Last Chance to Win a Copy of Corcitura Before Halloween!

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Giveaway Banner

Many thanks to the fabulous Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction for featuring Corcitura this week—and creating such a spooktacular giveaway banner! And speaking of that banner…if you click on it, you will be taken to Jesse’s site, where you can read some behind-the-scenes info about Corcitura and also enter the giveaway for your chance to bring my vampires home! In a completely literary sense, of course. You wouldn’t want them to show up in the flesh. Trust me on this one. :}

Good luck! 😀

Best wishes,

Me Sig!

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Exclusive Excerpt: Madelaine and the Vampires

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*drum roll* Well, here it is! I’ve been wanting to let Maddie have her say for the longest time, and, today, she speaks! Be sure to stop by Oh, For the Hook of a Book to read this never before released exclusive excerpt and “be there” as Maddie has a conversation with death and sees something familiar in the eyes of a wolf:

http://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/exclusive-creepy-excerpt-of-teaster-chapter-from-melika-luxs-corcitura-a-gothic-vampire-read/

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway before you leave!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/OTg4YjQzMDA1MjEzZWRlNTcyNmZkNjQyMzFkYjE2OjM=/

Best wishes,

Me Sig!

Learn the history behind Corcitura at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

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Today, I am beyond excited that the lovely and multi-talented Erin Al-Mehairi of Oh, For the Hook of a Book! is showcasing a behind-the-scenes look at how Corcitura was created. Wondering why the book takes place before Dracula was even published? Then head over to Erin’s blog to find out that—and more!

http://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/melika-lux-shares-article-how-she-wrote-her-unique-gothic-vampire-story-corcitura/

And make sure to check back tomorrow for a never before published excerpt from the POV of the only female narrator in Corcitura, Madelaine Dennison. Writing Maddie’s part of the story from her vantage point was a wonderful experience, most especially since that was the first time I had written in first person present tense. After that, I was hooked on that wonderful and immediate writing style, which I plan to utilize much more in the future.

But wait, there’s more! 😉 While you’re getting a peek into Maddie’s world tomorrow, be sure to enter the Corcitura giveaway for your chance to bring home a Kindle copy of the book just in time for Halloween!

Don’t miss out!! 😀

Best wishes,

Me Sig!

Corcitura is part of Paranormal Palooza! :D

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A big thank you to the fabulously talented Ruth Silver (author of Aberrant and Moirai) for hosting Corcitura today as part of the month long, blog-wide Paranormal Palooza event! Head on over to Ruth’s site to learn what my top 10 fave books are (plus a few extras!), read an all new interview, and enter the Corcitura giveaway for your chance to bring home a Kindle copy of the novel, just in time for Halloween! And, really, what’s more Halloweeney than vampires, I ask you? 😉

Here’s the link!

http://writeawaybliss.com/corcitura-by-melika-dannese-lux/

Please continue to spread the word! 😀

Best wishes,

Me Sig!

Craving a fangtastic vampire read? Then enter the Corcitura giveaway!

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Many thanks to the lovely Ren @ A Little Bit of R&R for spotlighting Corcitura and hosting a giveaway today! Make sure to enter within the next twenty days for your chance to bring home a Kindle copy (US only) of Corcitura—perfect reading for this time of year. Hybrid vampires, werewolves that are so much more than what they seem, supernatural mayhem and mystery…and a little boy who cries blood. Sound like a great Halloween read? Then what are you waiting for?!

Here’s the link: http://alittlebitofrnr.com/spotlight-giveaway-corcitura-by-melika-dannese-lux/

Please spread the word! 😀

Best wishes,

Me Sig!

City of Lights is an IBD Award Winner!!!!!

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City of Lights IBD Award Winning Badge!!! :D

 

Wow, this is amazing! I’m so excited to announce that City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier has WON the Indie Book of the Day Award!!!!

Royal Certificates

Isn’t that awesome?! 😀

Please spread the word! 😀

Best wishes,

Melika

Melika’s Top 10 & Corcitura Giveaway at I Read Indie!

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It’s time for some fun on this Monday morning! Today, my Top 10 is being featured on the fabulous blog, I Read Indie. Many thanks to the equally fabulous Mandy for letting me hop on over to her site and share a little bit about myself and Corcitura! It was great fun! 😀

As a bonus, I am also giving away two Kindle copies of Corcitura to US residents! Follow the link to enter in the next six days for your chance to win:

http://twimom101bookblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-fabulous-top-10-with-melika-dannese.html

And while you’re there, check out a rather sanguinary excerpt from Corcitura.

Cheers!

Melika

Top 10 Reposted!

1. Fav song/singer?

My favorite song is usually whatever I’m listening to while writing. Sometimes, a scene calls for absolute silence, while at others, it’s nice to have something pumping in the background to get the ideas flowing. For City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier, I listened to Lifehouse’s Hanging by A Moment. This song was a tremendous inspiration for me and became Ilyse and Ian’s anthem. For Corcitura, I listened mainly to Promentory from the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack when I was writing dramatic/conflict or chase scenes (the constant beat really helped focus my thoughts) and then Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis when I wrote a death scene for one of the vampires in the book. Given the sanguinary nature of the lyrics, I thought it was appropriate. 😉

For the dystopian/fantasy novel I began last year (and am still working on), I wrote the entire prologue while listening to Lux Aeterna (the version with LOTR-esque percussion and vocals). My gosh, that song is great background music when you’re writing about gargantuan beasts attacking in all their terrible grandeur! So fitting. For the other two chapters that I’ve written so far, I listened to the Gladiator soundtrack and other epic music compilations I discovered on YouTube.

Currently, for Uendelig (the first book in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light, an eight part series of loosely connected novellas in which young adults battle against creatures and fantastical beings from the otherworld that have crossed the void and ended up in our own), I haven’t been listening to anything while writing the opening chapters, but when I get to the draugr scene toward the end of the book, I know I’ll be digging into my stockpile of epic music to find something worthy for battle. 😉

Celine Dion has been my favorite singer since I was eight years old. I was lucky enough to see her in concert at Caesar’s Palace in 2005. Some singers sound terrible live, but Celine sounded amazing, even better than she does on her CDs. She was also really interactive and did quite a bit of dancing and kept up an incredible energy and excitement level throughout the whole show. It was a tremendous experience, and one that I’ll never forget!

2. Fav season?

Definitely fall. Just the feel of it. You can almost sense that it’s time to break out The Turn of the Screw for a millionth reread. Or is that just me? 😉 I love the crispness in the air, the glorious burnt orange and golden hued leaves, the carte blanche you have to read all the scary/classic Halloweeney books (think The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, etc.) you want and classify them as “seasonal reading” without making all your Goodreads friends wonder if you’ve been bitten by a vampire and somehow developed strangely macabre reading tastes. 😉 Plus, fall also means I get to bake these delicious chocolate chip pumpkin spice cookies that have become a tradition with me over the last few years.

3. Worst vacation?

I haven’t had one yet, thank goodness, although when I visited Paris in 2004, my hotel room was the size of a shoebox. There was also only ONE iron in the entire hotel, as we discovered when the concierge knocked on our door the second day we were there and asked for it back! But that’s beside the point. The important thing was, I was in Paris, and apart from the smallness of the hotel, the location was fantastic! I spent most of my time seeing the sights and wandering around the Rue de Rivoli, making daily stops at W. H. Smith English Booksellers. They were running a £2 for £5 and £3 for £10 sale, so I stocked up on all the UK Penguin editions of the Jeeves novels that weren’t available back home. I would go back to Paris just to shop there! 😉

4. Guilty pleasure?

British detective & mystery shows. I can’t get enough of them! Midsomer Murders was the show that launched me on this trajectory three and a half years ago, and I haven’t looked back since, moving on to Miss Marple (with Joan Hickson), Campion, Inspector Alleyn, Rosemary & Thyme, and, my most recent favorite (and probably most favorite of all) Inspector Lewis. As if visiting the haunts of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien weren’t incentive enough to go to Oxford, there is now the added chance that I might bump into Robbie Lewis and Jamie Hathaway while they are on a case. 😉 Thanks to Netflix (I love you streaming!), I’m currently time-warping back to the 1920s and enjoying Tommy & Tuppence. Such fun, and Tuppy’s hats are amazing!! 😀

5. Fav book and/or author?

David Copperfield. I read this book close to sixteen years ago and can still quote passages and remember scenes vividly. All the suffering and hardships this young 19th century Englishman endured and all the mistakes he made in love and in life transcended the ages and became so relevant to me, a preteen living in the United States in the 20th century. That is truly a testament to the genius of Charles Dickens. It is also what I think makes a book a classic—its timelessness.

My favorite author is Agatha Christie. I’ve read 40 of her books and plan to spend many happy years reading the rest of them. 😀

6. One item you cannot live without?

As a writer, this would definitely be…my computer!!! I cannot even imagine writing a book, let alone a 700 page novel like Corcitura, in longhand. My admiration for Charlotte Bronte and Dickens especially (who was not known for his brevity) has skyrocketed ever since I became a writer. How did they do it?!

7. Hobby?

I’m a classically trained violinist, pianist, and soprano and have been performing since I was three. I wouldn’t call this a hobby, but for something completely frivolous and unbookish, I can probably recite the entire script of Jaws, complete with dialects and sound effects, and enhanced by the singing of various sea shanties! You wouldn’t want to watch the movie with me. I can also do a pretty mean Gollum impersonation, precious.

8. Fav movie/actor/actress?

Jaws. No question. I started watching Shark Week the year it premiered and became fascinated with Jaws around the age of five when I went to Pic ‘n Save and saw the movie poster. I didn’t see the movie in full until I was 15, but I can’t remember a moment when I wasn’t aware of Jaws. It’s been a part of my life for years.

My other favorite movie is The Fellowship of the Ring. I love the whole trilogy, but The Fellowship (and Gandalf) had a direct bearing on my decision to become a writer, so it will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Favorite actor…hmm…how about we do a modern one and one from the past? Russell Crowe for modern (I love him in every movie I’ve seen him in, but am a huge fan of his historical epics  Gladiator, Robin Hood, and Master & Commander), and Danny Kaye, who has provided me with countless hours of laughter since I was a kid. There are also many classic actors I’m a fan of, including Humphrey Bogart, Tyrone Power, James Cagney, and Gregory Peck.

Favorite actress…Judi Dench. Love her! Her movies are great, but I’m a huge fan of her BBC sitcom As Time Goes By. I can watch that show over and over again, and have. I own the complete series (plus the reunion specials) on DVD, and am actually rewatching the final few seasons for what is probably the millionth time. It’s such a great show—like visiting with old friends. 😀

I also love a bevy of classic actresses, too, such as Greer Garson, Vivien Leigh, Lauren Bacall, Maureen O’Hara, and Grace Kelly, just to name a few.

9. Fav food?

Jarlsberg cheese! Give me a handful of Jarlsberg, and I can write for hours.

10. Who would you like to meet? (dead or alive?)

Can’t I invite them all over for a ghostly dinner party and count them as one? No? Ok, then, let me think. I’ll keep it in the authorial realm and settle on C. S. Lewis. Jack! The Chronicles of Narnia have been a constant source of inspiration across all areas of my life for many years. I’ve read and reread my copies of the books to ragged shreds. One of my favorite of Jack’s quotes is “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I would love to hear him talking about his thought process when creating such magnificent stories that are relevant to both young people and adults, since that is something that I strive to do in my own writing. I would also love to have a deep conversation with him about faith, God, and, of course…The Inklings! Ideally, this chat would take place between us in the “Rabbit Room” at The Eagle and Child. Then Jack could give me a tour of Oxford, where we might just run into Professor Tolkien—and I would make Tollers read the “Riddles in the Dark” scene from the Hobbit in Gollum’s voice. As you can see, I’m determined to meet at least one other person from my phantasmal dinner party. 😉

New Interview and Corcitura Giveaway at Shut Up and Read!

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Happy Friday, everyone! Many exciting things are happening today! Head on over to Shut Up and Read for my latest interview, in which you will learn about the characters of Corcitura, discover what 80’s fantasy movie caused me to break my ankle as a child, read a brand new excerpt from the novel, and find out the latest news about Uendelig and the other planned works in my eight part novella series, Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light.

And don’t forget to enter within the next six days for your chance to win one of five Kindle (US only) copies of Corcitura! http://shutupandreadgroup.blogspot.com/2013/07/q-with-melika-dannese-lux.html

Read on for the interview and short excerpt! 😀

1. Tell us a little bit about your main characters.

I had always wanted to try my hand at writing a book with multiple narrators. It’s fascinating how one character can perceive something and another can think he or she is completely insane and see the same events in a whole new light. When I set out to write Corcitura, I decided the best way to tell the story would be to have a trio of narrators pick up the strands and weave them into a tale that spans the years 1888-1895 and about a half dozen locations in Europe and America. Each narrator is interconnected with the others in ways he or she only begins to understand as the story progresses and the mystery deepens.

The lion’s share of the novel is spent with Eric Bradburry, an eighteen-year-old Englishman who embarks on a grand tour of Europe with his best friend, Stefan Ratliff. To Eric, the whole trip is a chance to see the world and possibly have the greatest adventure of his young life. The fact that he and Stefan are striking out on their own for the first time only adds to his rather grand expectations. He and Stefan have been inseparable for years (13, to be exact), and Eric has always trusted Stefan with his life, so when things begin to unravel almost the minute he and Stefan meet up with a coterie of bewitching and otherworldly people in Paris, Eric essentially has to grow up overnight and make several life shattering choices to try and save not only Stefan’s, but his own life and soul as well.

Six years later in Gilded Age New York, we meet Madelaine Dennison, our second narrator. Madelaine is a strong woman who fights for what she wants and is not afraid to speak her mind, even to her father (and this was a dicey thing at best in the Victorian age!), regardless of the consequences. She would literally “go to hell and back and cut off the devil’s head” to save the ones she loves. Madelaine, as one character calls her, is “a brick” and such a vital part of the second half of Corcitura that I don’t know how certain characters would have made it through without her. Can you tell I’m a fan of Miss Dennison? 😉

And then there is Zigmund Fertig. I love all my characters, of course, but Zigmund (the third and final narrator of Corcitura) is my favorite. Don’t tell the others. 😉 The shock and horror he endured at a young age at the hands of a Vrykolakas and the resentment and confusion he carried with him for thirty-odd years endeared him to me most, especially because everything he thought he knew about his parents and what he was a part of in Greece turned out to be a far cry from what really happened. I absolutely LOVED writing his narrative and exploring those feelings/emotions/demons he struggles to overcome, and whether or not he could ever overcome them at all. This conflict was vitally important to the outcome of the stories of all the other characters because their fates were so intertwined with the choices he might make. So Zigmund Fertig will always hold a very special place in my heart.

But, of course, you want to know about the vampires, right? Along with the Upyr and the Vrykolakas who create the Corcitura, there are several female vampiric characters, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise by revealing their identities to you prematurely. If you love seeing female vampire protagonists having a major role in the outcome of a story, then you will love the two in this book. Let’s hear it for the girls! They have enough history and chutzpah to fill volumes more, which is my intended plan. Oh, and, by the way, they also happen to be werewolves, and if that duality doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will!

Finally, there is Greydanus, who has a huge role to play towards the end of the novel. Keep an eye out for him because if I tell you his lineage now, the whole plot will be blown to smithereens. Suffice it to say, the last half of the book hinges on the secret birthright of the little boy who cries blood.

2. How long have you been writing, and when did you first consider yourself an author?

I’ve been writing books since I was fourteen, but I first considered myself an author when I completed a novel at the age of 18. The fact that I had actually finished something that was publishable solidified my decision to pursue this career path.

3. How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

The fact that my mother started reading to me when I was in the womb and my father told me wild, not-exactly-verifiable tall tales while I was still in the cradle, really engendered in me an early love for reading. I was also brought up on Classics and some really fantastic literature, which was the first step in causing the writing seeds to germinate from a young age.

Following on from this early fascination with storytelling, a big part of my childhood was spent watching and marveling over fantasy movies and TV shows (Willow, The Neverending Story, Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, and Return to Oz, to name a few). I was a sponge for these films and shows and couldn’t get enough of all their magic and wonder. And to show you how deep my love for these movies ran, at the age of three, I broke my ankle pretending to be Dorothy as she stepped across the rocks to avoid the quicksand. Yes, I was hooked from a very early age. 😉

When it came time to write my first novel, I naturally set it in the fantasy genre. This was the book I began at fourteen but abandoned for school, life, and other projects. However, in July of last year, I broke the manuscript out of the attic and began totally transforming it into a dystopian epic set in a brutal and lawless world. The entire theme and outcome of the story have changed drastically but all the exciting bits (mythical beasts, hidden identities, battles, political intrigue, and some truly horrifying and treacherous villains) are still part of the fabric of the story. With the passage of years, however, everything within the story seems to have more meaning and gravitas to me now. It is definitely not the same book I would have written as a fourteen-year-old, so I am very happy I put the novel on hold.

You should also know that Gandalf is directly responsible for my decision to become a writer. It was all that wizard’s fault! 😉 My mind was made up in the winter of 2001 as I sat in a darkened theater and heard Gandalf the Grey speak the following line to Frodo Baggins:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

That was it, and I haven’t looked back since. 🙂

In addition to loving fantasy, I was also a big fan of monsters, vampires in particular, so it was only natural that I would start writing about them, too, one day. A project begun in 2003 was finally finished nine years later with the publication of Corcitura, a 700 page novel about vampires that vampirised me! I remember watching an interview with Elizabeth Kostova once and laughing when I heard her say it took her a decade to write The Historian. At the time, I thought that was insane. A decade to write a single book?! Inconceivable! Serves me right for scoffing at her. 😉

In my current projects, what I’ve noticed is that I’m getting away from historically based novels and going back to my fantasy roots. Not straight or high fantasy, although a few projects down the line, I am planning on beginning work again on a fantasy duology that I’ve been writing on and off since 2003. One of the books in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light, an eight part series of loosely connected novellas I’m writing now (the first, Uendelig, will be released in a month or two), actually serves as a prequel to my fantasy duology, set 60 years before the action of the book.

My last two novels were set in our world’s past (City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier being a YA historical romance with a dash of sibling conflict; Corcitura being a combination of many genres, but set within a historical time frame), but even though my upcoming novella series is also set in our world, each story is infused with fantasy and the supernatural, dealing with creatures from the otherworld crossing the void into and wreaking havoc on our own. I love dropping the phantasmal into everyday life and seeing how my characters react—some with horror, some with laughter, others with extreme annoyance, as is the case in one novella with a character who finds it highly inconvenient that his brother is now undead. It’s great fun! 😀

4. What is a Corcitura and where did the idea come from to turn it into a book?

I’m so glad you asked! 😉 Corcitura is the Romanian word for hybrid. It has no vampiric connotations whatsoever, but before I tell you why I chose this as the name for my new creature, how about a little backstory?

A year before I even got the idea for the Corcitura, I had seen a painting that sent my mind reeling with all the possible implications behind it. The painting was “Oh, what’s that in the hollow?” by Edward Robert Hughes.

Oh, what's that in the hollow

I took one look at that painting and screamed “VAMPIRE!” There’s something so morbidly entrancing and enigmatic about that painting. Is he dead? The sheen of his nearly translucent eyes certainly seems to suggest it. But what if he’s just resting until the moon rises? I only recently found out that he is dead! But back then, I was still in the dark, and so I did what all good storytellers do: I totally ignored the inconvenient facts behind the painting and ran roughshod with my inspiration. Those translucent eyes were never far from my mind and inspired me so much that they found life in the book’s eponymous creature.

So, why vampires, after all? Out of all the monsters of myth, vampires had always been my favorites. I had always been fascinated by how they could be suave and alluring on the outside (or when the sun wasn’t up), but with the flick of a barbed tongue, turn into slavering, fang-toothed, bloodsucking beasts. The juxtaposition fascinated me, since in original folklore almost all vampires are essentially plagues. Some just know how to mask their true nature better than others.

I knew if I was going to write about vampires, they’d better be different and intriguing, and since I have always been crazy for folklore from different parts of the world, this idea gave me an excuse to explore vampire mythology. It’s fascinating reading, freaky, but fascinating. Up until this point, I had the rudiments of a novel, but my vampire was content to stay in the background, kicking through my mind until he finally distinguished himself enough to get the story going. Until then, I had nicknamed him “Our Combo,” since he was going to be a hybrid—created after being bitten by two vampires of differing species. Realizing that I couldn’t continue with such a McDonald’s Value Meal sounding name, I took the next step in finding out what the word “hybrid” in Romanian was (since Stefan’s family has a long and torturous history deep in the soil of that country). I have Romanian ancestors, so digging deeper into the country’s myths and legends was an added bonus. When I discovered that corcitura meant hybrid, I thought about it, and since I didn’t like any of the names I’d made up in the interim, it eventually stuck.

Yet the real impetus behind the idea of having the victim be a hybrid came down to one thing: sunlight. Yes, that’s how the whole “combo” idea started—finding a way to make sure my vampire would be able to frolic around during daylight hours without being charred to ashes by the sun’s rays. For three months, I went back and forth on how a vampire could achieve this, during which time I whittled down my choices for favorite vampire candidates. Once I started seeing how different the strengths and weaknesses were, and understanding how much more indestructible the combined blood of two vampires would be (plus the human blood of the original victim), I knew I was on the right path, and settled on the Vrykolakas (from Greece) and the Upyr (from Russia) for the creators of my new vampiric species.

5. What is the best advice you have been given?

One thing I always keep in mind is a quote from St. Catherine of Siena: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” That quote, and the message behind it, has really helped me to not be swayed by unscrupulous people or other flash in the pan fads and associations in this ever changing and chaotic industry. In the same spirit, the best advice that I’ve been given has come from my parents, loved ones, and other authors whom I admire: be true to yourself and never compromise your principles in your quest to get ahead. In other words, stay grounded!

6. Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m a classically trained violinist, pianist, and soprano and have been performing since I was three. For something completely frivolous, I can probably recite the entire script of Jaws, complete with dialects and sound effects, and enhanced by the singing of various sea shanties! You wouldn’t want to watch the movie with me. I can also do a pretty mean Gollum impersonation, precious.

7. Hard/paperbacks or eBooks?

Both! I publish digitally and in paperback format, and for a while there I never thought I would be comfortable reading on the Kindle. However, I have recently become a huge devotee and seem to be reading more books than ever on a digital device! It’s so convenient and almost like discovering some lost cave of wonders with all the free Classics available on there. I think I’ve just about completed my entire Alexandre Dumas, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens collections thanks to the Kindle. Not only has it saved me thousands of dollars, but my library shelves are thanking me for not weighing them down more than they already are!

While I am excited about Kindle and seem to discover new books every day, I still love the actual feel of a book in my hands and will never totally stop reading or buying physical books. I have too many of them in my library, plus, I also have a colossal collection of bookmarks that would stage a revolt if I ever abandoned them. 😉

8. What book are you reading now?

Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie. I can always count on her to really get my mind puzzling over all those red herrings. Her books are so much fun! 😀

I love to chat with readers and other writers. Please feel free to connect with me on any or all of the following sites:

My web site: https://booksinmybelfry.com/ There are five more excerpts from Corcitura, plus a selection of quotes from each of the three main narrators, available on my web site. I also have a whole host of fun things relating to the book and my other novel and upcoming projects/releases posted there, so be sure to check them out if you’re curious! 😀

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/BooksInMyBelfry

My Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/950456.Melika_Dannese_Lux

My Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/booksinmybelfry/boards/

Short Excerpt

Taken from Corcitura, Chapter 8, A Tavern in Venice

        “A toast to you, my brother,” he said, lifting his glass. “May your eyes be opened on this night, and may you see as you have never seen before. Knowledge is a very powerful thing. Drink and be free.”
       Red light shot through the glass, red light reflected from the candle guttering in its holder above my head. My eyes darted up toward the ceiling. First impressions are tricky things, and mine had been wrong—horribly wrong. There were no angels in these panels. What had I been thinking before? Demons cavorted in a pit of rocks and shattered skulls. Fire licked their hellish bodies as they danced through one torture scene after another. In the center panel, a huge, black-winged beast devoured something that was still kicking as it was being forced down the devil’s gullet.
       How could it still be kicking? Or, more importantly, how could I see it kicking?
       The figures in the panel were moving.
       Their movements were slow, tortured, dreamlike, but real—undeniably real. I watched, entranced, unable to turn away, as one poor soul after another was raked across hot coals or had its ashen flesh stripped by one of the devil’s overseers.
       I put my hand to my mouth, but still my eyes remained riveted to the ceiling. The other panels did nothing to cure my nausea. Eleven horned beasts—looking like crosses between satyrs and devils—formed a circle around a giant creature, half dragon, half man, that held a severed head aloft in its clawed hands. Blood dripped from the stump, falling into the waiting mouths of some of the beasts, as the others caught the liquid in black chalices.
       The fresco was blatantly hellish, but its living replica was even worse.
       I had lied to myself from the very beginning, deceived myself into believing that I was being fanciful and overly imaginative. Surely such monstrosities only existed in nightmares? Yet I had lived through a nightmare these past months, and that was no dream at all.
       I was still fighting against the awful truth, not wanting to give in, searching my mind for a logical explanation—but there was none. And the most horrible realization of all was that I had known, somewhere deep inside, ever since the day I first set eyes on that silver-tongued devil in Paris.
       Plague carrier.
       Living death.
       Drainer of life.
       The phrasing did not matter. No euphemism could strike fear into the hearts of men the way that single word could.
       Vampire.
       And for me, the uninitiated, that single word meant death.

Melika’s Interview and City of Lights Giveaway at the Homeschool Authors Blog!

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I am so thrilled today to be featured on the Homeschool Authors Blog! Many thanks to Sarah Holman for letting me share a little bit about myself, City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier, and Corcitura on her wonderful site.

Please don’t forget to enter within the next ten days for your chance to win a Kindle copy (US residents only) of City of Lights!

http://homeschoolauthors.blogspot.com/2013/07/interview-with-melika-lux.html

And now…the interview!

Melika, Welcome to Homeschool Authors.  

Hi Sarah! It’s great to be here! 

Describe yourself in five words. 

God-loving. Loyal. Creative. Focused. Joyful. 

Tell us a little more about yourself. 

I have been an author since I was fourteen and write YA/NA historical fiction, suspense, supernatural thrillers, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories—you name it, I write it! I love to read just about anything and everything and am particularly fond of historical fiction, the classics, mysteries, epic fantasy, history, and non-fiction. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.

If I had not decided to become a writer, I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I am very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders. 

What was your favorite part of being homeschooled? 

I received so many blessings as a result of being homeschooled! I would not be the writer I am today if it had not been for my fantastic high school English curriculum, which could be defined as “classics, classics, classics!” Homeschooling instilled in me such a love and appreciation for these phenomenal works. Additionally, I believe reading classics from a young age molds your mind to appreciate fine literature. It’s like being classically trained in voice—if you have great training, you can sing anything. The same goes for reading. Even though I read a great variety of books from different genres, classics remain my favorites and are my “go-to” books.

Homeschooling also taught me the value of independent study and being self-sufficient. You certainly can’t blame your schoolmates for holding you back when you are the only one in the class! This self-reliance and discipline went on to help me a great deal in college, graduate school, and my post-academic life ever since.  

Who is your favorite literary character? 

I have to pick just one?! All right, it would have to be David Copperfield. I read this book close to sixteen years ago and can still quote passages and remember scenes vividly. All the suffering and hardships this young 19th century Englishman endured and all the mistakes he made in love and in life transcended the ages and became so relevant to me, a preteen living in the United States in the 20th century. That is truly a testament to the genius of Charles Dickens. It is also what I think makes a book a classic—its timelessness.

What caused you to start writing?

My love for writing grew out of an early love for reading.  I think what led me to this point, what essentially caused the inspiration to germinate, was that my mother started reading to me when I was in the womb, and my father told me wild, not-exactly-verifiable tall tales while I was still in the cradle.  I remember writing little stories and vignettes when I was a very young child and also staging my first play (an adaptation of King of Kings) when I was eight years old.  The budget was nonexistent, so my family was conscripted into the production, with my dad and mom playing six parts each.  I think that was when the writing bug first reared its head and bit me squarely on the heart. I felt a little like Cecil B. DeMille after that.  There is a VHS of the play floating around somewhere.  It is one of my first memories of writing.

One turning point I can recall was when I was about eleven or twelve.  I wrote a very short story along the lines of Jurassic Park.  It was about a brother and sister being chased to the edge of a cliff by a T-Rex.  The kids gave the Rex the old “one-two-jump!” fake out and the dinosaur tumbled over the cliff.  End of story—happily ever after for everyone except the Rex. But the point was that it was fun! I had actually finished something I’d set out to write! It was great, even though it was only six pages long! You have to start somewhere, right?

However, I had never considered turning writing into a career until I read Crime and Punishment when I was a senior in high school.  There was just something about that book and the way Dostoevsky painted with words that inspired me and made me seriously think about becoming a storyteller. But the real impetus behind my decision came in the winter of 2001 as I sat in a darkened theater and heard Gandalf the Grey speak the following line to Frodo Baggins:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

That was it, and I haven’t looked back since. 🙂 

What inspired City of Lights? 

City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier

One night in December 2002, I was puttering around in my room when I suddenly started singing verses of a song I had made up in that moment.

“Tonight’s the last time that I’ll see your face, my love. This dreadful moment has finally come to be. Tonight the passion ends for you and me, my love. I’m traveling to a place where life will be hell for me…good-bye.”

My mind exploded with questions. Who was this girl? Why was she being forced to give up her love? Why would her life be so awful?

From that song, City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier was born. The song became Tonight, the lyrics directly inspiring the novel and making their way into a pivotal scene toward the end of the book. Now, the only thing remaining was a setting. I’m a singer, a Francophile, and a devotee of fin de siècle culture and literature, so the idea of Paris, forbidden love, and the added tension arising from my heroine being estranged from her brother (her only living relative) was too exciting not to pursue.

My grand plan all along was (and still is) for City of Lights to be a musical.  In addition to Tonight, I wrote eight other songs that inspired further chapters and the overall story arc, the lyrics of those songs also being adapted into dialogue and scenes. Even though the musical is still on the distant horizon, the spirit of the songs thread through the entire novel. And in case you were wondering, the recordings are securely stored in an undisclosed location, waiting for the day when they will see the light once again.  😉 

What is it about? 

City of Lights is first and foremost the story of Ilyse Charpentier, a young singer in 1894 Paris who has never experienced love because of the stranglehold her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, has upon her life.  All that changes when she meets Ian McCarthy, a dashing, young English expatriate.  Needless to say, the Count is not at all pleased with this new obstacle.  As I mentioned before, Ilyse has also been estranged from her younger brother Maurice, who blames her for letting the Count drive them apart. Things are complicated further when the Count devises a way to use Maurice as leverage to get Ilyse to agree to his demands.  Without giving anything else away, Ilyse is forced to make a life-shattering choice that has the potential to destroy her hope of finding the love and freedom she has always been denied.  

Who will enjoy it?

I’ve had readers from 14 to 87 tell me how much they loved the story and how happy they were to read a clean, pure romance—with quite a bit of brother-sister conflict added to the mix. I wrote City of Lights at the age of 18, and it was always my intention to produce a novel that teens, parents, and readers of any age could enjoy. In my stories, I never shy away from showing evil for what it is, and more importantly showing how people triumph over it by determination, the help of allies, and the grace of God, but I don’t believe there is any need to get gratuitous in the content department. Doing so cheapens your work and turns off a whole swath of readers, myself included. If I wouldn’t read it, I certainly wouldn’t write it.

One of my favorite examples of how to convey an impactful statement without resorting to graphic descriptions comes from a movie that had a huge impact on my decision to become a writer—The Fellowship of the Ring: “Isildur, son of the king, took up his father’s sword.” There are so many implications in that little gem of restraint. Took up his father’s sword and did what? Cut the Ring, and consequently the fingers, off Sauron’s hand! There was no need to dwell on blood loss or gore to get the point across. There is a scene in my supernatural/historical thriller, Corcitura, where I describe a cadre of undead creatures descending on their victim. That could have turned into a terribly gory scene, but here is how I took a page from FOTR and held back for a more subtle (and I think consequently more horrifying) effect:

There was a shriek and then I heard a sickening crunch as Arabella’s cries died to a whimper. Something thumped against the ground as Augustin Boroi stepped back and drew his arm across his mouth.

The sleeve of his shirt had doubled as a napkin. It was no longer white when he pulled it away.

See? There is no need to slide into the mire of gratuitousness to be effective. More often than not, what is left up to the imagination is infinitely more scary, thought-provoking, and powerful than spelling out every aspect of a scene in bloody red letters.    

Do you plan to write more books? 

Definitely! In addition to Corcitura (which was published last November), I am completely rewriting my original first novel that I began at the age of fourteen, but abandoned for school, life, and other projects. I have been working on it since July of 2012 and have been totally transforming it into a dystopian epic set in a brutal and lawless world. The entire theme and outcome of the story have changed drastically, but all the exciting bits (mythical beasts, hidden identities, battles, political intrigue, and some truly horrifying and treacherous villains) are still part of the fabric of the story. With the passage of years, however, everything within the story seems to have more meaning and gravitas to me now. It is definitely not the same book I would have written as a fourteen-year-old, so I am very happy I put the novel on hold.

I am also mapping out and reworking my fantasy duology (which I’ve been writing since 2003) and am currently finishing up a collection of short comedy/fantasy/mythical stories set in Eastern and Northern Europe in the 1800s. It has been an exciting challenge to essentially create “Novels in Miniature” for this collection.    

Do you have any final thoughts?

One thing I always keep in mind is a quote from St. Catherine of Siena: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” In that spirit, I would strongly encourage all homeschoolers, especially those of you who are writers, to use the incredible opportunities God has given you to further your literary dreams and aspirations. Develop your talents, use the free time you have to broaden your horizons with additional reading and study of the genres you are drawn to, and write, write, write! A homeschool education is a blessing, so be a blessing to others by sharing your talents with the world.  God has given you this time for a reason…so now it’s up to you to decide what you are going to do with it. 🙂

Additionally, I would love to connect with other homeschool authors, readers, and parents. Please feel free to contact me on any or all of the following sites:

My web site: www.booksinmybelfry.com

My Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/950456.Melika_Dannese_Lux   

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/BooksInMyBelfry

My Pinterest:   http://pinterest.com/booksinmybelfry/

Thank you so much, Sarah, for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed! I’ve had a great time! 😀

Corcitura Spotlight and Giveaway at Word Spelunking!

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Exciting things are happening, everyone! Corcitura is being spotlighted on the wonderful blog, Word Spelunking!

Corcitura Spotlight Word Spelunking 6-20-13

Click on the link below to learn all about the book, watch the trailer, and read a teaser excerpt from one of the most climactic chapters in the entire novel:

http://wordspelunking.blogspot.com/2013/06/book-spotlight-excerpt-and-giveaway.html

As a bonus, five Kindle copies of Corcitura are up for grabs to US residents! Make sure to enter by June 30, 2013, for your chance to win!

Best wishes,

Me Sig!