Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Of all the garments men can wear, aside from jeans, the kilt seems to engender the most swoons. Now why, I wonder. Could it be the chance--just a small chance--that it might get caught in a breeze and reveal something interesting?
That might be. One of the more popular punch lines for jokes is "What does a man wear under his kilt?"--or a variation of that query. Only the particular fellow and his significant other really knows. But women have fertile imaginations, don't they?
Personally, I don't really care for the "modern" kilt--the one men wear for formal events. It's just too buttoned down. I can't imagine them fighting or doing much of anything very exciting in that prim little skirt. Now, the "great kilt"--the original, yep. That's the one worn in movies like Braveheart. That's the romantic kilt. Apparently, it's mostly a myth, unfortunately. :-(
For a very long, extensive history of the kilt, check out Wikipedia. They explain the importance of the pleating and tartans (which is also mostly a myth!) and exactly how it should be measured for the perfect fit. Sigh.
I suppose all of those things are important if you're gonna wear one to a formal dance or something. But that still doesn't answer the central question, does it? What's underneath? Aside from the obvious, of course.
Perhaps, that's where the fascination is...boxers, briefs or commando?
Friday, March 25, 2011
In the shadowy evening hours as the day unwinds, people all over the world hunch over their computers/iphones/electronic devices...playing Solitaire, 5 Roll, Angry Birds or some other game of their choice.
Solitaire is the first computer game new users learn. It's the game that unites us all from the youngest to the oldest. And from there we branch out, some going on to sophisticated, multi-layered games that take hours or days or months to play.
All have one thing in common. They're played alone. By their very nature, they isolate us in our lonely game caves.
No, I'm not against computer games. For the aging population, most of whom live in solitary splendor, I believe games can keep the mind agile and alive. For the young, such games help them develop cognitive skills and motor skills as they zip the mouse around on the screen.
But I wonder if the games-playing also reveals something about us as a culture. We're tired. Playing a game requires very little input from us. At the exhausted end of the day we don't want to interact with people, we don't want to read a book or watch a movie. At that point we simply want to veg out and fill an hour or two until it's time to go to bed.
In the end, we all become Solitairey animals... :-)
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
One of the most frequently asked question I receive is how do I make the love scenes different and fresh with each book. I could lie and tell you I thumb through the Kama Sutra in search of new and unusual positions. I actually did that a couple years ago for a book I wrote--Kama Sutra Lovers. The book centered around the heroine/heroes choosing random cards from a Kama Sutra deck. It was interesting, but not my general style.
I tend to believe each set of characters will tell you what they want. And how they want it. And when they want it. And just as in life, some couples are...hornier than other couples. Some like to cuddle. Some like to try it on the staircase. That's life.
I suspect those writers who strive to continually come up with something new have more difficulty than those who simply let their characters show them what they want.
I've written scenes in showers, barns, under a plane in a rain storm, in a glass-walled greenhouse, in the woods, and yes...even in a bed (how unusual is that!) Place and time all play an important part of course. But the most compelling piece is the characters themselves.
When a writer tells me they are having a hard time writing a sexy scene, I always point out the characters may not want to do what the writer has in mind. We all have very different things that turn us on--or off. Just because the writer seeks to do something different or unusual doesn't mean their characters want to do that. Maybe, just maybe they want to cuddle before they indulge in the loving comfort of the missionary position!
Calisthenics are not required for an exciting, decadent love scene. Love and mutual desire are. After that, place and setting may add that little extra touch to the scene.
But I wonder if our efforts for the odd and unusual lead us astray. If it makes our characters uncomfortable they will flat out refuse to carry on. Then it's time for us to stop and reconsider. Making it on a blanket on the beach or in the restroom in the museum may not be nearly as exciting as the author believes. Perhaps a change of venue, something more private and intimate, is really what they want.
And if the stairs are their thing...well just make sure their insurance is up to date.
For information about Kama Sutra Lovers, click on the book cover!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
What exactly can we order?
Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Southern Kitchen. Chinese. Pizza. Chinese. Pizza. And more pizza.
I'm waiting for someone to open a carryout restaurant with something other than pizza or fried food. Oh, I know most restaurants have a carryout capability, but most of them are not really set up for it. They dump the food in a carton designed for taking home your leftovers. By the time you get the food home and open it, the bread's soggy, the meat is cold...
No. I'm thinking more along the lines of a place that focuses on producing meals specifically for take-out. I recently ordered a hamburger at a restaurant for carryout. By the time I got home, it was cold. Very soggy. And the components had slid apart in the container so I had to peel it apart to put it back together. Ugh.
We don't order out very often. I mean, really? Pizza or Chinese? That's it. I discount the southern cooking place as everything is fried and my cholesterol really can't deal with that. There used to be a restaurant where I could order a salad, but they went out of business.
Perhaps it's just as well. Food cooked at home from scratch is healthier and you tend to not eat as much. But once in a while...
You just want to order out!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Just to wet your appetite, here's the blurb and a short excerpt!
When Beauregard Barker leaves his military career due to injuries, he takes refuge at the Phantom’s Rest RV Park, expecting no more than a place to recover as he helps renovate the park. First he discovers the place is full of ghosts. Then Emmeline Fairchild arrives for her annual stay and everything changes. Beau falls hard for the shy calligrapher who’s being stalked by a killer. Whatever it takes, he’s determined to keep her safe and persuade her he’s the man for her.
Narrow shafts of sunlight sneaked past the blinds to bombard him in the face. Grumpily, Beau rolled over and pulled the lumpy pillow over his head. A series of muffled thumps from outside invaded his restless sleep.
Beau groped in the covers for Woobie’s “baby”—a tattered, ragged teddy bear—and tossed it in her direction.
Then the familiar strains of a man singing something Italian wove their way from next door. Vaguely, he recognized the artist as one of Aunt Agatha’s favorites, though his name escaped Beau at the moment. When the volume abruptly grew louder, Woobie lifted her head and howled along with the singer in a doggie duet. The music soared to a towering crescendo as Woobie ended on a high note.
Cursing, Beau sat up and glared at the door. The melody sounded a lot like opera—his least favorite genre of music. When the singer switched from operatic Italian to a hypnotic Spanish number accompanied by flashy guitar work, his patience reached its limits. While Woobie soulfully howled along with the new song, Beau knuckled his burning eyes, listening to his dog in disbelief. He leaned over, groping on the floor for his clothes. Finally, he snatched up his plaid boxers, jerking them on wrong side out before leaping from his camper to storm his way to the driveway next door.
His eyes were bloodshot from the inside out. Tiny leprechauns were lustily hammering in his head. He yelped and cursed as he stepped on a sharp stone. Hopping sideways on his bad foot, he twisted his ankle, landing squarely on his butt in a small puddle of water. Clapping his hands over his ears, he tried to block out the soaring music as the singer reached a powerful finale with Woobie howling in the background.
Abruptly, the music stopped. He closed his eyes, savoring the exquisite relief.And then she laughed.
Hope you enjoyed it! For buy info and a longer excerpt, click HERE!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Growing up in a Baptist home meant we didn't celebrate St. Pat's Day. We didn't acknowledge any of the saints in particular so it wasn't until high school that I really paid much attention. And that was only because I made the colossal mistake of wearing orange to school one March 17th.
I was pinched. A lot. And the interesting thing was none of my class mates were Irish. They were a mix of German Jews and Polish Catholics. Ahhhh, high school.
When I had children of my own, I made sure they wore something green to school on St. Pat's Day and dutifully taped their school projects on the refrigerator door (mostly lop-sided shamrocks).
And then 1978 arrived. Now back in 1973 the hunk and I decided we had enough children (three) so he had a vasectomy. Life went on, more or less smoothly until 1978 when I started having some "female" problems--or rather the absence of female problems. I never understood why we call them that, but there you go. I sensibly went off to see the Gynecologist. And he sent me for a brand new test--an ultrasound--to see what was up.
The test was scheduled for March 17th. St. Pat's day did not figure largely in my plans. I was in school and what was bothering me was the fact that I was going to miss my mid-term essay exam in English just so I could have this stupid medical test.
Back then, you had to drink about a 1/2 gallon of water before the test. I was not comfortable at all when the tech had me stretch out on this hard table. He covered my belly with a lubricant and then said, "What are we finding out today?"
I said, "I don't know about you, but I'm finding out whether or not I'm pregnant."
He stared down at my rounded belly and asked, "You don't know?"
Well, he stroked across my belly with his wand and pictures popped up on the screen. "There's your baby."
I was twenty weeks pregnant. With our fourth child. She'll be thirty-three this summer. And it's certainly been an interesting ride all these years. Every year on March 17th I recall that day so long ago when I found out we had another baby on the way.
And that's how I celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
She leaned back, looking at the plane over the tops of her sunglasses. “You know, that is one scary looking plane. I didn’t pay too much attention to it yesterday. But if I saw something like this, I might be hesitant to approach it, too.”
Max chuckled. “That’s Uncle Diarmid for you. Only he would have his plane painted like a giant Celtic dragon, complete with all that gorgeous intricate knotwork. The artist who designed and directed the painting owed him a favor of some type. One thing I’ll say—she’s a fabulous artist.” He pointed out the row of teeth that stretched from side to side under the cockpit windows. “Those look frightening enough from the air. Close up, they’re terrifying.”
“I just find the way she incorporated the dragon wings with the plane wings incredible. I’m not sure I would want to stumble on this plane in the middle of the night. I suspect that would be a nightmare in progress.” She settled her sun glasses on her nose and attempted an encouraging smile. “Well?”
“Well.” He leaned closer and kissed her nose. “Are you ready to go meet the neighbors, honey?”
“As I ever will be. Why do I have the feeling that they’re not going to help rescue us?” she asked as she slowly wiped her hands on her sweatpants.
“Probably for the same reason I feel that way. Something isn’t right.” He offered her his hand and led the way around the tail of the plane. He had his eyes on the ground, trying to avoid the muddiest spots so he wasn’t prepared when Russet stopped dead and frantically yanked on his arm.
He turned to see what her problem was.
She was making little whimpering squeaky noises and the terrified expression on her face raised the hair on the back of his neck. Whipping around, he peered over his shoulder as he instinctively nudged Russet back towards the plane door.
A line of young naked warriors brandishing spears was advancing across the field toward them. That was bad. Very bad, but not terrifying.
But the enormous tawny griffin leading them was enough to send Max tearing off across the field toward the trees lining the far edge. He had a firm grip on Russet’s arm and dragged her willy-nilly behind him, ignoring her protests and frequent stumbles as she struggled to keep up with him.
“What was that?” she yelled.
“Keep running.” Max peered over his shoulder and immediately zig-zagged off to the right. The griffin was gaining on them. “Run!”Max tripped over a hidden tree root as a mighty roar echoed across the meadow. Then a blinding white light pummeled his mind and he fell unconscious to the ground.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Six months later, I'm ready to pack up and move on.
For a number of reasons (money, leases, time), that isn't practical. So I fall back on the old substitute. We rearrange the furniture. Maybe, we even rearrange the entire apartment. We've lived here eight years so you know it's way past rearranging time.
We are currently in the process of not only rearranging, but weeding out furniture, possessions, etc. It's not an overnight process, just as actual moving is not an overnight process. We have one rule. Nothing may be moved until it has a permanent home elsewhere. In other words, don't move all the stuff into the living room and hope we'll find someplace to put it later.
The spousal unit has a hard time with this rule. His idea of rearranging is to move everything out of his room and let me deal with it. Uh, no. I did that once. Never again. AND for one reason or another, he has one room and the rest of the apartment is my responsibility. I'm not quite sure how that happened.
He also believes that discarded furniture will magically move from the living room across the parking lot to the trash bin. No. It doesn't. Since we are getting up there in years and have no children at hand to move stuff like that, my idea is to ask one of the husky neighbor fellows to help us out--for a fee.
Heck. They might even want the furniture for their apartment since it's in good condition. We just don't need it. Or it's taking up room we would rather use in other ways.
But. When we're finally finished, it will make us feel like we live someplace new. And that will do until the next time we feel the urge to move.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
There was a time when I never, ever left the house without my MacGyver kit...duct tape, waxed twine, and my Swiss Army knife. There isn't much in life that can't be fixed with one of them. I would rather leave behind my underwear.
Now I also carry a extra heavy-duty contractor's trash bag and my mini-survival kit that fits in an empty Altoids tin (fishing hook, needle, thread, mirror, compass, matches, lint...) and a bottle of water. And heck, the spare underwear and socks, too. Why not?
I'm a strong believer in preparedness. Someone once asked me if I ever needed my emergency provisions. And the answer is no--not all of them at one time. But yes, I've used various items over time. And that's the point. There's no reason I have to have a major emergency to use my kit. If it helps me get through life easier, then that's the purpose of carrying the stuff.
Now that I have medical issues, I added a couple more things to cover those possibilities. Better to have what I need when I need it even if I carry it for months untouched. That's my philosophy.
Long before MacGyver came along, I had an emergency bag because I had four kids. When you cart a bunch of children around with you, you're naturally prepared. I had bandaids, first aid cream, wipes, water, spare clothing, and all sorts of other things including snacks and games. That's what makes life survivable when you have kids.
One thing I've always carried is duct tape. There's very little you can't fix with duct tape. It used to only come in that silvery alien ship color. Now you can buy it in every color in the rainbow and some that God in his wisdom didn't create--like fluorescent orange.
It tears easily so you don't have to have scissors, but once plastered on an item, it'll stick through drought, flood, blizzard and four kids. I've repaired everything from bicycles to fake leather to two pairs of glasses. I once slapped a strip on a cracked plastic drinking cup and used it for the rest of my vacation. Attaching bright orange tape to your luggage makes it surprisingly easy to locate in a jumbled pile of suitcases.
My co-workers used to laugh at me until they needed to borrow my duct tape. Then I was the smartest woman in the world. And you know, I noticed that they started carrying their own rolls of tape in a variety of colors. If we needed to, we could have repaired almost anything required in whatever color needed to match.
The last time we moved, we taped the lids on all my storage totes with duct tape. And I'm happy to report none of them popped open, though we did lose a couple of cardboard boxes. Just goes to show you, plastic and tape go farther than cardboard.
Next time you look in your bag or emergency kit, check it out. If you don't have duct tape get some. Remember, it's the strongest force in the universe.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.~~John Donne
In the last few weeks we've watched the news with horror and disbelief as hundreds of people have died in earthquakes, tsunamis and other assorted disasters. Bus and train and plane accidents. House fires. Flash floods. Tornadoes. Blizzards and ice storms. Avalanches. Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones. And the ever-present losses in war.
With every loss of life, we suffer grief--whether or not we know the victim personally. All deaths diminish our souls. We may not consciously know this, but instinctively, our hearts grieve each loss.
After such an enormous disaster as the one unfolding in Japan or the earlier one in Christchurch, our first thought is to call a friend or relative. Though we may not actually admit why we do so, the comfort of our loved one's voice, the contact we make with our friend is necessary if we are to survive the crushing blow of yet another loss.
Some cope by finding other diversions. Some plunge in the disaster by volunteering their time or services. Some mourn publicly. Others curl up on the couch and weep.
Whatever route we take, underneath we are bracing for the next loss. For such is life. Fortunately, death is offset by birth. And love. In our despair, we smile. In our heartache, we embrace. And life goes on.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
A novel isn’t written in a vacuum. Anny did a post about critique partners a while back, and everything she said about her critique partner is also true of mine. I wouldn’t get through without having someone to bounce things off of. I have one on-line, day-to-day critique partner and she’s invaluable. I also have another, local group, who keep me on my toes. Both are equally important.
One person I always thank is my husband. He puts up with my, “Don’t poke the writer in her cage,” days and picks up a lot of slack so I can write. In the case of this story and subsequent series, though, he played an active role.
I had the first few chapters written, but the organization the hero, Merrick worked for, was eluding me. I knew he worked for a secret organization, reporting to the crown, hunting down vampyres and other threats, both human and paranormal. I knew he was a baronet, so “Sir Merrick.”
It was my dh who said, “The Round Table, of course. What if they never disbanded, just went underground?” Suddenly the whole book came together. I even noticed little things—Merrick’s mentor was named MacKay—or son of Kay. His boss’s surname was Lake—du Lac, of course. The parts came together like a well-oiled automaton.
The excerpt below tells a little bit about the Order as it stands in my steampunk/fantasy Victorian era, and hasn’t appeared anywhere else. I hope you enjoy Steam & Sorcery, out now from Carina Press.
Thanks so much to Anny for having me here today! To celebrate the new release, I’m running a contest. Comment on any (or all) of the blogs I visit on my blog tour this week. One entry per person, per blog stop. You can visit my blog to find the other stops. After the final stops on Sunday, March 13, I’ll draw one winner for a free download of Steam & Sorcery, or their choice of my other available titles. Happy Reading!
Steam & Sorcery
Gaslight Chronicles #1
By Cindy Spencer Pape
Available from Carina Press
Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, his use of magick and the technologies of steam power have made him both respected and feared. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess.