Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Blogger Susan Kelley

I know I said Saturday, but it's going to be a full day, and I don't have time for my thoughts on Supernatural today, so you get Sue early!

Thank you so much for allowing me to make a guest appearance on your blog, Natalie. You’ve featured so many great authors in the past, I’m thrilled to be in such company.

Most readers know me best for my fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles. The first book in that series, The Keepers of Sulbreth, is available in many bookstores and all the major online retailers. I write fantasy under my real name, Susan Gourley.

But today I’d like to talk about what I write under my pen name, Susan Kelley. Earlier this year I wrapped up my four-book futuristic romance series, The Chronicles of Solonia. Today I’m venturing into a new romance area with a fantasy romance, To Tame a Tiger.

To Tame a Tiger, from The Wild Rose Press, is the start of a three-book series centering on a legendary race of warriors called Tigers and the courageous sorceresses who love them and hope to save them from the curse placed upon their race generations before.

Luke Aron is the leader of the cursed warriors and the center of a power struggle between a powerful witch and the free people who resist her takeover of their kingdom. Lady Violet Hylan is the young sorceress who first rescues Luke and then fights to keep him at her side.

You can read an excerpt here, and here is another short one. I think you’ll enjoy this fantasy adventure with its touches of humor mixed with suspense and thrilling action.

Read this short excerpt when Violet understands exactly what type of man she’s allowed into her life:

Violet moved up a few steps. Someone screamed. The shrill sound ended all of a sudden with a choked, gurgling sound. Then complete silence.

She dragged herself up another step to a small landing. A blood-soaked arm lay on the floor near the tightly curving wall. She forced herself to move onward. The body connected to the arm came into her view. She took another small step, but her stare would not leave the grisly sight of the dead man. She edged forward and bumped into a live body. A hand covered her mouth and smothered her scream.

“You were to wait.”

Violet sagged against Luke. She wrapped her arms around his waist to support her weak knees. She buried her face in his shirt and inhaled his scent. It comforted her more than she expected on short acquaintance. He backed away from her and put his hands on her shoulders.

“You must follow my orders, or we’ll both die behind these walls. Or worse. We could be recaptured.” Luke shook her gently, and he spoke in a cold tone she hadn’t heard before.

What kind of bond was this? Wasn’t he supposed to serve her?

“I think you’re confused about who’s in charge here, Luke Aron.”

“I’m in charge, Lady Violet, until we’re out of danger.” He spun away and began taking weapons from the dead soldiers.

For the first time, Violet took in the entire grim scene on the landing. There had been four guards. Now there were none. None alive. She looked at Luke with a new, disturbing understanding of what a Tiger was. Magic linked her to this man who could kill four armed, trained soldiers, with no weapon beyond a spoon.

Luke stopped his search among the dead and walked to a small table set along one moss-covered wall. The landing was actually a small guard room with cots on one wall and chairs and a fireplace along the other.

Violet scurried after Luke. She stepped over a man with the spoon impaled in his throat and fought back the gorge rising from her stomach.

Luke held a long knife in his hand. The blade, etched with an intricate drawing of a hawk, caught the lamplight on its sharp edge. A matching pair of swords shared the table.

“Are they yours?” Violet knew the answer even as she asked.

The weapons carried a lethalness as deadly looking as she now knew this man to be. The hands that slid the swords and knife into the worn leather baldric were long-fingered, slim and beautifully graceful. At least she would have described them as such when they stroked her body not long before. Now she saw they were extensions of the finely crafted weapons of destruction he handled with such familiarity. He fixed the baldric over his shoulders with quick adjustments of laces. He put his hands on her shoulders and startled her.

“You must promise to listen to me, Violet. When we’re safe, you can order me to kiss your feet. You can have me beg forgiveness for this moment. I’ll do so gladly. Please let me lead you now, my lady.”

Violet didn’t believe the gladly part one bit. But he’d spoken the truth about everything so far. The patient lover was gone. Now she faced the Tiger.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stay Tuned

Pretty swamped at the moment, so don't have the energy or the time for a real post. :(

But I wanted to remind everyone about the Nothing But Nets contest Rosemary Clement-Moore is holding:

Donate a little, help a lot. End Malaria, win books!

And on Saturday, I have a guest blogger! Susan Gourley/Kelley will be here talking about her newest (really cool) release. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Breath of Magic

Release Day!

One of my closest friends, Tracy Madison, is celebrating the release of her third book today. I had the huge honor of critiquing A Breath of Magic and it's definitely the best of the three. But the fourth (out in December) is even better, and I'm pretty sure the fifth will be my favorite. But I digress.

To celebrate her release, Tracy is doing a Month of Mysticism, with a stupendously amazing month-long contest, of which I am a part, should I ever get off the stick and get my stuff to her. :)

Tracy did an interview for The Examiner about this book and the rest in the series. (FYI, the books all stand alone, but the first two in the series are still available!)

Congratulations, Tracy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Personal May Sweeps

I don't know why I always say October is my favorite month. I mean, it is, until the end of April, when I become giddy about May and all it will bring.

Besides the obvious (hopefully good weather, the best TV of the season, and the start of the summer blockbusters), I always have a series of events that allow me guilt-free selfishness. We have something awesome every weekend this year!

May 2 is my local chapter meeting, and it starts half an hour late than it used to, which means I don't have to miss the early soccer game or the meeting, or any parts thereof.

May 9 is Mother's Day.

May 13–16 is our annual writers retreat, and Number Two's last soccer game is the 16th, after the retreat ends, hallelujah.

May 21/22 we get to see my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, as well as my cousins and their new babies (and the adorable toddler brother) and my aunt and hopefully uncle and grandfather.

May 29 is a City Islanders game. The season started this past Saturday, but the next home game isn't until the third week in May (which we'll miss, but that's fine, more important stuff going on!). That is also Memorial Day Weekend, so there's that day off of work/school.

The not-so-great part of May? Well, May sweeps means the best TV (ideally), but it also means finales. Supernatural only has 3 episodes left, and by the end of the month, LOST will be done forever. :(

But that's a small thing in the grand scheme of awesome. What are you looking forward to this May?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Point of No Return

Number Two, you can't read this, it talks about Supernatural and stuff you don't want to read. Also, maybe some (mildly) bad words.

Add me to the ranks of fans who hated Dean in "Point of No Return" last week. And of course, by "hate" I mean "want to kick in the balls until he comes to his senses." The kind of hate you feel for someone you love who is acting like an idiot.

Actually...really, there was only one thing worth hating. I got that he felt abandoned by Sam, and that all the events of recent episodes fed his despair. But to say he had no faith in Sam, that he couldn't trust him, was not well motivated to me. Sam has done nothing in months to undermine Dean's trust. In fact, when he was high on demon blood, he fought the addiction to defeat Famine while Dean stood there like a numbskull, staring, and the nerd angel was gorging himself on hamburger. Sam didn't deserve what Dean said to him.

So okay, we can rationalize it. Dean was defeated. He was done with everything, ready to end it and hope more people wound up okay than not. The only way he could really justify giving in, though, was to convince himself he couldn't count on Sam, even though it wasn't true. So he was lying to himself, telling himself that hey, Sam was led by the demon chick, he was an addict, and an addict can never fully be trusted, and after all, he'd always let Dean down, running away from him when all Dean ever wanted to do was protect him.

Huh. I might have talked myself out of it. Maybe I need to watch the episode again...

Castiel, holy cow. His rage over Dean's betrayal, when he'd given up everything for him...his sacrifice--because you know he went to the same place his attackers went. I'm not real clear on what happens. Do the bodies go with them, or are they disintegrated and have to be recreated? If they're in angel form, is fighting easier or harder? If Castiel banishes himself, does that make it harder to get back?

I was so happy that Dean put an end to Zachariah, but I'll admit to being sad, too, because Kurt Fuller did such a freaking amazing job. I'll miss him. The ash angel wings were incredible, beautifully rendered (whether CGI or real, though I hope they were real--I don't know why, exactly). But some of us were discussing the manner of death. Uriel said only an angel could kill another angel. I also thought that sword was one of a kind, but of course, since the first episode of this season, all the angels seem to have them. So, is being angel made enough? Or is it something to do with the power that gave Dean the ability to kill the Whore of Babylon?

Also, I noticed that immediately when Zach was gone, Adam and Sam stopped hemorrhaging. So...does that mean that Bobby will be healed? They're a little different, as hemorrhaging is a process and Zachariah was presumably keeping it going, because it wasn't natural, whereas spinal cord injury is a trauma and once done is done. But it would be super awesome if Bobby could walk again.

Speaking of Adam...Jake Abel did a great job, too. I loved the subtle differences between the real Adam and the ghoul's presentation of him. I had two theories about Michael's plans, and the second one held true, which shored up another theory of mine, one that will probably never be articulated by Kripke and Co. but that can be inferred by everything that has been said on the show. Adam was of John's bloodline. John was able to be a vessel for Michael, so Adam would be able to, as well. Number One said he didn't have Mary in him, so he wouldn't be as strong a vessel (since the angels orchestrated getting them together). But I think it's more than that. I think what makes Sam a better vessel than Nick and Dean better than Adam is who they are. Not just their bodies, but their souls. Who they've become, shaped by their experiences, strengthened and honed. Their will and fortitude and strength are unique, and that's why they can withstand the strain of possession. But it's also why Sam wouldn't make a suitable vessel if Sam isn't actually in there.

I was a little afraid when Dean said yes, because even if he didn't mean it by the time he said it, he'd said it. But he didn't say it to Michael, and I assume that's part of the deal. It can't be by proxy.

Man, this show provides a deceptive amount to think about, doesn't it?

So this week is "Hammer of the Gods," and I don't know, despite the gross promo, I have a feeling it will wind up being one of my favorites. The title, premise, and guest star give me probably way-too-high expectations. I can't wait to see it! Unfortunately, I have to wait longer than normal, because baseball is preempting it and it won't be on until 11:30 at the earliest. Yes, I'm staying up to watch! I have to monitor the recording, after all. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Boiler Room Treasures

J and the kids have been slowly cleaning out our monster dump of a boiler room. Today they found two treasures.

The first is a book Number One wrote in first grade. I don't have a scanner, so instead of taking pictures of every page and really slowing down your browser, I'll just post the text. Commentary is in italics.

Chapter One: My Mommy
My mommy is a great great writer. She's the best writer I ever knew.

Yeah, cuz she knew a lot of them when she was six.

Chapter Two: My Daddy
He plays Chase the Monkey. Daddy is the lion and we are the monkeys and the lion chases the monkeys.

Daddy is obviously the fun parent.

Chapter Three: My Little Sister
My little sister named [Number Two] is very, very, very funny. "One movie that both of you like," said Mommy. "Okay, but we watch my movie first?" asked [Number Two]. "No, we're only going to get one movie," said Mommy. "Okay, but we watch my movie first?" asked [Number Two]. "Yes," said mommy.

Number Two would have been 20 months old at the time. She's much smarter now.

Chapter Four: My Grandma Tee
Grandma Tee is a very, very, very, very, very, very good sewer. She sewed our dresses for Uncle Andy's wedding.

Chapter Five: My Uncle Andy
My Uncle Andy just got married to a girl named Nikki.

Chapter Six: My Aunt Nikki
She is very beautiful. She has dark brown hair.

Chapter Seven: My Grandpa Chip
When we went to the tower that we can see all of Dallas, Grandpa Chip spit on my glasses and I spit on his glasses and we wiped our glasses off. He also is a good kicker.

Yes, ew, and yes, this is totally my dad. I have no idea what he was kicking that so impressed Number One.

Chapter Eight: My Grandma Patt
Grandpa Chip and here were fighting to kiss me once, so I crawled away without giving them a kiss.

Typos are exactly what was in the book, which was typed by her teacher. Number One think they were typed exactly as she wrote them, but despite our general satisfaction with this school district, I have never been impressed with their typing ability. I'm sorry, teachers should NOT be fluent in Typotic.

Chapter Nine: Miy Aunt Cindy
She babysits sometimes

Poor Aunt Cindy, that's all she got. Since there's no period, I have a feeling the typer got interrupted and missed some stuff. Though Number One did draw a picture on the page afterward and didn't add any more text.

Chapter Ten: My Uncle Kenny
He's just like my daddy. He tickles me a lot just like daddy.

Chapter Eleven: My Uncle Bob
Uncle Bob spoils us rotten. He took us to the pool once. That's spoiling us rotten. He and us were fighting and he threw me and Alex up in the air and we landed in the water.

Good thing my kids don't get to spend a lot of time with Uncle Bob, what with that spoiling rotten thing!

Author Page
Hi my name
[Number One] and I'm
six years old.
I have a lit-
tle sister nam-
ed [Number Two] an-
d she's two ye-
ars old.

This page was hand-written, and I thought the hyphenation quite creative.

They also found a box full of old racetrack. Number Two and J spent, like, an hour setting up an elaborate track, and then it wouldn't work. I cleaned the contacts on the cars and the track itself, but it wasn't working, so they took it all apart and did a simple oval. Once that worked okay, they added some switches and a loop. They weren't the only ones who had fun:

The two kitties who are allowed downstairs were alternately attracted, confounded, scared, and then excited by the little zippy things flying around. Fun was had by all.

Until they got bored.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Funny Stuff...Well, To Me, Anyway

Conversation with the Kid

Scene: Picked Number One up at school, stopped at grocery store on the way home. She was going to wait in the car and read the hated Great Expectations.

Me: Don't get carjacked.

Her: I won't.

Me: Take off your seatbelt. If someone tries, jump out of the car immediately.

Her (reaching into back seat): I'm not leaving without my Neo.

Ahhh, that's my kid.

Today, I was participating in a writing blast sponsored by my local chapter, CPRW. We were all typing in the chat so fast that we kept messing up. Stuff like spring instead of sprint and Luciver instead of Lucifer and getp 'oml instead of whatever it was supposed to be. Someone typed readu and made a joke about not knowing what that was. As the joking evolved, we discovered...


We no longer make mistakes. We just switch from English to Typotic. Join us! The learning curve is nearly non-existent.

Supernatural fans, don't forget the new Ghostfacers series launched today! Go to I can't tell you how they are, because the video player doesn't seem to want to update. Will have to try it on my laptop.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Reasons I am Friggin' Happy Today

1. Very productive morning, made more so by the handyman being late.

2. I put the screen in the front door.

3. The handyman has fixed the dishwasher and one drawer.

4. The handyman will next fix the sprayer and the other drawer.

5. Number Two's microphone arrived.

6. Jim Butcher's new book arrived.

7. My Entertainment Weekly has arrived.

8. Supernatural is on tonight, and it's new!

9. Bones is also on tonight.

10. My kids are awesome.

Explanations, Caveats, and Addendums

1. With the handyman coming, I had to clear out the cabinets and dishwasher, then I had a workshop lecture to post, some client work to do, family stuff, and bills to pay. I was running out of time for the last thing when the handyman called and said he'd be half an hour late. So I had time to finish all my downstairs office stuff and then move to my upstairs office (laptop on dining room table) before he arrived.

2. We've lived here 11 years. When we moved in, we had a three-year-old, and by the time she was old enough that I wasn't afraid she'd put her hand through the screen trying to open the door, Number Two was the perfect age to do so. After that, I was just lazy, I dunno. But today I pulled it out of the boiler room and swapped it with the full-panel glass insert. MAN, was that heavy. But it's safely downstairs, and we have the most awesome crossbreeze now.

3. Our house was built in 1962. It's not ancient, but it's old enough to need a fairly steady stream of work. Add the fact that apparently the builders or retrofitters never did anything properly (that's a whole 'nother post), and said work tends to be problematic in some way or another. The dishwasher is perpendicular to the cabinets (see left). It sits on the subflooring, while ceramic tile in front of it creates a nearly one-inch drop. The countertop did not originally have a side panel; it just rested on top of the dishwasher. When we had the cabinets refaced, the guy put in a side panel, but that meant there was an inch between the dishwasher and the counter. The dishwasher wasn't anchored. First time I opened the door, the whole thing tipped forward. When we replaced the dishwasher a couple of months ago, the installer positioned it all the way to the right so it would clear the drawer and cabinet handle. But when he anchored it, it must have shifted, because it was not only unable to be opened because it hit the door handles, it rubbed the side of the cutout space. Of course, I didn't notice until after the installer had gone. He refused to respond to phone calls or faxes or complaints to Sears, so we suffered. But NOW, the handyman (from Handyman Matters has raised up the dishwasher and moved it to the right and anchored it so it not only fits and doesn't interfere, it LOOKS good, too!

4. After we'd decided to call in a handyman to fix the dishwasher and the Drawers of Suck (slide bent, replaced it, it shredded the wood, couldn't find the parts to do it ourselves—the other drawer just needed anchoring in the back), the sink sprayer stopped working. I couldn't find a replacement locally without having to buy a whole faucet set, so I ordered one online. But when he tried to replace it, the hose that came with it isn't compatible with the connector under the sink, and the sprayer end of the old hose isn't compatible with the new sprayer head. He went to Home Depot and bought a basic replacement head but it didn't solve the problem, so we probably need to replace the whole faucet system. That sucks. And he still has to try to fix the King Drawer of Suck, so we're looking at a 3-hour bill, minimum.

5. Number Two saved up her money and subscribed to Smart Music. For her birthday we added the instrument microphone. That finally came today, and gives her the ability to self-tune her viola, as well as grade her playing. She's excited and now her entire afternoon is set. :)

6. There are a multitude of authors whose books I enjoy, and many I love. But I can count on one hand the ones I'll squee over and buy in hardcover the day they come out, or even preorder. Jim Butcher is one. He combines everything that pushes my buttons—paranormal shenanigans, snarky humor, heart-pounding adventure, and people who love each other so much they'd kill or die for them (and not just romantically; in fact, mostly not romantically). I read 12 pages while I ate my salad, and now the book is glowing on my table, enticing me. But I shall be a good girl and work on my revisions. After I finish this post, of course.

7. Entertainment Weekly used to come on Fridays, and sometimes, if the postal service was in a mood, not until Saturday or even Monday. But the last few weeks, it's been coming on Thursday, cementing that day in its spot as my favorite of the week.

8. I haven't talked yet about last week's Supernatural episode. Oh, right, because I did the recap at Supernatural Sisters. I loved how they covered the whole "But they've died before. A lot. So why are they just in heaven now?" problem. Their memories were erased! Easy-peasy! But it fits with the show. The angels wouldn't have wanted them to remember the afterlife, early on. I loved Ash, SO so much. "I'm cool with it!" Pamela's logic was not flawed, but I hated that she tried to manipulate Dean. I mean, life is life, and the afterlife is something totally different. Why should all those people give up the living just because the afterlife seems like it ain't so bad? Dean believes in the value of life so far beyond what anyone else in the Supernatural world believes. He's humanity's champion, and he won't ever give in, no matter how bad things looked at the end.

9. I like every show I watch. If I didn't, I wouldn't bother. Duh. :) But the only one that feels like a guilty pleasure is Bones. I have no idea why. Maybe it's just weird for me to like a very successful show.

10. Number Two's parent/teacher conference was last night, and it went very well. We learned something that kind of blew us away. And Number One gets inducted into the French National Honor Society tonight. So we're proud parents. :)

What's making YOU happy today?

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