W…What? #AtoZChallenge

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is GoodNow we have W…did you ever wonder why it’s called double U when actually it’s V joined together in good times and bad. No? Well, okay, maybe I am weird.

W begins some interesting words. Wisteria…love it, can’t grow it here. Wand, Wizard, Witch…Why do so many fantasy/magic words start with W? Wisconsin, where my father was born. Wikipedia, the resource we love to hate. Winsome, woeful…long list!

I knew from the start W would offer an opportunity to talk about

WATER.

And the lack thereof in way too many parts of the world. We worry about our bottled water imported from secret springs halfway around the world while those in other places walk. Bottled water in general…really? Major corporations decide they can blithely bottle up the water from California aquifers and sell it, adding to pollution (how many people actually bother to recycle those bottles?) and destroying that aquifer.

Around 2010 our well, always delicate, decided not to bring any  more water to the surface..put simply it went dry. We were able to cobbage together a solution: put one of the smaller collection barrels on a small trailer, and use that to haul water from one of the local ranches. They do a rousing business selling water, I only hope their well stays good. And yes, we collect every possible drop of rain/snow/frost water that hits any of our roofs. It’s why I don’t worry quite so much about the micro climate I’m trying to develop

In 2013 I joined an International group of authors contributing to an anthology about…water. The book is free, with a request for donations to a fund for clean water around the world. OF WORDS AND WATER was written to benefit Water Aid (click on the book cover for that link…I learned how to do this recently and wanted to show off!) My contribution is a tip of the hat to Star Trek…Prime Directive.

If you look through that website you’ll see pictures that are not so pretty of people struggling to survive, making an incredible effort to obtain at least the minimum needed water, hopefully clean.

They are in IN NEPAL NOW and are sharing statistics we need to understand about the situation there concerning Water and Sanitation, so critical to life and health. Even as the aftershocks continue, some things can’t wait.

I don’t mean this to be a downer story but if it takes some depression to wake us up to this critical issue, then I’ll stash the humor for a while.

Take care. And while you think about Water, think about our Wounded Warriors. I do pretty much constantly

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Pay It Forward, with Wicked Dragon Solutions: What Comes After “THE END”? #editors #editing #WDWS

When I heard Jami and Amber were planning to start an Author help/editing business I knew I had to grab them for a post. What better way to pay it forward? Didn’t hurt that they’d chosen Dragon for their name. I mean…dragons??? How could I not ask them to come visit?

What Comes After “THE END”?
By Jami Gray & Amber Kallyn, Editors for Wicked Dragon Writing Solutions

JPG 379 WickedDragonWriterSolutions_LogoYou’ve finally typed the two most important words: “THE END”, but your precious treasure of words needs one final polish before you usher it out on to the cruel world. During your writing journey you’ve discovered editors abound. So have we. Not because of our crystal balls, but because Amber and I have traversed the same paths, trying to find the magical editing fit for our written treasures.

Between the two of us, we have garnered thirteen years of continuous editing and writing experience in various genres. Enough so, when given an opportunity we decided to open our editing doors to our friends in the writing community, and, Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions was born.

Each written gem is a unique collection of voice, plot, and characters. The right editor will not only be experienced and educated, but will understand each story contains facets of creations unique to their genre. As with any master craftsman, an editor will devour written gems by the armful, regardless of genre. No one goes after a treasure without a map, and editors will arm themselves with industry knowledge to ensure a successful epic quest.

We know how vital editors are to Creators of the Written Word, and what’s better than one editor? How about two editors putting their eyes to the jewelers loop to examine your precious treasure, and you’ll only be out the gold for the price of one. Think of it as an Editorial BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free).

Feel free to come on over and check us over at Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions (WICKED DRAGON WRITER SOLUTIONS!

JPG 792x612 WD HeaderIn celebration of our grand opening, if you book your adventure during the month of April, we are offering 10% off your hoard of gold, just note code: WDWSOPEN when booking your spot!

If you’re anxious to start your epic journey, feel free to reach out to mailto:wickeddragonsolutions@gmail.com and we’ll get you set for your editing adventure.

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V…The Value in our Voice against Violence #AtoZChallenge

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is GoodV…sharp and straight, waiting to be a Vessel, to establish Value. V also represents our Voice, the unique way we put words together in speech, in writing, or in song.

We have another use for our Voice, one we sometimes neglect. Our Voice can and should speak out against Violence. So much Violence, so much of it against women and children. While we worry about our first world problems…hell, we whine about them, don’t we…in other places Violence is used to subjugate, to prove a point, to establish superiority. All too often Violence is used when Voice is either not heard or not well expressed.

But…But what can I, a single Voice, do to resist this Violence?

Funny you should ask. THIS NUN IN UGANDA has learned to use her Voice to stand against thesister rosemary Violence in her country. And as she says, ‘If you want to save women, start with one woman at a time. If you want to save children, attempt to save one child at a time.’

Too many first world countries have their own sort of Violence. I can not pretend to understand all the reasons, nor do I know enough to take sides. I do know Violence as a first choice solves nothing. Education is the key here, or communication…using our Voice to discuss and create solutions. A dream? Or a necessity?

I thought I’d be going back to my younger days (LONG ago) for this song to share with you. Until I found this rendition which seemed more appropriate

And before I leave you, we need to discuss another critical V…our Veterans. Again we need to use our Voice to speak out for Veterans. For their safety, for their future. In thanks for their efforts that made it possible for us to feel at peace. I think this deserves a post of its own, or two or three. Don’t  you?

 

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U..it’s for…Ummm… #AtoZChallenge

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is GoodU. Just sitting there waiting to catch all the fall out from earlier letters in its valley. We’re having a fun ride so far, right? Right??? Right.

The prediction was Q and U would be difficult, as if we weren’t moving into the beyond difficult letters. As if Q wasn’t bad enough.

Let’s see…U. Unforgiven, Unsightly. Unseemly. Seems like a lot of negative here. Which is appropriate since there have been a LOT of unseemly events showing up, just to knock women down. Silly, silly women, thinking common sense would prevail. You ask what I’m babbling about?

Beyond the modern attempts to control women, beyond the atrocities visited upon women around the world, it seems when an attempt is made to fix inequality, even that’s unsuccessful.  Chuck Wendig, defender of rational thought,  wrote a blog about THE NEW COMICS JUST FOR GIRLS . As if girls don’t read and enjoy ALL comics whether the main character is girl, boy, or the mutt they added to the family last week. Check it out. I’ll get some coffee.

Are you angry yet? Starting to steam here. And I have to wonder, seriously, when are we going to grow up??? WHEN are we going to end this ridiculous subjugation of  women as if there weren’t a mountain of other issues to take care of? Seriously. WHEN. Oh, wait, you don’t see this as an attempt to take over women? Let’s look at it this way: When you raise a child to think they are not quite the same as other children, when they learn they are not quite as good as other children, you program their bright young minds to believe they don’t have the same rights as others. I’ve seen it happen, with children and with dogs. (well, I have raised a lot more dogs than I have children)

Seriously. If you didn’t before, check out Chuck’s blog. And for once read the comments. Because they are also pretty darned awesome! Are you beginning to feel the urge to pound your head against a solid object. If I thought that actually would help, I’d be right there with you. Unfortunately I don’t know for sure what will work but I doubt head pounding will be an effective weapon. Blue-Angels-First-Female-Pilot

I balance this against the visual of our first female Blue Angel, and hold out hope, for our future in spite of this attempt to create sparkly My Little Pony shemale super heroes.

In the  meantime, since this day is a U, I’m gonna give you a treat.

Oh, yeah

Bright moment…I woke up to the sound and smell of rain.

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T. Time…Not enough? Too much? Running out of? #AtoZChallenge

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is GoodT. Back to the straight line letters. Balancing its cap on a vertical, almost as though it will begin to spin like one of those plates for the Chinese acrobats. Amazing balance, don’t you think? Tequila, T-shirt, tumbleweed (ICK!!) Tension, Torsion. But most important of all

TIME

We save time. We waste time. We lose time and make time. It seems some people have plenty of time while others run out of time. Yet we all have the same twenty four hours to use as best we can. And sometimes we want to stop time. Another song I love, one that runs through my head all too often. Jim Croce…another gone way before his time.

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day ’til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go through time with

***

And for the last, turning to my era’s go to philosopher, Gandalf, the creation of J.R.R. Tolkien. Here’s a quote I’ve remembered, and it looks like it’s popular with quite a few people, since there is a wealth of memes. Tolkien/Gandalf quote the words of philosophers from centuries past but it could not be more valuable advice for today.

... decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” – Gandalf

And now it looks like I’m out of time. Night All

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S. In Springtime, Salukis…and Sex? #AtoZChallenge #MFRWAuthor

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Looking Toward Spring

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is GoodS..all smooth curves, almost in motion even when still, almost slithering like snakes on the page. Some of the script S’s look like they’ve tied themselves in knots and aren’t quite sure which way to turn.

S could be for Snake, or Saluki or Sex. It could be about Spring, and one of my favorite songs…I discovered this version, and this singer, last Spring

The song itself has always been fun for me but this man sings it to perfection. I had to be careful looking for this particular song since Bryn Terfel’s You Tube collection is huge and wonderful. And very distracting.

Did not know kale is perennial

Did not know kale is perennial

Spring brings us such a huge variety of weather: wind, rain, snow, frost, SUN. Sometimes all in one day. I hover over the perennial garden as bits of green peek through. Or not.

The Salukis go from tight thick coats to massive SHED in one afternoon. As much as possible I comb it out, gather it up, and leave it out for the birds. They like that sort of thing for their nests.

I see I put SEX in the title. Got your attention, didn’t it? Fact is, sex sells. I know that’s used as an excuse for the success of Romance writers. Yes there is sex in Romance books. There’s sex in life as well. It’s one expression of people reaching out to each other. It’s a deepening intimacy in books and in life. It’s also a part of nature.

As a writer, some of those scenes are the payoff for the effort put into the prior scenes. When I’m writing a ‘closed door policy’ book (where private things are kept private) the sex can be a reward of sorts to the characters who have helped me build their relationship to this point. Which doesn’t always  make sense to non writers. For some (most?) writers the characters have to be real or the book won’t be real.

In the meantime I’m going to enjoy the Spring I’ve been gifted with this year. In case it goes back into hiding.

Boo, Biddy, Fire Dragon, snow times a few years ago

Really, I saw Spring here, just yesterday

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Rrrrr, Rain. And Romance. #AtoZChallenge #MFRWAuthor

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is GoodPoor R, has to put out a prop to keep itself upright. The cursive R doesn’t look a lot different, just a few more curlicues Allura Printable Cursive Alphabet Letter R

Did you ever wonder about the origin of the term cursive? It refers to penmanship where the letters are joined together. I’ve discovered there is a wide range of possible synonyms, including longhand, script, joined-up writing, joint writing, running writing…as well as many others. AKA hens scratching and “Why didn’t you become a doctor, you have the handwriting.”

I digress. Me? Yup. R could stand for Redneck, discussed in the song

I’m betting many of you think I’d be featuring Romance.KITT CRESCENDO DID most eloquently. Why don’t I? After all I write Romance. I read Romance. What could be more important?

Glad you asked. I live in the high desert. By choice. Average rainfall is 15.16 inches. In Edgewood it’s 13.67 inches…less 033than 65% of the rest of the country. When I have a chance to write about something precious to me, it is going to be RAIN.

It does rain here. Not real often but when it comes it often shows up in deluges. And of course I’m out there with my camera because…momentous event, right? Unfortunately it’s not always easy to find in my picture files, such as they are. Here’s one from July 2012 . The view from my back door. Not going out further or I’d be SOAKED.

That large black shape is a 1500 gallon cistern. There’s one at the front and the back of the house. We take water conservation seriously. The green growth…weeds, my most prolific crop!

085I was in Canada the next year, judging Salukis. Lovely country, wonderful people. And sooo green. It’s no wonder it’s green, 095when the rain comes down in sheets. Their special method of dealing with rain is a sump pump in the basement, to keep the house foundation dry. 135

It was gorgeous. I spent time standing under this overhang and just breathing in the ozone. Plus enjoying those flowers I can only grow in a very protected area.

Living in California spoiled me for gardening. Just enough rain to be able to grow almost anything.

Lots of people like California. LOTS of them. There’s enough rain to keep things green. Not so much that people are inconvenienced. 106Except for once in a while, such as April 2012 when two years worth of rain fell in a day, during which my friends were trying to hold a dog show. Some of them were seriously considering putting in a call to Noah. 110

Sometimes we can have too much of a good thing.

I’m hearing this will be a higher than average rain fall year for New Mexico. Works for me. Even so, most of my plantings are VERY drought tolerant. Just in case.

Looking for music to share…Did you know you can download TEN HOURS of the sound of rain. That might be just a bit too much even for me. But here…here’s a song new to me. Rain…and Romance. How perfect!

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Q? Yeah, What About Q? #AtoZChallenge

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is GoodQ. Such a silly looking letter, cursive or printed. An O with a funny tail? A 2 with a superiority complex? I practiced the cursive alphabet in elementary school and for a while it was legible…well, almost

Did you know there’s only one country starting with the letter “Q”? yep, Qatar. I have very mixed feelings about this country that has made itself into a jewel of the Middle East.

There are numerous towns in the United States, among them Quantico. Hmmmm Quantico… Not today, thanks

In New Mexico we have Quemado … remote but lovely and with some notable eating places, and  Questa…above Taos and oh my just gorgeous. Then again there aren’t many places in New Mexico that aren’t lovely. I might be just a tad prejudiced???

Instead let’s think about QUIET. Or more to the point, QUIETUDE. the state of being quiet or calm. In the last few years I have learned the value of simply being quiet. Of allowing the beauty around me to fill my life.

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I can enjoy just being. Especially being with a quiet companion.

Quiet for now, sharing the sunset

Quiet for now, sharing the sunset

 

We owe it to ourselves to, at least on occasion, embrace the Quiet

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Paying it Forward with Ruth A Casie

Good morning, I hope your Sunday is going well. Here’s Ruth Casie with information about her Druid story, and an excerpt for use to read over our morning beverage of choice. Coffee, where’s my coffffeeee.

Knight of Rapture Final Cover RACasieShe was his witch, his wife and his warrior. He was her greatest love.
Four centuries couldn’t keep them apart.
He crossed the centuries to find her…
For months Lord Arik has been trying to find the right combination of runes to create the precise spell to rescue his wife, Rebeka, but the druid knight will soon discover that reaching her four hundred years in the future is only the beginning of his quest. He arrives in the 21st century to find her memory of him erased, his legacy on the brink of destruction, and traces of dark magick at every turn.
A threat has followed…
Bran, the dark druid, is more determined than ever to get his revenge. His evil has spread across the centuries. Arik will lose all. Time is his weapon, and he’s made sure his plan leaves no one dear to Arik, in past or present, safe from the destruction.
But their enemy has overlooked the strongest magick of all…
Professor Rebeka Tyler is dealing with more than just a faulty memory. Ownership of Fayne Manor, her home, has been called into question. Convenient accidents begin happening putting those she cares for in the line of fire. And then there’s the unexpected arrival of a strange man dressed like he belonged in a medieval fair—a man who somehow is always around when needed, and always on her mind. She doesn’t know who to trust. But one thing is certain. Her family line and manor have survived for over eleven centuries. She won’t let them fall, not on her watch… in any century.
***
Hi Everyone!
I’d like to thank Mona for inviting me to her blog today. She’s asked me what inspired me to write my Druid Knight series. My interest was spurred by Who Do You Think You Are? a television program that helps celebrities trace their ancestry. I watched as a young actress walked the streets in an English town that hadn’t changed since her ancestors lived there four hundred years ago. That’s when I thought… what would her ancestor think of a 21st century woman? Women today are more outspoken, fearless and confident. What would happen if she had to live in the past with her 21st century mind set? All sorts of conflicts came to mind. I tackled those issues in the first story, KNIGHT OF RUNES.
But that was only one side of the coin. How would a medieval knight cope in the 21st century? The advances in the last hundred years alone have been amazing. I saw a man from the 17th century responsible for managing an estate as arrogant and dictatorial. How would he react to the 21st century? What would he do when his legacy was in jeopardy?
And what would happen when these people from two different eras fall in love. How much would they sacrifice for the other?
If you’d like a peek into how much they mean to each other, read on for an excerpt, Chapter One of KNIGHT OF RAPTURE.

****
Chapter One
September 22, 1605 – Early Morning
Visions of his warm bed and even warmer wife lit Lord Arik’s face. A deep rich chuckle rumbled in his chest at the vivid images of how he’d wake Rebeka.
Who would have thought the great druid Grand Master was a besotted bridegroom? The summer had been warm and all the sweeter with Rebeka by his side.
He stood on the open terrace at the back of the manor, surveyed his domain and swelled with pride. Fayne Manor was a thriving estate that had been the family home for eleven centuries and it would stand for eleven more.
While he waited for the sun to rise, he prepared for the ritual. He took off his linen shirt and braced himself for the crisp September air. The morning breeze stirred sending the red and orange leaves racing across the garden, twisting and tumbling like rowdy children at play.
Out of the corner of his eye he sensed a movement but nothing was there. It sobered him. The Shade, an otherworldly thing, was an old acquaintance begging for an audience. Like an old woman with aches and pains predicting bad weather, the Shade’s shadow warned him of trouble. What did it bring this time? He had learned long ago to listen to it. It was accurate, most of the time. He glanced at manor door. A little longer. He wanted more time to love her before he began her training. Dark Magick. Faith. She wouldn’t be the same when they were done. He didn’t want any changes. She was fine the way she was.
He placed his shirt on the stone railing as the sky brightened. Any moment the small sliver of golden sun would crest the rim of hill then he would ask the Great Mother to grant his people a good day.
His nostrils flared. The trace of a sweet pungent metallic smell sobered him. He tried to push it aside but it remained at the edge of his mind stealing the last of his pleasure. Lightning. The smile slid off his face. For everyone’s safety he needed to take action—he recognized the signature.
Bran.
He cleared his mind for the ritual and thoughts of Bran faded—for the moment.
“Hail and welcome,” he declared to the east as fingers of sunlight stretched over the hill. His body warmed as the tattooed runes draped across his back and chest, thrummed and brightened. They were a sign of his station as the druid Grand Master. Each rune strengthened his power and had been earned as he progressed in the Order from Druid to Master to the ultimate title of Grand Master. “Thank you, Great Mother for giving us another day, a day of peace…“
And, he murmured, for giving me Rebeka.
The lingering mist faded with the morning sun. Like a cozy down blanket pulled from a bed, the retreating haze revealed the thriving village and farms.
Soon the quiet valley would come to life. Farmers would set off on their daily chores, the villagers would open their shops, and his soldiers would take to the practice fields. His chest swelled. Was it a sin to be proud of what he, together his people, had accomplished? He’d do anything for them, anything to protect their hearths and homes.
He closed his eyes for the morning blessing. “As above, so below. As within, so—.“ He took a deep breath and caught the faint scent of lavender and roses. The teasing fragrance announced Rebeka was near. Her morning appearance, with his tankard of watered ale, had become part of his ritual. “…so without,” he continued the rite. “May guidance and love mark our way. And bring success for our clan today. So mote it be.” He opened his eyes.
“The day appears promising.” Rebeka’s voice brought a smile to his lips. She tugged her shawl closer around her shoulders. “M’lord.” Soft puffs of breath surrounded her mouth. There was indeed a chill in the morning air. She gave him his discarded shirt and waited while he shrugged into it before handing him his ale.
She had little on beneath her great shawl. It made his mind wander. “Yes. It will be a good day.” It was always a good day when it began with her at his side. “Almost as good as last night.” They drove each other mad with their verbal banter and soft touches yesterday until she surrendered to him. His reward was to tease her until she yielded last night. Who knew who would yield today? Either way they both won.
Her gaze slid from his chest to his face. Her searing expression brought back the warmth of their passionate evening. Her flushed skin was her silent response.
He returned his gaze to the valley pretending to be interested in the smoke now rising from a distant chimney. He turned his attention back to her.
Faith, how he loved sparring with her.
Out of the corner of his eye he caught her blank stare. But the challenge was given and he understood it had been accepted. With a long pull on his ale he returned his attention to the curling smudge in the sky and like a game of chess waited for her to make the next move.
She rose on tip toes and bathed his ear with her soft breath. “But not as good as tonight will be,” she whispered. “We celebrate Samhain tonight.”
He didn’t try to hide his arousal. He set the tankard on the wide stone railing before the ale sloshed over its rim.
“Happy thoughts for the day, husband.” She laid her hand on his chest and bent to kiss his cheek.
He caught her around her waist and brought her face to his. How he adored the passion in her violet eyes. They asked for more. He answered with a searing kiss and teased her mouth open with his tongue. She didn’t protest. Instead she moved closer molding her body into his, fitting like a key in a lock. Encouraged, his tongue swept her mouth and he reveled at the sweet taste. When he released her she stood in the crook of his arm, her head on his chest with his cheek resting on her hair. Quiet and content, he savored the last few moments while the sun rose over the edge of the hill.
“Wife, you surprise me with the… thoughts you put in my mind.” His blood heated at the mere idea of his musings.
“I didn’t…”
“Yes, I know… But if you did mind touch and put thoughts in my head I know what they would be.” Mind touching was a special skill. No Druid would trespass another’s mind. It was a grave violation. She would never abuse her ability.
The sound of footsteps from the Great Hall interrupted them. “Arik? Ah, here you are.” Logan, his younger brother peeked out the terrace door. “Are you ready to leave? The sun rose hours ago. I thought we’d breakfast with the men and start maneuvers today.” Logan gave Rebeka a devilish nod. He casually filched Arik’s forgotten tankard and took a deep swallow.
Arik observed the bottom of the sun clear the eastern hill. “Hours?” He shook his head and let out a snort. Threading his fingers through Rebeka’s he gave them a tender squeeze. He had wanted more time with her. He always wanted more time with her. But for now their game was over, at least until tonight. “Hours,” Arik muttered while he released her then took the tankard out of Logan’s hand. “And get your own ale. Better yet, get yourself a wife to bring it to you,” he told Logan in feigned aggravation before he drained the tankard dry.
“Ah, but where will I find one like Rebeka?” Another nod for his sister-in-law. Rebeka bobbed a quick curtsey and tried not to laugh.
Find one like Rebeka, indeed. There was no one like her, but good sense told him Logan would find a love of his own. He earned that. A cool morning breeze stirred the bottom of Rebeka’s thin night dress and she shivered.
“Go get something warmer on before you catch your death,” Arik whispered in her ear. She nodded and scooted into the house.
“Maneuvers today?” Arik glanced at Logan and observed his pleasure turn to concern. “The winter’s coming. We should make sure the farms are prepared, there’s enough food stored, and the necessary repairs have been made before the snow.” He had hoped the calm that his valiant soldiers fought to achieve in August would last longer. “There’s still more to teach Rebeka. She’s not ready to face Bran.”
“She came through the portal to return to you. She’s strong. We need her skills to defeat Bran. We can’t do it without her.” Logan didn’t hide his impatience. “Yet you haven’t taught her about Dark Magick. Instead you hide it from her. And I know why.” Arik almost sneered at Logan. This was an old argument. Logan would have had him start her training after their wedding night.
“You’re afraid she won’t be able to control it, that she’ll become like Bran. Don’t you see she’s made of stronger stuff?” Arik waved him off. He stepped away to put space between them. But space wouldn’t help.
Who did he fool, certainly not Logan. Arik glanced at his brother and recognized his silent strength. The only fool here was him. He couldn’t continue with this idyllic illusion. Logan was right. He had been delaying teaching her. He knew Dark Magick would test her, change her. And he wanted her just the way she was.
“After years of being battle ready the men have earned more than a two month furlough,” Arik said in one last effort to put Logan off. The air was alive with Logan’s unspoken objection. He was losing this battle. He glimpsed at Rebeka. Faith, he didn’t want anything to change. She signaled him with a slight nod. He was lost. He couldn’t fight them both. “We’ll recall the men.”
“I put out the word. Many of the men arrived last night. I’ve told them to meet us at the garrison this morning.” It was Logan’s turn to find the smoke from the distant chimney interesting.
“You haven’t forgotten about the portal,” Logan said. Rebeka returned in her morning dress and shawl
Ah, this was the crux of the matter. Maximillian’s last time travel portal still existed. Arik had sealed all of the others except this one in order to leave Rebeka one opportunity to go back to the 21st century. She valued her independence and ability to determine her own destiny. It challenged him but he loved her for it. He couldn’t seal it, trap her here. It had to be her choice.
“We’ve spoken about closing the portal on Samhain,” Logan said. Magick was strongest on the first day of spring, with its balance of light and dark. He needed that magick to finish the former Grand Master’s work.
“I agree with Logan. Seal the portal and begin my training.” Arik stood next to Rebeka she had no idea what she asked.
He brought her around to face him and peered into her eyes. “I can’t undo the magick once it’s done. You must be sure.” Would she regret not returning? He needed her to be certain.
“My father took me to the future to protect me. All my life I’ve been searching for something without knowing what it was. When I came to Fayne Manor, your Fayne Manor, I knew I had found what I had been searching for.” She held him close. “You. Here is where I belong. Why would I want to be anywhere else? Seal the portal now, forever, before anything happens.”
“She’s right. Seal the portal before Bran finds a way to use it.” Logan echoed before he started took to the terrace steps on his way towards the manor gate.
“Wait,” Arik called after him. “I’ll go to the garrison with you.” He trotted down the steps and caught up with Logan.
“So, you recalled the men. You were certain I’d agree.” He had considered calling the men after Samhain. A few days earlier were fine with him. But he hadn’t wanted to start Rebeka’s training. He glanced back at her standing on the terrace. Logan was right. They needed his sorceress wife’s strength.
“Of course you would agree. Once you reviewed the situation from every angle. Besides, you’ve sensed the Shade, too. We both know it’s time.”
Arik threw his arm around Logan’s shoulder. When had the adoring younger brother become a knowledgeable man, a good friend and soldier? “I thought I heard them gathering when I prepared for the morning ritual. While you organize the men I’ll see to the portal. I’ll meet you at the practice field when I’m done.”

Rebeka watched the brothers leave through the garden gate and marveled at their similarities. People moved out of their way to let them pass. Their self-confidence and air of authority was obvious to everyone. Arik gave the appearance of one who demanded instant obedience. Logan was quick to learn the skill. From the back they were difficult to tell apart. But she would recognize Arik anywhere. He moved with a smoothness and grace that excited her.
She took the empty tankard then entered the Great Hall ready for breakfast. Maybe later, when she finished harvesting herbs, she’d take the trail from the meadow that passed by the practice field. She pursed her lips at the idea. It was more than watching her sweaty husband half undressed practicing with his men.
No, she set a wicked smile on her face.
It was all about watching her sweaty husband half undressed.
“Are you going to gather herbs in the meadow?” Skylar said while she spread jam on her morning bread. “If you don’t need help, I thought I’d cheer the soldiers on while they practiced.”
“And how did you know the men would gather today? You shouldn’t eavesdrop.” Skylar’s scarlet blush flashed up her neck to her checks. Rebeka bit her lip to keep from smiling while she took her seat at the table. Skylar’s embarrassment told her she was right.
Cheer on the men? Rebeka was more inclined to believe that Skylar meant to cheer on her Robert. And how different was that from her watching her Arik?
“Rebeka.” Aubrey, the younger of the two girls, interrupted, oblivious to her sister’s discomfort. “I can go with you. I’m sure Elfrida wouldn’t mind.”
Elfrida, the oldest person in the village, lived alone in large house on the path to the lake. She had been Skylar and Aubrey’s nurse, and even Rebeka’s nurse. Some said the woman was so ancient that she had been the nurse for the Ancients who lived in the Otherworld.
Her nurse. She hadn’t remembered Elfrida when she returned. She hadn’t remembered anyone. When her father took her to the 21st century to protect her from Bran and his Dark Magick he clouded her memory with an enchantment.
Skylar’s head rose. “It’s not that I don’t want to go with you.” The bread in Skylar’s fingers was poised in midair. The pleading expression on her face melted Rebeka. It was obvious to her that Skylar wanted to do both but who could compete with the handsome Robert. The boy searched for any opportunity to spend time at the manor house.
Young love.
Rebeka laughed. “Go ahead to the practice field but don’t stay too long. Jeannie and the other women will need help with the tables and food.” Skylar popped the last of the toast into her mouth then got to her feet. “How do I look?” She brushed imaginary crumbs and wrinkles from her skirt.
“Don’t shine too much or you’ll blind Robert.” Rebeka shook her head then realized that being older and in love wasn’t much different.
“I’ll be back in plenty of time.” Skylar rushed from the room.
Rebeka’s gaze slid to Aubrey. “What wouldn’t Elfrida mind?”
“We’re making sachets for the festival. I can tell her I’m coming later.” A frown settled on Aubrey’s face. “I do like helping her. She always tells old stories about the family.” Aubrey licked the jam from her fingers. “Skylar likes to listen to them too. She pretends she’s grown up but you should see her when Elfrida starts. Her face gets all dreamy.” She wiped her hands on her napkin.
Elfrida, a born storyteller, held everyone’s attention with her tales of the different families. She’d been a source for Rebeka, helping her fill in some of the spaces to recall the past once the enchantment was broken. “I’m helping in the village when I’m finished in the meadow. You make your sachets with Elfrida. When you’re finished meet me by the baker. We can volunteer to sample the meat pies.”
Aubrey’s face broke into a broad smile. Rebeka was glad to see the young girl happy and animated. It had been a few months ago that Cousin Katherine had bullied and harassed her. A distant cousin of Arik’s, Katherine arrived for a visit and stayed on after Arik’s sister Leticia death. Without a woman in the house, Katherine had taken on more and more household control until she ran Fayne Manor.
But Katherine was gone.
Now Aubrey’s face was bright and she chatted almost as much as her sister, if that was possible. The change had been startling. She had been withdrawn and almost never spoke. Everyone in the manor and the village had been concerned. Katherine had found Aubrey’s vulnerable spot, Leticia. The more Aubrey tried to hold on to her mother’s memory, the more Katherine bullied her.
Katherine, the witch. The very idea of the woman made her blood boil. Katherine had tried to keep Arik under her power and isolate him from everyone.
It wasn’t all Katherine’s fault, it was Bran’s. It had taken little for him to manipulate the woman’s already jealous and spiteful mind—giving her the tools to plot against her family. When she realized Arik would never be a part of her twisted dream, to be the true mistress of Faye Manor, she used the tools Bran gave her for he own purposes. With murder in her heart she was determined to see her dreams fulfilled.
Memories of what happened at the standing stones and portal filled her mind. She had been caught in the magick gateway. Arik had been intent to get her out. He didn’t see Katherine attacking him from behind. But she did.
She threw her dirk and hit her mark. Arik got her out of the portal. But while Katherine lay wounded she taunted them. She admitted she had killed Leticia. The pain that had crossed Arik’s face had broken her heart. The woman had kept on laughing until Arik swung his sword and silenced her forever.
Rebeka glanced at Aubrey finishing her meal. No regrets. She’d do it again to save those she loved. But when would Arik understood the man behind everything, Bran, was beyond saving?
There was no way he could turn back.
She understood the devastation that Bran suffered when his wife, Cay, died but that was a long over used excuse. He was aware of the consequences of using dark magick before he began. Everything had consequences and some couldn’t be avoided. Arik knew that better than most in his capacity as Grand Master and lord of Fayne Manor.
“Rebeka, is something wrong?” Aubrey asked.
“Nothing’s wrong. Reminiscing.” She pushed Bran out of her mind and concentrated on her breakfast.
“You’d better hurry and get over to Elfrida,” Jeannie told Aubrey when she came in from the kitchen, carrying an empty tray. “I left some scraps of material in a basket by the garden door. You can take those with you to make your sachets. And don’t forget the flower petals you gathered.”
“I won’t.” Aubrey dusted the toast crumbs off her hands and rose. She leaned over to Rebeka. “I’ll meet you in the bakers as soon as I’m done.” She hurried off through the kitchen.
Jeannie set the tray on the table and collected the dishes. “And you’d better hurry, too. I’ll need those herbs. I’m making the herb goat cheese you’re fond of.” Jeannie gave her a sideways glance.
Rebeka licked her lips thinking about the creamy cheese. It was a recipe she’d made for Jeannie, one she learned in the 21st century. “Yes, ma’am,” she said as she too left the room.

The day was bright and mild, a good day for a festival. Not a cloud in the sky. A breeze carried the hint of cooler days to come. After the hot summer, the day was a perfect relief.
The aroma of fresh baked bread wafted up to the manor and drew Rebeka into the village. Happy and content, she leaned against a table in the market square, eating the last bite of the warm crusty bread slathered with sweet creamy butter.
“You approve?” Mary’s voice grabbed her attention. “You told me you were eager to see everyone.” Rebeka had a special place in her heart for Mary.
“This is perfect. The aroma of the hot bread,” she lifted hers in salute, “is better than any alarm bell. My mouth watered as soon as I stepped outside the gate.” She leaned her head towards Mary.” And I’d already eaten.”
Rebeka glanced past Mary at the crowd milling around the table and the clutches of chattering neighbors who had been hard at work with the harvesting and preparing for winter. It reminded her of the 21st century coffee wagon.
“The loaves were set out to cool when Lord Arik rode through the village with Doward. I gave them a large slab for their ride.” Mary pulled Rebeka around to face her. “Is it true he goes to seal the last portal? You’re not going back?”
“Yes. This is where I belong and where I want to be.” All those early concerns about how she had arrived at the manor. The irony was laughable. The Lord Knight of Fayne Manor was the Druid Grand Master—the ultimate magician. And she’d worried his people wouldn’t be able to accept that she’d traveled through time. Yet when he’d tried to explain his magick she considered him to be primitive. How absurd and narrow-minded.
“Mary.” One of the other women waved her over to another table.
“I’ll be right there,” she called out. She turned back to Rebeka. “Wait until you see what we’ve planned. I know I shouldn’t say anything but it’s your first fall festival as lady of the manor and we have a surprise for you.” The woman was excited she couldn’t stand still, but hopped from one foot to the other.
Rebeka laughed. “You don’t have to do anything special. Not because I’m lady of the house.”
Mary took Rebeka’s hands. “You’re right but being lady of the house isn’t why everyone wanted to do something special for you. You are an inspiration. You lead by example. You’re smart, fair minded, and yes, maybe a bit strong willed. To me, you’re my valued friend.”
Rebeka paused, “You know you mean as much to me.” Mary was the first in the village to befriend her, an outsider. All her life she shied away from attachments with a sense of not belonging. But she didn’t retreat from Mary.
“Mary.” The woman’s call grew more insistent.
“Coming,” Mary shouted. She squeezed Rebeka’s hands. “Of course I do. And understand I am not the only one who recognizes the good and caring person you are. Everyone does.” One final squeeze and she hurried off. Rebeka stared after her.
In the 21st century she and her father, an authority on Celtic history, lived near a rural college campus. It was only the two of them. She surmised that her parents must have been very much in love. He never spoke about her mother nor did he have any pictures of her. She asked questions but got short unsatisfying answers. Over time, she stopped asking. They stayed to themselves most of the time. He died when she was a freshman in college and believed she had no family and belonged nowhere until she discovered her place and her people. She only had to travel back in time four centuries to find them.
“They need more bread.” Marcus, Arik’s captain stood next to her. “Skylar and the older girls set a table by the practice field to serve the men. She mentioned the villagers were gathering here. I came to see. Was this,” he motioned to the people in the square, “your idea?” He nodded his thanks to the young boy who handed him a tankard.
“No, the morning gathering was Mary’s idea.” Her eyes moved from one group of people to the next. The villagers greeted the arriving tenants and their families with shouts and laughter. The small children ran about while the older ones chatted, the boys on one side and the girls on the other. More bread came out of the ovens and barrels of ale from the brewer.
Marcus’ gaze spanned the crowd. His satisfaction and approval was apparent from the broad grin on his face. “Most of the men have arrived. The practice field is filled to capacity.” He brought his tankard to his lips but before he took a sip he gave her a teasing smile. “Lord Arik will be wrestling later. You may want to watch.” He drained his tankard.
How did Marcus know she enjoyed watching Arik?
“Don’t look surprised. You’re secret is safe with me.” He had a pleased expression on his face. Marcus, too, was a good friend. He was the second, after Logan, to pledge himself to her after she married Arik. “My soldiers have found their ale and are taking a few kegs for the field.” He nodded towards a knot of men hefting barrels on their shoulder. “If you’ll excuse me I have to get back. This was a fine idea. Everyone’s looking forward to the banquet tonight. I hope you and Arik will sing for us. You were the highlight of the summer celebration. What was the song you sang?”
She reflected for a moment. “Row, row, row your boat.” She had taught Arik, Logan and the girls to sing the song in a round one evening after dinner. They taught the song to the villagers at the summer bonfire. She saw a different side of him at the festive. Not the warrior but the man. That was when she realized she loved him. “I’m certain if you ask him he won’t say no.” Marcus titled his head in salute then followed his men. She observed him exchange his empty tankard for a piece of bread when he passed the last table.
She glanced around and absorbed the warmth and closeness of family and friends and her love for Arik. How could he think she would ever want to leave? She slipped on her empty backpack and took her staff. If she hurried, she could harvest the herbs then watch Arik on the field. That would still leave her time to meet Aubrey by the baker.

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I hope you enjoyed reading about Lord Arik and Rebeka. ! I love to hear from readers too, so drop me a line at Ruth@RuthACasie.com OR visit me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RuthACasie. I’m also on Twitter: @RuthACasie. If you’d like to receive my occasional newsletter, please sign up at http://www.RuthACasie.com.
You can certainly see that Lord Arik and his Rebeka are very much in love. But what will happen when she’s tricked into the portal? If you’d like to read what happens, KNIGHT OF RAPTURE is available in ebook and paperback at Amazon and electronic formats from Barnes&Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.
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Thanks so much!
About Ruth
Ruth A. Casie writes contemporary and historical fantasy romance for Carina Press, Harlequin and Timeless Scribes Publishing. Formerly from Brooklyn, New York, she lives in New Jersey with her very supportive husband Paul. When not writing you can find Ruth reading, cooking, doing Sudoku, or counted cross stitch. Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren. They all thrive on spending time together. It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world. For more information about Ruth’s books, please visit http://www.RuthACasie.com.

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P…Payoffs? #AtoZChallenge

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is GoodP. Just look at her. A bit like a tall lean woman with a generous chest, don’t you think?  Well I see it anyway, but I might have a strange mind.

I thought about Promotions ***BUY MY BOOK*** or Persistence, which is one of the major ingredients of success. Propriety and Passion can make for a lively discussion, since they might be thought to be at cross purposes. But I’ve been considering PAYOFF for a long time.

Oh…you thought I meant PAYOFF in terms of buying reviews and other such less than acceptable actions? No. No. I’m talking about PAYOFF in terms of reaching your goal after work and 005struggle and effort. That lovely moment when you crest a hill, having driven through miles and miles and MILES of oh so boring landscape.

PAYOFF is your reward for planting perennials, nurturing them

Did not know kale is perennial

Did not know kale is perennial

through the winter, and seeing green show up the next spring.

PAYOFF is hearing lovely bird calls in the morning and evening, possibly in appreciation for the food and water we schlep home and pass out to them.

Release date 5/9/2015

Release date 5/9/2015

PAYOFF is seeing your writing efforts ‘pay off’ with books in print.

PAYOFF is looking around at a clean house after you worked for hours getting it that way. Okay, that’s not such a great example since generally the dogs don’t let it stay that way for long!

However there’s also the PAYOFF of being able to wear that smaller dress you bought on sale years ago, ‘just in case.’ Knowing it’s not going to fit for long while you continue your healthier eating and more exercise. Just being able to get out of bed in the morning without aching all over is a payoff in itself.

In January I participated in a week long Your Turn challenge, committing myself to blogging daily for a week. Every successful post ‘shipped’ was shared on a Facebook page. Many of the writers so enjoyed reading each others work, we chose to stay together. The PAYOFF here is meeting new, talented people, reading their work.

Such as  THIS by Vanessa Lee Thomas writing about celebrating successes large and small while we go through our lives.

The ultimate PAYOFF.

Back Road to Santa Fe

Back Road to Santa Fe

And the music…how could I resist?

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