Howdy gang! I hope your holiday was filled with cheer,
good times, and lots of yummy food.
We certainly had quite the holiday here on the hillside
farm. I think we have met our quota for the week. Heck, this round of holiday
happenings can last me right through next year as well! I`m trying to come up
with a way to title this Christmas and all I can come up with is ‘I should have
slept through it!’ or ‘Why wasn`t it a hunky god?’
I`ll go with the god one.
We started off the downhill run when Miss Yodeling came
dashing out of her room on Christmas Eve morning, looking rather green around
the gills. Into the bathroom she flew minus a miniature sleigh. Seems that the
stomach bug her boyfriend had a few days previous had settled in her tiny
tummy. My mother always used to say that if it`s a holiday or vacation expect
sick kids. She was right as always.
Right, so we get the young lady settled with dry toast
and warm Pepsi on the couch. As the day progresses she feels slightly better.
Evening rolls around. I leap onto my laptop to check email and wish friends and
family a Merry Merry after dinner. Waiting for me in my inbox is a PDF final
version of the zombie anthology! I grab a fresh cuppa and go through the story
one last time. Excitement bubbling through me I skip through Facebook,
sprinkle some good wishes and turn off my laptop. Weird thing is that my laptop
won`t turn off. After a minute I get that lovely blue screen telling me that
Windows has a wild hair up its rump. It didn`t say that exactly but it meant
Cool. So a sick kid and dead laptop. Okay, I can handle
this. I`ll just call my computer guy on Wednesday and use Miss Yodeling`s
laptop until mine comes back. I won`t have access to my vast store of images
but my writing is on a flashdrive so I can at least whittle. It`s nothing a
tough farm woman can`t deal with. You guys can look at this pretty daisy from Miss Yodeling`s image files instead of something humorous from mine. Also, the font and size of this post will be different since her laptop and Blogger don`t play well together.
Christmas Day dawns bright and chilly. Miss is now
feeling nearly one hundred percent. I`m a wee bit sad about my laptop as I have
visions running around my head but they`re not of sugar plums, they`re a bit
racier than treats but just as sweet she typed naughtily. We open our presents and have our holiday
meal. Miss gets enough gumption to do her wash. I turn on the taps to fill the
sink to begin doing the mounds of dishes and no hot water comes forth from the
spigot. I tell my child to turn off the washer. After ten minutes of running
water to pull the hot to the kitchen Mister throws me a ‘Are you kidding me?’
look and heads back to check the water heater.
As suspected it is not working. Also, the holding tank is
leaking. Fun times lay ahead for the yodeling goatherder now! We trudge out to
the hydrant in the yard and get enough water to boil for dishes. Showers are on
hold until my trusty BIL can get here today and start working on the water
heater until Mister gets home from work to help him. My hubby HAD to show up
today or he wouldn`t have gotten paid for the two holidays.
So, here we are. It`s the day after Christmas. I sure
hope those three bad events are it for awhile. Oddly enough despite all the bad
luck we`ve had here over the past two days, we`ve had some fun moments as well.
We`ve laughed together, shared a meal with my Pops and beloved mother-in-law,
and got to play with our presents. I`m
choosing to focus on the good things instead of the bad if at all possible, or
at least try! At the very least I got a blog post that I`m sure many can relate
to on some level. And if you can`t relate then you can sit back and thank the
aligned planets for not dropping their cosmic do-do on your head.
Personally if something from the heavens is going to fall
on my head, I`d pick a burly Greek god of war, you know what I mean?
Isn`t it something how we all tend to be more introspective when the holiday season is upon us?
Perhaps that has to do with knowing another year is about to end. Or, it`s simply due to being with family and friends, many we haven`t seen all year. Whatever the reason to look into ourselves, it can be quite an eye opening experience.
I`d like to pass along a holiday wish that I`d enjoy seeing all of you give to yourselves in the coming year.
That gift is to believe in yourself and your dream.
I know that sounds trite and easy to do. But it isn`t. Sometimes it is one of the hardest things a person can do. And please don`t think this relates only to writers, for it doesn`t. If your dream is to make flowers out of duct tape for a living, or play the banjo, or get hired as a personal back washer for Godsmack`s Sully Erna (I`m still working on this one) or painting a picture or a hundred million things that folks dream of doing, believe in that dream. Do not let the negativity or scoffs of others deter you.
If you`re sixty and dream of being a pole dancer, go for it. Sure some in your family will raise eyebrows, or make snide comments. Some friends may chuckle at your ambitions or tell you flatly that they just cannot understand you at times. That`s okay. Let them wander what propels you. There are going to be those who will never get why we do what we do. And that is fine. As long as they`re supportive even if a bit befuddled then all is well.
Sometimes there will be others who not only don`t understand your dream, they`ll try to destroy it with negativity. They`ll nit and pick and put you down. They`ll snipe and complain and make you out to be the weird one. They may make comments such as ‘Why don`t you get a real job?’ or ‘You are far too old to be a lawyer, doctor or astronaut.’ Or ‘No one will take you seriously; just stop now before you embarrass yourself.’
Don`t let them ruin your dream. Ignore them. Tell them that you will chase your dream if they support you or not. Hug them and ask them to come along for the ride. If they choose not to hitch their wagon to your star, as sad as it is, leave them behind. Move on. Find a group that knows and shares your dreams. Seek out fellow artists, thespians, pole dancers, authors, bongo drum players or doughnut hole fanciers!
Just keep on dreaming. Keep reaching for the brass ring. Believe in yourself and your dream. It is not silly or fruitless or stupid. As Henry David Thoreau once said-
“Go confidently in the direction of your dream. Live the life you have imagined.”
First thing off the bat, I don`t know who the man holding the blonde woman on this cover is but I find him very compelling and blessed with biceps that beg to be caressed. I just had to get that off my chest because I can`t seem to tear my eyes away from him.
Moving on, lest I forget to write my review and continue to stare, this time around we`re chatting about the novel Jesse`s Brother written by Wendy Ely.
Jesse`s Brother is a nicely penned romance that kept me very entertained. The story revolves around Samantha Johns, a young woman that has returned to the family ranch to mend a terrible relationship with her mother. Sam also has worries about her father to attend to. She certainly does not plan to meet two men and have to choose between them.
The book moves smoothly and quickly. The plot is nice and not too convoluted. The characters are appealing and likeable. The sex is hot and steamy. It had everything I ask from a romance book, all neatly packaged and sealed with a sexy man with killer biceps bow.
Sorry, I was cover gawking again. The only thing I had issue with was the having to choose between two men. This, I think, is a personal glitch though. I`ve never loved two men at once. I can`t relate to being in one man’s arms, telling him you think he`s the hottest mancake ever and then running to be in another man`s arms the following day. There`s just a tint of game playing with the woman in these situations that I don`t care for, but that`s my hang-up. It also explains why I don`t read or write many ménage tales. I`m a man/man or man/woman kind of reader/writer must be.
My personal issues with dangling two men along are not a reflection upon this book. I could fully understand Sam`s issues and how tough it was making her choice between Noah and Jesse. I just wanted her to choose NOW! Thankfully she saw the light at the end of the book and chose the right man for her. Or at least the man I thought she should be with.
Overall, Jesse`s Brother is a lovely little romance that any fan of the genre should enjoy. I`m going to give it a solid three stars although I`d like to give it at least three and a half stars, or even three and three-quarters stars, but I`m using the GoodReads rating system.
Welcome back! This week we`ll continue the story of The Silver Box.
Today we have a picture prompt and the story is written to reflect the image and must be 300 words. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.
Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in. May the gods smile upon you!
The Silver Box
I was seated in a cement pond envisioning my stone cabin surrounded with snow. Forgive my Clampett moment but this situation was worse than anything Granny had ever gotten into.
Four Amazons were splashing around in the tub - and I use the term tub loosely – with me. They had rubbed oil into my skin, scraped it off with a strigil, doused me with cold water and then hustled me into this sauna room. Now I was up to my chin in boiling hot water and flower petals.
I might die soon but I`d be clean when I did. The women did a fine job of preparing me for the battle to come. I did draw the line at the plucking of my pubic hair. Thank you kindly just the same.
A huge door was opened to my left by two eunuchs who forgot to get dressed this morning. (That`s how I knew they were eunuchs.) Harmonia entered. The girls in the tub with me genuflected. Harmonia told them something in Greek. I was then hustled from the stew pot and dried off with crunchy green fronds. It was quite invigorating and made my skin tingle.
“Otrere has allowed me to counsel you,” Harmonia said as a diaphanous shift was tugged over my wet head. I blew a damp curl out of my face. I was then armored with nimble fingers.
“Okay, any suggestions?” I asked, allowing the Amazonian attendants to fasten the scabbard containing my short sword around my waist.
“Aye, do not die.”
“Can you be more specific?”
She shook her head and handed me her shield, her lovely face tight with worry.
“Don`t worry, I`m plucky. I`ll whip her with ease,” I said as my oversized helm was plunked onto my head.
We`ll be taking a holiday break the next two weeks but will be returning on January 8, 2013. Thank you all for your support and reading along. Your support and comments mean so much to me and are so very deeply appreciated. I love you all.
Happy holidays from all us here at Tuesday Tales! See you next year!
Hey guys and dolls! Remember Jonah and Dana, the new couple from White Moon, Yellow Leaves? Well, they`re on their first date. Hurry on over to Storytime Trysts for the second issue of my two part holiday tale Blue & Silver Bows.
Oh. Uhm, hi! Ahem. Yes, I was mulling. We writers do that on occasion. Stare at something or out a window while we`re rolling around plot lines and dialog and….
You`re not buying it, are you? Didn`t figure you would. Okay, yes, fine, I was ogling RDJ and his gauntlet. Sue me. I find the man yumtastic. You know, I`ve learned a great deal from Tony Stark and not all of it has to do with pulse bolts, repulsor technology, or the best infused vodka. Nope. Something that Tones helped me learn was how to write action.
Oh yes, you heard me right. A romance writer confessing that she writes action. Well, I do. My novels are filled with it! Monster fights and sword fights and battles against evil gods of the undead and zombies. And you know what? I think it adds something darned spiffy to a romantic tale. I feel that a good round of beating up a bad guy makes the sex even that much better. Action, in measured doses, can really spice up a romance book. I said it. I`ll say it again.
Action, in measured doses, can really spice up a romance book.
The addition of a car chase, zombies at the front door, a fistfight with a villain, a foot chase, an escape through the woods with a werewolf on your heels, these all juice up the adrenaline. When your hero or heroine survives (hopefully they do or your book is going to be shy one half of a romance partnership) the soft words and sweet lovemaking are that much crisper and hotter.
So, how does this have anything at all to do with Iron Man you may be asking? I`ll tell you.
When I first started writing it was fan fiction. Yes, that`s right. I wrote – and still write – fan fiction based in the Marvel Universe. I find nothing to be ashamed of. I`ll say it again.
I write fan fiction.
It`s about folks in spandex and capes. Get over it people who snobbishly look down at others. We are all writers whether we pen fan fiction, novels, poetry, news articles, blog posts, or jot in a journal daily. One type of writing is not any better than the other. Let me repeat that.
One type of writing is not any better than the other.
I`m in a repeating type of mood today I know, but sometimes points have to be made twice. Back to my plunge into writing, shall we? It was a story about Wolverine. I had grown dissatisfied with how the comics have this need to kill off every woman Logan gets involved with. After reading a hundred and seventy-two billion romance, paranormal romance, and romantic-comedies over the years, I knew I wanted an HEA (Happily Ever After) for Logan. Since the comics weren`t giving me that, I wrote my own.
It was a romance set in the MU but it was pretty shy on action. It was the beginning of something that to this day I cannot fully understand. This small fan fiction, which was read by perhaps one person brave enough to wade through the lack of paragraph breaks and grammatical errors, was the catalyst to my passion for writing. Now, this story was darn good but it needed something. It needed action. If it was going to be on a comic board we needed some fights.
I balked and kicked and complained. To this day writing fight scenes is my least favorite thing to write. Give me two folks in bed and I`ll write about that for hours. Toss me into a round of witty banter and I`ll be typing for days. Haul me into a fight scene and I wrinkle my nose in disdain. But, to succeed in the field of fan fiction that I had chosen, the stories had to have action or they wouldn`t be read. Know your audience they say. Well, I knew this audience. They wanted explosions and battles and web-slinging and men with shields and hammers and suits of red and gold.
I learned how to give the reader what they wanted. Most of that education in action-writing came while I was penning Scarlet Talon, the tale of a woman who steps into spandex to fight crime. Karrie has no powers to speak of, just a drive to right the wrongs committed against women and children. I started writing Scarlet Talon five years ago. I am still penning stories for her. Five years of Karrie and her husband Tony Stark *sighs dreamily* booting bad guys in the rump then hurrying home for some adult action, if you know what I mean. *Wink-wink-nudge-nudge*
So having written Tony and Karrie for five years I have learned how valuable action can be. And not just in a comic book. It adds life and excitement and a moment or two of thrills to any story. Of course action is not to be overused. Too much action is a death sentence in my opinion as is too much dialog, too much sex, too much angst. There has to be a nice balance of action, drama, humor and sex.
For those of you who are terrified of bringing some action into your novels, don`t be. Even a romance novel or a romantic comedy needs a touch of action….or a sexy playboy, millionaire, philanthropist with a goatee and dreamy blue bedroom eyes…..
Welcome back! This week we`ll continue the story of ‘The Silver Box’.
Libby and Ares are the stars of my Gods & Goats trilogy. The word prompt this week is ‘Future’ so the story will reflect the prompt. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.
Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in. May the gods smile upon you!
The Silver Box
Riding through the waterfall was refreshing. It reminded me of going to Niagara Falls with Matt on our first anniversary. The getting wet part was reminiscent of that lovely weekend on the border. The soggy horse smell and the party of nearly nekkid Amazon`s wasn`t at all similar to anything one would see from the Maid of the Mist. I bet they`d sell lots more tickets to teenage boys if they offered a side-trip to see Xena and her band of warriors jubbling along at a steady jog.
The journey through the deluge of warm water was quicker than I assumed it would be. We moved through a very small area of darkness, a cave I assumed, and then stepped into brilliant sunlight. And humidity. Holy Rhoda Morgenstern, the humidity!
The air had changed dramatically. The other side of the falls was dry yet hot. This side was akin to someone wetting a wool blanket and laying it over you in August. I blinked and gasped at the moisture in the air. Shading my watery eyes I looked around.
The landscape had changed as dramatically as the relative humidity. We had left a rather wooded area that had more of a dry tundra feel. This valley we now moved through was a jungle. I tipped my head back as we rode deeper. The canopy overhead blocked out the sun aside from dancing beams zigzagging over the mulch underfoot.
“Did we just go through something magical?” I asked, turning my upper half around to look at where we had come from. There was nothing to see except three Amazon`s pulling up the rear. I turned back around.
“Aye, the city of the Amazon`s is guarded by mystical barriers as well as by war parties,” Harmonia informed me, her long legs bouncing off Fear`s ivory sides. “They leave only to hunt or to visit the nearby tribe of Gargareans, where they mate with the men.”
“That`s right, “I said as it came flowing back to me now, “Yearly they go out to find men. Once the mating is over they return to their city. If the offspring are male, they`re sent back to their fathers, kept as slaves, or tossed out to the jungle. The female children are kept and trained for the future in agriculture and warfare.” I swatted at a bug the size of a round roast buzzing beside my ear. It was impossible for me to grasp throwing a healthy male child out like garbage.
I gave the women trotting along steadily a long look. They were stunning creatures, wild and barbaric and bloodthirsty. I could see the blood of Ares in the proud tilt of their chins and the way their eyes glittered whenever they glanced at the weapons Harmonia and I carried. Yep, there was no denying who fathered this race, the damned randy rooster!
We took a short rest atop a ridge an hour later. The sun beat down unmercifully as soon as we stepped out from the shade of the trees. I wanted to strip off my armor. It was damned obvious why the Amazon`s pranced around in skins and nothing else. I felt like a wilted lily. Harmonia and I drank our wine greedily, taking a moment to stare down at the view and marvel at the magical homeland of the women warriors.
“It`s beautiful,” I said. I looked over to catch Harmonia nod. Her dark brows were knotted over worried green eyes. “What`s the matter?” I asked, handing the wine skin back to her. She glanced over her shoulder before speaking.
“I fear for the greeting we may receive,” she whispered, tugging the flask from me in mock anger. I winced as if fearful of being struck. “Keep your hand near your sword hilt at all times,” she warned on a rustle then stalked away from me. I hurried to follow her as a good slave would. Harmonia leaped onto Fear`s back. I was left to get up alone. No helping hand or anything, just a brusque rebuttal about being too slow.
Another hour was spent climbing higher and higher. We moved in and out of shade and sun. Sweat ran in steady streams under my armor. My head was getting woozy from wine and no food. Harmonia sat her seat like a queen, her back never bowing nor was her head falling forward like mine. I could easily see the future queen Harmonia would become.
I peeked over a goddesses shoulder to see a towering fence and gate blocking our path. At the heavy wooden doors were more Amazon`s. A shout went up, high pitched and warbling. Soon the doors were opened from within. We rode forward slowly.
The city was securely tucked behind logs sharpened into points and facing away from the walls. Tall thin spikes jutted upward from the fortification twenty or thirty feet high, each one with a human head impaled on it. Many were beyond recognition of course, flies and birds rising from the gruesome warnings as we rode under them. A goodly number I could see where men, their beards grizzled and fading from the intense sun. A bubble of nausea rose up my throat. I dropped my sweaty brow to Harmonia`s back.
Not picking my head up until I heard the doors being closed and barred, I managed to get my riotous stomach back under control. When I lifted my eyes I was pleasantly surprised. Themiscyra was a huge city, made up of hundreds of small homes with thatched roofs and log walls. Each home had a vibrant and overflowing garden. Long-haired cattle chomped on long grasses, eying us from secure pens. Pigs and chickens ran through Fear`s legs. The war horse kicked one hog and it rolled like a log until a couple young boys managed to catch the porker. The boys were naked, thin as rails, and never once looked up at the newcomers on the big white horse as curious lads should.
Something upsetting settled in my belly and it wasn`t just orange-zest wine. We clip-clopped over the fairly well-maintained dirt road until we wound our way to the largest building in sight: a magnificent abode made out of light ashen colored rock slabs. How many enormous squares had been placed to make the palace I couldn`t hazard to guess, my mind was stupefied at the sight. Harmonia slid gracefully form Fear`s back. I kind of did a lay down and roll dismount. The Amazon`s with us tittered at my graceful ways. I straightened my helm and walked along in Harmonia`s wake with my head held high.
It was considerably cooler inside. We were led into a huge open room, filled with colonnades and fern- leafed plants in pots. A wonderful cooling wind blew through the reception area. Small girls ran past, beautifully clad in tiny bits of pelt tied around their lean waists. Their laughter and healthy pink cheeks showing how favored their gender truly was here. A quick burst of what sounded like Greek erupted from Harmonia and a woman who sounded like Kathleen Turner.
I leaned left and right, trying to see the famed queen before we were presented to her. All that peeking wasn`t necessary though. I froze with my helm slipping over my eyes when Harmonia stepped aside.
Sitting on a throne of carved marble of purest white was Otrere, queen of the Amazon`s. She was more than pretty and yet not pretty at all, if that makes sense. Her skin was the rich glowing color of mahogany. Her eyes were wide and golden; her hair was brilliant red, kinky and long, and decorated with rubies, sapphires and emeralds as big as your thumbnail. She was strikingly masculine.
She leaned forward, golden bracelets rattling when her long muscular arms dropped to her knees. I wet my lips when she stood up. The woman was tall. I mean nearly as tall as Ares who comes in at about seven feet. She had not one stitch of clothing on. Her one breast was perfectly formed, heavy and tipped with a long, dark nipple. Her waist was tapered and toned. Her womanly mound was smooth and bare as a baby`s rump. I felt rather inadequate and very hairy. Hell, I hadn`t even shaved my legs this week….
She motioned me closer with a curt wave of a dark hand.
I tossed Harmonia a look. She nodded. Her lance trembled slightly in her hand. I tore off my helmet, shook my soggy red curls and walked up two long stone steps. The queen inhaled deeply and broke into a raging diatribe of cussing. I lowered my head and sniffed an armpit. Nope, my Secret was still holding up. I was too busy checking my deodorant to see the backhand Otrere hit me with. I felt it though. It rolled my ass down the stairs and left my right cheek stinging violently. I shook my head to clear the cloud of pain. Harmonia shouted at the queen. The queen shouted back then spat in my general direction.
“Whatever got under her skirt I didn`t mean to do it!” I yelled, stumbling to my feet while rubbing the glowing handprint on my face. Harmonia and Otrere shrieked and yelled at each other for another ten minutes it felt like. Probably it was only two but when you`ve been royally bitch slapped time drags on. When Ares` daughter spun around I knew the cow poop was piled pretty high. Her green eyes were snapping. I could feel the aggravation flowing from her. I got mad just inhaling her godly powers. I wanted to pinch someone, really hard. Like hard enough to make them cry. Yeah, I was going to go pinch that queen for spitting at me and-
“Libby,” Harmonia shook me from my nasty thoughts with a sharp poke in the chest.
“Ouch,” I whined. Now I had two places that needed rubbing.
“You must pay heed. Otrere is displeased. She smells my father on you and she-”
“Oh bullshit! I took a shower this morning and had a personal feminine refreshing moment as well!”I snapped.
Harmonia poked me again, harder this time. “You do not understand. Her nose is like a jungle cats. She smells his scent upon your skin. Feminine refreshment or not his smell is powerful, masculine, and strong and she is well familiar with his scent. She demands I turn you over to her for punishment.”
“And if you don`t do what she wants?”
“Do not fear. I have used my clout to lessen the fury she feels. Instead of whipping you until you die for sleeping with my father she has agreed to fight you for the honor of calling Ares lover.”
I could tell Harmonia thought this was a great bit of negotiating. Her smile was filled with pride.
“I`m going to kick your grandmother in the shin when I see her next,” I mumbled. Then I was whisked away by Amazon`s to be bathed, oiled, and primped up for my cage match against the deranged and neatly plucked ex.
I knew I should have gone to bingo at the fire hall with Lora-Mae after dinner.
Most of the books that I read and review I buy. Either because they`re from a favorite author, or someone recommends them, or a fellow author and/or friend has a new novel debuting. Once in awhile I`ll grab a book at the dollar store or at a library/high school book sale. (I have a bunch of reads from an author event/book sale I attended in October that I`ll be getting to shortly-maybe-God willing and the crick don`t rise.)
The book we`re chatting about today came from my mother-in-law. Now Ma doesn’t usually purchase a lot of romance novels. Those she borrows from me when I`m done with them. If my MIL does buy a book it`s generally a mystery. So when she came into my house with this new romance book, I was rather shocked. After reading The Wrangler by Lindsay McKenna I asked her why she had bought it. Turns out she didn`t. It was a coupon freebie to lure readers into signing up for a Harlequin book club. Ma didn`t like the free book and declined to sign up for four books every month.
You know what, I didn`t really care for the book either. If this is what Harlequin – a HUGE name in romance – is giving out to lure readers they need to find something better as a worm for their book club sales hook.
Now I`m not saying I hated the book. I didn`t. It just was so blah I couldn`t work up enough emotion to grow hate. It was so terribly mundane and vanilla I was embarrassed to admit vanilla is my favorite ice cream flavor. There was no spark between the leading lady Val Hunter and the sexy wrangler Griff McPherson. I mean none. The author tries her best, she really does. Ms. McKenna works hard to make the rather boring plot and characters come to life. She just never really succeeds. I didn`t care that Val and Griff were once big shots who now are back in Wyoming to save the Bar H Ranch. I just realized what was lacking! There was no tension of any kind in this book, sexual or otherwise. Everything just went too smoothly.
Griff and Val were so dewy-eyed after the first meeting I lost interest. They were so smitten they couldn`t not speak about the virtues of the other over and over and over. Please, we know, she is so keen and boffo you can barely stand it. Real people rarely speak like this. Do you go around espousing the virtues of your mate? Do you scamper through the grocery store telling folks why you love your man? No, you don`t. Val and Griff shouldn`t have either. It was annoyingly trite after reaching the halfway mark. Also the dialog was unrealistic. Supposedly heavy drug users refer to marijuana as marijuana. Uhm, wouldn`t they call it pot or weed? Small things like that really stood out to me.
The secondary characters were lacking in originality and personality. Our villain, Curt Downing, was so clichéd I expected him to start twirling a handlebar moustache. Even Gus, Val`s grandmother was cookie cutter. She could have been the saving grace of the book but the blasé feel infected Gus as well.
Then there`s the sex. Well, no, actually there isn`t any. Not until the very last few pages. I kid you not. We get one kiss that Val then freaks out about. That, my friends, is it. We get lots of mushy talk about how they admire each other, look up to each other, and think each other is super keen but not one hot make out session or even a fanny pat. I found it really hard to believe these two lusted after each other. When we finally got to the bedroom scene all the way at the end, I was so bored with the characters I didn`t care. The sex was so-so. Nothing to make you reach for your asbestos gloves that`s for sure.
There were also quite a few grammatical and mechanical errors. I was genuinely shocked to see the Harlequin logo on the covers. I expect some boo-boos here and there with traditionally published books. Admittingly, I tend to give self-published books more leeway than traditionally published books. Many times it’s the author doing round after round after painful round of edits without the guidance of a professional editor in a self-pubbed. Let`s face it, editors are darned expensive! But this Harlequin novel was so thick with errors I was stunned. When I have to stop reading several times and try to figure out where the quotation marks go and to whom, someone in the editing department was napping during revisions.
So simply due to the ho-hum feel of the book I have to slap a two star rating on The Wrangler.
Hey guys and dolls! Remember Jonah and Dana, the new couple from White Moon, Yellow Leaves? Well, they`re about to go on their first date. Hurry on over to Storytime Trysts for the first issue of my two part holiday tale Blue & Silver Bows.
All the above words fit when describing the fourth book in the Outlander series, Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon. As a writer, I sit in awe of Ms. Gabaldon. How does she do it? How does she pen such breathtaking romance? How does she weave dry, boring, historical fact so remarkably into her story? How does she write such vibrant, loving, strong characters? The woman is amazing, and so are her books.
This fourth novel is just as strong as the other three that I`ve read so far. This time we not only have the tale of Jamie & Claire Fraser, we have the story of their daughter, Brianna and her love, Roger.
Oh. My. Gosh. I adore the two youngest lovers almost as much as I do Claire and Jamie! How does she do it? I was compelled to turn each of the one thousand and seventy pages as quickly as possible. In this book Roger makes a discovery that he tries to hide. Of course, Brianna also discovers this disturbing bit of information. The knowledge of what lies ahead for her mother and Jamie sends Brianna through the stones and into the unknown past. Roger follows a few weeks later.
Brianna has no idea of what risks to her own future she is taking. All she knows is that she must find her mother and the father she has never met. Can she change history? Claire and Jamie couldn`t when they tried to avert the tragedy of Culloden. Brianna faces her own heartbreaking situations as she faces being forever trapped in the past, possibly without the man she loves.
I truly adored this book. There were a two little things that I felt could have been handled differently, and I`ll chat about them to ensure I`m as fair as I can be.
One was how things ended with Ian, Jamie`s nephew. I won`t say exactly what happened but I will say I was rather disappointed. It felt to me like this very important character was sort of shuffled off to make room for new ones. As a writer I fully understand this. We can really only balance so many secondary characters in one story well. Maybe it was just me but I felt Ian could have been given a bit more of a fulfilling ending. And please, do not think that it has anything to do with the girl he chose to stay with. It did not. It felt convenient is all, perhaps a tad too convenient.
The second tiny nitpick is towards the end the book drug a bit. Since we`re talking about a book of well over a thousand pages, it`s bound to drag in parts. I think that Ms. Gabaldon could have compressed the last five chapters into one pretty easily. It`s not a good thing when the reader is mumbling to themselves ‘Really? There`s five more chapters?!’ and I confess, I was doing that. But, we did get lots of detail in those last five chapters so it wasn`t all for naught. As I said, two teeny little niggles in a book filled with sweeping romance, humor, adventure, action, and time travel.
A solid five star read. The picked nits may very well just be me so please, don`t think this book isn`t up to par with the rest, it is. I have my copy of book five, The Fiery Cross sitting in my to-be-read stack. I`ll be leaping back through the stones after I read a few different books, rest assured! Nothing will keep me from Jamie and Claire and the extraordinary love they share.
Welcome back! This week we`ll continue the story of The Silver Box.
Libby and Ares are the stars of my Gods & Goats trilogy. The word prompt this week is ‘Silent’ so the story will reflect the prompt. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.
Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in. May the gods smile upon you!
The Silver Box
I in no way condone violence against animals. I`m an animal lover that even goes so far as to embrace Minotaur`s, although they`re technically only half-animal. That being said, I also will protect that which is mine. I have, on occasion, had to dispatch a raccoon or opossum or weasel that thought my chickens would make a fine midnight snack. It is not a pretty thing but it is part of being a woman alone on a farm. After Matt died it was up to me to take the baseball bat out and dispatch the nocturnal raiders trying to kill my poultry.
Now that job belongs to the war god. That`s one of the reasons we women keep men around: To kill things, to lift heavy stuff, and to make love to us until we`re too worn out to whimper. And to love us as well, but if you`ve got a spider the size of a roasting chicken sharing the shower with you all you want is the man to kill the damned thing. Romance and roses takes a backseat to squishing spiders.
All that being said, and skipping the part about the spiders in the shower because I get the creeping willies when I think about that miserable arachnid of a week ago, I had no choice but to take on the tiger. I didn`t want to. To my knowledge this species is extinct - was extinct - would be extinct. Killing just one of the beautiful cats seemed terrible. But the tiger killing Harmonia was unthinkable. The horse was on his own, the farting nasty hay bag. I crept forward until I could get my fingers on Harmonia`s dropped shield.
With a bellow to rival that of any charging rhino I ran at the tiger. He stopped his silent stalk. His ears twitched and his amber eyes widened. I charged at the huge cat, screaming like a banshee and hammering my shield with my sword, hoping the tiger would bolt. The cat took off like a scalded hare thank Hera. No, scratch that. Thank Zeus.
I watched the feline melt into the Turkish landscape feeling rather good about not having to poke anything with my sword. Something jabbed me in the middle of my back. I spun around and found a bunch of very tall and formidable women surrounding me.
They all carried bows and quivers on their backs. Each woman was powerfully muscled. Also, each woman wore only a makeshift skirt crafted from an animal skin low on their rounded hips. I noticed that lack of a top quickly. I also noted as I lowered my sword and Harmonia`s shield gingerly, that each warrior woman had only one breast. I had read about this but it seemed to be fact. Removing the right breast made it easier for archery you see.
I allowed my weapons to hit the lush ground. Harmonia had been hauled from the freaked out nag and pushed rather rudely into my side. She threw her helm to the ground, whipped her long dark hair from her face and glowered at the Amazon`s intimidating us.
“How dare you touch me!?” the goddess snarled like a wet tabby. I took a step back and let her have center stage. “Do you not know your betters?! Do you not know the daughter of Ares when she is in your midst?! Heinous vile females! You shall not lay a hand upon me and my father`s-”
“Slave,” I offered with a weak smile.
“My father`s slave again, or I shall bring the wrath of the war god and Olympus down upon you!” she shouted, her tiny hands rolled into tight fists. Waves of godly power rolled off of her and it was not serenity this time. It was pure aggression and one-hundred percent her daddy`s gift to her. “Now, you shall take us to Otrere with speed or I shall peel open your skulls and feed your brains to the scavengers!”
Yep, that sounded just like her papa. The Amazon`s stared at the goddess for a very long minute then one - a tall dark woman with flowing red and black hair - barked out an order. The women lowered their heads then laid their hands over their breast. Harmonia nodded at the show of deference. Fear was led to the daughter of Ares and we mounted PDQ. The scouting party – brought in by my noise no doubt – kept us surrounded as we made our way through the thick woods of their homelands.
“Uhm, question,” I whispered beside Harmonia`s pretty ear. Fear tossed his head. “Would you have really opened their skulls and fed their brains to the scavengers?”
“Aye, if needed. I am not fond of vulgar bloodshed, but if they had harmed you I would have killed them all and taken their spines home to father as proof of vengeance,” she explained, her fingers loosely wound in Fear`s white mane. “Thankfully I need not call upon father`s gifts often. I much prefer using my mother`s gifts of love, harmony, and tranquility.”
“I`ve never seen this side of you,” I confessed. She made a worried sound. “No, I don`t find if offensive. Trust me, if I can live with your father and his daily threats to pull someone`s spleen out through their nose, I can certainly deal with you showing your sassy side on occasion,” I hugged the young immortal and she reached back to stroke my cheek. My whole body grew spongy with accord.
We broke from the woods at that moment. Fear paused and snorted when faced with a rift in the landscape that gave me vertigo. Sparks and flame erupted from his nostrils sending the nearest Amazon`s a few feet to the left and right. Harmonia steadied the nag. We dropped down into a gorge, the earth having been sliced open by the river that was flowing under our steed`s large hooves centuries ago. Up ahead was a small waterfall. Since no-one was moving up the wet, rocky sides I assumed we would go through the tumbling water.
“I take it that will lead us to Themiscyra?”
Harmonia bobbed her head. “Aye, to the city of the Amazon`s and home of their queen, Otrere.”
“Super,” I sighed, all my mellowness and tranquility disappearing like the flocks of green and blue birds soaring over the vale. “Well, in for a penny as they say. Tally ho!”
A few weeks ago we talked about heroes. Today I`d like to talk about heroines and what I feel makes a good one in my humble.
Over my many years of being an avid reader I`ve come across just about every type of leading lady there is. From sweet to sassy to sinful and seductive, from good to evil to some who make you wonder if they`re even human, I`ve read them all. So when it was my turn to bring a woman to life on the pages of a book, what was it I was hoping to do? I can tell you what I wasn`t going to do right off.
I was not going to write a teenager. Nothing against those under twenty for there are many I adore (Love you Percy, Harry and Katniss!) but I am a fifty-one year old woman. I simply cannot relate to the problems of a teenager any more. Even with a teen in the house I can`t write about the trials and tribulations of those in high school. I`ve tried, numerous times, and it just doesn`t work for me.
I am far too old and crotchety to pen someone like Bella Swan who curled into a ball, spent months in a funk because Edward left, and then tried to kill herself to get his attention. I won`t go into the message that sends young impressionable women. All I`ll say is that if my man left me I`d cry for a day or two then I`d go out and find a new one or adopt a cat. Upon further reflection, I think I`d go for the cat. They`re quiet, don`t snore in your ear, don`t eat the ice cream up, don`t make crass bodily sounds at the dinner table, and don`t make you watch all day marathons of ‘How It`s Made’.
I wasn`t going to create a great leading lady, get her married or mated and then let her fade into the background. You all know I adore and worship J.R. Ward. I wish I could write men like the WARDen does. And her sex scenes singe my fingers as I grip the books! But even my beloved WARDen slips when it comes to keeping the strong women she creates strong. Many of the ladies in Caldwell simply blend into the background after they get their man. I did not want to allow this to happen to my heroine. She had to be more than an ornament that was quickly forgotten.
So I had to pen a woman: a grown, mature woman who had been around the block a time or two. And this woman had to stay front and center.
This woman had to be resilient. She had to have wit and humor because you can`t survive long in this world if you can`t laugh at yourself and others. Above all, she had to be tough enough to make it alone. She might not like being alone but she managed. Enter Libby Simons.
Libby is everything that I find attractive in a heroine. She is down-to-earth. She`s funny as hell, sharp, clever, loyal, warm-hearted, relatable, and dependable. She`s not a kid. Libby is creeping up on forty. She`s not a Bond girl. She`s a hard-working farmer who rarely wears make-up. Goats don`t care if you have eyeliner on, trust me on that one. My Gods & Goats books are Libby`s story. Ares is her love and her lover but it is Libby that is the star.
I love a story where the woman is out there kicking butt and chewing bubblegum just like the men are. My heroine doesn`t sit back and wait for her man to come save her. Please. Libby is right there at Ares side, battling against the minions of Hades like a dervish. Don`t believe me? Here`s a wee peek at some action from the next book in the Gods & Goats Trilogy Of Heroes & Haybales Libby goes up against a Chimera-
I got to my feet, my eyes locked on the snake that was lashing side to side, looking for a place to strike. Roars and hisses and other-worldly blats filled the underground hiding place, Ares` snarls melting into the din. Then his back hit the wall and the snake struck. Ares` lance glanced off the emerald serpent`s head and deflected the strike. The lion growled. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Ares cursed fluently at the beast as he tried to drive his pike upward into the lion’s neck. The goat head dropped and it caught one horn under the edge of Ares` shield and ripped the circlet of gold from the god`s forearm. The shield flew across the cavern and embedded in the wall. I shouted at Ares, warning him to watch the snake then the lion attacked, its jaws clamping down on Ares` shoulder. The war god snarled in agony as his fist came up under the lion`s chin. The cat did not let go. Golden ichor flowed from the exposed area of Ares` corded neck. That was when I ran at the combatants. The snake tail lashed out at me, fangs long enough to go through my upper arm were dripping with venom. Ares grunted my name. The goat cried out in anger and tried to drive its horns into the war god’s helmet. Ares threw up a now bloody forearm and the spikes of his brace slammed into the goat’s nose and eyes. It screamed. The lion roared and tried to get another chomp in. I ran at the snake undulating in mid-air, its glowing eyes just looking for an opening. I knew that I had to eliminate at least one-third of the trio. When I got close enough, the snake darted to the left then aimed at my leg. I danced to the right and swung down with the bronze sword. It opened up a wound on top of the snake`s head. Black blood bubbled out. Ares shouted at me to retreat. I opted to pretend I hadn`t heard him. We were in this together. I wasn`t going to sit there like some Mary-Sue! I had my bandana on!! *~*~*
Woo-hoo! You tell them Libby! My girl is no Mary-Sue when it comes to action. Libby`s life is hers to lead and she faces the trials and tribulations of what may come with her chin up and her bandana firmly tied around her head.
This bit of action has got me thinking that perhaps I`ll chat about writing action and how I came to learn the hard lessons of a very important aspect of writing what many romance books skip over sadly. But until next time tell me about your heroine. What makes her special? What role does she play in her book and her own life? Is she a shy gal or a grab the bull by the horns type of woman?