Monday, July 19, 2010

Ocelot Shapeshifter: Three's a Crowd

By Pat Cunningham

“Hey. Hey, Carmen!” Cal, with the humans now secure and ready for transport, trots up to me. “We done good tonight. Once the paperwork’s out of the way, want to go celebrate? I know this place – “

“You know too many places. All of them scare me.”

“G’wan. Nothing scares you. Anyway, this place is tame. Two, three brawls a night, tops. The band sucks, but you can’t beat the food.”

Mike scowls at us. “Save your social life for your own time, Portnoy. You’re still on the department’s clock.”

“Go bury your bone,” Cal mutters under his breath as Mike, the suitcase clutched under his arm, heads for the van. “Dog needs a she-wolf, pronto. Or a she-something. You, maybe?”

“Not my type. Far too intense.”

“So, you go for the laid-back breed? Outstanding. Now, about this place – “

“She isn’t interested.” I don’t know how he does it, time after time. Once again Henri has slipped up behind me on his huge silent feet without my being aware. He knows I hate it when anyone gets the drop on me. Especially him. “No lady cat would be interested in anything a canine has to offer. Eh, petit?”

It also annoys me when males get presumptuous. I deliberately step closer to Cal. “Save your misplaced chivalry, Bigfoot. I find canines intriguing, and I go where I will, and with whom.”

His green eyes narrow at me. Like the rest of him, they’re far too pale. His skin, his hair, all designed for the snows he’s left behind. When will you learn, foolish lynx? I’m the tropics, you’re the frozen north. My heat and your ice would produce only useless steam. Why won’t you accept that?

“I like the feisty ones,” he says, “but not the foolish ones. Is there a brain in that tiny head, petit?”

“Don’t call me tiny.”

“Don’t call me Bigfoot.”

I stare pointedly downward. “If the shoe doesn’t fit … “

“This is all fascinating,” Cal says, “but maybe Mike’s got a point. We should get those scatheads processed before their lawyers show. Carmen, I’ll see you back at the station. You got a ride, Henry?”

“I hoped perhaps our jungle girl would let me ride with her. And how many times must I tell you? My name is Henri.”

“C’mon. There’s no way I can say that. Too fruity. Work it out quick, kitties, before Mike comes back after us.”

“I didn’t bring my car,” I tell Henri. Hard as I try, I can’t stare him down. “I came here in cat form.”

“You spend too much time in your cat form, when the woman is so much more appealing. Let me show you the advantages of an upright body. Dancing, for instance. If you would – “

“Hey!” Cal yelps. “I was here first!”

Henri waves him off with one enormous hand. In his lynx form one of his paws makes two of mine. Out of nowhere I’m struck by a powerful and unwanted blast of sexual curiosity. How would that paw, so large and soft and silent, feel against my body and my fur? Or his human hand caressing my arm, or my hip, or my breasts? Like all cats, he’s not without physical beauty. The frigid arctic wind calls out to me, promising relief from my rainforest heat.

Cal bristles, and Henri hisses. The stink of testosterone, a far more dangerous drug than Feral, makes my nose wrinkle.

“Stop it!” I snap at both of them. “What do you think I am, a strip of fish to be fought over?”

Henri blinks. He’s honestly confused. “There’s no fight. A lady cat belongs with a he-cat. End of discussion.”

“Carmen, ignore this putz. You can learn a slew of new tricks from us dogs. All it takes is a sense of adventure. Okay, flexibility helps.”

“You filthy-minded – “

“Hey, chill, Dudley Do-right. You’re not in the Great White North any more. This is America, land of opportunity. I’m offering Carmen the opportunity to give interspecies relations a whirl. Face it, once you’ve had a coyote – “

“You find yourself scratching forever. Your kind isn’t worthy of – “

I give up. They’re males. They won’t listen. Snarling, I shrug off the poncho and shift. Both of them stare at me. They’re still staring as I bound away.

“Now look what you did! You got brain freeze, Henry?”

“Me? I’m not the one with the gutter mouth, you – “ I've never heard French sound so ugly.

I race away and leave their argument behind. They’ll snipe at each other all the way to the station, then emerge from the car as friends and partners again. I don’t know how they do it. It must be another male thing.

Cal is interesting, but only a friend. Henri –

No. We must not. I cannot. I must remain apart until my debt is repaid. For you, Marisol, mi hermanita. And you, Esteban. Life later. First, revenge.

And that's it for Ocelot Girl for the time being. This is as much as I got done. However, Liquid Silver Books is looking for paranormals. Deadline is the end of September. Details can be found at Look in the Forums under Erotica. It's also posted under either Paying Markets or Networking: Sharing Leads, I can't remember which. Anyway, if I finish the plot I might finish the story, assuming any publisher will take a book written in first person present tense. Maybe I should blog about that next week, or someone else if you've had experience in that area. You've got a week to beat me to it.


Savanna Kougar said...

"The frigid arctic wind calls out to me, promising relief from my rainforest heat."

Pat, especially love this line. Darn! Hisses! I was hoping you would continue with Ms. Ocelot.

I know Liquid Silver has pubbed first POV before. However, I don't know their current policy. Should be easy to find out. Serena might know. Also, all you have to do is join their forum, link is on the home page, and put out the question. You'll get an answer.

Did Siren say they wouldn't pub a first POV? Unless, you're looking to try another publisher.

I'm seriously thinking of taking up the challenge and writing a first person for publication. When? I have no clue. I want to finish Kandy Apple first.

Pat C. said...

I don't know Siren's policy toward first person. So far, all the romances I've subbed have been third person. I'm more concerned about using present tense. That's how the story came to me, but a whole book's worth of it might wear thin. Anybody ever read a first person present tense romance? Or written one?

Serena Shay said...

I do hope you finish that story, Pat, it's intriguing. ;)

As for LSB, I don't see a lot of first person present tense, but when those types of questions come up the answer is usually - submit it and we will read it. :)

Now, I've never written one, however I'm a huge fan of Laurell K Hamilton's work which is first person and maybe present tense. Have you read any of her work?

Pat C. said...

Just a couple of the early Anita Blake books. I remember they were first person, but I think they were past tense. Of course, if I was Laurell Hamilton I wouldn't have to worry about tense or anything else if I wanted to get a book published.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, I'm ignorant about this one and I shouldn't be.

Past tense first person, would that be: I looked at the tabby kitten with one eye.

Present tense first person: I look at the tabby kitten. One eye looks back at me.

Pat, from what I've read, while Laurell Hamilton may have a great deal of ease in getting the opportunity to publish, it's not a guarantee... unless, she wants to self-pub, go Indie.
If her BIG BOY publisher suddenly decided she didn't have it anymore. Or she happened to write something 'not that good'... well, it may not be published. Besides, the times they are a-changing.

Savanna Kougar said...

I remembered Trina M. Lee writes her vamp books in first person and has a couple pubbed with Liquid Silver.

Pat C. said...

Yes, Sav, that's the past tense-present tense difference. Most books are written in past tense. I think the only things written in present tense are literary stories and a lot of fan fiction, or at least the stories I've been reading. That's probably where it came from.

I'm working on a story now with flashbacks written in present tense. Fit your brain around that one, folks.

Savanna Kougar said...

Flashbacks, as in 'currently' reliving them. Or, moving back and forth in time... ? Or, some other type of phenomena...

Interesting. I noticed on my first person WIPs that I began writing them as past tense, but then changed to present tense. Doesn't that make more sense since it is real time... unless, it deals with an actual 'past tense' event/situation?

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, a few romance and other authors I know about have written chapters in first person and chapters in third person for the same story. Of course, they were established authors and their fans were willing to give it a try.

I've done that with my Tigeress Shapeshifter, written her scenes in first person and written her hero's scenes in third person. Not that I'd get a pub contract, if I did complete their story because of that... hey, who knows?

What I do think is... that if readers like what you've done, breaking the so-called rules ain't going to matter.

Pat C. said...

In the case of the flashbacks, the one character's telling his background story to another. Instead of loads of dialogue, the readers "see" his story played out in present tense vignettes in italic to set them apart from the rest of the ms. When the other person comments, we go back to roman type, past tense, third person. Am I getting too artsy?

Marion Zimmer Bradley did the alternating first person-third person chapters in one of her Darkover novels (The Heritage of Hastur? I can't remember.) It worked for that story. She mentioned somewhere that she'd gotten the idea from a Dickens novel, possibly Bleak House, so the technique's been around awhile. You're right: if breaking the rules works for that story, then break them gol-darned rules.

This comment section's turning into a blog in itself. I'm gonig to cut and paste it all and use it for Monday's entry.

Savanna Kougar said...