Sunday, December 26, 2010

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY

I'm posting this today in memory of my Grand-Dad, Herman Tygert Wells.  I hope a few others may enjoy it, too.

http://worriersanonymous.org/Music///Cornwall/Cornwall.htm

Friday, December 24, 2010

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

WISHING EVERYONE THE PEACE AND JOY OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON AND A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Death of a Character - Is it Gratuitous or Does It Move the Story Along?

I normally read 3-4 books a week. I have an hour commute each way to work and am one of those people who has to read a bit before falling asleep. I've learned not to read Lisa Gardner before bed but Jo Davis gives me fascinating dreams. Mariah Stewart gives me something to think about and Shirley Rousseau Murphy gives me something to chuckle about. But characters come and at the end of a book or series they go. Some stay in our memory; others fade away.

Today while I was out walking on a break I found myself thinking about a book I'd just finished reading. I loved the hero.

Okay, reality check? I lusted after the hero and tried to figure out who in my real life was just like him. No one.

No, it wasn't that he was too good to be true. He was actually very well drawn and three dimensional. He had personality, charisma, charm, was intelligent and while emotionally vulnerable, he knew he was and resolved it for himself. It was marvelous to see his development through the story.

What turned me off on the story was the death of one of the characters. I didn't particularly care for her. She didn't resonate with me. She reminded me of one of those women who thinks she's hot stuff and doesn't care who she stomps on while completing her agenda. Still, there was something about her that, I felt, in a future story could be redeemed.

The book is part of a series featuring one profession. I can see from the introduction of a character in book 2, who shows up in book 3 that here may be a story in his future -- errr, I mean a story about him in our future. And from his there would be others in featuring this second profession -- if that makes sense.

To clarify, say for instance the initial series is about doctors and they have a police officer showing up in the ER. So the series about the ER doctors finishes out and then you have this hottie cop who leads off a second series. Does that make a bit more sense?

So while I was thinking this secondary "cop" character would make for an interesting story of his own with this female as his heroine, she's killed off. And not in a very nice way. I was stunned. It made no sense. Here was all this potential and she's just killed off. And the author made her really ugly in death. She was crushed and rendered totally unrecognizable.

Why? I couldn't see any reason for it. And the hero, who was her best friend, just moves on with his lady. Goes to the funeral but his life just moves along, as does the heroine, without the nightmares or sadness or remorse at the other woman dying. It read, to me, like gratuitious drama rather than an inherent thread that added to the story. Such a missed opportunity!

A few weeks ago I read another book that was the third in a series. Two secondary characters in book 2 were hysterical. I totally enjoyed reading them. The author treated her readers to some marvelous banter between the two and I was delighted to see one of them had his own story in book 3. It was an okay story, nothing special, but still an enjoyable read. And then the best friend gets killed off. And he wasn't just killed with a conk on the head or a bullet that hit a vital organ. Oh no, it was a long, lingering death that, again, read like gratuitous drama, not something that enhanced the story.

Okay, now I've had characters with qualities of people I haven't particularly had a good experience with die off. When you write fiction you can have the ending you would like to have seen in real life with the benefit of no one getting hurt. You have a moment (or longer) of catharsis, you have closure to a rotten experience and move on.

After reading these two books I've looked at the upcoming death of one of my characters. Does she really need to die to make the story work? Given the bad guy is someone awfully like Jack the Ripper that would be a yes. Jack didn't just scratch your arm and move on. He sliced and diced in a very definitive way. So yeah, in that case, killing off the secondary character fits.

How do you, as a reader, feel when a character dies? Have you pined for a well-liked secondary character that was killed off? Did you feel something else could have happened to achieve the same emotional ending without the needless drama? When is a character's death the right thing?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

GRAMMAR GURU

Today we have a request from a reader to clarify the definitions of "regime" and "regimen."

REGIME:  a regular occurrence of a pattern or action; a mode of rule or management; a form of government or administration--specifically, a governmental or social system.

REGIMEN:  a systematic course of therapy; the characteristic behavior or orderly procedure of a natural phenomenon or process.

You can see, therefore, why reference to a "diet regime" makes one think of a national diet...probably not a bad idea in this day of mass obesity, but ungrammatical.  A "diet regimen," on the other hand, is therapeutic dieting.

Here's another one I encountered in my own reading and this was especially interesting:  gristly versus grizzly.

GRISTLY:  composed of cartilage

GRIZZLY:  sprinkled, streaked or mixed with gray

The interesting thing here is that an author and editor had used grizzly.  Someone took them to task, explaining that the proper word was gristly.  She should have done what she criticized them for not doing and looked it up.  The context in which the word was used was in the description of a murder scene.  Therefore, all three people were wrong because the correct word is "grisly," meaning horrible or gruesome.

We all live and learn. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

FORTHCOMING RELEASE - THE COMET

My release date for "The Comet" is getting closer.  It should be out in January, 2011 and just in case you can't tell, I'm excited.  This is my first straight as opposed to fantasy historical and it was a lot of work, a lot of research, but a heck of a lot of fun.  I'd like to share an excerpt:


An ambitious young Norman knight, Neel, is seriously wounded at the Battle of Hastings and nursed back to health by a Saxon girl, Rowena.  For her, it is only a matter of Christian duty and she is shocked to receive his proposal of marriage in return.  She dare not refuse, but how can she love a Norman?


For Neel, Normandy is only a bad memory.  His future lies in Rowena’s land and her bed, but he is not welcome in either.


From pastoral Sussex to the furthest reaches of Wales, he will seek to make her his own.


EXCERPT: 
Fumbling at the gaudy tie, she drew out a necklace of stones like the eyes of a cat.  Carefully drilled and strung on a fine wire, they slid through her fingers smoothly.
“They are called topaz,” Neel explained.  Stunned, Rowena had neither moved nor spoken.  “They are the color of your eyes.  I have given Bryna a gown for you, too.  And a head covering.”  He smiled at her.  “I think you will like ours better.  All I ask is that you wear them for Christ’s Mass.” 
She remained obdurately silent, but she could not…dared not…refuse.  No doubt the gown was Norman.  He called her “little Saxon,” yet did not wish her to appear to be one.  And perhaps, if Ralf had spoken truly, he was correct and she wasn’t one at all.
“Here,” Neel said as if her acceptance was a given.  “Sit beside me and I will put it on you.”
Still mute, she perched rigidly on the edge of the mattress she had shared with him in perfect comfort when he was unconscious.  This time he was awake and aware and so was she-- jolted by every nuance as he touched her for the first time.
He was efficient, raising her wild hair with a hand holding its weight, parting it and dropping it forward over both shoulders so that he could fix the clasp of the necklace.  She felt the cold, rich stones against her collarbones and heard the tiny snick of the clasp as he put his claim on her.
He lifted her hair back carefully, not catching it in the necklace.  But he did not take his hands from her shoulders after he had done it.
She fell back upon manners, drilled into her by Bryna.  “I have nothing for you,” she said faintly.
“Then give me a kiss.”
There it was--the trap she had sensed.  She could wrest her body from beneath his hands and bolt for the door and he couldn’t stop her, but that was only postponing the inevitable.  Slowly, she turned her head to the side, not moving towards him but not moving away.
“Come,” he said softly, inching closer.  How was he doing that…hurt as he was? 
“Be careful,” she said, ambiguously.
“It’s just a kiss.”
It would be capitulation…unspoken acknowledgement of his ownership.  But just as the needs of the body had drawn her to offered food, other needs tempted her, too.  Trapped not by his hands but by her own indecision, she made no move to resist as he turned her within their circle, now at her waist.  It was an awkward position, though, leaving her in imminent danger of falling off the side of the bed.
“Better hold on,” he said, the devil incarnate.  She did, twining her hands in his fine tunic as he spread his palm against her back to support her.  The other hand cupped the back of her head.  Infinitely gentle, he lowered his face to hers, teasing at her lips.
“Very sweet,” he murmured.  It was nothing like she had thought a kiss would be.  She had imagined Ralf plunging his tongue into her as Leofric had done…pictured him groping her breast, hurting her, gross and fetid.
It was not like that at all.  Neel’s tongue traced the outline of hers lips, slow and enticing, not a bit revolting.  When his lips nudged hers gently she opened her mouth, sighing.  He kissed her slowly and deeply, a silken invasion that set her heart pounding.  Her hold on him increased, involuntarily, and she felt his response in the strength of his hand on her back, fingers splayed, supporting her.  Guiding her.  He drew her against his chest until she could feel her breasts taut and aching against his warm flesh and started to resist.  Immediately, his grip slackened and he lifted his face from hers.
“I’m only playing, little Saxon,” he whispered.

BUY LINK:  TBA

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Would Alexandre Dumas Made it As A Writer in Today's Publishing World?

Okay, this is going to boil down to a question for the editors and historians or the editors who area also historians can answer best. I thought, however, I'd share my thoughts on my favorite author and my current read, Queen Margot aka Queen Marguerite. It took me about 100 pages to realize why I felt such an affinity to Margot -- the latin form of my name is Queen Marguerite. But that's not why I picked this book to read.

Like many readers I've associated Mr. Dumas with The Count of Monte Cristo, the Man in the Iron Mask and the Three Muskateers. He actually has quite an extensive back list -- or as extensive as you can when you've been deceased 140 years. Yet so many of his books continue to be enjoyed by readers. Le Reine Margot (Queen Margot) was published in 1843 and I've been enjoying reading it. I'm reading the English version so some of my questions might not be pertinent when viewed in its original French. Still, I am curious about a few things and most particularly, would Alexandre Dumas make it in today's publishing world.

I've given myself two reading gifts this year. The first is to go back and read all my old Rosemary Rogers' romances and the other to read all of Dumas' work that is available in English. Not even the extensive shelves of the San Francisco library have a copy of his Captain Paul so I started with Queen Margot. It is a wonderful story of political intrigue, adultry, unrequited love as well as requited love, a handsome hero or two, tests of faith and a host of royalty each with their own agenda. While I'm reading it for the sheer entertainment of the book, I am ever mindful of things that do and do not work.

Our reading and writing world has become devoted to pure points of view. You have either one character or another's thoughts controlling a scene.  Ms. Rogers' early books have multiple points of view, often in the same paragraph--I had no trouble following, especially in the love scenes because I figure there are two people in that bed (or other trysting locale) and as a reader I'm curious what they're both thinking and feeling. In her latest book, Scoundrel's Honor she adheres to the modern rule of one point of view per scene.

In Queen Margot readers see one point of view per scene and Mr. Dumas' writing is brilliant. It is clean reading, but not sterile. He evokes emotion on several letters and while he does not spare the readers' sensibilities with some of the more brutal scenes, they are essential to the story. They are not sensationalized but very much a part of the story. When he describes a character's outfit it is easy to visualize and the descriptions of the men on horseback, charging into a scene, evoke a sense of excitment. I applauded when Margot outwitted Catherine de Medici -- not an easy thing to do, even in a book.

As I said, this is an English version of the story. I'm not sure if it is a direct translation from the French or "cleaned" up to adhere to our modern rules of writing.

So my questions for the editors and/or historians or historians who are also editors are these:

Were his original books, written in French, done in a pure point of view?

What was it like to be an editor in the early 1800's? Or did they exist as you do today?

If given the opportunity, would you edit for Mr. Dumas? If so, why? What would draw you to wanting to edit his book(s)?

Do you think he would make it in today's world of publishing?

My answer to the last question, as an avid reader and a writer who aspires to write with the same mastery I see in his books is yes. Very much so.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

THE CHRONICLES OF ALCINIA - Book I - The King's Daughter by Miriam Newman

I was the King's daughter once, so many years ago that sometimes now it is hard to remember.  Before the tide of time carried away so many things, so many people, it was worth something to be the daughter of a king.
            Our little island nation of Alcinia was not rich, except for tin mines honeycombing the south.  It wasn’t even hospitable.  Summer was a brief affair and fall was only a short time of muted colors on the northernmost coast where my father sat his throne at the ancient Keep of Landsfel.  Winter was the killing time and spring was hardly better, with frosts that could last into Fifth-Month.  But from the south, where men cut thatch in a pattern like the bones of fish, to the north where rock roses spilled down cliffs to the sea, it was my own.
          One thinks such things will never change, yet all things do.
 ***
So begins the narrative memoir of Tarabenthia, born to a dying queen and an ambitious king.  The throne of her island nation should be hers.  Instead, her country is invaded, her parents murdered and Tia is sent in chains to the land of an enemy.



Consecrated to her Goddess, sworn to the service of her country, still Tia finds love in the arms of the enemy.

How will she return to fulfill her vow?
Winner of Coffee Time Romance Award
5+ at Conger’s Book Reviews
5 Blue Ribbons at Romance Junkies
Top Ten Finisher – Preditors & Editors Poll for Best Romance Novel of 2009

                     www.fictionwise.com
                     www.allromanceebooks.com

THE CHRONICLES OF ALCINIA:  Book I – The King’s Daughter
                                                           Book II – Heart of the Earth

TO ENTER A DRAWING FOR A PDF COPY OF THE KING'S DAUGHTER, LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!!  A winner will be drawn next week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

HER ITALIAN PRINCE

Here's hoping everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday.

Now that it's (sort of!) back to business as usual, I have a wonderful cover and excerpt from author Kate Hofman's new e-book release, Her Italian Prince.  If you'd like to enter a contest for a free PDF copy of Kate's book, please leave your email addy in the comments!  And now without further ado I'll let Kate and model Bill Freda speak for themselves as they do so well.

Excerpt from “HER ITALIAN PRINCE”

Prince Gianfranco di San Benedetto is advised that he is the sole heir of his late Uncle, who was the ruling prince—provided that he marries within three months of the Will being read, and remains married for at least a year. 
Reluctantly, Prince Gianfranco decides to do as his late Uncle wishes, and sets about finding a suitable candidate for the one-year marriage.

The excerpt begins here:

         
          Gianfranco was glad he had accepted the invitation of his friend, Tom Fredericks, the owner of the St.George Art Gallery.  The afternoon preview for an exhibition of Adrian Elliott’s paintings was now in full swing.  Gianfranco admired the painter, and it was a relief being among people where an Italian princely title didn’t matter.  He sighed.  It was also a relief having escaped unscathed from his Aunt Flavia’s well-meant, determined attempts to marry him off to a woman she thought suitable.  Not in a zillion years would he tie himself to a vain, promiscuous, malicious clothes horse like Luciana Scotto.  Strange that his aunt did not seem to realize what Luciana was.  Gianfranco shrugged imperceptibly.  Flavia had led a sheltered, pampered existence, protected from life’s rougher edges by her beloved Nìccolo.  I should tell her that I don’t want her to move from the Palazzo.  It would be too much of a wrench for her, and I like my own house far better. 
          A man’s whiny tenor sounded behind him.  “Tell me why you admire Adrian Elliott?  His paintings seem so simple, he probably knocks them off in half an hour.  Yet, by his prices, anyone would think he spent days, weeks, on them.”
          A soft, melodious woman’s voice said, “It is because Adrian is an accomplished artist that he can make very complex work seem easy.”  When the man snorted, the woman’s voice went on, “The same difference as there is between the ballet and a circus performance.  The dancers make their very difficult work seem effortless—and in a circus, there’s a drum roll, the performer shows an agonized face, he trembles with the effort of doing this very difficult thing, and people are deceived.”
          The man’s voice, now angry, challenged, “Are you saying that I can’t tell an artistic performance from a circus trick?”
The woman’s voice held a smile.  “Only if you think Adrian’s work easy.”  Intrigued, Gianfranco turned and gazed straight into a pair of intelligent silver-grey eyes, set in a beautiful face, surrounded by luxuriant coppery blonde curls. 
Realizing he needed to speak instantly, or lose the contact, he said, “Forgive me for speaking to you, but your remarks reflect exactly what Picasso once said, when someone asked him how long it had taken him to paint a certain, smallish painting.  He said, “Three hours, and forty-five years.”
          Smiling, the woman lifted her long, dark lashes to Gianfranco, her eyes sparkling silver.  “How delightful—and how true.”  The owner of the whining tenor scuttled away, leaving the terrain to the winner.
          They were interrupted by a handsome, dark blond man, carrying a tray of champagne flutes, who said, “These remarks deserve champagne.”  Turning to Gianfranco, he said, “Relax, Tom made sure to pour only Krug this afternoon—just for you.”
          “Thanks, Jeff,” said Gianfranco easily.  Turning to the woman, he said, “Do you know Jeff Harcourt…?”
          Jeff threw Gianfranco an admiring look.  “That’s the smoothest way I’ve ever seen a man get himself introduced to a beautiful woman.”  He turned to the woman. “Suzanne, let me introduce Prince Gianfranco di San Benedetto.  Gianfranco, this lady is Suzanne de Beauvoir.”
          “Your Highness,” Suzanne said, with a small, elegant curtsy.
          Gianfranco frowned.  “Oh, please don’t…”  The frown turning into a smile, he went on, “Ms. de Beauvoir—French?”
          “Yes, I am, by ancestry.  I’m sorry if my curtsy displeased you—it was instinctive.”  She glanced at him, seemingly confused.
          Gianfranco shrugged one strong, well-shaped shoulder that owed nothing to the superb Italian tailoring of his clothing.  “The title is not that of a ruling prince.  We’re just an old family that has the title—we’re Serene, not Royal.  Our lands are merely vineyards in Toscana—I mean, Tuscany.”          
Jeff interrupted, “Huge vineyards in Tuscany—the size of a small country.”
          Gianfranco shrugged.  “You exaggerate.”  Jeff grinned, shaking his head.
Gianfranco glanced around.  “I’m glad to say the title doesn’t count for anything, here.  Which is probably why I like living here.”
          “You live in the United States, Prince?”
          “Please call me Gianfranco, and yes, I not only live in the United States, I live right here in Ocean Breeze.” 
          “That is a bit unusual, I agree.  And please call me Suzanne.”
          Contrary to his usual habit of telling people nothing of his private life, he found himself explaining, “My mother was then living with me, and the wintry chill of Manhattan and Long Island did not agree with her.  Her doctors said that she’d do better in a climate that more closely resembled Italy, and I decided that this part of Florida came close to the weather we have in Toscana—Tuscany.”  He paused.  “Even so, my mother passed away after a couple of years…”  His voice trailed off.
          “I’m sorry for your loss,” Suzanne said formally.  She thought for a moment.  “Was your mother a widow?  Then perhaps she did not want to live on without her husband.”  Gianfranco lifted a slim, black brow.  His parents had entered into a dynastic marriage without anyone caring whether they loved each other.  They had always had separate private suites.  His mother had devoted her time to him—her only child—and to charities.  His father had had a string of discreet mistresses, and died of a stroke in the arms of his latest and youngest one.
Calmly, he said, “You might have something there.” 
A woman claimed her attention.  He half-listened to, “Suzanne, I heard you’ve got a new car,” and Suzanne’s reply, “Yes, a yellow Saturn.  I love it.”  The other voice went on about mileage, but Gianfranco no longer paid attention.  An idea had come to him.
He quickly turned to his head of security, doubling today as his bodyguard.  “Burt, see to it that the men spirit away that small yellow Saturn.”  Burt Hickman nodded without a word, hurrying out of the art gallery, to speak to his men.  When Gianfranco glanced out, ten minutes later, the Saturn had disappeared.  With a satisfied nod, he went in search of Suzanne again.
Am I seriously considering her for this mockery of a marriage my uncle has wished on me?  He was forced to answer, yes.  Heartily sick of impoverished European nobility stalking him for the riches of the pre-nuptial agreement—once the marriage was over and a divorce obtained—he had fled Europe in the hope of finding a more appealing choice of women here.  He smiled.  On his very first try, he had.  True, she was of French parentage, but she was born here, that was obvious.  No attempt at making herself more interesting by using a French accent.  Ah, no.  She seemed  comfortable in her own skin.  Beautiful, well-mannered and totally at ease in a social situation.  All the same, he’d have to be careful how he handled this.  Creating circumstances that would earn him her gratitude was just the beginning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

INTRODUCING BILL HAWORTH

Today it's my distinct privilege to introduce British author/actor/playwright Bill Haworth.

Bill's varied life experiences reflect very well in his general fiction short stories and books.  Retired from the Army, Bill has also served in offshore industry in the UK (North Sea), Canada, the Arctic and the Middle East.

Most recently, DCL Publications released Bill's collection, "Stonehenge and Other Short Stories."  My personal favorite is "Ice Palace," a fascinating story based on a little-known event in Czarist Russia.

For excerpts and BUY LINKS, go to:

http://www.amazon.com/Stonehenge-Other-Short-Stories-Haworth/dp/0984461566

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Stonehenge-and-Other-Short-Stories/Bill-Haworth/e/9780984461561

And don't miss Bill's video trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTOoQTOP4Ug

Monday, November 15, 2010

SEASON OF LOVE: A CHRISTMAS ANTHOLOGY

Join four of DCL’s authors in this multi-faceted ode to Christmas, the Season of Love:
Mistletoe Fangs by Susan Blexrud:
BLURB
Dr. Lauren Marsh, a pregnant vampire, seeks therapy to overcome a recent trauma, but is her creepy doctor interested in more than her well-being?  Will evil intercede, dashing the promise of a Christmas baby?
EXCERPT
Lauren parked in front.  There were no other cars on the quiet street.  As she approached the house, careful of the irregular sidewalk buckled from the roots of hundred-year-old trees, a shiver of foreboding ran up her spine.  The house looked like a grande dame in partial ruin, clutching the remnants of her former glory.  Lanterns on either side of the front door revealed peeling white paint and massive columns reminiscent of Tara after the Civil War, while an audio background of creaking planks strained under Lauren’s feet.  A swing swayed eerily on the expansive front porch. 
Before she reached for the gargoyle knocker, the door opened with a pop, like it had been sealed shut.  She peered into the musky foyer.  A deep voice issued from the darkness, “Good evening.  Please come in.”  Lauren inched across the threshold.  She didn’t need to close the door behind her.  It creaked shut on its own. 
A large, looming figure stepped out of the shadows.  “Light?”  The figure walked to a table in the foyer, struck a match and lit three candles in a candelabra.  “There.  That is better.”
Lauren suppressed a gasp as the figure turned to her.  There stood a reasonable facsimile of Rasputin.  He flashed a dazzling smile, and the dentist in Lauren took over.  She was a professional.  She could handle this.
“So nice to meet you.”  She held out her hand.
“And you,” he said, caressing her hand with long, cold fingers.  “Would you like me to turn up the heat?  It is a touch chilly this evening.”
“No, I’ve got a built-in oven here.”  Lauren rubbed her pregnant belly. 
“I am Erasmus Gephart,” the man said, eyeing her round tummy, “though I am sure you surmised that already.”  His incisor glistened in the candlelight as he smiled.
She’d hoped he’d been the butler.  Best not put too much stock in first impressions. “You come highly recommended.”
He dismissed her compliment with a wave of his hand.  “My credentials are impressive, but what is more important is whether I can assist you.”  For the first time, he gazed into her eyes with a penetrating stare.  No doubt the same hypnotic gaze Rasputin used on Queen Alexandra.
Dr. Gephart curled his index finger in a hokey “come hither” gesture, and Lauren followed him through an arched doorway hung with mistletoe into a dimly-lit Victorian parlor. 
“I see you’ve decorated for Christmas.”  Lauren nodded to the mistletoe.
“That has been up for years,” Dr. Gephart said.  “I have not yet put it to use.”
Lauren shivered at the thought of Dr. Gephart’s lips, which would surely be ice cold.  She took in his eclectic decor, replete with red velvet upholstery on the ornately carved furniture and an assortment of Cuckoo clocks on the walls.  He indicated a small loveseat for Lauren with a footstool at its base.  She settled in, propping up her high-top pink sneakers. 
Sitting in a throne-like chair across from her, Lauren thought that Dr. Gephart had a freakish sort of magnetism.  Maybe it was his long black hair, streaked with silver, or the intensity of his dark blue eyes.   She could understand how an unsuspecting human female could be seduced by him.

The Office Christmas Party by Bill Haworth:
BLURB
Office workers are obliged to attend a celebration of the boss’s promotion on Christmas Eve.  When they are trapped inside by a sudden weather change, problems flare up and the control freak boss is put in his place by an old cleaning lady.  But is she all she seems?
EXCERPT
As drunk as they were, the crowd fully comprehended their new manager’s veiled threat that an early departure from the party would be looked upon most unfavourably.  So, either due to gutlessness, ambition or both, the party flowed merrily on.
The old cleaning lady tugged on Perkins’ sleeve.
“Yes, yes, we’ve already said thanks for suggesting the shops nearby.”
“Then would you say you owe me a favour?” she asked.
 “I knew it.  She wants a bonus!”
“No I don’t.  I just want a favour.”
“Oh dear,” he groaned. “I suppose so.  What is it? You want a drink?”
“No thank you.”
“Then what?” he asked impatiently.
“The music is wrong.  Do you think we could have some seasonal music?”
“It’s a party, you old trout!  We’re celebrating!”
“Celebrating what exactly?”
“My promotion of course!” he snapped, then to the gathering asked, “Where do we get these people?”
Calmly the old girl told him, “It’s just that it’s Christmas Eve and you ought to be celebrating that!  That’s more important than any promotion!”
“Well, of all the nerve!”
“Ha - ha! She’s got you there F.P!” shouted Baxter.
Felling miffed but wishing to appear magnanimous he acceded to her request.
 “Of course, granny, you’re quite right!” he said sporting a quite insincere smile for her.  Calling out to an underling across the room he shouted, “Hey Sammy! The old girl wants a hymn.  See what you can do, eh?”
Sammy was always ready for a laugh and so waved and shouted back, “She wants a him?” then pointing to two men said, “Well how about him and him?”
The crowd jeered at this coarse remark as Sammy dutifully twiddled the knobs of the CD/radio eventually tuning into a choir singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’
The fact that the rock music had lost out to the hymns made little difference to the party crowd, who took scant notice anyway.
The irony was not lost on Mattie.  Look at them, she thought, they sure aremerry’ alright. Any merrier they would collapse!  And ‘gentlemen’! Ha! Give me a break! There isn’t one here would wouldn’t sell his own mother if it meant getting on in the company!
The old lady was most appreciative of the hymn music and happily continued titivating around the conference room with duster and broom.

A Special Christmas Gift by Kate Hofman:
BLURB
Glenda is resigned to never seeing her lover, Alexandros, again—until he knocks at her door, pleading for another chance…
EXCERPT
He gazed at Glenda for some time.  At last he asked, “Did you really try to get in touch with me?”  Glenda nodded, opening her mouth to explain. 
          They were interrupted.   A small voice said, “Mommy?”  Glenda flew up from her seat.  “I must go to Jason,” she whispered, and was gone.  Alexandros found it hard to sort out his feelings.  There was no doubt about his love for Glenda, but she had a child.  She isnt married, the name on her mailbox said St. George.  Was there a lover, who left her when he discovered she was pregnant?    Deeply distressed, he decided to wait and see.
          His distress ended quickly.  He heard Glenda’s soft voice talking lovingly, then a child’s treble voice saying something.  Glenda, holding her son by the hand, walked over to Alex, smiling.  Letting go of her son’s hand, she sat down again in her corner of the sofa, and watched Alex and her little boy.  In spite of his tan, Alex’s face became deathly pale.  Thee mou, this is what I looked like when I was his age. 
Jason gazed at Alex for a while, then he asked, “Who you?” 
          Profoundly moved, Alex whispered, “I think I am your Daddy.”  Jason beamed.  “My Daddy?  You my Daddy?”  He glanced at his mother, saw her nod.  “Mommy, me have Daddy!” the little boy exclaimed.  He stretched out a tentative hand to Alex’s face, and with a moan Alex wrapped his son in his arms, lifting him to his lap.  Elated when he felt his son’s kisses on his face, he gently kissed the boy’s forehead, whispering brokenly, “Ye mou” – my son.
          “How old is he, Glenda?”
          She smiled.  “Jason, tell Daddy your age.”
          Jason held up two fingers.  “Me two.”
          Alex hugged his son closer.  “You’re a big boy for two years old.  When I was that age, I looked just like you.”  This seemed to please Jason a lot, and they spent some time quietly enjoying Alex finding his son.

Peace on New Earth by Miriam Newman:
BLURB
Hope is all they have on the planet Megasta when plague brought by Earth colonists begins killing the natives.  Will the love of two people from different worlds be enough to bring peace on New Earth?
EXCERPT
They turned to each other in the night, after lovemaking and before dawn, in the hours when neither of them could sleep.
Jadelle was first to speak.  “Avron, what is it?” she questioned softly.
“My warriors will return at dawn.  I must think how to greet them.”
“Well…I think Kevan planned to do that.”
“He did?”  Accustomed to being the only leader, Avron was surprised and not entirely pleased by the thought.
“He has an obligation,” Jadelle pointed out gently.  “We are the ones who brought sickness to your people.”
“But you are the ones who will cure them, as well.  And I told them I hoped it would be so.  There is obligation upon me, as well.”
“Of course.  Perhaps you can do it together.”
“And you,” Avron insisted.  “When they first receive the idea of this cure, it must be you they see.  You will be the one to administer it to them, will you not?”
“Oh, yes,” Jadelle agreed at once.  “I wouldn’t miss that chance for anything.” 
She was so quiet then that finally Avron was the one to inquire what was in her mind.
Shifting slightly, she framed his face in her hands, kissing his forehead.  “Would you think I was silly if I said I was seeing the future?”
“You can do that?” he asked seriously.  The colonists performed so many wonders with their satellites and ‘puters, he was prepared to believe they had vision, as well.
“Not really.  It is just a picture I see in my mind, that’s all.  I can see fields by this oasis.  Water and crops, and bigger buildings by our domes.  Many of them.  Homes for people.  Places to gather.  To trade.  A school.  A town where our children can be educated together, if their parents wish it.  And beyond that…free land.  Land enough for your people to roam and hunt as they always have, so that your ways are not lost.  With med-technos from my domes to visit among them, giving knowledge and medication.  Your children fat and healthy, prospering.  I see those things, Avron, if I look hard enough.  I really do.”
He touched her back, in the darkness, running his hands the length of her small, precious body.  “If you do,” he said, “then I believe it may be so.”
BUY LINK: www.thedarkcastlelords.com/season-of-love.htm

Monday, November 8, 2010

FORTHCOMING RELEASE - THE COMET



This historical romance will be released in late Dec. 2010/early Jan. 2011 by DCL Publications. Here is a link to a beautiful trailer by the talented Kerri Nelson for you to enjoy in the meantime:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA5z0ANkKsY 




Thursday, November 4, 2010

DANCER DOG - A TRUE STORY

Although I'm noted as primarily a romance author, I have to tell you that sometimes something forces me to break the mold.  I was having one of those lapses when I wrote my little ebook novella, Dancer Dog.


What do you do when you are alone in the world?  If you’re a nice middle-aged lady with a social conscience, you go to your local shelter and adopt a rescue dog.  Of course, sometimes it isn’t only the dog who needs to be rescued. 
.
EXCERPT:

“We’re home,” I said in that tone you use when you give a dog the good news, and her soft ears pricked.  She sat up, looking eagerly out the window.  She hadn’t come to any palace, just a hundred-year-old Victorian cottage swamped with evergreens, bamboo and a lot of weeds I never found time to whack.  But it boasted a fascinating yard I had already decided to have fenced in despite the cost.  Sam and I walked the perimeter of the proposed yard so the dog could pee copiously once more, and then my friend (whose husband was waiting for her) had to take her leave of us.  She had been walking Dancer and the dog seemed a trifle confused when I took the leash, as though she had considered Sam her new owner, but when I led her into a warm place that smelled like food, she went right in.
            Kitty, accustomed to dogs, actually deigned to thump down from the rocking chair to greet us.  The next thing I knew, I was flattened against the solid oak door as a rampaging whirlwind ripped out of my unprepared grasp.  The cat had MOVED--God save the mark!—and Dancer responded instantly.  Poor Kitty, who hadn’t run that fast since her youth, whipped up the slippery wooden steps.  She was able to make good her getaway because Dancer had never before encountered steps.  The dog thrashed at the bottom, lunging in impotent fury, unable to deduce how to get upstairs.
            “No!” I admonished when I could catch my breath.  “Bad dog!  No chase!”
            She looked at me as if I was crazy.
            “Oh, come on,” I said, relenting.  “Let’s eat.”
            “I was just about to,” her expression said.  “Where did that cat go, anyway?”
            Kitty had gone to the attic.  She stayed there for a long time and she must have had telepathy with Smudgie, the barn cat, because I didn’t see old Smudge for days.
Her food disappeared and so did she.
            There followed a delightful afternoon and evening of snoozing on the couch with the dog tucked in the same position she had assumed with Sam, in this case flat on top of me with her nose between my neck and shoulder.  As long as her eyes were hidden, that tuck seemed to say, she couldn’t spot anyone coming to take her away from heaven.  A wave of protective warmth suffused my heart.  This dog must have been through hell.  Who knew what awful things had happened to her?  Well, her troubles were over.  I would see to that.
* * * *
           For the rest of Dancer's life, I did...but this little book is about the first hilarious year.  If you would like to download a copy of this inexpensive novella rated "Excellent" by reviewers, you can find it for $2.50 at www.thedarkcastlelords.com/dancer-dog.htm

Miriam



Monday, November 1, 2010

CONFESSIONS OF THE CLEANING LADY


In the spirit of Halloween, here is a little romp available as an ebook at www.thedarkcastlelords.com/confessions-of-the-cleaning-lady.htm. Set in the foxhunting country of Pennsylvania and Ireland, "Confessions" is a contemporary fantasy romance featuring Irish faeries, four-footed creatures and two people looking for love in all the wrong places.


Stowed away in the trunk of a pharmaceutical representative from Killarney, a band of feisty Irish faeries is released in the outlying suburbs of Philadelphia where Malachi McCurdy sets up bachelor housekeeping.  In need of a housekeeper, he hires Shawna Egan, unaware that "his" faeries have taken up residence in her oak tree.

Shawna, who was raised with tales of the Fair Folk but never realized she can see them, learns it the hard way when she cuts down the tree in which they made a home.  She gives them another and faeries always repay their debts.  But Shawna has secrets, and although she knows Mal is what she is seeking, will he want her after he has heard the confessions of the cleaning lady?


Monday, October 25, 2010

GRAMMAR GURU: Are We Confused Yet?

By popular demand (well, one popular demand, anyway), I am hereby resurrecting the Grammar Guru.  Resident of a former blog, Guru is an editor and some of the things she and others have noted will be duly described and corrected in this column, in such a way as to be comprehensible.  Rather than confuse you with phrases such as "split infinitive" and "subjunctive clause," Guru will merely tell you what's right, what's wrong and how to tell the difference, with examples of proper use.  So, without further ado, here's a list of requested words and phrases:


Any one vs. anyone
Any one denotes a specific person:  “Any one of us could go.” 
Anyone denotes any person at all:   “This event may be attended by anyone.”

Any more vs. anymore:
Any more denotes quantity:  “Are there any more?” 
Anymore is a measure of time:  “No one does that anymore.”

Every one vs. everyone
Every one is singular:  “Every one was counted.” 
Everyone is plural:  “Everyone can come.”

Any way vs.  anyway:
Any way means exactly what it says—any way/any method:  “I’ll take it any way I can get it.” 
Anyway is an adverbial substitute for “anywise” or “anyhow,”—meaning “in any case.”  “It doesn’t matter anyway.”

Any time vs. anytime:
Any time is specific: "Any time this happens, it's wrong."
Anytime is a generality meaning 'at any time whatsoever.'  "You can get that anytime."

All right vs. alright
The dictionary says these are interchangeable, but as an editor Guru can tell you that it strikes an immediate sour note with her whenever she sees "alright." 
Alright has only recently come into vogue and is still regarded by those of the old school as slang, and there is nothing wrong with using all right.  And since you don’t know whether you might get an old-school editor, the Guru advises using all right.  It's like wearing a classic clothing style.   You might not be trendy, but you'll never be wrong.



Saturday, October 16, 2010

4th Annual Waterford Film Festival

The 4th Annual Waterford Film Festival is being held Nov. 5-7 at Greyfriars Art Gallery, Waterford, Ireland.  This year between films and screenplays they have received their highest number of submissions ever from filmmakers and writers from across Ireland, U.K., Germany, France, Serbia, Spain, the U.S. and Canada!

Just an item of note for those interested in this venue.  We will keep you posted as to results received.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NEW PRINT RELEASE: SCION - Book l: House of Bardin


This best-selling ebook is now available in print at: www.amazon.com/Scion-Book-1-House-Bardin/dp/0984461507


Scion is the story of Caius and Lela, master and slave on the planet Thelona. Sold into sexual slavery by her own father, Lela is weary and jaded. Caius, returned to the life of the idle rich after eight exciting years in the Mercenary Corps, seeks only a night’s pleasure. When he buys Lela on the public square, neither of them expects what happens next.

4.5 Diamonds from Goterotic Romance: “It’s a story you won’t be able to walk away from once you start the first chapter.”
4.5 from Ramsey’s Reviews: “As soon as I read the first chapter, I became immersed within the pages, unable to break free until I completed the story.”
3 Stars from Romantic Times
VIDEO: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eol_5lTEyHE
Scion is still available as an ebook at www.thedarkcastlelords.com or at Fictionwise or All Romance EBooks.

Miriam

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FORTHCOMING RELEASE - THE COMET

I'd like to share the cover for my historical romance, The Comet, to be released by DCL Publications.

~ *~

An ambitious young Norman knight, critically injured at the Battle of Hastings, is cared for by the niece of a Saxon thane.  Rowena sees it as her Christian duty to save Neel, but is horrified when he repays her kindness with marriage.  She dares not refuse, but how can she love an enemy?
~ * ~
Look for this book in December, 2010!