Monday, December 31, 2007
First...the subtle difference between sparkling wine and champagne. There is none. The only difference is that authentic 'champagne' comes from the Champagne region of
France. (Hey, I knew that one!) But as far as alcohol content, production, etc... it's the exact same stuff.
Here's the important part. Do you want a champagne that is more dry or sweet? That all depends on your preference, of course. But after you've polished off a few dozen bottles and you know what you like (but would I be able to remember what it was?)... this is a list of the common names you will find on Champagne labels, from driest to sweetest:
*Extra Brut, Brut Sauvage, Ultra Brut, Brut Integral, Brut Zero
*Extra Dry, Extra Sec
Brut is the most popular style, and often, the best grapes are reserved for Bruts.
And finally...Bottle size!: Because sparkling wine should be consumed when it is opened, size matters. Champagne comes in "splits" -- perfect for one or two -- all the way to the enormous Nebuchadnezzar (508 fluid ounces). If you want more volume than just a single bottle will afford you can get the showy magnums (nearly 51 ounces, or two bottles) Jeroboams (4 bottles) or even a Balthazar (16 bottles). Plus those huge empty bottles make great souvenirs!
So now you know...or maybe you already knew, lol. Just remember to drink responsibly, have a designated driver, and celebrate the New Year with someone you love :D
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I hope Santa brought everyone a special gift, something you wouldn't have bought for yourself but that you a;ways wanted :D
My girls, Wookie and Zuzu, certainly got toys from Santa along with some special treats they enjoy eating (if you haven't seen them, I have pictures of them on my myspace page at myspace.com/lyndakscott I may post pictures of them with their new toys later on. The human members of the family will exchange gifts later at the big family dinner. We're all looking forward to that :D
I know Santa is getting a well deserved rest
So I'm putting on my Santa hat to offer a surprise gift for the first person who emails me at email@example.com between now and December 28. Please put Christmas Surprise in the subject heading. (Sorry, due to postal restrictions, this gift can only be offered to those who live in the United States)
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and that you're surrounded by friends, family and love. Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Dave and I are stupid with the amount of holiday movies and music we've collected over the years. I'm not kidding. It's gone from the sublime to the ridiculous now. But you know what? That's cool because we've started our Christmas ritual that begins somewhere around Thanksgiving and runs until Christmas night. We watch a couple of movies a night (one of them always some version of A Christmas Carol, since we have about 7 or 8 now - maybe more.) The tree goes up on my birthday, followed quickly by the packages. (Can't have a tree without wrapped packages underneath.)
But I don't just celebrate Christmas in my real life, my character sketches are full of families with different holiday traditions. I think it helps to solidify and cement a character with rituals and traditions. Even if they aren't like my own. Especially if they aren't like my own. I have one character whose family goes to Vegas every year to celebrate Christmas because his parents eloped to that city around Christmas time years before. Thus they all return to have the holiday there. I have another family who go to a ski resort for the holidays. Still others are more traditional celebrators with the big Italian Christmas Eve fish dinner then Mass afterwards. I even have some characters who don't observe the Christian holidays. They celebrate Hanakah or Yule instead.
I don't think it matters what holidays your characters celebrate, if you've made up your own in a fantasy world, or if you decide to have your character reject them, it helps to make your heroes and heroines more realistic and bring them to life in your prose.
Have a safe and happy holiday season everyone!!!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
My clan celebrates the holidays like most folks, by getting together on Christmas Day to catch up over a huge feat, which makes us groan like it was Thanksgiving again. (Ditto this for my second Christmas with my step-mom and brother.) There is often an exchange of gifts. One year it was gifts cards and another year we chose names. This year we’d intended to do a story swap, but things didn’t quite work out. So things change, especially when our Christmas celebration is being held on the day after Christmas this year. Which will seem odd, since the family has always congregated at my grandparent’s house since I was born. But I guess that means that we’ll actually get to my bf’s parents' house in time to see his sisters and their brood with friends in tow.
But I guess all in all that’s a ho-hum kind of celebration, especially after everyone’s had way too much to eat and is nodding off on the sofa. So I thought I’d share a true story about the origin of what finally got me in the Christmas spirit this year.
“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” My mother uttered those words, fed up by one of my fussy childhood moods. Reflecting on those words as an adult, I realize what a good lesson I learned that day under the pecan tree in my grandparents’ back yard. Luckily I get to be part of one special way my mother pays that lesson forward every year with a twist.
Inside the local toy store, I went my way and my mother went hers browsing the aisles to help me locate an elusive Christmas gift. High and low we searched, trailing up and down the aisles. With nothing fitting what I had in mind, I returned to her side almost empty handed.
I found her standing beside a small Christmas tree. Its green artificial branches weighted down by the heavy burden from a multitude of cut-out angels. Blonde headed girls and boys dressed in red, white and blue uniforms gazed back innocently, their bellies full of scribbled ink.
Her fingers caressed one of the cut-outs as she tipped the thin piece of paper forward to read a child’s Christmas list. Silently she continued until she’d worked her way around the entire tree. “They’re not asking for much,” she stated, glancing my way.
I’d copied her actions, arriving at the same conclusion.
“Why don’t we choose a couple of these?”
I nodded, already plucking off a pair of cut-outs—one boy and one girl—from the tree. Once again I’d unconsciously traced my mother’s own actions. Her lips moved, re-reading the pair of needy children’s wishes. A smile broke across her face as she led the way back down the aisles, this time in the lead.
Like youngsters ourselves we delighted in riffling through a wall full of coloring books. Through a sea of princesses and robotic heroes we delved to find the perfect activity books. Shoulder to shoulder we delved into the stuffed animals to pull out each teddy bear for inspection. Next we hemmed over which doll would be ideal. Because of the plethora of tiny pieces, I succumbed to her experience. Then she differed to my knowledge to snag “her” little boy a nifty action figure. After adding a board game and toddler’s primary colored dump truck to our arms full we headed to the check out desk.
Yet my mother still wasn’t satisfied. “Can we get the other items you don’t carry here and then bring the gifts back for donation?”
The clerk grimaced as if we were another thorn in his side during the Christmas rush. “We can only take what you get here. If you want extra items you’ll have to deliver them to the charity’s headquarters yourself.” He plucked the items from her hands, and tucked the angel tag beside the cash drawer.
“I can find it,” I volunteered, not about to have my mother’s hopes crushed.
My mother leaned forward across the counter to retrieve the paper ornament, determination turning her cheeks rosy red. Wordlessly she watched him ring up the items, then bag the goodies in four plastic sacks. When it came time for him to hit the total button, she pointed to a hand-written sign behind his head. “It seems we also get a discount.”
The clerk grumbled, but gave into the store’s policy of taking fifteen percent off the top.
Wearing a smile like she’d already opened her favorite Christmas gift my mom watched him go through the motion to fill my three bags. Nodding that all was right, she lead the charge to the door, her cut-out angel tucked safely in her purse.
In the car we brainstormed how to fill the rest of “our” children’s requests while she drove to our next stop. Her head held high, she stormed inside to get the essentials every child needs—underwear, pants, shirts and cute pajamas. She left no rack unturned as she scoured the department store. Finally satisfied, she twisted the plastic bags handles together, looped the ornament through the middle and finished the securing knot. With a pat, we stowed the purchases in the back seat of the car. “That should do it.”
We’ve been on that same adventure every year since. This season it occurred to me why my mother gives so much of her heart as well as a small chunk of her wallet. When she taught me that lesson about money she was a single mother of twins, working a full time job with overtime and trying to bring us up as good girls alone. Back then her situation wasn’t the norm and she was hard pressed to make ends meet on her meager secretarial salary. Yet she never gave us cause for worry and she always found a way to make sure our Christmas’ were the best.
Every time she chooses an angel, my mother lends a helping hand to those parents who wish they could do more. She truly has walked a mile and more in their shoes, but that hardship has blessed her with the perspective of what’s important, especially during the holiday season. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but charity does begin at home when one realizes how it warms the heart to give so freely.
I helped three children’s wishes come true. A 4 year-old boy who had his heart set on a Spiderman tent, a 7 year old girl who wished for Bratz dolls and another 7 year old girl who simply asked for books. I had more fun shopping for them than all of my clan (extended members included). In a way this is a small, quiet celebration for me because it reaffirms themes of the season—giving to others, spreading good will towards men, and sharing good cheer.
If you’d like to read the non-fiction short story submission I wrote for Christmas Traditions: True Stories of Holiday Celebration, click here.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
You can find a join button for her group on her myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/lindawisdombooks
contest wisdom writing
Monday, December 17, 2007
Which made me think of how our heroes and heroines might celebrate a holiday as significant in our culture as Christmas. In my book HEARTSTONE, the hero Eric d'Ebrur would not celebrate Christmas. He's not from Earth after all and different customs form on different planets. But there are a group of people, almost lost in the mists of time, that Eric's people might venerate. Those are the Starfarers who gave Eric's people the ability to shapeshift and who gave them the Stones of Power, including the Heartstone itself. How might they celebrate? I'm sure there would be family gatherings led by the matriarch (Eric's people have an unusual matriarchal family structure even though the political structure is more patriarchal). They'd probably decorate using stars -- I can see them hanging on mobile like devices so they spin and dance in any breeze. These mobiles might even be windchimes (I do love windchimes :D) The star motif would probably be used to decorate holiday clothing but, since these people are for the most part more formal than those of us from Earth, I see it as more subdued but no less glittery (after all, what glitters more than stars in a velvet night sky?) The Feast -- and there's always a feast, lol -- would involve a hunt as part of the celebration of the men's shapeshifting skills. The women, who are empaths, would celebrate their gift by sharing with others, not just their family. Who better than an empath to give you the perfect gift? :D
In my current wip, RIDER, the heroine Tara Rowan comes from a culture of Independent Traders who travel the galaxy and don't call any one place home. Well, except for their ship. Their ships are family ships though some are smaller than others. But even if the family splits going to different ships, there are the Trade Fairs which have a huge influx of Traders every two years. The purpose of the Trade Fair is to exchange different materials for sale but, if the family is all there...why not celebrate too? Would there be a particular symbol, like our Christmas tree or Eric's Star? Probably not...these families come from many different backgrounds. But I'm sure each family would have a motif all their own. For Tara, her family might be symbolized by a rowan tree. Another family might have a racing beast (depicting how speedy they are in making time between deliveries). And, yes, there would be traditional dishes at the Family Feast (you know there's always a feast, lol) but these dishes could be unique for each family based on their taste or even ability to find/purchase/barter for the ingredients. The main thing, I think, would be that the family would be together for this small period of time and that alone is cause for celebration.
As you can see, there are many ways to celebrate a holiday (or to feast it :D) What's important is that we all celebrate using traditions that are significant to us and our families...and that we celebrate the differences between our traditions and those of those around us. There is one right way to celebrate and there's no wrong way to celebrate.
Enjoy your holidays, my friends. May they be filled with love and family, laughter and, of course, good food.
celebrations, holidays, writing, cultural, fiction
Friday, December 14, 2007
I love cats. I love all animals but cats are a favourite of mine
I just want to add a word of caution if you are thinking of giving someone a pet this Christmas. Think if they really want one, can they look after it, and will they be responsible?
So many times Down Under we see kittens and puppies being thrown out with the Christmas wrap, once the novelty has worn off. Abandoned kittens and cats, pregnant strays - it's heartbreaking.
So please think carefully this Christmas. A pet is for life not just for Christmas.
So saying...felines. I'm trying to decide if my next Heart & Soul book will be about a Daamen trader, Fredrico (the space-pirate and Overlord's right hand man), an Argon, a Reeka warrior woman, or one of my Felys people.
Ah me, so many choices, so many ideas - so little time! LOL So many new worlds and so many new story lines. It's an adventure all its own, just deciding what to write next! So far, I have had readers tell me they want another Argon, a Felys and Fredrico.
I'll have to ponder them all and see who speaks the most strongly
Angela *debating New Frontiers*
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I ended up releasing a novella six months after the book's release, and I revised my goal to repeat the process - one book and one novella per year.
Then something happened. Life met reality. I can't fully say whether or not it was the fact that my youngest started moving around (and moving faster, and talking, and climbing, and biting, and smart-mouthing, and--yeah, you get the idea), or that my oldest displays a disturbing inherited trait of losing himself for hours in video games (which I'm having a hell of a time with since I do it, Mr. Xandra does it, and I can't blame Spawn for doing it, even while I'm yelling at him to turn off the damn Xbox), or that it's disturbingly easy to get caught up in being an "author" at the expense of being a "writer," or even that an evaluation of my writing revealed to me that I wanted to write denser, more thickly-plotted stories, and I needed to train myself to do that. I can't even fully say that it was any single thing including the major life upheavals of selling an old house, building a new one, and moving into it. Whatever it is, my plans have GONE AWRY.
I've ended up releasing my self-imposed timelines. All I want to do now is to take the manuscripts I've been working on, and either complete them, or edit and revise them to start sending them back out. The thought of timing myself on this gives me hives, but the thought of not setting a timeline on this is setting myself up for failure.
The end of the year is traditionally a time to look back and review what you've done, whether or not you've met your goals, and how far the actual goalposts have moved. Many of my years have been spent wondering in amazement at how much further or how different I've ended up from where I thought I'd be in the beginning. This year, however, I'm just baffled.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
My mother use to load my sister and I into the family car (decked out like Randy from Christmas Story) then carefully camp out on the curb every year to watch the local daytime Christmas parades. I took up the habit after moving back after college. In years past I’ve been the one to drag people along, but this year it seems I’m the one in tow.
Being bundled up to watch the school bands, dance troops and local color tromp down Mebane’s main street at the only nighttime parade perked up my seasonal cheer a bit. As did the Christmas carols I tuned my car’s radio too. But I’m still wondering why I’m not in the Christmas spirit.
I’ve hung up my Christmas wreath and set out a few decorations. (My cats are the only reason for not having a tree.) Heck, I’ve even tuned in to a multitude of Christmas movies hosted by Hallmark, ABC Family and Lifetime. And while they moved me to tears, it wasn’t from an overwhelming helping of Christmas spirit. In fact, I attribute the water works to their portrayal of the reason for the season or atleast the sentiment. (We all know Hallmark is good at that!)
And no, I’m not a Christmas crammer who waits until the last minute to get gifts. (For that person you have point a finger at my bf.) I’ve already done my shopping and even took advantage of a little time off to wrap/bag everything. (Except for those warming butt pillows…yes, you read right.) I’ve never been one to send Christmas cards and I don’t dare string up Christmas lights outside since my house’s wiring seems a bit wacky.
I also used some of that free time to read a Harlequin Christmas anthology, but that just left me frustrated. The book about Christmas proposals, which was supposed to perk me up for romance, left me feeling like I’d gotten an early delivery of coal before the big day. (But atleast I gave it the benefit of the doubt!)
As much as I might gripe, I know I have it easy this year. Most of the published writers I know are on deadline, which means they’re trying to get into the spirit, accomplish everything I’ve listed and still crank those pages out. A ritual (some seem stuck with year after year) which seems to defy the laws of time like Santa’s one-night trip around the globe.
I really feel for my fellow writers who’ve cut back on what they’re doing for the holidays, sacrificed Christmas activities for their craft, or who’ll simply forge ahead until they conk out from cramming work into every empty nook and cranny. It makes me wonder why editors can’t give them a break. Sure writers should know their method like the layout of their word processor, laptop or PC, but even the best-laid holiday writing schedule can be botched with the slightest of mishaps. (Or an invitation one simply can’t finagle their way out of!)
Yes, publishing is an industry based on trade, but there is a reason for the season. Everyone should be celebrating life, rejoicing with family, and sharing good will. Writers have enough to slave over during the holidays without the added stress of someone cracking a whip. But big business is driven by money, and that’s the bottom line this time of year (besides sales figures). (Why do you think they start stocking for Christmas during Halloween?)
Hmm…maybe that’s the reason behind my Christmas indifference. No one seems to be willing to help anyone else without getting something in return. More and more, it seems people don’t care about others, including the changing way that bosses treat their employees. And everywhere I turn kids and grown-ups merit gifts by their slick packaging and how large the cost is, instead of being thankful for the content.
What is more important—the price tag, the packaging or what’s inside? The guts underneath the fancy bow are what create the magic. The gift doesn’t have to be big or have lots of zeroes on the store’s price tag. As long as the token touched a chord in the recipient, and the giver feels joy in knowing they’ve chosen well, that’s what matters.
So, here’s a reminder. You’ve got 12 days left to find that perfect something! (Unless you’re a Christmas Day shopper who expects miracles.)
For those writers on deadline, you’ve got 12 days until you can take a day off! If your editor phones or e-mails and questions why you’re not pounding away at your keyboard try a “bah humbug” on for size. If you’re not the confrontational sort there’s always phonemail or an out-of-office message. Just make sure to add some sugar on top!
______________________________One of my favorite holiday stories has always been THE GIFT OF THE MAGI by O. Henry. The sweet story about how a poor couple expresses their love through Christmas gifts makes this book a treasure.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Where is Buffy Summers when you need her?
When I sat down to write this, I had planned to talk about the rules of world building and how to apply the same principles to write an historical novel even if you’re not a history geek like me.
Then I stumbled across 2012.
For those of you who don’t know, Dec. 21, 2012, is the day we’re destined to run out of time, according to the Mayan calendar. I remember hearing about this “prophesy” as a child – probably from the Spock-narrated TV show In Search Of – and given that I’ve been having an ongoing, post-apocalyptic dream for the past week, writing about the end of the world seemed relevant.
Among 2012ers, the debate rages over whether we’ll meet our collective maker thanks to a colliding comet or a super volcano or magnetic shifts that will make us vulnerable to solar radiation. I’m not going to pretend I understand the intricacies of the arguments for or against a given theory, but I do find our fascination with the “End of Days” fascinating.
From the violence of Armageddon to the bleakness of Ragnarok, almost every religion and culture has an End of Days. Even so-called rational, enlightened societies fall prey to end-of-the-world predictions. Fears of Y2K disaster had people stockpiling water and food just in case the mother of all computer crashes sent us spiraling back to 1900.
Of course, the true horror of an apocalypse isn’t that the world ends; it’s that you survive the end.
Fiction is rife with such horrific survival tales, from Stephen King’s The Stand to Will Smith’s latest movie, I Am Legend, about the last man on earth battle a horde of post-apocalyptic vampires. On a lighter note, Buffy always averted the regularly scheduled apocalypse, but it came close a few times.
I think our collective fascination with the apocalypse is that it raises the perennial “what if” questions we try our best ignore: What is a good life? What does it all mean? Is there life after death? If the world only has five years left, what should we do between now and then?
Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a coming apocalypse to make us re-evaluate the wisdom of the 60-hour workweek or sticking with the comfortable, but wrong person.
Now before we all get divorced and quit our jobs (talk about economic disaster and a self-fulfilling prophesy) remember that for all we know, the Mayan calendar-maker’s girlfriend distracted him and he just never got back to it.
It’s also possible that just because the Mayans believed their world would end, it doesn’t mean ours will. We can define worlds in a variety of ways. How many times have you heard someone say, “She is my world”?
Which leads me to an interesting tangent: A personal apocalypse.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Death is the ultimate personal apocalypse. But if the horror is surviving it, how does our own personal apocalypses (is that the plural?) play out? Will yours differ significantly from mine? Are these the fears that keep us awake at night or something totally unknowable until we’re walking through the rubble of our lives?
The idea of a personal apocalypse gives me, as an author, new ways to torment my characters. I torture them daily. But now I can tear their worlds apart every time I sit down to the computer between now and – at least until the end of time.
Keena Kincaid was born in Dayton, Ohio, and moved with her family to a farm slightly to the left of nowhere when she was four. She grew up with pigs, cows, brothers and a half-broke pony named Star. She learned to read by picking words out of an old history book that vividly recounted the past through short stories centered on children of the age: The Grecian slave boy. The girl from Pompeii. The knight’s squire in England.
The stories stayed with her. She studied history, English and philosophy in college, earning a bachelor’s degree in history at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. She studied medieval history in graduate school at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and still keeps up with academic research through the Medieval Academy of America.
After honing her writing skills as a newspaper reporter and editor, she switched to public relations and began writing fiction. Career honors include writing awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Gannett newspapers and the Associated Press.
She inherited the family’s nomadic gene and has lived in Ohio, Indiana, New York, Missouri and North Carolina, with short stops in even more places along the way. She currently lives in Illinois, but says that could change any day.
When not working or writing romance, Keena regales her niece and nephews with stories of quick-thinking ladies, mathematically challenged knights, and ill-mannered dragons that chew with their mouths open.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Soul of a Predator, book 13 in the sci-fi/futuristic romance Heart & Soul series, was released on the 1st dec. It's available in ebook and trade paperback from http://www.wings-press.com/
This book recently won the CK2S Kwips and Kritiques Recommended Read award, and I'm stoked!
So here's the blrub, then an excerpt for you to read. Enjoy!
Bounty hunter and ex-space pirate/part mutant. They have unfinished business…a fight to the death.
But first Shaque and Elyse have to work together, going deep into the Outlaw Sector, each with their own agenda, both with one goal - life.
But the consequences will be devastating…
Sitting at the table, Shaque sipped at the hot cup of una while listening with half an ear to the talk of his pack. His gaze slid around the room, taking in the number of bounty hunter packs that took shelter here from the teeming rain outside.
The Hunter’s Hole was a safe place. On the edges of the Lawful Sector, near the outskirts of the Outlaw Sector, it was one of several bounty hunter gathering places where the packs could drink, rest, catch up with other packs, share news, relax away from their spaceships, and recuperate without fear of being attacked by vengeful outlaws.
Only an idiot would attack a hunters’ resting-house, for to do so would bring the wrath of all the surviving packs down upon the stupid person or persons who did so.
Leaning back against the wall, Shaque let the heat of the una seep through the thick china of the mug to warm his palms. Not that he needed the heat, for it was warm in the Hole. Heavy music filtered quietly through the speakers above the bar. The smell of cooking food came through the door beside the bar. The packs sat around tables talking, laughing, the odd swear word peppering the air.
He allowed the familiarity of it to seep into his senses, trying to relax as much as he could, something he didn’t come by easily.
There was something in the air tonight, a feeling of expectation that slid with a silent threat through his veins. He didn’t know what it was, but something was coming. Or someone.
The lights flickered overhead as the storm outside thundered through the valley. Electricity in several parts of the settlement was already out, the emergency lighting keeping the lights on in the taverns and some of the homes.
Abra, his pack’s leader now that Cormac had wed the witch and retired from bounty hunting, was easily picked out from the throng at the bar. His Mohawk, and long ponytail that ended it, was dark in the light. Ricna turned, the shadows cast on his face picking out the sharp features in the smooth, tanned skin.
The rest of his pack sat with Shaque at the table. Vane, Nat, Jarvis and Menac talked quietly, laughing now and again, enjoying the brief respite from the hunt for outlaws and risking their lives for dinnos.
The prickle of sensation went through Shaque again, and he lifted his gaze to fasten it on the door on the other side of the room.
The lights flickered, dimmed, and then came back on just as the door opened, the sound of the rain loud in the room almost immediately, only to be muffled again as it shut behind the figure that entered.
Every sharply-honed sense that Shaque possessed snapped to attention, and his eyes narrowed.
Every sound in the room stopped, except for the music. Every hard-eyed gaze went to the woman who stood calmly in the room looking around. Every bounty hunter knew who stood in their midst.
Ex-pirate, ex-prisoner, and part mutant. Once one of the most wanted women in the Outlaw Sector...
Her grave, brown-eyed gaze slid around the room, not a hint of fear or any other emotion on her smooth, pretty face. There was an unnatural serenity about her, and the invisible but tangible threat that seemed so much a part of her aura.
The tension in the room was escalating. Dislike, distrust, curiosity, fascination, the acknowledgement that a predator, who was possibly still on the opposite side of the law to the bounty hunters, was standing in a roomful of similar predators.
“She’s mine.” The words hissed through the room.
There was one predator in particular who claimed this woman as his prey, one predator that every hunter there knew and therefore did not make a move towards her.
Not one bounty hunter made a sound of disagreement as Shaque pushed his mug away, his words fading in the silence.
Unerringly Elyse’s gaze met his, and one fine brow arched faintly. Without looking away, she started towards him. Her stride was lithe, her legs long in close-fitting pants that were tucked into low-heeled boots. The shirt she wore was loose, the belt cinching it at her trim waist so that the hem of it came down over her rounded hips and stopped just below the curve of her bottom. A short jacket was atop it, the sleeves coming down to her wrists. A laser was strapped to each shapely thigh, a dagger sheathed at the waist.
Shaque’s gaze lifted to the brown hair that fell to her shoulders in thick waves, the light catching the richness of the colour. Her full lips didn’t smile, didn’t grimace, but were simply softly closed.
Even though his attention was focused solely on her, he was dimly aware of Abra and Ricna falling into step behind her. She seemed to notice, for a faint gleam of amusement flickered in her eyes.
Coming to a stop at the table opposite him, her posture relaxed, hands brushing the holstered lasers, she drawled, “I’ve been looking for you, Shaque.”
He couldn’t explain the sensation that went through him. Anger. Danger. Anticipation. He was always watching for her wherever he went, not consciously seeking her out, but watching for her nonetheless. “I’m here.”
“I have something for you.” She reached into her back pocket and almost immediately there was the sound of a laser being half drawn from a holster somewhere behind her.
“Stop.” Abra’s voice was quiet in the silent room. “She belongs to Shaque.”
Elyse kept her fingertips in her back pocket, her eyes calm. “We’ll have to settle this between us one day, hunter.”
“Maybe it’ll happen sooner than you think,” Shaque replied softly. “Is today the day?”
“Mmm.” She studied him for several seconds before her gaze dropped to where his arms rested on the table.
With his shirt sleeves wound up to his elbows, the scar on his forearm stood out sharply. It matched the one on her forearm. They’d given the scars to each other during a furious fight when they’d fought to kill each other with daggers over a year ago, yet Shaque could see it almost as though it happened yesterday.
Elyse’s gaze rose again to lock with his. “Unfinished business.”
“Unfinished business,” he agreed quietly.
The silence in the room was almost heavy. One thing bounty hunters knew how to do well was wait. They waited now to see what was happening between the famed adversaries.
Thunder crashed overhead, the lights went out briefly, plunging the room in darkness, and a flicker of lightning showed through the window, lighting up the room in an eerie, white glow.
It picked out the red in her eyes, a red glint that Shaque knew shouldn’t have been there. It didn’t surprise him to know the danger was still inside her, that she was the danger, for the scent of it was almost tangible to him. The dangerous part of him recognized the danger in her, responded to it.
The lights flared on again.
“But not today,” she said, and pulling her hand from her pocket, she dropped a small bag onto the table.
Picking it up, Shaque’s gaze lifted as Elyse turned and started to walk away. He didn’t want her to go, yet perversely, he also didn’t want her to stay, for blood would possibly be shed between them.
Something fluttered out of the bag and he looked down at the photo image that landed face-up on the table. A smiling face looked up at him. For a second he couldn’t think, could only blink.
Reaching down, he picked up the photo image, held it up. Looked at it.
The blood drained from his cheeks then surged up hotly as he realized what was in the photo image.
It wasn’t possible. Couldn’t be! Not after all this time, all the fruitless searching, and finall,y the painful realization that she had to be dead!
His heart pounded, and the room seemed to darken. The rain on the roof now seemed to beat down almost mockingly. It had rained the day she’d been taken.
But the photo image, she’d had it when she’d been taken. He remembered that so clearly. And if she’d given it to Elyse... the only person who provided any link...
He surged to his feet with a snarl. “Stop!”
By this time Elyse was almost at the door, and she halted. Calmly she turned back to face him.
The tension in the room ricocheted up several notches.
“Where did you get this?” He held up the photo image in a hand that wasn’t quite steady.
“It was given to me.”
“A child?” Fury surged through Shaque. “Are you playing me for a fool?”
One elegant brow arched coolly.
“Come here.” His voice grated in the room.
“I’m not your pet hound, hunter.” Swinging around on her heel, she strode for the door.
He acted on instinct, drawing the dagger swiftly from the sheath at his waist and throwing it with deadly accuracy.
It shot through the air and sliced through the side of Elyse’s jacket just as she reached the door. The sharp blade pinned the side of the jacket to the door frame with a dull thunk and buried deep into the wood.
A couple of hunters close by shuffled back when Elyse looked slowly down at the dagger. With a rock steady hand she grasped the handle and jerked it out of the wood. Holding out the side of her jacket, she looked at the hole left by the dagger blade, then turned and looked at Shaque.
Flicking the dagger in her hand, the blade dancing dangerously near her fingers as she twirled it effortlessly around in dexterous moves, she studied him intently. Then she started walking across the room in even, measured strides, each step deliberate, and every thud of the heels on her boots ringing out on the wooden floor.
She was too beautiful, too wild, too dangerous. The thoughts flashed through Shaque’s mind fast, but mingled with it was the knowledge that this woman might hold the key to a mystery that had eaten at him for far too long.
For over twenty years the planet of Cimirion has experienced devastating climatic changes that have turned it from a planet of four seasons to one of perpetual winter. The Cimirion High Command has sent an advance team of Runners to the duel-sun planet of Solarion to scout for possible relocation.
Kara Zaire’s talents as a Visionary—a psychic who can hear energy patterns as musical notes— have placed her on the advance team to determine how well Cimirions will adapt to the constant summer heat of Solarion. That task would be accomplished easier if only Team Leader Jonah Cash would quit treating her like an unwanted commodity. But sometimes there is a heat behind his gaze that makes her feel as if he could burn her as sure as any sun.
Jonah Cash has led many missions for the Runners, but none as desperate as that of Solarion. He’s leery of the Visionary’s talent, especially when a strange force field blocks her from reading the planet’s energy. He’s willing to put up with her hocus-pocus talent if it means a successful relocation. He just never expected for the mystic to cause him to see visions of his own and her beauty to heat his blood to the boiling point.
“Quit hugging trees and get your ass moving.”
Kara ground her back teeth together, causing her injured cheek to smart. She picked up her pace. The man had about as much tact as a rampaging glacial bear. “Yes, sir.”
The team stood at the base of a small hill in a semi-circle. They all looked over at her as if she were some loathsome tagalong on their vacation getaway. She’d been on many missions as a visionary, but she’d never come across such clear contempt from those she worked with. Of course they were all hand selected by Cash so most likely were his regular crew. She, being the outsider, had to prove her worth, and so far the planet couldn’t or wouldn’t cooperate with her.
If Cash continued to undermine her legitimacy for being on the team, she’d file a formal complaint with the HC. This mission meant the survival of their people, and having a team leader who thwarted her efforts to find a suitable planet for relocation could not be tolerated on any level.
“We’re going to split up into three two-person teams.” Cash pointed to the northern end of the plains. “Lowe and Dylan. Head north. Christo and Ramsey. East. Visionary, you’re with me.” He adjusted the volume on his earpiece. “Keep in constant radio contact. If you find anything of interest flag it and we’ll investigate at length tomorrow. We meet at the ship before the second sun sets.”
The rest of the team dispersed in their designated directions. Kara watched while Cash pulled out his canteen and took a quick mouthful of water. He swished it around his cheeks before swallowing.
“What have you found so far?” He replaced the canteen in the strap on his belt and rested his hands on his hips as if in preemptive challenge to what her answer might be.
“If I were blindfolded and brought to this planet, I would think it had died a long time ago.”
A deep frown pulled his dark brows into a V. His startling blue eyes were hidden behind a pair of wraparound sunshades that did nothing but reflect Kara’s image back to her. “What do you mean?”
“I mean I can’t hear anything. The only reason I know the suns are shining is because I can feel their heat. But they’re as silent as space itself.”
He let out a string of creative expletives and turned away. “Why didn’t you tell me this before I sent the others off into the plains?”
“Why didn’t you ask for my professional assessment before making that decision, sir?”
He shook his head and picked up the pace. “Doesn’t make much difference, I guess. This is a fool’s errand.”
Reluctantly, Kara had to agree with that assessment. The thought of relocating to a planet she couldn’t hear disturbed her more than she wanted to admit. But one thing was for certain: their civilization could no longer continue to survive on Cimirion.
Worldwide climatic changes had covered the planet in an icy crust in only a few short decades. Scientists couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason for the sudden shift in mean temperatures, but all agreed it appeared to be getting worse every season.
Seasons. They’d had nothing but perpetual winter for the past twenty years. Kara could barely remember the springs and summers of her childhood. Looking around her, she wondered what the HC had been thinking to want to take an entire population from a world of arctic blasts and hypothermia to one of perpetual summer and heat stroke.
Kara lengthened her stride as she caught up to Cash. She hung back a few steps just to admire the view. She might not like him as a team leader, but all that arrogance sure came in a tight, hard package. Briefly an image of spreading protective oil over his entire body flooded her mind and brought her up short. Just how long had she been without a man?
The heat had to be getting to her. Normally, the tall, dark and arrogant type didn’t thrill her in the least. However, Cash hid something, she was almost sure of it. In addition to discovering why the planet hadn’t spoken to her yet, she also wanted to uncover some of her sexy and untouchable team leader’s secrets. The prospect of which would be truly fascinating.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The Holiday Hustle
Hi, everyone! I am so excited to be guest blogging here at Star Crossed Romance! Thanks so much for the invite!
Today, I’d like to talk a bit about the Holiday Hustle. And, no, I’m not just talking about the frantic days in December when we all cook, clean, shop, and gift-wrap until we think we’re gonna fall on our faces. I’m talking about the writing hustle.
If you’re like me, then you know that the few precious days of the year are trickling by in a cold haze. As a writer, I set yearly goals for myself. For example, at the beginning of January, I decide that I’d like (big keyword here, “like”) to write three novels or, I decide I’d like to pen two novels and two novellas (you get the idea). As the year starts to wind down (beginning around October for me), then I start to review my writing progress. By the time December arrives, I know I’m in the final countdown. Often, the very fact that I only have a few days left in the year inspires me to write—and write fast!
I’m currently deadline free, so I’ve decided to use December as my mad, bad writing month. In between the craziness that passes for my Christmas preparations, I’m going to try and churn out as many pages on a new paranormal suspense story as I can. I’d love to get an actual book written (Ha! Doubtful!) or perhaps manage a novella (should be a possibility). That way, when I look back over my last month of ’07, I can have a tangible writing project to review.
So, I’m going to hustle. I’ll do the decorating (I’m so not Martha Stewart, so it won’t be anything fancy) and I’ll do the cooking (I love the cookies that come frozen and just need a simple heating in the oven), but I’ll also get some writing done—no epic saga, of course, but some pages that I can feel good about having created.
And what about you? Do you add writing into the mix of your Holiday Hustle? Or do you just generally (sorry for the pun!) write off the month of December?
Title: "New Year's Bites" in A RED HOT NEW YEAR
Release Date: 11/27/07
Publisher: Avon Red
Blurb: After good-girl Anna Summers is bitten by a wolf-like creature on New Year's Eve, her life changes--and she takes a walk on the real wild side with her sexy rescuer, Jon York, a man who is much more than he seems...
Title: "Caged Wolf" in SECRETS, VOLUME 21: PRIMAL HEAT
Release Date: 12/07
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing
Blurb: Alerac La Morte has been drugged, kidnapped, and taken to some hole in the wall far from civilization. To make matters worse, Alerac realizes that his captor, Madison Langley, is actually…his destined mate. Madison hates his kind–she blames Weres for the death of her father, and she wants vengeance. But when captor is turned captive, will Alerac be able to convince her that he’s not the monster she thinks, that wolves are true, and when they mate…it’s forever?
Friday, November 30, 2007
This is not the post I intended to write today, but I couldn’t seem to get out from under the funk that landed on my shoulders Tuesday morning. To do my piece on holiday cheer I need to be witty and upbeat. However, I found out a few mornings ago that my best friend’s husband had died suddenly.
Do you ever have those moments where events seem to come out of a book? If this had been a novel I was reading, I’d have chucked it away or boxed it up to take to charity.
My friend had searched for years through a string of boyfriends who were as terrible as a woman could have to find someone to love her. When she moved back to her family’s hometown to take care of her dying grandmother, she happened to meet a man who knew instantly she was the woman for him. Her family wasn’t as happy, because he had a reputation. He was the scandalous rake hellion that by all local accounts lived up to the “bad boy” persona.
But her unconditional, honest love was unbending enough to steer him away from the trap of bad deeds and turned him into a lovable hero. Out of four brothers, his mother lauded him as her pride and joy. And his mother adored my friend like the daughter she never had. Their kids by previous marriages/relationships were almost the same age. Everything seemed perfect, though there were a few bumps.
On September 22nd I watched them exchange their vows while holding hands and looking at each other with as much love as any human can show by the twinkle in their eyes. They had barely a few hundred dollars to their name and yet they were happy in what they’d created together…a life full of love and a true family. He’d been searching for both for a long time. They’d talked about adopting each others’ kids to make things legal, but in their hearts the five of them were already bonded.
Two months and four days later my friend called, crying as she left a message. Out of the blue…by their bed…in the house they’d lived in barely a month he’d died in her arms as she frantically begged the police to help her. But they couldn’t see past the bad boy he’d been…couldn’t believe the man they’d known on the wrong side of the law had turned into a loving father and husband.
No warning had presented itself. He’d gone out to eat and joked with friends mere hours before his death. The only cryptic trace is a sentence he’d uttered to a couple of people who shudder in hindsight. “I won’t live to see my next birthday,” and “I won’t live to see thirty.” Of course he said the words jokingly. No one believed it would come to pass. But it happened like horrific foreshadowing for an event you cringe against, not wanting the event to take place.
Now my friend is left wondering why. Atleast that’s one of the questions we can answer as writers, because we breathe life into our characters, we manipulate our cast any way we want. And I so badly wanted to help her answer that question…to put an end to the pain that radiated from her teary eyes. I wanted to clutch her close and tell her how I felt…but words just can’t express some emotions. I tried to philosophize the reason, but still I’m left with nothing but the proverbial blank page. Only my faith makes me believe there was a bigger picture that I know nothing about. But that is of little comfort to her heart that is left with a gapping void and a pain that has no elixir.
All I know is that endings like these—to heroes and heroines—leave a lasting impression. Careers can be ruined by the death of a fictional hero and real hearts can be broken irrevocably. In some cases love is like a budding flower that gets snuffed out from the chill of winter, never to blossom anew. Hopefully one day my friend will shine brightly because she’s found a new love, but truly only time can heal her hurt. I pray she will soon be able to clutch her good memories close, which are now too painful to broach in her world of chaos and uncertainty. But this man…this love that she’d sought so long shall be hard to replace.If you have someone you love, tell him/her now. Cherish every day and make the most of each minute. In life and on the page, sometimes there truly is no going back.
When I wrote ALL I EVER WANTED , which was loosely based on my friendships, I never dreamed that one of us would truly have to face the tragedy of losing a husband. Now I wish magic realms truly existed to fulfill my friend's wish--to hug her husband close and tell him one last time that she loved him.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
First off: I’ve just written an erotic novella that I need to do a final copy edit on and send out. As usual, it’s a paranormal. This one deals with dreams and witches and how things that scare us during the day can really come to life in the darkness before dawn. So…any idea where I might send the novella?
I’m also working on revisions – still – to my last novel. It’s become clear to me that, as much as I like the opening chapter, it appears to turn off potential readers, ie editors or agents. The good news is that a different opening has come to me and it may actually make the book stronger (or at least acceptable right from page 1). The trick now is to combine it with the remainder of the book to make sure everything flows.
On the personal front, I’ve been taking an online class in Feng Shui. Very interesting! I’ve always liked the orientalesque goal of simplicity combined with elegance but haven’t really achieved it. However, this class is really opening my eyes up to ‘power’ spots in my office (and home if I apply the teachings to the entire building). The best part is that if I combine this idea of Feng Shui with the tenets I’ve picked up from FlyLady, the whole office should be a shining example of what I need to be creative and productive, healthy and happy, wise and loving. Definitely goals to strive for in today’s world. I’ve been leaning in this direction for the rest of the house (due to FlyLady) for a while now though my office has been kind of neglected. So this is really giving me the kick start I need to apply myself to arranging the office.
Last but not least, I’ve found a new favorite author. Kresley Cole with her Immortals After Dark series (hope I didn’t mess up the name of the series—I don’t have the books with me at this moment to verify). I can honestly say that it’s been a LONG time since I’ve stayed up till 2:30 in the morning just because I couldn’t bear to stop reading. Even though I didn’t finish the book (I have to be up and running at 5:30), I couldn’t wait to get back to it. That’s a real joy for a stalwart book lover like me.
Christmas is coming so I’ve got to spend time doing the Christmas shopping and decorating thing. I can’t wait to get my tree up and the house all prettified for the holiday :D It’s a lot of work, yes, but I do love the Christmas season with all the cheery decorations (not too fond of the cold, snowy Michigan weather though!). I’m sure many of you feel the same way so I’ll wish you a wonderful shopping/decorating season and an early Happy Holidays!
Friday, November 23, 2007
As the night wore on, I started to think: when was the last time I celebrated a holiday or birthday/anniversary on the actual date of the event?
Answer: I don't remember.
One thing you get used to real quick (or you become a pain in everyone's ass) is that working regular staff your holidays are not your own, nor are they generally spent with your family. Being able to shift the days to when it's conveinent is imperative for keeping the peace. I have to say, my husband is wonderful when it comes to me saying.."Dave, I have to work Thanksgiving night, let's have it on Saturday instead since we're both off." - His reply. "Fine." - And he's not just saying that, it really is fine with him. Maybe celebrating the actual day of the holiday would matter more to me if we lived closer than 1000 miles to any of our family members and spent the day with them. Since it's only Dave and I, we can pretty much celebrate Christmas in July and Thanksgiving in March if the spirit moves us. And I have to say...I kind of like it that way.
Holidays aren't about celebrating on a date designated by the calendar, but by the sentiments of spending time with those you love.
I have much to be thankful for this year, even though it's been kind of a sucky year for Dave and I. The thought it could have been so much worse remains in the back of my head. So, I'm really and truly thankful that it wasn't. I'm also thankful things seem to be turning around for us and look forward to 2008 being better.
On a sad note, this is the first year my Kittygirl will not be here to share the feast. I have memories from 14 years where she'd sit in front of the oven and eagerly await the turkey's removal. She was crazed over fowl of any kind, but turkey was her absolute favorite. It's going to seem a little lonely in the kitchen this year as I cook my holiday bird. I'm sure she'll be looking down from kitty-heaven, licking her whiskers and sniffing the air.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I know exactly where I was a year ago. I was reeling from the curt letter I received from my then publisher, which called for a massive rewrite of the first book I sold. My editor and her senior editor seemed to hate it so much; I feared I could never make it right.
On Thanksgiving Day, when I should’ve been rejoicing with my family, I ate hurriedly and then whipped out my laptop to finish a chapter. I was on a strict deadline that I knew I had to meet. Failure wasn’t an option. I’d often bitten off more than I could chew of my own volition plenty of times, but never had someone else shove the stake in the ground for their favor.
This agenda was also the way I spent Christmas. Worrying about every minute that I spent away from my laptop and that I’d never finish. I managed to piece together a version of my book that would make my editor happy and satisfy me with a week to spare. But I realized I’d been robbed of those special holiday moments. And I couldn’t get them back.
This year will be different! My publisher ended up filing bankruptcy in July and finally after months of waiting I see the light at the end of the long tunnel. In a generous gesture of what marks this season, Siren Publishing, Inc. purchased 154 authors’ contracts. As of November 15th, they have released all the rights back to the authors, including myself. Within days a mere formality will severe my contractual ties with my publisher indefinitely.
Like many of the other authors involved, I though I’d feel like a weight had been lifted. I’d imagined myself screaming to the world of my freedom. But instead I’m modest, wanting to be sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed before I give into my elation. With that being said, I also feel deeply sorry for the authors still in the battle. They believed they would be going to court today to get what was rightfully there’s. Instead the court delayed the hearing until December 4th, adding more hurt to injury and even more waiting. To them I say hang strong and have faith as you endure, your day for rejoicing will come.
Today, a year and eight days since that fateful afternoon when my will to write was almost crushed by that e-mail, I rejoice in saying I can shop the book of my heart elsewhere. But I would never have made it through without my unflagging family as well as my friends who did everything they could to pep up my spirit. Even fans I’d managed to acquire before my book hit the web bolstered me with e-mails, and lastly I must embrace my posting mates who let me stay among them as a person fallen from PAN status. I am truly blessed to know all of you, and in many ways blessed by this experience. Perseverance must be tested, so that a person knows their true strengths. Now I know I can take lick after lick, and still keep on putting one foot in front of the other. It may be slow going, but as long as I believe in myself I can attain anything.
This season I will write. I will reflect on where I’ve been as well as where I must go for my career, and I will continue to use my family as a source of inspiration. One of the regrets I have about this setback is that no one read my dedication. So I’m sharing it here, since the men in question played a major role in TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART and are on my mind this season.
To my Grandpaw, my Step-Dad & my Dad~ Your lives and good deeds are not forgotten.
May your Thanksgiving Day with family plus good food be plentiful and may you know love that knows no bounds. For one day, give in to temptation not to write or edit and simply enjoy living.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sexy & Romantic glitter graphics from S e x i l u v . c o m
Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving was first celebrated in early colonial times by the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock and their new Native American friends. The actual origin, though, probably has its origins in the harvest festivals celebrated by various cultures since the dawn of the agricultural age. No matter the culture, the idea behind the holiday is to celebrate and give thanks for a bountiful season. I'm sure many of us, regardless of where we live or how we celebrate, have many things to be thankful for in our daily lives. I, myself, am thankful for many things and I thought I'd mention a few of them here.
I'm thankful we found a new vet for our furbabies. Our old vets retired after many long years of service to the furred and feathered members of our family. Their replacements, while skilled, didn't seem to have the same...connection. In fact, they and most of the new staff at the clinic were afraid of our Zuzu (who in theory is a scary looking beastie but who in reality is more a scared cat). This made taking Zuzu in for routine health care a trial for all of us so when our daughter suggested a new vet, we took the chance. These new vets see Zuzu as more of a big marshmallow than a 'devil dog'. And while they probably won't top Zuzu's list of favorite people, she likes them a lot more than the vets we had been seeing. These new vets just performed surgery on Zuzu who had a small tumor growing on her upper eyelid. The surgery went fine, the growth is benign, and Zuzu is doing well. Side note: Wookie hates all vets evenly, LOL, and her plaintive 'No' when we take her for check ups hasn't changed at all.
I'm also thankful for having good doctors. This year, in a routine spinal x-ray, my chiropractor saw a calcification on my thyroid. Now obviously she couldn't treat that but she did recommend that I see my regular doctor about it. My doctor has been treating me for a variety of ailments for over 15 years and, at first, discounted my chiropractor's diagnosis (there's just no love lost between medical doctors and chiropractors) but he gave me a number of tests regardless and confirmed there was something amiss with my thyroid. At that point, he sent me to an endocrinologist (one of the best in the area) who confirmed that I had a growth on my thyroid. A slick little biopsy done in his office combined with blood work ruled out cancer but confirmed that I have Hashimoto's disease which is easily treatable. The nodule that started the scare has gone down and, while I still have to take the med's to treat it, I don't have to see the endocrinologist again for a year.
I'm thankful for having a job (even though I'd love to retire to full time writing! LOL) that I enjoy. While the stress can sometimes be a bit much, the job is also a challenge and that's something I like. There's an opportunity to learn (technology changes so rapidly!) and my supervisors respect my skills and expertise. That's something that seems to be rapidly vanishing in our economy today. In my state's economy, good jobs are very hard to find. While I'd certainly like to earn more money, I'm thankful for having a good job.
I mentioned Wookie earlier and I'm sure I've mentioned how she came to live with me. To do a brief recap, one of the guards at work found her on the grounds when she was a bare three weeks old. We have feral cats that live in the wooded areas there and my theory is that her mother was transporting her from one nest to another when she was startled by either the guard or perhaps one of our ground crews. At any rate, the guard, wearing this heavy duty rubber glove, toted this tiny, squalling little kitten into the office next to mine. My maternal instincts kicked into high gear and I ended up taking her home with every intention to find one of the rescue operations that specialize in cats. But Wookie wormed her way into my heart and now she's a permanent member of my family. I may have saved her life by taking her home but she's more than repaid that by her love and companionship.
Then there are my friends. I've a very good friend I met in the freshman year of high school. We still see each other even though we live on opposite sides of town. And I have good friends who've moved to other states that I'm still in contact with. Then there's my online family of friends who I've 'met' because I write. The ladies of Star-Crossed Romance fall into this category and so do many of my other writer friends.
I could go on and on about the things I'm thankful for but I think I'll end by mentioning my family. I'm thankful for having a beautiful, intelligent daughter and a loving husband (even if I sometimes go entirely speechless by his inability to find something that's Right In Front of him, LOL). Without them, my life would not be as rich and full as it is.
Sexy & Romantic glitter graphics from S e x i l u v . c o m
So while we, in this day and age, no longer celebrate a bountiful harvest so to speak, we can celebrate the things that are important to us. Health, friends, family... these are the things that make a life worth living.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I guess, in today's world, one of the top things is our freedom, to be able to worship as we want and walk the streets in relative safety. So saying, I'm thankful for those who fight for our freedom.
I'm thankful for my faith - in God I trust.
I'm thankful for my home, my Mum, my animals and my friends. They make my life so much brighter.
I'm thankful for the happy memories of loved ones who have passed on. I know I'll see them again one day, both animals and humans, and meanwhile I laugh about all the things we shared, and smile at the whimsical side of memories.
I'm thankful that I can read, write and work. Life is inspiring.
And even though my Mum thinks I'm nuts, I'm thankful for the zombie, ghost and ghoulie movies that make me laugh and shiver so much! Horror is good - on the screen and on pages. I don't actually want to ever meet a zombie!
I'm thankful to all those writers out there who provide me with hours of entertainment in far off places. It's an adventure from the safety of my home.
And I'm especially thankful to all those readers who read what we authors write. Without you all, we authors would be in limbo!
So to my US friends, happy Thanksgiving. To those of us who don't do Thanksgiving in our own countries - have a wonderful day anyway, and remember all the good things we have!
And pray for those who struggle or are finding times hard. May they find a light at the end of the tunnel.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
There's this comet zipping through our solar system, and it's now bigger than THE SUN. I had no idea about this (I haven't been looking through my newsfeeds that much lately), but this is freakin' cool. Our universe is just so...interesting. You know, much more interesting than all the other boring universes out there... ;)
I love writing SF and I love writing paranormal, and some of the most interesting thoughts I've had regarding potential plots have revolved around what happens when science and superstition intersect. Throughout our history, the boogey men, the scary monsters, have all eventually come to have scientific (observable) explanations attached to them. Lycanthropy, vampirism, etc. The monsters have become metaphors as we grow in our understanding of the world around us.
But one thing I've never really believed is why the paranormal couldn't exist right alongside the normal. So much so in recent years that I've taken to not using the term "supernatural" because it just isn't accurate. If vampires do exist, they aren't supernatural--they are part of the natural world that we simply have not been aware of and don't yet understand. Science is magic to me, and magic simply a science of which we don't yet know all the governing rules.
Hmmmmm....sounds more like the title of an erotic novel than it does a blog entry, but, oh well.
Do you ever get on a tear where you read every book you can get your hands on in a certain genre? I do. Right now, I can't help myself and have been devouring Regency and Victorian novels. To me there is something so comforting about a good Regency. I don't know what it is for me that touches my heart so. I think it might be the fact I view these as the very essences of romances. The first romance I ever read was The Ruthless Rake by Dame Barbara Cartland. The story has faded from memory, the characters gone and forgotten, but yet the title and time period stayed with me all these years. Lord, I was so young when I read it, I didn't even know what a rake was—other than a garden tool I was forced to use every fall to clear the leaves in our yard. I remember the dresses and the ballrooms and how very shiny and glamorous it all seemed.
Of course as I grew up and learned more about history and how things were not all beautifully rendered as they were in novels, I continued to love novels set in the period. And I'm unrependent in my love of a good Regency. There's just something about a man in those tight riding britches and boots that gets my blood pumping hot. Or maybe it's the fact the "gentlemen" of the ton always had a code of honor. Whether imposed on them by society mores of the time, or their own personal honor, it didn't matter. If a man kissed a woman—much less did the down and dirty—he felt obligated to marry her. Generally, this also involves falling head over heels in love with her after the wedding night. It's escapism as its finest.
I know there are paranormals out there with Regency and Victorian time periods. I don't recall reading any of those myself (send me the titles of some good ones and I'll read 'em.) but to me it's an amalgamation of two of my favorite genres. We all know how much I love to mix genres!!! It's one of my favorite things. So here goes....
Most of the time fantasy novels are set in medieval time periods, but wouldn't one set in a Victorian setting be fun? Magic and mayhem set against the strict moral framework of a Victorianesque society. What about one set on another planet were technology is advanced, but the culture is very bound in tradition? (I haven't read Dune, but I seem to remember from what little I know if it, that it has this kind of feel to it. Correct me if I'm wrong.)
So, even though I don't write Regency or Victorian novels myself, that's not saying all this reading isn't going to pay off for me one day with a paranormal, fantasy or sci-fi dressed in the costumes and conventions of England's bygone eras.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I’ve always loved puzzles…only those that aren’t too hard. I hate to be stumped, so yes I am not one of those people that does the NY Times Crossword in pen. Then again I’m not hip on crosswords anyway, unless I’m waiting for food and want to challenge my brain with the variety found on a kid’s placemat. But I LOVE word search puzzles (chalk this up to my grandmother too!)
I think this is part of my obsession that compels me to find just the right words and perhaps why my writing style seems so complex. As a local writer friend said over lunch yesterday, I appreciate a good turn of phrase…especially when I pen it. :0)
But finding words also means labeling, which holds a lot of power. One wrong word can give the reader a misconception. For instance intellectual is a far cry from bookish. As I reflect on my grueling (and mind-mushing) day-long seminar with Deb Dixon, I think that’s one of the reasons I can’t seem to make her “dominant impression” method work for me. Pin-pointing a job is way easier for me than expressing all my characters eccentricities with a single describer. (It’s like summing up my full-time job as a mere paper-pusher. Which is so far from the truth.)
Though she said that the adjective describing the noun (which shouldn’t simply be an occupation) could change as could the noun by the end of the book, I still can’t seem to boil it down. It’s like that one word that eludes you in a jumble of possibilities. You want to circle it, mark it through…simply say you’ve bested the problem. Yet it’s there taunting me like I’m not smarter than a fifth grader.
I completely get Goal, Motivation and Conflict, but I swear I’d have hives by the time I got through deconstructing my book. (I lamented like a teenager over how sucky my homework turned out and that was only 9-12 lines of text!) Honestly, I think I’d never write again if I made it to the end. I do plot with a brief outline from front to back, but I like those little surprises that pop up and take me somewhere unexpected. I’m not talking about a complete tangent that ruins where I’m going, but a little variation that adds umph to my punch. However, I will occasionally shave off a bit here and there to make a piece fit a hole. (You know the deal where you use your fist as a hammer to beat the cardboard into submission because you’re sure that’s where it should fit. Then you find out there’s a piece missing or a gaping hole where that tiny sliver should’ve slipped.)
It’s all about making it work. You can have a great story, but if you don’t have a combination of those three items (GMC) driving then you’ll fall flat. One safe assumption is that you can’t ever have one without the other. Deb, like my friend Emilie, says if you have the right motivation you can make your characters do just about anything. I think that’s a simple rule in life, which writing reflects. All great works boil down to one truth, but I don’t think the takeaway is always the same for everyone. Our life experiences are the filter that put what we perceive into certain contexts. That’s why labeling can be so constraining.
Just like rules. During my study of English, I heard more than one professor say in order to break the rules you first have to learn them. I treasure rules because they make society and everything within it run smoothly (for the most part). Believe me when I say, I am generally a conformist because I hate conflict. (Except in my books!)
But sometimes my spirit rears up and I break the rules (take that grammar). I haven’t done it to be bad-ass or to thumb my nose at others. I’ve turned from the tried-and-true because it worked for my story (though I still cringe inwardly over using the f bomb) and it’s gotten my work split out from the slush-pile horde. Is there any wonder why I almost purchased a ball cap bearing the line “well behaved women rarely make history”?
Deb said numerous times that an author can break the rules, but the person who does better have a stellar voice (as in good enough to make a grocery list bestseller material) and be exceedingly entertaining. I have my prolonged moments of brilliance, but to be on the safe side I better piece together the full picture of Deb’s puzzling method!
You know what I’m doing for homework, so how about you? What writing assignment has you stumped?
Monday, November 12, 2007
When Angela Verdenius zipped off an email to me asking me to be a guest blogger at Star-Crossed Romance, it was an automatic 'yes'. Angela is one of the sweetest people I know. She befriended me waaaaaaaay back in my early days of writing. She's a lady with a big heart and knows a lost stray when she sees one. Then I realized Lynda K. Scott was also part of Star Crossed Romance and I was doubly glad I said yes. She's been very kind when our paths have crossed on the lists.
My lost stray days have passed, mostly, and I seem to know what I'm doing. At least I like to at least think I know what I'm doing. So the question today becomes, "What do I blog about?" There are some well-written entries here on Star-Crossed Romance on a variety of timely topics that invoke thought. But, for better or worse, I’m feeling frivolous these days as I enjoy the turning of the season. I think I’ll tell you my blogging story.
I resisted the idea of blogging for over a year. My life is pretty hectic what with a full time job, a blossoming writing career, family, friends, hobbies and sleep. Yes, I do insist on sleep. When I finally composed that first blog entry and posted it, I never expected anyone to see it. They did. So I did another one. People read that, too. It's such a rush to discover people actually read blogs, and bigger kick to realize they've read your books.
Now, I don't really want my guest blogging at Star-Crossed Romance to turn into one big promo for my books. Let's not go there, okay? Let's just say - I have a few books out and leave it at that. I started writing for fun and it took off with me. Same thing happened with blogging. It's taken on a life of its own. As long as it's fun, I'll keep doing it.
Back to my blogging story. I started the regular writer's blog called “Through a Glass Brightly." You know the one where I blather on and on about my books. Great promotional tool. Google loves me, but I needed more. I needed a place to be my irreverent, tongue-in-cheek self. Irony doesn't always translate to the screen, you know. And I really do like having fun, sharing a laugh (or a snicker) and just hanging out.
So I started a second blog called, "Rayne's Ramblings" for an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek look at the world (http://rayneforrest.wordpress.com) And as if that wasn't enough, I started yet another blog over on Yahoo 360, "Fire and Rayne" for my favorite obsession, Gerry Butler. My newsletter, “Forrest Whispers,” went to a blog format so I could do color and pictures and neat stuff. Then I joined with a few nice ladies and we became the Amorous Authors and we have a blog. Do you begin to see a big snowball rolling down a hill gathering momentum and sucking up everything in its path?
And so, here I am today, guest blogging. I'm either obsessed or possessed. You'll have to decide. The great thing is, I'm enjoying myself more than I ever dreamed I could as part of the blogging community.
Cyndi Lauper was right. Sometimes, girls just want to have fun.
Thanks, Rayne, for being with us!
Friday, November 09, 2007
Well, that aroused my curiosity. But it seems as though his complaint was in methods of transition from said 1st to 3rd person POV and not the actual mingling of the POV's. Basically, his comment said that all POV switches should be done at scene or chapter breads.
I'll confess I used to think this one and, to an extent, I still do. However, I now feel that with the proper use of transitions switching from one POV to another IN THE SAME SCENE can be accomplished and will enrich the story. Now, I've been around long enough to see the pendulum swing on this issue and maybe I'm just slow on the upswing (ie coming into the POV debate late). How do you all feel about POV switches? Scene or chapter breaks only? On, with the right transition, can they be done in mid-scene?
Moving on to a fun thing...The United Nations World Food Program has an interesting 'game' they're offering. It tests your word power :D For every word you get right, they will donate 10 grains of rice to world hunger. Here's the link:
Last but not least for our American readers...When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, also include one for the following address:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001
It'll make them feel better and probably add a warm and fuzzy glow to your holidays as well.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I get most of my ideas while driving, believe it or not, or when I'm in the shower. They are two of the best ways to help me when I've written myself into a corner as well.
I'm a plotter. I have a rough outline of the story, about a page or a half a page, and this keeps me focused. Of course, I can and do change anything I like, change the plot, the characters, add and take things, but the main outline keeps me focused, otherwiseI end up all over the place. So saying, my current WIP has gone further south than the plot line indicated, but hey, it's working, so I'm not complaining! LOL
Music is a must for me. I always have the radio on, or music from the computer. I even studied with music. I can't imagine writing in silence. Then again, I also need to be in my little room with no one else in it - except the cats, of course
I have my pics on the walls, jokes, bits and pieces and a lot of dust. We won't dwell on the dust, all right? I live in a dusty town and it drives me nuts!
My writing room has book catalogues and things teetering on the edge of the desk and a few post-it notes stuck up on the top of the desk hutch - so I can forget to do it all anyway.
The best time for writing in my opinion? It has to be from about 10pm to about 4am on a summer's nights, when it's dark, the night birds are singing outside, it's warm, and no one else is up, and music is playing so only I can hear it. It's perfect. My emotions tend to have free reign then, don't ask me why! But I don't always have a choice when I write, especially when I'm working nights, so I write anytime of the day or night that I can.
And as I live through my characters when I write, I do feel everything they're feeling. I've even cried while writing a sad scene, laughed, frowned...you name it, if my character is feeling it, so am I!
Oddly enough, I can't join the groups who do so many words a week or month. I feel constricted. I need to write when and how I want to. How weird is that? Some authors benefit heaps from joining groups with writing deadlines. I have deadlines, but I meet them my way. I admire those authors who can have deadlines with other authors and meet them together. Maybe one day...
Nah, who am I kidding? I'm a lone flyer!!! LOL