, self-absorbed women who have to be the primary focus of their man's life. But, geez. Call me high maintenance, but in her more intimate moments, didn't a girl deserve a little priority?

"Maggie." Tom was already buckling himself in on the driver's side as simultaneously he started the engine. I knew what it meant. Without a word I reached for my buckle. "Maggie, we're going to have to go. Both of the guys on duty are in the middle of things right now, and there's been a report of trespass and possible break-in at the feed mill in town." As he threw the truck into gear, he glanced over at me and added as an afterthought, "Sorry."

I sighed. Sorry he might be, but this seemed to be happening more and more often on what little time we managed to find together. Not that it was always Tom's fault; life at Enchantments, Stony Mill's answer to an upscale gift shoppe and secret witchy emporium, was keeping me busier than I ever would have imagined. Business, as they say, had been booming.

"It's all right," I told him, trying hard for magnanimity. "You've gotta do what you've gotta do."

He reached out and squeezed my hand. "That's my girl."

As we left the old quarry, I wondered how many couples had been startled out of their clinches by the bouncing headlights that identified our hasty departure. Then again, would I have noticed, had I been suitably enthralled? Hmm, probably not.

I turned my attention to Tom, keeping my expression neutral and my tone light. "Are you dropping me off, then?"

He shook his head. "No time, not if we want a chance in hell of catching whoever is there. Might be nothing, but better to be safe than sorry. You'll stay in the truck and lock the doors."
It wasn't what I'd wanted to hear, but it was all part and parcel of seeing a cop. Whether I liked it or not, there would be times he would be called in to duty, and whether I wanted it or not, there would be occasions where I would be with him when the calls came in and circumstances would necessitate my being taken along for the ride. Such was life.

I really didn't like it, though. I'd seen enough danger in the previous eight months to last me a lifetime, and none of it had been by choice.

We were traveling indecently fast up the bumpy county roads, slowing only a little before blowing through stop signs at the crossroads. My heart made a scaredy-cat dip every time. I managed to stifle any squeaks of distress, but I feared my fingers would make permanent dents in the soft parts of the doorframe by the time we drew near to the edge of town, where the pseudo-skyline of the feed mill loomed on the horizon, backlit by security lights in the steamy night air.

The Turners had owned the feed mill, the largest collection of grain elevators in the county, as far back as I could remember. A small village worth of silos of varying diameters and heights, the tallest stretching as high as a ten-story building, this hub for the farming community had changed drastically from when I had visited with my Grandpa Gordon as a child. Back then, it had been little more than some old silos, a dusty roundabout, and outlying holding pens for hogs heading for slaughter. Now the new-and-improved array of silos were interconnected by an extraordinary number of ramps and conveyer systems, the hog barns looked pristine—at least on the outside—and the very air itself whirred and buzzed with the noise from drying fans that looked big enough to drive a truck through. I remembered seeing an article in the Stony Mill Gazette about major renovations at Turner's and how they were costing a pretty penny, but this was the first time I'd been out this way in quite a while. Technology, it would seem, had arrived at last in the farming sector of Stony Mill.

As fast as we'd traveled through the surrounding countryside, now that we were drawing nearer the feed mill, we were creeping by comparison so as not to broadcast our approach. Next to me, Tom had gone instantly, perhaps even reflexively, into police mode, his entire body on high alert. His eyes grew sharp, moving here and there, taking in all the shadowed coveys, the many pockets of quiet where a person could easily be hiding.

"Jesus," he said under his breath. "Where to start? The guy could be anywhere."

I watched as he unlocked the glove compartment and withdrew his ankle holster, his eyes still on the quiet scene in front of us. Without a word, I reached behind the seat and grabbed the heavy utility belt and bulletproof vest he always kept at the ready like the Boy Scout he was, and handed it to him.

"Thanks." He opened his door and stepped out cautiously, drawing the vest over his head and securing the thick leather belt around his waist with a quick and practiced motion. He slipped his hand into the pocket of his jeans, withdrawing a big pocket knife, which he tossed onto my lap. "Here. Just in case. Stay put. Lock the doors behind me."

He closed the door firmly but quietly and moved away from the pickup with all the grace and danger of a panther on the prowl. His plain white T-shirt and blue jeans stood out all too easily beneath the bright glow of the security lights. A sitting duck, if anyone was out there with a serious reason for not wanting to be caught. Remembering what he'd told me about taking precautions, I punched the Lock button, feeling far more secure as the solid ka-chunk of the tumblers crunched into place. The weight of the folding knife in my hand reassured me even further—not that I'd need it, but its presence eased my mind anyway. At least, for myself; for
Tom, well, that was another worry altogether.

This was the hardest part of dating a cop. One never knew from day to day whether his health and well-being would continue. I found myself leaning forward on the truck's bench seat, staring out the windshield at the pockets of darkness as Tom darted in and out of them, hugging close to the walls. Why didn't he take a flashlight? I wondered, fretting. Maybe I should turn on the headlights . . .

I forced the thought from my head and made myself relax back against the seat. There was no way Tom would see that as anything other than interference, and I'd promised him months ago to keep my nose out of police business. Not that I had ever intentionally intervened. Like my mom had a fondness for saying, trouble just seemed to have a knack for finding me.

I fidgeted anxiously. Nine forty-two on the clock, glowing bright green on the dashboard.
At nine forty-three another car scuffed to a halt beside the truck, red and blue lights flashing, but no siren. I turned my head, but the officer who had been driving had already leapt from its confines and was standing outside my window, face stern, one cautious hand on the butt of his gun as with the other he motioned for me to open the window. Far be it from me to get in the way of the law. I pressed the Down button, posthaste.

Recognition registered suddenly on his face—Jed Something, I remembered just as suddenly, an older, thicker version of Tom, whose gunbelt served only to emphasize the middle-age drift.

"Oh, it's you," he said. "Thought I recognized the truck. Tom already here?"

I nodded. "Out there somewhere. I've lost track of him."

"Right. You stay here." He cut the flashers.

“Be careful. I haven’t seen anyone yet, but—”

He had already turned away from me. Just then the misty clouds that had been obscuring the moon shifted. I glanced up at the movement. My breath caught in my throat as the glow from the half-moon silhouetted a silo with its system of conveyers and chutes and ladders . . .

“Oh, my God. What is that?”

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Copyright 2008, Madelyn Alt. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

An Early Mother's Day Gift . . . for Me

This weekend, I betrayed a friend.

I know. I know! Dog. Meat.

Allow me to explain. A couple of months ago, before Nim’s Island was first released to theaters, my friend and I decided we'd see it together, just as soon as we could set a date. Since both of us are sincerely appreciative of Gerard Butler's talent as an actor {not to mention his other attibutes, ahem . . .}, we always make a point to try to get together to enjoy his new releases. Except we didn’t. My fault; my wacky schedule. Now. Leap forward in time to Saturday morning, when my son handed me a piece of paper from school that was advertising a special showing of Nim’s Island {honestly, what are the odds?} at our local family-owned theater, that was intended to be a Relay For Life event.

“Can we go, Mom?” he asks me. And then, giving me his best, most ingratiating, wide-eyed grin, “It has Gerard Butler in it . . .”

The kid knows me far better than he should. "Does it, now?"

Now, I knew GB was in the movie, but I wasn't about to tell him that. I was going for discreet. I mean, it’s not right that your nine-year-old son accuses you of thinking a well-known actor is hot . . . is it?

"Mmhmmm. Aaaaaaaaaannd, it’s only five dollars, and it includes popcorn and candy and everything!”

See? FAR better than he should. Gerard Butler and movie popcorn? Yum, yum, yum. “When is it playing?” I asked him.

“At noon today. We’re going, right?”

Was there ever any question?

It was 10:45 a.m.. There was no time to get my friend out the door on time from her home 45 minutes away, while also rounding my son up to get his teeth brushed and clean clothes on so that we could leave on time, a fair feat in and of itself. Forty-five minutes later, he was still sitting on the sofa with his thumbs twiddling a game controller, his eyes glued to the screen, despite the fact that HE was the one who had come up with the plan. Kids!

Sooooooo . . . as far as the movie goes, think Home Alone mixed with George of the Jungle mixed with Swiss Family Robinson mixed with Romancing the Stone. Kid’s movie, totally.

With perks . . .

Beautiful scenery. Beachy setting. In fact, a veritable tropical island paradise. And Gerard Butler . . . x Two! {I did say, ‘Beautiful scenery’, didn’t I?} Yes, the delectable Gerard Butler delighted us with a dual role performance in Nim’s Island. One, the Cutie-Geek, nerdy but somehow also magnificently studly, marine scientist Jack Rusoe, who spends his time on screen in beachy white cargo shorts and a white, gauzy shirt opened over a casual white tank . . . which only served to highlight, nay, perfectly display the golden tan that gleamed ever-so-tantalizingly over his nicely muscled body . . .

::koff koff:: Sorry about that. Got distracted.

A-n-y-w-a-y! In his second role we have the Uber-Masculine, Uber-Heroic, Uber-Delectable Action Hero Alex Rover, an Indiana Jones type of guy, right down to the pairrrrfectly fitted pants {not that I noticed} and rakishly tilted fedora.

Did I mention that the golden tan he is sporting in this movie really sets off the blue-green of his eyes? Sigh. I mean, it really, really did. Unbearably so. There are times when his eyes almost seem to glow. . .

But this is a kid's movie. I'm not sure if they realize how many of the more, ahem, mature females in the audience were nearly sliding off our chairs every time those eyes twinkled into the camera? What were these people thinking?!

I like to think they were giving the moms of the world a little prezzie for being so good as to cart their kids off to the theater for the afternoon. Think of it as an early Mother’s Day gift. Two Gerard Butlers for the price of one.

Don’t look at me that way. What can I say? I have a syndrome. It might have something to do with this:





















Yes, I think it just might.

My thoughts on this adorable little film:

I think I loved goofy, geeky, scientist Gerry in his goofy, geeky and yet somehow incredibly attractive glasses, just as much as I adore hot, sexy Gerry wearing anything. {Or not.} But then they cut to goofy, geeky, scientist Gerry wet on a boat . . . and I completely lost all sense of integrity. ::drool drool::

The movie was . . . imaginative and fun. Meant to be enjoyed, not dissected. I can suspend disbelief in a movie as well as the next person. For instance, Nim’s Island features a very imaginative little girl {the always wonderful Abigail Breslin} who swims with a sea lion and makes a pet of a goofy little lizard that sometimes steals the show from his more human counterparts. Cute. Nim is incredibly resourceful, and shows it by repairing the solar grid that powers her island home so that she can receive email and send radio transmissions. Of course she does. And then there was the pelican Gallileo, who has the ability to reason that stranded Gerry/Daddy Jack is going to need his tool pouch since his boat was nearly capsized, the mast sheared off, in a terrible storm that pushed him hundreds of miles away from his island paradise and daughter Nim. Not a problem. I was there. The guy needed his tools {and can I just say that there is something about a pair of big, broad, very manly hands wielding a screwdriver and a hammer with what certainly looks like expertise that makes my mind . . . wander, hee hee hee}, and so of COURSE the big pelican brought the tools to him. But eventually we came to the part in the movie where Author Alexandra Rover tells us, the viewing audience, that she hadn’t left her apartment for four months, and I found myself raising my brows and thinking, “Well, DUH!!!

I mean, would YOU ever leave your apartment if you had Gerard Butler, in any role, trapped within those walls along with you? Right-O. Me, either.

Other thoughts:

Despite the fact that GB’s Daddy Jack character spends 90% of the movie lost at sea and appealingly wet, he actually gifts us with quite a lot of screen time. Bless the directors, again and again.

His character is upstaged quite a lot by the precocious and preternaturally talented Abigail Breslin . . . but the great thing is, he doesn’t seem to mind. He just runs with it.

Swashbuckler Alex Rover, alter-ego of the timid, charmingly quirky, and verifiably OCD author Alexandra Rover {Jodie Foster} likes to speak in Zen-like, inspirational platitudes. Things like, “Be the hero of your life story,” and, “Touch the world.” Well. I could think of other, more interesting things . . . but that's just me.

Where was I? Oh, yes.

Favorite Funny Dialogue {one of many}: In response to the “Touch the world,” advice that Alex Rover gives her, Alexandra Rover quavers, “I-I don’t wanna touch the world. It’s not . . . sanitary!

Realization: Gerry as nerdy scientist speaks with a nondescript, American accent that makes him seem ever so . . . normal. Gerry as action-hero swashbuckler speaks with his native Scottish accent that makes him seem ever so . . . swOOn-worthy. Hmm. I wonder if that was intentional? ;>

Favorite On-Set Animal: Fred the Lizard. Yes, I know that Fred should be called “Favorite On-Set Reptile,” but . . . feh. Whatever. I have never seen a lizard pull so many interesting faces. Of course, I don’t make a habit of looking into the faces of lizards, so that point may in fact be useless. Moot, even.

Interesting Googleism: Do you realize just how many media mentions there are of GB as “the delectable Gerard Butler”? Gobzoodles. And I just added a couple myself. ;>

Not-so-favorite dialogue: “You’ve been writing chapter eight for months. You need to get it out of your head . . . and into your body.” Er . . . oh, great. Remind me, why don’t ya!

Final aside to Gerry as pseudo-geeky scientist: Just a hint. Weather-dot-com, kiddo. Always check it before heading out on a short sea voyage. Didn’t you learn anything from those crazy castaways? I mean, you almost bit it in this film. Again. And to Gerry as Himself, I don’t think I need to tell you that there are thousands upon millions of crazy women out here who grit their teeth every time you take on yet another role where you DIE before the credits run. Have a little mercy.

Post Script: I still don’t know exactly what happened to Nim’s mother, other than she isn’t alive and seems to have, I think, been swallowed by a whale? Which kinda, sorta explains why Nim and her dad are living alone out in the middle of the Asiatic sea on a deserted island, running amok with the animals, reptiles, and sea plankton. Because the mom’s not around to smack some sense into them! Although . . . I have to admit, having GB all to oneself on a desert island wouldn’t be such a bad scenario. Kind of like the apartment, only with hammocks and tropical breezes and no need for a dress code.

Post Post Script: Gerry as Jack? Your American accent slipped a time or two, sweetness. Just a teensy bit. You know, I do a mean American accent myself. I’d be more than happy to give you a few pointers. ;>

Post Post Post Script: Back to the original thrust of this post: Sorry, LorHen!!!!!! HONESTLY!!!! Mea culpa!

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A little side note: A wonderful reader has set up a Yahoogroups called Magic, Mystery, and Romance as a go-to place for fans of modern, magical, mysterious romances and romantic mysteries. My "Bewitching Mysteries" and Annette Blair's wonderful "Triplet Witch Trilogy" are just some of the romance and mystery series that can be discussed here. If you're interested, send an email to: Magic_Mystery_and_Romance-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Once you've joined, you can set the list up for a daily digest or individual emails, or even web-only if you prefer. Annette and I will both be a part of this reader's group, though probably not on a daily basis, especially when we are on deadline. :)

Another place for discussions for the Bewitching Mysteries is on MySpace: http://groups.myspace.com/mad4madelyn

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Love to all,


Mad {madly!}

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Is It May Already? Really?!?

What the f*** have I been doing with my time? Work. That's it. Work. Very, very hard. I've been working. A lot.

All paraphrasing of one of my movie favorites aside, I really have been working. I've been on sabbatical for a little while now, just trying to regroup and re-energize and get back to feeling like myself again. The winter was a hard one, but . . . Spring Is Finally Here With a Vengeance {!}, and I caught the fever. Big time.

What is it about spring that makes you feel like everything has to be as fresh and new and bright and shiny? I've been scrubbing like a mad-woman {heh}, cleaning out closets, dragging loads of unneeded items to Goodwill, and just generally driving my family crazy. I've even been shop-vacc'ing the basement. In my defense, it needed it. The spiders were starting to set up subdivisions and cobwebby shopping malls.

Our yard has also been suffering some neglect, so I've been working on that, too, with a little help from some of the big, strong men I have in abundance around here. My biggest flowerbed is now refreshed, restored, and ready for action. I've added a low fence to keep my beloved pooch Daisy from making a bed out of the perennials, a couple of stepping stones to make access to the rambling Cecile Brunner rose easier, and the entire area is free of weeds. I've got my hopes pinned on a bunch of seeds I have sprouting in little peat pots -- every time I see a cottage garden in a magazine, my eyes glaze over and I drift off into that hazy netherworld of foxgloves and violets, lupines and delphiniums, sweet william and garden phlox, cabbage roses and hollyhocks, daisies and black-eyed susans, veronica, sweet alyssum, and more.

My garden space, on the other hand, still needs work! Lemon balm and oregano have launched a combined attack on all of the other herbs, and it looks like they're winning their bid for garden domination. I think I'm going to have to put my foot down. That, and a sturdy spade. =)

My mom thinks it's particularly funny that I've become a gardener these days. When I was little, she was always trying to get me to help her out with the weeding. The trouble was, I was as pale-skinned and freckled as a redhead can be, and I have a tendency to overheat without advance notice, and this was back in the day when people slathered coconut-scented oil all over their sun-loving bodies. She'd take me out to the big, country-style garden on my grandparents' farm, and we'd all weed for hours. HOURS. Did I mention the bugs? I am a bit {okay, a lot} phobic. I jump if something even remotely buggish comes near me, and I have been known to make amazingly agile leaps backward, upward, and sideways, shuddering and cringing and heeby-jeebying all the while. Most of the time I manage not to scream, though. I'm sure the neighbors appreciate that.

In other news, I am 98% done with a complete remodel of my main website, www.MadelynAlt.com, something that I'm actually pretty proud of. With any luck, I'll be loading it all in the next few days.

Aaaaaand, here's something just for fun. Just click on the link to cast your vote:

Team Marcus? Team Tom? Or Team Someone New? Cast your vote now!

Choice #1: Tom, duh! He's honorable, he's sexy, what more could you want?
Choice #2: Marcus is my man! Who can resist a man who wears black leather pants while scrubbing a floor?
Choice #3: Neither is right for my Maggie-girl! We need someone new to slay her dragons and capture her heart.

Cast Your Vote Now . . .

Gosh, I hope that works! Bet you all couldn't guess I'm not the most tech-savvy girl out there. :)


Wishing you all a wonderful spring filled with fairy blessings and sweet scented flowers as you wile away the hours beneath a cloud-kissed sky... and a very blessed Beltane!

Love to all,


Mad {madly!}

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On Writing: Characterization

In fiction, what makes for good characterization? There are as many answers to this question as there are readers. Let’s face it – we all have our personal preferences.

I write character-driven fiction. Meaning, the things that happen in the stories I write are determined in a large part by the characters themselves. Their quirks, their foibles, their dreams, their fears, their love, their loathing, their arrogance, their denials. I have to know the inner worlds of all of my characters in order to know how they will react to a given catalyst. The forks they choose determine the next stop along the road, which presents a new set of choices, then another, and another. Infinite possibilities.

Other authors will tell you they write plot-driven tales into which they drop a very carefully selected character. Neither method is better than the alternative. It all depends on what works for the author in question.

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to remember one thing about the characters you are creating: in another world—their world, however fictional—they are real. Or they should be. They have lives that revolve around them, lives filled with people they like, people they love, and people who rub them the wrong way for oh-so-many-reasons. They have hopes for their future, dreams they have forgotten, and regrets that run too deep to be forgotten so easily. Early in her adult years, a woman might be in a maiden stage of her life, where love and the mating game rules her thoughts. The men she chooses to tarry with reflect back upon her, how she feels about herself and the way she fits into the world. Or perhaps she moves quickly into the mother stage, where nurturing and taking responsibility for those around her takes all of her time and energy. Is she married, and if so, what kind of man did she choose as her lifemate? Is he strong and protective, willing to risk life and limb and personal dreams in order to support his family? Or is he still stuck in a rut {pun intended, heh}, playing reindeer games best left to those without ties? What paths do they choose, together and separately? How do they relate to those around them, and why? Or perhaps your female lead is moving into the crone years. Her nest is empty of any children she’s raised, and her life might now be stretching before her. Is it filled with possibilities, or do her regrets swell to unbearable levels? Has her marriage stood the test of time, or is she alone, and how does she feel about it? Is she watching the world pass her by and wondering why she can’t fall into step, too? Or is she making her own way, taking time for herself, dreaming again the dreams she might have set aside?

So many possibilities.

As for me, the characters that whisper their tales in the night are why I am a writer. Their lives intrigue me enough to want to find out what happens next. Some characters are like best friends, others make me roll my eyes. The actions of a few make me cringe, while others make me want to shake my head and gnash my teeth. But always, their humanity is what I find most fascinating.

So, yeah. Paint mine in bright colors, please. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them rejoice. Make them regret. Make them happy, sad, reluctant, zealous, driven, alcoholic, workaholic, commitment-phobic, animal loving, meat-eating, nookie addicted, shopping frenzied, bill worried, what have you...

Just make ‘em real.

Love to all,


Mad {madly!}