Friday, December 30, 2011

In The Beginning ( the real story)


              Eve here and, let me tell you, I’m sick of the blame game. I know what comes to mind when you hear my name: forbidden fruit – sneaky serpents – an official pass out of paradise.  If you’re ready for the truth…the gospel, if you will, then listen up!
 First of all, forget Adam’s rib. Think about it. We’re told that the Big Guy gouged a hunk out of Adam’s side then used his heavenly trowel to patch and pat until the hole was filled up.
Oh, please! Adam would have awakened, grabbed his side and whined pitifully to all the animals that creepeth on the earth, “Oh man, my side hurts! I bet nobody’s side ever hurt as bad as mine!”
But, let’s get to the real story.
When Adam fell into his deep sleep, I was high atop a banana palm, gathering fruit for a light supper. Suddenly, an unfamiliar buzzing sound set the palm leaves a quiver. I paused in mid-pick and scanned the ground. Imagine my delight when I spotted the inert form of a fellow human being sprawled in a nearby clearing.
“Oh ho,” I exclaimed, leaning out from the tree for a better look, mesmerized by his accoutrements, so very different from my own.  I shinnied down the tree and sidled through the bushes. Was he the source of the strange vibration resounding through our garden paradise?
My heart swelled with tenderness when I stood over the creature spread-eagled on the ground, his mouth slightly agape, bristly cheeks vibrating with an oddly comforting humming sound. Such sweet vulnerability! It was obvious he needed looking after. Besides, I thought, the nights were growing chillier in paradise and he looked so warm and cuddly with that nice thatch of light-brown fuzz on his chest.
I nudged him gently with my toe and, when he didn’t respond, picked up a pointy stick and gave him a sharp jab in the ribs. (No doubt this accounts for that silly Adam’s rib myth.)
“Hey,” I said in my outdoor voice, “Up and at ‘em.”
With a yelp of surprise and possibly pain, he jumped to his feet. A gamut of emotions scampered across his face – first alarm then incredulity and finally, a look of dazed delight. His warm brown eyes darted over my ample attributes like a bucket of ants on a Kool-Aid spill.
He eventually found his tongue and asked, “How did you know my name?”
“Adam…you called me Adam,” he insisted.
“Okay, whatever,” I said. “Would you like to come over to my bower?”
Without waiting for a reply, I turned and walked away. As expected, I heard the clump of big feet behind me.
“Hey, wait up. I want to ask you something. Since I woke up and saw you, a certain word keeps running around inside my head. It’s driving me nuts.”
 “And what would that be, Adam?”
“It’s cle…..” he began. At that precise moment, he tripped over an exposed root and pitched violently forward, his voice an octave higher as he finished, “eeve!”
“How sweet! You know my name,” I said, helping him to his feet.
“Your name’s cleave?” he said, with a big goofy smile.
“Close enough,” I said and took him by the hand.
Well, the days drifted by quite happily as they tend to do in paradise until one fateful morning when Adam decided it was time for an outing.
“I know a place where the grapes grow as big as my fist beside a pool of water the color of morning glories,” he said. When I asked where it was, he waved his hand vaguely in a southeasterly direction and said, “Just over there.”
Five minutes down the trail, the trouble started. Adam stopped and scratched his head. I had to say it.
“I thought you knew the way.”
“I do know the way.”
“Are you sure?”
“Stop nagging and let me think!”
“There’s a watering hole. Let’s stop and ask the giraffe.”
“I SAID I know the way.”
“Look, there’s a monkey. He can use his little fingers and point the way.”
By the time I realized Adam would rather fall face first into a nest of fire ants than ask for directions, we were hopelessly lost.
“Okay,” I said soothingly. “How about you giving me a boost up this tree and I’ll take a quick look around.”   
Somewhat mollified, the First Man hoisted me up, his shoulder under my rump, his hands busily pushing and squeezing a bit longer than necessary. A look of happiness bloomed once more on his manly face.
“Could you please get your mind off cleaving for a few minutes?” I asked, slapping at his offending digits.
As I scaled the tree to scan the horizon, Adam shouted from below, “Do you see anything?”
“Just a snake,” I hollered back. “But, a very unusual snake – he has blue eyes, a big fang-filled smile and beautiful pink and purple paisley skin. I’m going to ask him for directions.”
“A snake, eh?” Adam said and commenced humming, as he was wont to do when deep in thought.
As I reached out to touch the lovely creature, he slithered out of reach and hissed, “Ssssso, you’re losssst.”
“Yep. Do you know the way to the morning glory pool?” I asked, picking a luscious red apple that dangled on a nearby branch.
His bright blue eyes sparkled and he replied, “Yessss, I believe I do.”
As I opened my mouth to take a bite, I could hear Adam blathering away.
“Wait a minute…it’s coming back to me now…snake…apple…”
So, there you have it - the real story of our fall from grace. On the up side, was it really paradise without cute shoes, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and pedicures? And, for those of you who crave a bit of justice, my saucy brown curls are now held firmly in place by an exquisite headband - a pink and purple paisley headband.

Monday, December 26, 2011

What's In A Word?

In Moon Spun, the third book in the Unbidden Magic series, Allie ventures into the faery realm. I spent hours trying to decide what to call my version of faery land. As I began to build my new world, it truly became a magical place. In the twinkling of an eye, it could change from a tropical paradise to arid desert. From rolling seashore to jagged mountain peaks. More than one sun or moon? No problem. It was inhabited by magical creatures, some good, some not so good. Water sprites. Pixies. Bilious Blurkers. Fee Lions and Kelpies. It had boundless possibilities.
Boundless. I would call my faery world Boundless for all the above reasons. Conversely, the mortal world became Boundland. It seemed to fit. In the mortal world we must conform to the laws of gravity, a fixed universe, the inability to fly without mechanical aid and a finite number of creatures, both human and otherwise.

As the New Year approaches, I find I’m still entranced by the word boundless. As a writer, it suggests unlimited possibilities. All those pictures in my mind will not be wasted, but hopefully channeled into my next book. The emails I receive from people who enjoy what I write give me boundless energy. As a wife and mother, I am filled with boundless gratitude for the health and happiness of my family.

And, dear readers, this blog could not exist without you. Though we live in the mortal world, the Boundless spirit exists in all of us. It is yours for the taking. May your lives be filled with bountiful, unbridled and boundless joy in the coming year. May this brand new year become the start of something wonderful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Okay, let me begin by saying I have nothing against Christmas newsletters. In fact, I love getting yearly updates from old and new friends. That said, I always receive at least one that is so completely unbelievable that I want to dash off a quick note and say, “Aw, come on! We all know life is not perfect. Children are not perfect. Families are not perfect. So, please, pretty please, tell it like it is and welcome to the human race.”

Years ago, I penned the following in reaction to one of the aforementioned Christmas letters. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Merry Christmas, everyone from the extremely imperfect,

Christmas Letters You’d Love to Get (But Never Will)

Merry Xmas from the Squatleys!

 What a year we’ve had! Our oldest boy, Joey—can you believe he’s fourteen already—gets a two-week Christmas furlough from juvie lockup. In case you don’t remember all the details, here’s a quote from his scrapbook, “Arrest of Local Youth Puts Stop to Crime Wave.” We’re all pleased as punch he’s coming home. That five- finger discount really helps with the “Christmas shopping!” (Just kidding, ha, ha.)

Our oldest girl, Florentine, received quite an honor. She was voted the most responsible sexually active girl in the junior class. Florry always has a case of condoms tucked under the seat of her Chevy Luv. Looks like all those mother/daughter chats paid off. Dr. Laura’s right. You gotta spend time with your kids!  All this, plus her 2.1 GPA has us all swelled up with pride.

Speaking of safe sex, after the birth of the triplets, Lloyd and I decided “six is enough.” Lloyd’s not too keen on getting snipped so it looks like I’m elected. I hope like hell it’s not too late. Me and Lloyd had one of our “special” evenings a while back. When Lloyd walks in with a twelve pack of Bud and splashes on the Old Spice, I know I’m in for a good time. Anyhow, the cotton ponies are still waiting to be saddled up, if you get my drift.

As for the triplets, we’re still trying to get them potty-trained. They’ll be going to kindergarten next fall and I keep telling Lloyd, “We’ve been knee-deep in crap around her long enough and they just don’t make diapers that big!” Problem is I can’t tell the little suckers apart. I think we’ve been taking the same kid to the potty over and over! I knew it was a mistake to cut off those hospital ID bracelets.

 I saved the best for last. Remember our 15-year-old Harriet? Well, thanks to one of them doctor shows on TV, Harriet is now Harold! That’s right, an all expenses paid sex change and a trip to New York City! Harriet (I mean Harold) says he can always change back if it don’t work out. Betcha can’t top that one!

Well, that’s all the news from the Squatleys. Hope you have a hell of a Christmas and rockin’ New Year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Goodies From Chef Jean

Here are a couple of nifty recipes from Chef Jean Denham for your holiday pleasure. Enjoy!

Pink Salad

Holidays were not complete without Pink Salad. My mother found the recipe in the Yakima, Washington newspaper in 1960.

1 large can fruit cocktail, well drained, reserving syrup
3 oz. pkg. strawberry gelatin
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup salad dressing (such as Miracle Whip)
20 maraschino cherries, quartered
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 pint heavy cream, whipped

Line a large loaf pan, or two small ones, with foil leaving 1 1/2” overhang on all sides.

Drain fruit cocktail thoroughly; reserving syrup. Measure syrup and add water to make one cup. Bring this liquid to a boil. Sprinkle the gelatin in a large bowl and pour the liquid over; stir until dissolved. Chill mixture until slightly thickened and syrupy. Beat cream cheese until fluffy, add salad dressing and gelatin, and beat until smooth and free of lumps.

Fold in the drained fruit cocktail and maraschino cherries, marshmallows and whipped cream; spoon into prepared pan. Freeze. Lift frozen salad out of pan and peel off foil. 8-10 servings.

In case you missed it the first time around, here's a fun finger food to have around when talking books and perhaps sipping a martini.

Lorraine’s Martini Spread

My good friend Lorraine Zentgraf gave me this recipe years ago and heads up, all you martini drinkers, she says they are excellent with a martini.  And, she’s right!

4 oz. cream cheese, softened                              
4 oz. butter, softened                                            
1/3 cup roughly chopped pimento stuffed olives
2 T. minced fresh chives
Additional chives for garnish

Combine the cheese and butter; mix in olives. Serve with pumpernickel, dark rye bread, or crackers, and a martini.

C. Jean Denham, CC
Author/Chef/Owner, a Chef's Journey

My books for you to cook with:
Share a Recipe
a Chef's Journey...Home
Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
Black Beans & Corn
I Have LEFTOVERS...What do I do now?
...More in the works

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Books

Susan Richmond owns Inklings Bookshop in Yakima, Washington and is an avid reader. She and other Inklings staffers review books for the Yakima Herald. She kindly allows me to re-print her reviews on Book Blather.
 Do you have an e-reader? If so, when you finish Susan's post, scroll down for some e-book suggestions from Marilee.
Susan' s Christmas Book List
Are you stumped for the perfect hostess gift for a party this weekend? Do you have some special little people in your life whose eyes are full of stars this season? Would you like to add a beautiful Christmas book to your own growing collection?
I'd like to share some of my favorites. Though they are very different, they all meet my Christmas book criteria: They make me feel all warm and Hallmarky inside.

 If you need a classy hostess gift, two great ones come to mind. "Christmas: On This Holy Night" is a little volume of quotes about Christmas that would look great on any coffee table with its gold- and red-highlighted pages and embossed cover. (Published by Thomas Nelson, $12.99.)
 Another classic all dressed up in a vellum cover and stunningly illustrated is Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." I love the ethereal repeating phrase, "but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." (Dutton, $16.99.)

 Your favorite children, whether they've been naughty or nice, will enjoy "The Twelve Days of Christmas in Washington." With "a goldfinch in a hemlock tree" or "10 apples gleaming," they will also be learning some fascinating facts about our great state. (Sterling, $12.95.)
 "A Christmas Manger," originally published in 1942 by H.A. Rey, is full of animals and angels to punch out, fold and assemble. No glue required, and it can be re-assembled each year. (Houghton-Mifflin, $9.99.)
 "The Spirit of Christmas" by Nancy Tillman is a warm, affirming book that adults will also love, assuring each reader that there is always a place for them during the holidays. The illustrations are delicious. (Feiwel & Friends, $16.99.)
 And perhaps for you: "A Christmas Story" by Jean Shepherd. Yes, Virginia, the very book that inspired your favorite holiday movie. (AOL Time Warner, $14.95.)
 Marilee's E-Book Suggestions
I am truly blessed to write for an awesome publishing company, Belle Books, whose offerings appear in both print and digital format. A number of Belle Book authors have penned charming Christmas stories, available as downloads from Amazon. You might want to give them a try. You won't be sorry.

 "Twas the Night" by Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes and Trish Jensen
 "Holiday Rush" by Lisa Scott
 "Angel Unaware" by Elizabeth Sinclair
 "A Dixie Christmas" by Sandra Hill
 "Regency Holiday" anthology by Lynn Kerstan, Alicia Rasley, Allison Lane,  Rebecca Hagan Lee, "A Home for Christmas" by Deborah Grace Staley  

Monday, December 5, 2011

So You Want to Write Children's Books

For some time now, I've been nagging Rebekah Jensen for a contribution to Book Blather. In fact, I'm surprised she's still speaking to me. Becky loves children's books and is a walking encyclopedia of the genre. She's working hard to improve her writing skills and I have no doubt you will be buying her book someday. So, keep reading for a peek into an up and coming children's author. Welcome back, Becky.

Two years ago I had the brilliant idea to write children’s books. I’ve worked with kids for over twenty years and have always been a children’s literature nut. I took a story idea that I told to kids and wrote it down. There, I was done; I’d written the perfect story and just had to get it published (some of you are cringing in horror at my complete ignorance of the process).

I sent it into an agent I’d liked and promptly heard back (which doesn’t happen very often). She liked my writing style but wondered if I could turn it into a chapter book. Of course I said and spent several months hammering out not one but two chapter books. I sent them back in and received the nicest rejection letter ever. She basically told me that I was telling her about the story and needed to work on how I wrote a story.

I shed a few tears and set it aside. I was now a real writer, I’d been rejected but where did I go from here? Luckily I’d had the sense to join the Society for Children’s Book Writers (International membership) and became involved with the regional chapter for Western Washington.

I’d joined a critique group, went to regional monthly programming and decided to go to the annual conference. At the annual conference I learned that writing is a process. It takes time and patience and lots of hard work. Most of us don’t have the luxury to write full time and so we find little pockets of time to write and rewrite and rewrite some more. Many published authors and illustrators have taken years and years to get where they are at now (their stories are inspiring and also make you feel SO much better about where you’re at in the process). I became a volunteer on the Advisory Committee, which has been a huge help in getting to know fellow members.

I have learned that having support and accountability is vital for success in writing. The support I receive from my writing family helps me when I haven’t written anything for a week or when I’m frustrated at my fifth re-write. Being part of the SCBWI family also means that you can go to national conferences. I went to the national conference last summer and it was amazing! Everyone there is passionate about writing and illustrating for kids. I got to hear Judy Blume, Gary Paulsen, Jon Scieszka and other amazingly talented people share their journey in children’s literature. In addition, I met so many amazing people just like me who were figuring things out and trying to become published.

I’ve learned that pursuing your passions is an exciting and aggravating process. You learn, discover and grow with each new person you meet and experience. I’m not published YET (you have to be optimistic to be a writer), but am working on a project I’ve started after attending the conference. I’m determined to learn more about writing as I write each chapter. I’m also a little wiser about the process and my skin has gotten just a little thicker too. I wouldn’t trade the rejections for anything because one day I can share them with others who want to become writers. 
My advice to those of you who want to write is two-fold. First READ! The best writers are avid readers. Read books in the genre you want to write and then read other genres and then read some more (if you don’t have your library card then get one!). The next piece of advice is to get connected with other writers. Join SCBWI or find a writing buddy, but find people who are passionate and who want to grow in their passions. Now that I’m done sharing I need to work on my book. Happy Writing and Reading!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sue Interviews Author Kiran Hunter

Book Blather contributor, Sue Roebuck, graciously offered to share her recent interview with author, Kiran Hunter. Welcome back, Sue.

 Watch the grapevine carefully because you’ll be seeing a lot of Kiran Hunter ( in the near future.

As you’ll see from the blog, Kiran’s been writing for a long time but has only just decided to “unleash” all that latent writing talent. Watch out! Kiran’s story, Bedevil ( has just been published by Etopia Press ( 

This is my review which I posted on the Amazons:

This short story is immensely readable and entertaining. Kiran Hunter proves to be a wizard at the writing craft, creating well-rounded, memorable characters in few words – characters that I’d very much like to meet again. Gareth inherits a house he’s never seen and has no idea of its sinister history. In order to save his cooling relationship with Tim, he moves into the house which is in the middle of the countryside to avoid the temptations of city life, unaware of who, or what, lurks in the walls of the crumbling abandoned house, nor what its intentions are.
The cover of “Bedevil” is a perfect fit for this brilliant story. Kiran Hunter plays with the reader like a cat and brews the horror like a gathering storm. I would love to see the sequel, if there is one, and I would definitely like to meet Gareth and Tim again – I miss them already.                        

 See? I have the feeling this is just the start of something good. And what I specially liked is this is an M/M story with a different slant to the usual "run of the mill". Definitely unusual. Mind you, in the interview after the cut you'll see that Kiran enjoys "breaking the rules" so I shouldn't be surprised. 

Right, now I’ve got Kiran in my clutches, so to speak, I’m going to take advantage of the situation (steady, now) and ask some snooping questions:

Sue: Am I right in saying that Bedevil is an M/M paranormal suspense? Is this an unusual genre?

Kiran. I think we’re just more used to seeing paranormal and M/M romances, perhaps. This story errs towards the sinister rather than the romantic. In Bedevil the main characters, Gareth and Tim, are already in a relationship… a rocky one… and it might just get rockier. Bedevil is the first part of a story about trying to make a relationship work –  finding a way for each other’s differences to… well, not make a difference! It is also about embracing ideas that you might immediately dismiss.
Sue: I hope my review will prompt lots of readers, but for anyone still hesitating about buying it, what can you say to them?

Kiran:  I think Bedevil is a little different. It’s paranormal, but still very much of this world. There are no angels or faeries for instance, although there is a demon. But we all have demons…don’t we?

Sue: As I said above, I have a feeling that Kiran Hunter has a lot more fiction just waiting to be launched on the reading public. Any hints about what’s coming?

Kiran: The follow up to Bedevil (working title Devilment) is in progress as we speak and I am mid-way through writing an M/M contemporary suspense. There may be more of a ‘romantic’ element to the contemporary story – but this time the themes are trust and control.

Sue: Horray! It's wonderful news that there’s going to be a sequel, I hoped there would be.
Tell us a couple of things about Kiran that’s not on your blog.

Kiran: I can’t drive. Or to be exact, I can drive – I just enjoy driving fast. Too fast. It’s a good thing I don’t have a license LOL.
I’m a damn good cook. My idea of a perfect evening is to have a good meal by candlelight (my dining room is full of candles and glass lanterns), with my closest friends, and with plenty of wine.

Sue: You should live in Portugal if you like driving fast LOL. You'd be right at home. Is there any author whose writing style you admire (and perhaps would like to emulate)?

Kiran: I’m a big horror reader, and I also enjoy darker psychological stories. I like Clive Barker’s writing style very much.
I like writers who break rules rather than do what everyone else is doing. I like writing that hits a nerve, or makes me think, or changes my mind… or turns me on when I’m not expecting it… I’m not so keen on happy endings, I’d rather be left wondering – at least for a while J

Sue: Your two main characters in Bedevil are Gareth and Tim. If you invited them round to spend the day with you, how would you keep them entertained? (hee hee)

Kiran: Well, keeping Gareth entertained would probably be fairly easy… although I think I’d be happy for him to keep me entertained with a story or two ;-) … but I’d like to get Tim to loosen up a bit, he’s wound fairly tight. As I said, I like to cook – so perhaps a meal and plenty of wine would get him to relax and open up a bit.

Sue: Tell you what, I’ll keep Tim entertained. I ♥ Tim (except I don’t think he’d be too interested in me). Tell me, what’s on your tbr list at the moment?

Kiran: I have Tarantula by Thierry Jonquet waiting for me on my Kindle. I’m also looking forward to the release of The Hun and The General by fellow Etopian author, Tristram La Roche. I’m lucky enough to have had a sneak peak and I love what I’ve seen of Attila – he’s a more complex character than you might expect… and I like that… (Lucky Kiran – I’m so looking forward to that release. Click here to see Tristram's announcement).

I’m really into novellas and short stories at the moment. I find I only have time to read in short bursts and quickly lose the thread with novels these days. It would be good to see more short stories available in ebook form, although they currently compete with thousands of low priced novels. I also like the idea of episodic or serial short stories – so if you enjoy the story, and like the characters, you have something more to look forward to without having to wait the length of time it would take for someone to write the next novel. Maybe I’m just a little impatient J

Thanks for having me Sue, I’m glad you enjoyed Bedevil – it’s just the beginning….

Buy links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

All Romance