Friday, July 30, 2010

Romance Novella Poetry ~ BUFFALO’S RUSHING WIND

Once upon a time, during the zoom and boom days of the 1990's, I wrote a romance novella titled ~ ROPE THE BUFFALO’S RUSHING WIND ~
Now, don’t laugh, if you are, at my title. Hey, this story won first place in one of the RWA chapter contests, the paranormal category, of course. I think it was the Desert Rose, and that happened *way* back in 1999.

Also, the original creators and owners of Hardshell Word Factory ~ ~ loved it and wanted to offer it for sale in 1997. However, one of the owners became ill and sold the fledgling site to the Wolfs, and now I see it’s an imprint of Mundania Press.

To explain the title, it’s an expression used in the alternate world I created. As in... you might as well try and rope the buffalo’s rushing wind.

This love story between Woman Chief Kyote Spring Wind and Caballero Zake Doliz Vyquerrone became cathartic to write because the hero was an homage to a man I fell in love with at sixteen.
I won’t go into the gory-angst details of my teenage suffering. Suffice it to say, he left for California and the lure of Jefferson Airplane shortly after our first and only date. He was eighteen.

More importantly to me, this alternate-world novella is inspired by how I envisioned our world could be today... if only...

My story takes place in a concurrent timeline, within the continental United States and on the Great Plains where the buffalo still roam, both as thundering free herds and also, on immense ranches ‘somewhat’ similar to cattle ranching now...but, organic, of course.

What if, instead of all the wars and the conflicts between the races that have occurred in the past five hundred years ~ those who lived here in North America, and those various races who arrived as explorers and settlers... what if they had joined hands, then joined cultures... what if...

This may be more prose than poetry. I don’t know. I know I felt like sharing it.

Revised for this blog and under copyright ~


White Buffalo Woman Speaks

Once, in the early beginnings of our solar system – when the Turtle Gods sacred-carried the world on their backs – carried our world with their indomitable persistent spirits...

Once, when the Thunderbird cloud-soared our Earth bringing cleansing, replenishing rains...and fierce-bringing the lightning to destroy whatever threatened our paradise...

Once, when Bear Goddesses happy-roamed our majestic Land, teaching all peoples to nourish and heal themselves with the fruit and herb abundances...and generous-teaching all how to live within nature’s harmony...

Once, when Spider Woman gracious and elegant-spun the material of the world into every beauty, into every natural function...from the spire tops of mountains to the tiny glisten of a rain puddle...

Once, there was another Earth, our Earth. And when the rainbow Peoples exploring-met each other, they rarely decided upon war’s destruction.

Once, the warriors protected the People, and, yet, peaceful natures ruled...there was the hope of understanding, the excitement and anticipation of learning each other’s ways.

Once, learning the cultural advantages of each meant the improvement of life for All.

So it was, once...when spiritual freedom and true joy were achieved upon this Earth. And life was the opportunity to choose what called to the individual Soul, what inspired each unique Heart.

I am White Buffalo Woman speaking to you.

I share one story, small as a wildflower seed, of our Earth, the lost-paradise Earth...the Earth where my dreams thrive and live whole still...

I share the story of a woman and a man, who walk reverently upon the Turtle Gods’ Earth...for, their love’s passion is endless in the starry bowl of our Great Universe—

All great blessings upon you–
White Buffalo Woman

Happy Poetry Reading...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Linda Swift is our guest today. She has had over 100 poems published and won numerous awards for her work. She is a lifetime member and former president of the Kentucky State Poetry Society .

She maintains a Poetry Page on her website at  . Her collection of poems, HUMANLY SPEAKING, Conversations With God, will soon be released as a e-book and in print by Willow Moon Publishing. (posted by Celia Yeary)

Linda Swift

I'm honored to be included in this HEA Week of Poetry blog And it's fortunate that I am required to submit my comments before reading the Poetry Week's other contributors or I'd probably disqualify myself. For I do not consider myself a poet. I write poems and I think there is a difference. Let me share my definition of the categories of this genre and you'll see why.

Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost are two examples of poets; people who lived for their poetry which has proved timeless.  Some modern day poets will eventually be added to this list. Then there are those who write poems; people who have something to say from the heart that touches other hearts. Next are the verse writers. Think Hallmark greetings here.

My own definition is that poetry is a window to the soul. I write many types of fiction; novels, short stories, articles and plays. I am involved with each piece I create but I am more emotionally invested in each poem I write. Let me give you an example. I once read a 7,000 word "short" story to an audience of two hundred professional authors at an Indiana U. Writers' Conference and didn't have a single tremor. But when I read a simple poem to a writer's group meeting of less than a dozen, I tend to hyperventilate. Why? Because my poems expose my innermost being.

When something touches me deeply, making me either sad or glad, I sometimes "write it out" in a short story. But if the feeling is so deep that it's hard to find words to express it, then I resort to poems. So perhaps my poems are in a sense my therapy.

The Holy Scriptures are filled with
beautiful stories of strong characters
who are role models for all of us. But
what about the weaker characters in
these ancient books? Those who were
least favored, those with obvious flaws.
Let's take a closer look at some of
them—Esau, Tamar, Jonah, Rahab—
and try to understand their actions.
Perhaps there are lessons to be
learned from their mistakes. You may
see some of the Bible's imperfect
people from a different point of view.
Have you ever wondered why Cain's
offering was rejected? Or if Jezebel
was as wicked as she first appeared?
How do you feel about Job's suffering?
Do you agree that Martha's role was
less important than Mary's?
Join the author in these conversations
with God if humanly speaking, you
have a need to know.


Humanly speaking, Lord, there are many things
about the Holy Bible that bewilder me.
I don't mean philosophical issues
such as where Adam's sons got their wives
the date of Christ's second coming
an explanation of the Trinity
or whether to include the Apocrypha.
Nor am I concerned with the decency code
though the Old Testament has risque language
by anyone's standards, such as the expression
"All them that pisseth against the wall."

And I'm certain every Board of Education
has long ago banned all other books
that give explicit details of drunken orgies
evil spirits and devil worship
and daughters who seduce their fathers.
My questions deal with simple things,
Lord, but I hope you'll hear me out.

Now, regarding the parables that Jesus taught,
why would a man risk ninety-nine sheep
to look for one he might not find?
And why would those who labored for an hour
be worth as much as those who worked all day?
(I believe in equal work for equal pay)
Was it right for five wise virgins to deny
the foolish ones a share of light?

And who does not sympathize with the servant
having little, afraid to take a chance with it?
(It proves once again those who have, get more)
Was it wrong of the man who would follow Jesus
to want to say goodbye to his family?
(Isn't consideration and commitment Christian?)

And how could the prodigal's brother feel otherwise
when he had labored long and hard
but never had a feast in his honor
much less a ring and shoes and handsome robe?
Then there are all those stories
of disciples, saints, and sinners
whose actions and reactions perplex me so.
I don't mean to be sacrilegious, Lord
but humanly speaking, I have a need to know.

by Linda Swift

LOVE, Stalker of the Heart - A Collection of Poems

Poetry is a great outlet for emotions you shouldn't keep pent up. In my line of work, I work with a lot of teens and college students. Can you say DRAMA?

Several years ago, I worked with a group of young ladies who could have been in line for the Drama Queen award. Oh, some of it was real, some for attention and some for the competitive edge - you know, my problem is worse than yours. All this made for some rocky evenings at work.

I've always been the one the kids came to for advice and help, The emotional toll at times was more than I wanted to carry around.

The situations that never failed to get to me are when the girl/guy likes a guy/girl and is afraid to doing anything about it. You may not know it to glance at them, but if you really look, you can see in their eyes that they have their own private drama going on.

So, one day, I was driving down the road, heading to work. This one poem came to me so quickly that when I arrived at work, I wrote it on a piece of scrap paper and stuck it in a visor. Over the next few months, it seemed like I was doing more poetry writing than story writing.

I realized one day when I ran into an old friend, that she used to be one of these 'wear your heart on the sleeve' girls. Every generation of teens have the same issues, same drama and there are always going to be that one or two who experiences unrequited love. Even my oldest son went through it. It's all timeless, so last year, I put 43 of these poems together in a book titled, LOVE, Stalker of the Heart. Others will come out, at some point, in a different collection.

Here are a couple of poems from this collection.


There you are
At the stop sign
Our eyes meet
I'm mesmerized by your smile
You wave; I wave
Moments pass, you turn

What's it going to take
To break the barrier
Are you really satisfied
Are these chance meetings
Always going to be all there is

What's it going to take
You have to feel it too
I can't be alone in wonder
Do I force the issue
And, chance losing what there is

What's it going to take



Why does it happen
I think of you often
Wherever I go there you are
I sleep and you're in my dreams

I don't understand why
Or what it's supposed to mean
Something has to give
Can't you help me make sense

My heart aches, it doesn't know
If it's supposed to turn away
Or, try to take what I can't have
What you don't want to give

I don't want to hurt you
Some how, a way must be found
To find a way we both can survive
Our souls were meant to be together

Sorting out right and wrong
Could cost us the magic
That could keep us suspended
Searching for what's right here

LOVE, Stalker of the Heart is available at Amazon.

Oh, and the young lady on the cover is from the collection of my fav phototographer - Lev Dolgachov


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget - Mary Eastham

I didn't choose poetry, it chose me with its spare, elegant language that stuns your psyche like a stray bullet. I think of myself as a storyteller who sometimes uses the format of poetry to tell a story. Oprah Winfrey, who until recently read very little poetry, now sees it as one of 100 THINGS THAT ARE GETTING BETTER because it is the key to modern conversation. In her book poemcrazy, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge says poem-making is freeing your life with words. She sees poetic moments everywhere - on a night walk in the hills near her home, in a high school auditorium where she and her neighbors gathered to avert a stray tornado, and feathering through her geek friend's car-repair manual. Her book teaches all of us to be more spiritual and powerful with our words.

I write in fragments which is perfect for poetry-making and I love to sing and dance, which helps to give my poetry that FIVE...SIX...SEVEN...EIGHT... poetic rhythm. I can actually hear the beats in my head, telling me how many words it will take to finish a stanza. But mostly, I love poetry's forgiveness clause. I can move words around. I can 'kill my darlings', those beautiful words that JUST DON'T WORK to move a poem along and I can take that one good line, yes, sometimes it is only that, and start an altogether different poem or story.

My goal in writing this post is to bring you a few quick poetry tweaks to make you love whatever story you're working on. It can be as simple as thinking about an image or 'hook' that you begin and end each chapter with, something that makes your readers want to continue to turn the page. I get ideas for my poems everywhere - from a paint store's color wheel, (the higher end paint makers like Ralph Lauren have the coolest names), from the Sunday VOWS section of the New York or LA Times, where each announcement reads like a hero's journey, complete with the obstacles each couple faced in their struggles to stay together in their dating to marriage saga. One fun poetry assignment I was given was to go out onto a busy street or into a backyard garden, close my eyes, then try to describe for someone everything I heard around me. Kate Braverman, a phenomenal poet, had us keep a fragment file. Nearly ten years later, I refer to my fragment file often when I'm 'stuck' in a poem or story. It never fails me. I put everything in my fragment file - snippets of conversation I overhear, unusual names (I LOVE names!), ideas for future stories, great lines from books I admire. When I reread those wonderful lines, I am always inspired. The longer you keep your file, you will see themes that interest you as a writer popping up. It's what led me to the writing of my first novel, Night Surfing. Kate also reminded us that unlike writing scripts for movies, where characters have to MOVE, we can go inside our character's heads on the page. 'Have your characters WISH for something,' she told us, 'and then make it excruciating for them to get whatever it is they want'.

I was told to 'shamelessly' promote, so I would encourage you to check out my website at:

I have been a Judge for the past decade in a wonderful writing contest here in San Francisco called the Soul-Making Literary Competition ( ) The contest accepts entries in 12 categories and includes an Awards Reading at the Koret Auditorium in the San Francisco Main Library where it is taped for viewing on Access San Francisco TV. I was a First Place winner in the short story and poetry categories for two years and was then asked to be a Judge. After Judging in several categories, I started the Humor Category because I needed a good laugh! Next year I will be the Judge of the Flash Fiction Category.

I've included some of my favorite poets here in case you want to follow up: Kate Braverman, (she's the Queen of Darkness but BRILLIANT in her word and phrase imaginings), Lyn Lifshin, who I refer to as the Susan Lucci of the Po-Biz, this woman must write in her sleep, she is THAT prolific. There is not a topic she hasn't tackled in her work. I actually like the ten poems to open your heart compilation by Roger Housden. It's a good mix of great poet's work. I would encourage you to look up the work of former Nobel Laureate Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. I love reading both the Spanish and English versions of his work. Neruda asks the important questions of life like: Whom can I ask what I came to make happen in this world? And now, hold your applause please, I would like to end with one of my favorite poems, A Hymn for Wish, my SUPERSTAR poem, always winning something when I send it out. I love it best and most because it was inspired by an image I saw of a dog clinging to life on a narrow porch railing during the Katrina floods. I raise Golden Retrievers, so I just had to write this poem:


A sunset that was all blood, the dog
missing in the flood.
Wish, the boy I didn't know I needed
my smuggler of tangled hearts
popped living color into this blind man's life
lying with me every night on the grass
as we waited for restless stars imagined
to fling themselves steady and fast against a midnight moon.
Wish let me steal the best life and make it mine.
I love him the way you love cake for breakfast.
Alaskans have countless words to describe snow
and none to describe time.
The mind of a blind man has different tones, it's not our ruin
how can you miss what you never had?
Wish understands the melody in my soul
the haunted echoes released in fairy-tale riffs, my hymn for Wish.
If I could I would write this dog a love song every day.
People ask me, 'Why are you crying?'
I tell them if love were enough, he'd still be here.
I tell them my boy is standing on the rail of the porch
ears cocked, the water rising, waiting for my whispered 'Hello'.
'Find him,' I beg the rescuers
trying to describe for them, as if I ever can,
the place where he last loved me.

ISBN: 978-0-9727721-7-4

Published by: Robertson Publishing (RP)

Thanks so much for letting me Guest Host.

Mary Eastham

Monday, July 26, 2010

Villanelles and Quarterns

Napa, California

by: Stephanie Burkhart

Just recently, I learned several different forms of poetry. I thought I'd share a couple of my poems with you for poetry week.


This is a French form of poetry called the Villanelle.

This is a 19 line poem with the following rhyming scheme: aba, aba, aba, aba, aba, abaa

The 1st and 3rd lines are repeated in alternating order and appear together in the last two lines.

The grapes grew wild and free.
He walked through the spiny vines,
Knowing the sun and soil were key.

The sunlight pierced the broad canopy.
He laid out his plan along careful lines.
The grapes grew wild and free.

The wind came, rattling the tree.
With deliberate precision, he placed his signs.
Knowing the sun and soil were key.

Frost brought his land to it's knees.
He blew heat on the readying vines.
The grapes grew wild and free.

Clouds covered the insects and bees.
He watched and waited in the lines.
Knowing the sun and soil were key.

The rain drove away the frost until he could see.
Round bulbs of fruit proved a hopeful sign.
The grapes grew wild and free,
Knowing the sun and soil were the key.


Wright Island Lighthouse
This is a French form of poetry similar to the Kyrielle. It's called a Quartern.

There are 16 lines, 4 quatrains.

A refrain is in a different line each quatrain. In the 1st quatrain it is in line 1, in the 2nd quatrain, it is in line 2. in the 3rd quatrain, it is in line 3, in the 4th quatrain, it is in line 4.

There are 8 syllables per line.

It does not follow a set rhyme scheme.

The Romance of Wright Island Light

Bright white beams pierced the dark night.
A humble fisherman came bold,
wanting a reprieve from the cold.
She took him in from the sea's sight.

A fire blazed in a warm room.
Bright white beams pierced the dark night.
A summer's gale whipped up fright.
The bricks stood the time under the moon.

Crack! Hiss! Pop! Cold flesh to shiver.
Arms entwined, seeking warmth, feeling right.
Bright white beams pierced the dark night.
Passion flamed in blissful rivers.

He had to leave by the light of dawn.
Sweet promises he gave to return.
She closed the door, heart beating tight.
Bright white beams pierced the dark night.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sticking to your story...

How much should you be willing to change a story to fit a publisher's preferences?

I wrote a story a while back and had a certain vision and plan for it. I was happy with it, felt if was perfect and said what I wanted it to say. I found a publisher I liked and respected, and who was willing to take my story part as I had envisioned it.

Their requests were not unreasonable and they were polite in saying, change this if you still want it published here.

I decided a little change was not a huge deal. I guess the more time that passed after writing the story, the less attached I was to it's idea. So I changed a little, and still felt okay about it. Then there was more to change, and more and suddenly the story is not what I had written. Still a good story, but not what I had envisioned for it.

I don't feel like I changed too much, since I am happy with the way it is now. I just wonder if I gave in a little too easily on my original idea of the story.

How much should one change a story to fit a publisher's ideal?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Booksigning - Fun Outside the Box

For the last two years, I've come across e-authors discussing book signings.

Cant it be done? How?

Also thrown about was pros and cons, more cons than pros from those who've done them.

It's always disheartening to hear marketing options don't bring sales or don't work, or can't work for e-authors. Are we in this business to admit defeat? No. I'm sure you've heard the saying, 'Where there's will, there's a way'. Sometimes it takes brainstorming with others to find the way, but isn't the 'will' always there?

I'm no expert, but while most if not all of us have written several books before we actually learned how to write them are doing the same thing with marketing. Jumping in without the knowledge of what we're attempting. So, yes, failure comes or if luck is with you, you don't.

Marketing takes knowledge and a willingness to fail as long as you're determined to get back on that horse.

Yes - major guts, too. The mere thought of putting myself out there and stumbling terrifies the skin right off me. And for the record, I don't have much skin left. I've been scared a lot.

I think most of us are inherently shy and afraid of getting out from behind our computers and coming face-to-face with public.

It's amazing how I've managed to be in a people business for nearly thirty-four years. I never really thought about it until we moved back home and I was faced with people who knew the real me, the shy girl who became distraught at the mere request to stand before my peers and spew words. Everyone knows how intimidating and cruel school-age peers can be.

But then I realized when I'm at work I put on a persona much like an actor does when he's playing a character. I'm still me, but not the real me. The personality that remains behind the shield steps out and is able to chat, flirt and laugh with the customers. I recall one evening I was waiting on a older couple. He was primed and ready for a good time. So, he asked me what my name was. I pointed to my name tag and said, "Well, some days I go by what's on my name tag, but tonight, I feel like a Cindy." He laughed. Later, one of my co-workers came up to me and said my table was asking for their server, a girl names Cindy. I laughed went to tend his need.

You can be whoever you need to be to get the job done. The key is to have fun doing it. A work place without fun is not a place where I want to spend my time.

So, put on your fun cap and put all you've ever heard about book signings away.

Ok, with me so far. ;)

The first thing we must decide is "Yes, I'm doing. I'm taking the plunge."

That was easy, wasn't it?

Now get out that calendar or date book and thumb through three months from now - choose a date, one that's hopefully around a holiday of some kind, but keep in mind Monday-Fridays are usually not busy days for businesses where you'll want to consider. Got one? All right, now skip to the next month and choose another date. It's always best to have another in mind in case you can't have the first one.

So, now you've decided to do it and you have dates in mind. Now here's the biggy. Where are you going to set up your book signing event?

Bookstore, of course. Not necessarily. This is where I'm going to throw a wrench into traditional thinking. Ha - have you ever known me to be traditional?

The places for book signings are as endless as the roots of a hundred year old oak tree.

When it comes to the business end of planning, my mind works it. Executing - me usually gets in the way.

So, while me is in a time out, I've thought about many places where it's possible to do signings.

Summer Activities:

Flea Markets - we have a centralized location in the city that has indoor and outdoor sales. When we lived in Georgia, Smiley's Market was huge and a fun place to spend a few hours on a Saturday. You could find everything under the sun.

Community Sales - these are fairly common just about anywhere. Whether or not it's held in a centralized location such as a city park or if the whole town sets up tables in their driveways.

Festivals - it seems every small community has one throughout late spring.

Fundraisers - donate a portion or all of your profits to the cause.

These are all things I've come up with, but in my research of book signing how-to's, I came across Lulu University in one of my newsletter. It was fate I found it when I did, because the next two classes were about doing book signing and thinking outside the box. Can you see me smiling?

In these two classes, I heard about 'tying your book to a theme' -- while it's easier to tie non-fiction to these, it's so doable to fiction.

For instance, my first two books are set around a restaurant, so it's possible to do book signings at restaurants and coffee shops. My first three books are set in the same locale for the most part. Who doesn't like read stories set in a land they live in?

For historical authors, why not do Renaissance Fairs, Historical Societies as well as the above.

If your hero is a techno geek, hit up electronic stores.

If you write children's books -- Chuck E Cheese.

Horror, Mystery and the like -- what about Haunted Houses around Halloween?

Movie stores -- this is something I could also do with my books -- there are many wonderful movies with a restaurant setting. Pair your books with movies.

Card shops - especially around Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day -- people love special gifts, especially if they were acquired straight from the author and signed.

Let your mind fly and run with it.

Now, you have the will-to, the dates, places lined up. How do you get them to agree?

This is where the work begins. You need to realize one thing about book signings. It's not about sales. It's about what your presence will do for the venue and why should the reader be interested in your books.

Figure these two things out and you're on your way to success. Once you've secured the date, find out what they'll do, which usually isn't as much as you will do. Yeah, it figures. lol This is the time to find out if the bookstore will order books or not, chances are if they are POD, they won't order them. That's ok, you can order them via your publisher. I'd order no less than fifty. It's never wise to be caught without books.


Marketing the Event

Have some bag stuffers made up with your logo or a book cover with the event information - these can be placed at various businesses to be placed in the bags during checkout.

Posters with your book covers and event information to hang in the venues window and possibly other places.

Send notices out radio and newspaper - they should advertise your event for free.

Take advantage of freebie papers. Many are on stands inside of the door of businesses, or outside. While you may think no one reads these, they often have a larger readership than your daily paper.

Day of Event:

Always arrive at least forty-five minutes early to set-up and hand out 'event today' cards. Unless of course, it's a community event where you're surrounded by other vendors then you can forgo the 'event today' cards.

Go in with no less than twenty-five books, but have a stash in your car in case you sell-out. It's never good to be caught without books.

Have freebies on the table - a dish of wrapped candy, magnets, bookmarks, pamphlets about your books, etc. Even have give away bags with promo items from various authors in them. People love free stuff - give until it hurts.

Do have a email sign up sheet even if you don't have a newsletter as yet.

Also, if your rights are not tied up with your contract, have your book turned into audio or place it on a CD and have them out on the table.

Something I thought would be nice and for me though with a little expense, but I think quite worth it. Since I have candles made for each of my books, I could have them on display with their respective book and have some on hand to sell. Also, for my latest book, a man's fragrance was made available with the same scent as the candle. So, if you have anything like that - display it.

Last but not least - at the end of your signing -- never pack up your books and take them with you unless it's a community sale or similar. If it's a business, discuss leaving your books on consignment. Now, the standard rate for consignment is the venue gets 40% of the retail price.

I'd heard about consignments a couple of weeks ago from another author and thought, wow - books on consignment. I'd heard of jewelry and clothing. I have a friend who has jewelry in three local shops on consignment and she mentioned I should put my books there as well -- I honestly didn't think it was possible. See, you learn something every day.

One biggy before I leave the consignment bit - NEVER LEAVE UNSIGNED BOOKS -- sign and date them before you leave them with the venue. Signed books cannot be returned, if the venue had purchased them for the event.

What to do during event? This is important. I've seriously avoided author signings in bookstores because they look unapproachable. Don't sit at the table unless you do have people there and you're signing book after book. Get up, move around, talk to people. People are generally interested in how why you write and how did you become published. Be interesting, not boring. Don't look bored even if you are.

How's that? Have I got you all excited to get out and try it?

I have the excitement, the will, but me is in the way. So, a while back, I thought maybe I'd like to do it with another author. Chicken, oh yeah. I was thrilled to hear it recommended. It could be fun. And the other author doesn't have to be of the same genre. The two of you could have some interesting conversation that could draw people over -- talking about the differences of our genres, why you love the genre you write and so on. My dilemma has been finding local published fiction authors. I know some who live more than an hour away. Like your states, I'm sure, mine is full of published writers. However, the key is being local - the media loves the local author angle.

I have a press release I've been holding onto, basically because I want to have my ducks in a row. They say a these can lead to an interview and the type of release I want to put it isn't necessarily about me or my books, but to educate my locals on digital publishing. Then I saw the Lulu classes and thought, this is what I need to build my knowledge.

I really recommend everyone check out Lulu University. It's really simple to sit and listen to the classes. They are jam packed full of information. This years can be found on their blog.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these? Other venues? Share your experiences with us.


Next month, August 4th, right here at HEA, I think I'm going to share what I learn about web marketing our books. Hopefully there will be some new information for us all.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Contemporary Romance – Contemplating the Sub-genre

Exactly what is a contemporary romance? Why are we so drawn to them? And why do we expect a “happily ever after”?

Let’s explore the definition of a romance novel. The very helpful folks at Rainbow Publishing state it in easy to understand terms:

A romance novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."

Okay, that takes care of romance, but what makes it a contemporary? Again they had a good answer ready for me:

Contemporary romance, which is set after World War II, is often what people mean when they refer to a romance novel. The largest of the romance novel subgenres, contemporary romance novels are set in the time in which they were written and usually reflect the mores of that time. As contemporary romance novels have grown to contain more complex plotting and more realistic characters, the line between this subgenre and the genre of women's fiction has blurred. Most contemporary romance novels contain elements which date the books, and the majority of them eventually become irrelevant to more modern readers and go out of print. Those which survive the test of time, such as the works of Jane Austen are often reclassified as historical romances.

Information courtesy of: Rainbow Publishing

It is difficult for me to imagine the works of Jane Austen ever being considered contemporary romance. Does this mean in several years my novels will be reclassified as Historical romances, if they survive that long? My two young granddaughters will hopefully someday read my novels. Will they giggle at the old-fashioned terms and ideas while they wonder about the antiquated vehicles and communication devices? Will I have described the settings and the particulars of my place in time enough for them to envision what life was like for their grandmother?

In considering why I write contemporary romance, I wondered what it is about the stories that appeal to me and to readers. Why are we drawn to a modern story when we are living it?

The truth is most of us don’t live exciting or adventurous lives. We work, care for our families, eat, sleep, and vacation once or twice a year. We struggle to pay our bills, take care of our responsibilities, and get ahead in our little corner of society. Our lives are spent rushing from one appointment or obligation to another or in endless tasks we repeat over and over. Does anyone else hate doing the laundry and dirty dishes as much as I do? Not to say we don’t enjoy life; we do. But in most cases our lives have a sameness, an ordinary day-to-day rhythm and flow, a continual cycle we fall into whether from necessity or habit.

When we take the time to relax, many of us want to read about someone who has taken our life and done something extraordinary with it. We want to escape into entertaining situations and page-turning plots. I reach for a contemporary romance 90% of the time. A setting and a time period I can identify with are necessities. Then I require well-developed characters. Not just hero types, mind you, but people with flaws and weaknesses they can and do overcome to become a better person by the end of the story.

And what better way to evolve into a better person than by meeting, and struggling to be with, their true love? I like secondary characters similar to my friends and neighbors who are part of that life, keeping it down-to-earth and homey. I want to discover ordinary people, like us, dropped into extraordinary circumstances and how they deal with it while they grow as a person, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Why do we expect a “happily ever after”? Or as the definition at the beginning said, we require an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."

I believe the concept goes back to the centuries’ old battle between good and evil, the dominating human spirit that believes we can attain true happiness against all odds, and our striving toward that goal. We want situations to work out for the best, we insist the couple wins over all obstacles, and we have to believe it is possible for not only the characters in the book, but for us as well. For me personally, I always regret putting my effort, time, and money into a read with a parting of the ways at the end, or a so-so, maybe they will, maybe they won’t resolution. I want a definite description, a defining moment when I know it will be all right, a no doubt about it “happily ever after.”

I write what I know and enjoy which is primarily contemporary romance. I hope you will find my books prime examples of contemporary romance in many of its sub-genres.

Surviving With Love – nominated for LASR’s Best Book of 2009

An independent female tracker must join forces with an ex-military hostage rescuer to save two boys. Sparks fly from their first meeting. Then when they think the mission is over, fate steps in...

Looking Through The Mist

Psychic Jessica Wilder was a consultant for the FBI until she suffered burnout. She starts a new life for herself. Suddenly, the visions are back with a vengeance — children are being kidnapped. How can she not try to save the children? Detective Jonathan Lansing doesn't believe in psychics. Can the woman in front of him help? Or is she involved?

Following Destiny

Down on her luck, Andrea Duncan inherits a house and a very special ring from her grandmother. Suddenly she is hearing voices and discovers the ring opens a portal allowing her ancestors to speak to her. A friendly local Sheriff and a mutt named Heidi bring laughter and love into her life. But then she crosses paths with a serial killer. Must Andrea die in order to follow her destiny?

Seeking Shelter

Brigham Montgomery buys a rogue stallion and a world of trouble. Being the boss of a working ranch isn't easy either. Loss and fear sends Kat to South Dakota searching for the one friend she has left in the world - a special horse - a horse someone wants dead. A stable fire, gunshots, and two greedy men bring Brig and Kat together in a way neither would ever imagine.

Find these books by Rebecca J. Vickery at the following locations:
Barnes & Noble

Contact Rebecca at

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Contemporary Romance - A Test

Hello everyone! Thanks so much to HEA for having me as a guest here today. Seeing as how the genre we’re discussing lately is Contemporary Romance I thought I would talk about my upcoming release, Love Knows No Boundaries.

Having written only erotic romance I wanted to test my writing abilities and see if I could write a contemporary romance piece that wasn’t heavy on the extensive sexual scenes and a little on the sweeter side. So, I sat down to try my hand at it, so to speak. And then *poof* Love Knows No Boundaries was born.

I for one will be curious to see if everyone thinks I can do both with just as much effectiveness. While Love Knows No Boundaries isn’t due to be released until the end of August I thought I would give everyone a peek into what it’s all about. So, here goes and I hope you like it.


Isabelle first fell in love with Sean when she was fifteen years old. Six years her senior he saw her as a gawky teenager. While at college Isabelle has found the perfect boyfriend. Justin is patient, kind and a complete gentleman. Sean’s feelings for her have changed and he is tired of sitting by while she is with another man. Driven by desire and love he does everything within his power to win the woman that he loves.

Justin, the once perfect boyfriend begins to fall apart at the idea of losing Isabelle. In a moment of rage and desperation he does something horrific, effectively changing their future forever.

Will Sean’s love be enough to get them through the pain? Or will Isabelle walk away from Sean forever? And does love truly know no boundaries?


Whap! Sean’s head flew to the side. He rubbed his cheek as his head slowly came back to face her.

“Watch it, Izzy.” It wasn’t a threat, but clearly a warning.

Fire swept though her body, and not the good kind. “You watch it, Sean! You know, I didn’t think you could possibly hurt me anymore. But somehow you never cease to amaze me with your insensitive words. Sister, huh!” She turned to storm away, but he grabbed her before she could.

“It’s true, isn’t it? Your mother married my father. We’re related, honey, whether you want to admit it or not.”

She let out a mocking laugh.

“Admit it? Oh, you’re a fine one to talk about people admitting things, Sean.”

Oh, so the gloves were coming off then, huh? Fine, he could handle it. Could she?

“What exactly is it that you want me to admit?”

Oh no, he wasn’t going to humiliate her anymore. She might have groveled and begged before, but never again. If he wanted her, he would have to do something about it. But it wouldn’t be because she had forced the issue. Never again!

“It doesn’t matter, Sean. It did before, but no longer. I merely thought we could have a few parting words. I didn’t want my last words to you to be that I hated you.” She hung her head for a moment and then looked back up. “Because I don’t. I was angry, but I don’t hate you.”

The look she gave him was killing him. He knew she loved him and he had spent the last week pining over her. God, he wanted her so badly. He ached for her in a way that he didn’t know was possible. If he didn’t do something tonight, she would be leaving tomorrow. He told himself last week that separation would be good for them. But now, even though she was only going to be a few hours away, it was eating him alive that she was going off to school. There would be young, testosterone-ridden men there just waiting for a chance at her. Had she really meant it when she said she was going to turn to someone else? The thought of another man touching her sent chills down his spine.

She waited for him to say something, but of course he just stared at her. It made her so damn angry.

“Fine then, I’m going. Goodbye, Sean.” She said the last words as she turned to go.

She made it to the front door and had barely opened it when a hand reached over her head to slam it shut. She was startled. She could feel his body pressed up against hers and his breath against her ear.

“Don’t go.”

Was it a question or a demand? She wasn’t sure.

“Why?” she asked as she turned her head, making his mouth almost touch hers.

He closed his eyes and dropped his head on her shoulder. Could he do this? Should he do this? He would go to hell for sure. But the idea that she was going off to school with all of those men around was ripping a hole through his heart. He wanted her, but not just her body. He wanted to make her his. He knew it was wrong, he knew he would burn in hell for all eternity for it, but he wanted her love. He wanted to take her until she belonged to only him, until the idea of any other man repulsed her.

“Don’t ask me questions I can’t answer, Izzy. Just stay.” His voice was gentle. “Please.”

Where can you find me:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Contemporary Freedom

They say write what you read or read what you write. I think because I grew up reading stories set in a time I could relate to it seemed only natural I'd write within that realm. Maybe for some it seems the easy way out and while many of my stories require research it's easier to find current information then it is for, let's say, the 1700's. I'm sure it's all a matter of knowing where to look and who to talk to, but contemporary romances hold a realism I can relate to. That's not to say I don't read others, I do.

The cool thing about contemporary romance is that it can cover just as many sub-genre's with fewer rules than others can. It seems when the twentieth century came, so did a new freedom that exploded and fought its way into the twenty-first century with a wild abandonment in the world of writing.

Changes in the genre specifications seem to have followed the pattern of the sixties and seventies albeit years later where sexual freedom began. Anything goes providing it holds to the basics of the ground rules set so many years ago.

Many of us want to break the molds and some of us manage it in many different respects. Those of us who refuse to stay within the narrow lines still hold the highest respect and hunger for the natural chemistry that draws together two people who are least expected to become soulmates. That's the joy of writing. I love the feelings my characters draw out in me.

When I started writing my first published story, A Psychic Hitch, I had no idea what it was going to be about, who the characters were going to be, much less how they were going to get together. I'd just come off NANO month where I'd done a very intense story and wanted something lighter, fun and different to do. It was December, cold and I think there was snow on the ground. Please, muse, take me someplace warm, I begged. And it happened. I ended up on a beach where I once vacationed. I worked pieces of it out in my mind while I drove and while I served tables for the next few hours. Once at home, I put it on paper so to speak. The story flowed and grew over time with the help of critiques and suggestions from an editor.

Blurb: Darius Markum, a man Cheri London meets online, agrees to help her conceive a child she wants. Darius sets out to win Cheri's wary heart, but before they can meet, she's injured and a rescuer named Allen comes to her aid. After a night of passion, Cheri returns home without meeting Darius...until she discovers Darius and Allen are one and the same. Read More

I think with contemporary characters, you can relate easier because their atttributes, their internal and external issues are things you know, you've been around, you've dealt with within yourself or someone you know. For me this is so much easier then trying to get into a mentality of an era I didn't live in.

When I wrote Last Glass of Wine, it was a totally different situation. It was really close to home; it caught me totally by surprise. I had no idea when I started it that I was writing the history of current events. No, it was really more than writing about current events and putting twists on them to make them into the story it was becoming, I was causing the events. It was rather offputting and scary. I'd write before I went into work and bam what I wrote that morning really happened that day. It went on like that for about a week and a half when I realised I needed to break that pattern. I did it, I stopped working on the story. Not writing didn't lesson the emotional turmoil and anger I felt over the whole situation, but it did stop things from roller coastering down a path that could have damaged my working relationship with my co-workers.

Blurb: Despite company policy, Cole and Lana are desperate to get their hands on one another, but when she believes he was fired over the one indiscretion, she has to have one night with him before he leaves town. Then she learns the truth. Read More

The differences between the stories while they are part of a series can be summed up in the one line review from Mark at Book Cove Reviews - “WITH BEKKI LYNN, YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE END, THAT’S HOW I WAS HOOKED AND I GUARANTEE YOU WILL BE TOO.” He'd read and reviewed both books and he liked that while I seemed to follow the predictible standard path of a romance, I put in little twists and turns that made them different as you neared the end. Many reviewers liked that I strayed from the norm. That pumped me up, because I was put in the same category of other writers who weren't afraid to step from the mold and put their own signature on their work.

Over a decade ago, I was given advice which I still hold onto it. "Don't let anyone tell you that you can't write the way you do. If they do, run as far away from them as you can get." A NY Bestseller told me this and another backed her up.

From the straight contemporaries, I went to contemporary paranormal. I've always loved the supernatural, and yes, I do love the show - who wouldn't love watching two hunky brothers take down demons. Anyway, my latest release was actually started while I was working on A Psychic Hitch. An Apache hero, Peridot and an American Girl, you had to know something spiritual had to be involved. I believe in ghosts, I believe there are powers that weld your life with and without your permission. I also believe that your ancestors can affect your life in ways you may not see, ways you may never understand. It could be things they've passed on, things they foresaw. Who knows. My great-grandmother was Blackfeet therefore I think a lot of acceptability I have is natural. So, this storyline was easy to write, fleshing it out and actually envisioning what the characters wanted wasn't. I'm glad I took the time to let them work it out for me. Jewel of the Sun's BLOOD DESTINY won't be the only ghostly paranormal you'll get from me.

Blurb: Cassandra Jones’ night are filled with exploits of passion she’s wanted, but never experienced. It began when she’d received gems she never ordered. Elan Takoda collected his peridot, unknowing his path was set the moment he touched them. Too late, he learned things were more complicated than what their grandfather’s concocted. Read More

None of us can foresee our future or predict what we'll write and I think that's half the fun. I love not knowing what I'll do a year from now. I think it's fun to explore genre's and their subs.

My books can be purchased at:

Barnes & Noble
All Romance Ebooks


Monday, July 12, 2010

Temptation - Patricia Pellicane

Welcome to Happily Ever After Contemporay Week!

We're starting the week off with Patricia Pellicane. She's going to tell us how she came to write contemporary romance and give us a behind the story look into her latest release, Temptation. Welcome, Patricia! We're to have you here.


Why do I write Contemporary Romances?

For years I wrote only historical romances for Pocket, Zebra and Avon books. I enjoyed doing them. Each story was special to me and I expected to stay in that one field forever.

One day my editor at Zebra told me the company was opening a new line called Lucky in Love. I was one of its launch authors and delighted but nervous to try my hand at something other than historicals. As it turned out, I enjoyed writing contemporary romances at least as much as an historical. Actually I think they were hotter because you didn’t have to follow an unspoken rule about getting the heroine into bed too fast. For instance, you couldn’t take a woman from an Elizabethan era and put her in bed with the hero within a chapter or so. It was unlikely that something like that might have happened in those days, at least not with a decent woman. So the sexual tension was always at its highest, but the actual sex was farther into the book.

My books are character driven. So whatever they do it has to ring true to the time period.

Contemporary pieces are much more modern when it comes to sex. It can be and sometimes is almost instant, most especially with erotica.

Now I mostly switch from one to the other. I think it keeps my writing fresher and my stories more interesting.

Where did I get the idea?

Most of the time the ideas for my books come to me while I’m doing something mindless, like doing the dishes and cleaning my kitchen. Not this time. “Temptation” a contemporary romance begins with a woman sun bathing topless. A construction crew owner comes across her, never realizing she’s topless until he’s standing at her side, because she was facing away from him.

Years ago I lived in Vegas. While there I sunbathed all the time. No one realized in those days the damage that could be done to a woman’s skin. At least I didn’t and if I was told I managed to ignore the warnings. A tan looked great. During the day while the kids were in school, I sun bathed topless.

We lived in a mobile home park before we got our house. My neighbor next door was a huge, quiet guy, who never spoke a word to me, never even said hello, until he came home early one day. Obviously he saw me, not all of me, because I was sitting with my back to his place, but apparently he got the idea. A half hour later, I had my top on again, and breathed a sigh of relief that I had because he was suddenly standing at my side talking to me as if we were long lost friends.

My days of sunbathing topless came to an immediate end that day and surprisingly enough so did any conversation with my next door neighbor. Although on occasion he did wave and call out “Hello”.

Here's an excerpt from Temptation:


Maggie frowned and blinked her confusion, as the low guttural groan dragged her from the edge of sleep. For just an instant, she thought she’d imagined the sound, but a turn of her head immediately proved the notion to be false. A man stood at her side. A strange man! Remembering her half-naked state, she gasped and lunged to her feet, putting the lounge chair between them. Her shirt, grabbed on the way up, was crushed in her hands and covered little more than her nipples as she pressed it tightly to her bare breasts.

The man grinned. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone move that fast before.”

Maggie frowned and shook aside a moment’s dizziness. “What are you, an Indian? How come I didn’t hear you?”

He laughed. “Actually, I am. Just a small part, I’m told. You want to know which part?” He shrugged when she did not respond to his teasing. “You know what they say, if you hear an Indian…”

Maggie glared her annoyance.

“And you didn’t hear me because I walked on the grass.”

“Who are you, and what are you doing here?” she asked tightly, knowing a slight sense of alarm at being caught sunbathing, alone, behind a deserted mansion. There wasn’t a soul around, should she find the need to cry out, and she didn’t expect anyone for hours.

“Name’s Jeremiah. Russo sent me over. My crew is starting here tomorrow.”

Feeling slightly more at ease at his explanation, she sighed a derisive, “Great, and you came a day early just to make sure you wouldn’t be late?”

Jerry grinned at her sarcasm. “I came to look the place over, to see what I’m going to need in the way of supplies.”

“Far be it for me to tell you how to do your job, but if you needed to look the place over, why were you standing here, looking me over instead?”

Even as she spoke, he continued looking her over with some obvious appreciation, from her black hair that curled past her shoulders to her plumped up breasts, to the bottom of her string bikini, to her long, tanned legs and finally, to her polished pink toenails. “I saw you when I came around the corner of the house. I didn’t know you were topless until I reached you, what with you facin’ the ocean and all. I wish I could say I’m sorry, but…”

“But you’re not,” she said finishing the sentence for him, her tone clearly unhappy. Her hair moved gently with the soft breeze coming off the water, just beyond a distant line of trees.

He couldn’t hold back a low, wicked chuckle. “I came around back ‘cause no one answered when I rang the bell. Thought the place was empty, maybe the back door was open.” He gave a slight shake of his head and bit his bottom lip just before saying, “Damn, but you’re somethin’.”

Maggie decided not to ask exactly what he meant by that statement. She watched him for a long moment and thought he maybe had five years on her. He was tall, but so was she, and she thought only four or five inches separated them in height. His body… She shook her head. She was better off not thinking about his body and immediately knew the folly of that notion. She might not want to think about it, but there was no denying the man was gorgeous. No other word fit so perfectly. He wore cut-off jeans that hugged his sex just a bit too tightly, the hems torn and straggled came to his knees. His clean T-shirt, was punctuated here and there with holes, the neck and sleeves torn away. He looked ragged, rugged and dishevelled.
Her mouth watered.

His dark hair was too long, his cheeks and jaw in need of a shave. God, even that appealed. She’d seen hundreds of men dressed the same but couldn’t remember one so startlingly handsome, with eyes so incredibly blue, with thick, brown calves and arms that bulged with sinew and muscle.

His gaze was filled with amusement. Laugh lines crinkled at the corners of his eyes as he watched her long, slow perusal. Her heart fluttered. Damn. This one was just too tempting, and she didn’t want to get involved. It had been a while since she’d broken off with her ex-boyfriend, Andy. Still, she thought she might never be ready for a man like this one.

“Turn around,” she said and waited for him to do as much.

He did, with some obvious reluctance, his gaze alive with humour. “You should know you don’t have to go to any trouble on my account. I’d be perfectly comfortable if you left the shirt off.”

“Right,” Maggie muttered. She turned as well and shoved her shirt over her head. Quickly, she pulled it into place and slipped her feet into her sandals.
* * * *

Maggie and Jeremiah finished looking over the third floor. At the moment, he stood just inside Maggie’s bedroom door and watched with a frown as she casually pulled cut-off jeans over her bikini bottoms, even as she continued their conversation.

“I like the feel of this place,” she said. “If possible, I’d like to keep as much as I can of the Victorian flavour. I don’t want new and modern except for the kitchen.” She was buttoning the jeans into place as she led him from the room. “I want claw-foot tubs in all the baths. Pedestal sinks and old fashioned mirrors. I’ll pick them out, but you get the idea?”

He nodded.

Moving along the wide hallway, she opened each door as she indicated her needs. “Each bedroom on the both floors will have its own bath. There should be enough room on the third floor for three suites, maybe two of them with sitting rooms. I have some rough drawings in my briefcase. This floor, the second, will have five bedrooms, all with sitting rooms. We’ll look my plans over together, and you can tell me if I’ve left anything out. You’ll need to check with the building department about fire escapes.

“Down here,” she continued as they descended the wide staircase, “there are a few rooms on the opposite side of the kitchen. I’ll need them modernised, new bath and,” she shrugged then waved her hand, “whatever it takes. I’m using one of them for my office right now, or I will be once a desk and a few office supplies get here. They’ll be the manager’s private quarters.”

“Have you a place of your own somewhere?”

Maggie offered a questioning glance. “In the city. I’m not there much. Why?”

Jerry shrugged. “Just wondering where you keep your things. Your bedroom,” he nodded towards the ceiling, indicating the large room she’d take for herself, “doesn’t hold much in the way of personal stuff.”

She frowned again. “What do you mean? What kind of personal stuff?”

“Books, CD’s, TV.” He shrugged. “I don’t know, just things.”

She nodded. “I don’t have much with me. I’ve books in my car, and I’ll buy whatever else I need as I go along.” She shook her head. “There’s no point in a TV until the cable is set up. By the time that’s done, I’ll be ready for my next project.”

She changed the subject as they entered the kitchen. “I’m going to need all new appliances in here. I’ve done commercial kitchens before so I know what’s needed. I’ll give you a copy of my list in a minute. The town’s inspectors will have the last say, but you should know the building codes.”

He nodded as he continued to mark a small pad with indecipherable scratching. “You aiming to run this place after it’s done?”

Maggie shook her head. “I don’t run B and Bs. I create them, put them in the hands of a management group and eventually sell.”

“And you’re living here in the meantime?”

Maggie shrugged. “It’s comfortable enough.”

“Sort a big and lonely though.”

“Not lonely. Quiet. I like quiet.”

He looked around the kitchen as they spoke. “You should do this room first. It will take the most work.”

She nodded her agreement and turned. “Most everything looks good in the dining room except the floor all the woodwork needs to be refinished. I’d like to keep as much of it as possible, but it needs to be stripped and repainted. Oh and I want French doors that will lead out to a huge patio and gardens beyond that.”

“Wait a minute,” he said as she moved to leave the room. “There’s a lot to do before we start on carpentry and refinishing woodwork. If I have more than two crews working at once, they just get in each other’s way.”

“How many men are in a crew?”

He shrugged. “Depends. I can get one on the roof and one to gut the kitchen, while the plumbers start on the bathrooms.” He checked his notes. “They’ll have to stop once the kitchen is ready for them.” Again, he looked at his notes. “And we’ll need to take some of the storage space for the third bath on the top floor.”

“Take what you need and close off the rest. Have one of the plumbers draw up the plans, and I’ll okay them.”

He nodded. “I’ll draw them up.” Again, he looked the room over. “All these cabinets have to go. Dry rot,” he said as he opened one of the bottom doors and watched a quarter of it crumble to dust in his hand. “I’ll order a dumpster.”
Maggie nodded. “One will be here tomorrow.”

“The stove, too,” he said with a frown. “It looks like it’s been here since the turn of the century. I wouldn’t try lighting it.” Then he added, without even a glance in her direction, “What are you doing for dinner?”

“What?” she asked with a frown, for his question in the midst of a conversation centred solely on construction and plumbing was totally out of place.

“You have to eat don’t you? And you can’t cook here. So…”

Maggie watched his grin and oddly enough felt a flutter in her chest. “Does that smile always work for you?”

His grin grew wider. “It should. My folks spent a fortune on an orthodontist.”

“I hope you thanked them.”


Patricia Pellicane
for romance that sizzles
Total-e-bound 7/5/10
Heat Wave
Resplendence 7/14/10
Tell Me You Love Me (In Print)
Total-e-bound 6/14/10

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Romance and Passion of Fireworks

Fireworks: Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 "To Catch a Thief"

This bloggie is late? Why? Technical difficulties beyond my control. The USB ports on my computer turned into bad boys and not the kind you want to love. As I said in my personal blog at Kougar Kisses, I’m blaming this on Retrograde Uranus in Aries.

Because of the Fourth of July, as it’s popularly known, or the real name: Independence Day, I recalled the *firework’s kiss scene* in the 1955 Cary Grant movie, To Catch a Thief.

Originally, I saw the movie on late-night TV when I was an older teenager. The film made such a huge impact on me I’ve never forgotten it, lo these many intervening years. In a way, everything about that movie ~ the actors, the passionate romance, the action/suspense plot, the way it was shot/edited, the jewel-intense color, and the fabulous witty dialogue ~ has acted as a romance-story archetype for me ~ one of many. If you’ve never seen this highly sensual and suspenseful silver-screen movie, check it out!

Since the ‘fireworks’ in romance are never over, and for fun... oh, and to simply indulge myself, here’s my writerly take-off on the firework’s kiss scene.

To Capture a Cat Burglar

The instant Sherissy entered the hotel’s sky lounge, Dolan set his drink down. Surreptitiously, he raked his gaze over the gorgeous woman who had him captured, lock, stock and hard-as-a-rock. The dark ironic joke on him, though, he was supposed to capture her. That is, if he wanted to collect the insanely large private bounty on her.

The big catch, it was only collectible if he could prove Sherissy, aka the Wildcat, had stolen the socialite’s rare gem collection.

From a booth near the back wall, he watched her move toward him, her saunter a unique combination of grace and athleticism. The style of her evening gown enhanced her sleek shape, yet displayed her sensual curves, especially her thighs.

With the utter confidence of a pantheress, she eyed him as he stood to meet her. The smoke-black taffeta of her evening gown subtly glistened in the soft illumination, a perfect foil for the bronze-red shade of her hair and the golden ivory coloring of her skin.

Resisting the urge to finger the blue diamond tucked deep inside his jacket pocket, he didn’t resist lingering his gaze on her face. Intentionally, he let the Wildcat know he found the angular beauty of her feline features utterly enchanting.

“Dolan.” Her throaty voice teased him without mercy. He liked it that way.

Sweeping her palm beneath his lips, he pressed a long kiss in the center, and felt her slight shudder. With his own ardor rising like a tropical heat wave, he straightened, then released her hand. “Sherissy, my stunning beauty.”

“Mmmm... the fireworks have already begun. Good.” Her smoldering gaze traveled the length of his body. Damn, but her thorough perusal had him standing ‘at attention’.

“There are certainly sparklers in your eyes, darling. Is it the view?” Dolan offered his arm as his wildcat burglar arched her brows.

“Did I notice... a bulge?” She smiled, slow and seductive. “In your jacket pocket?”

The lissome turn of her hips and the swish of her gown as she moved beside him, then took his arm, was a siren song that played him just right. “I need your opinion on a rare gem. My expertise cannot match yours.”

“Why do you say that? As you can see, Dolan.” With a feline’s light step, she twirled before him. “I have worn no jewelry.”

Her fingers, with their sharp, golden-sparkling nails, traced the bare swells of her bosom. He stared at the enticement she offered, then blinked as she pivoted beside him, once again.

Regaining a portion of his rational mind, he led her toward the lounge’s exit. “Admit it, darling. I know you advised Countess Ralinskova recently on the purchase of a tiara.”

“Did I?”

Smooth and cool as an ice cube, her voice, while the brush of her thigh against his, despite her gown and his trousers, had him blazing with the need to capture her against him and find her mouth with his.

“I have it from the Countess’s own lips.”

He escorted her within the private elevator that would take them to the suite he’d reserved. Once he pressed the panel button, they faced each another. For an instant, their gazes locked. Her jade green eyes flared reminding him of cat’s eyes in the dark.

“Interesting, indeed, Dolan.” Her hand smoothed up his tie. “I am excited by the very thought of watching fireworks with you tonight. The white-hot explosions. The savage passion of colorful fire against the black velvet night.”

“The celebration of bombs bursting in air. Sound and fury all around us.” Trapping her slim hand, Dolan lifted it to his lips. He grazed her fingertips, and the claw-like tips of her nails, over his lips until the elevator halted.

She spun from him, lithe as a puma he’d once observed in the wild. The alluring sway of her hips had him gawking like a youth on his first date. Still, he pursued his quarry. “The tiara was once stolen by the cat burglar known as the Wildcat.”

“Is that so? I had heard she retired from her law-breaking ways.” Twisting at the waist, she smiled in a manner that beguiled him. “Has this Wildcat returned to her nefarious profession?”

“Let’s find out.” Dolan moved toward her, the woman he wanted to capture beneath him. The woman he wanted exclusively for himself. To hell with the damn bounty. Still, he had to know the truth.

“How do we find out?” She lifted her shoulder, her posture a taunt.

“Aren’t you burning to touch it? To hold it?”

“Am I burning... to hold it?”

Her whisper scorched him. He stood so close to her their bodies nearly touched. Their breaths rushed and joined and danced like wind-carried mist.

“Tell me the truth, Sherissy.” Taking hold of her hand, he flattened it over the blue diamond. “Don’t you want to see it gleam and sparkle in your palm?”

With an ache that threatened to blow him apart as if he were a fireworks factory struck by lightning, he waited.

“Show me. Show me, Dolan.” Stepping back from him, she held out her small hand.

The bitterness of disappointment almost drowned him. In the following instant, as he drew the blue diamond out his jacket pocket, he didn’t care. The truth for him. All he cared about was her. His Wildcat woman. Only she wasn’t his. Not yet.

Dolan dropped the gem in her palm, where it glittered like a piece of summer sky. As she held it up, closely examining the blue diamond’s interior, the fireworks display lit up the lavishly furnished room. Spectacular flashes of color added to the sheen of her upswept hair and reflected from the gem’s faceted surface.

“Magical.” Drawn to her as if she’d cast a gypsy love spell on him, Dolan closed the short distance between them.

“No, it’s not magical. Your blue diamond is flawed. Almost worthless.” She pressed it into his palm. “Is that what you wanted to know, Dolan?”

He let the gem fall to the carpet, disturbed because he couldn’t read her emotions. Her eyes shone, flawless and enigmatic, on him. “That was only a test, darling.”

“Am I only a test?” Her low sultry tone bewitched him. “Or, more properly spoken, Dolan, am I only one more conquest?”

He seized her against him, his mysterious cat woman. Swooping toward her lips, Dolan possessed her mouth with a long punishing kiss, born from the primal fires she ignited in him. Like a rosebud about to burst into bloom, Sherissy opened to his desire for her. Surrendering her soft svelte body against him, she looped her arms around his neck, and offered the impassioned fierceness of her kisses.

May your summer romance reading dreams come true...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Sunday, July 4, 2010

He Called It Macaroni

Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-Riding on a pony;
Stuck a feather in his cap,
And called it macaroni.

Macaroni? He named his feather after pasta?

I'm American, and I've sung this song all my life. But I never understood what Yankee Doodle's feather had to do with spaghetti.

The verse sounds odd to our ears, but made perfect sense to English people in the mid 1700's, when the song was written.

At that time, a "Yankee", from the Dutch Jan Kees, or John Cheese (see definition here), was an inhabitant of New England, a pejorative name bestowed by the urbane New York Dutch on their rustic, Puritan Connecticut neighbors, and by extension, to all Americans.

The word "doodle" first appeared in the seventeenth century, from the German word for "simpleton" or "fool".

From my last post, "macaroni" was an extreme of English male dress, circa 1760. The style's most salient characteristic, a large, ungainly wig, caused "macaroni" to become a synonym for foppishness. Put the two words together, and "Yankee Doodle" was a derisive term for a backwoods American fool so unsophisticated he thought decorating his cap with a feather was the height of fashion.

Historians generally credit Doctor Richard Shuckburgh, a British Army surgeon, with creating the song sometime during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The date is in dispute, given in various places as 1755, 1756 or 1758.

The New York State archeologist, Paul Huey, believes he has narrowed the date to June, 1758. At that time, a large British force had mustered at Fort Crailo near Albany, New York, to prepare for the attack on Fort Ticonderoga. The ragged, ill-equipped and ill-trained New England militiamen who joined the expedition provided a stark contrast to the well-dressed, well-drilled British soldiers. Dr. Shuckburgh wrote the first set of lyrics mocking these ragtag troops. The tune apparently comes from the nursery rhyme Lucy Locket.

Something about the song resonated in colonial America, and Yankee Doodle took on a life of its own. Many sets of lyrics exist. If you’re curious about all the verses (and there are a lot of them), you'll find a list here:

Everyone sang Yankee Doodle. British soldiers often sang it as a marching song. The American colonists sang it, too, but with different lyrics.

As the tension between England and America escalated, the Americans took up the ditty, complete with feather and macaroni, as a badge of honor. By the time of the Battle of Concord and Lexington (1775), the Americans had claimed the song as their own.

Yankee Doodle lives on to this day.

Archibald MacNeal Willard's most famous painting, The Spirit of '76 (c. 1875), (picture above) is popularly called Yankee Doodle.

Yankee Doodle Dandy, a version of Yankee Doodle, is the tune to a famous song-and-dance sequence in the 1942 James Cagney film of the same name.

And last, but not least, Yankee Doodle is the state song of Connecticut. I'm from Connecticut (yup, a real Connecticut Yankee), and I didn't know that.

Today is the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the United States. On this Yankee Doodle-est of days, here's one Yankee Doodle saying "Happy Fourth of July" to all my fellow Yankee Doodles.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Enter My World of Historical Hilarity

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Macaroni! And I Don't Mean Pasta

Every era has its extremes of dress. The Sixties had micro-minis. The Roaring Twenties had flapper dresses. Georgian England had macaronis.

Although today most fashion is geared toward women, the macaronis were men. "Macaroni" or "maccaroni", from the Italian word, maccherone, which literally means a boorish fool, described the height, and often the extremes, of male fashion in the mid 1700's.

Brought from the continent by idle young men on their Grand Tour, macaroni dress took the standard male wardrobe of wig, coat, waistcoat, breeches, stockings and shoes to absurd lengths. The express purpose was to shock people. And shock they did. Coats were tight. Huge buttons decorated short waistcoats. Narrow, dainty shoes sported buckles almost larger than they were. And copious amounts of lace, ribbon, ruffles and whatever other outrageous decoration took the wearer's fancy trimmed the outfits, with everything in gaudy colors and showy fabrics like silks and satins.

Perhaps the most obvious feature of macaroni fashion was the wig. As in these pictures, macaroni wigs were excessively elaborate and tall, and, by contrast, crowned with a tiny hat that literally could be removed only with the point of a sword.

Macaroni clothing was never mainstream. While the fashion provided a wealth of fodder for caricatures, most people laughed it off as the blatant posturing of immature males.

The word remains in the vocabulary, although today its definition has constricted to pasta. But several vestiges of its original meaning linger to confound us.

The Macaroni Penguin, a large crested penguin native to Antarctica and the southern tip of South America, owes its name to the Georgian macaronis. English mariners in the Falkland Islands, off the coast of Chile, named the bird. With its flamboyant, colored head feathers, the penguin reminded the sailors of the macaronis back home.

And Yankee Doodle "stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni".

Next time, Yankee Doodle and macaronis.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Enter My World of Historical Hilarity