Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Morning Blues...

Good morning! Are you a morning person or do you look more like the little fellow above? Most days I bounce out of bed pretty well, but then there's the occasional morning when I really look more like the pooch. Not sure why that is. Maybe I didn't sleep well the night before. Maybe I dreamed a lot, but there are just some days that I really need to roll over and go back to sleep.

A couple days ago, my last Flowers of Camelot book was released. Daffodil was the last one actually planned in that series, but there have been requests here and there for some more so if I can fit them in my schedule, I'll see what I can fit in.

Maybe I can even fit in a doggie knight or two. That would be interesting...

When I saw this pic I thought of Kelly's UFO column. I wonder how those people who believe they've been abducted get through day to day life? I've read enough of the literature to know that they deal with pretty strange things.

I wonder how all those people out there that deal with less than normal circumstances live? A favorite author of mine, Charlaine Harris, writes a series of mysteries about a young woman who was struck by lightning. She has all sorts of weird things that she copes with.

Any kind of trauma will leave a mark. How do post-traumatic individuals get through life? What if their families or friends don't understand? I suspect that they learn to shut down and quit sharing their lives. After all, we can only share with trust and if no one believes us, then there is no trust.

What do you think? Can you trust someone who doesn't believe you?


Check out the blogs.... Kelly's Blog and Amarinda's Place. And then pop over to OhGetAGrip where we're trying to answer Amarinda's challenge.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thoughts on Friendship

Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, thou shalt drink it with pleasure. Ecclesiastes 9:10

A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.~~Arabian Proverb

Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend's forehead.~~Chinese Proverb

Similarities create friendships while differences hold them together.~~Unknown

If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone; one should keep his friendships in constant repair.~~Samuel Johnson

Friendships are fragile things, and require as much handling as any other fragile and precious thing.~~Randolph S. Bourne

If a friend makes a mistake, don't rub it in... rub it out.~~Unknown

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.~~William Shakespeare

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.~~Anny Cook

Please check out Amarinda's Place and Kelly's Blog for words of wisdom. Blessings on your day!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chatty Anny

Wow was I chatty this past week. If you don't believe me, just check with any of the Frog Friends that I dragged into chat after chat after chat. They'll tell you. I was so chatty it was a little nerve wracking. Well, chat heaven is over for a while so everyone can relax now.

Chatting is a cross between playing that old children's game of telephone and a game of charades. Only you do it over the internet. Live. While your nearest and dearest stand in the background wanting to know about inconsequential things like food and sleep and sex.

Chatting can be very uplifting. I had a wonderful week meeting readers who loved my books and were quite vocal about how they felt. That kind of feedback is priceless.

Chatting can be deadly dull when no one shows up and you spend three hours talking to yourself in between posting excerpt after excerpt as though anyone cares. I've been there, too. Interestingly enough, one of my staunchest fans first read my excerpts on just such a deadly chat and decided to try my books out. So even that can have a silver lining.

The thing that made the chats this week successful were all the wonderful fellow writers than showed up, posted excerpts, talked to each other and the readers and generally made the chats a friendly place to be. For that, I can't possibly say enough thank yous. There aren't enough words.

Whatever else may have happened this week in their lives, they found the time to spend time in front of a computer and post their excerpts. That's not as easy as it sounds. I know. So ladies? Thank you! Blessings on your day!


What are Amarinda and Kelly up to? Do you know? I suspect that they're enjoying well deserved rest. But just in case, make sure you check out their blogs at Amarinda and Kelly!

Friday, March 28, 2008


First we pause for some important news! Daffodil is released today from Ellora's Cave! Yay, it's finally here. Trot right over there and get your own copy!

And now we return to our regularly scheduled program!

I had a doctor's appointment today. No nothing critical. When you get to be my age, you're on maintenance doses of every medication known to man. And when the prescription runs out, you have to pull up your socks, put on your big girl panties, and go off to the doctor so you can be weighed... and stuff.

One of the pre-doctor rituals is the shower, etc. So I was in the shower, trying to hurry through all the feminine rituals and I heard the phone ringing. No, I didn't rush to answer it. But it was very disturbing to me until I was able to get to the phone to check the caller ID. Now why is that?

I calculated that I receive five phone calls per day. Four of them are bill collectors trying to find people that don't live here, have never lived here, and have never had this telephone number. The other call is either my house hunk or my neighbor. So at five phone calls per day for three hundred sixty five days in a year, that's eighteen hundred twenty five phone calls per year. None of them were emergencies.

So why do I feel like I must rush to the phone to answer it? Hmmm. I think it might go back to unrealistic expectations at work. My last job had a very high call rate. There were days that I had over three hundred phone calls. And I believe that there is some residual effect from that. Phone rings? Pick it up!

I seldom answer my phone and when I do, it's only if I recognize the number on the caller ID. Once Amarinda called me from Australia and it's a good thing that she e-mailed me first. Her e-mail? "Answer the phone!" Heh-heh. Yeah, it's a very good thing that she e-mailed me. Since I have an aversion to answering the phone overall, I fail to understand the whole cell phone phenomena. Why on earth would you want to take a phone with you when you leave home?

Okay-okay. If you have children, I understand that. But really, I raised four children without a cell phone. Actually, I bought my first cell phone (prepaid model) four years ago. I use it so seldom that I have something like $150 credit on it. It rides in my purse and I turn it on if I get a flat. Haven't had a flat in five years. The other time I use it is when I travel out of state to see one of my children. I use it to let them know when we are nearly there.

So, here's my question... who the hell are all these people talking to? And why do they need to talk to that person while they're in a public restroom? Or a restaurant? Or while they're driving?

Am I the only one that finds this a really strange quirk in our society? Have we lost our collective minds such that doctor's offices have to put signs in their windows asking their patients to turn off their cell phones? Some restaurants are beginning to do the same thing.

Imagine if you will. You're in church. The pastor is preaching for all he's worth, leading up to his climatic point in his sermon. And then a cell phone tootles out 76 Trombones. Uh, it's a bit disconcerting to say the least.

Ah, I'll get down off my soapbox. It just seems to me that we have collectively fallen into a trap of our own making. Tell me truthfully. Do you want your boss to be able to reach you 24/7? Do you really need to know that your daughter's boyfriend called? Do you really want to talk to that bill collector? I vote for a move to turn off that silly cell phone unless you're all alone in the desert. Maybe then, you might want to hear a sound other than the wind.


Since I spent my afternoon at the doc's office and my evening at a chat, I have nooooo idea what my fellow cohorts are up to. However, I recommend checking out their blogs so you can find out! OhGetAGrip, Amarinda, and Kelly. Blessings on your day

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where have all my authors gone?

In all the discussion about e-pubbed authors as opposed to print authors, it seems to me that one point hasn't been brought up. That is the way that the authors' voices change when they go to "New York". I've been so terribly disappointed by author after author that I dread hearing the news that another of my favorite authors has a contract with a New York publisher.

Am I the only one who notices the changes?

I could probably name ten authors who have moved on up much to my dismay, not because I don't wish them well, but because I know they're authors that I most likely won't read. Of all my favorite authors that I used to read only one made the transition well. The others have been major disappointments--so major that I won't invest the money to read their books. Gah!

There are some obvious reasons for the changes. New York houses have very stringent guidelines. Uh, that's one of the reasons that I seldom read a mainstream mass market book anymore. Boring... And no, I'm not talking about the sex that might or might not be in the books. I'm talking about the lack of imagination and creativity in the books.

In order to make the stories fit into those rigid lines, they are often edited to the point where there is no trace of the author's original voice. There's nothing to distinguish them from any other Jane Romance Writer. One author has almost pulled it off. She's moved her cast of characters to her new home. But the originals were more vibrant and fun and had wonderful personalities. The current books in the series are darker with a never-ending series of do-or-die life-or-death challenges that quite frankly take most of the interest out of the books.

Maybe this is the new genre. Angsty, dark, prevent-the-end-of-the-world scenarios with the occasional love scene thrown in so they can still be marketed as romances. Ugh. I have enough angst in my life. I don't want to read about demons, vampires, weres, or other critters that go bump in the night unless there's some humor, some lightness, some joy in the story. I'm tired of feeling like I need to carry a flashlight when I'm reading the book.

Things lurk in those murky pages that wait to jump out at you, even when it's a standard romance. They're populated with overbearing CEOs, broody cowboys, rude billionaires, and idiotic professionals. These guys are so blind that the heroines--and I use the term loosely--are able to hide a full term pregnancy from them, only so they can dump the baby on the man's doorstep. Excuse me? I had four babies and trust me, hiding one is not possible. Besides, haven't any of these fellows ever heard of condoms? Oh, yeah, that's right. We don't mention stuff like that in the real world.

Have you noticed that the women are always running from something? Always? And then suddenly when they meet a likely prospect, they quit running? Why?

I spent some time yesterday tootling around on the internet looking for some of the authors that I used to read. Unfortunately some have died. Several have retired. And the rest have sort of faded away to obscurity. I guess they don't fit into the new guidelines either. I finished my searching a little sadder but not much wiser. I'm still not sure where all my authors have gone.


Don't forget to check in at Kelly's Blog, Amarinda's Place, and Oh Get a Grip! Blessings on your day!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Interview

Most people suffer a variety of insecurities in their lives. It might be the usual--"Does this make me look fat?" or something really obscure--"What if they don't like my voice?" "What if no one likes my book?" "What if no one talks to me?"

There are few situations that are as stressful as interviewing for a new job, especially if you've been out of the job market for a long time. The year before I turned forty, my company shut down and moved to another state, callously tossing me out into a closed job market along with seven hundred and seventy other unemployed workers. Ours was a small county with few jobs and our old company was one of the major employers in the region.

After assessing my chances of getting a job in a different field, I opted to go back to school. For some reason, waving a piece of parchment under an employer's nose is more impressive than just knowing how to do the job. So I took my unemployment check (one third of my old salary) and went to school everyday. The check was totally dependent on attendance at school. And if we were more than twenty minutes late, that automatically counted as an absence.

Things at my house were kind of grim. The househunk had fallen from a scaffold at work so he was on disability. My two sons were laid off the same time I was, but because they were still in high school they didn't qualify for unemployment. So my disability check was very important.

I started school in October. By January I was finished with the course, but with no job in sight I made sure that I kept attending school so that I received my check. One day the househunk and I spent the morning hours under our mobile home repairing a broken pipe. Time slipped away and before I realized it, I was late for school. There was no time to change clothes. I brushed the mud from my sweat pants, threw on a jacket and took off.

That afternoon, our instructor came in very excited and as soon as class was started, she took me to the side and told me all about a job that was available right downstairs in one of the offices at the school. She urged me to go down and ask for an application so I did. It was long, so I took it back upstairs and filled it out. Then, wanting to impress them with my business like behavior, I went back downstairs, turned it in, and asked for an appointment for an interview.

I'll never forget the expression on the secretary's face. She took my application, holding it by the corner between two fingers as though she was going to catch something from me and carried it into the Director's office. There was the buzz of conversation. Then the secretary came out and announced, "She'll see you now."

"But I'm not dressed for an interview!" I protested.

"Yeah, she knows." From her smirk, it was obvious that she'd given the Director a pretty clear description.

Now, I was positive that I wasn't going to get this job so I decided to make the best of things and use it for interview practice. I followed her into the office. The Director took my jacket which led to the mortifying discovery that my t-shirt had a hole in the shoulder seam. Obviously, I wasn't going to impress the woman except in a bad way!

We had a very nice chat. She was gracious and polite and listened intently when I talked. After the interview she mentioned that she would let me know if two days what her decision was as she had two more people to interview. I went back upstairs and thought no more about it.

The next day as I was walking upstairs to go to my class, I heard a woman calling my name. I turned around and it was the Director. "Do you want the job?"

"Of course!"

"Well, then come into my office!"

I went back down those stairs so fast I was in danger of tripping. We had another chat. I filled out more paperwork. And she arranged an interview with the Asst. District Superintendent. That was Thursday. On Monday, I started work as the Director's secretary. And that secretary that was so snotty? I was her new supervisor.

I was there thirteen years. About five years after that interview, my boss and I were having a discussion about that interview. She told me why she hired me. "I figured if you could gracefully survive an interview under those conditions, you could handle anything that happened in this office."

So why did I tell you my little story, you ask. Well, I learned something then. I learned that it's not how we handle life when we're prepared; it's how we handle the things that hurtle out of the darkness in left field when we're totally unprepared that counts in the long run. That's what demonstrates what we're made of. We can collapse into a quivering heap and whimper that we're not ready. Or we can face the challenge head on and stare it down into submission. And when we win, we can walk away with our head held high.


Want a blog or three to start your day right? Try Amarinda, Kelly, or OhGetaGrip! Or any from the list on the right! Blessings on your day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the So-so...

Do you remember that Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Geez when the househunk and I were dating (a couple hundred years ago), the local theater had double features... and you guessed it, TGTB&TU was always the second feature. I saw it so many times I used to know the dialogue by heart.

Well I had a day like that yesterday. The good was very good. The bad was... not too bad. And the so-so was bleh. That's generally the way life is.

The bad was more a matter of inconvenience. I had a chat with a friend and the friend was too ill to take part. She's been pretty sick for a while. I hope that she feels better soon as it's really the pits when you're sick for a short while, let alone a long time. You get so tired of being sick. I pinched a nerve in my neck and had a bad back for three weeks. It was a very long three weeks, believe me, so I know how impatient she must be with being sick. Anyway, that was my bad part of my day. Like I said, for me it wasn't so bad.

The good part was pretty good. I wrote over 2K yesterday morning. Plus I prepared some excerpts for the chat and made sure other things were ready. Then after the chat, I tootled around reading blogs and the other things I usually do in the morning. And lo... I found this

on one of the blogs with my name on it! Isn't that cool? Jenyfer Matthews awarded me this recognition. I'm so impressed with myself that someone thinks my blog is excellent! I made it on her list of top ten! And now it's my turn. So here are the Rules: By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you agree to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. You deserve this! Feel free to recognize blogs that have already received this award.

Here are my ten:

Jenyfer Matthews
Ciar Cullen
Amarinda Jones
Kelly Kirch
Redlines and Deadlines
Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century
Bronwyn Green
Brynn Paulin
NJ Walters

I reserve the right to add a few more. Do you know how hard it is to choose ten? I had to think about who I would choose. Hard work on Monday.

Another spectacular thing that happened was a reader on a chat--Ellie Moonwater said she loved my books. That was so wonderful! That's like finding a diamond in a totally unexpected place. So thank you, Ellie!

The so-so part? Oh, the usual stuff... dishes, cleaning, all the chores in life. Tomorrow, those will be the same. That is life. In the meantime, the good was pretty darned good. Hope your day was as well.


Just for kicks, pick one of the blogs on the list and have a good read. As always, stop at Amarinda, Kelly, and Oh Get a Grip!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Week of Release

Time stops for the author in the week that their book is scheduled for release. There are a million things to do and all of them are spelled P-R-O-M-O! If you look in the upper right hand corner of this blog you'll see a list of chats.

What is a chat you may ask? Well, most of them are sites located on Yahoo where people can exchange information, ideas, or just about anything else that they want to exchange. The sites listed are specifically designed for authors and readers to meet and talk. During a scheduled chat, the author may post excerpts from her books (or his books!), run a contest, pose questions, answer questions, or just about anything else they can think of to promo their books.

You may notice that I have several chats lined up. I invite you to drop by and check it out! Daffodil will be released March 28. So no telling what I might get up to in the name of promo.

Other things that may happen in that last week include FLEs, blogging about the new book, or changing the website to promote the new book. Thankfully my FLEs were done last week. FLEs are the final line edits that must be done before the book is released. So YAY, my FLEs are done!

As for changing the website, I did a little sprucing up earlier in the week. Made sure that things were up-to-date. And now, except for small changes this month, I'm done with that. I enjoy messing around with my webpages so I like to keep them current. Strangely, that's a task that I don't find difficult.

So that leads us to blogging...

Daffodil coming out March 28! Here's a small snippet!

Timmy grabbed a hot yeasty roll from the bread basket, tore it apart and dunked it in the smoking stew. Lifting the dripping bread to his mouth, he took a hearty bite and sighed with relief. It was delicious. The cook was probably a troll, he speculated. They were the best cooks in the kingdom. Without further hesitation, he dug in. He had polished off the stew and was nearly finished with the chicken pot pie when he heard the name “Sidney” from the booth behind him.

Pausing in his eating he listened intently.

“Oh please! What kind of idiot keeps a pet rock?” A male with a whiney light tenor voice exclaimed.

“When you’re the king you can have any kind of pet you want—even a rock,” A deeper voice replied and with horror, Timmy recognized Florian LeFleur was the speaker.

Tenor voice laughed heartily. “That’s exactly why we need a new ruler. Tomorrow morning I’ll take Sidney to the blacksmith and borrow his anvil and sledge hammer. When I finish, Sidney will just be a pile of marbles.”

Florian growled. “Don’t be stupid, Nigel. All that will do is make the king angry. You’ll screw the plan and your mother will lock you away with the pixies. Quit screwing around with the damned pet rock. Everything is under control. Our spies have informed me that my ex-butler, Raulf has talked that idiot Gareth into giving Daffodil to him. It should be very easy to snatch her right from under his nose.”

“The butler did it, huh?” Nigel chortled in glee. “I always wanted to say that.”

Timmy heard Florian sigh gustily. “I cannot believe Morgana is your mother. She must be tearing her hair out. No wonder she suffers from PMS. I would have drowned you at birth. Get me the damned pet rock so I can return it to the king. We don’t want him to suspect a thing. Then go to the turkey races like you said you were going to.”

“What? I don’t want to go to the turkey races! I decided to go visit the ladies at the Triple T,” Nigel declared petulantly.

“No. Do as you’re told. If Nathan’s spies can’t find you where you’re supposed to be, it will mess up the plan.” Timmy felt the seat shake when Florian shifted impatiently. “Do it tonight because I have to meet Ninian at the Hieney Estate tomorrow.”

Want more? Only five more days...


Drop by Amarinda's Place at to check out what she's up to. Then pop over to Kelly's Blog at to find out if she's still chasing UFOs. Today I launch a new group blog at where the subject is Wonder Woman all week long. Drop by to find out what my view of Wonder Woman is...

Blessings on your day!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday Quote

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"~~Luke 24:1-6

Saturday, March 22, 2008

To Blog or Not...

A little over a year ago, I began my blog. In the general scheme of things that isn't very long. I think it was a line in a movie titled Remo Williams that went something like "A year for a flea is eternity, but for a planet it's less than a blink of an eye." My year as a blogger has been somewhere in the middle. Some days were eternity, some days an eye blink.

It has been a year of discovery and chaos. I am not alone in that. Personally my life has leaped from one crisis to the next with barely a breath in between. I have found that life is generally like that. Eddies of peace are rare and treasured. This is not the most tumultuous time of my life but it's less peaceful than I had hoped it would be.

Professionally, it's been a busy year filled with new experiences, friendships, and responsibilities. Growing gracefully in my profession has been a start and stop process. Writing can be a lonely business, yet I find there are many demands that steal my writing time. The business aspects of writing and promotion have changed in the last few years so that the writer is responsible for nearly all of their promotion and publicity. For those of us with no experience in that area, it is a harrowing journey.

In the Internet world, one of the possible tools is the blog. Blogs defy definition. For some they are a personal journal where the writer shares incredibly personal or private information, sometimes to the point of embarrassment or even compromising their family's safety. For others it is a bulletin board with a simple informational list with products, contests, or services.

A few blogs are primarily controversial tell-all columns and in a world murky with hidden agendas, there is a useful place for such blogs. Popular or not, they shine a light on the underbelly of that dark world and they ask the hard questions, demand the truth, seek the answers that the rest of us can't find for ourselves.

There are blogs for every possible subject or agenda from raising a child to raising the Titanic. If you have an interest, then there is most likely a blog out there for you. Blogs range from the religious right to the pagan and agnostic. I found a curious blog that is devoted to mustaches of the nineteenth century. When I need some down time, I go there and read the comments and look at the pictures.

In my author group, there has been considerable discussion about blogging. Some declare there is not time. Certainly I agree that it is a commitment not to be take lightly. Others have banded together to blog as a group. The advantage to that is the shared responsibility. The downside is that difficulty of working with a varied group. And of course, readers might have a difficult time settling into the varied rotation. If the group doesn't have a shared agenda and vision, it can be confusing and disorganized. I visit one such group blog occasionally, but never know what I will find with I arrive. I may read a treatise on child abuse, or be presented with a recipe, or even find a book excerpt waiting for me. There is no rhyme or reason to the presentation.

As I evaluate how I want my blog to evolve, one of the things I must consider it my audience. Frankly, I don't know who you are or why you read my blog. I don't think I'm amusing enough to draw an audience so I'm puzzled about what the draw is.

Easter is traditionally the threshold of spring, a time of renewal and new growth. In the coming weeks I will be thinking about how to make this renewal my own. If you--my readers--have any suggestions about what you would like to read, please feel free to add a comment on the blog or drop me a line at I will be very interested in anything you might have to say.

Don't forget to drop by Kelly's Blog at where she's coloring Easter eggs and Amarinda's Place at where she's entertaining the Easter bunny. Blessings on your day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Daffodil... again.

Thought I would offer one more teaser this week from Daffodil, coming March 28 from Ellora's Cave!

Raulf made the turn onto Sher Wood Road well after the sun rose flashing across the sky. Far off to the left light glittered on the sea that separated Avalon from Chrystal Isle. Seagulls screamed above the cliffs that bordered the sea as they dipped and dived for the scraps on the narrow rocky beach below.

Twenty minutes later as they were passing a surprisingly tidy cluster of cottages, the power bike sputtered once, twice and then died. Raulf had the presence of mind to stop on the first halting cough thereby preventing them from tumbling to the ground but it was clear that the power bike had something seriously wrong with it.

With a disgruntled curse he dismounted and surveyed the tiny village as he yanked the creased map out of the bag hanging from the bike and tried to figure out exactly where they were. If he was reading the map correctly, the village wasn’t even marked on it.
“Why don’t we go ask someone where we are?” Daffodil asked tentatively.

“No! I’ll figure it out in a minute!” Raulf tapped the map with a long impatient finger. “We just passed the lighthouse. And we haven’t reached the fire tower… So we should be right here at this funny squiggle and this village is not supposed to be here!”

“I’ll go ask,” Daffodil offered as she prepared to hop off the bike.

“No! Real men don’t ask for directions!”

“If I ask, then it will be all right,” Daffodil pointed out in a calm reasonable tone. “Not even the dumbest person could mistake me for a man.”

“Maybe if you were alone. But you’re my woman and everyone will know that you’re really asking because I’m lost. No. I’ll take care of everything myself. Stay with the bike.”

Raulf stomped off to the nearest cottage where two little tow-headed girls were playing jacks on the stoop. “What’s wrong, mister? Ya lost?” the older one demanded in a high piping voice.

He cringed and replied firmly, “No. I am looking for your blacksmith.”

“Don’t have one mister,” the other little girl imparted with a gap-toothed smile. “Da says it’s a pain in the ass but no one wants to work in the middle of nowhere.”

A stocky woman rushed onto the porch and snatched the girls up, shoving them behind her. “Who are you? What are you doing with my girls? Did he hurt you?” she demanded as she patted them worriedly with one hand.

“First of all, madam, I did nothing to your daughters. Secondly, I’m looking for a blacksmith to repair my power bike so that my mate and I can continue our journey.” Harassed and tired, Raulf waggled his index finger at the woman. “And thirdly, I don’t hurt children—boys or girls!”

“Mate, huh?” The woman scrutinized Daffodil, noting the wild golden curls and revealing short skirt and tight blouse. No better than she should be was her assessment. If these two were mated, she was a fricasseed dragon. “Last house on the left is where Vinnie lives. He can call someone to take your bike to Ship Town.” She dragged the girls inside and slammed the door shut behind her.

With a shrug Raulf turned away and stalked down to the last house on the left, mounted the steps and pounded on the door. Eventually, a burly bald man with a jagged scar running down the left side of his face opened the door. After Raulf explained his problem, the man opened the door and invited him in. “Probably the best thing would be to have Greenbeard take you over to Ship Town,” the man grunted. “I’ll call his communicator and see how far away he is.”

Greenbeard agreed to deliver Raulf, Daffodil and the powerbike to Ship Town and confirmed a pickup location with Vinnie. Then Vinnie and Raulf took on the arduous task of carting the bike down the cliff to the beach while Daffodil waited up on top. As Raulf pointed out, he had enough to deal with without worrying about her falling down the cliff too.

Daffodil was tempted to tell him what to do with himself, the cliff and the bike. She refrained mostly because she was well aware that men have no coping mechanisms other than sex to deal with life’s little problems. She was in no mood to accommodate him at the moment. So while Vinnie and Raulf wrestled with the power bike, Daffodil perched uneasily on their baggage at the top of the cliff, keeping an eye out for Greenbeard’s ship.

About the time that Vinnie and Raulf reached the beach, Daffodil spied a ship with green sails off the coast of Chrystal Isle. She heard Raulf shout and then saw Vinnie pointing out to sea. With surprising speed, the ship approached the beach where Vinnie waited while Raulf trudged back up the steep trail, no doubt to retrieve the baggage and herself. Daffodil was ready when he reached the top, baggage neatly stacked at the trailhead except for her own pack which was strapped on her back.

“You’re ready.” Raulf’s face, pink with light sunburn and exertion betrayed his surprise. “Great!”

Without a word, Daffodil began the descent, leaving Raulf to deal with the rest of the bags. After all, as he had taken great pains to point out, he was the man and he was in charge. Fine.


Drop by Amarinda's Place and Kelly's Blog to start your day off right at and Blessings on your DAY!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Eight more days... and Daffodil will be released by Ellora's Cave. Funny, but it seems only yesterday I was wondering if I would ever finish writing it. It's the third book in the Flowers of Camelot series.
I thought you might like a little taste. In this scene, Pansy the Tooth Faery has been captured by Bart the Dragon. She's trying to explain to Bart, Gerald the Giant, and Raulf the Butler what she's doing in the neighborhood...
Gerald stood up and stretched, touching the high ceiling with his fingertips. “You guys want me to go someplace for a while so you can work this out?”
Bart gave him an impatient glance. “No of course not. Pansy’s figured out how to get me stirred up so she’s having a wonderful time teasing me.”
“I am not!” Pansy declared hotly. “You belong to me! If you’re too blind to see that, I’ll just have to get you some new glasses! And this time I’ll make sure they fit!”
Gerald shook his head. “I think she’s got you there, Bart. You have to admit that those spectacles don’t fit worth a damn. If you didn’t tie ’em on with a bandana when you paint, you wouldn’t even be able to see the canvas.”
“If you’re not going to help, stay out of it, Gerald.” Bart turned his back on the giant and shook his claw at Pansy. “Now you listen to me, you faery, you. Dragons only mate with virgins. And I never heard of a virgin faery! So cut it out.”
She turned her head away so that he wouldn’t see the quick tears seeping from her dark purple eyes. “There are so virgin faeries. Stupid old dragon. Everyone has to have a first time. Just ’cause I never did it doesn’t mean I can’t.” She sniffed very quietly.
Bart peered at her suspiciously. “Are you crying? Oh, don’t do that to me. Don’t you do that. Crying?”
“I’m not crying,” she denied, turning her back to him so he wouldn’t see her sniffling.
“Yep. She’s crying. Now what are you gonna do?” Gerald demanded.
Raulf stood in the doorway watching in disbelief as the drama unfolded. “What the hell is going on? And who is this damned faery?”
Bart rolled his eyes at Raulf in dismay. “This is Pansy, the tooth faery. I found her in the woods.”
“And he couldn’t resist bringing her home like a stray puppy.” Gerald stomped out to the kitchen, leaving Bart and Pansy to Raulf’s mercy.
“Why would you bring a faery home, Bart? Especially now with all the rebel activity?” Crisp salt and pepper curls sprang up when he raked his fingers through his hair. “Now on top of everything else, Florian’s shown up to take the girls to Came-a-lot. I can’t find Daffodil anywhere. The stable men are hiding from Florian so he can’t fire them. Fat Mildred refused to cook dinner…”
A faint gasp drew his attention back to the faery. One small hand covered her mouth as her eyes widened in shock. “Daffodil?”
“What do you know about Daffodil?” Raulf demanded as he stalked closer to loom over her menacingly.
“Hey, hey, back off. She’s here to find Daffodil’s tooth.” Bart shoved Raulf back with one paw and grabbed Pansy up in the other, cuddling her against his scaly chest.
“Are you crazy? Or an idiot? Daffodil has all of her teeth.” Ready to explode with exasperation, Raulf turned on his heel and stomped over to the fire.
“This is a baby tooth,” Pansy said quietly, peeping at the angry Raulf from the safety of Bart’s arm. “Daffodil’s mother traded it to Morgana a long time ago in exchange for a love potion.”
“Who told you a wild tale like that?” Raulf’s scornful tone clearly communicated his feelings about Pansy’s explanation. “A leprechaun?”
“Actually, Daffodil told me herself, back when she was a little girl. I planned to retrieve the tooth back then but the Faery Council transferred me to the other side of the country. Now they’ve decided that it’s critical to get her tooth back, so here I am.” Pansy clambered up to Bart’s wide shoulder where she perched with folded legs, crossing them Indian-style. “I was doing fine until Bart snatched me right off the trail and carried me back to his cave.”
“You’re serious.” Raulf stared at her unhappily, conceding that her story made perfect sense, especially to anyone who knew Fauna.
She crossed her heart and nodded soberly. “As a rotten tooth.”
Remember... only eight more days.
Don't forget to stop by Kelly's Blog at and Amarinda's Place at Blessings on your day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Easter Roll...

When I was growing up, Easter was a profoundly religious holiday in our home. Most of my memories are of singing in church on Sunday morning... "Christ the Lord is risen today..." The church was usually decorated with lilies or other spring flowers. Some times there was a quick breakfast of donuts or bagels and coffee between the sunrise service and the regular service.

The thing is, secular things like Easter bunnies and colored eggs weren't part of our family celebration. When I married and incorporated new traditions in my immediate family, coloring Easter eggs was part of that new tradition. But I think it was probably also part of my family tradition when I was very young, before my mother died. And I'll tell you why I think this.

One Easter when I was maybe five and my brother was two, we were riding in the back seat of an old black Ford that was probably around a 1940 vintage. We were playing in the back seat with our Easter baskets. Since we lived in Arizona near Phoenix, it was quite warm. I took a notion to roll down the window, but grabbed the door handle by mistake and my brother rolled out of the car into an irrigation ditch that ran along the road.

I remember my father stopping the car very quickly and running back down the road to my brother. And my mother was angry with me and took away my Easter basket. We went to the hospital which was and unheard of event in our family. We missed the Easter church service and finally arrived at my grandparent's house. Funny. I remember how everything that we usually did was cancelled. My grandfather always hid the Easter eggs for us to find, but that Easter there wasn't an Easter egg hunt.

I should tell you that my brother was fine. No broken bones. Not even any major scratches. But I think it sure scared my parents to death. And I have to admit that I never touched the door handles again when the car was moving.

I have very few specific memories of Easter. Most of them seem to run into one long stream of early morning church services. Interesting how that worked, isn't it? Perhaps it's because we don't anticipate Easter for months ahead of time. I'm not sure why that is. In any case, that was one of the few Easters that definitely stood out.


Check out Amarinda's Place at and then pop over to Kelly's Blog at Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Bonnets...

Yep, Easter is right around the corner! How do you like my bunny's Easter bonnet? I think it's kind of cute myself. It difficult to quite wrap that idea of Easter around my mind. To me, Easter was always a SPRING holiday. Yet, it's supposed to be twenty one degrees tonight--no Amarinda, that's not Celsius! Chilly on the tootsies.

In America, there is the tradition of an Easter sunrise church service--usually a fairly brief one that begins in the dark just before dawn and finishes just after sunrise. Over the years, I've been to more than one. And it's usually cold.

The year I was oh, maybe two or three, my family observed the Easter sunrise service at the Grand Canyon. According to my father, we camped out. And it was snowing.

Most of the Easters I remember were cold. Growing up in a minister's home, you know I was in church on Easter! But many of them I remember, especially when we lived in Indiana and Illinois, had snow. Two Easters there were blizzards. My father spent Easter afternoon helping to tow parishioners out of ditches and such.

One Easter I remember when I was in High School, living in Chicago, I was particularly annoyed at my family's edict against new clothes for Easter. "Everyone" else was going to have beautiful new Easter outfits. The weather was beautiful and balmy. People rushed around the week before with spring fever. Easter morning we woke up to seven inches of snow on the ground and more on the way.

So I was quite comfy in my warm winter clothes and boots... while those other young ladies froze their tushies off in their pretty spring outfits. And I learned a valuable lesson. What you wear on the outside isn't nearly as important as what you wear on the inside. After that, I saved the spring outfits for May and June.

What about you? What are your Easter plans?


Want to read something that will put a smile on your face? or or any of the blogs listed on the right! Blessings on your day!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Pat's This and That

Computers. Does anyone out there remember when there weren't any personal computers? Yeah? No transfer of information and files and programs when you swapped out the old one for a new one, right?

I spent the day on Sunday upgrading, swapping, installing, etc. all my stuff from my old computer to the new one. In addition to all that moving (both electronic and physical), I've had to learn how the new programs work. Upgraded Microsoft Office. Upgraded desktop setup. This thing doesn't talk to that thing now. Sigh. And today it's back to the writing whether I have it all set up or not.

Two programs will not install. So later today I also need to call the customer service people and find out why my programs don't like the new computer. It's like I told the househunk--just thinking about the adjustments almost make me consider sticking with the old computer. And then that sucker will freeze up while it's doing something real complicated like connecting to the internet and I just shake my head. All right! I'll deal!

St. Patrick's Day. Not being of the Irish persuasion, I have to admit that St. Patrick's Day never was of much importance in my general scheme of things...until thirty years ago today. And what happened then, you say? Well, I found out I was pregnant.

Now I suppose that wouldn't normally be an earth-shaking event, but in my case it was more than a little startling. We had three children 9, 8, and 5. My househunk had his tubes clipped when I was pregnant with number three. So you could likely see why I was less than prepared when the ultrasound tech announced, "There's your baby!"

I was twenty weeks pregnant. That's right. Five months. There are certain benefits to being five months pregnant before you find out. That only leaves four more months to get through. All that morning, afternoon, evening sickness? I thought it was a particularly virulent flu. That lump in my belly that suddenly popped up? I was terrified that I had cancer. Overall, pregnancy was a goooood thing.

We were way past broke, verging on life below the poverty level. Because our family was officially past the baby stage, we'd given all that stuff away--you know, the crib, baby clothes, maternity clothes, stroller, etc. As I drove home that afternoon all those things were swirling in my mind. I was in my second semester of college and in fact had to miss my English midterm because of the ultrasound appointment. I couldn't wrap my mind around having another baby.

When I finally got home, I sat on the side of my bed and just sort of blanked out. What were we going to do? My oldest son came rushing through the door after school and ran into my room. "Mom? What did the doctor say?"

Heh. He sat down next to me, expecting me to tell him that I had to have surgery or something. Instead I said, "We're going to have a baby."

My nine year old patted me on the back. "It's all right Mom. We'd rather have a baby than a vacation anyway."
Well, we survived that bump in the road as we always do. The picture at the top of this post was taken when I finally graduated from college seventeen years later. As you can see, all the kids were at home. The young man on the right came home on leave from the Navy to watch me walk across that stage. And the young lady on the right? Well, she was my caboose. And she turned out mighty fine in the end. Happy St. Pat's Day.
Start out your week right by stopping at Kelly's blog at and then popping over to Amarinda's Place at for fresh insights on living the life. Blessings on your day!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

He's still a guy...

The househunk and I don't usually go out after dark--partly because I don't see well at night--and partly because if we do, when we come home there aren't any parking spots. Anyway, last night we had to go out to pick up our computers from BestBuy.

One thing that I want to mention... BestBuy has the Sony e-reader in stock. If you want to see one in person and play touchy feely, then look in the computer department. They carry the second generation version. I was so excited I'm sure they thought I was deranged but it was so cool that a "regular" store carried it. Yes! You can also check it out on

Anyway, when we got home, naturally there were no parking spots within hiking distance, let alone a spot you wanted to carry heavy boxes from so I waited in the car (double-parked) while the househunk trotted back and forth with the boxes. Normally I don't listen to the radio or a cd unless we're on a road trip, but I punched the radio button on exactly in time to hear a Brad Paisley song, "I'm still a guy."

I was so taken with the song that when I finally was back at my computer I looked up the lyrics. Check it out, especially if you aren't familiar with the song. I think it should be the theme song for romance writers because it encompasses everything we should be remembering when we write those alpha/beta/sensitive men in our books. Sometimes... we forget that they're still guys.

Because they're guys, they think differently, feel differently, function differently than women. They have totally different priorities and goals. We would do well to remember that even as we're writing fantasy, the reason we enjoy the story is because they're guys, with all that implies both good and bad.

Women worry about all sorts of things from whether he will think they're fat, to whether he will stray because she's not interesting enough. As one man told me..."we're easy. All the woman has to do is show up." So when we're writing that male viewpoint we need to be very careful that we don't hang feminine motives and priorities on them. It's tough enough just being a guy.


Don't forget to stop by Kelly's Blog for her Sunday Quote at and then drop by Amarinda's Place for her Aussie view of life at

Blessings on your day!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


In the last few days I've read several very short books--the word count usually designated as a Quickie. I have one Quickie of my own that's been released by Ellora's Cave, Everything Lovers Can Know. The lone review I received for ELCK was lackluster at best because the reviewer was disappointed that it wasn't longer. Ahem. By definition, a Quickie is short and quick.

If it was longer, then it wouldn't be a Quickie! These short books that are not part of a special series (Hallowe'en, Jewels of the Nile, etc.) are clearly marked as you can see from the cover on my book so that there can be no mistake when the reader purchases the book... it's a Quickie!

However, that reviewer for Everything Lovers Can Know was correct about one thing. It's a short book and when you limit the length of a story--any story--then something must be sacrificed. In a Quickie, normally a very hot sexy story, then plot development and character development often fall by the wayside.

There are ways to deal with those issues to a certain extent. In my book, I gave a bit of backstory in the first two pages, explaining how the characters had known each other from childhood, sharing a mental bond nearly their entire lives. That at least demonstrated that when the time came for them to jump into bed--well, they weren't complete strangers! They had a shared background and experiences to help cement the relationship.

Unfortunately this is not always the case. In the last few days I've been catching up on some of my reading and several of the books in the piles were Quickies. For the most part, I was left with the feeling that the books ended after the first four chapters. In one case, I'm pretty sure that it didn't reach the middle of the story, left alone the end.

When I write, I tend to be a bit wordy, so Everything Lovers Can Know will probably be my first and last Quickie. It takes a real gift to compose a complete short story all by itself. Then if you introduce the required elements of frequent sexual encounters, that makes the exercise much more difficult. I admire those writers that can pull it off. I'm just not one of them. I like my characters to have some basis for sex other than the rationale that it feels good. Or might feel good. Or maybe it's been so long that they just vaguely remember that it possibly felt good at some time in their distant past.

In the meantime, I'll stick with longer story lengths that allow me to get to know my characters. They can be fascinating people with quirky traits and oddball ideas. I enjoy getting to know them. Whether they are stubborn and willful or compassionate and patient, they are people I wish I could meet.

Maybe, you'd like to meet some of them, too? In this excerpt from Everything Lovers Can Know, Baron proposes to Jade in a most unlikely place...

“Baron, what do you really want to do with your skills? If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?” she asked quietly.

“Treat the poor,” he replied instantly without thought.

“Then do that. Allow me to help you do what’s important to you. It’s certainly more important than me playing a violin or piano or clarinet.” She relaxed and turned to look out the tiny window. “I’ll pay for a clinic.”

“Jade, that’s a lot of money you’re talking about,” he said warned flatly.

“I know to the penny exactly how much money it will take. Mikhail and Duke did a complete cost analysis for the project. I think you should do it.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that. It would fulfill you in a way that nothing else will.” She took his hand in hers. “Think about it,” she said quietly. “Just think about it.”

“All right, I’ll think about it. Now let’s talk about something else,” he said grumpily.

Catching back the smile that threatened to break across her face, she nodded. “What would you like to talk about?”

“Your music. I really loved your last album.”

Butterfly Stomp?” She laughed. “I figured that would be the one you didn’t like.”


“Oh, I guess because it’s not classical music. You used to always make fun of the musicians that played pop. Which song did you like the best?” she asked alive with curiosity.

“Hmmm. I suppose it would be a tie between Butterfly Stomp and Alligator Twinkletoes,” he teased. “March of the Guinea Pigs was kind of cute, too. That little clarinet riff was great.”

“The critics hated it.”

“But the fans loved it. It went platinum in two weeks.”

She turned to stare at him in amazement. “How do you know that?”

“I read,” he pointed out dryly. “I also listen to the news. Butterfly Stomp got a Grammy nomination. What are you going to wear?”

“What am I going to wear?”

“You are going, of course. And you are going to win it,” he pronounced positively. “And I’m going to be there to see it this time. I missed it when you won for Jade’s Joy.”

She tweaked his nose. “Maybe I’ll go naked.”

“Oh. Well in that case, we’ll watch it on TV.”


“Jade? I have something to ask you,” he said nervously.

Staring at him in puzzlement as she quirk a curious eyebrow. “What’s wrong?”

“We’ve spent the last week making mad passionate love. We’re on our way home to a wedding that’s been completely planned. But there’s just one little thing missing.”

Her lips twitched. It wasn’t hard to figure out where this was going and trust Baron to wait until the last minute. He stood up, moved out into the aisle and knelt down. People all up and down the aisle were craning their necks, trying to see what he was doing.

Are you really going to ask me to marry you like this? She demanded silently.

As publicly as possible.

He took the small ring box from his pocket, opened it up and asked in a deep tone that carried nearly to the back row, “Jade Alexander, I love you with all my heart and want you for my wife. Will you marry me?”

A deep hush fell over the plane. Fighting a smile, she folded up the armrest, leaned down and kissed him with her whole heart, before replying, “I will.”

Ragged cheers broke out as the passengers passed the word. A couple of moments later, the pilot impishly informed the passengers that they had a newly engaged couple on the plane.


Don't forget to get your instant cup of cheer by stopping by Amarinda's Place at and then over to Kelly's Blog at

Blessings on your day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Parental Lot

A woman--let's call her Myrtle--spent a lot of time crying over her daughter. The daughter was climbing out the window after the family went to bed. She disappeared for several days at a time. She had a boyfriend who was home from prison. She skipped school and when she went to school she got into fights until she was finally suspended. What was Myrtle to do? Her daughter was fourteen. The law allows few options.

Skip forward a few years. The daughter--let's call her Agatha-- is a parent now. Her daughter's been skipping school, playing on the computer and with the video games. Not doing her homework. Stealing change from the cookie jar. Today Agatha found out that her daughter charged $300 on her credit card for an online game. Perhaps even scarier are the men she's talking to online. What is Agatha to do? Her daughter is ten.

All over America, parents are facing the same scenarios. In today's world, where most mothers have to work, not to make ends meet but just to survive, more and more kids have the opportunity to misbehave. Drinking at middleschool age is at an alarming high. One in four teenage girls has an STD. What are parents to do? In today's economy, quitting work to supervise the children isn't an option. Especially in the enormous numbers of one parent families.

Are these bad, neglectful parents? No. A resounding NO! Often the most concerned, involved parents are the ones who are hit with a wilful, disobedient child. So why is this happening? I think there are so many social factors at work that its impossible to pinpoint one or two. Certainly, the exposure to music, television, and movies that spew moral rebelion is one part. I truly believe the breakdown in the family structure is another. And as unpopular as the idea might be, I believe the drop in church attendance across the country is yet another.

Celebrity worship doesn't help the parents' cause any. Societal mores that push our kids, particularly girls, to grow up faster with makeup and inappropriate clothes led one journalist to conclude that ten is the new fifteen. Small wonder that pre-teens are engaged in "inappropriate" behavior. Young girls down the block from Agatha's apartment were caught giving blowjobs to teenaged boys. What was that you said? Not on my block? Look again.

Nearly twenty years ago when Agatha was a young teen, she lived in small town America. And without really thinking about it, she could name at least four girls she knew who had already had abortions. Two of them were only eleven years old. What do you suppose the numbers would tell us today?

If I had to decide today, I'm not sure that I would want the responsibility of raising children in today's world. Yes, I know that there have always been rebellious children. There have always been children who insisted on doing the wrong thing. I know that misbehavior is not a new concept. But I think that in today's world there are a hell of a lot of things that can go wrong, wrong, wrong. Dangers have always existed, but we're more aware of them today.

The next time a parent needs someone to talk to, be there. Sometimes all we can do is listen and offer our moral support. Often when a parent tries their best, the people around them who should support them are telling them what a bad parent they are. Parents need all the support they can get, especially when they are faltering, wondering where they went wrong.

Support your local parent.


Every morning I start my day with the encouraging words from Kelly at and Amarinda at so I heartily recommend that you might too. Blessings on your day!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fans are where you find them...

I have a relative in jail. Quel surprise! So I earmarked one of my author copies for his use and I print out the book, one chapter at a time and send it off in the mail. I have discovered through the grape vine that my book is quite popular. He uses it as barter to get things he needs. Uh-hmm. I get frantic letters, "Where is chapter six? Did you send chapter six?" From all reports, I have quite a fan group in his cell block. They are anxiously waiting for the next chapter. For the curious, I sent him Winter Hearts. My, oh, my.

I mention this only because it occurs to me that as writers we have a specific idea of our target audience. And jail house gentlemen aren't usually in our target range. Actually, I have several guys who really like my books so I'm thinking that perhaps I need to find a way to introduce that part of the market to the Anny Cook books.

Certainly when I let the fellows at the income tax office read two pages of Honeysuckle, I had their complete undivided attention. They practically had their collective tongues hanging out when I handed out my cards.

I might purchase a couple print copies of Dancer's Delight and drop them off at the local YMCA in the weight room. There are a lot of guys reading books while they pedal on the stationary bikes. Most of them are tech savvy and don't mind spending time on the computer. Some of them might even purchase an e-book reader.

Then there are all those guys at the laundromat. More than one has stopped to talk to me about my e-reader and what kind of books I write. One fellow read the first chapter of Traveller's Refuge and we had quite a technical discussion about Traveller's job. He wanted to know exactly where I found my information... Hmmm. Come to think about it, I haven't seen him lately.

Waiters are another really curious group. They love the idea of carting around a library of books in one little package. I can't tell you how many cards I've handed out to waiters. One guy took my card. About a month later when we went back to that restaurant, he wasn't our waiter, but he found time to tell me that he thought Chrysanthemum was hysterically funny. Well, whatever floats their boat, I say.

Anyway, that's my new market share. What about you? Have you found an unlikely group of readers that seem to like your books?


Drop by Amarinda's Place at to see what she's up to. And then pop over to Kelly's Blog at where Katie Blu is guest blogging today. Blessings on your day!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rainbow Dragon

Things that go bump in the night don’t exist. At least that’s what Rainbow told herself as she pulled on a jacket for her nightly walk. It was raining and the wind was howling but what did that have to do with whether or not she was going to give in to her inner urge to be a couch potato? A bet was a bet. No way was Margo Henry going to win their bet. Just because she hadn’t thought quickly enough to insert a stipulation about bad weather—well, too bad. Fifty bucks was fifty bucks. She was so gonna dance in the parking lot when Margo paid up.

Her pedometer was firmly clipped to her granny ass jeans with the comfortable elastic waistband. She checked her pockets, making sure that she had her keys and her wimpy little cell phone in her right hand pocket. In her left was her flattened roll of duct tape and her Swiss Army Handyman knife with fifteen tools. Oh, Margo made fun of her, calling her McGyverette, but she never went out without her trusty duct tape and Swiss Army knife. Who knew when she would have an emergency and need them? At the last minute she grabbed a tissue packet and stuffed it in the pocket with the phone and keys. She hated it when her nose started to run while she was walking.

All right. Rubber garden clogs? Check. Rain slicker complete with hood? Check. Umbrella? Rainbow looked at the empty hook where the umbrella was supposed to be hanging. Oh, yeah. It was drying in the bathroom. She plodded into the bathroom, closed the still damp umbrella and plodded back out to the front door. Umbrella…check. One of these days—when Margo paid up on the fifty bucks—she was gonna get herself one of those teeny little gizmos that played music. Until then, she’d just have to hum to herself while she walked.

She locked the door, closed it with a slam and hobbled down the stairs. Okay, so she wasn’t in such good shape and Margo had shamed her into this stupid walk everyday. So what? She was walking!

When she opened the lobby door to the full fury of the storm, she quailed for a moment, just a moment and considered going back upstairs. But fifty bucks was fifty bucks and she needed fifty bucks so she opened the umbrella with a snap and sailed out into the pounding rain.

Six laps around the parking lot should do it. According to her pedometer that was exactly one mile. In the rain, one mile was her limit. Geez, why did it feel so spooky? Then she noticed that half of the parking lot lights were burned out. Swell. Just swell. No wonder it was so gloomy.
Tramping along the edge of the parked cars, splashing through the puddles on her fifth circuit, she didn’t pay any attention when the another of the lights died a slow death, but when the light she was walking past went out with a pop, she tilted the umbrella back and took another look around the lot.

Only one light was still shining.

Okay. That was just not right. Enough walking already. Margo never specified how long she had to walk. Tonight five laps were going to be more than enough. As she approached the sidewalk leading to her door, the last light went out with a ping. She stumbled to a stop in the sudden darkness. There was something out there in the storm. Something…that didn’t belong there.

Rainbow stood shivering in the blowing rain. The umbrella really did very little to keep the mist away so she decided that it would be far more useful as a weapon. With a snap, she collapsed the umbrella and clutched the wet folds in her hand. As much as she wanted to run for the door, she had a very strong notion that she needed to stay away from the parked cars. Slowly, step by step, she backed up moving back out into the open lot.

Abruptly, the rain fell harder, drumming on the cars, drowning out all the other night sounds. She pushed her hood away from her face, listening intently to catch the smallest out-of-place sound. When it came, it was too late for her to wield her umbrella. The huge dark form whooshed out from between two vans, landing on her shoulder like a chunk of concrete.

She fell to the ground flailing and beating at the thing with her umbrella. It growled and hissed striking terror in her heart. She tried to scream but her throat closed up in fright. Suddenly she realized that something was squeezing her throat. Her frantic struggles grew more frenzied when hot searing pain ripped her throat.

A red tide glazed her vision. In one tiny corner of her mind a little voice noted, That was what it meant to see red. Funny, she had never realized that a person could really see red. And then with a terrible roar, she rose to her feet flinging her attacker to the wet black top.

Puffs of smoke curled in the rain. Arms akimbo, she stared down at the limp black heap on the ground and opened her mouth. With one mighty huff, a stream of flame flew from her mouth to the pitiful thing at her feet. In a flash, it burned to ash.

The street lights all around the parking lot blinked back on. Rainbow bent to pick up her broken umbrella and that’s when she saw the enormous scaly feet with her red rubber garden clogs perched rakishly on the biggest toes.

She shook her head irritably. The yellow slicker hood slid down over one eye. It was pulling on her ear, so she shoved it back up out of the way with one curved claw and then bent her head to contemplate the puzzle of red garden clogs on those huge toes. It occurred to her, just in passing that they might be her toes, but her mind slid right past that and settled on the next thing that caught her attention.

The remnants of her granny jeans were wrapped around a pair of scaly ankles. In the odd light from the street lamps those ankles looked purple. Or maybe maroon. Strange.

From the corner of her eye, she noticed something that kind of resembled a tail and it seemed to be swishing to and fro like an agitated cat’s tail. There was something very strange going on. She just couldn’t quite put her finger on what the problem was.

Then the tiger and the alien showed up.


Drop by Amarinda's Place to check out what's going on in her world at and then pop over to Kelly's Blog at to find out if she's all cleaned and packed. Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Speak Up!

I had an interesting experience today. I was directed to an interesting blog by a friend. I read the blog and of course the comments. The blog was a simple opinion about an e-reader. The comments--many of them were extremely negative and angry. I commented mentioning my own positive experience with an e-reader.

And found myself the target of quite a long-winded comment about my naivete. Hmmm. Until I went to that blog I had no idea that there are so many people who downright object to technology in all its myriad forms. No idea. Needless to say, it was quite an eye-opening experience for me.

I'm trying to envision a pre-computer world. I lived in that day and age. The first computers were just barely in use when I graduated from highschool. I'm wondering if we really want to return to that age. Do we really want to do without all of our gadgets like microwaves and ipods and cell phones?

Admittedly, I wish they would out-law driving while talking on a cell phone. I can't count the number of times I've nearly been run down by people who were distracted because they were talking on their phones. I also find it annoying when people in public restrooms insist on carrying on private conversations while they occupy the stall next to mine. Are they under the impression that no one can hear them?

But all of that aside, what kind of world would we be living in now without our current level of technology? I'm a little puzzled by the objections. So tell me... what do you think? Techno--or no?


In the meantime don't forget to pop over to Amarinda's Place at and Kelly's Blog at for a new perspective on life. I'm also blogging today at about reference books. Blessings on your day!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Real Child

Books with children fall into two categories for me. One is the frankly unbelievable kid that sounds like a tiny adult. They're well behaved--or horribly ill-mannered--but whatever they are, it isn't your normal everyday kid. The other kind of child in a story is the child that is just that--a sometimes naughty, mostly good kid.

I have a lot of children in my books. No, don't ask me why or how, but I end up writing about kids. Maybe because I've always had them around. My first child was born when I was nineteen and once you have them, they're yours for life. Forever! So its just possible that I have no idea what life is like without kids. Anyway, they just naturally slip into the story lines and fit into their very own niches as though they were created for them.

In case you haven't noticed, children don't think like adults. Their perspective is completely different. Things that we hold as self-evident, they puzzle over. That's because they're children, still in that curious, wondering, exploratory stage. That's probably also why they do incredibly dumb things like ride their big wheels off the picnic table or jump off the roof (no don't ask why they were on the roof in the first place) or build a campfire on their bedroom floor. I imagine that's why they taste things like perfume or charcoal lighter fluid or lysol. Otherwise how will they know it tastes nasty?

And because they don't reason like adults, they don't speak like adults. Complete sentences? Mostly not. Their all-time favorite phrase? Why? This is usually spoken in a whiney tone. The second all-time favorite phrase is dunno.

Susie, why did you paint the wall with my lipstick?


That's not acceptable. Go sit in time-out.


See, that's how it works. So when I see dialogue with a completely rational, erudite child I always wonder when the writer last spent time with a child. I admit that there are a lot of children out there that can speak the "king's English", but most of them don't. They mostly speak what I used to call "childglish".

John, why did you cut your sister's hair?


What do you mean, you don't know? How can you not know?


Where did you get the scissors? My sewing scissors that are kept on top of the cabinet so that your sister doesn't poke her eye out?

Dunno. At this point, the kid shrugs for emphasis and maybe rubs his nose on his sleeve or t-shirt.

John, how am I supposed to fix your sister's hair? You cut it all the way down to the scalp! I'm shocked that you didn't accidentally cut her head!

At this point we get the "justification". It's not my fault that she moved. I told 'er to stand still.

That's what a real conversation is like. Tricky. Depending on how the parent handles it, he/she might find out what the read deal is. Or not.

Children are also inherently dirty. It doesn't matter if you just gave them a bath. No, it doesn't. Five minutes later they will find some way to get dirty. They are dirt magnets. Chocolate milk, the yellow powder from cheese doodles, Mom's hand lotion, dog/cat hair, they'll find a way. When I see a child in a pristine outfit with shined shoes in a story, one of two things strike me. That's a child with deep, deep problems. Or that's a kid on the way to church. Maybe both.

They whine. They sigh. They yell and screech. They giggle and laugh. They whisper and mutter. But they seldom just talk. Their eyes roll off in the direction of the television or food or whatever is the most recent distration. When you send them to the kitchen for something, they likely will forget where they're going before they get there and you'll find them an hour later on the floor in their bedroom playing Barbies or outside in the yard watching ants.

In a book, a child can be a wonderful counterpoint to the story. Or a terrible distraction. What do you think? Have you read a wall-banger that drove you nuts because of a child character?

Here's a snippet of my current wip with a scene between Bishop and his nephew, Cougar.

A sharp thump on the door heralded the arrival of yet another of his nephews, this time a very young one with a pair of sandals in his hands. “Uncle Bishop, Dai said to bring these to you ‘cause you need shoes. Why do you need shoes?” he demanded with a puzzled scowl. “Did someone steal your shoes?”

Bishop took the sandals from him and slipped them on unsurprised to find them a decent fit. “Something like that. What’s your name, son?”

“Cougar.” He gave Bish a considering look from dark eyes very like his father’s. “I don’t think I’m your son, though.”

“You’re absolutely correct,” Bish agreed gravely. “Out-valley you would be my nephew.”

“Okay. Are you finally ready? Everyone’s waiting to eat. And tonight is country fried steak. It’s my favorite,” Cougar confided.

“Oh, well. In that case, we must go at once.”


Please drop by Amarinda's Place to find out what she was up to on her Monday. Then pop over to Kelly's Blog to find out if she finished her packing and recovered from Daylight Savings Time. Blessings on your day!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Dancer and Eppie's Interview Part 3

Eppie and Dancer from Mystic Valley continue their interview with author Anny Cook…

Dancer: It seems like you spent a lot of time talking about our private lives. Did you tell your readers anything about the actual valley?

Anny: Sure. Let’s see… I talked about the weird plants. And the animals. I think I already mentioned the clothing, especially the shardas.

Dancer: (edgily) Don’t go there. I don’t want to talk about wearing skirts anymore.

Anny: (tartly) You’re going to live in the valley a loooong time. Get over it. The way you’re carrying on, you would think you were the only one wearing a sharda. As far as I could tell all the men wear them. Ooooh…I never thought of the potential for that. Seven hundred men in shardas and no underwear…

Eppie: Maybe we should talk about food, instead.

Anny: All right, let’s talk about food. I heard a lot of mention about rowan stew. Exactly what is a rowan?

Dancer: (coughing to cover a laugh) Ah, rowan. Yeah. Hmmm. Well a rowan is an animal that is something between a cow and a horse. Their chief characteristic seems to be the huge quantities of manure they produce which is bartered with the farmers.

Anny: Barter?

Dancer: (shrugging) There’s no money in the valley. Each village has a barter keeper who keeps track of who owes what. Actually, it’s a pretty efficient system.

Anny: What do you barter, Dancer?

Dancer: (blushing) In the valley, I was allowed a certain amount of barter credit as soon as Eppie was pregnant. Uh, it seems that fertility is worth barter credit. Imagine being paid to—

Anny: Yes, well, that’s probably too much information.

Eppie: So, Anny! What's this we heard about the wonderful reviews our story is receiving? Readers like our story?

Anny: Of course they like your story! It has everything they could ask for! And that's exactly what the reviewers are saying!

Dancer: I don't know... Are you sure about that? I mean how do you know?

Anny: Well Fallen Angels Reviews gave your story Five Angels. That's a wonderful review! Here! I just happen to have the link handy so you can read it for yourself!

Eppie: That's a very nice review, Anny! Did you say someone else liked the book?

Anny: Hoo-boy, I almost forgot! Don't know how I could forget about Jacqueline's Review! It was great! Here's that link! Just see what she had to say! See? Isn't that great?

Dancer: (scratches head) They really liked our story. I can't wait to see what they think of the other stories. Who did you say you wrote stories for?

Anny: Traveller's Refuge is about Trav and Wrenna. Cherished Destinies is about Arano and Arturo. And I'm working on Bishop's story. Boy is he stubborn!

Dancer: Yeah, he was. But Samara's whipped him into shape.

Eppie: Probably because he likes schalzina and shardas and schelas...

Dancer: Hey! I thought we weren't gonna talk about schelas!

Anny: (slyly) Well, only a little.

This wraps up the interview with Dancer and Eppie. Come back tomorrow for another thrilling blog by Anny.

In the meantime, don't forget to drop by Kelly's Blog for her quote of the week at and then pop over to Amarinda's Place at where she's skinning blue tongued lizards to make a set of shoes. Blessings on your day!