Monday, October 11, 2010

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

     I have always loved to read. In high school, if I wasn't reading a book, I was working on writing one. Then in college, I found I wanted to read to go somewhere and do something, to explore the world. I love being entertained by those writers who can make me feel: Laugh, Cry, Think, want to write something more and study more.
     Only a handful of writers have made me feel I needed a tissue, needed to control my laughter and keep a dictionary beside me while reading. One of those is a lady who I have the joy of rereading again as we re-release sixteen of her novels through Gypsy Shadow Publishing. Check out my new Page! It's the first I've created and it has her works listed and linked to her page on our website. She's even put new covers - most of them her own works - on them for this parade of pleasure.

A few single paragraph quotes - from the first chapter in each book - will give you a good glimpse of what I mean:

The Goldcamp Vampire

     With the mist creeping up to conceal the garbage and broken bottles, and the drizzle descending like unceasing tears, the alley was a depressing place to be. Even the pearl-handled derringer in my bag was cold comfort. This was a night the poet Poe might relish, except that ravens seldom frequented the alleys or San Francisco anymore. Pigeons perhaps. Pigeons with uncannily direct gazes, for as I turned back toward the lamplight flickering in from the main street, small eyes glittered down at me, then swooped aside. I grasped the knob of the backstage door and shoved.

The Drastic Dragon of Draco, Texas

     Paladins of the Prairie may very well exist on the prairie, but they have clearly drawn the line at carrying the Code of the West into the Texas desert. I know for a fact that muleskinners bear no resemblance whatsoever to either Saint George or to any of those other gallant knights who traipsed about rescuing damsels in distress. When I was abducted by wild Indians and subsequently menaced by a dragon, none of the fifty teamsters with whom I was traveling lifted a finger to rescue me.

The Harem of Aman Akbar, or The Djinn Decanted

     I am told the djinn complained that I was unworthy— what noble woman, he protested, would be so careless of herself as to bind her hair into leather-held braids instead of twining it with pearls? Which shows how much the djinn knows about feminine adornment—my hair is almost white and pearls would ill-become me. He also deemed my substantial nose hideous—but this is typical of the djinn, who has lived a sheltered existence, for the most part, confined in his bottle. Therefore his views often tend to be prudish and conservative. Though a great one for taking others places, he has generally taken no part in the life of those places, thereby managing to stay relatively untouched and unenlightened by his travels. However, on the occasion in question, his priggish complaints fell on unheeding ears, for Aman replied, "Her nose is curved like the beak of the hawk and is a fitting complement to the glitter of her eyes—know you, o djinn, that the hawk is a noble bird and proud and also, I think, useful."

The Lady in the Loch

     The mother of the corpse wore solid black as she danced round and round the room to the lamenting coronach of the pipes. With her danced the father of the corpse, also in black. The attire of both showed signs of having been recently, hastily dyed for the occasion. Phantoms of the plaid fabric swam beneath the dye of the mother's gown. The mother wept as she danced and the father scowled. The corpse lay in the middle of the room, her claes deid, her funeral garments, concealing the thirty stab wounds in her chest and the dishonor her killer had subjected her body to before she died. All around the coffin, her brothers and sisters-in-law, her sisters and brothers-in-law, her fiance and her grandmother, all of them weeping, shuffled in their own awkward dancing. The neighbors danced and wept as well. And close by the coffin, the bound and gagged tinkler man was weeping too, less for the murdered lassie than for himself, he who was the accused.

The Unicorn Creed: Songs from the Seashell Archives: Volume 2 

     Colin had less luck locating the other person he most wished to find at the christening, his old questing companion, Maggie Brown, Sir William's bastard daughter and Queen Amberwine's half sister. He knew where she was well enough, or where she had been, at any rate. It was Maggie's special talent, her hearthcraft witchery, which kept the entire christening from being a greater domestic disaster than it was. Hers was the power to perform all household tasks in the twinkling of an eye, and wherever she went she cut a swath of fragrant cooking fires, clean rushes, whitewashed walls, clean dishes, hot food, cold drink, emptied chamber pots, fresh linen, kindled torches and tidied beds. It was not an unpleasant trail to follow. Nevertheless, Colin had hoped for a more personal confrontation—a bit of a reunion, as it were—a chance to sing her his new songs, to tell her of his life at the castle, and perhaps to strut for her a bit in the rich apparel the King had given him. But somehow he never seemed to be free of his duties at the same time she was free of hers in the same room. Once he almost collided with her as he was coming in from a party at Sir Oswald's pavilion, but without looking up she'd brushed past him in a brown blur, automatically mending a small tear and cleaning a wine stain on his sleeve in passing. He was, for once, speechless, and after that had no more opportunities to seek her out, preoccupied as he was with his own duties of observing, chronicling, dancing, singing, entertaining and being entertained by his fellow guests.

Bronwyn's Bane: Songs from the Seashell Archives: Volume 3

     Bronwyn the Bold was still flushed from the heat of battle when the Lord Chamberlain found her in the small courtyard below the eastern wall of the Royal Palace. The courtyard was in ruins. Trees, walls, jousting dummies, the Queen's prize petunia patch, all were gouged, hacked and otherwise dismembered. The Princess knelt beside the wall, her short sword cooling in its sheath, her red carved shield close by her side. Evidently satisfied with the routing she'd dealt her enemies, she bent over the prone forms of her dolls, each of which was blanketed by one of her monogrammed handkerchiefs. “My lady," the Chamberlain began.

"What is it, Uncle Binky?" she demanded in a fair imitation of her father's regal roar. "Can't you see I've mortally wounded casualties on my hands? We need healers and medicine now!”

"Yes, my lady," the Chamberlain replied with a tone sober and a face straight from long and difficult practice. "I'll see to it personally, my lady . . ."

"A simple 'general' will do," Bronwyn said graciously, since she was actually very pleased to have someone to talk to. She hopped to her feet and took the Chamberlain's hand in hers, her action very like that of any normal child except that ordinary little girls didn't tower over adult royal retainers. "What news do you bring from behind our lines?"

Christening Quest:Songs from the Seashell Archives: Volume 4 

     The Queen had declared with unusual forcefulness for a person of faery blood that she was not about to have a son of hers turn into a good-for-nothing knight errant bullying the populace and using his royal prerogatives to rape and pillage. It had happened elsewhere, and Rupert was no less fond of the phenomena than his mother. He was a highly peaceable and loving sort by nature—so loving, in fact, that by the age of twenty, when his frost giant ancestry caused him to be so unusually tall and well grown and his faery blood lent him an uncommon beauty and charm, he was a cause for alarm among the fathers and husbands in the Wasimarkanian Court. To the men he was called, behind his back (for it would never do to offend so powerful an ally as the Royal House of Argonia) Rowan the Rake. To the women, into whose eyes he gazed soulfully and whose hands he kissed tenderly, almost without regard for age, station, or pulchritude, he was Rowan the Romantic. He would miss those charitable and generous ladies, one and all, but his mentors, under pressure, had declared that with princesses of six major countries in a swoon for his attentions, he would need more advanced lessons in diplomacy than they had to offer. They referred him back to his own family for further instruction.

Phantom Banjo


A good storyteller, I have learned, does not make the whole entire story center around herself, as if she was the most important thing about the story. I've seen many a fine songwriter who once wrote and sang wonderfully understanding songs about the lives of ordinary people fall flat on his ass when he gets a little famous, gets away from regular folks, and pretty soon all he's able to write are songs about how god-awful it is to be on the road and how he is so a-lo-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-own.

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