Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.
And good bye.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the blog having a series of difficulties resulting in fewer blog posts. It’s been a combination of several factors – technical, writing careers taking unforeseen (but lovely) turns, a few injuries that have since healed and assorted other life intrusions that have interrupted the flow. After some long, hard conversations, we’ve decided to pull the plug and turn out the lights.
Thank you for giving us your time. If you found a new author to enjoy via this site, each of us has a personal blog that a quick search will connect you to. If you’re interested in what I’m up to, you can find me every Friday blogging at Word Whores. It’s clean. Mostly. 😀 My much neglected personal blog is a collection of silly cat stories and tales about boat living and you are always welcome there.
We don’t intend to delete this blog just yet. We may, eventually, but in the spirit of ‘never say never’ we’re leaving it up to preserve the history and the name in case any or all of us find we suddenly have the bandwidth once more. We’re hoping we don’t – it means we’re writing more books. 🙂 We’ll see you in the book store!
Look what happens on Tuesday, November 18! The second book in the urban fantasy Living Ink series comes out.
After being kidnapped and forcibly Inked with a Living Tattoo named Murmur, Isa thought she’d survived the worst her enemies could throw at her. She was wrong. Murmur is walking around her world in someone else’s body, and without him, Isa is losing control of her magic.
Then, in the middle of rush hour, a Live Tattoo comes off its host, killing over a hundred people. Isa discovers that Murmur’s nemesis, Uriel – a demon she believed defeated – is responsible. He’s seeking the power to force his way back into Isa’s world. If he succeeds, everyone Isa loves will be destroyed. There may be a way to stop him, but it will mean sacrificing Murmur – or herself.
A brief excerpt:
A bus lay overturned across the westbound traffic lanes, surrounded by victims who would never rise again. Half of the back section of the double long, reticulated bus dangled over the water. Cars and trucks had been tossed like the blocks of a two-year-old in the midst of a tantrum. One was a fire truck, lights still flashing amid the crumpled, shredded wreck of red and chrome.
News helicopters hung high above the bridge, tottering back and forth in the air.
Dark fluid wet the concrete bridge deck.
Isa’s breath rose high in her chest as her shoulders tightened.
The visual shimmer of here-be-magic resolved into a huge, scaly, five-headed monster of Ink and magic. A hydra. An enormous myth with gleaming, rainbow-hued scales stood splay-legged across the decks of both the east- and westbound lanes. Claws, dripping unspeakable meaty globs of human remains, grasped an SUV. One of the heads bent and ripped the roof from the vehicle as if it were a pop-top soup can. The other heads darted in, picking the struggling driver and passengers out of their seatbelts.
The book is set in Seattle. The scene above is on the 520 floating bridge (if ever there was reason to find an alternate route…) In fact, the tea shop I like to write in got turned into Isa’s tattoo shop. The people who work seem to find the switch amusing – no word yet on what the owner thinks – if she knows. 😀
Happy Halloween! Have I ever posted my very favorite pumpkin recipe? Does it matter? Here it is. Again. Or for the first time. I can’t be trusted to remember.
MAPLE PUMPKIN PIE
1 can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP flour (though I’m wheat free – so I sub in a tablespoon of arrowroot with no problem or even just leave it out)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp maple extract (or maple flavor)
Mix it all up, put it in a pie crust or in custard dishes, bake at 350 until set (a pie take about 50 minutes, start checking small custard dishes at about 25 minutes). Cool. Serve with loads of whipped cream.
You can make this lower fat and lower calorie. Substitute low fat evaporated milk for the cream and something like Egg Beaters for the 3 eggs. It won’t be as velvety as the original, but it’s still awfully tasty.
What are your Halloween favorites? I’m always looking for more temptation!
Arg. I am SO sorry for losing not one, but TWO posts in a row. The first one – no good reason. But this last one? Reasons. Let’s begin here:
It’s never, ever a good thing to have to be dressed in this fashion. Yes. That’s me. Yes, it is possible I’m channeling my inner Martian. Or. This is what happened after a simple haul out (when you pull a boat out of the water to inspect and paint the bottom to keep stuff like barnacles from growing on it) turned into a fiasco. We discovered some damage that had allowed sea water to intrude into the structure of the boat. It meant that what should have taken three days ended up taking two weeks. In this case, I was dressed to handle some of the chemicals required for the job.
Of course, none of us could stay on the boat while the repairs were underway, so we moved me, my husband and three cats into the back bedroom of my parents’ house. My folks are the best.
But after two solid weeks of hard physical labor, lots of brain fry, and anxiety over when we’d ever get our home back in the water, last Thursday – MY day to blog – the boatyard put me on standby. I raced up there. They finally got the boat afloat at 11 in the morning, just as a windstorm was rising. I’d never helmed that boat solo in those conditions before. We were inside a marina so there were lots of other boats to hit if I got it wrong. Can you say terror? I could. I did. But dang if I didn’t get out of the sling and out of the marina without any issue whatsoever. Dad says I even made it look good. Never mind that my hands were shaking so badly I’d never have gotten ahold of the wheel again if I’d let go. We spent the rest of that day on the water taking the boat south to Seattle.
That wind storm that had me so freaked? Died. It was sapphire sky and water the whole way. We watched porpoise feeding in the outgoing tide. We dodged fishing boats and their nets and played chicken with a huge container ship. Spoiler alert: They win. No question. Ever. After seven hours on the water, it was time for another shot of abject terror – docking the boat. Again. Something I’d never done. Mostly because it’s usually my husband at the wheel and me on deck. This isn’t so much some sexist statement about who should skipper the boat – it’s that my balance on deck is an order of magnitude better than his. So we’d fallen into this unquestioned habit. Turns out, there’s a lot to be said for cross training.
Dad talked me into our slip and there it was. Docked on the first attempt. Didn’t hit anything. No blood. Nothing sank. And now we’re good for another three years.
Have you ever done that? Done something you didn’t know you could do until you had to do it? I’m interested because I think those kinds of things are some of the best, most empowering stories out there. I love hearing them. What’s yours?
So my lie two weeks ago? Number 3. Never auditioned in LA for pilot season. Everything else was true. 😀
Ah. Romeo and Juliet. How I loathe that play. It’s not at all romantic. And I’ve always been really curious about why my professors and teachers all insisted it was a love story when I suspect very, very strongly it’s actually about something else altogether. BUT. I’m supposed to write an ending here, not deconstruct the illusion that there’s something romantic about two idiot teenagers committing suicide after their first few sexual encounters with one another.
Romeo studied the still, silent face of his beloved. Almost, he believed he could die just from the searing pain in his heart. But no. It kept on beating. Kept on aching. It should have been impossible with Juliet dead. His fist clenched on the vial of poison. He’d take it. Swallow it and join Juliet in death. But first.
“Let me hold you one last time,” he murmured, drawing her limp form into his arms. Cradling her against his chest, he slid down the cold stone wall of the crypt until he sat on the floor, crooning meaningless, broken words into her sweet-smelling hair. His tears wet her face.
She sighed and snuggled closer.
He gasped. “Juliet?”
“Hmm?” Her eyes opened, but her gaze didn’t quite focus on him.
Laughing while still crying, Romeo hurled the vial of poison away. He kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her hair and finally, when she lifted a hand to brush the moisture from his face, her lips. And tasted the remnants of something bitter. He drew back. She met his gaze no reservation in her eyes.
“You got my message,” she said.
“What message? Juliet. You feigned death.”
“For you,” she said, pulling free and sitting up. “You could have taken my body out into the fields for burial. I would have returned to consciousness and we could have escaped. Together.”
He blew out a trembling breath and glanced at the dark stain his shattered bottle of poison had spill across the far wall. “This is unbelievable. I thought you were dead. I meant to die, too. So we could be together.”
“Don’t you ever do that,” she demanded. “I love you. I will love you whether I live or I die. I couldn’t bear to have you destroy what I love.”
“Then live,” he said. “For I love you more than I love the shattered life that is left to me. I can offer you nothing. No security. No luxury. Nothing of what you so richly deserve – a home, a life of laughter and ease.”
“We are prisoners to hate that is older than we are,” she noted. “I, for one, am tired of it. I have been for some time, but it wasn’t until I met you and learned to be daring and to take risks that I decided I wouldn’t stand for it anymore.”
A smile grew unbidden on his face and he stroked her hair. His body trembled when she leaned into the caress. “You are my lawfully wedded wife. I want what is best for you. I fear I am not it.”
“You are,” she said. “I gladly forfeit my inheritance, for the money is tainted by the feud between our families. I will have none of it. Get us out of the city. Then we’ll go to Cinqe Terre. A friend is building an import/export business there. She wants me to draw her products so that she may show her wares in distant cities without having to travel with them. It will not be luxury. But we will not starve.”
“Work?” Romeo said. He grinned and rose. They were alive. She wanted him. More than she wanted a life of pampered comfort. “I suppose at worst we know I could become a soldier.”
She took the hand he offered. He pulled her upright. “None of that,” she chided. “You’re promising to live for me. No soldiering. Have you considered teaching dance to young noblewomen?”
He laughed. “Let’s get out of here.”
What is it about the dark? You know the shill about how our brains are still living in caves, cringing in fear during the hours of darkness when humans switched from being the hunters into being the hunted. (A notion recently disproven via some genome comparison wizardry – though how our brains have changed and the effect on specific psychological traits has yet to be laid out precisely.) Sure, here at Darker Temptations, when we say ‘dark’, we mean metaphorical dark – you, our beloved readers rushing in where angels fear to tread, allowing our heroes and heroines to risk their lives, their sanity and possibly their souls by walking face first into whatever scares them. Werewolves. Vampires. Demons. All of the things that could possibly go bump in the night and sure, some us DO mean that in the filthiest way possible. Authors have, in effect, turned a flashlight on in cemetery and have domesticated the creatures that once terrorized people. Our heroines routinely cuddle up with their vampires and some days I wonder what makes that romantically attractive. Then I buy more vampire porn (as one of my friends calls PNR) and just enjoy reading the stories.
But our topic this week is Even *Darker* Temptations. Humanity is rife with some horrific, fetid darkness. We’ve watched terrible things happen this past week in a pair of wars that have turned humans in two different parts of the world into utterly inhuman monsters. Throughout the past two decades, we’ve seen multiple instances of one person reducing another set of humans (usually women and children) into nonhuman possessions. Our identity as humans has been built upon the basis of human sacrifice – the blood, bones and suffering of countless men, women and children throughout prehistory. We, as a species, are a damned scary bunch. The fascinating piece (to me) is the slide from rational homo sapiens in the modern, civilized world into the twisted, inky jungles of the mind. What do you suppose has to happen to a person to make ripping the beating hearts from peoples’ chests in an effort to stave off the end of the world sound like a good idea?
What does darker mean to you? Are there shadowy corners of human fear and/or experience you wish an author would address?
The greatest decade of the twentieth century is this week’s topic. 1900 to 1999. Let’s see. The 90’s had okay clothes. Music, though Grunge is not my thing. It did have some good Techno, though, and you can sort of date me musically to the 90’s based on how much Nine Inch Nails and Frontline Assembly shows up in my playlist. Got to see my first total solar eclipse in the 90’s, too. On a ship. In the Caribbean. The three plus minutes of totality were worth having gone into debt for. I got married in the 90’s. Graduated from college, too.
If you look at the radio station I favor and look at the music I buy these days, you’ll find that I’m a throwback to New Wave and to the dance music (not disco – oh GODS – not disco, that crap’s way too slow) of the 80’s. I spent a lot of time in under 21 dance clubs (no alcohol, no real meat market, fewer fights, stabbings, shootings). The fashionable – which I was not and have never been – had insanely big hair and clothes that were more accessory than clothing. Teenage anthem movies were big. (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Flashdance, Footloose . . .) It was a huge political decade. We saw the end of the Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall came down. In the Pacific Northwest, Mount St. Helens came down as ash all over the state.
The 70’s? Great decade despite the clothes, the music and the hair. Thank the gods I was a child and therefore not subject to the fashions of the day. I still have shame over some of the bell bottom jeans I wore as a kid. Man, some of those things doubled as split skirts. What I liked about the 70’s was that Nixon ended the Vietnam war – before getting his butt impeached. This mattered. Dad was in the Air Force and got stationed to Vietnam. Ended up not going because THE day he was to report to his transport, he came down with mono. Flight surgeon grounded him. Thus, I still have a father. We ended up stationed in Iceland during the 70’s. My sister and I got to see things few other people ever get to see: Blue whales migrating past the rocks we were standing on. A volcano erupting (from a distance). Geysers – up close. The slash through Iceland that is the mid-Atlantic Rift pulling the two sections of the island apart. It was an amazing experience. The rest of the decade, after we returned to the US, was full of things like Girl Scout camps, strep throat and ear infections. Sometimes, all three things at once.
Ah, but the 60’s. THIS is the one I think takes the title of Greatest Decade. Yeah, yeah. Stupid clothes. Stupid hair. But hope and optimism? Available in spades. Along with enough people all questioning the status quo at the same time that great changes in social policy followed. Granted, I’m a little annoyed that a bunch of the people who participated in all of that activism seem bound and determined to undo it all now – but that’s another post for another time. I’d rather focus on the power of the masses to effect great change in a country when the people are galvanized by any number of causes. Civil rights were won – not that racism died – but a meaningful start to recognizing humans as humans regardless of skin color at least got underway. Above all things, I think the 60’s were the greatest decade because of the power of a single event to spur a generation of kids just barely old enough to remember sitting in front of their tiny black and white TV sets while dressed in footy pajamas, watching the first men step onto the moon. Had you been there and asked any of us who watched that with our own eyes what we wanted to be when we grew up, we’d have all given you the same answer: Astronaut. A bunch of us buckled down in science and math because we understood that’s what NASA wanted – our teachers made sure we knew. I harbored the astronaut fantasy right up to the point that the Air Force Academy recruiter told me that asthma disqualified me 100%. None of the militaries would have me. Since I get air sick just thinking about flying, it was probably for the best that no one wanted to entrust me with multimillion dollar equipment.
But the images from when I was 5, feeling the weight of what I was watching, it never quite went away. It’s no mistake that my first published book was about a woman who’s the captain of her own space ship.
You know it is summer in the Pacific Northwest when I break out the guacamole. Why? First, because only in summer does the rain stop long enough that you can eat corn chips without them turning soggy twixt the bag and your mouth. Second only to that: the guac is all about the avocado and summer brings them in spades (usually from places in the same hemisphere as you). You want avocados that aren’t too soft. They should have a little give when you exert gentle pressure on the skin. The longer an avocado spent on a tree to get to that point and not in the back of a truck means more flavor. Third: Tomatoes. Guacamole that will make your eyes roll back in your head in pleasure relies on truly ripe tomatoes rich with flavor. Roma tomatoes are my fall back tomato position because even when they aren’t at their best, they have more flavor packed into their small packages than any other tomato that isn’t fresh off the vine.
Guacamole on the Dock
2 firm, ripe avocados, seeded, flesh scooped and dumped in bowl
1 ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, chopped (to peel a tomato, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, run cold water over it. Cut, and the skin should slide right off.) Add chopped tomato to bowl – try to leave most of the seeds and juice on your cutting board or your guac will be soupy.
1/4 – 1/2 white onion, minced. Add to bowl
juice of 1/2 lime. Add to bowl
sprinkle of garlic salt to taste sprinkled over all
Mash. Eat. If you like cilantro, add that. My family hates it so we leave it out. Want some kick in your guac? Seed, mince and add part of a jalapeno. The lovely thing about guacamole is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. But the biggest point of it? Sitting outside in the sun with friends shoveling chunky green goo (it’s a technical term. Trust me.) into your mouths with corn chips. And look. You still have half of a lime for the beer you’d drink…
Evil minions are something I aspire to. Problem is, I have cats. Thus I *am* a minion. And minions rarely get to have their own minions, I find. Annoying. Beyond that, my favorite evil minion to hate comes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember the slimy SS agent? The one who picked up the medallion and burned the front of it into his hand? Him. How do I know he’s my favorite? Easy. He brought out the worst aspects of humanity in an entire theater full of people. Need proof? Did you cheer his face melting? I did. This likely disqualifies me for any kind of sainthood. Ever.
However. I also have a favorite evil minion. One I don’t hate entirely – frankly, he’s too gullible to hate. This is actually one of my major stumbling blocks when it comes to evil minions. I find that most of the minions in the employ of truly heinous villains usually lack a few brain cells. They’re misguided more than they’re evil. A less, perhaps, to those of us considering writing (or having) evil minions. A certain level of intellect and ill-intent are necessary to inspire fear and loathing among the population you, as evil mastermind, wish to oppress. Anyway. Here’s my favorite:
Here is part two of Atavistic Were:
INTRO: These next two weeks, we’re experimenting. Marcella started a story. My fellow authors are going to further the story and then finally complete it. But no pressure. 😀 We have not talked about our plans or compared notes on the characters or plotline. This should be a surprise for all of us.
Starting from the ending of Part One (click here to read part 1):
“I don’t want your pity.”
“What do you want?”
“It is possible, if unlikely, that I am not the only legend walking around and taking on fur with the moon phases. If other prides have cast out their misfits and those misfits have survived, I’d like you to help me find them.”
Samuel scratched his injured cheek with the tip of his pen. How the hell was he supposed to search for mutant weres? This job screamed danger. Most likely mutants didn’t want to be found and would do anything to protect their secrets. And he had one of his own he kept a tight lid on.
“You really think they want to be found?” he said.
“They will be needing protection. They also will want what I need.”
“And that is…”
Her amber eyes flashed. “I’m asking you to find others like me. What I do with the information is my business.”
Sam shrugged. “Yeah, but why ask me?”
A rough laugh escaped her red lips. “Because, Mr. Samuel Talbridge, you’re one of us.”
Fear shot through his gut down to his toes. “That’s ridiculous.”
“Is it? I’ve been tailing you for months.” Her smile revealed her incisors, curved and seductive. “Several moon phases, actually.”
The sexual pull he felt for this stranger started innocently enough, a slight tingle in his stomach, a strange lurch in his heart. Her gaze latched onto his, but he wouldn’t back down. He had a thing for big cats, the coil of power ready to be unleashed at any moment, the deadly cat and mouse game they loved to play. Shit. He reined in where his sexual fantasy was heading. Right into the gutter, and that meant, he was losing control of the conversation. Taking a deep breath, he briefly closed his eyes. When he opened them, he meant her steely eyes with his staunch determination.
“And if I decide to help you, what’s in it for me?”
On another note: I have two blog tours going on at once – through June 13! Chance to win Amazon GC’s…if you comment. For the list of blog stops visiting my website! http://www.vikilyn.com
Love and Peace,