TRACKING MEDUSA Re-Release

Tracking Medusa Cover 1

TRACKING MEDUSA RE-RELEASE

The first Gwen Finnegan mystery, TRACKING MEDUSA, re-released digitally on January 12, 2018. It’s got a universal buy link here (and should be back up on Amazon by the time this post goes live, included in the universal buy links, although I’ll have lost all its reviews).

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Blurb:
Archaeologist Dr. Gwen Finnegan is on the hunt for her lover’s killer. Historical researcher Justin Yates bumps into her, on the steps of the New York Public Library, and comes to her aid when she’s attacked, sparking an attraction between them in spite of their age difference. After avoiding a cadre of pursuers at the Met Museum, Gwen impulsively invites Justin to hop a plane with her to the UK. The shy historian, frustrated with his failing relationship, jumps at the chance to join her on a real adventure. That adventure takes them through Europe, pursued by factions including Gwen’s ex-lover and nemesis, Karl, as they try to unspool fact from fiction in a multi-generational obsession with a statue of the goddess Medusa.

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The Mechanics of the Re-Release:
The print version (a print run, not a POD), should come out either late this year, or at the beginning of next year, when the second Gwen Finnegan mystery, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, releases.

Sadly, due to issues with my webhost, 1and1.com, they will not allow me to post the cover of the book or a downloadable media kit, unless I pay them an additional monthly fee on top of the hosting fee I already pay. Have you ever heard of a host who claims simple JPGs are “double escape security issues” and demands extra payment? Websites need images. The Gwen Finnegan Mysteries website will move hosts shortly and be rebuilt — it will include the photos I took as I researched the various locales for the book and choreographed the chase scene inside NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and more.

Why the need for a re-release?

Unfortunately, Amber Quill Press, who was Gwen’s champion and great to work with, shut its doors nearly two years ago. Originally, I planned to go with the same digital publisher/distributor that released PLAYING THE ANGLES and SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) late last year — but then they closed their doors, too.

So TRACKING MEDUSA went directly to the new digital publisher/distributor, and I’ve moved both PLAYING THE ANGLES and SAVASANA AT SEA to this new digital home. Future digital releases in all three series will go through this distributor (unless they go under, too). New websites are being built for the series (and for everything else I do) and go live on a new webhost in the next few weeks. Stay tuned both here and on Ink in My Coffee for the details.

If you own an Amber Quill version, be it digital or print — the text is the same (my editor, copy editor, and I fixed some stylistic things to fit with both the digital and the print publishers’ house styles). It also has teasers for MYTH AND INTERPRETATION, a between-the-books novella that releases this summer, and the opening of THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, the second mystery, which releases in January 2019. But the book is still the book, and you don’t have to feel like you’re missing anything.

Tracking Medusa — Q & A About the Book and its Process:

Question: How did you come up with TRACKING MEDUSA?

Devon Ellington: The Medusa myth always fascinated me. I got mad in CLASH OF THE TITANS when she was killed. I felt she was marginalized and destroyed because she was powerful. I’ve always loved archaeology — when I was little, even though I always knew I’d be a writer, but before I made the commitment to theatre, I wanted to be an archaeologist. My life took a different path, but it always interested me. I also don’t think science and spirituality need to negate each other. I wanted to work with a character who was smart and based a lot in science and evidence, but was a practicing witch and able to use all those facets towards her goals. The opening scene, in the club at Gramercy Park, came early on.

When I lived in New York, I spent a lot of time wandering around the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. The Justin character evolved out of that, especially when a group of us who were affiliated with PEN got a behind-the-scenes tour at the Library.

Justin was inspired by the same real individual who inspired Billy Root in my urban fantasy series The Jain Lazarus Adventures, but the two characters evolved very differently, and have grown into very much their own men. Justin’s journey through this series gets quite dark at times. Billy takes a very different route in finding his true purpose.

I also wanted to play with the age difference between Gwen and Justin. Gwen is a dozen years older than Justin — how does that affect their relationship? Especially since Justin’s emotional age is much younger than his chronological age.

It all started to come together one day when I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wandering around the Greek and Roman galleries, which had just reopened, and the Egyptian gallery.

Q: Tell us about the background of the chase scene at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

DE: That was a lot of fun. I’d written my way a few chapters into the book, and I wanted to get it right. I took a day and went back to the Met, with my camera and my notebook, to choreograph the scenes. A couple of security guards asked me what I was doing, and I told them I was choreographing a chase scene through the Met for a book. They were enthusiastic, and offered ideas and feedback (while still keeping an eye on things– no one neglected their jobs)! They asked not to be specifically named in the acknowledgements, in case Management was unhappy about it, but at this point, I’m sure most of them have moved on to other jobs.

Also, at that time, Hatshepsut had her own room. It’s been dismantled now, much to my disgust, and the Hatshepsut sphinx was in the same room as the Temple of Dendur, last time I visited New York. She’s not too happy about it.

I find it insulting that she no longer has her own room — it was an important exhibit focused just on her and her achievements.

I’m putting photos from the Met and the Library and some of the places in Edinburgh and Ayrshire up on the website: http://gwenfinneganmysteries.devonellingtonwork.com. Once the webhost move is complete and the site is rebuilt.

Q: Did you ever get to study archaeology?

DE: Not traditionally. In 2013, I was able to take, through Coursera, an online class with Sue Alcock of Brown University called “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets”, about some of the basics. I loved it, and I was lucky enough to head from the Cape to Brown to meet her. In fact, she got me back in touch with one of my favorite playwrights from my early days in New York theatre, who was teaching at Brown. In the edits, I fixed a few glaring errors in the manuscript, but I still have made, shall we say, “adjustments” in proper process to serve the needs of the story. I hope Sue will forgive me — and I plan to study more with her if the opportunity arises.

Q: The relationship seems more of a triangle that a couple, thanks to Karl. Can you talk about that a bit?

DE: Karl was originally going to be the primary antagonist — former lover gone bad. However, Karl had other ideas. The relationship between Gwen and Karl has gone through various permutations for over twenty years. Their bond is so strong that even the genuine love between Gwen and Justin can’t break it. Nor should it. This idea that fictional characters can only have a single relationship and everything else must come second is something I believe is harmful to teach readers to look for as human beings. We are capable of having more than one relationship without those relationships being a threat to each other, and I wanted to explore that.

Q: Then, of course, there’s Edward.

DE: Yes, there is. Again, Edward was supposed to be a very small supporting character whose purpose was to provide information and the next lead for Gwen and Justin to follow. But Edward had other ideas. I believe in following my instincts when characters want to take a different direction than the original plan. It’s the subconscious mind at work, which always knows more than the conscious mind. The subconscious embodies itself in the characters, so when you let that go, at least in early drafts, you can get to a better place than you would otherwise. When you write something that needs a structure, such as a mystery, then you take it and adjust the piece to the structure. Fortunately, the genre lines are blurring somewhat, and I take full advantage of that!

Q: Did you get any push-back because your vampire is named Edward?

DE: Because of Twilight? More power to Stephanie Meyer for creating a trilogy that connected to so many people. But I hadn’t read her books when I wrote this, and the only thing Edward Ramsey has in common with the other Edward is the fact they’re both vampires. One trusted reader who’s a big Twilight fan suggested I change his name, but Edward’s Edward, and there’s more than one Edward on the planet. My editor and publisher had no problem with it. I also wanted the vampire aspect to be peripheral to this novel. It comes more to the center in the third book, especially where Justin is concerned.

Q: So where do your characters go from here?

DE: You’ll have to read the books to find out! How’s that for avoidance AND self-promotion! 😉 Seriously, the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, is about salvaging a pirate ship, and there’s a murder, AND Gwen and Justin face new obstacles in their relationship. There are definitely some surprises in that one, for readers who think they have a handle on Gwen and Justin. MYTH AND INTERPRETATION, a between-the-books novella deals with what Gwen and Justin deal with in New York, trying to build a stable, adult partnership and some of the obstacles they face in the life/work balance. It’s vital information needed to go into what happens in BALTHAZAAR, but it ruined the pace and plot of BALTHAZAAR, so we yanked it out and developed it into its own novella.

Excerpt ( takes place on Lindsfarne, at the old kilns):

A clap of thunder followed almost immediately by a flash of lightning startled them. The lightning snaked out of the sky and struck the rocky beach close enough to them the hairs on their arms tingled.
“Whoa!” Justin yelled.
“The kilns!” Gwen said. “It’s too far to make it back to town.”
They grabbed their belongings and ran into the nearest small, arched doorway cut in the rock as the rain poured down. Once inside, they stepped back. The kilns were empty stone spaces now, with two small arched openings out to the rocky ground, another larger one, and a fourth smaller one. They leaned against the side wall near the back to avoid the rain whipped in by the wind. Gwen tried to shove the wet hair out of her face.
“That came in fast,” said Justin. They watched the storm race across the rocks, lightning reaching out like electrical, skeletal fingers.
“Storms do here.” She shivered. “The storms usually leave almost as quickly as they come in. I should’ve paid attention. And I should have found us a secure indoor place to work, like the Crown and Anchor.”
“We’d have been noticed in a pub.”
“At least we wouldn’t be soaked to the skin. Sorry.”
“I’ll dry off,” said Justin. “I’m kind of glad to be in this big coat, even if it makes me look stupid.”
“You don’t look stupid. You—”
“Bloody hell! We’re not being paid enough for this bollocks!” A voice floated to them from right outside the kiln.
Gwen and Justin exchanged looks. Gwen pulled Justin farther back into the kilns. They were in the backmost corner, hidden by shadows thrown from the other archways, but not much else.
Two men, bundled in heavy coats, ducked just inside the protected arch. They stared out at the driving rain. They were almost within arm’s reach of Gwen and Justin, who barely dared to breathe.
“Ye can’t blame ’im for the weather now,” said one of the men, slightly shorter than the other.
“I can blame him for bloody hell anything I want,” said the man who spoke first. “We don’t even know who they are. Just a man and a woman. She’s got red hair; he don’t.”
Gwen and Justin stared at each other. Justin pulled off his hat and handed it to Gwen. She yanked it down and tucked her red hair under it.
The shorter man chuckled. “He’s just a jealous bloke. Wants to know what the missus is doing when he’s not there.”
“I wouldn’t have agreed if I hadn’t had too many pints,” the man said. “I don’t like to put my fists to a man unless I have a personal argument with him. Besides, I hate this island. Haunted it is.”
“We just wait out the storm, then walk around a bit. There’s a pub or two. We can ask around. Someone will have seen ’em. Don’t get too many strangers ’round here. They’ll be remembered.”
Justin leaned close to Gwen’s ear. “Is there another way out?” She pointed deeper into the kilns. They’d have to cross behind the men, hoping they didn’t dislodge any stones.
“I’m not staying here. Bloody tide’ll come in and fill this place right up.” The taller man shifted in his coat.
“No, it won’t. These kilns have been there for o’er two hunnard year. They wouldn’t have built ’em if they couldn’t use ’em in bad weather. Seein’s as that’s all you get here.”
“’Twill now. With all that global warming bollocks.”
“Ye’re not going all environmental on me, are ye? Next step, you’ll be vegetarian. That’ll ruin a good night out.”
“Nah. I still like me pint and me steak. But I’m regrettin’ agreein’ to this.”
“We took the man’s money. We’re not killin’ them or nothin’. Just givin’ them a what-for so they stop sneakin’ around together.”
Justin and Gwen looked at each other again.
Suddenly, a long, low howl filled the air. Justin and Gwen jumped because it sounded as though it was right beside them.
“What in the bloody hell?” the taller man asked.
The sound of footsteps padding toward them grew louder, along with a familiar sound of ragged breath. Another howl rent the air. A large dark head poked around the side of the archway. The two men screamed and nearly climbed over each other as they scrambled out and ran through the central arch into the storm. The large black dog turned to look at Gwen and Justin, then turned away and padded off.
“Am I completely hallucinating,” asked Justin, “or did that ghost dog from hell just wink at us?”

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TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan Mystery, $3.99 digitally here.

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Lists, Logs, and First Books of the Year

Lists and Logs:
I decided to keep a reading notebook for 2018. Handwritten, of course, and then share bits and pieces here and on Ink in My Coffee.

Not because I want to boast. But I want to see what I choose to read, whether for pleasure or because I’m paid to read it, or for research for a project. I also want to see how certain books lead to other books.

Some of these books will lead to a new, upcoming feature called “Conversations with a Book.” Sometimes, when I read a book, I feel as though I’m having a conversation with the book or its author. I plan to share some of these with you this year.

I couldn’t wait to start the book journal until January 1.

From December 22 to 31, I read 26 books. Doesn’t sound possible, does it, and I’m not boasting. I read a lot. I was hungry for words. I felt creatively tired, and knew that I’m on a brutal deadline schedule this year. I wanted to use other people’s words as fuel.

Three of them I am still reading — not yet finished. So I guess the actual total of completed reads is 23, not 26.

16 were non-fiction. That included two cookbooks (yes, I read cookbooks like most people read novels) and one biography that’s background for one of my novels.

One of the non-fiction books will result in a “Conversation with a Book” piece. I took extensive notes as I read.

8 were fiction. Of the fiction, 7 of the 8 were mysteries (the only non-mystery I read was re-reading A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which I do every Christmas Eve).

1 was digital, fiction, recommended by a friend. The rest were print books.

Four of the mysteries were a huge disappointment. In fact, one enraged me so much I don’t want to read anything else by that author, and I certainly won’t buy it. One of the others I liked a lot, one I thought was a lot of fun, and two I liked and respected, although I found them very sad.

11 were books I own; 5 of which were re-reads, 2 of which I bought because I wanted to, and 4 which were holiday gifts.

15 were library books.

What does that all mean?

I have absolutely no idea.

But several books led me to order other books, and we’ll see where that winds up.

First Book of the Year
For some reason, the first book of the year is important to me. I’m not sure when that started or why.

We usually give and receive books for Christmas and start reading them on Christmas Eve (we’re Icelandic that way). But the first book choice of the new year started mattering to me.

I remember living in Seattle in the mid-1980s and making a big deal of the choice. My first purchase and read that year was Gail Fairfield’s CHOICE CENTERED TAROT, which is still a favorite.

This year, in keeping with my resolution to read more poetry, my first read, shortly after midnight was LOCKSLEY HALL AND OTHER POEMS by Alfred Lord Tennyson. It’s a small, old volume that was a gift from a friend earlier this year.

I’d read Tennyson before, but this time the rose-colored glasses were off. I was surprised by my negative reaction. He’s supposed to be romantic, isn’t he? To me, the poems felt like the male narrator blamed the women in the poems for the narrator’s own weaknesses, while pretending to wrap it up in adoration for her. I want to do some more research — I think I may have another “Conversation with A Book” piece come out of it.

The book includes:
Locksley Hall
The May Queen
The Lady of Shalott (which, interestingly enough, was referenced in one of the mystery novels I read in the past few days)
The Lord of Burleigh
Lady Clara Vere de Vere

I plan to re-read them, several times, slowly, in the coming weeks, and research the questions that I came up with in response to the reading. I’ll let you know if I find any answers!

My first choice of novel was something that was given to me over a year ago, and I hadn’t had the chance to read it. I liked the title, and I was looking forward to it. Sadly, when I picked it up, I discovered it was written in the present tense. I loathe novels written in the present tense. To me, it’s the author standing there, screaming in my face, “Look at ME! I’m a such a great stylist!” instead of getting out of the way and letting me experience the book.

So I put the book down. I will give it to someone who can enjoy it. No, I’m not posting the title and author — I don’t believe in author bashing.

I picked up another novel I’d been given several years ago and not had the chance to read, LUNCH WITH ELIZABETH DAVID by Roger Williams, and I’m enjoying it.

Is your choice of first book of the year important to you? Why or why not? Have you read Tennyson? What are your impressions?

Do you keep track of what you read? What tools do you use? How do you find it helpful?

I’m asking because I’m genuinely curious!