Monday, October 4, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
I recycle, so what else is there to do?
Well, there's plenty of ways to help you not only save money, but Reduce, Reuse and Recycle everything you use, or almost everything.
Well, here are some tips you might be aware of, and maybe some tips you haven't thought of.
1. How much money do you waste on bottled water each week/month? Well, invest in a water purifier if you're really worried. Because my sister and her husband live in an area with well water, they have a reverse osmosis water filtration system. Or you can buy those filtration systems that you hook up to your faucet. Either way, you'll find yourself saving money because you'll always have safe, drinkable water in your home (as long as you replace the filters when necessary) and you can take it with you anywhere you go.
2. Besides bottled water, did you know that Gatorade sells its mix in powdered form? You may not be able to find all flavors, but you can control the strength of it, so it's not nearly as strongly flavored, but just flavored enough to make you forget you're drinking water. You can also do what I do, save the Gatorade bottles - they're strong and durable - sterilize/wash and reuse them. That way, if you're more concerned with outward appearances (afraid to let those around you know you recycle), the plastic bottles can help "mask" the fact that you're making your own and reduce the amount of plastic entering our landfills.
3. Buy your dish soap in bulk. If the bottle's too big to use regularly, then save one of your dish soap bottles and refill it. Not only does it save money because you're not buying it nearly as often, but it but, if you're buying Dawn, you can help save the earth and the animals at the same time since Dawn sponsors oil-spill efforts that save our wild, furry and feathery friends.
4. If you're going to buy pre-sliced foods, at least buy the ones with a reusable container and be sure to reuse it.
5. Buy your food (cottage cheese, peanut butter, etc.) in larger containers and use smaller ones to take them with you.
If you're anything like me, you save every container you can, but the biggest problem you have is what to do with them and, by this time, you're frustrated because you haven't found any hints as to what to really do with them.
Well, here are some ideas:
1. Large peanut butter or other jars can be reused to store other food items - as long as the oily peanut butter has been completely washed out of the jar. I myself am currently using one of the large peanut butter jars to keep my Chinese noodles (those crunchy ones) - this will save on plastic bags because you won't have to keep replacing the bag, even if you do reuse it for as long as you can.
2. Large juice bottles can be reused to store juice made from concentrate. Making your juice from concentrate will save you money because you're using your own water. And, if you sterilize/wash and reuse those smaller juice containers you'll be able to continue to take your juice with you. Plus, did you know that those heavier juice bottles are great for ice! Fill them with water, freeze them solid and you'll have ice that lasts and won't have to buy it, so you save money there too and it will save on the clean up because there won't be loose ice to get everything soaked! The great thing is that it can easily be re-frozen too (as long as it fits in the freezer).
3. Those pill bottles from the pharmacy that no one really knows what to do with because they, by law, can't reuse them - what to do with them? I wasn't sure what I'd do with them but now I think I might just use them for planting - the lids might help the seedlings grow faster. Hand wash only though, because they'll melt if you put them in the dishwasher.
4. My husband likes to eat cottage cheese for lunch and a salad for lunch. At first, we started with all these different containers, but then they started to break or weren't fitting in his lunch cooler. Well, instead of buying "new" stuff, I just got creative and, since he buys his cottage cheese in bulk, and at the time we bought our butter in those 8oz tubs, the solution was already in our cupboards. Once my husband realized how much money he saved by reusing an 8oz container for his cottage cheese and reusing the big cottage cheese container to hold his salads in, he got over the vanity point.
5. Plastic containers (like cool whip) can be reused to eat popcorn or to make costume accessories such as hats or purses. You just need to be creative with your ideas.
6. If you're like me and you want to grow your own plants from seeds rather than "buy" seedlings, plastic containers can work great once the seedlings are big enough and need more room before they are transplanted outside.
Yes, there's always a vanity point when it comes to saving the earth. You're always asking, "how will it look to other people?"
Well, if you're asking that question, it's one of vanity and nothing else. Who cares what your food is in? It's just your lunch. Besides, others might see you and think, "that's a good idea!"
If everyone reuses what they can, each person will reduce the carbon footprint and help to keep more plastics from being made.
Okay, what good will just one person doing this do? Well, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is kind of like a rolling stone - when one person starts, others will follow.
Yes, I know that there are a lot of plastics being made on a regular basis, but the more people that begin to buy less of those plastics off the shelves (those not already containing food), the sooner the manufacturers will get the idea that we want less of it around.
Besides, the more you reuse some of those plastics and see how long they last, it makes you realize just how much the plastic industry is really hurting our world. Sure, plastic is considered a great invention, and it is, but we don't need quite as much that's in existence right now.
I have plenty of plastic containers that I reuse and I wash what I can in the dishwasher so I don't get overwhelmed with the amount of plastics that need to get washed. It's really eye-opening when you stop and consider how long the plastics our society considers "use once" really lasts. If drug companies would re-use (sterilize/wash) pill containers, they'd save a lot of money.
It's time to bring the plastic revolution to a close and start working on ways to stop global warming - yes, it's real and is really happening, despite what some people want you to believe.
What about you, what ideas do you use when reusing plastics?
Friday, October 1, 2010
So, to kick off the month of October and my 31 days of Halloween celebration, I’m going to talk about Haunted Houses…
*insert evil laugh*
The term “haunted houses” brings to mind my personal experiences. I grew up in a house that, while not necessarily haunted, it had a spirit of some sort living with us in perfect harmony. I often felt protected and loved by that spirit. I've mentioned before that I believe my great-grandfather haunts my father’s house, as I’ve seen his spirit more than once. The comparison between my great-grandfather and the spirit I grew up with is startling. When I saw my great-grandfather the feeling was so intense, so vile and aggressive, and he wanted us gone. Or that was the way I interpreted it.
I have a girlfriend, Nicole, who bought a home with her husband. It was a beautiful piece of property, twenty-five acres, with an older fixer-up home. The home was so old it had a well built on the corner of the front porch. It was cool, a neat little piece of history. I can’t even imagine having to draw my water out of it just to meet the basic necessary needs. But after having kids I see the danger in it too. The place had oodles of potential and best of all it was away from the big city. It was so quiet and peaceful.
My first visit there, I came home telling my husband the place had a ghost. Everywhere I went, I felt like I was being watched. I never felt any hostility, but more curiosity. Daytime or nighttime, it didn’t matter, some unseen presence watched. From inside the home to the shed in the backyard, something always watched. The only time I could truly get away from the presence was when we would ride the four-wheelers across the back part of the property and woods.
I didn’t realize until we visited for a Halloween party a couple of months later that Nicole had purchased the home from an estate after the previous owner, an elderly woman, passed away in it. It was like the light-bulb went off in my head—a smack my forehead V8 moment!—where I thought ‘that is why I’m feeling those hidden eyes’.
Another weekend I was there goofing off with Nicole and her mother, Jill, when Jill started talking about her conversations with the spirit of the woman who once owned the house! I got chills!! I teared up! To have my feelings and thoughts confirmed was exciting. The only thing that would have made this haunted house perfect would have been for it to have a cemetery sitting on the property! LOL
I went home that night and told my husband about Jill knowing there was a ghost there too and couldn’t resist saying, “I told you so!” His reply was that I wasn’t the only crazy person in the world. ;-)
I’d love to hear your comments...do you believe in hauntings or spirits (ghosts)? Have you had an experience you'd like to share with us? If so, leave me a comment! We'd love to hear your tale.
Scary photo of the week…
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! And a safe 31 days of Halloween celebration!
All photos were taken from Photobucket and no copyright infringement was intended!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Nostos The Homecoming is a creative story, built with a great imagination. Action punched through scenes in short lively bursts and Nancy Barone Wythe sure knows how to wallop you with great descriptions. For example:
"He had the timeless gaze of an immortal to whom the world had entrusted all its
"'You are like daybreak in my darkness…you leave me stunned and bewildered…'"
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Gracen: For many of us, September brings the start of NFL and College Football. In the confines of these games, many writers find inspiration for stories and heroes. In honor of these forces of nature, we want to know: Do you watch NFL or American College Football or both? Neither? Or, are you the type of person who thinks of a round, black and white ball when you hear the word, "football"?
Raine: Oh egad, no. I am not a sport nut whatsoever. For me, Fall means apple picking, hiking in the hills with Fall foliage and cooler temps not tailgating and screaming hoards of fans. LOL
Gracen: What is/are your favorite NFL (or college) Football team(s)? If you don't watch the game or have any favorite teams, do you know someone who does? Who is this person to you and what is (are) his/her favorite team(s)?
Raine: Again, I don’t watch it but my mom and siblings love the local NFL team, Buffalo Bills (though they are not great the last several years). My mom asks for Bills items at Christmas and watches the games when she can on Sunday when they play.
Gracen: As with any sport, many of us American Football fans have favorite players. Do you have a favorite NFL (college) player? Who is it and why do you like him? If not, does anyone you know have a favorite NFL (college) player? Who is this person to you, who does he/she like and why?
Raine: Nope no one I know watches or enjoys College Football.
Gracen: While not every area has an NFL team to call their own, most areas have a college team, and in some cases more than one and books like Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger have brought to the forefront the popularity of college football and how it can make or break careers and people's lives while the movie We Are Marshall told the true story of how college football can impact an entire town. How strong is college football (NCAA or lower divisions) in your area? If American Football isn't present, what is the big college sport in your town and what college(s) is (are) the best in that sport?
Raine: No idea. I don’t follow that sort of thing here.
Gracen: If not into American Football, what sport is your favorite? What's your favorite team and why? Who is your favorite player?
Raine: Again I don’t get into sports at all. To me it is not a fun activity but to many others it is the best thing since sliced bread. *Shrugs*
Gracen: Some fans cookout, gather with family and friends or go to a sports bar to enjoy good food and beer while watching the game. What kind of festivities do you (or have you) participate(d) in for a game of your favorite sport?
Raine: I don’t do tailgating or parties for this.
Raine: I think I went to one Super Bowl party long ago and they had pizza, wings, and snack food as pre-game stuff then at half time brought out chili, sandwiches, etc. It was fun but again, I just watched for commercials. :-)
Raine: No idea on that.
Gracen: We've had our fun, now, let’s switch gears and focus on your writing.
Raine: Oh thank god…all that sport talk had me in a panic. LOL
Gracen: LOL Sorry about that, Raine. Since we enjoy reading as much as we enjoy writing, tell us, what books/authors are you reading right now? Why these books, why these authors?
Raine: Currently I am reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins whichis phenomenal. Then my stack includes: Sparks (Laura Bickle), Devil’s Playground (Jenna Black), Night Myst (Yasmine Galenorn), No Mercy (Sherrilyn Kenyon) and many more.
I love these authors’s writing style and frankly, I am in my paranormal/urban fantasy kick right now. There are just so many talented authors out there with some great books that I miss all the time. :-(
Gracen: There are many reasons that bring us to the genres we write in and many more that keep us from writing in the genres we love. Is there an element or genre that you love and enjoy reading but will never use yourself? Why?
Raine: I cannot write a good suspense (Romance or otherwise). I like reading it but for the life of me, I cannot get the right components in this genre in a story.
Gracen: Heroes and heroines can be anything we choose to make them, whether the girl next door or the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. With your latest novel/story that we're promoting here today, Devon Falls 5: Moonlight & Magic, how would you classify the hero and heroine? Why did you choose (do you think your muse chose) to write them that way? (Without giving too much of the plot away, please share with us a bit of dialogue between the hero and heroine to demonstrate what makes you classify the hero and heroine the way you have, thanks!)
Raine: Oh man, Dixie was a secondary character in earlier Devon Falls books and the muse loved her wit, spunk and humor. She was cynical in romance but wanted what her cousins’ found-love. Michael was a quiet man who was hurt by a past betrayal. When these two characters met, my muse went “WOOT-a winner”. They clicked and in Moonlight & Magic we see how two cynical people find a way to each other. Now the question is can Michael convince Dixie to take a chance on him for longer than one night?
My muse is very particular. He keeps my characters on their toes and gets testy when I decide to change things. Case in point, early drafts of Moonlight & Magic had Michael almost wimpy and man, was he not happy. Between my muse and Michael ganging upon me to let them tell the story, it was enough to drive a woman nuts. *Laughs*
Ok *thinks* Let me see what I can find to show you the dynamics of Michael and Dixie (please remember this is rough draft as my edits are unfinished as of right now-it may change for release).
Scene set up: Dixie is coming home after a long day at work.
Opening her door as she grabbed her mail from the floor, “Honey I am home” she shouted. “Damn no man in site.” Putting water on for tea, Dixie took off her shoes with a sigh of relief and sat down on the couch. Looking at the mail, she tossed aside the junk and bills and rested her head on the back of the couch. “I need to kill Alicia tomorrow for leaving me like that. I swear whenever she or Jax is not around, all things go to hell. Right, Mr. Fish?” She tapped the fish bowl by the side of the couch. “Great I am talking to fish now. I must be mental now.” Disgusted with herself, Dixie got up and poured herself a bowl of cereal for dinner. “I need a date or something. This dry spell of mine is making me go psychotic or something. First I get every electric device at work out to get me, and I am left with a hoard of customers all wanting coffee. Is there a shortage or something in this town?”
Scene set up: Michael just came to town and spies Dixie at a local bar. Roped into walking her home, he finds himself drawn to the spunky Dixie and finds himself falling for her.
Michael leaned forward and when he finally touched those kissable lips, he felt the spark that hit me the first time he touched her turn into an inferno. Pulling her close, he felt her body mold itself around him, fitting against his and it was pure perfection. He couldn’t get enough of her. Kissing her was like the pure molten fire. She was a drug he craved and he was determined to have it. Feeling her kiss him back had him aching in more ways than one. Sliding his tongue along her lips had her gasping and taking advantage of that, slipped in and began to duel with hers. The deep kisses made him want more and before he took her against the trees, he gathered his last shred of control and with a last deep kiss, he took a deep breath as he leaned his head against hers, his breath choppy and his jeans a tad bit too tight at the moment.
“I am not going to say I am sorry, Dixie.” Michael said, as he tried to get his equilibrium back. Dixie had him so off-center that it was amazing he didn’t collapse from it. “I wanted to kiss you the moment I spied you dancing around the table. You looked so free and happy.”
Gracen: Since every good story needs a villain to make it interesting, tell us about Moonlight & Magic: Who is the villain (if a big part of the story is the mystery of the villain, we'll let you be vague,:-) !)? What does he/she look like and what is his/her personality?
Raine: I don’t have a villain per say. My characters are the main props and their personal issues are the villains.
Gracen: Besides a villain to create havoc, every good story needs conflict (some problem to be resolved) to make it interesting, tell us about Moonlight & Magic: What is the major conflict? How does it affect the characters' lives in the story?
Raine: The major thing between Dixie and Michael is that Dixie doesn’t believe in fairy tales, happily ever after or that she deserves love. Too many broken promises, heart been broken numerous times and cynical after all that, she is a woman who doesn’t believe in the Disney version of HEA.
Michael is a man haunted by his past. Tossed out of his pride by a coup by his uncle, forced to roam like a gypsy, he longs for a mate and a home. Something that he can call his own. Meeting Dixie was like a breath of fresh air for him. She got him to laugh, smile and believe. Michael got Dixie to believe in forever again.
Their past has them questioning their present and future and it was fun to show how they got past that even as they fell in love.
Gracen: What scene did you have the most fun creating and why? (Please, without revealing too much of your plot, share some of that scene with us!)
Gracen: Some authors have trademark elements or personality traits that can be noticed in every book they write. Do you have any trademark elements or personality traits that tend to pop up in your books whether you want them to or not? (Example: Many of Amanda Quick's Regency era heroines are considered "originals" and are on the fringe of society even if socially accepted in certain "polite" circles.) What are some examples?
Raine: Not sure…have to think on this.
Gracen: What is your favorite kind of ending for a book (dramatic, action-packed, typically tied with a big red bow, suspenseful, cliffhangery, low-key, etc.)? Is this evident in the ending of Moonlight & Magic? Why or why not?
Raine: My stories have that happily ever after or even a Happy for now sort of ending. I love seeing the characters ride off into the sunset, arms around one another.
Gracen: What do you hope readers take with them after reading your story?
Raine says: I just hope they enjoyed the story and that they were able to get into the character’s lives a little bit.
Can a were-tiger convince one stubborn woman that she is his for all time and show her that falling in love is just as sinful as a chocolate kiss?
Dixie Sinclair has watched her cousins all fall in love and now she wants the same. Dared to go to the annual Masquerade ball, Dixie finds the one thing she desires: love…one problem…can she trust that it will last after that one night?
Michael Barnes is a rare white were-tiger who was thrown out of his pride long ago for a trumped up crime, Michael roams the world searching for the one place to call home. Finding that peace in Devon Falls, he finds the one woman who stirs him like no other. Can he convince Dixie that she can trust in him forever?
*NOTE-this is unedited. It may change after editing*
“”Damn” Michael whispered as he felt her hips sway against him, teasing him while she smiled seductively. It was enough to drive him wild. Visions of having her on her knees while he took her from behind had him melting on the spot. It was wild the way he felt for this curvaceous woman. It was like another person was in his body; One that he didn’t recognize and was afraid to give into.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
K. A. Laity is the author of Pelzmantel, Unikirja and many other easier to spell titles. She is Associate Professor of English at the College of Saint Rose and writes a weekly column for the global women’s lifestyle network, http://www.bitchbuzz.com/. She also writes romance as Kit Marlowe (http://www.kit-marlowe.com/) and erotic romance as C. Margery Kempe (http://www.cmkempe.com/).
Now…please sit back, sip on your favorite beverage and enjoy getting to know K.A. Laity:
GRACEN: For many of us, September brings the start of NFL and College Football. In the confines of these games, many writers find inspiration for stories and heroes. In honor of these forces of nature, we want to know…Do you watch NFL or American College Football or both? Neither? Or, are you the type of person who thinks of a round, black and white ball when you hear the word, "football"?
K.A.: I don't watch American football. It's incredibly boring to me. Ten seconds of action and then lots of standing around in armour so thick you can hardly see the human. Real football on the other hand is a lot more fun.
GRACEN: Personally, I like all that armor when it's my child playing the game. I don't know how he moves, but I like it! =D What is/are your favorite NFL (or college) Football team(s)? If you don't watch the game or have any favorite teams, do you know someone who does? Who is this person to you and what is (are) his/her favorite team(s)?
K.A.: I have friends who support Arsenal and friends who support West Ham so I cheer according to whoever it is I'm with. I have a friend who supports Man U, but I won't cheer them.
GRACEN: As with any sport, many of us American Football fans have favorite players. Do you have a favorite NFL (college) player? Who is it and why do you like him? If not, does anyone you know have a favorite NFL (college) player? Who is this person to you, who does he/she like and why?
K.A.: I grew up playing sports. There were four baseball diamonds and a football field behind my house. So for me, sports are for playing not watching. I've never understood the hero-worship of athletes.
GRACEN: I agree, K.A. I don't get the hero-worship of athletes either, but even my boys suffer from it. While not every area has an NFL team to call their own, most areas have a college team, and in some cases more than one and books like Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger have brought to the forefront the popularity of college football and how it can make or break careers and people's lives while the movie We Are Marshall told the true story of how college football can impact an entire town. How strong is college football (NCAA or lower divisions) in your area? If American Football isn't present, what is the big college sport in your town and what college(s) is (are) the best in that sport?
K.A.: I'm delighted to be in a contested zone sports-wise (upstate NY near the MA border). There are as many Mets and Yankees fans as Red Sox fans, and football is evenly spread between various teams whose names escape me, so there's no monolithic fan base. Living in Texas was hell: football is a religion there (so is Christianity, apparently).
GRACEN: LOL So true, K.A. Football is a religion in Alabama just like in Texas, people eat, sleep and breathe college football. So, if you're not into American Football, what sport is your favorite? What's your favorite team and why? Who is your favorite player?
K.A.: If I must pick a sport, it's croquet. My favourite player is me with a cold beverage in my hand and a fetching hat on my head. I do have a crush on Mesut Özil, though.
GRACEN: Hey, I like playing croquet! Some fans cookout, gather with family and friends or go to a sports bar to enjoy good food and beer while watching the game. What kind of festivities do you (or have you) participate(d) in for a game of your favorite sport?
K.A.: Well, I spend the summer watching the World Cup in various pubs around London. The city hummed with the sound of vuvuzelas. It was good.
GRACEN: Watching a game on TV certainly isn't as exciting as actually being part of the crowd. In many areas (Wisconsin and Alabama being big ones since this occurs everywhere for every sport as long as weather permits), people arrive at the stadiums early to cookout, drink beer and socialize with other "tailgaters". Some even get into the act by playing a rag-tag game of impromptu football with people they don't know. What kinds of pre-game activities and food can be found in the parking lot before, "the big game"?
K.A.: I would like to think champagne brunches with caviar and lobster thermidor accompanied by wit rivaling the Algonquin Roundtable, but I suspect I would be mistaken.
GRACEN: Your pre-game activities would probably be more entertaining, K.A.! As with any sport and any fan with favorites come the not-so-favorite and sometimes downright hated teams and or players due to rivalries, ethical or not-so-ethical reasons. Are there any teams and or players that just get (or got) on your nerves more than any other? Who is the team/player and why?
K.A.: England's team in the World Cup this year was atrocious. They lost me £10. At least I got it back in ale.
GRACEN: We've had our fun, now, let’s switch gears and focus on your writing, K.A.…Since we enjoy reading as much as we enjoy writing, tell us, what books/authors are you reading right now? Why these books, why these authors?
K.A.: I'm reading Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus because she figures in my next project; I'm reading a biography of Dorothy Parker because I am addicted to writer bios and I love Parker's wit; I'm reading a book on Night of the Hunter that a friend lent to me. I don't generally read much fiction, but I have a manuscript from a fellow writer that I can't wait to read, except I also have a manuscript that my editor just sent back, so I'll have to work on that first.
GRACEN: There are many reasons that bring us to the genres we write in and many more that keep us from writing in the genres we love. Is there an element or genre that you love and enjoy reading but will never use yourself? Why?
K.A.: I don't think there's anything that I would rule out. My problem in establishing my "brand" as the PR mavens call it, is that I write across genres so much of the time and create mash-ups that don’t quite fit any particular genre: interstitial is the only way I can be.
GRACEN: Heroes and heroines can be anything we choose to make them, whether the girl next door or the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. With your latest novel/story that we're promoting here today, Pelzmantel, how would you classify the hero and heroine? Why did you choose (do you think your muse chose) to write them that way? (Without giving too much of the plot away, please share with us a bit of dialogue between the hero and heroine to demonstrate what makes you classify the hero and heroine the way you have, thanks!)
K.A.: For the names, I chose two of the most hated characters in the medieval Icelandic novel, Njal's Saga, Hallgerd and Mord. I'm perverse that way. They're both royals, but he's been a pampered young man and she was raised in exile. When they first meet, things don't go well. Oh, and her friend Nana (our narrator) has become a fox:
GRACEN: Oooo…that snippet ended much too early! I wanted to read more. Since every good story needs a villain to make it interesting, tell us about Pelzmantel: Who is the villain (if a big part of the story is the mystery of the villain, we'll let you be vague,=)!)? What does he/she look like and what is his/her personality?
The lad below us offers his hand up to help Hallgerd step out from the hollow of the tree. She clutches me tight. I get only the briefest glimpse of the lords and ladies gathered below, arrayed in their bright hunting clothes, before Hallgerd turns and makes her slow way down the trunk of the tree behind the nimble youngster. Reaching the soft ground, the princess faces the curious crowd, chin in the air and arms wrapped possessively around me.
“Well, well, quite a wily prey we have caught today, eh friends? Pray tell, Karl, what do we call such a creature? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a pelt as this!” The smiling king reaches out to Hallgerd’s mantel and strokes the soft fur. I growl as menacingly as I can and he pulls his hand back nervously.
“Goodness! Perhaps we should let the huntsmen take care of that creature for you, little one.”
“Never! You shall not touch her—him!”
Fortunately, the young king find amusement in this sharp girl. “Do you know who you address, my fine lady?” He turns to the hunting party with a sizable grin. They take their cue and titter appreciatively as he continues to scold Hallgerd, who remains sullenly—and wisely—silent. “Why, I am the king. You do not wish to displease the king, now do you my dear?”
Hallgerd takes another tack. “This fox saved my life. I owe it protection.”
That really makes the king guffaw. “Such a noble lady! Whom do I have the honor to address?”
“I am no one of any importance…your majesty,” Hallgerd adds with distaste. She casts a discerning eye over his own wardrobe, an excess of finery seldom seen in her more practical world.
“No one of importance? Yet you are dressed so well. I do not recognize the cut of your coat, but it is a very fine mantel—surely you come from a dukedom nearby? Perhaps to the south, where they get more of the sun?” He brushes a very pale hand against her soot-blackened cheek. A couple of the ladies shriek with laughter at that,
waving their handkerchiefs at his recklessness.
“I am no one and nothing but a poor kitchen maid,” Hallgerd replies through clenched teeth, “this cloak my only treasure.”
“But what are you doing in the woods, child? So far from home?”
“I—I ran away,” Hallgerd says and I see the gleam of the story-teller in her eye. Go with it, my girl!
“Ran away? Dear me!”
“My parents wanted me to marry a warty old man and I couldn’t bear it because he was so unkind. So I ran away—many days—until I was nearly captured by evil robbers, but this fox—he saved me…”
“How did he do that?” the king asks breathlessly.
“He—he ran at them, barking and growling. They thought it was a wolf, I believe, and they were quite frightened.”
The king steps a little closer but keeps away from my muzzle. “And this fox? Why do
you think it helped you, child? Do you enchant animals regularly?” More laughter from the lords and ladies follows this suggestion.
“No, I do not. But he is one of the animals whose pelt is sewn into this cloak so we have special bond. We must protect each other.”
“Fascinating! What shall we call you, my child?”
“They call me Pelzmantel for my coat of many furs,” Hallgerd replies, burying her face in my fur.
“Well, little Pelzmantel, your story has touched my heart. Shall I rescue you from your woodlands adventure and give you shelter in my kitchen?” He chortles at his gallantry to one so unlikely, but notices his fine lords and ladies murmur restlessly now. “I know my cook can always use a good kitchen maid. Are you a hard worker?”
“Yes, your majesty.”
The king already walks away, bored with this novelty. “Well, if you can keep up with the horses, follow us back to the castle and I’ll put you to work in the kitchen. Come, ladies, gentlemen! Let us return to the castle and enjoy the fruits of the hunt.” They turn away from us and mount their fine horses.
K.A.: His name is really Maldachta, which is Old Irish for "evil speaker" but he gives his name as Thomas, which was the name of someone I particularly detested at the time I wrote it (beware the writer's wrath!). He has insidious charm, which is the kind of thing that really provokes me. I see through people like that and can't understand why others don't.
GRACEN: Besides a villain to create havoc, every good story needs conflict (some problem to be resolved) to make it interesting, tell us about Pelzmantel: What is the major conflict? How does it affect the characters' lives in the story?
K.A.: The novel is a retelling of the Grimm tale, All Fur, which is a kind of donkey skin fairytale. The princess who is denied her heritage must live in disguise in exile. Her father—who tried to marry her—is left behind with the evil Thomas, the land falls into disarray, the princess works as a kitchen maid and Nanna trades skins with a fox.
GRACEN: What scene did you have the most fun creating and why? (Please, without revealing too much of your plot, share some of that scene with us!)
K.A.: My favourite is when Nanna convinces the fox to trade skins while she is imprisoned. There's magic and cajoling but the real reason the fox agrees is surprising and, I hope, touching.
GRACEN: Some authors have trademark elements or personality traits that can be noticed in every book they write. Do you have any trademark elements or personality traits that tend to pop up in your books whether you want them to or not? (Example: Many of Amanda Quick's Regency era heroines are considered "originals" and are on the fringe of society even if socially accepted in certain "polite" circles.) What are some examples?
K.A.: I like to think humour is one of my trademarks. My characters usually use humour to cope with the terrible situations into which I throw them. Not surprisingly, my characters are often liminal figures with a foot in at least two different worlds. In my next novel, Owl Stretching, this becomes quite literal.
GRACEN: What is your favorite kind of ending for a book (dramatic, action-packed, typically tied with a big red bow, suspenseful, cliffhangery, low-key, etc.)? Is this evident in the ending of Pelzmantel? Why or why not?
K.A.: I don't know that I'm enamoured of any particular kind of ending. Every story has it's own trajectory. You can guess that as a fairytale, Pelzmantel ends satisfactorily, though there is some ambiguity. Evil seldom simply disappears. I don't like things to wrap up too neatly most of the time, but I also write romance which has to do so.
GRACEN: What do you hope readers take with them after reading your story?
K.A.: I want people to see the magic of the Middle Ages: the real magic! There's an essay in the back of the book that explains some of the things I used in the story and the way people looked at magic back then. I can't seem to help being a teacher.
GRACEN: Sounds fascinating, K.A.! Best of success with all your novels. Your Pelzmantel cover is fabulous, so kudos to whoever the artist is! It was a joy and pleasure to have you join us today.
A woman who's a fox—a kitchen maid who's a princess—and a walnut with a wardrobe!
I run off into the night. Patches of late snow still lie on the ground here and there and I run through them exhilarated by the sharp coldness of it on my fur. Everywhere are scents! I can recognize many of them but not all. I can still smell the dampness of the dark cell, even the unevenly cooked fowl on the dish. The pungent aroma of the ointment overpowers my senses and I stop at one of the irregular piles of snow to wipe the bulk of it from my forehead. Better but still the scent lingers, amazing!
I run across the courtyard, fearless, easily, my four legs flying with the easy joy of it. It is difficult to pull my mind back to the task at hand. I want to run and run and run. I have not felt this energy for many a year, maybe not since childhood. And he called himself old! He does not know age yet. I admire the play of my muscles—musical!—and jump whenever I can, over bushes, over logs, over snow banks.
Skirting the village itself, I head out toward the south, casting around for the scent of the princess. It distresses me, though I am not surprised, to find that I pick up almost immediately the smell of the hunting dogs. They were tracking her after all, though surely since night fell they had to return and wait for morning light. I don’t need it.
I follow the dog tracks for some time and finally, as the pack spreads out, beneath their odor I sniff the beautiful scent of lavender and rose—the princess! It is unmistakable. Unfortunately, the tracks of the hounds continue to follow her too. Surely, I scold myself, if they had captured her Thomas would have come to me to gloat. They cannot have caught her yet.
At the first stream I can see where she has waded downstream to try to throw the dogs off the scent. Many tracks line the banks in a wild riot of smells and confusion. But a trampled area shows that they found her trail again and hurried after it. Too bad. But my princess is wise. At the next stream, she wades even further though surely that night was very cold and she must have suffered for it after. I hope her mantel has kept her warm, a good gift to have and no mistake. But the dogs eventually discovered her track far down the stream and were off once more in pursuit. Again I feel a stab of fear. Has she made it, is she still free?
At the third river I lose her entirely. So too did the dogs. Footprints of the dogs and trackers wander for miles up and down the stream…and then turn back. They lost the trail! Hurrah! But now I realize that I have as well. And despite my initial elation, I am beginning to feel tired and cold. No warm fire to keep the chill away tonight. Where did she go? I wander up and down the river for some time. What should I do? Find a place to sleep and begin again in the morning? Ah, but the scent is already faint, perhaps it would be gone by then and if it should rain, ah, then what?
I sit down on the bank and curl my tail around my paws. It does help to warm them. I look around the banks of the river where I last smelled Hallgerd’s scent. What did she do to foil her pursuers? It seems an unremarkable stretch of land, if anything the banks are rather tall and the trees are old and tall, their branches spreading across the sky, hiding the moon’s new face. A glimmer of an idea pops into my head. I look up and down both sides of the brook. A ha! A likely one over there. I splash through the cold water, convincing my toes that this is essential work and that we will soon be with the princess and warm. On the other side, I look up. Yes, with a desperate jump, she could have made it to that low-hanging branch. But how to tell? My body is much too small now to make such a leap. If only I could be sure—maybe? Is it only wish furthering the hope that I catch a slight whiff of rose?
I walk around the mammoth tree which must be at least as old as I am. If she did climb up there, where did she go next? I look around to the big oak’s neighbors. There—that one, surely. Not quite as huge, but sturdy, a low branch that she could easily have reached, intermingled with the oak’s own branches. And from there? No where to go but into that thicket of pines. Certainly though, they could not hold her weight, nor even mine, little creature that I am now and yes! There! Broken branches and the lovely perfume of lavender and first roses. Clever girl!
Places where you can find K.A. Laity:
Buy link: http://www.immanion-press.com/info/book.asp?id=394&referer=Hp
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjbzVflTCq0
Chapter One: http://www.scribd.com/doc/36865887/Pelzmantel-Excerpt
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Margay will be unable to join us today. Her daughter is having surgery and she'll be stuck in ICU all day today and possibly tomorrow. So, please send prayers and positive thoughts for Margay and her daughter.
Any positive comments you'd like to make, I'm sure would be very much appreciated upon Margay's return.
We love you, Margay!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
There was a SNAFU on my end with the guest blogger today. BUT stay tuned...RAINE DELIGHT will join us today.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
TGIF, Moonlightees! I hope everyone has had a great week. Do any of you have any special plans for the weekend? Nothing much here and I'm rather excited about having nothing to do. So, a couple of weeks ago I explained that I was neck deep in edits. I thought I'd share an excerpt from what I just finished editing, Where the Road to Hell Begins, Part One - Pandora's Box. Yeah, I know I need to work on the title, but that's the working title. I plan to have it sent off at the latest on Monday. *fingers crossed* Writing the synopsis is next and that always stumps me. I have trouble condensing 95K words into 2-5 pages. No easy feat! Okay, so I'll shut up and give you the excerpt. Tell me what you think....like? Dislike? Suggestions? Comments? I'm all ears. ;-)
WARNING: Some content may not be suitable for all readers. Please read with discretion.
EXCERPT - WHERE THE ROAD TO HELL BEINGS - PART ONE PANDORA'S BOX
Instead of a 'hello', she received a gruff, "Nix."
"Hey, sexy," Mads said, forcing cheerfulness into her tone. She leaned her elbows on the rail of the balcony and chewed on the inside of her mouth.
"Mads?" She thought he sat up.
"Yeah." At times like this, she wished she smoked. Had some nasty addiction to turn to for comfort.
"What's wrong?" He definitely sat up this time, the rustling of covers and the squeaking of bedsprings loud through their connection.
"Mads…" He whispered furiously, the sound of a door opening and clicking closed coming through on his end loud and clear. "You didn't call me at two A.M. to tell me nothing was wrong."
Madison expelled a long shaky breath. "I think we made a mistake tonight."
Concern tensed his voice, "What'd you do?"
"Oh, nothing much, just released a genie from its crystal prison." And used Pandora's Box to bust him out. Oh and let's not forget how dirty she felt now with the magic still thrumming through her so hard she couldn't sleep.
He whistled low. "That sounds diabolical."
She laughed. Nix could lighten any situation. "He had to be trapped for a good reason, right?"
"Depends." On what? "Where are you, Mads?"
"Mexico." She looked out on the Mexican city. Poverty stark in every direction. "You?"
"South Beach, Miami," the sound of his voice drooled enough she didn't have to see his expression. "The news said a level six earthquake struck Chihuahua, Mexico today."
Yeah, that earthquake was little ole' me channeling the awesome power of the box.
"South Beach, huh?"
"Yeah, beautiful beaches."
Skirt chasing Nix would be in his element there. Jealousy made more vibrant by Pandora's magic hit her hard, had her hoping her phone call interrupted something naughty before it happened. "I guess there aren't any hot babes there."
"None as smoking hot as you."
"Flirt." But the corners of her mouth turned up at his compliment.
"Guilty." On his end came the honking of horns and the revving of engines. "Tell me exactly where in Mexico you are and I'll be on the next flight."
"You need me or you wouldn't have called," his voice turned a shade darker. Agitation maybe, but it was hard to tell without seeing his expression.
"I don't need you here." She pinched the bridge of her nose. She shouldn't have called Nix. No need for him worry along with her.
"What do you need?"
"I don't know." She tapped her fingernails on the rail. "Someone to tell me we made the right decision."
"Okay." A long pause screamed between them. "Why'd Amos break out this…this crystal genie?"
"He didn't. I did." Sirens blared in the background, fitting for their conversation and probably his reaction. "With the power from Pandora's Box."
A sharp intake of breath. "You think that was safe?"
"Most likely not." Definitely not. "We didn't have a choice. Amos couldn't break the crystal. Only the box could."
"Uh huh." She could picture him rubbing his eyes, deep in thought over her disturbing news. "Why did you break this crystal genie out?"
"You do everything he tells you to do?"
"Pretty much. He's always right on these supernatural things." She jerked toward the door as a hard bang rattled the lamp beside the bed. "Hold on…" She peeked around the door from the balcony. Amos lay on his side, facing her, sleeping peacefully. A quick glance about the room didn't expose anything lurking in the shadows. Silence too loud pulsed in her ears, her breathing growing ragged as she moved across the room and looked out the window.
"Mads?" Nix's voice expressed his alarm. "Mads! ?"
"Sorry," she whispered, stepping quickly through the hotel room and back out onto the balcony. She yanked hard on the sliding glass door, but the irritating thing kept sticking. "I thought I heard something."
"Next time keep me at your freaking ear."
Madison laughed. "What would you have me do, Nix, hand the phone to my attacker so you can talk him to death?"
"Not amused, Mads."
He would be if he realized how protected she'd become from supernatural entities. They all scrambled to get away from her and Amos. She bet the Birminghams never had that reaction.
"Phoenix…are you coming back to bed?" Madison went brittle still at the sound of the faint female voice coming through the receiver.
The fumbling noise led her to think he covered the mouth piece of his cell phone. "Business call," he whispered furiously.
"Oh, God…." She squinted her eyes shut and rubbed her forehead. She should have asked if he was alone. "I'm interrupting. I'm…." She gulped, but couldn't bring herself to utter the word 'sorry'. It'd be a lie if she said it.
Kill the bitch! The green eyed monster surged through her system so fast she stumbled, managing to catch her fall against the banister. Stark evidence she didn't have Pandora closed as tightly as she wanted. She hoped she could eventually replace the air tight seal. Never, never did she want to tap into the diabolical power ever again.
Pain as sharp as a scalpel cut without anesthesia through her breastbone. How long would it take before she wrestled the power back under control?
"No…um…we're finish—erm…it's over…" It sounded like he pulled the phone away from his ear. "Shit! " she heard distinctly even though the word was muted. "Mads, I'm always here for you. Regardless…"
Regardless that he was screwing someone else silly?
"I shouldn't have called."
A threesome. A threesome would work. Madison bent over and tapped her forehead on the railing, but she knew it wouldn't eliminate Pandora's manic thoughts. A threesome was not an option. Not with any man.
"Don't you dare hang up on me!" She turned toward the door to the hotel room. "Tell me about your crystal genie."
A dark shadow walked toward her. Fear should have propelled her into fighting action—killkillkill…fightfightfight¬—but with Nikolas's unwanted protection she didn't figure it posed much of a threat. The figure stepped into a beam of moonlight.
Zennyo….her crystal genie.
"He's not mine." No one would ever own this crystal genie. The power she'd sensed coming from him in the cave was magnified in his direct presence. "I gotta go."
"Mads, don't hang up. Mads—"
Madison disconnected the call. Zennyo stepped into the doorway and braced his hands on the frame.
"How much of that did you hear?" she asked.
"All of it."
"Sorry." Sorry that he heard her, but not about any of the words she'd said.
"Why? I haven't decided if I should let you or Amos live either."
Madison swallowed. Nothing demonic would dare harm them, but Zennyo wasn't demonic or angelic. His moral system rested on a plane she didn't comprehend. Why, had Amos insisted they needed him?
"Comforting," she drawled. "A thank you isn't necessary for busting you out of that crystal crypt. Veiled threats say thank you so much better, don't ya' think?"
Zennyo stared at her, the wind ruffling his bangs and resettling them over his forehead. "I don't understand the translation of your words. I will assume you were being sarcastic."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "You think?"
"I could kill you without lifting a finger and still you speak to me this way?" He cocked his head to the side as if she were a curious bug he inspected. "Your brazenness amuses me."
He didn't look amused. Actually, he didn't look anything.
"You're hurt," he said.
"No." Amos had healed her palms before leaving the cave. Minor injuries like that he could take care of.
"I know your head is hurting."
Her head didn't hurt. It felt like it would combust at any moment and right now, she welcomed that end just to stop the pain. "A very different thing from being hurt. But, yes," she rubbed her temples, "opening the power of Pandora's Box to shatter your crystal home was more taxing than I expected."
"Yes." He stepped onto the balcony. "You're having trouble keeping the lid closed."
"How…do you know that?" She shook her head. "You reading my mind or something?"
"Yes?" She flinched when he took her left hand in his own, cocooning it between both of his. "To which part? Reading my mind? Or something?
"I read minds."
"Great." Warmth pulsed against her hand, but his eyes had begun to glow.
His forefinger circled the emblem of Pandora's Box. "I can turn it off, but your pain and worry were screeching too loud to tune out."
He looked at her and shrugged. "Think about closing and latching the lid."
"Okay." She closed her eyes and unbidden images of Nix and some unknown naked and sweaty floozy rose behind her lids….the floozy's legs anchored around Nix's hips, copulating to Queen's We Will Rock You staggered so hard through her mind's eye a gasp escaped her lips.
"No! No!" Zen said and her eyes snapped open. "Focus! Close and latch the lid."
"Okay…okay." The erotic images tried to rise again, but she tamped them down and called up the image of the box. She slammed the lid down with a mental shove and gave a dramatic flick of her wrist to latch it tight.
"Good," Zen said, sounding pleased by her success. "You learn fast. There may be hope for you yet."
Lucky her. She'd live to fight that battle with Nikolas after all…if Zen didn't change his mind and kill her.
"What'd you do?" She nodded toward her hand. "While you were holding my hand?"
"Trapped the power in one place so you could concentrate."
His eyes had returned to their normal silver, but he stared until she began to fidget.
"What?" Did she have something on her face? In her hair?
"You torment yourself with sexual images of Nix Birmingham. Why?"
"We're just friends."
A lone black eyebrow arched. "You see images of all your friends doing that?"
Thankfully, no. "You wouldn't understand."
"Indeed. You mortals have confused me for centuries." He turned, pushed the glass door open. "You should sleep, get some rest before morning."
"What about you?"
"Zennyo's don't need sleep. All we need is meditation to recharge."
She guessed he didn't need any meditation. He'd been meditating every day since his imprisonment. However long that had been.
If you wish to read a more graphic/violent scene from this book, please visit her: http://wickedthornandroses.blogspot.com/2010/09/buried-in-edits.html
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Jade Lee !