Monthly Archives: November 2013

Tradition of Change

We’re a family cut adrift from our roots. Dad was in the military. When he enlisted, he left his Midwestern family behind. He married my southern mother and ended up being stationed far, far away from *her* family. They started a family of their own – by adopting cats. I was a distant second thought. At least you know I come by the cat thing honesty. Regardless, the point is that my folks came from two very different cultural holiday traditions. They had kids in a state as far away from their respective families as the Air Force could possibly send them. Alaska. In 1964 (fortunately after the massive earthquake).

We moved often. Including overseas to Iceland. Each place we lived had it’s own set of traditions.

So we cherry picked. Nothing was sacred. Some of the food came from my dad’s family. Most came from mom’s. Everything else? Totally up for grabs. In Iceland, post Christmas, there’s a midwinter/early spring holiday wherein kids put a shoe in a window sill. In the morning, the shoe is filled with candy, treats and coins. My folks were willing to play that game, but only while we were in Iceland. Once we got back to the states, that was over. 🙂 We settled in the US after Dad retired and we fell into a set of traditions – maybe habits. They weathered me getting married – even reached out to encompass my husband’s family, and welcomed my younger sister’s baby into the mix.

But these days, change is once again the name of the holidays. For all of us. My husband’s family moved to sunshine. Florida. After last holiday season, my husband and I looked at my folks, you know, the only people with an actual house, and we realized they were exhausted after hosting the holidays. Mom had been doing most of the holiday cooking for the past fifty years.

It was time to cut my parents a break. Either my sister or I had to step up and host, or we had to come up with some new traditions again. I live on a boat with an oven the size of a bread box and maybe 400 square feet of living space. My sister lives in a trailer with her daughter. She has a real oven, but no more space than I have.

So this Thanksgiving, we’re going out for our dinner. I’m still at Mom and Dad’s doing the holiday baking. For Christmas? We’re not sure yet. Yes. My folks will put up a Christmas tree (for the granddaughter – but the girl is old enough now to do a bunch of the work herself). My husband and I will likely sail the boat over for the week of the Christmas holiday. But at this point? We’re playing tradition by ear, because really? All my life, my parents attempted to make my weird, nomadic childhood as normal as possible. Now, they’re in their 70s. It’s my turn to make their lives as easy and comfortable as possible.

Oh. And there’s still a cat. He’s gotten into the spirit of this season of change. He decided to contribute to Thanksgiving Dinner. Behold, Nicadeimos, the mighty hunter and his offerings for the feast:

grasshopperFirst – grasshopper. Crunchy!

ShrewSecond: the shrew. He is SUCH a good provider. 🙂

Sleigh Bells, the Big Guy and Finding Faith

Well, my darling MANhandlers, I have to say I would make a much larger effort to catch Santa coming down the chimney if he looked like this. Enjoy!

My parents are awesome on an epic level. I love them with a ferocity that defies basic description. It’s always been this way, even when I passed through the dreaded Teenager of Doom years. They are, quite frankly, amazing. But, because they are human and subject to human flaws, there were a handful of serious Parenting Fail moments growing up. The one I want to touch on was the day they told me Santa didn’t exist. I’ll never forget the moment. I had recently defended Santa to a classmate who insisted Santa was his dad and was bothered the classmate, Ryan McSomething-or-Other, proved so insistent. Jackass, right? That first forkful of crow was hard to get down. Here’s how it went down.

My parents were wheeling a small BMX bike up the front walk and I followed behind. (I’d been at a neighbor’s house while they were shopping.)
Mom: “Don’t tell your brother about the bike. It’s from Santa.”
Me: O_o … “Huh?”
Mom: “The bike. It’s from Santa. Don’t tell Andy.”
Me: “How is it from Santa?”
Mom: O_o … “You know we’re Santa.” (← statement of fact)
Me: (trembling chin) “You’re what?”
Mom: “Santa. Your dad and I are Santa. You knew that.”
Me: …

This didn’t bode well for the Easter Bunny, and I knew it with that crystal clarity inherent to life-altering moments.

I suppose I was a wee bit cynical that Christmas. Oh, I didn’t blow it for my brother with a casual, “Everything we’ve ever believed is a lie.” No, I let him have his excitement and his moment of wonder as I sat back and smoked a cigarette and sipped my scotch and contemplated the meaning of life. Not really. (C’mon. I was, like, eight. I didn’t like scotch yet.) In my mind, the moment was captured something like this:



“Don’t mind me. I’m just sitting over here living a lie, thanks.”




But this was the moment a tradition was born. My parents pulled me aside and told me that, as long I continued to believe in the beautiful mystery of Santa and maintained the Christmas spirit, the jolly red-suited big guy would continue to visit — ad nauseum. I chose right then to give up drinking and smoking and simply hold out hope the ‘rents were telling the truth. I remember easing back into the moment and feeling a little of the Christmas spirit revive in me.

It became a holiday tradition that my brother and I would sit down at the tree on Christmas Eve and shake our presents, trying to guess what we’d be opening come morning and then we’d lay a little wager about what Santa would bring. When he moved to Florida this year, at age 36, I realized I wouldn’t have that. I’m going to miss it. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on Santa, though. Nope. No way. I’ve even got my husband believing. We hang stockings every year and, lo and behold, they’re filled every Christmas morning and there are special presents for us, whether it’s around our tree or Mom and Dad’s.

Santa and I have come to a gradual understanding over the years. It’s pretty much: I get fantastic presents in exchange for faith based on cookies, time and tradition.

I can live with that.

Stumbling into Holiday Traditions


My memories of the winter holidays growing up are not particularly strong. Being Jewish in a predominantly Christian town, we didn’t do much.  The only image that floats in my consciousness is of a leaf-shaped menorah and not much else. I have stronger memories of being the only Jewish family in different town and celebrating Christmas that year so we didn’t feel left out. We didn’t play dreidel (spinning top game), we didn’t eat latkes (potato pancakes), we didn’t get together with the extended family. It was the holiday that wasn’t.

When I had my own daughter, I felt the need for rituals that had a spiritual basis of some sort. I wish I could admit to devising some detailed plan of great religious meaning. What actually happened was more organic–a series of ad hoc decisions that over time became our Chanukah traditions.

It started when my daughter turned three–that neat age when you can talk to kids, even reason with them and they respond to you.  Most of her friends at day care and the neighborhood were not Jewish, which at times made it hard on her. So in an effort to be inclusive, I had several small dinners where we invited friends over for latkes, dreidels and just sharing winter traditions. Learning from my mother, I ordered latkes from a local caterer cause I had no idea how to make them. We had so much fun sharing Chanukah that inviting people over, often more than just one night, became the first pillar of our holiday rites.

The following year, my daughter attended a Sunday school of sorts and came home with two menorahs she made out tiles and bolt holders. The previous years we used the eagle menorah my parents gifted us. With my wide-eyed stubborn girl determined to use all three menorahs, we adapted a more orthodox tradition–one menorah per family member.  So counting our cat in the mix , we lit three menorahs and I discovered I liked it.  The scent of fire, a room bathed in candlelight, a sense of abundance that comes when everyone has their own but we work together to make the lights glow.

That year, I got more ambitious–I made my own latkes. Okay with a box mix but I tried, right.  The potatoes did not go brown, but I’d never fried anything. They were edible. Enough, so I established two pillars that year. Use more than one menorah and a commitment to making latkes.

After two years I mastered the boxed latke and my ambition grew. I would make them from scratch–once I got a food processor. Success. I now make my own latkes, and even experiment with them. Just last week, I won a small Thanskgivica cook-off for pumpkin latkes.

Finally, last year I added one more level–a commitment to respect the giving nature of the season by incorporating charity into our traditions. Last year, I gave it as an additional gift. This year I shared with my daughter a donation to charity will replace one gift one night. She not only supported the decision, but volunteered to give up two gifts to help others. Charity, the last pillar of my tradition, is now in place.

For the moment.

One never knows how it will change or expand in the years to come.

My story’s just that gentle reminder that traditions, like writing, are our stories to create. Sometimes we plan them, sometimes we pants them. And they evolve, never remaining stagnant event though we tend to think of them that way. But any way you get there, is the right way.

Happy Thanksgivica to all.


Post script:  I’ve got a new book coming out December 6.  Take a peak at the cover.  Its really quite lovely.  More about it next time.


On the Third day of Pre-release…

…the author gave to me…

Pretty cover! Full Excerpt! And…foreplay!

Well, that’s kind of what a pre-release tour is, right? Foreplay. And from the excerpt I think you’ll see that’s an appropriate analogy.

Available December 4, 2013, Jaguar in the Sun is book four in the Unveiled Seductions series, and yesterday at the Cabal of Hotness blog I gave a peek at the proposition that gets Cassie and Xbal to this point… now you’ll see (sort of) how her plan to get Xbal into bed is progressing. Tomorrow I’ll be over at the awesome Lea Barrymire’s blog talking about the genesis of the series, and how tattoos play an integral part in how it all got going!



Book four in the Unveiled Seductions series.

Cassandra Solinar has a bucket list and jaguar god Xbal Montegro is on it. About to undergo an essential rite she won’t survive, she wants to wring every ounce of pleasure out of the time left. Including discovering if Xbal’s sex magic technique is as good as rumored.

It’s no hardship for Xbal to accept Cassandra’s invitation for one erotic encounter, but far more difficult to let her go once he gets a taste of the explosive passion between them. Now he’s determined to hold on to her, no matter what.

Cassie can’t tell Xbal the truth about what she’s about to do. It’s illegal, but without her death the entire world will perish. It’s a job she’s been preparing for from birth, but the loss will be greater now. For in Xbal she finds a soul-deep connection she doesn’t want to lose, and the one thing she made a point of not putting on her bucket list—love.

A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave


Cassie wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the turn her encounter with Xbal had taken. It was one of those situations where you go in thinking you know what’ll happen but the script you have in your head turns out to be completely wrong. She’d been envisioning an immediate response—either a polite “no, thank you” or a crazy, gotta-have-it-now fuck on his couch or desk. Nowhere in her imagined movie was there banal conversation on the way to a restaurant, the prospect of lunch as a build-up to the actual deed getting done. He’d turned her plan on its head, and she felt as though she was upside down with it.

If she weren’t so completely rattled, the entire situation would be hilarious.

But she was rattled. Not to mention frazzled. Oh, and throw in a wild, inescapable side order of horny.


Hard to laugh when the sensation of Xbal’s lips on hers wouldn’t go away, when she kept remembering the timbre of his voice as he said, “Foreplay.” Then there was the slow, careful, terribly controlled way he’d closed her dress and tied the sash as she stood there trying hard not to tremble each time his knuckles brushed her skin.

Yes, it was all so ridiculous.

Yes, he was amazingly sexy.

Of course she’d wanted to sleep with him for years.

But, in the final analysis, it was still just Xbal, her friend and occasional business associate, a man she admired and genuinely liked. Just because she’d opened the door to them sleeping together didn’t mean any of that had changed, did it?

She glanced up from the menu she’d been pretending to peruse and another wave of need flashed over her skin and through her veins at the sight of him across the table. As though sensing her stare, he looked up too and smiled. Just a small tilt of one side of that beautiful mouth and her insides melted, need sending a hot, hard signal to her clit, which throbbed in response. Refusing to let him see just how affected she was by the entire situation and knowing from experience just how good she was at hiding these things, she smiled brightly back.

“So. What about this foreplay you promised me?”

Good. Nothing in her tone to indicate anything but light amusement. It was all she was willing to reveal.

Xbal waved an expressive hand, as though subtly brushing the words aside, and tilted his head a little, his eyes never leaving her face.

“We’ll get there, but I have a couple of questions for you first.”

“Oh?” Cassie tilted her head too, mirroring him, giving back as good as she was getting. “Like what?”

“Why me?” Nothing but curiosity in the words, but his eyes had darkened, his gaze turning sharp and probing. Cassie suppressed a shiver. Somehow that predatory stare was just so damn hot. “Why now?”

The urge was to look away, sever the sense of intimacy suddenly binding them together, but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. She was about to lie to him, by omission if nothing else. Breaking eye contact would be too much an admission of…what? Insecurity? Dishonesty? Vulnerability? A mixture of all three?

She shrugged lightly, pushing those thoughts aside.

“Am I the only one to feel there’s a certain…” She lifted an eyebrow, drawing out the last word. “Chemistry between us? If I am—”

Again came that wave of his fingers, less subtle this time. “You know you’re not. I’ve wanted you from the first moment I set eyes on you, and you know it.”

No, she hadn’t really known it. She’d thought it, hoped it, even dreamed it, but he was such a cool customer she hadn’t been one-hundred percent sure. Hearing the words gave her an aching thrill she couldn’t—didn’t want to—fully suppress.

Arching both brows this time, she shook her head slowly. “Well, if that’s the case, what more is there to say?”

“A lot,” came the succinct reply. “Why me? Why now?”

By Sol, he wasn’t giving up, was he? What could she say to satisfy him that didn’t involve things like, “You’re on my bucket list” or “I couldn’t put it off any longer, lest I miss the chance”? The truth would lead to far more questions and admissions than she was prepared to allow. What could she say to fend that off and satisfy his curiosity? She settled on part of the truth.

“You’re a sexy man and I want to sleep with you.” There was some satisfaction in seeing eyes widen just enough to show surprise. “As for why now? It’s the right time for me, as I hope it is for you.”

His eyes still locked on her face, Xbal leaned back in the booth and, just from that motion, she knew he wasn’t satisfied with her answer. Mentally scrambling, she watched him for a second or two, waiting for him to start digging deeper, before inspiration struck.

“Of course, hearing you’re a master practitioner of sex magic doesn’t hurt.” She found herself licking her lips and didn’t stop the movement, knowing he’d seen the motion by the flicker of his gaze. When she continued she let her voice fall low, into a sexy whisper. “The combination of you and atraspa is too much for me to resist any longer.”

Now she had him.

Xbal’s stillness was complete, only his eyes flickering slightly, a big cat sighting his prey. Cassie suddenly realized she could hardly breathe, so caught up in the intensity of his gaze air seemed superfluous.

Foreplay. It occurred to her Xbal didn’t need to touch her, with hands or lips or magic, to turn her on. It was all in the eyes. The expression and concentrated focus.

Sol, he’s sexy.

There was a part of her wondering why she’d waited this long to initiate a sexual encounter with him, another urging her to run away. It was overwhelming, being the object of his attention in a way she hadn’t expected.

I didn’t expect any of this.

She’d thought it would have been over by now. The scenario seemed simple enough. He says yes, or no. They have sex, or she walks away. Now, mesmerized by the dark, compelling eyes, it all seemed a hell of a lot more complicated.


Journeys Through Seduction

Anya Richards/Anya Delvay books available from Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo.

The Maltese Falcon

Maltese FalconI love old movies. I spent my childhood and adult years watching 30’s and 40’s black and whites. There’s something special about b/w film – the contrasts of lights and darks are perfect for a noir film.

I admit to loving the romantic comedies more than noir, but I have watched a few. My favorite of all time is The Maltese Falcon. There are several reasons why it’s on the top of my list. I love a mystery and any film that stars Humphrey Bogart. He teams well with his love interest Mary Astor. They were so good together they did another noir film Across the Pacific one year later.

Another thing going for the film is it’s based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett and adapted to screen by John Huston. Two giants in their fields.

Here’s a quick blurb on IMDb:

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

If you get the chance, rent it or stream it!

Viki Lyn

Viki Lyn: Award winning author of male/male paranormal and contemporary romances. You can find all of Viki’s books at the following sites: Amazon, All Romance Ebooks and GLBT Bookshelf.

We’ll Always Have Paris

CasablancaSet during World War II, Casablanca focuses on a man torn between, in the words of one character, “love and virtue” – Rick’s choice being his love for Ilsa or aiding her and husband Victor to escape and continue their fight against the Nazis.

As love stories go, Casablanca is one of the most famous, but yet does not have the romance-novel-required happy ending. At least, not between lovers Rick and Ilsa. Instead, we’re given a story where love is sacrificed for the greater good, the characters having to settle for their memories.

These days, the heroine leaving the husband she doesn’t truly love isn’t so much the problem it was when Casablanca was first released. Certainly in romantic fiction the hero and heroine have to be together. But is gaining a happy ending worth losing the pathos of the story? Personally I think not. Ilsa made a vow to Victor, one that Rick knew she’d regret breaking if she stayed with him.

Having said that, if I were to write a story inspired by Casablanca, my ending would certainly be different. 😉

Misa Buckley is a sci fi geek who escapes the crazy of raising five children by creating imaginary characters who experience adventure, romance and really hot sex on their way to a happily-ever-after. You can keep up to date with Misa’s latest news by following her on Twitter or at her website.

The New Noir

This month we’ve been discussing our favorite noir films etc., and I thought I’d be the only one left on the sidelines looking on, unable to contribute. See, I’m not really a big movie fan, and I haven’t read a true noir book since I found a box of old hardboiled detective books when I was in my early teens… and that was a loooong time ago, so I’d have a hard time remembering which was my favorite.

Then, on Friday, I decided to make a Jamaican candy that involves breaking two dried coconuts, prying the meat out of the shells and cutting it up into very small pieces. Definitely one of those tasks that keeps your hands busy but doesn’t really involve lots of thinking, so I was browsing through the TV channels looking for something to watch, and came across a marathon of Longmire. Oh, yeah…


And, as I watched this dark, gritty show, I realized I had found the topic of this blog post. Maybe it wouldn’t be considered traditional film noir, but when I looked for a definition of the term, I came across this, on good ol’ Wikipedia: Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.

Yep, Longmire fits the definition, in my estimation anyway, if you don’t get too picky about what they mean by ‘stylish’. If you haven’t seen it, the story centers on Sheriff Walt Longmire, sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, who has returned to work after his wife’s death. Not only does he have to contend with crime in his county, an ambitious deputy who wants his job and racial issues between the Anglo and Native populations but also the fallout from his wife’s murder, which hasn’t been solved.

I haven’t watched the entire series but one of the things I really like is that I can watch an episode I haven’t seen before and I don’t feel as though nothing makes sense. I find it enthralling—just the kind of atmospheric show I think falls squarely into the Noir genre. If you’ve never seen it, and enjoy crime dramas, I’d recommend this one. It’s one of those shows where even the best character has a dark side, where you’re left asking who can be trusted—and realize you’d be a fool to put your trust in the complete goodness of any of them. Even the hero. Kind of like in real life…

I love it, to the depths of its (and my) dark soul!

Journeys Through Seduction

Anya Richards/Anya Delvay books available from Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo.

Noir SciFi

Have you ever had one of those days when you know you have something that has to be done – say – a blog post about your favorite noir book, movie or what-have-you, and everything that could possibly go wrong with your computer DID?

Yeah. The irony is that I had no idea what noir even meant (besides ‘black’ in French). After a fashion, it could be argued that I had a demonstration this morning, courtesy of my Netbook and Windows 7. Sigh. Windows. Why you suck so bad? Though granted, I’m comfortably certain there’s not a noir anything out there in the world that’s used that question.

I had to look up what constituted a noir film. I found an excellent site about film and film history. They have a very thorough write up about film noir – several pages. At its most basic, the site notes that film noir is a mood – dark mood, tone, and themes. It also generally refers to a historical period after WWII.

I then looked for a list of films. Yet another site listed the 100 greatest noir films. Ah ha! I can write about one those films! Surely . . . nope. Look at that. I have seen exactly zero of those movies. And here I thought my film education was reasonably well rounded.

Enter the NEO NOIR. (Movies made post 1960 that have the same mood/tone as film noir.) Pay dirt.

MV5BMTA4MDQxNTk2NDheQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDE2NjIyODk@__V1_SX214_Bladerunner! It would never have occurred to me to call that ‘noir’. It is, to me, ultimately optimistic at its core. And of course, it’s science fiction first in my broken, disorganized brain.  But, you know, amidst all of the classically scifi questions of ‘what constitutes life’, ‘what makes us human’, ‘what is humanity’s fate at the hands of humanity’s creations’, there IS a dark, fatalistic core to Bladerunner.

<SPOILERS BELOW: If you want to see the film, stop here. It is well worth a look. If you have seen the movie, nothing here will surprise you.>

The hero’s humanity is, finally, only intact because it is so fractured and his moral sense so warped and unutterably human. Not *humane*, but certainly human. And there is question at the end of the movie whether that’s a good thing. He’s flying off into the sunset talking about being with someone he ‘loves’. Never mind that he had to rape her to get her to admit she isn’t actually human. Ultimately, he’s human because he can love – but IS that really love or some kind of Stockholm Syndrome? I had always thought it was an optimistic movie because Deckard’s humanity is confirmed – albeit in a totally inhumane way. Thus. Noir.

Film Noirish: The Thin Man

The topic of the day–favorite film, book or anything noir.  Part of my wants to just point out the black dress in my closet and call it done.  But I did a little research and found out one of my all time favorite films is considered a pre-noir film, a genre pre-cursor. The Thin Man reigns as one of my favorites—not because of the mystery or the noirish backdrop, but because the banter between Nick and Nora Charles was, is and I’m betting always shall be, some of the wittiest written. Ever.

William Powell and Myrna Loy in After the Thin Man trailer

Here a few choice selections. But if you an watch the movie. Nothing can compare with the way the deliver these terse, perfect interchanges, which show in seconds, the depth of love and the dry wit of a good relationship.

Nora:  You asleep?

Nick:  Yes

Nora: Good. I want to talk to you.

Or this one.

Nora:  How many drinks have you had?

Nick:  This will make six Martinis.

Nora:  (speaking to the waiter) All right. Will you bring me five more Martinis, Leo? Line them right up here.

Or this one.

Nora:  Pretty girl.

Nick:  Yes. She’s a very nice type.

Nora:  You got types?

Nick:  Only you, darling. Lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.

And then of course, there was Asta. Always good for a smile.

Asta in After the Thin Man trailer

My Cat, My Friends, My Canada!

I try to say Thank You to the universe on a regular basis. Be it that the streetcar arrived just as I get to the stop or that the sun is shining and no snow has fallen yet or that I get to work and my colleague has a hilarious anecdote to share. I believe that surrounding yourself with positive energy makes a difference. Lol, it doesn’t work for me all the time, but it is definitely something to work toward;).

Now, on to the big things I am grateful for:

1) Emma Peel



It is almost exactly a year that Emma Peel came home with me from the clinic. She is a blood donor cat and lives with me as a foster cat until her stint is over and she becomes mine for good. In exchange for caring for her, the clinic takes care of food, litter and any medical dealings necessary.

I missed having a furry friend with me. I LOVE having Emma in my life. She greets me when I come home, is in the same room I am in, tells me about her day, usually when I’m trying to get work done, starts playing with her spiral when I am trying to sleep, has epic battles with my chair covers, and tracks litter all over my floors. And I wouldn’t give her up for anything. She makes me happy. She makes me laugh and smile and enjoy being with her.

BTW, have you noticed how many four-legged friends have appeared on the blog over the last two weeks?

2) My Friends

I have a fabulous group of friends, online and offline, ready to support me in whatever I need, celebrate successes and prop me up when the bad stuff happens. Having this network is amazing, hilarious, inspiring and something I am grateful for on a daily basis.

I started a new job just over five months ago and the two women I work with the most are fantastic! We really clicked and, despite being stressed out of my mind a lot of the times, we laugh our butts off on a daily basis. I don’t know if I would have survived without them these first few months;).

3) Canada

I May 2014 it will be 5 years since I’ve moved to Canada from London, England. Every day I wake up in my wonderful home and walk to the streetcar stop I am grateful for the move. Canada has offered me a much better quality of live and life-work balance. It has given me a better career and salary. It has given me Emma and my friends here in the city which I would never have met otherwise. It has given me a RWA Chapter that has taught me a lorryload of stuff. Without the TRW I probably wouldn’t be published right now. And Canada has also give me some beautiful and wonderfully warm summers. Everyone warns you about the horrid winters, but no one tells you about the amazing summers.

I miss some parts of London, but I have no plans to move back to the UK.

What about you? What are you happy about right now?

Tina Christopher

Writer of Sexy Steampunk and Sensuous Sci-Fi available at Ellora’s Cave and Amazon.

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