Ghosts and the rational woman

 

boldtcastle_rotundaroomWhen I was little, I had a recurring dream. I was inside a huge, sunlit room that was crowded with furniture. As I threaded my way across the room, long, scaly green arms with clawed hands reached out from under the furniture to grab at me. I eventually outgrew the dreams. And the monster under the bed, and the one in my closet. Not to mention the one in the basement.

I am now a Rational Woman. Despite this, I am willing to admit that not everything in life can be explained rationally. But since childhood, I haven’t encountered any situations that couldn’t be.

Then last spring I stayed at a hotel where I’ve stayed many times before: a funky older hotel with tons of character and charm.

And ghosts, apparently.

In all the times I had stayed there, I’d seen no evidence of ghosts or felt anything “weird.” The possibility of ghosts never even occurred to me. This last spring, however, another guest casually mentioned that the hotel was haunted. I had a good laugh (at the person’s expense, I might add) and carried on. Then that evening, I repeated the story to someone who is familiar with the hotel and for whom I have a lot of respect.

She told me it was true. She told me that she seen the ghosts, too. And she had been with someone else at the time, someone whom I also respect. They’d both seen the ghosts.

I must have gone a little pale because she assured me that the ghosts were absolutely harmless, even when they appeared at the foot of your bed.

I didn’t sleep much that night. Or the whole time I was there.

There I was, a grown woman, intelligent, mature, experienced—freaked out at the thought of ghosts in my room. And I never even saw one! I didn’t need to. I actually wanted to change hotels, but I wasn’t about to admit to anyone why, so I stayed. Even after I got home, I still felt creeped out by the whole situation, waking up in the middle of the night and wondering if there was someone—or something—in my room…

The only reason I admit to this now is because I finally got over the irrational fear. I decided to face it in the only way I, as a writer, know how. I wrote a ghost story.

The novel’s almost finished. It started out as modern gothic, but now, I’m not too sure what it is. It doesn’t matter. Somewhere along the way, after scaring myself silly with some of the scenes, I got over my irrational fear.

I’m going back to the hotel in the fall. I am myself again, a modern woman with a (mostly) logical mind and an appreciation for the rational.

And if I sometimes feel someone watching me when no one’s around…? Well, that can be our little secret…

Originally published at Not Your Usual Suspects on March 23, 2016.

Good Grief

I have a confession: I am not a superhero fan. It’s not that I dislike them—not at all. But after a brief flirtation with the genre when I was a teen, I haven’t really given superheroes much thought. Oh, I knew they were around, of course, and I’ve even caught the odd Superman and Batman movie (and enjoyed them), but I wouldn’t know Deadpool from Deadman.

So, you can understand my bemused delight at ending up in Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen.

Superhero UniverseI’ve enjoyed working with Claude Lalumière before, so when I saw the call for submissions for one of his anthologies, with Mark Shainblum, I wanted to submit something. But what?

Have I mentioned that I’m not steeped in the superhero genre…? I knew I didn’t want my superhero to have a mega superpower… that’s just not me. But I’ve always been fascinated by the sense of smell. I know some people who will only know the milk has spoiled by drinking it. Others will know the moment they walk into the kitchen. So, what happens when someone’s sense of smell is so developed it becomes debilitating?

And what if this new power developed in an ordinary guy just coming out of World War II who is forever changed by unusual circumstances? It’s not something he wanted—nobody would want that kind of superpower—but he has it and now he has to figure out what he’s going to do with it.

To be honest, I wondered if Bloodhound was “superhero-y” enough. After all, he can’t fly, or climb walls. He doesn’t have any of the other conventional superhero powers. Really, he’s just a quiet guy, who’d rather be left alone.

So, after all this, I still don’t know a whole lot about superheroes. But maybe Bloodhound is more like the ones I know than I had thought. He just wants to be left alone, but he can’t sit idly by when he sees something wrong. In the end, he really is rather extraordinary.

If you want to learn more about the stories in Superhero Universe, I invite you to visit Corey Redekop, one of the authors in the anthology. In collaboration with Edge Publishing, Corey has been posting a series of interviews with the authors. Cool stuff.

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How old is too old?

I just attended a talk by a renowned Canadian editor and publisher by the name of Douglas Gibson. He edited the likes of Robertson Davies, W.O. Mitchell, and Margaret Atwood… CanLit royalty. What was most interesting to me was the fact that he is “of a certain age.” He retired from editing and publishing at age 65, then reinvented himself as a writer, then as a performer. Now, at 72, he travels the country in a one-man play in which he dishes about the famous writers he edited.

A couple of years ago, I saw Maria Muldaur at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick. (Never been? Oh, you have to go. It’s a fabulous festival.) I’d always liked Maria Muldaur but had never seen her perform. She had to be escorted onto the stage (poor eyesight, I think). That’s when I took a look around the audience and noticed the predominance of gray and white heads. Hoo boy. I braced myself for a nostalgic trip led by a woman clearly past her prime.

Was I ever wrong. Maria Muldaur, also 72, blew me (and everyone else) away. She might have been past her prime, but she sure as heck found another prime along the way.

A few weeks ago, I read a post by Dean Wesley Smith in which he referenced a comment from a reader who regretted starting to write so late in life. Dean understood completely. He spoke about his own experience of feeling like he should have been writing his own, original work much earlier than he did. Then he asked, So what?

That’s my question, too. So what if you started writing at 50 or 60 or 90? Is it what you want to be doing? Does it bring you joy? Fill your well? Give you a reason to get up? Then who cares how old you are when you start?

I admit to a few moments of doubt. Moments when I wonder why I should bother, because really, isn’t it rather late? But that’s wrong-headed thinking. We should be grateful to have discovered our passion at all. Many people go through life puttering, with no idea what that fire in the belly feels like.

Besides, there are advantages to being an older writer. The kids are grown and (mostly) out of the house. You’re no longer the family chauffeur/breadwinner. Your career may be starting to wind down. All of which translates to more time to dedicate to learning your craft, practising and creating.

I’m approaching 60 and some days I feel like life is galloping by and it’s all I can do to hang on. I’ve got so many stories to write, and so much to learn about this writing stuff… I figure another 40 years ought to do it. Maybe.

Ask yourself how old you would be if you didn’t follow your dream, whatever that is. That’s right. You’d still be the same age, only not as happy. At least now, you’re doing what you were meant to do.

I find myself inspired by Douglas Gibson, Maria Muldaur, and Dean Smith. Who are your inspirations?

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Originally published on Not Your Usual Suspects, January 25, 2016

A Trailer for Superhero Universe

How cool is this? Edge Publishing has launched a trailer for the upcoming release of Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe, edited by Claude Lalumière and Mark Shainblum

Superhero UniverseRelease Dates:
Pre-Order Kindle E-book:
Jan. 11, 2016 thru Jan. 24, 2016
Exclusive Kindle E-book: Jan. 25, 2016 thru April 17, 2016
E-book Everywhere: April 18, 2016
Print Canada: March 14, 2016
Print USA: April 18, 2016

You can see the trailer here.

 

Confusing Times

From my November 20, 2015 blog post on Not Your Usual Suspects:

Traditional publishers and agents have been advising writers to specialize in one genre only for decades. Forever, really. The reasons are many, some maybe even valid:

  1. If publishers spend time and money marketing your science fiction book, they want to build on that, rather than start all over with your historical romance.
  2. You’ll confuse (and probably tick off) the reader who goes looking for your noir mystery only to find herself reading your latest slasher horror.
  3. You’ll spend longer trying to develop your writer “brand” if you split yourself among genres.

Indie publishing has placed all kinds of decisions in writers’ hands, including this one. Now that they don’t have to bow to a publisher’s will, they have to decide: Should they? Shouldn’t they?

As with any creative or business decision, you have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

For me, it boils down to the reason you write. Is it to make money? (A very valid reason.) Is it because you love writing so much you would do it whether or not it made money for you? (Also very valid.)

There’s another question you need to ask yourself: what’s the cost (creatively, emotionally, even physically) of NOT writing the story that’s in you to write?

I think you should write whatever damned book you want to write. While you owe your readers something, you also owe yourself. You have the right to challenge yourself, to experiment, to fill every little bit of your writer’s soul. After all, what’s the point of spending all that time and effort if you’re not having fun?

One caveat: Don’t mislead your reader. If you don’t use a pen name, be up front about your different genres (have different tabs on your web site for science fiction, romantic suspense, horror, etc.). Even an “open” pen name lets the reader know that these stories aren’t the same as the ones under your own name. Some readers will follow you across all your genres, while others will only read you in one genre. And that’s okay.

Remember: If you use a secret pen name, it can exacerbate the issue. You’ll be working to build two names (or three, or four), rather than just yours.

Here’s a mini-list of well-known writers who write in two or more genres:

Walter Mosley: Literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, YA, mystery

Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb: Romance, romantic suspense, science fiction/police procedural

Joyce Carol Oates: Gothic, horror, suspense, mystery/crime, romance, historical, fantasy, realism, surrealism…

Ian Fleming: Spy novels (James Bond) and children’s (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)

Stephen King: What doesn’t he write?

Elmore Leonard: westerns, crime, suspense, screenplays

Nicola Griffith: science fiction, thrillers, historical

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: science fiction, romance, fantasy, mystery

Can you think of any others?

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We have a cover!

Superhero Universe

Here’s the cover for Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe. It’s edited by Claude Lalumière and Mark Shainblum, and published by Edge Publishing. The cover artist is Jason Loorox (Jason Loo), creator of the brilliant Indy superhero comic The Pitiful Human Lizard.

Superhero Universe will be available in March 2016. My short story, “Bloodhound,” is in it.

This place is in my blood…

Ahem. Elke Reinauer wrote me up in an article in What’s Up Yukon. I’m displaying a definite lack of humility here, but what the heck. I’m chuffed! And by the way, the photo is by my brother, Photographie Eric Dubé, armourer, videographer and photographer extraordinarie.

This place is in my blood

Yukoner Marcelle Dube publishes her first short story collection

by

September 10, 2015

– See more at: http://whatsupyukon.com/Arts-Entertainment/literature/this-place-is-in-my-blood/#sthash.fkoOREiG.dpuf

 

Night Shift: A Mystery Collection

Night Shift collection-ebook coverMy first short story collection! Night Shift: A Mystery Collection features four of my mystery shorts, including two Mendenhall short mysteries, and one novelette, compiled for the first time. Of course, the stories are all still available separately. Here’s the list:

Night Shift: Driving back to Mendenhall late at night during a thunderstorm, Chief of Police Kate Williams stops to check out an accident only to find herself fighting for her life. A Mendenhall Short Mystery.

Lincoln City Blues: When a beautiful woman walks into the office of Anastasia Charles—aka Charlie—with a story about a violent husband and a kidnapped kid, Charlie’s private investigator instincts sit up and pay attention. With two grand on her desk, eight more when she finds the husband and the chance to be a hero and rescue a kid… how can Charlie say no?

The Priest: Chief of Police Kate Williams is a little irritated when Constable Trepalli calls her into a routine investigation of a break-in at the priest’s house. Then Trepalli shows her what they found on the priest’s bed. A Mendenhall Short Mystery.

Leduc: Leduc knows how not to get noticed, how to bide his time, how to hide what he does. He learned a long time ago, after his mother found the cats. Just a few more weeks, and he’ll have his military police badge. Then he’ll be able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants… to whomever he wants.

There’s only one problem. Someone knows his secret.

Jules: A fall off a cliff, a nighttime attack… Is Jules imagining it, or did someone follow her to the Yukon from Colombia to finally finish her off?

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Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe

I’m thrilled to announce that one of my short stories will be included in the anthology Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe, from Edge Publishing, edited by Claude Lalumière and Mark Shainblum. More details will follow in the coming months, but in the meantime, here’s the news release from Edge Publishing:

EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing            

Announces Author Line Up for

Superhero Universe (Tesseracts Nineteen)

(Calgary, Alberta) Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story! EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing is proud to announce

the lineup for Superhero Universe, the 19th edition of the prestigious Tesseracts anthology series.

Edited by Claude Lalumière and Mark Shainblum,Superhero Universe (Tesseracts Nineteen) features twenty-four stories (and one poem) by some of Canada’s best fantasy and science fiction writers:

John Bell

P. E. Bolivar

Kevin Cockle

Evelyn Deshane

Marcelle Dubé

Chadwick Ginther

Patrick T. Goddard

Kim Goldberg

Geoff Hart

Sacha Howells

Arun Jiwa

D. K. Latta

Michael Matheson

Bernard E. Mireault

Luke Murphy

Brent Nichols

David Perlmutter

Mary Pletsch & Dylan Blacquiere

Jennifer Rahn

Corey Redekop

Alex C. Renwick

Jason Sharp

Bevan Thomas

Leigh Wallace

A.C.Wise

Superheroes! Supervillains! Superpowered antiheroes. Mad scientists. Adventurers into the unknown. Detectives of the dark night. Costumed crimefighters. Steampunk armoured avengers. Brave and bold supergroups. Crusading aliens in a strange land. Secret histories. Pulp action. Superhero Universe (Tesseracts Nineteen) features all of these permutations of the superhero genre and many others besides!

ABOUT THE EDITORS:

Claude Lalumière has edited thirteen previous anthologies, including one prior volume in the Tesseracts series (the Aurora nominee Tesseracts Twelve: New Canadian Fantastic Fiction) and two other superhero anthologies, includingSuper Stories of Heroes & Villains, which was hailed in a starred review by Publishers Weekly as “by far the best superhero anthology.” In addition to being a frequent contributor to Tesseracts anthologies, he’s the author of Objects of Worship, The Door to Lost Pages, and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes.

Mark Shainblum was born and raised in Montreal, where he and illustrator Gabriel Morrissette co-created the comics series Northguard and the bestselling humour book series Angloman, which later appeared as a weekly strip in The Montreal Gazette. Mark also collaborated on the Captain Canuck daily newspaper strip and Canadiana: The New Spirit of Canada, a webcomic featuring the first female Canadian flag superhero with her own series. In the late 1990s he co-edited the Aurora Award-winning anthology Arrowdreams: An Anthology of Alternate Canadas with John Dupuis. Mark currently lives Ottawa with his wife Andrea and daughter Maya.

ABOUT THE TESSERACTS SERIES:

Each year EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing chooses a team of editors – which keeps the collections fresh, new and ever changing – from among the best of Canada’s writers, publishers and critics. The editors then select innovative and futuristic short fiction and poetry from established and emerging voices of Canadian speculative fiction.

Since its first publication in 1985, more than 315 Canadian authors, editors, translators and special guests have contributed 529 short stories, poems, editorials and forwards to the series.

Each volume of the Tesseracts series features established as well as emerging authors. Some of Canada’s best known fiction writers have been published within the pages of these volumes – including Margaret Atwood, Susan Swan, and Hugo and Nebula award winning authors William Gibson, Spider Robinson, and Robert J. Sawyer.

The entire series includes Tesseracts One through Nineteen, plus Tesseracts Q, which features translations of works by some of Canada’s top francophone writers of science fiction and fantasy.

The series has won the prestigious Canadian Aurora Award.

ABOUT EDGE:

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, EDGE publishes thought-provoking full length novels and anthologies of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Featuring works by established authors and emerging new voices, EDGE is pleased to provide quality literary entertainment in both print and pixels.

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For the full release: http://ymlp.com/zYmuBA