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?