Friday, December 29, 2006

Together at Last...

I published my entire Alexander series at

The story about this series is a long one (so I will abridge and not bore you...)

They were published in Australia by Jacobyte Books, and did very well. unfortunately, Jacobyte folded just as they were about to publish book IV, and so the series stopped. And I got a lot of letters from readers begging me to find another publisher. Now. But publishing moves at the pace of a snail, and I thought it was unfair of me to withold the end of the series. So I have put them on Lulu and made the price as low as possible. Remember, I'm paying for each book to be made into a paperback, so I can't charge less than it costs to make the darn things - but I'm shaving my profits on the paperbacks and making the e-books 3$ each - very affordable - so that everyone can get a copy.

Anyhow, I still own all the rights, so anyone wanting to make a movie out of them please contact me. I have Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio waiting for the green light...LOL

Here is the Blurb for book 1:

Ashley is a one of the elite, a time-travel journalist who has fought to prove herself in a world that that believes her road in life was paved by her parents' money and her title.
After winning a prestigious award she is chosen to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero Alexander the Great, she is sent back in time for less than a day to find and interview a man whose legend has survived to the present day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time.
What follows, after she awakes under a pomegranate tree, is a hilarious, mind-bending tale of a modern woman immersed in the ancient throes of sex, love, quite a bit of vino, war, death, and ever so much more.

$3.00 Download
(note - this series is rated R - for ages 16 and older)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Is it New Years Eve yet?

Usually the holidays seem to go by in a blur. This year, it's like everything is going in slow motion. Is it because for once, I have nearly an entire week for myself with no lessons, deadlines, or parties? And the weather is dreadful - the kind of wet, cold weather that makes your throat hurt just to step outside. Ugh. I've been mostly cleaning, reading (Oh, I got such great books for Christmas!) and playing Heroes V, that my son Alex got me for Christmas. Yes, I'm a Heroes fan, lol.
My daughter and I sit and watch Hercule Poirot films until late at night (my husband got me a collection of them) and I munch on my Alfajores (my neice brought them for me from Argentina - they are my favorite yummy sweet!) and I take lots of pictures of the kids.

For the New Year; we're going to a friend's house. It will be just the four of us and lots of kids. (mine, theirs, plus cousins and pals) and I'm bringing dessert.
I can't wait for New Year's Day - I get to hang up my New Rugby Man Calendar! Yes - my hubby got me the 2007 French Rugbyman calendar. Whew!
But none are as gorgeous as my son. I think I need to get this guy to a modeling agency, lol. He's my voluntary fireman/psychology major son, and he's pretty handsome. (see photo taken at Christmas dinner below) (OK enough bragging.)
His twin, Alex, left to go back to the US yesterday, so I'm feeling a little heartbroken. The house feels empty without both boys here. Even the dogs were sad and moped. I cheered myself up thinking of all the presents my sister in law has given me throughout the years. She is master at finding just the right thing that you have no idea what to do with. She gave me a plastic bracelet once. Another time I got writing paper lifted from a hotel room. This year it was 6 bubble bath beads - and I don't have a bath tub, only a shower. My husband, who never drinks, got a wine thermometer this year. We have decided that the only thing better than a present from my sister in law is no present from my sister in law. But it is good for a blog posting. It also makes me laugh when I see the "Do you hate your Christmas present? Sell it online and make money!" ad here on the Wanadoo home page. (on the French site)
Well, I'm off to watch some more TV with my daughter and be lazy again tonight! Don't you just LOVE vacation?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry and Bright!

I wish you all a merry holiday season!Today I am cleaning the house (thrilling) and shopping (oh, the crowds!) and getting everything set for the weekend with the family. In my spare time (hysterical laughter here) I'm perusing Miss Snark's Crapometer and learning a heckova lot about writing hooks. I'm impressed with so much of the writing - a few of the hooks have me hooked, and there are one or two books I'd actually love to read! (thinking about a YA fantasy hook with two princesses duking it out over the kingdom...) My son installed a new patch for my computer and it's working really well. The joys of having a computer literate child! Too bad he goes back to college on the 27th. He's looking for a place to stay in Columbus, Ohio while he goes to the university. Know any cheap, clean, decent places? My daughter thinks we've forgotten her Christmas and is moping. She's too cheerful a person to do any serious moping, but I can't wait to see her face on Christmas morning when she finds out we did not forget her, lol. Today I also have to take the meat out of the freezer for tomorrow - (note to self: Please don't forget!)Everything is glittering with frost here - the sun is just peeping over the horizon and it's making a lovely, peachy-silver light! May your day be Merry and Bright!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Get yer title here!

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Grace Lady Sam the Mystical of Featherstonehaugh St Fanshaw
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Monday, December 18, 2006

Das Versprechen

My daughter just came home from school with a surprise. Her German teacher had read my book 'The Promise', and liked it so much she translated it into German! She is a native German speaker, and I think she's done an awesome job. So here I am with a German manuscript of 'Das Versprechen' - which is a science fiction YA book about a world without adults. They all died during a plague brought on by a meteorite. The teacher is now busy translating 'Red Sky', and I absolutely have to call her. I never knew she was doing this, you see. She told me daughter, who sort of said one day that her teacher loved the Promise and was translating it - but I thought she meant she was translating it for herself to read, lol.

Anyhow, I'll try to get hold of an electronic copy of this so I can send it to friends in Germany!
And here is a wonderful sculpture that I found in an antique shop here. It's called the Voyager, and it's a protrait of Napolean Bonaparte leaving the battlefield. The cold wind is in his face, it blows his cloak, and pins his horse's ears back. The sculpture is amazing - and if you have about 55,000 euros, it can be yours! *sigh* I wish I could win the lottery.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


This week has been a whirlwind, and if you know me, you'll know I hate whirlwinds. I am calm. I am collected. I am half comatose most of the time, lol, but this week has been a busy one. And of course, I get my edits! My editor is on vacation so I don't have to hand them in until After the holidays, but it just seemed funny that they arrived precisely this week.

It started with Saturday and the Village Christmas Fête!
Every year the village has a party for 'decking the halls' sort of thing - when they decorate the village tree and have a little 'tea' for the elderly. The kids in the village get together and present some sort of act. (This is amazing to me - the kids practice every Wednesday for two months to perfect everything. The little kids have their parents to help out - this year they dressed like cowboys and did a little square dance - too cute!)
And my daughter and her friend did a sort of modern dance with lots of high kicks and lifts, and it was pretty cool! Santa came with his donkey. (Yes, his donkey, lol)
Here is a picture of the village Santa:
He gave presents after the fête - and I wished I'd gotten a picture of him with his glass of champagne, lol!

Then Sunday was the Horse Fair, and of course I had to take my daughter to Paris to see that. Millions of people. Crowds. No parking. Driving in horrific traffic. My daughter was Thrilled.
I was exhausted. Monday was almost calm - just a lunch with friends, and then Tusday another lunch with another set of friends. Wednesday was the busiest day - five English lessons and then a trip to Paris for a book signing!
A friend of ours wrote a wonderful book about polo, and he asked me to do some illustrations for it, so I did and he took six of them and used them in the book. Here is a picture of me sitting next to him in Paris last night!

Charles Emmanuel de Bourbon-Parme and Moi at a book signing for the book 'POLO - A Sport to Discover' (by Charles-Emmanuel de Bourbon Parme). It's written in French and English - it's got wonderful photos and art work in it, and some very funny drawings by yours truly.

If you want a copy it's 29€ plus shipping from France. Just let me know.

Tomorrow I go pick up Alex at the airport at noon! He's coming home for the holidays - and his brother actually cleaned up their room for him!


Monday, December 11, 2006

grrrrr Blogger!

I hate the new blogger account. Now I have to log in twice, for some reason, and most of the time I can't comment on anyone's board. Have been trying. Is very frustrating. Hate the new Blogger account.
OK - rant over.
I have fixed up my sites with Holiday Cheer - check them out here and here.
Lots of news and new books and contest fun, so don't miss out!
This weekend I took my daughter to 'Le Salon de Cheval' (the Horse Fair) here in Paris. There were Tons of people, tons of horses, and lots of things to buy. I resisted buynig halters, saddles, blankets...Everything. My daughter was devestated. I was smug. My husband amazed.
My daughter does not know her Secret Christmas Present. Ha ha. She will not be depressed for long. My husband wants to buy her a saddle all her own. So, I'm off to search for saddles.
Is there anything you wish for? Long for? Need desperately?
I had to think about that. Can't say I need anything desperately. My laptop is still running (OK - the i key sticks a bit, but who needs 'i's? And my car just passed inspection, and my clothes still fit, and my husband's cousin gave me some great make-up last month, so I'm all set!
I bought some books for my husband, (he loves to read mysteries) and backpacks for the twins for college. Cool backpacks from Japan.
Anyhow, I have to go find a saddle now!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Hammam

The other night, I went to a hammam. There were ten of us gals - we got together and decided to do a 'ladies' night'. So, we took out bathing suits, our sarongs, and our shampoo and we went to the ladies' night at the nearby Hammam.
It's in a market place, in the second floor, and it's run by six very nice women from Morocco.
First you undress and shower, and put on your bathing suit bottom. Then you go into a big room that's warm and kind of steamy. You cover yourself with 'black soap' which is liquid soap that smells like Marseilles soap (a little like liquid Neutrogena if I had to compare it with something) it’s a greasy soap that doesn't dry out your skin. Then you go into a hot steam bath sauna room. I could only stay 15 minutes - it was really hot. But it felt nice. Afterwards, the woman in the warm room strips your skin off with a rough glove. OK - not really - but that's what it felt like. You lie on a big tiled table, and she scrubs you from head to toe with what feels like a metal sponge, lol. Your dead skin comes off like gray sludge. You're left feeling like you've just been peeled. Then you shower again, and I couldn't stop touching my arms - So Smooth!! My skin was like a baby's skin - and not irritated at all (and believe me, I have allergies to just about everything!) Afterwards, we dried off, put on dry underwear and the sarong, and went to sit in a big room, drank mint tea, and chatted while we waited for our turn at the massage table. There, a very old and very energetic woman rubbed sweet almond oil all over me. She rubbed all the knots out of my muscles, sternly telling me to 'relax!' I finally relaxed. It felt great. My skin glowed. And it was SMOOTH. Then we got dressed and had a big couscous dinner prepared by the ladies. It was Very Good. I stuffed myself. Couscous is a typical North African dish. It's semolina served with lots of vegetables, chick peas, lamb, and spicy sausage. Afterwards there was more mint tea and 'gazelle horns' a delicate pastry with almonds.
(picture of a typical plate of couscous - minus the lamb and sausage)

I met a woman from Lebanon there - and what do two Lebanese gals do when they get together? They talk about the best way to make Kibbi Nayye! (Of course)
We got home around midnight - and my skin is Still Smooth!

& in other news:

Congrats to Orion - Great News! (check out her blog)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Still Writing & rambling

Still writing. Not done with the mystery book yet. Is getting to the exciting part. Bodies left and right now. Killer getting carried away.
I was wondering if I wasn't taking out some frustration on my characters. Sort of a therapy. Maim and kill with words and take out imaginary characters instead of losing one's temper and driving over the neighbor's cat who insists that your front garden is the only place it can pee.

Actually I don't have a problem with the neighbor's cat since it mysteriously disappeared a few months ago.

No, I'm making up stories again. The poor thing died of old age and obesity. I kept it out of my garden by shutting my front gate - it was too fat to leap up over the wall. My neighbors have a wonderful gourmet restaurant and the cat obviously got the leftovers.

In the village next door, there was another restaurant. It closed after two people were discovered buried in the back garden. A couple. Rumor has it that the man found his wife with another man. And that is what I heard for ages, until I found out from a policeman what really happened. Supposedly the couple were gypsies and had been blackmailing the owner for quite some time. Finally he snapped, shot them, and buried them in the garden.
How many people had dinner in the restaurant while the couple rotted in the ground? I never ate there - when we moved here that was already old news. It took me a while to find out the true story.
Even older news was the story of the man who lived in Gambais and he would go to Paris on the train, find a woman to come clean his house, kill her, and incinerate her in his oven. He's a famous French serial killer. They caught him because of the train tickets. A ticket to and from Paris, and just one ticket from Paris. A one way trip for some poor cleaning woman. That affair, heavily covered by newspapers at the time, was easy to verify. But people living in the village are not eager to talk about the affair. Not unusual - it must bring the property values down quite a bit...

In Houdan, not far away, another mystery was recently solved. A hundred years ago, a woman had been accused of putting arsenic in her husband's meal and poisoning him. His body tested positive for arsenic. So did her children, her mother in law, and everyone in the house. She was put on trial and convicted of murder and attempted murder of over fifteen people. She died in prison. About a hundred years later, a scientist and historian, curious about the affair and about the unusual geographical nature of the area, convinced the town to let him exhume and test the people in the cemetery. Turns out nearly everyone was full of arsenic. The ground water, it turns out, is poisoned. A sort of natural arsenic spring. The woman was declared innocent posthumously, but most people still talk about the 'Houdan poisoner'.

I like the fact that people prefer to think of the woman as guilty. It's more exciting, and besides, she's dead poor thing and can't defend herself. I wondered about other historical reputations, like that of the infamous Tokyo Rose, who was also acquited of spying, and yet still retains her reputation. Does history ever tell the truth? What about the princes in the tower? Did Richard kill them?
I think so. But there are people who disagree with that, saying that history has distorted the facts.
Since it's obvious that even history that's only a few yers old (the man who killed the couple in his restaurant) and a hundred years old (the poisoner from Houdan) can be twisted, imagine what many centuries of propaganda can do? I suppose we'll never find out what happened to the two princes in the tower.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chicken Curry

For many years, I was the only cook in the house. My husband grew up in a household where he wasn’t even expected to set foot in the kitchen, and so it fell upon me to prepare the meals. I didn’t mind. I’m a creative person who likes to cook, although cleaning up is on my ‘ten worst things to do’ list. So the deal was made. I’d cook and he’d help clean up. I bought a couple pork chops and proceeded to render them inedible. My first attempt at cooking a whole meal was a fiasco.
I learned slowly.
My first success was turkey breast with cream sauce served with peas and carrots. I mastered this, and proceeded to serve it every night for three months. My husband’s uncle, who lived with us at that time because he was consulting surgeon for the Paris Ministry of Health, tells me that he cannot look at turkey without feeling ill now.
My husband, who is funny like that, would still be happily eating turkey with cream sauce – sometimes I wonder about him.
My husband & I moved to Florida around that time. Cooking, for me, was taking the car and going to the Kit’s Kosher Chicken and getting a grilled hen, then stopping at the supermarket for a ready-made salad and mashed potatoes. Or I’d put a hotdog in the microwave.
Then I had the twins, and when they started eating solid food, I became obsessed, no, let’s just say I was determined to give them a wide variety of food so that they wouldn’t become finicky.
As a child, I’d eaten only five things, and that until I was eighteen. I decided my kids would not be like me. So I had to expand my cooking abilities. I asked friends for recipes. I went to my grandparents' house and watched them cook. I bugged my mother for lessons. I’d left home at seventeen, and I’d never been interested in cooking, so my mother tried to teach me a few basics. She gave me a crash course in gravy making, how to boil an egg, and how to roast a whole chicken.
And then we moved to Argentina. We had a cook and a maid living in the house with us. I watched as Suzanne made empanadas and rice and beans. I learned how to barbecue beef. I found out how to make a tomato and onion salad, and I tried to learn how to make the delicious squash and chicken stew the Argentines make – but could never master it. Mostly in Argentina, we ate grilled meat and green salad. I learned how to make a spicy barbecue sauce and how to serve coffee there. After we went to Ureguay, where I learned how to make steamed mussels.
Our next stop was in the Dominican Republic. Again we had a maid and a cook, and again I begged to learn their recipes. So Luz showed me how to make red beans and rice, sliced beef and onion stew, and baked chicken, Dominican style. She also showed me how to make banana fritters, potato pancakes, and a delicious orange and onion salad.
By the time I moved back to France, I’d picked up a fair array of different recipes from all over the world. And to that, I added classical French cooking.

So what’s on the stove now, you ask?

Chicken curry with coconut sauce and cardamom seeds.
1 chicken cut up
4 or 5 onions, chopped
1 apple – chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons curry
2 tablespoons coriander
1 can coconut milk
1 plain yoghurt
2 lemons
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube

Put chicken, onions, garlic, and apple in hot oil and fry until lightly golden. Add juice from one lemon, curry and cardamom, stir well. Add half the coconut milk, the water, and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil then lower heat. Cook on low/medium heat for an hour. Add yoghurt and rest of coconut milk. Sauce should be thick. Add the coriander. Stir, add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve over rice with lemon wedges.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Monday

Sitting here listening to Queen singing 'We will Rock you'. It's hard not to sing along, lol.

Gray day. I'm going to Paris with some friends but not sure which day. Maybe tomorrow. Have to go Christmas Shopping!

Actually, I'm a terrible shopper, but I love to follow my friends around. They are super-shoppers, and they know all the best stores.

For example, we will go to 'Le Bon Marché', which is a huge department store built in the twenties in a wonderful art nouveau style. The whole store is beautiful. Then I want to go to the Chinese section of Paris, in the 14th district. It's like Chinatown in NYC, I guess, with many little shops selling everything Oriental. I also love walking around the old Latin quarter, St. Germain de Près. There too are lots of artistic shops with new creators and everything that is 'in' and 'brand new'!

And while I'm walking around Paris, I can't help look at the beautiful buildings and think that I'm lucky to live so close to the 'City of Lights'. In the evening, the Eiffel Tower will be lit up, and the navy blue night will be a velvet cloth strewn with the diamond lights of the Paris skyline.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Enough already!

I have been having a great Thanksgiving weekend. I got my flu shot, and my butt is sore, and I got the stitches out of my head which hurt worse than having them put in -
But I am thankful I won't get sick this winter, and my head's healed, so that's all right.
Enough with this complaining already!
It's raining - the dogs get mud all over the floor when they come in.
But I'm thankful to have two such nice dogs, with lovely waggy tails and loving eyes.
I can't seem to get any writing done, especially with the kids home this weekend. But I'm thankful to have my children with me, and the writing can be done later.
Tonight I'm going to a friend's house for dinner, and I'm thankful to have such a wonderful friend who lives so close. I have other wonderful friends who live far away, but I miss them terribly, along with my family. But at least I have people I miss terribly - can you imagine not missing anyone?
Winter is coming and my house is old and drafty - but at least the roof doesn't leak and I'm thankful to live in such a nice village. The garbage men just came around for their Christmas bonus (already!) but I'm thankful they come at all - so there.
Well, enough already with the thanks - but no, there is one more! I'm thankful for everyone who stops by to read my blog -

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.
May you have many blessings, may you have good health, & may your turkey be tender!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Shipwreck diet!

Congrats to Bonita who chose the shipwreck diet and won a copy of "A Grand Passion" - I hope you enjoy it!

What happened was this:
I lived in the Caribbean and we loved to take boat rides to the small, uninhabited islands nearby. One island, Hans Lollick, was off the coast of St. Thomas, and we could see it from our balcony. My neighbors invited my sister and I to go to the island one day. We took their motor boat, but as we arrived, the motor conked out. We put the anchor down and swam to the beach, and decided to wait until our mother called the coastguard. Night fell. Ferel donkeys on the island meant we had to stay near the beach, because they were feeling protective of their territory and would charge us if we wandered into the forest. We climbed along the cliff and looked for something to eat - coconuts? No. Fish? No fishing pole. What did we find? A can of ravioli a fisherman had left behind.
We built a fire and waited.
The coast guard came at around midnight. They had a big boat and had to stay out in deeper water. They shined their lights so we could swim out to them. I do NOT like swimming over reefs at night. Rule number one, do not make any splashes. Swim Quietly, lol.
It was a nice night and there was lots of phosphorescence. I leaned over to see it in the wake of the boat, and my glasses fell off.
The coast guard took us to the docks where my mom picked us up. I was Starving. I did not want to eat an old can of ravioli. My mom was furious that I lost my glasses. No dessert for a week.
The shipwreck diet:
One can of ravioli. No dessert for a week.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Guess the Diet Contest

I was just reading a blog and the blogger made me laugh (she's a slushpile reader with an agent) about a submission about a diet book. (The Rejector)

And I came up with three brand new diets:

There's the "Basic Training" diet. Signing up for the army and doing basic training is a great way to lose weight. I'm surprised no one has written about that yet.

There's also the tried but true 'Hermit Diet' which consists of sitting cross-legged and naked on a stone, and eating only what the pilgrims bring.

And there there is the "Shipwrecked" diet: only eat what you can find on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.

OK guys - you know me, right? Which diet did I try and will subsequently tell you about? (Which resulted in very little weight loss, and I will tell you why after you've guessed!)
And to make it more fun, the first person to guess right will get a free download of their choice! On your mark, get set, GO!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The leaves are finally turning gold here, but the weather is still balmy. We had a few days of frost, but it turned warm and rainy again, and today there is a lovely mix of clouds and light in the sky. The leaves on the forsithia tree right outside my window here are pale yellow, and when the light shines through it it turns everything golden. On the hill the trees are turning rust and brown. I will have to go out and take the dogs (and my camera) for a walk.
I wish I'd taken my camera this morning as I drove to town. There was a tractor plowing in a field. The sun warmed earth was steaming in the pale morning light, cherry trees behind him were red and orange, and dark clouds, almost violet, seemed to underline the rising sun. Autumn is such a lovely time of year. Until it starts raining. And then everything is gray - the sky, the earth, the trees, and the stone houses. Dreary! But not today!
I am still plodding on with my WIP. It's a new project - I've never attempted a murder mystery - so I'm sort of feeling my way forward. I like my characters, and right now one is about to do something, well, awful. She's a secondary character, so I'm not going to dwell on her, but her actions will set something in motion that will hurt a lot of people in the book, but ultimately will solve the crime. So often good things do come out of bad things. Sometimes you have to wait and see the end result - step back and not judge until everything has settled down and the results are in. This character is like a catalyst, and if she doesn't do this terrible thing, then the murderer will keep on killing. It's sort of the theme I'm working into the fabric of the story. We'll see what happens with it!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happy Veteran's day, Bingo & a Pig's head

We gathered in the village square this morning to hear a speech from the mayor, listen to the recital of the names of the dead soldiers, and sing the National Anthem. As usual, there was a good turnout with much of the village present. There was a little coctail afterwards at the town hall. I just can't seem to drink wine before lunch though. Luckily they had orange juice!

And, we played BINGO in the village hall tonight! It was the first time the village organized a bingo game, so it was a bit rough around the edges - microphone problems - way too hot in the room - a family showed up that was The Family from HELL - But otherwise it was fun.
We (my daughter and I) didn't win anything. But there were some cool prizes. And one prize was...
A Pig's head.
No kidding. The WHOLE thing. Pink and cooked and sitting on a tray. It was a prize given by a local butcher. He also donated three meters of blood sausage and some hams. There were lots of umbrellas to win - some flowers and plants, a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven, a CD player.
The Family from Hell. One of the boys had a whistle and would, every time the number 22 was announced, blow it piercingly. It made everyone jump. Once was cute. Every single time was Really Annoying. They also won a Christmas tree and a showerhead. You'd think they'd be more cheerful - but they whined and bitched and scowled and blew their stupid whistle all night. Ewwwwwww. The pig's head looked vaguely like the boy who kept blowing the whistle....
It was fun. I saw some people I haven't seen in ages. Even if we all live in a tiny village - we don't always run into each other. I like this woman called Gabby, but she works all the time. Tonight I got to sit and chat for a while with her. She is Swiss, and speaks German. My daughter needs German lessons. Gabby's son is doing badly in English. So Gabby and I have made a tutoring deal - we'll swap kids once a week and tutor them. LOL! So, see why you should go to Bingo games?
It's late now, and everyone is in bed. I'm insomniac because I drank too much coffee at the Bingo game. That will teach me! I want to go to sleep but the coffee was NOT decaffinated.
(I keep wondering what the winner of the Pig's Head will do with it? I suppose it's for eating -

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Auguste as a Centipede

Here is a picture of Auguste in teh costume my daughter made for him on Halloween. He didn't mind it at all - probably thought he looked super-cool.
Rusty just yawned and went back to sleep.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Dog is Houdini, but he's no rocket scientist.

Auguste is a small wire haired dachshund. You pronounce his name the French way -
And when I let him out in the back garden he immediatly makes plans to escape. Not that I have a small garden - it's very big, has an apple orchard, several stone walls, a couple sheds, and lots of play space. But Auguste dreams of adventure. So he goes to the wire fence (It's pretty overgrown with vines and such, being built at least 30 years ago) and he noses around until he finds a chink in it. Then he digs.
Dachshunds, as everyone knows, were bred to hunt badgers, which as everyone knows, live in huge underground galleries. Badgers are the most dangerous animals for a dog to hunt because the make special tunnels into which they lure their enemies, and then they collapse the tunnel on top of them, burying them alive.
All this is just to tell you that in order to breed a dog able to dig out badgers, the breeders had to find something pretty special. So, they crossed a small terrier-type dog with Houdini. I'm not even going to imagine how they did it. But the fact is, these dogs can get out of anything. My dog's breeder informed me (before I bought Auguste) that his dog dug his way out of a cement courtyard. I didn't believe it...then.
So, I have to walk around the edge of my garden every single day and block the holes Auguste digs at the base of the fence with large rocks.
This is where I'm lucky: Houdini was no rocket scientist. Auguste goes to almost exactly the same spot each time. So, bit by bit, I'm building a stone wall in his escape hatch. He keeps trying to dig around it. But so far, I've been able to (mostly) keep him penned in.

This is where it gets funny.
I have a Labrador retriever too. She does not dig. She likes to sleep. She likes to lie on the grass and snooze. Auguste is a playful guy. He likes to chew on the Lab's ears and feet, and that drives Rusty (our Lab) crazy.
SO - Rusty has decided to help Auguste escape.
She is bigger than he is and can hook her paws over the rocks and move them. Then she sits back and lets Auguste dig. He gets loose. She goes back to her spot on the grass and lies down. Peace at last. I see Auguste is missing and run outside to catch him before he gets into too many adventures. (There are 3 chicken farms in my village, remember).

So far, I'm keeping up with Houdini. (Thank goodness they didn't cross him with a rocket scientist.)

Friday, November 03, 2006


(Lifted from December's blog) Okay, it's this quizie thingie is where I pick my favorite movies, and choose a quote from each one, and now you guys have to guess the movie from the quote and I'll write your name next to it when you guess it.

Have FUN!

1: -"Don't shoot! It's the dynamite! If you shoot it, it will get mad at us and blow us all up!"

2: -"There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." (Harry Potter - Feyrhi)

3:"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." (Lord of the Rings - December)

4: "But why is the rum gone?" (Pirates of the Caribbean - CotBP)

5: "If either of you boys says "war" just once again, I'll go in the house and slam the door." (Gone with the Wind - December)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The villagers are Perplexed

A couple years ago, my sons killed Halloween in the village. It wasn't really their fault - Halloween tried to make a splash in France and ended up as a flop. No one really got excited about it except the kids and a few parents, but the village fête commitee, bowing to publicity and the fact that Halloween was in fact invented by the Celts and the Celts, as everyone knows, originated in France SO...(ipso factum whatever) and voila - the French embraced Halloween for a couple years and then it faded, helped along by my sons decision to dress as terrorists and bombard the village with beebees and take All the candy.
ANYHOW - a few kids (mine - still) dress up and still make the rounds. But the French are mostly perplexed. "Bon bons ou Farce!" the kids scream.
The villagers open their doors. "What cute costumes. What do you want?"
"Well, I don't have any. But here are some...": (What follows is an actual list of what the kids brought home)
2 bottles of water
1 whole baking chocolate bar
A handful of walnuts
2 euros
A brand new box of Belgium chocolates
Several candy bars
A bag of sours
A box of cookies.

The kids are estatic and the dogs are tired (having accompanied kids all over village. Dogs were dressed up too. August was a centapede.
I wish I could post photos but blogger is acting up - I'll try to post on my Sam's Shots page.

And on another note, I entered Miss Snarks contest and got an honerable mention as 'Best nod to the Bard', lol (#23)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The death of Halloween

Halloween is dead and has been for centuries. But even though it's dead, it still holds a certain spine-tingly reminant of what it was before.

I remember as a kid getting all excited about Halloween. We lived on a farm, so my mom had to load us in the stationwagon (no seatbelts then) and drive us around. We sat clutching our big paper grocery bags, our masks slipping off our faces, until we arrived in another farm. Then my sister and I would be let out in front of various houses out in the country. My mom would wait in the car with our baby brother.
We'd trot up to the front door and knock, then hold our bags out and say 'Trick or Treat'! There would be a moment of "Oh How cute! Come here, Harvey, look at the little princess (my sister) and the witch! (me). Then candy or an apple would land in our bag and I'd turn around and my sister would hiss 'Say Thank you!'
That was Halloween. The next day (or even that night) I'd eat all my tootsie rolls and candy bars, and start eyeing my sister's candy. (She saved it until at least Christmas, eating a tiny bite a day...)
And that was Halloween.
Until that fateful day when a rumor swept the land. A razor had been found in an apple. It wasn't even ture - being an urban legend - but it swept across the US like a wildfire and changed Halloween forever.
Before, no one had ever imagined that someone could willfully set out to harm a child with Halloween candy or apples. But now it was the only thing anyone thought about. Now, our mother marched up to the front door with us. She would examine the candy, and any apples inevitably landed in the trash.
Who started that rumor?
I often wondered if it was the Thanksgiving turkey association, fed up with Halloween taking attention away from the upcoming fête. Or maybe it was an apple-hating club, determined to ruin apple farmers everywhere.
Whatever it was or who is was, Halloween was no longer innocent but malevolant. And maybe it became closer to what Halloween was originally about. In the dark ages when the religions were still fledgling and memories of human sacrifice, druids and witches were still fresh, Halloween was a terrifying night when the gates to the spirit world were opened and evil spirits walked. Turnips and gourds were carved into terrible faces to frighten the spirits away, and sometimes candles were set inside to even better effect. The ancestor of the Jack-O-Lantern was a hollowed out turnip meant to keep evil away from the house.

Now that Halloween has become a commercial holiday devoid of any meaning except costumes, candy, and pumpkins, we can take a moment to think back to when Halloween was alive and mankind believed that the dead walked the earth on All Hallow's Eve, intent on stealing souls.

Happy Halloween!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Storms, bells, & more deadlines

Last night the barometer dipped down below 1000, which is pretty low, and the wind sounded like a freight train all night and until this morning. In the north of France, and on the coast, there was a lot of damage but we just got the edges of the storm and only the leaves fell.
(The bells are still ringing. The repair man has not come. The mayor said - helpfully - "Well, you can always sleep with earplugs!")
I replied in a Very strong Texan accent - "How Nice."
Of course, nobody in the mayor's office got that, but Andrea - if you're reading this blog, I hope you swallowed your coffee first.

More about deadlines. I have this annoying habit of saying 'yes' to everything. I now have 4 English students (children) and 1 adult. I swore I'd never teach adults again - they just don't listen. I think after 13 the brain disconnects from the ears and I REALLY admire high school teachers. ANYHOW. I said yes, and now I have another chunk of time gone. Time for preparing the lesson and time giving the lesson that I should be spending writing...LIke time on the blog - lol. And I do have a deadline. SO - NanoWrime to the rescue!!! I will write every spare minute during November and get 50k done. YES.

I went to gym this morning and it was cold in the gym and my back is stiff. I think it's because it was cold while I was working out. I'm off to yoga tonight to try and stretch my back out. Yoga is the BEST for a sore back.

Monday, October 23, 2006

*%!@!# Churchbells!!

The churchbells are broken. In French, we say 'Déglangué' which is slang for broken. You pronounce it 'Day-Glang-Gay' which is a fun word to say, and even sounds like what it is - completely screwed up.
The result is the bells ring all day and night, every hour and half hour. But the clock is off, so that it says 6:00 when it's 8:28 for example, and so you can't tell time by the bells or the clock - but they woke me up all night and I'm wiped out.
Actually, I slept through most of the bells, but at 5 a.m. I heard them and shot out of bed, thinking my alarm hadn't gone off and thinking my son had missed his train and my daughter her bus. So I'm staggering around at 5 a.m. trying not to wake hubby, and I grab my alarm clock to see what's the matter, and I see it's only 5 a.m., and I'm afraid I said a bunch of Very Bad Words - not including déglangué. I tried to go back to sleep, but just knowing the damn bells were going to ring again in half an hour kept me wide awake. Of course now I'm falling asleep on my keyboard and the five pages I promised myself to write are still in my head.
I need more sleep and more coffee!
And then as soon as the town hall opens, I'm storming over there to let off a bit of steam (politely, of course) and threaten dire action if the bells are not put under control. (still in a polite tone of voice - and with a smile - but maybe a hint of hysteria too.) LOL.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Weekend

Today I was up early (churchbells ring every monrning at 8:00, but somehow my brain is afraid of being woken up by the bells, so I'm always awake earlier. It happens when I set me alarm too. If I set it for 7 a.m. I'll wake up at five to seven, and if I set it for six, the same thing happens. I think my brain is scared of being woken up by bells and alaems! Too strange. Anyhow, I woke up and saw that the workers had come to cut the hedge, so I went to talk to them and tell them what I needed done. They have a tractor and trailor, so I won't have a huge pile of brush left over. Then I had to take my son and his friend to the train station. And now I'm getting ready to go to the pony club with my daughter. Maybe I'll bring a book and read while she has her lesson.
Right now, she's stuck in front of 'The Horse Whisperer', and as much as I love Robert Redford, I always thought this story was purely ridiculous. It drives me nuts, but there are some pretty scenes and the music isn't half bad. (and there is But what a stupid story. I hated the book too, as I recall. It was one of my wallbangers.
(list of bestselling wallbangers:)
The Horse Whisperer
The Da Vinci Code
Something Bones (can't even remember the title, but I hated that book)
Do you have a list of bestselling wallbangers??
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

my rant against Madonna

I just have to rant. Sorry. If you think what she did was wonderful, fine. Because it's true - who wouldn't want to be adopted by Madonna? Heck, I have two boys I'd love for her to adopt and put through college. And they already have their drivers license and most of their vaccinations.
But let's say I'm an African and my wife died and I can't pay to take care of my infant son. I'm human, so I'm frantic with worry. I put my son in an orphanage temporarily. (this is what the father said in an interview with the NY Times, so I'm not making this part up.) Now say a celeberity has decided to adopt a child from my country, and wouldn't you know, she picked my little boy!
I'm thrilled. He'll have everything he wants.
I'm devestated. He's my son, and I'll never see him again. He'll legally belong to someone else.

What is the matter with this picture?
Well, for one thing, I can't imagine the pain the father must have suffered. First losing his wife, then two of his other children, and now losing this child to a media blast.
Is there anything wrong with the way the Africans live? Is their way of life so dreadful that when someone adopts a child and takes him far from his culture and roots it's something to rejoice about? And if so - how come we're all sitting on our butts and not doing anything about it?

OK, we can't all run out and adopt an African. And frankly, I don't think that's the answer. There is nothing wrong with the African way of life if the country is not in the throes of famine or drought or corruption. And we can argue for hours about why Africa is in such a mess, and why we Europeans and Americans are responsible. And why the World Bank is sinking Africa even deeper into debt and misery, and why the huge diamond, uranium, and oil companies are making life hell in Africa (and on the rest of the planet) And you can argue that it's better to grow up in Hollywood than in Malawi. I'd agree. But I've been to Africa, and I've seen children there. I've seen them playing, running, singing, and getting hugs like any other kid. And they herd goats and go to school where they have to sit on the floor, and they have all kinds of strange customs and religions, and beliefs...but that's what makes African children unique.
And I have two boys in Kenya who I put through school. They are in their last year now, and I'm terribly proud of them. Now why didn't I adopt them and bring them to France? I could have tightened my budget, made a few sacrifices, and offered them a life and education in France. After all, education here, including the university, is free. So why didn't I adopt them? Well, what about their country? Doesn't their country deserve to have two such nice, well educated young men? And don't these two young men deserve the chance to help their country by getting a good education and becoming prosperous citizens? In what way has Madonna really helped this child and its family? In what way has she helped the country?
If all you can do to help Africa is take away its children, then you might as well just forget about Africa. Forget that it was the cradle of civilization, that humans evolved from the Rift Valley, and that our genetic Eve was from Africa. Forget the music, the art, and the stories that came from Africa. Forget its ethnies and its myriad different cultures...because they will all turn to Hollywood dust. Forget the beauty of Africa and its diversity. Just take the children away and give them lots of money and everything money can buy. Is that really doing any good at all?
Frankly, it makes me ill.

Sesame Street Quizz!

I'm probably dating myself here, but my sister and I just LOVED sesame street!

You scored 56% Organization, 66% abstract, and 57% extroverted! This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more about herself.

You are mostly organized, more abstract, and both introverted and extroverted.

Most people either love or hate Elmo. I hope you love Elmo, because that's who you are.

You are both somewhat organized. You have a good idea where you put things and you probably keep your place reasonably clean. You aren't totally obsessed with neatness though. Elmo has the same basic approach. His place is pretty tidy, but he doesn't spend all of his time cleaning it up.

You both are abstract thinkers. You definitely are not afraid to take chances in life. You only live once. You may notice others around you playing it safe, but you are more concerned with not compromising your desires, and getting everything you can out of life. This is a very romantic approach to life, but hopefully you are also grounded enough to get by. Elmo's whole life is based on fantasy and his imagination. In the beginning he was a regular character, but now he spends most of his time in this fantasy world.

You are both somewhat extroverts. Like Elmo, you probably like to have some time to yourself, but you do appreciate spending time with your friends, and you aren't scared of social situations. Elmo spends some of his time with real friends, but he also needs some time just to chat it up with his goldfish.

The other possible characters are
Oscar the Grouch
Big Bird
Cookie Monster
Kermit the Frog
The Count
Guy Smiley

(take the quizz here: )

Monday, October 16, 2006

a horse show in the countryside

Yesterday was my daughter's first horse show. She has been mad about horses since she was a baby. My father used to carry her around the farm, show her the horses, and taught her to whinny before she could talk! My husband used to put her on the saddle with him and gallop around the polo field when she was just a toddler, and she started riding ponies when she was three. At eight I enrolled her in the pony club. Now she's twelve, and she has begged me to let her try competition. We don't have a farm anymore, nor anyplace (or enough money!) to keep a horse. But her pony club has a competition section, which is very inexpensive, and each month they go to a different club and compete. So, I enrolled my daughter and she has been training hard. And yesterday was the first show! It was in a farm that had been built in the middle ages as a fortified manor, so the first thing you see upon arriving is a huge tower and a moat. There is a high coach gate leading to a vast inside courtyard, with climbing roses and red vine on the stone walls. The show was just outside the old manor in a sandy, shady ring. There were a dozen jumps, and about fifty children of all sizes, with fifty ponies and horses of various colors and sizes. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and they had set up a tent near the moat with a coffee and sandwich stand. The group my daughter was in was a very eclectic one - some children were very good, others toppled off their ponies after one jump. Nobody was hurt, there were a few tears (one little girl rode into the ring, took a look at the crowd, and rode right out again) Everyone was terrific and supportive. Clapping for all contestants was a must. When a child got confused and forgot the course, there were words of encouragement and directions shouted out! The boy who won had a wonderful spotted pony and rode as if he had been a pro all his life! My daughter's pony, a wise, 15 yr old pumpkin orange fellow by the name of 'Gamin' went around in a steady canter, and only refused two jumps at the end when my daughter was too tired to hold him with her legs. She made him get over the two jumps, and he did it delicately, as if sensing her fatigue. At the end she hugged his neck and recieved a warm round of applause. She was thrilled, it was her first show! for pictures go here

Friday, October 13, 2006

Eeek! Spiders and a deadline

I wanted to write more about life in France; I was having this great conversation yesterday while in Paris with two other ex-pat pals (one from Spain and one from the US) - we were complaining about the French (so what else is new, lol) & about how bloody RUDE the servers are, lol, and how much bureaucracy they have. We complained and complained. It felt great. Anyhow, afterwards I had to stop at the US embassy to get a paper signed and notorized and that took ages (security to get in is now tighter than ever, which means prepare to empty your bag, take off your watches and jewelry, and don't ask the nice security guard if you can throw your dirty kleenex into the trash can. He actually jumped. Then I had to go to window 7 and get a folder, proceed to window 3 to pay, (30$ to notorize a signature?!) then go to window 4 and wait until they call your name, then proceed to window 5 to sign the paper and get it stamped.
(I am NOT kidding. I went to four windows to get one paper signed.) So I thought maybe the French weren't actually the worst for bureaucracy - they might now be tied with the US embassy. Although the French still get the worst drivers and rudest waiter prizes.
Then I went home and had to clean out my garage because the roof is coming down - the owner is replacing it. And we (my kids and I) started to clear out the boxes and there are Huge Spiders in my garage. We all sort of stared at the biggest one, sitting on the box we wanted to move, and my son said, 'I will not touch that.' I said, 'It's not so big' (it was about the size of a cat) and my daughter said, 'I'll get the broom, and you can sweep it away, mom'. I agreed, (never show fear to your kids - sort of like wild animal training) and I took the broom and tried to pretend it was one of those plastic tarantulas you see. And it almost worked. I swiped, the spider skittered, and we all ran screaming from the garage. So much for bravery.

And today I looked at my schedule and discovered I have a DEADLINE.
It is now officially LOOMING.
I just hope I have enough coffee in the house.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I am a genius!

Well, not really. And I'm not an electrician. Anyone else would have had electricity. I called my electrician. (this is France, remember, and I am WAY out in the countryside.)
Me: Hi Sophie, I need Laurent to come right away - half my house is in the dark.
Sophie: Bonjour Jennifer - the problem is Laurent is away for the weekend - he went hunting.
Me: That's all right, I'll make do with candles. Will you ask him to stop by on Monday?

On Monday night I get a call from Sophie - she tells me her husband will be in very late, if I don't mind, he could stop by around nine or ten. I tell her I'll be glad to wait. (in the dark - candles burning.)

Then I get inspired. I look at the electric box. The little cartridge thingies that go in the slots. I don't know what they are called, but I have a box of them in different sizes. I start replacing them, one by one. Suddenly there is a 'pop' and the lights in the house go on! I have repaired the electricity using little cartridge thingies. I am a genius. Except I have no idea what I actually did, or what the thingies are called. Feeling half triumphant, half retarded, I call the electrician and tell him not to bother coming - I have fixed my problem. Voila.
The next night I see him and his wife in yoga class, and he told me that what I had was a fuse box and what I'd changed was a fuse.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

the hardware store joke

Lyn Cash has a very funny hardware store joke on her blog. Scroll down a bit to read it. (If you can make it past the picture of the guys washing the car...)

But it reminded me of a real joke the people in my agency played on one of the models. The model was from Germany and very, very uptight. She was always complaining about the French obsession with sex. For her, everyone was obsessed with sex. It made the Swedish girls roll their eyes, and the people at the agency tried to explain that in France things were a little more relaxed, that was all. But she was always complaining. When she went for a job she complained about the changing rooms, and when she was on location, she complained about changing in the street (if you've ever been on location you know what I mean - you usually have to get dressed behind sheets held up by a grinning photographer's assistant, and a scowling stylist.)
Anyway - One day she came in complaining that the toilet in her studio was all stuck and she needed a plunger. Only she didn't know the word for plunger in French. Could someone help her?
The two booking agents who were there that day looked at each other, and then one smiled and said, "Of course. The word is godmichet. You pronounce it 'god-mishay'. Got it?"
The girl then asked where the nearest hardware shop was, and they sent her off with an address.
She went into the shop and asked for a godmichet. The clerk looked blank and shook his head.
"You know," she said, miming plunging a toilet. "A godmichet!" She mimed some more, as the clerk went from pink to scarlet then purple. Finally he gave her the address of another shop, and fuming, she left, thinking that the clerk in the hardware store was a idiot.
She arrived at the address the clerk had given her and frowned. The sign on the door said, 'S*xy Shop!' Frowning even more, she pushed the door open and asked if they had a godmichet there.
The clerk said, "Of Course!" and led her to a glassed counter, where he pointed to a whole range of dildos.
Back at the agency, everyone was howling imagining the girl standing in the sex shop. The girl came back howling - she was furious - which only made everyone laugh harder.
It wasn't easy being a model sometimes.
Once I did a shoot in an outdoor pool (unheated) in April for the July issue of 20 Ans. I was Freezing. The next day I came down with bronchitis and had to work all day with a fever of 101°.

Monday, October 02, 2006

backward or forward?

I don't know if I should start in the beginning or work my way backward from where I am now, about forty miles west of Paris.
It seems I've lived in so many places. I've been in this house since 2000, and that's a record for me. I'm getting antsy.
I guess I'll jump around.
April 1979 - I arrived in Paris in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. We caught a taxi from the airport and there was so much water on the road it flooded and everyone stopped. We had to wait for an hour until the rain stopped, the water subsided, and we could go on. By then it was dark, and my first glimpse of Paris was rain soaked streets, fog shrouded buildings, and the Eiffel tower wrapped in a cloak of thick mist.
The next day I had instructions how to get to the agency and off I went - after a typical French breakfast of strong tea, hot milk, and toast. The taxi driver asked me if it was my first time in France, and I said yes. He said he would give me a kiss for luck, and gave me a peck on both cheeks, French style. "There, now you are French," he proclaimed.
I was both enchanted and mortified. A stranger had kissed me, but I was French!
The enchantment lasted all day. I easily conquered the metro system and learned my first words (left and right) and talked to an old lady at the magazine stand. A book slid off the counter, fell on the sidewalk, and I used my vocabulary - "Tomber!" I cried, pointing at it.
"Well, don't just stand there. Pick it up," she said, in English. She gave me a post card with a picture in black and white of a little boy sitting at a schooldesk, staring hard at the ceiling. "Very famous french photographer," she said.
It was ROBERT DOISNEAU and I've loved his photos ever since.
I also loved the museums in¨Paris, and I think I went to all the shows in the 'Grand' and 'Petit' palace one year. I was at the opening of the new 'Jeu de Paume' and 'Orangerie' museums, and I spent hours wandering through the Louvre (getting lost in there is so much fun!)
My daughter went to the Louvre with her class (so did my sons - lucky French children, they get to go to the Louvre!) They start early, first in the Egyptian section, then going to the Greek part, then going to the paintings where they admire the Mona Lisa as she stares at them with her smug smile (she has the same smile as French waiters, come to think about it...)

I just read that a teacher in Texas was fired without tenure from her post for taking her kids to a museum where they saw *gasp* a naked body. Now, I don't want to sound smug (picture my Mona Lisa smile) but kids in France not only get to see naked people in paintings, but they get to see naked Greek statues and even a statue of a hermaphrodite, which they had to comment on in the paper they were writing on the visit. Most comments were "I didn't know the Greeks had such great mattresses." So you see, the French are not raising a bunch of sex offenders. I might add (again without the smug smile) that statisticlly, we have far fewer teen pregnancies and sex offences than in the puritan US, which might be an argument from taking kids to museums earlier and more often, so they can see what a naked body looks like and get used to it.)

Television shocked me (coming from puritan US) when I saw the naked women advertising shower soap (and whatever else a naked woman could advertise, it sometimes seems they get carried away, like the naked woman advertising a new telephone company...) but they give fair time to men, and there is a wonderful DIM commercial with a hunk in his birthday suit - and of course, my favorite rugby man calendar.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Yesterday the electricity went out. Or rather, the workers shorted our line somehow. Only half of our house has electric lights now. Last night, we cooked and ate dinner by candlelight, and had candles in the bathroom and hallway.

We live in an old house - it was built in the early 19 hundreds on the foundations of a house built in the late middle ages, which was built on the foundations of an ancient church, which was built on the site of a pagan temple and so on and so forth back to about 100 AD, when this valley was settled by Romans. Romans being what they were, they built bridges, temples, and made the roads as straight as possible, which is how we know the Romans were here. Before the Romans were the Gauls, a tribe that did not believe in writing and who thought trees and running water were sacred. But they worked with 'sky metal' (iron) and left traces of their presence.

Before the Gauls were nomadic tribes, and even before them were the ancient ancestors who hunted giant deer and woolly rhinos. This is a place for flint, and there are many stone axes and arrowheads in the local museum. So everywhere I look, there is a trace of the past. We drive on roads that were simple paths centuries ago, and the other day we took a walk down an overgrown trail that used to be the main road between our town and its neighbor, Civry. The road led to the water mill deep in the hollow, but water mills became obsolete with the advent of electricity and the mill fell to ruin, the road gradually disappeared, and no one takes that path anymore unless they are just going for a walk.

On the other side of the village square lives an old woman. She's bed-ridden and mostly senile. She thinks that it's still world war two, and that there are Germans under her bed. I used her for one of my characters in a book I'm writing. She's otherwise very spry and the nurse who comes twice a day and looks after her, says she's in great health. The war really affected the people in Europe. My mother in law was a child, but she still recalls the rationing and then making a frantic dash with her family to go from Paris to shelter in Bordeaux. My father in law's horses were all taken by the army. It was a hard time and too many suffered and died. It still casts a pall over the country. The French wear their memories of war like chains, and sometimes I feel ridiculously light and untethered compared to them. There are war memorials in every village, and the ceremonies are well attended by the whole village - children and grandparents, making their twice yearly trip to the village square to hear the mayor's speech, then the national anthem, and then the trip to the cemetery.

There is much honor and tradition here. The village I live in is old and tied to tradition, but it happily embraces the new. The mayor came rushing up to me on the street when he heard that the internet was moving to high speed. He wanted to be the first to tell me. So high speed internet and ancient Roman ruins coexist peacefully in this tiny village, where the most excitement comes when the cows get out and block the road, or when the school bus gets stuck in the mud at the hairpin turn on the tiny road leading across the plain. I like it that way. I like knowing most everyone in town, and I like getting goose eggs from one neighbor, and advice about how to plant garlic from another. It's quiet here, but it's good to look out the window and see the forest on one side, and the plowed fields on the other. Maybe it would be nice to have a little more going on, but for that, I can go to Paris.

I used to live in Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux - too - so I'll tell you what I loved about those cities soon!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Life in France part 3

Things that drive me crazy:

There are no sidewalks here. Well, in the big cities and towns, of course. But in my town, in most of the country towns, there are no sidewalks.

For a country so in love with the bicycle - they are woefully behind in bike paths. There are no bike paths, and even in Paris, there are only a few. For bike paths, one must go to the public gardens or parks - and even then it's not sure they have them.

The drivers are mad.

The waiters are mostly obnoxious (except in the restaurant across the street from me.)

Anyone who works in the 'function publique' is obnoxious. They can't be fired, so they pretty much do as they like, which does not include work. They never work alone - always in pairs. And they do as little as possible. It is Extremely frustrating. They Never answer the phone.

The internet is still slower here than anywhere else.

French movies, books, and music is awful. There is a sort of law that says anything the French like, no one else will like, and huge best sellers in the US, for example, flop miserably here. I've only seen a couple French films I like, and only one or two musicians rock my boat (Francis Cabrel is one of them.)

Tomorrow - things I love!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Life in France part 2

When I moved here, I was 17 and just out of highschool. I'd taken one year of French in seventh grade, and knew about three words:

(hello, shit, and fall down)

It wasn't enough. Taxi drivers and French waiters took advantage of me, and I would walk down the streets in my bubble, not understanding when people spoke to me (unless it included hello, shit, or fall down...) and since the dogs in France are free to poop wherever they like and 'merde' is also used as 'Good Luck' I heard that word a lot.

The first words I learned were 'Right, left, and straight ahead'. I had a map, addresses, and I had to go from one end of Paris to the other every day on my endless round of 'Go-Sees' which is what a model does - go see the clients, the photographers, the art directors. So off I went, map in hand, and a vague notion of 'right, left, and straight ahead'.
Luckily the metro system in Paris is idiot-proof. It is Really easy to use. And it goes all over the city. I got to where I had to go with no trouble. (not too much trouble)

My big break came when I started dating a Frenchman. His English was limited, but his cousin had studied in England, and she came on most of our dates and translated. Learning the language of love while in love is perfect - and having a private tutor is even better. Things that helped the most:
Reading comic books (the French Love their comic books, and every house has a pile of 'Asterix', 'Tin-Tin', and 'Gaston LaGaffe'. )
Playing scrabble. (dictionary in hand, I beat the old ladies in the scrabble club. They let me cheat and use the dictionary. They served me tea and little lemon biscuits, and corrected my terrible grammar. Joining a scrabble club, reading comics, and dating a French man made learning French a lot of fun.
(they should think about that in school...)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Something New

I thought I'd try something new. A lot of people ask me (when I go back to the states) How I like living in France. So I will try to paint a picture of life in France for an American.
It might be fun to do it on a 'Good Things' 'Bad Things' scale.
Today I'll just tell you what struck me the most, and what was the hardest to get used to.

In France, politeness is an art form. When you walk into the post office, or into the bakery, everyone in line turns around and either smiles or says 'Bonjour Madame' (Madame because I am a Madame. If it were a guy, they'd be going 'Bonjour Monsieur'. ) And you are expected to smile and say 'Bonjour' back.
When you pay for your baguette, the boulangère (baker) will say "Merci, et bon journée!" And you are expected to say, "Merci, et bonne journée à vous!" (to which she will reply 'Merci' and this can go on for a while if you're not careful.)
When I used to live in Lyon (the capitol of Politeness in France) my neighbor would say 'Bonjour Madame' even if I had seen her already twice that day, had dined with her and her husband last evening at their apartment, and I'd just stepped into the elevator.
Bonjour Madame is infinitely more polite than just a simple 'bonjour'.
When you enter a house in France, everyone, including the children, come to the door to greet you. The children are all models of 'politess' and hold out their cheeks for kisses after saying 'bonjour'. When you go to a dinner party, you greet everyone with two kisses, (one on each cheek - but sometimes there are 4 kisses, and I never know when that applies, except some of my neighbors here are into 4 kisses and supposedly that is a country bumkin thing, and no Parisian would be caught dead kissing 4 times.
But you never kiss when you meet for the very first time, and you don't kiss the baker, no matter how many times a week you see him.
You shake hands the first time you meet. Then, as you are leaving the party, you kiss, because you have already met and shaken hands. Kissing is done without fuss - two little smacking noises in the air as you lightly press your cheeks togather. Glasses must be removed if both are wearing them. Usually the man will remove his, or if it is two women, kissing is done carefully and at a slight distance.
Men never kiss each other, but they do if they are father and son in some families, or closely related. Usually men shake hands or and pat each other on the shoulder if they are good buddies.
Men hold doors for women, pull their seats out, pour the wine (never pour your own wine at the table if you are a woman) and serve the women first. Women are pretty spoiled here. However, French women are expected to be able to cook well (my friends all cook like French chefs, which is REALLY annoying to me, lol. But I love getting invited to dinner) and they are expected to keep house perfectly (a slovenly French women is rare) and they are expected to look good at all times. (another frustrating thing - they all look like they just got out of the hairdressers, and their clothes are all ironed an and matched. They tend to wear skirts more than jeans, and have nice shoes. They tell me they can spot an American because of the frumpy shoes we wear. Huh. I am not giving up my sneakers - sorry.)
So living in France has its ups and downs, but at all times there is a polite smile (although the French waiter's will certainly be slightly supercilious)
and a cheeful 'Bonjour!' wherever you go.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I won't charge 95$

I was surprised to see one of my books is selling on Amazon for 95$!

OK - if anyone has read book one, and wants book 2 or 3, just e-mail me. I know Jacobyte books went out of business and the books are out of print - but I have doc. files that I will sell for 5$. Let me know if you want to finish the series. I won't charge 95$!

: -)

updates on the schedule

Scedule. Skedool? Skeddual?
Argh. I hate that word.

It's not the first time I've lived by such a strict schedule. When my twins came home from the hospital, they weighed 4 lbs each, and had to eat every three house around the clock. (8 bottles a day X 2 = some very frazzled parents, lol.) And my daughter is on a schedule - she was born on a schedule, I don't know where it comes from, but she's very methodical and careful with time. She loves her new watch and is never late for school. (I can remember galloping out of the house with one shoe on and the other held under my arm, my bookbag flapping, my hairbrush in hand, rubber band in my mouth, trying to catch the school bus...)
So time and I have never really gotten along.
But now that I have this brand new super-organized schedule, I have become a different person. (not really, lol.) But I am amazed that I have not yet forgotten a class, (well, yesterday, but it was because I thought it was Sunday already) and I haven't yet lost my mind. (trying to be very Zen about all this. Living by a watch is stressing me out, lol.)

And for a whole different subject -
Congratulations Beth and Bobby for your wedding, I heard it was sumptious and I wish I'd been there!
((((((((((((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))))))))))) from your Cuzzin!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New photo blog

I love taking pictures, so I started a new photoblog - There will be lots of photos from the countryside around here!
Bookmark if you like,

Monday, September 18, 2006

Plotzing right along

I guess when you're riding a horse you're trotting right along, and when your running you're jogging right along...and when you're writing you're plotzing right along, right?
My WIP is going very well. Merlin is now off to find someone to make him an antidote to the love potion that silly pest Kyla made him drink. Honestly - fairies have no sense of decorum. Merlin is an elf, Kyla is a fairy, and together they make sparks.
There is more to the story than that, of course, but it gets complicated, lol. Thus the plotzing along.

On the home front my fireman son Sebi has been admitted into his college of choice - the psychology school in Paris. Lucky sod. Now he has to find a place to live there. Argh. Not easy. He'll most likely become a commuter and learn the joys of public transportation - prices in the city are outrageous. We're way in the country, so it's an hour drive to his college. Well - we'll think of something.
The Other twin is in the US getting ready to go to a wedding this weekend then fly straight off to Ohio to start his 2nd year in college. *sniff* I miss him a lot.
Daughter has not given up ideas on 'How to Get a Horse'. She is driving me crazy but I must commend her persistence. Most kids would have given up by now. Three years' worth of "No absolutely Not" have not made a dent. I bet she becomes a writer. Rejection rolls off her like water off a duck's back. Quack. (or neigh, as the case may be)
No news from any proposals yet, which is just as well because I really want to finish Merlin's Song.
Anyone read Llewellyn's Song? Like? Dislike? Hmmm? JERR gave it Four Stars, yay! and a lovely review. Mommy is happy. (Yes, dammit, our books are like our babies, lol.) So it's nice when the baby gets up, toddles out the door, and is well recieved in the wide world.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Happy Sunday

On Sunday there is the traditional day of rest. It's a perfect day for long lunches and lazy conversations, and dogs sprawled comfortably on their beds.
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Changing Places & Covers

Kate pointed out that there is a book with my name where her name should be, lol.
Yes, sometimes people make mistakes. You should never believe all you read.
Here is the book I'm in, and here is the one where Kate is listed correctly. (She moonlights as Summer Devon)
I can't wait to see the covers! How can they post books for sale without the covers?
Everyone knows that you judge a book by its cover, right?
Well, check out my new cover for 'A Grand Passion'

Compared to my old cover.

That was an EC surprise for me.
They've already changed one other cover - my 'Argentine Lover' cover.
I figure as long as they're at it, they should change my Diamina cover.
What do you think?
Look at this page and tell me which covers you think EC ought to change.
I vote for:
Gladys Hawke
Storm Warnings

Any other votes?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

too much cccooooffffeeee

Yes, too much coffee this morning - or I made it really strong, lol. I can hardly sit still. Luckily there is gym class this morning so I will soon be reduced to a wet puddle on the floor, lol. Our gym teacher is terrific, but she has decided to start this year off with Energy!
I also take yoga class. I love my yoga class. I've been taking it now for three years, and I really look forward to it. It gets the kinks out of my back and leaves my body feeling relaxed and supple (and I am NOT supple, believe me. I stare at my toes and wonder if I'll ever be able to touch them, lol) But yoga and gym are a nice balance.
Someone was blogging about balance today - how to balance writing and family - health and work - yin and yang...and I have to admit I don't really think about it. Like most people, I guess I just tackle each day as it comes and try to do my best with it. But looking closer, I discovered that I have been creating a sort of balance in my life. My schedule is pretty full (and I just got another student for Wednesdays) but I have spaced it out so there is enough free time in between so I can write. And my gym class balances my sedentary life as a writer, and my yoga class balances my sore gym muscles and soothes me.
And coffee wakes me up!!
It's time for gym!
Hurrah for coffee!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Rummage Sale

OK, I'm wiped out, lol. I was up yesterday at 5:45 when I heard Andrea come in the front gate and start getting our stand ready (where does she get that energy???) So I staggered down to help, broke a glass, and sent myself inside to make coffee (much more productive than trying to help Andrea who has everything under control - and can somehow see in the dark!) At 6 a.m. there were already people walking around with flashlights buying stuff. One stole Andrea's fax machine. Argh. It was dark, and the fax machine was in a black bag. Oh well. By 7 we were all set and drinking coffee and nibbling brioche. The sun was coming up, and everything was bustling as the last vendors arrived and set up their stands.

(Here is a picture of me (green) Andrea, and Lynne early in the morning - it was still chilly.)
The kids got up around 9 and set up their stand in my front garden. They organized themselves - there were five girls selling, so one would go out on the street and hold a sign pointing to our house, where another sign said "Everything for Sale!" I got several offers for the house.

(here is a view from the house looking out past the kids' stands to the street)

By 11 we decided it was time for a little apperatif, so I got some pinot (sweet wine, sort of like port, from the Charente region of France) from a stand and we had a glass of that. Then I went around the stands and bought:
Smoked ham
(The bread and brioche stand right next to ours)
and made lunch for everyone. Andrea bought some chilled rosé wine to go with that. Then it was more sales until 4, and we needed more coffee.
At 5 we decided pinot was more fun than coffee.
At 6 we were getting ready to pack everything up and clean up the mess.
It was fun.
I counted the kids and adults we had at the house yesterday and came up with 10 kids and 6 adults. Plus two dogs. Can't wait for next year! (and I even have some pinot left over!)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The village rummage sale

We're having the village rummage sale on Sunday - from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. the entire village is closed off for traffic and there are stands everywhere selling junk, antiques, and more junk, lol. It's a mad house - my house is right on the village square. I reserved 6 meters in front of my house - so I invited lots of friends and their kids, I'm leaving the house open, and we'll sit, hopefully sell some things, drink wine, and keep dogs and children from running out the front gate, lol.
PRAY that the weather is nice!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Advice and Such

I was cruising around the web (I know, you're supposed to say surfing) and I came across some advice on how to write a novel. It amazed me. Here were well-known published authors giving away wonderful advice. Actually, as Jay Lake said so well, it's not advice, it's experience. And I thought it was interesting to read the different takes on writing novels. Justine Larbalestier has her advice here, and Elizabeth Bear (how cool can you get?) has advice here.

Apparently, it all boils down to coffee, determination to see it through, and a system for organizing plots and thoughts. The coffee and determination are the same, give or take a little milk & sugar, but the systems for organizing plots and thoughts differ widely. One writer's outline is another writer's poison. (or writer's block, as the case may be!) So what does that say about your own writing?

Mine varies; I use outlines or not (right now I'm working on three books. One from an outline, one from a detailed synopsis, and one from a one sentence blurb.) I have never used charts or cards, if I have an outline I never use it as a rigid structure, but rather as a suggestion of how the book should flow, and if I work from a detailed synopsis, you can be sure the whole thing will change until the finished work has little to do with the synopsis at the beginning, lol.
What helps me most is a time frame (I think it's because of my dyslexia) and a map is always a plus; I love devising a map for my books. But time sometimes gets loopy and I have to be careful not to have overlapping actions. Character descriptions don't worry me. I picture the hero and heroine so clearly it's like their photos are in front of me. But I will write Dave in one page and Don on the next, so I'm always checking to make sure Dave doesn't become Don. (right now I have a Kyla, and I have to make sure She doesn't become a He.

I'd like to say that I write fast, but I don't. I have revision-itis. I have to go back and re-read everything and revise what I've written before plowing on, so I do a lot of reading. On the plus side, I figure if I don't get bored reading the darn thing over and over, hopefully my readers will stay enthralled, lol.
One way to make a book go faster is to cure yourself of revision-itis and just leap into writing. I do that once a year in November when I join the NanoWrimo, a really fun way to write a novel in a month! (or at least 50,000 words)
How do you get motivated and what systems help you the most??

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I have a schedule (gasp!)

I'm working two part time jobs this year - and no, two part times don't make a whole, lol, and it only adds up to about twelve hours a week of real work. The rest of the time I get to write, which is lucky as I have three dealines for this month, and a translating job sitting on my desk that I stare at every once and a while and sort of shudder. Well, not shudder exactly, but I think I'll take a couple aspirin before I start - there are a lot of technical and colloquial phrases in it.
SO, I printed up some handy-dandy schedule sheets, another two calendars (remember how obsessed I am with calendats, lol) and I have made myself a schedule.
It might not seem like such a big deal to you, but I have dyslexia, and time, numbers, right, and left have no meaning to me. Left on my own, I probably would not eat and sleep but rather just keep going until I keeled over.
Last year, the village put in a clock on the church tower and now the bells ring the hour - and that's incredibly helpful. So I am finding ways of scheduling my days, and my life is now regimented like a soldier's. Hup-two! Wake up at 7, jogging at 8, shower at 9, work until 12, lunch and housework until 2, work until 4:30, part time job until 6:30, then dinner, kids, and more work on deadlines until 11p.m.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays that all changes, my other part-time job kicks in, and on Tuesdays and Thurdays the jogging is replaced by gym.
On Sunday she rested and didn't get out of bed.

Monday, September 04, 2006


OK, I admit. I sent a query and first page to Miss Snark for her Crapometer.
I wasn't sure how it worked, never having participated in a crapometer before, but let me tell you - I got GREAT feedback.
She doesn't pull her punches, but she gave me some excellent advice.
And so I'd like to say THANK YOU MISS SNARK for giving so much of your time and energy in helping us struggling writers. Because it's ture - no matter how many books you publish it's always a struggle to write. It's a struggle to start a new book, to outline (what I'm thrashing through right now - two outlines for my agent) & wrap everything up in a satisfying ending.
It's very hard to craft a first page that will hook the reader and make him want to keep reading.
Miss Snark might be snarky, she's also terrific. And if I knew who she was, I'd send her a pail of gin.
Now I don't know the politics of a crapometer, so I'm not telling which number my entry was, lol. Can you guess?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

My bright and shiny new blog!

I love my new blog look - thank you Daisy Mae for fixing this up for me!!!
(if you want a bright and shiny new blog look, click on Daisy's link on the side bar - she's got some great designs!)

It's early Sunday morning. Today I'm heading into Paris to meet some friends. I'm going to spend the day there and then we'll all meet my husband for dinner somewhere. My friends have mostly come in for the 'pret a porter' show here in Paris - two of my friends are buyers and one has a stand, so I'm going to go check it out.
I'm not a fashion victim - like I said before, I buy most of my clothes from Ye Olde Thrifte Shoppe - but my friends don't get to Paris often and I want to see them!!!
Maybe I'll even see some clothes I like, lol.
My husband said to my daughter the other day "Your mom doesn't care what she puts on in the morning."
I overheard that and wasn't sure if he was vexed about having a wife who jumped out of bed and grabbed whatever was on top of the laundry pile, or if he liked having a wife that didn't spend an hour every morning trying to decide what to wear.
I went to Catholic school and wore a uniform - and I loved not having to think about what to wear. I believe I grew out of being fashion-conscious in school. Never having to worry about what I was wearing or what anyone else wore was very liberating for a teen, honest.
My daughter announced her school was going to make the students wear a uniform - and she was thrilled. She agrees with me about the advantages of a uniform (she's not a teen yet - of course she agrees with me) but I was happy to hear that. Too many girls in my daughter's class dress like - well - provocative doesn't begine to describe it. I'm sure you've seen the sexy barbie look - well, it scares me. I don't know what the mothers are thinking.
I think the uniform will be more along the lines of a suggestion here - like navy blue pants, white shirts, and navy pullovers, for example. I'll be interested to see.
What do you think about uniforms for school?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Bhopal Disaster

The person I detest the most today:
Warren Anderson ( )

I saw a documentary about Bhopal and was horrified. How can anything so dreadful happen and a company like Union Carbide be left to continue blithely on its way? I have to find out what Union Carbide manufactures so I can completely boycott it. I will not be affiliated with such horror.
And the worst is going to the Union Carbide site where it tries to explain the horror by claiming it was sabotage, and that the Indian authorities are well aware of the identity of the employee and the nature of the evidence against him; in essense, saying the Indian government is protecting one person responsible for the deaths of over 10,000! Does that make sense? No. And the truth is that a faulty, untested joint had been sent to the factory for the workers to use, and that joint was the cause of the disaster.
"Twenty years after the Bhopal tragedy, Dow Chemical continues to deny responsibility and is still producing some of the world's most deadly chemicals. Today, we are supporting the call for Dow to be held accountable for the devastation that the Bhopal disaster inflicted," says Corporate Accountability International Campaigns Director Patti Lynn.

For more information:

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Year

It's September!
Yes, and vacation is over. Quite honestly, this is one summer I'm glad to put behind me. I'm starting a new year.
I have always used September as a starting point in the year. Some people use Jan. 1st (for some strange reason) and even others keep the 'olde' ways and start the year off in April, while a good many people in China have their new year February. But for some reason it seemed right to me to start the year in September.
When I was little, that was the month I began a new school year and had crisp new notebooks, sharp yellow pencils that hadn't faded to stubs, pens with ink in them, and even new shoes and clothes. September I walked down the driveway to catch the bus and my bookbag (smelling of new plastic) full of notebooks with nothing doodled on their virgin pages, my new shoes a little stiff, my new sweater a little scratchy, and my new haircut a disaster as usual. My lunchbox was even shiny and new, with no scratches, and my thermos still intact. (The thermos never lasted long.)
I'd walk up our long drive, past the fields where the corn was harvested and only tattered stalks remained, past the barn where potatoes were being sorted and sacked, and past the migrant workers sheds. I'd pass the white trailer where the farmer's son and his new wife lived.
At the bus stop there would be a crowd of kids in September. The migrant workers hadn't moved on yet, so their kids started school with us. I'd know them, having played with them all summer, and we'd compare new lunchboxes and shoes, and stand in a wiggley line as the bus drove up, lights flashing.
The air was dusty and smelled like newly dug potatoes and goldenrod, and the first fall leaves would crackle underfoot. We'd hurry to board the bus, our hearts pounding, wondering who our new teacher would be, and if our best friend would be in our class. The driver would hollar for us to sit down and be quiet, and I'd press my forehead against the window and hope this new school year would be wonderful.
Most people see autumn as the end of the year. But I always thought of it as a new beginning.
What is the beginning to your year?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My once in a blue moon Promotion Pitch!

I have a new book coming out tomorrow!
Llewellyn's Song
It's an erotic fantasy set in the magical world of Hivernia.

Llewellyn goes to the far north, seeking Frostbone, the ice-demon king in order to save his people. But on the way he finds a wounded Dark T'uath, one of the women warriors of the hidden valley. Proud, untamed, these women have no use for men...but Tamara finds herself falling in love with the tall, one-eyed elf who resued her.
Tamara and Llewellyn have to learn acceptance of each others' beliefs in order to join forces and warn Hivernia of impending war. Acceptance soon turns to love, and love to searing passion. But separation looms for the lovers as both accept the responsibilities thrust upon them by their leaders.

Llewellyn's Song
from Ellora's Cave


Agony unlike anything he’d ever felt tore through his body. Everything shook—his hands, his legs, and even his teeth chattered uncontrollably. Darkness crushed him like a physical thing and he tried to push it away, but it pressed down, harder and harder. Confusion followed the shock and pain, and then little bits of memory trickled back. Visions flashed across his mind, bringing with them more terror and pain.
Dragons with dull, iron-gray scales and rusty armor stalking next to hordes of enemy soldiers. The Mouse King, a shape-shifter with a talent for controlling dragons, riding the mightiest dragon, his scepter held aloft. Prince Branagh, in a last, desperate try to stop him, knocking him off the dragon and fighting him in vicious hand-to-hand combat. And he and his brother facing the enraged dragon on their own.
They’d succeeded, killing it when all hope seemed to have fled. But the beast had lashed out one last time, catching his brother across the chest and belly with its razor-sharp claws. Elloran had died in his arms, his pain first washing over Llewellyn then slowly ebbing into cold and darkness.
“No!” An agonized scream echoed in his ears and Llewellyn shot up in his bed, arms outstretched as if to ward off blows. His breathing whistled in his throat as he fought to control his racing heart. Icy sweat trickled down his back and chest. No dragons faced him, no screams assailed his ears, only the silence of the night and his heart pounding in his ears. Slowly he pulled the covers up over his shoulder with hands that still shook from the nightmare.
He wanted to die, for surely death would take away the anguish. He wanted to die, because each day he lived, each minute, every hour, his brother’s last minutes came to him as a torture. He rubbed his forehead and a sigh shuddered from him. Elloran had been his twin, and everything he’d felt, Llewellyn had felt, from joy to love…to excruciating death. Sometimes he feared to open his one good eye after the nightmare, sure to find his sheets drenched with blood. His other eye was nothing but a memory, and an ache sometimes when the weather turned. One battle had cost him an eye and his twin. Some days are better not lived.