Monday, December 31, 2007

Aging Well

Every year at New Years, and admittedly on my birthday, there is a particular piece of wisdom I seek out to remind myself of the message it holds. It's not a quote from some philosopher or a poem by a poet with insight into the human soul. It is a song. Aging Well by Dar Williams. There is a message in this song that I truly believe speaks to every human, especially to women. I know that pieces of it, or the whole, have spoken to me at various times.

Why is it that as we grow older and stronger
The road signs point us adrift and make us afraid
Saying 'You never can win,' 'Watch your back,' 'Where's yourhusband?'
Oh I don't like the signs that the signmakers made.

So I'm going to steal out with my paint and brushes
I'll change the directions, I'll hit every street
It's the Tinseltown scandal, the Robin Hood vandal
She goes out and steals the King's English

And in the morning you wake up and the signs point to you
They say 'I'm so glad that you finally made it here,
''You thought nobody cared, but I did, I could tell,'
And 'This is your year,' and 'It always starts here,

'And oh, 'You're aging well.

Our society seems to take pleasure in making us feel as if we are insignificant, as if we don't measure up. Imagine the power you could have in your life if you made the roadsigns. If you made the map that said where you were supposed to go. If someone stood at the end of each step of our journey and said, "I so glad you finally made it here.

'Well I know a woman with a collection of sticks
She could fight back the hundreds of voices she heard
And she could poke at the greed, she could fend off her need
And with anger she found she could pound every word.

But one voice got through, caught her up by surprise
It said, 'Don't hold us back we're the story you’ll tell,'
And no sooner than spoken, a spell had been broken
And the voices before her were trumpets and tympani

Violins, basses and woodwinds and cellos, singing'
We're so glad that you finally made it here
You thought nobody cared, but we did, we could tell
And now you'll dance through the days while the orchestra plays

And oh, you're aging well.'

For me this has been the verse that has sung loudest the past two years. Wrapped up in fear, anger and resentment I could force life to my tune, but the pushing and forcing drown out the real me. It drown out the voice I was supposed to be listening to. It was robbing me of the stories I was meant to tell.

Now when I was fifteen, oh I knew it was over
The road to enchantment was not mine to take
Cause lower calf, upper arm should be half what they are
I was breaking the laws that the signmakers made.

And all I could eat was the poisonous apple
And that's not a story I was meant to survive
I was all out of choices, but the woman of voices
She turned round the corner with music around her,

She gave me the language that keeps me alive, she said:
'I'm so glad that you finally made it here
With the things you know now, that only time could tell
Looking back, seeing far, landing right where we are

And oh, you're aging, oh and I am aging, oh , aren't we aging well?'

No one needs to explain this part. I'd given up on the "road to enchantment" long before I was fifteen. When you break the rules the signmakers make, the punishment is very high. Odd though how it is often we who end up punishing ourselves.

Today, on New Years Eve and the days after we will hear so much about resolutions. "I'm going to find love." "I'm going to lose weight." "I'm going to accomplish my goals no matter what."

But perhaps the real resolution should be to become our own signmakers. To look at the woman in the mirror with a proud smile and say, "I'm so glad you finally made it here. With the things you know now that only time could tell. Looking back, seeing far, landing right where we are. We're aging well."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Welcoming The Rain

It's raining today. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but here where I live it is very important. We've been living in a rather intense drought the last few years. Watering one's lawn has been so long forbidden I'm not sure anyone actually remembers how it is done any more. We had gotten down to the point where people were catching water from their air conditioners to water their plants and even putting buckets in bathtubs to catch the water run while the temperature adjusted. This was also hauled outside and used for watering.

Our governor has been in battles with neighboring states and the US Army Corps of Engineers for the last half of the year to slow the release of water from our reservoirs and keep some for ourselves. Our major water source, we have been told, could well be below the safe consumption level in less than two months.

But today it's raining. It rained yesterday as well. God willing, it will rain tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that.

The only ones who seem unhappy about this fact are my dogs. My cocker spaniel, King Charles and miniature dachshund are standing on the steps refusing to go out in the rain to do their business. My brittany could care less and is dancing about in the rain pointing things. Good old George. Maybe I'll give another turn at the blog for good behavior.

On another note:

My new book, Measure of Healing, will be released in just a couple of weeks by Cerridwen Press. It is a bit different than my last which was science fiction. Measure of Healing is a paranormal. In fact most of what I write are paranormals. I've been working all day on the follow up to Measure that I hope my editor will decide is worthy.

So I thought I'd offer up another excerpt from the upcoming release. This is a short bit and comes from the prologue.

Excerpt:
Excerpt of a speech given before the Atlantean Council, Year of Our Diaspora 3,097, by Damian Santiago on behalf of the Floridian Cougars.

As I look at the faces of this council I wonder to what degree I am wasting my time and my breath. I come with no expectation that you will be eager or even willing to hear what I have to say but with the determination and resolve that you will hear and that this time the council will have no choice but to act. We are brothers all, all thirteen races who fill these seats.

For millennia this august body has sat by on its haunches and done nothing to address the plight of those of our people who live their lives in fear of annihilation. Instead it has mouthed useless platitudes about cooperation and negotiation with the humans for that which by right of superiority, by right of first conquest, by the right of a people to survive, should be ours. As the centuries have passed this council has sat here ineffective and neutered by its fear of the gifted humans, by its fear of their magic. But I am here to serve notice to this council that the Florida Cougar will not sit quietly while you allow the greedy, grabbing humans to force us into extinction.

When we were forced to leave our first home in this world our ancestors sought out the Western hemisphere and the powerful cougar that ruled it. To that mighty beast we have joined our lives. We claimed the Western continents and we flourished and thrived despite your contempt for us, your silent punishments for our refusal to pacify the humans by relinquishing our birthright, our magic.

Along with our animal counterpart our numbers grew and our territory spread to cover almost all that is now North America. We lived at peace with the humans who followed us to this rich and bountiful land. The Iroquois, the Seminole, the Apache, the Sioux, all of their human tribes lived at peace with us. Some saw us as spirits, some saw us as gods but all dwelt in cooperation with us sharing the gifts of the Earth. Even the gifted among these humans respected our right to live. Then came the European humans. Those who had behind them a long history of persecuting the Were, of forcing us into hiding. Their superstitions, their quest for power had already brought to heel and hiding even those whose Domini, whose leaders sat at the head of this council.

They came and they claimed the land we lived in. As they drove the Cougars from their homes along with our animal friends, we appealed to this council. Your assurances proved meaningless as you turned a blind eye to what happened to us. Instead of banding together as brothers facing a common enemy you turned against your Cougar brothers. You demanded that like you, we relinquish the only protection we had from the humans, our magic. We refused, as we have always refused and all of you, all of our brothers turned from us in our need. You stood by silent while they hunted us and took our land, forbidding us to fight back.

Now I stand before you as evidence of what your cooperation, your subservience to the humans has cost us. The Cougars are now small in numbers and decreasing every day and don’t think I mean only our animal brothers. The entire Eastern portion of North America has been cleared of our kind. In the West, we exist in hiding, every day watching as the humans encroach further upon our land.

But the real horror, the real slap in the face that must awaken this council is what is happening in Florida. The animal known as the Florida panther, an entire sub-species of our cougar brothers has been reduced to less than thirty individuals as even their last bastion of retreat, the Everglades, is whittled down to almost nothing.

Does the council forget that we are tied irrevocably to our animal cousins? Among my people, the Cougars of Florida, there are less than thirty families left. We have no more room to hide, we have no more measure to give. Make no mistake, when the gifted humans have used the unknowing normals among them to drive us from our last Eastern stronghold, they will move West. If this council does not act today to check the spreading menace of humanity it will be responsible for the extinction not only of a species of large cat but of an entire branch of Weres. The Cougar seat on this council will be empty, my people—our people, extinct and the fault will lie squarely in your hands.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bad Blogging and Book Reviews

Sometimes the holidays can suck the best laid plans right out of you. With traveling and all the other fuss and ruckus, it's hard to keep even the best of intentions from paving that proverbial road to Hell. This includes regular blogging.

There is something about driving 10 hours with one SO and two dogs and being surrounded by the warm, loving embrace of family and friends that can leave you...

Totally exhausted.

What better way to get back in the swing of things than a book review.

The Warrior
Kinley MacGregor
Avon Fiction
Buy it here

Kinley MacGregor fans have been waiting a long time for The Warrior. This book does double duty as it marks the end of the MacAllister brother’s quartet whose last book appeared in 2003 and is the latest installment in the Brotherhood of the Sword series which saw its last book in 2005. A long wait for fans of the prolific MacGregor, who between her own titles and those of her alter ego Sherrilyn Kenyon usually treat fans to a tidbit or four each year. Why the wait? MacGregor told fans at 2006’s Dragon*Con that she was waiting on Lochlan MacAllister, the final brother and clan laird, to cooperate.

It seems he finally did. The Warrior tells the story of the leader of the MacAllisters. Bearing the knowledge that his brother Kieran, long thought to have killed himself over the betrayal of a woman, may not in fact be dead; Lochlan travels to find the man who may know what happened to his brother. On the way he encounters a familiar face in need of help. The gypsy Catarina, friend of his sister-in-law, has been kidnapped and though she drives him mad with her waspishness, Lochlan cannot leave the woman in peril. But rescuing her causes him more trouble than he imagined. Not only must he battle two common kidnappers, but the man who hired them. Catarina’s father. Philip Capet, King of France.

MacGregor delivers the adventure, romance and passion her readers expect. She also delivers the answers to questions her readers have been desperate to have. Did Kieran die that day at the loch? If not what happened to him? Who is The Scot, the mysterious and reclusive member of the Brotherhood of the Sword? Could he be Kieran? The answers may not be what her readers expected or hoped for, but they will get them. And the final revelation of Kieran MacAllister’s fate will have many a jaw on the floor.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Brain Dead Blog

Okay, this is a brain dead blog today. I'm so tired that all I can manage today is an excerpt and the last of my promised seven Santas.

Excerpt for Access Denied, now available at http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419911330


He stood there, looking into her eyes, searching for something. She didn’t know if he found it, but in the next moment his head lowered and his lips touched hers. The soft feel of them brushing over her mouth made her head spin. She felt his beard scrape against her skin and the flesh seemed to come alive. His arm slipped around her waist and he pulled her close as he continued to press his kiss deeper. As she let her arms wrap around his chest and gave in to the need to kiss him back, she heard a piece of her soul cry out in joy and another more somber piece painfully whisper,

You had to let yourself love him. You are well and truly damned, and this time there will be no escape.

She couldn’t remember a kiss ever feeling or tasting so good. Not that there had been a lot of them in her life, but not even… well, no one had made her feel the way James was making her feel as he used his tongue to urge her lips apart. Stop this, her mind warned, stop this before you can’t stop it. But she wasn’t listening. She opened her mouth to him and felt the rough velvet slip past her lips and explore her with increasing insistence.

James’ arm tightened and his free hand rested on the slope of her hip. Slowly he brushed it up her side, over the fullness of her curves. She expected him to stop, to pull away at the reality of touching her, but he didn’t. His hand skimmed the outer curve of her breast and moved up to cradle her face. He responded to the shudder that moved through her by sighing against her lips.

He coaxed her tongue to follow his as it retreated and she eagerly complied. Brushing over the full lips, she felt the hairs of his beard scratch at her face as she tilted her head to claim the inside of his mouth. James’ body reacted with a jerk and suddenly both arms now pulled her tight to him. One hand slipped up her spine and crushed her against his chest. The other curved over her hips and pressed them against him.

James broke the kiss to draw in a ragged breath. He was looking down at her and she could see the unspoken question in his eyes. One she had never believed she would ever see again in any man’s eyes, least of all these golden spheres. He lifted his hand from her back and ran his fingers down her cheek, moving softly across her jaw and then trailing along the skin of her neck. He pushed back the collar on the flannel nightshirt and bent his head low to follow the path of his fingers with his lips. He paused, hovering next to her ear.

“Leah” he whispered her name softly and she felt the jolt of the touch of his tongue as it brushed the curve of her ear. Her body responded with a deepening of the need she was feeling for him.

But her mind reacted with fear.

Never Leah, do you understand. Never. It was her father’s voice, the only time he had ever been harsh or firm with her. A few days after she had reached menarche and her mother had explained the physical side of love to her, her father had taken her for a long walk in the woods. It is not for those like us, Leah. We do not play at love. Your sister, your brothers, your friends, they may experiment, they may play with the carnality between men and women, but not you. We are different, Leah. His fingers had gripped her arm painfully, forcing her to take her passive, easy-going father deadly serious.
Head my warning, Leah. Make no mistake. Play that game and you will never know happiness.

Her father’s voice in her head broke the last of her resistance. She put her hands against James’ chest and pushed him away. He did not release her, but eased his hold to let her put some space between their bodies. She drew a deep breath and looked up into the eyes still darkened by his want. No words would come and all she could do was shake her head. James’ hands fell to his sides and he stepped away, turning from her. Standing there staring at his back, the only thing she could think to say was, “I’m sorry,” before she, herself, turned and left the room.

Standing with her back to the coolness of her closed bedroom door, she let the tears begin to fall. This was something new, something she didn’t understand. This had never happened to her before. Never had the voice in her head failed her as it did now. All her life she had spent reaching people with affection and compassion; friends, family, everyone. Each of the men who had drifted into her life these past couple of years she had handled the same. Each time she had tapped into their friendship, their warmth. She had never believed she could excite passion in a man and had never attempted to do so, instead she tried to reach his heart.

But with James her world was tumbled over. She couldn’t understand the want, the desire she had felt in him just now. Suddenly she found she could reach his body, but knew she’d never be able to reach his heart. She was the love of my life, Leah. There’s never been anyone in my life like her, before or since. You didn’t get much clearer or final than that.



And Now:

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Seven Seductive Santas


Champaigne Santa is still my favorite, but our final Santa is rather a fine bit of eye candy. Still, I can't help but think how itchy that shoot must have been.

Have a happy holiday everyone. May your own Santas be as sweet, generous and sexy as you wish.




Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Just like Alexander, I too have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Like today. I'm stuck in the media center (middle school-ese for library) because my kids are doing research papers. Normally this isn't a problem except that someone forgot and had a vase of carnations. I'm not someone with many allerergies but I have a very serious one to carnations. No other flowers. And I do mean serious, stop breathing serious.

So they are there this morning, they remove them but the damage is done. So I take my inhalers, take Benedryl and try to get through it. By third hour I'm so tired I'm holding up my head on my hand to stay upright. My tongue is still swollen and I'm talking like Elmer Fudd.

Good news? I get to do it again tomorrow. Yippee.


And now:


On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Seven Seductive Santas
Santa #6 seems to need a bit of a rest, odd for one so young. I still maintain #4 was my favorite so far. The final Santa will be sliding down the chimney tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Other future releases

I shared a bit of my next release with you yesterday. Today I wanted to share a bit from an Ellora's Cave release coming in February. This novella is part of the Jewels of the Nile series based on birthstones. Written by Elyssa Edwards, this story (which does have a sequel planned for July) is called Mating Stone.


Mating Stone
Elyssa Edwards

Sarah has found the perfect man and best of all, he loves her deeply. Before introducing her to his family he proposes and presents her with an amethyst pendant, a stone she doesn’t realize is more than symbolic. When his brother reveals Mark’s secret, Sarah must decide if she loves him enough to accept him even if he’s not exactly human. And Mark must decide how far he’ll go, how much he’ll give up to claim Sarah as his mate. Is he willing to abandon his birthright? Is he willing to kill his own brother to keep it and Sarah?



Excerpt:
The night they met had been her birthday. She’d let her sister and some friends talk her into going to a club to celebrate. “Come on Sarah, it’s February 2. It’s your twenty-eighth birthday, so do what all good little groundhogs do and get out. Even if you see your shadow, at least you had fun before you run back and hibernate some more,” her sister had teased until she’d agreed.

She’d not met Mark at the club but afterwards on her way home. Hitting a pothole had blown her tire and while she could change a tire herself—hell, like any good ol’ Minnesota girl she could change a tire, put on her own snow chains and knew how to use the jumper cables in her trunk—she just didn’t relish doing it in the short skirt her sister had talked her into wearing.

Resigning herself to ruining her stockings and probably the new skirt, she’d been hauling the jack and donut from the trunk when a motorcycle had roared up behind her. The headlight had almost blinded her but not as much as what stepped out into the light. Pulling a black helmet from his head the man had been devastating. His black jeans and leather jacket completed a monochromatic feast for the eyes.

Flashing her a smile almost as bright as his headlight he’d insisted he couldn’t let a lady like her change the tire. He’d made short work of the flat even if she did stand there like an idiot and chatter way. By the time he was done he knew it was her birthday and where she’d been. If it had taken any longer she’d hated to think what else would have come bubbling out of her mouth.

He packed her jack back into her trunk and asked her allow him to follow her home since he didn’t have much confidence in the small rubber tire. When she’d hesitated he’d pulled out his driver’s license and a credit card. He put them in her hands. “Hold on to these. If you get spooked at all you know who I am, where I live and can either call the police or charge a fortune for yourself in compensation.”

When they’d arrived at her place she handed them over and smiled nervously. “Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough,” she nodded down to the damp patches on his knees where he’d knelt in the wet snow alongside the road.

“Then have dinner with me tomorrow,” he’d flashed an encouraging smile and she felt as if her bones melted. “That’s all the thanks I need.”

She agreed and had started to walk away when he called out to her. He was pulling something from the storage compartment under the seat and walked quickly up to her. His long legged strides held her so transfixed she didn’t see what he had in his hands. He stopped in front of her and hesitated. She looked up at him. He suddenly seemed shy and uncertain, grinning up at her through the hair that had fallen over his forehead.

“Happy Birthday, Sarah.” He placed a single red rose in her hand. His quick kiss to her cheek was so soft and so fast that she almost missed it. By the time her fingers rose up to touch where he had pressed his lips to her skin, he was back on his bike, turning it and roaring away. Odd but only now did it occur to her to question where on earth he’d gotten the rose.


And now a very naughty Santa:


On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Seven Seductive Santas.
Okay, I'm not exactly sure what it is down there that surprises him so. But this is definitely a naughty Santa. Tune in to morrow for Seductive Santa #6

Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –

1st prize--6 books

2nd prize--4 books

3rd prize--2 books

All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Monday, December 17, 2007

Measure of Healing

My second release from Cerridwen Press, Measure of Healing, comes out one month from today. So instead of a rant I thought I'd share the blurb and an excerpt.

Blurb:
Alejandro Ramirez’s Were-Cougar mother drove him out after his first transformation at the age of fifteen leaving him to seek out his human father and find the family his human side craved but that his animal side can never embrace. Now a man, he finds himself responsible for a traumatized Were-Cougar child. When he turns to the Weres for help, they send him to a human. Dr. Gabriela St. Jerome knows of the Cougars and hates them with every fiber of her being. But now she must swallow that hatred to work with Alejandro to help a Were child who has been thrown into transformation far too early by the horrific death of his mother. As they are forced together in the remote woods of the North Georgia Mountains, both find their mutual attraction overwhelming. But if Brie gives into this man and her own passions, it will cost her dearly. It will cost her her life.


Excerpt:
Brie rang the bell a second time. She could hear the sound of movement from within, still no one answered the door. There had been no visible number on the house and she had had to guess at its location by counting down from the nearest house that did have its address painted over the door. It was a law that all houses be marked but she somehow doubted that the local city hall sent many inspectors out to monitor compliance.

She was about to pull out her cell phone and try the phone number when the door finally opened and an older woman in her sixties answered. Her dark brown eyes were large and held a wary smile. The black hair was more grey than ebony and her face was tanned and wrinkled from the Florida sun. “Can I help you?” the voice carried a soft Latin inflection.
Brie removed her glasses and the woman’s eyes widened. Cursing she slipped them back on. She knew better. “I’m Gabriela St. Jerome, I’m supposed to meet Alejandro Ramirez. Is this the correct address?” She showed the woman the address written on a small slip of paper.


“You have found the right house.” The woman’s gaze was guarded. “You must be the doctor Alej said would come.”

“Yes,” Brie breathed a sigh of relief. At least she was in the right place. “I’m Dr. St. Jerome. Is he here?”

“I’m here,” the low voice rumbled from the darkened interior of the house. A man stepped up beside the woman and Brie felt her breath catch. He was impressive, the kind of man her research assistant Caroline would call yummy. But his look was wrong, good but wrong.
She frowned at him and Alejandro suppressed the urge to smile nastily. “We better let her in Mama, before she falls down from shock and we have to explain it to the neighbors.”


The older woman gave the young man a patient look and opened the screen door. “Come in Doctor, I’ll fetch you something cool to drink. Alej see that she is comfortable.” As she passed him she gave a mock scowl, “And behave yourself.”

The tall man stepped back and motioned for her to select a seat in the room. The house was comfortably furnished with well worn and used furniture. Choosing a spot on the end of the sofa, Brie perched stiffly. Alejandro was watching her unabashedly, staring almost rudely at her. Lifting her head, she stared back. He wasn’t what she expected. Most Were-Cougars did not look like this. They were tall but not abnormally so. Their hair was generally somewhere between a silvery ash blonde and a dark golden blonde depending on where they called home. And their eyes were blue.

She’d never known of a Were-Cougar whose eyes were not blue. In the wild the actual cougar kittens, Were and animal, were born with blue eyes. Were-Cougar kittens’ eyes remained blue while the animals’ eyes changed to a golden yellow-green. It was one of the identifying marks of their kind. Yet the man who stood there silently taking her measure broke most of the rules. He was tall. Six five at a minimum. His hair was dark and the eyes that seemed to be trying to see inside her were brown. Had Sister Margarite not told her he was Cougar, she would never have known. He looked human.

His eyes held hers then looked away. He was amused. And he was aroused. Good thing you’re not a Were, Princess, cause I’d certainly be getting my face slapped or clawed about now. His thoughts and the accompanying images were broadcast so that any Were could have heard him and they flitted through to her as the woman re-entered the room.

“No, I’m not like you but I am empathic and telepathic. Don’t worry, though, I’m actually more offended at being called Princess. I’d suggest you don’t do that again.” She straightened her skirt and accepted the iced glass from the chuckling woman. The man had a vivid imagination, she’d give him that.

Alejandro stiffened and frowned. Damn that Wolf! The least she could have done was warn him. He’d not run across a gifted human in a long time, then again he’d not been around any humans but his family for the past couple of months.

When she spoke again, it was with deep amusement. “And while we’re getting the surprises out of the way, let’s just deal with this, shall we?” Her voice was filled with impatience but he could hear the anticipatory chuckle it hid.

She pulled off her glasses and revealed a set of deep electric blue eyes. His breath left his chest in a rush. She had the eyes of a Cougar. He’d never seen a human with eyes that color and found he could only stare at her. She was laughing at him but he was too stunned to be angry, yet. Something in him was reacting to her, or to what she seemed to be, in a dangerous way.

“You should learn to trust your nose. For I, Mr. Ramirez, am no more what I look like than are you,” she sat the glass down on a coaster.

So it was an illusion. Determined to wipe the superior smile off her face he shrugged. “You may wish to rephrase that statement, Dr. St. Jerome. I am at least half of what I seem to be.” He walked over to the couch and dropped down next to her, leaning back insolently and stretching his arms out across the back. “I’m half human on my father’s side.”

Her eyes widened and it was her turn to be shocked. A Were-Cougaress mating with a human? It was unheard of. Males had been known to toy with humans and even leave behind mixed blood children but no female would ever…

“My mother was young, on her first estrus actually, when she came across my father one evening. He was a bit younger and a bit more reckless back then and had fallen asleep in his truck alongside the road.” Alejandro leaned forward and looked at her with a wicked light in his eyes. “I’m afraid he was a bit wasted. Three days later she was gone. Seven months later I arrived. And fifteen years after that, when she figured I could fend for myself, I was turned out with nothing but a few dollars in my pocket and my father’s driver’s license. She’d stolen it from him as a souvenir.”

Leaning back he spread his hands wide, “So I sit before you in the bosom of the only real family I’ve ever known. A half Were with dark hair and eyes and a traumatized kitten in his bed. Now that we’ve had our little ice breaker can we get down to business.”

And now:

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Seven Seductive Santas.
For reasons I can't quite articulate, Santa #4 here is my favorite. He's not a ripped as some of the others, but there is something extremely sexy about this Santa and this pose. Come back tomorrow for Santa #5. He's a particularly naughty little Santa.
Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –
1st prize--6 books
2nd prize--4 books
3rd prize--2 books
All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
Participating authors/books:
Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Risks to Christmas Spirit.

Nothing puts as big a crimp in Christmas spirit like shopping. Oh the stores are decorated and the music is cheerful and happy, but the rest of the experience makes being holly and jolly nearly impossible. Oh, it's more than just the crowds, the prices, the hustle and bustle, it's certain people, certain archtypes we all run into during the Christmas shopping season.




Let's start with the Middler. Parking is a frustrating task. The malls and department stores are jammed and finding a parking place within a mile of the entrance is an exercise in futility. And it's made even more difficult by the Middler. The Middler is the person, usually either a middle aged woman or two or three teenage girls in a gaggle, who are walking down the center of the parking aisle. No, not walking, meandering. You can't go around them and it would be rude to honk at them to get them out of the way. They simply make a difficult job even more difficult.


Then there is the Princess. The Princess is the woman who has parked her cart in the center of the aisle at the department store while she looks over every single item on the shelf. Or she blocks the narrow spaces between clothing racks while she stands there pulling out each and every color and style of garment examining them. She doesn't even bother to look around behind her, it doesn't even enter her mind at all that anyone else may need anything because she is special.

Now the Princess part II is also the woman who walks up to the counter behind you and proceeds to interupt your conversation with the sales lady because she just needs to ask a quick question or she just needs to get that item right over there. If you pointed out to the Princess she was being rude she would undoubtedly be offended. She would think you were rude and unreasonable because after all, she is special and what she wanted was more important.

These people make it hard to keep the Christmas Spirit alive. They make it hard to remember to be kind and courteous. They make just being a good human being difficult.



AND NOW




One the Seventh Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me...
Seven Seductive Santas.


Santa #3 seems to look especially nice in his suspenders. Come back tomorrow for Santa #4





Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –
1st prize--6 books
2nd prize--4 books
3rd prize--2 books
All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Not so Christmasy Day

Sorry, no warm heartfelt memories of Christmases today and this blog may end up being TMI for some folks (too much information) but damn it, it's what's in my head.

The main design flaw in God's creation is the lack of a reproductive off switch. Think how useful this would be. I mean this beyond the idea of unplanned or unwise pregnancies -admit it, we all know someone who should not be allowed to reproduce. I'm talking about the unnecessary inconvenience and down right painful experience no reproducing women experience on a monthly basis.

I don't have children. I will never have children. So why on earth do I need to have a menstrual cycle? Why can't I simply shut off my uterus? I don't mind if my ovaries work -or attempt to in my case. I can use the estrogen. But why do I need a uterine lining every month that is only going to cause me a great deal of pain?

Oh, I've tried to rid myself of this menace only to be told by my doctors that since my reproductive system isn't "unhealthy" (and having Polycystic Ovarian Disease isn't considered unhealthy?) removing said reproductive system would be "elective surgery." Not covered by insurance. Bastids!

Don't mind me. No I'm not PMSing. I don't have PMS. I'm MSing and it sucks!

But now, on to more appealing things.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Seven Seductive Santas


Santa Nick is a cutie. Check back tomorrow for Santa #3.


Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.


Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –


1st prize--6 books

2nd prize--4 books

3rd prize--2 books

All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves


Friday, December 14, 2007

The Year With(out) a Santa Claus

I was thirteen or fourteen that year. It was the year I was baptized and the year my family lived in a small ranch style house in a neighborhood most people wouldn’t venture into during the day, let alone at night. Our street sat right on the dividing line between the territories of two rival gangs. No, this wasn’t New York, L.A., or even Chicago. It was a relatively small Midwest town who had seen recent influxes of people from the larger cities like Detroit and Chicago. With these new comers came the gangs. But oddly enough they didn’t bother us. Our street was neutral territory. And the gangs aren’t what I wanted to talk about.

We were very poor that year. Not just “things are tight” poor, but “the cupboards are bare” poor. We often ate only one meal a day because there was very little food. Breakfast or lunch had to be scrounged from left-overs in the fridge or were limited to buttered toast with government surplus butter and the twenty-five cent loaves of white bread from the day old store. The recession of the 80’s was hurting everyone. Almost no one we knew still had a job as most of the plants in town had closed down. Our small town lost General Electric, Hyster, Caterpillar, General Motors, Quaker Oats and even our Chuckles plant. (Remember the little gummy candies in the pack with assorted flavors? My grandmother worked for 30 years making those things. But that’s another story.)

Christmas? No way. We kids knew how bad things were and we didn’t even talk about presents. As the oldest of the kids I knew that while some of the younger ones still thought Santa would remember them, they were in for a big disappointment.

One day my stepfather came home from helping a friend who hauled off people’s trash to help earn extra money. That day he came home with the back of the truck filled with scrap lumber. He called us out to help unload it and I thought he was crazy piling up old pieces of wood. That night after my siblings had gone to bed, he put on his coat and went outside. He came in with an armful of wood. Now I was sure he was crazy.

He cleared off the table and laid it out. With a pencil he began drawing a pattern on a piece of cardboard. It took only a few minutes for me to be enthralled watching. I love woodworking. I love the smell of the wood, the feel of it, how it smooths itself and how the creations take shape. If I’d have been a boy, I’d probably have become a carpenter. After letting me watch for about a half an hour as he used his scroll saw to cut out the patters he looked up at me. After a long pause he handed me the piece he’d cut out and a piece of sandpaper. “If you’re going to watch, you might as well help.” And I did.

That December I helped him make doll cradles for my sisters and a rocking horse for my brother from the bits and pieces he had scrounged from other people’s trash. We stained them, painted them and lined them with scraps of a garish blue velvet that had also been salvaged. I helped my mom sew little mattresses. I helped my stepfather glue yarn my grandmother gave us to the horse for a main and a tail. The same blue velvet lined the rocking horse’s saddle. We kept all of this hidden during the day and pulled it out at night to work on after everyone was asleep.

A couple of days before Christmas, my mother stood in line at the Salvation army and picked out a couple of second hand dolls. She brushed their hair, cleaned their plastic bodies and my grandmother sewed simple little dresses for them from scraps. On Christmas Eve I helped arrange these treasures under the tree and went off to bed. There would be nothing for me the next day when I awoke, but it felt so very good to know the younger kids would awake to find that Santa hadn’t forgotten them after all.

When morning came I followed them into the living room. I couldn’t completely suppress my disappointment that there would be no gift for me, but I tried hard not to let it show. To my amazement there was a rectangular wooden box sitting under the tree. It had been pieced together from strips of wood, stained a dark walnut color and the words “Holy Bible” had been burned into the top and outlined with gold paint. I lifted the lid to find the same blue velvet lining and a white Bible. I didn’t care that the Bible had been bought cheap because someone had ordered it with their name and not picked it up. I didn’t care that the name on it wasn’t mine.

My father had left my mother and me before I was two. He never had any contact with me and I could pass him on the street today and never know. All my life I had felt the void. But in that moment I realized the man sitting on the sofa smiling smugly was trying in every way he knew how to be a father for me. I realized that despite all the problems we had, he thought of me as his daughter. He and I had worked into the early hours of the morning on the kids toys. This gift meant he had stayed up even later to finish this for me.

Santa Claus came that year to our house. He didn’t just bring dolls, cradles and a rocking horse. He brought us a father.



On the Seventh Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me...

Seven Seductive Santas




Be sure to check back here each day for the next seven days to see all seven seductive Santas!






Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –

1st prize--6 books

2nd prize--4 books

3rd prize--2 books

All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Participating Authors/Books:


Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves



And don't forget to check out eMuse online literary magazine. The December issue is out tomorrow, Dec. 15th. See www.emuse-zine.com for original fiction, book reviews, poetry and art.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If That’s True, Why Aren’t Things Changing?

Coming on the heals of my last blog, I couldn’t help but comment on this.

I read a poll result on AOL today that made me stop and ponder. The poll asked men what they found attractive in woman and focused on the question of weight and body type. As anyone who has ever seen a magazine, billboard, newspaper, televisions program or movie knows society tells us that the perfect beautiful woman, the “supermodel” is a size 0, while in the days of Cheryl Tiegs and Christy Brinkley they were a size 8.


A size 14 woman, the average size for an American woman today, is told she is a “plus-size.” Marilyn Monroe, the icon all over the western world for beauty, glamour and sex appeal was a size 14. Today they’d be plastering pictures of her on the front of magazines talking about how “fat” she was and how everyone was on a death watch because she was so fat she was going to die.

According to the poll on AOL today, 80% of men said they prefer a voluptuous, curvy woman. Only 5% say they found the supermodel-thin women attractive.

That’s great. That’s wonderful. But it’s not the first time we’ve heard this. Polls have been saying for years now that men don’t want these thin, half-starved women, they want a woman who has all the curves, softness and fullness of a woman. They want Marilyn Monroe not Kate Moss.

What I don’t understand is if this is true, why haven’t the advertising companies, the fashion magazines, the Hollywood machine and all the others who glamorize the pencil thin female responded? Why is this still the pervasive image in our society? Is it because men say one thing in the polls because it’s politically correct and yet put their money down in a different direction? Is it because the advertising companies, fashion and entertainment industries are trying to shape public opinion and just keep trying?

I have a feeling it’s neither of those. I have a feeling that we women need to look at ourselves for this one. Men are saying we are sexy when we are full-figured and curvy. The media says we are beautiful if we are emaciated and you can count our ribs. Which message are we buying? Which message are we putting our money behind? The latter. How many of us have joined gyms because we “wanted to get healthy” or because we wanted to lose weight to look better? Be honest. How many of us plunk down hundreds of dollars each year for the creams and ointments that promise to make us young and beautiful forever?

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s true. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a beer belly, bald-headed, and excess body hair and still think they are damned sexy. I’m just saying, maybe we need to look at who we’re listening to about what makes us beautiful and how sexy each of us is.



Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –


1st prize--6 books

2nd prize--4 books

3rd prize--2 books

All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.


Participating Authors/Books:

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

And because it's my blog and I can, a little self promotion:


Access Denied
Jacquéline Roth

In Sanctuary the Committee controls everything, food, healthcare, housing, information and even love. The Committee’s life guides match the single residents for three month compatibility assignments. Everyone gets ten chances to find true love or at least an acceptable partnership. There is something special about Leah Bradley. She has the unique ability to reach out and really connect with the people in her life, but if she’s so special why is she facing her seventh assignment? From the moment she meets James he makes it clear he grants no one access to his life or, especially, his heart. Brooding and sad, he carries a darkness inside of him that swallows another part of him every day. What’s worse, he seems to want it this way. Leah slowly loses her hope and her heart. But just when James begins to see Leah the way she truly is, he’s forced to ask himself one question: Does the Committee really have happily-ever-after in mind?

Available Now at Cerridwen Press

Coming January 17th :


Measure of Healing
Jacquéline Roth

Alejandro Ramirez’s Were-Cougar mother drove him out after his first transformation at the age of fifteen leaving him to seek out his human father and find the family his human side craved but that his animal side can never embrace. Now a man, he finds himself responsible for a traumatized Were-Cougar child. When he turns to the Weres for help, they send him to a human. Dr. Gabriela St. Jerome knows of the Cougars and hates them with every fiber of her being. But now she must swallow that hatred to work with Alejandro to help a Were child who has been thrown into transformation far too early by the horrific death of his mother. As they are forced together in the remote woods of the North Georgia Mountains, both find their mutual attraction overwhelming. But if Brie gives into this man and her own passions, it will cost her dearly. It will cost her her life.
Excerpts for both books available at http://www.jacquelineroth.com/





























Monday, December 10, 2007

A Little Tough Love

I really hate when someone begins a sentence with the words “I don’t mean to make anyone angry…” Yes you do. You just don’t want them angry at you. So I won’t begin this little bit of tough love by apologizing for it in advance.

This may seem an odd thing to be irritated by, and I wasn’t at first, but the more I thought about it the more ridiculous it became. I was shopping Sunday afternoon for a Christmas gift for my mother. Like me, my mother is a plus-size woman. I was in one of my favorite clothing shops, Catherine’s. I love Catherine’s. The clothing there is from designers who are truly designing for us big girls and not just little people’s clothes cut bigger. Let’s face it, no matter how cute that tight belly shirt and the low rider jeans are on a young miss, once you crest a size 16 you should probably rethink it. But the clothes in this store are elegant and classy and if you watch the sales, affordable.

However…

While shopping I noticed a rack of clothing marked with sizes 4-12. I was completely befuddled and wondered if they were expanding or if there had been a mistake in ordering. Surely 4-12 was not now considered plus-size. As I pulled a pair of size 12 jeans from the rack to examine them I realized these were not size 12. An examination of the sign on the rack revealed that these jeans were “right sized”.

What is “right sized”? Well according to the signs it is a way of resizing plus-size clothing. That size 12 had a 56” waist. That means it was the US size equivalent of a 34W. These were plus-sized clothes that had labels declaring them in single and lower double digit sizes.

Right sizing? Hell no. It’s vanity and some serious self-deluding. Let’s face it ladies, those of us buying that right sized size 12 haven’t seen a size 12 in a very, very long time. Do you really think you’re fooling someone with the size 12 label?

I look at it this way. This is my body. It requires only minimal maintenance from time to time and nothing on it is broken. It ain’t the prettiest model on the showroom floor but it gets me where I’m going. The most important part of this being that it is mine. I’m a size 34W. Would I like to be a size 12? You bet your backside I would. Is that going to happen because someone changes the label in my jeans? No. It will happen when I have the self-discipline and motivation to take care of the issue. (And a bit of help for the PCOD wouldn’t hurt.)

So let’s reboard the reality train. Stop being so worried about the messages you are getting from society about your body that you start trying to fool yourself. It won’t work. You always know when you’re lying.


Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners.
The prizes –
1st prize--6 books
2nd prize--4 books
3rd prize--2 books

All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Participating Authors and books:

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Contest Kick Off and Other Ramblings


Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners.

The prizes –1st prize--6 books
2nd prize--4 books
3rd prize--2 books
All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Participating authors:

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves


A Dog's Life?

Hello. My name is George and I'm filling in for my Alpha dog on the blog today. You see she is currently laying on the sofa with a wet cloth on her head. Don't worry. This is common after a trip to the vet. I think her headache starts sometime after we leave the exam room and when we get in the car. I think going to the check out counter causes it. Personally, that's my favorite part. The shots, and other horrible unmentionable things they do to us poor dogs, are over and I get a cookie for being a good boy. Then we get back in the car and go home.

Any minute now the Beta dog will get home and the usual vet day discussion about how there are too many dogs will start. I have to admit I agree on this. It would be much better if it were only me, the George dog, here. Much better if I didn't have to put up with Shiloh, the psychotic cocker spaniel -no, really, I've seen the Alpha give her her anxiety pills. Of course there's Gracie Sue. She's the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is nice, but just not too bright. She likes to play flying squirrel off the back of the couch and guess who she usually lands on? Someone needs to tell the people who write the breed books about her. "Not for rough play" my docked tail! Now Wendell is okay. He's a mini-dachshund. Only problem is I have to share my house with him because I'm his "warm fuzzy to curl up with at night" according to the Alpha. Oh, the things I put up with to please my Alpha dog.

So while my Alpha moans about the high cost of vet bills (which by the way could be avoided if she just stopped taking us there to let them torture us) I thought I'd add my own note to her blog. This won't surprise her, Alpha says I'm a very smart dog. I even know how to cook. Okay, that was an accident. I didn't mean to turn the stove on when I jumped up to check out the interesting smell coming from the pan. How was I supposed to know bumping those knobby things would make fire and fire would burn up Alpha's favorite pan? And the incident with the roast? How was I to know they didn't mean for me to finish it off? They left it on the counter while they ate. I say anything left out is fair game.

Oooh, the Beta's home and I smell take out! Gotta go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Tree, O’ Christmas Tree

So the tree is up. Oddly enough it’s in the kitchen. Our townhouse has three floors and the only place with a large window that faces the street is our kitchen. So this past weekend we rearranged the dining table out of the breakfast nook and set up our tree.

This is generally a rather interesting event in that neither my SO nor I are mechanically inclined. But I don’t want to gripe about the hassles of decorating or the potentially enormous electric bill that will have us cringing at the end of the month.

I want to talk about ornaments. For more years than I was aware I was doing it, I’ve added ornaments to the collection that had meaning to me for the year. This means our tree is a hodge-podge of decorations rather than one of those neat, elegant and perfect “theme” trees with its matching baubles and bows. But unwrapping each of the odd little trinkets brings a special memory and that makes it my favorite part of the holiday season.

On the tip of one branch hangs a gold toy train inscribed with the word “Robbie”. We don’t have children, so our nieces and nephews are very important to us. This tiny gold train marks the memories of my first adult Christmas when I bought cheap $1 ornaments at WalMart and had them inscribed with the names of my darlings. Robbie is the oldest of my siblings’ children. First born and hasn’t stopped going since. He was a born athlete, a charmer and a funny boy who grew into a funny man. When his picture used to grace my desk at school, my students remarked on his resemblance to Adam Sandler. He does look like him, only I think Robbie is funnier. The little snip is now 25 years old and has made me a great-aunt. I shall have to think of a suitable revenge. Perhaps spoiling his little girls will do.

On another branch hangs a gold and red frame bearing the words, “Our First Christmas”. We hung this ornament on our tree the first year we shared a single home and a single tree. I look at the date on it and sometimes wonder that it is so long ago, and yet just as often wonder that it is such a short time that has passed. I think about my SO meeting my family for the first time. On the day of our wedding. We held it at my parents’ home and the room was full of at least 50 members of my family. My poor darling was limited to just one old friend. It seemed Illinois was too far from Florida for anyone else to make the trip. Some day I’ll tell you about my family. Just remember, these are the people with the inflatable snowmen and who stapled themselves to the roof of their house.

One of the most bittersweet ornaments on the tree is a small black lab puppy with angel wings. This ornament marked the first Christmas in over eight years that I spent without my faithful Wallie. Big for a member of her breed, Wallie was gentle, loving and patient. When my life fell apart several years ago, I found myself divorced and alone except for Wallie. She stayed with mom and was my reason for getting out of bed, my reason for making myself pay attention. I never had to use a leash with her after we moved, the two of us, into the small one bedroom apartment. She wasn’t about to let mom get too far away. Shortly after I met my SO, I was in a rather serious 5 car pile up on I75 north of Atlanta. It was the Friday before Memorial Day, so traffic was very intense. Wallie was in the backseat and it was in this accident, I lost my dear friend. So the little pup with angel’s wings reminds me of her each year as I hang it on my tree.

This year’s addition is a happier one. This year’s addition is The Frog Prince.



Froggie is a sweet green frog sitting on a brightly wrapped package, holding a glittering engagement ring behind his back. Why this one? Because this is the year I sold and published my first romance novel…my first novel period. And this is the year I became a Froggie. My Cerridwen Press editor maintains a group for the writers that work with her called the Frog Pond. And we happy little writers are the froggies.

So the frog prince sits on my tree. A hot cup of tea in hand. And yes, my dear editor, my behind is in my chair and my fingers are on the keyboard.

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Do You Like Good Book? The count-down is on to:


Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –
1st prize--6 books
2nd prize--4 books
3rd prize--2 books
All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
Participating Authors/Books offered for Prizes:
Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It’s Christmas decorating time again.

I sat at the local diner on Saturday watching all the cars drive by with their Christmas trees tied to the roof of their cars. SUVs, pick up trucks and even a few compacts with the tree sticking out in the front and back whizzed passed carrying home that little piece of holiday tradition. I began to feel absolutely nostalgic for all of about 30 seconds.

Christmas tree time of year was not necessarily a happy time in my house. It inevitably degenerated into a time of arguing, throwing things and some rather unholiday-like words being shouted. Putting up the tree was a family experience, by golly and we all had to be there to “help”. Now that usually meant watching my parents lose all patience with the tree, throw it at least once and declare that this year there would be no tree. All before they got the stand on. This seems to have been the most difficult part; putting on the stand while keeping the tree straight. I don’t think I will ever forget the year my step-father actually wired the tree to the wall to get it to stand up. This after a long time of yelling and attempting to cut the bottom off so that it would be level. I’m not exaggerating here. He literally wired the tree into the wall so it would stand up.

And outdoor displays. Oh, but they are wonderful things. My parents take their outdoor decorating seriously. Colored lights festoon the white fence that outlines the yard. All evergreen plants are covered with lights and the windows outlined with sparkling blips of color. A couple of years ago they added the ultimate in outdoor Christmas décor. Inflatable “things”. Yes, my parents’ house is that house with the giant, inflatable, illuminated snowman brandishing his candy cane like a holly jolly Norman Bates wielding his knife. No matter how we older kids laugh and sing loudly about “the tackiest house in the neighborhood,” my parents turn a deaf ear and the display grows year after year.

The only other member of my family to be infected by the “decorating” bug is my younger brother. My brother is an interesting creature during non-festive occasions, but at Christmas his uniqueness shines. His house is outlined in lights. This is not a good thing. A couple of years ago my brother literally (I’m not joking) stapled himself to the roof of his house while putting up twinkle lights.

No, it’s not an installment of National Lampoon’s Christmas, my brother really did staple himself to the roof with a staple gun. The really funny part? He stayed up there. In the cold. Freezing. Waiting for someone to help him. All he had to do was pull his arm free, but he didn’t want to rip his shirt. So he sat there on the roof, stapled to it for over an hour until his wife came out to see what was taking so long.

It’s just one of those little things he will never live down, like the time he accidentally threw his cordless phone into the bonfire. Or the time he crawled into my mother’s dryer and almost got the ride of his life. Or how he used to cover his eyes with his hands while standing in plain sight, sure that if he couldn’t see you, you couldn’t see him. I’m not sure he understands the flaw in this concept to this day.

Me? Did I catch the decorating bug? Actually yes, but my dear SO keeps me contained by making me promise before we enter the store that I must not buy the light up grazing reindeer whose head bobs up and down no matter how cute I think it is.

So today we put up our indoor decorations. Lighted holly leaves in the window and our Christmas tree. Straight out of the box. As much as I love the smell and idea of a “real” tree, I like the hives that breakout all over my body a whole lot less.

Next weekend? Outdoors! The boxes of twinkle-lights are ready. Just don’t tell the SO about the light up polar bear I have hidden in the garage.


And speaking of Christmas pretties:


Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to
anny@annycook.com with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –
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All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.