Saturday, September 29, 2012

Call to All Followers

Hello Everyone!

I'm now blogging at

Some of my most viewed posts here will be recycled at my new blogging home, but I have a lot of new content as well. I hope you'll follow me there.

Happy Tales,


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Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'm Moving.......

Hey everyone,

I've transferred to another site, so I'll no longer be posting on blogger. Come join me at WWW.KRISTALLEEROMANCES.COM on Monday, August 8, 2011and check out my new digs.

Happy Tales,

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Got Stink?

When I read that the aroma of green apples can control appetite, I laughed.  Stuff a green apple up my nose and then serve me a pizza. See if I don’t scarf it down with as much gusto as I would if I didn’t have fruit lodged in my nostrils.

Good or bad, smells can influence us and they can permeate your memories just like your clothes can absorb odors.

When I get a whiff of freshly baked peach cobbler I’m transported to the days when  Granny had chicken and dumplins on the table and a cobbler in the oven. Her house filled with family and friends from far and near.  A constant roar rising from everyone talking at and over everyone else, reaching a point of chaos if you weren’t used to the rapid fire conversations.

A Norman Rockwell family we weren’t. But we had love and hope and acceptance. The smell of peach cobbler brings me back to all those wonder feelings.

But not all scent associations are positive.

Late one afternoon, Professor X and I went to an early dinner with a certain  someone.  I climbed in the backseat of Prof X’s two-door car so that this certain someone could ride up front. 

Within seconds of us pulling out of the garage, I thought I would have a heat stroke. Being cramped into a black car that’s absorbed the unrelenting  mid-August-in-Florida sun is like being stuffed in an oven. Taking pity on my sweat-induced fanning fit, Prof X (bless his heart)  turned on the car’s  A/C full blast. 

What hit me in the face can’t  be described by such mambie-pambie words like foul, pungent, or atrocious. I don’t think that a word exists in the English language that would come close to describing a stink worse than a rotting corpse three times over.

Tears trickled from the corners of my eyes as I squinted against the brutal bombardment of  this stench. My stomach somersaulted, violently, and made a desperate attempt to claw through my back in order to squirm into the trunk to hide. I didn’t dare open my mouth to speak.  I didn’t want that funk imprinted on my tongue or cloyed in my throat.

Prof X was oblivious to the smell and to my plight. So was the certain someone riding with us. The certain someone to whom  I now refer to as Pepe le Pew.

The decrepit odor swirled around Pepe like the dust cloud surrounding Charlie Brown’s friend Pigpen.

I  realized two crappy truths  about two-door cars. The backseat has no windows to roll down or doors to jump out of.  I wouldn’t have waited for a stop sign or red light .  Road rash was worth the chance to breathe fresh air.

Once we stopped at the restaurant, I might’ve knocked Pepe over in my zeal to get away from him. I say “might have” because I was oxygen deprived from holding my breath for ten miles and I was on the fringe of an out of body experience. Even the eternal being within me wanted  to get the heck away from that god-awful smell.

It’s imprinted in my brain. Not only the smell, but the nausea associated with it and the feeling of being trapped. All of it  comes rushing back at the mere thought of climbing into the backseat of a car.

Some people can’t smell skunks. I wish I was one of them. Maybe I wouldn’t have been affected by Pepe.

Smell cells renewed every twenty-eight days, so basically you get a new nose every month. That’s good news to me. I needed a new one after that repulsive experience.

Want to ensure mosquitoes stay away from your outdoor bar-b-que? Decorate with smelly socks.  Or have a friend with really stinky feet stand in the back corner of the yard. 

Researchers have found mosquitoes are four times more attracted to the smell of stinky socks than they are to people.  Scientists hope to find a way to cheaply mass-produce the stinky sock smell to help fight malaria by using the scent to lure the mosquitoes to their death.

Stressed? Anxious? Blood pressure too high? Before running to the doctor for a handful of prescription meds try eating more beans.  A 2008 study suggests that the stink in farts controls blood pressure.  I really would’ve hated to have been a volunteer for that study group.

Had an accident in your new car?  You could’ve been drunk on the new car scent, according to one study.  Apparently the fumes from the upholstery and carpet can be toxic and cause light-headedness and fainting spells. A Colorado man’s defense team claim the “new car smell” may have caused him to hit a cyclist Vail.   I’m not sure how they’ll explain why he left the scene of the accident instead of calling 9-1-1.

Got a stink story? Share your ordeal.

Or, if you have a sweet-smelling memory indulge me with that too.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Aliens Abducted My Waist

Photo Source
It happened somewhere between 11:00pm and 5:00am. I went to sleep with a flat tummy and poof! I arose with a marshmallowy middle. Prof X’s first response was to poke my belly button to see if I giggled like the Pillsbury dough boy.

I didn’t.

He tried to lighten my mood with reassurances.
WARNING: I like squeezing your cushy parts is NOT a comfort to a woman whose body has unexpectedly metamorphosized into something other than a supermodel.

How the hell did this happen?

I eat right.
Ok, pizza, buffalo chicken sandwiches and French fries might appear more often than not in my diet but otherwise I avoid dairy products, fried and other high fat foods.

Most days I’m on the go from the time I roll out of bed until I roll back into it. I’ve little time for an exercise routine. A body in constant motion burns calories, right? And, now that I think about it, sometimes I run in my sleep. That should count for something.

Don’t even mention it. I’ll pull a Ralph Kramden with a Pow! Right in the kisser.

Without a foreseeable cause, I’m forced to conclude that the sudden deconditioning of my middle is the direct result of …<looks over shoulder and whispers> …a body snatcher. You know what that means, don’t you? 

Aliens are among us.
I’ve watched the X-Files. I know such things are true.

Hollywood has been blatantly exposing the mechanisms of this alien subterfuge since the 1950s with cinematic features such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Puppet Masters. Even now, the warnings are clear.

1. Aliens are zombie-izing our children. (Ask Noah Wylie. He deals with this problem weekly on Falling Skies.)

2. Aliens are snatching the waistlines of maturing women and replacing them with fluff. (It happened to me. It could happen to you.)

Ladies, it’s imperative that you protect yourselves from this type of attack. Guard your middles! These aliens are ninja-trained, slipping past even the ever observant Monster Puppy who instantly alerts when something is amiss. They are shadows that lie in wait, waiting to pounce when you are most vulnerable.

Be diligent. Once these perilous invaders disappear with your flat tummy, you’re forever altered.

But, you don’t have to be defeated. I’ve discovered a new Yoga instructor who promises to help women, just like me, who’ve had their waists stolen.


Have you experienced an alien abduction of the waist? Have you overcome or succumb to the alien fluff? How has this encounter impacted your life? You are not alone!

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Where Ponies Become Dragons

I grew up in a town without malls or entertainment complexes.  We played by climbing trees, exploring cow pastures, and making up our own games to pass the time.

Photo Source
The smell of fresh cut grass and powder blue skies remind me of those lazy summer days. We'd sprawl on the ground, flat on our backs, and take turns interpreting the story unfolding in the cottony-white clouds drifting across the heavens. What started as a pony frolicking in a meadow could morph into a fire-breathing dragon and evolve into a Death Star battle depending to whom the story baton was passed.

Everyone got a chance to let their imagination soar and no one complained about story arcs or genres.

In today's society it seems the art of cloud watching has gone the way of the dinosaur. Kids spend more time indoors absorbed in electronic stimulation rather than exploring the outdoor world around them.

Imagination need not be stifled or stilted because of the electronic revolution. I've Stumbled Upon an awesome site that inspires creativity.   At Neave Interactive I can make electronic clouds and let my imagination run free even when I can't leave my desk.

Are you a cloud watcher? What's the most unusual cloud shape that you've seen? What do you do to stimulate your imagination?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Animal Rescue Goes to the Dogs

Have you ever scooped a turtle out of the road before it gets creamed by an unobservant driver? Swerved to miss a squirrel? Or fed an errant cat because it meowed incessantly at the back door at dinner time?

I have…too many times to count, much to Professor X’s dismay.  It’s my nature. I see an animal in trouble and I help it, or find someone with experience who can.

I’ve rescued squirrels, birds, cats, dogs, turtles. I’ve even resuscitated a lizard that had all but given up its reptilian ghost.

Until recently, I never thought about how the furbabies viewed my rescue efforts.  They’re rescued dogs.  Monster Puppy came to us at 10 weeks old; his mother pulled from a kill-shelter and later found to be pregnant. Brave Little Basset arrived a year later, after being abused and abandoned. He more than MP probably understands the value of helping those in need.

One afternoon, nearly dusk, Professor X opened the French doors for MP and BLB to go outside. Within a few minutes, a storm began blowing in from the South. In the distance, thunder began rolling. Not quite a rumble, but a definite warning of the monstrous rain heading toward us.

It seemed odd when Professor X called for me to wrangle the furbabies inside.  MP and BLB are afraid of storms and they think my lap is the safest place in the universe when the sky monster begins shaking the heavens. 

I found MP prancing frantically on the back porch, urging his fur-brother to hurry.

And with ears flapping in the breeze as he scurried across the yard ahead of the rain was BLB. Only he wasn’t alone.

BLB had scooped up a young armadillo and was dashing toward the  porch’s doggie door determined to save the critter  from the impeding monsoon. If  Professor X hadn’t quickly closed the French doors, BLB would’ve raced into the house with his first rescue.

Professor X looked at me and said, “He takes after you.”

I have to admit, I’m mighty proud of that.

 Are you a critter rescuer? What's your favorite rescue story? Have your furbabies picked up any of your habits or traits?

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Macho Monday

I have a hard time getting motivated on  Monday's. Instead of a cup of java, how about a little eye-candy to start the day?

How do you get motivated on Mondays?

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Fantasy Friday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The final film installment of the Harry Potter franchise is out. I'm skipping work so Professor X and I can catch today's matinee. Whoot! Whoot!

Here's a look back at the trials and triumphs of Harry, Hermione, and Ron.

Distraught over the HP finale? Don't worry, Pottermore will continue Harry's story.  And you can live the adventure at Universal Orlando's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter where you can shop for your magic wand at Ollivander 's.

Harry and his friends used patronuses to help them escape dire situations. Need some help fending off negative energy or overwhelming circumstances? Check out the Harry Potter Patronus App, then come back here and leave a comment telling us what your patronus is. Mine's a fox.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mate to Order

The first movie I remember with humanized robots was Westworld with Yul Brenner about a fantasy theme park that recreated historical eras where the character actors were robots. Since this was a suspense film, of course the robots malfunctioned and went on a killing spree.

Over the years, Hollywood expanded the roles of cybernetic beings. The Terminator, Cyborg, Alien (one of the crew members), the doctor on Star Trek Voyager (not actually a robot, but a sentient hologram), and the list goes on.

Cybernetics, cyberspace and virtual reality are quickly replacing traditional roles in modern society.  Roomba vacuums the floors, exercise is done with the Wii and more couples than ever are meeting through online dating services.

But some people don't move past the cyber stage. With cyber dating and cyber sex, why make the effort of a face to face meeting when the real thing could end up as a real disappointment.

The 1980s film Cherry 2000 portrayed androids that were made to order "wives."

Apparently he didn't read the warning label: Avoid getting wet due to risk of electrocution.

The concept of sexbots was creepy to me twenty plus years ago. It still is today but what was sci-fi fantasy then has become a 21st century reality.

A few weeks ago, I heard a surprising advertisement on the radio-- offers sex robots for individuals too busy for traditional dating and the robotic companion is programmed to customer specifications.  Of course the perfect mate comes with a hefty price tag, but hey, how much is too much if you get the perfect mate?

Is that what men and women are looking for in a relationships today? Perfection? Someone who agrees with everything you say or do? Has exactly the same likes and dislikes? A mirror image of your own personality?

What happened to "iron sharpens iron"? Some conflict in a relationship is healthy and stimulating. I believe humans need challenges in order to be happy. Without some obstacles, we stagnate.

What traits and characteristics do you look for in a mate? Are sexbots fads or the future of relationships? And, given the opportunity would you pick a robot over the real thing?

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Lizards and Werewolves and Gods, and Clowns?

After reading Kristen Lamb’s book We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media, I set out to improve the content and consistency of my blog. The first thing I did was sign up for her online workshop, Blogging for Brand.  Cybermates zipped through the first couple of assignments, brandishing their new-found blog-spirations in fabulous posts while I gnawed my fingers and gagged on my envy.  They were finding their niche while I flapped around like a bat with broken radar.
So, I sent out an SOS to my #WANA711 compadres and they flocked in support. Strangely enough, the Twitter pow-wow sparked a clown discussion.
I hate clowns. Creepy, killer clowns belong in horror films not toy boxes.

There is an online support group for people who hate clowns @ and they cite 34 Reasons You Should Hate Clowns Too.

If you’re planning a trip to rural South Carolina this summer be on the look-out for the car-chomping lizard man.

Think your neighbor is a werewolf? Here’s five werewolf facts you need to know.

Love shifters? Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series is celebrating the re-release of Pride Mates

OMG! You’ll never guess who’s playing Zeus in the upcoming film “Gods Behaving Badly.”  He needs more cowbell.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Public Enemy #1

Back in the 1930's, the term public enemy referred to criminals such as Al Capone, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde, and Ma Barker who were seen as extreme threats to society. Today I would expect Al Queda leaders to top the public enemy list.

Come to find out, Americans should be more afraid of potatoes than terrorists. Yeah, that's right...the scrumptdillicious potato is the biggest threat to the Nation. Or at least, its waist line. The US Department of Agriculture estimates the typical American woofs down 117 pounds of potatoes each year, including 41 pounds of frozen french fries.

Obviously, they didn't query me because that seems ridiculously low by my consumption standard. If I were stranded on a desert island with only one natural food source, dear god please let it be the potato and not the coconut.

A joint study between Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health found that  extra serving of potatoes contributed to an average weight gain of 1.3 pounds to 3.4 pounds over a four year period, depending on how someone preferred their spuds served. On average, that's more than the junk in the trunk packed on by drinking sodas or eating beef.  (Orlando Sentinel article, 6/24/11)
Oh, the horror.

Discovering my favorite side-dish is broadening my butt is too much bear.

Oh what a relief.

All this time, I've blamed my weight gain on the lack of exercise.  I can stop trying to fit the gym into my schedule now.

Oh, the revulsion...I can't give up potatoes. I'll give up ice cream before bed, sweet rolls for breakfast, and fried buffalo chicken sandwiches for dinner, but I will not give up potatoes.  I will harbor them in my pantry so that I can slice them and dice them, fry them, mash them, bake them and broil them.

Potatoes have been a dietary staple for thousands of years. They contain 0 fat, 0 cholesterol; have 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber; and are loaded with vitamins A & C, iron, and calcium. So why the bad rap?

The up to 63 grams of carbohydrates per serving is my guess.

A quick Google search on high carb foods revealed fructose, granular sugar, drink powders, hard candies, gummies, sugary cereals, dried fruits, rice cakes, low fat crackers, flour, cakes, cookies, jams and preserves have more carbs per serving than potatoes.  Woohoo! Loads of foods to give up before potatoes.

Lucky me.  I love potatoes any way you serve them, except the boxed au-gratin kind. Uck!

Professor X's favorite is red potatoes tossed in olive oil and season salt, then broiled in the toaster oven until crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.  Mmmmm.

Not to be deterred by the potato's new public enemy status, I'm on the hunt for new ways to serve 'em up. So, how do you do your spuds?

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Romantic Suspense Debut Author Raquel Byrnes Talks Killer Synopses

Today I'm excited to have debut author Raquel Byrnes visiting today. Raquel's inspirational romantic suspense Purple Knot was released June 3rd from White Rose Publishing. She's here to share tips on a subject I fear as much as the Dread Pirate Roberts--writing a synopsis, GASP!

Without further ado, here's Raquel and her advice on

How a Killer Synopsis Can Keep You from the Slush Pile

Writing a synopsis is one of the most grueling and intimidating aspects of the submission process. Query letters are easy compared to the dreaded 3-4 page synopsis that goes with your proposal. But this mini-novel is a very important part of the pitch for your manuscript. So making it the best you can possibly create is essential.

Not all agents or publishers accept the same type of synopsis. Some require a one-page, while others would like an "Extended Synopsis" of three or four pages. Check the submission requirements on their website.

A synopsis is generally written in PRESENT tense, THIRD PERSON. This is regardless of your novel's POV. Follow the voice of your book, it’s the first taste of your writing that the agent gets.

There are specific formatting guidelines. Your synopsis should be single spaced. In the top left-hand corner, the header should have your book title and your name. You may also want to add the genre and word count.

There are 3 main sections to your synopsis: The Hook, The Background, and The Stakes.

The Hook
Start with an exciting statement. What is the character's major dilemma or conflict? How might they react? You worry over the first sentence of your the same over your synopsis.

The Background
Introduce your character with just enough info to make things clear. Who is the book about? What kind of person are they? Make sure they are sympathetic to your reader. Make them care what happens.

The Stakes
These are your plot points; only list the MAJOR ones. List the public AND private stakes. Show how they escalate. Create tension.

A synopsis is NOT where you have cliff-hangers or questions. It is the whole story.

Finally, don't forget punctuation and grammar. This is a professional pitch for your product...polish it up.

The important thing to keep in mind is this represents you as an author, so take the time to make it as clear, concise, and professional as possible.

Thanks so much Raquel for sharing your tips on successful synopsis writing. And beaucoup wishes for success with Purple Knots.

A killer strikes. A love rekindled. A life-altering choice.

When her best friend, is murdered, Reyna Cruz doesn't believe the police have the whole story. An investigator by trade, she has the talent to track Summer’s killer, but when clues lead to a family connection and a vicious gang, she suddenly becomes the hunted. At the end of her rope, Reyna must decide to trust the God she believes abandoned her. 

Wanting justice for his sister’s murder, lawyer Jimmy Corbeau agrees to help Reyna—even though she’s his ex-fiancé, and their break-up devastated him. Romance is reawakened, but so are memories of their tragic undoing. Jimmy must decide if he will fight for a future with Reyna or allow their past to derail the investigation and his second chance at love.

When the investigation goes awry and Summer’s infant daughter is kidnapped, Reyna must put her life on the line. Will Jimmy and Reyna survive the desperate measures it takes to recover his niece, catch a killer, and secure a happily-ever-after for them all?

Raquel Byrnes lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace. You can visit her at her website:  and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011


“{Fate} often preserves one not domed to die, if his courage is strong!”  Beowulf, line 572-573

Have you seen the 2007 CG film Beowulf? You know the one in which Angelina Jolie gives voice to the mother of the monster, Grendel?

It’s loosely (very loosely) based on the oldest surviving heroic epic poem in British literature. Believed to have been written between the 8th and early 11th century, the Beowulf manuscript housed in the British Library in London is the only one in existence, surviving the destruction of religious artifacts during the reign of Henry VIII. In the 18th century, Sir Robert Bruce Cotton counted it among his collection of medieval writings. In 1731, a fire swept through the building housing his literary treasures. Fortunately, Beowulf survived, although it did suffer damage.  Time, as with all things, continues to degrade the manuscript. Efforts to preserve the ancient document continue.

Beowulf is the tale of a Geats warrior who journeys across the sea to aid Hrothgar, King of the Scyldings, who’s Great Hall is terrorized by the monster, Grendel, believed to be a descendant of the biblical Cain, who killed his brother Abel and was cursed by God.

Grendel is an outcast, living on the moors, disturbed by the feasting and reverie within the walls of Hrothgar’s Great Hall.  When all have fallen asleep, Grendel sneaks inside and kills thirty nobles. Thus begins a twelve-year reign of terror.

Beowulf arrives at the Great Hall seeking fame and fortune. He boasts that he will kill Grendel and he does. Beowulf must then face Grendel’s mother, and eventually a dragon in Beowulf’s own kingdom many years later. These three epic battles mark the life of a Geats warrior who becomes a king.

The first printed edition of Beowulf appeared in 1815.  Over the years, many translations and reprintings followed. As did the debate of its origins.

Many believed that Germanic tradition forms the basis of the story. However, Wilhelm Grimm (yes, one-half of the Grimm Brothers) linked Beowulf to Irish traditions. Other academics supported his belief, citing the Irish Feast of Bricriu  or Táin Bó Fráech as the foundation of the tale.

Some considered the story a paganistic work with Christian influences added later by scribes; while others insisted it was a Christian historical novel with bits of paganism intersperse to add local color. JRR Tolkein was noted to have said that Beowulf was written with “too genuine a memory of Anglo-Saxon paganism to have been written more than a few generations after the events.”

Beowulf is one of my favorite legends. To me, the core of the story is a warrior’s coming of age. He matures from a proud, young adventure thrill-seeker to a respectable, noble king who is more concerned with his people’s safety and prosperity than his own fame and riches.

But, could Beowulf be more than mere legend?

Archeological excavations at Lejre, the seat of Scylding according to Scandinavian traditions, have uncovered a large building, circa mid-6th century—the time period of Beowulf. The structure contains three halls, each fifty meters long, similar to the ones described in the epic. Discoveries at the Eadgils’ mound in Uppsala, Sweden seem to support the existence of Beowulf as a real man and his sagas.  Birger Nerman—Swedish archaeologist, professor, and author, identified the barrow of Skalunda as the Beowulf’s final resting place.

Beowulf's Burial Mound: Photo Source
So, if Beowulf was real person and his adventures true events, then what about the monsters he battled? Were they real? And what were they?

In Christian medieval culture the term “monster” referred to individuals with birth defects. Their deformities often seen as an ominous sign from God signifying punishment for some transgression or a foreboding of evil to come.

Beowulf’s anonymous author describes the monster Grendel as a shadow-glider with flaming eyes, a hellish ravager, a spell-weaver who seized his victim,
“a sleeping warrior and slit him wide open,
biting into the body, drinking blood in streams,
swallowing huge mouthfuls—till soon
he had eaten the entire man’s corpse,
even feet and hands.” Beowulf, lines 741-745
When I envision Grendel, I see VAMPIRE. He comes out only at night, drinks his victims’ blood and devours their flesh. He’s super-human stronger, able to rip apart limbs with his bare hands so he has no need for weapons. Even when Beowulf defeats Grendel and finds him dead in a lair, Beowulf beheads the monster, to ensure the unholy creature never rises again.

Could the ancient manuscript of Beowulf substantiate the existence of vampires in medieval times?

If Grendel wasn’t a vampire, what do you think he might’ve been?

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday's Treasure: WARCRY by Elizabeth Vaughan

  • Publisher: Berkley (May 3, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0425241521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425241523

Heath of Xy has abandoned family, friends, and his fellow guardsmen  in the ancient city to serve his Queen in the Plains. There he learns the mysterious ways of the Plains people and loses his heart to one of their fiercest warriors.

Strong, independent Atira of the Bear desires to be bonded to no man. She rejects Heath’s offer of marriage, despite her undeniable feelings for him. To her, a bonding is little more than a lifetime of servitude ~ and she’ll have none of that. Besides, she’s of the Plains and Heath’s a city-dweller. They’re too different for a lasting commitment to be successful.

With the pregnant Xyian Queen nearing her term, Heath, Atira and a handful of Plains warriors escort her and her Warlord back to Xy to give birth. Their journey is awkward and tense because Heath has decided to no longer have a physical relationship with Atira unless she agrees to marry him.

But a threat to harm the bonded royal couple and their unborn child simmers behind the Xyian castle walls, forcing Heath and Atira to work closer than ever to quell the rebellion.  Proximity breaks Heath’s resolve.  Though he’s helpless to protect his heart, he’ll not stop risking it for Atira.

Atira’s exposure to the city-dwellers way of life gives her a new understanding of Heath and his proposal. She begins to realize that what he’s asking from her is a sharing of their lives, not a shackling.

When Heath thwarts the enemy’s maneuvers to declare the forthcoming royal heir illegitimate, a more sinister plan is set into motion.  It will take all Heath’s and Atira’s strength and battle wits to save the Queen, her beloved and their unborn child.  As the battle for a kingdom and its legacy erupts, Heath and Atira face the reality that they might have to sacrifice their love to win the war.    

Warcry continues the fantasy romance saga of the Chronicles of the Warlands by USA Today bestseller author Elizabeth Vaughan. I’m delighted to mention that Warcry reads beautifully as a stand-alone story.  Ms. Vaughan does a fabulous job of providing just enough backstory to explain the setting and circumstance without bogging down the read.

The descriptive detail is a perfect blend of landscapes bearing a certain familiarity but imbued with a rich essence that uniquely defines a place not of our world. The interactions between the Plains people and the city-dwellers showcase how different cultures perceive the world around them and yet at their core they experience the same needs and wants for love and family.

There are several scenes where the point of view character is someone other than Heath or Atira. This usually occurs in villainous scenes; however, there are short glimpses through the eyes of other secondary characters that give the reader a broader scope of the action. Although I’m not generally a fan of these types of switches, this technique works very well for this story. I didn’t find them intrusive or extraneous. Often, I found these scenes to provide key insights.  Seeing—through the villain’s eyes—how the deaths of his two sons embittered him, provides a depth to the story that can’t be achieved through another character’s perspective.

Heath and Atira’s introspections reveal their struggle to understand the cultural differences between. Only when they learn to see the world through the other’s eyes do they begin to truly accept one another and understand that self-sacrifice is the path to enduring love.

I found Warcry wonderfully entertaining. I especially loved the author’s voice. Her words blend seamlessly on the page, sweeping me up into the action and intrigue so that I couldn’t stop reading until the end. 

Heat Level : Campfire

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday's Treasure: Rush of Darkness

Rush of Darkness by Rhyannon Byrd
Publisher: Harlequin
Line: HQN
Release Date: Mar 29, 2011

Raine Spenser is on a mission to find and kill the Kraven who murdered her sister. Raine, herself, had recently been their captive, until the Watchman--Seth McConnell, set her free. 

Sneaking away from the Watchmen compound where Seth had taken her to recover, Raine sets her plan of vengeance in motion. After saving her once, Seth is determined not to let Raine enter harm’s way again. Not without him. He tracks her to Paris where he finds her fighting two Kraven—and losing. 

Seth kills Raine’s attackers, thereby rescuing her, again. Adamant about Raine not putting herself in danger, Seth offers to hunt and kill the remaining Kraven for her. He knows from experience how revenge contorts the soul and he doesn’t want it twisting hers.

 However, Raine refuses his bargain. She needs to follow her plan to completion so that she will regain control of her life. When it becomes clear that Seth will follow her all over the world if he has to, Raine allows him accompany her on the hunt.

While they track down the Kraven, one by one, and destroy them, Seton—the mastermind behind Raine’s initial capture, enacts a plan to trick Sean and Raine into freeing the Casus from the Merridian. If he succeeds, an unimaginable reign of evil will begin.

Raine and Seth have a volatile relationship from the get -go: fighting over Raine’s reckless behavior, fighting over Seth’s over-protectiveness, and fighting to deny their irrepressible attraction.  

Seth fights his attraction because he doesn’t want to hurt Raine. She’s been used and abused by men for her powers and he doesn’t want her to think of him that way. Raine fights her attraction because the hatred growing inside her makes her strong. If she opens her heart to Seth and love, she will lose the dark edge she’s gained and her sister’s death will go unpunished.   

Although the couple can’t deny their mutual attraction, neither is willing to trust the other. As a child, Seth survived a brutal vampire attack that left his entire family dead and prompted him to become a slayer. Raine is a vampire and can’t forgive Seth for hunting and killing her kind. Their inability to be honest with one another leads to mistakes that Seton exploits to his greatest advantage.

But love builds bridges; and, Seth and Raine do find the courage to reach across the great divide and unite to save the world, all the while, falling in love.

Rush of Darkness is the 7th book in the Primal Instinct series. The plot is character driven, tightly written, and a fast read. I found it more focused that the last Primal Instinct installment.

Raine and Seth’s characters are mirror images. Both are traumatized, scarred, and utterly empty without each other. Following along while they learn to trust is a gut-clenching thrill. There are a number of secondary characters that aren’t fully fleshed out, if you’re new to the series. However, fans will recognize the recurrent cast members and understand the connection without being overwhelmed with backstory. 

Rush of Darkness definitely held my attention. Each time I thought Raine and Seth had finally reached an understanding, something came along to push them back; but, their back-pedaling wasn’t simply a diversionary tool. The misunderstandings, the actions/reactions, were very much in character with Raine and Seth’s personality. Especially in light of their emotional hang-ups. 

Rush of Darkness has increased my appetite and I’m looking forward to more servings from the Primal Instinct series . Fans of Angela Knight’s Mageverse series and Jessa Slade’s Marked Souls series might enjoy Rush of Darkness. For those new to the Primal Instinct series, the glossary of terms provided at the end of the book is a good introduction to the world of the Watchmen.

Gold Coin Rating:     4
Heat Level:  Between Campfire and Bonfire

Reviewed for The Season

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Monday, May 2, 2011

That's a Wrap

April's mission was to blog every day, excluding Sunday, using the letters of the alphabet to prompt post ideas. Easy, breezy~ right?

Not so much. That's why the code name was A-Z Challenge.

When I was recruited, I envisioned that a theme in my posts would emerge. Like a compass to guide me to an understanding, or awareness, of who I am as a writer.

Looking back, I see the hodge-podge of topics I chose have only my stream of  consciousness in common and my stream of consciousness meanders here, there and everywhere.
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Facebook's Status Shuffle got it right. I have ADHLS ~ Attention Deficit Hey Look a Squirrel.

All kidding aside, the A-Z Challenge brought me new followers and lead me to follow other blogs that I may never have found surfing the blogosphere. Although I wasn't able to post comments on all the blogs I visited, I did make daily rounds to fellow A-Zers. It was interesting to peruse all the different topics that people came up with, and I was envious of more than a few. 

 Here's a recap of my A-Z topics.

A -   Alicorn
B -   Bigelow
E -   Evanescence
I -    Imagination
M -  Mothman
N -  Nachos
P -   Phantom Evil
T -  Tennyson
Y -  The Yeti

Congratulatory hugs to all the bloggers who completed the A-Z Challenge. A big thanks to Lee at Tossing It Out, Talli at Talli Roland, Jen at Unedited, Candace at Misadventures in Candyland, Karen at Coming down the Mountain, Jeffrey at World of the Scribe, Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs and Alex at Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting this year's event.

And a special thanks to Elizabeth Mueller for gifting me with my newest blog award.

So, A-Z Challenge~ That's a Wrap!

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Writers Unite! Stand Up for Judy Buranich AKA Judy Mays

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10th grade teacher Judy Buranich is being harassed because she writes erotic romance novels in her spare time.

Wendy Apple's finger-pointing brought the small town teacher's second profession to the forefront. Ms. Apple (a parent of a student attending Midd-West High School) reportedly stated that she simply wants Mrs. Buranich to be more discreet with her "secret identity," although Ms. Apple went public with the news. (News source

To my knowledge, Mrs. Buranich hasn't mixed her day job with her writing. And, I've checked Mrs. Buranich's author website~ under pen name Judy Mays: -- it shows no pictures of the author and mentions no specific details about her personal life. She even posts a disclaimer that you must be 18 to access certain parts of the website. Her double identity would've remained a mystery to most, if not for Ms. Apple ripping off her cloak.

Another parent, Deanna Steep stated that Mrs. Buranich should stop writing or stop teaching (News source I hope the school board administration presents with more rational and political sense.

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FREEDOM of SPEECH in the UNITED STATES is a protected civil right. The first amendment not only guarantees freedom of speech, it promises protection from imminent or potential violence against a person. Seriously, a threat to take away a woman's livelihood because you don't approve of her secondary employment is a blatant form of bullying, censorship, and (as I see it) a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

I support Wendy Apple and Deanna Stepp's right to voice their opinions; however, if the school board forces the issue, they may be infringing on Mrs. Buranich's basic civil rights and setting a dangerous precedent that could impact all writers.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zeta, as in-- Catherine Zeta-Jones

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Today's Saturday Shout-Out goes to Catherine Zeta-Jones. The Welsh-born actor is a private woman and going public about her struggle with Bipolar II Disorder must be difficult.

Bipolar II, sometimes referred to as manic-depression, is a psychiatric condition that induces severe, fluctuating moods. However with Bipolar II, the emotional swing doesn't rocket to the high point of full-blown mania, so the elevated moods are considered to be hypomania. These episodes range from euphoria to irritability and can lead to erratic or bizarre behavior. Often the symptoms of Bipolar II can be managed with psychotropic medications.

Other actors affected by Bipolar II Disorder included Russell Brand, Rosemary Clooney, Richard Dreyfuss, Patty Duke, and Carrie Fisher. Writers believed to have Bipolar II Disorder are Patricia Cornwall, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London,  and Sidney Sheldon.

About 2.5% of the US population suffer with Bipolar II.

The primary symptoms of bipolar disorder are dramatic and unpredictable mood swings.

Mania symptoms may include excessive happiness, excitement, irritability, restlessness, increased energy, less need for sleep, racing thoughts, high sex drive, and a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans.

Depression symptoms may include sadness, anxiety, irritability, loss of energy, uncontrollable crying, change in appetite causing weight loss or gain, increased need for sleep, difficulty making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide.  ~ WebMD
If you experience these symptoms, please speak to your doctor.

National Mental Health Assn. Provides free information on specific disorders, referral directory to mental health providers, national directory of local mental health associations 1-800-969-6642 (M-F, 9-5 EST)

National Institute of Mental Health Information Line: Provides information and literature on mental illness by disorder-for professionals and general public. 1-800-647-2642

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Friday, April 29, 2011

The Yeti

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Today's Fantasy Friday is all about the Yeti -  Big Foot's abominable snowman cousin.

The indigenous people of the Himalayan mountains in Nepal, India and Tibet have stories of Yeti sightings documented through-out their history, though the scientific community considers the cryptid to be nothing but legend. Attempts to explain the Yeti range from misidentified wildlife to a human hermit.
In the 19th century, a first person account of an encounter with a Yeti in Northern Nepa described the creature as tall, bipedal, and covered with long, dark hair.
In 1986, mountaineer Reinhold Messner reported that he killed a Yeti. He believed the creature was an endangered Himalayan Brown Bear that
walked upright like a man.

In 1996, two hikers in the mountains of Nepal shot video of an ape-like creature trekking through the snow. 

The discovery of homo floresiensis (Flores man) in 2004 gives cyptozoologists hope that human-like creatures reported to be myths or legends may one day be proven to be real.

In 2007, footprints were found in the Everest region of Nepal resembling descriptions of Yeti. They measured 13 inches in length and 9-10 inches in width across the toes.

The Yeti is popular icon in modern culture, making appearances in books, movies, television programs and video games.

My favorite Yeti is Bumble the abominable snowman from Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer.
Who's yours?

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The X- Files

I miss The X-Files. An iconic science fiction series of the 90's, The X-Files integrated conspiracy theories, spiritualism, supernatural phenomenon, and a mytharc of extraterrestrials that was unlike anything I'd seen. The plots were bizarre and way over the top, but always interesting, imaginative, and challenging. Themes from the show quickly become pop culture slogans.  The Truth is Out There,  Trust No One,  and  I Want to Believe popped up on posters, buttons, t-shirts, and bumper stickers, becoming the voice of a generation. The X-Files, a Fox television series, ran from 1993-2002 and spun two full length feature films. 

According to Wikipedia, The X-Files directly inspired other TV series, including The Burning Zone, Lost, The Dead Zone, Dark Skies, and The Visitor.  I admit that I didn't watch those shows, so I can't say how closely the resemble the "feel" of watching The X-Files. However, I'm an avid viewer of the current television series, Fringe. Though it doesn't deal with extraterrestrials, it does showcase a parallel universe, scientific experimentation on humans, and unexplainable phenomena, giving me my sci-fi fix for the week.

What's your current favorite sci-fi television series?


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