Sunday, September 30, 2007

When Some Day Never Arrives.

Have you ever seen that commercial for Rubbermaid totes? The one where the couple stare at their disorganized garage/attic/junk room in dismay. Then they run out and buy a zillion totes and organize everything and voila! Now they have room for more stuff!

That's me. I've run out of room for stuff. I did the tote trick and now I have no room for more totes so now I have to make some serious decisions about what to do with my stuff. What's that you say? Throw it away? Oh, I can't do that! I might need it some time. I'm not sure when that might be, but really, I might. Some day.

That dress I haven't worn in five years? Who knows? Somebody might invite me somewhere that I need a dress to wear. Same goes for the entire work wardrobe I last put on nearly six years ago. Maybe I should pack them up? Give them away? Burn them in celebration because I don't have to get dressed up to write books?

Those six totes of yarn? In assorted colors? That's for that afghan I'm gonna crochet just as soon as I get time. And the three boxes of fabric... well, let's see. The African ethnic print was for pillows in the living room, but that was three--no four decorating schemes ago. And the Chinese fan print was for my bedroom in the last house we lived in. The abstract print was for curtains in the kitchen. Hmmm. Don't seem to have a window in this kitchen. Well I might have a kitchen with windows some day.

In this corner we have two totes full of beads, one tote with clay, one tote with acrylic paints, and another tote with assorted art supplies. Carving tools, two boxes of paper for paper mache, two totes with Christmas projects, and an enormous tote with pictures that I swear I'm going to organize some day.

Paper. I have every color and shape and size out there. Also enough pens to keep congress in session. Chalks. Inks. Markers. Scissors. As I went through the totes I collected every pair of scissors I found. I have them from tiny embroidery scissors to big ol' pinking shears. Thirty two pairs of scissors. I'm absolutely sure I'll need every last pair some day.

Some day never seems to arrive. It's a nebulous time in the future when there's going to be time, space, time, need, time, a special room, or time to use the stuff. The truth is some day will never arrive. In the meantime, all those things could be benefiting someone somewhere who would love to have them. So my plan is to move one category of stuff out of my house each week, whether I give it away, sell it, or throw it away.

Because the time might come when I have to move to smaller quarters or share my living space with some family member in an emergency. Life is uncertain. You never know what's right around the corner. Some day.


Don't forget to drop by Kelly's blog at to check out what she's done to the Blogga Saga. Then pop over to Amarinda's blog at for her latest take on the state of the world...

What is Love?

LOVE is a word that's thrown around a lot. "I love you," we say to our children, spouse, or significant other. "I love you," we say to our parents...maybe our siblings. But what does love mean?
For some it means, "I want sex."
For others it means, "I want whatever I can get from you."
For a few it means, "How can I make your life better?"
I've always thought that St. Paul's definition was unbeatable. It covers all bases, all creeds, all colors, all circumstances. If everyone lived by the true definition of love, there would be no wars, no arguments, no evil. It is so simple that it's difficult. Here is the definition of true love.
LOVE is patient.
LOVE is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
LOVE does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Please don't forget to stop by Kelly's blog at for her quote of the week and then peek in on Amarinda at for her words of wisdom on Aussie life. Have a nice Sunday.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Writing a Caveman

Once a year Ellora's Cave opens submissions to the Caveman anthologies. They publish four books a year with six stories in each book. That would be twenty-four stories. From the rumors I've heard they receive around two or three hundred submissions for the twenty-four spots. Maybe they receive even more than that. Any way you cut it, that's quite a bit of competition.

When the submissions first opened, I was in the midst of a lot of other obligations so I decided that I wouldn't enter this year. I had no ideas floating around in my head. As a matter of fact, I was suffering a serious case of dead head.

Then at the beginning of this week, an idea suddenly floated up from the depths. I latched on to it with a fervency that would do a new convert proud. An idea! I dropped everything and sat down at my computer to pound out the beginning of my idea!

Well, I'm nearly finished. Tomorrow should do it. The deadline is Sunday. There is nothing like pumping adrenaline to meet a deadline. Will I be one of the lucky twenty-four? Doubtful. There are many, many talented authors out there submitting their stories. But much like the Lotto... hey, you have to play in order to win.


Where Amarinda let me hanging...

“When will he get it into his head I married him to save myself from the giant sloth I had been betrothed to in childhood by my father?” It was pretty damn simple to her.

“He says he loves you.” For the life of Leonardo he could not understand why. Gabrielle was a bitch.

“Max wouldn’t know if his bum was on fire,” she responded coolly. He had a fine butt but that was not reason enough to be with any man.

“What will you do?”

“Kill him I expect.” Gabrielle yawned. “Do you know what’s for dinner Leo?”

And where I took up the tale...

“Brussel sprouts, boiled okra and acorn chili,” he replied deadpan. “Max brought chocolate almond chip ice cream if you get a yen for that.”

Instantly suspicious, Gabrielle asked, “What does he want? He’s never brought me ice cream before.”

Leo shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t care. Just keep him out of the library. The last time he was at the fortress, he left one of my rare manuscripts out in the rain and now it’s covered with mildew spots.”

“You and your books. The way you go on and on, you would think it was an Amarinda Jones. Geez, Leo, get a grip. I gave you a Kelly Kirch, an Amarinda Jones, and some book by that Anny Cook woman last Christmas. I bet you haven’t even read them yet.”

Leonardo snorted. “That’s what you think! I not only read them, I wrote comments on their blogs—and they answered!”

“Oh, yeah? What did they say?” she demanded with sudden curiosity.

“None of your business,” he said loftily. “Now go find Max and see what he’s up to.”

Leonardo, dumped her down on the parapet, shifted into human form, and stalked stark naked down the dim hall to his suite. Time to get on the internet and let the ladies know what was up. Good thing that Gabrielle didn’t know he was a Brotherhood agent. If she ever found out, his eagle would truly be cooked.
He pushed the door open and smiled at the bruised man sprawled in his purple recliner.

“Hello, Sam. How was the trip?”

Don't forget to drop in to see Amarinda at and then pop over to check out Kelly at and then...have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The True Grit

In the past few months I have come to some conclusions about the weird state of being an author.

1) There is a big difference between writing a book and selling a book. Big difference. If all I had to do was write the book--and here I'm including the followup stuff--editing, blurb, dedication, etc., then I've got that licked. Selling a book on the other hand, is... not nearly as easy as that old "build it and they will come". Nope. People don't spend money on new-fangled things, especially books.

2) You can't please all the people all the time, or some of the time, or for that matter, ever. I had a strange discussion with an acquaintance one day. "I would like to buy your book but it has sex in it." Okay. "What kind of books would you like to read?" "A romance. You know the sexy kind." Picture me clueless. "Uh, that's what I write--sexy romances." "Yeah, but yours have sex in them." Ooookay.

Another acquaintance won't buy the books because they're e-books. So I pointed out that they would eventually be in print. At which point she announced that she didn't buy print books because they take up too much space. Go figure that one out. In other words, she doesn't read.

Just for the record, I write sexy romances that are e-books that eventually will be print books. Glad we got that all straight.

3) There is no way to predict whether or not a book will sell. I'm not alone in this boat. Those NYC editors don't know either. Unfortunately, that doesn't make me feel better. It seems like someone ought to have the magic crystal ball that tells which books will be smash hits and which ones are non-starters right from the get-go. It would save a lot of time and aggravation, not to mention downright embarrassment when your book doesn't sell. Think how much simpler it would be if you could just shrug you shoulders and say "Eh, I didn't expect much because they told me it was a non-starter. But hey! They needed a book to fill out the line and I drew the lucky number." See? No harm, no foul.

4) There should be a union for reviewers with a charter and rules and all that other stuff. Then it might be possible to understand the average book review. Note that I said it might be possible. I don't hold out much hope for that if you want to know the truth. The entire review thing is pretty strange.

There are some authors whose books are reviewed almost before they hit the presses. I suspect that these are the "A" list authors--whether they are print or e-book, straight romance or some kinky genre. Or they're the reviewers best friends, favorite authors, or the review site's sponsors. Take your pick. When you look at the list of new reviews each week, month, or whatever the review site's schedule is and you see the same names reviewed over and over, then it would be hard to draw any other conclusion.

If you are lucky enough to have your book reviewed, then you have to decide how much weight to give to the review. What does it mean? What's the difference between a one and a five? How did the reviewer decide that? What did the reviewer not like? Often a review for a three will read nearly identical to a review for a five. So what's up with that?

Maybe I should quit writing and only review the first book by new authors. That way they would have at least one review. Hmmm. I'll have to think about that one.

5) Popularity contests did not cease to exist in high school. They're still with us. Only now they're called "Best Book" contests. Heh. There's no judging. There's no standards to meet to get on the various lists. All you have to have is a good friend who is willing to nominate you. Then, you gather your five hundred nearest and dearest and ask them to vote for you.

What's that? You say that you don't know five hundred nearest and dearest? Ahhhh, too bad. You lose. The contests are pretty harmless I suppose, unless you take them seriously and truly believe that your book is actually the best book if you win. I think I would rather have people vote with their credit cards. At least there you're on fairly even footing.

6) Writing does not get easier with each new book. It gets harder because you learn more about writing with every book. It doesn't take less time. It takes more time because of all those things you learned writing that last book. You spend more time trying to make sure that you don't repeat past mistakes. You strive to be a better writer with each new book. Think of it as an apprenticeship. In a vague sort of way, it even takes a tiny bit of spontaneity from you because you're conscious of all those old writing habits. Ce la vie.

7) Just because a person is a fellow author, that doesn't mean that they have any horse sense or sensibility, or manners. I have met some with less sense that the average hitching post, many that were rude, pushy, or oblivious, and quite a few that might have "book learning" yet remained abysmally ignorant and bigoted. Blessedly, they are the minority.

Unfortunately, they don't seem to understand that their actions reflect on all of us in the same profession. I could wish that every writer represented our profession proudly with distinction and respect. Writing is an endangered art. If you don't believe me, ask ten friends to write you a letter. Seven out of ten will refuse, but will offer to call you on the telephone. Two will be so illiterate that you can't read it. One will ask for assistance.

So where's the beef? I have none. I chose this profession and I'm proud of what I do. Not many get the opportunity to have a total stranger tell you how much they appreciate something you wrote. That's what makes it worth it in the end.


So would you like to read a snippet of Traveller's Refuge? Of course you would... In this snippet, Wrenna learns that there are drawbacks to bossing her brother Wolfe around.

She hummed as she spent some time sorting through the extra pots, vases, jugs and dishes she had prepared for sale at the market day. Most years, she made enough barter credits to make up over half her yearly credits. There were three market days per year—spring, summer and fall. Summer market day was the largest and had the most participants. With most of the villages in the valley isolated and far apart, the market days were opportunities to acquire or sell items that were unavailable the rest of the year. Tyger offered fine lengths of cloth. Llyon usually had extra small pots of commonly used salves. Arano and Arturo spent the late winter and spring tanning skins from their trapping. At least they always had until Arturo was attacked earlier this spring.

When she was satisfied that her proposed offerings were the best of her inventory, she set up supplies and prepared to make the deep baking pans Micah the baker had ordered—fifteen round bread pans for the chewy sunflower bread he made, twenty narrow oval pans for the dark pungent wachaz loaves and eight flat baking plates for the flat barbahla bread. The baking dishes were the last of her current orders to be completed and if her schalzina was any indication, it was none too soon. Once Traveller arrived in the valley, they would bond and enter their three moons of seclusion.

She bent over her wheel, absorbed in the intricacies of forming the oval wachaz pans and lost track of time. She jerked back in surprise and squeaked when Wolfe nudged her shoulder. “You startled me! What’s wrong?”

“You will no doubt be thrilled when I inform you that I’ve been assigned as your healer,” he replied sourly.

“What? When did that happen?” She sat back and stared at him in perplexed amazement.

He folded his arms across his bare chest and sighed. “This morning, at my meeting with Dai. At first, I was angry with you, thinking that you told him about my talents,” he admitted softly. “But Dai was very clear that Papa was the one that asked him to talk to me, just as Papa apparently told him about you. Papa wanted him to assess my talent before he spent any more time urging me to apprentice for healing.”

“So, clearly Dai’s verdict is that you are talented. I could have saved him the trouble,” she replied with a shrug. “Who are you apprenticing with?”

“Dai.” His dry, wry tone was eloquent.

“Well. That’s certainly interesting.” She leaned back and stared at him in astonishment. “Dai hasn’t had an apprentice since Llyon. Does that mean you’ll also be a Master Healer?”

“Apparently. When he’s satisfied that I’ve mastered the basics, he’s sending me down to Rebaccah’s Promise to apprentice under Henry.” He shifted uncomfortably under her interested gaze. “Well? Isn’t this what you kept pushing for? Aren’t you happy?”

Getting to her feet, she approached him and wrapped her arms around his waist. At first he held his body stiff and withdrawn but she persisted until he relaxed and returned the hug. “What am I going to do?” he muttered in despair.

“You’re going to be the best you can be. If you’re apprenticing under Henry, then Dai is truly certain that you are a gifted healer. Dai’s never been wrong as long as we’ve known him.” She rested her head against his chest and shivered. “Wolfe, you’re not selfish enough to deprive the valley of your gifts and talents.”

“Yeah, well, you may be sorry. Because the first thing I’m going to recommend is that you begin communication with Trav. You have two days to reach him and open a mind-touch link.” When she would have pulled away, his arms tightened around her shoulders. “Uhn-uh. If you haven’t completed your task by then, Dai said that he will forge a three way link between you, me and himself and then open that triple link with Trav. Consider that before you get all huffy about having your hand forced.”

“Son of a—”

“Don’t go there,” he warned her.

“Sea-biscuit!” She shoved away from him and stalked around the dome, muttering beneath her breath.

“I did tell you several days ago that you needed to reach him.”

“Don’t say ‘I told you so’!”


“Just go away!”

“For now,” he agreed. “But day after tomorrow, we will meet first thing in the morning after breakfast in the treatment room. Don’t be late.”

Don't forget to stop by Amarinda's blog at for her take on the Blogga Saga. And then stop by Kelly's blog at for her guest author interview.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dog days of Fall...

Yeah, yeah, I know it's supposed to be summer. It feels like summer around here. It was close to 90 yesterday. Too hot to trot.

My dog--we'll call her Toots--wasn't even interested in going out for a walk. There isn't much that will keep her from a walk these days, but the heat was too much for her so we stayed inside until late afternoon.

When we finally went out for our walk, it was still pretty warm so she mostly wanted to flop down on the grass and look around...with her tongue hanging out. What is it about dogs and that tongue? And the panting. Boy, when there's a thunderstorm, the panting is almost louder than the thunder.

She's slowing down a lot these day. Sleeping more. And she spends a lot more time up on the daybed with the pillows piled all around her. She has a favorite pillow that she puts her head on and another that she props her bad leg up on. Once she's all comfy, then it's time for some zzzzz's.

She's funny. She used to be such a confrontational dog. Now she's really mellowed out. Somebody's running down the street? Nice. A kid rides his bicycle to close? Peace, man. Some little kid runs up to her to pet her? She yawns.

The squirrels, however are different. Any squirrel, anywhere is in deep danger. She can spy a squirrel across the parking lot and down the block. It's a good thing that they can run a lot faster than her. They zip up the tree and wham! she's dragging my arm out of the socket to get to them.

Today she did something she hasn't done in a long time. While she was sprawled out in the grass she found a stick to gnaw on. When she finished with it, it was just a pile of splinters. I have no idea what she got from chewing on that stick, but she certainly enjoyed it.

Whenever we're gone--whether it's ten minutes or four hours--she greets us at the door like we've been gone for days. There's an entire ritual. The panting. The barking. Following us from room to room. Then I sit at my desk and that's her signal that we're really home to stay. Poppy gives her a treat which she consumes almost faster than he tosses it to her. Then...then she's okay.

The last few nights when we went out, there was a big ol' frog on the front doorstep. The first night she sniffed it and nudged it and backed away when it hopped about six inches away. The next few nights she circled around that frog like it was a bad smell. One night I had to nudge the frog on it's way before she would pass it to go inside. Sad, very sad. Frog, 1; Toots, 0.

I suppose there are worse things to be afraid of. Like squirrels.


Have you checked Kelly's blog at to see what she's done with the Blogga Saga? No? Well trot right over there. Then drop by to check out what Amarinda's up to at because she's sure to have a unique Aussie perspective on something in life. And then have a good day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Everything Lovers Can Know

Today Everything Lovers Can Know is released from Ellora's Cave!

Prequel to Mystic Valley Series

From the time they were children Baron and Jade were heart-bonded and mind-linked. But children don’t stay young forever and when they reach adulthood, they yearn for more than a mind-link. They yearn for the bond of physical love.

When Jade’s secret plan to seduce Baron backfires, their families separate them using coercion and blackmail. Jade goes on to a successful career as a musician while Baron completes medical school and begins his internship.

Now, three years later Jade has a new plan to end their separation. Baron arrives at the isolated cabin where Jade is waiting to find out once and forever if the fierce longings and desire they had for each other before are enough to make them truly two-as-one.

The quiet dark haired boy waited alone in the long dark hall next to the huge mirror that hung above an antique table. On the opposite wall an enormous painting depicting nymphs and satyrs at play near a woodland pool occupied most of the wall. Beneath the painting was a long leather bench. At twelve, Baron was very tall for his age and remarkably contained, which was probably the reason that his father had dragged him along on his ill-fated visit to the Alexander house.

For years every one had carefully ignored the fact that Nikolas Alexander was not the son of the man of this house. In fact, he was the result of a brief affair between Rachel Alexander and Baron’s father, Fremont Llewellyn. And that affair was the subject of the blistering argument taking place in the library between Fremont and Alistair Alexander.

Baron wasn’t required to eavesdrop. The neighbors at the end of the block could probably hear the contents of the discussion without opening their windows. With a sigh, he went to the leather bench and sat down. The atmosphere in the library was getting ugly and he wished with all his heart that his father had left him at home.

The Alexander children were crouched at the top of the stairs which were at the other end of the hall from him. He could hear the anxious whispers and faint rustles as they jostled for position. Abruptly, one of the little girls, a tiny red-haired sprite, stood up and slowly made her way down the stairs. When she stepped off the last riser she hesitated for a moment and then ran across the polished floor until she reached Baron.

What happened next became the subject for considerable debate between them for the next few years. In a very uncharacteristic move, Baron reached for the little girl and lifted her onto his lap. She reached up with one tiny hand, patted him on the cheek and then inside his head he heard, My name is Jade. What is your name?

My name is Baron Merlyn Llewellyn. You can call me Baron. For a few seconds, it didn’t even occur to him that he had answered her question in the same telepathic fashion as it had been posed. When he realized exactly what had happened, he leaned back against the wall and peered down at her face. Do you always talk in people’s heads? he asked curiously.

No, just yours. With clear unconcern, she leaned over and snuggled against his thin t-shirt clad chest. You’re special cause you b’long to me. With that odd statement, she slipped her thumb in her tiny bowed mouth and promptly fell asleep.

As he cradled the intriguing little girl in his strong young arms, he struggled with the possessive feelings that swept over him. The sense of inevitability crept into his heart, the sense that she was his destiny and the truth that just as surely as he belonged to her, she belonged to him.

Did you see where Amarinda left me yesterday? No????? Well, here's a hint...

“And you’re no lecturer.” Gabrielle kept her eyes focused on the stapler. The last Omega Force agent had been stapled to death. “I know who you are Marcus and you will not succeed.”

Marcus laughed at her words. “But I have already my dear. I have impregnated half the women on campus. They soon will give birth to a superhuman breed of gargoyles.”

“Oh but you’re wrong,” Gabrielle smiled at his supercilious tone. “They weren’t real women you impregnated.”

“What? I don’t believe you.”

“Oh poor Marcus shall I tell you who you’ve been screwing?”

And my addition...

Marcus scratched the puckered crinkles at his neck. “Hmm. I’m not sure I want to know. I think I would rather keep my illusions.”

She gaped at him in astonishment. “Aren’t you even curious?”



“No, no, I’m sure you’re just dying to tell me, but the truth is, I just don’t care. If you say that the women weren’t human, then I believe you. I was beginning to wonder about the screw-on breasts, anyway.”

Gabrielle’s eyes goggled at that. “Screw-on breasts? Are you sure?”

“Yep. And the ears…” the professor leaned forward to whisper.

“What? What about the ears?” she hissed.

Marcus grabbed her, twirled her in his arms and captured her wrists. “They’re pointed just like yours,” he muttered in her ear before he slowly licked her neck. “Mmmm. Your skin tastes delicious. Just like butter pecan ice cream.”

She squirmed in his arms. “Let me go, you granite ape.”

“Eh-eh-eh. Not nice to call people names.” An older man opened the door and stepped into the room. “How would you like it if I told Sam what you really were?”

“Sam?” she gasped. “Oh, no! Anything but that!”

“Too late!” Sam declared abruptly. “The Omega Force agents have all been rounded up except for you, Gabrielle. We’ve been watching you shapeshifters for some time now.”

Gabrielle scowled at Sam. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Marcus butted in. “If you just kept your pointed ears covered up, you could pass for human. But no-oo. You just had to bare them for everyone to see, flicking and twitching.” He ran his tongue along the outside of her ear and up over the point. “See? That turned you on. I knew it!”

Don't forget to check in at Kelly's blog to catch her coverage of Black Fonzie's blog on Nutella at and then you'll want to go on over to Amarinda's at to check out her interview with author Anh Leod.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Remember that two fingered song for piano that everyone seems to know? Well this blog is not about that. Heh.

Actually, it's about my search for bamboo chopsticks. In my quest for interesting, inexpensive items to give away at the convention I'm attending in the spring, I had the notion to give hair piks as one of the items. In my Mystic Valley books the women twist their long hair up and anchor it with jeweled hair pics. I thought that I could improvise by painting and beading bamboo chopsticks.

Perhaps I will... but bamboo chopsticks seem to be a scarce item. I thought I would find them at a dollar store. Nope. Chinese restaurant? Perhaps, let's make a deal? Nope. So today my friend called me from the dollar aisle at Target. "Quick! They have chopsticks!"

This is how sad this is. My husband and I dropped everything and barreled down there to buy chopsticks. Tomorrow I will try out my idea. If it works, then we'll probably go back down there and buy the rest of them in the rack. Pitiful, isn't it?

So far, I have tiny boxes to decorate for chinka boxes. The men in Mystic Valley wear their hair--very long hair--in twenty five braids that are fastened on the ends with chinkas. Chinkas are carved beads that fit over the end of the braid. At night when they take their hair down the chinkas go in a chinka box. So. I found small boxes to decorate.

And then I will also make small recipe books with recipes from the valley. That won't be so difficult as I have quite a collection of specialty papers to use for that. My friend has graciously agreed to help me adapt recipes for the book.

One thing I'll say about my projects. It's a good thing I have all winter to work on this. While other people will be watching television and knitting, I'll be making chinka boxes and hair pics.

And I guarantee that the readers that take one of my souvenirs home will probably remember me and my books longer than the ones that take a bookmark. So, we'll see.

In the meantime, I thought maybe you would like to read about the chinkas so here's a scene in which Llyon demonstrates exactly what a chinka is used for. Enjoy.


The light breeze spread the scent of rain and quoltania bushes through the open window. Dancer enjoyed the light cinnamony scent and breathed in appreciatively before shifting to cuddle closer with Eppie. He spread his hand across her belly and rubbed their baby gently, careful not to wake Eppie. He froze when a tiny out of place sound wafted through the open window. A few seconds later, he caught the slight brush of fabric and silently he slipped from the bed, moving across the room to the window.

Peeking from behind the soft curtains, he saw a man stalking down the path to the back gate. Grabbing his sharda, he shinnied over the windowsill and soundlessly followed him as far as the river. Within a few feet, he knew he was trailing Merlyn but he was intensely curious about what could possibly bring his bond-father out in the rain in the middle of the night.

When Merlyn crossed the bridge and headed out into the open field past the training halls, Dancer waited until the buildings were between them and followed. He sank down in the deepest shadow in a dark corner and waited for a few moments, in case Merlyn returned. Just as he was satisfied that Merlyn wasn’t coming back his way, he heard a soft footstep on the bridge and barely made out the figure of Llyon coming his way.

Breathing shallowly, he squatted motionless in the dark while Llyon softly passed him in the rain. Slipping around the end of the building so that it was between him and the bridge, he crept to the corner until he could see the field clearly. The fine hairs along his spine tightened as he watched the small group of men in astonishment. There on the field he saw why the hair ornaments were called ‘chinkas’.

While all of the men stood in a semi-circle watching intently, Llyon spun rapidly toward a practice dummy, his braids whipping out around him from the centrifugal force. When he came within reach of the dummy, the chinkas struck it with deadly force, making a very distinctive sound. Chinka, chinka, chinka. Dancer shuddered as he watched Llyon’s lethal dance shred the dummy.

When Llyon came to a standstill, the men formed a line and one after the other each performed the same savage maneuver. After several more passes, the men divided into pairs and started practicing basic hand-to-hand fighting moves. Dancer assessed their skills and decided that they were fairly basic. Depending on what Merlyn and Llyon had to say after the practice, he might be able to assist them. He watched the entire practice, patiently waiting until all of the men were gone except Merlyn and Llyon.

Having seen exactly what Llyon could do, both with the chinkas and with his mind, Dancer took him down quickly and efficiently before disabling Merlyn. While he waited for them to come around, he tied Merlyn’s hands together behind his back with a couple of his braids and admired his work. Hair was notoriously difficult to unknot and if Merlyn moved very much, he would rip his own hair out. Then he sat down in the middle of Llyon’s back and waited.

He knew the moment Llyon was conscious and cheerfully cautioned, “I wouldn’t do anything too hasty,” and felt him relax when he recognized his voice. Merlyn groaned and then cursed fluently and creatively for quite a while. Dancer listened raptly to his repertoire, admiring the fact that he didn’t once repeat himself. When he was silent, Dance inquired calmly, “Have you called out the reinforcements?”

“Who the hell would we call?” Llyon asked in exasperation. “Mama? Everyone else has gone with Dai!”

“This is true,” Dance agreed, struck by the undeniable facts. Bish, Dai and Tyger were all far away. Arturo was with Dai also. Arano was with Silence. Wolfe was at the other end of the valley. If these were the defenders of the valley, they were woefully undermanned.

“What do you want?” Merlyn demanded with resignation.

“I watched your little practice session and I want to know why?” Dance replied quietly. “What has you in such a panic that you’ve set up a militia? Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? This isn’t the same as the standard warrior training.” He waited patiently while Merlyn and Ly had an intense silent discussion. When they seemed to come to an impasse, he pointed out, “I have the right to know. I have a bond-mate and a child on the way. Your grandchild, lest you forget.”

Merlyn sighed. “It’s you and Trav,” he admitted reluctantly. “You’re the reason we got the men together.”

More puzzled than ever, Dancer stood up, freeing Llyon. Cautiously, he unknotted Merlyn’s hair and released his bonds. “Why? What have we done to you?”

“You found the valley, not accidentally but with purpose.”

“Are you both completely whacked? I know I didn’t hit you that hard! I literally stumbled into that cave.”

Merlyn shook his head. “No. But I think we should go back and wake Trav. I would rather only explain one time.”

Oh, my, oh, my. Just wait until you see what Amarinda - - has done to the Blogga Saga. And then post on over to Kelly - - for her interview with Puck, one of the characters from her Regency romances. And then? Have a wonderful day.

Where Danger Hides by Desiree Holt

Good Monday Morning! Today's guest author is Desiree Holt aka Judith Rochelle. I sent off my questions to Desiree and she was sweet enough to answer all of them so we'll jump right into the interview.

1) If you could start over with your writing career, what if anything would you change?
I’d join a critique group and learn the mechanics of writing a book to sell. And I wouldn’t waste my time trying to write straight mysteries and never getting past the first two chapters. I’d learn what flowed from my mind, not what I tried to force from it. And I’d learn to be disciplined about it. Not necessarily being a plotter, but how and when I write. And I’d develop a very thick skin.

2) What was the best piece of advice you received regarding the life of a writer?
Don’t ever stop writing and don’t ever give up. If you really want to be a writer, don’t let anything change your mind. And be sure to make some time for yourself.

3) If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Sam Elliott. I’ve been in love with him for years. Next to that, Linda Howard, my inspiration.

4) If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?
Diaz, the hero of Linda Howard’s Cry No More. I want to take him home with me and lock him in my bedroom.

5) What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s easy. I don’t ever plan to grow up.

6) In the next century, what do you hope people will remember you for?
That I wrote books that gave them happiness, and that I was a really good friend that people could count on.

Where Danger Hides by Desiree Holt from Ellora's Cave

What would you do if you found out after thirty years that you really weren't who you thought you were--that your entire life was a lie? That is the situation Taylor Scott faces in Where Danger Hides. Reeling in shock from a series of loses and changes in her life, prim and proper Taylor has a drink (or three) and propositions a hunky stranger. After a wild night of sex, she wakes to find her lover gone.

A few weeks later, on the last day at her old job, a man pushes his way into her office and to her shock she realizes it is her stranger/lover. This time he reveals that he knew who she was all along. And he has a proposition for her that will change her life in even more drastic ways.

Where Danger Hides raced from one disaster to the next. At times there was the urge to stop for a moment to catch your breath. Taylor had hidden depths and strengths that were revealed only when the chips were down. Noah was there to guide her through the maze of betrayal and danger.

If you want a breathless, exciting book about the high stakes, high finance world spiked with hot, hot sex, then I recommend that you go immediately to Ellora's Cave and buy your own copy of Where Danger Hides.


Check out Amarinda's blog at for a refreshing new take on breasts. Then trot over to Kelly's blog at to see what new heights she's reached on the blogga saga. Have a good day!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The 9-1-1 call

If you had an acquaintance you only talked to in one of you periodic life emergencies, but otherwise ignored, how friendly would you say you really are? If you only demanded help, said a sketchy "Thank you!" and went on your merry way until the next time, how likely do you suppose it is that your acquaintance would even want to talk to you next time, let alone help?

I am guilty of such selfish behavior. I can hear the gasps of outrage and surprise. Surely not! Yet I reluctantly confess that such is the case. Who is my abused friend?


Recently I have fallen on tough times and consequently made my frantic 9-1-1 call to God. "Help! I need help."

I'm sure he heard my prayers. In the Bible it assures me that he does. The question is--will he answer? Do I have a right to expect him to answer if the only time I talk to him is when I need something? I used to have more than a nodding acquaintance with God. Talked to him everyday. Shared all my accomplishments. Thanked him for the abundance in my life.

And then something happened.

I started taking the abundant life for granted. The busyness of my abundant life meant I had less time to talk to God. There were so many other things to do. And then in the way that things happen in life, everything came to a screeching halt.

Suddenly, there is a yawning, aching space with lots of time to talk to him. To my amazement, I miss him. The day isn't complete without greeting him in the morning. Or chatting over lunch. Or recapping the day in the evening. Blessings are more blessed when they're acknowledged day by day. Maybe even hour by hour.

The individual relationship with God isn't about religion or going to church. Sadly, I know many people who are faithful attenders at church that never talk to God. For me, it's that daily "Good morning, God. Thank you for letting me wake up this morning. I appreciate having food and a place to live, too."

What? Not formal enough. Well, it occurs to me that God doesn't need formality. He wants appreciation and respect, however we express it. Have you ever heard a child pray? The Bible says to come to God as a little child.

"Hello, God. I'm back. How are you today?"


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blessed are the poor...

Someone I know is stone cold broke due to circumstance beyond her control. I'm not just talking about not having money for cigarettes or gas. I'm talking about bottom of the barrel broke. No money for milk and bread. Zero dollars in her bank account. Electricity in only one half of her apartment is working. No job. No one to watch the kids so she can go to work. She lives far away in another state.

Yesterday, she pocketed her pride and went to social services in her state to apply for assistance. She filled out the application for emergency assistance and then she sat there all day long waiting to meet with a counselor. At the end of the day, they told her they were not going to see any more people. She would have to come back today. She wonders why the paperwork says that by law someone must assist her the same day she submits the paperwork. When she questioned the woman at the desk, the woman told her that's not the way things work in that office. Hmmm.

So today she showed up at eight o'clock even though the doors don't open until nine. There was already a line of people outside. She was there all day long again. This time she came home with $300 in food stamps. She's grateful for the little bit of help she received, but the reality is that food stamps can not be used for toilet paper, shampoo, laundry soap, or the million other non-food necessities that make our life bearable.

She must go back on Monday to see another counselor. This counselor may--or may not--decide to help pay her rent. If they don't pay her rent and she is evicted, by law they must put her and her daughters in a hotel (and pay for it), arrange for a moving van and storage for her belongings (and pay for it) and pay two months security deposit for a new apartment. It seems to me that would be a no-brainer. Pay the rent. But small minded, over-whelmed social workers don't see it that way. It's not their emergency.

It makes me angry that I don't dare help her. But this is the way things work. If I give her one dime, then the state says that she has an income and they don't help her. If she leaves her daughter's birthday money in the savings account--a whopping $20--then she has income and doesn't qualify for help. Who makes up these rules? What kind of country do we live in that we would allow our women and children to be homeless?

This young woman is bright, educated, and has job skills. She will probably be able to get a job within weeks. But she has a four year old. And social services very cheerfully explained that they would be able to help her with child care expenses just as soon as she's worked for four weeks. What would they like her to do with her child in the meantime? When she asked that, the woman said, "Well, honey, that's not my problem."

In the Bible a rich man asked Jesus what he must do to go to heaven. Jesus told him to sell all his goods and give the money to the poor. The poor are always with us. Some because they refuse to work, but most because of circumstances far beyond their control. Companies close or move away. Spouses go to jail. Hurricanes wipe out cities and neighborhoods. Tornadoes flatten cities. After the initial emergency, we forget or look away because there too, but for the grace of God, we will be.

The next time you see or know that someone is in need don't look away. Don't mouth platitudes like "If you need anything let me know." Instead, show up with food. Offer to pay a bill. Buy gas. Keep the kids for a couple of hours. Remember that next week, that could be you.


Yesterday Amarinda left me with a hamster attack to deal with...

“There has not been a hamster attack in years,” Mortie assured her.

“I don’t know Mortie, they look kind of pissed off.” Bambi’s eyes widened at the sound all humans feared. “They’re humming.”

“Bloody hell! They only hum before they attack.” Mortie and the rest of the film cast and crew backed away quickly from them.

Bambi was directly in front of the hamsters. “Help me Mortie.”

“I need bananas to do that and…oh god no! Run Bambi!”

And I think I dealt with it very neatly--don't you?

Mortie and the crew scrambled for high ground as the hamsters rushed Bambi. A puff of purple smoke enveloped Bambi leaving the hamsters to mill around aimlessly. Sam swept them up into the purple box with a single swipe. “There now,” he declared. “This is some fine mess.”

Bambi leaned against Sam’s chest and howled. “Why me?”

“Who turned them into hamsters?” he asked sternly.

“I did,” she admitted with a sniff. “It was just a part. I did it because it was in the script.”

Sam set the box down at his feet and hauled out his notebook and blue pen. “Right. We’ll just make a few changes here. Mortie, hand over the script.”

Mortie tiptoed over to Sam and handed him the script.

Sam flipped hurriedly through the pages, crossing out lines with his blue pen and scribbling notes in the margin. After a few minutes, he slapped the script shut and handed it back to Mortie. “There now. That ought to fix things all right and tight. Now, I’ll just take these beasties back where they belong.” He picked up the box and in another puff of purple smoke he was gone, taking the hamsters with him.

“Where did he go?” Bambi asked in wonder.

“Who cares? Look what that guy did to the script! Where am I going to get someone to play the parts of Alex, Ester, and Pansy? Say, Bambi… how would you like to play the part of the tooth fairy? Or maybe the pet rock, Sidney?”

Check out Kelly's words of wisdom at and Amarinda's take on that Aussie favorite, Vegemite, at and then have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What do they taste like?

The acorns, that is. Well. Not much. A very, very mild nutty taste and texture. We still have quite a few more to process before I can grind them and use them in a recipe. So far, I've roasted them. And peeled them. And boiled them. And dehydrated them. I have approximately a cup of processed acorns. When I grind them, I'll have approximately half a cup. Not quite enough to do much with.

My analysis? This was a LOT of work. The only thing that makes this worth it is the nutritional pay off. In survival conditions, fat and sufficient calories are frequently the most difficult things to attain. One cup of acorn flour is 500 calories with high fat and carbohydrate values. It is an excellent survival food. If I were in the wild, low on food stuffs and had oak trees around (and it was fall!), then certainly acorn gathering would be on my must-do list.

I can tell you that picking up acorns is back breaking work. Every day that I went out to gather acorns I had a terrific back ache. After that, it's just tedious work. Not difficult--just finicky. Properly processed though, acorn meal can be stored for fairly lengthy time periods and would certainly help somebody survive through a winter. So, there you are. In the next couple of days, I should have sufficient quantities to try a muffin recipe that I have. I'll let you know how it comes out! I may even try the acorn chili recipe.

What's next on my agenda? Next I'll be looking at some wilderness grocery shopping. No, I won't eat any of it, but I want to see if I can even identify the plants on the list. If I find any dandelions, I might try the roasted dandelion coffee. We'll see about that. I feel pretty comfortable about identifying dandelions.

What is all of this in the aid of? I'm writing a time-travel novel where my characters travel from contemporary times to the distant past--500 BC. It's interesting finding out what our country was like back then. I would like to incorporate as much as I can without sounding like an encyclopedia. Ugh. The best way to do that is simply have my characters observe their surroundings. In order for that to happen, then I as the writer must observe that world first.

Some hands-on, in person research is required. And all that walking around will be good for me. So if you're near Baltimore and you see some woman down on her knees peering at weeds, that's probably me, checking out the local wild groceries.


It pains me to say this, but Amarinda pulled off quite a coup with the blogga saga today. Kelly took us into strange territory and Amarinda pulled it out of the fire, BUT she left me with a hamster attack to deal with. I don't know what I'll do. Go on over there and check it at at and then stop by Kelly's blog at and find our what our Kelly is up to. And then have a wonderful weekend.

Laughter IS the best medicine...

The last two or three days have been pretty rough and tough for me. No... I'm not going to discuss why, but I do want to say a hearty thank you to my blog mates. Because after offering to do almost anything I needed, they kept me laughing.

I think that laughter is vastly underrated. I have a friend who is battling cancer. We talk fairly often and mostly what we do is laugh--giggle like a couple of school girls. What else are we going to do? Crying leaves you with ugly red eyes.

Now if you read the blogga saga regularly, you know that general silliness is not difficult. It just seems to sort of come to us naturally. As a matter of fact, I think we have to rein it in a bit or it gets away from us.

So I spent a good portion of this evening snickering. It's always better to go to bed with a smile on your face than a heavy heart in your chest. Oh, I know that underneath, there are still things to deal with. But the load is lighter because of laughter. And that's important.

Often when we have family and friends far away, suffering all sorts of things we wring our hands and say, "Oh, I wish I could do something to help!"

Well, I'm telling you what to do. Find a way to share the laughter. It might be a silly card. It might be flowers. It might be a letter reminding them of better times or an email with a cartoon. But never forget that whatever the problem is, it's easier to deal with a smile on your face than with teary eyes.

In my life time I have dealt with a pile of disasters and grief. Anyone who has lived, has done the same. But I have observed that those people who can laugh in the midst of tragedy live longer, more productive lives. That they can laugh is not a sign of callousness. It's a sign of deep feeling, cushioned by those little flashes of amusement. Without the cushions, the feelings would drag them down so that they couldn't function.

Next time you see someone laughing in the midst of catastrophe, smile because laughter is the best medicine.


Speaking of laughter... Oh, my. Go see what Kelly has done with the blogga saga now at and then of course check in on Amarinda for her usual unique Australian take on life at Also, pop in to and have a squizz (I love that word) at Amarinda's newest release Last Man Standing, under her other name, Janet Davies. Isn't that young man on the cover scrumptious?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh, the disasters in life!

I broke a fingernail today. I know, I know, you had no idea that I was that kind of woman. But there it is. I confess that I do have one girlie vanity. Until last year, I never was able to grow my fingernails. They were little stubs that were paper thin and broke if you looked at them sideways.

Suddenly last year they began to grow. They're sturdy and grow loooong and don't break. No, they're not fake nails. I had those a couple of times. Yuck. I think they finally started growing because my thyroid meds are finally right.

Anyway, the fingernail broke and that meant I had to cut all the rest of them down to size because there's nothing sillier looking than nine long fingernails and one short stubby one. I look silly enough without having uneven nails.

Of course, the short nails are a real problem. I'll be able to type now so there's no excuse for not finishing that book I'm writing. Nope. No excuses there. Incoming, Helen!

Since I'm doing research on acorns the long nails were much handier for picking the acorn meat out of the shell. I'll have to find something to pry it out now. Difficulties, difficulties. Life's just full of difficulties.

My cat and dog will miss my nails for a while as they loved it when I used them to scratch that spot they can't reach that runs down the middle of their backs. I suppose I'll have to find their ratty old comb and use that until the nails grow back out.

On the other hand, now would be a good time to work on those beading projects I had planned as it's nearly impossible to pick up tiny beads when you have long fingernails. I suppose its just a matter of timing. Short nails--do short nail projects. Long nails--do long nail projects.

Broken nails are like bad haircuts. Both nails and hair will grow again. Unlike other things in life, this is a disaster that is easily dealt with. And if it's the worst thing I have to face, then life is good.


Amarinda left us with...“You cannot change fate. You must mate with the chosen one by this Thursday afternoon at 12:17pm.” Beatrice wanted to slap the willful woman.

“No, I have decided to get my nails done that day.” Nails verses sex? Nails win. “Anyway why do I have to sex with this chosen one to stop the sun colliding with the planet? Can’t someone else do it?”

So of course I had to work with that...

Beatrice briefly considered wresting the pistol from Fiona’s hand and using it on her. It would give her such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. No, that wasn’t the solution. Tapping her hairy chin thoughtfully, Beatrice considered the difficulties for a moment, then nodded her head decisively. There was one surefire plan of action. Sometimes these situations required tough love.

She grabbed Fiona by one pointed ear and twisted.


“If you refuse to behave responsibly, then I’ll send you to Mystic Valley. You know what that means,” Beatrice growled.

“No!” Fiona gasped. “I don’t want to be turned blue. And babies! I can’t stand babies! Anything but that!”

“So you will give your sworn word to go to the Oracle’s temple immediately?” Beatrice demanded.

“Sworn word?” Fiona hedged. Breaking her sworn word was a death sentence. Still… Beatrice was only asking her to go to the temple. What she did once she arrived was another matter.

“Sworn word,” Beatrice reiterated grimly. Fiona might think she would escape once she carried out her promise, but that wasn’t going to happen. No, all they needed to do was get her into the temple. After that, the aphrodisia ferns would ensure her cooperation.

“Fine. I give you my sworn word that I will go to the temple immediately.”
* * * * *

Back in the studio, the hamsters milled in confusion. Zoltan ran up to the top of the cage and squeaked, “Quiet!”

Rafe and Shade, twitched their noses. “It’s all your fault, Emmeline! If you had just allowed Fiona to keep you a were-bunny, everything would have been fine!”

What will Kelly do? Will Fiona get to the temple in time? Will someone turn the hamsters back into people? Will Emmeline consent to be a were-bunny? Tune in at Kelly's blog at to find out. And check out Amarinda's blog tomorrow at to see what she's up to. Don't forget that tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Winning and Losing

Acorn preparation part two--shelling the acorn. Well, it's been interesting. I'm no where near done. I will tell you that shelling the small acorns is... let's just say that shelling the bigger ones is much easier. I still have quite a bit to do so I'll update you on that tomorrow.

Have you ever played a game of solitaire and known from the very first card that you were going to lose? Sometimes life is like that. From the very first move you know that some action is not going to work out. Other times you can begin the game and know immediately that you will win.

And then sometimes the placement of one card can decide the game. Maybe that's the day that you decide to drive down a street you don't normally drive down--and someone broadsides your car. Maybe that's the day you walk into a store and you're the 1000th customer. Maybe that's the night that you switch shifts with someone else at your fast food job and the store is robbed.

I've had some winning hands in my lifetime--a few. Mostly, my life is in that last category. The one that is so iffy. Decide to go to the store and walk into a robbery in progress. Or decide to go for a walk and meet a new friend along the way.

I choose to take each turn as it comes. Some good. Some bad.

But there are people--we all know them--who take every single turn in life as a personal attack. That's a stressful way to live and leads to a shortened life. One of my son's teachers (a very long time ago when he was in elementary school) was frustrated and angry. "Sometimes I think he stays awake at night thinking up things to do!" she declared. It's possible, but not likely. People in general don't have the time to devote to "getting" their fellow man.

Winning or losing is mostly about our own choices and how they intersect with someone else's choices. At the intersection we frequently must make another choice on the spur of the moment. We must think on our feet. React instantly. How we perform can be a matter of life or death.

So far, I've made the right choices. I'm still here. That doesn't mean I'll be right tomorrow. It just means that I'll have a tomorrow. Another day to make some more choices. Hopefully, winning choices.


Have you checked out Amarinda's turn at the blogga saga? No? Wait until you see what she did this time.

And over at Kelly's place, she's interviewing the last of her heroes, Nicolas. Hop over there and find out what Nicolas is up to at

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Boji Stones by Sandra Cox

I'm pleased to finally get back to my Monday Interview/Mini-review. My guest author today is Sandra Cox and I'll be reviewing her Cerridwen Press book, Boji Stones. Sandra was gracious enough to answer my nosy questions so we'll dive right in and meet her.

1) If you could start over with your writing career, what if anything would you change?
If I could change anything it would be not having waited so long to hook up with writing chapters. I tried to go it on my own for many, many years. Partly because I really didn't know what resources were available and partly because I was afraid I wouldn't measure up. I really missed out. Writing chapters are a wonderful source of knowledge and support. I have made some incredible friends including froggies from the pond--our own particular support group led by our wonderful Cerridwen editor Helen Woodall.

2) What was the best piece of advice you received regarding the life of a writer?
No matter how many rejections you get, never give up.

3) If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
John F. Kennedy

4) If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?
Remington Steele. Do you remember that series? Pierce Brosnan, what a hottie!

5) What do you want to be when you grow up?
A successful, self-supporting writer.

6) In the next century, what do you hope people will remember you for?
My writing and support of animal rescue and animal rights.

Thanks for having me Anny and much success to you.

Boji Stones by Sandra Cox from Cerridwen Press

When I began Boji Stones I wasn’t sure what to expect. That in no way kept me from enjoying this exciting story, full of twists and turns, complete with two handsome heroes, an evil megalomaniac, and the funniest southern belle Barbie doll to come down the pike in quite a while.

If I read Sandra’s intentions correctly, then we will see more of the Barbie doll in future stories. I hope so. There is more to Miss Barbie Doll than meets the eye.

When the story opens, the heroine, Marnie wakes in the hospital after someone has run her car off the road. The accident was bad enough that she was injured seriously. When she regains consciousness her immediate concern is to find her amulet which is missing. Once the amulet is located by her nurse and back in her possession, she begins to heal rapidly—so rapidly that within hours she is able to check herself out of the hospital.

Let me just say at this point that there is more than one scene in a hospital in the story and Sandra’s portrayals of the nurses are wonderful. Heh. Think Nurse Riker meets Hulk Hogan. Yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about. These ladies don’t let anything get past them.

From the time she leaves the hospital until the end of the book, Marnie is fighting a battle for her life as well as possession of the amulet. I was very pleased with the ingenious characters Sandra peopled the book with. All of them are unusual and most have the saving grace of a sense of humor.

I recommend that you immediately drop by Cerridwen Press to buy your own copy of Boji Stones so that you can enjoy this entertaining story. I also look forward to the next adventure in this series. I especially want to find out what new mischief Miss Barbie Doll gets into!


Don't forget to stop by Kelly's page at to find out what were-bunny hole she's tossed us down this time. And then skip over to Amarinda's page at to check out her interview and see what she and the pirates are up to as they prepare for the annual Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The lowly acorn

If you missed yesterday's blog, this is just a reminder that I'm featured in the premier issue of eMuse at with two lovely reviews for Dancer's Delight and Traveller's Refuge plus a wonderful interview. Please have a look.

I have mentioned in my blogs more than once about the importance of research when you write. My time-travel book certainly will have some pretty odd research paths. Currently, I'm working on the nutritional properties of acorns. After searching the net for a while, I found directions on processing the acorn to a usable form.

So! First of all, I needed acorns! Fortunately, it's the time of year that acorns are lying around on the ground, free for the taking. Oh, my aching back and knees. Who knew what a pain in the back it is to harvest acorns? And for what? Perhaps we ended up with half a gallon of acorns.

Next we roasted them. Now, I cheated here as I really don't have any possibility of using anything other than my oven. But in my story, I believe that my hero had a cast iron dutch oven in his camping gear, so that should work to roast the acorns. Put acorns in pot, no more than two deep and set in coals to roast.

Tomorrow, when they've cooled, we get to peel them. That should be fun. I'll keep you up to date on my hands on research with the acorns. I can hear you asking now, "Why is she doing this?"

I believe that knowledge is a good thing to have. And I also believe that first hand experience is better than book knowledge whenever it's possible. Of course, sometimes that is not possible because it's immoral or unethical or even illegal. Processing acorns for food is not in any of those categories.

Already, I learned something that I didn't know. Acorns come in two different sizes and shapes, depending on the species of oak tree. We happen to have both kinds of oak tree within yards of each other so we collected some of each kind. The larger acorn is twice as big as the smaller acorn. I can already see that if I depended on acorns for food, I would hope I lived close to a tree with the bigger acorns! Food yield from the bigger ones is much higher.

I expect you're wondering who the "we" is in this little tale. Well my husband of course. I think he's more fascinated by the process than I am. We'll see how interested he is when it comes time to cook with them!

There's an old expression--"From little acorns, big oak trees grow." I never realized the exact truth of that until I stood beneath the oak tree that towered six stories above me. So it is with our words. One hurtful word can grow into a painful rage. One loving word can save the world.


Amarinda -
Kelly -

Friday, September 14, 2007

Zoltan the Great

First of all I want to say that I'm incredibly proud to be featured in the premier issue of the e-zine, eMuse. My books, Dancer's Delight and Traveller's Refuge were reviewed, plus there is an in-depth interview at so please drop by and read all about it!

Reviews and interviews are always such a thrill for the author, but a lovely showcase such as eMuse did for my work is very special. I want to say how very much I appreciate the honor!

When we left the Blogga Saga last, Amarinda left me somewhat in a tight spot with this little nugget:

“Because to keep us alive, I am going to have to kill the man who is about to walk through that door.” She now knew where she was and who was coming for her. His last lesson had nearly killed her. But this time he would not succeed.

“I don’t understand…”

“Don’t blither. Just give it to me.” She snatched the pen from his hand just as the door flew open. Emmeline locked eyes with the darkly handsome man before her. Sex on a stick. “Hello Zoltan.”

“Come to try to kill me again, Emmeline?” Zoltan asked in amusement.

“Who is he?” Sam could feel the tension crackle in the room.

“I’m Emmeline’s husband.”

As you can see, I had my work cut out for me. But I do believe I added my own little twist...

Zoltan the Great!” Sam looked at Emmeline in amazement. “You’re married to Zoltan the Great? That’s incredible! He’s the greatest magician that ever lived!”

“What do you know about it?” Emmeline jeered. “He’s a maniac. He nearly killed me the last time we were together. He sawed me in half!” She threw her hands in the air and screamed with frustration. “Why doesn’t anyone understand?”

Sam snatched his pen from her hand and tucked it in his pocket. “It was a magic trick,” he explained patiently. “It isn’t real.”

“Well, it felt damned real to me!” she declared.

Zoltan brushed his dark hair back, gathered it in a neat tail and tied it with a leather strip. He grinned at Emmeline’s temper fit. “That’s what I tried to tell her. Instead of listening she ran off to work for the Galaxy Network in some weird two-bit show about zucchinis.” He shook his head in puzzlement. “We had a show contract in Vegas and she ran out on me. I was stuck finishing the gig with some chick named Rinalda.”

“Rinalda.” The temperature dropped thirty degrees when Emmeline snarled her name. “You worked with that two-timing, back-stabbing witch?”

Zoltan shrugged. “If you run around with those lounge lizards, Shade and Rafe, what do you expect? You blew away a major contract, Emmeline.”

Sam scowled at both of them. “This seems to be something the two or you should work out. I’m just going to take my purple box and go home. I’m going now…” He vanished, leaving a haze of purple smoke in the huge bedroom.

Zoltan sat down on the side of the bed and crossed his arms. “Well, Emmeline? It’s all up to you!”

Heh. So, what will Kelly do with this on Monday? Tune in to see. In the meantime, I'm sure both Kelly - and Amarinda - will have something entertaining to say today so drop by.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

The biggest zucchini

Have you ever gardened? One of the things that I do miss in apartment living is my garden. Where I used to live before the entire front yard was a garden. When we moved in there over twenty years ago, the front yard was a gravel parking lot because our house was a model. We bought the model because we were in desperate need of a home (we were living in a motel) and the owner was willing to sell it to us. However!

Instead of covering the gravel with dirt, they simply rolled sod over the gravel and naturally the next summer the grass died. I dumped two or three bags of potting soil out there and planted marigolds. The next summer I dumped a couple more bags of dirt and planted a couple more flowers. And twenty years later, the garden pretty well filled the front yard. It flourished. I had perennials that bloomed every year and a couple of blooming bushes, some roses, and then bedding plants.

One year I took a notion to plant some vegetables--tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis and sunflowers--along with the marigolds and petunias. Now you have to understand that I'm a fairly indifferent gardener. I fixed the beds, planted the plants, and then wandered off and forgot them unless we had a really dry spell. Then I would haul out the hose and water everything before I ignored them again until the next time they needed water.

One day when I arrived home from work, I noticed the zucchini plant was taking over the garden. It was enormous. It even had flowers! After changing out of my work clothes, I returned to the garden to poke around and see what else might be blooming or even have buds on it. I had tiny tomatoes and peppers and several small zucchinis. Satisfied, I went into the house to make dinner and promptly forgot about the garden.

A couple weeks later, when I happened to glance at the garden, I was stunned at the size of my tomatoes. Then I checked on the zucchini. One of them was bigger than a football. It so happened that we were flying out to visit my brother and sister-in-law and so I picked that one to take to them as a "hostess" gift. They made us stash it in the overhead storage. It was a big zucchini.

And that's the story of the zucchini and where I got the idea for the zucchini dealers. Naturally, you would need a heavy duty peeler for a zucchini that size!

Alas, the zucchini zukkars are all gone. Alas.


To see where Amarinda has taken the were-bunny blogga saga check and to see what Kelly is up to check

And we have a winner from the Back to the Past contest. The winner was scientifically picked by placing all the names in a hat and drawing one. Our winner is Cindy! Cindy, I'll be incorporating your suggestions in the story with your name. Oh, yeah, and recognition for your contribution in the dedication. Fame is right around the corner for you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back to the Past

I am writing a time-travel story in my "spare" time. It begins with a plane crash. It's a small cargo plane with two people on board, a man and a woman. They travel to the distant past ca 500 BC in ancient America. So here's the question I'm confronted with. What supplies/ materials/ etc., are in the cargo?

There is a limited amount of room on the smaller cargo planes so whatever is on board, the space limits both size and weight. If you had to choose three essential items, what would they be? Remember that if the item is a consumable, then eventually it will be used up.

There are other difficulties in the scenario of course. Shelter, food, water, something to defend themselves from wild animals.There is an absence of modern technology and no power--or limited power once the batteries are dead.

What will happen when they encounter other people? How will they communicate? How do they come to the conclusion that they have moved through time? What kind of mistakes would they be likely to make and how would those mistakes affect their ultimate survival?

In most stories about time travel, one individual travels to another time and ultimately settles there, usually marrying the "hero" or "heroine". After all, one of them must give up all that they have known and settle in the new time period. But what happens when the hero/heroine are both from the same time and must adapt to the new place and time? Both of them have memories of another place. How will that affect their decisions?

Anytime the writer undertakes a story in the past or future, there is an enormous amount of world building that must be done first. Even if that story takes place in an actual location, there is world building to do. Where are the streams located? The mountains? What kind of climate was it in that time period? What type of flora and fauna? Many familiar plants from the modern times are not native to this continent and were imported with each new wave of immigrants. Some animals that were around then are extinct now. And some animals that are present in the country now were not around then. Horses, cows, certain species of sheep...

Obviously, they can't butcher a cow for dinner. Maybe they could catch a turkey. What types of weapons and traps would they use?

Practically every scene contains something I have to stop and research. Will the reader know and appreciate the work I do? Possibly not. But if it isn't the best I can do, then I will know and I will be dissatisfied with the book for the rest of my life.

In the meantime, I would like to hear what your thoughts are. Three essentials in the cargo. Think about it. Leave it in a comment. I'll draw at least one entry to use in the book and add the donor's name in the dialogue. Something like, "Oh, Kelly wanted me to bring her (X) because she used all of hers."

Until tomorrow.


Don't forget to stop by Amarinda's blog to see what new mischief she's up to at and then of course stop at Kelly's blog to find out what she's done with the blog saga at

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Power of the pen

In my episode of the blog saga today, Sam finds out how much power a pen can have. We sometimes forget the power of the written word. Writing is both easier and more difficult with technology. Certain things require less thought (like spelling) and because the writer doesn't have to manually look up the word, I think they are less careful about word choice. I have a book called The Synonym Finder by J.I.Rodale. It's a hardback book, six by ten inches and a smidgen over two inches thick. The print is not big so it contains a lot of words. Whatever word you need can be found somewhere in the 1361 pages.

Sometimes I spend considerable time hunting for that particular, exactly right word. I'm kind of picky about words. Words are powerful. They convey shades of meaning. For instance, take the word pill.

Other words for pill--tablet, capsule, pellet, pastille, troche, lozenge, drop, medicine, remedy, cure, drug, medicine... among others. Each of the words conveys slightly different information about a pill.

Or how about red? Crimson, cardinal, carmine, rubescent, claret, scarlet, ruby, vermilion, russet, cherry, maroon, auburn, coral, beet, rose, rusty, brick--and you thought it was just red.

In our rush through life, we don't take time to savor the words, to enjoy the choices the writer has made. That's too bad because more and more writers are "writing down" to their readers. Readers want a light little book to zip through on the subway or in the airport. If it's too much work, then they conveniently leave it behind and go to the next book, devouring them like so many locusts.

A friend of mine is writing a book. She feels that it is too serious. As though everything must be entertaining. We--the reading public--we might not read it because it dares to look at life without making a joke of it. How sad. Are we really that shallow?

The next time you read a book, pay particular attention to the words. Are they all words that your third grader could read? Are the characters one dimensional? Is the dialogue mostly Dick and Jane? I swear I read a book not long ago that was like that. I kept checking the cover to see if there had been a mistake in packaging.

Find a nice thick book and savor it. Take time to enjoy the descriptions, the dialogue, the characters. Take time to enjoy the power of the words.


Amarinda left us in quite a pickle in the last episode...

With nimble grace the commander pointed his laser umbrella at each victim and dispersed of them in a quick open and shut motion before any of them realized what was happening. “All dead sire. Shall I send in the trolls to clean up?”

Hmm, the trolls. They were quick at cleaning up the dead but their giggles were so annoying. “Yes, but tell them the first one that giggles gets strung up by their nose hair.” That would teach those rodent-like creature to grow it long.

But not everyone was dead. One hardy soul still remained alive trying not to breathe for fear of instant death.“I will live through this and get my revenge,” vowed the survivor.

And now...

While the commander summoned the trolls to clean up, Beaky herded Emmeline and Sam out of the room ahead of him. "What do you think your doing?" She demanded angrily. "You can't just kill people!"

"Actually, I can." Beaky snorted and prodded her in the center of her golden quills. "If you give me too much trouble, you're next."

Sam shrugged. "Hey lady, maybe he has a reason."

"A reason?" Emmeline's voice shot up to a shriek. "What possible reason?"

Beaky poked her again. "Your show has been canceled Miss High and Mighty Warrior Woman. People ain't watching anymore. The Galaxy Network is running Bobbie Jo's Flying Boobies instead."

"They're running a show about flying tits?" Sam asked in confusion.

"No, boobies. Say, where are you from, anyway?"

"Earth?" he replied tentatively.

"Don't you know?"

"Well, sure I know. I'm just confused about what's going on." When Sam waved the pen at Beaky he was stunned when Beaky ducked and jumped behind a chair.

"What are you trying to do?" Beaky bellowed. "Kill us all?"

A faint glimmering of an idea dawned. Sam took out his notebook and clicked the pen. Time stood still as everyone around him held their breath. "If you don't give me the purple box and that umbrella," he said deliberately, "then I will cross you out in my notebook. And you know what that means…"

"No!" Emmeline shoved the purple box toward him. "Anything but that! Take it."

The commander hastily handed over the umbrella. "Sir!"

In a flash of purple smoke Sam was gone…

What will Kelly do? Check out her blog at and of course then you'll need to hop over to find out what Amarinda is up to at

Monday, September 10, 2007

The first step

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." Chinese proverb

So begins my journey. I'm aiming to up the number of steps I take every day. I need to move. The thing about writing is that it's a sedentary occupation--not given to much movement.

Next spring I will attend a convention with my fellow authors. From all reports it is difficult on the feet, requiring stamina. Since that seems to be in short supply with me, I decided I would initiate a program of walking. Not power walking as I have problems with my knees and hips. But just walking. So many steps every day to build up a bit of stamina and get my body used to movement.

It is now just after 5:00 p.m. and so far I've walked under 1,000 steps today. Pitiful.

Well, hopefully before I crawl into bed, I will have added a few more. In the meantime, I'll try to finish up for the day so I can get moving.

I've spent the better part of the day working on the edits for Honeysuckle. Soon, for those who were gracious enough to ask, I hope to have a release date.

And hopefully I'll have Daffodil finished this week. That would be nice. Summer whizzed past and I didn't finish anything. I don't know how that happened.

Until tomorrow.


Want to see what Kelly did with our blog saga???? Check it out at and then pop over to see what Amarinda's been up to at

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Shooting Trouble

For the most part I am reasonably computer literate. But occasionally something blindsides me and until I figure out what the problem is, I am frustrated and annoyed and cranky. In the last few days at some point, I inadvertently disallowed the cookies for Yahoo.

Now I have no idea why it's called a cookie, but it seems to be a small bit of code that tracks usage. You would think that a tracking cookie wouldn't be that critical to the overall scheme of things, but then you would be wrong. Perhaps if someone explained why it was called a cookie, I could then get with the program. As it is, I have difficulty taking something called a cookie seriously.

I spent three hours this morning tracking down (no pun there) the elusive cookie. Believe me, I tried everything. Finally, I removed all of my anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-everything else software and still the missing cookie was nowhere to be found. Now what?

Next I turned off my Windows firewall, etc, etc. Still no cookie. By this time, I was beginning to feel like the Cookie Monster. Close to drooling and banging my head on my desk, I was moaning, "Cookie, cookie..." My husband suggested a toast and coffee break while he walked the dog.

Refreshed and reinvigorated, I sallied forth once more in search of the Yahoo cookie. Lo and behold I noticed a new button. Click. And there was a list of blocked cookies guessed it...Yahoo. With glee, I unblocked the cookies and immediately checked to see if that was the problem.

Yay! I could log on to Yahoo! Check my mail! Read my chat loops! Amazing how little it takes to excite me these days. Sigh. Of course, I still had to re-install my anti-everything software. And turn all the blocking stuff back on.

Because it was a re-install, the program insisted on running a virus scan which took the better part of the millennium. But I seem to be up and running again. Notice I said "seem to be" because I also had ominous messages blinking at me that some programs might not work properly due to the resets. I just love surprises, don't you?

So now that I'm finished with my trouble shooting for the morning, perhaps I'll get back to the main event and write a chapter or two on my current work in progress.

Have a blessed weekend and be well.


Don't forget to drop by Amarinda's blog at and Kelly's blog at to find out what words of wisdom they have for a Sunday morning!