• Kinsey W. Holley is a romance author from Houston, Texas who desperately needs a catchy tagline and can't come up with one. Won't you help?

Monster No. 2

Just because. Is he cute, or what?

Monster No. 2

Excerpt Monday

I’ve been remiss with the blogging (seriously, I need to get some roommates.  I don’t think I have the time, or the energy, or whatever, to keep this place running by myself.) Anyway, Romance Divas have begun to post and link to members’ excerpts on Monday, and I’ve never done it before.

This is from Rocky Mountain Howl, my one and only WIP, which I’m trying to finish within, let’s see – oh, just the next ten days.  I want to submit three sentences to the Knight Agency’s Book in a Nutshell contest (click on the link, then search for “book in a nutshell” – I can’t seem to link to the specific post), but it’s only for completed manuscripts.  The Tomboy Diva is on Easter break this week, and will be doing a round of house parties and relative visiting that would exhaust a Regency heroine, so I just might be able to pull it off.

At the end of  of this post are links to other Divas’ excerpts.

***Begin Exceprt***

Cade MacDougall struck a match against the front porch railing and lit a cigarillo.  He took a long, satisfying drag as he leaned against a column and surveyed his domain in the blinding sunshine of a postcard Colorado summer’s day.

In the distance to his right, horses ran free in the pastures while grooms cleaned the stables.   To his left, the wood shop vibrated to the sound of saws and hammers and drills.  From inside the house behind him wafted the aroma of baked chicken and fresh bread.   And ten yards in front of him, beside a swing set in the grassy center of his compound, a young wolf tormented the person Cade loved most in the world.

Aaron couched while Rebecca grabbed a fistful of fur and swung a stubby little leg over his back.  She pulled herself up to sit astride, legs dangling three feet off the ground.   Aaron began turning in circles, around and around as a dog chases his tail until Becca, dizzy and laughing, fell into the soft grass.  When she tried to stand up, Aaron poked her in the butt with his nose, or nudged her in the stomach with his head, or lightly tapped her on the back with his tail.  She plopped back down to the grass.  Becca stood up.  Aaron knocked her down.  Soon, overcome with shrieking giggles, she lay for a while in the grass while Aaron yawned and scratched and waited for her to catch her breath.  Then they did it all over again for the sixth or tenth time while Cade looked on with quiet delight.   He preferred Becca’s giggle to any other sound on earth, and he liked any wolf who made her giggle like that.

Mrs. Palmer would have no trouble getting the child down for her nap after lunch.  He would have a great deal of trouble if Mrs. Palmer saw Becca and Aaron.  The latest nanny didn’t approve of little girls roughhousing with werewolves.

“Baby girl,” he called.  “Go inside and let Euri wash you up for lunch.”

“Da-deeee….”

“Inside, Rebecca.  Now.”

She pouted, but she seized a chunk of the good-natured Aaron’s flank to pull herself up.  Still a little dizzy, she careened up the porch steps.  He reached down to stroke her cheek and run his hand through her long hair, as black and curly as his own.  She gave him a big knee hug and smiled up at him.

“I’m gonna try to be a cat again.”

“Why don’t you try to be something else?  I can’t tell my wolf friends my baby girl’s a cat.”

“That’s what I am, Daddy!”

He laughed ruefully.  “If you say so, baby.”  It tickled him that she pretended to be the sole shape-shifting female on the planet.  But a cat?

Becca went inside, Aaron right behind her.

Cade put out a boot to stop him.  “Only two-footed in the house, pup.  It’s a nanny thing.”

While the wolf might not understand the words, he recognized a command from his Alpha and obeyed immediately.  Aaron bounded off the porch.

Cade knew Mrs. Palmer had wolf issues, but she didn’t drink, she didn’t steal, and she didn’t have a thing for fur.  He didn’t want to hire another nanny.  Premiere Professional Child Care didn’t want him to.  They had yet to keep a placement fee from him.

Euri joined him on the porch.  “The meal is ready.  You should eat before it gets cold.”

Cade nodded but lingered to finish his cigar.  “Becca wants to be a cat.”

“Perhaps you should get her a kitten.”

He did a double take.  He’d never heard Euri say anything remotely in jest, and the brownie looked quite serious now.

“A kitten.  On a ranch full of wolves.”

Euri nodded.  “The girl needs a pet.”

“A cat’s not a pet.  A cat’s an appetizer.”

****End Excerpt***

Other Diva Excerpts – Go.  Read.  Discover:

Stephanie Adkins – Resisting Kane (excerpt is PG-13, site is NC-17)

Gina Ardito – A Run For the Money

M. Berthier

Eden Bradley – A 21st Century Courtesan (excert is R, site is NC-17)

Lynn Chandler – Inheritance

Ella Drake – Scenting Cinnamon (excerpt rated R, story rated NC-17)

by Becca Furrow – Del Fantasma: Tiger Juice

Amber Gilchrist – First in the Soulguard series

Babette James – More Than Magic

Jeannie Lin – Butterfly Swords (and there’s a poll!)

Rose London – The Encounter (steamy)

R.F. Long – The Scroll Thief

Maureen McCarrie – Set the Night On Fire (Rating: NC-17 for language)

Christa McHugh – A Soul for Trouble

Bria Quinlan – Cami’s First Kiss

Kirsten Saell – The Chancellor’s Bride (NC 17 excerpt, grown-ups only website)

B.E. Sanderson – Dying Embers

T. Sue Versteeg – Another Time, Another Place

Vivienne Westlake – A Halloween Novella (rated 17 and above)

Kate Willoughby – Asking For It (excerpt is PG, site is not)

Hugo Award Finalists

I’ve been an avid SF/fantasy reader since I was a tween – I first read Tolkien in sixth grade, and that hooked me.  Much as I love the mystery and romance genres, SF/fantasy has always been my homebase, the genre I return to when I want to  read something I know I’ll love.    Like romance, SF/fantasy is often treated with disdain by book reviewers and by people who’ve never actually read anything in the genre yet think they are qualified to judge it.  In the past couple decades or so, though, quite a few authors have garnered serious respect.

One of the most highly regarded is Neal Stephenson.  He’s not at all easy to read – the man is deeply, widely and esoterically read.  As Bookmarks Magazine says, Stephenson “has a reputation for not always wearing his erudition lightly. Particularly in his later books—and that now includes Anathem—readers are vetted at the door before being invited into the author’s labyrinthine worlds.” He makes you work, in other words.   I’m pretty well read and I know a lot of history – I minored in it.  But when I read Stephenson, I like to have the laptop handy because I have to look up literary allusions and historical references and things I suspect are in-jokes that I’m not getting because he’s so much damned smarter than me.

I loved Snowcrash Cryptonomicon was fairly easy to read, by Stephenson standards.  I enjoyed Quicksilver, the first in the Baroque triology, but I got bogged down in The Confusion and never finished it.  I need to do that, and I want to read Anathem, the current Hugo contender.  I’d wager Stephenson ends up winning.

I’m also a huge Neil Gaiman fan – I’ve read most everything he’s done, save the graphic novels, and I loved them all.  He’s a deceptively facile writer, like his buddy Terry Pratchett, who is my all-time, hands down, above everyone else forever amen favorite author.  Both guys write so smoothly, lightly, funly (I know it’s not a word), you don’t realize till you’re halfway in that you’re dealing with serious, sizeable issues – love, loss, identity, human nature, etc. etc.  It’s like that Belgian ale I can never remember the name of – smooth and light and oh so easy to drink, till you stand up after two bottles and find you have to hang on to the floor to keep from falling down.

The Graveyard Book is vintage Gaiman – it’s a YA novel and like any good YA novel, it’s got plenty to keep adults interested.  Like a lot of Gaiman books, the ending is happy, but not happy in the way you were expecting and thought you wanted.

Charles Stross is also a favorite of mine, and I liked Saturn’s Children but at the same time it was kind of a sad, offputting book.  I love his Laundry series and I wish he’d write some more stories about Bob Howard and the secret British agency that protects the world from alternate realities and monsters hiding deep under the ocean.

To read more about this year’s Hugos, go to Omnivoracious.   Be prepared to get sucked in.  It’s a great book site.

I’ve always wished I could write hard SF, but I don’t have the science or technology chops.  I’ve long had some characters and a situation in mind but when I try to put it on paper, it just looks silly.  I think I might try some urban fantasy stuff in a little while.   I wish I knew how it felt to have a mind like Stephenson or Stross or Gaiman, though.

You could have a very interesting discussion about why there are so few female authors writing in the same vein as these guys – actually, I can’t think of any.   I know that lots of women read SF, including hard SF, and I know all three of these guys have female readers.  But I can’t think of any female authors who write this kind of stuff.

Broken tootsies

Tomboy Diva in her splint

Tomboy Diva in her splint

Yep, I hate myself.  Went to the pediatrician, got TD’s foot x-rayed, pediatrician sent us down the Katy Freeway to the orthopedist, who confirmed hairline fractures across three toes (nothing wrong with the ankle at all).  The orthopedist was surprised at how articulate she is (he wouldn’t be if he saw how much she talks; articulateness is kind of unavoidable under the circumstances).  She very calmly explained how she fell on it, where it hurt, etc.  She has to be completely off her foot for the next week – her armpits are already sore from the crutches and it will only get worse.

She’ s been a trooper, and she hasn’t once (well, maybe only once) mentioned how just yesterday we were telling her to suck it up and put her weight on her foot.  The Daddy pretends to believe she’s faking, but she just rolls her eyes.   I was teasing her and calling her Stumpy this afternoon while running from doctor to doctor; she got very cross and told me to “stop acting like Dad!”

Diva to the doctor

Her foot is still swollen, and even the Daddy decided maybe it would be best to see the doctor, just to be sure.  So we’re home today and will go see Dr. Thaller this afternoon.  I took advantage of the unplanned – unwanted – day off to grab a morning nap but couldn’t sleep because the crutches are really loud.  Thump little foot bounce, thump little foot bounce, thump little foot “ouch!  Mommmeeee!” bounce…she’s on the couch now watching Santa vs. the Snowman in 3D.

Tomboy Diva rests her injured foot

Tomboy Diva rests her injured foot

Clive

Just realized Clive wasn’t on the front page anymore.  Can’t have that.

Also from clive-owen.org.  Love that site.

Diva Drama

Tomboy Diva sprained her ankle at martial arts last night.    I wasn’t there.  The Daddy carried her into the house, and while she’d obviously been crying, she was pretty calm.  Then he got out a big pot of water and ice and made her put her foot in it, and we went through thirty to forty-five minutes of high decibel drama as she screamed bloody murder about the freezing water.  The Daddy kept telling her (lovingly) to butch up, but come on – I call her a diva for a reason.  This child doesn’t butch up.  She’s a tomboy because she likes boy stuff, but if she did, in fact, have a Y chromosome, she’d be great big sissy boy.

This morning, the merest hint of pressure on the foot resulted in tears, and she insisted she couldn’t go to school.  The Daddy got her some crutches and took her with him to the shop (he owns a car repair shop in Friendswood).  She was very good all day and kept herself entertained.   This evening she swore it hurt just as bad as it did last night, and it killed her to put weight on it getting in and out of the bathtub.

When we tried to make her ice it down tonight, the screams probably reached next door – our next door neighbor is one of my oldest friends, though, so he’d never call the cops.  Honestly, if you heard the audio of this child’s keening you’d think someone had recorded a blood sacrifice.  As she was moaning and crying and shrieking (I can’t!  I can’t stand it!  It hurts Mamma, it hurts, I can’t put my foot in there etc. etc.), I was thinking, “I really need to record this.  We need to save this,” but by the time I found the recording program on my laptop and turned it on, she’d pulled her foot out of the water and refused to put it back in.  I do wish I had a sound file as a keepsake.  I would post it here for all to listen.

Tonight as I put her to bed, I debated whether to take her to the doctor – what if she really is in excruiating pain?  What if something really is broken?  The Daddy, who’s had several people’s shares of broken bones, insists it’s a sprain and nothing more.  Then again, Monster No. 2 hurt his arm recently, and my sister didn’t take him to the doctor for a couple days.  When she did, sure enough, it was broken.

I said the doctor probably wouldn’t be able to do anything we hadn’t done.  TD said his ice might be warmer.  I explained that water  freezes at 32 degrees Farenheit no matter where you are.    “So you’re telling me you really DID make me put my foot in freezing water???”  “Yes, of course – what did you think water filled with ice cubes is, baby?” That set off another round of wailing (her) and laughing (me).

And if you think you could never laugh at a child’s pain, you’re not a parent.

If I do end up staying home with her tomorrow, and I take her to the doctor, and the foot is broken — yes, I’ll hate myself.  I promise.

When movies ruin music

So I’m listening to AC/DC and I can’t get Jack Black out of my head.  I actually liked School of Rock. Black can be annoying, but he can be funny as well. Only thing is, I can’t listen to It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock n Roll) anymore without seeing Black doing it. I’m not a huge AC/DC fan but there are a few songs of theirs that I love and It’s a Long Way is one of them. I love the bagpipes.   (The Tomboy Diva attends a private school with a world champion bagpipe and drum band, so I’m partial).   This is the one song that Brian Johnson doesn’t perform, out of respect to Bon Scott. But now I don’t see Bon Scott when I listen to the song – I see Jack Black.

I also love MoneyTalks and, of course, You Shook Me, which all guys everywhere know as the one AC/DC song all women like.

My first sale

I got an email from Angela James, Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing, last night.  The novella I submitted for their Summer 2009 shapeshifter anthology – the one my sister loved – was one of the three she accepted.

I’m going to be published — it’ll be a stand alone e-book over the summer and then part of the print anthology in the fall (I think).

I’m going to be published.

I’ve already told my family, the Divas, my Yahoo writers’ groups and everyone in my meatspace life who knows about my sideline.  I went down the street to the sister in law’s house – where the whole “hey, I think I’m gonna write a romance novel” thing got started in the first place -  and drank one glass of champagne and one beer.  Came home, ate dinner and watched TV with the Hub, then went to bed and slept for two frequently interrupted hours, if that.   On Tuesdays I work all day.  This day will suck.

I’m being published.

I need to finish my big WIP.

When romance goes bad

The Hub and I do too much married kissing, but I’ve never been this angry about it.

It’s probably the most heartbreaking  test of a marriage: one spouse wants children, the other doesn’t.  But this is not the way to handle it.

This woman seems to have the sense of humor required to stay married.  My favorite part:

“I don’t think I do nag him - we’re newlyweds.  He just doesn’t do what I want him to, that’s all.

I hear you, sister.