Okay, let me start off by saying my part in all this is pretty minor...Jake Goldstein here, owner and operator of the Asteroid Cantina, the best bar in Old Town. I cater to only the highest quality of low-lifes in the Thieves Quarter...smugglers...Dream Merchants...the finest prosties in the area...but you don't want a holovid about the Asteroid, you want to know and me and Sinbad sh'en Singh. Right?

Sin and I go 'way back, to the time when he was a wet-behind-the-ears escapee from the Toxic Zone, 15-years-old and a veteran of a dozen years behind bars! He was one of Shark Tyvarius' proteges. Ol' Shark had fathered a whole herd of moonpups by his various mistresses and for a while, everyone thought the kid with the cat's-eyes and fangs was simply another of his brood, but the smuggler was quick to deny this one and since that was so unusual, everyone accepted it as truth. Anyhow, Shark taught Sinbad everything he could, making him his most infamous pupil, wanted by the Fed on five planets before everything was over. When Sin bought spatial territory from Shark to call his own "run," he made the Asteroid his Home Base and he and I became friends--I was actually Sin's best friend, and that's high praise, knowing how he hated humans. I was also executor of his estate whenever he finally lost his race with a Coast Guard torpedo.

I remember the day that little Natural came to the Bar. Andrea Talltrees. Man, she looked so pristine and out of place, politely asking the Merchant Marines to move aside so she could step up to the bar! She wanted to see Sin, said the bartender from the Blue Owl had sent her. Well, that guy had a rep for procuring, so I knew why he'd sent a female to Sin, what I couldn't understand was why he'd sent a Terran female. I was surprised when Sin took her into one of the "consultation" rooms. More surprised when she came out in one piece. Turns out I was wrong on all points, as I found out later when Sin asked me to help disguise her and get her false ID so he could get her off-planet and away from the Fed.

That was the last time I saw Sinbad sh'en Singh until nearly a year later when he showed up at the Asteroid, still recovering from major reconstructive surgery, toxed out of his mind, demanding the most potent raw-barley whiskey I stocked, and looking as if his heart had been shattered into a million micro-particles. He spent a lot of time "consulting" with Saydee, my best girl, after that, until the day that Natural kid, Cash, showed up. That little beggar was someone I wanted to backhand and I saw that Sin did, too. A real little troublemaker. Ogled Saydee, lit himself one of Sin's best illegal cigars, tried to drink most of his beer, with my pal doing his best to stop the kid and hitting a brick way wherever he turned. Let's face it, Sin knows nothing about raising kids--especially a teenager. Nevertheless, he left with the kid, causing a lot of raised eyebrows, and leaving me to assure them it ain't what you think!

Frankly, I don't know what to think!

You see, it's two days later now, and Sin just showed up, looking like that cat who'd been served a dozen canaries in a bowl of cream, grinning from one point-tipped ear to the other, and telling me he's got a kid of his own and he's on the way to the Brotherhood Council to resign. Resign! I can't believe it! Sinbad sh'en Singh, an Abider, living the Straight and Narrow? If that's the way it's going down, more power to him, and Good Luck, Ol' Buddy!

Hope they invite me to the wedding!

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

Quote for Saturday and everyday

Posted by Mary Marvella | 12:23 AM | 0 comments »

The cure for boredom is curiosity.
There is no cure for curiosity.

Dorothy Parker


Ladies Home Journal is 125 years old. Edward Bok was the editor-in-chief from 1889-1919

Coco Chanel was born in 1883, as was Ladies Home Journal

Look for these ingredients in skincare products.

Red rice - powders, vinegars, and extracts can purify oil-prone skin.
Grapefruit and lemon grass are good ingredients for refreshers, too.

You can use products with carrot oils to keep eyes looking young.
Cucumbers cool and moisturize the eye areas.
Turmeric in balms nourishes your lips .
Shea, avocado, and olive butters hydrate.

Cinnamon and zinc in masks can balance oily skin.
Goji berries and açai berries provide beta carotene and vitamins

Look for tropical fruit enzymes and organic aloe. These gently dissolve dead skin cells.
More ingredients for cleansers. Vitamins E, C, and D, green tea extract help calm skin. Oat amino acids exfoliate.

Cook with Olive oil
Eat wild honey and yogurt

Omega 3 fatty acids help calm and condition inflamed skin

Eating nuts can prevent dry skin, and reduce the signs of aging(wrinkles).
Almonds have Vit E.
Walnuts provide omega 3 oils.
Peanuts fight cancer.
Soy and B vitamins help break down carbs and fatty acids.
Your skin needs calcium, unsaturated fatty acids. Add minerals copper and magnesium. Soybean curds have been used to treat skin infections.

Drink tea, especially green tea.

Red, deep-yellow, and orange fruits high in carotenoids (cancer fighting antioxidants). Lemons fight heart disease (antioxidant limonene).
Tomatoes work best best cooked.

Eat blueberries and raspberries to ward off UV damage.

Fish protein helps maintain and repair the body at a cellular level.

Add wild salmon, sardines, and trout to your diet. Salmon’s bright pink or deep red color comes from astaxanthin, an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory

Cinnamon adds flavor and helps your skin.
Turmeric is full of B6, minerals, and antioxidants.
Use honey to sweeten. Honey has antioxidants, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It can stimulate the immune system and clear infections. Add to tea or spread on toast.

Good for you fat comes from olives and from extra virgin olive oil. Oleic acid keeps the surface of your skin cells supple.
Nutrients go in and waste goes out. Too cool.

Yogurt provides beneficial bacteria that can calm inflammatory skin conditions.

Chocolate has antioxidants. Dark chocolate has the highest levels. It increases skin hydration and reduces roughness.


Posted by Nightingale | 9:37 AM | , , | 5 comments »


Well ladies, this is my very first blog ever. I've been thinking about it for days. Imagining how clever I would sound, how interesting this would be for everyone. And you Mary Ricksen can now step up to the podium and accept your award for best blog ever! Now that I sit here, I can only hope I don't damage anyones psyche with boredom.Sometimes the easiest things are the hardest to do. So in the beginning I tried to think of something to say that would wow everyone. What the heck do I know anything about that might interest people. Since I sat behind that desk, in that dental office for so many years, I thought, hmmm. So here goes.

How do you get the most out of that dentist or doctors office visit? There are some things you just have to know. The most important, and I mean most important, thing is, suck up to the lady at the front desk. I was always amazed at how people would come up to me and rag big time about having to wait. Now I do understand the frustration involved. You don't want to be there. You're scared. And you have to pay for it. Not a good scenario to begin with an then you have to wait too. Outrageous! So furiously you go up to the girl, as people so often called me. Not that I have a name or anything. Anyways, the patient starts to give her what she is due. Torture, sarcasm, anger, you name it, I've heard it. Then when that angry, I'm done with this, patient is seated and the doctor walks in, magically all is forgiven.

Never mind you just under your breath mumbled nasties, or worse yet stood up there in front of everyone and told her she needs to do her job right. And you know just how it should be done. No thought is given to why you are waiting. Most of the time it's the fault of that minor god you have just smiled at and greeted as if nothing was wrong. Ladies I am here to tell you it's not her fault. Not to mention the fact that the girl sitting there is the door keeper. You don't even get in the door, unless she makes you that appointment. Which could take forever. You know what I mean? So start with being really nice to that front desk person. She has a lot of power. She opens the mail, so that request might get lost. There isn't an opening until hell freezes over. Your bill could be the highest with every little thing charged for. Or it could be reasonable. So cardinal rule is suck up to the front desk girl. Note that this also applies to aides, assistants, the other girls, basically whoever else works there. They run the place, just remember that when X mas comes around. Consider the gift of candy, cookies, flowers, whatever you give, just consider it necessary. You'll get to speak to the doctor, swift appointments. You get my drift?

Now you're finally in the chair, or sitting on the edge of the examination table and your mind goes blank. Oh God you think, what did I want to ask? A list would help, write it down, give that note to the doctor. It will become a permanent part of your records, and you get all the answers you need, hopefully. Give the doctor a list of your symptoms no matter how minuscule they sound, they could mean something. You've all watched House, without all the symptoms even House can't help you. Don't waste the doctors time with what you think, just tell them what's wrong. Be concise when you speak. Bring someone with you. Then the two of you can later on sit and compare notes about the foreign language he just used as he spoke.

Ask him to speak English, and put it in terms you can understand. Tell the doctor you are not getting it. Ask, ask, ask. Then listen as well. Don't waste that ten minutes you get talking about life. Because the doctor will tell you, and that's not why you are there. This doctor will probably never be your personal friend.Even if he tells you all his troubles, when you leave, the doctor has plenty of other patients to speak with.Next, educate yourself. Know your stuff. Get a Merck Manual the home edition, and learn. Go home look up everything the doctor told you. It's your body and no one knows it like you do. You have to be proactive, the doctor has a thousand patients, and he cannot remember your medical problems. If you know what you are talking about, the doctor will have more respect for your abilities. You might even be able to help figure out what's wrong. If you're diabetic and your doctor says he wants to check your levels by taking an A1C test, you need to know what he is talking about. So learn as much as you can, it could save your life.

Know your medications, I mean read the literature. In this day and age, you go from Internist to Rheumatologist, to Endocronologist, and they all prescribe different meds to you. You have to know your stuff. One pill could affect the way another works. Intermixing the wrong medications could be really dangerous. Make sure your doctors are in communication when it comes to your medical history.If you call the doctors office and request something and it doesn't get done. Stay calm, take the persons name down, call them by name, and be nicely persistent. The staff has a lot to do, and unless someone is verbally abusive, they will get to your request. The nicer you are the more they are going to try to help you. Bring a book with you and don't get angry if you have to wait. We are all human, yes, I am here to tell you. Even the doctor has bodily functions. He is not a minor god, he or she is just a person, one who could afford medical school, and passed all the tests. The doctor can make mistakes, that's why you have to be proactive.

Next, know when you are not in the right place. Some offices just feel right to you, some disturb you the minute you walk in. So walk out, your instincts will usually be a good guide. Have your doctor do a total body look over. Can you see a spot on your lower spine. Would you know if it was serious? Ask if you need blood work. It should be done periodically, more so if you have a serious medical condition.

Keep your appointments. Unless your being held up at gunpoint the doctor will expect you to show up. If you have to cancel give them at least twenty-four hours notice if you can. Nothing makes them more annoyed than you not showing up. They probably have a waiting list of people who need to come in right away.So there it is, my take on how to get more out of your dentist or doctor appointment.

I hope it helps. Oh and go to the bathroom before they call you in. When you bring a patient in and they say they have to use the restroom, it is annoying. Why wait till they are ready to see you, and then waste your time in the bathroom?If anyone has any questions I'll do the best I can to help. I worked for over thirty years in medical or dental offices, and I went to nursing school but couldn't stand to see people suffer, so I didn't work in hospitals. No one ever died on me in a dental office. I went to school back when medicine was a goal you had to help people before medicine became strictly a business. Those were the days.

Thank you all for inviting me to join you. Sometime I'll tell you all about the maniac dentist I worked for. Every time I quit, I got a raise. I hope this has been interesting for you all and look forward to hearing more from you all.

The best advise I can give you is, stay healthy. It's a full time job.

Mary Ricksen

Morgan Gabriel D'Arcy born in 1635 (the main character in SINNERS OPERA) turns a young 373 years today. Sing happy birthday to my British lord, concert pianist and vampire.

It is also King Charles II's birthday. In their times (the English Civil War/Restoration), Morgan and his King would have been Taurus but are now Gemini.

There seem to be lots of Social Networking sites springing up. I’ve started looking at them recently. Because my first book, The Magic Knot, will be out next February, I now have a reason to promote myself

I’ve signed up for a Myspace and Facebook, which I’m sure everyone has heard of. So far, Myspace has proved valuable in networking and making contacts. I’ve already had a magazine I ‘friended’ request an interview with me and they’re interested in reviewing my book. I’ve also had a request from an Internet review site for copies of my book to review. These sites are great to get your name out and make contacts with other writers, industry professional, and if you have a published book, your readers.

I’ve also recently heard about something called Twitter. I’ve signed up to find out what it’s like. This group seems to be a network of people who send short ‘tweets’ of one sentence out regularly to their ‘followers’ to keep them updated. I’m not sure how useful this will be. I’m having difficulty accessing the site. It seems to be overloaded with traffic.

The networking site Bebo is popular with younger teenagers. My son, who’s fourteen, and his friends use Bebo. If you write YA or middle grade books, this would be a good networking community to join.

There are also communities set up to cater for readers. Goodreads and Shelfari are two I know of. These give you the opportunity to make friends and share with them the books you’ve read and enjoyed and get tips on new books you might enjoy reading. These are also useful sites for authors to promote themselves. I’ve also heard of Library Thing, which I believe is set up in a similar way, although I’m not a member of this group.

I have three good things to celebrate:
My return to computer and Internet life,
My new contract with The Wild Rose Press for BABIES in the BARGAIN,
And my upcoming release of FRENCH PERIL with Cerridwen Press on June 19, 2008.Would you like to share my joy?

I am running a contest on my blog http://www.monarisk.blogspot.com/
All you have to do is post a comment everyday between today and Thursday. On Thursday night I will pull three names from all those who left a comment.And I will send them a special prize.

People often ask: how do you come with the idea of a book? Let me tell you about:


I visited the Chateaux of the Loire Valley a few years ago and was impressed by their magnificence. I visualized gallant aristocrats entertaining beautiful women in the plush gardens. Stories played in my mind. But I don’t write historical romances and I forgot about my project.

At Christmas time, I visited my sister. During dinner, my niece told us with enthusiasm about her summer training in a French chateau. A team of American students in Architecture from Harvard University were offered the unique opportunity to work on the restoration of a chapel in France. When I asked jokingly, “Was the owner a haughty old man?” My niece answered: “He was a young, handsome count and the five girls in my team had a crush on him. He dated my friend.”

Oh, oh. Chateau. Handsome young count. Training on a historical chapel. I had an epiphany. Here was my story premise. When I pitched it at the RWA conference to an agent, she suggested that I add suspense and make my story a romantic suspense. I took her suggestion to heart and upped the stakes by adding a missing statue and the murder of a professor to the plot.

French Peril was born.


A summer job in France with room and board in a chateau owned by a handsome count. Can it get any better for Cheryl Stewart? The graduate student in Architecture is now officially on a mission for her sick professor.

Count François can’t hide his disappointment when Cheryl arrives instead of her eminent professor. But the aristocratic playboy is not one to turn away a beautiful young woman. He allows her to manage the restoration of the chateau’s chapel while keeping his search for a valuable historical statue a secret from the other students working on the project.

Soon things deteriorate. The professor is poisoned, the chateau’s butler attacked and Cheryl’s room burglarized. Is there a traitor in the chateau or a killer on the loose? When Cheryl’s summer job changes into a romantic involvement and dangerous treasure hunt, Count François is faced with a difficult choice. Is the priceless statue worth jeopardizing the safety of the impetuous young woman who has stolen his heart?
Note: This book contains explicit sex scenes.

Blessings upon each of you, and may the Good Lord and Our Lady of Perpetual and UndyingMaternal Love watch over you all. This is the prayer of Sister Mary Briona, Mother Superior of the Kognosian Convent..

As Mother Superior of the nunnery on the planet Kognos and head surgical nurse at the hospital there, I was acquainted with Sinbad sh'en Singh in both a professional and a personal capacity. I met him first when he was a 15-year-old cabin boy on Shark Tyvaris' ship, the Celestial Ray, when one of Shark's crewmen got hurt. The man was brought to us and we nearly lost him because we didn't have the right drugs or equipment. Shark made us a deal we couldn't refuse--treat my men when they need it and don't tell the Fed and I'll give you all the medical supplies you need. God forgive me, I agreed! Later, Sin became our supplier and I became friend to that lonesome child. In spite of the Felidan intolerance for other religions, he had been christened Catholic while in that prison, and it was to me that he confided how he'd lost his parents, and of his treatment by the Fed, and how all he really wanted out of life was to have a den and a mate and cubs of his own.

When he crash-landed the Dream Mariner in front of our gate, with that beautiful woman in tow, I thought he'd finally found the mate he'd long sought. That was how he introduced her just before he fainted--"Sister, this is my mate, Andrea." Later, I learned that was merely wishful thinking on his part, what the old doctors used to call a "Freudian Slip." Then, during the surgery to repair his injuries, we discovered the disease which was unknowingly killing him. I was the one to tell Andi and that news, coming directly on the heels of the fact that she was carrying Sin's child, nearly destroyed her. We both knew he'd never tell her his condition; she chose to pretend she didn't know, waiting for him to say the words that never came.

I'll admit I became a little lax for those two, looking the other way as they broke the rules of our little Order--after all, allowing a male in any convent bed-cell was totally against everything--but they loved each other so...Sin spent more than one night out of his hospital bed and sleeping in the single little cot with his Andrea. Andi, bless her!--she did her best to fit in, I'll say that for her--she attended Mass and Prayers and did her share of the gardening...similar to her life with her own people, she told me...but she loved that man with a passion that was totally frightening.

They left here without him ever admitting to her that he was dying. I have a feeling he'll do something drastic, like send her away, and then taunt the Coast Guard and allow himself to be shot down. All I can do is offer prayers for them both, and ask God and Our Lady to keep them under Their protective arms....

Heavenly Mother, please look after that young sinner, for at heart, he's a basically good man and doesn't deserve all that has happen to him!

I hope that, whatever does happens, someone somehow, will let me know...I do care for that young man, just as I cared for the frightened child I met that fateful day....

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

The Magic Mirror (Part four)

Posted by Mary Marvella | 4:54 PM | 2 comments »

Refer to parts one and two in earlier posts.
Part one
Savannah 1700
Cocky, full of himself Jonathan Saint James screwed around on his betrothed, Cassandra one time too many and she shoves him into a mirror where he becomes trapped.

Part 2
Rural Georgia 1875. Sarah tends the family farm alone when her father travels as a bounty hunter. While working in her herb garden she spots something shiny in the woods and investigates, fearing the shine is the sun glinting from a gun. Once in the woods she finds a Cheval mirror and drags it back to her house.

Part 3
Exhausted after a long day working, Sarah has her supper, then washes her sore muscles in the room with the mirror. She sleeps but is awakened by the feeling someone is in the room with her. She grabs her shotgun and rises to an empty room. A glance in the mirror shows a faded image of a man, but he disappears, as she expected. There could be no man in her room or in her house.

Part 4

One eyelid fluttered open a slit to look into her mirror. The image was faint and fading. She opened both eyes to see an even fainter image disappear. Her own ghastly reflection still held her gun at chest level pointing out at her. She lowered the weapon, feeling foolish. She'd go back to bed and sleep away the disturbing memory, for it couldn't be real.

Sarah crawled back between the sheets and tried to settle into a comfortable position and sleep. She tossed and turned but sleep alluded her, so she was awake to see the earliest morning daylight creep in through her windows.

Giving up on sleep she rose to do her morning chores and forget the foolish imaginings.

Sarah worked from dawn 'til dusk, as she did every day but her thoughts were often on the treasure in her bedroom and the strange dream. The face in the mirror had to be a dream or a trick of the moonlight reflecting in it. Maybe tonight she would have time to read a few pages in one of the treasured books her daddy brought last month.

Sweat trickled down Sarah's face, pooling between her breasts, but she pulled weeds between the rows of herbs. After her noon break she would move to the vegetable garden.

"Seems like my work is never done," she muttered to hear her own voice. Some days she spoke not at all. She hadn't seen anyone for at least a week. "Maybe that's why I thought I saw a man in the mirror," she said.

Each time she straightened to ease the pain in her back she shaded her eyes and stared out at the wooded area to her north, where she had found her mirror. Of course she was just being cautious, so she turned slowly in a circle to study the pasture and hills and every place any one could approach her land or hide and watch her.

When the sun shone straight overhead in a cloudless blue sky she stopped working and stood to survey her efforts. Her herb garden looked neat and clean. Stiff, she ambled to the well and drew a bucket of water. As was her habit, she poured a dipper of water over her sore hands, then her kerchief to wash her face. Just yesterday she had found her mirror. No flashes of light indicated metal or glass in the distance. She hadn't expected either.

Hungry, she pulled a second rope from the well and drew a bucket holding blackberries and a jar of milk. After a light lunch she returned to her work, this time using a hoe to weed the vegetable garden. Soon she'd have fresh vegetables and could stop rummaging in the bins in the root cellar for dried up carrots and potatoes for her stews.

As dusk approached, she made her way up her front steps to the wraparound porch.

After supper Sarah took a bucket of water to her room to fill the pitcher on her washstand and the basin so she could wash up. After last night's restless sleep, she'd need a good rest. Maybe she wouldn't take the time to read.

In the light of an oil lamp she removed everything but her shift. She dipped a bathing rag in the basin and washed her face and hands. Lord, that felt good. She made a point to avoid the big mirror as she washed her arms and shoulders. From the books she'd read she knew she should feel be ashamed of the tanned skin of her large hands and forearms. She had seen her brown skinned reflection in the glass window panes and knew the women in town looked away from her when she shopped at the dry goods store or dared to attend a church service. Well, if they had to work outside all the time, they wouldn't have the milky skin of the women in her books.

Our meadow is as lush as I’ve ever seen it. Thick grass reaches past my knees and spreads in a green swathe from fence row to fence row, sparkling with buttercups. The elusive meadowlark, my favorite songbird, trills sweetly from secret places hidden in the green. Rarely, I catch a flash of yellow as it flies, just before it tucks down again. Sandy brown killdeer dart around the edges of the pond on long legs, sounding that wild funny cry peculiar to them.

Green-blue water fills the banks of the pond, painfully parched last summer. Migrating mallards and ruddy ducks ripple over the surface, bobbing bottoms up. The air fills with gossipy quacks. Ducks are contented creatures. Not so our plump gray and white barnyard geese. Their honking clash and chatter punctuates life on the farm, more or less, depending on their current level of hysteria.

Some of these geese have been here time out of mind, waddling about with broken useless wings. They remind me of nervous old ladies who can’t find their glasses and are forever misplacing their grandchildren. More than once we’ve rescued a frantic gosling inadvertently left behind by its addled elders in a hole wallowed by the cows. Silly, silly geese. I chide the dogs when they’re tempted to chase and annoy them--too easy and it doesn’t seem fair. Our dogs aren't nearly as bold around the Canadian geese that also nest here. The gander fiercely defends his young and doesn't accept excuses.

Birthday blog

Posted by Mary Marvella | 12:11 AM | , , , , | 8 comments »

I had a wonderful birthday. When my daughter called saying she didn't feel up to having our birthday dinner, I wondered if this would be a quiet day. Well, two friends called to suggest getting together. I met one and asked for a rain check with the other. They don't now each other.

My friend June and I had fun and laughed a lot. I missed my kid but was grateful for my friends. Several email greetings made me feel loved, though some were automatic from loops. Hey, I have friends in cyberspace.

As I was leaving supper with my friend June, I got a call from Jamaica, my first call from Jamaica! I am sooo bragging! My young friend, multi-published author Kayla Perrin, and Una, her mama, called me to wish me a happy birthday. Too cool! The three of us share May birthdays within a few days of each other. They are my Gemini soul sisters, even if one is my daughter's age. They usually call from Canada. I saved the numbers on Caller ID to prove I got the calls from there.

Want to know more about the Magic mirror?
Want to know about summer makeup and skincare?

Come back for that!

An employer asks his secretary to stay late and copy some disks for him. It's not an unusual request so she complies. He goes into his office.... Five minutes later, the secretary is running for her life as she sees her boss murdered.

That's the beginning of my new novel, Three Moon Station. It's a straight romance, albeit a futuristic one, a departure from my other stories which border on fantasy/horror, so I employ a pseudonym--Icy Snow Blackstone. The origin of that name has a story all its own, but that's for another day. For now, Three Moon Station and the people who live there have the spotlight.

Katy Rawls is a shy, compliant orphan raised by a domineering uncle who's a successful business man because he plays dirty and has even dirtier friends. His partner, Karel Andrews, is his exact opposite, loved by everyone in the office. Katy's witnessing of Andrews' murder sets her feet on a path that sends her to another planet. With the disks containing the evidence that got her boss killed, she heads for the shuttle terminal, intending to go to the police. Because the killers are in hot pursuit, however, and she left purse and identification behind in the office, her destination turns out to be entirely different.

At first, Katy thinks this is the best idea. Getting included in a transportation of Domestics to the pioneering planet Tritomis-2--where females are at a minimum and each passenger will be bid for by a man who'll take her to his ranch--Katy figures she can tolerate being a housekeeper for a year, then when things on Earth cool down, she'll go to the local Federation Marshal and turn over the evidence and live Happily Ever After, as well as Safe from Harm.

Almost immediately, things don't go as she plans. She's noticed by Alwin Marsten, a rancher whose Domestics mysteriously die within a year of going to his ranch. A woman who befriends her on the voyage to Tritomis-2 gets caught in a bidding-duel between Marsten and Abel, a handsome, young farmer who desperately wants her. Only the intervention of a mysterious redheaded station owner enables Abel to win over Marsten, an event that erupts into a fist fight between the rancher and the redhead. When Marsten attempts to buy Katy, the stranger bids four times as much for her and again the rancher loses, leaving the auction with anger and threats.

Katy finds her new employer, Sarkin Trant, a gentle, humorous, and surprisingly shy man, the son of an Arcanian Exile and a schoolteacher from the Scottish colony on Mars. Though still in his thirties, he has a son two years younger than Katy, and she believes he'll be easy to work for--as well as easy to leave when the year's up. When they arrive at Three Moon Station, his ranch, only then does she learn the truth: the Contract she signed with Sar wasn't an Employment Agreement as she thought but a Marriage License, and she's now wed to a total stranger who expects to receive full marital benefits from his new wife!

Katy has exchanged one danger for another of a very, very different kind...and the Terran hit men are still on her trail!

(The release date for Three Moon Station is still to be announced by The Wild Rose Press. It is the second book written by Icy Snow Blackstone, the other being The Irish Lady's Spanish Lover, a paranormal romance.)

The canons of good society are, or should be, the same as the canons of art. Form is absolutely essential to it.

Oscar Wilde

(The young man and woman are Charlotte and Andrea Casiraghi, son and daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco. posted on a romance blog to showcase the handsome Andrea.)

The Mirror Part 3

Posted by Mary Marvella | 6:51 PM | , , | 4 comments »

Refer to parts one and two in earlier posts.
Part one
Savannah 1700
Cocky, full of himself Jonathan Saint James screwed around on his betrothed, Cassandra one time too many and she shoves him into a mirror where he becomes trapped.

Part 2
Rural Georgia 1875. Sarah tends the family farm alone when her father travels as a bounty hunter. While working in her herb garden she spots something shiny in the woods and investigates, fearing the shine is the sun glinting from a gun. Once in the woods she finds a Cheval mirror and drags it back to her house.

Part 3

Dusk had sent Sarah inside to light the oil lamps after she milked the two cows and fed the two horses, her only cattle.

From the barrel beside the back porch, she lugged buckets of rainwater to the kitchen, despite her screaming muscles, emptying them into a cast iron wash tub. With hot water from the warming tank on the wood stove, she warmed the bath. Once she gathered cloths and bath sheets and a clean gown she removed her clothes and eased her tired body into the tub. At last she could relax and pamper herself.

She sighed as she poured one bucket over her hair to wet it, saving extra buckets of water lined beside the tub for rinsing. Her single hoarded bar of lilac-scented soap made soothing lather as she soaped her hair, massaging her neck and scalp. If only she had someone to do this for her, like a mother, or a sister, or even a close friend.
But she lived so much of her life alone with her gardens and her shame as the motherless daughter of a bounty hunter. A woman without the charms and social skills to make friends or attract suitors, she had her few treasured books and her schooling taught her by her father and her older brother. She could read and she could cipher and she loved learning.

Deep in her reverie she soaped her body, giving attention to her arms and legs. Tomorrow she'd use more rain water to rinse her hair outside, if need be. But who would see her anyway?

Slushing her body with fresh water from the rest of the buckets she rinsed her hair and her body. Rising from the water she dried with a bathing sheet. Quickly she wrapped the length of fabric around her body so she could towel dry her hair. Once she had wrapped her hair in one sheet, she pulled her gown over her head, even though no one would be near to see her nudity.

Grabbing the clabbered milk she kept cool in the well, she poured enough to half fill a china bowl. Using the china pieces her father brought her made her feel closer to him. She crumbled corn meal bread, adding it to the milk in the bowl. Tomorrow she'd mix bread dough with the remaining flour and yeast and leave it out to rise while she did her morning shores.

She glanced at the mirror she'd left near the door earlier, but hunger and wet hair called her before curiosity and pleasure.

She sat at the rough-hewn table in the warmth to eat the light supper, avoiding the urge to look at her treasure. After she rinsed her bowl and glass in the dry sink, she sat on a short three legged stool by the stove, toweling drying her hair in the warmth to avoid catching a chill in the cooling evening air.

Exhausted, she began to doze in the warmth and was tempted to curl up on the floor and sleep. A feeling she was not alone nagged her awake. She'd get up and go to her bed. She filled a glass with cook water from the drinking bucket, she grabbed her pistol, and her shotgun, then started for her room. Something wouldn't let her stay while her mirror stood in the out of place. It should be in her room. As if it called her she decided she'd do one last thing. She dragged her mirror to her room, then left to turn down the wicks on the lamps and extinguish them.

One lone lamp lit her bedroom as she turned down the covers, and slid her gun under her pillow and her shot gun under her bed on the wall side where no one could get to it or between her and her protection. No intruder would get to her weapons and shoot her with them.

Moonlight cast the room in a cool glow when she extinguished her lamp. She crawled into her bed, settling between the cool bedclothes and drifted off to sleep.
The feeling she was not alone shook Sarah awake. For an eternity she lay, sweating under the covers but still, searching every shadow in the room for an intruder. She saw no one. It was clearly not time to rise yet but she couldn't shake the strange feeling.

She reached under her pillow and pulled out her pistol. Quietly she slipped from bed and padded to her door to listen for footsteps or movement in hall or the other rooms. Silence mocked her until something drew her attention to her mirror. Backing from her door she approached her new find. She looked at the glass, expecting to see a disheveled, plain woman. The vague outline of a man made her whirl around with her gun at chest level, cocked and ready to shoot the man behind her.

There was no man. How strange. Was she still sleeping and dreaming the man? She turned back to the mirror and saw the same image in the mirror. Even in the moonlight she could see the person was facing her, not behind her.

His dark hair and patrician features made him look like one of the relatives' portraits in her mother's trunk. The man could be from a hundred years ago or earlier. She closed her eyes and prayed the figment of her imagination would disappear. There could be no man reflected in her mirror or in her room.

I am Tran Daylin--that's one of my names, anyway. I've also been called the Death General--and I'm the so-called villain of the piece. I make no excuse for anything I've done. On my planet, I'm a man to look up to, a model of bravery and leadership, and all my acts have been done for the Empire. It's only the Terrans--and a hundred other pitifully pacifistic species--who think otherwise. I will say this, though--whatever I did, I'd do again, for the Emperor, for my planet--but no matter what, I will always love Andrea Talltrees. Even in my present predicament, even though it was her testimony which put me here, I will always desire her. And some day, I'll have her back again, if I have to rip her from that damned half-breed's arms!

I remember the first time I saw her, the day I asked her father for work, shortly after arriving on Terra. She was twelve, with blonde pigtails and blue jeans. I'd never seen such a lovely child and knew that she'd grow into a beautiful woman. For some reason, she liked me and dogged my footsteps as I went about my chores. For three years, I was followed by that lovely little creature, struggling to ignore her--don't get the wrong idea, I have no unnatural urges at all. At that time, she was just a pest! No thirty-year-old man wants a child getting in the way while he's baling hay or running a thresher! Eventually, things changed, however; Andi became a woman, I felt a flutter of interest, and I saw the profit in being affiliated with someone high up in the Naturals' clan, so... shortly after her sixteenth birthday, I went to Vincente and asked permission to marry her. Naturals marry early, so the fact that I was over twice her age didn't matter. She was so sweet, so naive, in spite of living on a farm. Our wedding night might have been a disaster had I been less caring...I won't shame myself by describing the gentle emotions I have for this Earth woman, on my planet, it's weakness to show love. It's effeminate to wear jewelry, also, yet the wedding ring she gave me still adorns my left hand--and woe be to any man who dares ridicule me for doing that--or try to take it away!

I had a plan for Earth, a plan of conquest but it didn't involve Andi or my son. They would've been rescued and spared. Then, those stupid Albegensi torpedoed that freighter and all aliens were arrested! Fortunately, my men helped me escape, and then Andi had to be a loyal, loving wife and go to that damned Felidan and ask for his help. I know about that smuggler. His ship has buzzed the palace of my cousin, the Emperor, many times to show his contempt for us. A place of honor on my cousin's Trophy Wall awaits his head. The day we finally confronted each other, I thought I would fill it, too....

I refuse to speak on this further. I lost Andi, I lost my son, I lost the war, but my men are still out there, and they won't let me languish forever, and someday, Andi, and that smuggler who stole her from me, will pay...dearly....

Someday, Andi...my darling, unfaithful wife...you'll be mine again....

(Sinbad's Wife is the sequel to The Adventures of Sinbad: Sinbad's Last Voyage and will be released this summer by Double Dragon Publications.)

The Duality Of Nature

Posted by Helen Scott Taylor | 11:13 AM | , , , , | 6 comments »

We have a bird table outside our kitchen window where we sprinkle birdseed and hang two bird feeders, one filled with peanuts, one with sunflower seeds. Yesterday morning while I drank my coffee, I watched the morning flurry of activity around the hanging feeders, and on the ground beneath where fragments of seed and nut fall.

Many small birds pecked around between the blades of grass. In amongst the feathered melee one small chestnut field mouse boldly held his own in the contest for scraps.

I watched, fascinated, as the delicate silky creature threaded his way back and forth between the tufts of grass, now and then nipping back to his hole between the stones bordering the lawn.

Today I checked activity beneath the bird table while I had my after-lunch coffee, hoping for another glimpse of mighty mouse.

It seems he wasn’t so mighty after all.

Between the small birds pecking up seeds lay a tiny furry shape. I slammed my mug down on the counter and hurried out to check what I’d seen, hoping I’d made a mistake.

No mistake. As the birds fluttered away, the frail little body was left on its side on a bare patch of earth, surrounded by seed husks. The smooth chestnut guard hairs were ruffled in places, revealing soft dark fur beneath. A creature must have mauled the mouse. But there was no sign of blood or injury.

I nearly cried.

I have a horrible suspicion my darling cat might be the murdering beast, which makes the scenario worse.

How can the sweet natured cat who rubs lovingly around my legs, and is even now, as I type, sitting by my side purring, be the hideous monster who murdered the brave little mouse.

Terrible, yet intriguing--this duality of nature, where my loving pet is another creature’s nightmare. Doesn’t this enigma seem to occur so often in nature and in life? There are no absolutes.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

by Carol Ann Erhardt

There are many negative connotations about e-pubs, so I’d like to talk about the good things—the things I love about being e-pubbed.

1. My publisher—The Wild Rose Press is making a reputation for being a friendly, helpful publisher and they are growing much faster than anyone had foreseen. I signed my first contract in May of 2006 and was one of less than ten authors. Now there are over two hundred. Why? Because they live up to their reputation of wanting to grow writers. No, they do not accept inferior work, but they offer detailed suggestions for improvement with every rejection letter. No one ever receives a canned rejection letter. Authors receive help with promotion and marketing from the Marketing Director. Chats are scheduled, ad opportunities offered, and releases are automatically sent to numerous review sites. If I have a question, or a problem, I get a quick personal response.

2. No Mailing Costs—I submit my queries, synopsis, and manuscript through email. I receive my edits and galleys through email. No worries about making trips to the post office. Sweet!

3. Availability of Books—My books are offered through many channels, including Amazon. Yes, my books are available for download to the newest rage in e-book readers: The Kindle. No need to worry about shelf life either.

4. More Plot Freedom—My writing tends fall outside the standard “formulas” for traditional publishers. My first book, HIT AND RUN, is a romantic suspense with paranormal woven in (twin sisters who have a psychic link that transcends death). This didn’t fit the mold for any traditional publisher. My latest release, JOSHUA’S HOPE, was viewed by traditional publishers as having a plot that was “too twisted.” My publisher doesn’t look for formulaic manuscripts. My editor looks for a good story with a happily ever after ending, but there are no hard and fast rules stating that the hero and heroine must meet in the first three pages.

5. Work From Home—I’m an introvert. I get uncomfortable when placed in the midst of strangers. For me, it’s as bad as being placed on a stage, having a microphone shoved in my face, and being asked to (choke) talk! Being e-pubbed, I can join on-line chats and promotions and not be so frightened my knees knock together. It’s easy to be the “accomplished author” online. And, best of all, I can do all my marketing in my fuzzy pink slippers.

Carol Ann Erhardt writes romantic suspense and inspirational romantic suspense. She has two full-length novels in print and e-book. She also has five short stories in publication, all with The Wild Rose Press. Her second novel, FOXFIRE, finaled for a 2008 Eppie. Visit Carol Ann at her website at
www.carolannerhardt .com.

Summer has arrived in California. Since that season differens only a few degrees from Fall, Winter, and Spring, How can I tell? Because the air is now full of the Fragrance of eucalyptus. Yes, Summertime in California smells like a Hall's cough drop! California has other unique properties, as most people can tell you.

Only in California, can you:

***see a group of teenagers walk down the street on 8-foot stilts,

***drive through foothills so covered with wild clover they look as if they're dusted with gold,

***visit a city, located 4,600 miles from the Seat of Liberty, that was founded the same year America won its Independence,

***go to a college offering courses in Surfing 101 and Advanced Surfing,

***see red-tailed hawks sitting on lamp posts overlooking the Freeway,

***watch a live high-speed chase between cops and robbers every night on the 11:00 News,

***have the residents of an apartment complex take violent sides on whether or now to eradicate the rabbit population,

***have a pet in a fenced-in yard in a highly-populated area carried off by a coyote. (I'm with the Pro-bunny people here. Let the rabbits live, so Muffy and Fido won't become coyote lunch!),

***drive up a 20-degree incline to get home every night because your house is on the side of a mountain,

***watch that same house slide into the ocean as the mountain under it turns to mud,

***see the sky turn red because of nearby forest fires (the picture at left was taken on Alicia Drive going into Rancho Santa Margarita facing the Saddleback Mountains, during the forest fires 4 years ago),

***see a pair of mallards walking through a service station, checking it out,

***have your bed bounce 2 feet across the room from the aftershock of an earthquake 12 miles off the coast,

***watch the glass in your French doors ripple like Jell-o from that same aftershock,

***one of your work-mates has purple hair, a nose ring, and a bird tattooed on her tummy,

***gather with a group of people to look for the first swallow to come back to Capistrano,

***see someone you think is Tom Cruise talking to a neighbor, and finding out he really is Tom Cruise!

Go to bottom of this page and click previous posts, to find The Mirror, Prologue

Rural Georgia, 1875.

The mirror

Sarah stood put her hand on her aching back. Weeding the herb garden always took so much out of her when she insisted on doing it all in the same day, especially in the heat of mid May. So thirsty she could barely muster enough spit to swallow, she clomped to the well. She lowered the wood bucket over the edge, waiting to hear the splash when it landed.

Even hearing the splash made her feel cooler. Good thing, cause her arms were tired and her hands ached, but she turned the crank to bring up a bucket full of cold, sweet water.

Using the dented medal dipper, she poured water over her callused hands, reveling in the slight sting washing the cuts and scratches. Well, it couldn't be helped. Herbs added flavor to her meals and she needed the money from the sale of her herbs.

As she raised the next dipper of water to her lips she paused at a flash in the distance. A glint of sunlight on some trespasser's weapon? Drinking her fill of the much needed liquid, she measured the distance to her own shotgun.

At times like this Sarah missed having a man who could search the area to find the source of the flashes. Her daddy would have sighted any intruder and have him trussed in two minutes flat, but Daddy was out hunting men with bounties on their heads.

Never one to stand around and wonder, she dove toward the shotgun, crawling several body-lengths before she reached it. Struggling against her heavy skirts she raised into a kneeling position. No shots rang through the air. Maybe the trespasser wasn't looking her way.

Rushing short distances in a crouch she hid behind a bush, then a barrel. Daddy had taught her well. A shed offered protection while she caught her breath and waited. She'd have bruises to go with the aching back tonight and one very dirty work skirt. Today would have been a good day to wear a pair of her brother's outgrown trousers. Well, she hadn't, so now she had to sneak up on someone despite rustling skirts. Maybe if she removed them, or at least one? Not a good idea when her white bloomers would make her easier to spot. And she'd be caught in her under things.

Peeking around a corner she still caught glimpses of the flash of light. The closer she moved, the less the flash looked like sunlight glinting from a gun barrel. What else could it be?

Nearing the source of the light the larger it seemed to grow. Still, no sign of a person near it made her wary. Could the person be lying in wait for her, waiting for her to approach the large piece of metal or glass, whatever it was? She and her brother had used glass shards to send signals to each other as children. Who would have left either at the edge of woods on her family's property?

Within a few feet she saw clearly. A finely-carved fame on a stand holding a cheval mirror stood alone among the trees and weeds. A cheval mirror? Now she knew this was a trick. She had never seen a real mirror, much less one so elegant. Who would have brought one this way, much less left it here?

A trap? Maybe someone wanted her to try to take it so he could ..what, capture her? Buy her soul? Ridiculous. From this distance a man or woman with good aims could have shot her at any time this morning. She crept toward the mirror, finally close enough to touch it.

Running her hand over the smooth wood she considered the idea of selling her soul for the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. That mirror would belong to her, now. She felt it in her bones. She began the job of dragging the wooden stand toward her house. She couldn't leave her shotgun and she wouldn't leave the mirror. Every few yards she moved the gun ahead several steps, then returned to get the mirror. After three trips for each, she considered leaving it to fetch her wheelbarrow to help her tote this treasure home. Too bad she didn't expect her daddy or her brother home to help her for days.

Once she had prize in the open where she could see her house clearly, she scurried to the wheelbarrow and back. After that the rest proved easy.

By the time she had dragged the heavy mirror onto her porch and into her house, she hurt more than she had ever considered possible, but she had the mirror and would keep it no matter who returned to claim it.

Yes, gentle reader, if an unwed pregnant woman or new mother was reported to the authorities she was in big trouble in early America. We all remember The Scarlet Letter? The Puritans had a letter for every sin in the alphabet. Other colonies treated the matter differently, but punishment was dished out all the same. Remember, before the Revolution, Colonial America wasn't into separation of church and state yet, so it was a moral and a legal offense to give birth out of wedlock. A fine was placed on the woman's head, which if she couldn't pay (and she couldn't) resulted in a public lashing. Most of these unfortunates were servants, possibly indentured, and not wealthy women.

Accounts of such lashings are recorded in the antiquated book entitled The Annals of Augusta County, a neighboring Virginia county to my home in Rockingham. A lashing involved stripping away the woman's clothes so that her back and sometimes her breasts were bare for all to see. Shame as well as pain.

If the father of the child acknowledged his part (most were married so this wasn't kewl) and came forward to pay her fine, she was released with a warning. I read of one noble man coming forth to pay the fine and rescuing a young woman from such a harsh fate. Good for him!

I'm guessing, if at all possible, unwed mothers secreted their pregnancies. Bear in mind that
this punishment was meted out to the less fortunate unprotected women. Isn't that the way? If a young lady had family who took her in and kept her secret or beat up anyone who threatened her, that was another matter. But that sort of family also likely saw to it that she was wed before the pregnancy became obvious. The mistress of a prominent man was not likely to be at risk either. Although many times a mistress had the title Mrs. in front of her name in the event that she needed a husband either absent or present to pin the pregnancy on. And thus it was...

Contributed by Beth Trissel, author of upcoming Wild Rose release Enemy of the King

(Surprise not a Wilde.)

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.
~ Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

I thought I'd run a blurb or two by you for my "new and improved" web site (how can something be new and improved??)

Love For Sale - Pushing the big 40, divorced and disillusioned, March Marlin has given up on love until, by chance, she discovers an ad selling sentinent androids that are indistinguishable from humans AND programmed for love.

Gambler's C hoice - Wealthy Virginia socialite Becc a McQuad finds her perfect horse but dark, mysterious and handsome Austen Heath won't sell his winning mount or succumb to her charms until tragedy throws the rivals together in his gothic mansion.

Behind the perfection of a man's style, must lie the passion of a man's soul.

Oscar Wilde

All of the Wilde quotes I've posted are from a wonderful little book entitled The Wit & Wisdom

of Oscar Wilde by Ralph Keys.

I suppose when it comes right down to it, everything that happened is my fault, but at the time, it seemed the only thing to do.

My name is George Windrider, Spirit Leader of the California Naturals and godfather to Andrea Talltrees. I remember when Andi came to live with the Talltrees, a frightened little blonde moppet of two, crying for her mother. Vicente called us all together and informed us that from now on, the child was to be considered his own and no Federation social worker was to be allowed near her! I watched Andi grow up, fall in love with Tran, give birth to Cash, and lose everything when Tran was arrested as a spy.

I knew he'd be taken to a secret intern camp. I'd been outside the Valley, had been a guard at a camp in another war, and I knew what might happen to him there. That's why I suggested Andi go to Sinbad. The Felidan and I had a history--more than even he knew--and it was a big shock to him, years later, when he actually found out why I sought him out. Never mind, that's a story for another day....

Anyway, no sooner than I had told Andi to find Sinbad, then I had second thoughts. I knew Sin hated Terrans--especially the women--and I certainly didn't want my little Andi hurt by that creature, even knowing everything about him that I did. Andi, being the hard-headed little lady she is, went anyway, found Sinbad, convinced him to help her--I never knew how--and, when Tran escaped and the Marshals came after her, Sinbad was the one who rescued her and kept her safe. I was grateful to him for that, but hated the fact that he made her break the rules of our following by taking her off-planet. We don't believe in using vehicles that fly--through either air or space, you see.

I helped watch over young Cash while his mother was gone, was overjoyed when she returned, listened anxiously while my wife, Goldie--the Naturals' midwife--agreed to deliver Sinbad's son. How I wanted to tell Andi what I knew, my secret, about children fathered by desperately ignorant young men who never knew what they'd done.... Again, I'm talking out of turn....

I was there when Cash returned with Sin and the boy and I quickly beat a hasty retreat to leave Andi and Sin alone together. I took Cash to the barn, to finish the milking but he's standing in the doorway, watching the house as if he's expecting it to explode any minute....

With those two in close proximity to each other, it just might happen!

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

Woo Hoo! The hits on YouTube are soaring past 885! Check it out!


(1700, Savannah)

A prison with no bars,
A world void of warmth and human touch.
An eternity with no love.

I, Jonathan St. James, am forced to live away from the woman I love, from the world I know. Time passes in a world of which I am not a part. Would that I had never laid eyes on the beauteous Cassandra.

Our families had betrothed us as children and she knew me better than anyone else could. We were best friends, we loved each other. How could she banish me to this cold, meaningless world?

I remember the day my world ended, as if it were yesterday. Cassandra stood before me in all her blonde beauty, her emerald green eyes flashing. I had risked life and limb to climb the rose and thorn laden trellis to her bedroom. Either the trellis had weakened with age or my adult body tested the weight of the old structure we had climbed many times as children.

"How could you?" she screamed from across the room.

I had never seen her face so mottled in anger.

"What have I done, my love?" I asked, easing away from the open window.

"You vain, selfish swine! Is there a woman in this town you have not bedded?"

In that question I sensed a trick. Since I was a boy in short pants, women had fawned over me. Only Cassandra treated me as a person and truly loved me. Every other woman had thrown herself at me, offering me pleasures, which I accepted like any other virile, unmarried man with natural urges would. Even married men took their pleasures from women other than their wives.

In my defense, I feigned ignorance to save her feelings and my own head. Cassandra held one of her father's dueling pistols and I knew she could load it and use it well.

"My darling, Cassie. I would never do anything to jeopardize what we have." I took a step toward her, reaching to ease the weapon from her hand. She snatched it back but held it steady and aimed at my heart. If I could but hold her in my arms, I could make her see reason.

"You are to be my husband. I deny myself the pleasure of giving myself to you or any other man, but you share yourself with every woman who offers her body."

Now I was angry. She knew women took advantage of me and my need to make them happy. She also knew the way of things with men. Our fathers both had mistresses but treated our mothers with respect and love. I was promising her to be true only to her, to deny myself what other men took for granted.

Staying reasonable, I responded. "I vowed to be faithful to you once we marry, to love you, to honor you, to give you everything. What more would a wife expect?"

She stared daggers at me now. Perhaps I wouldn't try to hold her. When she took a step toward me I took a step back. Her anger made her seem to grow in stature. I had seen her temper and it is awe-inspiring.

A bad feeling overwhelmed me. She had never unleashed her rage on me before. With each step nearer, she grew before my eyes, advancing on me faster than I retreated. Tonight I would not sway her with charm, or pretty words, or reason.

When my back hit something solid, I glanced over my shoulder at the cheval mirror I gave her two years ago for her sixteenth birthday.

I turned back to her in time to see her hand fly at my face, slapping me with more force than I would have thought possible from a delicate female. The force of that slap sent me backward in a sprawl.

Odd. Had I knocked the mirror with the force of my fall? I rose and started to move toward my love, but something stopped me. I bumped into a glass wall.

Cassandra glared at me, then her mouth formed an evil smile. Her voice took on an eerie quality as she chanted.

"In the mirror you shall stay.
Until there comes a day
When a woman wishes you outside,
You will abide
In your prison.
You have the power to grant her one thing she wishes,
But must return to your prison unless her wish is
That you remain with her forever."

I tried to push through the wall. "I am not amused, Cassie. Get me out. I order you." I banged on the wall I could not see at her retreating back. Maybe I should not have ordered her.

Where in history can one find a period of more excitement and romance than the American Revolution? A time of intrigue, spies and secret liaisons? Of trysts and high drama, where no one could be absolutely certain which side anyone was on at any given moment. Turn coats and traitors abounded. Betrayal was all too common and occurred at the highest level. Who might be next?

General Benedict Arnold was George Washington's right arm, an officer of the highest rank who had served the Patriot cause with outstanding courage and excellent leadership. But the Revolution was also a time when men and women on opposite sides of the war fell in love and Arnold fell for a beautiful Tory. She, along with his pride, greed, and fear of being on the losing side, led to his downfall. He later died in England, poor and alone. despised by Americans and British alike for betraying his country.

This saga that forged a new nation was filled with passion, soaring hopes, dashed dreams, unimaginable courage and sacrifice. Never underestimate the sacrifice colonial Americans made for the cause. What we are today, that underdog who takes on the world and wins mentality, all came about during the high drama of the Revolution.

I have an inherent sense of this time period. The streets of Williamsburg, historic Philadelphia, early plantation homes, and the colonial frontier draw me with the richness of the past. These men and women who altered the course of history and stood or fell for what they believed will never be forgotten by me.
Beth Trissel author of Enemy of the King, Historical Romance Novel coming to the Wild Rose Press later in 2008. For more on this and my other work please visit my website at:

Finalist 2008 Golden Heart

What can you do if you have a stuffy nose and no nose spray? Move into a bathroom and steam the room. Take a steamy shower or wash your hair. Yes, steam can help, if you breathe it.

Or chew seriously strong Altoid peppermints.

Or for a stuffed nose or pain in your sinuses, dig out Vicks Vapor Rub, Mentholatum or even a sports rub and CAREFULLY dab a little on the pained or stuffed areas. DO NOT rub it into your eyes. They should water and your nose should run. If you can lie down, do and relax. You might put a cloth over your face and breathe.

If you have problems going to sleep, try spraying lavender scent on your pillowcase or use a lavender scented lotion. Light a lavender candle, but make sure it is in a safe place where it can't catch fire.

Make your bed a place to sleep. Do not read in bed. Do not watch TV in bed. Do not eat in bed. Okay, you may have sex in bed, if you get the chance.

Take a warm bath before bed instead of a hot one.

Has the flu made your muscles ache? Dig out the horseradish and olive oil. I'm not kidding. Mix 1 Tablespoon of horseradish in one cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. By the time you use the mixture as a massage oil, your muscles should feel better and your head should be clearer!

Got an insect sting? Grab an onion or a potato and slice it. Hold it on the sting like a compress for half an hour. Then hold ice on the sting area for half an hour. Alternate for pain relief. If the insect stays attached to it's stinger in your skin, DO NOT use tweezers or your fingers to remove it. Flick the insect off. Scrape the remaining stinger out carefully and gently with the tip of a knife or a credit card.

Want more? Wet salt dabbed on the sting area helps, as does toothpaste or wet mud. Baking soda is an old remedy to draw out the poison.

Chime in any time, ladies!

Broken blisters can be painful. A dab of Listerine is a powerful antiseptic.

What can you do about a bruise? Let Vinegar come to the rescue! A cotton ball soaked in vinegar makes a good compress and will reduce the blue and help heal the bruise more quickly.

You can treat arthritis pain with Quaker Oats. Mix 2 cups oats with one cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave. You should enjoy the soothing relief. The add to your bath water? Maybe not if they're sticky. Apply to your face and allow to cool and dry for a mask.

Did you know you can use peroxide to clean your shower to disinfect when you can't use bleach? Bleach has such a strong odor.

Baking Soda makes a fine scrub for your kitchen sink, counter tops, bathroom sinks and tubs. It's more gentle that most scrubs on sale. You can also add some to your toothpaste to clean your teeth.

If your pet has fleas, Dawn dish washing detergent makes a great doggie shampoo. Pine cleaners work well, too. Use only a few drops of either.

Got a headache? Sip two glasses of Gatorade.

There are several well known salves and treatments for burns. Cool water is one. Many of us keep an aloe plant for that purpose. Grab the Colgate toothpaste and use as a salve. Who knew?.

Toothpaste for zits and burns? Cool. Really cool!

Remember to use the toothpaste on the zits only and not on your entire face!

For a sore throat mix 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of honey. Take a teaspoon six times a day.
I find a tablespoon of salt in warm water works well for gargling.

For dry sinuses you can purchase a saline spray or you can sir 1/4 teaspoon into a cup of warm water and sniff it three times a day to moisten sinuses. Breath it into your nostrils.

For arthritis pain, soak raisins in gin! Honest. Pour the raisins into a container, not metal, that can be covered. pour gin over the raisins to barely cover them. Allow to soak for a week to 10 days or until the raisins soak up the gin. You can eat 9 a day as part of your breakfast or a snack. You might want to cover the container to keep bugs and trash out.

On that note, I'll stop for now. Check below for part one in this series. Want more?

Feel free to add your favorites.

I promised makeup but that will come later.

Have you ever used nail polish to keep the screw in your glasses from loosening? Clear polish works. A little dab on the screw works.

Honey is magic, really! If you have a skin blemish, cover it with a dab of honey and place a BAND-AID over it.
Search for the blemish in the morning.

If you don't have honey you can put a dab of white toothpaste on the skin blemish to dry it out. I recommend doing this at night unless you aren't going anywhere. You might need to do this more than one night.

To take the red out of a blemish when you notice it, don't panic, dab it with Murine or an eye care product for taking the red out. It will take the red from your zit.

Icky thought, toenail fungus, and ugly, too. Soak your toes in Listerine mouthwash or dissolve a denture cleaner tablet in a small container and soak toes.

More icky stuff. If you have a boil, make a compress with tomato paste. The acids will sooth the pain and bring the boil to a head.

Bees, wasps and hornets hate cleaning spray.


My Mom doesn't know I'm doing this and she'll probably blow her stack when she finds out but I think someone slightly removed from everything ought to put in a few comments.

My name is Acashi Daylin--or at least I thought it was until this war business started. My father is Tran Daylin, my mother Andrea Talltrees. Dad's an Albegensi and was one of my grandfather's farmhands before he married my mother. From all I can tell, it was what the old ladies around here called a "real love match"--and why not?--Dad's tall and handsome and...well, I wanted to be just like him! Oh, he's strict, but I guess a kid needs that, sometimes! Anyway, Grandpa gave them a farm, and they and I worked it. Made a pretty good living, too. Whatever.... I consider myself a Navajo--I look like Dad, tall and dark--and a Natural, part of the Naturals Cult, believing in not using anything that wasn't around during the time of our ancestors in the mid-20th Century. We also believe in Equality of All Species, and that once got us on the Federation's Suspect List. Since we also supply all the food for the nation, it also got us off just as fast, otherwise the American Sector would've slowly starved!

That was my place in life when the Albegensi-Terran War broke out. Then, my whole world just shattered. Dad was arrested as a spy, Mom wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep. I tell you--I thought she was going to die! Our Spirit Leader, George Windrider, showed up, made her some blackberry tea, and sent her to Old Town to look up a friend of his--some smuggler. How George ever came to know a criminal, we didn't find out until much later, and was that ever a tale!

The day Mom left for Old Town was the last time I saw my mother for over a year. While Mom was gone, Dad escaped from detention and some friends of his put him on a ship headed for Albegensia. Mom was accused of engineering the escape and a Federation Marshal in a Search Drone showed up looking for her. She had to run, leaving me behind.

During that time, I lived with my grandparents, trying to ignore everyone's pity. Poor little Cash! Abandonec! Father and Mother fugitives. Poor child! I never believed what they said about either of them. I love my parents...still do...both of them!

Anyway, about eighteen months later, Mom reappeared. One of our neighbors, Eli Nighthorse--he's been sweet on Mom before Dad came along--found her walking along the highway one rainy night. For several days after that, there were Marshals swarming over our property, talking to Mom behind closed doors. She had to go to the old capitol in Sacramento to testify at a hearing. Then, she came home, called me into the kitchen, and said she had something to tell me.

I remember she sat there in one of the chairs my great-grandfather had carved by hand, wearing that weird-looking, shapeless dress she said some nun had given her. She looked so fat--my mother was never fat! Dad used to tease her about being so slim--"My sylph-like little Terran," he used to call her--but now, her belly was bulging out the front of that sack she was wearing. She told me my father wasn't coming home, I'd never see him again, and while I was trying to understand that, went on, in a totally toneless voice, "Cash--the man who helped me find your father...I'm going to have his baby...." I didn't wait to hear any more, just bolted--out of my chair, out of the house, into the field, to throw myself into the grass and burrow my face into its clear, sweet smell, as I burst into tears....

Sorry about that--it was a pretty big shock for someone to get...hey, I'm only 16...!

Anyway, after I had some time to think it over, I calmed down a little.

Our people are shunning Mom now, and me, too, to a certain extent, because I defend her. I've accepted the fact of the baby and I think I'm looking forward to having a little brother or sister--I think I'd like a sister, to help take care of, even if it does look like him, with cat's eyes, and red hair--God, what if it has a tail? Lately, I'm starting thinking about him, too...did he know about the baby and what would he do if he did? Personally, I think he loves my Mom. I know she still loves him. Sometimes, I hear her crying at night and calling his name. There's a rumor that he's back in Old Town, and I've gotten this idea. Only problem is, I think Mom's on to me. She's forbidden me to drive the Rover out on the highway. Says the Marshals might pick me up...fat chance of that! They're too busy chasing spies to bother a 16-year-old kid!

She's left the keys on the table--she's too big to drive now, being nine months pregnant--and I'm sitting here wondering what's to stop me from taking them. What if I went to Old Town and met this Sinbad sh'en Singh and told him about the baby and how Mom still loves him--what would he do?

I'm going to do it! I think I can make it to the highway before Mom finds out, and if all goes well, I just may come back with a passenger.... Wish me luck!

(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.)

Toni V. Sweeney
Sinbad's Wife, Double Dragon Publications
Three Moon Station, The Wild Rose Press (Writing as Icy Snow Blackstone)