Riven kan Ingan is a captain in the Margrave's army, son of a sellsword who died in His Majesty's service and--because for his father's bravery--raised by the king himself. Even though he's been in Francovia since the age of five, he's regarded as a foreigner by the natives and schemes to marry into the Royal family, thereby gaining acceptance by becoming the Margrave's son-in-law. Handsome, arrogant, spoiled by his Royal foster father, he makes a fatal mistake. He speaks aloud his disbelief: that the ancient gods of Arcanis don't exist, that Man alone makes his own destiny--and for his heresy, the gods plot their revenge.

They begin by having Riven's betrothed, the Princess Aleza, abducted by Mahldimir djann-Baih, ruler of the desert kingdom of Izhmir, a sorcerer and worshipper of Drel, god of death, and cause Riven to be wounded so badly it destroys the goals he has set for himself. Recovered, he begins his quest to rescue his princess, and reclaim the shattered pieces of his life, and then...the gods send to him Barbara, the sorcerer's barbarian slave, a young girl from the frozen lands to the North, having reasons of her own for wanting Mahldimir djann-Baih dead. They join forces to defeat the ruler of Izhmir, and--though Riven doesn't know it yet--his life is about to change.

Forever.

video


Bloodseek:the Chronicles of Riven the Heretic, Book One is available as a download from Double Dragon Press (www.double-dragon-ebook.com) or in print from www.lulu.com.

Excerpt - Sex, Lies, and Beauty Aids
CHAPTER 1

“Ow, ow, ow!” tears of pain misted her eyes as she looked in the bathroom mirror trying to douse her lips in cold water from the sink. “Red lips, naturally? Got ‘em, only now they’re redder than the highlights I put in my hair last week!”
Of all the hare-brained gimmicks--how could I have possibly thought mixing paraffin wax, petroleum jelly, and jalapeno extract would result in a perfect lip color?
Bending over the tiny bathroom sink, Sabrina Thompson cupped cold water and brought it to her mouth, her eyes taking in the red, pucker of her lips.
Four handfuls later, she gave up trying to take down the swelling and rushed out of the restroom, stopping by the coffee station and grabbing a cup from the stack on the counter. She filled it with cold filtered water from the cooler. With barely a minute to spare, she spurred herself on, forcing herself to ignore the increasing pain to get to her meeting on time.
She attempted to convince herself she could survive yet another failed beauty experiment, while trying to keep the water from splashing onto her crisp, Prada ensemble.
The recipe sent in by a reader had said the jalapeno oil extract worked along with the skin’s own blood supply, but it hadn’t mentioned anything about swelling.
“This is what I get for placing my trust in the Internet.” she muttered.
She found her boss' office empty and dropped into the elegant, rust-colored leather chair across from an impressive mahogany desk, and let out a sigh.
Taking advantage of what little time she had left, Sabrina tipped the cup to her mouth, dunked both lips in the water.
Ahh...that's better.
"Sabrina…right on time as usual.” her boss, Kat Grantham Complimented. “In case I haven’t told you, I really appreciate your punctuality--especially today,” as she bustled over to a file cabinet, obviously looking for something.
Startled, Sabrina jerked, sloshing water down the front of her favorite power suit.
Flustered, she slid her tongue over her plump, burning lips, to lick any excess water. She was mid-lick when she came face-to-face with her worst nightmare.
No. No. No. Not today. Not now. What's he doing here? I, am so dead! This is so not the time for me to be in the same room with the man I've been dreaming about for the last four years.
Sabrina swallowed, set her cup on the edge of the desk and smiled as if nothing was wrong. Just maybe, she could pull this off without completely embarrassing herself.
As she watched them exchange a significant look, their silence sent her over the edge.
Hurry up and say something so we can get this over with. My mouth feels like there's a blow-torch reshaping my lips, Sabrina silently implored.
With her lips not quite touching, she continued to puff as silently as possible, praying Kat and Kat’s cousin, Trent, would get to the point. She needed to hightail it to the cafeteria for some ice before her lips began to blister.
Her mouth dropped open when Trent, not Kat, took the seat behind the desk. What the heck is going on? She looked to Kat, her boss, her roommate, her best friend--, who suddenly wouldn't look her in the eye.
Somebody just get on with it...I'm dying here! Sabrina silently pleaded, willing her mind to ignore the pain.
Despite Sabrina’s best effort, her patience slipped another notch. Not only were her lips on fire but a fine mist of perspiration now covered her upper lip. Her nose began to run and tears welled up in her eyes. All thanks to the fumes from the disastrous lip gloss experiment. She opened her eyes as wide as she could, hoping to prevent the tears from falling. Oh God, not that too!
Determined to stay in control, she forced her mind back on Trent.
Con-cen-trate!

***

“Good Morning, Sabrina. I'm Travis Wellington. It's nice to finally meet you. I've heard so much about you from my cousin, Kat.”
When Sabrina's jaw dropped, he realized he'd managed to pull off his con after all. She thought he was his brother.
Trent Wellington remembered their first and only meeting, Kat's twenty-first birthday party at the family compound in Massachusetts. They'd been on the same volleyball team at the pool party. Sabrina jumped to spike the ball over the net and he couldn't resist pulling the string on her bikini top--, which fell off when she dropped back into the water.
He, in all his suave and clever brilliance, had winked and muttered, “titillating.” She'd had a fantastic body then. Still did, from what he could see of her figure. She'd managed to keep it together and still zinged him the way she did. She’d ducked under water in the guise of embarrassment, only to pants him, as she swam by, evening the score.
She'd surfaced, pulled off an impressive Baywatch Babe hair flip move, then hit him with a wild comeback, “I prefer tit to that,” nodding towards his naked front.
The comment had won his admiration, and he’d wanted to find out more about her. Unfortunately, she'd avoided him the like the plague the rest of the trip. He couldn't blame her. Thank God that was four years ago, and he'd grown up since then. He hoped. The only problem, in his opinion, was that he was still looking for a woman just like her.
Maybe that’s why he jumped at this chance to work with her when his twin brother, Travis, begged him to play one last game of “sexcapades” and pretend to be him while he dried out in rehab.
The difference in this instance is that rather than testing a girlfriend's loyalty, they would be pulling of the biggest con ever. On the family.
Travis has started to drink when the magazine began losing money. So, when the board of directors called a meeting and both Travis and Trent were expected to attend, Travis made a case for himself that Trent just couldn't ignore. Travis was his brother, after all.
Only he was completely out of his element. Travis was the one with the journalist background. Trent, was the family joke--the playboy who never grew up, never took anything seriously.
Yet, he was here to take over the magazine from Kat, so she could go back to school. Again. Maybe someday that girl will finally find her calling. She was his cousin, and he loved her, but he just didn't understand what she was looking for.
Family--can't live with'em, can't kill'em.
He couldn't believe it. He was about to be the editor and chief of Skin Deep magazine and he had no idea how to do that, much less what all it entailed. But, he was going to have to learn--and fast.
Sabrina, according to Kat, was a genius as the natural beauty editor. In the two-and-a-half years she'd been with the company, subscriptions had doubled thanks to her popular column.
No matter how much Trent looked forward to becoming reacquainted with Sabrina Thompson, nothing had prepared him for the sight that greeted him.
He locked eyes with Sabrina and tried to remember he was suppose to be standing in for his brother. “What would Travis do now?”
“Would you like some coffee?” he offered.
She shook her head as if he'd just offered her arsenic. He watched her a moment longer, saw her blush. Then she picked non-existent lint from her blazer.
“Are you all right? You seem a bit nervous.”
God he hoped she was buying this act and not thinking about that scene in the pool. He wanted to apologize, but he couldn't without blowing his cover.
Taking the chicken-shit way out, he opted for getting right to business. Taking a seat behind the desk, thankful for the barrier between then, he pulled a file from his briefcase and stowed it under the desk.
He avoided eye contact with Sabrina as he spoke, "Let's get started. As you know, the board of directors met last night. While I know Kat hoped to deliver some good news to you today, I find myself in the precarious position of dishing out the good news-bad news schtick to everyone today."
He shifted in his chair, trying to get comfortable, then continued. "Due to a shaky economy, Skin Deep magazine is on the verge of being sold and the funds turned over to its parent company. Thanks to you, and a significant increase in circulation, Kat and I were able to convince the board that another six months is all we need to pull the company out of the red."
He flipped through Travis' notes that monitored Sabrina’s success for the past several months during which family started talking about selling the magazine. Thanks to a private conversation with Kat, he was fairly certain what kind of reaction to expect from Sabrina when she learned she'd be taking on an additional columns. While he had practiced most of his speech to her, he was unprepared for the sight that met him.
Her lips were swollen.
He didn't mean to stare, but if he tried to speak now, he was sure it would come out as babble. She looked as if she'd spent hours making out. Hmm. There must be some hidden coat closet designated for office rendezvous. He ducked his head and took a closer look at the file before him.
Her face took on a sudden deathly white quality as if she were in pain. Must be nerves due to my announcement.
Rather than embarrass her by asking what happened, he forced himself to concentrate on the monologue he’d practiced. But his gaze caught the way her mouth opened slightly, as she tried to subtly blow on her puckered lips. Strange. He lost his train of thought and looked to Kat to help him out, but she was still huddled over a file cabinet.
Trent shook his head, trying to gather some sort of semblance to his thoughts. That didn't help focus his attention.
Don't look up, don't look up, don't look up, he thought drilling the command into his brain.
Like a bystander at an accident, his attention betrayed him. His gaze centered on her mouth, which hung open now. He tilted his head slightly, leaned another inch forward and narrowed his eyes. Was she panting? Definite anxiety lit her sea-green eyes.
He felt a magnetic draw to her lips, an urge too strong to ignore. He tried to keep his vision glued to her eyes, but the memory of her freshly ravaged lips seemed a much stronger draw.
He found himself getting horny as a teenager ready to get his first taste of sex, and was grateful the desk hid the evidence. Trent didn’t know who he felt more perturbed with, Sabrina for kissing someone else or himself for caring so damn much. He swallowed hard and tried not to stumble over his words and thoughts even more.
“Uh, I seem to...” He let the sentence die as he shuffled papers and cleared his throat. And why should it matter now? Sure, he'd been enamored by her when they'd met, but that was years ago. He had a job to do now. To take over the magazine and turn it around so it wouldn't be sold. What did his feelings for her matter anyway? Yet he couldn’t help wondering who she’d been with to cause such vivid visual effects.
He glanced her way, then quickly dropped his gaze. Her lips were getting redder by the minute. Must have been some kiss. Damn it.
Leaning forward in his chair, Trent crossed his hands and tried to look the picture of authority expected from a man in his position.
"First off, I'd like to apologize to you because I can't give you the promotion you and Kat discussed. Secondly, there will be a number of layoffs among the staff.” He paused to take in the look of shock on her face, and realized she must have thought he was letting her go. He lifted a hand in an effort to stop her expected protest.
“On a more positive note, we were able to salvage your job, but only because of the wonderful success with your column. In order to maintain our high standards, and in light of the reduction in the work force, everyone will have to take on a second job, and possibly a third. Regardless, I look forward to working with you."
Trent took a deep breath as he rushed on, "I'll be speaking with the other employees today, but I wanted to speak to you first, so you can be prepared to work with the counterpart you’ll be replacing. I’m sorry to say, she’ll be leaving at the end of the week and you'll need to be up to speed for the upcoming February issue. Luckily, we’ve already put January’s issue to bed, and that should give you around three weeks before you’ll be facing your next set of deadlines."
Amazing. Sabrina didn't seem fazed by his tidings. In fact, she looked a bit stoic. That wasn't the reaction Kat led him to believe he'd get.
"I realize you will have a huge learning curve, but you'll still have the next three weeks to gain as much knowledge as possible for your new columns. I trust you and fully believe you will handle the new position with the same professionalism you've already exhibited in your current job.”
***
"Sure Travis. Kat knows I'll do anything she needs." Sabrina made an exaggerated show of glancing down at her watch, pretending to monitor the time. "I hate to be a deserter, but I'm expecting a conference call in five minutes." If she didn’t get out of here soon, she was convinced her lips would melt off her face. If that happened she’d rather be alone, and not in front of a replica of the man who haunted her dreams.
She stood up, calmly took her cup of water, and started to back out of his office, until she remembered Kat hadn't told her what her new job would be.
At the door, she stopped and asked casually, "By the way Kat, what's my new job?"
Kat’s head remained down.
“Okay, what’s going on? Kat, why won’t you look at me?”
Then Travis responded, a little too enthusiastically, "You'll be the new department editor for the Love and Sex columns, offering advice and encouragement. You should probably bone up on the language from the past few issues. I’m expecting a great Valentine issue from you.
Sabrina maintained her stance, but barely. Her fingertips, casually tapping the door frame, gripped the wood at his reply.
She didn't even realize she'd crushed the water cup, but she felt and heard its contents splash and her other hand had just smashed the water cup against the outer wall until the backsplash soaked her jacket sleeve.
"You want me to what?" she belted out.

Are talk show hosts bullies? Some certainly seem to be. Do they report the news or try to create it? Should they be allowed to make accusations as though they are facts? After all, if it's on The News it's true, right?

Lately I've been watching 24/7 news channels when I can't find a program that interests me. Nancy Grace and her boyfriend were in Macon, Georgia when he was murdered. Since then she has adopted the role of crusader. Her recent interviews sound more like attacks than interviews.

In the recent ongoing case of a missing child, Nancy has determined the young mother killed the 3 year old girl. While the mother lies like a rug and partied hardy after she lost track of her kid, so far nothing proves she murdered her baby. They have found no body or any proof the little girl is dead. Tons of evidence have been collected that show she has problems distinguishing truth from fiction, especially once she tells her tales.

Nancy questions her experts from all over the US, a good thing. She attacks anyone who disagrees with her, a bad thing for me. I keep waiting for an expert, especially one who looks for hope the little girl could be alive or that the mom didn't kill her, to tell her to answer her own questions and stop shouting. (Does saying something loudly make it true?) These experts get exposure that could make them household names, but at what cost? Of course they could be following scripts.)

Ms. Grace knows a lawyer should believe in his or her client and that there are people who should be neutral, but she asks questions and makes argumentative comments that suggest no one could miss the mom's guilt without being stupid or a liar.

The grandparents of the missing child have been harassed by people who believe the mom killed her kid. They echo Nancy Grace and people like her, accusing the couple of all kinds of awful things. Parents want to believe the grandchild is alive and they don't want to believe their daughter is a killer. She lies, uses people, and is self- absorbed, but a killer? I cannot believe media folks are allowed to whip fans into a frenzy, but they do. Groups of people have shouted at and to the grandparents and even grabbed at them on their own property, pushing them to defend themselves.

Plenty of other talk show hosts make fun of people who call in questions and agree to interviews.

Let's hear what you think about any of this?


My first release, Somewhere My Love, a murder mystery/ghost story romance with flashbacks to early nineteenth century Virginia, is out at the Wild Rose Press: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/


Star-crossed lovers have a rare chance to reclaim the love cruelly denied them in the past, but can they grasp this brief window in time before it is too late?


Newly arrived at Foxleigh, the gracious old Wentworth home in Virginia, British born Julia Morrow is excited at the prospect of a summer working as a guide in the stately house and herb garden. She quickly discovers the historic plantation holds far more.


Cole Wentworth’s handsome portrait grabs her the instant she lays eyes on the magnetic young man, killed in a quarrel over the lovely English lady, Julia Maury, two hundred years ago. Then she meets his double, William, the only remaining Wentworth heir. Somehow, Julia must persuade Will that their fates are entwined with those of Cole Wentworth and Julia Maury, and that the man who killed Cole has returned to enact the deadly cycle again, or she will lose him twice.


The blade is about to fall.

Posted for Beth Trissell, who was having technical difficulties with the site.




I'm guest blogging today at http://blog.lyndacoker.net/. Actually my favorite character, Morgan, is talking about the alpha male and he should know. Drop by and visit Morgan. He's accustomed to being the center of attention.

Head out to Cold Stone Creamery for the World's Largest Ice Cream Social. Get a free 3oz portion of Jack's Creation or Emily's Creation, to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Enjoy!
Call your local store for times, and to be sure they are participating.
__________________

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 10:02 AM | 3 comments »

Check out JC Penney.com for their Wednesday deals. From women's beaded print tees for $9.99 to a Noel stocking Holder for $4.99, their is something for everyone. Try code WHYS for free shipping. (borrowed from another forum.)

My favorite quote:
"I can't afford to save any more money."

Today, my Black Rosette, "Love, Vampire Style," goes online at The Wild Rose Press. Manic Readers called it an "...offbeat little story that will, never the less, capture your imagination and hold your attention..."

Here's a preview:


video

The opening of his white shirt revealed his muscular chest. Drops of blood pooled beneath the crisp black hair. Bile rose in her throat and Valentina averted her eyes, only to encounter the lecherous stares of the knights. The men circled her, hands on their swords, their grins full of lust and mockery.

Sir Geoffrey stared at the earl, his mouth locked in a disapproving line.

Humiliated, Valentina swayed as the blood hammered through her veins. She clamped her eyelids shut to keep out the images of the knights’ leers.

“Obey me, Valentina.” The earl’s tone was scathing. He tightened his grip around her wrists. “Unless you want to continue to display your charms for my men to enjoy.”
She opened her eyes, furious at the choice she had to make. She relaxed her shoulders and forced them down. With a low groan, she released the knife. It clattered to the floor and spun out of reach. Her throat choked with the effort of holding back her curses.

The earl slipped her bodice and gown back up over her shoulders.

She yanked free from his loosened hold. “The mulo, the living dead, will seek revenge unless my mother’s death ritual is completed. You must release us. We’ll be cursed for eternity.” Fiercely, she scanned the palatial room. “And you’ll be the easiest to find.”

I am continuing with a backtrack excerpt from last month---then the new excerpt, and the beginning of Chapter Three:

“’Tis the reason why we were kidnapped?” Earl or no earl, wrath burned through her, heating the last coils of her control. Squirming in his grasp, she twisted around to glare at him. “Without delay? Because of your selfish whims, Yolanda and I did not finish placing stones around our mother’s deathbed. Because of your arrogance, we were unable to destroy our mother’s possessions, a grievous offence for all Romany. And because of you . . . ” she glowered into his exasperated eyes, “ . . . we were unable to complete our mother’s burial ritual.” Her breath hitched, stinging her lungs.

The earl can kill me for speaking to him this way.

She tossed her hair back. Te les o beng. Devil curse him. Let him try.

His muscles went rigid against her. He scowled at Sir Geoffrey, then back at her. “I am unaware of your gypsy ways. I am sorry about your mother’s death, but you are required here.”
“Because your needs are more important than ours?” Reckless, the challenge raised her spirit. “Because your life is more important than her death?”

With a regretful sigh, he dropped his hands.

The realization he had little sympathy for her mother’s death snapped Valentina’s mind into action. Men like the earl were only interested in themselves. But this heartless noble would pay for his callousness. Ripping her mother’s double-edged dagger from the cord along her gown’s inside seam, Valentina tore off the sheath and raised the weapon.

In the shocked hush, the earl deflected her attack and held her wrist at arm’s length. “Give the dagger to me.” His eyes smoldered with silver-edged fury. “Step back. I need no assistance,” he commanded his men, who surrounded them. “Don’t move until I say.”

Valentina grabbed the dagger with her other hand, and sliced the jagged blade through his shirt, drawing blood, sinking into the soft tissue of his flesh.
The sticky warmth spattered over her hands.
“I avenge my mother’s unfinished burial, you bastard!”


Chapter Three

Valentina drew back the dagger to strike at his chest again, only this time she intended to strike much deeper. Her hands would not stop shaking. She wished to maim him, not kill him. She would be hanged for murder if she drove her dagger through his black heart, although he deserved nothing less. Cold sweat broke out on her skin, dampening her gown.
“For God’s sake, nay!” The earl lunged, grabbed her other wrist with his free hand, and jerked her arms back.

Her loose gown and boned bodice fell from her shoulders, baring the swell of her breasts. She clutched the dagger and refused to let go, refused to glance down. Lewd masculine laughter rang in her ears.

Her cheeks burned. Her legs defied her.
Spirits help her, she should never have hesitated.

“Surely you did not think I would allow you to assault me a second time?” The earl’s voice lowered to a ragged whisper. He towered over her. “Drop the blade. Now.” His hard thighs intruded on hers.

She breathed in quick, thin gasps of air. His threat didn’t scare her. She wouldn’t flinch. She met his stare and gripped the hilt of the dagger. Higher. Defying him. Assessing his reaction. A sting shot up her arms as he pressed them backward, but she refused to release the blade.

Joanne--Recipe---Italian sauce

Posted by Josie | 9:35 AM | 3 comments »

In a large pan, brown half a chopped onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil. (You can cheat and use onion and garlic powder)

Add 1 large can of tomato puree, 2 small cans of tomato paste, and tomato puree can filled 3/4 way with water. Stir in spices such as parsley, oregano, basil and black pepper. A slice of green pepper may be included in the sauce.

That's it! Meat will flavor the sauce, so add your Italian meatballs and/or Italian sausage. Serve with hot pasta--we like rigatoni or ziti best. (Leftover sauce can be used to make homemade pizza the following day.)


Some Nights, It Doesn't Pay to Get Out of the Coffin!

Vampire Valerius Andriescu emigrated to America when his older brother was exiled for stealing one too many women from their Prince. With Marius out of the way, His Highness has been doing pretty good with the females for the past two hundred years, --and Val hasn't been doing so bad, either--living La Vida American in New Orleans. When Marius decides it's time his younger sibling gave up his wild ways and settled down, it's Open Rebellion! One spoiled, young vampire runs away from home...and heads back to the Old Country...to teach Big Brother he can't be pushed around.

It's Val who learns the lesson, however, when he meets a girl exploring the ruins of his family castle. Anike has all the features he likes in a woman--she's pretty, she's blonde, she's likes to have fun--and some he doesn't...she's saving herself for that Special Someone. Determined to convince her he's Mr. Right and the ancient four poster in his old bed chamber is still usable, Val is startled to discover he's falling in love with a girl he can only meet at night in the shadows of a Transylvanian castle. At home, Marius is starting to hand out Ultimatums--but everything pales beside the Big Problem: Anike's human...all right to bite, but not to marry!

What's a vampire to do?

(On September 24, "Love, Vampire Style," will be available as a Black Rose Rosette download from The Wild Rose Press. There is also a review of it on the Manic Readers website at
http://manicreaders.com/index.cfm?disp=reviews&bookid=2064.)




Oscar Wilde


Today I was supposed to post the pictures of John and Babs Macrae-Hall from his Posted to Pembrey article. Unfortunately, thanks to Ike, I have no internet at home. So Oscar can entertain us.


I received an email from Toni this morning that she was reading a book about Oscar Wilde--Oscar Wilde and a Murder of No Importance, written by a member of Parliament and biographer of the Royal family. Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Sherrard go in search of a killer. It's full of pithy Wilde sayings, of course.

Puppy Breath

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 8:36 AM | 9 comments »

Ever since I can remember, I have loved dogs.

Growing up in Trinidad is hard if you love dogs because there are so many strays.

We moved to a new neighborhood when I was seven, one which allowed us to walk to school. Since my parents had started their own business by then, and were super busy, it was convenient for them not to bother about transportation to and from school. Remember, this was eons ago - the safe sixties. After the first week of me and my two (although I have three) brothers walking to school, we had accumulated, one stray cocker spaniel, a tiger tabby (second brother loved cats), and a strangely speckled mutt missing one ear.

The following week, my parents, with stern warnings about diseases and stray animals, assumed all school transportation responsibility.

The strays, unfortunately, did not survive, and I grew so disconsolate, my father begged a purebred for me, my first puppy, who I named Timmy. Okay, I know lame name, but in Trinidad you read English books, and I was in the thrall of an Enid Blyton series about 5 companions who solved mysteries, and one of them, you guessed it, had a dog named Timmy. Two years later, the next door neigbors poisoned Timmy.

Nine at the time, and unconsolable, my doting father, when I refused the offer of another dog - who could replace my boon companion? - decided different would make me feel better, and he obtained a pair of Pom-toys, Bobby and Bonita. They were so cute, so adorable. I carried them in my pockets and they grew to maybe 6 inches in height. Before we knew it, Bonita was pregnant.

She sat on my lap to give birth. A holy experience.

Bobby and Bonita and their family slept in my room. What joy that was! To see their puppies' eyes open - why does God do that do you think, sealing them shut for 9 days? I'm sure some vet out there has the answer to that question.

Smelling their puppy breath occupied me for hours. I'd let them crawl all over me, try to suckle my fingers. Childhood heaven (although I'd do it today in a heartbeat if I had the chance).

It's akin to the breath of a newborn who's nursed solely on breast milk. Or that back of the neck scent from a baby. What is it about the aroma of innocence that so intoxicates us?

Chime in,

Jianne Carlo

Ingredients
one pound of fresh cooked string beans, or canned when you have to
eight ounces of cream cheese, (I use whipped it's easier and I'm lazy)
1/2 cup of milk, (more or less if you need to)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of real romano cheese grated
some butter, (1/3 stick, depending on your cholesterol)
put everything in a sauce pan except the beans, melt stuff and stir till nice consistency, add the cooked or canned beans and heat thoroughly.
This is the kind of recipe I watched the old Italian relatives throw together without measuring, using the toss in method, add more or less of things till it tastes the way you like it. Salt and pepper and eat, yummy, yummy. And very fattening too! It's a nice change and it always pleases that PIA in the family.

It's All about Focus.

Posted by Mary Marvella | 12:41 PM | , , | 10 comments »

Focus. Now that word can send chills to my heart. I'm not the kind of person who maintains focus in many areas of my life. I certainly can't keep my focus on cleaning. I don't focus well on organizing or filing.

At different times in our lives we need to focus on different things.

From the time I discovered the bookmobile I focused on reading. (A bookmobile is a traveling library. I was in first grade and suffering from withdrawal pains. Summer meant no school and no school library.)

Even as a teenager I focused on reading, making the school library and the public library my second homes. Oh, yes, I did other things. I did homework, played the oldest sister, and helped around the house while my parents worked. I took piano lessons but read novels instead of practicing. The lessons weren't wasted any more than my years in choirs were. I enjoyed the singing and can play a tune if I want to.

For years I had to focus on motherhood, teaching, and helping my husband build a photography business. There was no time to focus on anything else, including reading for pleasure.

I couldn't focus on writing until I left teaching and my daughter entered high school and began to work part time at her dad's studio. My focus on writing developed as I discovered the new Macintosh computer at the studio. I had access to it after studio hours and worked after everyone left for the day. Often I worked until dawn. No way would I leave the studio at 2 or 3 AM, so I kept working.

During my daddy's illness, I changed focus to him and Mama. Both have left us and I sometimes question my focuses before those later years. Often as families grow and scatter, our areas of focus change. Our spouses and kids demand our time and attention, leaving less for our parents and siblings and extended family.

Since my daughter is married and the husband is now my EX, I can focus on my writing, my critique groups, and my friends. Because of my focuses, most of my friends are writers. I did not mention cleaning as a focus, because it isn't one.


FOCUS AND WRITING (Or other passions or hobbies)

We must each decide if now is the time to focus on writing in a big way or as one of the things we do. We are entitled to have some things that bring us pleasure. Many artists create for the pleasure of it, not for money. People focus on getting their lives organized, or building careers, or becoming fit.

Writers can focus on writing for pleasure or on writing to publish. Whatever you do, don't give up the joy of writing.

What is your focus when you write?

What do you write? Do you write stories in the same genre, the same kinds of stories? Some artists dabble in different mediums, while others do one thing. An athlete might play one sport or participate in every sport. Musicians often play more than one instrument, while some focus on one they play really well.

I find that whether I write suspense, or women's fiction, or romance, one focus is always there. Family - family lost, or gained, or valued. My heroes and heroines or protagonists are loyal to family and value family. Family that's there for them, or family they wish they had, or family they miss. Sometimes the family consists of a parent and a child. Some families include couples and sometimes parents and siblings.

Do you have one central focus in your projects? I prefer to call mine stories.

Cats, snot and aphorisms

Posted by Liz Jasper | 1:01 PM | 11 comments »

"What goes around comes around."

"The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small."

Growing up, I heard my mother spout junk like this about once a week. Maybe twice. It's hard to say as those sort of things went in one ear and straight into the internal round bin, accompanied by my official motherly-advice-internal-soundtrack that went something like "yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever." So you can imagine my surprise, today, when it turned out she was speaking The Truth.

Let me explain. You see we have this cat, Fuzzy. I did not name her. I would not have named her something so insipid, so…generic. In my family, we like to get a feel for the cat's personality before naming him or her. (Unfortunately, this often leads to confusion, as the cat's name tends to change over time as we get to know him or her better, but I digress.) Anyway, the point is my cat's personality is not the sort that goes with "Fuzzy".

Fuzzy belongs to a sweet cat. A nice cat. The sort that sits on your lap and purrs. Our cat is more the sort to sit on someone else's lap and purr, just to stick it to you. And she's not cute the way a name like Fuzzy would imply. She's is better looking than that. It's like that old saying, "she's got a good personality" only in reverse. Fuzzy has a terrible personality. We keep her because she's so good looking. A lot of people get taken in by her good looks and object when they hear us call her, as is warranted by her personality, That Little Turd. However, in fairness to us, it doesn't take long before they stop being blinded by her incredible cuteness and realize she is a little turd. Usually about the time she's left them in disdain to move on to a superior guest, leaving them with scratched leather shoes and a lap full of cat hair.

Anyway, about a year and a half ago, Fuzzy's kidneys went on the blink. Which means I, as primary care keeper, have the great joy of giving her (foul tasting) meds twice a day and every evening stabbing her in the back so she can get subcutaneous fluids and not dehydrate into a mummy. As you might imagine, she is not fond of this. There's a lot of hiding under furniture and complaining. After about six months of this, I stopped calling her Fuzzy altogether and went with Cranky Pants. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Cranky Pants" is even more trite than "Fuzzy." I agree. "Bitter Butt" is ever so much better.

I recently went on vacation and, because Bitter Butt can't go more than two days about her meds, we had the great delight of taking her along. I know she was in raptures over being shifted from her home, because she so clearly expressed it by peeing, not in either of the two litter boxes I have set up for her use, but everywhere else she could imagine would be annoying. And let me tell you, she has employed a vivid imagination in her pursuit of spite peeing. Bathroom rugs, so you get a little damp surprise under your feet when you leave bed for the necessary in the middle of the night. Inside closets. On luggage, towels, and expensive electronics. God forbid she waste her time on that crappy boom box gathering dust in the corner when someone's left out their new IPod.

Oh, I'm sure you are saying, that poor sweet dear! She must be expressing her trauma at being moved. That just goes to show you're a sucker for a pretty face. Of course she's expressing her feelings! She enjoys watching me down on my hands and knees scrubbing up after her, coughing my way through thick vinegar clouds. I can tell because I swear I hear her purring.

Today, after dumping the bathroom rugs into the wash yet again, I went outside for a little fresh air. One of the neighbors was out doing some pruning so Bitter Butt was on her best behavior, stretched in a warm puddle of sunlight, looking cute. When she has an audience, she likes to pretend she's a model cat -- in hopes they'll fall for her charms and take her home with them. (I am not kidding. Last week, after realizing no one had seen her for three hours, we discovered she'd gone and moved in with the neighbors. Moved in. She had installed herself in the second floor of their house and everything. Little turd.)

Anyway, as I mentioned at the beginning of this, I have a tendency to ignore many of my mother's teachings. But trust me, plenty stuck. Today at the ripe old age of…well that doesn’t really matter, does it?…I decided take another "to do" off the list: The need to cover my nose and mouth when I sneeze. Hey, I'm in a cabin in the woods. I'm in my jammies at noon, for crying out loud. I'm on vacation and letting it all hang out. (And the flower-pruning neighbor has his back to me and is too far away to notice or care.)

So I got crazy and…sneezed commando. And learned that it is not, as I'd always assumed, just another example of stupid old-fashioned politeness that one should cover one's nose and mouth when sneezing. The whole covering thing actually served a purpose. That purpose being to keep things best contained to a tissue from shooting out over one's deck. (Digression: If I were a boy, I'm sure I would have learned this at the age of six. But I'm a girl, so I had to spend a few decades overcoming all that training to do what I was told, even when no one was looking, before I learned this lesson for myself. But that's a rant for another day.)
My eyes squeezed shut during actual sneeze part, but flicked back open in time for me to see a huge blob of mucus fire through the air (take that, six-year-old boys of the world).

My horror and disgust seemed to cause time to slow. I watched as the snot arced through the pristine mountain air, catching a ray bright of September sun. My hands shot belatedly up to cover my nose and mouth as I gasped in nice girl embarrassment. And then gravity caught hold of the glittering wad. Gaining speed, it hurtled down toward the ground…and landed splat on Bitter Butt's pretty grey tail.
She turned away from her contemplation of the greener grass of the neighbor's lawn to look at me. Her beautiful emerald eyes narrowed in judgment. She knew I had done something. She just wasn't sure what.

And I…

I left it there. On her tail. Seeping into her fur, like pee into a bathroom rug hot out of the dryer.

What goes around comes around. The mills of the gods may indeed grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.




Liz Jasper is the author of the award winning mystery, Underdead. Her second novel, Underdead In Denial is available on October 2. To read excerpts, reviews or learn more about Liz's books, visit her website at www.lizjasper.com.

Happy Friday Everyone,

Today it's my turn to blog and I thought I would continue from last week's introduction to Manacled with a little information on another Hindu festival, that of Holi or Phagwa. I took part in this festival every year while growing up in Trinidad. All young kids love it - it's an excuse to spray your aunts and uncles and parents with colored water - and you can't be punished.

Here it is:


“Paxton, if she doesn’t agree to legalize your relationship soon, I’m in there like a dirty shirt.”

Halfway through the doorway, Sarita halted, turned around, and said, “That’s flattering, Suresh, but Rolan’s my son’s father. I think I have to go with him.”

And with those words all the tension left Rolan’s body, all the bunched muscles unclenched in his neck, and his shoulders relaxed. He flashed her a grin, and their gazes met and held.

“Say you’ll marry him, Mom,” Tony piped up, and he winked at Rolan, a sidelong us-males-together gesture.

Rolan gave his son a thumbs up while studying Sarita’s flushed face.

“Hush, Anthony,” she retorted, eyebrows slashing together over her nose. “Not another word.”

“Why don’t you join us for dessert, Sarita?”

“Great notion, Paxton. Hang on, I’ll nab a chair from the dining room,” Suresh said, jumping to his feet.

“I’m sorry, I really don’t have time. As soon as I finish dessert, I have to start the canapés for this evening.” Her forehead puckered and she bit her lip. “Suresh, Tony and I missed Phagwa this year. We plan to celebrate it over the next couple of days. Tomorrow Terry, the Glory’s Captain and owner, is taking us to a private beach where we can have a bonfire. Would you like to join us?”

“I’d be honored, Sarita. Thank you for inviting me.”

Puzzled, Rolan’s gaze shifted from one to the other. “Phagwa? What’s Phagwa?”

“Phagwa, or Holi, is the Hindu Festival of Colors. It’s the celebration of the defeat of the demoness, Holika. Holika believed herself immune to fire, and she plotted to kill her own nephew because of his devotion to Vishnu, the heightest of the Gods. She took her nephew into a bonfire. He survived and she didn’t. Turns out she was only immune to fire if she entered the fire alone. You have to understand, there are many versions of this story, and what I’m describing now is sort of an amalgam of the majority. At any rate, the fesitval takes place over a two-day period. On the first day, which is called Kama dahanam, people light bonfires to celebrate the victory of good over evil.” Suresh explained.

“Yeah, the first night’s fun, but I like Dhulhendi better. I always get Mom good.” Tony imitated throwing a football. “It’s the great arm, ya know.”

“Dhulhendi?” Rolan scratched his temple. All at once, he remembered Hindus believed in many gods. A culture gap as high as Everest erupted. He had a mountainous hurdle ahead of him, but for Sarita and Tony, he would adapt.

“The name of the second day of the festival,” Suresh replied, his mouth curving. “People throw water and colored powders at each other. You usually end up covered from head to toe in the stuff.”

“The powders are actually ground herbs, which are used in the practice of Āyurvedic medice. You know what spring is like, the way flus run rampant. Celebrating Holi or Phagwa may have the added benefit of boosting immune systems at a time when viruses are multiplying.” Sarita shifted the tray from one hand to another.

“Are you a practicing Hindu?”

“I was baptized and raised in the Catholic faith, Suresh, but, my father was a practicing Hindu. He celebrated all the festivals and taught me about the religion. I celebrate the festivals for two reasons, to honor him, and to teach Anthony about his heritage.”

Rolan’s bunched neck muscles relaxed, the gap had just narrowed.

“And I should warn you, living in the Bible Belt meant I had to adjust. Instead of throwing the powders and water separately, I combine them. It was more accpetable to have the equivalent of a water balloon fight rather than have Tony, Doc Cavanaugh, and I throwing strange powders at each other. Our neighbors kept a close eye on us.” She sighed, a long audible breath, and gave a little shake of her head, as if clearing her thoughts. “Are you very orthodox?”

“Not at all. I don’t suppose you’ll have any thandai tomorrow night?” Suresh lifted one eyebrow, and rested his hands on his hips. “With bhang?”

“Suresh!” Sarita gave a little shake of her head, and crossed her eyes in Tony’s direction. “I’d better hustle.” She shot the Internet billionaire a schoolteacher’s scold over one shoulder and stalked away.

“What was that all about?” Rolan asked, sotto voce, taking a seat.

“Thandai is a traditional Hindu drink for the second night. It sometimes contains bhang, aka cannabis,” Suresh whispered.

****

Rolan found Sarita sitting on the floor of the galley surrounded by burlap bags.
“What on earth are you doing?”

She glanced up and answered, “Making the powder for Phagwa tonight.”

He stooped and his lips lifted at the corners. “You’ve got red, yellow, and brown stuff all over your face.” Eyes angling down, he continued, “Your neck, your hands, and even your feet are covered, too.”

“It’s difficult not to get it everywhere. That’s why I’m wearing old clothes.” She dipped her eyes to her torso. “I’m almost finished. This is the last thing I have to do.”

The Glory ‘s engines roared to life and the yacht rocked.

His eyes flew up. “I guess we’re off. Terry says it’s a short ride to the private beach. Why don’t you change into a bathing suit and we’ll dive into the water when we get there. It’ll be easier than trying to get that stuff off in a shower.”

“I’d planned on doing exactly that.” She stirred a navy-hued powder with a wooden spoon and slanted him a mischievous glance. “You don’t know what you’re in for tonight, Rolan Paxton. Every year your son mixes the Phagwa powder with water and fills balloons with the liquid. Then he goes hunting. One year, it took me two days to get the stains off my skin.”

“It sounds like an adult water-gun party. Now, if only you could add something sweet to it, then I’d offer to lick it all off.”

Two sentences and bantering amusement morphed into a sexual heat so dense, she could almost taste it.

“On second thought, maybe we should take this down to my cabin. We never did have that bath together.”

Tony skidded into the room. He halted inches away from a sack. “Aw Mom, you did it without me. You know I like to make the PP with you.”

“PP?”

“Paghwa powder, Dad. Gotcha, didn’t I?” Tony’s grin went from ear to ear.

“Watch it, buddy.” Rolan cuffed his son’s shoulder.

She loved watching their interplay, the obvious affection between them. A coal-sized lump formed in her throat.

Tony squatted in front of the open bags. He picked up a handful of reddish brown kernels.

“What are these things?” Rolan asked, jutting a chin at the seeds and ground spices in the burlap. “Smells like…” He sniffed a couple of times. “Lemons.”

“Lime. You smell the lime in the kumkum over there,” she said, pointing. “It’s turmeric mixed with slaked lime. Turmeric’s normally yellow, but the lime turns it red.”

“This one’s neem,” Tony answered, displaying a handful of kernels in his open palm.

She pointed. “That one’s haldi, which is the Indian word for turmeric. Next to the haldi is ground bilva fruit. Bilva is a sacred tree for Hindus and every part of it is used in ?yurvedic medicine. The tree is associated with the worship of Lord Shiva.”

“And all of this goes into making a powder that will be washed off in a few hours?”

“It’s the ritual and the symbolism that are important, Rolan.” Sarita read his bewilderment in his creased forehead and pursed lips. “It’s a different way of thinking.”

The ship’s engines died.

“We’re here.” Tony jumped up.

****

“Suresh is right. You’re one terrific woman.” He entwined their fingers and brought her knuckles to his lips. “Okay, woman, let’s make this the best Phagwa you’ve ever had.”

She knew it would be.

Forty-five minutes after the wooden fire had turned to ashes, Austen composed the clambake. Three layers, rocks, driftwood, and a wire mesh formed the base in that order. He then alternated seaweed between layers of food. Potatoes and onions, followed by the split Cornish hens Sarita had seasoned earlier. Corn, silk removed, husks dampened, followed whole lobsters. Austen topped everything with a final layer of seaweed. Harry and Terry covered the hole with a tarp. Tony hefted large rocks into each of the four corners. By then, darkness ruled the tiny cove.

While the men built the bonfire, Sarita readied the Phagwa essentials. She filled dozens of squeeze bottles with colored water. A machine-gun burst of crackling reached her ears and she shot a dart over one shoulder.

Flames from a crater-sized bonfire licked four feet into the air. Her gaze met Tony’s. He sprinted to her side sending fine sand grains into a wide arc.
“Everything ready?”

“Yes. You carry the bottles, I’ll take the thandai.”

Rolan relieved her of the milk-based drink when she reached the fire.

“Food’s ready,” Austen called out.

Lobster had never tasted so wonderful. Everyone loved the Thandai, and Sarita listed the ingredients for them: almonds, milk, poppy seeds, cardamom, watermelon seeds, anise, and sugar. Stomachs full, they sat around the fire chatting.

Sarita slipped a CD into a portable player.

Clashing cymbals and drums rented the peaceful swish of lapping waves.

Tony launched a surprise attack as soon as the Phagwa CD began to play.

Her son’s hooting and hollering rose above the drums as he sprayed his father from head to toe from two squeeze bottles.

Wearing a janitor’s belt with several bottles, Suresh joined Tony in his assault.

Rolan curved his forearms over his face and curled into a ball.

“I’m gonna get you both for this,” he yelled.

Sarita couldn’t help it she burst into laughter. Red liquid dripped from Rolan’s face onto his yellow chest creating orange streaks. Horizontal blue splashes colored most of his left arm, while mottled splotches covered the right. White trunks, once pristine, resembled a crazy kaleidoscope pattern. As for his legs, beach sand clung to the sparse flesh the dyes hadn’t stained.

Behind Rolan, Tony, and Suresh, Harry, Austen, and Terry battled.

“Now, Mom,” Tony shouted.

Sarita took off in the opposite direction.

Tony tackled her to the sand.

Rolan ran to her rescue.

Sporting a giant-sized gun, he aimed at his son. A staccato burst of red dye raked Tony head to toe.

Her son rolled off her back and Rolan soaked her T-shirt.

“No fair, Dad’s using a paintball gun.” Tony hopped up and down.

The melee escalated until their PP supply ran out.

An hour later, order restored, Rolan and Sarita sat side by side at the water’s edge. The rising moon cast a long silver reflection on the Mediterranean’s rocking surface. Strong ocean breezes had washed away the clambake’s aromas.

“That was fun,” Rolan said.

“Where’d you get the paintball gun?”

“I spend a week on the Glory every summer. Last year before we cruised, Geoff and I hit a paintball park. We bought two guns. I remembered.”

A distant hum reached her ears; she squinted at the yacht centered in the middle of the bay. “Is the Glory leaving?”

“Terry’s taking her for a spin. He’ll be back in an hour. Do you know, future Mrs. Paxton, that I’ve never made love on a Mediterranean beach?” He held her hand, stood, and pulled her up. “We’re skinny dipping first. I have PP in places where the sun doesn’t shine.”


I hope you enjoyed that little taste,

Have a great weekend, and be safe during Ike if you happen to be in its path,


Jianne Carlo











I think it was Confucius (and not Oscar Wilde) who said that "One picture is worth a thousand words," or maybe it was Woody Allen...whatever... I'm going to let the pix I took on our "little" drive (1042 miles in 1.5 days) speak for us:

1. View from the seat of Z3PO
2. Linda feeding Z3PO
3. Riverview from hotel in Li'l Rock
4. More riverview
5. Houston seen from the freeway
6. Me in the pool
7. Beach in Galveston
8. Me contemplating the shore (notice TWRP cover T-shirt)
9. Linda contemplating the ocean
10. More beach



I hope you enjoy this short excerpt from my book. It will be in released in ebook format on 1/2/09 by The Wild Rose Press, and print on 3/27/09. Thanks Mary Ricksen


This time when she woke, she sat up with a
start. Her lungs ached and she felt disoriented. The
darkness of the room she found herself in impeded
her vision. Then it came to her. Had she really
jumped in the lake? Recalling the wooden pier she’d
walked to the end of before leaping in, the aged wood
rough with encrusted barnacles, confused her. When
she jumped in there was a quay, when she woke on
the shore, there was nothing.

Because the lake had a silted bottom and a
sharply rocked shore, they always wore their
sneakers in the water to protect their feet. Each
camp needed a pier, with railings and stairways to
guide you down to the water. Almost all of the trees
had been removed for better views of the lake.
Weeping willows replaced them, with white,
wrought-iron benches resting beneath and large,
lush lawns. Fields of corn swayed in the breezes
along the sides of the gravel roads leading to the
vacation homes on each part of the bay.
She knew that cars and motor homes, boats and
canoes, had filled the driveway areas. Water skis
and fishing poles leaned against sheds and pump
houses labored, when she went into the water, all of
these things were there. What happened to them?
All she’d seen when she woke the first time was
a wooded shoreline and nothing else. The trees had
been so dense that she couldn’t make out any
structures at all from her position on the beach. Had
she drifted to some more desolate area? Impossible,
there just weren’t any. Lakefront property was dear
in 1969, and almost every piece of property had a
structure on it.

Now, nothing but woods had surrounded her.
And the man. Who was he? She had no clue whose
bed she lay in now. Exhausted from her ordeal, she
fell into a deep slumber. All this had to be a result of
her tripping. Her last thought before she fell asleep
was that the alcohol would wear off, and when she
woke everything would be back to normal.

This time when she come around, she still didn’t
recognize anything, but her mind had cleared quite a
bit. Why was it so dark? She looked around her and
she saw that she lay in an immense bed with a soft,
down-filled mattress. She’d been in this room for
quite a long time. Judging by the darkness, it was
night. A small candle flickered on a finely crafted
end table. Her eyes adjusted to the low light, and she
searched around the room.

Next to the candle sat a beautiful porcelain
pitcher in its matching bowl. A mirror with a carved,
hardwood frame hung up high on the wall behind it,
on the rose-colored Fleur de Lis patterned paper. A
window, opened to the breeze, blew lace curtains
gently. It was early evening and no moonlight
brightened the shadows on this night. What
appeared to be a large braided rug lay on the
planked floor, between the bed and door. Several
needlepoint pieces covered the walls. As she sat
behind the closed hardwood door, her nervousness
amplified. Her heart started to thump.

What the hell? She knew this wasn’t still some
part of that nightmare trip she’d taken. It was too
real, the place too old-fashioned. She heard crickets
and saw lightning bugs twinkle outside the window.
A fly buzzed over her head and she listened to a
mosquito or two, droning in their search for the rich,
red blood beneath her skin.

She didn’t hear the blast of car horns, tire
sounds on pavement, or the grinding noise from
trucks changing gears as they flew up and down the
hilly countryside. It was so quiet, no music, no
talking, nothing. Then she heard a latch lift and
something large and furry jumped up onto the bed,
knocking the breath out of her.

Anxiety left her speechless as the light from the
open door spilled into the room and onto the bed she
lay in. The dog was next to her, warm and wild
smelling, doing her no harm. The large figure
approaching her now made her breathless, anxious.
She knew it was a man; his silhouette starkly
outlined by the light behind him.

When he reached the bed, he bent toward her,
only to pick up the tiny piece of candle still barely
burning. He lit a stained glass-covered lantern and
placed it on the bed stand beside it. Keealyn stared
into a pair of green eyes that reminded her of misty
mornings.

Clean-shaven, his thick, dark chestnut hair
flowed past the collar of his navy muslin shirt. It
opened halfway down the front, to reveal a smooth
muscular chest. Very tall, lean, and brawny, well defined
biceps, triceps, and pecs filled his shirt. He
had a slim waist and strong shoulders. His worn
blue jeans, held up with a handmade leather belt,
hung low on his hips. His skin seemed to glow in the
lamplight in a warm, bronzed tone.

He was gorgeous.




We’re in for a treat today! Meet our guest, Roxanne St. Claire. We’re barely a year old and already we have this fabulous guest.

Roxanne St. Claire is a bestselling, RITA-Award winning author of twenty-two novels of romance and suspense. She currently writes a popular romantic suspense series called “The Bullet Catchers” that features a cadre of bodyguards and security professionals. Her books have won many prestigious awards, and are routinely selected by Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs as featured selections. In addition to the RITA, her books have won the National Reader’s Choice Award, the Daphne Du Maurier Award, the Maggie Award, the Booksellers Best, the Book Buyers Best, The HOLT Medallion, multiple Awards of Excellence, and Borders “Top Pick” for Romance in 2007. In 2008, readers are enjoying the first “Bullet Catcher Trilogy” featuring three connected stories titled First You Run, Then You Hide and Now You Die.

Prior to launching a full time career as a romance novelist, Roxanne spent nearly two decades as a marketing executive and public relations consultant. She is a graduate of UCLA, a national speaker and workshop presenter at the regional and national level, and active in several chapters of the Romance Writers of America. She counts among her many accomplishments a brief acting career that included appearances on two classic television shows, and hosting one talk show. She lives in Florida, with her husband and two children. Visit her web site at www.roxannestclaire.com

Please welcome Roxanne St Claire, our very special guest blogger for this week. Her friends call her Rocki.

Hello Pink Fuzzies and thank you so much for the warm welcome to your fledgling blog. I’m honored to be here, among some of my favorite authors and good friends. These days, you can find me straddling two worlds: the ecstasy of a brand new release in the book stores and the agony of writing the last 20,000 words on a manuscript. I’m thrilled that the latest in my Bullet Catchers series, NOW YOU DIE, is in stores everywhere, and tickled to be getting such a positive response from readers. On the other hand, I’m at that critical point in a romantic suspense when there is non-stop action, lots of loose ends that need to be tied, a huge emotional juggernaut to get through, and…a deadline looming like an oncoming train and I’m tied to the railroad.

Mary asked me to answer a few questions today, which I’m delighted to do, and I’ll also pop in throughout the day, check your comments and answer any questions blog readers might have about writing, life, bodyguards, whatever!!

What was your first published book and who is the publisher?

My first book, a romantic suspense called TROPICAL GETAWAY, was published by Pocket Books in 2003. I’d spent about two years in Submission and Rejection Hell, and my first book was NOT my first manuscript. (That never sold!) Since then, I’ve celebrated the release of nine more romantic suspense novels, ten category romances, one chick lit, and three novellas. It’s been a VERY busy five years!!

Currently I write a series of romantic suspense books, still with Pocket Books, called “The Bullet Catchers.” This is an elite cadre of hot, sexy, fearless bodyguards and investigators run by a very shrewd and gorgeous woman. I’ve had six stand alone books released in the series, and the last three were “a trilogy within the series” – which was a lot of fun and very challenging to write.

What themes go through your books?

I don’t really think about the theme of the book until it’s done, or nearly done, then the theme becomes clear to me. Certain elements are always found in my books: strong external conflict that drives both the story and the problems within the romance; high profile characters/premises that include glamorous settings, international drama, and “big” crimes; and, finally, a delicate balance of romance and suspense, assuring my readers that they will get equal parts of both, the two aspects so intertwined that you can’t have one without the other.

How did you write with kids and deadlines?

It ain’t easy. ☺ When I was first starting, my children were 3 and 7, so I wrote early in the mornings or late at night. When my daughter entered preschool and kindergarten, I wrote every minute they were in school. Now my kids are 11 and 15 (HOW did that happen????) so I write while they’re in school, and even when they’re home. I also have an incredible secret weapon: my husband is retired and he shops, cooks, and chauffeurs the kids to all of their activities while I write. And he doesn’t just “cook” – he’s a gourmet chef! Go ahead, hate me. I understand.

How many other jobs have you held? There are some mentioned in your bio, but we want details.

Before I became a full time writer, I was an executive in public relations and marketing. I had a fantastic career that included many years as a Senior Vice President of the world’s largest public relations firm, and a very successful consulting business that I started when my son was born. I really loved the business of promotion and publicity, and, of course, that’s helped me a lot in this career. But I was quite happy to hang up my panty hose and say goodbye to the corporate world when I started writing. However, being in PR and marketing was great fun – it exposed me to dozens and dozens of different businesses and clients, and I’ve used a lot of that in my writing. Of course, it gave me some promotional tools that I use today. And, I traveled the world and met unforgettable people who I greedily use as characters. But now, I’m perfectly happy to write and be a mom.

Oh, yes, I was also an actress – and I can be seen briefly on TV shows like Bosom Buddies and LaVerne & Shirley!!!

What do you love most about writing and what do you not like?

I hate writing. Did someone say I loved writing? They lied! I do, however, love to REWRITE and I could do that all day and all night. But fresh writing – the blank page? It *terrifies* me. Writing is hard work. I just finished a love scene and, for fun, I calculated hours/pages. It took me 17 hours, total, to write a 14 page chapter that included the build up, the foreplay, the love scene, the aftermath, and the hook. And I haven’t even started the rewrite, edit, and polish on that scene. Writing is so hard! I do love when the book is finished and all I have to do is shine ‘er up. I love to hear from readers, to see my book in stores, and to fall in love with every new hero. (No matter how many hours it takes to give him a night he won’t forget!!!)

What are you writing now?

I’m writing another Bullet Catcher book that will be out in the summer of 2009. It’s Dan Gallagher’s book, in case there are any fans out there, and I’d love to say “it’s a blast” but see the above paragraph. It’s sheer hell on a daily basis, but I pray that it will all come together and be one of my best. I hope!!!

Also, I’m very busy promoting the trilogy that came out this year. The three books are FIRST YOU RUN, THEN YOU HIDE and NOW YOU DIE. They are all Bullet Catcher books, and each one can and does stand alone. However, there is a mystery story thread that starts in the first, gets knotted up in the second, and is untangled in the third. That was very challenging to write, but I’m thrilled with the final outcome and hope readers are, too.

What would you write if you could do write anything you wanted to write?

The End.


Seriously, I love finishing a book. That is my Happy Day. All the questions are answered, all the conflict is resolved, all the bad guys are destroyed, the happily ever after is complete and All Is Good In My World.

I love writing romantic suspense, but I also love other genres. I’ve done a lot of category books (Silhouette Desire) and although I’m not doing any now, I expect to again, one day. I love reading Young Adult and think I would totally enjoy writing it. I just want to *write* for the rest of my life, and I’m thrilled to have a job where I get to do it every day. And no pesky panty hose!!

Go ahead, Fuzzies. Ask me anything and I’ll be by all day. One commenter will win FIRST YOU RUN!

Xoxo
Rocki

More covers for Rocki

Posted by Mary Marvella | 11:20 PM | 0 comments »


The reason behind Valerius Andriescu's sudden desire to run away from home was very simple--it was a totally childish rebellion against his brother Marius.


He'd been summoned to his brother's office, told in no uncertain terms that the head of the Clan Andriescu--and the heir to the House--had fallen in love with a human, and, obeying the Laws of their species forbidding procreation with mortals, was relinquishing continuation of the bloodline to his youngest sibling.


"I'm not ready to get married!" Val protested.


"You're nearly three hundred and twelve," Marius answered calmly. "You should have all your wild oats out of your system by now."


"What about Timon?" Val demanded, gesturing at his cousin who was leaning negligently against the opposite wall. "He's older than I. Why don't you pick on him?"


"Timon represents his father's side of the family, not ours," came the answer. "Besides, it'll probably be another century or two before he's prepared to wed." He glanced at the languid figure, adding in a mutter, "--if ever!"


Timon buffed his nails against his sleeve and smirked.


Damn it, I'm not ready! Val wanted to argue, but he knew there was no use. The Head of the House had spoken. He had to obey.


Whatever happened to spoiling the youngest? How did Timon get to be the pampered one? He had no more answer to that than he did how to get himself out of this situation. Without another word, he turned and stalked from the office, pointing himself at the stairs, taking them three at a time--and not stopping until he was safely inside his own room.


His protestations to the contrary, Val was secretly getting tired of going from one woman to another, bored with the shallow, careless sex he'd once enjoyed so, and which Timon was going to continue to enjoy.


He refused to admit this, however, because it would be giving in to his brother's inconsiderate wishes--but it was true, he wanted to find some nice vampire female and start a family, but he knew he had to be very careful in doing so. When he'd been much younger and idealistic, he'd told Timon that when he did marry, he intended to be faithful to his mate --his cousin had rolled on the floor with laughter at that naivete--but Val meant it, and if he was going to practice fidelity, he had to make certain the woman he married was one he'd love forever.


Being tied to the wrong female for eternity could be harsh punishment indeed!


I want to go home. He wanted to be back in Carpathius, with his parents alive, to be a child again in that brief time when he, Timon, and Marius were still small, when he could crawl into his mother's lap and be hugged and made to feel safe.


Val was startled by that thought. He had always believed himself satisfied wherever they were, and the gods knew they'd certainly been enough places in the past three hundred years! All he wanted to do was huddle somewhere in the dark, seek a pair of warm arms to hug him and tell him everything would be all right. I've got to get out of here...and Home was the place he was going!


Wait, can't go now--it's night here so that means it's probably day time there. He'd have to wait until tomorrow. Okay, so he'd wait--but come sun up, I'm out of here!


("Love, Vampire Style" will be available for download on September 24th by the Wild Rose Press. It's a Black Rose rosette.)

History

Posted by Nightingale | 1:34 PM | , , | 5 comments »


History never repeats itself. The historians repeat each other.


The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.


The details of history ... are always wearisome and usually inaccurate.


Oscar Wilde

video

This is the trailer for my futuristic novel Three Moon Station, which will be released as an ebook by The Wild Rose Press in December, 2008, in print in March, 2009.

Jianne Carlo Manacled in Monaco

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 10:30 AM | 7 comments »

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to the Pink Fuzzy Slippers group, and I thought I would introduce myself by giving an excerpt of what I write, and giving you a little bio about myself.

I grew up on a 60 by 40 Caribbean island, Trinidad and Tobago (11 by 22 in case you're interested), but I've now lived in North America longer than my formative years in Trinidad. I met and married my husband of 31 years in Canada while attending college. We have three very handsome sons, Jodan, Jarin, and Josun, who are all (thank the Lord) over the age of 20 and all are (killing their parents finacially) enrolled in scattered Florida Universities. In our house, we have me, A U of M graduate and a Hurricane's fan, my oldest son - a Gators Fan, and a Seminole fan who's at FSU. Needless to say, college football dominates the household.

My first novel, Manacled in Monaco, was published by Loose-Id in June, and I've received wonderful reviews for the book. I've two more coming out this year, T is for Temptation, and D is for Desire, due in October and December respectively. I tend to write series, MM is the first in the Mambo Mediterranean series, and T and D are the first two in my Witchy Women series.

Okay, I think that's enough of an intro and I hope I haven't bored you to death.

Here's an excerpt from Manacled, which explains the Hindu festival of Diwali, a wonderful and beautiful celebration of the conquest of light over darkness.



Rolan didn’t notice anything on the way back to the docks. Immersed in sorting out the deep insecurity the mere presence of Rizzo generated, his crazy reaction to Sarita, the future awaiting the three of them, the two miles to the dock seemed to take mere minutes. But in actuality, dusk set before he reached the Glory and he halted on the pier, transfixed by what he saw.

Outlined in flickering light, the yacht glowed like a Cinderella’s castle from a fairy tale. Tiny flames covered every inch of the ship’s railings on the lower, middle, and upper decks.

And the scent of coconut assailed his nostrils.

It took some time before he registered the limo’s arrival, and only when he heard the murmured voices did he turn to note the passengers exiting from the vehicle.

“Wow,” Suresh exclaimed. “All the way here we heard murmurs about the fairy boat. Your wife is nothing short of astounding. I know what this is and she’s won me over completely. You are one lucky son of a bitch.”

In what seemed like slow motion, they made their way on board the Glory. Tiny clay circles filled with coconut oil displayed a thick wick burnishing a glowing flame. Hundreds of pots lined the boat’s railings and decorated the tables scattered about the lower deck.

“Hi boss,” Austen greeted him, tipping his usual two-fingered salute. “This way.” He gestured to the stairs leading to the entertainment area.

Rolan didn’t realize he had held his breath until he sighted the dining table. He exhaled then, taking in the exotic dishes lining its surface, and inhaled absorbing the hint of cumin, coriander, and curry in the air. Hibiscus flowers, orchids, and bougainvillea accentuated the white plates holding here, jumbo shrimp dotted with red pepper flakes, there, what seemed like square tortillas sprinkled with chopped parsley, and in the center of the table, a massive silver dish displaying cubes of beef in a cream-colored sauce.

And then he spotted Sarita and his lungs refused to function, his limbs refused every mental command. She wore a fuchsia-colored outfit decorated at its edges with tiny embroidered silver flowers. The sleeved midriff top fitted her petite form like a second skin and her nipples punctuated the silk material. Partially obscured by the soft textile, her navel held the pink diamond he’d given her and an intricate pattern of brown symbols outlined the round indentation.

Of their own volition, his feet moved and he stopped only when mere centimeters separated them. Amber eyes manacled his and once again organs refused to function. One finger traced the ornate silver headband decorating the bronzed skin of her forehead and he realized he had no control left. None. Instinct alone drove him.

“We should get married again, and you should wear this. What is it?”

“It’s a sari, traditional dress for Indian women.”

He fingered the transparent material curving over one shoulder. “I never seen this before, but it looks familiar.”

“It’s a lotus, the national flower of India. The flowers are hand embroidered as a border for the whole outfit. This piece came from my paternal grandmother who did the embroidery herself.”

“I like it. A lot.” He fitted his hands around her waist and one thumb traced the hennaed pattern around her belly button. “Did you do another mehndi? Where I suggested?”

Sarita dipped her chin in an almost imperceptible nod. His manhood surged to firing point and she was fully dressed. “And I like where this is.” One finger touched the pink diamond nestled in her navel.

“Hey Dad.” Tony careened into the room and screeched to a halt besides them.

Rolan’s lips curved and all his doubts and diffidence dissipated.

“What’d ya think?” The young boy waved a hand down his body.

“Interesting,” Rolan said. “What is it?”

“It’s a dhoti,” Sarita answered. “Traditional Hindu dress for males. The vest is Arabic. Tony refused to wear the traditional kurta.”

“It’s too hot, Mom,” Tony complained. “’Sides, this looks more like what Orlando Bloom wore in Pirates of the Caribbean. Look, Dad, I even have a fake machete.” The young boy slashed a curved silver plastic sword through the air.

“Sarita.” Suresh hipped Rolan aside and clasped his wife’s fingers in both hands. He touched her fingertips to his lips. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Tony and I celebrate Diwali every year.”

“Diwali?” Geoff asked as he joined their little group.

“The festival of light, it signifies the triumph of good over evil. Those clay pots are called diyas or deepas, and people line their driveways with hundreds of them so that the light overcomes the darkness. It’s a symbol of the lifting of the spiritual darkness within each human being.”

“Diwali is one of the most important Hindu festivals. It’s the equivalent of your Christmas, Rolan,” Suresh said. “I’m honored, Sarita. And all these Indian dishes.”

He dropped her hands and Rolan’s neck muscles unknotted.

“Most are vegetarian, but I did do a couple of beef dishes for the meat eaters.”

Transfixed by her bare feet and the delicate rings on her toes, Rolan curled one arm around her waist and held her stationary. She glanced up at him and he read uncertainty in those amber eyes. Drawing her closer, he bent his head and gave into his initial instinctive reaction, sipping at her mouth, nibbling, tasting.

“Jeez, Dad, do you have to do that all the time?” Tony poked him in the back and added, sotto voce, to his audience. “They’re always into nooky-nooky.”

She broke the kiss by pushing at his chest.

Conferences and conventions can energize me, while leaving me draggin'!

In July I flew from Atlanta to San Fransisco for a Romance Writers of America national conference. For days I joined 2,000, give or take a few, folks who write romance novels or aspire to. Everywhere I looked people I see only at conferences waved and came to me for a quick catch up and a hug. There were also quite a few of my buds from Georgia Romance Writers. Writers who entertained me for years milled with their fans, like they were one of us. They once were unpublished, like may of us are. They don't seemed to forget it or let us forget it. My critique partners and I attended workshops, gatherings, and book signings. You wouldn't believe the books I shipped home, free books. We even did some sightseeing - The Wharf, Chinatown, and more.

Monday night I returned home from DragonCon and I'm "wore out". It's in Atlanta and I live north of Atlanta, so traveling wasn't an issue. DragonCon is a conference and convention for fans of all things Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy. At that conference I dug in and stayed in the Writers Track. Each time I left the room I was surrounded by characters from Star Trek, vampires, pirates, warriors. fairies, and characters I didn't recognize. Children of all ages watched or participated in the crush of people indulging in fantasies and having a wonderful time. There were parties that lasted well into the early morning hours. While I didn't join those, my day ran from ten in the morning 'til eleven in the evening. There I met writers I've only heard mentioned. I'll give more details when I have my photos to share.

October will bring Moonlight and Magnolias, a conference sponsored by Georgia Romance Writers. That one will be a long weekend of nonstop running for me. I might share details about that one, or at least the ones I can share. Yes, there will be workshops and a little partying.