Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Love by any other name.

For some reason lately the concept of love and it's many variations has been flittering through my mind. Perhaps it's because I have that unfinished story about the gods of love sitting in my computer waiting for me to figure out how I'm pulling it all together at the end.

In doing the research for that story I learned something interesting about the Greek concepts of love. The language and the Pantheon of Greek gods showed that the Greeks recognized distinct differences in the type of love. They had different words for what we simply call love and different gods and goddesses to cover them.

We all know of Aphrodite who was the goddess of love and beauty. But the "minor" gods and the Greek language are far more interesting. Lust was governed by the very minor god Priapus. The Greeks did not revere this god greatly nor the type of "love" he ruled. The son of Aphrodite (daddy's identity ranges from Hermes to Pan to Dionysus and beyond), Priapus was the god of lust. He was taken far more seriously by the Romans and was believed to punish thieves. He is often depicted with a very large…well, not just large but grotesquely large male member.

The word eros in Greek meant passion and physical love. This is also the realm of the god Eros (Cupid). His golden tipped arrows created an obsessive physical attraction that could border on madness. His lead tipped arrows created not hate, but indifference. The son of Aphrodite and Ares, Eros was known for using his powers and his bow for revenge and his own amusement more than for the good of mankind.

Eros was a twin. His brother Anteros was the exact opposite. Anteros was the god of reasoned and returning love. His love was the mature and caring love that begins and ends in friendship, caring and compassion. Anteros was the god of agape love. Christianity has changed the meaning of this word to denote more of a love of God for mankind, but at it’s essence is the idea of a love that is fixed, constant and transcends the concerns of the physical nature.

As I said, I have a Work in Progress (WIP) that deals with the gods of love.


“Please tell me you are Psyche,” said the low, pleasant voice. She turned and her eyes widened as she saw the man who stood there. The face of her Beloved was burned in her memory and this man looked enough like him to make her gasp. He leaned against the wall of a nearby structure and smiled at her. “A frightened young, pregnant woman looking confused and seemingly carrying all that she owns. Traveling in the company of two slaves, one big and brawny and one a mere boy? Looks like I’ve found you.” His shoulders were broad and his skin a deep golden color. His eyes were the color of raw honey and his smile inviting and sent a shiver up her spine. He was tall and his dark brown hair hung loosely around his face. Though the night was cold he wore only the Roman tunic that accentuated his well formed chest, the belt gathering the garment over narrow hips before it cut mid thigh. And they were marvelous thighs. Legs faintly sprinkled with fine dark hairs; powerful and strong legs that would drape themselves over a woman in the night and hold her tight to him as she slept.

Psyche reached out for Nelek’s hand and found it was trembling. He saw it too. Yuli was so frightened that he’d forgotten all about slaves and free women and had grabbed Psyche’s waist and buried his face in her cloak.

This man before them was no man. A light lit the golden eyes and spoke of power and greatness far beyond the mortal man. His light was maybe not so bright or impressive as her Beloved’s but that he was immortal was beyond doubt. His eyes held hers for a moment and a playful grin spread wider on his face. His eyes flared amber flames and she had the distinct impression of wings spread from his shoulders, black wings.

“Don’t be afraid,” he seemed to shrink instantly and the power that had terrified her pulled back inside the physical form. “You have a paper to show me, I believe?”

Psyche reached into the folds of her robes and pulled out the folded parchment. The man-god reached for it and took it from her, his hands large and narrow, long delicate fingers. He didn’t even glance at it, only held it a moment and then it was gone.

He looked at her and his smile softened. “I am Anteros.” At her blank look he shook his head and frowned. “Why is it everyone knows Eros, everyone knows that walking erection Priapus but no one knows Anteros.” When she could only shake her head and try to stammer that she was sorry, he held up his hand. “Don’t. I’ll tell you why no one knows who I am, it’s because mortals are selfish where love is concerned. Hell, the gods are selfish. Everyone thinks love just “happens,” that it is there and it will last forever because it is love. They walk around saying “love me, love me” but never think about the fact that love only prospers when it is returned. Eros himself, it is said, would not grow until after I was born to be his playmate. And I can tell you he was a puny little thing when we were young,” he winked at her conspiratorially. “Well, I, my little lady am Anteros, god of returning or opposite love. Not the opposite of love, but mature reflective love. What the Greeks call agape.”

Be sure to run over and check out Anny Cook, Amarinda Jones and Sandra Cox. They always have something interesting to say.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Baby Sounds Abound

A couple of years ago some friends of mine introduced me to a site called icanhascheezburger.com. The images on that site were a particular favorite of my friend Steve who used them in his battle for supremacy, or just survival, as the lone male in a group of female friends. Those of you who read Anny Cook or Sandra Cox’s blogs will also be familiar with this website as Anny in particular often posts pics from it. As I scanned it today I found a couple of pics that were too good to pass up and fit well with the events of my life of late.

The first one is called I Hope You Kept the Receipt. As anyone who pops by here regularly knows, we are having our first baby. We are not unfamiliar with the patter of little feet in our house, it’s just that up to now they’ve mostly been of the four footed or pawed variety. As the birth gets closer we’ve been contemplating just how we anticipate the four dogs who share our home will respond. We’ve heard lost of stories about, and seen plenty of animals at shelters because, the new baby and the pets just didn’t mesh. When it’s an issue of allergies, that’s unpredictable and tragic.

Here is how we anticipate things. Our Brittany, George, will simply look at the baby and walk away. He has no concept of pack order other than that I am the alpha and shows no interest in anything besides food, sleeping in his crate, pointing things in the backyard and occasional pets from the momma. Our Cavalier, Gracie, we foresee being her usual happy, cheerful self and trying to lick the poor babe unrelentingly. The dachshund, Wendell, will most likely be rather nervous and run about squeaking at it. It is our cocker spaniel, Shiloh, that we are most worried about. Shiloh sees her pack in the following order: Momma, Shiloh, and everyone else. She has her space on the couch next to momma and heaven help you if you’re in it. She has to sleep in the momma’s bedroom or she will bark and howl all night. Shi is on medication for separation anxiety and has significant problems with it.

We were reading the books and looking for ways to introduce the baby to the dogs. We ran across the usual advice such as bringing home a blanket that smells like the baby a day or so before baby comes home and let them smell it and get used to it. Another site suggested momma sleep with the receiving blanket one night and wrap the baby in it so the baby’s scent becomes mixed with momma’s. But it was the CD that we found in our local PetSmart that caught our eye the most.

The CD has baby sounds on it. The sounds range from soft cooing to baby talk to crying to a full blown tantrum. The idea is that you play this at increasing volumes while petting and talking to your pet so that they get used to the sounds and aren’t distressed by them. Since we love our dogs and see them as our children as well, we made a lifetime commitment to them when we adopted them, we were willing to give it a try.

Sunday night I put my laptop in the baby’s crib (which I have to remember not to call its crate or people look at you funny) and played the CD. As expected George totally ignored it and laid on the floor waiting for his Mom to rub his stomach. Gracie is mostly deaf. She can hear lower registers and feel vibrations from claps or bangs. The baby’s noises were too high for her and she had no idea what was going on, just that they had finally been allowed to sniff out the baby room. Shiloh barked a bit at first but then settled down and seemed ignore the sounds and enjoyed playing with her pack and checking out the room.

It was my dachshund who had the most profound response. Wendell ran semi circles around the crib whimpering and whining. He tried repeatedly to climb the crib sides and get to whatever was so upset. We have no sheets on the crib yet, so I lifted him up and let him investigate the inside. (Yes, I later wiped it down.) He ran back and forth and finally fixated on one of the hippo decals on the wall. He growled at it and barked at it, keeping himself between the crying laptop and the hippo. I think he believed that whatever was wrong, it was Mr. Hippo’s fault.

The experience was reassuring and amusing for the most part. Wendell and momma will be repeating the exercise until he settles down a bit about the sounds. Oh, the nursery is done. I finally finished the curtains, which I sewed by hand and have only the quilt (which you can’t really use anyway) left to do. I’d post pictures but it’s really very simply done and my batteries just died on my digital camera.

Writing wise, I want to thank everyone who made Lover’s Stone such a well received book. I recently saw my sales figures and was so wonderfully surprised and pleased. Thank you all. I really am still in awe that anyone wants to read my stories and even more flabbergasted that people are willing to buy them. The final book in the Ursine trilogy, Soul Stone, will be released November 19th (my birthday and just a few days before Smudgie will be making his appearance). There will be a contest to go along with it featuring a pendant and earrings as a prize. Soul Stone is not a “Jewel” but it does feature a stone just as the other two did. This time an opal, as when I was writing it I had anticipated it to be an October Jewel. However, Tarris—our hero—was not going to be satisfied with the shorter word count required by the Jewels and demanded his own full-length novel.

Be sure to check out Amarinda Jones, Anny Cook, Sandra Cox and Kelly Kirch for more interesting stuff and just a good bit of fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Great Search

The last week has been very interesting in the Metro Atlanta area. It's been quite scary at times. It seems we are in the midst of a gas shortage caused by both the recent hurricanes and also the panic that rumors of gas shortages have caused many, or even most, gas stations in the metro area to run out of gas. This morning I had to bypass seven gas stations to finally find one that actually had gas and the gas was $4.19 a gallon. I have to admit to feeling a bit panicked after all those empty stations rolled by.

It's hard to know who's to blame. Some people blame the huricanes interferring with the supply. Some blame the oil companies for orchestrating shortages so they can hike up prices. Of corse the refineries and oil companies blame the average person for panicking and causing a run on gas.

No matter who is to blame, the last few weeks have been a scary case of dejavu for many Americans. Stock market declines, rising prices, shortages on staples, collapsing of large banks... 1929 anyone?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crud Puppies!

I need some advice. This time professional.

I’ve been working on a series of books I call I need some advice. This time professional.

I’ve been working on a series of books I call The Children of Semira for over 4-5 years. All of my Were stories, Elyssa and Jacqueline, are set in that particular reality. I have at present eight stories in the main series planned out and also have done side stories such as the ones with my little Were-bears, the Ursines. The characters and their stories have been plotted out for a long time.

Here’s my problem. Recently a writer whose work I love and respect has sent out information about an upcoming story she’s going to be including in an anthology this December. Here’s my problem. The romantic scenario she’s suggesting (and we are talking about Weres for her as well) is so close to the one I have planned for one of the eight main characters that I was left with my mouth hanging open.

So what do I do? The series integrates between all those main characters. Yes elements of each story will change as the series develops but we are talking about the main scenario. It’s not like it is a scenario that no one has ever dreamed up before, but when you add the Were element it skirts uncomfortably close to this NY published author’s recently leaked story. Curse Words! Curse Words! Curse Words!

Look’s like I’m going to have to take some time to rethink all the wonder that is Zev. You’ll meet him in Circle of Wolves due out in February from Cerridwen.

Crud puppies!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One Battle Won...next?

You may be asking yourself what has inspired my sudden return to blogging, what has caused my absence and what it is that has me giddy and excited. I’m assuming you have a mild interest, hence your stopping here to read.

My absence: completely 100% related to health. I’ve got a myriad (sorry H, I just can’t not put the article in, it sounds wrong) of health concerns going on right now and it sucks. The FDA discontinued my migraine meds a while back and we’ve not found anything to replace them with as nothing works like that particular medication. In addition, I have a blood disorder that is currently doing backflips and has the doctor straining her brain trying to figure out what to do.

No worries about the little one. He’s just fine.

Which brings me to my current giddy and excited state which is why I’ve returned to my blog.

The SO finally caved. I’m getting my way! And yes, I’m gloating shamelessly because the SO doesn’t read this blog. Otherwise I’m handling it with sensitivity and grace. So what was the big victory? I get my pick for the baby’s middle name.

We had compromised to come up with Aidan as a first name and had originally compromised on James as a middle name. I was, however, forbidden to even discuss the idea of referring to the child as AJ. The evil glare was given and the lower lip protruded to emphasize the intensity with which my Precious hates initials for name. However, for some reason I can’t identify--temporary insanity, a sudden blow to the head which I swear I wasn’t responsible for—I have now been told I can use the middle name I’ve wanted all along.

Zarek (Zair-rik)

I know it’s a bit out there and yes, I first read it in a book. (Yeah, Anny, we Kenyon fans can be a bit intense.) While it is generally considered to be Greek, it can actually be traced to Babylonian times as the name and battle cry of a group of Babylonian generals, men who once conquered almost all of their known world. The literal meaning is "God (Lord) save the King."

Aidan means "fiery one" and St. Aidan (Aédén) was known for his gentle approach to the conversion of the people of Northumberland. He walked among them talking and sharing and with his quiet, noble and gentle spirit won the people over to Christianity. When a noble man gave him a mule to ride upon in his missions, he gave it away to a beggar and continued his way on foot.

So he will be Aidan Zarek. Together the names are strong and can be roughly translated as one of my favorite sayings: “Speak softly but carry a big stick.” Besides Zarek is just cool and masculine sounding. I am not a fan of unisex or soft names for boys.

I knew I’d won when I got the SO to laugh about using the name and after me calling the baby “Mamma’s little Z” a few times, my Precious actually used it too. Five minutes later I was being encouraged to pick out a large wooden letter Z to go on his wall. We also hung a large A. We’ve agreed he will go by Aidan officially. But he is Mamma’s little Z.

The nursery is basically done. We need to move the rocking chair up but everything else is in place. I attached the changing pad to the dresser top this morning, put up the wall decals, hung pictures and then tonight put the collapsible changing shelf up and attached it to the side of the dresser.

We also had our last childbirth class tonight and our tour of the hospital, labor and delivery, and the mother/baby unit. We still have a few things to decide, such as about circumcision. I hate the idea of them cutting a piece off my baby’s body when there isn’t really any medical need to. The SO is worried about the stigma and “teasing” that may happen in the future and just looks at me and says, “Everyone does it. It’s the norm.” I’m adding to my argument by the fact that many insurance companies now consider the procedure to be “elective cosmetic surgery” and aren’t covering it.

If there are any moms or grandmas of little boys out there who’d like to give the new mom advice, I’d welcome it too. And the guys. Is it really that big a deal in the locker room if you’re not clipped?

Don't forget, as always, stop by and read Anny Cook, Amarinda Jones, Kelly Kirch and Sandra Cox. They are much better about keeping up with their blogs and are much more entertaining.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Acheron, a Dark-Hunter Addict's confession

I finally finished reading Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I had several other books on tap that I had to finish before I could read it. The first 400 pages are about Acheron's life prior to the present. Those pages were hard to read. Not because the book wasn't well written, compelling or paced well but because Acheron is one of my absolute favorite characters and reading about the horrors of his past was disturbing.

Beyond the joy that all Kenyon fans felt that Ash finally got his HEA, there were images of the cool, totally zen, philosophical, kick-ass leader of the Dark-Hunters/God of Fate that were so heart touching that you remembered again why you fell in love with the character whose image is that of the ultimate preditor. One of his men even refers to him as T-Rex. But the glimpses of him away from the Dark-Hunter world where his absolute adoration and love of children and the true extent of his loyalty to his men and his committment to mankind as a whole were put center stage were priceless and brilliant on Kenyon's part. And brave on her part.

It was great to see all the characters we have come to know and love flitter in and out of this picture of Ash's life and to see the man who thought he stood alone, finally recognize that he wasn't and hadn't been for some time.

So we Kenyon Minions will continue to await her next book with excitement (Fury's book is coming out at Christmas! I'm so blasted excited I could squeal. I love me some Fury Kattalakis). We will continue to take that second look at the very tall, leather clad guy with long hair as he straddles his motorcyle or slides behind the wheel of his ride and entertain the fantasy of what if...

Oh, and one more important thing. Be careful with your carbonated beverages. Who knew Atlantean gods couldn't hold their Sprite?

Monday, September 1, 2008

First Days of September

The Taste of September

Summer sun warms the face
Green grass tickles the legs
Waiting is the hardest part
Time creeps by so slow.

The midway roars
The neon lights
The spinning Tilt-a-Whirl
Dizzy children laughing

Pitching dimes
Clinking like bells
Hitting the glass
Scaring the tiny goldfish

Tractors revving
Pulling sleds
Cars crashing
Crowds cheering

Distracting ourselves
Hoping to hurry it
Waiting impatiently
Soon it will be time

Then the whistle blows
The steam engine blasts
Its invitation
To the joyful crowd

The line forms quickly
Carrying platters
Carrying bowls
Carrying bags

Gloved hands fill the bags
Dropping them in
Moving along
The children are eager

Bright yellow burns your fingers
Can’t wait til it cools
Teeth sink in
Butter drips down your chin

The taste of September.

Each year in Central Illinois, September brings with it the sweetest of treats. Sweet Corn. All summer we drive past the waving green fields. High school students earn summer money walking the rows and pulling the tassels. Then September, Labor Day and the Sweet Corn Festival arrives. People come from all over to a tiny town called Hoopeston, Illinois; the Sweet Corn Capital of the World. A carnival sets up; typical small town entertainment ensues with tractor pulls, demolition derbies and a great deal of country music. In the center of it all is a large steam engine. The engine is set up on the fairgrounds by the local Jaycees and its boiler now steams bushel after bushel of sweet corn. The corn is distributed free to all who will stand in line, in whatever amount you request. It is a bitter-sweet time. The lovely first tastes of September mark the arrival of a favorite treat, and the last taste of summer.

Labor Day has given me a change to breathe and to blog. It’s been rather hectic and I’ve been fighting the battle of the migraine. They pulled my previous medication from the market and unfortunately there is nothing else that works the way it worked. Unfortunately my Dr. hasn’t found anything else that works.

This was an enjoyable weekend. The other thing Labor Day brings is Dragon*Con. The second largest sci/fi, fantasy conference in the US; Dragon*Con plays second only to San Diego’s ComicCon. The event used to be a big gaming conference and has since moved away from that with the big focus now being on television, movies and books. In addition to the authors presenting such as Laurel K. Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Sizemore, Tamora Pierce and more, there were several fantasy/paranormal/romance authors who had booths set up in the exhibit rooms that had lines forming. It was sad that Ellora’s Cave, Cerridwen Press, and the Lotus Circle had no representation.

Perhaps next year a few of us writers in the southeast could get together and do what the Georgia Romance Writers did. Those who wrote fantasy/paranormal set up their own booth and manned it themselves.

The convention was a delightful opportunity for eye candy. In addition to the scary Klingons and the rather unSpartan-like Spartans there were very Spartan-like Spartans and a good number of rather yummy guys clad in leather with gorgeous tattoos, some real and some not. One lovely young man with long brown hair was wearing leather pants, boots and nothing else but a beautiful green and black tattoo that swirled up his chest and onto the left side of his face setting off lovely dark hair and green eyes. It wasn’t a real tattoo, but it was pretty.

Of course I do have to say thank you to one rather attractive young man who came into my path this weekend. I had a flat tire today on my way back from the local Wally World with the crib mattress in the trunk. I was just trying to figure out how to find a tow truck on Labor Day when a car flying University of Tennessee flags came up behind me. The young man and (I assume) his girlfriend got out of the car and he offered to change the tire. I must admit it was very hard to make polite conversation with her when he pulled off his t-shirt and started to work. He was what you would call a major league hottie. Buff, a few cool tats, a nice sampling of hair on that chest…sigh.

Poor thing got all hot and sweaty changing my tire. *grin* I pressed some cash on him that he refused, but I insisted and he drove off with a grin reminding me to watch the Tennessee football game tonight. I think I’ve just found a good reason to cheer for Tennessee.