Monday, May 11, 2009

Frost Moon: Chapter 1 Excerpt

Each time I entered the National Novel Writing Month, I posted a good chunk of the start of each book on the Nanowrimo site - but it was never a complete excerpt.

Now, however, all of Chapter 1 of Frost Moon is online - check it out!

-the Centaur


Friday, May 8, 2009

Frost Moon: Coming Fall 2009

The publisher and I just talked, we're on the same page, and assuming we are both happy with the next edit we're working on, Frost Moon should hit the shelves in Fall 2009. There is a chance it could be delayed to January 2010 or that we can't come to agreement on the last few edits, but after our conversation I think the chance of serious problems is vanishingly small.

Keep your fingers crossed!

-the Centaur


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Synopses of Book 1 and 2

First Draft of Frost Moon on a USB Key

I've fleshed out the synopses of Frost Moon and Blood Rock at the Books page. Hopefully this will give more context than just the excerpts. Enjoy!

-the Centaur
Pictured: the first draft of Frost Moon, moments after I finished it and copied it to a USB key for safekeeping.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spoiler spacer ...

... since blog posts are in reverse order, and the beginning of Book 2 inevitably gives away things about the end of Book 1, I decided it was a bad idea to leave the top post of this blog a link to Book 2.

So this post is a spacer, designed to protect your eyes from spoilage of Skindancer Book 1. ;-) Click through to that before reading the intro to Book 2.

-the Centaur


Skindancer Book 2: Blood Rock

Blood Rock is the sequel to Frost Moon, and continues the story of "skindancer" Dakota Frost, a magical tattoo artist living in an alternate Atlanta.

SPOILER NOTE: The beginning of Blood Rock unavoidably gives away some things about Frost Moon - sorry. Keep it under your hats, and please don't tell anyone Anakin Skywalker is actually Darth Vader either.

And now: Blood Rock:

From the outside, my baby blue Prius looks as normal as can be: a streamlined bubble of a car with an aerodynamic rear-hitch bike rack, humming along on a hybrid gas/electric engine. She couldn’t scream ‘liberal soccer mom’ louder if she was a Volvo plastered with NPR stickers. Peer inside, however, and you see something completely different.

In the driver’s seat, yours truly: a six-foot two woman with a purple-and-black Mohawk – short in front, a la Grace Jones, but lengthening in back until it becomes a long tail curling around my neck. Striking, yes, but what really draws your eyes are my tattoos.

Starting at my temples, a rainbow of tribal daggers curls under the perimeter of my Mohawk, cascading down my neck, rippling out over my arms, and exploding in colorful braids of vines and jewels and butterflies. Beautiful, yes, but that’s not why you can’t look away — its because, out of the corner of your eye, you saw my tattoos move — there, they did it again! You swear, that leaf fluttered, that gem sparkled. It’s like magic!

Why, yes, they did move, and yes, they are magic. Thanks for noticing. All inked at the Rogue Unicorn by yours truly, Dakota Frost, best magical tattoo artist in the Southeast.

Beside me sits a five-nothing teenaged girl, listening to a podcast on her iPod. Normally she’s dressed in a vest and Capri pants, but today she’s in a shockingly conservative schoolgirl’s outfit that clashes with her orange hair and elaborate tiger-striped tattoos.

At first what you see is easy to interpret: an outsider trying to fit in, or a rebel suffering a forced fit. But then your eyes do another double take: are those … cat ears poking out from beneath her head scarf? Did they move? And is that a tail? My God, honey, could she be one of those … what are they called … “were-cats”?

Why yes, her ears did move, and yes, she’s a weretiger. But didn’t your mom tell you it’s rude to point? She has a name: Cinnamon Frost. And she’s my adopted daughter.

Both the Prius and the weretiger in its passenger seat are brand new to me. I met Cinnamon only two months ago, visiting a local werehouse to research a werewolf tattoo, and ended up adopting her after a serial killer damn near killed her trying to get to me. I picked up the Prius right around the same time, a little splurge after winning a tattooing contest.

The adjustment was hard at first: Cinnamon took over my house and tried to take over my life. But my Mom had been a schoolteacher, and I’d learned a few tricks. In the first few weeks after she moved in I put the hammer down, never smiling, setting clear boundaries for her behavior and my sanity. Finally — when she got past the point of the tears, the “not-fairs,” and the most egregious misbehaviors — I eased up, and we once again shared the easy “gee you’re a square but I like you anyway” camaraderie we’d started with.

Now we were peas in a pod; whenever I went out she tagged along, riding shotgun, listening to her audiobooks while I jammed to Rush. The two of us look as different as can be, except for the identical stainless steel collars about our necks, but one minute seeing the two of us laughing together and you’d think I’d been her mother for her whole life.

But today my sunny bundle of fur was feeling quite sullen.

“Don’t worry,” I said, patting her knee softly. One of them will accept you.”

-the Centaur


Skindancer Book 1: Frost Moon

Skindancer: Frost Moon was my 2007 National Novel Writing Month contest entry - my response to the challenge to start a new novel in November and to write 50,000 words of the first draft before the end of the month. Skindancer describes what Dakota does and is the tentative name of the series; Frost Moon sounds cool and is the full moon that happens in November.

And now, the beginning of Frost Moon. Enjoy.

Frost Moon

I first started wearing a Mohawk to repel low-lifes — barflies, vampires, Republicans, and so on — but when I found my true profession it turned into an ad. People’s eyes are drawn by my hair — no longer a true Mohawk, but a big, unruly “deathhawk,” a stripe of feathered black, purple and white streaks climbing down the center of my head — but they linger on the tattoos, which start as tribalesque vines in the shaved spaces on either side of the ’hawk and then cascade down my throat to my shoulders, flowering into roses and jewels and butterflies.

Their colors are so vivid, their details so sharp many people mistake them for body paint, or assume that they can’t have been done in the States. Yes, they’re real; no, they’re not Japanese — they’re all, with a few exceptions, done by my own hand, right here in Atlanta at the Rogue Unicorn in Little Five Points. Drop by — I’ll ink you. Ask for Dakota Frost.

To retain the more … perceptive … eye, I started wearing an ankle-length leather vest that shows off the intricate designs on my arms, and a cutoff top and lowrider jeans that that show off a tribal yin-yang on my midriff. Throughout it all you can see the curving black tail of some thing big, beginning on the left side of my neck, looping around the yin-yang on my midriff, and arcing through the leaves on my right shoulder. Most people think it’s a dragon, and they wouldn’t be wrong; in case anyone misses the point, I even have the design sewn into the back of a few of my vests.

But those who live on the edge might see a little more: magical runes woven in the tribal designs, working charms woven into the flowers, and, if you look real close at the tail of the dragon, the slow movement of a symbolic familiar. Yes, it did move; and yes, that’s real magic. Drop by the Rogue Unicorn — you’re still asking for the one and only Dakota Frost, the best magical tattooist in the Southeast.

The downside to being a walking ad, of course, is that some of the folks you want to attract start to see you as a scary low-life. We all know that vampires can turn out to be quite decent folk, but so can cleancut young Republicans looking for their first tattoo to impress their tree-hugger girlfriends. As for barflies, well, they’re still barflies; but unfortunately I find the more tats I show the greater the chance that the cops will throw me into the back of the van too if a barfight breaks out.

So I couldn’t help being nervous as two officers marched me into City Hall East...

-the Centaur


Monday, May 4, 2009

Dakota Frost, Skindancer

Dakota Frost: tall, tattooed, edgy - and the best magical tattooist in the Southeast. Come to the Rogue Unicorn in Atlanta, see her work in the flesh - and on her flesh - and you'll believe a tattoo can come to life. And if you're brave enough to sit in her chair, she'll bring one to life on you.

In a version of Atlanta not too different from your own, magic which had been suppressed for centuries was dragged into the light by the counterculture of the Twentieth Century. Now, in the dawn of the Twenty-First, werewolves and vampires prowl the night, the people of the Edge have learned to play with magic - and tattoo magic has the sharpest edge of them all.

Welcome, reader, to the Edgeworld - the world of the skindancer, Dakota Frost.

-Anthony Francis