Saturday, May 31, 2008

Horse Passages

Horse Passages has been re-edited and reissued as an e-book!
For ages 14 and up - boys and girls will love this book.

HORSE PASSAGES: Orphaned twins, Meagan and Carl Cadet, share an honored path-they're horse herders. But the horses they herd are unique, for each horse grows beautiful clusters of unicorn-like horns made of living quartz. Like fingerprints, each is dazzlingly different from the other. The horses use these horns to travel through mystic passages, finding new planets for humans to colonize. Meagan and Carl are two fine, teenaged equestrians who make perfect caregivers for these unusual horses-if they can avoid the merciless Raiders...
Raiders stalk horse herders-capturing them to work their mines-using them until death finally takes the poor humans away from their endless misery. For once taken, no human is able to escape the brutal grasp of these mysterious aliens.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Heavy hands, light prose.

My mother taught piano and plays beautifully. I have heavy hands and tend to pound the keys. All right for Wagner, I suppose, but useless for anything else.

It even applies to the keyboard. I pound the keys as if typing on an old manual typewriter. I don't know why - I like the staccato tapping I make - no one else does, and anyone in the room with me will usually beg me to "type softer!"
But I can't.

I have heavy hands when I type or play the piano, but I can write delicate prose, and when I draw, my hands are light.
I can't knit, I can't sew, and I can't hammer a nail without bashing myself on the thumb. But I can take a splinter out of my daughter's hand before she knows I've even started.

I can't iron and I can't fold clothes, but I can make sand castles with pointy turrets and arched gates. Somedays I think about my talents and my failures. Today it's my hands. The tap-tap-tap of the keys puts my dogs to sleep and sends my son upstairs to his room (and quiet).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Home at Last!

Hubby is home at last. He's tired, looks great, but feels exhausted after any effort. I tell him to relax, just sit back, get better. He has three weeks of rehab ahead of him at a beautiful cardiac clinic in the mountains, just across the river from us (about a 45 min drive). We were there on Friday to meet the staff and get his schedule. Now he just has to take things easy.
But typically, he wants to be back to normal NOW, not in three weeks. So he's frustrated with himself. It must be hard to be a professional athlete and have your own body betray you. Hard for anyone actually.

I just spent an hour mopping and it started to rain. The dogs came inside and tracked mud all over. Ah well - the joys (and tribulations) of country living. My roses are thrilled with the rain!
I'm off to take my daughter to the pony club!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Friday Snippet

I haven't done a Friday Snippet in a while, so here is one from

'Angels on Crusade'

I could barely keep myself together that day. Perhaps it was the fight; more likely it was just depression settling over me. The dusty road wound between huge cliffs that cast a deep violet shade. Above our heads, the sky was raw blue. The cliffs were red, and the grass was yellow. In the distance was the sea. I could smell it now. Salt in the air left a faint glitter on our skin.
Fatigue made my head spin, made me clumsy. I stumbled repeatedly. Charles grabbed my arm and urged me on. When the sun was straight overhead, Jean spotted a recess in the rocks, and we climbed a narrow goat path to a small cave. Other travelers had left a pile of tinder, but we had nothing to cook so we lit no fire. I simply sat and shuddered as the full horror of my situation registered on my mind. Charles watched me closely for a while, then said he’d go find water. I think he’d decided I was dying of thirst.
Actually, I was parched, but it made no difference to my mood. All I could think about was suicide, and soon. My mission started to fade into the background; I could hardly remember it anyhow. What was I supposed to do? Why? Why bother? I was going to die anyway. I might as well be erased so none of this would ever have happened.
Jean slid over to me and took me in his embrace. Immersed in my own thoughts, his actions took me completely off guard. The feel of his arms around me was like an electric shock. No one had touched me in so long aside from the doctors in prison that I turned to him and clung, pressing my shivering body to his.
His hands slid down my sides and his breathing deepened. My head spun; I didn’t realize what was happening until he’d already lifted my dress over my head. By then, it was too late to stop. Desire rose within me, sharp and compelling. All thoughts fled at his touch. Surprise and longing took hold of me. I arched my whole body towards him and offered myself wantonly.
It was over very quickly. Just the touch of my bare skin made him cry out. I hardly had time to draw him into me before he shuddered and spent himself. His breath was ragged; sweat stood out on his brow.
I couldn’t move, completely under the spell of raw passion. My body had been wakened by Jean’s touch, but my mind was strangely lethargic. Locked in a tight embrace, the stuffy heat in the cave making our bodies slick with sweat, I couldn’t think of anything but assuaging my desire. After a minute, he hardened again and we made love once more. This time I took control of the situation and showed him how to give me pleasure. It was soon done—a violin string couldn’t have been drawn tighter than my lust. We cried out in unison, his in surprise, mine in release.
He rolled off me and lay panting on the floor. I sat up and drew my blouse over my breasts. With hands that shook, I smoothed my dress down over my legs.
Jean watched me with a puzzled expression, as if he couldn’t quite place me. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Did I hurt you?”
I closed my eyes. I wanted the silence to become visible, to cloak me and cover me in darkness so I could melt away.
“No, Isobel, look at me!” Even his pleas were stern. Perhaps he couldn’t help it; he was used to giving orders.
I put my hand out blindly and touched his face. Slowly I drew my fingers down his cheeks, over his chin, then back up to his forehead. I searched his face with my hand, looking for something, some sort of salvation, but all I felt was the smooth cheeks of youth and fuzz on his chin where a beard should have been. If only he’d been older. Sixteen! Oh, God, I’d just lain with a sixteen-year-old. I was thirteen years older than he was. No, I shook my head. Who was really older? He’d been born more than thirteen centuries before I had—I was younger than Jean by nearly a thousand years. A giggle burst from my lips. I buried my face in my hands and, for the first time in two weeks, started to laugh.
“Isobel!” Relief, and a hint of anger, colored in his voice.
I raised my head and looked at him. “I’ll be all right,” I said.
“I don’t know what happened, I felt, I wanted…” He moved closer to me and gripped my arm. “Will you marry me?”
“Oh, Jean.” I sighed. My sorrow was lessening. I could feel its weight easing off my body, and I could move without the feeling of lead in my limbs. “You don’t have to marry me, for heaven’s sake. All we did was make love. You can’t go and ask the first girl you lay with to marry you. You have to get to know the person, fall in love with her, want to spend the rest of your life with her, have children…” My voice tapered off.
“Will you have a child?” he asked, his eyes very bright.
“No, I will not,” I said. The depression departed, but I was exhausted. My head ached. “Let me sleep now. I won’t marry you and I won’t have a child. We can make love again, whenever you want to. It’s better to ask first, instead of just falling upon me, though.” I yawned. “It’s all right, don’t worry.”
“Why are you crying then?” He pulled my head down to his lap and stroked my cheeks.
“I don’t know, I think I’m just tired.”
“Then sleep, Isobel, sleep.” His voice, I realized, could be very gentle. I slept.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hubby Update

Back in the saddle again...soon!

Hubby is feeling Much better. He's still in the hospital. Today the doctors will put a pacemaker under his collarbone, and he'll be able to leave Wed. or Thurs.

He's itching to get out. And itching because of the electrodes they have on his chest - turns out he's allergic to the glue and it itches him terribly, poor chap. The nurses have given him a cream for the irritation, but he's looking forward to having no more wires attached to his manly chest...


Then he has 3 weeks of rehab in a center about 40 min from us, and then he shuld be fine and good as new if not better.

*Sigh of relief.*

What's even nicer, is the free socialized medicine here in France. Well, almost free. Sarkozy has instigated what he calls the '1 euro for Alzheimers', that now everyone has to pay whenever they see the doctor. It can't go above 50 euros per year per person, and the amount goes straight into a funding for Alzheimers research and treatment. (So I'm not complaining, being rather absent-minded myself maybe I will get that disease someday and be glad the government budgeted for it...) But, aside from a 50 euro check, I don't have to pay a thing for the hospital, doctors, medicine, treatment, rehab, and even the transporation to and from the rehab is free of charge.

For everyone who thinks we pay much higher taxes for this, well, we don't. There is a slight difference - for a couple (double income earners) who make 80k a year, in France they are taxed 22%, wheras in the US they are taxed 19%. For a couple making over 120k a year, the difference is even less - 25% for France and 24% for the US (2005 statistics). For single earners, the difference is about 4% between the US and France. It's true we pay Much higher prices for gas, but we also have a public transportation system that lets us go all over France (and most of Europe) via train and bus, even from the most far-flung tiny villages. Living in Europe used to be more expensive than in the US, but right now, it's about the same. I'm trying to talk my son into coming back here to live (in Europe) to take advantage of the free university and healthcare system. Paying for his college and health insurance is straining our budget, so I hope he reads this and realizes he can come back and study in Paris (or anywhere else in Europe) for a whole lot cheaper.

What I am wondering is why the US refuses socialized medicine? Actually, when I see how much the doctors, lawyers, and pharmaceutical companies rake in, I do understand.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Advice for Writers

I was going through the slush pile this morning. I set my alarm and got up extra-early to do so. We've been getting lots of submissions at Calderwood Books, and as a publisher, we are always looking for a story that catches or interest and captivates us. I'm not the only slush pile reader, but this month I am - because of not one, but TWO, fried computers. So, I was all alone reading the slush and I was getting behind, so that's why the early morning and lots of coffee slush day today.
I found some interesting submissions. Most were not publishable, either because they were so badly written they would take far too much time and effort to work into shape, or the story was hackneyed, or the plot boring, or it was too narrow an interest field. I did find one or two that interested me, so I put them aside and went over them again when I was finished writing my rejections slips.
I read them again.
Yes, there was one that really stood out. Needed work, but the prose was vibrant and the story new and interesting. So, quite pleased, I sent off a request for a full manuscript and made a note in my files. A few minutes later I noticed a new e-mail. It said something along these lines, "Because I don't know your e-mail address, this note has bounced back. Go to this link and fill out a form in order to let your e-mail through."
Well, I was very sorry. Sorry because I just didn't have the time to follow links and fill out forms. I'm only blogging this because my son is in the shower and I'm waiting my turn. Anyhow, dear authors. Please, when you submit a story to a publisher or agent, make sure your spam catcher or filter has the publisher's / agent's e-mail address so you can accept their requests / rejections. I'm afraid I don't know any agent / publisher who will take the time to track down a submission.

Good luck with your submissions! (Next advice blog will be about publishing schedules - what to expect, when to bug the publisher, and when to sit back and relax!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just wanted to say thank you!

Thank you all for your comments, your e-mail messages, your phone calls and messages. Thank you for being such wonderful friends and cyber friends. I really do appreciate it!

I haven't had five minutes to myself lately (I got up at 5 am today, so I managed to sneak in an hour at the computer!) Between hospital visits (Hubby is progressing very well and driving the nurses batty - good sign), my 2 new jobs, and my son who came for a whirlwind 4 day visit and who I ended up seeing almost every day. (Also he missed his train, his plane, I had to drive to Paris to drop them off, they had to change their tickets and luckily only have to pay a small penalty!!) As my mother-in-law said, "Travel builds a young person's character." It also has given me several new wrinkles and gray hairs...

I can't say things will slow down any time soon. My daughter's German correspondant is coming for a week's visit in ten days, there is a ton of things to do in the garden...and I have to catch up on my writing, my blog, and on my friend's blogs!
(photo of August napping under my new curtain!)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Fragile Hearts Part Two

8 episodes of Dr. House later....
My husband's operation went very well yesterday. I spoke to a friend of the surgeon's, and he told me that hubby will be up and on his feet in no time!
So that is a great relief for the family (and for my husband too, I'm sure!)
He has a brand new valve. It's made from biotechnology, (a calf, if you really want to know) and that means he won't have to take anticoagulation medicind for the rest of his life. A mechanical valve would last longer, but it had more drawbacks. So, somewhere in the future he'll need the valva replaced again, but I'm sure that once you do something, it gets easier the next time. I remember my first ceasarian - I was terrified. But for the second one, it was routine. Been there, done that.
Well, I have to do everything I put off yesterday (yesterday I sat in front of the phone and just Waited.) So it's quick trim the front lawn (postage stamp size) get the house clean, go to the bank and go to work! Have a nice day!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The waiting game

It seems like life is all about waiting - waiting for the bus, waiting for the paycheck, waiting for sunny weather to mow the lawn, and waiting for Monday to be over.
I so want Monday to be over right now!

Yesterday I had tea at a friend's house who has the most beautiful garden. She's planted blue and white flowers everywhere, and the effect is lovely. I tried to do that, so I bought a white, climbing rose - only when it started blooming, it was yellow. "Fine,", I said to myself. "I'll do yellow and white," and I bought another white rose bush, and when it bloomed, it was pink.
I dropped my color scheme plans and just bought what struck my fancy. Now it's a purple, yellow, white, blue, and pink garden.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Kentucky Derby

Well, here are my bets for the Kentucky Derby...
Tale of Ekati
Colonel John
Big Brown
Z Humor
Smooth Air

(In that order!)

The Island of Numb

Thank you so much for all your well-wishes for my husband! He's home and resting before his surgery (slated for Monday!) He's not nervous at all - his doctors have been fantastic reassuring him, and now he's just looking forward to getting well.

I took my daughter to see the Island of Nim (starring Jodie Foster.)
It was Dreadful.

My daughter's comments:

"There's no story!"

"I can't believe the pirates weren't real. I thought, from seeing the trailor, that the little girl's island would be overrun with real pirates, and the writer would show up and be completely ineffectual, and the girl would save them all. Instead, there is no story. The pirates were fake."

"The lizards were stupid. The animals were too clever and it ruined everything. Why couldn't the father just be blown onto another island, instead of stranded on his boat and a bird brings him food and tools. We're supposed to believe that? The mix of fantasy and reality didn't work for me at all. It had to be either all fantasy or all reality."

"It was just stupid, stupid, stupid."

(She was quite harsh, but we only go to the movies every three months, and we look forward to our outings. We look at all the trailors and try to choose which movie we think will be good. The trailor to this movie was a hundred times better than the real movie. Now my daughter is furious we didn't go see Spiderwyk. Jodie Foster, if you're reading this, your good acting could not save this from floundering and sinking. Sorry.)

My comments:

"How can a girl who lives on a desert island be so chubby? She had flab hanging off her upper arms! I don't mind chunky kids, but this girl was flabby. Ugh. There was another child in the film - a boy. He was grossly overweight. He gave me the creeps. He was so fat, his eyes were tiny and he had no chin. His mother was huge and fat, his father huge and fat. Why are there so many fat people in this film? Next to them, Jodie Foster looks famished."

"The imaginary character was a good idea. Why didn't they use it more? And why bring in the clever lizard, pelican, and seal? What use were they?"

"Where was the pacing? There were too many switches between the scenes. Jodie, Island, Jodie, Island, Jodie, clever pelican saving father on boat, Jodie, Island...the scenes were poorly constructed and didn't last long enough or were too long. At the end, I just wanted the whole island to blow up so we could get up and leave."

Verdict - go see another film. Don't even bother renting this one when it hits the rental shops. It's a dud.