Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Seasons

It's nearly 10 p.m. and I'm feeling slightly melancholy. Maybe it's because another Halloween has passed, the holiday that so much reminds me of childhood. Maybe because it was Tia's last Halloween and the knowledge that she won't be with us this time next year hurts more than I admit. Or maybe it's just the herald of another year's end approaching, the seasons changing, and time marching on.

Some friends were going to come over, but they were grilling out and passing around the wine, and anyway, everyone here but me is asleep now. DH had major dental work done today and he's passed out, poor baby. Tiger got scared at the doorbell ringing; Tia got simply exhausted from running to the door to see who was ringing the doorbell and "should I bark? Is it a stranger? Someone i know and should lick their knees?"

We had about 60 kids this year, more than last when I sat on the driveway and passed out candy, warning them away from the massive tree blocking the sidewalk. this year DH and I went all out, decorated, I even bought a skeleton mask and ended up scaring some poor little toddlers who screamed, and ran back to their moms. One mom joked, "MOMMY, MOMMY, BACK TO THE WOMB! BACK TO THE WOMB!"

I took off the mask to assure them it was okay, showed them my face and told them , "See? This is my REAL mask. Scary, huh? Oh yeah."

Maybe it's because I usually get melancholy this time of year... because 11 years ago it was when mom was diagnosed with cancer, and began her journey toward dying. The holidays since then have been sprinkled with joy amid bitter sorrow, like sucking on a chocolate covered lemon. Bad analogy, but as time marches on, and I lose more people I love, I have to remember the sweetness among the bitter taste of watching those close to me pass on. Because of the memories, they're all that's left sometimes.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll post fun photos of today. But for now, it's just me and my slightly melancholy self, a half filled bowl of candy sitting by the door, the ghost decorations gone dark, and another Halloween left to memories.

The perfumed garden's manstick

Jennifer Ashley's comment about reading The Perfumed Garden caught my interest, and here I am at lunch, scanning it for a quick read. The chapter about what a man's manly stalk is named caught my eye.

The Perfumed Garden is lovely, lyrical text. The names of the manstalk are ... interesting. Here you go.

El dekeur, the virile member
El fortass, the bald one
El kamera, the penis
Abou aïne, he with one eye
El aïr, the member for generation
El atsar, the pusher
El hamama, the pigeon
El dommar, the odd-headed
El teunnana, the tinkler
Abou rokba, the one with a neck
El heurmak, the indomitable
Abou quetaïa, the hairy one
El ahlil, the liberator
El besiss, the impudent one
El zeub, the verge
El mostahi, the shame-faced one
El hammache, the exciter
El nâsse, the sleeper
El bekkaï, the weeping one
El zodamme, the crowbar (is there a Jaws of Life?)
El hezzaz, the rummager
El khiade, the tailor
El lezzaz, the unionist
Mochefi el relil, the extinguisher of passion
Abou lâaba, the expectorant
El fattache, the searcher
El khorrate, the turnabout
El hakkak, the rubber
El deukkak, the striker
El mourekhi, the flabby one
El âouame, the swimmer
El motelâ, the ransacker
El dekhal, the housebreaker
El mokcheuf the discoverer (charting new territory)
El âouar, the one-eyed

Okay, enough names. Must go now haul my perfumed proposal to the post office. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tiasaueress


She's looking as if to say, "Must I wear this stupid thing? Please, please, I thought you LOVED me and you're mocking me. I am a dog. I am not a T-Rex. But if you do not remove this ridiculous costume from me right now, I will show my teeth like a T-Rex. Now go, be a good human and stop this foolishness."

What we do to the pets we love...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Size doesn't matter...

Shopping today.

Them, overheard in dressing room:

HER: "Does this dress make me look fat? Oh, it DOES make me look fat!!! Oh MOM!!!!! I'll NEVER get back to a size FOUR!!!!! I knew having that baby would make me FAT!!!!!"

HER's mom: "Dahling, you look boootiful. That red is just GORGEOUS ON you! It's a designer six and it fits just right! It will look booootiful next to Don's tuxedo! And I'll loan you my fur wrap, you'll be a smash at the parhtee! You don't look fat!!!"

Me:

Me, to sales clerk as I'm holding a Chris Madden designer lamp next to my never-will-be-size 6 body: "Excuse me, but does this table lamp make me look fat?"

Sales clerk: "Um, er, no."

Me: "Good! I'll take it."

Friday, October 27, 2006

From Scrotal Vengeance to Semolina

Horror actress who starred in Scrotal Vengeance miffed because she was left off some Big Hollywood Acting List.

Scrotal Vengeance? Sounds like it could be a romance novel. Or a Jerry Springer show.

“He gazed passionately at her as she held the axe, ready to commit scrotal vengeance upon him for boinking her best friend’s cousin’s mother-in-law’s next door neighbor’s poodle. But she nixed her plan as she lustfully glimpsed his bulging… biceps after he took her into his strong embrace and declared to all that his DNA would be the only DNA invading her love tunnel to become her baby’s daddy.”

In other news… (notice the not-so-subtle transition I’m making here…from scrotal vengeance to white stuff?)

Semolina covers town in white stuff. The Great Yarmouth is cream-oh-wheated.

In other news, I want to head to Ferfela’s for Halloween. She has wine and caramel apples. And the Great Pumpkin. Cool beans. All I have is leftover meat loaf and doggie biscuits.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sonja Larson

In three hours, he’s going to die.

At exactly 6 p.m. in Starke, Florida, he’ll be executed by lethal injection. I’m not mentioning his name here, because he’s already received enough publicity. I don’t want him immortalized, which is why he says he killed. I’d rather remember the kids whose lives he brutally stole.

Tracy Paules, 23. Christa Hoyt, 19. Manuel Taboada, 23. Sonja Larson, 18. Christina Powell, 17.

Sonja Larson was just 18 when the killer stabbed her to death, 16 years ago in Gainesville.

Back then, I was a reporter sent to interview Ada Larson, Sonja’s mom. The Larsons lived in my beat. I didn’t want to talk to her, intrude on her grief and privacy, but I went. It was one of the toughest assignments of my journalism career. I wasn’t that much older than some of the killer’s victims. And Gainesville had been my home, my school, my turf. I had been graduated from journalism school at UF.

In fact, I had lived in an apartment complex barely a mile from one of the murders.

I talked with Ada Larson, a gentle woman who was remarkably composed, and very open about her only daughter. Sonja adored children and wanted to be a teacher. She was active in her church. Ada showed me some of her artwork. She gave me photos of Sonja so we could run them in the paper.

I left her house, feeling grieved and wounded, as if I had known Sonja myself. How could anyone do this? Her only daughter, her baby, her little girl. Sonja’s whole future was ahead of her, like a shining beacon in the distance.

The killer snuffed that beacon out with a knife.

I’ve been wondering this week what Sonja’s life would have been like had she lived. She’d be 34 now. Married with kids? An artist, or a teacher? College is walkway to the future. What path would she have pursued?

She never had the chance to set the first footprint.

I returned those photos to Ada, leaving them in a sealed envelope. It was the last I saw of her, for the Larsons soon moved. Maybe the memories were too much. Sonja in every room, Sonja laughing in the kitchen, painting in the bedroom.

Sonja never coming home again. The house must have echoed eerily with her silence.

Inside the envelope I left a small keychain for Ada with a note. It was a keychain with a small dove, signifying peace. I wrote in my note to Ada that I prayed she’d be able to find peace. Some day. Some how.

16 years later, I hope that Ada has found a modicum of peace.

I certainly don’t wish it for the killer.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hurricane Wilma:


Ok, this is NOT storm damage or from the hurricane last year that partly wrecked my home, but i got so damn depressed looking at all those wreckage photos and thinking about the crap we've been through this year with damage, insurance, repairs, our insurance being cancelled, trying to find another company to cover us, paying lots of $$$$$$$$$$ more for Citizens because they are the ONLY ones who will cover us, that I had to post this. I'd rather look at naked men than hurricane wreckage.

Besides, mattresses are essential to protecting yourself in a hurricane. They say to pull one over you should the roof collapse on your head. Does the mattress come with him?

Hurricane Wilma: The tree that could have killed me


I had been standing in this room moments before the tree fell on the house, watching the storm. When I saw how bad it was, I knew I had to get into a safer place. Had I been standing here when the tree fell, I'd have been conked on the head, maybe killed. One of my co-workers was killed in a hurricane last year.

I swear I must have a hard working guardian angel. One who looks after stupid blondes who think just because they have been through 10,000 hurricanes, this one won't hurt them. Sheesh.

We also had a 50 year old tree fall in the front yard. It blocked the street. Thank God it didn't fall on the house or I'd be homeless, too.

Hurricane Wilma, one year ago today...






Did this...







Bitch. It's all better now. But I still miss my trees. I miss my hammock strung between them, reading in the cool weather. Our back yard and hot tub are still a mess. But the roof is fixed and the Florida room replaced. Much more than some people in my area, who are still homeless or have blue tarps on their roofs.




Monday, October 23, 2006

Cold as Ice, brilliant!

Busy weekend. Bought AND read Cold as Ice. Amazing how I manage to sneak in reading time. Read it in the car on the way to Jupiter . Read for 45 wonderful, precious minutes at Blowing Rocks nature preserve, a serene stretch of 75 acres of preserved shoreline, not a single towering condo in sight. I was filling the well, as Julia Cameron calls it. Then we had dinner with my friend, and her positive, bubbling energy was wonderful. How refreshing it was to be around her, and laugh.

Cold as Ice was brilliant. It sucks you in and doesn’t let you go. I’ve never read such a gripping anti-hero before who manages at the same time to be protective. What I liked best was Stuart’s ability was to show the conflict through the dialogue, and Peter’s tenderness through his actions. I keep hoping this book does terrific in sales because as I told DH, it will open doors for publishers to begin publishing very different, even risky, books. Stuart’s book has a hero who can be bisexual to get the job done. That’s risky for a mainstream single title romance, trust me, especially since some publishers won’t even let you write the word “rape” in reference to a character’s past and some readers won’t even pick up a book that has oblique homosexual references.

Plus I admire Stuart as a fellow writer and I sincerely want her to do well. But I was miffed that Books-A-Million only stocked 3 copies (I went to two BAM stores) and annoyed that they failed to stock Black Ice. Barnes and Noble had a very nice selection of Cold as Ice, stocked in the display rack as well as the romance section, but no Black Ice. Damn. I’ll have to order it online. It’s very frustrating for readers when an author has a new book out and very little backlist on the shelves. It’s very frustrating for authors, too, as I know too well from last month when Panther was released and in stores, but The Cobra & the Concubine wasn’t on any shelves.

Worked on my proposal and it’s jelling. I’m excited about how it’s shifted into a story that I CAN get excited about. That’s the best part of writing, when you capture the joy again in creating, and remember why you started writing in the first place. I wrote yesterday morning, then in the afternoon we rode our bikes and went to dinner at a friend’s. I brought a pitcher of rum runners and made everyone very merry. After dinner, we very merrily went to our church’s pumpkin patch. Halloween promises to be fun, especially since we won’t have a 50-foot tree blocking the sidewalk like last year after Hurricane Wilma and hey! We’ll have electricity as well, a very good thing. I think I’ll use a temporary hair dye and do flaming red streaks. Pretty. Like it’s on fire. Maybe someone will try to roast marshmallows over my head.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My talking crotch

So this a.m. at work, power's off for three hours. As I sat in the rising heat in my office, I used the cell to call DH and let him know in an emergency to call the cell. Realize the cell's battery is low. Keep it in my pocket to remind me to recharge during my lunch hour.

Lunchtime, go to Publix. My trusty talking pedometer shoved deep into my right pocket, dying cell in the left. As I'm buying chicken for Tia,I accidently set off the talking pedometer. It blares to the world.

YOU HAVE BURNED 102 CALORIES!

Sounds like it's coming directly from my crotch. Someone checking out the meat turns and stares. I leave, but not before the cell phone starts beeping, signaling the battery is almost dead.

Talking crotch announcing I've burned 103 calories. Sheesh. I can't begin to imagine what that guy thought. My crotch burns up 103 lousy calories and then the battery dies.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The tale of two writers

Bonnie Vanak: Spent last night doing dishes, talking to her agent, feeding the dogs, trying to work up energy to write by thinking dark thoughts about dark characters, failing that, watching TV while thinking dark thoughts about dark characters, then hitting the sack, only to get out of bed and stay up until 2:30 a.m. because Tia was having a very bad night. Finally gave her a half tab of Valium upon which she snoozed on the bathroom floor (the dog, not Bonnie). Results: Bonnie got 3 hours of sleep and feels this a.m. like a hockey puck in a Panthers game.

Blair Valentine: Spent last night daydreaming about her upcoming Ellora’s Cave December book called Captive Mate, admiring her nails, lusting after Gerard Butler in her heart, (the model for Surrender the Night, her vampire quickie), and thinking Bonnie needs to lighten up as her writing is too damn dark and she needs a shotglass of humor in her life. Woke up to discover Surrender the Night received a very nice review (5 cupids) from Cupid’s Library, which she is urging Bonnie to paste below. Blair is pouting because Bonnie won’t cave in to her demands to write funny erotica anymore.

Grow up Blair. That’s life.

Both Blair and Bonnie thank Luisa of Cupid’s Library for the very lovely review.

Surrender the Night by Blair Valentine
Review by Luisa at Cupid’s Library


"When I read the description of this book, it looked like just another vampire story. Let me tell you, the description from the publisher does not do this book justice. It doesn't say what a fun, unique story this is. Surrender the Night is a completely different vampire story, with new twist to this genre and not your skinny size two heroine! I had a wonderful time reading this one; it was fun to read without being over the top. Even if Lily is a vampire, she is easy to identify with. This may be a quickie, but it doesn't lack anything.....


Blair Valentine has a quirky sense of humor, that shows through in this book. This is her second release from Ellora's Cave and I hope to read more of her work in the future.Paranormal and vampire lovers will love this totally different and sexy vampire story. If you're looking for a quick and fun read don't hesitate to pick up Surrender the Night! "

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cheney, the rock star


Some kid today said she thought of Dick Cheney as a rock star, so I did this. Gave him a purple streak, too, but he looks more like a demented Amish guy than a rock star. Paint sux. I want Photoshop.

One of those days...

So I go home for lunch, dreaming of a cute little wicker chaise, which I have, adorning my writing space. The chaise is outside. DH dragged it out there to put wet laundry over it Sunday, and forgot to bring it in. I'm thinking about dragging it back in when Tiger...

Waltzes up to the chaise, and lifts his leg.

The dog PISSED all over my writing space!

Sheesh. Then I'm driving back from lunch, I circle the corral (parking lot) and there are NO PARKING SPACES. None. I say phhhhfffft, drive to the bank, cash a check and return, and see a lone space about 5 miles away from the building. I walk. I have on my new pedometer that tells me how many miles/steps I've walked, and calories burned.

then I get into the building, all is quiet.

Oh Shit.

Staff meeting. Everyone is in a staff meeting. I forgot.

I remove my shoes, TIPTOE through the hall, put down my purse in my office and tiptoe back to the room to quietly observe the staff meeting from the hall. Someone is talking about feeding the poor.

I go to sit down, hoping no one notices me, and my talking pedometer SCREAMS out ...

92 CALORIES BURNED!

Everyone turns around. I'm red-faced.

Hells bells, is this day over YET?!!!

Writing retreat


You can rent rooms or an entire cottage here. Cozy little cottages in upstate New York, designed as quiet, solitary writing retreats to nurture a writer's soul. My soul needs a nosh of nurturing, lately.

There's no TV, no evil World of Warcraft.

Not even an empty pizza box in sight. Just you, books and your writing. And those crazy monkey thoughts racing about in your head that eventually can make their way onto paper or your laptop. No distractions, like phones or laundry or dogs or husbands or yard work. Or "Grey's Anatomy." Or "House."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Slumming

DH and I spent our anniversary paying bills. Tres romantic. The weather was meh Saturday, so we put off celebrating until yesterday, and jaunted to Miami and Bayside, where we absorbed Latin music while sucking back alcohol and then took a boat ride that loops around Star Island.

We saw Puff Daddy’s digs, shrouded by a healthy canopy of palms and foliage, Rose O’Donnell’s quaint little multi-million $$ cottage and Shaq’s little shack that cost him ONLY (cough, cough) $14 million. There’s an adorable foot-high statue of the Miami Heat star on a piling, in case you thought the boat captain was lying about the location of Shaq’s home. Next door there’s a mansion for sale; where they filmed Scarface. Remember that famous line? “Say hello to my LITTLE FRIEND!”

If you have $20 million in spare change, the Scarface mansion is yours, complete with 2 guesthouses, three fountains, etc. etc. Plus you get Shaq as a neighbor. I think they may also toss in a Japanese gardener who trims the grass with a nail clipper. Real estate being slow as it is down here, it wouldn’t surprise me.

I told DH that even if I had more money than Bill Gates, I wouldn’t live on Star Island. No privacy. Shaq’s place is cool, and the Scarface mansion is big enough for all our trains, but I’d like to lie out on the lawn reading and not have tour boats passing every hour, with gawkers like us. I’d be tempted to moon every one, and that’s too many times to show my nekked ass.
“Say hello to my little friend!” I’d scream.

Plus you probably don’t’ get a lot of kids trick-or-treating on Star Island. I adore Halloween. Each year, but for last when everyone was too busy eating Spaghettos out of cans thanks to Hurricane Wilma, we get lots of kids in our ‘hood. I put up the gate, the dogs rush up at the blare of the doorbell and the kids pause for a nanosecond in their candy harvesting to admire the “doggies” before rushing up to snatch up more stuff to rot their teeth. This year is Tia’s last Halloween, and I’m hoping we get lots of kids at the door.

Yet it was fun seeing Star Island and seeing how the other half live, especially since to leave Miami’s Bayside we had to tour through a city street where dozens of homeless people were lying on the sidewalk. What a sad, sad contrast.

I’ve always wanted to travel to exotic locales for book research. Visit fascinating places, hey, like Egypt. Would be nice. Take notes, ride a camel, do all the things the characters do in my books (except have sex on the sand, gahhh) and live the life of an Author Doing Research. Then when someone asks, “Where were you?” I could reply, waving my hand in languorous indifference: “Dahling, I was hobnobbing with the camels and pyramids in Egypt.”

Judith Gould is one of those Traveling Authors. “She” (a.k.a. authors Nick Bienes and Rhea Gallaher),
tells all about “her” adventures on her website. “Gould” Visited Miami for one book. Visited, my stress on the capital “V”, instead of doing what I do, visit, which means parking at Bayside and running amok for a few hours, because I still have two loads of laundry to do and the dogs are crossing their legs and once they get done peeing all over the nice dry sheets hanging outside, they want to be fed and I have contest stuff to mail out because I can’t get it done Monday as the day job calls.

Anyway, on Gould’s website s/he says of its Miami visit to research The Greek Villa, “I had to make yet a third trip to Miami to investigate “In” clubs like Kiss. And, since Tracey’s fiancé has a sleek high-performance yacht, and to get a really close look at Star Island, where his family has a waterfront mansion, I actually chartered a yacht and in the process studied that super-exclusive billionaire’s enclave from Biscayne Bay. Bonuses were getting a good view of the house used in the remake of the film, Scarface, which starred Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer—and zipping down and seeing Vizcaya and its stone “galleon” from the water—all magical angles most people never get to see, and for which I thank my lucky stars.”

Gould charters a yacht to see the Scarface mansion. DH and I paid $17 each to see it while seated next to an annoying couple who guzzled down Coors, burped loudly and left cans strewn in the back of the boat. Some day, maybe, I’ll be like Judith Gould (although hopefully not too much as I have no desire to morph into two guys with beards who sip fruity drinks, although I’m green with envy over their
gardening proficiency, check out the flowers in those photos!) and rent yachts and travel to glam locations to research my books. For now, I’m just a midlist author who’s an armchair daydreaming researcher with lots of Egypt books in my cases.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

11 years ago today


We did this...

Then after, the church steeple got struck by lightning. Our friends still say it was the best wedding they ever attended, and they had the hangovers to prove it.

Still love him like crazy. Even if he never does and never will read my books. :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Anne Stuart


is my hero for this week. I swiped this quote from Alison Kent's blog because it's an inspiration and a reminder of what writing is really all about:

"My New Year's resolution is to focus on the book and forget all the crap that surrounds the writing business. To lose myself in a story, and not give a damn if it makes any lists, has a good sell-through, gets glowing reviews on Amazon, pleases my editors, hell, even pleases my readers. I want to love what I'm writing so much that none of the rest of it matters, and if I don't, I won't write it. Life's too short to abuse the muse." Anne Stuart

I’m itching to read Cold as Ice just because the hero is bi-sexual. I admire Stuart’s attitude in publishing, her guts in writing what she wants to write instead of writing to please the crowd. Plus she adores Japanese rock and she’s 58 years old.

From Publisher's Weekly: "Stuart courts controversy with Jensen's lack of emotion and total body control, allowing him to use sex as a tool for disarming both women and men; her hero's sexual flexibility is bound to turn off some readers, just as it's bound to entice others. Those who take the plunge shouldn't be disappointed: Stuart knows how to take chances, and this edgy thriller shows how well they can pay off."

She writes a blog with Eileen Dreyer and Jennie Crusie about writing THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES. Check out Anne’s profile photo. Gotta love a woman who dresses as a nun and writes bi-sexual heroes. Classic.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Valium & writer's block

Tia is okay. I’ve got such a wonderful, caring vet (thank you God!) He gave me Diazepam (Valium). For her. I had to obtain it at the local pharmacy. He wrote the script for me and added (for Tia). The pharmacist labeled it: Bonnie Vanak: Take two daily for reduction of anxiety. This drug may also be used in treatment of alcohol reduction.

I looked at the instruction sheet and quizzed the dog. She was panting and made these little “hee hee” noises.

Me: Tia, are you pregnant, breast-feeding or could you possibly be pregnant?
Tia: hee, hee

Me: This can be used to treat alcoholism. Are you dipping into the Myers rum?
Tia: hee, hee

Me: Well, I think you’ll be okay now that the vet visit is over. BTW, was that rather large deposit you made outside the vet’s door an opinion?
Tia: hee, hee

Now that I can rest a little easier about Tia, I have to address the other major concern this week: Writer’s block.

Happens to everyone, but this week it’s a concrete barricade. Writing is challenging as I write for the day job AND I write romance novels at night.

At work writer’s block presents a real problem, because I have projects Due NOW. So I surfed the ‘net for writing inspiration sites.
Found this one. Definitely not applicable to a corporate work environment. Like these suggestions:

Turn on some music and dance naked for a few minutes. (Dress code violation)

Pick something around you, like the telephone, lamp, or pen. Talk to it and tell it how much you appreciate having the electricity to turn it on (Another HR violation: “Bonnie, why are you talking to lamps? If you insist, then do it on your lunch hour.”)

Add strong smells to the room. (Do my co-workers cube farts count?)

Look at bold and bright colors for a few minutes. (Pretty, pretty, PRETTY! RED-RUM! RED-RUM!)

Write an e-mail to a friend to tell him or her what you want to accomplish. If you are stuck, say so and ask for help. (Dear co-worker, I can’t finish this project so since I have more seniority, I’m passing the buck to you. Oh, if you refuse, I'll tell how you’re the one who put Oreo crumbs on the boss’s keyboard, ruining his Powerpoint presentation.)

Hire a virtual assistant to do some typing so that you can stay focused on writing. (Hmmm, I want a virtual cabana boy clad in an electric blue Speedo, oiled, glistening abs, pec and biceps, typing away as I dictate copy about how many children in Haiti die each year before their 5th birthday. No, make that a real cabana boy. Yeah. That’s it. That’s it. I’m done. Block over. Good-bye)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Captive Mate

I have to drag poor Tia to the vet, she's got problems, so I'm handing over the microphone to Blair Valentine, that evil twin of mine. She's posting an excerpt from her upcoming Ellora's Cave werewolf erotica called CAPTIVE MATE. It's out this December. I've been ignoring Blair, who keeps whining for attention. Blair isn't very creative these days. She says being creative under all this pressure is like a pimply science geek trying to get an erection with the cute captain of the cheerleading squad. You WANT it to happen with all your might, but buddy, it's just going to be a limp noodle.

Captive Mate
copyright 2006 by Blair Valentine


Her body tightened in anticipation even as her mind rebelled. He was a massive male, standing a good six feet three inches. Broad shoulders stretched as wide as the doorway. His body was heavily muscled. Steely dark brown eyes locked with hers. His full, sensual mouth was unsmiling. A small bruise darkened one cheek. Assorted other bruises and scrapes dented his thick arms.

Her gaze dropped to the faded denim jeans he always wore. They hugged his muscular thighs. Alyssa’s breath caught in her lungs at the massive bulge at the crotch.

Ready for her.

Moisture pooled between her clenched thighs. Making her ready for him.

His nostrils flared. A pulse beat wildly at the base of his throat. Testosterone and adrenaline levels elevated during the fight with the other males had released the primitive male. The aching between her legs intensified. Her nipples tautened.

She inched farther away until her legs connected with the bed. Alyssa sat with a small woof!

Spurs on his boot heels clinked as he crossed the room over to her. Dimly she thought Granny would frown upon him scarring the oak. Marcus advanced until he stood over her. A hank of damp, dark hair hung over his forehead. Her senses caught the smell of aroused male mingling with fresh soap, clean skin.

He had showered before coming to her.

Trying for levity, she considered, “You look like you got trapped in a cattle stampede. Really, you should try to play nice with the other boys, Marcus. Give peace a chance.”

The corners of his mouth twitched in a ghostlike smile. “I would if they would. But I couldn’t let any of them claim what’s mine. You.”

Bristling, she narrowed her eyes. “I’m not yours, Marcus. I’m not anyone’s.”

“You’re mine, Lyssa,” he countered softly. “Always have been. I just waited for you to grow up and Change. Do you think after all these years of protecting you I’d let another male mate with you?”

The bed squeaked in protest as he sat. Marcus reached up, fingered a strand of her long blonde hair. “So beautiful,” he murmured, lifting it to his nose and sniffing. “You smell like wildflowers and honey on a warm summer’s day.”

She gave his deep chest a small push. “You smell like tacos.”

It wasn’t true but his nearness rattled her. She couldn’t mate with Marcus. He was too overwhelming, too intense. Too imprinted on her brain with the erotic thoughts she’d entertained of him recently.

His large fingers grasped a gray velvet box. Marcus handed it to her without flourish. “For you.”

The traditional mating gift. Taking it meant acceptance of her fate. Alyssa hesitated. His dark brows lifted. “Consider it a gift between friends.”

Well, that couldn’t hurt. After all they were friends. Had been anyway. She opened the box. The slim silver band studded with tiny turquoise stones glinted in the light as Alyssa lifted it from its velvet nest. Crying out in delight, she cradled it in her palm. Choosing it took a great deal of thought.

“Silver went better with the turquoise than the traditional gold did. And humans think werewolves can be killed with silver. Ha. We sure fooled them with that old myth,” he remarked.

Marcus grinned and slipped the band onto her right ring finger. She flashed him a grave smile. “Turquoise is my favorite.”

“I know. I wanted to get you a cute little turquoise collar as well but the pet store didn’t have them in your size.”

She started to sputter, caught his amused look and gave a good-natured growl instead.

“You’re so cute when you growl, Lyssa,” he teased.

His expression turned intent once more. Marcus brushed her cheek with a brief kiss, sending a small tingle up her spine. “Get undressed, Lyssa. I can’t wait any longer. If I do, I won’t be able to control myself and it’s your first time. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Well, then I’ll save you the trouble.”

SPRONG! The bedsprings squeaked as she jumped up, bolted for the door, fumbling for the latch. Freedom was just outside…so close.

Hot breath on her neck, but while Marcus was strong, she was nimble. Alyssa cleared the door, slammed it shut.

The lock clicked home. Locking him inside.

A relieved sigh escaped her lungs. If she had mated with Marcus…

From the other side of the door she heard a low chuckle. And a deep male voice clearly saying, “Ha.”

The groan of metal bending snapped her out of her astounded daze. Alyssa stepped back, watching in slack-jawed amazement as he ripped the two-inch thick steel door from its hinges and set it aside.

Marcus stood on the threshold, lifting a dark brow in mock amusement. “Bends steel with his bare paws. You always did call me Super Lupus when you were little. Remember, Lyssa?”

Pivoting, she turned to run. Two large hands that had torn apart steel caught her with surprising gentleness. Easily he slung her over his shoulder, ignoring her screaming curses and fists hammering at his broad back. Marcus marched to the bed and carefully deposited her onto it.

She shrank back as his gaze burned into hers.

“Don’t fight me, baby. Don’t fight your nature. Surrender to it,” he said softly.

“I don’t want this mating, Marcus. Don’t make me do it.”

“I won’t force you. When I make you mine, you’ll be begging me for it, Lyssa. You want me as much as I want you. I can smell it on you, baby. You’re wet between your legs. Hot and wet with the wanting. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or fear. It’s nature’s way of preparing you to take me inside you.”

Alyssa bit her lip, preparing a retort. Wordlessly, she stared as he yanked off boots and socks. Marcus reached back, tugged his T-shirt over his head. It dropped to the floor.

Her heart thudded an erratic tattoo against her chest.

Muscles rippled over smooth, bronzed skin as he flexed his biceps. A dark thatch of hair covered his powerful chest, narrowing to a line marching past the waistband of his jeans. He watched her stare.

Her tongue darted out, licked dry lips. Thoughts of escape evaporated.

Marcus leaned over, bracing his arms on either side of her, trapping her between them. He inhaled deeply, watching her. Then he nuzzled the top of her head, ran his nose down to her temple, gave it a small kiss.

The courtship dance.

Cupping the back of her head, he leaned forward and kissed her. Alyssa’s eyes fluttered shut at the light, authoritative kiss—his warm mouth moving slowly over hers. Her lips parted. Oh he tasted wonderful, like warm honey. Intrigued, she opened to him.

He slipped inside, his tongue exploring, touching, inviting, her into a deeper kiss. Against her better judgment, she accepted, boldly tangling her tongue with him, drinking him in, craving his taste.

Marcus broke the kiss as suddenly as it began. A knowing smile touched his mouth. Alyssa swallowed hard as he stepped back, fingers unbuckling his belt, sliding it off. Slowly he unzipped his jeans, slid them past his narrow hips.

No underwear.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Editors

Tia kept me up half the night because she was feeling uncomfortable, poor baby. I can tell...though she's good at hiding it, usually. She licks her paws and whines a little. It's so damn frustrating because I wish she could "talk" and tell me what's wrong.

Instead I'm left trying to guess. I figured out it was her stomach, gambled and gave her another half of the stomach meds the vet prescribed, and sure enough, an hour later she finally slept. Now I'm glad we decided against the surgery because I honestly doubt she'd have pulled through...and if she did, she'd have a hard time healing. I think the cancer has spread to her intestines, something the ultrasound didn't pick up.

Thought I'd post a link to Ferfela's blog about her interesting post on editors dissing on authors. Be sure to read MJ Davidson's comment...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Romance novels & stress

Interesting link... saw this on a loop I'm on. Good article, for once it was respectful of the genre and not snidely snickering about how women read them for that Big MANLY part passion.

What I found most fascinating was Eloisa James' comment that she counts Vietnam vets recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder as her readers. The article states that RWA stats say men make up 22 percent of romance readers.

I know I have a few male readers. (Not DH, he never reads my books and when his female co-workers ask, 'Did you inspire page 242?' he has NO idea what they're talking about. Hee hee. )

The whole PTSD thing struck a note with me because I sometimes have Present Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mild version from the day job. I just finished writing about a mother I had visited in Haiti with TWO crying babies in her shack, who cry ALL THE TIME from hunger. She gets so depressed she admitted to wanting to kill herself. She prays hard, instead.

I started reading romance because of my PTDS. I always did love romance novels, but they became more of an escape read than anything else after I started working in the Third World. I needed that happy ending, needed a book that I could finish, set down with a smile instead feeling even more depressed. And that's why I started writing romance as well.

I bring this up because last week I read a book that left me feeling depressed. It was Christian fiction. The blurb indicated there was a romance in it. Great! I read it because I was in the mood for a orgasmless romance. I've read Christian fiction before and some of it is very good. My favorite is Robin Hatcher's THE FORGIVING HOUR.

Anyway, this particular story was good, the writing smooth and the characters engaging. But the book left me flat, and I disliked the message threaded through it because it came off as preachy. But my biggest disappointment was... no happy ending. In fact, NO ending, period. Then I realized you had to buy the NEXT book to find out how the romance was resolved. I felt cheated. I especially resented feeling cheated because my reading time is so precious these days.

I needed a happy ending. I needed to know that, despite overwhelming odds, conflicting backgrounds, personal tragedies, the characters resolve their conflicts, strengthen their relationship and love conquers all. Corny, sentimental? Yup. That's what I needed. I needed a book that lifted me up, that was a "feel good" romance. Instead I was left with a book that left me empty, even feeling drained. If I want to end a book on a low note, hell, I'll read Vinegar Hill. Great writing, gripping story and totally depressing ending. Gahhhhhh

What I needed was a ROMANCE. Even the darkest romance I've read ALWAYS RESOLVES the story and I get my happy ending, damnit! Even this book, which left me crying (ironic title there) left me feeling hopeful and uplifted despite the mountain of Kleenex it created. Even though I suspect she wrote it more as a mystery than a romance.

That's why I read romance. In a crazy world where anything bad can happen, and often does, I want to escape into a world where love does conquer all, with or without orgasms. :-)

For Toni, again


And for me... Tia is having problems, again, and I just spent 20 minutes cleaning the carpet...sigh... I could write more, but I've been too sad lately and I'm trying to be more cheerful. So Toni, here's more eye candy for while you're recuperating... and for me, as a Monday pick me up. It's Victor Webster again.

Don't you wish he'd drop the towel? Let's chant now... DROP it, DROP it, DROP it...QUICK, PICK UP THAT SOAP!!! Hee hee.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Innocence lost

I’m sitting here studying a photo of two little girls in Guatemala, ages 4 and 5. In the photo, the girls are chubby, laughing and hugging each other. They are slowly healing from the horrors of their past.

One year ago, they were brought to an orphanage with unspeakable mental and physical injuries. They had been starved, beaten, burned with cigarettes, tied to the front porch and left without food or water. Their faces were haunted, their huge eyes filled with the pain of what their caretakers (father and grandmother) had done to them. The gentle innocence of childhood had been brutally ripped from them.

I honestly can’t comprehend how anyone can do anything evil to children. Yesterday they buried 4 of the five Amish girls who died after being shot by a man who simply walked into their simple one-room schoolhouse, took them as hostages, and then shot them in the back of the head. A deeply disturbed person took their lives in cold blood and then ended it by turning the gun on himself, but saying first, “Pray for me.”

It’s been simmering in the back of my mind all week. I get this awful, gut-wrenching feeling each time I think about it. My only solace is knowing how the Amish are; forgiving, stoic and unwavering in their deep faith in God. That and their tremendous sense of community will help them cope.

My family used to take trips to Lancaster County, where Nickel Mines is. It was only a two-hour drive from our home in New Jersey, and an enjoyable weekend trip. I especially loved it as a child, driving past farmlands in the crisp chill of fall and buying large orange pumpkins to bring home and carve for Halloween or swinging by gift shops and admiring the quilts and crafts. I still have a dollhouse-sized Pennsylvania Dutch rocking chair mom bought for me.

My last trip there was before we moved to Florida. Mom and I went to Bird-in-Hand, barely 6 miles from Nickel Mines. We stayed at the Amish Country Motel, a serene motel surrounded by verdant farmlands. I walked down the road in the early morning as fog rolled over the misted hills, and felt a sense of peace that’s so difficult to capture in today’s hectic world.

As a child, I was fascinated with Amish; their crafts, simplicity and their charming, peaceful way of life.

As an adult, I am humbled by their absolute devotion to God and the deep wellspring of faith that allows them to forgive those who have wronged them.

I don’t know if I could forgive the father and grandfather who wronged the two little girls in the picture on my desk. And I have no connection to these girls, other than by trying to raise money to nurse them back to health.

Today the media released the information that one of the Amish girls, Marian Fisher, told the gunman, “Shoot me first.” Only 13, ready to face death, trying to give the younger girls a chance to escape. Such bravery, and conviction in her faith.

My mother’s name was Marian Fischer.

She was also brave, and had deep faith. She died of cancer 11 years ago this Christmas. She knew she was dying as the cancer ate its way through her body, but chose not to receive treatment. Instead, she relied on prayer and faith to keep strong enough so she could walk down the aisle at my wedding, her family totally oblivious. She wanted my wedding to be a happy occasion. It was her last, and most precious, gift to me.

After she died I found a variety of Catholic leaflets in her purse. I know she was praying hard and relying on her faith to sustain her.

The parallel between the Amish Marian Fisher and my mother, Marian Fischer, is very strong and I think there must be a significance to it somehow. What exactly? I don’t know.

All I can do is keep doing what I’m doing. And hope and pray that, like the two girls in the photo before me, the Amish community in Lancaster County will also heal from the horrors of this week and will regain the peace and gentle innocence that was wrenched from them.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

For Toni


To make you feel better while you're recuperating... There was more (LOTS more, hee hee), but I edited the photo. :-)

Help orphans in China by buying GREAT BOOKS!

Just saw this... Julie Kenner is hosting an auction to raise money to help orphaned girls in China (she recently adopted a Chinese orphan). Wow, look at all this stuff for sale...

autographed books by Christine Feehan, Laurell K. Hamilton!! Sharon Shinn, Jaci Burton, Dee Davis, Carly Phillips, Stephanie Bond, Nora Roberts, Connie Brockway, Rocki St. Claire, Brenda Novak, Leslie Kelly, Elizabeth Sinclair, Susan Mallery, Sabrina Jeffries...

and critiques by editors Lauren McKenna from Pocket, Leah Hultenschmidt and Chris Keeslar from Dorchester, Brenda Chinn from Harlequin.

To visit Julie's page listing the auction details and stuff, click here.
To visit the auction, click here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Troubled by all the evil in the world?

If you’re as troubled as I am by the horrific violence that happened this week in peaceful Amish country, do something. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Combat the world’s horrors by doing a kindness today.

Feed destitute people still suffering a year after hurricane Katrina at the Gulfport Church of God in Mississippi headed by Pastor Tim Fulmer. Volunteer. Send a check to your favorite charity. Let that crazy driver pass you on I-95 instead of cutting him off (that’s me this week, Ferfela). Hold your temper instead of raging. Smile at someone.

Even the smallest kindness can make a difference. Do something.

There are good people in this world, trying to make a difference.

Be one of them.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." Mohandas Gandhi.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006