About Me

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I spend most of my time daydreaming and creating otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic, and romance. All of my heroes have long hair, and my heroines are strong-willed. Prior to being a writer, I played bass guitar in an all-girl hard rock/metal band in southern California. When I'm not writing, editing, or reading, I enjoy practicing target archery.
 

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Doorway by Kelley Heckart

In the spirit of Samhain, here is a short story I wrote in honor of the original meaning of Halloween.

The Doorway
By Kelley Heckart

32 BC:

Mist covered the ground, swirling up around the stone altar that stood as a silent sentinel beneath the massive oak trees. A full moon illuminated the sacred grove revealing a woman lying motionless on the altar, and seven robed figures moving sunwise around the altar.

Beneath the hoods, their faces hidden in shadow, seven pairs of lips moved in chant. The beautiful and haunting voices melded together, floating as if borne on wings up through the trees and into the night sky.

The woman waited in anticipation for the cold blade of the dagger to pierce her heart, sending her soul on a journey to her next life. Her dark hair was streaked with gray, framing her gaunt face and her blue ceremonial robe hung on her diseased body. This body would not house her soul much longer. She was honored to leave the world in such a way. Without fear, she clutched her favorite brooch in her hand.

One of the figures broke from the circle and stood before the altar. The others continued to chant.

Long, ringed fingers reached beneath the robes and came out clutching a bronze dagger.

“On this eve of Samhain when the veil between the realm of the dead and the realm of the living is thinnest,” the gruff voice rumbled. “We send our sister from this life to the next. May her journey be filled with wondrous light.”

The chanting grew louder and faster. The dagger arced down toward the woman. Just before the whetted dagger reached her chest, a bright blue light appeared, opening like a doorway and enveloping the woman. The blue light vanished and the stone altar was empty. The woman was gone.

****

With lights flashing and siren wailing, Officer Duncan Murray rushed to a call he had just received—a 211 in progress.

It was Halloween and a full moon filled the night sky. He thought to himself that this was probably the first of many calls he would answer tonight.

Fingers gripping the wheel and adrenaline rushing, he sped along the winding, tree-lined road that passed the creepy mental hospital. He shivered when he saw the white ghostly figures of the lions that guarded the entrance.

The moon passed behind clouds, causing instant darkness.

She appeared out of nowhere in front of the speeding police car. With no time to stop, he heard the sickening thud and his car skidded to a stop near the entrance to the mental hospital. His heart pounding, he called for an ambulance and informed dispatch that they would have to send someone else on the 211 call.

Jumping from his squad car, he knelt next to the broken woman. The flashing lights of the squad car reflected the look of shock on his beardless face. He searched for a pulse, but there was none. Her wrist was cold as stone like she had been dead for hours. How odd, he thought. His trained eyes scrutinized the body, noting the strange blue robe.

A man appeared from between the white stone lions that guarded the entrance to the mental hospital. He wore a rumpled blue coat and he mumbled something.

Duncan turned to the man. “Do you work here?”

The man nodded. “As an orderly.”

Do you know this woman?” Duncan asked in a voice filled with authority.

The man stared in shock at the woman’s body, shaking his head.

The flashing red and blue lights on the squad car cast an eerie light on the whole scene.

“I s-saw this woman walking through the h-hall. I didn’t t-think she was a patient, but she l-looked crazy to me.”

What makes you say that?” Duncan’s eyes shifted to the woman.

“Well, look at her. S-she is wearing that strange blue robe and s-she kept muttering some gibberish to herself.”

“What sort of gibberish?”

The man thought a moment before giving his answer. “Something like Sow-in, Sow-in.”

That wasn’t gibberish, Duncan thought, his eyes shifting back to the woman’s body. That was the Celtic word for Halloween. A strange feeling crept over him.

The man continued his story. “I tried to stop her and s-she looked at me real w-weird like and I couldn’t move...like I was paralyzed.”

The man’s story sounded really weird, but Duncan had a feeling that the man told the truth. For some odd reason, Duncan thought back to the stories his Grandma used to tell him about his ancestors in Ireland. She told him that one of his ancestors was a powerful Druid priestess and that the Druids were known to make human sacrifices on the eve of Samhain to bring balance to the world.

“I guess w-we will never know the madwoman’s s-secret now,” the man muttered to himself.

The poor man was in shock. Duncan was feeling a little shaken up himself. He leaned against his car for support.

This place had always given him the creeps. According to old legends, the area used to be an ancient burial ground that even the Indians stayed away from. Supposedly it was still haunted. He didn’t believe in ghosts so he couldn’t understand why he suddenly wanted to leave this place.

The radio in his squad car squawked and Duncan reached into his car to answer it.

The sound of approaching sirens echoed through the night.

“Uh, Officer?” The man stared past Duncan’s shoulder at the spot where the body lay. “The b-body is gone!” he shouted.

His mind in a whirl, Duncan knelt next to the spot where just moments before a woman’s body had lain. He stared up at the moon now free of the clouds, his blue eyes dazed. He had just received disturbing news over the radio. The officer who answered the 211 call in his place had been shot and killed.

Something on the ground caught his eye, gleaming in the splash of moonlight. He bent down and picked it up, his hand shaking. It was a golden brooch with intricate spiral designs—the brooch that had belonged in his family for centuries, the brooch that was buried with his Grandmother.

A chill crawled up his spine.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The 18 Questions Survey for writers

I found this site and thought it might be a good way to promote my books. The best part is it is a free promotion. Just thought I would share my answers with everyone.

Kelley Heckart
http://www.kelleyheckart.com
Bio: Kelley lives in Arizona with her husband and two dogs. Though she has
one foot firmly planted on the earthly realm, the other foot often crosses the
barrier into the otherworldly realm of fierce warriors, faeries and magic. She
can be found online at http://www.kelleyheckart.com

1. Did you choose the writing profession or did it choose you? I think it chose me. It was never my goal to be a writer. I was a musician and thought that was what I would be doing with my life until some health problems and some soul searching changed my path, leading me to writing novels.

2. What is your background? (education, work, etc.) I have some college credits, but never received a degree. I worked as an accounting clerk for many years, but I think my real experience came to me because I read everything I could get my hands on that had to do with Celtic mythology or ancient history.

3. When did you 'know' you were a writer? I think I have always known that I was a storyteller. I realized I was a writer when my first book was published.

4. How would you describe your style of writing? I write with an engaging style that draws the reader into the story. At least that is what my editor told me and I agree with him. I try to make sure the story is compelling so that it will draw the reader in. I write Celtic fantasy romances and prefer to write about ancient or lesser known time periods.

5. What is your writing process? I usually have a basic idea of the story I want to tell and two main characters in mind. I like to make up character charts. This helps me discover the motivation of the characters. Then I write up a rough outline. I call it a rough outline because sometimes the characters may pull the story in a different direction so I don't always stick to the outline. When I am starting a story, I write in a notebook before I put anything on the computer. I am more relaxed when writing in a notebook for some reason.

6. What was your path to publication? I decided not to try to publish with any of the 'big' publishers. I figured that would take way too long so I went with an e-publisher and I am very happy. Ebooks are starting to gain recognition and there are a lot of well written ebooks out there. I just bought an ebook reader and most of the books I buy are ebooks.

7. What is your favorite self-marketing idea? This is a good question because I still don't know if I have this part of writing down. I think my website was the best idea so far. I also like to have book covers that really stand out to potential readers.

8. What are the biggest surprises you've encountered as a writer? I don't think I realized just how much work goes into publishing a book. I guess I thought I would write it and that was it. The editing process is my least favorite step to publishing.

9. How do you inspire yourself? What are your sources of creativity? I get inspired by reading mythology and history, especially about the Celts. Music is also a huge inspriation for me. I just finished a story called White Rose of Avalon that was inspired by a song I heard.

10. What is your proudest writer moment? My proudest writer moment was probably with White Rose of Avalon. I had to add 20,000 words to the story and I surprised myself by accomplishing it in less than two weeks. I didn't think I could do it and then an idea just hit me.

11. What's the best advice you were given about writing? The best advice came from a Creative Writing class--show not tell. I keep that posted near my computer to remind myself to follow it.

12. What is your most embarrassing writer moment? My most embarrassing writer moment was allowing my mom to proofread a story and forgetting to warn her about the spicy sex scenes. She said the first one shocked her because she wasn't prepared for it.

13. What business challenges have you faced as a writer? The business challenges I have faced are trying to think of more ways to promote myself and just keeping it all organized. I finally bought a planner so I can write in my goals. It has helped to motivate me more.

14. What is your writer life philosophy? Write from the heart.

15. When you're not writing what do you do for fun? When I am not writing or researching my next book, I enjoy reading fantasy and historicals. I am also addicted to t.v. My favorite shows right now are Smallville, Supernatural, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, House, Nip/Tuck, Ghost Whisperer...there are probably more I can't think of right now. When I get out of the house, I like to go for walks or go hiking. And music is still a huge part of me even though I don't play in a band any longer.

16. Who do you like to read? I like fantasy, historicals, romances. I like anything with supernatural elements. Some of my favorite authors are Ann Rice, Stephen King, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Morgan Llewelyn. There a few ebook authors I like too.

17. What's your advice for new writers? My advice to new writers would be to just keep writing--don't give up. And always write from your heart.

18. What are you currently working on? I am working on two books. The first one is a medieval fantasy romance called Cat's Curse set in Scotland in the sixth century. The second book is a prequel to my Of Water and Dragons and Ravenwolf books. I don't have a title yet for this one, but I am working with Goddess of the Flame.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

When a reviewer gets your book

It really makes me feel good when a reviewer does get my story and realizes it is fantasy and more like a faery tale than something that is supposed to be realistic. I think that people who like fantasy understand what I was trying to do then people who are die hard romance and erotica fans.

Love is not always based on lust. There can be deeper connections between two people. In fact, I find the stories based on lust unbelievable because in real life, if a guy gets a woman in bed right away, he usually doesn't want anything to do with her. For love to really last there has to be more than tingling nipples and aching shafts. I speak from personal experience.

I am not knocking romance and erotica fans because everyone is entitled to their own perception of what they like, but I just want people to understand where I am coming from. I do enjoy romance and erotica. There are some very talented writers in the genre, but I don't want my book getting criticised because I have a different perception of love.

I am learning to take the good with the bad and hold my head high. I will stick to my guns and write what I believe in.

Many thanks to the reviewers who get my story. You are awesome!