Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Out and About

We spent this morning in an interesting endeavor that will have to continue for several more weeks. We are church shopping. We’d been attending mass (not as frequently as we should) at a church in downtown Atlanta. However, with the baby coming we decided we really needed something closer to home. Besides, trying to do any volunteer work for the church was a big ordeal that was generally not possible because of time and travel. A church in our community would be more advantageous.

So we got out the local phone book (which is about six inches thick) and looked up our denomination. We noted the one closest to home and looked at the website. We made our plans and we went this morning. The church we had been going to was fairly informal. So the first change this morning was me standing with my hands on my hips as I dripped on the floor, fresh from the shower, informing my SO that blue jeans were not appropriate for a Sunday mass. Saturday evening mass, yes, but not Sunday mass.

So all dressed up we went to check out the church. We were a bit awed, and I a bit nervous because of the massive size of the church. It has a school and preschool attached and I have to admit the place was monstrously large. It had several buildings. It was clean and attractive, had a welcoming façade and the people seemed friendly to one another. We were impressed with the diversity of the congregation.

They have a variety of missions. This being the day of rededication of time, talents and treasures to the church, as the sixth Sunday of Easter often is, we were impressed by the number of ministries available for parishioners to participate in. Back home in Illinois I had been a CCD teacher, a Eucharistic minister and a Lector. I helped make altar cloths and we were very active in the lady’s society and the fundraisers. So I liked the fact that there are a variety of options.

I was feeling optimistic until the homily began. The priest was younger, maybe my age, and had a lovely Irish lilt to his voice. But God forgive me for saying it, he was dull as dishwater. He read the homily from a prepared statement and even when he deviated to focus on how much the church needed the contributions of time and talent from others, his monotone and lack of affect made it a chore to pay attention.

After church we took a trip to the local craft supply store. The SO was looking for something called fun fur. Evidently this is a long haired fur that can be cut into strips. When stroked the strips move and behave as if they are alive. This summer’s theme for the summer reading program at the library (my SO is a librarian) is “Catch the reading bug.” This means at some point I will be donning wings and six hairy legs to help chaperone the “Miss Spider’s Tea Party. My love’s library does the coolest things. We’ve done several Harry Potter parties where I’ve gotten to play Professor Sprout, do HP jeopardy and supervise the dragon egg race. They held an Eclipse Prom based on the Stephenie Meyer’s books, they did an American girl party and I got to be Felicity’s mom complete with colonial dress. Add to this pirate days and castle days and a princess party. And that was all just in the last year.

So this summer I’ll be baking spider cakes and wearing wings and antennae.

While we were at the craft store I picked up something I haven’t done in ages. Cross stitching. I felt a bit inspired and bought a couple sets of bibs to cross stitch. One set has bunnies and the other has Eeyore. I love Eeyore. He’s my favorite Pooh character next to Pooh himself. I got started while watching the second X-Men tonight. You gotta love Hugh Jackman. The man is just all out sexy. I used to have a poster of him as Wolverine on the office wall. Silly girl thing, but I figure we’re all entitled.

My other silly girl thing is something that made me squeal when I first saw it. My second favorite piece of home décor (snort) is a framed copy of the movie poster from Kingdom of Heaven. It was signed by Ridley Scott, Orlando Bloom, Edward Norton, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons and David Thewlis. I swear the day it arrived I was very much like a 14 year old girl.

My favorite piece of home décor? A print of Raistlin from DragonLance signed by Larry Elmore. We have two Elmore prints and two Todd Lockwood prints. The one that hangs in my bedroom is special because it took me three years to track it down.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bad Blogging Habits

I have been a very bad blogger. I’ve let it get away from me. My only excuse is actually two excuses. First there is the wonderful world of standardized testing. My school took the state mandated standardized test last week. This means that in addition to the stress of the normal school day we added the stress of testing that will mean a difference between pass and fail for some students, the score anxiety that teachers experience and the actual testing tension as well.

My state takes what is known as the CRCT (Criterion Referenced Competency Test). It always reminds me of the book “Testing Miss Malarky” which shows the testing week from the student’s point of view. The only difference in the book and real life is that the kids in the book come to believe the test isn’t so important after all. Our kids know it is important. You wouldn’t believe the number of stomach aches and the amount of vomiting going on. (And yes, one of those was me…I’ll get to that later.) Our kids know these are gateway tests and that they have to pass them at the third, fifth and eighth grade levels or they can’t go on no matter how they have done in classes throughout the year. In other grades, the kids know that placement in things like foreign language and gifted courses along with remedial connections classes are also determined by the test. If you do badly you could find your two elective classes taken up with remedial math and study skills.

The teachers are wound just as tight. We know that it doesn’t matter how great a job we’ve done with our kids that year, if they don’t pass this test it reflects on us and our school. The No Child Left Behind act was wonderful on the surface of it’s intent, but there has been no financial support for schools to implement the standards and even more the standards set are nearly impossible to reach given the current social climate.

I teach reading to seventh graders. If they are in my class it means they have problems with reading and didn’t score high enough to earn placement in foreign language or that they have behavior issues that excluded them from the invitation only foreign language program. I have about 50% of my students, and remember this is of the kids assigned to me not of our school population as a whole, reading at least 2 to 3 years below grade level. I have several 7th graders who read at a 2nd grade level. But I’m expected to have these students ready to pass a test in one year? I have occasionally been able to work miracles but I am not divine. My questions of how did they get to me in this situation are never answered. I’m just told to fix the problem because someone has to.

And when there is support from home or even just the drive from the student we can accomplish a great deal. I had one student, 15 years old in the seventh grade. He transferred in from another state. His reading level was 2.3 in August. I will never forget Alex. When he turned in his first book report to me, there was a note on the bottom that read, “This is the first chapter book I ever read all by myself.” I sat down and cried. Cried for Alex and for me. How was I going to get him ready for this test.

The answer in Alex’s case was that I didn’t, he did. He worked hard for me and I know he did it because I had his back. In conferences (the few we had) I told his father how polite and respectful he was. I told his father how proud I was of his work. I spoke out for him when he got into trouble and took ownership of him. I even stood up before the police and told them that Alex hadn’t done what they said he did. I think that meant something to Alex. At the end of the year we allowed him to take the 8th grade test so he could move on to high school and not be 16 years old in middle school. Alex passed all parts but math and passed that after two weeks of summer school.

This isn’t my achievement, this is his. And if it seems like I’ve gotten myself off topic, I have. And I needed to. I needed to remind myself why I do this. Why I put up with the lack of respect, the no money. Why I put up with the attitudes and the rules that are supposed to make sure I do my job but simply end up making my job harder to do.

I needed to remember Alex. And Neilson. And Andrew. And Lucan. And Nick. And Drew. And Monty. And…

The second reason? The nausea is still here. It doesn’t seem so important now, but throwing up in the middle of the CRCT social studies test certainly seemed like a big deal at the time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


A few things are on my mind today. One of those is an annoying little habit I have in my writing that I’m noticing lately. I probably would not have realized I do this if it weren’t for spell check and grammar check on Word. I leave out verbs. For example, when I typed the first line of this post I originally typed, “A few things on my mind to day.” Now this makes sense I know, but the degree to which I’ve noticed it lately bugs me.

I’m sure it’s just the English teacher in me, but I’m annoyed when others use words incorrectly. In addition to the good vs. well, I make my students say “may” instead of “can” when asking permission. I make them say “finished” instead of “done” when they complete a task. They are “angry” not “mad”. I’m also a real stickler for pronouncing the word “ask” correctly. The “s” comes before the “k”. Why is that so difficult?

I had a meeting with someone the other day. This is a professional woman who has more degrees than I can shake a stick at and who by all appearances is elegant, refined and classy. But when in the midst of the conversation she said, “Can I “axe” you a question?” I wanted to scream.

When my students do this I reply with something to the effect of: No. Please don’t axe anything, especially me. It’s messy, painful and bloody. I’d prefer if we skip that just now, I don’t have a mop handy. The word is a-s-k. The “s” comes first.

As I said, I find this annoying. What I find irritating beyond belief is if I catch myself making the errors. I have never axed when I meant to ask, but I have done other things. Like dropping my verb. I actually caught my using “fixin’ta” the other day. I nearly bit my own tongue.

It’s a constant battle every day when you are surrounded by young teens who have the good grammar of toads. It will slip into your vocabulary. I use the slang on occasion for affect, but when it slides out unintentionally, it makes me angry with myself.

The second thing on my mind today is truly a personal crisis. My body has betrayed me. I have learned in the last couple of days that it has gone and aged normally and I by golly won’t have that! I’m supposed to age as my family does. But noooo, I have to get my father’s genes.

Let’s start with my grey hair. Yes, I have grey hair. At 42, I never would have imagined it, but I do. And I don’t mean one or two stray greys, oh no, I have really grey hair.

You see, for years I lightened my hair. It was a white blonde when I was little and darkened to a honey blonde when I got older. It stayed that color until I was in my mid-twenties when, inexplicably, it began to darken. It is now an medium brown if I do nothing to it.

A few months ago I decided I was tired of maintaining the lighter color and had it died to match my roots. I thought I’d just grow it out so I didn’t have to worry about such silliness. Wrong. As it grew out I noticed a few strands of grey at the temples and a great deal of grey coming in on top. Most of my bang area (if I had bangs) is grey.

I immediately panicked. No, really. You don’t understand. I’m not being silly or vain. You see I never expected to be grey at 42. It seems my father’s genes have risen to the surface. I never knew my father and was raised by my mother’s family. My identity has always been tied to them. And they don’t age like normal people. I swear, they’re like vampires.

See the two women in the photos? My great-grandmother, Anna, was 99 when that picture was taken. Do you see all the black hair still left on her head? My grandmother, Elizabeth, was in her mid 70’s. Do you see anything but a hint of grey? And no, no one has been dying their hair.

So I ran off today to get my hair colored again. It’s my natural color, sans grey. I also got it all chopped off for summer. Hey, I figure it works for my cocker spaniel…

But that’s not all of it. My body has been in revolt the last couple of weeks. Nausea has kept me from eating anything before noon for over a week. I now have developed some sort of respiratory virus and have a stuffy head, sore throat and crooping chest. Add to this that on the first “walk” my SO and I decided to undertake as part of a new and regular “get healthy because we’re going to need it when the baby comes” program, I was an incredible wimp. I got winded going up the hill that leads out of our subdivision. Of course the blessed thing is at a 60 degree incline, but I’ve never felt so rotten.

It totally sucked out any good feelings I’d have at being able to buy two new dresses at a lower dress size and a new pair of jeans, two sizes smaller. I’m trying to watch what I eat and do something about the excess weight I carry. For the first time in my life I find it matters to me if I’m here in twenty years. I mean, I have a blueberry that depends on me.

Yep. I just read that at 7 weeks, it is the size of a blueberry. We have names picked out but my SO is completely superstitious and refuses to let me plan too much. That’s probably for the best. If my OCD gets a hold of this, we could be in real trouble.

Are faeries gender neutral? Probably not. A friend suggested books and faeries with books as a theme for the nursery. Probably not gender neutral.

Okay, I’ve meandered all over the place. So tell me, what’s up with you?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Meeting Carly

I mentioned a few months ago that my nephew was going to make me a great aunt. Well I was already a “great” aunt… okay, too obvious to be funny. Right.

Anyway, my younger sister’s son and his wife just recently had their first child together. He’s a stepfather to her three year old girl and a scant three months ago, they welcomed Carly Georgette. She’s positively adorable. She has a head full of dark hair, large pretty eyes and looks a good deal like her daddy.

My sister is going to spend a couple of months with them, helping with the baby. My house lies at the midway point between. So sister #1 has sister #2 bring her to my house where my nephew picked her up. And because my family can’t manage to do anything on a small scale, that means that both sisters, one brother-in-law, two nephews, one niece, one niece-in-law, one great niece and an odd boyfriend of my nieces all descended up on us.

It was worth it to get to see and hold the baby. My SO did the stereotypical “I might break her” and declined to hold the little one. This attitude will soon have to disappear as we have recently gotten the wonderful news that we are in fact expecting our own little one soon.

But I ask you, is there anything more enticing, more soothing and touching then the feel of a baby in your arms? The soft smell of baby powder and Johnson’s baby bath soap? Any thing sweeter than the sleeping face of a baby with the little lip that quivers as she dreams? Nope. And that’s why they are so dangerous. They can make you forget just how big of a responsibility they are and how difficult being a parent really is.

I still worry about what kind of parent I’ll be. I have very strong ideas about what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of how parents parent. Fortunately, my SO and I have yet to find a point upon which we disagree where this is concerned. I’m sure there will be many we just simply can’t foresee.

In other news, Seeing Me got a nice review from The Good, The Bad and The Unread.

“I wasn’t sure when I began reading this story if I was going to like it or not. “Him” is never given a name, which at first was I thought was a little strange. I have never read a book in which the hero didn’t have a name and I wasn’t sure how this would affect the story. But as I read, I found that I rather enjoyed how Ms. Edwards allowed me, the reader, to pick my own “hero” to imagine.

The chemistry between C.J. and “Him” is sensual and hot, but I also enjoyed watching the love story between the hero and heroine unfold. There are two very hot “fantasy” scenes where C.J. imagines both her and the hero in the scene. At first I wasn’t sure if they would impede the flow of the story, but they didn’t. In fact, they added to the story, especially since the heroine of the story is an author. Both characters were well written and the story flowed well and kept you interested. I didn’t want to put the book down.”

I’m glad the reviewer found it a positive that I hadn’t named the hero. As I was writing it, I was thinking about how a certain friend of mine and I disagree on the attractiveness of men. What is my type, isn’t hers. I wanted “Him” to be like the actor who fires the reader’s imagination. If that’s a Brad Pitt, an Orlando Bloom, a George Clooney, or whomever, that’s who He is like.

Excerpt from Seeing Me (Adult Content) :

It was all coming together. Everything she had worked for, all the years of secret dreams and fantasies, all the hidden aspirations and ambitions had come to fruition. Little Cara Jo was now C.J. Ellison, published author. The last time she had felt this rush of adrenaline had been the moment she held the signed publishing contract in her hands and stared at it in amazement.

Now, as she slid into her chair behind the long table, it was all very real. She was part of a writer’s panel. Her. Two years ago she had been one of the event’s attendees. A hopeful writer and lover of this genre of storytelling. She’d been one of hundreds of wouldbes and wannabes in a sea of painted and costumed faces at Atlanta, Georgia’s science fiction/fantasy convention that drew people from all over the country. If anyone knew how many old badges she had from this convention tucked in a drawer at home her rating on the Geek-ometer would break the gage. And now she was on a panel with some of the best known writers in the craft. As her nerves tied her stomach into knots, she wasn’t sure whether to bless her agent or curse him.

It was the big room, the grand ballroom of all places. It would be easy to swell with pride and ego except for one sad fact, or maybe it was a fortunate one. Anything she had to say would be superfluous. In fact anything any of the writers on this panel said would be virtually ignored. It was standing room only and they weren’t here to see them. They were here to see Him. One of the other writers had said it clearly as they were shepherded into place. When the conference staff had reminded them to speak into the microphones placed before them he had laughed bitterly and remarked, “It doesn’t really matter if they even turn these on. We could sit here, pick our noses and finger paint and no one would notice while the sex god himself was here.”

And He was here. There were few women in the world of any generation who didn’t thrill to the sound of his voice. Who didn’t entertain at least the briefest of fantasies about what was beneath that crisp white shirt, open at the neck, and the jeans into which it tucked. He’d taken the classic, shirt undone, bare chest peeking through look and made it his own. After he first appeared on screen in the ensemble, no other man ever looked as good in it. Even one of her lesbian friends had commented on him earlier today. “He’s pretty, all right. I don’t exactly want to sleep with him, but I do like to look at him. And with that voice he could talk to me all night.”

Cara sat in her place to the far right, the newest and least known of the group. He sat in the middle along with the author whose stories he had been translating into action for a few years now. And the show started. She was introduced and received a polite applause as did everyone else. But when the questions began, it was crystal clear the other writer had been right. These people were here to see Him.

She began doodling on the paper before her, drawing pictures and playing a word game she often played when bored. It had started between her and her giggling girlfriends in the back of a boring world history class in college. How many synonyms could she find for… In honor of the man of the hour, and the ambitions of most of the women present, she chose the word fuck. How many ways could she find to say fuck?

Being sure that the older woman sitting next to her couldn’t see the legal pad that had been provided for her by the setup committee, she started jotting. Make love…have his way…ravage…plunder… The longer the list got, the more crude it got.

Ride…fill…drive into…do…screw…bang…

Boredom numbing her brain, she was just about to hit an all time low when a particularly wheezy voice that was faintly familiar caught her attention. The thin, balding man with glasses that was standing at the microphone asking a question was a familiar face. He’d been a regular at this convention and was a frequent volunteer on the track dedicated to the legendary science fiction television and movie franchise that was so famous it need not be named. A bad Scottish accent crying out, “I can’na give ya more power Cap’n” was all that was needed for recognition. And that was one of the more obscure lines. He was also an arrogant, know-it-all jerk. What idiot gave that asshole a microphone? She brooded moodily.
And since when is he into fantasy?

And damn, but the man just three places down the table from her was one to spark any woman’s fantasy. She looked down, half listening as she contemplated her list. She began to sketch absently in one corner.

“In the first installment of the series, the part that took place in space before your character became a stranded rogue mage, we were introduced to the hand held photo-plasma emitter. A friend of mine is an ex-cop and he says you handle your gun so masterfully that you must have gotten a lot of training in handling hand held weapons. Did you do any special training?”

This is your weapon, this is your gun. One is for shooting, the other for fun. The line popped up from somewhere in the depths of her pop culture awareness and she bit down hard on her lip to stop her giggle. Her eyes shifted to Him clandestinely when she thought she heard a faint chuckle in his voice as he answered.

“No,” He drew the word out slowly. Cara stared at the yellow paper and listened to the answer he gave. “I can only say that it’s important to be very familiar with any prop you’re going to be using, especially a gun. You have to practice with it, hold it, let it take over and guide the movements of your hand. If you aren’t comfortable with the feel of your own gun, then you won’t be able to handle anyone else’s well.”

A nervous twitter fluttered across the ballroom. She’d love to see him handle his gun. Staff…rod…lance…penis…length…manhood…

She grinned quietly to herself. Oh, fantasies could be fun, a lot more fun than this. His hands handling his…now that would be a sight. She looked down the table at the hands that rested on the table. The white of the tablecloth blurred in her vision until all she could see were those hands. Long fingered strong hands that…

Recent good reads:

Daffodil by Anny Cook: Part of the Flowers of Camealot series, Daffodil has everything. It’s laugh out loud funny. It is Hot with a capital H. And it pushes the envelope for this series just a bit farther. Daffodil has always had her way, even when it came to the rules by which she submitted to Raulf. But now that she's been handed over to him as his property, she comes to realize just how much fun it can be to let him be in charge. Add a mix of political intrigue, fairies, dragons and the entire stock of an adult toy store to the mix and you have Cook's newest success.

Sticky And Sweet by Ashley Ladd and Alicia Sparks: Two stories in one. Ladd’s American Beauty is very funny. Macho Casanova police officer must pose as a gay man complete with evening gown and feather boa to rent a room from a woman who just might be living next door to the local chop shop. But when his landlord and her boss decide to see who can seduce him first, he just might blow his cover and lose his job. Sparks’ Better than Ice Cream has a fascinating premise. Ryan doesn’t buy that Laura’s family’s ice cream provides female customers not just taste delights but orgasms as well. But he needs to cut a deal with her for his family’s sugar and Laura needs the deal to take her business to the next level. But the idea of ice cream as a substitute for sex doesn’t sit well with Ryan, he’d rather show Laura just what she’s been missing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Today I'm awarding the prize in the Mating Stone contest. To win the 17" double strand freshwater pearl and amethyst bead necklace the contestants had to tell me:

If your Mr. Wonderful turned out to be a Were, what kind would he be and how would he tell you?

I got some great answers to this and it was so hard to choose. But my panel of experts (my SO and I) narrowed it down and picked a winner and two honorable mentions. The winner gets the necklace and the honorable mentions get a little gift as well.

So the winner is....Char!

My boyfriend and I were going on a picnic at the hot springs on his property. We decided to use the springs first and then eat. We undressed and got in and while we were soaking. I heard Clint’s stomach rumble. He said, “Mags ,I don't want to stay in here too long I'm starvin'.”

“You big baby. It won't kill you to wait a few minutes, we just got in here.” I heard a noise in the brush and looked up to see a rabbit shoot out and take off down the trail. Like a flash Clint was out of the spring, and as I watched, he transformed into a wolf. Next thing I know he 's chasing after the rabbit.

So I'm sittin' there, up to my neck in water, with a puzzled look on my face. How had I missed the signs?I hear a noise and Clint steps out of the brush with a sheepish look on his face. “I'm sorry Mags. I didn't want you to find out this way. I wanted to break this to you gently, but I did tell you I was hungry. I suppose asking you to marry me is out of the question now.”

I looked at him and said, “Well there's something I've been meaning to tell you…”

Thanks Char. Great entry.

The two honorable mentions will recieve a small pewter bear charm that can be used as a zipper pull or a charm for a necklace or key ring. Our winners were:

My Mr. Wonderful is a WerePanther(Leopard) from South India. I am an archaeologist on a dig in India, and I meet him by chance in a cafe just outside of my hotel. Little do I know he has been sent to watch over our dig by the council of elders, who are afraid we might discover their secret heritage in the underground temple we are about to explore. He actually doesn't tell me in words that he's a WerePanther, but instead begs me to trust him just moments before he shifts into his panther form to save us both from a nasty rival WereTiger who would expose the council and the entire secret of their nature to all humankind.

I'm definitely shocked after the fight. I mean I've never been so close to a mangled body, and the very idea of humans who can shapeshift into predators is terrifying, but he did it to save me, and my Gods, he has the most amazing amber eyes.

Mr. Wonderful is a werewolf. While he may make excessive use of his tongue and teeth, it isn't until a stray beam of moonlight hits him late one night that his secret is revealed. But who can resist sad blue eyes and a head stuck your lap. His fur is very soft as you scratch his ears and pet his head.

Thanks to all of you who entered. I did have one that I wanted to share with you, it's a bit adult in nature, but I was threatened with horrible consequences if I told you who it was, but it's too good not to share:

Okay, Mr. Wonderful is a huge were-snake. He breaks it to me during cunniligus when I'm way too interested in the talents of that fantastic tongue to care. And if you publish this with my name on it, bad things will happen to you. ;)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Does this grab anyone?

This idea came to me a few months ago and today, as I took a break from my current WIP, I started playing with it. So tell me, does it grab you? Does it skate close to the icky factor?

The Kissing Tree

“If one more thing in this house breaks I’m gonna take a match to the whole damned place,” Susan muttered to herself as she tried to wriggle out from under the sink in the downstairs bathroom. The metal catch that slipped over the lever that attached the drain plug to the small handle that open and closed it had slipped off, again. It was a simple repair that took all of ten seconds, but it was the third time this week and just one of a growing list of “quirks” her ancient house seemed to have.

Buying this house in what the natives insisted on calling the historic downtown of Willow Corners had been Paul’s idea twelve years ago. It and he had gone the same way, south. The house figuratively and her ex-husband literally. “At least I know you won’t leave me for some little redhead.” She patted the counter in the bathroom. “You and I are pretty much stuck with each other.”

The attic fan did a fine job of cooling the upstairs of the house, but the downstairs was sweltering. Hoping for a breeze she grabbed a glass of lemonade and let herself out the backdoor. The old metal lawn chair squeaked when she sat in it, the “u” shaped legs bobbin the seat up and down for a moment as she settled herself. She’d just gotten herself settled and her book opened when she heard a grunt. Looking up and to the left she saw a portion of the fence between her yard and the neighbor’s suddenly develop a huge hole.

Her new neighbor was pulling planks off the old frame of the fence with a crowbar. True it was technically his fence, but wasn’t this the sort of thing you usually mentioned to the person next door? With the removal of the third board, a tanned and sweating body came into view. Large biceps bulged with the strain as he pried loose another board. Abs and laterals flexed as he twisted the wood loose and tossed it aside.

Susan was grateful for the shade of her porch and the lack of a reflective surface at that moment because she was certain she looked like a cartoon lothario whose tongue was hanging out and unrolling across the floor. My God he was gorgeous. When he’d moved in three weeks ago she’d noticed he was killer handsome. Blond hair a bit too long, a face that could have been chiseled out of stone and a pair of stunning blue eyes. Well, the truth was she hadn’t actually been close enough to see his eyes, but she knew they were blue.

“Susan, you are a dirty old woman,” she grumbled, her face infusing with heat. She forced herself to look away. She knew those eyes were blue because they had been blue when he was younger. Trey Robertson had lived in this town until his father had died and his mother had moved him to North Carolina when he was sixteen. And the last ten years had been very nice to Trey. He’d been sweet and polite. Helpful as could be to the then newly married Mrs. Hilliard who'd opened a florist's shop right next door to his father's hardware store. Susan had been head over heels for her husband and barely noticed him except for the startling steel blue eyes.

Now he was definitely all grown and all man. She did the math. He’d just gotten his license before his father had passed. So he would have been sixteen…ten years…he would be twenty-six. “Oh now that’s ridiculous,” she dismissed. “At twenty-six you thought thirty was the end of the world. What the hell would he make of a thirty-eight year old woman?”

But those pecs, that delicious golden skin, the way his face strains when he pulls on the boards. That’s the way it would look as he moved over her. His face straining with determination as he strove to please her. Damn it was suddenly very warm. She felt the circling tingle center itself and her arousal start to grow.

“Oh snap out of it, Mrs. Robinson. You are not Anne Bancroft,” she snapped at herself. She stood up quickly, too quickly. She bumped the metal table and the ceramic pitcher of flowers tipped over and clattered to the floor. The pitcher split in half and water spilled out.

“Shit,” she stomped her foot childishly and bent to pick up the broken pieces of Fiestaware. "That’s what I get for putting it out here.” The pitcher was valuable, not break the bank valuable, but she’d had to go high at the estate sale last summer to get it.

“Are you alright?” the concerned male voice jerked her head up and she smacked it hard on the underside of the table. The metal ledge dug into her scalp and scraped. Pain shot through her head and she felt the blood already beginning to ooze.

Please no, please no, be the meter reader, be someone who’s lost, be a serial killer just don’t be…

“Mrs. Hilliard? I’m sorry... you’re hurt.” He jerked the dirty work gloves from his hands and shoved them in a pocket. “Let me help, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have startled you. I heard the crash and…” His words stopped as one hand cupped her elbow and the other laid against her waist. Heat burned through her shirt to her skin from the large strong hand. He smelled gloriously of outdoors, sunshine and healthy exertion. He guided her to her feet and urged her toward her chair. “Let me see that,” his fingers parted her hair carefully, his touch gentle. “Your bleeding, let’s get you inside.”

She finally found her voice, “Thank you, T…Trey,” she fumbled over his name. “I’m fine. I’ll just…”

“It’s fine, let me help you. You won’t be able to see to clean that cut anyway.” She opened her mouth to argue but stopped when he turned a devastating smile on her. “I owe you any way.”

She had no idea what he was talking about but while he was talking he was guiding her into her house. He looked around for a moment and then gestured with his head. “Bathroom’s over there if I remember right. Do you still keep the first aide kit under the kitchen sink?”

How the hell did he know that?

Friday, April 11, 2008

5 favorites

First things first.

Tomorrow, Friday the 11th, is the deadline for the contest. I’m looking forward to going through the entries. The contest is to celebrate the release of Mating Stone by Ellora’s Cave. The hero of Mating Stone, Mark Ursine is a Were-Bear as is his twin brother Luke the hero of the upcoming July release, Lovers’ Stone. The Ursines present their lady loves with stones rather than engagement rings. For Mark and Sarah it’s an amethyst. So to win the 17” freshwater pearl and amethyst necklace here’s what you need to do. Write a brief answer to the following question and send it to with “Mating Stone Contest” in the subject line. I’ll pick the best response as the winner, and two honorable mentions to receive smaller prizes. The winning entries will appear in my blog on April 13th.

In Mating Stone, Mark falls in love with Sarah. Sarah, a young human woman who has no idea that Were’s even exist beyond novels and movies. Strictly fictional. As a human woman, how do you react when Mr. Yummy tells you he’s the one with claws and may just leave fur on the sheets? So tell me: What type of Were is Mr. Wonderful and how does he break it to you?

I don’t have the slightest idea why, but the silly song, from Sound of Music is stuck in my head. No, not the Do, Ra, Mi…I’m not suicidal. It’s the Few of My Favorite Things song.

Raindrops on roses…which I have scratches on my hands from trimming yesterday.

Whiskers on kittens…the neighbor’s cat is toying with my dog making him bark his arse off while it suns itself just on the other side of our back fence.

Bright copper kettles… damn! I need to polish my antique kitchenwares. I have several including an old time preserve sieve that you pound things like grapes, cherries, strawberry’s etc. through to squeeze out the juices.

Warm woolen mittens…wool itches. How can wool anything be your favorite? It’s sweaty, itchy and smells bad. Not to mention it’s a bitch to wash.

Anyway, the favorite things I was thinking about were my favorite books of all time. In no particular order, I thought I’d share them with you. Why? A. Because it’s my blog and I can. And B. because…well, you might have missed one of these and they are awesome.

Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

This was the first Kenyon book I read and was hooked on her quirky, laugh out loud style of writing. Action, adventure, love, lust, gods and to die for heroes make her books amazing. Fantasy Lover is Julian’s story. Julian was an ancient Macedonian warrior who was heralded as the greatest general of his time. His act of vengeance on the god Priapus earns him an eternal curse. He is bound into the pages of a book (originally a scroll) where he can be called forth at the full moon by a woman. He will spend the next month fulfilling the woman’s every physical desire.

But when he’s called forth by Grace Alexander after a few too many glasses of wine on her birthday, he finds the first woman in all the centuries who doesn’t see him as an object of desire, but who sees him as a man. But at the end of this month he must leave her and return to the dark isolation of the book. Unless they can find a way to break the curse together.

Julian is one of the most perfect heroes ever created. Just don’t let him drive your car. Somehow the whole chariot/car thing just doesn’t translate well for him.

Lilith’s Brood (Xenogenesis) by Octavia Butler

Butler is my favorite writer of all time. Her science fiction has such a humanity to it that you can easily identify with even the most nonhuman of her characters. Her books are consistently brilliant and moving. Xenogenesis, as this collection of three novellas was originally called, was the first of her books I read. I was enthralled with the world she created and with how seamlessly she fed the reader all the information you needed to understand what was happening without going into information dump. She is one of the best at characterization.

Lilith Iyapo didn’t ask to be saved by the alien Oankali when humanity nearly destroyed itself with a nuclear war. She didn’t ask to be made the leader of the rescued and genetically altered humans who were now barely more than prisoners. But no one asked Lilith what she wanted, least of all the Oankali. Lilith’s love hate relationship with the aliens begins early as they see more in her than she ever wanted to be. They see someone who will become the mother of a new race, a genetic mixture of the Oankali and humans. For that’s what the Oankali are. They are gene traders. And their price for saving humanity is its eventual destruction.

This book combines the novellas Dawn, Imago and Adulthood Rites into one tale.

Magic’s Promise by Mercedes Lackey

I’ve written before about the protagonist in this story, Vanyel. He’s prickly, arrogant in the way of teenage boys who are flippin’ terrified of life and the world but by heaven don’t want you to know it. Lackey’s world of Valdemar is a brilliantly conceived one. It is one of the most original I’ve ever read.

Vanyel is the eldest son of the head man. The poor guy wants his son to toughen up, be the big brawny, bear of a fighter that he is. But Vanyel is slender, fast and given to playing his lute for hours on end while singing sweet songs. When attempts to beat the boy into submission and into his father’s image do not work, Vanyel is sent away to live with his aunt. Savil is a Herald Mage, a powerful one. But Vanyel has no talent for magic, nor is he suited to be a bard.

But when he falls in love with Savil’s prize pupil tragedy strikes and the latent magical tendencies in Vanyel are blasted open in a way that just may cost him his life. The Last Herald Mage series is Vanyel’s story and it’s told in a way that is touching and beautiful. But it called the Last Herald Mage for a reason. The reason I never finish book 3.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

This is actually the sequel to another book of mine that I almost put on this list, Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game is the story of a young boy who is put through psychological and physical hell as he’s molded into the saviour of all humanity. Only he doesn’t know any of it is real, it’s all supposed to be about training. Ender saves humanity by completely destroying the enemy. Completely. And in time his unintentional genocide turns him from a hero into the worst villain since Adolf Hitler.

Speaker for the Dead is a brilliantly constructed sequel to Ender’s game. It is Ender, grown up now, but having spent so many years traveling in space that he’s actually lived hundreds of years beyond his time. So no expects the Speaker for the Dead to actually be the real Ender Wiggins. But as Speaker, he is called to speak the deaths of two men. Two very different men. Pipo, loved and venerated. Killed by the indigenous life form on the planet being colonized by a small group of humans. Marcos. Cruel, violent and abusive. His body ravaged by a genetic defect. But when the speaker speaks, he speaks the truth. The pain, the pleasure, the joys, the shames. And the small world may never be the same.

Another case of impressive world building. The indigenous Piggies are fascinating and complex. Card is another one of my favorite writers, his politics aside. His stories are always rich, multi layered and captivating.

The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

This is a story from my childhood. I found this book on the shelf in my 6th grade teacher’s classroom and devoured it. I loved it. Even now, when I re-read it, the characters are compelling and endearing. I didn’t know at the time I read it that it was part of a series of children’s books. I wish I had.

Toseland (a very unlikely name for a young man and happily he soon becomes known as Tolly) goes to live with his grandmother in her creepy old house, Green Knowe. Very strange things are afoot. He hears music and the voices of children. Only there aren’t any other children living here…are there? In animate objects seem to have lives of their own when he can’t see them and his grandmother speaks about people and things as if they are real, but they can’t be…right?

Okay, those are my favorites. What are yours?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Great Escape

Seeing Me got two nice reviews.
One from Simply Romance Reviews said: "...the heroine who at times exhibits a remarkably strong case of “foot-in-mouth” disease that is charming. The erotic scene is poignant for its sweetness. The hero for all his hype and reputation is endearing for his modest, almost shy personality in private. Seeing Me is an enjoyable read for those that aren’t looking for kink, but instead a satisfying romance."

And Romance Reviews TodayErotica rated it multiple O’s (which has to be good) and said it was: "An enticing short story, ..." Seeing Me is a Quickie from Ellora’s Cave.

The Great Escape.

No, I’m not necessarily talking about my escape from headgear bondage…let me rephrase that, from my medical bondage…that doesn’t work either…ah hell, I don’t mean getting this thing off my head. Though I’m counting the hours to freedom and dreading the drive back home to wash the gunk out of my head. I have my trusty hoodie ready to go. I tried a scarf, but I look like I’m smuggling something and I really don’t want to meet the Cobb County drug dogs.

By the great escape I’m referring to a tactical error I may have made yesterday. Okay, I’m not the world’s best housekeeper. I have four dogs, there is dog hair on my floor. I have paw prints on my carpet where the red clay has stained it. I don’t dust nearly as often as I should. So I got a little behind on the bird cage this week.

Yesterday I took the cage outside to clean it really well. The birds were still in it, and I cleaned it while they sunned themselves. The only problem is I think they liked their taste of freedom a bit too much. Now they are plotting escape.

No I didn’t bump my head and I haven’t received a nasty shock from my battery pack. I know the two criminals are plotting their escape. Don’t be fooled by their innocent look. Every time they think I’m not looking they start testing the cage for signs of weakness. Even now, when they think I’m busy making the clacking noises, I can see them. Pip, the blue one, is climbing the wall of the cage and pecking at the wires with it’s beak. Green-bird, yes that’s it’s name, is standing on the food dish pecking at the little door that slides up to take the dishes in and out. Earlier I saw them hanging to either side of the door pecking at it.

I’m telling you they tasted freedom and now they want out. Next thing I know they’ll be dragging their little metal bell across the bars screaming, “Let me out you stinking screw.” (Yes, my mother watched Cell Block H when I was growing up.) In fact right now Pip has started wrestling with the bell. I tell you one of them is a little birdie MacGyver who is figuring out how to blow the door off the cage with bird seed, a small metal bell and a mirror.

You know, that was two television references in the space of a single paragraph. Odd if you consider the fact that I haven’t really watched television in almost five years if you don’t count occasionally watching American Idol. I am hooked this season. I love little folksy Brooke with her whole Carol King-ish persona and David Cook. I like that he causes controversy and think he’s actually very talented. Chris Cornell can shut up. The dude from Crowded House was doing an acoustic version of Billy Jean way, way, way back.

But the hometown dude Michael Johns, the Australian who claims to be from Buckhead (not the town, mind you-this is a neighborhood in Atlanta) has got to go. He’s the guy who ends up singing on the Love Boat because he can’t get any other gigs. He annoys the crap out of me and if he tries to do one more Queen song Freddie Mercury is going to rise up out of his grave and smite the dude.

Anyway. If I think about it, it’s odd that I don’t watch television any more. My family could not function without a television. It was the center point of our family. Tonight we watched this, tomorrow night it was that. And heaven help us on the nights the Dukes of Hazzard was on because you had to tiptoe around so my stepdad could hear it.

Even now the tv runs night and day as long as someone is awake. It is a constant drone in the back ground. Recently on a visit it was driving me crazy. Everyone was in the dinning area playing cards so I turned it off. About ten minutes later someone looks up and says, "What's that noise." I swear it was straight out of a sitcom. They actually made me turn it back on even though no one was watching it. My mom said the quiet was creepy. I know I'm so adopted.

My stepdad and I bonded over television. We were both Trekkers, the only thing we had in common back then. We could sit down in peace and watch reruns of the original series and The Next Generation. This was our truce, our neutral territory in the war. A war that lasted until we both realized that in fact we were pawns in a much more devious game. Neither of us were generals, we were hostages in my mother’s Machiavellian quest for supremacy. Divide and conquer.

It worked until we saw through her plan. Together we now make her pay for her treachery. It’s amazing how much damage a second universal remote can do. Not to mention technology she can’t figure out. “You want to watch what, Mom?” I say innocently. “Well I know the tv guide says it’s on, but look for yourself, this is the right channel it’s not here.” *evil laughing ensues*

Don’t feel sorry for her! Do you have any idea how many times she’s made us watch the Barbara Streisand version of A Star Is Born? Do you know how many Elvis movies she’s tortured us with? I get nauseous just thinking about Charro.

Friday is the deadline for the contest. I’m looking forward to going through the entries. The contest is to celebrate the release of Mating Stone by Ellora’s Cave. The hero of Mating Stone, Mark Ursine is a Were-Bear as is his twin brother Luke the hero of the upcoming July release, Lovers’ Stone. The Ursines present their lady loves with stones rather than engagement rings. For Mark and Sarah it’s an amethyst. So to win the 17” freshwater pearl and amethyst necklace here’s what you need to do. Write a brief answer to the following question and send it to with “Mating Stone Contest” in the subject line. I’ll pick the best response as the winner, and two honorable mentions to receive smaller prizes. The winning entries will appear in my blog on April 13th.

In Mating Stone, Mark falls in love with Sarah. Sarah, a young human woman who has no idea that Were’s even exist beyond novels and movies. Strictly fictional. As a human woman, how do you react when Mr. Yummy tells you he’s the one with claws and may just leave fur on the sheets? So tell me: What type of Were is Mr. Wonderful and how does he break it to you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Radio Free Mars

Yeah, a weird title, but I do think I'm picking up signals.

Friday is the deadline for the contest. I’m looking forward to going through the entries. The contest is to celebrate the release of Mating Stone by Ellora’s Cave.

The hero of Mating Stone, Mark Ursine is a Were-Bear as is his twin brother Luke the hero of the upcoming July release, Lovers’ Stone. The Ursines present their lady loves with stones rather than engagement rings. For Mark and Sarah it’s an amethyst. So to win the 17” freshwater pearl and amethyst necklace here’s what you need to do. Write a brief answer to the following question and send it to with “Mating Stone Contest” in the subject line. I’ll pick the best response as the winner, and two honorable mentions to receive smaller prizes. The winning entries will appear in my blog on April 13th.

In Mating Stone, Mark falls in love with Sarah. Sarah, a young human woman who has no idea that Were’s even exist beyond novels and movies. Strictly fictional. As a human woman, how do you react when Mr. Yummy tells you he’s the one with claws and may just leave fur on the sheets? So tell me: What type of Were is Mr. Wonderful and how does he break it to you?

I’m still wired up. I’m on day two and a half and the crap news is I have one more day and night to go. Let me tell you, you haven’t slept until you’ve tried to sleep with about five pounds of wires, electrodes, gauze and tape on your head without messing it up. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the joys of having a chin strap to the headgear so it doesn’t pull off at night and having to watch out for the box everything is attached to.

The cord is only about 2, 2 ½ feet long so it doesn’t give you much stretch. And the damned adhesive is starting to itch which isn’t helped by the fact that I haven’t been able to wash my hair since Monday morning. Did manage a bath last night but it was worthy of America’s Funniest Home Videos to watch me try to bath while the SO stands over me holding the circuitry out of the way. I’d say I owed my darling big time, but the chuckles at my bizarre appearance should about cover it.

I’m also pretty much stuck in the house and nature had been a real bitch because it’s been absolutely beautiful. I could be getting so much gardening done. *sigh* Usually on my spring break I go into town. Into Atlanta I mean. I’m technically OTP (Outside the Perimeter) which to someone from the ATL translates to hick or leper, and to the rest of the world it means I live outside the I285 loop around the city. We have a nice little neighborhood that unfortunately is rather harshly infested with HOA disease. (Home Owners Association) Now I have no gripe with most HOAs. They keep up common areas, make sure no one turns their yard into a flea market or graveyard for old automobiles and represent the residents on zoning issues and the like.

But I do have a gripe with our particular HOA. We no longer belong because we didn’t see eye to eye with several of the members and didn’t like the way certain neighbors went about settling differences of opinion. Threatening to cite my house because I don’t vote your way or give you my proxy only makes me pissed off and nasty. Not all of us are retired and have nothing to do all day but work on our homes. Not all of us have the money for a new coat of paint every couple of years. And some of us are such monumental klutzes that we have spent most of the last year unable to do most yard work. (All in one year: broken foot x2 and a dislocated knee- I’m talented folks. If there’s a chance I can injure myself I will.)

Anyway, it’s another lovely day in the neighborhood. The pollen is coating everything, the sun is shining, my cocker spaniel is whimpering out the back door because she’s just sure if mom would let her out she could catch that train going by and my birds are about to find out what it’s like to be born free if they don’t stop imitating the blasted house alarm. No, I wouldn’t really do that. Do not send me hate mail and animal rights information. I know Pip and Green-bird could not possibly survive on their own. Besides I live with flippin’ Marlin Perkins who names snails, insists they play and gets very upset with me when they die.

I had a point… Oh, yeah. Now I remember. The only thing I can say about being stuck like this is that it’s given me time to write and time to read. We won’t talk about the book I’m currently trying to wade through. It is for my book group and it frankly sucks. But I have gotten to read a good one recently. Before I picked up “My Writer Is Pretentious and Boring and So Am I,” I read a great Cerridwen Press book.

Blame it on the Ghost by Delia Carnell was one I picked up on impulse and I’m very glad I did. The story was well written and nicely paced. Romance writer Amberly Ross finds herself the victim of a mix up when she and horror writer Dylan Hart are both asked to house sit for a mutual friend. The friend can’t be reached to clear it up, so the only choice is to try to cohabitate without killing each other. Sparks fly in more ways than one and soon the reader is drawn into the story that pushes the two reluctant writers together with a little paranormal help. Is the beach house really haunted? And if so, is the ghost responsible for playing matchmaker?

I really enjoyed the dialogue between the two characters. When writing a book like this, it is easy to go overboard on the animosity and create a battle of wits that eventually begins to annoy the hell out of the reader. The heroine turns bitchy and hard and the hero turns into an ass. Carnell avoids this and rips open her characters to show us the gooey, hurting centers of those hard shells. I highly recommend this one.

Okay, back to writing. I have a werewolf having a rather nasty argument with his mate and I need to get back to them before Evan does something stupid. This is the follow up to Measure of Healing and he has to be the most out of control character I’ve ever dealt with. Evan has been jerking me around for a while now, suddenly insisting that I write this, or that I forgot that scene where he… Just when I’ve got the pacing down and know what happens next he throws me a curve. Wolves! Mages! All are pains in the…

Monday, April 7, 2008

Take me to your leader...

Greetings Earthlings. I am the Borg Queen. Okay, so I'm not but I damned well feel like I am. I currently have a bizzillion electrodes running from my head to a small box strapped to my waist. My doctor, in the usual over reacting doctor way that will probably save my life one day but when she's wrong it annoys the crap out of me, sent me to a neurologist recently because I had an incident where I woke up on the floor with no idea how I got there but with a ginormous bruise on my right arm and a nightstand where the bolt holding the knob in place had been bent to almost a 90 degree angle when I hit it.

Neurologist says? I probably fainted but hey, let's run some tests. Unfortunately for me one of those tests is a 72 hour, ambulatory eeg. So now I'm wired for action. I have to write down everything I do and what time I do it. It makes me want to make up strange things.

15:00:00 Boarded airplane
15:02:00 Plane lifted off
15:14:00 Jumped out of plane
15:15:00 hit ground

I also wonder how many times a day I could write "had sex" and still be believed. Would I have to detail each step? Hell, if I'm going to do that I'm going to charge them. I am a professional erotica/romance writer after all. I can't go giving it away.

Did you ever have a secret that you wanted really badly to tell the whole world but someone else was just a superstitious kill joy? No I can't explain further, see previous sentence.

It is spring break. Lovely, lovely spring break. You know I used to love Spring. It wasn't my favorite time of year, no that's winter. But I enjoyed being able to get out and plant flowers and trim trees and all those lovely spring time chores. I actually enjoy mulching and rocking flower beds.

Or rather, I used to. I love where I live. I fell in love with Atlanta the moment I arrived on a visit over 8 years ago. But no one warned me about the two biggest plagues of my Southern life.

First of all, the pollen. Those pines, oaks, sweet gums and birch trees all produce large amounts of pollen. So much pollen that it is called yellow snow. I'm not kidding, the stuff coats the ground, rivers and streams run yellow with the floating menace. You can write your name in it.

According to allergy specialists, pollen is measured by how many particles are in a given amount of collected air. A moderate rate of pollen is 31-60, high is 61-120. The pollen count today in the fair City of Atlanta is 1705. No, that wasn’t a typo. 1750. Everything is coated with it, if you have allergies it makes your eyes water and your skin itch. So it’s hard to enjoy being out of doors.

The second limiter is the red Georgia soil. The high clay content of the soil makes it hard to grow certain plants…well, a lot of plants. My roses seem to love it, but most everything else barely grows or doesn’t grow. We’ve seeded the backyard four times since we moved in. Those scrubby bushes? Those are 6 year old boxwoods that won’t grow any larger because of the poor soil. We’ve been told our only hope is to either rock it all and do a container garden or have it terraced and truck in fill dirt. Neither option seems viable financially or aesthetically.

Okay, I’m off to do something that will look shocking on my medical log. Maybe I’ll write down that I’m about to have a sandwich made of pre-embryonic chickens. I think there’s still some egg salad left.

Contest. Still running. Win pretty necklace. Tell me, if you discovered you perfect man was a Were creature, what type of Were is Mr. Wonderful and how does he break it to you?
Email your answer to by April 11th.

Jae has a day out

First off: Contest. Still running. Win pretty necklace. Tell me, if you discovered your perfect man was a Were creature, what type of Were is Mr. Wonderful and how does he break it to you?
Email your answer to by April 11th.

Had a very interesting day today. Okay, not so very interesting but relaxing and fun. We started the day with a matinee. I love movies but my SO isn’t so fond of them. So usually I’m on my own at the theater on weekends when work calls my Precious away. (I know Precious sounds silly, but you should see the reaction it gets. I’m certain the teeth grinding can be heard for miles.) It’s just one of those loving little things I like to do to show how sensitive and caring I am.

As I was saying I finally drug the hermit crab out of the house and to the movie theater today. I must admit that crabby was a good sport over all about it when I ignored the sarcastic muttering of, “Just wants to see it because he’s in it.” We went to see Nim’s Island. We both enjoyed it a lot. It was a nice family movie with no sexual innuendo, no cursing or violence beyond flying lizards. The film was charming and sweet. It was a big hit with all the kids sitting around us and with the adults too.

Nim’s Island is the story of a young girl who finds herself alone on an uncharted island after her scientist father becomes lost at sea in a storm. She turns to her literary hero, Alex Rover for help. Only Alex, he isn’t really a high-flying adventurer. In fact, he is a she and she’s an agoraphobic writer who hasn’t left her house for months. But with the imaginary Alex Rover coaxing her along, she goes to help Nim, who it turns out doesn’t need that much help beyond someone to comfort her as she fears her father is dead.

As a writer I found this movie interesting on a whole different level. It was a good movie and I think will be one that does well. But the character of Alexandra Rover, the writer –played by Jody Foster, was fascinating to me. Not everyone creates characters the same way. Just pop over to Amarinda Jones’ blog (she’s talking about creating heroes today in a very tongue in cheek way) and you’ll see what I mean. What struck me is that I could identify so strongly with this character. You see her main character, Alex Rover –played by Gerard Butler, is very real to her. She’s written him through several books and fictional adventures.

The film shows several scenes where she, the writer, is having an actual conversation with her character. Okay, hand in air, I do that. Not always out loud, but for me characters are these separate entities, these people that are born from my mind and who drive the direction of the story. They don’t always wait for me to tell them what to do. They certainly don’t wait for me to tell them who they are, they tell me.

More than once I’ve had a character drop a bombshell on me. Once, while writing a scene where two characters were talking about a girl who had died, the character that had been her fiancé suddenly announced that the girl had been pregnant at the time of her death. It explained the animosity and ruthless quest for vengeance in him that I had been struggling to justify. He did it for me.

So those of you who are writers, care to share your character “birthing” process?

After the movie…yes, I did finally get back to the day I had, we went for barbeque. Now I fully admit to being an omnivore and am not ashamed that I eat meat. I fully support animal rights and think that there should be stiff penalties for those who harm animals. I personally think Michael Vick got off easy, but that’s a whole different argument. But for me, there is nothing quite like the smell and taste of good, old-fashioned, slow pit roasted barbeque. Anny Cook recently asked in her blog what the difference was between St. Louis ribs and baby back ribs. I asked. The manager said that St. Louis ribs are slow pit roasted ribs that are cut from the actual rib cage. Baby backs are the lower ribs and are filled not with actual rib bones but with smaller bonelettes and cartilage. Either way, both are good eating.

I was surprised to see that Charlton Heston died. His politics couldn’t have been more disparate from mine, but you had to admit the man could command his time on the screen. He was a true King of the Epic. Where muscles, violence, and speaking very loud are what’s called for. To many people his is the image that first comes to mind when you think of Moses. He was Legend before Will Smith in the Omega Man. And he was the human ambassador to the future in Planet of the Apes. The final scene of that movie is iconic cinema.

I’ve lately become disturbed by the names of people I see dying or who are celebrating birthdays that have me shaking my head in disbelief. I don’t mean people like Heath Ledger whose death was a tragedy and untimely. They aren’t the old school actors that my grandparents watched, but are people I remember watching in films that came out in the theater or in first runs on television. Joan Jett is turning 50. Joan Jett. 50. Now I’m not saying that she’s an old woman. She’s not. She looks damn good. But 50? Am I really that old? Why don’t I feel that old? I grew up watching Joan Jett on MTV. The Runaways played at the first concert I ever went to without a parent along to chaperone.

I wonder? Am I beginning my midlife crisis? Am I allowed to have a midlife crisis? What exactly is a midlife crisis? If you can answer any of these questions, please do so.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

God's Name In Vane

When I signed on to my AOL account today, the big news was the removal of 52 young girls from a fundamentalist Christian camp in Texas. According to the story girls from the ages of 6 months to 17 years were taken into temporary custody while the state investigated allegations of physical abuse made by one of the girls. In the end 18 girls were put into State custody.

There are several elements of this story I found disturbing. First of all, the allegations include that at least two sixteen year-olds were married to older relatives and that this was facilitated by the head of their church. In fact, the article I read indicated that one of the 16 year-olds had been married off to a 50 year old man. There were indications of polygamy. Now I’m a big supporter of the First Amendment. I believe in the separation of church and state. I don’t think the government has a right to tell me how to pray or what to believe. I’m not all that upset by polygamy as long as the people are consenting adults and are not being coerced. That’s their business. I also don’t think the government has any business in someone’s bedroom or telling people how to raise their children. Unless people are getting hurt and if the allegations in this case are true, it seems that that is the case.

I know I’m gonna take flack for this. I know I’m going to make someone angry. I know that in times past it wasn’t uncommon for there to be arranged marriages. I know it wasn’t uncommon for a 16 year-old to be married and even married to an older man. I know someone will tell me about their grandmother who was married at 14 to a man 4 times her age and how it was a loving and happy marriage.

But if the allegations are true this is just wrong. There is a big difference between a 16 year-old girl marrying her 18 year old boyfriend because they were too stupid, arrogant or afraid to use birth control. In my eyes, if that’s why they’re getting married it’s not exactly a good idea either.

Another question that this raised was “What about the boys?” Girls were removed, but what about the boys involved in this group? Was it that they had no evidence or suspicion of physical abuse to the boys? If so, and they truly believe the girls were in danger, then the State people are stupid. Systemic abuse, which is what seems to be being alleged here, is not discriminatory. If the girls are being physically harmed, so are the boys.

This brings up a subject no one in our society wants to talk about, one we are so loath to consider that we rationalize it away. Males can be victims of sexual abuse. While we all intellectually know this to be true, it is a strong message in our society that there is a distinct difference between sexual abuse perpetrated against a girl and that which targets a boy. We as a society have been fighting back against the stigma that a woman or girl “asked for” the abuse or rape. We see them as victims.

We don’t often afford men and boys the same consideration. If a man reports a rape, the associated stigma is much stronger. So strong that the majority of male victims never report sexual assaults for fear of being ridiculed, thought to be weak or even worse in some people’s eyes, being labeled homosexual. If a girl of 15 or 16 is seduced by an older man, we see that as a crime. If a boy of 15 or 16 is seduced by an older woman, people don’t react the same way. The reaction is often one of “lucky boy.” Maybe this is why stories of female teachers engaging in inappropriate relations with their students get national news coverage, while male teachers are often limited to the local paper. Society finds it titillating and shocking to see a woman as an abuser.

The final issue this story raised for me was one of sympathy. Sympathy for the fundamentalist Christians who so often are painted with the same brush as those who engage in behavior that is scandalous, immoral or illegal. Stories like this can perpetuate the image of Christian groups as “crazy” or hypocritical. And it is often made worse by the comments of people who respond to blogs and stories online. When people see a story like this one, one in which no one has been convicted of a crime. One in which we are talking about a small fringe element, it reinforces the negative stereotype of Christians as intolerant and clandestinely sick or depraved. When someone posts a comment on a blog blasting one or another minority group or individual and using God as a justification, it can harden the hearts of the world against Christians as a whole.

None of us can control the extremists or crazies of groups to which we belong. As a Christian I’m appalled and horrified that anyone would use God and the loving message of Jesus to justify harming anyone. So as a Christian I have a message for those extremists. Stop using Jesus as an excuse to be a narrow-minded, bigoted, depraved asshole. And yes, I just cussed. Somehow, I think God will understand.

Reminder, the contest is still going and I’m getting some very creative answers. Don’t be shy, it only takes a moment to enter. You can enter up 'til April 11th to win the 17" double strand of freshwater pearls and amethyst beads. The contest is to celebrate the wonderful response of readers and reviewers to Mating Stone. In Mating Stone, Mark falls in love with Sarah. Sarah, a young human woman who has no idea that Were’s even exist beyond novels and movies. Strictly fictional. As a human woman, how do you react when your Mr. Yummy tells you he’s the one with claws and may just leave fur on the sheets? So tell me: What type of Were is Mr. Wonderful and how does he break it to you? Email your answer to

Friday, April 4, 2008

Remembering Safety Dog

Today starts with very sad news. I received word from my ex that our dog Henry passed away early this morning. Henry was a 14 year old pug that was absolutely devoted to my ex and so custody was never an issue for us. I got generous visitation for the last 5 years, but it certainly wasn’t enough. Henry is the last of the first generation of my four legged children to leave us. They were the companions of my early adulthood and what seems like a whole lifetime past.

When we brought home our little pug puppy, he rode tucked into my ex’s jacket. I held him and started talking to him while waiting for my ex to come out of the store where we had stopped to pick up puppy food. We had an adult pug at home named Tootsie, but had read that pugs, in particular, get very lonely if they don’t have company. As I talked to the pup, going over a list of possible names to discuss I hit upon a family joke. When the eldest of my brothers was preparing to enter the world, my mother wanted to name him after his father. My stepfather refused. So they couldn’t settle on a name for him. My stepfather finally took to saying that he was just going to name the baby Henry Kissinger and be done with it. (This was the late 70’s.) My mother had fits, but still they couldn’t decide.

My brother was born caesarian section and my mother was under general anesthetic. As it would happen, my stepfather was also an inpatient at the time undergoing a rather serious back surgery. He’d fallen off a roof. My poor grandfather was running up and down the elevators between the maternity ward and the surgical ward. When my mother came out of anesthetic, my grandfather and stepfather played a cruel joke. My grandfather told her that because she was out of it, the nurses asked my stepfather what to name the baby and that her first son was now officially Henry Kissinger Neubig. He of course had not. He’d relented at the last and my brother became a number II.

Naming things Henry became a joke in my family. So as I’m holding the pup and thinking about it, I finally blurted out, “Well I guess we could just call you Henry.” I was stunned when the little pup lifted his head and looked me straight in the eye. He gazed at me for a moment and then lowered his head again and rooted for a comfortable spot to snooze. I giggled a bit and asked, “Is your name Henry? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?” Again he lifted his little head and met my eye. This was not a response to my voice. I’d been talking out loud to him for a while at that point. I always talk to my pets. When my ex returned to the car and I explained what had happened it was agreed. His name was Henry.

Henry was the roundest puppy you ever saw. His little fat belly nearly touched the ground. He soon earned the AKC registration name of “Fat boy Henry.”

His more enduring and endearing trait would lead to his long standing nickname, one that even earned him his own song. Safety Dog.

Henry was rather nervous by nature and often seemed to look upon any unusual event or happening with an eye to it’s potential danger. He seemed to sense that his master, my ex, was essentially a clutz. When the lawnmower came out, he hid. When a power tool was plugged in, he’d come running to me, his alpha dog, with a worried expression creasing his little forehead and a face that seemed to say, “Do you know what the beta dog is doing now?” In all fairness to Henry, his master had managed to nearly take off a foot with the lawnmower on one occasion and frequently had cuts and scratches from other simple activities. His concern was warranted.

Safety dog’s most memorable lessons in life involved water. Water was not Henry’s friend. We took him fishing one day. He was on his leash and was snuffling his way hurriedly down the dock. Nose to wood he hustled along, sniffing, sniffing, sniffing…plop! He sniffed himself right over the edge. I grabbed the lease and his master dropped to the dock and lifted him out. When he was eye level to his beta dog, the look on his face had both his human’s laughing so hard his master couldn’t even lift him out of the water.

On another occasion his extra bulk broke the ice on a ditch causing Tootsie and him to drop into the icy water. The beta dog went in after them thinking it was only a shallow ditch. Wrong. The ditch was a good 6 feet deep and filled with freezing water. There was no laughing that day.

So with tears and sadness I say goodbye to Henry. Henry, who never met food he didn’t like. Henry, who snored loudly on the pillow next to his master’s head every night. Henry, who would give a grudging sigh and patiently put up with the antics of his large and goofy Rottweiler brother, Koeby. Goodbye Safety Dog. Toostie will be waiting to boss you about. Koeby will be waiting to welcome you and introduce you to all his squirrel friends. And Wallie. Sweet Baby Wallie will be waiting to give you a wag, a big lick on the face and to commiserate with you the chore of spending an eternity with Koeby.

Now, in honor of Safety Dog, his song to the tune of Born to be Wild. Sing along.

Get your motor running
Always wear your seatbelt
Don’t forget your helmet
It’s the law in Illinois

Born to be mild.

Always obey the leash law
Never play in the street
Don’t chase the motorcycles
Or they’re gonna squish your head

Born to be mild

Now, a reminder about the contest.

You can enter up 'til April 11th to win the 17" double strand of freshwater pearls and amethyst beads. The contest is to celebrate the wonderful response of readers and reviewers to Mating Stone. In Mating Stone, Mark falls in love with Sarah. Sarah, a young human woman who has no idea that Were’s even exist beyond novels and movies. Strictly fictional. As a human woman, how do you react when Mr. Yummy tells you he’s the one with claws and may just leave fur on the sheets? So tell me: What type of Were is Mr. Wonderful and how does he break it to you?

Email you answer to

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why did I go to college

First off the good stuff:

Mating Stone got 4 angels from Fallen Angel Reviews. Ashley reviewed it and seemed to really like the guys in the story. "...the men in this book are to die for. Mark is sexy and charming. It is easy to see why Sarah fell in love with him so fast. You can relate to Sarah after Mark makes a huge mistake, and you can feel for him when he tries to fix it. There is also his brother, Luke, who has just enough bad boy in him to make you want to claim him as your own. Then there is Tarris, Mark’s close friend, another sexy and mysterious man. These two stuck out and I hoping they get their own stories soon. Elyssa Edwards has done a great job with Mating Stone. She has written a unique shapeshifter story that any paranormal fan will enjoy." Thank you Ashley!

The Contest! The April 11th deadline is coming up!

The hero of Mating Stone, Mark Ursine is a Were-Bear as is his twin brother Luke the hero of the upcoming July release, Lovers’ Stone. The Ursines present their lady loves with stones rather than engagement rings. For Mark and Sarah it’s an amethyst. So to win the 17” freshwater pearl and amethyst necklace here’s what you need to do. Write a brief answer to the following question and send it to with “Mating Stone Contest” in the subject line. I’ll pick the best response as the winner, and two honorable mentions to receive smaller prizes. The winning entries will appear in my blog on April 13th.

In Mating Stone, Mark falls in love with Sarah. Sarah, a young human woman who has no idea that Were’s even exist beyond novels and movies. Strictly fictional. As a human woman, how do you react when Mr. Yummy tells you he’s the one with claws and may just leave fur on the sheets? So tell me: What type of Were is Mr. Wonderful and how does he break it to you?

Now to the title of this rant.

Why did I go to college? I mean, I spent four years of under graduate studies and a year of graduate school and for what? To be someone's scapegoat? To continue to have to scrape and stretch to make ends meet? To be treated with total disrespect and disdain?

Yes, that's right it was parent-teacher conference time again. Another day of listening to someone tell me that I don't care about their child because I didn't give him an extra week to complete an assignment. Another day of listening to someone tell me I am picking on their child because I expect him or her to follow the same rules that apply to everyone else. Another day of listening to someone tell me and my administration how I have no concern for parent involvement because I won't stay two hours after school for a conference because that's when they get off work.

Now I love teaching. I do. I love the kids and I love working with them. What I hate and abominate is babysitting, hand holding and nose-wiping. That’s why I teach middle school and not kindergarten.

So let’s get this straight. I apologize to all the great parents out there. You know who you are. You’re the one who volunteers for fundraisers and who helps pass out maps at orientation. You’re the one who returns my calls or actually has a phone number at which I can reach you if I need to touch base about your child. You’re the one who knows that budgets are tight and so you donate paper towels and tissues. You’re the one who shows up for conferences even when your child isn’t failing and we haven’t had to send the social worker to your house to force you.

Sorry to bore you with my ranting, but it’s absolutely ridiculous and some days it’s just too much to let roll off your back.

Maybe I should have been a plumber. We had to call one today because our bathtub wouldn’t turn off. Of course the estimate came in at almost a grand. Lovely to ya’ll, too.