Thursday, July 28, 2011

Totally HOT Thursdays

Today's Totally HOT Thursday is seems to have taken me forever to get done. Internet in town was slower than it was at my house in the country. Besides for the fact that I just couldn't decide who I wanted to feature today. Just too many good looking guys out there. LOL!

So I have decided to feature none other then the hunkie Mr. CHARLES PAZ!

1) Chalres Paz was Mr. Romance 2009.
2) Not only is he a model, he is a photographer.
3) His full name is Charles David Paz after his father and grandfather.
4) Favorite snack food is Peanut M & M's.
5) Got his start in a body building competition in 2007.
6) You may visit Charles on Facebook at
7) You can also find him at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's a writing stand still
Yup, that's right. I am having a moment of complete and utter writing stand still. It isn't because I have writer's block. Not at all. I know exactly what I want to say and I know where I want to take my story. The problem is, who to write what I want and do it the right way.

My heroine started out as any American girl, but as I kept writing she decided she wanted to bring forth her Cherokee heritage. Which is totally fine with me. In researching for her, I can learn more about my own heritage. The problem is to write about it and do it respectfully. I want to honor the traditions. So, do I write about them or not. Well, I have decided not to use the traditions I wanted to but maybe refer to them in passing. This way, it is mentioned and I don't offend anyone by screwing anything up.

The other problem is bringing in two totally different religions and making them work without causing a major conflict. My heroine is of Cherokee blood but I need to bring in a moment of witch craft for my time travel to work. So, how do I do this and do it appropriately.

I understand that writing fiction gives me a certain amount of playing room to write what I want, but that still doesn't mean I can just DO what I want.
So, how do I  decide the best way to bring the Hero forward in time? Do I do it before she runs for her life or after she has already ran? I also realize I have written 45 pages and the heroine owns 35 of them and the story actually belongs to the Hero. *sigh* The heroine talks way to much...... LOL!!!

So, wish me luck as I sit back and diligently work and trying to get past this stand still. I have been writing like crazy and I hate to have to slow down now.

Will keep you posted! Until next time---

Monday, July 25, 2011


Today I’m interviewing Smoky Trudeau Zeidel. Her book, On the Choptank Shores is a romantic suspense novel and was released in early July.

Please tell my readers a little bit about your book.

On the Choptank Shores is a love story. The love between a young wife (Grace) and her decidedly middle-aged husband (Otto), and the love of a big sister for her abused baby sister (Miriam). It is the story of the love for an aging, grief-stricken father (Luther) who is spiraling into a dark world of insanity, and the love of a kind and benevolent God whom Grace knows must exist, despite the crazed ravings of her father, who paints a picture of a vengeful, angry God as he spouts biblical verse to defend his abuse of both Grace and little Miriam. It is a story of the land on which they live, and the power of Mother Nature. Most of all, it is a story of love conquering all.

Describe the genre of this particular title, and is the only genre you write in?

On the Choptank Shores is romantic suspense. Grace and Otto’s love story is shaken by his inability to share a dark secret with Grace. And poor Grace has enough trouble to handle with her father’s spiraling insanity and trying to raise little Miriam. And no, it isn’t the only genre I write in. My novel The Cabin is historical fantasy. I’ve also written three nonfiction books: two books geared specifically for writers, and a photo/essay collection. All my books are published by Vanilla Heart Publishing.

When did you start writing toward publication?

I was a freelance journalist for several years before I dove into fiction writing. In 1989, I was struck by lightning and nearly killed. (You can read all about the experience in my short story eBook, In a Flash). That put a halt to my graduate school education, where I was studying to be a clinical social worker. I started writing features for my hometown newspaper. It was a perfect job for me, because I could write when I felt well, and I could turn down assignments when I wasn’t. My editors were wonderful and understanding.

Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?

I’m blessed in that I have published every book and short story I ever wrote. And yes, I found my publisher on my own. Well, sort of—I was friends with another Vanilla Heart author, Vila Spiderhawk. She suggested I submit my work to Kimberlee Williams at VHP. The rest is history.

Why have you become a published author?

Because I have a passion for the written word that I want to share with readers. Because I have good—no, great—stories to tell, and I want people to read them. Most of all, I became an author because I couldn’t not become an author. It is what I am meant to be. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?

I am one of the lucky ones. I don’t have any rejection stories. I know that isn’t the norm in this business, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars for my good fortune.

What is your writing routine like?

I’m a morning person. I like to get up, put the coffee on to brew, then step out onto my back deck to greet the mountains across the valley and watch the sun rise over them. I am blessed to live in a place of exquisite beauty, so this morning routine puts me in touch with Mother Nature, centers me. I take my coffee and toast to wherever I a going to write—my office (called the milkroom) if it is cool, the living room couch if it is hot—check my email and Facebook, then begin to write.

What sort of promo do you do? Do you have help?

I have a website, www.smokyzeidel.wordpress,com, where I talk a lot about my books and where there are links to a site where you can read the first few chapters for free. I also write two blogs, “Observations of an Earth Mage” at  and “Smoky Talks Books” at  While I don’t directly promote my books on these blogs, other than having links to my website, it gets readers familiar with me and my writing style. I hope this makes them want to read more of my writing. I promote on Facebook, and write guest blogs and do interviews like the one you are so graciously conducting right now. I’ve done several book and writers conferences and fairs.

Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?

Having my father tell me he was proud of me before he died. I loved my dad deeply; knowing he’d read The Cabin and was proud of me for writing it was not only the most rewarding thing about being published; it was one of the highlights of my life.

Are you a member of any writing organizations and, if so, have they helped?

No, I don’t belong to any writing groups or organizations. I used to teach fiction writing at Parkland Community College in Illinois. I did belong to a couple groups, but when a few less than tactful people found out I am a former teacher, they pestered me for free advice, critiques, and editing. I am a freelance editor; that’s my day job. I cannot give away my work for free. That’s like asking a lawyer or doctor or accountant to give you free advice or treatment. It’s wrong. So I no longer join groups.

Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?

First, make sure your story is as polished and perfect as possible. Having your work professionally edited (and they key word is professionally) is something I strongly encourage, because no matter how hard you try, you cannot and will not find all your errors. And don’t rely on your computer’s spell checker! I can guarantee it won’t find some of your miss steaks. (Yes, like that one!) Then, once your book is as perfect as possible, don’t give up! I used to tell my students that getting published is like running into a brick wall. You go at it full speed, hit it, and knock yourself out. Then, you have to get up, wipe the blood from your nose, and say, “Gee, that felt good! I think I’ll do it again!” The point is, hit that brick wall often enough, and eventually you’ll knock it down. That is what publishing is like. Never, ever give up!


Lots of things! I’m working on a new book, although I’m thinking rather than a novel it may end up being a short story collection where the stories tie together to read like a novel. I have a growing stack of books to review—I review only books published by small and independent presses, and welcome queries from authors who want me to review their book (the submission guidelines are on my Smoky Talks Books blogsite). And I’m editing some interesting projects. Good things are ahead for me.


The tragic deaths of her mother and two younger siblings have left Grace Harmon responsible for raising her sister Miriam and protecting her from their abusive father, Luther, a zealot preacher with a penchant for speaking in Biblical verse who is on a downward spiral toward insanity.

Otto Singer charms Grace with his gentle courtship and devotion to his brother, Henry, but is unable to share with Grace the terrible secret he has kept more than twenty years.

Luther's insane ravings and increasingly violent behavior force Grace to question everything she ever knew. Then, tragedy strikes just when Otto's secret is uncovered, unleashing demons that threaten to destroy the entire family. Can Grace find the strength to save them all?

On the Choptank Shores is set on Maryland's eastern shore in the late 1920's. Happy endings, in novels as in life, sometimes come at a heavy price.


Smoky Trudeau Zeidel is the author of two novels, On the Choptank Shores and The Cabin, and two nonfiction books on writing. She is also the author of Observations of an Earth Mage, an enchanting collection of prose, poetry, and photographs celebrating the beauty and splendor of the natural world. All her books are published under the name Smoky Trudeau by Vanilla Heart Publishing.

She also is author of numerous short stories that are available in eBook format, as well as her recent biographical In a Flash, where she recounts the story of how she was struck by lightning and how the experience has affected her life in the more than two decades following the event.

A popular book reviewer, Smoky wrote reviews for several newspapers and magazines before starting her blog, Smoky Talks Books. She specializes in reviewing books published by small and independent presses and by emerging writers.

Known to her fans as The Earth Mage, Smoky lives her life honoring Mother Earth through her writing, visual art, and spiritual practice. She lives in California with her husband Scott (a college music professor and classical guitarist), her daughter (a college student and actress), and a menagerie of animals, both domestic and wild, in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time hiking in the mountains and deserts, splashing in tidepools, and resisting the urge to speak in haiku.

But perhaps the best way to know Smoky is through her own words:

My friends say I’m the salmon who swims downstream, not up. When the invitation says “black tie,” I’m more likely to show up in tie-dye. If there’s a tree, I’ll climb it. A rock, I’ll scramble up it. A creek, I’ll splash in it. I love my tattoos; I paint my toenails fire engine red. When our neighborhood coyotes howl, I tend to howl back. I once called a rattlesnake we saw “precious” and named a tomato horned worm “Spike.” My husband calls me eccentric. I prefer the term free-spirited. Or whimsical. Who wants to live a life exactly like everyone else? Not me!


June, 1928

At one time, he had loved them.

During the Pennsylvania years his love had been steady as the beacon from the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, on the Delaware shore where he’d taken them on vacation when she was seven. He’d bought them salt water taffy, and she’d eaten too much and gotten sick. He held her head while she vomited, speaking soothing words and wiping her mouth and forehead with his handkerchief when she was finished.

Their house had echoed with the chattering laughter of little girls playing Annie Oakley, shooting make-believe pistols in the air while riding on his back as he pranced around on all fours, snorting and pawing the floor in so poor an imitation of a real live horse that she had tumbled to the floor in fits of hysterical laughter, nearly getting trampled in the process. He’d feigned wild fury, rearing up, pawing madly at the air, pretend hooves thrashing. Emily had saved her, roping the marauder with a yellow satin sash lasso.

Then Emily died, and Papa didn’t want to play anymore. He’d packed up the family and moved them away from the only home she’d ever known to Maryland and the sandy shores of the Choptank River. Some memories were too painful to live with.

Emily’s memory refused to stay put in its Pennsylvania grave, following them to the ramshackle farm he bought on credit, drifting in and out of their collective unconsciousness like the shifting sands of the Choptank itself, insinuating itself into every corner of their house and their minds. Grace found comfort in her sister’s memory. Mama cried. Papa alternated between cursing God for taking his child from him and burying his nose in his Bible, searching for a divine reason for the tragedy.

God’s answer—Matthew, a golden-haired son; and Miriam, raven-haired and solemn—arrived, red and screaming, at a time when most women Mama’s age were welcoming grandchildren, not babies of their own. Papa celebrated the miracle of their birth with zealous participation in a month-long revival meeting, where he accepted ordination into the ministry with a single dunking in the river. He left the revival the newly appointed pastor of their tiny rural church. Hope springs eternal, Grace once read. Although his religious epiphany turned the playful father into a serious and strict man, at least Papa’s grief had been replaced with hope.

Then came the sickness, riding in on a heat wave, swallowing up young and old alike with the greed of a stray cur. For three days Matthew lay writhing on his cot, dehydrated and delirious, tangling his sturdy legs in the sweat-soaked sheets until, at last, he writhed no more. He died on his fifth birthday. Grace fancied she saw his small spirit dance out the window, hand in hand with Emily. She never felt her sister’s presence in the house again.

Grief is a poison that works its devilry in insidious ways. For Mama, grief meant taking to her bed the day after Matthew’s death, and not leaving it again until, a year later, she was carried out in a pine box. Heart attack, her death certificate read. A broken heart, Grace thought more likely.

Papa’s heart bled with each blow of the hammer as it sealed Mama’s coffin shut; bled as she was lowered into the ground in the cemetery next to Matthew; it bled as he turned to face his two surviving daughters, his face twisted with a bitter confusion of emotions Grace could not read. Grief tore at him like a riptide, drowning the last vestiges of the kind and loving father, leaving in his stead a stranger, cold as the ice floes of winter.

How can my readers buy your book?

On the Choptank Shores is currently available as an eBook at Amazon, Smashwords, and All Romance Books; publication date for the print version hasn’t been set yet. All my other books are available both in print and eBook formats at these same venues.

Readers can go to the publisher’s home page at

Check out my book trailer on Smoky’s website, but you can also go directly to YouTube at

You can find more information about Smoky Trudeau Zeidel and her book, On the Choptank Shores by visiting her website,  or her blogs at  and  You can also find Smoky on Facebook. Just look for Smoky Zeidel, and put a note with your friend request saying you read this interview and would like to be friends.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Totally HOT Thursdays

I live in Indiana and the temperature outside is HOT! But, it isn't half as HOT as the man below!!!! Now, I am all about giving credit where credit is due and when I saw a picture of this hunk on my friend, Marilyn's blog.... I knew exactly who I had to feature this week for THT.
When it comes to good looks, the gene Gods were overly generous to this man. I would love to introduce you to the amazing JAY TAVARE! (pronounced ta-vo-ray.... like cabaret)

Here are a few of his stats:
HEIGHT- 5'10"
HAIR- black
EYES- brown

Here are a few of the movies you may find Jay in. COLD MOUNTAIN starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, THE MISSING starring Cate Blanchet and Tommy Lee Jones, and STREETFIGHTER starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.  You may also have seen him in the TV mini series INTO THE WEST starring Keri Russel. I saw I saw Inot the West and it was wonderful. Jay is not easy to forget in his roles. He is a wonderful actor.

You can visit the site to learn more information about his movies.

Jay was born March 23, 19971. His mother was White Mountain Apache and his father was Navajo and Latin American. Adopted as an infant, Jay spent most of his years living in Europe where he became a singer in a band. His first foray into acting was in a commercial over seas. His first acting job in the USA was Streetfighter in 1994.

You may find Jay at and on Facebook at

I hope you enjoyed looking around ladies!!! I know I did!!!!
Please, if you haven't seen Jay in action, I hope you will rent one of his movies today!!!

I would also like to mention that Jay has adopted three Navajo elders from the ADOPT A NATIVE ELDER Foundation.  If you would like to learn more about this important program, please visit

Wado and Oniyv Oginali!!
(Thank you and later my friend)


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR *Patricia Snodgrass*

Today I’m interviewing PATRICIA SNODGRASS. Her book, Glorious is a Southern Gothic and was released on October 1, 2010.

Please tell my readers a little bit about your book.

Glorious is set during the Civil Right’s era. I was a child during that time and living in a very rural area. I remember those times as being frightening and chaotic. There was racism, sexism, political upheavals, the bomb…not just any bomb but THE BOMB…and desegregation. It felt as if the world would end at any time.

Almost everyone had desegregated during this time, but there were still pockets of more isolated areas that hadn’t got the memo. The fictional town of Overton, Arkansas was one of those pockets.

Glorious deals with a great many issues, a lot of which have reared their ugly heads after Obama became president. Women’s rights, racism, child abuse, political posturing are all addressed in the novel. What is also addressed is friendship, acceptance, love, loyalty and faithfulness. Those concepts tend to get forgotten because of the intensity of the book, and I have to admit it’s a very intense book. I haven’t had anyone yet come up to me and say it was an easy read. But everyone has agreed it is a riveting read. But the concepts are there, loyalty, friendship, acceptance and so on. I think it’s very important to balance that out…not everything is good or bad…it just is. One of my favorite scenes occurs whenever Jaydene and her brother and sister in law search for her husband who had a nervous breakdown after their daughter was killed. It was poignant, and loving. And yeah, it made me cry.

One thing I did do when writing Glorious was to think…if all things are equal, what happens when you tilt the scales? The African American family in my novel were the same as the African American friends and neighbors I grew up with. Marcus Wilkes was a loan officer at the bank, Jaydene was a registered nurse. Marc could have been a guy I went to high school with. And Glorious could have been anyone’s kid sister.

Everything looks so equal on the surface, doesn’t it? When the scales tip, it’s the Caucasian community that’s favored. But they didn’t get off scott free either. They suffered as well, by racism within their own community, by riots from people fed up with being meddled with and then there’s Stan’s regression into madness that sets Overton ablaze, literally. It’s the most complex novel I’ve ever written. Multi faceted, deeply layered…Glorious is my masterpiece. I don’t think I can ever top that kind of writing. And yes, it was every bit as intense to write as it was to read. At one point I almost stuck it into my desk drawer, but I changed my mind and sent it to my publisher.

As painful as these topics are, they need to be addressed, especially now, with the volatile political climate in which we live, with regressives yearning to return to that era, even going so far as to rewrite history. I read a few days ago where a GOP candidate stated that African American’s were better off as slaves because slavery kept their families in tact. Nothing could be further from the truth. Slavery, by it’s very nature, rips the family apart. We must never forget the lessons history teaches us. Glorious, as intense as it is, reminds us of those lessons.

Describe the genre of this particular title, and is the only genre you write in?

Glorious is a Southern Gothic story. It’s also been categorized as historical and suspense. I write in a wide variety of genres, from horror to suspense to paranormal romance. Hey, I’ll write about copper pots if I get paid for it.

When did you start writing toward publication?

 When I was in high school I sent a short story to Analog Science Fiction Magazine. I got a hand written rejection slip from the editor in chief—very rare for that to happen, by the way—telling me to watch my grammar and clean my typewriter keys. I was also encouraged to keep writing. That was back in 1975, just after the Earth cooled.

I kept that rejection slip for years until it fell apart. I wish now I had copied and framed it.

Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?

I had an agent for several years but it came to nothing. I fired her and started sending out my own work and found a publisher almost immediately. I started with Samhain and Whispers, I’m writing exclusively for Mundania now. I did have four or five novels completed, two of which never went anywhere. The others are either published or scheduled for publication. I now have a dozen or so novels scheduled to write. I’m going to be busy for a while.

Why have you become a published author?

Because it beats being an unpublished author. Okay, now I’ll be serious, heh heh. I’m a published author because I felt I had something to say. I rarely got that opportunity because I was raised in a household full of loud boisterous males. I was the runt of the litter, small, and shy, and every time I tried to say something it got drowned out. Writing was a way I could communicate and be taken seriously. Finding out I was good at it was a plus.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?

My favorite is the one I mentioned earlier. When the editor in chief of Analog sent me a handwritten rejection letter.

What is your writing routine like?

I’m awake between 4-5 am. I usually go into my office by 7:30. Do a couple of hours of marketing and then write until 3:30. I treat it like the 8 hour job it is. As far as I’m concerned its no different than going to a mundane job and working in an office all day.

What sort of promo do you do? Do you have help?

I’m just now getting really geared up with my promoting. Until recently I was pretty clueless, then a treasure was literally dropped into my inbox. I don’t have any help yet, but I am putting out an open call for minions…er…interns…I need someone to moderate my forum at Coffee Time Romance and someone to help me keep track of all this promotional stuff. I’m completely overwhelmed. I’d much rather be writing than promoting. It’s making me cry and it’s not doing my reputation as a scary writer any good.

And although I can’t pay anyone to be my full time secretary I’m happy to have an intern or two. . . I pay in minion kibble. Heh heh.

Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?

Seeing my book in print. Being able to touch it, handle it, and smell the print. And getting paid for what I do is a big plus. And of course, I love reader feedback.

Are you a member of any writing organizations and, if so, have they helped?

I was a member of the North East Texas Writers Association for a year. I attended one of their conferences and it was great. But as a whole, no, I don’t think associations are all that helpful at this point. I cannot afford dues, nor can I go to writer’s conferences. I just don’t have the money. Maybe when my royalties pick up I can, but now it’s not feasible. It’s just another expense and money is brutally tight right now.

Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?

My first thoughts come from a quote from the film Galaxy Quest: Never give up, never surrender. Heh. Heh.

On a more practical note, I would say that it’s important to find a publishing company that will be a good fit for you. Shop around. Read their submissions guidelines and follow them to the letter. When you make contact with an editor be polite, even if they are less than enthusiastic about your book. If an editor takes the time to make comments about your submission take the advice as it was intended, as a way to help. I learned more from my editors than I did in grad school. Follow the editor’s advice to the letter. If they say your novel needs work, then it needs work. Follow the instructions and resubmit. Don’t self publish. Although a few people have been successful, self publishing is mostly a sucker’s game. You don’t get the benefit of editorial feedback self publishing than you do with a traditional publisher. And editorial feedback is absolutely necessary when it comes to publishing a really good book.

What’s next for you?

 Ahhh, tons…Marilyn, my paranormal romance is due out this August. The Man Who Loved Yolanda Dodson, comes out in the first quarter of 2012, Wild Swans is due out in June of 2012. These are all paranormal romances of a sort. There’s a sequel to Glorious that I’m currently working on called Glorious Arising. Hopefully I can have it sent in to the publisher by this fall. I have a science fiction novel to complete, and a couple of paranormal novels to do starting this winter. I’m going to be quite busy for some time.


Emily Prudhomme is terrified of her stepfather, and for good reason. A man who was raised by an abusive father and uncle, he is convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is talking to him personally through a radio he keeps in his office.

Emily, alienated by her stepfather’s bizarre behavior, is befriended by Glorious, an African-American girl with beautiful amber-colored eyes and the ability to see the thoughts of others. Outcast because of their differences, the girls become fast friends.

When a tragic accident occurs on the banks of the Little Missouri river leaving one girl dead and the other hopelessly maimed for life, rage and revenge creates a firestorm that not only destroys a town but the lives of two families.

A little bit about the author.

Patricia Snodgrass is a freelance author residing in the wilds of East Texas. She is married to the man of her dreams, has one adult son, is owned by an akita and a schnauzer, as well as varying number of cats. Today there are two.


Chapter One

Emily Prudhomme was afraid of God. She was afraid of her stepfather, who was God’s representative on earth. But most of all, she feared the demon that lurked inside her.

The monster forced the right side of her face to twitch, and occasionally, when she was especially frightened, it would utter bizarre yipping noises. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make it stop. In fact, the harder she tried, the worse it got. For as long as she could remember, people thought she was retarded, her schoolmates shunned her. The doctor told her mother that it was just a twitch that Emily would grow out of. But Stan knew what the real culprit was, and the only way to save her, he said, was to have the demon confronted in church.

Emily sat on the foot of her bed, staring into the mirror, waiting for the time to come when she would have to go to church—to Stan’s church— and not to the little sandstone Episcopalian building in Prescott, Arkansas, where she’d been baptized and spent her childhood.

No, Stan’s house of worship was quite different, and she was afraid of the God that dwelt there.

Emily regarded her reflection in the mirror. At thirteen, she wasn’t quite pretty; and it was just as well as far as her step dad was concerned. Pretty girls were silly, vain, lustful and inattentive in their duty to God. They were a problem because boys sniffed like redbone hounds around them, wanting only one thing, and girls were too weak willed to resist. Or so Stan constantly reminded her.

I don’t think it would matter if I were pretty, really, she thought. Nobody would come near me, not with the way my face jumps.

Stan wasn’t a horrible man Emily chided herself. He hadn’t beaten her, nor had he starved her, nor did any terrible things stepparents were legendary for. He did stare at her chest, but it was always in a thin-lipped, disapproving way that made her feel like she’d done something dirty.

He was strict, and did expect her to live by his rules, which in a way was a relief. Everyone in the small town of Overton knew the evangelical pharmacist, and many tended to steer clear of him. So when the ‘cooler’ kids tried to tempt her, she’d say no because Stan would get mad. They would shiver ever so slightly and nod; then walk away.

Stan’s commandments were simple: No boys. No jewelry, flashy dresses, slacks or pant suits. No cigarettes. No booze or drugs and absolutely no makeup. Come home, do your chores and homework. Read your Bible. Pray. Attend church. Pray.

That was the Gospel According to Stan, the stepfather and God’s representative. Nobody knew more about the Bible than Stan. And he knew there were demons because the Good Book said so.

Emily took her rubber tipped brush and flung it at the mirror, which bounced off with a soft ‘shlack’ as it struck the polished surface.

Of all the men in the world, why did Momma marry him? She wondered. If he were the last man on earth, I wouldn’t go near him.

Deep down, she knew the answer. Laura hadn’t married Stan Gilmer for love, or for companionship or even sex. Emily was certain of that because she could hear her mother weeping between the steady poundings of the headboard against her bedroom wall.

No, Laura had grown weary of subsisting off the laundry room attendant salary at the Renault Nursing home, and when Stan Gilmer, a pharmacist with a flourishing business, took an interest in her, she took a chance.

The quiet knock on the door made her jump. “Em?” her mother called as she opened the door.

Emily winced, then wiped the tears away. Laura Prudhomme Gilmer was beautiful, once. But now her face sagged from beneath the delicate cheekbones, and without makeup, her eyes seemed to have perpetual circles around them. Her hair, a soft golden brown, was stacked and shellacked into a beehive that was much too severe for her thin face. Her oversized calico dress hung to her ankles. Thick white socks protruded from heavy shoes. Laura frowned as she sat down on the bed.

“Better not let Stan catch you primping,” she said.

Emily’s face twitched. Automatically, she covered it. “I’m just putting up my hair, Momma.”

Laura’s frown deepened. “Here, let me help you with that. It’s all wadded up in the back.”

“Thank you.”

Laura swept the awkwardly placed bobby pins out of her daughter’s hair. “It’s going to be okay,” her mother said as she gave Emily’s wiry wooly hair an expert twist, and then pinned the bun down onto the back of her head. “There’s no need to be afraid. It’s just one of their—” her voice lowered, “—one of their silly ceremonies. Let’s go and get it over with. It’ll make Stan happy, and then you and I can enjoy a pizza while he attends that ridiculous city council meeting.”

“Momma,” she asked, her throat tight, “do I really have a demon inside me?”

“No, of course not,” Laura said, her hands hovering just above her daughter’s head. “That’s just more asinine talk. You have a tic, that’s all. My cousin Adrian had one too. But you know how well Stan listens. And as long as we live in his house, we have to play by the rules.” She smiled, but it was a smile of the soul weary. “For a while, at least, until he mellows out a bit.”

“I suppose so.”

“Well, it’s better than it was before. We’re not living in that old shack, us just scraping by on what I made.”

“But I liked it there, Momma. Prescott was home. And Daddy—”

Laura laid her cheek against Emily’s hair. “I know. I miss him too. But Daddy’s not coming home again and we’re on our own.” Her lips twitched into a smile. “At least we don’t go hungry any more, and I don’t have to worry about getting poisoned again when some stupid nurse leaves a needle in the bedding.”

“If we could wait another year, I could go to work.”

“No. I won’t have you doing that. You’re going to college. Have a career, a real career where you don’t have to rely on anyone but yourself.”

“I don’t think Stan will let me.”

Laura scowled. “That’s not up to him.”

“I just wish he wasn’t such a—” Emily whispered.

“—sexist pig.”

Emily giggled. Her face twitched. “Yeah.”

“Well,” Laura whispered, “he’s really more of a sexist piggy. But that’s because he hasn’t been around women much. Stan’s uncle raised him after his father died and you’ve seen how fanatical he is. So we just have to educate the man a bit. And once he relaxes, you’ll see that he’s really a big old teddy bear.”

“He scares me,” Emily whispered.

“He doesn’t mean it,” Laura said. “He’s got a good heart, honest. Stan’s just a lonely and confused man, but he’ll come around soon.” She slipped a tiny necklace over Emily’s head.

“He makes you cry.”

Again, Laura frowned. “I just need to adjust,” she said, her tone vague. She clasped the tiny gold chain around Emily’s slender neck, deftly hiding it beneath Emily’s ugly Peter Pan collar.

“I kept this when Stan went through his gold and costly array rampage. Now I want you to keep it under your dress so he can’t see it. It was your father’s last gift to you before he went—over there—and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have it.”

“You miss Daddy too don’t you, Momma?” Emily asked as she gazed at her mother’s reflection in the mirror.

“More than you’ll ever know,” Laura whispered in her ear.

Both of them jumped when they heard the front door slam. “He’s here,” Laura said, straightening her dress. “Let’s not keep him waiting.” She planted a quick kiss on her daughter’s cheek. “We’ll get through this, I promise. Maybe we’ll found our own liberation front, starting with getting rid of these awful dresses. And remember, after church, pizza and Cokes.”

Emily giggled. Then, holding her cheek, pressing the warm kiss to her face, she followed her mother downstairs.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Totally HOT Thursdays

For this weeks Totally HOT Thursdays, I have decided to go old school. Now, mind you I don't mind gazing at all of the beautiful men we have living in modern times. But I don't want us to forget the hunks of the past.

This gentleman you will know right away. Probably one of the first leading men and superstars.

Mr. Valentino was born  Rudolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Gugliemi di Valentina d'Antonguolla on May 6, 1895  in Castellaneta Italy and passed away at the young age of 31 on August 23, 1926 in New York City. He was an Italian actor and known as the "Latin Lover." Some of the movies he is best know for are The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and The Eagle.

I salute the golden era and all of the hunks from the past!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

A post by Ryan Morrison

One of my fondest and most abiding childhood memories occurred on the evening of April 30th 1990. I spent the day fishing by the canal with my dear old grandfather who I adored, when he turned to me and asked if I would like to attend a Celtic fire festival up on the hill that night. I was 12 years old and had absolutely no idea what this would involve but hey, it sounded like a lot of fun.

Let me introduce you to the Beltane Fire Festival.

The modern event is inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane which marked the beginning of summer. The gathering was re-introduced in 1988 by a small group of enthusiastic academics from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh and takes place on April the 30th each year at the summit of Calton Hill in my home town of Edinburgh. The festival has continued to grow in popularity over the years and now attracts an audience of over twelve thousand people.

The name itself is thought to have derived from an old Gaelic/Celtic word meaning 'bright sacred fire'. It was originally held to mark and celebrate the blossoming of spring and coincided with the pastoral event of taking livestock to their summer grazing. Beltane tended to be held on the first full moon after the modern 1st of May, there was no fixed solar date as the tradition of solstices and equinoxes were later in origin.

Although it was also a celebration of the fertility of their land and animals, the main traditional element which was common to all Beltane festivals was the fire that gave it its name. All fires in the community would be extinguished and a new 'sacred need fire' would be lit usually by the spiritual leader or the head of the village. From this fresh flame, two bonfires were lit and the animals of the community would be driven through them. The belief was that the smoke and fire from the sacred flame would purify the herd and protect them in the year ahead. The people would then remove pieces of burning wood from the fires and re-light their own hearths with them.

The festival that is held now kicks off with a procession of performers starting at the Acropolis national monument, who perform a ritual drama based on the original Beltane festivities. Led by one of the guides known as 'the blue man', the sacred fire is made by traditional methods with all fire seen on the night coming from this first flame. The torchbearers and processional drummers are next over the hill followed by the White Warrior Woman and finally the May Queen.

This unique festival continues well into the night with drumming, dancing and general good natured revelry culminating in wild Celtic celebrations found in no other part of the world. A must see attraction if you are ever in Edinburgh at the end of April.

Ryan Morrison is an Edinburgh based blogger and the owner of  Scotland Here And Now

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Writer's Week with Lizzie and Melissa

Melissa, Sarah, and Lizzie at Buffalo Wild Wings.
 Well, I am home and recovered from a five day trip with my friends and the 4th of July holiday weekend!!! Here, I will share with you my trip. I hope you will enjoy it!!!

 On Tuesday, June 28, I left my home in Delphi, Indiana and made the 5 hour trip to Troy Michigan. My two Critique partners, Melissa Stark and Lizzie Walker, decided to meet at Melissa's house and have a writer's week since we were unable to go to the RWA Conference.

I was so excited to finally meet them. I had known Lizzie for two years, having met her in Veronica Wolff's discussion forums and I had known Melissa for one year, having met her in Celtic Critters Critique group in CHRW.

We spent our time writing in her apartment, writing at the pool, writing in the atrium....LOL, you name it and we probably sat there with our computers. Thousands of words were put down and I think all of us feel better about that. But, we didn't just write. We brain stormed about the GMC of the characters.  (G=goal, M=motivation, C=conflict)

This day around the pool, (picture below), we were discussing whether or not to kill off a character of mine. She is a sister to the hero. We needed a conflict. As we sat discussing if I should kill her or maim her, a lady who had been wading in the shallow end of the pool kept inching closer and closer to us. When Lizzie cussed, she looked up and giggled at us. I apologized and she said, "You do what ya gotta do!" and winked. We all busted up laughing.

Lizzie is on the left and Melissa on the right.
One night we went out to eat and then went to the St. Andrew's Scottish Society and learned a little bit. Melissa dug up info on her family tree and we met some really nice people. In case you didn't know, Detroit's Highland games is the longest consecutively running games. This is their 164th year. CONGRATULATIONS!

Now, we have all heard the saying, "All work makes Johnny a dull boy." Well, we did go out one night. Melissa took us on a tour of Detroit and I have to tell you that it is beginning to look amazing. That town has come a long ways and everyone there should be proud of their come back.

On Friday, we took Lizzie to the airport and saying goodbye wasn't easy. I left Saturday morning and though I miss my Celtic Sisters, I was ready to see my family. There's no place like home.

I will leave you with a few more photos of our trip. I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I did making them!!!!

Melissa and I out to eat for her birthday!

Lizzie and I out for Melissa's birthday!