My Book Rating System

My book rating system is based on 5 stars. The book must be rated at least 3 stars for a review.

3 Stars: Good story, good plot, good writing.

4 Stars: I was wowed, but something about the story fell short of perfection.

5 Stars: I was either drooling, on the edge of my seat, or falling in love.

If you would like me to review your book, please contact me at

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The "F" Effect

It's New Year's Eve, and a dreary day, so let's have story time, shall we?

Say, hypothetically, you have a teenager who is flunking math. And say, hypothetically, you punish said teenager by taking away said teenager's iPod.

What happens next?

A) The teenager sighs but takes the punishment like a trooper.
B) The teenager calls you a name and slams the bedroom door.
C) The teenager threatens to run away from home.

Let's pick...C.

OK, so the iPod has been stripped from the teenager's grasping little fingers. There's wailing. There's whining. There's gnashing of teeth. Parental ears are genetically coded to block such teenage assault. The iPod is firmly tucked away for safe keeping. Grumpy, slumpy teenager stomps to the bus and is whisked away in a belching cloud of fat, yellow bus exhaust.

While on the bus, the teenager rants against the inhumane parental punishment, leeching the one entertainment available to the teenager on the laborious ride to school. Quick with pen and paper, teenager vents by authoring a note:

"I'm leaving. By the time you read this, I'll be far away."

Teenager slaps the note down, crosses arms, and sulks all the merry way to school. A day goes by, fraught with learning, and when teenager comes home from school, it's necessary to wash away all that learning residue, and hops in the shower. Whilst in the shower, teenager hears dog barking like a maniacal Cujo-resurrected-from-doggie-hell kind of way. Teenager drips to the window to inspect what is disturbing the force.

Oh my. The police have arrived!

Crazy, salivating dog is tucked safely away in a bedroom while teenager eyes the suspicious cops lingering by the front porch. Teenager does not confront them.

The phone rings. It's the police requesting an audience with teenager.

While teenager is speaking with the police at the front door, the father parental comes sliding into the driveway. The father is confronted with the idea that teenager just may have some serious issues. Teenager could be on the verge of running away. Teenager could want to end it all.

What the he...? the father blusters.

"The teenager left a note on the bus."

Teenager looks sheepish. "Oh yeah..."

Father parental explains that teenager was angry in the morning because the iPod was taken away. Teenager was being overly-dramatic, and is not in crisis.

"That explains it," says the officer. "However, the ambulance has already been called."


Teenager is gurneyed into the ambulance and carted off to the hospital where teenager is gowned and tagged and told to wait for a crisis counselor. Teenager watches T.V. and does all the happy things teenagers do...minus the iPod, of course.

3 1/2 hours later a crisis counselor takes 5 minutes to evaluate teenager, coming to the conclusion that said teenager is a normal teenager who got angry and thought about running away for all of 2 minutes. The teenager is not in crisis, stop wasting my time, thank you very much. Teenager is sent packing.

Sheepish teenager arrives home. Teenager still doesn't get back the iPod, but the parentals get landed with a 4 figure bill to pay for it all.

This is called the "F" effect.

Hope you enjoyed the story!

Book Review: Darkfever, by Karen Moning

Karen Moning

22 year-old Mac is devastated over her sister's unsolved death. She flees her sultry home in Georgia to land in Ireland, intending on kicking some life back into the lifeless investigation. What she finds is a dark world of the fae, come to life right before her supernatural eyes. She's drawn to this parralel life in the hope of solving her sister's murder, aided by a mysterious man, named Barrons, who also has one foot planted in this surreal world.

I liked the premise of this book quite a bit. If you're new to the world of fae (as I am) everything is rather clear to the noob. The characters, though not exactly lovable, are vivid and clear and easy to imagine, right down to the blush pink nail polish. When I think of Mac, I think of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. Ms. Moning has painted quite a vision. It was a world I could see and believe in.

There are some things I didn't like. For one, all the ominous foreshadowing. The "if I only knew then what I know now" statements that are sprinkled throughout the book. I'll allow it, once, in the prologue, but not in the story. I'm more the "just tell the damned story and quit trying to interject your thoughts and spoil it thank you very much" kind of girl. If a character is going down the wrong path, don't tell me that...let me learn it on my own as I read. Let the surprise take me away. Nothing says "spoiler alert" like a statement "It would turn out to be one of those things I was wrong about". There are more creative ways to end a chapter.

I also don't like my action broken up by mini info-dumps. You know, when you're right in the middle of a scene, and the author has to pull you out of the action to let you know that the reason the character is doing or feeling or knowing something is because, back when she was a little girl, she used to do X with her dad? Um, no. I don't want to skip down memory lane right when something major is going to happen. Put up the road block and let the action play out.

I just couldn't feel any connection to Mac, who is shallow and concerned about hair and makeup and clothes. She's not the sort I would pick out in a crowd and say, "Let's be BFFs!" Squeal, giggle, hug. I couldn't care about what she was going through.

The other thing that was missing for me, besides not wanting to be BFFs with Mac, was emotional investment. I wasn't feeling it. Part of it was because of the telling and not showing. I don't feel the anger Mac is feeling with lines like "I was getting madder by the minute". You and read on but the emotional bank account is kind of empty. The same goes for the sensual aspects of the story. Didn't feel anything there either.

Oh, and I found it annoying that the epic battle scene at the end virtually didn't take place on the pages of the story. It was over in like 1/2 a page. I couldn't picture what even happened, other than Mac swiping, slashing and dodging. What the hell's up with that? That's either kind of lazy writing or lack of imagination on the author's part, because I wasn't given enough information here to actually "see" what was going on.

I will say this: the last third of the book rocked (except for the aforementioned battle scene), and by this time Mac had grown up a little and I'm kind of liking the woman she's turning out to be. I even almost like Barrons, whose mystery appears to live on in the sequel. There are issues I want to see play out, questions I want answered, and mysteries resolved. Despite the rather long list of annoyances I portrayed here, they're not enough to keep me from reading more in the series. I look forward to it.

Book Review: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins

The last installment of the Hunger Games series finds Kat broken and shattered and seemingly beyond repair. In fact, there are a number of characters who seem behond repair. It's a dismal outlook for many of our friends as the world, Hunger Games style, goes to war against the Capital.

I can't say that I liked this book as well as the others. Yes, it was finely written. Yes, the story stayed true to form and yes, barreled along to a riveting, and sometimes heart-breaking, conclusion.

But, while in real life a girl who'd been through the trauma that our dear Kat had been through would indeed be a shell of herself, catatonic even, for an achingly long time until she got her head squared, in book-time it was an excruciatingly long time. I wanted the story to get on, I wanted Kat to snap out of it, I wanted her to get up and kick the shit out of the Capital.

Kat got there, but for me, it took too long to get there.

Okay, I'm not heartless. I felt for Kat. Truly, I did, but if anything significant happened during her down-time, I don't recall it. I don't know what it was supposed to add to the story. I don't recall the significance of the length of down-time as it related to the story, other than showing the Kat was mentally out for the count.

But we would have been silly to count Kat out.

Anyway, with that being said, I loved how the series ended. The last half of the novel kicked ass. And while Kat didn't end up with who I *wanted* her to end up with, she ended up with who she should have ended with. It was right. And some of the players died. Was I happy with some of those deaths? No, I was not. But that heart-wrenching reality is what makes a story good, makes it real, makes it a not-so-happy-ending for everyone...just like life.

Spot on, Suzanne!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Book Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

Book 2 in the Hunger Games series finds Katniss at odds with Peeta, with herself, with Gale, with the world. She doesn't quite know where she fits in, the world is changing, and her life is changing. President Snow is forcing her to go through with a wedding she doesn't want, casting dire threats against everyone Katniss loves. Then lo and behold, a new Games is announced, and this time the Capitol is breaking all the rules.

I have one word for this book: Riveting.

I couldn't put it down. Dinners didn't get cooked. Clothes didn't get washed. Husbands were ignored (ok, that plural is just for dramatic effect...I don't have multiple husbands), kids were ignored, pets were ignored.

Suzanne kept the tension throughout the story...even the beginning describing the tedious wedding preparations kept my attention, and I could sympathize with Katniss over dress selection and all the boring details (personally, I got my wedding dress off the rack...bought the first one I grabbed).

Ultimately, Katniss finds herself in what seems a lose-lose situation, and I *had* to find out how clever Suzanne was going to bring Kat out of the mess intact. Well, physically anyway.

One of my top fave reads this year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: Double Cross, by James Patterson

Double Cross
by James Patterson

Alex Cross is back, and he has double the trouble. It's hard enough tracking one bad-ass serial killer, but two? It's enough to give one a migraine.

As usual, James Patterson creates a complex plot filled with twists and turns, hills and dales, hairpin curves, and sheer drops. There's a reason Patterson is a best-selling author, and honey, it ain't bad writing.

Alex Cross is building his private practice, but finds himself sucked back into police work when he visists a murder scene with his lady love. Alex can't resist scoping things out for himself, and then the ball starts rolling. As the serial killer starts racking up the body count, Alex can't help but notice these murders are similar to his old nemesis's artwork...Kyle Craig.

But which murders are copies, and which are the real mccoy? Impossible, right? Kyle is in a maximum security prison. The maximist security.

The murders are brutal. These guys don't just kill; they torture. Sometimes you have to wonder what kind of brain thinks up this stuff. It's like the movies by Quentin Tarantino. The guy is a master of sick. Sometimes after watching one of his movies my husband will turn to me and say, "What kind of sick f*** comes up with this shit?" Seriously, you have to wonder if it's safe to have a guy like that walking the streets, the kind of stuff churning in his brain is just scary.

Patterson doesn't quite reach that level of sick-dom. Maybe it's because he doesn't dwell on the killing, or draw out the torture scenes, but his characters are just as evil. Killers with no conscience. The scary part is they are out there. For real. And Patterson has tapped that keg of fear and manipulated it into a hot little page-turner.

Here's what I didn't like about it. While reading the story, it was a page-turner. However, it was easy to put the book down, and the characters/story didn't stay with me. Out of sight, out of mind. It's like a burrito that keeps coming up on you...hours later you haven't forgotten that burrito. OK, that's kind of a gross analogy, but it works. That's how I like my stories. I want characters and a story that I find myself regurgitating as I go about my day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Doctor Appointments Can Be Exhausting

OK, so I finally feel like I'm back on the grid both electronically, emotionally, and physically. Sometimes shit never ends, ya know? No phone or internet for 15 days; then the computer gets some kind of virus (I think) because the computer functions, but I can't load any web pages; work is slam busy with 12-15 hours days; and then I got the mother of all migraines...sort of like a move-and-puke kind of day. Lotsa fun, huh? Good golly, miss Molly, dress me in red and call me jolly.

So anyway, here I am in all my whining glory!

As if my life doesn't have enough *excitement*, I took a half day off from work because my daughter had a doctor appointment right after school. We live in a small town that shares a middle/high school with 3 other towns, so her school is actually 2 towns away from where we live. No biggy. It's a drive, but really, no biggy.

So I tell her *three* times before she leaves for school, "Don't get on the bus, don't get on the bus, don't get on the bus," because they say kids learn by repitition. Apparently that doesn't work for *mothers' voices"...which are basically tuned out at the first syllable that dares escape moms' lips to daughters' ears.

I have to pick her up by 2:20 to get her to the doctor by 3:15. I pull up to the school at 2:18, and I'm thinking I'm so slick because I'm usually running late and driving like a bat out of hell to get me to the church on time, know what I'm saying? So I pull in and park along the sidewalk.

No Cassie.

Despite the little stick figure perched on my brain waving this big-ass red flag that says "she got on the bus", I figure she's taking her time since she didn't have to run for the bus, so I wait almost 10 minutes.

No Cassie.

I park, enter the school, search the hallways, have her paged to the office, pace the hall.

No Cassie.

At this point, it's becoming clear she's put her little fanny on the bus. Not good. But I can't call her to make sure, because I have her cell phone because my son has my cell phone because he's broken his cell phone. So I call him to find out if she's on the bus home with him. Good plan, until you figure into the equation that he forgot to bring his (my) phone and it's at home, on the kitchen table, ringing with not a soul to hear it, except the dog, and the cat, neither of whom give a flying fart because they've both snuck into my room and are sleeping on my bed which is off limits.

By this time it's 2:40. If I leave *right now* I can still make the doctor appointment, which is pointless without the patient. I call the doctor and explain that dear daughter is MIA and I have to go home and find her so I can kill her (okay, I didn't say that last part, but I sure as hell was thinking it). They tell me to call when I get home and they'll see if they can still fit her in.

I turn on the car, and bells are ringing and the gas guage dives to E. Great. Juuuust great. There are 2 gas stations between the school and my house, and now I'm going to have to sacrifice five whole minutes of my time to get gas.

So I pull into the first gas station I see, go in and pay, and start pumping. A few minutes later I have all of 1/2 gallon. Wha-huh? I peek around the pump and ask the nearby gentleman pumper if he's getting any gas. Nope. I run inside and tell the lady her pumps ain't pumping. She can do nothing but "call someone". I run back outside, turn off my pump, run back inside to get my money back, but then have to wait in line because by now everyone else is doing the same thing. I get my money, dive back into my car. It's now 2:50.

Off I drive (fly) to gas station #2. Bells are ringing and clocks are ticking. But gas station #2 is so full of people who left gas station #1 before me that the line extends to the outer limits. I seriously do not have time to wait in line. I look at my gas guage, look at the line, and hit the pedal. I'm going for it.

I get home. Dear daughter is there. "Ooops, I forgot," says she. I call the doctor, and get a busy signal. I call 5 times before I get through. By this time it's 3:10, and it takes me 35-40 minutes to get to the doctor's office, the appointment is at 3:15. You do the math.

The good news is that I didn't run out of gas!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Back on the Grid!!

This is huge. This is exciting. This is the *best news ever*!

We are back on the grid. After a week with no power, and 2 weeks with no phone or internet service, it feels good to be able to communicate again. I feel like I've been away for 2 months, instead of 2 weeks.

So, you know, being without power sucked. Especially when it's cold. We can't run our wood furnace without power, so had to huddle by the fireplace. Which worked great for about 3 days, until smoke started pouring out of the side ventilators. Filled the house with smoke. So on top of being cold and miserable...the house reeked. 2 weeks later, whenever I pulled my laptop out of my briefcase at work, I still get a whiff of woodsmoke.

So the last week I've been cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. Washing rugs. Washing floors. Today, it was time to wash curtains. Oh, and you remember all that laundry piled up in the doorways? Finally got through all that, too.

And though I keep finding spots of candle wax here and there on the floors while I'm cleaning, and there's still the faintest hint of smoke, and we have piles of cut up trees and limbs that would do a beaver community proud, things are slowly getting back to normal.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Freak Storm Hits

A freak storm has hit Connecticut. 20 some inches of very wet, very heavy snow with half the leaves still on the trees, so all of those trees, and power lines, and power poles, came a'tumbling down. Yes, just like the walls of Jerricho.

You'd think the acapolypse has arrived. No heat. No lights. No water. No nothing. My house is filthy. We've been melting snow on the gas grill to bathe with, which I guess is all right, except I keep finding pine needles in my hair. 7 days worth of clothes for 4 people are blocking the doorways. The cat and dog are fighting for lap rights beneath the blankets. We're on day 7 of this crap, and quite frankly, I'm in a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, mood!

I'm in a neighboring town, with electricity, in Panera Bread with free wi-fi. So I'm checking in with my little pretties. You may not hear from me again for a few days.

But we're alive. We're kicking. And we're doing LOTS of reading.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sample Sunday: Fire in the Blood

OK, petty babies, I've been absent a little as I had business in NYC, so not much blogging but plenty of reading. See my review of Anna Dressed in Blood which was *awesome*.

But it's Sunday, and I'm here, and I have my coffee which is getting cold as I sit here and type, and even my tootsies are a little cold on this beautiful, cool fall morning, and I have to get back to Haley's story. It's time.

So, Haley's dumped that dick Tuggin and went off into the desert on her own, and now she's kind of lost, kind of hungry, and kind of scared. She's starting to regret her kind of impulsive move to run away. Oh Haley, chin up! Things can't get worse...right?


The next morning, the sun washed the endless dull desert in brilliant red. The sunrise held me hypnotized until the sun rose over the horizon; then it became the usual every day yellow, and the boring desert sand became boring again.

My head buzzed as if a swarm of angry locusts were munching my brain cells. There had to be water out here somewhere…there were trees; scrubby and shriveled, but alive. Using my cup, I dug in the sand, hoping to find an underground spring. Nothing. I sat back, scraping my tongue over my cracked lips.

Could I suck my own sweat off my skin? But it looked like my body had run out of water, too, because I wasn’t even sweaty. I tapped my forehead with my cup, watching sand drift back into my hole.


Sorrel snuffed the ground, sneezing and spraying sand. I rubbed his face. Did the people on Eyidora pray to the Eyids? I’d never prayed before…Mom had never even talked about religion. What the hell…it was worth a try.

“Nala? It’s me, Haley. Look, I’m really thirsty, and I made a huge mistake, and it’ll be all my fault if Sorrel dies. Can you help me out a little? Send a little rain? I would, um, really appreciate it, okay?”

I blinked at the horizon, half-expecting to see rain clouds coming at me, but the Eyids weren’t listening. Sure, they came prancing into my dreams so that they could boss me around, but neglected to care when I needed help.

“Why are you doing this to me?” I yelled at the sky.

After a few minutes of desert silence, I tossed my cup into my pack. I shook the water sack.

“Not much left, big guy.”

I skipped eating breakfast. The last thing I wanted was to need a drink of water to wash down my dry food. After giving Sorrel a few drops, I packed camp.
I swore the day was hotter than any others so far. I rocked to Sorrel’s uneven rhythm. My head ached so much it hurt to lift it, so I just let it hang to my chest. My swollen tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. I was turning into one of those dead people, the ones I’d seen in that town with Tuggin.

I didn’t want to die.

The landscape shimmered in front of me. My chest tightened. The sun was overhead, but the moons were to my right. Had they been in front of me the day before? I couldn’t remember, and no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find those freaking hills anywhere.

“Nomer,” I whispered. “A little help would be nice. Just give me some kind of signal, show me where to go.”

I halted Sorrel and slipped down his side, landing on my knees. I shuddered violently and threw up, but there was nothing in my stomach, though I half expected to see my guts spilled across the sand.

“Stick a fork in me, Sorrel, I’m done.”

I got to my feet and, swaying, gave Sorrel a few gulps of water. It was almost gone.

“Nala, I’m begging you. I’m sorry if I was mean to you. Please, please, please give me water.”

I fell on my side and closed my eyes. My Eyidoran parents had died in this nature war. Had they felt like this just before they died? Had they withered into death, slowly and painfully? I wanted to cry, but there was no moisture in my body. Nature could be beautiful, but I was finding out nature could be mean.

“I hate you,” I told the sky.
“I sss-ustain life.” The voice lingered on the “S,” drawing it out in a hiss.

“No you don’t. I sustain life. I’m the life-blood of nature.”

“Nala?” I opened my eyes. The horizon blurred.

“It’s me dat supports life,” a different man said.

“Nomer?” I searched, but no one was there.

“I give life,” said the first man.

“I give life,” snapped another woman. “Do not for a moment think I will surrender my high place in the Web to you, Soltar. You cultivate life.”

“Of course, Sss-ylpha,” he replied.

“Are you the Eyids?” I croaked, squinting, but I was alone, except for Sorrel, who lay in the sand. The flies buzzing around his head pissed me off, but I didn’t have the energy to shoo them away.

“Without any one of us, life dies,” said the second woman. “We need your help.”

Even though I didn’t have the strength to get up, anger coiled in my chest like a snake. “Help you? Why can’t you help me? My sleipnir’s dying!”

“We should have known better.”

"Don't wallow in self-pity, child. You can, and you must."

I said, “I’m not wallowing.”

“The nerve of the rude little mortal,” Nala stated.

“Leave her alone. Git up, girlie.”

“If only her sss-pirit had the sss-ame strength as her mouth.”

The statement was followed by giggles. Nala.

I laid my arm over my eyes. “I'm too sick and tired to care. Just leave me alone.”

“Will you leave all the globes to perish, as those who have already perished in the desert?”

“You can accept that fate, or ya can git up off yer rump an’ do somethin'.”

The image of the dead people flashed through my mind. Was my face shriveling up already? Had my gums turned black and were my teeth about to fall out?

“Maybe we’re asking too much. She’s a mortal, after all, and a child at that.”

“She ain’t quittin’.”

“You don’t know everything, Nomer.”

“Child, would you have others die due to your selfishness?”

Witch. I shuddered and opened my eyes. “I’m not.”

“You planned to use the sss-tones for your own sss-elfish purpose.”

I opened my mouth to deny it, and then clapped it shut. Hot shame crept over my skin and I turned my head away.

“Nah, I believe in her. She won’t fail us.”

“Child, we need you. We need harmony.”

My stomach cramped. “I need water.”

“The people of this globe need your help. The people of all globes in the planetary chain need your help. Do you understand the consequences of your inaction?”

Nala said, “I showed her, and she didn’t care. She probably doesn’t even remember.”

I did remember, but seeing death in a dream wasn’t the same as feeling how real death was. I thought I was saving Mom by taking the stones and going home…but what fate was I saving her for? Mom. Elana. Ian. I couldn’t let them suffer this torture. Groaning, I pushed myself to my knees.

“You will help u-sss?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Told ya. Hee, hee, hee! Git her some water, Nala.”

“Fine. Soltar, let me give her an oasis.”

“It’s too late,” I murmured, glancing at Sorrel. “I’ve killed him.”

“There’s an oa-ssiss already. Even the desert needs water to sss-urvive.”

“I told you.”

I lifted my head. “Where?”

“Follow the sss-un.”

I couldn’t bear to look at the sun. My willpower drained away with the last of my strength and my head splat into the sand. I was being buried in nausea. “You guys are killing me.”
When my eyes opened, I saw sand. Not just sand, but every single grain, up close and personal as I lay flat on my face in the desert. My mouth hung open, and there was even sand on my lips and tongue. I wiped my tongue with the back of my hand then crawled to Sorrel.

His side heaved, and I rested my head on his neck. It was very dry and very hot. “I’m so sorry. Please get up.”

I tugged on his bridle. Sorrel lifted his head with a snort, then struggled to his feet and shook the sand out of his hair.

“Good boy.”

I followed the path of the setting sun, and when my gaze rested on the sand I saw…a tree. My lips cracked painfully when I smiled. I wasn’t sure if I’d been in dreamstate, or hallucinating, but there was my oasis.

My body ached with fever. My feet burned inside my shoes. I tried remembering the last time I peed. Was it a day ago? Two days? Whatever, it couldn’t be good that I wasn’t going at all.

I hated to think the Eyids were right, but I had been thinking only of myself and what I wanted. Dying of thirst was painful, and I didn’t want anyone to die that way. I hauled myself to my feet. It was all connected: land, air, fire, and water. None could live without the other. There had to be harmony, or else everything would die.

Me included.
“We made it.”

I sloshed through the sand, dragging Sorrel. When we reached the shade of the tree, I fell to my knees. I would have kissed the ground, but my mouth already had enough sand in it.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I tried bracing myself against one of Sorrel’s legs, but I kept missing. Finally, I grabbed his leg and hauled myself to my feet. Unbuckling his saddle and bridle, I let them fall to the ground.

Sorrel trotted around a large rock. I crawled after him then splashed into a small pool. The water cooled my burning skin. I turned my head and gulped several large swallows. Then, taking a mouthful, I just held the water in my mouth for a long time before swallowing.

I was lazing in the pool, nibbling crackers to ease my cramping stomach, when the ground shuddered. Crap. Would the Eyids interrupt my siesta with a battle? I mean, seriously, was that necessary? Lifting my head, I saw something move in the distance.

I staggered onto the sand. Squinting, I focused on what looked like a parade. Animals, and people!

“Hey!” I croaked. “Hey! I’m over here!” I grabbed my backpack and waved it.
The people-animal line stopped.

I sank to the ground. “Sorrel, we’re saved.”

There was a faint hissing, then silence. Sand trickled out from under my butt. Paused. Shifted again. The ground trembled like quivering lips, then parted, then widened. Sand swirled into its gaping mouth, spinning like water down a drain.

“This can’t be good.”

The sand whirled faster, caving in, dragging me down. Sand pressed against my chest so I couldn’t breathe. I clawed, but I kept sinking until my arms were wedged to my sides, trapping me inside a sand-cyclone.

I drew a final breath and clamped my mouth shut. The last thing I saw before slipping below the surface was Sorrel eating leaves off the tree.

There was a loud humming in my ears, and the sand kept squeezing until I thought I’d pop like a zit. Yellow spots flared behind my closed eyelids. My chest shuddered with the strain of holding my breath…how long? One minute? Two? Three? It felt like hours…it felt like forever.

Suddenly, the pressure let go of my legs. I kicked my feet, and then wiggled my hips. With a final hiss the sand spit me loose and I crumpled to the ground, feeling like a used piece of gum. It was completely dark, warm, and smelled musty, which I could taste as I sucked in air. When I had my breathing somewhat under control, I rubbed the sand out of my eyes and spit sand out of my mouth.

I waved my hand in front of my face but couldn’t see a thing. I crawled, my hand brushing against something stiff. I pulled back, and then warily patted the ground until I felt my backpack. I looped one of the straps around my wrist.

I kept crawling then rammed my head into something hard. “Ow! Damn it!” My fingers felt around in the dark. “Stupid wall.” My words fell like bricks in the heavy air.

Panting, I leaned against the wall. I must be in an underground tunnel. My heart beat drummed in my head. I’d been buried alive.

Something feathery tickled my arm, followed by a sharp pinch. I leaped up, rapped my head, but ignored the skull-pain while I swiped at my clothes. Spiders! Ew!

Red-hot pain seared my arm just below elbow, and I rubbed it, but that only seemed to fire up the heat, traveling down my arm until it hit my hand. At the same time it spread to my shoulder. Burning, itching, blistering my skin.

Fire spread through my veins. My chest burned. I fell to the ground, pawing at my clothes. Moaning, I dimly heard a voice calling me from the dark. It was too late. No one could save me now. I gave up, and let the darkness take me.


Wait better way to start a day. Random, surprise, totally cool giveaway for FREE stuff. Yup, I said it. Free, as in no beanos, no cabbage, no greenies, no nothing. Can't win if you don't hop on over to Carol's blog and check it out.

Reading Under the Moonlight: Surprise giveaway with a surprise prize!: H ey every one so as the title says I'm having a surprise giveaway with a surprise prize. The reason for the giveaway is mostly because, 1....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood
Kendare Blake

Cas is a high school kid who travels around with his mom, who's a witch, and kills ghosts. It's a tough business, bopping from home to home, killing ghosts, no friends, a loner...a Sam or Dean type from Supernatural. But Cas has purpose. He's in training, doing jobs and getting better and stronger, cuz he's going back to get the thing that killed his dad when he was 7 years old. Then he meets Anna, and a cast-load of kids who think they're going to channel the gang from Scooby Doo, and the shit hits the fan.

I have one word for this book.


Okay, that's three words, but really, this book is by far the best book I've read this year. I loved it.

First, let me gush a little about the voice. I loved the voice of this book, kind of reminiscent of Scott Westerfield and Peeps (yeah! Scott rocks!) with tight, solid writing, and a witty smart-ass style.

The characters. We have a strong, snappy main character who ain't afraid of no ghosts. Okay, maybe a little, sometimes, but he's also not afraid to admit it when a girl ghost kicks his ass. The other characters have depth, are true to life, though maybe just a tad sterotypical. You have your dick jocks, popular girl who has more between the ears then she lets on, and your geek loner that no one notices (who also happens to be a black witch), and you know what? I loved them all, cuz they were so realistically drawn.

The dialogue is smart and smooth. The plot didn't have any holes that I noticed...I didn't find myself tripping through the book. And 3/4 of the way through the book we're wading through dead bodies and thinking we're winding this bad boy up, and the author throws in an OMG-I-didn't-see-that-coming moment. I love OMG-I-didn't-see-that-coming moments. Because basically I love saying OMG-I-didn't-see-that-coming when I'm reading. The more times I say it, the better.

You have a bad-ass ghost that's whacking people as a matter of purpose, and bodies are dropping faster than snowflakes, but there are two sides to every coin. The author paints this picture as deftly as a double-edged sword...there's more to this ghost than your evil slasher-type from a B horror movie. No one is evil just to be evil. There's a purpose to the evil here, and it's not the ghost's fault.

So, bottom line. Get the book. Read it. I hope you love it as much as I did.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review: Give Me, A Fairy Tale, by L.K. Rigel

Give Me, A Fairy Tale
L.K. Rigel

Lilith Evergreen is ready to start the rest of her life with her man Greg, who is an up and coming hot shot lawyer, even having a laugh together over her "psychic" ability, when she discovers that a place she's been dreaming about is depicted in a travel brochure. But that same night, the night Lilith is expecting a proposal for marriage, her hot shot man turns into a hot shot dick, and dumps her. With the pay-off money he gives her, Lilith travels to the place of her dreams, where they are looking for the next wyrding woman to help break the curse over the Tintagos land.

This is a short book and a quick read, but wow, it has everything. Love, lust, betrayal, deceipt, mystery. Let me see...did I leave anything out? Yeah, let's throw a few ghosts into the mix. A perfect recipe.

In a short time the author whips up characters that are well-drawn, motivated, and with purpose. Tintagos is a place that needs a wyrding woman, and has had one for centuries, and the wyrding woman's only task is to break the curse. That's it.

So, as it happens, waaay back in the day, the Tintagos wyrding woman wiggled some magic that had long-lasting not-so-desirable effects on the land, and sapped her life. Her two daughters fight and scheme and manipulate to be the next wyrding woman. But everything goes wrong. Horribly wrong. Tragically wrong.

In the present time, Lilith trundles her pert little butt to England and takes a train to Tintagos, then settles in to watch the Handover, where the next wyrding woman will be named. She thinks it's nothing but a tourist attraction, a show, with actors. She gets a laugh at the girls flocking to Tintagos hoping to be named. What goofs!

Though Lilith has sworn off men since Dick Greg, she can't help being attracted to Cade Bausiney, who happens to be Lord Tintagos. But here's a surprise! Cade isn't devilishly handsome, or drop dead gorgeous, or super rich, or a super hero with ungodly strength (minus the tights). But he is a lovable and funny and a sometimes kinda goofy character. He does, however, have a killer sexy voice.

All the signs point to Lilith being the next wyrding woman, but she doesn't believe in all that bull crap, and settles in for a lovely vacation.

Remember one of those desciptors I used above? Yeah, deceipt, and lots of it. Maybe I should add manipulation, too, because there's a lot of that going on. But who's doing the manipulating?

Now on to the complaint list, but let me tell you right now, it's short. Very short. So short you probably can't call it a list.

Here it is. There are differing POVs and even some time shifts...which are not signaled to the reader that they're coming in any way. It was a little confusing at first, especially when you're not expecting it, and sometimes I had to re-read a bit to figure out whose POV I was in. A small thing, really, but worth a mention.

This is a great little book, a quick read, and highly recommended.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kiss Me Dead Book Progress

Carolrhoda books had a call for one month only (the month of September) for manuscript submissions to their lab. There was a list of don't-send-me's, so I analyzed the list and decided that my urban fantasy, Kiss Me Dead, wasn't on the don't-send-me list. I was, like, cool, I'm gonna send in my manuscript.

So I spent the month of September re-reading, re-editing, and re-tuning my manuscript. I was oh so pleased with myself when I looked at the calendar and saw I still had a whopping 3 days left in September to send that baby in.

Rubbing my hands with excitement, I logged back onto the editor's blog to check how he wanted it submitted. With heart stopping and stomach dropping, I re-read the blog again. Then a third time.

Oh. My. God.

He had a *maximum* word limit. I frantically went back to my manuscript and ran the word counter again.

I repeat.

Oh. My. God.

I was 7,500 words *over* the limit.

I got out the power tools. I sharped every blade I could get my hands on and then spent two days speed reading, chopping, hacking, sawing, and down-right slashing my manuscript. Every two point five seconds I'd re-check the word count, which moved backwards at about the same speed as a time machine going back in time. If you've ever been in a time machine to try to go back in time, you know what I mean. Impossible. Time doesn't go backwards. At all. Okay, so I'm exaggerating, since the word counter *did* move backwards, slowly. It just felt like it wasn't moving. At all.

With a day to spare, I made the word count.

Here's what I didn't do:
a) Re-read the manuscript.
b) Decide not to send it in because, well, I didn't re-read the manuscript.
c) Sweat the small stuff because I didn't re-read the manuscript and decided to go ahead and send it it anyway.

I mean, seriously, all he can do is take a pass. I've had worse done to me!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review: The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder
Kimberly Derting

Violet Ambrose is just starting her junior year in high school. It's a year of change for Violet: she's starting to appreciate her best friend, Jay Heaton, in a girly kind of way (totally foreign to Violet), her closest girl friends have all seemed to not only grow up but grow boobs, and her gift has been activated into kick-ass mode by a series of murders. Her gift, that only her closest family and Jay know about, is to hear, feel, and see the echoes of the dead. When the killings get too close to home, Violet gets too close to the truth.

I really liked this book. And here's why.

The book was about more than finding dead bodies. The relationship between Violet and Jay was so real, so refreshing, and so well written that every step they make, every thing they say, and every thing they do is believable. Even how they became best friends in the first place is funny and cute.

The approach to Violet's gift is subtle and smooth. Violet has always had her gift and she finds mostly animals (note, I said 'mostly'), and Jay and her family support her and never judge her or make her feel like a freak.

Violet's circle of friends is an eclectic mix, but each one is drawn vividly with their own characteristics and personalities and imperfections that make them seem all the more human to the reader.

You get glimpses into the killer's head. His hunting skills, his driving needs. Those glimpses add a sense of creep-factor to the story, and while the murders are brutal, they are not gruesomely depicted in the story.

Here's what I didn't like, but it ain't a big list.

I was a little disappointed that I figured out the one twist. I can't say what it is because I don't want to spoil the plot. Just saying I figured it out. Bummer.

I found Jay's over-protectiveness toward the end a tad annoying. Actually, what I found annoying was that while Violet did resist to some extent, she also found herself liking it to some extent. I don't like men thinking women can't--or shouldn't--think for themselves.

I would have liked to spend more time with the whole murder mystery and less time in the high school life and "coming out" of Violet and Jay's relationsip. While I did like watching this aspect of the story, I picked up the book for the whole "I can find dead bodies" thing. Not enough of that for me. Oh, wait. That's not a reflection on it?

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. That moves right up my list of top books of the year.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Funnies

Do you need a laugh today? I mean, seriously, who doesn't? But it's Friday! So start the pre-weekend celebration with a chuckle.

Lawyers Should Never Ask a Mississippi Grandma a Question If They Aren't Prepared for the Answer!

In a trial, a Southern small-town prosectuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you'll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Why yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The defense attorney nearly died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you both to the electric chair."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Crossroads, by Mary Ting

Mary Ting

Claudia Emerson, who has just turned 18, keeps dreaming of a place where heavenly bodies (literally, this place is draped with drop dead gorgeous men and women) reside. These life-like dreams turn out to be the real thing, as Claudia is drawn over and over to a place called the Crossroads, a place between the living and dead, heaven and earth. Here she meets an angel, Michael, who's at first rude, but then grows on Claudia when he becomes her guardian angel.

I was eager to start this book based upon the premise, and when a Goodreads group I belong to had it as an October monthly read, I moved it up to the top of my TBR list. I loved the concept which, at least to me, was a fresh idea in a flowering field of YA urban fantasy being choked by the weeds of vampire love.

Unfortunately, that's where the love fest ended. This story just is not up to par. I don't like books where I'm constantly looking at the page numbers, hoping I'm getting closer to that magical last number, only to find I have, sigh, 100 pages to go....95 pages to go...90 pages to go. I looked at the page number countdown, it seemed, every 5 pages. Let me break it down for you.

Pacing. Slow, slow,slow...burdened with the pontificating internalizations of the main character. The action and dialogue were continually interrupted as Claudia asked herself question after question. Rather than letting the scene play out, we had to put up with Claudia's constant internal chatter.

Story arc. I'd like to say I could find one, buried in all the needless prose, but to have a true story arc, the main character has to go through change, be faced with a critical choice, make that choice, and hopefully learn from it. Claudia, however, didn't really do anything except stand around and have other people protect her and fight for her. Claudia just kind of went for the ride as events happened *to* her. It was very reminiscent of Bella Swan in Twilight, with a "family" of drop-dead gorgeous stronger beings (angels) that she had to keep secret and who were all-powerful and went out of their way to protect her at the risk of their own lives because she's the weak mortal who can't seem to do anything for herself. Seriously...I think one Twilight is enough for me, and at least in Twilight you were drawn in to the story and the characters. The funny part is, there is a glowing recommendation near the beginning of the book from...wait for it...the owner of the

Dialogue. Unrealistic, boring, and some of the lines, especially the romantic lines, are just down-right goofy. Much of the dialogue just didn't come off as "real". Not to mention the needless chatter that does nothing for the story or the plot or...well, or anything.

Plot. Pretty flat. No sub-plots. No twists. No "OMG! I didn't see that coming!" moments. Pretty predictable.

Writing. Abysmally amatuerish. There is no connection with the characters, or what they're going through. Most of it--and for some reason it seemed to get worse as we neared the end--was just painful to read. I don't think Ms. Ting painted *one* visceral emotion. Not one. If there's any in there, it's so buried in the adverbs and telling that it's quickly forgotten. The writing also sets the reader apart from the main character. Told in first person, Claudia "feels" or "sees" things instead of the author putting Claudia right into the action. "I could feel my body levitating off the bed." Or "I began to feel anxious." Or "I was in complete shock." I'd rather read how that feels, not be told she's feeling it.

And let's not forget the adverb-itis:

"I'm in danger?" I asked frantically.
"But it's not as fun," David said lightly.
"Leave the fun part to yourself," Michael said seriously.
And on...and on...and on...
It makes you want to pull your hair out.

Then there are the POV shifts. Just saying.

And of course then there are lines that just don't make sense, like:
My eyes set into his beautiful eyes.
Wha-huh? What does that even mean?

Overall, I'm disappointed and extremely frustrated that I paid $8 for this eBook. *$8!* That's highway robbery for a story that reads like it was written in Jr. High School.

Ms. Ting is writing a sequel. I think Ms. Ting would be better served if she took a couple of years off and focused on mastering her craft and invest in some writing classes before publishing any further works.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sample Sunday: Fire in the Blood

Good morning, my pretties. I'm not in a favorable mood this a.m., but still, it's Sunday and I am here! I hope you enjoy today's installment.

Last week, Haley figured out Tuggin's game. What a tool. Or a dick. Call him what you will, but he can't be trusted. She's decided to jet and take her chances with the unfamiliar, hostile terrain.


Tuggin said, “It is time to prepare for the night.”

I slipped off Sorrel and looped the reins over a shriveled juniper tree.

“You would gather…”

“I know, I know,” I interrupted.

Trying my hardest not to look at Tuggin, because he’d for sure know something was up, I took the knife he’d given me and hacked at the tree. While wrinkled bark piled up at my feet, I made a list of everything I’d need to take: food, water, my backpack, grain, and of course, Sorrel.

“Here,” I said, laying some of the bark next to Tuggin’s fire-pit.

Tuggin laid the bark in the hole he’d dug and lined with rocks. When he tapped his knife against his flint rock to spark the kindling, I mentally added flint rock to my list.

After a third glance from Tuggin, I stopped spying and separated the rest of the bark into two piles to use for beds. Not the most comfy, but lumpy bark beds were warmer than lying on the ground. Who would have known the desert could get so cold at night?

While I nibbled my dinner, I kept looking over my shoulder at the desert. Would I find water? People? I swallowed. Wild animals?

“What is wrong?” Tuggin asked.

“Nothing.” I’d been gnawing on my thumbnail instead of my bread. I stuffed the bread in my mouth.

Tuggin reminded me of a hawk, staring me while I plucked a heated rock from the fire pit and sauntered to my bed. I curled around my hot rock, focusing on not looking to see if Tuggin was still watching me…but I was too tweaked for focusing and I looked. He was watching me. I quickly averted my gaze.

I lay there, not looking at Tuggin and listening to the sleipnir snore. I peeked when his bed crinkled. He lay on his back, his hands locked behind his head. I squeezed my blanket in my fists and brought it up to my chin. I had no clue what was out there. I just knew that I’d rather face wild animals than be taken prisoner by the Eny and be tortured or killed, or be used by Tuggin so he could steal my stone.

I pulled in slow, steady breaths, exhaling softly while I pretended to sleep. I even threw in a finger-twitch and a couple soft sighs for good measure, just in case Tuggin was watching. I peeked at him again; did Mentas sleep? He looked like he was sleeping—the hard lines of his face had softened, which I knew he could never fake, being such a hard-ass lying traitor. He was very still, corpse-like, except his eyelids spasmed as though he was having a nightmare.

“Tuggin?” I whispered.

He didn’t move, except for his crazy-ass eyelids. Crawling from my blanket, I tied my blankets to my pack and tiptoed to the supplies. I took most of the fruit and bread, and then swiped cheese, wafers, and honey, leaving Tuggin the disgusting leather strips. I dug deeper into the food pack.

Score! I slipped a flint into my pack. Next, I took the full sack of water and left Tuggin the one that was almost empty. I had no idea when I’d be able to find water again. Tuggin could always go back to Given Hall. I was sure naïve Adrana would welcome him with open arms…not that I cared, of course, where Tuggin went and to whose arms.

I saddled and bridled Sorrel, tied on the pack and the water sack, and untied the hobble from his legs. I glanced behind me, then forward. I could do this. I could do this. I could do this. Before I lost my nerve, I slipped from camp.

I checked over my shoulder every minute or two. When our campfire looked no bigger than a firefly behind me, I mounted Sorrel, and then searched the dry plain, glowing in eerie white-red light. I considered, for one second, going back to Tuggin, but then I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, pressed my lips together, and rode into the desert.
It was so freaking hot, and sand was everywhere. It had only been a few days, but sand was in my backpack, my water, my food, my clothes, my nose. My face was killing me; I didn’t need a mirror to know that it had been fried by the sun.

Stopping for a break, I lurched toward Sorrel with the open water sack. The sand rippled in front of me, like ocean waves. I stumbled and dumped half the water.

“Shit, shit, shit.” I clawed at the sand, but the water disappeared beneath my fingers. I got to my feet and swayed, pressing my palms to my temples as darkness pummeled my eyes.

I leaned against Sorrel’s sweaty neck and patted him. The poor animal was as drenched as I was, his curly hair plastered in tight ringlets against his body.

“What the hell was I thinking?” I asked him.

I should never have left Tuggin. I didn’t know jack shit about surviving the desert. I looked back at the way we’d come. Nothing but dunes, dunes and more dunes. Where had the Dry Hills gone?

“You know, big guy, I thought we’d see some people by now. I don’t think this is working out. We’ve got to go back.”

Sorrel nudged my chest. I managed to give him a drink from the water sack without losing any more. Licking my cracked lips, I put the sack away without taking any myself. I’d better save what I could for Sorrel…if he collapsed, I was done for.

I turned Sorrel and headed back in the direction of the Dry Hills. I hoped.
Later that day, when the sun hung just above the horizon, I reined in Sorrel. My muscles were weak, and my head was spinning, and when he stumbled I pitched face-first into the sand.

With sand sticking to the sweat on my face, I dragged myself to my feet and gave Sorrel water. I waited on my knees until Sorrel finished before taking my turn. I gulped several large swallows and then forced myself to stop. God, it wasn’t enough.

“Think about something else,” I croaked to the air.

Firewood. No juniper trees, but there were knee-high scrubby dead-looking trees. I grabbed my knife and set to work.

Sitting cross-legged in front of my wood pile, I started the long job of trying to make a fire with my flint rock. I’d seen Tuggin do it a gazillion times, but I hadn’t been able to master it, and the last few nights had been cold without a fire. I’d tried snuggling up with Sorrel, but spent most of the night dodging all those legs. Not to mention that the desert quiet seemed to amplify Sorrel’s snoring.

I kept at it; the sun dropped below the horizon, and so did the temperature. Teeth chattering, I almost didn’t notice when a spark hit a dried flake of bark and a tiny red dot appeared. I scrambled to my knees and blew until a little crackle was followed by the tiniest flame. I added pieces of bark until the fire caught.


Sorrel snorted.

I gave Sorrel a scoop of grain and a few more drops of water. “Sorry, big guy,” I said when he’d sucked it dry. “That’s it. We’ll find more when we get back to the Dry Hills, okey dokey?”

Sorrel nosed the empty water bucket. “I’m really sorry,” I murmured.

I smoothed my blankets over the sand and searched my pack for food. I’d been giving Sorrel the juicy fruit because I felt bad for him, and I’d pigged out on the cheese just because I liked it; now all I had left were dry wafers. I struggled to swallow one, but it hurt my dry throat. I had to steal a drop from my water stash to wash it down.

The white and red moons shone and a yellow moon slowly rose; I could see the tip of it just over the horizon below the red moon.

“The third moon,” I whispered to Sorrel, who snorted.

The two moons looked powerful, lighting up the night sky and out-shining the stars. I couldn’t remember Earth’s moon ever making me feel so small; even the huge desert seemed to shrink beneath them.

“What do you think’s going to happen when that fourth moon rises?” I asked. Sorrel, still nosing the water sack, ignored me. “Do you think there’ll be a big explosion, or will it just stop raining or something?”

Sorrel stomped a hoof and flicked his tail.

How much longer before the last moon rose? One week? Two? My heart beat accelerated, the pounding rhythm sounding like a clock ticking down the time. How would I ever find those stones, and my brother, and jet this place before the world exploded? I felt as small and powerless as the twig hidden in my backpack.

I froze in the middle of brushing crumbs off my shirt and stared at the sky. Had the moons been to my left when I’d first started out across the desert? Had the sunsets been more to my right?

I stood, twisting to check out my surroundings, but there were no landmarks. “Crap. I have no clue where we are.”

I tossed more bark onto my fire then huddled under my blanket and thought about Tuggin’s story of the Eyid descendants. It was a no-brainer to assume Tomas was the Fire Eyid’s descendant, and now his descendant wanted to pick up where Tomas had left off…but no one knew where the stones were anymore, including him.

I shivered.

Or did he?

It suddenly seemed very dark outside my circle of light. I clutched my blanket to my chin as I strained to see. I hadn’t felt this scared when Tuggin was around. Was he looking for me? Squeezing my eyes shut, I tried to pretend that he was just on the other side of my campfire.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday Welcomes JA Clement!!

Okay, okay, I effed up JA's interview. Well, not the interview, but her name! When you have 2 authors whose initials are JA, that can't be hard to do, right? I mean, I can't be the only one who mixes people up, can I?

Um...maybe you shouldn't answer that question!

Anyway, both the authors took the mix-up very graciously and with good cheer and humor...or it could be that they were being nice about so I'd get my head out of the oven...

Let's not go there.

I'm not totally over my shame and embarrasemet, but let's move on!

Welcome JA Clement, who is just as mah-velous as that "other JA".

1. If you could be any character from any novel for a day, who it would it be and why?

Oh, I’d love to be Jane Eyre; my all-time favourite book. Obviously the happy ending is a bonus, but her journey from being “little, poor and plain” to a fully confident and independent woman in her own right is such a joy to read and experience, especially if you consider the time in which it was written – full kudos to Charlotte Bronte, on several counts!

The poise and self-knowledge Jane has achieved by the end of the book is wonderful; she has been through a lot and discovered her own strength and self-worth in the journey, but has also kept her joy in people and her sense of what other people are worth. I wish it were possible to say the same for all of us! Oh, and I’d quite like to have some words with St John Rivers on the difference between priggish bad manners and what it means to be a good person. I’ve been itching to slap his self-righteous face since the age of seven.

2. Do you plot your novels in advance, or write by the seat of your pants?

Elements of both! I know the start and the end, and a couple of pertinent points in between, but the action has to evolve out of the characters or it doesn’t work for me. I can make them do things but then they go like puppets and all the life comes out of it. No good at all, that. After a while you have to let them do it their own way and sometimes they go somewhere else completely; so I know where I think the story is going to go – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to!

3. What is the first book you remember reading that totally took your breath away?

Jane Eyre, again – such vivid emotions and images! I couldn’t believe it. After that, maybe LOTR because I’d never read anything so long and all-engrossing. It wasn’t so gripping and vivid, but I loved the more formal storylines, and the landscapes, which seemed so familiar and like the hills of my childhood. Turns out that Tolkien’s son went to school really near where I grew up, so it’s not impossible that the hill my family refer to as The Lonely Mountain might actually have inspired The Lonely Mountain!! Though I’m not sure that The Hobbit wasn’t already written when the boys got to that school.

4. If your novels were adapted for the silver screen, who would you cast?

Hmmm, interesting. That’s difficult to answer because I don’t have full visuals of their faces in most cases. The characters are too much themselves for me to put someone else’s face on them, I think.

However, I do know where they would need to film.

Although Scarlock itself is a melange of many places, a bit of landscape from Cornwall, a street I saw in Hampshire, a pier and docks from the Yorkshire coast etc, the mood and the feel of it is based on a little fishing village in Northumbria where I’ve spent a bit of time. There’s this beautiful, bleak coast; some of the beaches are smooth white sand, and others dark, pocked pebbles. The village has a little curved harbour, built out of great blocks of stone and huge old beams of wood, all be-greened by the sea. The houses are long and low to the ground, grey limestone walls and roofs of dark purplish slate that shines like silk in the rain.

It’s a landscape of greys and blues and greens and purples, all cloud-colours and sea-colours and harsh grass on the sand-dunes. There’s one particular house whose garden gives onto the beach; when it’s sunny and warm, it’s so beautiful - but mostly it’s misty and a bit chilly and beautiful in an entirely different way. The beach curves round and at the far reach of it, a red stone castle is silhouetted against the silver of sunsparkling water, and there isn’t anything else for a couple of miles at least.

If I could pick up that house and that stretch of beach and the empty fields behind, the harebells on the sand-dunes and the little hardy ponies that wander along the shore; if I could pick all of that up and put it down somewhere less far from my family, that would be my ideal house. The writing I could do there! It would be wonderful...

But I would have to situate it so that the sea didn’t come into the kitchen in the winter storms – I guess that could get old fast!!

5. Nereia is a character who seems to speak to a lot of readers. Will she feature in future books?

Goodness yes! Nereia (pronounced Ner-RAY-a in case you were wondering!) is the pivot on which the whole series swings. She was the character who first came into my mind along with that initial emotion, and “On Dark Shores” is partly the story of her progress from hopelessness to her full potential. There are a lot of other stories going on at the same time, of course – many characters are making their own journey to a better or worse life – but primarily she is the kingpin.

In the first book of the series, “The Lady”, we see Nereia scrabbling to provide a living for herself and her lovely younger sister whilst paying a significant amount of what she earns to the ruthless Copeland, who dominates the entire town and beyond. Nereia’s life is hard and desperate, and Scarlock is in many ways a fairly merciless little town, so it’s all rather bleak and complex at the beginning.

Oddly, although I always knew that there would be a lot of characters and the action would range over a wide area, I never planned that this was going to be such a bleak little book; it was quite a lot darker than intended, by the final edit. The idea is that though Nereia has a long journey to undertake before she reaches fulfilment, that at each stage her circumstances will get a little better in one way or another, so I’m hopeful that future books will have more lighter parts than “On Dark Shores: The Lady”. There is one part in particular, which at the current rate of writing will probably be about Book 5, which will be moderately frothy in places, so I’ve a bit of work to do in order to graduate the mood so that that isn’t too sudden a transition!

But on the plus side, feedback so far is that though book 1 is bleak, it’s intense but not without hope or too dour to read, which is something of a relief!

6. Who is the “On Dark Shores” series written for?

I hope it will be accessible to everyone; but if I had to specify an audience, I’d say it’s written for people who have fairly wide tastes and read in a lot of genres but have never read any fantasy because they think it’s all elves and dragons and magic wands. I’ve tried to make it as gritty and “true” as possible, and I’m hoping that if these readers realise that there is a much wider range of tales in the genre and a much greater variety than basically fairy-tales for grown-ups (which seems to be the predominant stereotype), then maybe they’ll try some of the superb authors whose books are firmly on my shelves, and who have given me so many hours of happy reading.

The idea of introducing people to something new that they wouldn’t otherwise have tried really appeals to me – it’s like opening the door to a treasure-house and saying “Help yourself!” My Mum said for a long time that fantasy just wasn’t her thing. I was reading Robin Hobb’s “Assassin’s Apprentice”, and it was excellent – it felt so visceral and real, that I figured it might appeal to her. Mum agreed to read the first 30 pages, with the proviso that that if she didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be in the least offended if she then left it. Nine books later, she was on Amazon trying to find when the next one was due out, and since then has read and really enjoyed all sorts of stories that she would never have picked up before.

Though I make no claim to be as accomplished a writer as Robin Hobb, I’d love “On Dark Shores” to be one of those stories; and so far I’ve had some very pleasing feedback along those lines. A lot of people have said lovely things about it (and some have hated it, of course) but three or four of my reviewers have said that before they picked up mine they didn’t think they liked fantasy but that having enjoyed “On Dark Shores: The Lady” they are thinking of exploring that genre a little. If 3 people edge into new literary territory because of something I wrote, then I’m over the moon!

7. If you get stuck when writing, how do you get past the problem?

Firstly, sleep on it; you’d be surprised just how much the subconscious mind can sort out when you’re not getting in the way, angsting about not knowing what to do next. It may be a cliché but often I wake up thinking “Of course, the answer is [blah]”.

However, if that doesn’t work I’ll probably go and write something else, or cook something complicated or do some gardening or something of the sort; it has to be slightly complex and require concentration and creativity but not really be mentally taxing. If you go do something creative, it somehow frees up your mind a bit and when you go back to it, the problem will have sorted itself out while you weren’t looking.

Lastly, if it’s a real stinker of a problem and I’m truly stuck, I’ll sit down and discuss it with someone. Usually these are the “why would they do that” problems where a character has to do something which is a vital plot point but it just doesn’t quite chime correctly with their character. As the author it’s very easy to get fixated on the fact that it has to happen in just such a way, but you can’t make the character do something they just wouldn’t or the reader will throw the book across the room in disgust. Either there has to be some kind of human, understandable reason for it; or the plot point needs to go. I’ve had both of these happen. One time, my sister suddenly said “What if he was in this situation?” which then threw everything into a new light and solved the issue – I had to go back to the beginning and rewrite some sizeable chunks to insert that trait, but it enabled a whole new plot strand later on. The second time, I had to scrap the plot point and let the characters do their own thing, but that took it to a really interesting place too, so as long as you follow your instincts it seems to sort itself out and often the problem bits end up being the most fruitful, a little further down the line.

8. Do you write in any other genres?

Yes, I do. I write a lot of poetry, some short stories, and have ventured upon texts of varying lengths (and indeed varying readability) in sci-fi, modern fic and humour. I did try writing romance once but I really am no good at that – you have to be able to do the melodramatic bits without sniggering. In real life it’s the same; I have to make a real effort to not turn a romantic gesture into something a bit embarrassing by making some daft joke about it. Fortunately my partner has a very good sense of humour, so we laugh a lot together. I love that.

I do have several projects on the To Write list though; the next most likely one is fairly gentle village humour, though there’s going to be a lot of “On Dark Shores” to write before I reach the end of the storyline, so I shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that one... Various odds and sods of my other stuff is up on my Wattpad page at though, so if you can’t imagine me writing something less bleak and gritty, there is at least one humorous short on there. You’ll know which from the cover, I’d imagine! (There’s also a snippet of Chapter 2 of “On Dark Shores: The Lady” that you won’t find anywhere else, as it happens).

So check out JA, and applaud her for her good humor and graciousness for giving me a second chance to make things right!

Here are the links...except my "links" don't seem to be functioning today:

Link to Amazon is

Link to Website:

Friday Funnies

Well, I don't know about all you babies out there, but I definitely need a laugh today! My day started out in the crapper. I'm just kind of waiting for the flush to take me away.....down the drain.

Happy Friday!

Actual Excerpts From Classified Sections Of City Newspapers

Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once,you'll never go anywhere again.

Our experienced Mom will care for your child. Fenced yard, meals, and smacks included.

Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.

Man wanted to work in dynamite factory. Must be willing to travel.

Stock up and save. Limit: one.

Semi-Annual after Christmas Sale

3 year old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred.

Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.

Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting off head illusion. Blue Cross and salary.

Dinner Special -- Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00

For sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.

Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.

We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.

For sale. Three canaries of undermined sex.

Great Dames for sale.


My apologies to author JA Clement, whom I interviewed, and then slapped another author's name on the interview. Ay yi yi! Some people are so not meant to multi-task.

Seriously, who would have thunk that there were 2 authors with the initials J.A. that I know?

So, as I sit here with my thumb up my butt and my face heating up so fast I could probably launch the next space shuttle just by looking at it, I have to apologize. Again.

I will rerun the interview next Wednesday and give credit where credit is due.

For now, I will go slink under my desk and wish back time.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Melting Glaciers

I saw a very interesting program on the T.V. over the weekend about how the ice caps and glaciers around the world are melting. Some have already vanished completely, forever. Most people might think, "What's the big deal? Antartica's got plenty of ice!" But the ice isn't melting just in Antartica. Even here in the US the glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana is melting rapidly.

You still might think that none of the places with glaciers or ice caps are near you, so what's the big deal? It is a big deal. To everyone.

Here's the deal. Unlike the Little Ice Age, this rapidly decreasing melt-down is not due to natural cycles...but due to the greenhouse effect.

So now you're thinking, "Blah, blah, blah, get off your soap box." That's ok, don't deny it, I can hear you! But here's a list of some of the effects of the melt-down:

1. Many downstream areas from glaciers and ice caps depend on seasonal melting for most, if not all, of their water supply. If this disappears, they will either have to find a new source of water, or migrate.

2. Ice melt keeps streams and rivers cool for salmon and wildlife.

3. The melt-down is causing sea levels to rise. The rise in sea level impacts every coastal town in the world as they lose coastal land.

4. In Asia, the sea is pushing into fresh water rice fields, where rice will not grow (some places have adapted by switching their rice fields to shrimp farms).

5. Flooding. Ponds, lakes, rivers, streams...any body of water fed by a glacier or ice cap expands and may not recede.

So now for a little projectional theory and alarmist news: In some of the scientists' computer projections, based upon the documented recordings of ice melt, seas can rise enough to move the shoreline in some places not just feet, but hundreds of feet.

Even if we could stop the Earth's temperature from rising today, right now, ice will continue to melt for another 50 years. As I said, it was interesting stuff. We can't reverse it or stop, but maybe we can slow it down by acting responsibly toward the Earth.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Story Arc

I recently had a discussion with another author about whether a book had a true story arc. When I had read the book, it seemed to me the story arc was missing, and rather, the book was merely a series of events strung together. The story was a basis for establishing the main character's development from boyhood to manhood. While interesting, I kept waiting for the climax and resolution to the story...which, in my opinion, never came. The events in the story happened to the character, and the character never made one critical choice that brought the story to climax.

So, what's a story arc? The best explanation comes from Nigel Watt's Writing a Story and Getting Published. Nigel describes the 8 point story arc. In summary:

1. Stasis, the every day life in which the story is set. This is the setting in which the character lives, whether it be with an adoptive family, the mean halls of high school, a bored princess.

2. Trigger, which is something beyond the main character's control and which sparks the story. In a fantasy, this could be your main character falling into a portal into another world.

3. The quest stems from the trigger. If your main character fell through a portal into another world, his/her quest may be to get back home.

4. The surprise is the whole middle of the story. These could be nice surprises, but usually involves conflicts, obstacles, complications and trouble for your main character. After all, if your character found it easy to get back home after falling through the portal, that would be a pretty boring story. The writer shouldn't throw in random "surprises"...they all should be linked and make sense. Going with our falling through the portal theme, a surprise could be that after falling through the portal, the character discovers he/she plays an important role in that world's political structure. There may be forces at work that do *not* want the character to go back home.

5. Then comes the critical choice. This is where the character's true colors shine. This can't be something that happens to the character, this has to be an event that shows the character making a crucial decision. Should the character jet back home, or should the character stay and fight to save the world he/she has become a part of? The critical choice is usually the most difficult choice for the character to make. Yeah, it would be easier to go back home, but the harder choice would be to stay and fight. If your character has mettle, he/she will make the *right* critical choice.

6. So, your character makes the critical choice to stay and fight, and that brings the story to its climax. What happens after this choice is made should be dramatic, building tension so that you can't wait to see if the character wins or fails. Your character's critical choice could be facing some inherent evil overlord, someone who is stronger than your character, and maybe your character (or others close to the main character) feels he/she has little chance of winning.

7. Your main character is afraid but moves forward into battle...and then comes the reversal. The main character is stronger than anyone realized, and the evil overlord has underestimated his opponent. The evil overlord is defeated by the main character.

8. It's time to bring your story to its resolution. Your story returns to stasis, and your main character should have undergone a change and has learned through his/her ordeal. The story should be resolved (and this is important) but could also end with another trigger for a sequel. Your character won the battle with the evil overlord, but didn't kill him. The evil overlord has vowed vengence and will return.

So, not only is it vitally important to have a story arc, it's also vitally important to have resolution. Don't leave the story suspended at the end hoping to titillate your readers to wait for the sequel. That's just mean!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Giveaway - YA

Hey Babies! More giveaways of some very awesome books. I know I entered! So hop on over to Laine's blog and enter!

Banned Book Makes a Comeback

There's just something about banned books. I hear a lot of people, other than the arguement over whether books should be banned from libraries or schools, go out of there way to read books on the list. It's the forbidden fruit mentality...if you can't have it, you want it.

Interesting article today from the Associated Press:

CHARLTON, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts library has put the Mark Twain work "Eve's Diary" back on the shelf more than a century after it was banned.

The Charlton Public Library's trustees this week unanimously voted to return the book to circulation, reversing the board's 1906 decision to ban the 1905 short story.

Trustee Richard Whitehead said the move was made to coincide with the American Library Association's Banned Books Week.

The book was written from the perspective of the biblical Eve. It was banned because trustee Frank Wakefield objected to nude illustrations of Eve. Whitehead tells The Telegram and Gazette ( he considers the illustrations works of art.

The 1906 decision drew attention from The New York Times, which reported that Twain was not particularly concerned.

Charlton is 40 miles southwest of Boston.


Information from: Telegram & Gazette,

Sample Sunday: Fire in the Blood

Good Sunday Morning, babies! Yes, I'm back with sample Sunday...I've been away the last couple of Sundays (and a lot of days in between) but life should be settling down to a more scheduled chaos! LOL

Sooooo, where we left off with Haley. It's getting harder for Haley to ignore some feelings for Tuggin as they set off for home. They witness a battle between the Fire and Water gods, and after discovering human collateral damage, Haley seriously begins to wonder if she really is the one with the power to stop the war...and if she could actually do something about it.

Let's roll on to the next chapter!



I was vaguely aware. I heard murmuring, and my hands and feet were cold, but I wasn’t really awake. I rubbed my eyes and tried to bring the blurred edges of the cafeteria into focus.

Elana sat next to me at a table. Ian stood in front of us, looking at Elana as though he’d just asked her a question. Where was Tuggin? And Eyidora?

“For crying out loud,” I blurted. How could I have fallen asleep right there in the cafeteria? And I’d been having a weird dream. I hoped I didn’t talk in my sleep.

“Excuse me?” Elana asked.

“I said, for crying out loud,” I said at the same time that Ian said, “I asked you about Haley.”

He smiled, very slowly. I didn’t care that he didn’t seem to notice me sitting there, or that he’d just talked right over me…his smile was beautiful enough to forgive such trivial offenses. I smiled, too.

Then it hit me: Ian knew my name. The excitement filling my chest just about pushed my heart through my ribs. Maybe I’d fallen and knocked myself out and he was worried about me. Couldn’t he see that I was okay, grinning at him like a dweeb?

“Leave Haley alone.” Elana jumped up and turned away.

Ian grabbed her shoulder and whirled her to face him. “Don’t you think we’d make a good couple?”

“No.” Elana jerked free from his grip.

I frowned. What was Elana doing? Was she mad that Ian had finally noticed me? Was Elana jealous because he’d dumped her?

“Elana!” I snapped, trying to get her to shut up before she screwed my chance with Ian. I didn’t think I’d get more than one.

They ignored me.

“What’s the matter, Elana?” Ian asked.

I waved my arm. “Hello! Are you guys listening to me?”

Ian continued. “Are you afraid I’m going to spill your little secret?”

“If my secret is blown, then so is yours,” Elana said.

“Come on you guys.” I leaped to my feet. “Why are you ignoring me?”

“Doesn’t matter. See, Haley’s in love with me.” Ian laughed softly. “She’ll take me just the way I am, don’t you think?”

My mouth dropped open and my face erupted with heat, like a volcano blowing its top. Had I been that obvious about him?

“But you,” Ian continued, “you, she trusts completely and she will never forgive you.”

“Shut up.” Elana’s lips were pressed into a thin line.

I blinked. “What’s your problem, Elana?”

Elana wouldn’t look at me. She glared at Ian.

“Oh, no, you little witch,” Ian said. “You’re going to listen to me.”

“Hey! Don’t call her that.” I wanted to scream, grab them by the necks, make them look at me.

“What’s she going to think of her…friend…when she finds out you’ve lied to her? Spied on her?” Ian leaned close to Elana. “Pretended to be her friend?”

“Stop it.” I felt cold. Sick. “Tell him it’s not true.”

“You obviously don’t care about her the way I do.” Ian wore a smug smile.

“Liar. You do not care about her.”

“Says who? You?”

“Haley will believe me,” Elana whispered, though her face had gone white, and she slowly sank into her seat.

I’d never seen anyone pass out before, but it looked like Elana was about to keel over. A small snake of fear wiggled in my chest. It coiled around my heart and gave a gentle squeeze, enough to cause me a jolt of pain.

“I’ll bet that, as we speak, that brother of yours is spinning a web of lies so thick she’ll never see through the darkness shadowing her mind. What does she see when she looks at his eyes? Hmm?”

“He is not like that,” she whispered. “He would not hurt her.”

Ian laughed. The crowded lunchroom faded. Elana didn’t have any brothers. Except Tuggin. That had been a dream, hadn’t it? The shadowy room spun. That meant Tuggin was real…Eyidora was real. And Elana and Ian were talking about me right there in my high school cafeteria and Ian was worried that Tuggin was going to hurt me, and all of this meant that they hadn’t forgotten about me, like Tuggin had said. No. No!

“This is some kind of sick joke, right?” I said.

Ian went on. “He holds secrets in his eyes, secrets that even you don’t know about. You were raised together, but how well do you really know your brother?”

Elana made a strangled sound. Forget fainting, Elana looked like she was about to puke.

Ian rested his hands on the table and leaned toward Elana, his face inches from hers. “Your brother’s been trained by the best there is, trained in the art.” He leaned even closer, so close it looked like he was about to brush her cheek with his lips. “And Tuggin, as you well know, is quite the master.”

Elana leaped up, knocking her chair over, and then turned so fast her hair flung away from her shoulder. A hoop earring with colored beads flashed from her ear before she ran down the hallway.

“Elana!” I shouted.

The pounding of Elana’s heels echoed when she ran.

“Elana!” I called again. “Come back and talk to me. Elana!”
I bolted upright, gasping and shivering in a frosty field. I threw my head back only to see twinkling stars winking at the moons. No Ian…no Elana…no school.

“What is wrong?”

I turned to find Tuggin standing over me. I rubbed my hands over my face. “Nothing.”

“You do not speak truth. You called my sister-mate’s name.”

“You mean Elana?”

Tuggin nodded.

I pulled my knees up to my chest. “Oh, wait. That’s right. You told me your family was dead.”

Tuggin had the decency to bow his head. “Please to forgive.”

“Whatever. I just had a nightmare, that’s all.”

Tuggin squatted beside me. “What meaning is nightmare?”

“Bad dream. It seemed so real.”

“You dream of Elana?”

I nodded.

“Another was in this dream as well?”

I couldn’t shake the feeling that it hadn’t been a dream. Impossible. Earth had to be, what, a gajillion miles away, for all I knew.

“Disclose who was in this dream,” Tuggin demanded.

I flinched. “A guy from my school on Earth. They were arguing.”

“What did they argue of?”

My thoughts tumbled like a combination lock. Suddenly, the pins all hit and the connection opened. Elana’s earring. Enja had one and, of course, so did Tuggin. My mouth dried up like the parched land. Elana was a Menta. Had she only pretended to be my friend? Was she part of the plot to “neutralize” me?

“Haley?” Tuggin prodded. “What did they argue of?”

I faced him. “Me.”

His brow creased. “This is curious. Why do the Eyids send a message of my sister-mate and an Earth-kin boy?”

I swallowed loudly. I’d been duped into forgetting about my plan to escape. Duped by Tuggin’s good looks. Duped by Tuggin’s pretend niceness.

Duped by my own stupidity.

“I don’t know.”

Tuggin stood. “Or will not reveal to me?”

“I…I don’t want to talk about it right now.” I used a fingernail to remove some dirt beneath my thumbnail.

Tuggin blinked and the soft lines in his face hardened. “Very well.” He strode back to his blanket and lay down with his back to me.

I balled my hands into fists. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Tuggin didn’t want to be with me; Enja had forced him be with me. Maybe the truth had been hiding behind a pair of baby blues, like Ian had said. Eventually, Tuggin would hurt me, just as Enja ordered him to. I’d been fooling myself; I didn’t mean a damn thing to Tuggin.

Why wasn’t he killing me? Or maybe, if I was a Seer, he was taking me to the Eny, planning on torturing me so I’d tell them what was in my dreams. Maybe I wasn’t going to Sabina at all.

I bit the knuckles on my fist so I wouldn’t scream. I wished this whole nightmare would end. But should I be afraid of the sleeping nightmares—or the waking ones?
A rose hue glistened on the frost as the sun climbed over the horizon. While Tuggin slept I thought about what I knew about Mentas, the whole emotion-reading and mind-control thing. And Ian had given me a clue, something about the eyes.

Tuggin shifted in his sleep. I gave the sleipnir water and grain while my mind raced. Mutant talking birds and mutant eight-legged horses were one thing…but mutant people with mind powers? I dropped the grain bucket.

Oh no.

If I was a Seer, was I mutant, too?

I took a deep breath so I could push that thought down and focus on my dream. What did I see when I looked at Tuggin’s eyes? Nothing. They were pretty, of course, but lifeless. Tuggin had been trained in something he was really good at. Had Ian been talking about lunta, or the other power that Nala wouldn’t talk about?

“Morning greetings,” Tuggin said.

I’d been stroking Sorrel’s neck, deep in thought, and started at the sound of his voice.

“Morning.” I took a plum from him and sat.

“You are…competent,” he said in a stiff voice, watching the sleipnir.

He didn’t look at me when he spoke, and he seemed pissed about the night before. I could only imagine the Herculean effort it was for him to pretend to be nice. He must have a big plan to get me to trust him, which was funny considering my big plan to trick him into trusting me.

“Yeah, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when you’re not tied up,” I said.

Tuggin darted a glance at me and I cleared my throat. “So, I was wondering, how do Mentas do that lunta stuff?”

Tuggin studied his plum’s purple skin for a moment. Smoothing it with his finger, he said, “Through the eyes.” He glanced at me. “Earth-kin say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. It is very astute, that Earth-kin should understand this.”

All the spit in my mouth evaporated. Had Tuggin been brainwashing me?

“Un-like your own,” he said.


“They do not remain of one color. You see through different colored eyes.”

I locked gazes with him. Tuggin broke the connection, taking a bite of his plum. Beads of sweat crawled down my back. If those earrings were the Menta’s symbol, maybe a group of Mentas was a coven that forced people to do stuff against their will.

I fought the urge to look at him, afraid he’d put me under a spell or whatever it was lunta did to someone. “You never told me what they protect or enforce.”

“Most enforce the laws of the laks. Others protect the Council.”

I rubbed a spot on my plum, and then asked, “Like your leaders?”

“Indeed. Each lak selects four Council members.” Tuggin glanced at me, as if he were going to say more, but then looked away.

I nibbled my fruit. “What do they need protection from?”


I jerked my head up. “People try to kill the Council members?”

One side of Tuggin’s mouth lifted in a fake smile that didn’t even come close to reaching his eyes. “It is war, tenya. Eyidora is weak. There are some who would stop at nothing to control this globe’s destiny.”

“Do you think an Eyid descendant wants to control the globe’s destiny?”
Tuggin blinked. “You know of the Eyid-emos?”

I shrugged.

He ran his fingers through his hair. “There is a tale of the Eyid-emos, if you desire to hear it.”

It was my turn to blink. “Sure.”

“Centuries ago an Eyid-emos, Tomas, desired control over the Eyids. Tomas stole the Stones of Power from the Web of Harmony, and the Eyids went to war.”

“So where are those stones now?” I asked, casually biting my plum though my stomach felt like I’d swallowed the pit.

“It is not known. The other Eyid-emos also lusted for power, and there were many betrayals amongst the Eyid houses. Tomas hid the stones before his death. It is said that Tomas’s descendants guarded the location of the stones, awaiting the birth of the next Eyid-emos, though that knowledge has been lost over the centuries.”

Tuggin seemed to know an awful lot about the story. I thought about how electric the air felt when I was near him. Did everyone feel that way around Tuggin? Could Tuggin be the descendant of the Fire Eyid? That would be a hell of a secret.

Tuggin…two-timing player. The realization snaked from my head to my chest, twisting and biting and filling me with its numbing poison. Was Tuggin playing the Eny, pretending to go along with their plans, while using me to find my stone and keep it for himself?

“Sounds bad,” I whispered.

“There are some who believe the Eyid houses are corrupt. There are some who believe Eyidora fares better without the Eyid-emos in power.”

“Do you believe that?”

Tuggin didn’t answer.

I ignored the tingling in my fingers. “What’s this have to do with Mentas and the Council?”

“Eyidora fell into chaos. Council members were killed. They beseeched the Mentas to protect them and maintain order.”

“What’s your job?”

I hadn’t meant to whisper, but my throat had tightened. I wondered if it would piss him off that I asked about his job as a Menta, but he didn’t seem to notice. Or he didn’t care. Maybe I was already a goner no matter what. My swallow stuck in my dry throat, and I coughed.

Tuggin had finished his plum; he turned the pit in his fingers. “It is difficult to explain.”

“You don’t know what your job is?”

“I am aware of my duty,” he snapped.

Forget what Nomer had said. Forget the bee in his bonnet. Tuggin had a bee up his ass.

“Please to forgive,” Tuggin tossed the pit. “It is difficult to…”

“Why, if you told me, you’d have to kill me?”

Tuggin glared at me, his face a shade paler than white. My gaze swerved to his knife, and I wished I hadn’t brought up the whole killing subject.

“Why would you speak such a thing?” he snapped.

“It was a joke.”

“Death is not to laugh at.” He ran his hand through his hair and took a deep breath. “The sun rises.”

Silently, we broke camp. I spent the rest of the day considering how Tuggin was playing me; as far as I knew, I’d been telling him things that I wasn’t even aware of saying, maybe I’d already told him I had a stone. I had to escape before I was totally brainwashed.

We were going north, so I couldn’t go that way. To the east was that Rally place or whatever Tuggin had called it. Crossing the desert to some smoke-filled town gave me the creeps, and I told myself that it had nothing to do with Tuggin’s warning to stay away. Behind me was that mountain Nala had told me to go to, but I didn’t like the idea of chancing a run-in with Enja while I passed Given Hall.

I turned my gaze to the south, a whole lot of nothingness—deserted and lonely. The Region of Fire. Only an idiot would go out there alone. I didn’t want to go out there alone, but I couldn’t follow Tuggin any longer.
I sighed, considering the dead land shimmying in the heat. When the moons rose, I’d jet.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Funnies

Good morning, babies!

Oh, I have been absent awhile, haven't I? Work is crazy busy and I've been too exhausted to sit at the computer. Lately, I just light my candles and get my drink and go to my happy place.

So that's why I'm here in the morning!

So, let's end the week on a happy note, and then later we can all go to our happy place...where ever that may be.

Happy almost weekend!

These are actual comments made by 16 Police Officers. The comments were taken off actual police car videos around the country:

1. "You know, stop lights don't come any redder than the one you just went through."

2. "Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch after you wear them a while."

3. "If you take your hands off the car, I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."

4. "If you run, you'll only go to jail tired."

5. "Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that's the speed of the bullet that'll be chasing you."

6. "You don't know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?"

7. "Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don't think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I'm the shift supervisor?"

8. "Warning! You want a warning? O.K, I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."

9. "The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?" (for a split second I was confused by that one!)

10. "Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy and corn dogs and step in monkey poop."

11. "Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."

12. "In God we trust; all others we run through NCIC." (National Crime Information Center)

13. "Just how big were those 'two beers' you say you had?"

14. "No sir, we don't have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we can."

15. "I'm glad to hear that the Chief (of Police) is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail."


16. "You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right, we don't.. Sign here.