The Highwayman

Posted by Nightingale | 11:58 AM | 3 comments »

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)


THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
"I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.


There are two parts to this fabulous, romantic poem. Many of you know this verse but some might not have been exposed to the dashing Highwayman, whom I have loved since I first read this work. Tomorrow I'd like to post another segment.

If you read my rant Sunday, you might find some of these comments and suggestions helpful.


By Mary Marvella Barfield

Why should we be concerned about the hearing problems of others? Because we operate in a world with other people, and one day any of you could start losing your hearing.
It’s happened to me, and it often affects my interactions. You might know someone who hides a hearing problem or you might not be paying enough attention to notice. Some people aren’t aware they’re not hearing everything.

For example, I was walking with two people at a writers’ workshop. I was looking down while we talked. One of the people asked me to repeat what I said. After a while he caught my attention and said he hadn't heard much of what I was saying.

I thought I was the only person who didn't hear everything, and I looked up at him and said so. I had been talking to the ground instead of up toward the tall man with me. No wonder he didn't hear what I said.

The other person with us commented she hadn't heard half of what I said for the four years she had known me. I responded that she should have said something, because the half she missed was the good stuff.


1. If you can't hear someone, say so. As someone who talks to herself, I tend to mumble, though I deny it to certain people. People don't always hear me. We all have habits that may prevent others from understanding us, like chopping off the ends of our words. And as we grow older, our ability to hear clearly can diminish. Our friends grow older, too, and they often need help. Do everyone a favor by being kindly honest.

2. Don't walk away while speaking to someone. Try to face the person to whom you're speaking. If you don’t, some of us will lose parts of what you say. Get a hearing aid? Hearing aids can do just so much. They can raise volume, but there are limits and the gadgets don't help all hearing problems. They cure nothing. Since they aren’t cure-alls, many hearing aid owners discard them. If you have a friend or family member who needs a hearing aid, learn as much as you can to help this person adjust and get the most from it.

3. If you ask a question that isn’t answered correctly, restate it. Some of us answer the question we thought you asked instead of the one you did ask. When that happens, let us know and make sure we're looking at you when you speak.


People who tell jokes or funny stories often lower their voices or look down when they get to the punch-line or the funny stuff. If you look down or drop your voice, some members of your audience won’t get the point, probably more than you realize.

When a speaker reads a speech, he might lower the pitch of his voice and/or the volume. Readers tend to speak into their chests or the podium, speed up their pace unconsciously, and trail off with their voices as they read.

Hearing and understanding speakers involves both volume and enunciation, and often involves being able to see the speaker's face. Many people lip-read to a small degree before they realize they have minor hearing loss


1. Don't wave away the microphone because you feel you speak loudly enough.
2. Face your audience when speaking instead of fellow panel members.
3. Pull the microphone close enough to hear your voice amplified.
4. Enunciate clearly and make yourself slow down.
5. Make your presentation without reading it or read as little as possible.
6. Don't let your hands or anything else hide your mouth when you speak.
7. To project better, stand when you speak.
8. If you have question and answer time, please repeat the question or make it clear in your answer.

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Oscar Wilde

Have you ever felt in a crap mood for days? Maybe for weeks or longer? Or maybe you'd just like to sleep really late and take naps.

I find frustration and loss of control over my life causes anger to simmer and some level of depression to raise its head. I don't have real depression that needs medication.

Women are taught to control anger, so we can't always, or maybe ever, yell at the people who are at the cause of our frustrations. Family and friends often do things to frustrate us, and because they are family or friends we can't yell at them about or throw things at them. Women are peace keepers and moms and "nice" people who hold things inside.

One frustration for me comes from my hearing loss. Friends have even asked why I don't just get a new hearing aid so they wouldn't have to deal with my problem. That's mean of me. They felt my pain and thought a new aid would let me hear better and feel less left out and confused. See? I have to try to put a positive spin on things.

When I don't hear or understand what a person says, I hate to ask that person to repeat what I didn't get. Maybe I heard most of a comment or explanation but not all of it.

Do you know someone who makes you repeat everything you say? Love it don't you? The eye rolls and heavy sighs aren't because you find repeating things once or twice or more a pain, a bother, are they? Of course they are. We people who can't hear should just get help. I've had hearing aids for around fifteen years and they aren't cheap. They sometimes whistle and chirp and some people won't wear them once they get them.

Once I decided I'd need to get a hearing aid for the ear I had considered my good one, I researched the cost of a pair or one to give me one good hearing ear. After finding several so expensive I wanted to throw up on the salesmen's desks, I found a better price at a discount club, a hearing aid that didn't cost as much as an economy car. Good, cause I needed two aids.

I went for a hearing test, prepared to order a set. Now I HATE having anything in my ear, so wearing one for the past fifteen years hasn't been a picnic. The decision to have a plug for both ears wasn't easy. That raised my crap mood but I figured hearing better would improve it.

That led to two visits to one ENT doctor before the hearing aid tech would make test my hearing.
This gave me more time to let the world around me fade when I became frustrated with people who mumble and whisper to keep me from hearing things. Just kidding.

Once I sat through the hearing tests the tech sent me back to the ENT doc to see if there might be a surgery to help me hear a little better. He sent me to another specialist. We're talking weeks to think about possibilities and costs and get appointments and think about possibilities and costs some more. Well, after more than a month I ordered two instruments of torture that should let me hear better again.

Here's hoping when I finally get the new gadgets in ten days and learn to use them my mood will be less crappy.

Oh, since I was raised to think that no matter what my problems are there are people with worse ones. That means my mood has to be better.

Remember, if you know an old man who can't hear thunder, he might have hearing aids he hates at home or he might prefer the world quiet with fewer people complaining. His battery might be dead or the aid might be old or...

Just tap him so he will face you and speak slowly so he can hear better. Flatter him, too since men hear what they want to. Those techniques work on me, too, except the selective hearing.

I'll add a link for my article on hearing problems and how to work with people with them.
Have a great day and speak slowly and loudly. People who hear well will think you've lost your mind.

Green-gold light slants into the walled garden in the back of the house, my secret place. Time stops here as I kneel beside the heady mix of herbs…silvery sage, lavender-flowered nepeta, and minty bergamot. The red blossoms that will follow are irresistible to hummers. Pungent Russian sage awaits the blue flowers that envelope it later this summer.

Unaware of my silent presence, a rust-capped sparrow rustles beneath the wild privet, planted by his kind, and the bittersweet vine...its white flowers lemony sweet when they appear later in spring. He darts past the peach tree in the center of this verdant space to scavenge sunflower seeds from under the feeder that hangs in the sour cherry tree. A towering crabapple that my great Uncle Houston warned me would get far too large has fulfilled his prediction and presses against the back of the house. But its shady branches filter the hot western sun from the kitchen and are glorious beyond words when dripping with a wealth of crimson blossoms. A profusion of flowers, more than is sane or possible, crowd along the garden wall, fill the island around and under the peach, and creep or swarm their way into the rock-strewn path.

Soft light touches glistening white iris, spires of lavender dame’s rocket and regal lupines. Nodding columbines meld together like kindred spirits in shades of pink, rose and yellow. Dainty sprays of pink coral bells float above a cloud of blue forget-me-nots and filmy love-in-a-mist. Bright yellow globe amaranth flowers intersperse almost everything, all rioting together in happy abandon.

More herbs mingle with the flowers in every bed I touch and the vegetable garden: thyme, sweet marjoram, lavender, dill, basil, parsley, and with them their rich link to the past. Ancient Romans, Greeks, and my ancestors from the British Isles knew many of these same plants as they are today and cherished their varied uses. When I see, touch, smell, or taste herbs of antiquity, I am experiencing what countless generations have before me.

My job? To tend this bit of earth, but mostly to savor and learn.

Contributed by Beth Trissel

For the first part of this article on Alexei Sultanov, please scroll down. And visit Liz at the LA Festival of Books!

About Alexei Sultanov, the man:

Alexei met his wife, Dace, a Latvian student of the cello, at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he was studying piano. At the time, she was a girl of sixteen. Their romantic meeting resounds of fate. Some fifteen music students wanted to see the famous pianist Horowitz perform at the Bolshoi Hall, but alas they had no tickets. One by one, they jumped to the sloped roof of the concert hall hoping to find a way inside. Dace's foot slipped and Alexei caught her.

Alexei told the story this way: "I grabbed the girl. I looked at the girl. It was not bad -- so I saved her." On October 31, 1991, they were married in a civil ceremony in Ft. Worth, Texas. She remained devoted to him in sickness and in health.

The talented, passionate musician:

After winning the Van Cliburn, Alexei began a dizzy 200-concert tour that stretched over the next two years, as well as music camps, talk shows and dinner parties. He lacked the social confidence to "work a room" but he was amiable and curious, and people were drawn to him. He was that unique treasure, a young, attractive artist both passionate and marketable.

However, his originality and daring expression worked both for him and against him.

In 1995, Alexei competed in the Chopin International Piano Competition. He was the audience favorite and Polish critic Piotr Wirzbicki labeled him "a great interpreter of the composer's work." The judges did not share Wirzbicki's or the popular view. The Jury declined to award a first prize.

Pianist and Jury Chairman, Jan Ekier stated, "The Chopin tradition has certain standards which must be upheld."

Sultanov retorted, "Give me a great review or a horrible one. If people agree with you too much, that means there's not much personality. The Polish jurists, on the other hand, wanted waltzes played in a slightly lovesick way for all the grandmothers who probably danced them in Chopin's own time."

Decrescendo - a gradual decrease in volume of a musical passage.

Later that fall, he suffered a minor stroke, later discovered by CAT scan when he had a severe stroke one tragic day in February 2001. Dizzy from the flu, he fell and struck his head. A week later, he walked into his neurologist's office, barely able to speak. He was suffering from a subdural hematoma and severe internal bleeding. The doctors were uncertain how the tumor-like clot (outside a blood vessel) had formed. The young pianist slipped into a coma, and a few days later when he awakened, he'd lost the use of his left arm and leg. In his last years, Alexei Sultanov continued to play with his wife Darce taking the left-hand parts. They performed at nursing homes, hospitals, schools and churches.

Wayne Lee Gay at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote this epitaph: "Alexei Sultanov soared to musical heights that other musicians only dream of, and crashed to earth with personal tragedy that few have to bear."

His wife, Darce, said of him, "He was always at the center of attention, always fiery, brilliant. People loved him or hated him, but more people loved him."

I wouldn't mind being remembered that way.

The performances shared on YouTube are well worth the time to listen. A search on his name will result in various performances. I wonder how many will love and how many will hate him.

YouTube performance at the Van Cliburn of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2:


Salut, Earthlings ( or whatever greeting you people use). I've been asked to tell you a little about an adventure I had during the Albegensi-Terran War, but quite frankly, I really had to be talked into doing so. Why? Because...I don't like Terrans! Oh, there are a couple of individuals I Jake, the bartender at the Asteroid Cantina in the Thieves Quarter--great hacker, is Jake--and one Andrea Talltrees, a blonde-haired, adopted Navajo...and the most hard-headed, opinionated, stubborn, and...desirable female I've ever met! And that's the problem....

Introduction? Oh, name's Sinbad sh'en Singh--at least, that's the name on the Federation Wanted holoposter. I was christened Andrew Malcolm McAllister, and I'm a Terro-Felidan hybrid, the only one of my kind, smuggler par excellence, if the reward they posted for me is any indication. Wanted on five planets, for 100,000 Credits. Pretty good for an orphaned kid who started plundering at age American success story!

Back to my problem. You see, I hate the Federation and its inhabitants with as much emotion as the passion I feel for Andi, and there--as Shakespeare once said--is the rub: I love one of the, more than that, I worship that little woman!

A little background here: My father was a soldier captured in the Terro-Felidan War, a prisoner of war who fell in love with his jailer's daughter. When Felida surrendered, his fellow Terrans framed him for treason. My mother killed herself, and I-- I was the only witness at my father's trial, a child of three, helping to condemn his parent to a living Hell at Fort Joy--whoever named that place certainly had a midnight-black sense of humor! Well, the Federation didn't know what to do with a half-orphaned hybrid, so they sent me with my father--and forgot about both of us!

The Toxic Zone stretches through Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, and the Dakotas, a now-deserted plain inhabited by men the Federation wants to forget. In the 21st Century, it was a gigantic asbestos waste dump. but years of blowing wind released its contents into the air. The guards at Fort Joy wore protective suits. We had none. It was like a thousand pieces of glass piercing the skin. Three men a day died at Fort Joy....

...and my 23-year-old father was one of them. That's the place where I grew up, where, at the age of 15, I earned the dubious fame of being the only man ever to escape the Toxic Zone.

However, my story really begins when those fool Albegensi blasted a Terran deep space freighter into micromolecules and started a war they couldn't possibly win. (Personally, I didn't care. War's always profitable for a smuggler!) SOP forced the arrest of any Alien National in residence, and Andi's husband, Tran, was one of them. If only the Federation had known who he really was....

Anyway, Andi's godfather, George Windrider--we have a history that old Spirit Leader and me--sent her to me. God, she was so beautiful--and frightened. I'll admit I'm physically imposing--six-feet-eight, weighing 300 pounds--and I use it! I played it extra tough with Andi--the Big Bad Felidan--snarled, smoked the smelliest cigar I could find, tried to force her to drink beer (her people don't believe in imbibing), then told her the only way she'd get my help was to go to bed with me!

She surprised me by agreeing. Still can't believe a woman could love her husband that much! Made me re-evaluated my opinion of female Terrans...a little.

Nothing didn't happen, of course. She fainted before I could unbuckle my belt, and I let her off the hook, agreed to help her--didn't know I was the one who was hooked!

That sheltered little lady and I had an adventure that took us from Terra to the jungles of Serapis where we had a confrontation neither of us expected. At one point, she even saved my life. Somewhere along the way, she resurrected some gentle emotions I thought were long dead, and when Tran and I at last came face-to-face....

When it was all over, we thought we'd be together forever, but the spectre of Fort Joy reared its ugly head. I've got the same thing that killed my Dad, and I refuse to let her see me die. I sent Andi away, told her I didn't love her.

So now I'm sitting in my ship, the Dream Mariner, getting snocked on Talesian ale, flying high on a roll of Puff mixed with Glow, and it isn't helping a bit....All I can think about is how the sun shone on her hair as we pushed through the Serapian jungle, and how blue her eyes were the morning after we....

Damn it, Andi, that's what killing me--not this disease!

My ship's fueled and ready to go. I can slip past the Coast Guard easily. I've done it a hundred times....

You'll have to excuse me. I've got somewhere to go.

Andi, I'm coming back for you!

(Sinbad's Last Voyage is the first novel in the series The Adventures of Sinbad, published by Double Dragon Publications as an e-book and paperback. It has also been made into an audio book by Books in Motion. The sequel, Sinbad's Wife, is scheduled for release in June, 2008.)

Hi all,

I'll be signing my 2008 EPPIE Award winning mystery UNDERDEAD this Saturday, April 26, from 2-4 at the LA Times Festival of Books. Look for me in the Sisters In Crime booth. (Booth 355, next to Royce Hall.) If you're one of the tens of thousands going to the festival this weekend, please stop by and say hi! I'd love to see you.

In UNDERDEAD, Science teacher Jo Gartner thinks teaching geology to hormonal pre-teens is deadly... until she is bitten by an inept vampire and becomes UNDERDEAD--all the problems of being a vampire, none of the perks.

When she finds a body on her classroom floor with teeth marks in his neck, she must figure out "whodunit" before her Underdead secret gets out. But she's running out of time. The detective in charge of the case is dogging her every move, her vampire traits are evolving in new and embarrassing ways, and someone wants Jo dead...the traditional way!

“UNDERDEAD is certainly not your typical vampire story, it’s better…. I guarantee UNDERDEAD will have you laughing out loud, while keeping you in suspense right up until the end.”~~ Two Lips Reviews

Hope to see some of you there!

Liz, ready to get a sunburn and heatstroke for her art. (Forecast for LA tomorrow is sunny and HOT!)

The New York Times Obituaries 2005:
SULTANOV -- Alexei. The House of Steinway & Sons notes with sadness the passing of the pianist Alexei Sultanov on June 30 in Fort Worth, Texas, at the age of 35.

I first heard this Russian-American classical pianist on KUHF, Houston's PBS station, playing Beethoven's Appassionata. At the end of the breathtaking piece, the DJ related Sultanov's tragic story. Captivated by his music and intrigued by the artist, I researched him on the internet.

Alexai Sultanov was born August 7, 1969. His father, Faizul Sultanov, was a cellist, his mother, Natalia Pogorelova was a violinist, and his grandmother was a well-known Uzbek actress. At the age of six, he began piano lessons in Tashkent with Tamara Popovich. Alexai made his formal debut at age seven.

In 1989, he competed in the Eighth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. At the age of nineteen, he was the youngest in a field of thirty-eight. The prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, created by Fort Worth teachers in honor of Texan Van Cliburn, was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth. Four years earlier, during the height of the Cold War, Van Cliburn had won the International Tchaikovsky Competition held in Russia.

During the performance, a piano string snapped but Alexai finished his volcanic performance of selections from Liszt, Prokofiev and Chopin. But his critics were divided. In a newspaper interview, Denise Mullins, the Cliburn Foundation's artistic administrator, said, "He took things to the absolute edge of the cliff, and it was very exciting to hear. He wasn't afraid to take a chance on stage, and there aren't a lot of pianists who do that."

Sultanov was awarded First Prize--$15,000 in cash, a recital at Carnegie Hall, a recording contract, and sponsored tours in the U.S. and Europe—in one of the wealthiest competitions in the world. His career was launched.

However, his originality and daring expression worked both for him and against him.
(Continued 4/26/07)

A video of Alexei playing the Appassionata is available on YouTube at

Thanks to my dear critique partner Mona for posting the news of my American Title win. I've been travelling and sleeping the last few days!

Pittsburgh was my first Romantic Times Convention but it won't be the last. I took my daughter with me and we had so much fun. The themed parties were a laugh. What great costumes some of the people had. Even I managed to don some wings for the Under the Sea Fairy Ball. The RT staff were wonderful--what a feat of organisation--they all work so hard. The Dorchester people were all so friendly and helpful. I'm looking forward to working with them.

And WOW!! Don't you just love the book cover Dorchester have done for The Magic Knot and they produced it so fast as well.

Here are my daughter and I with the new Mr. Romance 2008 Chris Winters.

I was also lucky enough to meet Kathryn Falk the power behind Romantic Times and one of the strongest supporters of the Romance genre over the past twenty-five years. Here I am with my book poster after the American Title announcement, with Kathryn Falk and Chris Keesler from Dorchester.

Thanks to the wonderful Erin Galloway and Diane Stacy from Dorchester, I was lucky enough to have some excerpts of the first two chapters from The Magic Knot and some pics of the cover to sign at the huge book signing event on Saturday. I sat with Jenny Gardiner who won American Title III last year with her book Sleeping With Ward Cleaver. Here we are with Luke, one of the Mr. Romance contestents.

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for The Magic Knot during the five rounds of the American Title contest and made this possible.

By Beth Trissel

She risks a traitor's death if she fights for the man she loves.

Step into the elegant parlor of Pleasant Grove, an eighteenth century Georgian plantation built on the bluff above the Santee River. Admire the elegant lines of this gracious brick home and its exquisite d├ęcor. Stroll out into the expansive garden between fragrant borders of lavender and rosemary. Bask beneath the moss-hung branches of an enormous live oak, then saunter back indoors to dress for a candlelight dinner in the sumptuous dining room. But don’t plan on a lengthy stay, you’re about to be snatched away for a wild ride into Carolina back country.

Hooves echo on the cobbles beneath Loyalist Meriwether Steele’s bedroom window and rouse her from a restless sleep. What business can anyone possibly have to conduct at this unearthly hour?

Meriwether peers down through moss-draped branches to see two men standing in the yard. One man in a dark coat and a black tricorn hat holds the reins of a roan horse. He isn't familiar, but she knows the other gentleman well. Several inches taller than the stranger, he is simply dressed in a white shirt tucked into breeches that fit his long legs and meet his riding boots. Shadows hide his face and chestnut hair pulled back at his neck, but there’s no mistaking Jeremiah Jordan, master of Pleasant Grove and her guardian these past few months. Elegance cloaks him like a mantle.

Her heart quickens at the sight of Jeremiah and she strains to snatch a word of the men’s hushed exchange. Jeremiah glances around guardedly, then passes what looks like a leather pouch into the stranger’s hand. Her stomach knots in apprehension. Is this nocturnal visit prearranged? Or worse, has Jeremiah joined the Patriots?

Jeremiah knows Meriwether is a dangerous presence in his home, a Tory who could betray him whether she means to or not. If only he hadn't noticed how fetching she looked in that shift with her bare toes peeking out from beneath the hem. Her soft cheek was so smooth beneath his fingers and she smelled deliciously of violets. He couldn't see her eyes in the dark but he knows the beguiling shape and the tenderness that warms their brown depths whenever he’s near, but he doesn't know what, if anything, she might be willing to sacrifice for the cause of freedom so sacred to his heart.

The year is 1780, one of the bloodiest of the American Revolution. The entire Southern garrison has been captured and Lord Cornwallis is marching his forces deep into South Carolina. ‘Bloody Ban’ Lieutenant Major Banestre Tarleton and his infamous Legion are sweeping through the countryside. Revenge is the order of the day on both sides and rugged bands of militia are all that stand between crown forces and utter defeat.

Enemy of the King, a multi-contest finalist, is coming to the Wild Rose Press later in 2008

Helen Scott Taylor delivers her acceptance speech. Notice, she's wearing her tiara. She also received a wand and a poster with her book cover. Standing beside her is Chris Keesler, senior editor at Dorchester.

Helen signing her bookcover. Notice the poster with her bookcover. I am so proud of my critique partner.

Having fun: Mona Risk, James Gaskin (Jimmy) 2nd runner up in Mr. Romance competition,
Joan Leacott and Helen Scott Taylor,

We Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers are thrilled for our own Helen Scott Taylor and her amazing win!

Stay tuned for more on her winning American Title entry, The Magic Knot!
Hoo Dah! Go Helen!

contributed by Beth Trissel

Feel free to back up and read the previous blog before or after you read this one. Imagine a twelve-year old girl in a cult like that one in the news about to marry an older man. What must she be thinking?

She’s writing in a journal she hides from everyone, least she incur the wrath of the women or the elders.

Mother Amanda says I shall marry elder James tomorrow. She says I will be blessed to marry such a good man, but I don’t see how. He has always been kind to me but so stern and old enough to be my grandfather. I begged to be allowed to wait until I reach my womanhood or even until I am fourteen, but Mother Beth said I must not mention this to him or to anyone else. It is not my place to question my elders. I will be wife number seven to him and have been welcomed into the family already by all but his youngest wife.

I will miss living with Mother Amanda and Mother Beth who taught me to cook and sew and plant vegetables.

Sarah seems content enough with her marriage to Ben but he is twenty-two and has only one other wife, Judith, Sarah’s best friend. Sarah grows heavy with child after seven months of marriage. She will become a mother before her fifteenth birthday. Mother Beth and Ben’s mother help Judith and Sarah.

I don’t want to be a wife yet. What will Elder James expect of me? Everything the women say about marriage makes me sure I don’t want it yet. I am wicked to wish for a husband like Ben, young and handsome. If I must serve a man, why couldn’t I serve one who doesn’t frighten me?

(Following is a highly-edited excerpt from the first chapter of the first book from my vampire series in progress, The Second Species. High in the Carpathians lies the Decebral Valley where the aventurieri--the Second Species of Mankind--lives. Avoiding humans as much as possible, because of the fears and myths which have grown up about them, they have their own culture and religion, and their own brand of justice for those who disobey the Domnitor's Law.)


They felt safer when night fell.

It was only as morning came, and the sunlight cast barred shadows upon the dungeon floor, that they cringed into the safety of what little darkness remained, huddling against the stone walls far away from the bright and deadly light. Fear kept them from succumbing to sleep. Clinging to the damp granite, they watched the image of the crossed metal rods as it moved across the stone floor, becoming fainter until it faded away as the sun set.

It had been a long time now--they weren't certain how much had passed--since Ravagui's winged soldiers attacked their father's castel, killing all who resisted, gardi and servants alike. It was too soon after the sun went down, most were still heavy from slumber, and even the humans who served them were caught so unaware as to be totally helpless.

Their parents were killed with a viciousness that bespoke old grudges and long- nursed vengeance. The children saw their father wielding sword and fangs, and taking several of Ravagiu's minions with him as he went down before their onslaught. Their mother herded them into a bedchamber, thrusting their little sister into one twin's arms before locking them in, then turned to face the soldati who launched himself at her, wings flapping.

What followed was a confusion of images and sounds all drowned in the smell of blood as the door was smashed open and the four dragged out, Vlad hindered by the screaming baby in his arms, little Karoly calling for his mother, his voice rising in a shriek as he saw her bloodied body lying in a twisted heap beside the splintered door.

They hadn't been given any explanation as to why they were spared, nor did they ever see the one who had given the orders. They were simply dropped into the dark hole and left.

For ten days and eleven nights.

Eleven nights of unrelieved fear, and hunger.

On the fifth night, Andreas opened his wrist by scrubbing it against a sharp edge protruding from the dungeon wall and shared his blood with his brothers, holding Ruxanda while the child nursed at his pulse.

By the seventh night, with the hunger pangs taking continuous hold, Karoly began to cry, refusing the twins' efforts to comfort him. As the days passed, he lay on the floor, legs curled, hands fisted, moaning quietly.

When the wineskin appeared, suspended through the grate, Karoly was the first to see it.

Before the others could stop him, he scrambled to his feet, staggering toward the sunshine-filled square. Arms reaching for the wine bag, he stepped into the brightness.

"Karoly! Come back!" Andreas shouted.

A rope appeared through the bars, dropping over the child's body, lifting him off his feet.

Legs kicking, Karoly struggled to escape, while the sun shone mercilessly upon him.

His entire body became a living flame, his shrieks blending with the crackle of roasting skin, flesh along his arms bursting and splitting under the heat, amid a liquid bubbling as the blood in his veins began to boil.

The fire rushed upward, and it was over.

Only a blackened skeleton hung from the rope, twisting slowly around and around and around. Softly, it crumbled, rapidly reduced to dust.

The rope was withdrawn. A small box dropped through the bars, rolling into the shadows where it struck Andreas' foot.

He picked it up.

Cut into the underside were the words Strigoi Karoly. Below them in elegant script had been written Dormit in Infern. Rest in Hell.

Slamming the box against the wall, he began to scream, rushing toward the bright square. Vlad's grasp stopped him from dashing directly into the sunshine.

"Murderers! He was just a baby! Why did you do it? Why?"

Later, when the sun went down, Andreas gathered all that remained of his little brother, the dust and the fragments of bone and the little malachite knuckle stones, and placed them in the chest, sobbing quietly the entire time. Holding it against his heart, he crept away to huddle beside Vlad.

...then, it was over.

They heard shouts, the rapid beating of wings, the sound of swords clashing, a repeat of the nightmare that brought them to this place.

A soldati fell across the grate. There was the muffled sound of metal striking flesh and his head rolled away, the severed neck dripping into the pit.

The body was kicked away and someone knelt to peer into the darkness before rising and disappearing.

With a creaking so sharp it was almost a scream, the dungeon door swung open. An armored figure stood there, silhouetted against the torchlight, his wings casting a shadow like those of a giant raptor upon the floor.

In his right hand was a sword wet with blood. His head was unhelmed, black hair coming loose from its club, a patch covering one eye.

"Frate?" Peering into the darkness, he held out his free hand to Andreas. "Brother?"

"Marek!" Seizing the box, Andreas launched himself at his older brother, was enveloped in a hug that also included Vlad as he stumbled toward them, Vlad as he stumbled toward them clutching Ruxanda in his arms.

"Where's Karoly?" Marek turned his head, his one eye searching the dungeon's shadows.

Andreas pulled away from his brother's embrace to hold up the little box.


He'd never seen such a look on any one's face.

"Ravagiu will die the slowest death possible when I find him!" Marek pushed the twins
toward the dungeon steps and freedom.

(The Shadow Lord is the first in the series The Second Species, following titles are Shadow Play, Shadow Passion, and Shadow Law. Shadow Law is a work in progress, Shadow Lord currently being submitted to publishers.)

Truth Is Stranger than Fiction

Posted by Mary Marvella | 12:40 AM | 6 comments »

If I wrote a book about a cult led by a man who persuaded his followers to commit mass suicide, would you need tons of motivation to make it believable? Would you believe me if I told you a society exists that marries children to each other and raises little girls to be sexual in their behavior?

In today's world could societies or sects of men and women who would destroy our world as we know it exist without our knowledge?

We know of societies that reject modern conveniences and isolate themselves from the world outside their bounders but don't break laws of the country surrounding them .

For some reason the beliefs of the Mormon church can be so twisted to serve men who gain power through controlling their families in ways our society doesn't permit. The ideas seem to work well for men who would take some ideas from the Old Testament and distort them to allow a few men to rule through mind control, through conditioning. No, I'm not saying that the Mormon church approves of these renegades.

Polygamists are breaking the laws of the United States, but how many more laws are being broken
by the men and women in these societies? News reports show these people live counter to the laws of nature, according to our nurturing society.

Did you know these people aren't independent of the modern world, that they take money from the very government at which they thumb their noses? They even have cell phones and modern vehicles? What do you believe will happen to the children? What will happen to the women and the men this time? Will we learn of more atrocities wrought on children and young women?

The current story in Texas shows the truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Garnet and Rose Quartz Beaded Bracelet

Posted by Sandra Cox | 12:26 PM | 2 comments »

Okay folks how about another contest? This one is quick and easy. It starts today and runs through Monday. For a chance to win a Mandy Brigg's, of Rogues and Romance, garnet and rose quartz beaded bracelet finish this line, "Sugar, you....." and place it in the header of an email to The entrants with the correct phrase will go into a random drawing. Here's a hint. The sentence I am looking for can be found on my blog.

It's the first month of a war between Earth and the Albegensi, and all aliens in residence are "detained" at the Federation's leisure. Navajo Andrea Talltrees' husband is one of the unlucky ones--until he manages to escape.

When Andi hires the catlike smuggler Sinbad sh'en Singh to find her fugitive-from-justice husband, she runs full force into an immediate clash of personalities--plus a megadose of instant attraction which both try to ignore.

The survivor of a different war with Earth, Sinbad hates Terrans with a passion only the defeated can experience, yet he reluctantly agrees to help the feisty little woman who piques his curiosity, as well as engendering other emotions in his heart. As he takes Andi on a journey halfway across the galaxy, the part-feline smuggler will call on former partners-in-crime for help, and face a deadly enemy with an old score to settle. In his search for Andi's husband, he'll uncover a secret invasion that threatens to destroy the war-torn Terran Federation, and admit certain truths which he's kept himdden, even from himself.

As he fights his desire for a woman who belongs to someone else, Sinbad will learn that it's not how long a person loves that's important but that he has the courage to love at all.

This story was vaguely inspired by the old TV series Beauty and the Beast. I was fascinated by Vincent, the cat-like hero of that show and patterned Sinbad, whose ancestors, the Felidans, evolved from flines, after him in some ways--he's brave, strong, ruthless when he has to be, gentle when necessary, has a wicked sense of humor, and is totally faithful to the woman he loves, even when she's married to someone else--yet he never steps out of line. He never lets her know how he feels about her until she confesses that she loves him, too.

Sinbad is my favorite character, so favorite in fact that I've written four books about him with two more hovering in the wings

Sinbad's Last Voyage is the first book in the series, The Adventures of Sinbad, available as an e-book from Double Dragon Publications as an e-book. The Kindle version can be downloaded from, and the paperback may be purchased at It has also been recorded as an audio book by Books in Motion.

The second book in the series, Sinbad's Wife, is tentatively scheduled for release in June of this year.

We're delighted to have Shelley Munroe here today--even if she is standing over us with a whip and a bullhorn. Um, perhaps I'd better let her explain:

What they don’t tell you when you start writing…

One of the most common questions people ask me during an interview situation is about my advice for aspiring writers. What tips would I give to anyone starting out writing?

Aside from the advice to read, read and read some more and to sit down and write, my best tip is to exercise on a regular basis, because writing and all the sitting involved during the writing of a book, leads to bottom spread.

Yes, sadly true….take it from one who knows. It even bears repeating. Beware the dratted bottom spread.

“Exercise?” you cry. “I don’t have time to exercise.”

Yes, I can hear your words of disbelief echoing around the globe now.

The thing is, bottom spread is insidious. It creeps up on a writer and suddenly…wham! Shaking head. It’s not a pretty sight.

Luckily I have a solution to halt bottom spread. One word, and no, it’s not a dirty one.


I’m all about multi-tasking whenever possible so here are some ways to add exercise to your routine without too many radical changes.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Park your vehicle in one central place and walk to different shops/destinations to complete your chores.
Walk your children to school instead of driving them.
Go for a walk after dinner. Take your children and husband with you and make it into family time.
Explore some of the National and State parks during weekends and holidays.
Walk barefoot on the beach.
Take the dog for a walk.
Do the housework – not my personal favorite, but I’m just laying out all the options!
Go dancing or put on some music at home and shake your groove thing.
Use that gym membership.
Drag the old bike out of storage.
Take up a new sport.
Try gardening – grow your own flowers and vegetables.
Fancy a swim? My local pool has water aerobics, which actually turned out to be a lot of fun. Swim or walk up and down the pool.

As well as a great way to combat weight gain, regular exercise helps with concentration. It gives you time to think about your characters and plot. Yes, it’s that multi-tasking thing again. Exercising is me-time and although you mightn’t think so at first, it’s also fun. So get to it! Sweat those toxins out and you’ll find you’ll feel better. You might even live longer and gain in self-confidence. And above all, you’ll stop that nasty bottom spread!

What do you think about exercise? Do you like it or hate it? Do you exercise? Pssst – do you suffer from the dreaded bottom spread?

Liz Jasper here again, and for the record, Shelley, I like exercise (I also like chocolate, a lot, so you do the math). A little about Shelley:

Shelley Munroe lives in New Zealand and loves to write. She was horrified to discover the truth about bottom spread and has worked hard to combat said problem ever since. Shelley likes walking the dog and cycling but hates housework. Her most recent release--it came out yesterday! Congrats, Shelley, from all of us here at the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers!--is Wanderlust, a contemporary tale of travel through India. It combines all of Shelley’s favorite things: exotic location, love, and lashings of intrigue and murder. Wanderlust is available from Cerridwen Press. You can visit Shelley's website at

A page from a companion short story starring the main character of my WIP:

I, Azazel, of the Order of Grigori, am fallen.

I am not evil.

Look for me. Sitting at the bar beside you. You will know me by my long, fair hair and charismatic smile. My countenance hints at mystery.

My art is, and has always been, the science of seduction.

Saturday morning, seven o’clock, I woke up horny with no remedy in the house but relief was only a phone call away. By ten, I'd gotten laid, kissed sweet Maggie goodbye and stood gazing out the glass wall overlooking the neon splendor of Las Vegas. My white-on-white home built on a hill outside the city was angular, ultra-modern but the furnishings antique.

Young on the outside, old on the inside—like me.

I’d lived in this neoteric garden long enough to imitate the livestock. Sin City suited me. Normally, I'm an easy-going, cheerful even loving fellow. At the moment, however, absolutely nothing suited me. I wished I’d asked Maggie to stay instead of hurrying her on her way. If this ungodly restlessness survived a day in bed with Maggie, I’d require the help of my old friend Bombay Sterling, grinning at me from the liquor cabinet. Another of their habits I'd adopted—
when memories came creeping back. I was wondering if I wanted a martini or a gin-and-tonic when a sharp pain cramped my hand into a fist. Never one for profanity, I exhaled an archaic curse, opened my hand and forgot all about Bombay, Maggie and the heebie-jeebies.

The symbol in my palm bulged blood-red.... as it had on the day my punishment began. The strange symbol had been the subject of many short discussions with mortals who asked if it was a birthmark. I'd nod, smile and change the subject. If only they knew....

At creation, each angel was given an individual sigil. For millennia my heavenly tattoo had been merely a silvery-white scar in my right palm, a sad reminder of what I’d given up. Another razor of pain sliced along the ulner nerve to my elbow, sending a thousand bells ringing in my ears as my vibration soared from the slower corporeal hum to the high pitch of pure Spirit. My hand paled to transparent. Any moment, my mortal pretense was going to dissolve. Then what? Poof...gone...MIA angel?

Something was desperately wrong and I feared I knew what it was, at long last, Retribution coming to call. The night before, I’d succumbed to insanity—voluntary reckless self-endangerment—but for a short time I'd known the perfect joy of Spirit.

In that sparkling time before darkness lost its hold on the world, I took an ivory box from the top shelf of my closet. The small treasure chest had accompanied me on all my many journeys. With reverent, trembling hands, I lifted luminescent fabric from its casket and wrapped myself in sin. Amazing. The garment felt so right when my very touch profaned.

Before the beginning of Recorded Time in a grand show of Old Testament justice, Raphael had stripped the holy robes from my shoulders, and with it, my divinity.


Posted by Mary Marvella | 7:31 PM | 3 comments »

My daughter and I just returned from a cruise to Cozumel as part of a destination wedding. I loved that everything was on the ship! Glitz and glitter included gambling and stage shows.

Meals and snacks beckoned pretty much 24/7 to please almost the most finicky eater. Desserts tempted dieters to sin big time.The good thing for me was that I could order any meals I wanted. I'd already paid for them.

The cleaning crews kept the rooms/cabins and the rest of the ship polished. Everyone offered smiles and services, making passengers feel like royalty.

Did I mention the wonderful food?

The good thing was that we were in our own little self-contained world, away from the real world. The bad thing was we were away from the real world, unless we wanted to spend bunches of money for international calling cards and expensive Internet connections. I'm cheap!

There were places to play, work, or just chill out.

The wedding, the reason we took the cruise, used with the ocean as a backdrop for the ceremony. The elegant bride and groom dazzled in white.

As much as I loved the attention from the waitstaff and ship's employees, I was ready to return home.


He did not wear his scarlet coat, For blood and wine are red,And blood and wine were on his hands When they found him with the dead,The poor dead woman whom he loved, And murdered in her bed.

And all men kill the thing they love, By all let this be heard,Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word,The coward does it with a kiss, The brave man with a sword!

Ballad of Reading Gaol
Oscar Wilde, 1898

Through the Fire also finaled in the 2008 Golden Heart ® Contest

Through the Fire~by Beth Trissel

Will love inflame these two natural born enemies in fiery destruction?

Hear the primal howl of a wolf, the liquid spill of a mountain stream. Welcome to the colonial frontier where the men fire muskets and wield tomahawks and the women are wildcats when threatened. The year is 1758, the height of the French and Indian War. Passions run deep in the raging battle to possess a continent, its wealth and furs. Both the French and English count powerful Indian tribes as their allies. The Iroquois League, Shawnee, and others bring age-old rivalries to the conflict—above all the ardent desire to hold onto what is theirs. Who will live, and who will fall?

Rebecca Elliot is an English lady, Shoka a half-Shawnee, half-French warrior. Rebecca fled an abusive father in London to elope to America with her young British captain. Shoka was a guide for English traders, befriended by an itinerant priest and betrayed by his wife. Rebecca left Philadelphia a widow, courtesy of the French and Indian War, to seek a beloved uncle in the Virginia colonial frontier. She has unwittingly entered a dangerous world of rugged mountains, wild animals, and even wilder men. The rules are different here and she doesn't know them.

Shoka is the hawk, swift and sure, and silent as the moon. He knows all about survival in this untamed land and how deadly distraction can be. He makes Rebecca his prisoner, but the last thing he wants is to lose his head and already shredded heart to another impossibly beautiful woman...this one with blindingly blue eyes and a blistering temper.

Rebecca wants Shoka to guide her to Fort Warden where her uncle and cousins may be sheltering. Shoka wants to sell this furious Englishwoman to a Frenchman before she draws him under her spell, but if he lets her go he can no longer protect her. If he holds onto her can he safeguard his heart? Rebecca is torn between a growing attraction to her magnetic captor and loyalty to her people. With dark forces gathering against them, will Rebecca and Shoka fight together or be destroyed?

Through the Fire is "meticulously researched...a cascade of bold action and passion." ~ Film consultant and author Jim Great Elk Waters (View from the Medicine Lodge, Seven Locks Press), a retired Shawnee URB sub-chief

Massage Anyone?

Posted by Nightingale | 11:36 AM | , , , | 2 comments »

Quote for the Night

Posted by Nightingale | 11:11 PM | 3 comments »

...there was a sound behind it like the beat of ominous wings, like the whir of a hard-spun wheel: Furies's wings, Fate's wheel. But none knew it then. Mere mortals never do.
The Goat Song.

Ever wonder what authors: Amarinda Jones, Anny Cook, Kelly Kirch, Mona Risk, Brynn Paul, Bronwyn Green or Sandra Cox looked like as a child? Can you figure out who’s who? If you have an opportunity, stop by and see if you recognize Saturday’s Children. Since it’s the last day of the contest, there will be two drawings for today.Leave a comment and you will automatically be entered.

Please leave an email address with your comment or a way to contact you, in case you’re the winner!

Rose Quartz

“Are you changing the subject?” He frowned, confused.

“Not at all, I’m used to dealing with the ruggedly handsome man of few words, Hank McHenry. I’m not used to dealing with a stud muffin.”

She gave him a long, appraising look that made him squirm. “Sugar, I always thought you were good looking but now you look as handsome as sin and twice as dangerous.”

“Well, for god’s sake.” Hank jerked. A rush of blood flooded his face, coloring it brick red. He turned away from her and stared at the road. Pressing against the seat with his back, he lifted his hips, dug the amulet out of his front pocket and tossed it at her.

She cl

amped it on her forearm and then sighed in pleasure. “Ah, I felt half dressed without it.”

“Maybe ‘cause you are half dressed,” he said dryly, glancing at her.

She shook her head. “You’re a caution.”

“Is that a step up or back from a stud muffin?”

She laughed. She’d never felt a link like this with a man before. Attraction as sharp and heated as lightning coursed between them. That aside, she loved his dry wit. And the way he considered what she said before he responded as if he really listened.

She respected him as a man. And he was a man, more so than anyone she knew, a real man in a world where heroes were no longer easy to find. A man who believed that a handshake was his word and that his word was his bond. A man who would lay dow

n his life to protect those he loved. She’d never known a man like Hank McHenry and she had a strong feeling she never would again.

Quote of the day: "Do you forget she had you killed?" Shardai,, available in e or paper.

Tender shoots of poke are beginning to emerge. The time of poke salad is at hand. Only the new green shoots may be harvested in spring. Once the shoots take on a reddish hue that resembles the toxic root, they are too mature to consume safely. The green shoots should be cooked in two changes of water and eaten like asparagus.

Despite poke’s potential toxicity, the medicinal value of the plant was highly valued in times past and used by Indians and colonists, though with much care. A very little bit of the dried root was steeped in several cups of boiling water and the concoction sipped sparingly.
Poke, more than any other plant, was regarded as having the power to dramatically alter the course of an ailment. Death is also a dramatic altering and that could happen if too much was administered. I suppose the healer then made a mental note to use less next time. If self-medicating, the patient didn’t have to worry about next time.
Last summer I found an extremely vigorous pokeberry bush thriving among the buddleia. I actually like poke with its deep purple berries (one of the first inks of the New World) if I don’t think about it reseeding everywhere, which it did. But I respect poke, so much more than simply a weed. New research has shown that the root may be valuable in curing some of our most challenging diseases. Just don’t experiment on your own. Consult an expert.

Contributed by Beth Trissel

Baby Pic Contest

Posted by Sandra Cox | 7:35 AM | | 1 comments »

Baby Pic Contest: Friday’s Child

Ever wonder what authors: Amarinda Jones, Anny Cook, Kelly Kirch, Mona Risk, Brynn Paul, Bronwyn Green or Sandra Cox looked like as a child? Can you figure out who’s who? Leave a comment at and you will automatically be placed in a random drawing for a book download. A random drawing of the day’s comments will be held each day this week. If you have an opportunity, stop by and see if you recognize Thursday’s Child.

Please leave an email address, with your comment or a way to contact you, in case you’re the winner!

“I trust you will make the right decision, Lord Colchester, and settle our departure. I have missed Wales all these years, and ’tis your birthplace. You must be anxious to return.” Sir Geoffrey tugged off his worn gloves and avoided James’s eyes. “The time is perfect to move Lord Jeremy far from England and the memories of his sister and mother.”

“Do not mention my beautiful daughter and . . . Alyce in the same breath.” James bit out the words in a jagged tone.

“Whereas a dangerous threat may lurk---”

“’Tis not easy to travel with all the castle servants and their baggage in tow, especially when I have a son who is not healthy. He has been ill all summer, and might not be able to withstand such an arduous journey.” James lowered his voice, parted his lips to say more, and thought better of it. He absently stroked Jeremy’s pale cheek with his thumb and hugged him closer to his chest.

Thursday's Child

Posted by Sandra Cox | 7:23 AM | | 3 comments »

Baby Pic Contest: Thursday’s Child

Ever wonder what authors: Amarinda Jones, Anny Cook, Kelly Kirch, Mona Risk, Brynn Paul, Bronwyn Green or Sandra Cox looked like as a child? Can you figure out who’s who? Leave a comment at and you will automatically be placed in a random drawing for a book download. A random drawing of the day’s comments will be held each day this week. If you have an opportunity, stop by and see if you recognize Thursday’s Child.

Please leave an email address, with your comment or a way to contact you, in case you’re the winner!

Once again, new life is swelling all around us. Baby calves appear overnight in the meadow, and as we drive along the back roads we see fleecy lambs trotting behind their mothers and baby goats playing King of the Mountain. The kids leap gleefully off an old stump and scamper back up again. Babies come wired for play, as instinctive as eating.

Why do we seem to lose the knack for fun as we grow older? More play and reinstating nap time would turn this rum old world around. And chocolate, I think, to sweeten the deal. Those people intolerant to chocolate will have to make other arrangements.

I have sometimes considered writing the President with my ideas for world peace which involve airlifting in chocolate chip cookies, the really good double chunk kind, to quarrelsome countries as a reward for playing nicely. Bubble stuff would be a good, too. Folks can eat cookies and blow bubbles after their naps. And smell the flowers. We should plant flowers and herbs everywhere. Americans could do with far more beauty in their lives. Is beauty vain and frivolous, or as essential as breathing?

“Yes, in a poor man’s garden grow
Far more than herbs and flowers –
Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind,
And joy for weary hours.” Mary Howitt

Posted by Beth Trissel
Photograph by Pat Churchman, shot along a back road a few miles from our farm