Friday, August 31, 2007

Do you need a map?

A young lady recently attracted a great deal of attention by flubbing her answer to the following question at a teen pageant: One fifth of Americans can't locate the United States on a map--why do you think that is?

Only one fifth? I would have put it much higher. I read a study one that stated that more than on half of all American college graduates couldn't correctly locate even the general area for our national capitol on a blank map. So what are we teaching in schools and colleges? Perhaps not geography--at least not geography as I learned it back in the "good old days."

The year I was eighteen my husband and I (yes, I know, eighteen is young!) went on a delayed honeymoon. We married in the winter and then went on a road trip to Arizona in the summer. When we were down the road a piece--maybe two hours or so--he was appalled to find out that I'd inadvertantly left our atlas at home. I couldn't quite figure out what the problem was as I am one of those people that you can set down in the desert, turn me around six times and then ask me to point some arbitrary direction and I can... every time. My husband on the other hand is one of those individuals who need a map to get across the street.

Well, with my directions we drove straight to my grandparents house outside of Phoenix without even one detour. I don't think he ever recovered from the stress. Ever since then, I'm the official keeper of the directions, maps, etc. Maybe I should have let us get lost.

Through my years of giving directions, it's been my experience that the average person cannot read a map. Most don't understand the four compass directions. Most don't understand the symbols. And most don't have any idea of how to judge distances. I don't think that this is an inherent problem with most of the population. I think that map basics aren't taught anymore in school because we too busy teaching testing skills. Maybe we're testing the wrong thing. Maybe we should be teaching survival skills--the real map skills of living.

Anyway, I've been asked why on earth I would put maps on my website. The maps are there for those readers who want more information or a clearer picture of where the characters are going, have been, or currently live. Some people just like visual aids. I know I do. Geography in its purest form is the "lay of the land". My maps are designed to convey the lay of the land for Avalon (Flowers of Camelot series) and Mystic Valley. There's even a map of Lost Market, the main village in Mystic Valley.

I like maps. I have a couple that are framed. I have books of old maps. And I have books about maps. They give me a way to connect with the explorers that searched out new lands. Without understanding a map, it's difficult to understand the explorers immense accomplishments. The next time you look at a map, imagine the number of hours that it took to accumulate all the information on that piece of paper. Its a living work of art.


If you haven't already checked out Kelly interview with Teri Thackston hop right over to and of course you'll want to find out what Amarinda is up to with the Louella/Sam saga and find out who hit Amarinda in the face at

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reading til the wee hours...

When is the last time you sat up until the wee hours reading? You know what I mean--it's so late you may as well not go to bed?

I finished Swift of Heart at 3:30 AM this morning and I'm still not quite awake. Swift of Heart is a book written by my friend/blog partner, Amarinda Jones under her alter-ego's name of Janet Davies. You're probably wondering what kind of story could keep anyone up until 3:30 AM. Well, I have to admit that it's a pretty unusual premise.

The hero, Mac, shows up after a year long absence with no word to the heroine, Stephanie, and when she demands to know where he's been, he tells her he's been away fighting a war in his home country... in another dimension. Of course, she immediately believes him and all is forgiven--not!

Anyway, I made the mistake of starting this book while I was waiting for Yahoo to get it's act together yesterday afternoon. Janet/Amarinda had a chat scheduled that she was gracious enough to share with a few friends. In case you don't know what this is, author and friends post excerpts from their books and chat about them. Maybe there are some questions and answers from authors or readers. Everyone has a good time. As long as Yahoo is working properly!

Yesterday, however, Yahoo had a meltdown about five minutes before the chat began. No posts showed up. Frantic efforts on the Hostess' part were for naught. So once I posted a few things and waited for Yahoo to fix whatever was wrong, I thought I'll just begin this book and read for a while. Reading time is precious when you're a writer so you grab whatever time you can find to read.

Uh-huh. Never start a good book when you're going to have to keep putting it down... or since this was an e-book, I kept having to switch screens to check on the chat. Then my royalty check came and I had to run out to the bank to deposit it (no it wasn't that big, but every penny counts so rush out and buy one of my books!) Support your local author.

Then I had to stop and feed the ravening beast (my husband). Haven't quite figured out why he insists on eating every evening, but there you are. Some things are cast in stone after forty years.

Back to the chat which was hopping by then as Yahoo suddenly "fixed" whatever was wrong, though I know there were a couple of posts I sent that still hadn't showed up when I signed off at 10:30 PM. That's because our hostess extended the chat so we could still chat and post.

Ah-hah, I thought. Now I'll get to read the book. Nope. Had to deal with a couple of emergencies and a long dog walk.

Midnight. Okay, now I'll get back to Swift of Heart! The computer decided it was time to run a scheduled scan. So I puttered around while that happened. I should have done the dishes, but was too impatient by that time to mess with it.

1:00 AM. Finally, back to the saga of Mac and Stephanie. By this time, I'm determined to find out how they defeat the bad guy and win. Of course, they'll have a happy ever after--that's required, but how will they get there? How many bad guys will they have to defeat? What will it take to convince Stephanie that Mac won't disappear again?

What? You think I'm going to tell you the answers after I sat glued to my computer monitor until the wee hours? Not a chance. I will however tell you where to get your very own copy of Swift of Heart.... by Janet Davies from Cerridwen Press. Don't delay as the sequel will be out in September.

Finally satisfied that all was well with Mac and Stephanie, I toddled off to bed. This morning I dragged my sorry ass around the house, yawning and trying to remember what I had to do today. As is my custom, I booted up the computer to check e-mail and stuff. Imagine my complete lack of surprise when I discovered that Yahoo seems to have misplaced several of my chat loops--including the one from yesterday. Guess it wasn't quite fixed, eh?

Well, that's a job for later on when I'm actually awake. In the meantime, go read what Kelly did to my sexy Scrabble story at and then stop by Amarinda's blog to read her take on the entire chat to-do at

I think I might go take a nap.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Saga of Louella and Sam

As usual, Amarinda shifted gears and changed the blog in startling ways. Here was her take on it yesterday...

“Oh for heaven sake I cannot watch this Emmeline crap any longer. Fangs, peelers, yellow quills? Turn the television off!” Louella had seen more than enough. “How much longer do I have to be here?” If she had to stay a moment longer Louella knew she was going to puke.

“Until the danger passes.” Sam Patterson watched the woman with interest. She was cranky as hell but deliciously hot to look at.

“It’s been two bum numbing weeks!” Witness protection? Witness boredom more like it.

“Duh, remember your life is in danger.” She was hot but thick…like something else he could think of.

“I’m in danger of being bored to death.”

“Hey I’ve done my best to keep you busy.”

“How? By watching schlock 1960’s television shows about warrior women who carry humming potato peelers and men who don’t know their phallax from their foot?” Louella snorted in disgust.

“You are a hard woman to please.”

“You have no idea” Louella licked her lips and looked at him thoughtfully. “We could have some fun together Sammy.”

“I am not doing that again.” He liked adventure but there were limits even with a beautiful woman.

“Come on you liked it.” Louella remembered vividly how it felt and tasted. She moved towards him

“It made me too hot.” Sam knew he had almost lost control last time and that was not on. He was there to protect this woman.

“But it was worth it.” She placed her hand on his chest. His heart beat wildly. Good to know she was not the only one excited.“Oh yeah but…”“No buts,” Louella slid her hand down his body. “Let’s do it again Sammy boy.”

Sigh. What's a girl to do? Well, I suppose I should give Louella what she wants...

“Oh, all right,” he grumbled. “But I get to go first and you have to make the popcorn this time. Not too much butter, either! It’s bad for my cholesterol!”
“But I like butter!” she pouted.

Ignoring her snit, he went to set up the table and game board. He was pretty sure she was cheating, which was something that always lit his fuse, but he couldn’t figure out how she was doing it. The chances of drawing the j, z, q, and x but not one u or blank six times in a row had to be millions to one. He set the bag of tiles on the game board and went to get a pad of paper and pencil. This time he was going to win!

In the kitchen, Louella pulled the steaming bag from the microwave and ripped it open. Taking a ecstatic breath, she smiled and dumped it in a bowl, sprinkled it with extra garlic salt and grabbed a soda from the refrigerator. Sam was so easy. If he ever found out that she was the premier cheater in the world, he would never play with her again.

She scowled at that depressing thought. Until she was placed in witness protection for squealing on Vinnie the Gun, she had been hard pressed to find anyone to play with. If Sam quit playing with her… maybe she should let him win this time. After all, there was always next time.

Once they were seated, Sam drew his tiles from the bag and set them one at a time on his rack. S… E… X…

So tune in tomorrow to see what bold new direction Miss Kelly takes us in.

Anny for Amarinda's interview with Rita Sable. for Kelly's interview with Sexy Seth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What If?

My sister-in-law and I were discussing science fiction and fantasy versus reality in fiction. She finds that the impossibilities or improbabilities stop the narrative flow for her so she doesn't enjoy the story. I've known quite a few people like that. My daughters prefer non-fiction inspirational material. My second son prefers westerns. Fortunately, my oldest son enjoys playing the what if game. Other wise I would feel totally isolated as their father (and my husband) is the most literal minded man on earth.

Even as a kid, I was always attracted to the fantastic and futuristic. When other kids were reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, I was devouring Tom Swift and Gulliver's Travels. Perhaps that was because I had enough grim reality in my life already. I know that books were my solace through lonely, difficult times. Books don't walk away or reject or make fun of the reader. They're loyal companions, always there when needed.

I used to think that all people were like me, but now I know that there are a lot of people who are uncomfortable with the uncertainty implied in what if. They cling to the concepts and places they are familiar with because the fantastic makes them feel insecure. That's okay. Fortunately in the world of books, there's something for everyone.

My brain is evidently hard-wired for the what ifs in life. Instead of assuming the most logical string of events, my mind hops out there to peer at the most far out what if. I used to fight it in my writing, but finally I conceded that was just the way I am. The book I'm currently working on opens with a small plane flying through a storm. Two possibilities--the plane crashes or it doesn't. But of course in my story, it crashes. Two possibilities--the people die or they survive. Of course they survive. Otherwise there wouldn't be a story. Now what? There my brain took a sideways hop and my characters ended up back in BC with natives throwing rocks at the shiny beast that suddenly appeared in their formerly pristine meadow.

See? That's just the way it is. In the blog I'm writing with Amarinda and Kelly, our readers think I deliberately tossed in a peeler. Not so. That was just a normal brain glitch. It could have easily been a bottle brush or a nail clip. I reached into the grab bag and pulled out a peeler.

The what if gene is both a gift and a curse. It makes it very difficult to write a straight romance. Goodness knows I've tried. Everytime I begin a perfectly normal story line, it jogs off into the brush where I need an off road vehicle to follow along. Witness the plane crash story. What should have been straight forward has gotten lost in the mists of time. Ah, well. The research should be interesting. I learn a lot of new things by playing what if...


Speaking of jogging off the beaten path... Amarinda has dragged us off into la-la land. Check it out at and if you missed Kelly's set up for this, hurry over to and catch up.

I'll leave you with a small peek at Traveller's Refuge:

When Bishop woke, a very old, smallish blue man was leaning over Traveller. He had both hands spread out over him and was slowly moving them along Trav’s body as though he could see through the skin with them. The man noticed that he was awake and nodded to him. “Your friend is badly hurt,” he announced. “I’ve called for help to move him.”

“Who are you?” Bish asked in puzzlement. He had never seen anything like the strange man. His long silver hair, arranged in a multitude of small braids, each finished with a jeweled clasp, pooled around his knees as he knelt next to Trav. When he moved, the clasps clinked together like a delicate wind chime. Bishop squinted in the cave’s dim light, unwilling to accept the hint of fangs and delicately pointed ears he could swear the little man had. His face reminded Bish of a withered apple, except for those bright, twinkling green eyes. They brought to mind bird eyes. The little old man had some sort of cloth wrapped around his lower body and soft leather sandals.

“I am Dai.”

“Uh-huh. And who are you when you’re home, Die?” Bish’s brows rose in query.

“I am Dai. A healer.” He looked directly at Bishop. “Your friend is in need of a healer.” His head came up as he heard people approaching. “Good. Help has arrived and soon your friend will be more comfortable.”

Shoving the blanket away, Bish clambered to his feet. No one was going to move Trav until he talked to somebody that made more sense. Several people appeared on the pathway behind the waterfall shielding the cave, carrying bright light wands and all talking at once. When they saw Bish, the babble stopped abruptly as though cut with a knife.

The oldest man in the group tilted his head to one side, smiled widely revealing definite pointed fangs and said calmly, “Hello, Bishop. Fancy meeting you here.”

Bish knew that voice though he hadn’t heard it in many years. He sat down so suddenly he had bruises on his backside for a week. He shook his head very slowly and then just stared. “Baron.” His eyes grew round with shock as he really looked at him. Baron’s black hair, shot through with silver streaks now, was arranged like the old man’s hair. He wore the same soft skirt-like garment with matching vest and the soft sandals. And in the light of the wands they carried, his skin was indisputably blue. Almost absently, Bishop noted the gently pointed ears, pierced and decorated with multiple gold rings. After a minute, he realized that he was opening and closing his mouth like a goldfish but no sound was coming out. He tried again but it came out as a hoarse croak. “Baron.”

Merlyn came and squatted down next to him, with his arm across his shoulder. “Bish, I’m glad to see you.” He gestured for the others to come closer. “This is part of my family. Llyon. Tyger.” Two tall young men with blinding red hair arranged in tight twists on top of their heads. “Wrenna.” A tiny young woman with locks the color of glorious sunrise streaming down her back. “And two men from our village, Jonas and Mali. And you remember Jade, don’t you?” Yes, he remembered Jade but she looked quite different with her glowing auburn hair bound up in some kind of braided coronet arrangement sprinkled with tiny jewels. He had never seen her when her hair was this neat. And they were all blue…

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Secret Vice

Some people drink. Some smoke. Others, like my husband and kids, play computer role playing games. I have variously crocheted, embroidered, done calligraphy and genealogy, and written stories. But always through the years I've been a reader. Reading requires the presence of reading material.

Recently, I've met up with several people who don't quite get this fundamental fact. One woman in particular was appalled at the amount of money I spend on books. "Go to the library," she suggested. Well, for what I pay in overdue fines, I may as well own the book. Yes, I am that worst of all persons, the one who never makes it back to the library to return the book. I finally just quit going there. Instead I buy the book and then read it... and re-read it.

On one of the chat loops I occasionally visit, they had a question recently. What do you do with you books after you read them? KEEP them, of course. So I can read them again. That's why they're called KEEPERS! I have seven bookcases (make note to self--buy another bookcase soon) that are all overflowing. I read pretty fast. I read often. And I usually read most of the books I have every year. When I buy the newest installment in a series, I read the entire series before reading the newest one. At different times--if I'm on a reading jag--I have read as many as six books in one day.

It was wonderful when I stumbled across e-books. The difficulty with a print book is that it's so hard to hide. After a while the hubby notices that books are stacked on every flat surface in the room. "When did you get this book?" he demands. "Ummm. Oh, I've had that one for a while..." (since Monday, I think). So e-books were a god-send. E-books are invisible.

I keep them stashed on my computer in the e-book file. And since they are purchased with my mad money, no alarm bells go off to snag his notice. Eventually he caught on, but it seems that his major objection wasn't the money spent, but the room occupied by the print books. Since the e-books occupy no space, he's perfectly happy for me to indulge my secret vice. So happy in fact that he bought me an e-book reader for Valentine's Day last year.

Of course, that didn't solve ALL of my problems because there are some authors that still don't sell in e-format. But the odd thing I've noticed is that I've been gradually shifting away from the print books and authors. That's primarily due to an aging problem.

The print books have tiny print I can barely read. I can set my e-reader on large print so I can see it. Isn't that wonderful? And if that isn't big enough, then I can go up to the next size. There now. That's much better!

I have an idea as more and more of the population reaches the post fifties, that e-readers may become wildly popular. I hope so because then my favorite authors will be available in e-format. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the work of my fellow authors at Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press. Discovery of new talent is always one of the joys of my secret vice.


Don't forget to trot over to Kelly's site and see what she's done with Emmeline at and then check out Amarinda at her best at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Fan Letter

Hello, I have just read Dancers Delight, wow! I have also read Chrysanthemum, made me feel good. I am hooked on both. Writing is such a gift and you have it. Thank you. Regards, Jennifer **

I loved Dancer's Delight and can't wait for Travellers's story! Oh what a wonderful thought to escape to Mystic Valley. hmmmm... Jamie **

Just another person telling you how much I enjoyed your book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I came to your website to see if you had any other books out. Sandy **

Normally, I'm not one to post fan letters. It almost seems like the worst form of narcissism. "Look at me--I'm so wonderful!" I post these excerpts to make a point, however. Fan letters don't need to be long or complicated or detailed in order to get the the author pumped. Just a simple sentence or two will do it.

Fan letters are far more important than formal reviews because they're from readers--real everyday people who paid good money to buy your books, enjoyed them, and then took time from their day to write to you and say, I like your work. Because they are strangers, their words and approval are powerful. They provide the impetus to go back to the computer and work on that difficult scene, to wrestle with that impossible character, to finish that never-ending chapter. That short little letter provides inspiration when the temptation to quit is almost over whelming.

Approval from your peers is a different thing entirely. They are looking at technical aspects of your writing. After a while, almost every book an author reads is analyzed somewhere in the back of their minds for grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and story line. It's almost impossible for a writer to read a book any other way.

The average reader on the other hand is looking for entertainment and enjoyment. My readers are teachers, secretaries, stay-at-home moms and nurses. They're young, older, and live in cities and in the country.

I don't aim my books at a particular type of reader. I just write. So when I receive a fan letter, it's a thrilling experience for me. I'll tell you a little secret. I have a special file that I keep all my fan letters in and when things are tough for me, I open that file and re-read them. They are my validation that I'm doing something right.

I suppose that there are authors out there that receive a lot of fan letters. Maybe they receive so many that the excitement palls. I can't imagine ever reaching that point. So if you read a good book this last week--a book that touched you or made you laugh or cry--take a few minutes to send the author a short note telling her or him about it. It only takes a minute. After all, didn't your mother teach you to say, "Thank you"?


Saturday, August 25, 2007

End of Summer and Episode Thirty Five

Summer is nearly over. Where did it go? It was only yesterday when I was looking forward to warmer days and maybe, just maybe some time at the swimming pool. This last week was the final week the pool was open and guess what? It rained all week. Next week with the beginning of school, the pool will be closed. I bet it's hot all week.

And then it will be open Labor Day weekend. Done. Does anyone else remember when school didn't start until after Labor Day? Am I the only one? And school used to be finished by Memorial Day. Summer was June, July, and August. Now the kids get out of school in late June and go back in August. Early August in some states. What happened to summer?

Soon the shift over to year round school will be complete.

I used to work for a school district so I know the back story of summer. Summer is when the custodial and maintenance staff have time to paint, remodel, repair and all those other things that need to be done to make schools safe and clean places for our kids. If there are never any summer breaks, when will that be done? Floors are stripped and cleaned, sometimes rooms are rearranged or relocated. And there was never enough time to finish all the work.

Well, I wish all of the teachers, staff, and parents good luck this coming year. Summer is over.


It's my turn for the Emmeline saga, so here's episode thirty-five. Enjoy!

There was a low booming roar followed by a tremendous explosion in the Galactic Dimension Port. As the dust settled, Reginald bellowed, “Emmeline, where the hell are you?”

Rinalda peered at the pilot’s desk. “Rafe and Shade are gone, too. What happened?”

Floyd straightened up and pointed at the picture revealed through the huge hole in the wall. “That’s what happened! Queen Zahara’s been playing with the Universal Remote Buttons again!” he stalked over to the hole and glared at the queen. “You idiot! What have you done with them?”
* * * * *

Emmeline writhed helplessly in the soft gelbed as Shade moved around the small dimly lit cell, soft whistling through his teeth. Rafe sat in the control room monitoring the perimeters for unwanted visitors while he intently studied Emmeline’s peeler. At last, there would be no more waiting. The bonding was assured.

When all was ready, Shade joined Emmeline on the gelbed, cuddling her in his strong arms against his broad chest. The golden quills running down her spine rippled wantonly beneath the gentle caress of his hands.

She brushed her mouth over the hard contours of his chest, licking and nibbling at the flesh, savouring the delicious scent of chocolate that oozed from his pores. Yes! This was what she needed and wanted!

Holding her close, Shade rolled with her until she was sprawled on top of him skin to skin with her soft green quills cushioning his scaly phallax. She moaned. He groaned. The barbs on her quills pierced his phallax.

With a final bellow of pain, Shade fainted.

As you know, Amarinda is out of town, but she'll be back tomorrow at and if you missed yesterday's episode introducing Queen Zahara, go right over there for a squizz.

Today Kelly is posting an excerpt from my book Chrysanthemum on her blog. Trot right over to for a look-see.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Heart of the Storm

The the past few weeks, the lead stories in the news have been about the weather. No rain. Too much rain. Cold. Record heat. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Stormy, stormy weather. In Baltimore, it's been rainy/cloudy for a week now. Last night when I walked the dog it was misting, barely there rain, closer to heavy fog.

I thought about how that mist was like most difficulties in life--barely there--so that we hardly notice them as we go through our day. Not quite enough money, a small headache, a cantankerous child, a scorched dinner. It's only when the accumulation of water drops is so great that it interferes with life that we really take notice.

Then there are the times that we encounter the huge raging storms, when the thunder and lightning and downpours and wind deafen us to the friends and family around us. In the heart of the storm we are positive that we're alone, that we're the only one out there in the crash and blast of life. It's only after the roof collapses, the great tree falls, the house blows away that we understand that we were all together in the storm.

Sometimes we are the survivors, the unlikely ones who escape against all the odds and crawl battered from the wreckage, amazed that we're still alive and uncertain of the future. How will we go on? Other times we're the rescuers and comforters, the ones who offer a helping hand and a warm embrace. We're the encouragers who urge the survivors on with our listening hearts because we know they must talk first before they can heal.

Across the land, we have friends and family who are in the heart of the storm whether literally, physcially, or emotionally. Trouble is on every side. Overwhelming lose and destruction are facing them. Will we stand aside? Or will we offer a helping hand? Will we embrace them with an attentive heart, holding them until they can stand again on their own? In our hurry, scurry lives do we understand that none of us are immune to the storms in life?

It takes only moments for life to change, for disaster to strike. In my life I have rarely had warning before trouble came crashing through the door. Today life is good. Tomorrow that may not be the case. Tomorrow I may find myself in the heart of the storm.


Amarinda has Emmeline today at and if you missed it yesterday it's at Kelly's at

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Moving on

I just returned from walking the dog. While out meandering around at the end of her leash as she sniffed her way down the street and back, I noted several moving trucks, including one in the parking lot for my building. It is the twenty-third of the month. Not the first which is traditional moving weekend so I tried to figure out why anyone would be moving on the twenty-third. Then it hit me. No one wants to move on a holiday--Labor Day is coming up--and of course rental moving trucks will be at a premium.

Moving is something I know about as I have moved over forty times in my lifetime. I have lived in six states. Now I know that military people are moved around like chess pieces, but my parents weren't military and neither is my husband, so that was not a viable reason for relocating as often as some people change their underwear.

All but three of those moves were the "self-serve" type of move. You know the one I mean. You, the mover, scrounge the dumpsters behind grocery stores and liquor stores looking for clean, sturdy boxes. And then you beg, borrow and steal newspapers from all your neighbors to wrap up your worldly goods when you pack. When you run out of boxes, you use large plastic trash bags.

On the "day" all of your nearest and dearest--friends and relatives--gather around to carry out your belongings amidst much muttering and cursing--depending on the religious persuasion of your nearest and dearest. Hours later when you are installed in your new digs (which just means that the bed is set up and there's toilet paper in the bathroom) you provide the standard payment of pizza and the beverage of choice. Everyone eventually goes home, leaving you with the monumental task of unpacking which usually takes a few months.

Now if you happen to have professional packers and movers for your move, things are a bit different. No one tells you that you should go through your dwelling like a dose of salts and get rid of everything you don't want to take with you. Unlike when you self move, there is NO opportunity to sort and toss. One morning bright and early, the packers show up with boxes, tape, and paper. They begin at the front door, packing the nearest thing at hand and just move around the wall until they get to the next door.

You say you didn't want your pictures packed with the TV remote and that stack of outdated magazines? Toooooo bad. Should have had them all together before the packers arrived. You didn't want your garbage packed with the dishes? Ah, well, you should have made sure it was carried outside before they showed up. The damp towels you used after your quick shower this morning? They're going to smell wonderful after three weeks in storage. Trust me on this. I've been there.

Depending on the moving company some packers empty your dresser drawers by dumping them into a box. Some tape the drawers shut. Some pack your glassware with enough tissue to paper a stadium. Some just separate the layers of glasses with a thick mat of paper and then line them up. One mover asked me what I considered the most valuable possessions and those were packed like they were going on a space oddysey.

After experiencing long distance moving with professional movers, we learned to pack up and move our own computers and smaller fragile belongings. There is nothing like experience to get the message.

I want to say here that I truly admire and respect professional packers. In a matter of hours, they arrive, pack, label, and prepare all of your household goods for the movers. Movers are a separate group of people. And packing a moving truck is a true art. They fit furniture, boxes, and odd shaped belongings such as bicycles and patio furniture in a truck with the finesse of solving an intricate puzzle.

I have moved in the muggy heat of summer and I've moved in the middle of an ice storm. As far as I can tell, there isn't a good time to move. Twice I've moved across the country with only a city as my destination, not knowing until I arrived where my family would live. Once we spent four weeks in a hotel with four kids in the winter, waiting for paperwork to be finished so we could eventually move into a permanent place.

I'm sure that everyone reading this has at least one horror story about moving. And yet, as a nation, we continue to relocate with astonishing frequency. Or maybe, it isn't so amazing after all. Our forefathers all were movers. Deep down, it's part of our heritage. Otherwise, we would live in some other part of the world generation after generation.

My ancestors arrived in Maryland in the 1600s and proceeded to relocate every single generation to the newest frontier. That made for interesting research problems when I was working on the family history. So I guess it's in our blood--this urge to pack up and move on.


Kelly has of course put a new twist on the Emmeline saga at after all my work to pull it back from the edge. Tomorrow Amarinda will no doubt turn it on its side again at leaving me to straighten it all out once again. Sigh. Being the oldest elder is a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Writing around the block and Episode Thirty-Two

For some time now, I've been struggling with my current work in progress. It's sort of like wading through quick sand. I've almost reached the point where I would like to throw it against a wall. Of course, when your manuscript is on a computer hard drive, that's a bit difficult. Can't afford a new computer at the moment.

So the next best thing is to move on to something else for a while. I have the first chapter of a time travel story. That might be something to drag me out of my funk. Or I could work on the next Mystic Valley story. I left Bishop working with the woolies (a species of sheep) and I'm sure he would like to get out of the barn. My friend wants me to write a story for Nanny Anny, a character from Honeysuckle. That would liven things up a bit.

As you can see, the block isn't about a lack of story ideas. It could be that there are too many stories churning around in my tiny mind. Too many stories with not enough time or energy to write them down. Actually, time probably isn't the correct word. Probably I should have used impetus or drive. Yep, that's it. I'm not driven to write. I'm plodding along and I hate plodding.

Look at that. I never knew that about myself before. I knew I wasn't a plotter, but never thought about also not being a plodder. Huh. Of course that would explain why I enjoy writing the Crazy Blog so much. There's no time for time to worry over plot points and whether this or that turn of events is realistic. It's just a matter of sitting down and writing, hoping that your crazy entry somehow makes sense with the crazy entries before.

It may just be that I slacked off from my self imposed deadlines. That's the very worst about working for yourself alone at home. No one's looking over your shoulder telling you to get cracking and quit screwing around with the plot. No one is tapping their watch and asking where the next chapter is???

Well, I must get back to the story and finish the next chapter. Perhaps I'll reward myself. When I finish the chapter, I'll have a Tim Tam with a cup of coffee and then go work on Bishop's problems. The Tim Tam alone would be worth it, but I have some possibilities churning in my brain. Bishop is so in trouble. Yep, that's what I'll do.

In the meantime, Amarinda and Kelly left me in the lurch, what with their blue pens and double phallax's and Wardoverian Ambassadors! What to do? Well, I think I turned things around quite neatly. See what you think:

Emmeline leaned back against the pillows and thought furiously. Obviously, she had little time to rectify the approaching collision of forces. Too many dimensions to juggle. Too little time to set it right. Wearily, she stood and surveyed the room sadly. This didn’t seem to be a bad place to retire, but she had work to do. With a snap of her fingers, she disappeared. It was the work of mere seconds to blink in and out of the kitchen after retrieving her peeler. With a sad shake of her head, she appeared in the control room of the Galactic Dimension Port.

The captain frowned at her precipitate entry. “What happened?” he demanded abruptly. “You’re supposed to be in dimension thirty-two.”

Emmeline shrugged angrily. “Well, I’m not, Captain Reginald, and do you know why? I’ll tell you why! Your Commander Fleetfoot’s counterpart in dimension twenty-eight dragged me into dimension twenty-nine, where incidentally, you’re an incredibly ugly red creature!”

The captain was taken aback at her impatient explanation. “Then what?” The twin science officers, Shade and Rafe, moved closer so they could hear what she had to say.

She gestured toward the twins. “For some reason, in the thirtieth dimension, those two turned into women--and they had a blue pen.” She squinted thoughtfully. “I think somebody has a dimension interrupter. I bet it’s the two younger elders back in dimension twenty six. What were their names?” She tapped her chin thoughtfully.

Wide-eyed, Rinalda looked up from her computer screen. “Oh, I think you must mean Amarinda and Kelly. If they truly have a dimension interrupter, we’re in big trouble.”


If you missed yesterday's installment, check with Amarinda at and of course, drop in at Kelly's place tomorrow to check out what she does now!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tossing out the Baby...

There is an old expression--"Don't toss out the baby with the bath water." In other words don't discard the good parts with the bad or used. Publishing is a funny business. Since publishers don't have a reader survey similar to what television networks use, they have to guess what readers will want to read.

A few years ago it seemed that every other book was a regency or historical. Now you're hard pressed to find one. Seems that the market was totally glutted and no one wants to read regencies. (If a good regency is your thing, then check out the line up at Cerridwen Press. )

Then came the romantic suspense. Personally, I foresee a swiftly approaching end to them as there are a limited number of likely scenarios that will place the woman in jeopardy. And for some reason no one has been willing to share with me, it's never the man in danger. Why is that?

Then there is the proliferation of "I'm an alien from a planet with no women so I'm here to kidnap you..." or the other twist "I'm an alien from a planet to retrieve you because you just happen to be an alien living on earth to keep someone evil from knocking you off before you become the queen on our home planet" and of course my favorite "heroine has a crash, tornado, other disaster, and ends up in an alien environment with no way home". All of those are interesting innovative story lines the first thousand times. Then they get old.

The category romances have recently gone through a rash of "secret baby" stories. I've been pregnant four times and believe me, it's not easy to keep a baby a secret. Somebody knows about that baby. Trust me.

Then there are the "I'm a CEO looking to have a kid, marry me and have my baby." Not likely. Not impossible, but not likely in this day and age. And again, if all the CEOs in the country--excluding the female CEOs--wanted you to have their babies, it would not account for all the books about this subject.

In the field of erotic romance, you would think that there would be few limits, but you would be wrong. Just as in any other genre there are things that are forbidden--not because they are offensive--though they might be for some people. No, they are forbidden for one simple reason. Dollars. Publishers buy what they can sell to readers. Sort of. As I pointed out at the beginning, they don't really know what readers want. And of course, what sells this week, may be a dud next week. Or it might be because the last three books by that author were duds.

Much of erotic romance in particular is about women's fantasies. Author Nancy Friday did ground breaking work years ago on women's fantasies with a book titled, My Secret Garden. Basically, what she found was that all fantasies could be categorized under a few headings with variations within the various categories. A lot of those categories are sub-genres in the erotic romance genre.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a woman on a chat loop regarding the dearth of F/F romances. There is an enormous wave of M/M romances--mostly written by female authors, but few F/F romances. Why? One simple reason. Dollars. They weren't selling so publishers quit accepting them.

A recent movement to eliminate babies from the erotic romance equation is afoot. Seems that babies aren't selling. So when you start hunting around your favorite sites for that HEA (happy ever after) ending that includes children--hunt no more. They're not considered sexy. On the one hand, I'll be happy to see the "secret baby" go by the wayside along with the "marry me and have my baby, even if we can't stand each other" story lines. I've always thought in the best of all worlds a baby ought to be the end result of love between two committed people. Call me old fashioned in that respect.

On the other hand... I personally feel cheated if I get to the end and the couple walks happily into the sunset with no mention of family. That, too, is no doubt because I grew up in the era when girls grew up, worked for a while, got married and had babies. They still do. Now they may have to deal with divorce, working outside of the home, military service, and a host of other issues, but the constant in their lives is children. That jingle, "Cindy and Johnnie sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage," pretty much summed up female futures in my day.

It is a particularly feminine dream to have children. Girls still grow up knowing that nurturing is part of their future--whether or not they bear children. And that knowledge is inextricably interwoven with desire and the sex act itself. I'm not saying that pregnancy is sexy in and of itself although I have known many women who found their desires were sharper during pregnancy. I'm saying that the "idea" of creation is sexy. Somewhere deep inside our psyches men and women know that each time they make love there is the potential for creation. That potential kickstarts both the heat and the tenderness level during sex. That's the ultimate pay off when a couple finally walks into the sunset hand-in-hand.

So I will miss that final confirmation of their commitment--that final scene when the reader knows that they really, really will live happily ever after because they are confident enough in their love to begin a family. Somehow I get the idea that it's an indication of things to come.


Amarinda has done it again. I have no idea whatsoever what I will do with this tomorrow, but trot on over there and read what she's done this time. and then drop by Kelly's site to read her book spotlight for the day at

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nettleflower by Terri Beckett and Chris Power - G

It's Monday again and I'm privileged to have two authors today--Chris Power and Terri Beckett, co-authors of Nettleflower. Chris and Terri live in Great Britain, Terri is North Wales and Chris in southwest England. Nettleflower takes place in the area in between where they live so that worked out well! Well, we'll get to the book in a moment. In the meantime, let's get to know the ladies, shall we?

1) If you could start over with your writing career, what if anything would you change?
(T) Technology. Wish we'd had computers sooner!
[C] Oh, God, yes! I second that. Ah, the Good Old Days, when writing a novel meant playing hunt-and-peck on a manual typewriter. Now that was a real test of creative staying power!

2) What was the best piece of advice you received regarding the life of a writer?
(T) Just write. Doesn't matter if anyone is going to read it. Write!
[C] I agree - write, and then read through and polish it. The first draft is just that :)

3) If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
(T) Alexander the Great. Charismatic, brilliant, all-round superstar...
[C]...Paranoid megalomaniac, and tasty as well... For me it would be Richard III, a much maligned king who seemed to have had a fascinating mind and no political savvy at all.

4) If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?
(T) Really tough to pick just one.. Okay, I'd love to meet Rhiow, from Diane Duane's 'Cat Wizards' series.
[C] Duncan, the principal human character in C.J. Cherryh's Faded Sun Trilogy - stubborn, honorable, proud, confidant and loyal.

5) What do you want to be when you grow up?
(T) Which will be when? I want to be a writer people remember. Rich would also be nice, but I'd like people to remember what I've written with enjoyment.
[C] Grow up...? Um, I hope that doesn't happen any time soon - I'm having too much fun. It would be great to be a successful writer, of course. Maybe have some of our titles made into TV mini-series...

6) In the next century, what do you hope people will remember you for?
(T) Oh, boy... If anyone still remembers me then, let it be as a person of character, of integrity to my craft -- and as a person they'd like to have met!
[C] "Chris Power? You remember her, that kind of crazy-in-a-nice-way Englishwoman who wrote *those* books..." "Oh, yes! She was really nice, and a damn-good writer. She made me laugh--and cry."

Nettleflower by Terri Beckett and Chris Power from Cerridwen Press

It is a sad thing to admit, but I think that American schools in general do a poor job of teaching history and geography for countries outside of the United States. For all I know now they may not do such a good job on the history of our own country, what with testing and all the other responsibilities that teachers have laid on them. That's a shame as there is a rich tapestry of characters and events outside out own narrow little world.

In Nettleflower, Terri and Chris have presented us with a fascinating snapshot of Saxon-Welsh politics and history almost a thousand years ago told through the eyes of Leofric, a Saxon lord on the Welsh border and Dafydd, a bard and Welsh spy. There are, of course, love interests for both of them--Regan and Edwina--but this story is truly the tale of the two men and their thorny relationship.

Leofric, a recent widower still sunk in grief only becomes aware again of his responsibilities when Dafydd arrives with his music and stories. Dafydd for his part is a bard torn between friendly feelings for the Saxons in the household where he's staying and the increasing burden of loyalty to the Welsh.

Their women have their own difficulties and decisions to make. Such is the state of things when Regan and her fellow travellers including Dafydd are caught in a snowstorm and must take shelter at Leofric's steading.

Old prejudices often fall under the pressure of one-to-one friendship and that was the case with Leofric and Dafydd. Two men, each with his own hurts and past baggage, shed their anger and hate to become fast friends. It was not without cost. But nothing worthwhile ever is.

I know very little about the historical background of this book, though probably a little more than my average fellow citizens. I have long worked on my family history (and my husband's) and it turns out that his ancestors were in the thick of things in this area and time period so the names of the historical figures were familiar. I have the sneaking suspicion that I missed out on some of the political nuances, though that certainly didn't affect my enjoyment of the book!

The richly textured background, the wonderful vocabulary and dialogue, the intricate weaving of the two romances within the framework of the men's friendship all came together in a most satisfying tale with a lovely ending. If you want a truly entertaining read, then dash out and get your own copy of Nettleflower from Cerridwen Press.


By now, I suspect that you've checked out Kelly's entry to the Crazy Blog Serial. If not, you've missed out on quite a surprise and challenge . And then hop over to Amarinda's for her reply...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Faces of Friendship

Friendship is the glue that holds the fabric of life together. On the darkest day or the brightest evening, friends are there to share the moments of your life. Big, small, boisterous or quiet. None are so special if a friend isn't present.

True friends teach you to cook when you're a new bride starving your shiny new husband to death. They take you grocery shopping, teach you about meats and spices, and carry the groceries up three flights of stairs. Thank you Dorian. My husband thanks you, too!

When you're tired from far too little sleep, depressed from far too little money, and overwhelmed by all the difficulties of dealing with "special" children, true friends show up to help you clean your house, or drop by with groceries to get you past the hump, or throw you a surprise shower for that totally unexpected fourth baby that's on the way. Thank you Elaine, Vicky, Bernie, and Marie.

The day comes when you are bleeding out and terrified of the surgery you need to save your life and on that day a true friend holds your hand and prays for your health and safety. Thank you Joyce B (TX). I never told you what that meant to me. Nor did I tell you what a wonderful gift it was when you invited my husband and kids for Thanksgiving so I could take that week of rest at my parents' home. I'm pretty sure you saved my sanity--and possibly my life.

Life moves one and so did my family. We lived in a strange new place with the life experiences time brings--both good and bad. And when the really bad times came three true friends held my hand through it all. I asked one of them when will I stop crying? And she said, "When you're ready." She was right, of course, because she'd been there. Thank you Joyce B (NY), Janice and Terry. It was worth it all in the end, wasn't it?

I moved again. Seems like I'm always moving on, leaving the wonderful friends behind. I met a new neighbor who took me into her heart. Isn't that a blessing? A true friend can say any darn thing to you because they trust you. Trust is a gift not to be lightly squandered or disrespected. I know that this friend will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. Thank you Jane.

I wrote a book and with a trembling heart sent it off to a publisher. When it was accepted, I was astonished and amazed. But my entire array of friends weren't. True friends share your excitement--even if they're uncomfortable reading what you wrote. Yes, they are and I respect that discomfort because they were honest about it. It pleases me that though they've never read a word I've written, they still ask how things are going. And they still celebrate the good reviews.

In the great ocean of writers, I'm a very small frog. Yet, I've been welcomed as though I occupied the biggest lily pad out there. Everyday I'm stunned by the wealth of information and advice that they willingly share. There are no geographical boundaries with the technological time zones that matter. In the truest sense friendship is global. My newest friends span the globe--Egypt, Australia, New York, Michigan, Kansas, Indiana, California, and Hawaii. They patiently critique my writing with painful but true honesty because they want to see me present my best work. That is a priceless gift beyond measure. You know who you are. Yes, you do.

True friendship is buying and shipping Tim Tams (Australian cookies) across the globe, just because. It wasn't cheap (stop rolling your eyes, Amarinda! I saw the postage!), but that wasn't the important part. The important part was the just because. No birthday. No special day. Just because. Nothing says "special" more than that.

You could look at this list and say, what about the guys? Aren't there any guy friends? And what about family? Well, certainly in my lifetime, there have been some wonderful men who were there, usually going above and beyond any measure of responsibility. Orlando, Carroll, John, Gary, and Don. Life would have been so much tougher if you hadn't been there pitching in. Tracking down the new bride and groom who forgot about the rehearsal dinner. Dousing me with Coke when the battery blew up all over me. Packing (and moving) my daughter's entire apartment when she had to move overnight...

As for family... It is a blessed woman who's family are also friends. Such is not always the case. I am blessed past capacity--full measure and overflowing. Thank you, my friends, one and all.

Friendship of course is not a one way street. It is the give and take of support, sympathy, encouragement, love, laughter, and tears. It is a terrifying drive to the hospital in an emergency. It's a surprise anniversary party. It's a leisurely afternoon meal at a new restaurant. It's an encouraging word in the face of depression. Most of all, it's simply being there.


Life Goes On and Crazy Blog Episode Twenty-Nine

A Dear Friend lost her grandmother yesterday. I can sympathize as I vividly remember when my grandmother died. Grandmothers aren't like any other entity on the planet. They hold a unique place that can't be filled by any other person. My grandmother had seventeen grandchildren and I have no idea how many great-grandchildren when she died.

Grandmother wasn't a person you wanted to disappoint. You always did your best because you wanted her to be proud of you. Physically she was a tiny little person, but she cast a long shadow and had enormous influence on her grandchildren.

She died quite a few years ago and yet... there are still times when I would like to talk to her. Times when I would like to bounce things off her.

Funny. Now I'm the grandmother. Life goes on. My granddaughter will be ten years old this next month--halfway to adulthood. I wonder what my grandmother would say to her. Probably the same things she said to me. Treat everyone like you want to be treated. Respect your elders. Don't lie, cheat, steal. Talk to God everyday. Read your Bible everyday. Do more than your share.

That's the important part, isn't it? That we pass on the lessons learned at our grandmother's knee? During the turbulent teen years, we frequently clash with our parents. But grandmothers? No, they're our refuge and our link with the past. So to my Dear Friend, I say I'm sorry your grandmother's gone. I'm sorry for your grief. But time will pass. Grief will pass. Remember the best part of her. Remember all that she taught you. Pass it on.


If you didn't read Amarinda's contribution to the Crazy blog, then trot over there first. She, uh, must have been having a quick snort when she wrote it. *Anny shakes head in puzzlement.* but we love her anyway.

Floyd snorted impatiently. “Why does everyone insist on calling her “good” Queen Zamidor? She was a horny witch who went through men like Montezuma’s revenge. I did every man in the galaxy a favor!”

“Well, Floyd, that doesn’t make you any less a criminal, just because you think your crime was justified!” Angrily Emmeline stomped down the hallway.

“Where are you going, Emmeline?”

“I don’t know!” She spun on her toes and jabbed one finger in his direction. “It’s all your fault!”

“My fault. I saved your ass and your friends. Without me, they would be a snack for the Pit Keel. Which reminds me. You need to get them into the aerator to clean that zombie juice off them.” Floyd joined Reginald at the pilot array. “How long before we make the time jump?”

Sulking because Floyd had denied him one of the passengers as a snack, Reginald refused to answer.

“Reginald,” Floyd said in an ominous tone. “You remember what happened the last time you sulked? You know I can’t stand sulkers! Do not make me repeat your punishment. If you lose any more toes, you’ll end up crawling.”

Reginald sat down on the floor in a miserable heap. “We make the jump in two minutes.”

Floyd began to chuckle, but soon he was roaring with a deep belly-shaking laugh. “Well,” he said as he wiped tears from his eyes. “I sure hope Emmeline has her dancing shoes on. Otherwise, those fellows of hers will find out exactly what their phallax is for!”

Just a reminder that tomorrow is our day of rest. Check with Kelly on Monday to see what new twist she's added at

Friday, August 17, 2007

Writers of the Blog

Recently there has been considerable discussion on various writer's chat loops regarding the importance and effectiveness of writing a blog every day or week or even once a month. Let me say immediately that I believe that a blog only has a chance if the writer posts entries at least every other day. My experience has been that readers will get in the habit of checking for new entries. And a habit can just as easily be broken if the writer doesn't give the reader a reason to come back.

On the other hand, if the writer has nothing to say day after day except a series of announcements or excerpts from their books, after a while the readers will find something else to spend their valuable time on. I would. So blogging for a writer is a combination of journal, news and promotion. Hopefully, the promotion doesn't overtake the blog, but is just enough to pique the interest of the potential reader.

I have noticed a recent rash of guest blogging and I'm of two minds about that. On the one hand, a guest blogger introduces the reader to someone new, hopefully, and also offers the guest blogger a newer, wider audience. On the other hand, when I go to My Favorite Blogger's site, I expect to read something from that blogger. It's sort of like going to read Ann Lander's column and getting Dear Abby instead. Not bad, but not what you expected. And of course, there's always the danger that I might like Dear Abby better!

I have tried to make my blog a place where my readers can get to know me--something about my past, present and future plans. What makes me tick? What ticks me off? And most importantly what kind of writer am I? After all, before you buy one of my books you might want to know whether or not I'm boring as white rice. I hope not.

If you are a regular reader of this blog by now you know that I am one of the writers of the Crazy Blog Serial which alternates between three blog writers, each of us writing a segment in turn. Naturally, the key is to make it just off the wall enough to be a challenge for the next writer and not off the wall enough to send the readers screaming to some other blog out there in blogland.

Since I'm assuming (silly person that I am) that you've read my blog often enough to know me now, I thought perhaps I ought to introduce my co-conspirators in blog crime so you can realize just how talented they are. So, below is a brief bio and a blurb about their work. Enjoy.

Amarinda Jones believes anything is possible and sometimes just asking for the impossible will surprise someone enough that they will give it to you. Writing is like that. Put it out there and wait for a response. There is always the possibility you may fall on your ass, but after all, that's what cellulite is for. Amarinda believes in taking chances, speaking her mind and aging disgracefully. Twenty years from now she plans on being the neighborhood witch that all the kids are scared of. But then, everyone has to have a hobby.

Thief of Mine By Amarinda Jones

It's not unusual for the bride to have sex on her wedding day. But when the bride is begging for another man to take her hard and fast in front of a startled bridesmaid, that's unusual. Not that Stella Rowallan wanted to watch. She walked in on it and now she can't walk out. The man taking the bride is bad, wild and hot. Stella knows she should be appalled. But she's not. She wants him. What is it with bad boys that make them so damn good?

But all bad boys have a past and Kit Kincaid is no different. He is a self-confessed thief who likes to have sex in wild, daring places. And Stella Rowallan is just his type of woman — shockable, yet willing. But he has a problem. A freaky witch woman and her followers are chasing him for a stolen stone idol. Kit has it and he plans to sell it. Can he have both Stella and the idol or does something have to give?

Kelly Kirch spent her early childhood globetrotting through international schools and inventing stories to entertain herself during long trips back to the States. After a whirlwind internet romance in college, she settled into marriage with the perfect man, resulting in two perfect children and a less than amiable cat.

Having written in other genres as well as Regency romances, she encourages others interested in writing to visit the national Romance Writers of America website which has been invaluable to her success. And when not writing you can find her... oh, wait, she always writing. Scrap that.

A Time For Love by Kelly Kirch is a Regency-Set Historical Romance. Coming March 13, 2008!

Sarah Hanson opens her eyes to a darkly sexy man leaning over her and the strains of a waltz playing in the background. Further, she is no longer dozing in the taxi escorting her from the job where she was just fired but inhaling the strong scent of beeswax and dressed in Regency era clothing.

Lord Drake Hayworth, rake extraordinaire, is unable to reconcile his sudden attraction to the shelved miss who is meant to chaperon the daughter of a dear friend. Uniquely from every other female he has known, he is keenly aware of the differences between her and his new fiancé--the young woman Sarah escorts.

As Sarah develops lasting relationships, she discovers the unconditional love of family and a passion for a man she is not meant to have, in a time she may not be able to keep. And for Drake, finding a pliable bride to marry so he can claim the last of his inheritance has become decidedly more difficult now that Sarah has turned his ordered life on its head. and

Now you know why the Crazy Blog Serial is so unusual. Three writers with wildly different styles working on one story...


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sex and Writing from the Heart

There is a certain perception that writing about sex cheapens the end product. Some people believe that the value of the finished piece is some how "less" if the writer describes the characters' actions and/or thoughts and conversation while they are having sex. I'm not sure why this is so.

The reaction is not the same if you describe a character eating or working or sleeping. It isn't even the same if you describe the character's actions while say... showering or shaving. One assumes that most people are naked while showering or bathing so that can't be it. But put two people together naked and suddenly it becomes something entirely different. Two people (or more) naked together equals a devaluing of your work.

In my forty years of marriage, sex was pretty much a daily fact of life with a very few exceptions so perhaps my viewpoint is a bit different. I think it's part of life like doing laundry or vacuming. To omit it from the story purposely is the same as saying "and then they had dinner" without describing the meal or "then they talked" without relating the conversation.

I submit that the discomfort some people feel when reading a "sexy" book might be related to their own baggage and hang-ups rather than any true moral outrage. If they are truly outraged at sex, perhaps they should be looking at the origin of their personal beliefs. What are they based and grounded on?

This squeamish attitude toward sex was not always part of our culture. There was a time when sex was a part of life and conversation was peppered with casual references to the sexual act. Read Shakespeare or Chaucer carefully and you'll see what I mean. Surely their readers and audience understood and grasped the "fine points".

Then something happened. Somewhere along the line, someone gained enough power to impose cultural censorship. Imagine that much power and what that could mean to us today. What else are we not permitted to talk, read, or write about?

Oh, I don't advocate handing a sexy book to a youngster. But if we believe that they remain blissfully ignorant because the law says they're not old enough, then we fool only ourselves. If we turn a blind eye to the truth that our kids in some cases know far more than we do about sex, then we have only ourselves to blame when the consequences land on our doorstep.

Nor do I advocate returning to an age when girls (and boys) were married off at twelve or thirteen. That has not much to do with sex and everything to do with emotional and mental maturity. Our overprotectiveness has rendered several generations of individuals who know how to perform the sexual act without knowing how to take responsibility for the actions. It might have been better if we had worried far more about maturity and responsibility and let the sexual chips fall where they may.

Responsibile behavior extends to all areas of life. This is something sorely needed, don't you think? Why else would we have slogans like "Drink responsibly"? What's with that? Every facet of life that's out of control (eating, smoking, financial woes) all have roots in irresponsible behavior. And this most certainly extends to our attitudes toward sex.

Repression and ignorance do not lead to less sex. Check out the underground literature from the Victorian era. Just as prohibition didn't lead to less drinking. Nope. The forbidden is more enticing.

I have a notion that if the books from my publisher were available everywhere (sexy covers included) and you could buy them with the same aplomb that guys buy Playboy, that the demand would fall off sharply. The entire romance genre is eyed with a certain amount of suspicion. Romances aren't "literature" in the same way that mysteries or science fiction are.

I look forward to a day when what I write won't be categorized by genre, but by quality--when the primary question, "What kind of book is it?" will be answered with "one written from the heart."


Don't forget to drop by Kelly's site to check out the wild twist she's written for the Crazy Blog Serial. And of course, tomorrow Amarinda will fire her salvo. If you're just completely lost, then the first twenty four episodes are on the bookshelf page of my website. Scroll down and look on the left side!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Viagra and Crazy Blog Serial Episode Twenty-Six

Just as I do every morning, I got up this morning and checked my e-mail. Could somebody please tell me why I'm being bombarded with offers for Viagra (and other "enhancers"), Adobe Photoshop, and other dubious offers at suspect prices? What exactly have I done to trigger the avalanche of spam?

That's just in my Yahoo e-mail. In my Hotmail e-mail, I'm showered with "free" car, computer, and furniture offers plus plane tickets and free tickets for amusement parks. Of course you have to fill out a certain number of credit card offers and also get so many friends and acquaintances to fill out said offers... It would be interesting to find out if you got the free stuff even if the credit card companies turned down your application.

Then on another e-mail account I'm inundated with offers to view free naked women in their apartments. No thank you. A naked man in my own apartment is all I can handle at this time. And of course, I also receive quite a few offers for Russian Mail Order Brides. Not quite sure why I would need one or what I would do with her. Maybe I could marry off my oldest son.

Anyway, that's my rant for the morning. Guess I got up on the far side of the moon this morning and it was just too much to be faced with an offer for Wondercum (I didn't make that up!) The spammers are getting bolder and more inventive by the day. If you have a solution, other than having your junk mail separated (which I do), I would like to hear it. Most days I have more junk mail than real mail.

In the meantime, back to the Crazy Blog Serial Episode Twenty-Six--if you missed Episode Twenty-Five, check it out first at

“I don’t think we’re supposed to blow until they’re on their knees,” Emmeline argued. “If we blow too soon, the Pit Keel will know we’re here.”

Rinalda sighed impatiently. “The minute we set foot on that bridge the Pit Keel will awaken. By then, it will be too late.”

Pulling the bugle from her pack, Emmeline put it to her lips, took a deep preparatory breath—

“Stop!” Shade shouted. “It’s a trick! The bugle will madden the Pit Keel into a feeding frenzy!”

“I thought you didn’t know about the Pit Keel?” Frowning at him, Emmeline lowered the bugle. “Why do you think it’s a trick?”

Rafe grabbed Rinalda’s arms and turned her so that Emmeline could see her face. “Look! She has zucchini pustules. She’s one of them. She’s a zucchini zombie!”

Rinalda eyes suddenly glowed and small tentacles appeared from the pustules. Rafe jerked his hands away as Emmeline whipped her jeweled peeler from the holster and fired. With a terrible shriek, the zombie turned and ran directly toward the abyss. She gave one final scream as she leaped from the edge.

* * * * *

The companion shrank back as the oldest elder hissed in anger. “Go! Stop them before they cross over the abyss. If they succeed in carrying the sacred chocolate over the abyss, we will not be able to stop the prophecy!”

“Me? Wait a minute,” the companion objected, slowly backing away. “It doesn’t say anything in my contract about jeopardizing my life to stop the prophecy! There’s no endangerment clause in the contract!”

“Why you mealy-mouthed, lily-livered coward!” The oldest elder flicked one finger in his direction shooting off sparks that knocked him down. One more shot would do it, but the youngest elder tugged her arm.

“Look! Look at Emmeline! What is she doing?”

Don't forget to check for the next episode tomorrow at

Until tomorrow!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summers at the Pool

When I was a kid, I lived in the Arizona desert country. Getting wet involved jumping in an irrigation ditch or the Gila River or a water tank. It was a rare event, much anticipated and long remembered.

Then my family moved up near Lake Michigan and I was introduced to the concept of a beach. My cousin lived very near the beach and when I stayed with her, we would walk to the beach. Swimming in the lake involved fish and other debris, but nothing that was seriously dangerous.

We moved to Chicago and I learned about municipal swimming pools. All summer long my brothers and I joined the long line of kids waiting outside the fence for the life guards to open the pool. It was a place we could actually go to without my parents tagging along. Imagine that.

Not long after I married we moved to Houston where every apartment complex and subdivision had a pool. My children lived there all summer from the time the pool opened until it closed. The few days it rained, they moped around the house like someone had killed their best friend.

And then we moved to upstate New York. Swimming places were few and far between. They were expensive and far enough away that the most practical deal was a packed lunch with the plan to stay all day. My children finished growing up there and I quit looking for a pool or beach or swimming hole to visit.

Then we moved to Baltimore to an apartment complex with a lovely pool. No fee to use the pool and it's open six days a week. Initially I didn't go to the pool because I assumed it would be filled with kids. Eight hundred apartments would yield a lot of kids.

Well, it isn't so. Today my neighbor and I went to the pool with a couple of young friends. For quite a while we were the only ones in the pool. Five people in a pool. Seems a shame that there weren't more people using the pool. But today's kid doesn't find it a priviledge. They don't go outside and play or trot down to the pool to hang out. They're inside in the AC with the video games and movies.

Aside from the exercise issue, there's another side issue that affects their health. We're in the midst of a crisis regarding vitamin D. Sixty percent of the population (kids included) are vitamin D deficient. It only requires fifteen minutes in the sun daily to meet the requirements to be healthy. Hmmm. Fifteen minutes.

Not really all that much time. Fifteen minutes at the pool, jumping in with their friends, splashing the adults foolish enough to sunbathe on the side of the pool, playing marco polo with the other kids. Exercise and vitamin D all in one neat package.

Well, I don't really know why the kids don't use the pool. But since they don't, I think I'll drag my neighbor down there. We're both vitamin D deficient so we could use a little sun and the pool is excellent exercise for our arthritis...

See you at the pool.


If you haven't read today's Crazy Blog Serial hop over to Amarinda's blog at or if you would like to get to know Kelly better check out

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lucky Number Seven by Anh Leod - PG

Good morning! It's Monday again and today I have Anh Leod, writer for Ellora's Cave as my guest author. She also writes for Cerridwen Press as Heather Hiestand. Today's book is a Quickie from Ellora's Cave Naughty Nuptial Series - Lucky Number Seven. Anh was good enough to answer my questions so let's jump right in and get to know her.

1) If you could start over with your writing career, what if anything would you change?
I would have "written from the heart" right away instead of wasting years trying to fit into category lines and having eighteen-month wait times in between each rejection. I'd also have stayed more focused and found more time to write.

2) What was the best piece of advice you received regarding the life of a writer?
"Finish it!" I always thought once you'd finished a book you'd proven yourself so why not write partials thereafter and wait for interest. But when it came time for me to make my first novel-length sale, the fact that I did have the book completed made the sale within eighteen hours of having the partial requested. Whew! Luckily Cards Never Lie (Cerridwen Press) was one of my few projects that was complete.

3) If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
First I'd have to find out who my ancestors were, then I'd like to pick one living somewhere interesting at an interesting time and talk to them about how they made it through tough times. I know I'm part Irish. Maybe ancestors who survived the potato famine. Finding out how they coped might teach me something about myself.

4) If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?
Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series.

5) What do you want to be when you grow up?
A housewife who writes books!

6) In the next century, what do you hope people will remember you for?
I'll be long dead by then, and no one alive will remember me as a young woman. So here's to hoping that I'm a nice old lady instead of a terror. It would be nice if I wrote a book or two that stayed in print because they either made people happy or made people think. It would also be cool if one of my short stories made it into school curriculums and generations of children were forced to read me and wonder what I was thinking!

Lucky Number Seven by Anh Leod from Ellora's Cave

For those of my readers who are not familiar with Ellora's Cave Quickies, they are short with intense sexy story lines. Just as a "quickie" in our culture denotes an explosive burst of afternoon delight, the EC Quickie focuses on a short intense story about the sexual relationship between two people. Many of the Quickies are part of series such as the Naughty Nuptial series which is centered around the events surrounding a wedding. Other Quickies are stand alone stories. In either case Quickies are the most difficult type of story to write because of the required elements in such a short length.

In Lucky Number Seven Anh presents us with Vi, an angry jilted bride who declares that she will have sex with the next man she meets. After cleaning up the wedding debris from the church, she packs her car and heads home, depressed and determined to find out if another man will be any different from her ex-fiance. At this point, a flat tire places her on a collision course with Cere, a hunky construction worker for the Brotherhood of the Dog.

Cere changes her tire and in exchange she informs him that she would like to have sex with him. Sex with Cere is an eye-opening experience--so good that afterwards Vi declares that her ex-fiance was right when he declared that their wedding was off because of their uninspired sex lives. The balance of the book is a series of encounters which balance love-making with the gradual revealing of the truth about Cere. It seems that there's more to Cere than his physical assets. Cere is a were wolf. And Cere's packmate informs him that Vi is his mate.

Lucky Number Seven is an amusing, unusual take on the were legend. With so many versions to pick from Anh has chosen to come up with one of her own. Cere is a caring, attractive hunk who is more than willing to take on the feisty Vi. She in her turn is blunt and knows exactly what she wants. In the beginning Cere introduces himself, "I'm Cere." Her reply? "I'm horny."

As with so many Quickies, the reader longs for a longer story and is left with questions about the couple involved. But this story performs exactly as advertised. It's a quick snapshot of the lives of Vi and Cere. It's funny, hot, and introduces us to two delightful people who belong together. I'll personally never think of construction guys in quite the same way!

Lope right out and snap up your copy of Lucky Number Seven by Anh Leod from Ellora's Cave.


If you haven't checked out the Crazy Blog Serial for today, skip over to Kelly's blog and see what she's come up with. I believe that DairyAir down in Texas has wilted her brain...
So much so that Amarinda threatened to take back her Tim Tams! For the Tim Tam saga check out

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Life in the Hive

Living in an apartment is somewhat like living in a hive. While you may have your own private little compartment, it shares walls, ceiling, and floor with the other compartments in the building, giving you a cozy window into the lives of your neighbors. You have access to all sorts of personal information about them. When do they go to the bathroom? Take a shower? Make love?

What kind of music do they listen to? Are they sports fans? Do they have pets? Children? Oh, yes, you know all the answers to those questions and a whole host of others. You know what time they leave for work, when they come home, how often they have guests, when they do laundry, and go shopping.

If the police have occasion to visit the building, you know all about it. If someone requires an ambulance, you will be a silent witness to their trauma...unless you're the one that needs medical care. If someone burns the dinner, they'll never be able to hide that. And the pizza, chinese, and UPS guys are familiar visitors.

But there are advantages to living in the hive. If you need a helping hand, you can usually find someone around. If you have an emergency, your neighbors know more about your medical issues and medications than your family. If your car dies, it's very likely that someone is going your way or will be happy to pick up that gallon of milk or loaf of bread.

There are rules of course, to successful living in the hive. 1) No loud music. I don't care whether you listen to Boy George or George Strait as long as I don't have to listen to it with you. 2) It won't kill you to smile. You don't have to be my best buddy, but when we pass on the stairs, say hello. 3) Don't knock on my door before eight o'clock in the morning or after nine o'clock in the evening unless it involves a lot of blood or a fire extinguisher. 4) Don't send your child to my apartment to visit me so that you can have a quickie with the cable guy. That does not constitute an emergency in my book. 5) Don't leave your dog on the balcony without water when it's ninety degrees outside. I will call the police. 6) Writing is a profession. When I am writing, I am working. Do not assume that I have nothing to do.

Oh, yeah. One other thing. If you're not going to take that medication that keeps you sane? Make sure you put on clothes before you answer the door. I don't know how long it's going to take me to recover from that.


Don't forget that tomorrow is the Monday Interview and Mini-Review. My guest author is Anh Leod and the book is Lucky Number Seven!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

MacGyver and Crazy Blog Serial Episode 23

"Oh please…when you meet me you will be amazed what I carry in my handbag…I could go in after a disaster and single handedly build shelter and operate on people." - Amarinda Jones

The above statement was in made in the midst of a brisk e-mail discussion about whether Emmeline (as a woman) would be better prepared than MacGyver in an emergency situation. I argued that the average woman everyday carries more in her handbag than good old Mac ever thought about hauling around. He was pretty limited to duct tape and a Swiss army knife. Well, I could go one better there...

I'll see his Swiss army knife and duct tape, and raise an additional small Swiss army knife, a six-in-one folding tool, a small spool of wire, a small first aid kit, and a cell phone. And that's just the stuff in one side pocket. It all starts when you reach puberty and have to start packing feminine products along with the pens, pencils, hairbrush, and make-up. Long before the Boy Scouts, females had the motto "Be Prepared."

Then if you have children, you add disposable wipes, diapers, training pants and extra outfit, baby food. As they get older, you toss in crayons and paper, a picture book, and snacks... By the time they're teenagers, you could open up a daycare facility with what you carry in your purse. And you may as well keep the stuff in there as the grandchildren show up.

I once knew a woman who carried a complete set of underwear for herself on the premise that she might some day have to spend the night away from home. With a perfectly serious face she informed me that she could manage to wear her outer clothing a second day in an emergency, but not underwear. One wonders what she would do in the case of a true emergency such as a plane crash or hurricane.

In any case, in Episode Twenty Three, we find out whether or not Emmeline can uphold the reputation of women everywhere. If you missed out on yesterday's episode twenty two, please hop over to Amarinda's page at and of course, after our usual day of rest on Sunday Kelly will have the response on Monday at

“Well, then, there’s no problem. I always carry a bugle in my backpack,” Emmeline said briskly. “I even took lessons just in case I ever had occasion to need it. Anything else?”

“An umbrella might come in handy,” Rinalda conceded uneasily.

“Of course,” Emmeline concurred affably. She gestured for the little group to walk ahead of her down the trail. “One should always carry an umbrella. You never know when it might rain—even in Australia.”

“You don’t have to sound so smug about it,” Rinalda grumbled. “How was I to know that you would be so well prepared?”

Rafe and Shade snorted in derision and Shade jeered, “Your elders sure don’t know Emmeline very well, do they? She has all seven seasons of MacGyver memorized. Even if she lost her stupid peeler, she could probably whip up something as a substitute. Her last name isn’t MacGyver for fun.”

“MacGyver?” Rinalda’s voice faltered as she felt herself growing faint with shock. “Not MacGyver. The elders said nothing about MacGyver! No wonder we haven’t been able to defeat her.”

“Well, now you know,” Rafe pointed out loftily. “Why do you think we’re still with her? We would be dead by now if it wasn’t for her. So, there!” He tugged on her arm and walked toward the abyss. “What’s next, Miss Virgin Assassin?”

Rinalda crumpled to her knees on the rocky trail in despair. “How am I supposed to know? You were all supposed to be dead before we reached the abyss.”


Friday, August 10, 2007

Traveller's Refuge Released Today!

When my first book was released I deliberately tried to store up memories, believing that I would never feel the same way again. I was wrong. Every single book still brings that indescribable feeling... accomplishment, pride, astonishment, terror. Terror, you ask?

Of course. Terror that readers won't buy it or won't like it. Putting your baby out there for sale is like standing naked on the street corner--a bit drafty.

This is also the day I feel the most kinship with other authors. Male or female, young or old, we all arrived at this point pretty much the same way. We sat in front of a computer and let our imaginations soar. That's a pretty scary thing to do. It reveals the inner man or woman in a way that no other endeavor does. People look at you strangely. As one author reported, a friend asked her "Is this really how you think?" Well, yeah.

Readers frequently mistake our stories for who we are. Just because I've never been an assassin or met a blue person or taken part in a bondage scene doesn't mean that I can't imagine those things. After all, much of our lives are lived in our imagination. The difference is that I write parts of my inner life down. As I said, that's the scary part.

So my baby is out there available to all who want to read it and find out about the blue people, the pointed ears and the fangs. Do Traveller and Wrenna get together? Do they let love win out? I would guess that you'll have to read Traveller's Refuge to find out for sure. But I'll give you a beginning peek at Trav just so you see what kind of man he is...

His knees cramped and he slowly straightened his long legs until they were flat on the floor. Sitting there with his back against the wall he listened intently to the storm suddenly intensify. In seconds the wailing wind was howling and shrieking around the corners of the building from the other direction. No one commented on the fact that the man who had gone to the roof had never returned. Trav hoped he had ID on him so they could identify him if they found the body.

He took a deep breath, then let it go as he pulled his legs up close to his body and wedged his size twelve Nikes flat on the floor. Damn, his ribs hurt! Tucking his bag beneath his bent knees, he leaned his head back and allowed his eyes to shut. He was so weary and a long way from home.

When rescuers finally arrived, it was a damp bedraggled group that that greeted them with dull relief. The flooding was devastating and everything in the area except the building they occupied was gone or under water. Helicopters airlifted them from the shredded tatters of the roof—children, women and finally the remaining men. Trav was the last one hauled aboard.

When his head cleared the doorway, he found a pistol trained on him dead center. Lifting his tired eyes, he saw the face of a man he could have sworn was a friend. “Welcome aboard, nest egg,” Marco said cheerfully in Cherokee.

“I’m not sure I want to,” Trav replied dryly in the same language. “It doesn’t sound as though the ride is going to have a happy ending for me.” He noted the safety on Marco’s weapon was on and flashed a glance at the others slumped in the copter. “You figure we’ve got ears?”

“Ears, eyes and itchy fingers.” Like an Old West gunslinger, Marco twirled his pistol over his finger and settled it in the waistband of his battered jeans. “Lucky for you, I’m the one that drew this little rescue mission. Llewellyn put out a contract on you, amigo. Big bucks. Dead or alive.”

Trav’s gut tightened. “Dancer?”

“Did a Houdini last week. Walked right out of a concert hall in Berlin under their collective noses, carrying his violin and guitar cases. On top of that, he was dressed in his western get-up complete with black cowboy hat and boots. Llewellyn is pissed.” Marco settled back against the open doorway and pulled Trav up next to him with Trav’s bag between them. “They’ll be waiting for you back at the drop-off point. They have a pretty good description too. What happened to your hair?”

“I tucked it under my windbreaker.”

“Fuck! I thought you cut it off! Good thing you’re wearing a cap. That red hair of yours is like a beacon. You have somewhere you want us to set you down?”

“How far are you going?”

“Da Nang but they’ve got that sewn up good, buddy.” He stared at Trav with worried eyes. “You wouldn’t make it ten feet.”

Trav concentrated, pitting one option against another. “Drop me at the crossroads north of Quy Nho’n,” he said in sudden decision. “I’ll make my own way from there.”

Marco shook his head. “I’m not asking and I don’t want to know. But when we get close, you better make it look good.”

“No problem. I owe you a big one.” Trav settled back with his eyes closed and tried to work out a plan. When they passed the outskirts of Quy Nho’n, he slipped Marco’s pistol out of the man’s waistband and pressed it against his ear. In careful Vietnamese, he gave him directions to set him down. Marco shouted over his shoulder to their pilot and minutes later Trav pointed to the spot where he wanted to get off. Dropping down into six inches of flood water, he splashed to the edge of the clearing before turning to face Marco. He hurled Marco’s weapon back into the chopper and disappeared into the jungle, his mind occupied with one burning question.

Where was Dancer?

Hope you enjoyed! Want to read more?

Or maybe you'll want to start with the first book, Dancer's Delight at Cerridwen Press


PS: If you thought the Crazy Blog Serial was wild yesterday... well Amarinda added a bugle. Check it out at Of course, if you missed yesterday's, then you'll want to hop over to Kelly's place