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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Guest: N. Gemini Sasson

What are the Top Five Things on my Bucket List?

Wow, I used to have one of those. Several, in fact. But that was before they called them ‘Bucket Lists’. Even way back before the early Oprah days, when she talked about ‘visualizing’ your dreams and cutting out magazine pictures to glue on a piece of posterboard. I scribbled my dreams down on index cards and stuffed them in an envelope, sealed it, and dated it for several years later. Those envelopes were crammed with hopes of travel, a farm house in the country, and a happy family. But sometime in the past ten years, I stopped looking ahead and moored myself in the day to day. What happened between then and now? Life happened: two very active kids, a husband who deserved a certain amount of attention, multiple dogs, a herd of sheep, two homes rehabbed – all while I was secretly building a career and juggling part time jobs. It seemed the older I got, the more my bucket lists became strictly to-do lists. Practical, not fun. Duty. Obligation. Responsibility. Finish this, accomplish that, etc., etc.

It’s time to dream again. To open my mind to what is possible. To explore, test my limits, seek new thrills. The kids are off at college, debts have been paid down, the sheep have been re-homed to a location without coyotes and the house is finally just the way we want it to be.

So what’s on my Bucket List now? Fun and memorable stuff:

5) Go see the Summer Olympics – To watch Track and Field. Although actually being in the Olympics would be THE most amazing thing ever.

4) Take a balloon ride, preferably over the pyramids of Egypt.

3) Go hiking in Iceland – It’s a raw landscape, but the geology fascinates me. Hopefully, though, I won’t get trapped there by a volcanic eruption.

2) Sleep under the stars in the Scottish Highlands – Evidently I have a thing for tree-less, wind-scoured locations, but I have this inexplicable attraction to Scotland. I love bagpipe music. I think it’s genetic.

1) Be on The Amazing Race – I figure I could tick all the other items off the Bucket List in one fell swoop that way (provided the producers are on the same wavelength as me). With my map-reading skills and my husband’s willingness to talk to total strangers, we’d be a kick-butt team.

That’s mine. I could go on and on, but doing those would certainly create some exciting memories. What’s on your Bucket List? If you don’t have one, what are you waiting for? And if you have one, what steps are you taking to tick the items off? Me – I need to go back to work today and start saving and planning for four years from now. The Olympics are in Rio de Janeiro. If I don’t make it onto The Amazing Race by then, maybe I can schedule a balloon ride over the Brazilian rainforest or a canoeing side trip to the Amazon?

I love your list! I think going to the Olympics (Summer or Winter) would be amazing. I've been to Iceland, a long time ago--didn't hike, it was March and snowing sideways. But it was an amazing time. Spent 2 weeks in the Scottish Highlands that year as well. For both I recommend bringing snacks (just in case!) and a notebook to chronical the places you've been so when you see those pictures you can remember which castle/waterfall/hill you took it at!
 
Thanks so much for stopping by!
 
BLURB:

What is done cannot be undone.
England, 1326. Edward II has been dethroned. Queen Isabella and her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer, are at the pinnacle of their power.

Fated to rule, Isabella’s son becomes King Edward III at the callow age of fourteen. Young Edward, however, must bide his time as the loyal son until he can break the shackles of his minority and dissolve the regency council which dictates his every action.

When the former king is found mysteriously dead in his cell, the truth becomes obscured and Isabella can no longer trust her own memory . . . or confide in those closest to her. Meanwhile, she struggles to keep her beloved Mortimer at her side and gain yet another crown—France’s—for the son who no longer trusts her.

Amidst a maelstrom of shifting loyalties, accusations of murder propel England to the brink of civil war.

In the sequel to Isabeau, secrecy and treason, conspiracy and revenge once again overtake England. The future rests in the hands of a mother and son whose bonds have reached a breaking point.

EXCERPT

Isabella – Westminster, February, 1327

The reminder that I was still married to Edward of Caernarvon stung like an open cut, fresh and deep down to the vein. Except for the sharp whistling of my indrawn breath, the room was silent. Bishop Orleton must have sensed the tension between Mortimer and me, for he excused himself, closing the door firmly behind him.

I turned away to face the row of windows, the world beyond dark with night. In moments, Mortimer’s arms encircled my waist from behind, tugging me gently against him. I kept my body stiff, tempering my resolve against his nearness, but already my knees were weakening beneath me.

“Isabeau ... sweet heaven of mine.” Light fingers traced over my hips, wandering slowly up toward my ribs. His breath stirred on my neck, a fiery breeze of longing. “Let me hold you tonight, hour upon hour, until the dawn.”

I shook my head, even as I felt myself wanting to yield, to abandon all. “I’m afraid, Roger.”

He turned me around, his lips brushing against the crown of my hair, over my ear, the slope of my shoulder. Not until my breathing slowed and I half-closed my eyes, waiting for more, did he lift his head to speak. A smirk, hinting of something sinister, flashed across his mouth. Or perhaps I merely imagined it? His thumb stroked tenderly at my cheek, soothing away my worries. “Afraid of what—that he’ll go free? You needn’t worry, my love. I’ll make sure he never has the chance.”

About the Author:

N. Gemini Sasson is also the author of The Crown in the Heather (The Bruce Trilogy: Book I), Worth Dying For (The Bruce Trilogy: Book II), The Honor Due a King (The Bruce Trilogy: Book III) and Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer (2011 IPPY Silver Medalist for Historical Fiction). She holds a M.S. in Biology from Wright State University where she ran cross country on athletic scholarship. She has worked as an aquatic toxicologist, an environmental engineer, a teacher and a track and cross country coach. A longtime breeder and judge of Australian Shepherds, her articles on bobtail genetics have been translated into seven languages.

Links:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: #Eureka

Or Why You Should Watch the Smartest and Funniest Show Currently on TV

Eureka

It's funny. It's smart. It's a smartass show. It's got the 'dumb' town sheriff who thinks like a regular person in a town full of genius disasters--and usually is the one to save the day. It may sound trite and cliche, but it's really not.

This is the last season. I won't go into why I think SyFy cancelled this wonderful show. Or why I don't think we need another 'reality' show about scaring people, ghost hunting, or the paranormal objects people own.

If you haven't watched any of Eureka, now is your chance! You don't have to, but in starting with season 1, episode 1, you can meet Jack Carter and his rebellious (if brilliant) daughter as they stumble (literally) into a hidden town in Washington State that's full of the world's most brilliant people. Even the cafe owner has a PhD in food!

Each season has an overall arc--time travel, space travel, mind travel (trust me on that one). And each season has guest stars. Ever watch Star Trek: Next Gen? Remember stupid little Wesley Crusher? Wil Wheaton is now a recurring guest scientist with a knack for snobbery and accidents. Plus there are smart houses, AI deputy sheriffs, and enough romantic arcs to make a romance novel look crowded.

The only draw back is Salli Richardson-Whitfield. Not because she's a bad actress (definitely not) but because the writers seemed to have dumbed down her character and then given her even more scenes with her new blah-ness. Alas, you take the good with the bad.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.

Want to know what's happening with our food? Watch Farmageddon. You won't regret it. And if it helps us to buy local, support our own communities, and treat our world better, then it's all good.

Because one person can make a difference.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Unusual Historicals

I love Regencies, don't get me wrong. But I also love romances set in other time periods. I've talked about this before (here, here, and here to name a few), but my question remains:

Why don't other people like unusual historicals?

Is it because they like the familiar? Or is it because they don't like those other time periods? I just don't know. For instance, why isn't the American or French Revolutions popular? Is it the time, locale, or is it the face of a war? The Civil War used to be hugely popular, but I only see it in ebooks now, though I do buy those.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday Review: Mancode Exposed

I know, even the title is pretty catchy! I received a free PDF of this from the author via Goddess Fish Promotions for the specific purpose of reviewing it. My first question is: How can you expose the man code in a mere 46 pages?

Here's the blurb Rachel sent along with the book:

 I'm over forty. I don't have a blankie. I have vodka.
 I'm no 'ologist.' I don't give advice. If that's what you're looking for, go buy Dr. Somebody's book.
 I write about men, women, sex, & chocolate. My experiences, my truth, my martinis.
 *Note: Thompson employs hashtags (i.e., the # sign) in her work. Google it. These are not typos, people #deargod.


Here's my review:
Not exactly a book one reads from beginning to end, this read more like a series of one-liners. Funny, sometimes dead on one-liners, but not exactly a narrative. Wow, that sounds very librarian of me!


When I received this book, I figured it would be funny (it was!), snarky (oh definitely), and, based on the warning if nothing else interesting.

Mancode: Exposed has sex in it. If that offends you, move along. It’s sarcastic and snarky. If your sensibilities run toward the conservative, you might not want to read any farther. (Pssst: I also throw in the occasional well-placed curse word or two.)
As I read, I realized what the book reminded me of: a Twitter conversation. And one with her husband, though she did stress that in the beginning that this book was about her.

What this book is truly about: me, exposing my beliefs, experiences, and thoughts on men and women. Stripping off the pretense of stereotypes, undressing myself for your reading pleasure.
Now, was this intentional? Possible, it’s also possible Ms. Thompson thinks and speaks in one-liners, I don’t know.

That said, I admit to chuckling over certain aspects, as I, too, am a fan of the witty one-liner. And I adore Twitter, as anyone know knows me will attest. However, I found the random hashtags (#) mildly annoying and intrusive.

Half-way through the book, the stereotypes that annoyed me so and were seemingly prevalent throughout Mancode Exposed were really the surface and only by reading further and deeper into the words themselves, did you truly get the book. At least I hope that’s the case! If not…well, let’s not go there. But let’s hope all the surface snark was to show what truly lurked beneath.

All in all, 4 of 5 stars. I’m not sure how much man code exposure she did, but she had me chuckling and cringing throughout, and some of the topics she touched on were at the core of what marriage is really all about.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guest: Matt Chatelain

Did you ever wonder what it was all about? As a kid, it was all I could think of. I was always fascinated by the mysterious, the unexplained. Growing up, my fascination matured. I graduated to serious topics. UFOs went by the wayside, joining Bigfoot, the Oak Island treasure, and the Bermuda triangle. It was time for the big guns, the real issues.


Life, death and everything.


Some authors out there were writing about it. I'll never forget The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, etc. It was one of the first books to rip a veil off my eyes, a veil I had not known was there. Later, I came across the book The second Messiah, by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomax. Another shocker, starting with Jesus' brother James. I didn't even know Jesus had a brother.


I was also reading books like 'The strange story of the Quantum' and researching theories like 'The Electric Universe' and ' Quantum electrodynamics'. There were ancient texts from across the world talking strangely similar concepts, events like the Flood and the big bang. All of it pouring into my head, question upon question.


What was it all about?


No matter the book I read, fiction or non-fiction, all of them fell short of the goal. None seemed to do more than tease me then leave me hanging… and we know how we hate that. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown only made things worse. A fiction treatment with everything jumbled together, impossible to make heads or tails of anything.


I wanted to read something with some meat to it. Something with girth to the story. I wanted to expand on the complexity of things. I knew it all tied together. The problem was no one had taken the problem in hand. I decided I was going to do it. I was going to stroke all those small facts into one gigantic explosion of a story.


So I did.


Of course, I was fooling myself. It wasn't as easy as all that. It required some finesse. I wanted to write a single book, something simple to start off my writing career. I ended up taking six years to write a four-book epic story. Most of the readers out there think it's just a normal epic story but, between you and me, it's much more than that.


Don't tell anyone. Keep this as our secret.


As long as we're sharing secrets, allow me to let you in on what happened to me when I wrote this thing. In some ways it was like holding a tiger by the tail. I could never get myself to let go. Weird coincidences happened (You can read about them on my website in the 'writing the series' essay). I had trouble separating fiction from reality, which was strange because the secret topic of the book was that the world was an illusion.


Weirdest of all was that I wasn't the first one mixing fiction with reality. Tons of people had inserted fiction into real life until everyone accepted the fiction as real (such as with 'the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail). In fact, just about all history was fiction. Most ideas we used to formulate our concept of reality were flawed from the beginning. Nothing we knew had substance, not even matter. It too was illusion.


What was going on?


Luckily, my problems are your boon. I was sick and tired of reading books that claimed to go the distance and always fell short. My questions drove me to write the book that answered all the questions. I went there, examined the place and came back with pictures.


Now, of course, I don't blame you for being skeptical. You've been promised before. Sweet-talking just doesn't cut it anymore. You want to see the wedding ring, I understand. Worse yet, I'm self published, so you're worried about the quality of the work. Fear not. I edited those damn books for years. Book One, 'The Caves of Etretat' was edited fifteen times. It was crazy but what can I say? It had to be done to make sure all the storylines fit it properly.


The end result is an Action/Adventure story like no other. The story is a non-stop rollercoaster where nothing is ever as it seems. Don’t go into this book looking for details or unimportant side-stories. Go into it looking for answers, looking for supreme satisfaction, for the answers to your important questions.


Life, death and everything.


Discover the Sirenne Saga, the four book epic series written by Matt Chatelain. It's the ultimate story, challenging and testing you but, best of all, entertaining you. You can find out about it on my website, www.mattchatelain.com . The first book (The Caves of Etretat) is available as Kindle Ebook and on Amazon as hardcopy. The next three books will be published this year, so no waiting forever to get your answers.


Best of all, I've got a free contest on my website with a monthly draw of signed hardcopies of my books. All you need to do is register on my site. Of course, that traps you into getting my news releases so you can know when to buy my other books. There are also some audio excerpts and interviews you can listen to on my website, as well as a pile of freebies. Drop in and say hello.
BLURB:

In 2007, Canadian bookstore owner Paul Sirenne is suddenly thrust into a quest for answers, when his parents are found brutally murdered, their bodies cut up and shaped into the letters H.N. Finding a note inside his father's copy of 'The Hollow Needle', by Maurice Leblanc, Sirenne is determined to uncover the roots of his long-forgotten family secret.

He heads to the town of Etretat, France, on the trail of a hundred year old mystery hidden in the pages of the 'Hollow Needle'. Falling in love with Leblanc's great-granddaughter, he deals with puzzles, theories, codes and historical mysteries, leading him to believe that Leblanc held a secret war against Adolf Hitler, fighting for the control of an incredible complex of caves hidden in Etretat's chalk cliffs.


'THE CAVES OF ETRETAT' is the first in a four-book epic adventure following Paul Sirenne, an average man unknowingly manipulated into becoming the key in the final phase of a complex conspiracy spanning millennia. Inextricably woven into history, the series re-writes everything we know in a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride where nothing is ever as it seems.
EXCERPT:

While I drove toward my father's place, my rear view mirror allowed me the occasional glimpse of a familiar vehicle and its driver, Norton. His companions were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he was intent on protecting me but I doubted it. His comments had seemed disjointed to me, despite the circumstances. Everything he said had come across insincere, as if he were following another agenda. I resolved to ignore him for the time being. Let him do his watching.

To some, police protection might seem comforting. To me, it felt like an irritant. I preferred to mind my own business and for others to do the same, even in dire circumstances. That way I hurt no one and no one got hurt. I almost changed my opinion when I arrived at my father’s house. Even Norton's company would have been preferable to that of my own thoughts. I hurried up the entrance staircase and stopped in front of the door, taking a deep breath. I felt frozen in place, unable to open it.
Breaking the spell and forcing myself to move, I removed the police tape with a trembling hand and entered, closing the door behind me. I looked around the entrance hallway. Everything looked normal but it felt wrong, empty, too quiet. I walked into the living room and there it was: the bloody outline of the H and the N. I was horrified by the bloodstained dots after each gruesome letter, knowing what had left those imprints.
Seized by a sudden, irresistible impulse, I ran to the kitchen, filled a large bucket with hot water and picked up a heavy bristle brush.
Those stains had to go!

I returned to the living room, trying to stay calm, to think nothing about what the stains represented. I knelt down, splashed some water on the floor, and began scrubbing the dark stains. I didn’t care if I scratched the wood. At some point, I started crying in great, wracking sobs, the tears streaming down my cheeks, dripping onto the bloodstains on the floor.
By the time I was done, my tears had dried, evaporated by a burning resolve unlike any I had before. I did not know how, I did not know when, but I would catch that monstrous killer. He would pay for what he had done.
Aboutt the Author:
Born in Ottawa, fifty-two years ago, I have been the owner of a used bookstore I opened in Ontario, since 1990. I have been writing since I was ten. Beginning with poetry, I quickly moved on to short stories and non-fiction pieces. I stayed in that format for many years, eventually self-publishing a franchise manual (How to Open Your Own Used Bookstore), as well as a variety of booklets, such as 'How to Save Money at Home', 'Build a Greenhouse with Style' and the ten booklet series of Eddy Brock, Brockville Detective.

Having semi-retired from the bookstore, I embarked on the project of writing my first serious novel, which I expanded to a four book series after discovering an incredible mystery hidden within Maurice Leblanc's books.

My interests are eclectic. I like Quantum Physics, Cosmology, history, archaeology, science in general, mechanics, free power, recycling and re-use. I'm a good handyman and can usually fix just about anything. I'm good with computers. I love movies, both good and bad, preferring action and war movies. I can draw and paint fairly well but am so obsessed with perspective and light that I cannot think of much else. I am too detail oriented. Takes too long to finish anything.
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PRIZE INFORMATION

Matt will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour as well as to the host whose post receives the most comments (excluding his or the host's) during the tour.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lapiz Lazuli erotic anthology

From fetishistic and rough, to sapphic or sweet, this anthology of eight hand-picked dirty stories spans the whole erotica range.

If stories of frantic, sensual lovemaking excite you, Lapiz Lazuli is guaranteed to grab your attention. These short stories explore the sensual delights of sex; whether it is a quick romp in a hallway, the caress of a razorblade, the helpless sensation of rough sex or a furtive public holiday experience, arousing accounts and unabashed tales of kinky sex await!

Lapiz Lazuli

The day’s first customers were a pair of forty-something women, sisters from the look of them, one heading for the airport after a visit—you can always tell out-of-towners by their clothes. I was still pinning on my ‘Caroline’ badge when they walked in. Nobody calls me Caroline but it’s company policy to have full names on badges—I’m Carrie to my friends, I made their skinny macchiatos and half-listened in to them as I continued setting the counter up for the commuter rush.

“It was lovely to see you,” said the one with the city clothes. “But it will be nice to have the place to ourselves again.”

Out-of-town sister scowled. “I didn’t realise I was such a bad guest.”

“Honey, you’re not. But tonight, me and Tom … well, we want our privacy.” Town-sister played with a chunky lapis lazuli and silver ring on a chain around her neck. She looked good for her age, and happy with it.

Out-of-town smiled. “After six years, are you two still romping?”

“Six years last month and still spending as much time in bed as out of it. Look what he gave me for our anniversary.” Town sister held out the ring.

“Very … pretty.” 

I could tell out-of-town was as unimpressed as me. Cheap gift or what?

“The chain’s platinum,” said townie, looking smug. “But the ring … now that’s the best gift I’ve ever had.”

She so wanted her sister to ask why, and I so wanted to hear the answer, that I nearly asked her myself.

“Why?” said out-of-town.

“Well …” town-girl leaned over the table and I had to strain my ears to hear. “I wouldn’t tell anybody else this, but I’ve always told you everything … I like a little pain with my pleasure. Know what I mean?”

Out-of-town looked puzzled, but I knew what she meant, did I ever!

“You know!” Town-sister blushed. “A little slap, a little bite, something to push you over the edge into …” She put her hand on her chest, fingers splayed, and threw her head back, panting. It was a pretty good impression of orgasm I’ll admit – very When Harry Met Sally. Now her sister blushed and laughed.

Town sister continued, “Well Tom doesn’t like to hurt me, but he sure likes to make me happy, that kind of happy. So this ring, see, with all its bumps and lumps? Well when I wear it around my neck, Tom knows that the same evening I’m going to slide it onto his finger and he’s going to press it against my …” she paused and lowered her voice even more. “… my love button, when we make love.”

Love button! It was all I could do not to laugh out loud. Did people still talk like that? But I looked at that ring, with its deep blue knobbly surface and imagined how cold it must be, and how hard, and my knees became so weak I had to hang on to the counter.

The sisters left, chatting and laughing, and the morning coffee addicts began to roll in, but I didn’t forget what I’d heard.

That weekend I took Doug shopping at the Flea Market.

“What are we doing here, Carrie?” he asked, looking at the stalls. But I’d already seen what I wanted on a table laden with semi-precious stones and costume jewellery. A big ring, with a greeny-grey, nubby, softly-contoured stone that the seller told me was moss agate. It fit Doug’s middle finger perfectly
.

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