Saturday, October 31, 2009

Regency Halloween

Halloween as we know it today was not really a holiday during the Regency. On October 31, the Celts celebrated Samhain, a harvest festival which contained some elements of a festival of the dead. The Christian religion attempted to neutralize the pagan Samhain by combining it with Christian holy days. November 1 was All Saints' Day, or All Hallows Day, so October 31 became All Hallows' Eve.

By the Regency, All Hallows' Eve was mainly a rural festival, rarely noticed in the cities. Elements of Samhain remained in the customs of guising, lighting bonfires, and carving jack o' lanterns.

On Samhain, the barriers between the real world and the supernatural world thinned, allowing the dead, as well as evil spirits, to walk the earth. People left their doors open to welcome the ghosts of their ancestors inside, while at the same time keeping the evil ones out. An associate custom was guising, in which people dressed as ghouls. By blending in with the demons, they avoided them.

Bonfires were also popular on all Hallows' Eve. The fires lit the way to the afterworld of relatives who had died during the past year. They also scared the specters and goblins away.

Carving jack o' lanterns was another custom. Believing the "head" of a vegetable its most potent part, the Celts carved vegetables into heads with faces to scare away supernatural beings. By Regency times, these lighted vegetables were called jack o' lanterns from the seventeenth century Irish legend of Shifty, or Stingy, Jack. Shifty Jack, so evil neither Heaven or Hell would take him, was doomed forever to wander the earth while carrying a lantern.

The lantern was usually carved from a turnip or mangelwurzel, as pumpkins were largely unknown in Britain at the time.

Since turnips and mangelwurzels are dense, not hollow like pumpkins, carving such a jack o' lantern was a great deal of effort.

The beginnings of many of today's Halloween practices existed in the Regency. If you enjoy Regency and Halloween, you might like Pumpkinnapper, my Regency Halloween comedy.

Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled, and a jealous goose. Oh my!

Buy link here.

Happy Halloween!

Thank you all,


P.S. The top picture is Snap-Apple Night, painted by Irish artist Daniel Maclise in 1833, of a Halloween party he attended in Blarney, Ireland. Pictures from Wikipedia.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bump In The Night

So it’s that time year again, the time when fear is the currency and we are all chomping at the bit to buy some! Costume, books, décor and movies all displayed predominantly in the stores, out there trying to be the scariest and most terrifying. One of the scariest things to me as a child was the thought of demonic possession; yeah I watched a lot of the horror shows my dad so enjoyed.

When you’re young, it’s harder – I think, to see the nuances in horror. Shows like The Exorcist, The Shining and The Amityville Horror all had a type of possession in them, but were they all the same. In my child’s eye, yes. They each had The Devil all up inside them. The reality was though a big old no. One was demon possessed, the other was the malevolent spirit of a hotel and the last was the spirit of a crazy, family killing man.

These movies and the idea that my body could be “taken over” by evil, gave me the willies for years.

As I grew out of childhood and into adulthood, I began to realize there was something even scarier out there than a good old nasty being, taking up residence in your skin.

The Chase.

Oh yes, here we have Jack the Ripper, Michael Myers, Jack Torrance. All freaky characters who stalk their pray – women. Is it any wonder this freaks me out? As an adult, it’s easy to look back and see that while possession is scary, it’s a bit unrealistic. Not so with the chase. I could walk out my door tonight to take the pups for a walk and be confronted by the chase. I could stop for gas and be confronted by the chase. At any point and time in my life, I could have to deal with the chase…now that makes for a complete scare!

Therefore, in honor of my fear and scary movie plots, I’m adding a flash I wrote a while ago…hope you enjoy.

Bump in the Night

One more peek over her shoulder was all Faith needed to know she was being followed. Too many years as a single woman had made its mark on her. She was always wary of those around her, questioning the motives of both friends and enemies as well as acknowledging her stupid errors in judgment—like walking through the dark streets of her not so up to par neighborhood, alone.

The invite to a co-workers costume party had intrigued her enough to pull her into the streets of London on this cold, foggy evening. She’d hoped to meet someone, anyone who could free her mind and spirit for just a little bit. Someone who would ease the endlessly long life she seemed destined to live, but it had been a bad idea, she could see that now.

Faith went from a walk to a run, well as much of a run as her pencil thin heels would let her, as she neared her flat. Please let me get inside before the presence catches up.

“Faithhhhh…,” A slithery voice called out from the blackest shadows.
She wouldn’t listen. She was so close to her home, to safety.

“Faithhhh,” the voice oozed out its evil request. “Love and Hope send their regrets, but you can join them…little witch.”

True darkness overtook her in the flash of time it took to blink. Her last plea to whatever powers that be was a mournful “Save me” before the sharpened steel fangs eased into the soft flesh of her neck.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Hooligans Recap

I have posted in three different blogs the answers to three different questions about how the Halloween Hooligans feel about different Halloween things. Since its almost here I am going to recap all the answers for you. So here are the Halloween Hooligan's answers to the three questions i posed to the group.

You can find all of our books at

Courtney Breazile: Reincarnated Death Wish-To experience passion is to choose death. Out Now!

Favorite Pumpkin seed recipe: Roasted with cinnamon and nutmeg- Yumm!

Favorite Halloween Movie: Hocus Pocus, its great because its one my whole family can watch together.

Scariest thing in a Haunted House: Clowns, I hate clowns.

Angela Caperton: Green Flash-During the Halloween Bacchanal Fantasy Fest will Claire embrace her own desires and learn the true nature of the green flash. Available Oct. 31

Favorite Pumpkin seed recipe: I love pumpkin seeds but i am not very creative with using them. I just like eating them right out of the shell. I do make a pumpkin spice pudding that is pretty awesome! And I like pumpkin pie, yumm!

What is your favorite Halloween Movie: Ooh! I have LOTS, but probably the movie I tend to watch at Halloween is called "I Walked with a Zombie." Its an old black and white horror film produced by Val Lewton. My partner Drake wrote a review of it for a series of blog entries we did last year covering our favorite horror films over the century. You can read the review (and my review of another great horror film, "The Picture of Dorian Grey") at http://blog/

Scariest thing in a Haunted House: Hmm...Freaked out clowns. I can handle the chainsaw killers, the ghouls, and zombies, but scary I am not a fan of regular clowns, so scary ones I'll pass!

C.R. Moss: In the Spirit- Can love heal death's soul? Out Now!

Favorite Pumpkin seed recipe: We normally just roast the seeds and sprinkle salt on them.

Favorite Halloween Movie: I am into the late 70's early 80's horror films...the original Halloween, the Omen...movies like that, but can't say that i have a favorite because there are too many I enjoy.

Scariest thing in a Haunted House: Eerie music, the buildup of suspense...nothing happens, nothing happens, nothing happens, then BOO!

Jambrea Jones: Unseen Path- The road not traveled reveals a destiny unfulfilled. Available Oct. 31

Favorite Pumpkin seed recipe: Hmmm...I'm not much for seeds or pumpkin.

Favorite Halloween Movie: Wow...this is hard, I'll have to say the Nightmare of Elm Street movies.

Scariest thing in a Haunted House: Things jumping out at me. You know that scene from Psycho in the shower? I have a fear of someone ripping open the shower curtain on me. My husband will do that to me and even though I KNOW he is in the room, I jump and my heart stops for a second. LOL

Laura Tolomei: Bloody Passion- The druid, the hunter, the apprentice: sex, power, transformation. What else? Available Oct 31

Favorite Pumpkin seed recipe: Toasted pumpkin seeds, salted on the outside, they're a great snack. Called "bruscolilni" in Italian, they can even substitute popcorn when watching a movie.

Favorite Halloween Movie: Nightmare Before Christmas

Scariest thing in a Haunted House: Seeing my husband naked!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Adventure and the Top Ten Reasons...

Pic at ~ ~

First ~ From the Halloween Adventures of Black Cat Beauty

Relishing the chance to be in her black cat form, Sable crouched low on her belly, the wet cool leaves of autumn barely noticed. Pricking her ears she listened to the hayride wagon’s approach. She ignored the piercing rumble of the tractor engine, concentrating on the one wheel that softly creaked.
Anticipation and impatience twitched the tip of her tail. If she timed it just right, the fun would be Halloween spooky and cat-tastic. Twilight now crept over the farm fields, and, already several of the teenagers sexually giggled. Many of them rubbed against each other, exploring.
Sable feline smiled, then crouched lower, preparing to spring like a demon. Instead of listening, she focused on the rolling vibration of the wagon and the mice smells embedded in the lovely fragrance of the hay. Once the wagon came into sight, she followed the spin of spokes. Tightening her sleek muscles, she waited until the edge of the second wheel appeared.
Sable launched above the wagon. Lengthening her body in mid-flight, she unsheathed her claws for effect and loosed a yowling shriek. One girl screamed bloody murder as Sable lightly landed on a pile of hay.
Immediately, she dashed like a feral black cat around the group of teenagers, scrabbling intentionally over their laps and legs. They froze or jumped in terror. Shrill yelps split the air and the wagon halted with a big jerk.
Zigzagging madly between the freaked out teens, Sable nimbly avoided their panicked swats and frantic kicks. Clumps of hay flew everywhere, then swirled around them like a blizzard.
For more cat grins, Sable seized her opportunity, leaping toward the man driving the tractor. His eyes widened, looking like twin full moons. “What the hell –“
With a plop, Sable landed on top of his wide-brimmed straw hat. Sinking her claws in, she clung for a few moments while he wildly grabbed for her snaking black tail.
Satisfied to her feline core, Sable balanced herself long enough to leap and sail to the safety of a low-hanging limb. Settling herself on a wide branch, she watched the human show below.

Periodically, I relish writing the ~ TOP TEN REASONS NOT TO ~ promos for my books. It’s just fun to engage my creativity in this way, and I hope it’s entertaining for anyone who reads it.
While looking around for something else, I ran across a list I wrote quite a while ago for
BLACK CAT BEAUTY. Feline-fortuitous indeed, since now was the Halloween-purrfect time to finish and use it.

*INSERT HERE* Yep, I love the lists other authors and readers come up with... got one or more you want to share? Lindsay, shared her ~ 7 questions you wouldn't want to ask a vampire lover ~

Top Ten Reasons *Not* to Read BLACK CAT BEAUTY

10) If celebrating Halloween is just not your thing.

9) If you don’t want a black cat girl sexily sauntering across your path at a Halloween party.

8) If you feel utter disdain for the Hollywood party scene.

7) If you just can’t stand being inside a restored gothic mansion filled with women dressed like their favorite Cat Woman.

6) If the very thought of meeting a Hollywood Witch Bitch with real powers scares you so much you’d go running into the arms of your mommy.

5) If the song, YEAR OF THE CAT, sounds like chalk squeaking across a chalkboard to you.

4) If you despise Superheroes and extraterrestrials on general principle.

3) If you just don’t want a sexy movie star singing in your ear while he plays with his rock band.

2) If you’ve always had a fear of flying or being held in the embrace of a soaring superman.

AND... ta-da...

1) If you’ve never been curious about the endurance of a superhero’s steely rod.

Blurb: A private Halloween party in a gothic mansion hidden in the Hollywood Hills. Add one party crasher, Sable Kiki, a naughty black cat with a sexy wild human side.
Her covert assignment from her devious, always-cunning father: use her seductive wiles to find out the truth from Devon Zant, a movie star on the rise to super stardom.
Posing as the superhero actor, Devon Zant, D’Torr has arrived on Earth seeking revenge for the capture of his younger brother, and to assist in stopping a powerful enemy.
The leviathan warfleet of the Altirrux wants rule of all intergalactic trade routes to Earth, endangering the survival of D’Torr’s race, and all the inhabitants of the rare blue jewel, Earth.



Savanna Kougar

~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

~~~ Sable & Devon invite you to read their love story ~ will a black cat girl find happiness with a superhero? ~~~

BLACK CAT BEAUTY ... She has the claws and the cattitude to prove it... He has the super-powered strength and passion she fights, but needs... *4.5* Top Pick from Night Owl Romance Reviews ~ available from Liquid Silver Books ~ ~ ~ ISBN: 978-1-59578-507-7

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Living with Ghosts

I love Halloween. All the movies, good and bad, fill the cable networks. I’ve been watching SyFy and Chiller for the most part. I love vampires, werewolves and the apparitions. The absurdly stupid, the insanely gory – I love the breath-holding, the heart-pounding terror, the jumpiness.

The paranormal has always fascinated me much to my mother’s despair.

In school, junior high age, we played around with séances in the locker room after gym class, until one of the girls told on us. We’d get hall passes to get out of class and meet in a specific bathroom where we’d turn off the light, stand in front of the mirror, calling for ‘Mary Jane’ – we’d done this several times with nothing happening. And then one day, earlier in the day, only three of us met up. We didn’t really expect anything, but we enjoyed the attempt.

Oh, wow!

A swirling fog appeared in the mirror and we heard sounds like chains rattling. We didn’t hang around for more. We were out of there and down the hall before we realized it and stopped to confirm that each of us saw and heard the same thing. They decided it was enough for them.

However, with my fascination, I wasn’t so easily put off. Wasn’t I frightened? Oh, yeah! Still, I worked myself up to trying it on my own. At first, just being alone in there with the light off was enough send my heart racing and back out the door. Gradually, I worked up to the point where I went all the way. I will tell you right now, that was the last time I did it, too. When the fog cleared and a face appeared in the mirror, I went screaming and didn’t stop until the janitor caught up with me outside the building. It scared the heebie-jeebies out of me, and mom had been called to the school. Never a good thing. She pushed me to church every week after that. I didn’t mind, I met a boy. LOL Whether or not that was the lesser of the two evils for her or not, I don’t know. Not that I was a bad kid, but I think I was growing up way too fast for her.

There’s always been something going on around me. Much I didn’t put together until many years later – hindsight tends to make things clearer. I think my mom tried to shield me while down playing whatever was happening with me. That’s a curse/gift story for another post altogether.

For many years, we've lived with ghosts on and off. We accepted it as no big deal once we adjusted, or had an understanding. Maybe the movies are partly responsible, maybe because we’ve never felt threatened by them, really. Were we ever afraid for the boys’ safety? Only once.

My favorite ghosts were children, we believe. We had bought a house in New Underwood, South Dakota back in the 80’s. A two-story house set near the downtown area of this town of 500. We only had the two older boys at the time and they were school age. My husband worked days at Ellsworth Air Force Base, so it was me along with two kitties and a dog at home. After a month or so, I began hearing noises upstairs. At first, I thought one of the cats had found a stray toy and was batting it around. Then I noticed both of them were sleeping right there in the room with me, and the dog was outside. I was afraid to go upstairs and check it out for myself being new to the house, so I called my husband. He laughed and waited on the phone while I bravely crept up the squeaky steps. I reached the bedroom doorway and peeked around the door jam. No one was in there, but I noticed the bucket of Lincoln logs was in the middle of the room, open. Several pieces lay on the floor, some stacked as if someone were building something. The boys had not left them there. It was a rule and I had checked their rooms before they'd left.

I hightailed it down the stairs and demanded my husband come home right then. I waited outside the entire twenty-minute drive it took to get from the base.

He was laughing when he stepped from the car. Yeah, I have to admit, I must have looked a sight, sitting on the stoop with a stick in one hand and gripping the collar of our German Shorthair with the other as well as the two cats huddled in my lap, wondering why I interrupted their naps.

So, yeah, maybe too many movies influenced my common sense.

Still, having him home lifted much of the fear. I let the dog go, grabbed the kitties and moved from in front of the door. Following my knight in olive drab into the house, I was all but in his back pocket as he thoroughly checked the downstairs, and then crept up the creaky steps.

He stopped half way up and put out a hand stopping me. I hadn’t heard anything, but felt a moment of satisfaction that maybe he had. We listened and nothing. He went on up and into the boy’s room. I looked around him and my mouth fell open. There were no toys out of place. It was as the boys had left it.

I stood there as he looked under the beds, in the closet while trying to convince him I hadn’t imagined what I saw. He crossed the hall and I followed, watching him check the walk-in closet, and the attic closet behind the room. The house was clear of intruders.

I felt somewhat better and he returned to work. What he doesn’t know is that I sat in the corner of the living room on alert until the boys came home. In my warped mind, I feared if I made noise, that I might not hear danger approach.

In the weeks to come, we joked about it. I still heard the play going on only when I was home alone, but never talked of it. I never bothered checking it out. I stayed downstairs and they stayed upstairs.

And then the day came where my husband’s schedule was changed and he was home during the day. The very first day, I was in my little bit of heaven, sitting in my chair with one cat along side me, the other on my lap and knitting away on a blanket. The sounds of kids playing filtered down. I looked over and watched him for a reaction. Pretty soon, he lowered the book he was reading and stared up at the ceiling then at me.

He got up and headed to the stairs. I followed, of course. By now, we’d fixed most of the squeaks in the steps, and knew how to avoid the ones we left to notify us of the kids coming down. We stood outside the doorway and listened. Yes, the noises still went on. We stepped into the doorway and stopped. There in the middle of the room were tinker toys, Legos and Lincoln logs moving around the floor and being stacked. We looked at one another and backed out. He followed me downstairs and sat in his chair silent for a long time.

I made tea and sat on the arm of his chair. He looked at me and said, “I guess we have ghosts.”

Seriously, what was there to say, or do?

The one we did worry about was in our next home. We’d been transferred to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. We bought a mobile home in Warner Robins. Not long after we moved in, I began to find our front door open in the middle of the night. At first, I wondered if one of the boys had been sleepwalking. They never had before, but uprooting children can have adverse affects. I, too, worried that Jesse, who was four at the time, had decided to sit outside during the night watching the stars and what not. He was fascinated with weather and I often found him sitting in front of the weather channel or CMT during the night.

Things escalated where footsteps in the hallway would wake me and I’d rush out of the bedroom. I hated the layout of the bedrooms. The older boys had the room nearest the front door, the younger ones the room down the hall from them and the master bedroom was at the back. Anyway, the younger two boys would be sound asleep in their beds.
As I went on down the hall, a breeze passed over my face. Never a good sign. When I reached the dining room, I found the patio door wide open. My heart raced and pounded, almost tripping over itself. Continuing on, I’d slip into the other bedroom where my older two were zonked.

Not quite relieved, however, I snatched up a baseball bat and went on through the place. The front door stood open. I crept up on it, then quickly shut it, slamming the bolt in place and locking the deadbolt as we did every night. Slowly, I circled through the living room, hoping I didn't run into anyone as I went through the kitchen back into the dining room. After shutting the patio door and securing it, I tripped over the chair that’d been turned from the table. Then, like a scaredy-cat, I ran back to the bedroom and climbed into bed. It never failed, that’s when my husband would wake. “Are you ok?” he’d ask and be asleep before I could answer.

This went on for several weeks, and needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. The constant fear of something happening to the boys, the fear of someone playing games until we simply ignored it before they came in with the big blow sat in my mind like a rock. I’d been through something like that before with a business which was eventually burglarized.

While all this was going on, we were on the realtor’s case to give us a history on the place. She didn’t want to bother the elderly we bought it from; the lady was ill; she’d gone to visit family; the excuses became endless until we said we’d go over her head and claim a full-disclosure wasn’t given. Come to find out, the elderly woman’s husband had died in our bedroom. He never slept well, so he’d wonder at night; open the doors and sit staring out the patio door when he felt too warm.

It helped so much to know this. The next time I heard him, I simply asked him to keep the doors shut and locked for the safety of the boys. We fixed the screen door on the patio so it locked tight and he could open the glass for a breeze. Once we had that taken care of, we all lived happily ever after. Well, until we noticed he didn’t seem to be there any longer. We thought maybe he found his wife and went to stay with her, then we learned she passed on and we knew he was content then.

Here, the only ghost we’ve had is my grandfather. I swear, I enjoyed him as much then as I did when he was alive. He was playful, teasing and so much fun to be around. We’d always had a special bond. He came to stay with us the night he died. I’d just received the news and he was right there comforting me. He caressed my cheek and talked to me with my husband sitting right there. For two years, he stayed with us. Sometimes I had to scold him. It didn’t bother me that he’d walk through the house or sit in the den and watch television with sound up loud. It bothered me when I’d be sitting here engrossed in a story and suddenly he’d start opening and shutting the front door. He wanted company. He missed grandma. For many years, they’d sit around the dining table watching television and she’d either be doing word searches or crocheting. They were beloved soul mates and were married more than seventy years when he passed. The day we buried grandma is when he left us to be with her.

So now you know why I'm just plain strange. ;)


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Romance of Shifters, plus 7 questions you wouldn't want to ask a vampire lover.

French vampire caricature from Wikimedia CommonsWerewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, the almost immortal hero and the heroine gifted with super powers - why are these so popular in romance? Is it the beauty and the beast myth in modern clothes? Is it the shifters' animal charisma? The lure of the demon lover seems to be as strong as ever. The chance to change must be the ultimate wish fulfillment.

Of course even paranormal beings have things that put a crimp in their nights. Here are 7 questions that you might not want to ask your vampire lover.

1. "Ooo - Let's have garlic bread with that, shall we?"

2. (In homage to Mae West.) "Is that a stake in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"

3. "I am so tired of twilight! Why can we never go out in the day?"

4. "That whole evening wear dress code is very tired, don't you think?"

5. "Why do you never wear the crucifix I got you?"

6. "The teeth are fine, honestly - why not check them in the mirror?"

7. "Why can we never invite your relatives for Christmas?"

Happy Haunting!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Looking for the "Happy Ever After"

A dear friend, also a romance author, recently lost her husband, and it got me thinking... For those who don't know, I lost my Gary to bone cancer just over 12 years ago and I can still vividly remember the pain and loss and confusion, and the overwhelming sense of "aloneness" it brought. Even now, this far down the road, I still have moments where the "missing of him" is intense, where the waking up alone in the small hours of the morning is a sad and difficult place.

I wonder, then, why I write romance, why I've chosen to pursue the "Happy Ever After" in my books, along with innumerable other authors, when I know the sad reality is that, too often, it's snatched from us too soon. Writing romance, for someone like me, seems almost an anomaly. Except for one thing. Okay, maybe a couple of things...

First, I've known love. Real, life-changing, friends-lovers-partners love, chemistry and companionship, enduring and giving love. That is a gift, something precious that many people "out there" have never been blessed with. For that reason only, "writing love" is also a gift, a way of giving some of the blessings for others to enjoy.

Second, I write what I know. Having known that kind of all-encompassing love, I can write it - not just with my head but from my heart. I know the journey, the "angst", the excitement, the fulfillment. Sharing it, again, is a gift - not only for those who have never known it, but to remind others that it's there, and it's real, and it's worth holding on to.

Third, through the words and the characters, I get to share the "happy ever after" of so many others. I get to explore the sweeping emotions that define love, I get to "live the moment" with them, and to enjoy the potential their love brings to their lives.

It's an odd thing, really. Here I am sharing a friend's grief, because I've been there and understand what she is experiencing. And that's what "writing romance" is for me. To share in the lives of others, for my experience and the emotions and events, joys and sorrows, beauty and losses that I've gone through, to colour the lives of others and bring a lasting gift.

In a way, my writing is my own "happy ever after". The one I never had, and which sometimes I miss with such intensity. Perhaps, having lost it, the pure pleasure of being able to "give it" to others is that much keener.

For all of us, "happy ever after" is simply a moment in time. Through my writing, I get to make it "timeless". I get to celebrate every minute of it. And, most of all, I get to create a place where the beauty of it will live forever.

That is the true joy of my craft.

Take care, everyone, and thanks for sharing with me.


Judah Raine
Still Running, The Look and A Thick Black Line

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Scares Your Shifters?

Pic ~ The Trickster by J. W. Baker


By Pat Cunningham

With Halloween approaching, the question arises: mere mortals quake at the thought of the supernatural, but what do supernatural beings fear (other than Buffy and the Winchester boys)? Let’s ask …

VAMPIRE – Well, that’s a no-brainer. Sunlight. Crosses, garlic, holy water, even stakes, we can deal with that. You can come back from those. Sunlight, though, that’s pretty final. It’s like that line from Terminator 2: you get caught out after dawn, and anybody not wearing two million sunblock is gonna have a really bad day. We can move around when it’s cloudy, but that’s chancy. If you’re a weatherman, you’d better get the forecast right or we’re coming after you. Well, those of us who are left.

WOLF – Our biggest fear has to be the safety of the pack. Guns, diseases, threats from humans, protecting your mate, challenges from other wolves – we worry constantly. Look at me, I’m shedding just thinking about it. My personal fear is leg traps. My uncle lost a hand in one. When I go to a park or the State Game Lands, I stay on the paths. Better safe than sorry.

CAT – Werewolves, the big bullies. They’re always chasing me. I end up climbing a tree, which is a mistake because I’m afraid of heights and I always get stuck on a branch. One time I was so scared I shifted up there. There I was, stark naked, stuck in a tree and crying my eyes out, all because of some nasty wolf. What? Oh, the fire department got me down. Six companies showed up. They were all so nice about it. And cute. I like firemen.

HORSE – Spurs. Spurs and bits. I don’t go in for pain. Some of us are into the whole S&M scene – saddles, whips, reins, tight cinches – but not me. I don’t ride that trail. I like a rider with a good seat and a firm hand who’ll give me a rubdown afterwards. Now that’s heaven.

JAGUAR – What do we fear? Pah! We are jaguars. We fear nothing. We are kings of the jungle. I will admit to some unease regarding snakes. The way they slither, that legless undulation, it is – creepy? Yes, that is the word. But fear, no. We need fear nothing with these claws. Ah, little gatita, I see you admiring my claws. Come here, come sit beside me. I will drive the big bad wolves away. You like the firemen? Smile, and I will be on fire for you. You make such a lovely purr.

COYOTE – I was dating this girl, another coyote, she knew positions even I never heard of, but anyway, everything was cool until one day she starts using words like “marriage” and “puppies” and telling me I should get a job. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Scariest thing that ever happened to me.

GIRAFFE – Power lines. You can get tangled up in those buggers for days.

So, what are your shifters afraid of? Let’s hear from them.


Blurb ~

It's that time of the month -- the full moon -- when Willy Alvarez's moods go wonky and her dreams fill up with wolves. A time for hungers she doesn't dare fulfill because they lead to violence. She's resigned herself to a manless life, then Cody Gray arrives.

Cody is cute, funny, charming, and a werecoyote. His nose knows what Willy doesn't: she's half werewolf. He's convinced this repressed half-human she-wolf is his perfect mate. Now he just has to convince her. And quick, because her long-lost pack has learned about her existence, and they've come to town to claim her...
COYOTE MOON by Pat Cunningham at ~ ~ Pat’s book has received several top reviews.

Monday, October 19, 2009

End of the Romance: How Do You Like It?

Romance novels with happily ever after endings are pretty much a given. But are we…have we become too cliché?

** Where a proposal is the sure-fire belief they’ll be together once we close the back cover?

** Professing their undying love before embracing, giving us a heart-searing kiss?

** With only a promise of a return and she stands there watching him go off with the feeling of completeness?

** When the story seems to end, but an epilog has been given to add a touch of more.

There are so many ways to end a happily ever after story, aren’t there?

I recently read a blog post on this topic and thought it interesting. So, what do you think?

Have you read any that were different and inspired you to try different ways to express the conclusion?

I, myself, have done the ends with the epilog, the not-so-surprising end, the cliché ends. There are two rules I follow when doing my ends: they must fit the characters first and foremost; they must be consistent with the story. There’s nothing worse than getting there and the end has completely destroyed the story for you.

One of my favorites is the way I wrote end for A Psychic Hitch.

“When you dump, you do it all the way, don’t you?”
“I told you we’re alike, that I go after what I want.”
“If I don’t say yes, a lot of people are going to be disappointed.”
“Cheri, this has to be something you want, not something to please someone else.”
She wound her arms around his neck. “I want to marry you.”
“You’re supposed to say yes,” Andy said.
Both of them looked over at the two people they hadn’t heard come in the room. “Yes.” She looked back up at Allen and whispered, “Yes.”

And, of course, I don’t do everything conventional. Last Glass of Wine is probably as far from cliché as you can get. In this end, which would require too much space to post, I ended the story while they were making love – and then added an epilog to give the actual outcome of their relationship, which requires a tissue or ten.

I don’t want to be preachy by constantly saying this, but I like the different. The cliché, maybe redundancy is a better word, is why I began writing back in high school. I wanted to take the stories I read and change them up – fill in the missing pieces, better heroes & heroines, open the bedroom door, bring in new storylines. It’s still my goal.

There is so much in life to write about, but looking at the books on the shelves, you’d never know it.

Hail to the different! Hail to those climbing out of the rutted path left for us to follow!

Of course, this is my way of thinking. What is yours?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Paranormal in my fiction

Paranormal elements creep into almost all of my fiction. Why? Because eerie, hair standing up on the back of the neck moments do happen in life, Also because I place my characters into strange situations and unusual settings, where their senses are heightened to an almost supernatural state.
In real life, people can experience extraordinary things. A woman I know of was passing a man on a staircase and a thought entered her mind: this is the man you are going to marry. She dismissed the idea as absurd - but it happened and they are still married. In life, people under stress can do extraordinary, almost superhuman things. The woman after a car crash lifting an engine block to free her trapped child beneath. We can all experience feelings of disquiet, of something being 'off'. We can all have dreams which can stalk us.
This is very much the stuff of fiction. Romance especially lends itself to the paranormal and supernatural. When we are in love we feel to be in a transfigured state: all senses and emotions are heightened. In addition, I write romantic suspense, where my characters are in danger and those warning senses we have are on high alert. I also write romance set in the past, at times in the far distant past, where beliefs in spirits, strange creatures, omens and gods were part of everyday life.
In modern life we tend to separate religion and state. In the past belief in supernatural forces, particularly malign supernatural forces, was far stronger. How else could people in the ancient world make sense of what happened to them and around them? When the causes of illness were not understood it would seem logical that an outside influence - an angry god or an evil spirit - had targeted that person or that animal.
Belief is a powerful force. If a character believes he or she can do something out of the ordinary, then sometimes they can. In my historical fiction I use the beliefs of my characters to allow them to tap into something larger than themselves. This 'something' can be a thing of delight or of terror. It is the wonder of the story-teller, used in tales before humans devised writing. And when we did begin to write, ghost stories, paranormal stories 'spooky' stories, were among the earliest tales we committed to clay, papyrus or parchment.
Here are a few paranormal moments from my novels. The first is based on an ancient Roman ghost story of a haunted house, which I adapted to use in 'Flavia's Secret'. In this excerpt, the paranormal is used to show wonder and delight in a special, secret place; a place where Flavia finds the strength to tell Marcus her own deadly secret.


Walking quickly, to show that she did not regret her decision to share this place with him, Flavia returned along the twisting beaten-earth path between the rampant rosemary and lavender bushes. One more twist of the path and they reached the heart of the garden and its startling secret—a private outdoor pool, its shimmering waters steaming in the sun.
‘By Mithras, what a place.’ Looking around, Marcus halted beside her, dropping onto his knees to test the waters of the deep, lead-lined pool. ‘It’s hot!’ he exclaimed, shaking moisture from his hand.
Flavia pointed to a large lead pipe leading away from the pool in the direction of the deserted house before it was lost in the luxuriant undergrowth.
‘We think the owner fixed a conduit somewhere off the spring waters of the Aesculapius spring and directed some of the thermal water here,’ she explained. ‘The pool drains somewhere, too, but we do not know where.’
Marcus sat back on his heels. ‘We?’
‘Those of us who come here, when we can.’
‘Your own private bathing place.’ Marcus jumped to his feet again and walked around the marbled perimeter of the pool. ‘I am surprised nobody has tried to make money with it.’
‘We are careful who we tell,’ Flavia said, squashing disappointment at Marcus’ mercenary approach, but he was staring across the sun-gilded water at the leaf-strewn timber portico leading to the deserted house.
‘I am not surprised at that,’ he said quietly. ‘It is beautiful.’
He watched a small breeze tumble a bronze oak leaf along a small marble walkway leading from the semi-derelict portico to the edge of the pool. ‘Mysterious, quite eerie, but also...comforting. As if you are in an entirely different world.’ He turned about, pointing to the sparkling spiders’ webs on the lavender bushes, rimed with heavy dew. ‘Somewhere forgotten by the rest of the city. A place where magical things become possible.’
‘You understand,’ Flavia whispered, breathing out in relief.
He smiled. ‘It is more than likely that the old owner saw an easy chance to grab some free hot water, but what he has made here, what time has made...I am not surprised he was thought to be a sorcerer.’
Marcus held out both hands to her. ‘Thank you for sharing this, and be assured—your secret with be safe in my keeping.’
Flavia walked to the edge of the secret pool and joined him in studying the waters.

In 'Bronze Lighting,' set in Bronze Age Europe, many characters believe in and practice magic. Here Fearn and Sarmatia, hero and heroine, are taking part in a sky ritual, a dangerous rite that they believe may unmask a murderer.


By this time it was early evening. A pall of dark clouds had gathered over the Sacred Hill. The sun hung over the eastern hills like a bloodstained shield. Fearn looked up at the sky.
'The God will come here when I summon him and we must be ready. Each of you strip off your gold, your silver and bronze. The Sky God does not like the gleam of metal on others.'
He lifted the bronze diadem from his head and laid it on the grass. 'Pile your ornaments here together. Give it to the earth for safekeeping. Quickly!'
At his command, Atterians broke their circle and came to heap their metal broaches, swords, arrows, arm-rings and finger-rings upon the King's diadem. Sarmatia watched Laerimmer take off his golden throat disc and glanced down at her own bronze ring, reluctant to remove it. Looking up, she saw Fearn walking towards her.
'Must I take off my ring?' she asked in Kretan as he reached her. Fearn answered in the same tongue.
'I fear so, Sarmatia.' He looked at her. Men were still gathered about the growing heap of metal. He and Sarmatia had a moment together.
'What is this ritual?'
'Nothing you need fear, Sarmatia. The Sky God knows our hearts. He does not touch those who are innocent. Twice now as King I've been asked to do this rite. The God may take some of our metal as sacrifice and payment, but that's a small thing for the truth.'
Sarmatia took off her bronze ring and gave it to Fearn. 'You must put this with the rest, Fearn. I can't.’ Then, although she already sensed the answer, she asked, 'Is the Sky God the same whose shrine is the Great Stone Circle?'
'It's the same God. And this is the rite the southern kingdoms have forgotten.' He turned and left her.

There are gods in my novels, too. In 'Blue Gold' the gods of ancient Egypt watch mankind from the sun-boat that crosses the sky each day and they sometimes interfere more directly.


“What happens now?” asked Astarte-with-the-moon-in-her-hair.
The eastern goddess of love was paying another visit to the sun boat of Ra. She thought the climate good for her complexion.
The blue god Amun, casting an admiring glance at the silver-haired goddess’s shapely long legs, mumbled something about a race. He ran his hands through a thick fleece of cloud, parting it with his fingers. “Look below us. There is my Pharaoh, a true Egyptian.”
“Ah yes. Sekenenre. The king who toils like an ant. He certainly looks to be making haste.”
Astarte leaned forward, the corners of her eyes crinkling at the sight of Sekenenre and his retinue of priests running their chariots again and again at the same high dune instead of doing the sensible thing of going round it. At her high vantage point, the fifteen chariots moving with such fanatical haste from the small water course where they had hidden their ship looked bizarre, like weevils.
No one on the sun boat reproved or remarked on the goddess’s comments. Those long, shapely legs were even better when she bent over the gunwale. From the middle of the boat came a muffled exclamation as the soul of the long dead Pharaoh Unas dropped the sun god’s fan.
“Fool of a mortal,” said old Ra sharply, squirming on his throne, crossing hands over thighs.
Astarte looked round over one shoulder and smiled, but she reserved her warmest look for Amun. “He is a long way from Thebes, your Sek-en-enre. Did you send a dream to instruct him? Does this true Egyptian know where he is going?”
“Pay no attention to anything Amun says. Sekenenre’s dash into the desert is due entirely to me.” Set materialized at her elbow. He directed Astarte to look over the other side of the boat. “Here’s my man.”
Aweserre’s chariot scuttled jauntily along below them.

In ‘Blue Gold’ when these two pharaohs meet, it is a clash of arms, force and beliefs and it leads to the unleashing of more paranormal forces.

Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Favorite Halloween Movies?

My fellow Xrated Halloween authors and myself are sharing bits and pieces of ourselves on various blogs in honor of our spicy Halloween releases at Extasy Books. To see a video on all our releases go to

On a previous blog I posted what we do with out pumpkin seeds, and on this blog I will be letting you all know about our Favorite Halloween Movies. Check out all our websites for more information on our Halloween themed blogs and our releases as well as chats where you can win some great prizes.

So here are our answers:

Courtney Breazile: Reincarnated Death Wish To Experience Passion is to Choose Death (out Oct. 15)

I love Hocus Pocus. And it's really great because my kids can watch it and enjoy it with me.

C.R. Moss: In the Spirit Can Love Heal Death's Soul? (out Oct. 15)

I’m into the late 70’s early 80’s horror films…the original Halloween, The Omen…movies like that, but can’t say that I have a favorite because there are too many I enjoy.

Jambrea Jones: Unseen Path The Road Not Traveled Reveals a Destiny Unfulfilled (out Oct. 31)

Wow...this is hard, I'll have to say the Nightmare on Elm street movies.

Laura Tolomei: Bloody Passions The Druid, The Hunter, The Apprentice: Sex, Power, Transformation. What Else? (out Oct. 31)

Nightmare Before Christmas.

Angela Caperton: Green Flash During the Halloween Bacchanal Fantasy Fest will Claire Embrace her own Desires and Learn the True Nature of the Green Flash? (out Oct. 31)

Ooh! I have LOTS, but probably the movie I tend to watch at Halloween is called "I Walked With a Zombie". It's an old black and white horror film produced by Val Lewton. My partner Drake wrote a review of it for a series of blog entries we did last year covering our favorite horror films over the century. You can read the review (and my review of another great horror film, "The Picture of Dorian Gray") at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Flash of Vampire Romance

Just for a bit pre-Halloween fun, I thought I’d share my Vampire Serial Flash. Yes, and here’s a sneak photo of Zhario, my hero.
Okay... you got me, it’s not. Still I can dream that Zhario of the Dark Server Unit, will someday, star the incomparable and sexy Adrian Paul.
It was a blast to write on the darker side, and hopefully, I’ll find the time to add more to the story.

In the meantime ~

Zhario of the Dark Server Unit

Zhario sniffed for the acrid bloom of scent that would rapidly lead him to the mutant he hunted. Hunted to extinction. He laughed inside at his own dark humor. He could hear the swine mutant’s heavy tread in a city alleyway, as he searched for prey, preferably a hapless human. But any stray would do. Covered by the night, Zhario swiftly unfurled his great black wings, and launched from the low rooftop. The odor of the mutant had peaked, meaning he’d sighted a victim. Diving, Zhario caught a yellowish flash of the mutant’s tusk. “Cupid, come back here. Cupid, please!”

The woman’s shrill desperate voice would have cut to his heart, if he’d had one. Zhario swooped faster along the alleyway. This wouldn’t be an easy kill now. The mutant loped toward the woman, instead of feeding on her pet. Close enough to the ugly brown brute, Zhario’s fangs snapped out. The woman stood in a pool of neon light, paralyzed by fear, holding her dog tight against her bosom. Focusing on the mutant, he arrowed his flight. Landing on the brute’s back, he sank his clawed fingers into the mutant’s thick greasy hide. Rearing back, he unhinged his mouth.

The woman’s scream bounced through alleyway, eerily echoing. Zhario bit, feeling his dagger-like fangs slide deep into the flesh that served as the mutant’s neck. Greenish blood spurted from a severed vein. Infuriated by what the mutant considered a petty attack that interrupted his dinner, he bucked like a fiend, repeatedly slamming his body against the concrete walls on either side of them, and sending a dumpster flying. Zhario hung on, withdrew his fangs, then sliced them over and over into the mutant’s boar-like strength, shredding his shoulder muscles. The woman shrieked hysterically, as if she could stop their battle.

Stabbing his fangs beneath the mutant’s pig ear, Zhario found his artery, and ripped through it. Squealing horribly, the brute grabbed his neck with his pork-steak hand, trying to stop his blood from spurting like a fire hose. Unerringly, Zhario slipped forth his enchanted knife, and dealt the death blow. The mutant disappeared beneath him. At the same time, the woman and her dog were suspended in the sorcery vortex. He had to decide what to do with her. A full mind wipe was impossible. She’d witnessed too much, and the horror was embedded in her psyche. He felt it.

Zhario stopped dead in his tracks. Funny, he thought, since he was dead to the human world. Her resemblance to his first love was uncannily similar. His loins lurched. Hellblade, his whole body lurched toward her, and wanted. Savagely wanted and tenderly wanted. His mind wanted to believe it was her, even though rational thought told him different. It was the woman’s face that reached in, grabbing his soul, and gripping his aching hungry balls. Stone-rot, he couldn’t leave her here to endure a lifetime of nightmares. She’d probably end up in a mental institution, drugged into a constant fog.

Stepping forward in a move he knew he would come to fiercely regret, especially since it was against the Dark Server code, Zhario wrapped her inside his wings. She awakened as he levitated them upwards. To halt the scream surging up her throat, he kissed her, hard at first, then more forcefully as her lips responded. He wondered if it was just her instinctive reaction to his kiss, or if she truly felt a sudden passion claim her, as he wanted to claim her. Barely, he heard her dog ferociously growl at him. Hellblood, Victoria waited for him. Now what?

Despite the attack of her dog, their lips didn’t unlock. Instead, their kiss deepened into a soft rage of passion. Maybe he’d toss the dog at Victoria, now that it had bitten him and would be turned. Victoria loathed dogs, especially vampire dogs. Zhario wrapped his legs tightly around the woman. Unfurling his wings, he soared them toward the rooftop of his warehouse home. To his astonishment their mouths remained fused in a blaze of lust that would have sent him up a bonfire, if real. Was she so terrified this was her primal reaction? Kiss him into carnal surrender?

Zhario silently landed them beside his rooftop entry. With her dog in a stupor of adjustment, he concentrated on her, tenderly parting their lips. “Home,” he uttered as he folded his wings inside his back cavity. “Home?” She blinked and he observed the haze of passion filling her aquamarine eyes. He considered turning her, but that would deplete his strength. If Victoria attacked, he could lose. Besides, he didn’t want to turn her this way. “What’s your name?” He hoped like Hell’s Own she would tell him. “I dreamed about you,” she whispered. “I’m Karra. Are you really a vampire?”

“Yes, Karra. But don’t be afraid. I don’t want to harm you.” He watched the reality of her situation surface in her eyes. “Oh.” Her breathing quickened. “You saved me, didn’t you? From that beast thing?” Hell help him, she was adorable beyond any words, even more so than his lost love. “I belong to the Dark Server Unit. We eliminate beasts like that.” Cradling her dog in one arm, she draped herself against him. “Thank you. Good lord, you can kiss. My lips are still tingling. Can you do it again?” For instants, Zhario couldn’t recover his voice. “Yes...”

“Zhario, darling, I see you brought dinner home.” Victoria stood in the entryway, a sly smile altering her perfect features. Fiercely eyeing the vampiress, Zhario demanded, “You will leave my home immediately. I have discovered my High Mate.” Victoria didn’t bat an eyelash. “Prove it. If she doesn’t possess the mark...” Zhario interrupted, “I will prove nothing to you. Leave, at my word.” Karra shifted in his embrace. “Do you mean this mark?” Swivelling her head, she moved her blouse collar aside revealing the black wings of his House. Victoria shrieked, vanishing after an ugly snarl. Zhario kissed his Karra.

Have a Wonderful and Wild Autumn...
May your most romantic dreams come true...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Author of ~

All Shades of Blue Paradise
Red Lioness Tamed
When a Good Angel Falls
Tangerine Carnal Dreams
Murder by Hair Spray in Gardenia, New Atlantis
Black Cat Beauty
Stallion of Ash and Flame

Monday, October 5, 2009

Keep Romance Alive!

Welcome back, Eydie. Thanks for sharing your latest story with us. I hope you all run over to her website and check out her other work and to read the rest of the story. :)

Romance is not just a story, it’s a lifestyle! To keep the romance percolating in your life I’ve included an excerpt from Basque in the Splendor, my most recent novette. It is part of the Castillo Brothers Trilogy. The story takes place in the Basque country of Spain.

Sensual Gourmet

Estevan followed her outside and led her to his ice blue sports car. Inside she was exploding with delight, this man, this day and this car, she couldn’t believe it! Keeping her cool exterior in place she casually asked him about the car.

“Is this your Jag? A 1974 E-Type, V12, right?”

She said it as though she rode around in this sort of car every day. He was impressed.

“Yes, it is, fully restored.”

Lewella smiled in silence. She didn’t want him to know what a secret car fanatic she was and that this was the car she’d always dreamed of owning. Estevan opened the door and she got into the passenger side. As she fastened her seatbelt, he started the engine. Oh that sound, that glorious sound of the Jaguar’s engine, it was arousing to her all by itself, but sitting here next to Estevan…well it was almost more than she could bear. She closed her eyes for a second and took a deep breath to hold the moment. Her nostrils filled with the combined scents of leather upholstery, expensive cologne and the tiniest hint of something primitively exhilarating that was decidedly male in origin.

Lewella opened her eyes to the uniquely picturesque countryside rushing past her. All around her were scenic hills with tiered plateaus in every tint and shade of green. She was awed by the beauty. Here was a paradise all its own. Wordlessly drinking in the landscape, she noticed Estevan was slowing the car. Ahead was a delightful little café.

“Are we stopping?”

Estevan looked at her and smiled.

“I thought you might be hungry. You couldn’t have had much to eat since leaving New York.”

They pulled into the small parking lot and went in. The air was cool inside and the lighting was low. The interior of the restaurant was far more elegant than its exterior had suggested.

They sat down at a small table in an intimate corner of the restaurant. Fragrant flowers graced the linen tablecloth. Gleaming, sterling silver cutlery waited in their arranged place settings. Soon, an attractive young waiter appeared with menus.

“¿El generalmente Sr. Castillo?”
Estevan nodded and soon the waiter returned with champagne and fresh, plump strawberries. The first sip created a delectable taste sensation as the bubbles hit Lewella’s tongue and exploded in her mouth.

“I hope you do not mind that I ordered for you. As you told me you do not speak Spanish, I thought this would be easier.”

“I’m sure whatever you ordered will be fine. I love to try new things.”

The waiter returned again with an appetizer of fresh oysters. She watched with hungry delight as Estevan lifted one of the shells to his open mouth and let the slippery mound slowly slide down the back of his throat. He looked at her expectantly and Lewella did the same, licking her lips after she swallowed. The waiter was back with two crisp, colorful salads of arugula with slivered almonds and crushed basil, topped with sliced avocado artfully arranged around an open fig. Lewella noticed one, long, thick slice of avocado boldly protruding straight up above the greens below. She picked it up with her fingers, softly pushed it between her lips and gently mashed it against the roof of her mouth with her tongue, licking her finger as she slowly pulled it out of her mouth. Estevan smiled, mesmerized.

“My, you do that very well.”

Lewella was mildly horrified. She couldn’t believe what she’d just done. What’s come over me? I don’t usually act like this with people I barely know, especially men, she thought to herself. She didn’t have much time to ponder. Estevan took the open fig from the center of his salad and keeping his eyes glued to hers, he elegantly licked out all of the fruit’s pulp. Finally, he took the spent fig’s outer skin and sucked it dry. Lewella was breathless.

The waiter returned and placed two plates in front of them. On each was an artfully arranged serving of broiled salmon and white asparagus. Lewella realized that she was still completely famished. She ate her salmon with abandon and licked the butter off each piece of asparagus with sensual delight. Estevan watched with rapt attention. Finally, she dabbed her mouth with her napkin and felt complete.

“Would you like any dessert? The Crema Catalana is fabulous here.”

Lewella shook her head no. She didn’t want to spoil the wonderful feeling of having a long, slow-building hunger satiated.

When they got back to the car, Estevan held open the passenger side door for her. Lewella thought she could feel him gently tracing the curve of her back low and slow as she got in. She looked over her shoulder to be sure, but he was already on his way to the other side of the car, whistling a happy tune.

Is your interest piqued? Please visit for the complete story. Enjoy!


Here's a little bio on Eydie and she'd love for you to know the artist of all her artwork is Johanna Uribes.

Eydie Starling Bio

Born: August 2, 1970, Suffolk, England

Favorite flower: The Primrose

Favorite color: magenta

Ms. Starling was born in the county of Suffolk, England. When she was eight her family moved with her younger brother to Boston. They finally settled in Greenburg, New York taking frequent trips to New York City to see the art museums, ballets and Broadway musicals.

On graduation from high school, Ms. Starling travelled throughout Europe for a year before entering college. She studied at several universities in England prior to receiving her Masters degree in Creative Writing.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


UNTIL Christmas… yes that’s right! Scary thought. But the process of winding up to the big day of course starts a lot earlier. Here in New Zealand, it’s the wait to see if the Pohutukawa tree, New Zealand’s native Christmas tree will bloom early. Because if the scarlet brush flowers bloom early, usually it’s a sign that we’re going to have a great summer. Because Christmas of course is summer time down under.
While our cousins in the northern hemisphere are rugged up against the snow, we’re baking on the beach, slathered in sunblock and swatting away the sand flies.
I live in Auckland, New Zealand. With a population of one million it’s our largest city. But then, the country only has 4 million people anyway, but about 60 million sheep!
So what is Christmas like down under?
It’s barbecues and long summer nights, it’s swimming and surfing (remember we’re a small island nation and so surrounded by the Pacific ocean and the Tasman Sea. It’s wearing Jandals, and going on holiday to the family bach, it’s eating trifle and pavlova. For some of us it’s eating a traditional Christmas dinner – turkey and the trimmings while the temperature outside is in the high 80s. For our family it’s having kumara pie, my aunt’s specialty. It’s seeing kids on Christmas morning in their PJs racing up and down the street on their new bikes, it’s timing phone calls overseas to their Christmas day, because you see NZ gets the fist of the day first – if you get my drift – and when my friends in Vancouver Canada wake up to Christmas day, I’ll already be at the Boxing day sales (the day after Christmas day). So the festivities of Christmas will be all over for us while for others it's only just starting.

But what is Christmas really like downunder. Just like yours. It’s time about spending time with family and friends.

Now… I know as you read this you’ll be saying what language is that woman talking. Kumara? Pavlova? Jandals?
So here’s a translation of kiwi-speak!

Kumara Sweet potato native to NZs Maori (our indigenous people).

Jandals Flip flops/open rubber sandals

Bach A holiday cottage often by beaches or in remote country areas, a place
to get away from it all

Pavlova NZ’s specialty desert. Like a meringue on the outside, and soft and marshmallowy on the inside. Topped with whipped cream and sliced kiwi. And just because it might have got your taste buds going, here’s a recipe for Pavlova

Trifle A traditional English desert, made with sponge and cream and sherry. Here’s the recipe for Trifle and it’s front a well known New Zealand TV cook..

I love reading Christmas stories and so really loved writing DESPERATELY
SEEKING SANTA. I’m also delighted to say that this book will be out in print this Christmas, and TO KISS AN ANGEL is being released also in December.

Just as a teaser, here’s an excerpt of DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA.

He’d returned. Thankfully.
Her body preened its thanks, arching from the downy folds of the bedcovers, aching for his touch, temptation overruling any coherent thought.
This was her fantasy played out in the shadowy hours of pre-dawn. She welcomed him with open arms, an internal greed of sensual need cohabiting with the desperation of an addict for a fix.
He was her fix. And she wanted him. Now!
Each night proved the same. He came. He teased. And she desperately wanted him.
She couldn’t see him clearly, the mists of fantasy versus reality obscuring him partly. But it was what he did to her that called to her.
His kisses. His touch. His loving.
It refueled her hope he would return.
His hand caressed her breast, tipping her into a world of mindless pleasure.
The staccato buzz seemed a mere whisper at first, slowly intensifying as it became an insistent call to her consciousness. He shifted from her arms and instantly a sense of bereavement washed across her nakedness, left cold and empty by his departure.
“No. Please stay. Love me.”
“Because I...”
The acerbic jangle of her alarm sliced through her dream with a brutal thrust. She jolted upright, shocked by her traitorous body and mind.
She’d been about to say she loved him. But how could she love a fantasy?

Happy sleeps everyone!
Jane Beckenham

Friday, October 2, 2009

Romance is not just a story, It's a Lifestyle!

Eydie Starling is an amazing writer. When she asked if she could guest blog here, I went to her blog to meet her. What I found blew me away. Her blog is full of wonderful stories she's written stemming from life experiences. I'm thrilled to have met her and to have her guest blogging today. And guess what, she'll be back Monday, October 5.

Take it away, Eydie.

Here is an excerpt from Basque in the Splendor, my most recent novette. It is part of the Castillo Brothers Trilogy. The story takes place in the Basque country of Spain. (It is a bit R-rated for those who might be uncomfortable with such things.) Yet, if it did indeed pique your interest, please visit for the complete story. Enjoy!



A Summer Evening in the Basque Country

Estevan was prompt and Lewella was ready. The Jaguar roared out of the villa’s driveway onto the short distance of two-lane highway. He turned into the long lane that led to his cottage. The vineyards finally subsided to the left, trailing off into infinity as the car entered a wooded area. The air was suddenly sultry, charged with an unmistakable electricity. On the right, a small cottage of dark wood came into view. Estevan eased the Jag to a stop. The thought of entering Estevan’s home sent Lewella’s mind contemplating sweet pleasures. Finally, she looked up to see that he had opened the car door and was holding out his hand.


Estevan looked charmingly wicked at that moment.

He opened the door, took off his shoes and left them inside, next to the front door. Lewella assumed this must be the custom for his home and did the same. The inside of the cottage was an open space, yet intimate with a wonderful sense of design. The furnishings were large, masculine, comfortable looking pieces made of wood and leather. The late afternoon sun came through the large front windows and reflected off the amber wood of the floor, making the interior glow with warmth. The cottage had been closed up all morning and was hot inside from the day’s heat. Despite this, it smelled clean and crisp, with faint traces of Estevan’s cologne. As he unbuttoned his white linen shirt, he reached for wine glasses.

“Red or white?”

But Lewella did not answer right away. She couldn’t take her eyes off the sliver of bare chest that she could see between the edges of his open shirt. He was just as beautiful as she had imagined. His golden skin rippled over a hard muscular stomach. There was just enough curly black hair in the center of his chest to make her want to run her fingers through it. He wore his jeans low and her eyes followed down as far as she could go. He caught her and smiling now, repeated his question.

“Red or white?”

“Red will be great.”

“Good choice. Red gives power to the blood.”

He poured and handed her a beautiful burgundy colored, crystal sphere. She slowly let herself enjoy the aromas and flavors of the wine. It calmed her and she knew all would be well with that first sip.

He led her out onto his deck and they sat down. He started to explain some of the history of the Basque region, but stopped abruptly.

“You’re not really listening are you Lewella?”

There, he said her name again. Oh the way he said it…she looked at him directly.
“Yes, er no, I was, no it’s just…”

She decided the truth would be best, just to get it out in the open.

“Look Estevan, it’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever seen such deeply expressive eyes as yours before. I’m finding it hard to concentrate.”

She was instantly embarrassed. God that sounded stupid! Estevan didn’t seem to think so and smiled warmly.

“Why Lewella, are you - as they say in England - ‘Chatting me up?’”

She was trapped and afraid now. What if things didn’t go well with this man? She still had to work with him. Be more professional, she chided herself, but the time for professionalism was long gone, she realized. No, be brave and bold she thought. You only go around once. She took a deep breath.

“Why yes, I believe I am.”

He leaned over and kissed her deeply on the mouth. Then he stood up and taking her hand, led her to his bedroom. They lay back onto the crisp white sheets. The comforter had already been turned down, Lewella noted. She tried to wonder if this meant he had preconceived notions, but was too distracted by what his hands were doing to her body now to care. Kissing her mouth, working his way down her neck, he took his time with her ears, tracing their tight curves with his tongue. He unzipped her little black dress with ease, revealing her lacy black bra and panties. Soon they were gone as Estevan took off his jeans and Lewella tore off his shirt. The feeling of skin to skin was simply too delicious. As his hands cupped her breasts, he kissed them until her little points rose up hard to meet his artful tongue. Now his hands roamed everywhere, making her sigh with each new pleasure. Estevan was an artful lover and Lewella responded. Running her hands lightly down the crevice of his thigh to groin and roaming through the brush of dark hair, she teased him with the anticipation of her touch. She heard him moan with delight. Tracing down her belly with his tongue, he made his way to the place she was aching to be kissed. Pleasure kept building until she couldn’t hold it back any longer. He entered her at the peak of her release, increasing its intensity. He touched parts of her she’d never felt before. On and on the hot friction of their bodies melting into one, moving as one until finally, he exploded inside her. They lay back in each other’s arms, amazed at the power between them.

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Eydie. Ladies and gents, you can check out more fabulous work at