To Say Nothing of the Dog #MFRWAuthors

DOG FOR LIFE

There’s an expression among responsible dog people : A dog is for life, not just for Christmas
As a writer, I would refine that to: A dog is for the whole book(or series), not just for temporary impact. To maintain reality even in a fantasy story, dogs have to eat, drink, and eliminate. Young dogs in particular need frequent and energetic exercise or they will exercise their teeth on the furniture corners.
Unless they’re trained to silence, dogs bark when surprised, whether that surprise is squirrels, terrorists, or invading zombies. They also whine at the most inappropriate times, in particular if they want you to provide Activethe water, food, or a place to eliminate. The whining can escalate quickly to a wide variety of sounds (OUT!!! NOW!!!!!)
While our heroes are out saving the world, someone better be dropping by the house to tend to the dog, or there will be an unholy mess to greet said hero. Not to mention a mad scramble for OUT when the door opens.
Too many people acquire a pet as an accessory. They want a bright red colored dog to decorate their brown leather couch, but the dog becomes less attractive when that couch is replaced by a pink brocade love seat. They don’t consider the possibility of chewing or digging on that couch, or other inappropriate but very natural behavior, especially for a young dog. And far too many writers add a cute touch of whimsy with a tiny pocket sized dog to give their characters a bit of fashionista, sweet biddyforgetting said pet during high speed chases or sidewalk stumbles. Not to mention intimate romantic moments. Nothing like a cold nose or muddy paw to change cries of ecstasy to shrieks of shock.
Yes it’s difficult to remember the pets that seemed so cute in an earlier scene. Doing so gives depth to your character and your story. When your readers include people whose lives center around animals, it will make you a go-to author.
And who doesn’t want to be that happy author? IMG_9692

 

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Welcome Linda Andrews, Discussing DOGS IN WAR

Belgian_dogs_trained_to_draw_quick-firing_gunsDogs have been used in warfare since humans first made war. And while many were trained to attack, they also performed other tasks. During World War 1, canines carried medicines, found spies/bombs, guarded prisoners, and carried messages along the lines. In that respect, the war dogs of yesterday aren’t very different than those in combat today.

But I did stumble upon an oddity while researching Belgium during the Great War. Dogs were used as draft animals to pull wagons and machine guns. That was a head scratcher. First, we’re talking large dogs not chihuahuas and dachshunds.

The use of these dogs in this manner was simply too interesting a tidbit to pass up, so I used it in Hearts in Barbed Wire. Since a shudder and grimace are the usual reactions when I mention I’m writing about World War I, I started this book after the fighting is over for my lieutenant hero and his canine companion, but the battle to survive is still ongoing. And the dog, Leopold, is ever vigilant, warning my hero of the enemy’s approach.

But I wasn’t done exploring this fascinating aspect of dogs in warfare.

You see, in occupied Belgium, the Germans requisitioned all motorcars, horses, and bicycles. The only way to carry things from one village to the next was for men or dogs to pull the wagons. And they did.

In the fifth book in the series,The Christmas Ship, when the tow horse for the barge carrying much needed provisions to the war-torn countryside is confiscated by the Germans, the hero and many townspeople tugged the barge along the canal. Later dogs were used to pull wagons ladened with vats of soup into the bombed out countryside so the starving citizens could eat. 

I’ve written many books with animals in them, but they were always pets, not usually service animals. Perhaps we should acknowledge the contribution to our freedoms by our four-legged friends. Although my dog would be happy with a scratch behind the ear and a few less cats in the house:D

Leave a comment with a favorite memory of your pet to be entered in a drawing for a free e-copy of either Hearts in Barbed Wire or The Christmas Ship.

HeartsinBarbedWireMedCoverExcerpt:

“Leopold?” Groaning, Madeline lurched forward, dragging the cart behind her. “I thought there was only one man.”
A soft woof accompanied the rustle of leaves. Then a German shepherd’s black nose glistened in the moonlight. The black and brown body soon followed. Tail wagging, the dog trotted down the road.
“It’s a dog.” She dropped the traces and held out her hands.
Leopold sniffed the air then he stilled and pointed his snout at her.
“Come here, boy.” Crouching, she snapped her fingers with one hand. The other fumbled with her skirts.
Luc cleared his throat. “Leopold isn’t a pet. He’s—”
The shepherd loped past Luc, circled Madeline once then snuffled her hand.
The traitor! Luc snapped his fingers. Leopold was a military dog under Luc’s command. He needed to remember it.
Leopold sat in front of her.
“You’re such a good boy.” She offered the dog another crust of bread before scratching him behind his ears.
Leopold held the bread between his teeth while stretching his neck out for Madeline’s attention.
“Lieutenant?” Mille hissed from the bushes.
“Here.” Luc bit off the word and stomped his foot. “Leopold. Come.”
The dog swallowed the bread, tucked his tail between his legs and belly-crawled over.
Smiling, Madeline swiped at the dog hair clinging to her skirt. “We weren’t allowed to have dogs in the clinique. I have missed them.”
“Yes, well.” Luc pointed to the ground by his feet. The canine prostrated himself, his brown eyes shining brightly in the moonlight. “He’s a soldier under my command and must act the part, Sister.”
“Yes, sir.” She straightened her shoulders and her right arm twitched.
Luc’s eyes narrowed. She had better not salute him. He would—
A twig snapped behind him.

Blurb: A solder trapped behind enemy lines

A nurse risks everything to save him

As the Kaiser’s Army steamrolls across their country, they’ll make a desperate bid for freedom. War will bring them together; duty will drive them apart. Can they escape the promises binding them to their past or will they leave their hearts tangled in barbed wire?

amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Barbed-Wire-Historical-Romance-ebook/dp/B00J4YICBW/

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A Treat…and an Early Present HolidayRomance #ASMSG #MFRWauthor

The multi talented Kayelle Allen has stepped out of her zone to write a sweet Christmas story. Not that her usual characters aren’t every bit as sweet as she is, but they do get themselves into some pretty hot situations. Hold on, I need to open a window. WHEW.

Okay that’s over, now here’s Kayelle’s lovely sweet Christmas story.

romcmas-bnr

A cop at the door on Christmas Eve brings an unexpected gift.
A sweet holiday romance showcasing love, loss, and the spirit of giving. Kayelle Allen

Excerpt
Dara was gaining strength daily, and would finish therapy the first week of January and return to work. Disability paid for the basics – lights, phone, water, trash collection, and she’d never bought anything on credit, refusing to dig herself into a hole she’d never escape once it got started.
She went to the closet and pulled down a box with a ball, crayons, paper, and three books. A friend had brought over a few things as well. This wasn’t the grand Christmas Dara had wanted for her daughter, but all the other valuables had been sold. There was nothingromcmas-bnr-cmas-gift left but her wedding ring.
She didn’t wear it. Removing it had been part of saying good-bye to Jack.
They said it would help, and it had. Sort of. But not much.
Dara sank into one of the kitchen chairs and put her face in her hands.
Sometime later, when the doorbell rang, she grabbed a paper towel and dried her eyes. The clock over the stove said nine o’clock. Who would be calling at this hour on Christmas Eve? She stuffed the wet towel in her robe pocket on the way to the door.
Giveaway
Here’s a giveaway for everyone. A Peek Inside: A Romance for Christmas | A sweet holiday story about love, loss, and the magic of giving. Giveaway!
Buy Links
Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Kobo  iBooks  Create Space
About the Author
Kayelle Allen is a multi-published, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary characters, futuristic immortals, covert agents, and warriors who purr.
http://kayelleallen.com/exc-romchristmas.html  Mobile  Unstoppable Heroes Blog
Twitter   Facebook  Goodreads

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Sweet Potato Girl by Rob Hart « Nailed Magazine..And Why We All Need to Believe in Feminism

Sweet Potato Girl by Rob Hart « Nailed Magazine.

I read Rob Hart’s musings on growing up male and privileged, and how he wanted to be more. As a soon to be father of a girl, he wants her world to be better than the one he grew up in. Better for her.

So many of my female friends suffered from abuse and misuse by people they should have been able to trust. Around the world, women and girls are less than, as if their society fears females that could be more than. This treatment has been going on for centuries, which does not make it any more acceptable.

How much longer will we shrug our shoulders, murmur “Boys will be boys” and go on about our own lives, as long as it doesn’t affect our own daughters or sisters?

When will we decide this is the true dawn of the new era we’ve pretended to pay lip service to for so long?

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October 16, 2014 · 10:00 am

Hooking In the Readers #MFRWAuthor

What draws you into a book? Is it the cover, the back blurb, or is it something you read at random? If there’s a prologue, I tend to drift that direction, and hope it’s been included to give the book more depth. Teach Me To Forget was written with a prologue, then sent to Lauri at Black Opal with the option to remove said prologue since I’d included the information later in the book. She opted to include it, especially since there’s a brief scene at the end of the book mirroring the prologue, while resolving loose ends.

PROLOGUE

Teach Me To Forget Black Opal BooksSummer 2000:
It was a storybook wedding. The elite of the world’s beautiful people crowded the groom’s yacht, cruising off the south French coast. The groom’s austere face was only slightly lined, the gray at his temples adding a distinguished air. His still trim body was clothed by the establishment which had enjoyed the patronage of every male in his family since his great-grandfather. Although he conversed urbanely with his guests, his possessive gaze never left his bride.
Framed in the lens of the ever-clicking camera, the bride had the lithe slenderness seen only in the very young and healthy. Delicate curves hinted at the woman she would one day become. Her short dark hair was gamine cut by the stylist who had created the look. Her make-up had been applied by the hands of the genius whose company had taken three generations of women from beautiful to gorgeous. Her lavish bouquet was of rare miniature white orchids, picked deep in the rain forests of South America and flown in for this ceremony. The lace for her veil had been created by devout hands in a convent which had produced lacework of this gossamer perfection for centuries.
The veil was secured by a pearl crown once belonging to a medieval princess. It framed a delicate, serious face dominated by enormous, hazy green eyes and a lush, slightly trembling mouth, and billowed down to hand made, four inch spike heels. By tradition the full length veil attested to the purity of the bride, leaving no doubt in the mind of anyone attending that day that this was, indeed, a virgin bride. The diaphanous covering enhanced her bridal outfit, personally designed by the hand of the dresser of royalty. Brilliant fire opals had been meticulously applied to the hand sewn, French-cut, white bikini.

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Recycling Our Lives

There was a time when people used up as much as possible before throwing anything away. Old clothes were repurposed into rag rugs or quilt pieces or cleaning rags.Old blankets became quilt liners and wood was used in a myriad of ways before producing heat through fires. Bones and vegetable scraps combined into healthful broths or soup bases. Getting full value from every item, though time consuming, was often a financial necessity.

We progressed to a time of planned obsolescence where a new car ever five years was considered the minimum requirement for a life well lived. Not for everyone of course and not only for financial reasons. No matter how desirable we thought that new car smell might be (which we now know is a compilation of chemicals used in vehicle production, the idea of car payments, learning the idiosyncrasies of a new vehicle (not to mention car salesmen!) led many of us into holding on to old faithful just one more year.

Recycling has become a cultural preference as well as a recognition of the dangers inherent in an ecologically overstressed world.Better than sorting out our trash is that old idea using it up as completely as possible.

Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do.

This mantra was in the forefront of my mind as I decided to follow a dream plan of creating a micro climate..a small place on

A bird bath from a defunct garden

A bird bath from a defunct garden

our high desert property where I could have an area of plants and flowers protected from the often harsh winds, without stressing the water supply. The catalyst for this idea was numerous large cisterns placed on the property by the previous owners. The slightest moisture on the roof trickles into these containers, giving ‘free’ water for my projects.

004

latilla from another project and old planks

It started with a small fenced in area outside the master bedroom, along with a low retaining wall to deflect excess rain water from the house.It doesn’t rain often here but when it does it can rain heavily. When I decided to complete the area, I did so with a commitment to, as much as possible, use materials found on the property, left over from earlier projects. The fence posts were new but the wire, the snow fencing, the gates, were all scattered around, waiting to be re-used. I did purchase some landscape boundaries to keep the new soil in the planting areas but covered it over with whatever was on hand. I’ll be using flat rocks scattered I’ve found here and there for the solid areas outside the master bedroom, and will add some sort of ground cover in between.

It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting there. With the exception of my late husband’s brother’s help with setting the posts (it

gate from a heavy wire  display

gate from a heavy wire display

took three of us actually, along with a rented auger) I’ve done the work myself. Originally it was intended as a private area for my husband to convalesce; it’s now slowly growing into a place of peace for me.

Along the same lines, I ‘found’ a story I wrote several years ago and started to work on it. What the heck, I purged that sucker from one end to the other. Gutted whole chapters of drivel to get to the meat of the story about a mercenary’s daughter and a special forces vet, neither one of whom thought they deserved love. I sent it out, to be snapped up and put into the edit queue at Black Opal Books. I have more stories to be found and repurposed, as well as new stories to be written. It’s all about finding my creative self, and recycling those ideas pounding around in my head.

Gardening and story telling, both expressions of artistic effort. Both so rewarding.

BICHOK Y’all

what better use for a chimayo?

what better use for a chimayo?

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When Things are Even Better Than We Remember

How many times have you recommended a book or a movie or a song from your distant memories, then when you actually read or watch or listen to them again yourself you’re appalled by what your younger self thought was high quality. The book turns out to have a pathetic plot and flat characters; the movie is poorly acted, and not in a funny way; the song, oh dear the song is just not very good.

But every now and then your memories don’t prove you false and they are every bit as good as you remembered. Sometimes even better.

I’ve contemplated this post for a while, right down to the music clip. I remember when I first heard When I’m 64, and how I could not conceive reaching that age myself. My parents were nowhere near 64, in fact I’m not sure I knew anyone that old. Times do change, don’t they.

So here I am on the eve of that momentous age and I decided to see if that light, happy tune I what I remembered.

It’s not. It’s better. Judge for yourself

Tom liked to point out we were the same age for twelve days, his birthday being on the 16th. He’d have enjoyed this rendition, we were both saps for the ‘old’ music.

Getting back into the habit of sharing recipes, I needed to find an egg less sugar free cookie for a kennel club meeting, and I found with this one. Unfortunately I’m not yet finding the website, I’ll keep looking:

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup artificial powdered sweetener, such as Equal
2 cups almond meal
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup pecan pieces

Preparation

In a large bowl, cream the butter and slowly add the sweetener. While mixer is still running add remaining ingredients, one at a time. If the mixture seems too dry, add another tablespoon of whipping cream.

Roll mixture out onto wax paper and form a log that is about 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap wax paper around log and refrigerate at least one hour. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove shortbread log and cut into slices, about 1/2 inch wide, place a few inches apart on baking sheet. Bake in oven 8 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool before storing.

Yields 2 dozen

They were super yummy but a bit delicate probably because I added extra cream, figuring it would be too dry. More crumbs than cookies which meant they were finished with a spoon. Which got me to thinking about a cheesecake mousse layered with cookie crumbs. Hmmmm, yeah…

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Peeking in on A Question of Honor #SPeekSunday #MFRWAuthor

 

Here’s a peek at the beginning of A Question of Honor, which is with Beta readers now, ready to go to Black Opal Books very soon. A Question of Honor is the first story of Stormhaven, a ranch in northern New Mexico which offers sanctuary to those wounded in spirit by their defense of country.

***

She knew that walk. With a slight hesitation in one leg he prowled like a wounded predator, conditioned to succeed against the most dangerous game of all. Even limping, his reactions would be instantaneous, his balance superior. By itself, his body would be a weapon. He’d be the best man to have on your side in a battle. After the battle, he’d unwind with a drink and a woman. The drink would be strong and straight. The woman would be bosomy and not too bright. He’d very likely spend more time with the drink than the woman.
Sydney Castleton let her mind drift through bitter thoughts and buried memories as she waited for the man who proclaimed danger with every step he took toward her. He was no different from the men who’d worked with her father: Soldiers of Fortune, whose luck could run out at any minute.
What trouble had her sister gotten her into this time?
This late at night, the Long Beach airport was far quieter than its Los Angeles counterpart to the north. Weary passengers straggled across the large hallway, looking for friends, for family, for signs guiding them to their luggage and the end of their trip. The surrounding crowd would see only the man’s height, the breadth of his shoulders, perhaps the dark hair under his wide-brimmed hat. His distinctive gliding walk might seem merely athletic, and who else would notice his awareness of everything around him?
Sydney knew these skills demanded a greater price than most would willingly pay. What had his payment been? She shook her head to dispel the thought and quell her imagination. He was just a man, after all, here to help her move a horse. She put aside her memories and stepped forward to greet him.
He didn’t seem to notice her at first, his attention on the rowdy returning youth sports team about to overrun the lobby. With a quick step to the side, he slowed down and put himself behind a young mother pushing a stroller, until the swarm separated around them without incident. Then he looked over to Sydney, and tilted his head, indicating a door leading to the outdoor baggage claim area.

089

Sydney and Devin will be heading into the mountain area, somewhere in Northern New Mexico…kind of like this picture.

For more great peeks at stories, pop back to Sneak Peek Sundays. Happy reading

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Grow Old Along With Me

This weekend, I did not write. I did not edit. Yes I have projects in progress. I’m coming to the end of the first draft of an extremely difficult story. I’ve been moving the intimate scenes around with a “note to self: insert hot love scene” and then moving on. Feeling kind of stupid about it but just kept moving forward and now it’s % done, at least in first draft. Except for those insert scenes. Because I’ve gotten to the end I now know WHY my Jess is there in Willow Springs and it’s not at all why I originally thought she’d was drawn back…go figure.

I’m editing that story about the mercenary’s daughter and the PTSD ranch in Northern New Mexico, and trying to decide if I’m going to combine these stories. But I didn’t edit.

Instead, I took Fire Dragon to an Agility match yesterday, and his brother Moochie to a conformation match today. Another Saluki person at the conformation mentioned how difficult it was to maintain a positive attitude about showing since we don’t win a lot with our more old fashioned dogs. I pointed out to her just showing my own dogs as I approach 64 is a win. She laughed, and had to agree.

Then tonight I learned my veterinarian who lives at the end of my lane died while checking out an ultra light plane in another state, and I realized how very true that statement had been. We are not all allowed the luxury of growing old. Yes, he died doing what he loved but dammit 67 is too young. Far too young.

If there’s someone you haven’t talked to lately, give them a call. And don’t forget to tell people you love them. Because we just don’t know, do we.

Hugs from the high plains. Love you. And yeah tomorrow I’m back writing

BICHOK y’all

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Wow, I’m Featured..and I’ve Changed!

Black Opal Books, the press that took a chance on me during their start up, has made me their featured author for August.front-cover-my-killer-my-love-first-try[1]

Considering how long it’s been since I’ve sent in anything new, that’s pretty darned nice support!  This blog kind of wanders around what I’m working on to send them (yes, I am writing), so in case you want to move on, I’ll just tell you Black Opal has put My Killer My Love on sale for this month. If you don’t have a copy, this is a great time to pick it up.

So what have I been doing recently? Right now I’m now working on Seasons, the story of a woman mentioned in Teach Me To Forget: a success story from a woman’s shelter in California. She’s been given the opportunity to get even with the town that turned its back on her. The tag line has been “Was rape still the rite of passage for the young men in town?” Yes, it’s been a very story difficult to write. To help with the stress of her story I’ve also been delving into Romantic Suspense, with stories about a ranch in northern New Mexico where there is more to the ranch than just cattle and horses. Some of the men are relearning how to cope with life while dealing with PTSD. We don’t do enough for our veterans.
Unfortunately I’m taking the Truman Capote approach, not wanting to release my work until it’s perfect. But the perfect is the deadly enemy of the possible and really A Question of Honor is pretty much ready for its close up. It starts with:
***
She knew that walk. With a slight hesitation in one leg he prowled like a wounded predator, conditioned to succeed against the most dangerous game of all. Even limping, his reactions would be instantaneous, his balance superior. By itself, his body would be a weapon. He’d be the best man to have on your side in a battle. After the battle, he’d unwind with a drink and a woman. The drink would be strong and straight. The woman would be bosomy and not too bright. He’d very likely spend more time with the drink than the woman.
Sydney Castleton let her mind drift through bitter thoughts and buried memories as she waited for the man who proclaimed danger with every step he took toward her. He was no different from the men who’d worked with her father: Soldiers of Fortune, whose luck could run out at any minute. What trouble had her sister gotten her into this time?
***
Sydney knows more about fighting men than she lets on since her father was a mercenary and she helped keep his unit running smoothly. She’s going to meet her match in Devin, a banged up alley cat of a former Special Forces who doesn’t think he deserves any fun for himself.014

And as long as I was working on stories about Stormhaven, there’s Tyler’s story…yeah I have to do something about the title. Ty was actually married at one time to Sydney’s half sister so he now doesn’t trust beautiful women or writers. Enter Rosalind Summerton who used to model for Victoria’s Secret and is now a successful writer. Hey, if it’s too easy, who’s going to keep reading? Ros is hiding out at Stormhaven since she got involved with the wrong group and ended up in a pretty desperate situation. For right now, this is the start of her story

***
Whoever came up with the expression “Cursing a blue streak” must have been around cowboys early on a winter morning.  Certainly the good natured grumbling would turn the air blue.  Much like Paul Bunyan’s story, the day seemed to be nearly cold enough to freeze words in mid speech.  Rosalind wondered if the words would thaw, come Spring, and shock someone walking near the barns.
Then she laughed at herself, at the morning, at the freedom of standing in the snow under a lowering sky with billowing clouds edged in early dawn.  Life, for the moment, was good.
***
The fun scenes are between Sydney (compact little pocket rocket) and Ros (yep very tall with long legs) It seems as though the women are diametrically opposed when in fact their minds work in a similar, if strange, fashion:
***
“Ty was married to your sister?”
“For about a year.  Never did figure it out.  She was such a city girl and he’s definitely Western all the way.  I think once he got her here he couldn’t figure out what to do with her.  Lana’s never been much of a home body and with Maria here it’s not like she had anything to do.  She didn’t ride, could barely stand to be around the horses.”
“Doesn’t sound much like a match made in heaven.”
“Most of them aren’t.”  Sydney rested her arms on the top rail, her chin on her fists.  Stared at the horses in the corral.
“Yours?”
“Heaven so far.  Except when I have to give him hell over something.”
***
I find when I’m first drafting I’ll come up with more dialogue than description, which helps me with characterization. Then I can go through and fill in the rest of the scene. It’s kind of fun to come back to something I wrote a few months ago and read notes to myself such as ‘Good grief, get them in bed sometime this year’ Those scenes are fun to write but the ones that have the greatest impact on me are the intimate ones, where my two main characters are learning to trust each other.  Those are also, of course, the hardest ones to write.

BICHOK y’all  020

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