Saturday, May 31, 2008

Last day of Contest

Last day for the contest to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of my usual writing spurt. Summer is when I get most of my writing done. So, I will put the names of everyone who responds to my blog this week into a hat and draw. I’ll give the winner a copy of Seeing Me and a deck of the Ellora’s Cave Silver Screen playing cards.

We went shopping at the local Goodwill today. For those not familiar with Goodwill, it’s provider of education, training, and career services for people with disadvantages, such as welfare dependency, homelessness, and lack of education or work experience, as well as those with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. People donate clothing and household goods that are then cleaned up by the workers and then sold in a second hand store. I have absolutely no qualms about second hand, be it a yard sale, consignment or second hand. Besides, after spending my first ten years after college working with adults with developmental disabilities, I know how important the community employment programs are.

We picked up a dresser for the baby’s room. We’re finally allowed to buy stuff. My SO is incredibly superstitious and had put a first trimester moratorium on all purchases. Having a friend whose little girl is about a year older than ours will be has come in handy as we’ve bought a good deal of her infant stuff —car seat, stroller etc. We have an ultrasound on Monday, but it’s too soon to tell the sex. At least I think it is. I’m planning on painting book characters on the walls of the room and the top of the dresser will be perfect to use as a changing table with the addition of a nice plastic pad and a bumper guard. Those can be easily removed when the child grows up.

While out dropping my Cavalier to be groomed today I saw one of the most gorgeous men I’ve ever seen. We’re talking looks like he stepped off the cover of a romance novel gorgeous. Dark hair, chiseled face, light gray eyes and a rather fine backside as well. My greatest disappointment was that he wasn’t OUR server at the restaurant. My point? I saw a gorgeous guy, do I really need a point? Oh, and when I say our, my SO was with me. My “Mother of all that’s holy!” got me an eye roll and a shake of the head. Of course I explained it was purely a professional response. Such a guy would make great cover model and if I can capture his features with my words he might make a great hero in a story someday. It was pointed out to me that “Mother of all that’s holy” might fall a bit short on the descriptive front. I explained that I’m certain that you would all get it.

Tonight’s excerpt comes from Mating Stone and introduces a man so beautiful that he is sex personified.


Her eyes widened as a man stood up and looked at them. Holy hell! Mark was gorgeous. She adored Mark. Mark made her toes curl and her insides melt. But this man was beyond anything she’d ever seen before. He was desire, he was sex.

His long blond hair hung almost to his waist, flowing loosely around his shoulders. It wasn’t a brash platinum blond but shone like polished gold in the reflected firelight. His eyes were the most blue she’d ever seen, they almost glowed. No one had eyes like that unless they were retouched by special effects experts. It must be a trick of the light, she decided.

He was inches taller than Mark and wore only a neat pair of black slacks. His feet and chest were bare. Sarah felt something very warm begin deep inside her as she looked at that chest. It was tanned and smooth. The way the flicker firelight cast shadows highlighted the definition of the abs and tempted Sarah. The sharply etched muscles seemed to demand she trace them. With hands, lips, tongue, whatever was handy. He didn’t speak but watched her for a minute before smiling. Her body reacted to that smile shamelessly. He broke eye contact and shifted his gaze to Mark.

Sara drew in a sharp breath. What is wrong with you? Mark is standing right behind you and you’re ogling some strange guy. She groaned inwardly. You’re ogling his friend, a guy he called more than a brother.

Mark’s hands came up to rest on her shoulders. She turned to steal a glance at him and saw him smiling down at her. “It’s okay Sarah. Tarris often has that effect on people, men and women. He’s one of the most beautiful beings you’ll ever see.”
She flushed bright red and covered her face with her hands. Mark’s voice came from close to her ear. “He says you are beautiful too.”

Looking up she saw the smile had widened on Tarris’ face. He nodded his agreement with Mark’s words. “But you didn’t speak.” Sarah frowned.

Tarris shook his head, his lips parting to show her straight white teeth. A shiver ran through her and sank deep into the pit of her stomach.

Mark stepped around her. He grabbed his friend in a firm embrace and the two exchanged the manliest hug Sarah had ever seen. Arm still draped around Tarris, Mark turned to her. “Tarris doesn’t speak like you or I.”

“You’re mute?” she asked and he nodded in reply. “But you can hear?”
Tarris nodded again.

“Do you use sign language?” Sarah had learned a bit of finger spelling at summer camp.
The long hair caught the firelight and shimmered as the handsome head shook, the blue eyes crinkling with amusement.

“Don’t worry, he gets his point across,” Mark said wryly, tightening his arm around his friend’s shoulders. A silent laugh shook the blond man’s shoulders. Mark turned to him. “Sarah’s head is feeling funny.” The tone of his voice was as odd as the look he gave his friend. The blue eyes opened wide as if in innocent surprise but his grin twisted up his face revealing a single dimpled cheek. “Right,” Mark said. “Sarah, why don’t you lie down. Tarris and I will have a little talk while you rest.”

“Mark it’s okay, My head will be fine.”

Tarris looked at her intently and gestured toward the bed. She didn’t need Mark to interpret. He too thought she should lie down.

“I can’t just take a nap,” she reasoned with them. “In the middle of your family’s party.”

“Sarah this “party” will go on for hours. No one will notice. Lie down, my love and rest.”
I don’t…” She was halted by Tarris coming toward her quickly. He reached out and touched her hand. The world swayed and she found herself being swept up into two strong arms. The scent of his skin swirled in her head. He smelt overwhelmingly masculine. An indistinct combination of sandalwood, odd spices, a burning fire and the musky smell of a man’s neck as a woman curled her face into it in the afterglow of hot, passionate sex.

“Show off,” Mark snorted from where he’d already taken a seat in one of the chairs. “It’s probably the heat of the room, Sarah. Tarzan here thinks it should feel like Miami in August. Thankfully it’s winter or he’d be wearing even less.” Tarris smiled down at her gently and shook his head. His expression was playful and said clearly that Mark was positively silly and was not to be believed. He laid her carefully on the bed and slipped off her shoes before pulling a soft blanket from the foot of the bed over her. A charming curve to his lips, he reached out to brush a strand of hair from her forehead. His touch corresponded inexplicably with the thickening of the fogginess in her brain and her eyes felt heavy.

“Sweet dreams, Sarah-mine,” Mark’s voice sounded far away as she drifted off to sleep

Friday, May 30, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Two more days left on the contest to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of my usual writing spurt. Summer is when I get most of my writing done. So, I will put the names of everyone who responds to my blog this week into a hat and draw. I’ll give the winner a copy of Seeing Me and a deck of the Ellora’s Cave Silver Screen playing cards.

The last day of school for my students finally arrived today. Every year it seems that the students just don’t believe that we teachers are just as happy, if not more so, as they are to have the last days arrive. I love my kids. I really do. But by this time of the year we are all sick of each other. I know parents have to have their kids a lot longer than we as teachers do, but there are a couple of key differences I’d like to point out. First of all, I didn’t birth them, adopt them or take on the care and raising of them. (My editor would point out that I should say rearing and not raising, but this is my blog and I don’t have to follow publisher’s style here.) Since they are not my children I don’t have that deep rooted love of them that you have as a parent. I like your kids, I love your kids. But I don’t have that parental chip that makes me LOVE your kids. Secondly, your children do not have to sit in one place for seven hours and be quiet at home. Imagine a road trip with your child that lasted for 7 hours each day over 180 days. That might be a more appropriate analogy.

The last day of school went rather well this year. With a few notable exceptions, the students did a great job keeping it together until they loaded on the buses. The first of the notable exceptions occurred sometime last night. When I drove up to school this morning I was greeted by yards upon yards of waving toilet paper handing from trees, bushes, the building, and pretty much anything that stood still. Slogans from one of the rival middle schools were scrawled on the sidewalk and backside of the building. (A clever ruse to fool us into thinking the vandals were not our students.)

Now rolling (as spreading toilet paper all over the place is called) is vandalism and it’s wrong, boys and girls. But I have to admit to laughing as I drove into the parking lot. There was something so quaint and innocent about the act that surprised me considering how worldly-wise so many of our kids are. So several of us early birds grabbed garbage bags and went out to start cleanup. Many hands made light work and we chatted and laughed a bit as we cleaned up. It was wrong, but something about the act reminded me that we were dealing with children, with babies in many ways.

I received a group personal apology from the culprits later that day that I kept a stern and imposing face for. But as I looked at their faces, most very sincere, I was grateful to them for reminding me that there are still seeds of the innocence of childhood trapped inside their pubescent bodies. I think it put me in much more of a mood to deal with end of school silliness today than I might otherwise have been.

But I can’t quite start singing school’s out yet. I have a few more teacher days to go.

I’ve had a reviewer and a couple of readers comment recently about the hero in Seeing Me. You see he doesn’t have a name. At no point in the story do I give the actor in question a name. My decision seems vindicated by the response I’ve gotten which all came from people who got why I didn’t name him. I wanted the reader to be able to see whoever, whatever “type” they found most appealing into the role. Are you a Harrison Ford lover? See him in the part. George Clooney? Yep, could be him. Johnny Depp? Orlando Bloom? Or even my friend Llew’s favorite Sean Bean? Yep, could be him.

Who did I see in the role? That I’ll never tell.

Today’s excerpt comes from the July release Lovers’ Stone. Luke Ursine is the brother of Mark Ursine whose story was told in Mating Stone. Luke is your typical bad boy, a full on alpha male who loves to play the Dom. While standing watch for a family member who was searching for his mating stone in the clan’s sacred caves, Luke falls asleep only to be awakened by the sound of someone calling his name.

EXCERPT: Caution. Some adult language and content.

Luke rose and walked slowly to the archway and stopped. Each of the other twelve corridors led to rooms that held stones. A male picked the path whose stones corresponded to the birth stone of the female he hoped to mate with. Only one stone in the tens of thousands that filled this mountain would support the mating of a particular couple. Supposedly if the mating was not meant to be, he would not find the stone. Wade had searched through hundreds of gems to find the right one. He’d told Luke it had sung to him the minute he touched it. Wade said it had glowed and the face of his future mate had appeared in its depths. More, it had vibrated in such a way that he’d become instantly aroused and his need to join with his mate had burned like a fire in his body.

But this center corridor, this thirteenth passage was one that was never used. It could not be entered except by those who were called. And to Luke’s knowledge no one had been called down this path in so long what lay at its end had become legend. An oasis of lovers’ stones the lore said. A collection of stones from each of the caves but they were more than just simple mating stones. These stones were for those Weres who were tied to another by destiny. The two bound by a lovers’ stone were destined for more than mating bliss. Theirs was to be a great life-long love. To Luke it sounded like more than legend. It sounded like bullshit.

The mist swirled around him and Luke’s legs carried him of their own volition through the arch and down the narrow tunnel. There were no torches here, only the glow of the golden fog lit his way. He heard the voice call again. “Where are you? I can’t see you.” It was a woman’s voice.

He heard nothing but the voice. Not even his inexplicably bare feet made a sound on the stone floor. He took turn after turn following the light that pulled him along. Abruptly the fog rose to the ceiling just in front of him taking the shape of a doorway through which he could not see. He heard her calling again. She was looking for someone. She was looking for him. The realization lifted something inside him. He stepped through a large bank of the golden mist and found himself in a vaulted chamber. In the center of the room was a shimmering pool surrounded by large low pallets filled with cushions and pillows. Directly across from him an identical doorway had formed. Before it, watching him with large frightened eyes was a woman. Her long black hair was loose and flowed down her back. The blue eyes glowed so brightly for a moment he considered that she might be a succubus but dismissed the thought. No creature could have gained entrance here except those who were like him. Only another Were could have entered the cave, let alone this most sacred place. Or that was what they’d always been told.

The woman was dressed in a long, red satin nightgown with thin straps that barely contained the full breasts that threatened to overflow the bodice. Her hips curved in a way that made a man long to run his hands over them, to hold tightly to them as he thrust inside her. The pull she seemed to be exerting over him was stronger than any desire he’d ever felt. Screw mating stones, just looking at this woman was making him hard.


He opened his eyes slowly and they focused on a large vaulted ceiling painted with gold and silver celestial patterns. He was instantly awake. He wasn’t in the outer room. He wasn’t sleeping on the bench. He remembered in a flash of panic. He was in the inner chamber lying on a soft pallet of cushions. The forbidden inner chamber. He lay there listening to Rand’s voice but not hearing it. Because beyond the inconvenience of being in a chamber that was supposed to be off limits, beyond the fact that he was lying there naked was the fact that he could feel something cool and hard clenched in his left hand.

Luke sat up slowly and lifted his hand. He opened his palm. In the center lay a rough cut, bright red stone. It glowed and vibrated in his hand. The pulse that moved through him made his body stir. He heard a voice in the back of his mind whisper his name. Lifting the roughly heart-shaped gem he looked into it and saw a raven-haired siren with bright blue eyes gazing back at him.

“Oh shit,” Luke closed his eyes. This was not happening. This could not happen. That stone. He’d not come here seeking it but there was no mistaking it. He felt her somewhere in the back of his mind, he felt her body against him though she wasn’t there. He smelled her on his skin. The woman had been real and in his hand lay the proof of it. In his hand lay his mating stone.

Him? The man his own brother referred to as Lucas “screw the whole world and everyone in it” Ursine? And that was when he wasn’t pissed at him. But how? To whom? He had to see the Oracle. The Oracle would know. He looked at the stone again. A ruby? He searched his mind for an explanation. Why was he holding a July stone? Bears didn’t give birth in July. As Weres—shapeshifters whose bodies were tied to the animal whose spirit they shared, in their case the bear—they too had “seasons”. Late fall and winter were the birthing months. Spring and early summer the months of conception.

This meant only one thing. She wasn’t one of his people. There were few species in this world with whom a Were could mate. They could mate with the angelus, winged creatures humans often mistook for divine beings. Though rare, they could also join to the fey, a varied group of little creatures that humans called faeries or gnomes. And humans. And since the woman who had just given him the most intense orgasm of his life didn’t have wings and she had full, lush, mouthwatering curves it could mean only one thing. His destined mate was a human.

Luke glared angrily at the red stone. “Just my fucking luck.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Decline of...Something.

I’m still offering a contest to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of my usual writing spurt. Summer is when I get most of my writing done. So, I will put the names of everyone who responds to my blog this week into a hat and draw. I’ll give the winner a copy of Seeing Me and a deck of the Ellora’s Cave Silver Screen playing cards.

I have to admit that in recent times I’ve been very happy about my quiet little life. But I’ve also become very worried about what is happening to our society and the way that we are showing increasing disrespect toward our fellow human beings. I’ve been more and more sickened by the feeding frenzy that seems to surround individuals who choose to entertain others as part of the way they make a living for themselves and their families.

Yes, I know that when someone becomes a celebrity there is a certain amount of give on the degree of privacy you can expect. If you’re at a public event, someone is going to take your picture. But I’m fairly certain that no where in the contracts of the actors, actresses and musicians of the world are there clauses that say that they give up the right to be human beings and have real lives. They have jobs. Jobs just like the rest of us. I teach children. My dad manufactured cars. My mom was a nanny. Some people carry the mail. Some people fix our cars or computers or sell us things at the local grocery store. None of us gives up our rights to privacy because of our jobs. For the celebrity, their jobs are to make a product that we can view or listen to that will bring entertainment.

Recent photographs of Angelina Jolie have made news because they were topless. But the way I heard the story the woman was inside off a balcony of a house she was staying in when someone caught her with a high power telephoto lens. Excuse me. She wasn’t outside at a topless beach. Then, feel free to click away. She was in the confines of a house where she had an expectation of privacy. If Joe next door took his telephoto lens into his back yard and took pictures of you as you undressed in your own home he’d get arrested. The photographer who photographed Jolie gets paid.

Why do we find it acceptable to strip away someone’s right to be treated with dignity and respect (and trust me there are a lot of other people I’d rather be making this argument on behalf of than Jolie)? I’ve seen two partial episodes of the television show TMZ while waiting for the next program to begin. I was sickened and horrified. During one segment, again on Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt, the photographer was filming them with their sons getting into their car. One of the men present could be clearly heard to call the boys “adoption lottery winners.” That is crude, cruel and crass. Now it’s okay to make their small children the butts of our jokes and to demean their family?

I worry about what this says about our society. How little respect we seem to have for each other’s humanity.


In honor of the blog topic above it just seems right to post another excerpt from Seeing Me. Seeing Me is the story of a new author who is attending her first convention. She is pleasantly surprised to be on the panel with Him. He is a box office star who finds himself under attack by one of the writers on the panel. Cara jumps to his defense and finds that she has his attention along with the attention of everyone in the large ballroom.

When she’s asked to come upstairs for a private signing, she’s stunned to find out it’s for Him. But a slip of the tongue just may ruin any chance she has of getting to know Him better.


He sat down next to her and lifted his glass. He took a swallow of the contents then leaned back. “I asked you up here because I wanted to ask you to sign your book for me.”

“You’ve really read my book?” The words and the accompanying incredulity landed between them with an almost audible thud.

He frowned. “Yes. Didn’t my assistant tell you that you were being asked up to sign your book?”

“Yes, but...”

“But you didn’t figure someone like me had read it.”

“No. I never dreamed someone like you would have read it,” she admitted. She was pulling a large sip from her own glass when he stood up and walked away toward the windows.

“I see. You’re surprised that someone like me would even attempt to read such a work. I might muddle through a script alright, but real books are something else.”
She stared at him in shock. “I didn’t say that. That’s not what I meant.”

“Right.” He turned to face her, the orange rays of the sun backlighting him, a golden corona forming about him. His face was blank, a calm practiced look of boredom, but his eyes seemed to be alight with something more. His voice, when he spoke again, betrayed the bitter edge of anger. “It’s fine. I’ve heard it before. Actors are just parrots, right? They look pretty and showy and repeat whatever lines they are taught but understanding those lines is beyond them. We’re just a bunch of ridiculous boys and plasticized bimbos who drink too much, party too much and make way too much money for standing around playing pretend like a bunch of preschoolers. Look, I’m sorry I got you out of your reception.”

“Wait a minute,” she stood up. “That isn’t what I meant and I certainly never said those things. It seems to me that if anyone is jumping to stereotypes here, it’s you. I’m a writer so I must be self-important and egotistical? I must be absolutely certain that every word that falls from my pen is pure genius? Someone’s ego is involved here but I don’t think it’s mine.”

He just looked at her, his brow creasing, slight confusion etched on his face. The hurt was still in those dark eyes, and it was as if he wasn’t entirely sure he was really hearing the words she was saying.

“Look when I said I didn’t expect someone like you to have read my book I meant I didn’t expect it would even be noticed by someone like you. It’s an obscure piece of drivel by an unknown author who only got invited today because she’s a local girl. Hell, if I hadn’t been a volunteer for this convention for the last few years no one here would have given me the time of day.” She wanted him to believe her. Wanted it badly. For some reason it mattered a great deal that he believe she hadn’t been demeaning his intelligence. “I can’t believe any of those people today actually took time out of their lives to read my book, let alone someone like you who has people pulling him in a hundred directions every minute of the day.”

He pursed his lips and his head dropped. Silence filled the room for a long moment as he stared down at the floor. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m a bit raw from that confrontation downstairs. You might be surprised how often I get that. Not just what that guy said, but the whole thing. I was a marketing tool today. A new and improved product. Bright and shiny, tell your friends. I was being used to sell this conference, to sell the books of every person on that panel. When you first start out it’s sort of cool, look at me and the power my face has. But after a while it gets old.” He lifted wary eyes to hers. “I’m sorry. I made assumptions that were incorrect.”

She simply nodded. The truth in what he was saying was overwhelming. He was right. Every person there today had treated him like the leggy, breasty bimbo who points to the new model of car and says, “Pretty.” Her included. All she had seen was Him. Her first thoughts, if she were honest with herself, had been about the exposure and the attendance this panel was likely to get. Okay, not really. That was her second thought. Her first thought had been that of a giggling fourteen-year-old teenager who was just told she was going to meet her idol. The great movie star whose presence seemed to turn something inside her to jelly. No, not jelly, lava. Red-hot, cascading, chocolate flavored, lava. Sudden thoughts of the possible uses for warm liquid chocolate filled her mind along with the image of herself lapping up said chocolate. Her face, and everything else, grew even warmer.

He stepped toward her. “The truth is I asked you up here for two reasons. One, because I did read your book and I liked it. I was thrilled when I learned today that you’d be on the panel. I hoped at some point during this conference you might sign it and maybe we could talk about it. I decided to ask you up here to do just that because of what you said down there. Not that you took my side, but that you called the guy out for his hypocrisy.” He let a slow grin slide over his lips, “That and the fact that those were some of the most original metaphors for sex I’d ever seen. Not to mention the accompanying illustration.”

She hadn’t believed it possible, but she flushed even more and he lowered his head. He looked down and then lifted his eyes to hers. The move gave his face a sweet, naughty little boy expression that stirred something inside her. “What do you say? Now that we’ve already had our first fight, do you think we could sit down and talk about your book?”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's a Conspiracy

I’m going to offer a contest to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of my usual writing spurt. Summer is when I get most of my writing done. So, I will put the names of everyone who responds to my blog this week into a hat and draw. I’ll give the winner a copy of Seeing Me and a deck of the Ellora’s Cave Silver Screen playing cards.

For some reason that I cannot begin to comprehend, today was Drive Up Jae’s Tailpipe Day in traffic. Every other driver was running up on me in traffic until their headlights disappeared. And I am not a slow driver. I am, in fact, one of those people who believes that the speed limit is more of a general suggestion. But I do not tailgate. It is not only dangerous it is just bad manners. Especially in rush hour traffic.

School is almost out. Three more days of kiddies. Therefore today must have been declared Drive Mrs. Roth Crazy Day as well. It seems as if everyone under the age of 15 has forgotten their common sense and really has no clue where they left it. As if today of all days the rules were suddenly not going to apply to them. Sorry, Jim-Bob, it doesn’t work that way. I swore if I had to tell D to sit down one more time in the 50 minutes he spends in my room he was not going to make it to his next period class. No I’m not threatening bodily harm to a child. I don’t need to. I have a healthy supply of office referrals and I’m not afraid to use them.

And can someone tell me when it became acceptable for the younger generation to toss the word “fag” at each other a dozen times a day? Why do you need to have it explained to you that unless you are in Great Britain and are asking to borrow a smoke, the word is just as offensive as a racial slur? I inevitably end up explaining the etymology of the term each year. For the record. The term is applied to homosexual men because during the middle ages and into the time of the witch hunts in Europe and North America men who were “condemned” of such an “unnatural” act were bound and placed in the fires that were used to burn the witches and heretics. And since the term faggot originally referred to the bundling of sticks for firewood, the term became applied to homosexual men. As I explain to my students, when you use such a term for someone, you are saying their life is so worthless and meaningless that they deserve to be burned to death as kindling for more important criminals. I usually only have to explain this once and then they start censuring each other…at least around me.

Today my copy of the August 2008 Realms of Fantasy came in my mailbox. Do not ask me to explain the rationale behind the August issue appearing in my mailbox in May, because I can’t. What I can tell you is that the ad includes my Cerridwen Press release Measure of Healing. Measure is a paranormal romance about a Were-Cougar Halfling who seeks out the only help he knows of for a young Were-Cougar child who is suffering from sever trauma. Unfortunately, the only help he can find is a human doctor whose secrets could just get them all killed. Measure of Healing is the first story in what I hope becomes a series I’ve tentatively entitled The Children of Semira. I just recently finished the primary draft of the follow-up to Measure. It picks up the story of the young Were-Wolf who shows up at the end of Measure. Her story was originally planned to come first, but Alejandro Ramirez demanded precedence and you can’t argue with Alej.


[Alejandro] was starving and exhausted. He’d had little time before her arrival that evening. Just enough to throw some things in a bag, gulp down a bit of dinner and be ready. He’d had to spend most of the day at his father’s office dealing with one of the more unsavory construction companies his father was forced to sub-contract with by the economic conditions.

The Ramirez family was in demand for their work on hardwood flooring and custom cabinetry. Given the nocturnal nature of his animal side, he usually spent the bulk of his days sleeping and late afternoons and nights in the workshop making the cabinets, railings and scrollwork that was ordered. He still worried that his brothers would have trouble keeping up with the orders. Eddie had promised to help but he had a job now that took him away from the family and the last thing Alejandro wanted was for his father, at seventy-two, to have to try and pick up the slack. His two oldest nephews were showing an interest in the business and were earning money for the college years that were fast approaching by working part-time but the family agreed their schoolwork came first.

He followed her down the hall. She entered a large room with a king sized bed, a dresser, night stand and large wardrobe. The furniture was a dark mahogany that matched the wooden trim running along the ceiling and floor. A wooden chair rail circled the room separating a plum striped wallpaper on the bottom and a pale mauve paint above. The wood had been laid in alternating strips of mahogany and cherry. He ran the palm of his hand over the door jam and the nearest section of the chair rail. Someone had known what they were doing. She crossed to the wardrobe and pulled out a small stack of clothes from a drawer that she left open. He half watched her as she moved to the closet and pulled out a blanket and pillow. He walked further into the room, running his hand along the wall. Then he moved toward the bed and his palm stroked the wood.

“Stop that!” she said sharply.

Alejandro’s eyes widened in surprise. She was glaring at him with a peeved expression. “What?” he demanded.

“Stop scent marking my house. You rubbed against the wall in the boy’s room, now you’re marking this one. I swear if you spray something I’ll neuter you myself.” She stomped out of the room.

He looked up at his hand where it still lay against the wooden post of the bed. And he laughed. He hadn’t realized he’d been doing it. He’d rubbed his back on the wall in the boy’s room on purpose. He wanted Tomás to know he was there. But he’d been rubbing his palm along the surfaces of this room, her room, absently. The palm of his hand where, like the pads of the cougar’s feet and along his spine, he had oil glands that left his mark upon what he touched. His amusement faded slightly as he began to wonder at just how much about him and his kind his little doctor seemed to know. He left the room and followed his nose to find her. She was making up a bed in a smaller room. It was so small it fit only the single bed and a narrow dresser.

She looked up at him, still irritated. “What have you got in that thing?”

He frowned, “What thing?”

She stood up from smoothing the blanket and pointed at his bag where it hung from his shoulder. “What, you keep all your cash in there? The secret map to a treasure chest heaping with gold? Why are you still carrying it? What’s in there that’s so special?”

He lifted an eyebrow at the sudden return of animosity and sat it down on the floor inside the door. “Nothing special, just your basics.”

She walked passed him, picked up the bag and headed down the hall. “Hey,” he went after her, “that is mine you know.”

“Cats,” she muttered under her breath. Reaching the larger room she placed it on the bed. “Then you’ll probably want it in your room.”

Realizing what was happening, he shook his head. “No, thanks little doctor but I’m fine in the other room.”

She smiled at him with a wicked light in her eyes that set him on edge. “You don’t think I’m sacrificing a good night’s sleep for you, do you?”

“No. Now why would I think that? You’re only trying to give me the bigger room, your room.” Alejandro gestured with his hand. “You’re sleeping in here. I’ll take the other room.”

Her eyes narrowed. Brie was well aware it wasn’t exactly nice of her to deliberately confuse the poor man but all things considered it was damned satisfying. “I thought you said you were going to cooperate with me?”

“I said I wouldn’t interfere in your treatment of Tomás.”

“Well, that’s exactly what you’re doing.” Her hands rested on her hips. “I need to be in that other room. It’s closer to him, it has a vent between the two rooms that will allow me to hear him, allow him to hear me and allow my scent to reach him even when I’m not in the room.” She moved to the door. “So be a good boy and sleep where you’re told. I’ll get the rest of my things moved in the morning.” Pausing she looked back over her shoulder. “Meet me in the kitchen when you’re done. I’m going to put something on for dinner. Hope you don’t mind but I’m a strict vegetarian.” She flashed him a wicked “you’re so screwed,” grin and left.

And then more stuff happened...
Check out the blogs on the left. Sandra Cox is running a contest on her site too for a very cool bracelet.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Contest, rants and excerpts...oh, boy

Okay, to make up for my ranting and raving, as well as to celebrate the last week of school, I’m going to offer a contest. I will put the names of everyone who responds to my blog this week into a hat and draw. I’ll give the winner a copy of Seeing Me and a deck of the Ellora’s Cave Silver Screen playing cards. I'll announce the winner on Saturday.

Now on to the ranting…

I hate hospitals.

I have the highest regard for doctors, nurses, aides and all the people who work in our health care industry. But I hate hospitals.

I just got out of one. I spent the last couple of days in the local hospital for things that really don’t bear going in to. I’ve spoken openly on my website about having a disorder that causes me to have strokes and TIA’s. Luckily I haven’t had a full blown stroke in many years, but do continue to have TIA’s which are like mini-strokes that don’t leave lasting effects. I had five of them Friday night and so went to the hospital Saturday.

I was less than impressed with the quality of care that I received. I was put in an er room, the curtain shut and no one bothered to check on me for an hour despite the fact that my blood pressure machine was beeping its little heart out because I had pulled off the cuff after it started in inflate and didn’t stop. I have a lovely bruise as a result.

When someone finally came in, it was the doctor who looked at me blankly and said I needed a CT-scan. No shit? Ya think? He left and I went another hour with no one checking on me. I had a sixth TIA there in the ER, not that anyone noticed.

I was finally admitted after a wonderful attempt to put in an IV which would have been easier if the phlebotomist would simply have accepted that I do know my body a bit better than she did. But no, she had to try to put the IV where I told her it wouldn’t work. It didn’t and I had a lump like a golf ball the entire next day.

I am not a good patient. I am not the worst patient. I don’t demand help from nurses and aides for everything (like my roommate who seemed to think they were actually room service staff.) But when I’ve given you my standing at home prescriptions and I tell you I have a migraine starting I expect you to give me my meds not bring me two Tylenol. I was told we had to start with the Tylenol. Twenty minutes later I’m in a ball on the bed sobbing with a migraine and then the nurse says she’ll call and ask the doctor about the meds. I got my meds after forty minutes of hell while my roommate had all the lights on and proceeded to argue with her husband and anyone who called on the phone. Could I have moved she’d have needed surgery to remove her cell phone from her arse and television control from her throat.

Oh, and not to mention that the hospital couldn’t figure out how to give my the meds I normally take for my OCD, meaning I’d been without them for two days and was going through nasty withdrawals.

I ended up doing a very unadvisable thing. I signed myself out AMA. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I came in feeling perfectly fine but with the TIA. By Saturday night I had a case of cold sweats so bad I literally looked like I was standing in the rain. It was running off me in rivulets. I was vomiting. My head throbbed. All of which miraculously cleared up after I got off my IV and home. I took my meds and I’m fine.

Now for a little of the more adult stuff:


“And then you come…”Cara jerked her head up at the sound of the words. He gave a short harsh cough, took a sip of water and continued. “Sorry, and then you come to the pivotal moment in the story and if you aren’t focused you can ruin what needs to be the payoff for the viewer.” He cleared his throat again, “That’s why it’s important to me to be able to commit myself to one project at a time. It makes having a personal life of any kind hard, but there are often sacrifices you have to make.”

Looking down she realized she’d actually sketched the body of the nude male, no face, but his hands were definitely…

She felt the heat wash over her cheeks and lowered her head letting her hair fall across her face. She flipped the page over on the table and continued her list. She should choose a safer topic, but right now she doubted her mind could focus on anything else.
The questions continued from the audience and she thought she noticed Him grow a bit uncomfortable. True ninety-nine percent of the questions were for him, but that was something she was actually grateful for. God help her if someone asked her a question right now.

She was up to twenty on her new list, having just added the delightfully archaic “deflowering,” when she heard the voice of the angry writer from earlier denounce the idea of film representation of his books as a bastardization of the art, as selling out for the money. “No screenwriter, no director, no actor can do justice to a well written story or character without cheapening it, without robbing it of some essential element that a given reader holds dear,” he’d practically sneered. “So there’s no chance I’d ever sell one of my stories to the commercial Hollywood machine.”

“Are you crazy?” The words were out of her mouth before she realized she had spoken them. “You’d sell your left testicle if someone wanted to make a movie from one of your books with that kind of budget.” She waved her hand at the actor and author who were being criticized.

There was an undercurrent of laughter and she suddenly realized everyone in the room was looking at her. He was looking at her and wearing that wickedly seductive smile that had put him in the pages of many a magazine. Her face flushed hotly and she looked down at her hands. I can’t believe I said that, she moaned silently. The moderator quickly swung the conversation back on track. A quick glance down the table saw that indeed, the offended writer was glaring at her in disgust. Great, just great, she thought. He’s got a twenty times my sales, we share the same agent and I go and piss him off. Well, it was nice while it lasted. My agent is going to kill me.

And so on and so forth…..

If you want a really good blog, go check out some of the folks on the left. They are much better at this than I am.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Four days left and yes, I'm counting

There are only four student/teacher days left of school. One week from today at 3:40pm I will be standing out alongside the highway waving goodbye to this year's crop of seventh graders. They are so tired and done, and so am I. I love teaching, but let's face it, at this point there is very little teaching their tired, summer obsessed little brains will allow me to do.

Summer is coming for them and for me. Summer is when I start my list of books read this year over again. My students are required to read three books over the summer from a prepared list and do a project on each. If they don’t, they have to do it during the first 9 weeks of school. In the spirit of that, I thought I’d suggest some summer reading titles that are excellent for parents and kids.

Touching Spirit Bear- We are reading this as a class right now and this story is a look at a young man who is a juvenile delinquent. Cole Matthews has been in trouble with the school and the law for all of his life. Now he’s made a big mistake. His rage has boiled over and he seriously injures a classmate. Cole has a choice-jail or Circle Justice. Circle Justice is a Native American system of rehabilitation that teaches the individual compassion, empathy and the importance of restitution and healing. Circle Justice is mostly about healing. As Cole heals from the anger and the wounds of his life, he learns that he can never be fully healed until he helps the boy he hurt to find healing too. This is an excellent book by Ben Mikaelson. It’s a great boy book and the survival aspect of it is generally appealing to boys.

Surviving the Applewhites- This book by Stephanie Tolan is about another Juvie. Jake is a scary kinda kit to E.D. Applewhite. No school will take him so he’s sent to live with the Applewhites and attend their unique home school. But only E.D. seems to see that this is a disaster waiting to happen. Her father is producing the local musical, her mother is writing her new novel, her aunt is focusing on cleaning her aura and polishing her chakra while her granddad and uncle are making furniture that looks more like it belongs in an art museum than a livingroom. No one has time for E.D, but that’s okay, she doesn’t really fit in with the creative family into which she was born any more than Jake does. But she definitely doesn’t fit with Jake. While surviving a year with the Applewhites, Jake learns the importance of family, self respect and what it really means to be yourself. It’s a funny and endearing and a generally good read.

Poppy- Poppy is the story of a brave young mouse. Poppy and her family live in a state of weary truce with the great owl that hunts their farm land. The problem is, the owl isn’t always very good at keeping his side of the bargain. The family has no choice but accept that the owl must occasionally punish evil doing mice by eating them even if no one remembers what the mouse did that was wrong. The Poppy hears of a place where there is more food for her hungry family. But to reach it she has to cross the forbidden zone. Defying convention and the large angry owl who actually doesn’t want the mice to move to the new house because he’s afraid of it and won’t hunt there, Poppy leads a triumphant quest to a new and better home for her family.

Homeless Bird- Set in India, 13 year old Koli has just been married off to a young man who turns out to be very ill. As she undertakes her new life with a mother-in-law who doesn’t like her, a new sister-in-law who does, but who is soon to marry as well, Koli discovers a whole new world of wonder. She discovers reading. Always quick with her needle, Koli is equally as quick to learn to read and to appreciate books. But tragedy strikes two blows. First Koli’s husband, who was actually a very sick boy, dies. The family only arranged the marriage so they would have money to take Hari to bathe in the Ganges, hoping it would heal him. A widow at 13, life is over for Koli. No man would marry a widow. She must be bad luck if her husband died so young. But when Koli’s father-in-law who had been teaching her to read, dies; Koli finds herself on a train to a big city. Only she and Sass, her mother-in-law, are left and they must go to Sass’ brother. Tricked by Sass, Koli finds herself homeless and abandoned in a large city. Help comes her way and soon she is earning her keep with her clever needle. Life still holds wonders and the promise of family and love for Koli, but only if she is brave enough to grasp it.

Oh, another great book, but for grown-ups this time:

I’m Okay, You’re Dead by Cheryl Dragon. This release from The Lotus Circle was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. Dr. Deanna Oscar has come to New Orleans to seek a teaching job, not an entirely new life. But the ghost of her recently departed grandmother has other plans. When Deanna’s choice of cabs embroils her in the search for a serial killer, Deanna doesn’t back away from helping. But it will be only this once, right? This book combines memorable and layered characters (the secondary characters are some of the best parts of the book) and a well developed plot. It will keep you turning pages.

I had this book on my ereader when I was called for jury duty. Now jury duty is probably the most boring thing you can ever be forced to do. As I sat for almost 5 hours in the jury pool room with nothing to but sit and read, I found myself so engrossed in this book that I didn’t really mind so much. Fair to middlin’ coffee and this story made jury duty much less of a chore.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seven Days Left….But Who’s Counting

My school lets out in seven days. That’s seven teaching days which means May 30th is my last day with this year’s seventh graders. They’ve been an interesting bunch, but saddest for me is the group of eighth graders that will be leaving us for high school this coming year. Every now and then comes a group that you bond with a little differently than the others. I’ve had that experience three times since I started teaching.

I’ve taught more students than I could ever possibly count. But there are some who will always stand out.

In my first year it was Neilson and Morgan. Neilson is one of my favorite people. The word eccentric was created for him as was the word genius. So intelligent he can be scary at times, he was one of the few who got my sense of humor and who could hold an adult level conversation with me. I love Neilson. He has gone on to college where he will one day change the world. I just hope he remembers I was always on his side when his moment of world domination arrives…and that he promised me Montana.

Morgan. Sweet, ethereal Morgan. Long blonde hair, straight as a razor and a tall willowy form that made you expect to see her in tie-dye with a peace symbol and little John Lennon sun glasses. Morgan was a writer and a very good one. I’d say she followed the tune of a different drummer, but the truth is Morgan beats out her own rhythm wherever she goes. She faces the world with optimism and the absolute assuredness that it is a good place and that it is beautiful.

A handful of years ago I had the opportunity to follow a group of students through two grade levels. It’s called looping. I taught them in the sixth grade and looped up with them into the seventh. It meant forming a closer bond with them than I might otherwise have done because we didn’t have to do the “getting to know you” stuff in the beginning.

Jesse. Affectionately known as “Tatertot,” Jesse will one day grace the stages of a comedy show like Saturday Night Live. He is born to make people laugh and always knows exactly the right buttons to push to have you giggling despite yourself. Robin Williams is a lightweight compared to Jesse. He ran his mom a merry chase that year and I think I saw her at school as much as I saw him. I still think of Jesse and I’m waiting for the day when he turns Jim Carey into “that guy that was in that movie with Jesse.”

Sam. I’m not sure they come more special than Sam. Brilliant and savvy, shrewd and calculating. These all describe one of the people I will remember all my life. There wasn’t a trick Sam didn’t know—along with the counter move and the counter-counter move. A sharp, dry and sarcastic wit that I’ve never seen paralleled hid a sensitive and compassionate nature. But above all, Sam will never be anyone’s fool. He can look at a person and see past their façade. He knew in a moment who was genuine and who wasn’t. Sam is one of my favorite people because of who he is as a person. Sam will one day make the world sit up and take notice. Again, I just hope he remembers I was always on his side.

This year’s group of eighth graders has produced more than one or two souls that have touched my life and will stay with me. I am sad to see them leave our doors and I am excited at the prospects that await them in the world. Because they are still in school, I offer them by their alter ego’s.

Lord Acorn himself. The Frick to his buddy’s Frack. Lord Acorn taught me something this year. He taught me that you can be who you are, never hiding yourself despite what others may say about you because as long as you are telling the truth to yourself, no one can ever lie to you about your self worth, your place in the world or your humanity.

The Squirrel King. Frack to his pal’s Frick. The Squirrel King is one of the “smart” kids. And what he’s taught me is that you can still be respected for your intelligence without losing your ability to have fun. From entering my room James Bond style, complete with rolling across the floor and finger/thumb gun to the leprechaun dance, the Squirrel King knew that the secret to being happy with yourself and your world was to never forget to have that little bit of fun.

High school awaits m’Lord and m’King. Learn what you can from them, their knowledge is yours by right and you must demand they give it to you. Do honor to yourselves by never accepting second best from anyone around you or from yourselves. As long as you are the best you that you know how to be, you will be a success and I will be proud of you.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
-Green Day

Sunday, May 18, 2008

More Lonely than the Maytag repairman?

Last September I attended Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. Those who know me know I love this particular convention. They draw upwards of 40,000 people each year for the Labor Day weekend gathering. It is a terrific way to feed a science fiction/fantasy appetite. There are tracks celebrating every imaginable fandom including the major movie and tv franchises, Gothic (horror), anime, music and almost anything else. The thing about Dragon*Con is that if you can imagine it, it will be there. I even set my Quickie from Ellora’s Cave, Seeing Me, at the event.

They started a YA track about four or five years ago mostly surrounding the Harry Potter craze. It has now expanded to include a wider variety of YA lit and authors including Holly Black who wrote Tithe and The Spiderwick Chronicles. And it’s something that Black said at the appearance that has me thinking today, many months later. Black said that writing was the loneliest of professions. She talked about how hard it can be to be sitting alone at your desk or in your office and just write. How you can’t meet someone for a break at the water cooler or just stick your head over the cubicle to remember that other people actually exist or get feedback.

As I sat and listened to her I thought how very right she was. Most of us write our stories in isolation or at least in a temporary isolation so we can focus on our characters and hear their voices. She talked about the importance of first readers, people who see your work before any editor does. These are the people who keep you honest. They don’t let you cheat. She encouraged people to find writer’s groups to work with for first readers or for critiques.

I agree with most of Black’s comments that day, but I’ve come to believe I missed her point originally. I have to admit, now, several months after my first book was published, I feel differently. I think writing can be the loneliest profession but that it shouldn’t be and it can’t be if it’s good writing. We cannot create in a vacuum and expect it to connect to a reader, let alone many readers.

Writing my first manuscript over five years ago was a very lonely experience. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it, not even my SO. I did it one summer as I had all day free every day since I was on summer break from school. I hid what I wrote away and no one saw it until I had completely finished it. And you know what? I wasn’t very good. It actually was rather bad. It was a fanfiction filled with every terrible cliché of the genre. It should probably be burned to save mankind from ever reading such a horrible thing again. But I learned from the experience. I learned that I could do this.

I also ended up finding a community of people among the fanfic group that I still have very close ties with today. Many of them comprise my current workshop group and they will be positively honest about my stuff and tell me when I miss the mark. Having a community is also an empowering experience. Once I “came out” as a writer, it was a relief. When someone said, “What did you do last night?” my answer was no longer, “nothing.” I can proudly say, “Oh, I wrote last night.”

I started thinking about all this today as I wrote the final battle scene for my current WIP. I have no military experience and I have no clue how to go about planning a battle. My step dad is ex Air Force, but this was a land battle and he’s a bit busy lately with my mother being ill. But about couple of weeks ago I was thinking ahead to this scene as I sat at lunch. I realized then I had a military expert sitting next to me at the table. Eddie is the teacher all the kids like. He has an affable personality, he’s quick with a joke, and the kids know he always fair. He is also in the Army Reserve. He’s served in Afghanistan. He comes from a military family. Here was this perfect resource, but to use it I had to reach out and admit that I needed help and why. So I did.

I told Eddie I was writing a battle scene and drew it out for him. He looked at it and gave me detailed descriptions of how he would defend the position my hero needed to defend. I took notes on a napkin, listened intently to the why as well as the what. I couldn’t use all of what he gave me, but I could use the gist of it. Because I’m writing a fantasy, there are some things I don’t need to worry about.

“Then they’ll try to wade across the river,” he advised. I put my hand up and said, “No, they can’t. The river won’t let them.” “Ah,” he said, “it moves too fast here.” “No,” I assured him. “But the river won’t let them cross.” I explained it was magic and he simply nodded and went on. I’m not only “out” as a writer, but as a fantasy writer.

The important thing was, Eddie made me see I had to rethink the way I saw the scene happening. I saw it as a writer sees it. Big show downs and lots of cool speeches and comments from people. Very theatrical. But after listening to Eddie talk, I realized if I wanted anything resembling normalcy I’d have to rethink my vision of the battle. It sucks to learn you can’t use the cool scene in your head, but I’d rather have something remotely believable than something cool.

An hour or so later a second military expert crossed my path. Curtis is the kind of teacher I want to be when I grow up. He’s amazing. He always has a smile on his face and he finds a way to connect to the kids we teach. But Curtis was also in military intelligence during his days of service. So I showed Curtis the plan and asked him how he would attack. He pointed out that the mission would most likely be a suicide mission. I explained the bad guys had escape options that included magic and he blinked… then went on. But he had a point. If there was to be any direct hand to hand between my forces, it would be a suicide mission on behalf of the hunters who attack. There was no way they could survive the assault. Those who made their way into the village would have to die and would have to know they were going to die. But was this mission worth that? Was it something that people would get that zealous about? Curtis made me realize I had to tighten up the plot in that respect.

In addition to getting military advice, over the years I’ve had to seek advice on all manner of topics including more risqué issues. *cough* I also have great first readers. My SO will do proof reads from time to time. My friend Steve has been the primary first reader on my WIP to this point. I just posted the battle chapter with a nasty little cliffhanger for him so soon he’ll be ready to throw things at me. I do have that bit of a reputation, cliffies at the end of chapters.

But the community I belong to doesn’t stop with the writing process. I have also been blessed with a tremendous support system for what comes next. Llewellyn McEllis, one of my favorite writers and one day you will all know her name, has been there for me with constant encouragement. Britannia and Barb also have always had my back. Alison and Maureen have been my tireless cheerleaders. And then there are the froggies. The froggies are a talented group of writers who work with the same editor I have at ECPI. They’ve all been incredibly supportive.
Sometimes writing seems like a lonely profession. But no one can produce quality work in a vacuum. We all need the feedback and the support of others.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rambling about

My cocker spaniel, Shiloh, is crazy. Now this isn’t news to us, we’ve known it since she hooted like an owl the entire way home from the breeders. We’ve known this since we had to run her up and down the hill outside our house as a puppy so she would be tired enough to go to sleep at night. We’ve known this since I had to sleep on the floor next to her little puppy crate with my hand through the grating so she would stop barking and settle down. So this is not new. (She now sleeps in a crate in the bedroom while all other pups are down in the kitchen because if she doesn’t she barks all night.

But tonight she has gone beyond her usual craziness. Tonight she is barking at nothing. She keeps wandering to the short hall between the living room and kitchen and barking at the ceiling. Then she runs to the couch and barks at the hall. There are no mirrors, lights or shadows that we can see to explain her sudden psycho behavior. Then after being hollered at by me, she is wandering back and forth from the kitchen to the living room whining. At present she is staring at the ceiling of the hallway with great intensity, then at a corner of the living room, then back to the hall and so on and so forth.

Perhaps it’s the storm that is trying to break outside that has her stirred up. Or maybe the fact that the alpha dog was up at 4:30 in the morning working. Who knows. None of the other dogs are the slightest bit interested. Two are sleeping on my feet and a third is sprawled out on the couch sleeping.

I’ve been suffering from completion-phobia. I’m avoiding finishing my current WIP. The story is only two chaps from done, but I can’t seem to work on it. I’ve picked up the story that will follow that one and have begun working on it. *shrugs* I just hate finishing things up. I don’t know why.

Now I started writing this blog last night, and it is now the following afternoon. Yep, I’m want to do wild and crazy things like that. Life is so very exciting when you’re me.

Tomorrow is Monday. I truly despise Mondays. They come along just as I get into the groove of being me again and suck all the fun and happiness out of my week. You see I am basically nocturnal. I don’t get going until the sun goes down. Unfortunately my school does not subscribe to this theory and has the horrible demand that I show up by 8am every morning. Not bad you say? Well it wouldn’t be if I didn’t live so far away from my place of employment. I have to rise at the unholy hour of 5am, leave the house by 6am to arrive in time. Ten minutes late and I’ll be squealing into the parking lot at 8:04 am just ahead of the homeroom bell. I hate Atlanta traffic.

In the summers I become completely nocturnal. I am up all night until my SO gets up for work. After seeing my dearest off, I go to bed and sleep the morning and early afternoon away. I awake just in time to welcome home the weary worker and receive the glares and grumbles that are unjustly slung at my obviously just woken up self. I the summers I become the owl I was born to be. But during the year I’m stuck trying to force my body into the mold of the lark.

Yes, I am aware that very little of what I’ve actually typed makes any sense. That’s the beauty of it. I don’t have to make sense. It’s my blog. So to make up for it, I offer an excerpt.

Measure of Healing:

Working together they carried the crate into the small bedroom in the back of the house. Alejandro noticed the Spartan décor. The bed was stripped to the mattress and a couple of blankets were stacked on it. The room had a bedside table and rather than a dresser, a shelving unit. All of it bare. There was one picture, its plastic frame affixed to the wall by screws at all four corners. A small clearing in the Everglades met his eye. Brie opened the door to the crate.

“I cleared everything out of here when I came to get the 4Runner,” she responded to the question he didn’t ask.

“Will it take long to clear out the closet?” Alejandro leaned against the wall of the room. Brie watched him shift slightly against the wall as if he were stiff and was stretching. If he was doing what she thought he was doing she’d slap him.

“I’m not clearing the closet,” she walked over and pulled on the door. The latch was tight.

Alejandro frowned. “You’re not going to give him a place to hide are you?”

“No,” she turned to face him. “We’ll leave the crate with the blanket for a day or two then I’m taking it out as well.”

He opened his mouth to protest but stopped when she glared pointedly at him. “You said you wouldn’t interfere in this.”

“You’re sure about this? That this is the right thing?” He couldn’t help it. His mind kept telling him how stupid it was to trust a human to know what was right.

It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him if he didn’t trust her, she could have him and the boy back on the plane in a matter of hours or just open the back door and toss them both out. Instead she forced herself to see past his skepticism and his suspicion. She counted to ten, twice. She told herself he was worried about Tomás and that that was to his credit.

“I’m sure,” she said through tight lips. “He’ll be better if he wakes up alone,” she motioned to the door.

Alejandro frowned at her again. “Alone in a strange place?”

“Not entirely strange. The scents will not be threatening. He will stay in the crate most of tonight and tomorrow, unless I miss my guess.” She looked pointedly at the man, “And I never miss my guess.

“Then he’ll start exploring the room. Something he’ll feel freer to do if there is no one around.” She walked out of the room and he followed, closing the door behind him.

“What if he hurts himself? You’re just going to leave him in there for the next few hours unsupervised, unmonitored?” This was not right. He was a child, cat form or no. You didn’t leave a child unattended for that long. Especially one you had drugged.

“No, I’m not. That’s where you come in.” She’d been thinking about this on the drive in. If she was stuck with him, he might as well be useful.

Alejandro relaxed. Was she being deliberately obtuse? “You want me to stay with him.” He stated, finally understanding. The woman should have just said so.

“No.” She met his eye unflinchingly. “You are not to step foot in that room until I say you can. Those are the terms, Cougar. Take them or go.”

When he didn’t answer but stared at her, eyes blazing, she snorted angrily, “Look, do we really have to do this crap or is there enough human in you to realize that we’re talking about a living child and not a deer carcass that you’re protecting? Because, Cougar, you are either going to help or stay out of my way.”

She didn’t even blink when the low growl came from his throat. “No one who didn’t birth me or raise me ever talks to me like that, lady. And even they don’t talk to me like that any more.”

“Oooh,” she rolled her eyes. “Big scary Cougar-man is angry.” She stood tall and actually stepped closer to him. “See me tremble.”

She was either the bravest human he’d ever known or the most foolish. His brothers and sisters backed off before they pushed him too far. Even his father seemed to know how far to press him.

“Don’t push me, lady.” He stepped up to her and glared down into her face. Even as he did it, he knew she wouldn’t be intimidated.

“Why? What are you going to do about it?” she smirked at him. A little more, she thought,
just a little more and we’ll know.

“Are you stupid?” he moved closer, forcing her to back into the hall wall to avoid making contact with him. He braced his hands on the surface to either side of her head. “Little doctor I could rip your throat out before you could even scream.”

“I’d like to see you try it.” She sneered. Alejandro narrowed his gaze and watched her. She was amazing. She wasn’t afraid of his threats. His proximity bothered her. Hell, it bothered him. But he smelled no fear, no hesitation in her. If he wasn’t so angry he’d damn well be impressed.

“As tempted as I am,” he stepped back and turned away from her. “I won’t.”

There it was. What she wanted to know. “Why? How do I know you won’t get pissed off later and kill me in my sleep?”

“Because I said I wouldn’t,” the words came out loud but he stopped them from becoming a full yell. “On the plane I told you I wouldn’t hurt you.”

“And because you never have,” she said softly.

The change in her tone turned him around. Her face was calm and emotionless but her eyes held a shrewd look. Her voice, when she spoke was almost gentle and it ran down his spine as if it physically stroked him. “You’ve never attacked anyone, have you?”

“I’ve had my share of fights and I’ve got the scars to prove it.” He watched the startling blue eyes watch him.

“But you’ve never attacked. You’ve defended yourself but you’ve never attacked.” She said the words as if she knew them to be absolutely true. With humans that was to be expected. But she could feel it in him. He’d never even attacked another Cougar, never challenged another male.

“What does that matter?”

“It matters a great deal,” Brie smiled inwardly. She didn’t trust him. Trusting a Cougar got you dead, or worse. But she didn’t have to sleep with a gun under her pillow. When the time came that he hurt her it would be because he had no choice or didn’t understand the consequences of his actions. He might be the cause of her death but she now believed he wouldn’t be the instrument of it. Then again maybe that’s why he’s here, she thought. It wasn’t the first time this had occurred to her. Maybe he’s a part of it or maybe he’s just an innocent pawn. She was wondering more and more if the whole thing weren’t a set up. Wondering if the Cougars hadn’t gotten tired of waiting. His presence here would give them all the impetus they needed to finish what they started all those years ago.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In Praise of the Bears

Let’s start with a good review for Mating Stone. Amelia Richard at Sensual reviewed Mating Stone and said:

For her new series, Elyssa Edwards crafts a tale where shape-shifters can seem totally normal yet their lives are definitely fascinating. Ms. Edwards takes the paranormal element of being able to change shapes and tells readers a captivating love story with often poignant emotions. Mark and Sarah are a charming couple with their devotion to each other particularly apparent through their actions and words. With tenderness and passion, this couple expresses how they truly feel for each other, and these sentiments are beautifully shown in numerous ways. The inner feelings of these two come across in a powerful way, whether they are reacting with each other or with another being. There are some disclosures which I found to be intriguing, and each one adds a compelling aspect throughout the story. The only problem with the story is I wish it had been longer as this world fascinates me, but I hope to hear more about this couple and those around them when additional books in the series are released. MATING STONE is a magical story with original characters and an engaging plot to keep readers thoroughly entertained.

Thank you, Amelia. I’ve had a lot of fun writing this series which is officially called The Jewels of Ursus. These are three special guys I’m very happy decided to tell me their stories. The sequel to Mating Stone, Lovers’ Stone will be released in July and tells the story of Luke Ursine, Mark’s twin brother. The final book in the trilogy, to be titled Soul Stone, will tell the story of Tarris Ursine, the incubus who is closer than family to Mark and Luke and who appears in both Mating Stone and Lovers’ Stone. Oh, and the last one will be full novel length.

Oh and by the way, if you are looking for a story in the same world as the Ursines, Measure of Healing from Cerridwen Press may do the trick. Whether it’s Jacqueline or Elyssa, our Weres happily cohabitate the world.

I know the review says The Stones Series and that’s not the writer’s fault. I’ve recently discovered a problem with my website not updating a specific page and the working title is still showing.

Mating Stone:

Our hero:

Mark Ursine
Profession: That's a long story.
Age: 154 (looks about 28-29)
Story: Mating Stone by Elyssa Edwards from Ellora's Cave.

Mark is part of a race of shape shifters that found their way to our world before humans had mastered the use of fire. Respectful of the sentient creatures they believed had great potential, the shifters kept to themselves so as not to intefere with their evolution. When disaster collapsed the energy source that allowed them to remain in phase with our world, they tied their spirits to those of animals so that they could survive and remain. Mark is decended from a group that chose to unite with the bear. They do not choose which species of bear they become, that is determined by birth and largely influenced by family bloodlines.

Mark becomes the great brown bear, also known as the Kodiak. When tragedy, his guilt and his brother's blame drove him to distance himself from his family, he didn't realize his time in the human world would introduce him to the one person above all that he could love with his heart and soul. As the oldest it is he who must replace his grandfather as Amar, the leader of their clan. But will his brother Luke allow him to succeed without a challenge? Will his people accept his choice of mate? And once Sarah finds out what he is, will she still want him?


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.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Family fun...or not...

Definitely not. Sorry to be so absent, but I have a family crisis at the moment. My mother is in ICU back home and we just got back from spending five days with her and my family. She's doing a lot better than she was as of last Tuesday when she went in, but she's a long way from getting out of the hospital. We could be talking months of extended medical treatment.

So if I'm scarce it's because I'm juggling running 600 miles away as often as possible with writing and work. Thank heavens my boss is a wonderful person.