Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

As usual, Halloween is not happening here.

My sons took care of it one year, and it never came back. Like a beaten monster, it slunk into the woods and melted away. (Much to the villagers' relief).

What happened was this.
Television and magazinzes suddenly started a 'Halloween' campagne, to encourage the French to get out, get disguised, and get candy (and pumpkins while they were at it...) and get Halloween.
In the face of mostly massive indifference, the commercial gods of the holidays tried to wedge Halloween into the French psyche.

"Halloween is not an American holiday!" the newscasters intoned. "It originated with the Celtes, who were, as everyone knows, French. So, Q.E.D. Halloween is French."

No one believed that, but the French, willing to be modern and forward thinking, not to mention commercially inclined, decided to give it a try. Mayors and village fête commitees got together and drafted notes to the villagers (that were stuck in mailboxes all over town).

"Dear French Villager,

This is your chance to celebrate Halloween! Tonight, at 7 pm, children are invited to present themselves at the village square. Wear disguises! Carry bags for candy! After a parade around the square, the children will go around the village for trick or treating! Villagers - stock up on candy and be prepared to open your doors and give out candy!
Thank you,
The village fête commitee."

This is what my sons understood:

Dear French Halloween neophyte - while you gather in a huge group at the village square and troop around in a crowd - (Impossible to trick or treat in these conditions...the kids in the back won't get anything!) We'll be charging around the village - cleaning up the loot before you.

This is what my sons did. They galloped through the village dressed like terrorists, shooting plastic bee-bees at the villagers who wouldn't play along with Halloween. "What? You don't open your door? You have no candy? Take that!" And the next day, there were bright yellow bee bees scattered in the gutter, and the villagers, bemused and perplexed, explained that they gave all their candy to the first group of trick or treaters...(My sons had bags of candy, the beasts.) My daughter, who had gone with the crowd, had three or founr leftover pieces of candy in the bottom of her bag.

More notes followed. My sons were grounded. The mayor decided, after fielding complaints left and right, that Halloween was more trouble than it was worth.
The next year, no notes. No Halloween.
My sons dressed up in suits and ties and ridiculous hats, grabbed my daughter (where was I? I think I was at a parent /teacher meeting...) and dressed her as a little witch, and marched her through town, trick or treating as if nothing had happened. And came home with LOOT.

The next year (I'm probably skipping years here, but that's getting old - your memory fails you.) My daughter went out with Auguste, having first disguised the dog as a centapede. She got so much for her efforts she's decided to go out again this year.

The villagers make an effort to please her. Last year, they gave her candy, bottles of water, nuts, cookies, apples, and oranges. Because she's half American, they are indulgant.
Because they are French, and don't understand Halloween, they don't just give one or two candies, but the whole box. That's why my kids love Halloween here in the village.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Winter Soup

Today, while the rain fell in sheets outdoors, I made winter soup.

2 cups chopped onions
1 large winter squash - peeled, seeded, cut in cubes
2 apples, peeled, cored, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons sweet curry
3 tablespoons butter

Melt butter in soup pot, add onions and curry, stir, cook over low heat until soft (about 20 min.)
Add the stock, squash, & apples bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until squash is cooked (mine was very tough - took about 2 hours. Acorn squash will take about 30 min. & is good to use.)
Add cream to taste (I used Madras curry, which smells divine but it very hot. I turned the heat down with a big dollop of 'creme fraiche' - you can use sour cream or plain yoghurt.
Serve with grated apple sprinkled over top.

Tonight, we're having winter soup with fresh bread, salad, and cold chicken.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Yes, it's Vacation! The kids are home from school, and it's gray and rainy out.

College boy #1 is on vacation, but he's a fireman, so he's spending most of his time at the firehouse. In France, the volontary firemen are paid for taking 12 hour shifts, so my son, in order to pay for his miniscule studio in Paris, comes home on weekends to stay at the firehouse. Now that it's vacation, he'll probably be there a lot.

College boy #2 is in the states - in SUNY Potsdam - and I suppose he's getting ready to take his mid-term exams. Vacation will be at Thanksgiving for him.

Daughter in middle school is thrilled that it's vacation, and has already lined up a job at the pony club sorting out a new pony. She will be paid in hours riding, and believe me, she's more than happy! The new pony is a Dartmoor, very cute, but tends to run away with the younger riders.
Right now she's watching an animated film by Hayao Miyazaki (our favorite film-maker). If you don't know his work, or the studio Ghibli films, you're missing out on something wonderful.

I have lots of tutoring jobs lined up. First report cards have arrived, and parents don't want their kids to get left behind, so English, French, and math tutors usually get lots of work during vacation. :-) I'm not complaining - I want to buy new chairs for my dining room!
I'm starting a new project - one my cousin Tony suggested (and even outlined for me!) It's going to take a LOT of work, but it's quite fun. I may need help though. We'll see.

My stupid elbow (can elbows be stupid?) still hurts, and I stopped the medicine, (or wedicin, as my daughter used to say when she was little) because I didn't tolerate it very well. It gave me an upset stomach - ugh!

That's the news for now. It's pretty quiet here. Fall is just starting, and the leaves haven't really turned color yet. I'm waiting until they do to go out for a hike and take photos. I'll post some when I do!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007



1) Rejection letters from agents.
Even if the note is just a simple "No thank you," we see this:
"Dear Author,
Please stop sending me your hackneyed prose. Your stories suck. I hope you have another job, because writing just ain't it. If I sold writing like yours, I'd be the laughing stock of my profession. Please, for my sake and yours, stop querying me. "

2) Rejection letters from publishers.
Again, our imagination tends to see things in a darker light...
"Dear Author,
Just because we publish several of your online writing buddies, and just because your favorite author in the whole world is in our stable of authors, that doesn't mean you are welcome. As a matter of fact, if it were Christmas eve and ours was the only stables in town, and you were pregnant and riding on a donkey - we still wouldn't take you. Do us and the publishing world a big favor - take up bird watching."

3) Typos in submission letters.
Dear Agnet,
Dare Agent,
Dear Ms. Snork,
I'd like to submit my story, "Angles on Crusade..."
I'd like to sumbit by story,
Sincely yours,
Sincerey yours,

4) Typos in our finished and FINALLY published books:
Page 34: Instead of the Gulf of Mexico, it reads the Golf of Mexico...

5) Readers picking up on our little typos.
"Dear ex-favorite author. I read your latest story. Where the f%*@! is the Golf of Mexico? Do you mean the one in Tijuana, the Golf del Sur? Or did you mean the one in Cancun - the Country club and Golf Verdez? In any case, it makes no sense. I'm through reading your books. An ex-fan.

6) Having nobody read our books.
"Dear Author - here is your royalty statement for the year 2006 / 2007:
You sold 0 copies
Your royalties are 0.00$

7) The Advance that Just Won't Go Away.
"Dear Author. Your advance was 1000$. You sold 0.00$ this year. You still owe us 1000$ on your advance against royalties. It will be a cold day in Hell before we sign another contract with you.

8) A Negative Review
(I can dig up a real one for this, but I'm having too much fun...)
"The Tell Tale Tart by Samantha Winston - ZERO STARS
Where to begin? Well, it was hard enough to begin when I started reading, and I barely got to the end - I only threw the book against the wall 86 times, and it's a novella, folks. The Tell Tale Tart starts off with a whimper and ends with a whine. The heroine, Janice, makes having PMS and the stomach flu, along with a raging fever seem fun, and the hero, Mike, really should be locked up somewhere in a maximum security prison for eternity. The good news is, it's practically a short story. The bad news is it cost me 4.95$ as a used book on Amazon. This was the worst piece of trash I've ever read. Don't even bother taking it out of the library.
Nancy the usually really Nice reviewer for Rarin' to Read Reviews"

9) Trying to find a quote to use from a negative review.
"The Tell Tale Tart...The heroine hero Mike...eternity. Good News."

10) Plagiarism
Finding out that witty expression your hero spouts throughout your book came from somewhere else. Your subconscious has betrayed you!
"The force be with you," said Mike.
Janice giggled and batted her eyelashes. "You're such a character, Mike."

11) Plagiarism 2
Finding out someone has plagiarised your book - taken your characters and given them slightly different names but kept the plot!
"Keep the force," said Mark.
Jane laughed hysterically and waved her eyelashes in the air. "You're my romance hero, Mark!"

12) Finding out the 'OTHER' book gets a five star review and lands on the NYT best seller list.
"...I can't say enough good things about Ms. Desforges new book. Her fresh new writing makes the wonderful characters come to life. I want to spend my entire life reading more books about Mark and Jane. Fabulous. Highly recommended.
Nancy the really Nice reviewer for Rarin' to Read Reviews"

13) Success.
Because then you have to write another book just as good.

Um....14) Finding out that it's Wednesday.
Just ignore this post until Tomorrow folks.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunny Sunday

Zombie Jack is due out Tuesday!
“Ladies and gentlemen and creatures of the night, welcome to my Halloween show!” Applause. Dee waited until it died down. “Tonight we have a special show for you. Without further ado -- Jack the Stripper!”

The music started, the curtains parted, and Dee stepped off the stage, moving to the side of the dance floor to watch the show. Brianna saw him sandwiched between a wood sprite wearing a leafy, green minidress and a crown of ivy, and a woman wearing what looked like an antique wedding dress of ivory silk and a top hat.

All of Brianna’s attention suddenly became fixed on Jack as he appeared onstage. He wore a pumpkin mask, and his tattered monster outfit drew a collective gasp from the audience. He started to dance. Whipping off the mask, he stood for a minute, gazing out over the audience. His eyes were supernaturally bright, his hair tousled, his skin glowing. He looked like a movie star, and the women went wild.

Brianna could hardly breathe. Jack was more than hot. He was scorching. The women were crazy about him; they screamed his name and applauded madly. Jack strutted to the center of the stage in time to the music and bared his chest. The scar drew shrill screams and more applause. When Jack danced, Brianna could swear she heard women swooning all around him. A woman dressed as a vampire stood next to her table. She sank down into the chair by Brianna and gave a low moan.

“He is sooooo amazing,” she breathed. “I want him.”

Brianna was torn between pride, jealousy, and worry. Would his arm stay put? Had he taken the aspirin? Would he be all right? “Careful, Jack,” she muttered.

Jack’s shirt came off, and his arm stayed on. Brianna sagged in relief. More screams and swoons. He danced, and even the men stopped playing billiards and came to watch, cue sticks in hands. Jack’s pants slithered down his hips. He lowered his chin and stared at the audience. They stared back, mouths open, eyes wide, pupils dilated. He stepped out of his pants, and the music stopped. The lights were killed, and the curtain fell.

The crowd went crazy. The applause nearly cracked the plaster on the ceiling. Brianna could feel the floor shaking beneath her feet. Whoa. She turned to the vampire lady sitting next to her. “How’d you like that?”

She looked at Brianna. “Please tell me he’s coming back,” vampire lady whimpered.

“If not, I’ll go drag him back myself,” said another spectator standing nearby, her hands on her throat.

The music started again, the lights dimmed, and a spotlight appeared as the curtain lifted again. Jack stood in the middle of the spotlight, dressed in his second outfit.

The music, “Superstition,” pounded through the speakers. Jack opened his vampire cape and swirled it around. Grinning at the audience, he bared fake fangs. More screams and applause from the women. He tossed the cloak to the ground and took off his shirt.

“Slower, Jack, slow down,” murmured Brianna.

Jack looked like he was enjoying himself immensely. He danced, he peeled off his clothes, and strutted about in his G-string as the women shrieked and squealed and tossed money onto the stage.

Teasingly, Jack slowly took off his G-string. Brianna groaned and tried not to stare. A flood of heat dampened her panties. She hated that everyone else was staring at Jack. The women uttered a collective gasp of appreciation, ending in a thunder of applause, whistles, and more screams. The music stopped, but Marty was on the ball and put on another song. “Black Velvet” started, and Jack began to dance slowly. A flurry of applause and high-pitched sighs and cries sounded from the audience.

Jack seemed to have no qualms at all about exhibiting his body -- and why should he? From his well-shaped head down to his perfect Greek-statue feet, he was gorgeous. Brianna felt a pang of jealousy. She watched Jack’s show with growing dismay and had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming, “He’s mine!” It was ridiculous, but that’s what she wanted to do. He was incredible. Every woman in the place was mesmerized. Jack’s muscles looked sculpted beneath his smooth, white skin. Except for the scar, he was flawless. And his eyes. No one should have such electric blue eyes. But there was something odd about those eyes.

Brianna froze. Something very odd.

Jack came to the front of the stage and winked at a woman sitting in the front row. She gazed up at him, entranced.

Jack leaned over and said in a husky voice, “Can I dangle my dingle in your daiquiri?”

“What?” the woman squawked.

“I said, can I dangle my dingle in your daiquiri, darling?” Jack swayed his hips forward suggestively.

Brianna cringed. This could not be in the script. She turned to look at Mémé Hoya. She had her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide. “What is he doing?” Brianna hissed.

“He took an aspirin.” Mémé Hoya shook her head, her expression tragic.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I've been Painting.

Not art - my walls.

They needed freshening up. They were off white, but getting dirty and old. So I grabbed some gray and some pale yellow and painted!
Then I looked in the attic and fuond some old curtains that I'd put away a few years ago and hung them.
Here's the new color scheme!

Friday, October 19, 2007


I read 'The Lottery' the other day, and I really loved it. One thing Pat Wood did that rang true for me was to describe how devestating the effects of criticism were on her hero, Perry. The effects of harsh criticism on a child are devestating. And the opposite it true also - praise and encouragement bring out the best in them. (In everyone.)

Writing is the same.

I was a member of several critique groups, and the advice was 'No negative feedback - only constructive feedback!' That is essential. Not negative - constructive.
I know that many writers hesitate to send their work out because they are afraid of rejection. But that's only part of it. They're also afraid of criticism. Don't be afraid. The only way to learn is to send your work out and have it looked at by people who have no emotional connection to you or your work. An honest critique group can be amazingly helpful. If you're a new writer who is afraid to join a critique group, remember this. We all started this way: palms sweaty, heart pounding, brand new manuscript clutched in our hands - terrified that the book will be ripped apart. A good critique group will not rip anything. If it's a good group, the criticsm will be contructive and help you learn. Your writing will get stronger, and you will feel more secure about it.
But a bad group can do harm. If you feel your group is too harsh, don't hesitate to change.
So if you are a member of a critique group, remember to temper your criticism. Try to find out if the person you're critiquing has a lot of experience or not. New writers are more sensitive. (Believe me, the first time I was critiqued, it nearly destroyed me. I felt flayed. Horrified. It HURT! ) Imagine telling the mother of a new baby that her baby is ugly. Well, that's how it is at first.
After a while, the skin gets thicker, and it's easier to deal with citiques. But in the beginning, remember how much it hurts, and critique accordingly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Plagiarism and tendonitis

Tendonitis sucks.
I have it in my right elbow. And I was doing so well in golf, lol.
Well, a few weeks rest and it should be fine. (And pills and an elbow sleeve...)
What does that have to do with plagiarism? (Well - it sucks...)
When I was at my doctor's office, he said, "You write, don't you?"
I said I did; He said, "I have another patient who is a writer - Regine Desforges."
I may have to change doctors.
You have no idea how livid I was when I read one of that woman's books. She copied the first 70 pages of Gone with the Wind nearly workd for word, substituting her own characters' names and transposing the action to WWII. The estate for Margaret Mitchell sued - and lost the case. Now, how in the HELL could they lose that case? Well, after the first 70 pages the book takes a slightly different turn and becomes a sprawling, uncorodinated saga about as interesting as watching slime grow. So the argument went that although Ms. Desforges did use Gone with the Wind as her inspiration - the fact that she changed the story after the first 70 pages made her Not a plagiarist.
I can just see someone writing a story about a young boy who lives under the stairs in a closet, who finds out his parents were killed by he who shall not be named, and who turns out to be a wizard and goes off to a special school - Oh, but then the story changes so that the young boy and his two friends (a red haired boy and a girl with brains) do something different than Harry Potter (Well, who did you think I was talking about?) Only he's called Jeffrey Nobbs and he lives in some Other magic world and...
I think if that happened Ms. Rowlings lawyers would have that author strung up by his typewriter ribbon.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) Ms. Mitchell wasn't around to go balistic and have Ms. Desforges
drawn and quartered by her literary lawyers.
But I honestly can't stand the woman.
She lives nearby me. (Well, a few villages away)
The movie they made out of her book was a flop. (OK, that makes me happy, I'll admit.)
But she is what I consider a plagiarist, and I think I'm going to have to change doctors.
As it is, I simply looked blank when he mentioned her name.
"Never heard of her," I said. Huh. Don't I wish.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Congratulations, Al Gore!

To the best president America never had - Congratulations.
You fought long and hard to bring global warming to the public attention.
You faced ridicule (didn't Bush the Lesser call you 'Ozone Man', in tones of ringing contempt?)
But you stuck to your convictions.
You want to leave your children a better world than the one you live in. That's laudible. Unlike the actual president, who seems bent on ruining the chances of America's children, you want to set them on a new path - one that will be kinder to our planet.
I can't help feeling deep frustration that you didn't become our president and led the country. You would have led it in a different direction. Under your care, I think I can be sure that there would be no made-up war today in order to fill the coffers of weapon and oil dealers. You would not have invented this ruinous war. Instead, you would have used the élan of compassion the world showed America after 9-11 in order to build a new world peace, instead of lashing out at an old enemy - whose oil deposits are now being plundered by an international cartel unimpeded by any laws. You would have signed the bill enabling thousands of American children to have access to good health care. Two little children would not have died last week because the needed dental care. You would not have made America a poorer nation.
Mr. Gore - I know it's too late. I voted for you. I would vote for you again. But I feel it's too late to repair the damage the right wing nuts have done to the US. But congratulations on winning the Nobel Peace prize. It's a wonderful recognization for all the work you've done, and all the good you've done. It's also proof that you don't have to be a president in order to make a difference.
Thank you, Al Gore.

Friday, October 12, 2007

print books

We're looking into getting the books at Calderwood in print. There is a program at Lulu that seems to be the best deal for small publishing houses like us.
So soon there will be print books (POD) available for some titles.

'Time for Alexander' and 'A Charm for a Unicorn' Are available in print as a trial run for the Lulu site. If you want a print book for one of these titles, you can go to
The prices will probably go up by about a dollar when things are official, but for now, I'm cutting the profits so take advantage of the deal!

Other news - I played in a golf tournament yesterday just for fun (my licence hasn't been renewed yet, so I have to wait for that to get official results). The weather was nice but it was wet out, and my shoes are sitting on the radiator trying to get dry.

I haven't heard any news from the various publishers / agents I've sent books to. In some cases, it's been over 6 months, so I guess that's a no.

Zombie Jack is due out any day!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A World of Immigrants

Yesterday, live on French radio, Fadela Amara, a minister in Sarkozy's new government, called the DNA tests (to verify that a family of immigrants demanding French citizenship are all one family) 'disgusting'. It's a strong word, not normally used in 'polite' circles. And of course it's started a 'polemique' here in France about what a minister should say, how to say it, and why it's disgusting (or why it's not...)
I looked up the project of the law and checked it against the other European countries that have adopted it. So far, only Britan can make immigrants to take the test. It's voluntary for all the other countries. However, in France, it will be obligatory for a trial period of about 18 months.
The cost will be picked up by the government. (About 500 euroes per test. It varies between 300 and 1500 - don't ask me why.)
My reaction is that it's discgusting too.
The other countries (Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway) will test either parent (Finland tests both, I read) and I prefer seeing the mother tested than the father. Think of the poor woman who was raped, for example, and can't admit it to her family. At least the DNA tested on the mother will prove it's her child and take the burden of proof of fatherhood away.
However, I think the French test will require both parents to take the DNA test.

Now, I'm an immigrant. I come from a family of immigrants. (Like most Americans.)
I think immigration is a big plus for a country. I think that all countries should have open borders, (and that the everyone in the World Bank should be lined up along a cement wall and shot).
Let's play pretend...
That the minimum daily wages around the planet were fixed at the same amount.
That the rich countries ceased to exploit the poorer nations.
That the sale of arms from one country to another be totally illegal.
That education was free.
That healthcare was free.
That alternate energy sources such as wind, solar, and ocean power were used to their utmost.
And while we're dreaming...

So I asked my husband what he thought, and he said I was crazy.
But in my next life, I want to live in a world where the borders are all open, and people aren't afraid of each other.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Tale of Two Books

I was lucky and received two books last week.
One was 'Coven of One', a witch story by Kate Bousfield.
The other was 'The Lottery' by Patricia Wood.
Both books were wonderful.

I started reading 'Coven of One' in bed, and didn't get to sleep until the wee hours. It was a fun romp set in a world where witches were sort of like doctors, and were sent to different towns to ply their craft. In this world, the south had gone very religious and the poeple there persecuted the witches, so it was a shock when one of the best and brightest students was sent there.
The heroine, Dorcas, is a no-nonsense, easy to like character. She's not flighty, she's got loads of common sense, and that's a plus for me in the heroine department. She is up against huge evil, and yet she handles it with aplomb. The book could have done with a small bit of editing, but other than that, I enjoyed it - and like I said, I couldn't put it down. I learned a bit about witchraft. I'll be passing this book on, so anyone who wants it can write to me and I'll send it to them by post.

The Lottery was a wonderful book. I started reading it on the train, and was cross when my station came up. Then I kept thinking about it, and was in a hurry to get back to it. So I read it last night until my eyes were too tired to see straight, and then I finished it this morning while I had my coffee. (A great start to my day!)
I loved this book. The story is about a man with learning disabilities. He's not retarded, but he's slow. Sort of like Forest Gump. I LOVED Forest Gump, so this book was a pleasure for me to read. I laughed, cried, and thought the ending was perfect. I won't spoil it, but if you haven't read this book, you should definitely plan to. It's a gorgeous story - and makes you feel lucky.
(I know I'm lucky, lol!)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Yes, sword swallowing can be harmful to your health

Finally, the scientific evidence is in - sword swallowing can be harmful to your health.
The scientific evidence is real - but the Ig-Nobel spoof awards for the strangest research are, well, real too. Here is an article in the Guardian:

"For the world's sword swallowers, it must have been an important study: a medical analysis of the dangers and side-effects of their profession. Fortunately, doctors concluded that the most likely injury from inserting a long piece of sharp steel down your food pipe was just a humble sore throat.

As well as adding to crucial knowledge about work-related injuries, the unique study last night earned its author, radiologist Brian Witcombe at Gloucestershire Royal NHS foundation trust, this year's Ig Nobel prize for medicine. A spoof of the Nobel prizes, which will be announced next week, the Ig Nobels celebrate the quirkier side of science. In previous years the prizes have honoured a centrifugal-force birthing machine that spins pregnant women at high speed and Britain's official six-page specification for how to make a cup of tea...

...Ten winners received awards at last night's ceremony at Harvard University. The 2007 Ig Nobel for peace went to the Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. In 1994, researchers there submitted a three-page proposal to develop a chemical weapon that could make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. (I love this one!!)

Documents detailing the idea were unearthed through a freedom of information request by the Sunshine Project, a lobby group that opposes biological weapons.

"We don't know if this document was the start and end of it or whether, in fact, this project continued and perhaps continues to this day," said Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research and the man behind the Ig Nobel awards...

...Genuine Nobel laureates presented the prizes to winners. Rich Roberts (medicine 1993), William Lipscomb (chemistry 1976), Craig Mello (medicine 2005), Robert Laughlin (physics 1998), Roy Glauber (physics 2005), Dudley Herschbach (chemistry 1986) and Sheldon Glashow (physics 1979) handed over the gongs...

...Dr Abrahams said of this year's winners: "They make you laugh when you first hear about them. You almost have no choice, then you can't quite get them out of your head afterwards. It's slightly difficult to accept that these things are real - but they are."

The winners:

Medicine Brian Witcombe of Gloucester and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, for their report in the British Medical Journal, Sword Swallowing and its Side-Effects

Physics L Mahadevan of Harvard and Enrique Cerda Villablanca of Santiago University, Chile, for studying how sheets become wrinkled

Biology Johanna van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands, for a census of the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds

Chemistry Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Centre of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanilla essence from cow dung

Linguistics Juant Manuel Toro, Josep Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Barcelona University, for showing that rats cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards

Literature Glenda Browne of Australia, for her study of the word "the" and the problems it causes when indexing

Peace The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, for instigating research on a chemical weapon to make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other

Nutrition Brian Wansink of Cornell University, for exploring the seemingly boundless appetites of human beings by feeding them with a self-refilling, bottomless bowl of soup

Economics Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taiwan, for patenting a device that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them

Aviation Patricia V Agostino, Santiago A Plano and Diego A Golombek of Argentina, for the discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters

(sound of applause!)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Naughty Snippet day!

Gabriele has informed me that this week's snippets are to be naughty.
'R' rated, she specifies.
So, all underage readers please stop reading now.

Here is my naughty snippet from Time for Alexander (which I'm sure you all know is available for the modest sum of 5$ over at Calderwood Books...Enjoy!)

Alexander paced aimlessly, picking things up and putting them down. He took his ceremonial helmet and looked at it, smoothing the tassels in the back. Then he unfolded his tunic and fingered the stiff pleats. He touched the blue glass lamp, making it swing. Finally he sat down next to me on the bed and said, "You know, I really should have had her killed."

I laughed nervously. "No, you were right to let your mother go. She's just trying to help, I'm sure. From what I understand she went to see an oracle and this person put some wild ideas in her head. It's not your mother's fault."

"But Barsine! Why?"

"She's a woman, she wants a baby. It would make her happy." I shuddered, though. If the history books were correct, Olympias would kidnap one of Alexander's wives and her child. They would all be killed by Cassander. Was it Barsine? Stateira? I wished I could remember more details. What would happen if I told Alexander? If I warned him, what would happen then? I put my face in my hands. What could I do? When Alexander died I would be alone here, and I would have a hard enough time keeping out of the murderous fray that followed his death. If I had my own baby back, my Paul, I would have to find a way to care for him. I bit my fingernails, distressed. I couldn't risk being erased; no one would take care of Paul. Or would he disappear too? I got up and paced back and forth.

"What are you doing?" Alexander was staring at me.

"I'm thinking."

"I see that. If you're so upset about Barsine I can intercept her cortège and send her back."
"No, don't do that. I'd like to meet her. Really, I would," I insisted, seeing the doubt in his eyes.

"Why do you look so, so..."

"Upset?" I tried to smile, failed, and sat down again. "Oh Alex, it's nothing. You know how pregnant women get, all emotional and silly. I'm sure Aristotle must have said something about that."

"Some women, maybe, but not you. You don't ever let your emotions show. You keep everything hidden behind that icy gaze. Do you know what they say about you?"

"You mean besides saying I'm a goddess and an oracle?"

"They say you spent too much time in the kingdom of the dead, and that your heart is frozen."

I was startled. "But why?"

"When the wounded soldiers came in you would smile at them, as if you didn't care."

I gasped. "But I thought that it would comfort them! I didn't want them to see how worried I was!"

"But they knew how grievous their wounds were. My soldiers are all professionals. They don't need you to hide your feelings from them. They want honesty. It's a sign of respect in this world. To them you were making light of their wounds."

"Do you believe that?" I asked, hurt.

"No, of course not, nor does Usse. But you have to stop hiding your feelings and saying things with two meanings. Perhaps in the world of the gods it is different, although you claim to be a mortal. For a mortal you act remarkably like a god. We're used to their duplicity, but not yours."

I couldn't meet his eyes. He was too earnest and each word was painful. "I didn't realize that," I whispered.

"I think that if you cannot tell the truth, perhaps it would be better to say nothing." Alexander's voice was gentle, as if talking to a small child. I felt my cheeks get hot and I knew that my nose would start bleeding. I pinched the bridge of my nose hard to try and stop it, but it was too late. Blood spattered on my lap, staining my robe.

"Oh no," I moaned, grabbing a towel. I pressed it to my face and used it to hide my angry tears. Did he think it was easy for me? I lowered the towel and narrowed my eyes. No one understood me. I was stuck here. There was nowhere I could go. I could never return to my own time. I was pregnant, and the only man I'd ever loved was criticizing me – and his first wife was arriving in a matter of days. A shudder ran through me.

Alexander took the towel from my numb hands and gently wiped my face, pausing now and then to kiss me. I pushed him away, but he persisted. I turned my back to him, and he ran his hands down my spine, rubbing his thumbs into my muscles, kneading my back and ending up with his hands encircling my shoulders. Then he started to massage my neck, tickling my cheeks, and leaning down to nibble on my earlobe and lips.

I ended up kissing him back. I put my arms around his neck and pulled him down on the bed. When he was near me, touching me, his mouth on mine, his hands roaming over my body, I simply couldn't imagine life without him.

His eyes, so large, long, and fierce, saw right through me. His body was an electric charge. His personality was a drug. I was completely addicted to him. I fastened my mouth on his neck like a vampire, and gave him a love bite. He growled and bit my shoulder. Our lovemaking degenerated into a wrestling match. He was a pro at wrestling; I suppose he learned at school in Greece.

I had been on a wrestling team in my all-girls school. It was one way of getting our frustrations to a manageable level. I had some terrific memories of those games, legs sliding against legs, backs arching, bellies and hips touching. In a moment I would dissolve into a boneless shiver of desire. I threw myself sideways and then twisted around, straddling his back. I flung my arm around his neck in a half-nelson and tried to throw him. He just gave a deep chuckle and slid out from beneath me with a movement like silk. I gasped and then moaned as he pulled me to him from behind. I don't think I had ever been as excited.

However, I was strong and lithe, and he hadn't won quite yet. I scissored my legs and grabbed him around the torso. Using my body as a lever, I managed to throw him down. He was a bit hampered by his erection, but he easily avoided being pinned and slipped away again, his eyes dancing.
My breath was coming in short gasps, and I decided that the best way to finish this game would be to surrender. So I did by grabbing him around the neck and dragging him down on top of me. I arched my back and met him halfway.

In the end, I'm not sure who won. I woke up on the floor. Alexander's body seemed to be braided with mine and with all the covers on the bed that we'd dragged down on the floor with us. He had fallen soundly asleep, as he usually did after a bout of lovemaking. I had slept too. I wondered what had woken me and then I heard a small cough.

I turned my head, not an easy feat with all the covers and one of Alexander's arms around me, and looked.

Axiom was standing in the tent's entrance. He looked decidedly uncomfortable. I tried to help him. "Yes Axiom, what can I do for you?"

"It's just that someone has arrived, my Lady, someone for Iskander."

Alexander stirred and raised his head. His hair fell into his eyes, making him look like a dissolute lion. "What is it?" he groaned, getting to his knees and pushing his hair back.

"It's your first wife, sir. It's Barsine. She's come early."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Everything is soggy

It's been raining hard for days now. Mist rises off the ploughed fields like smoke, and the gutters chatter and slosh, water patters on the roof and pushes the leaves on the trees down, so that everything looks sullen.
The sky is only shades of gray. Pale gray where the rain slackens, then dark as pewter and trembling with thunder above the storm.
When the rain stops, deer come out of the thickets and stand in clearings, their coats dark and wet. In the field, cows lie low, hugging the ground, stubbornly keeping their patch of grass dry. Pheasants stand beneath the ferns, lifting one foot after another out of the puddles.
The road to Paris was flooded last night. My husband left for work and returned - turned back by the police.
Today I lined my English students up in front of the window and taught them to sing "Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!" They thought it was great incantations, and sang loudly as the rain poured down, nearly drowning out their frail voices.
The children were rewarded by a brief respite from the rain, and we rushed out to take the dogs for a walk around the village square, singing loudly all the time - "Rain, rain - Go away!"
I wonder what the neighbors thought?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I found an hysterically funny article in SLATE magazine.
It's all about our friend the vibrator.
From its invention to today the article, in the form of a slide show, gives some interesting information. Did you know that the vibrator was the fifth electrical appliance to be introduced into the American household - before the electric iron even?
"...Hamilton Beach of Racine, Wis., patented its first take-home vibrator in 1902, making the vibrator the fifth electrical appliance to be introduced into the home, after the sewing machine and long before the electric iron."
And this gem of information...
"By 1917, there were more vibrators than toasters in American homes."

Ahh - the good old days.
So I'm wondering - are we turning into prudes? Prudes who'd rather toast and iron than vibrate?