Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - 204 - 13 Bloggers Who Have Risen to the A to Z Challenge

This is my first year for the A to Z Challenge, which is in its second year and has already grown from an event that attracted over 100 participants with a single host, to over 800 participants and eight hosts.

Sounds like a good time will be had by all.

The challenge begins on April 1st and runs to the end of the month, and requires 26 blog posts coinciding with each letter of the alphabet.

I've already got a schedule of posts planned, because I'm participant # 429 and I've been looking forward to this for a few weeks now. Can't wait to meet new bloggers, and to have new readers drop in here at A Piece of My Mind.

So for today's Thursday Thirteen, here is a random sampling of some of the bloggers participating in the challenge:

1 - Beadedbear's Nonsense and Complete Waste of Time

2 - Calvin's Canadian Cave of Coolness

3 - Claire's Writing Log

4 - Coffee and a Keyboard

5 - Gladiator's Pen

6 - Hip Chick's Home

7 - Little Plastic Man

8 - Little Red Henry

9 - Melissa's Imaginarium

It was at Melissa's blog that I first discovered the A to Z Challenge.

10 - Strategic Chic

11 - Quill or Pill?

12 - Unbound

13 - Unloading my Brain to Fill it Again

Don't forget to pop over to Tossing It Out - you'll find the sign-up McLinky there for the challenge. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - 192

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend Writer Retreat - 48

Here's the latest installment of Scorpius' boyhood back story.

Scorpius is a character from my dark fantasy work in progress. For the first twelve scenes posted for the Weekend Writer's Retreat, we follow him as a seven-year-old, fetched from the nursery by a falconer to become his apprentice.

The next twelve scenes follow ten-year-old Scorpius as he discovers the dangers of serving the nobles he'd once imagined were family.

The third set of twelve scenes give us a thirteen-year-old Scorpius, who discovers the true extent of his master's attempts to shield him from the cruelties of life outside their falconer's cottage.

We rejoin him at age sixteen.

You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.

Scene 48

The following week, Lord Thibault arrived with his retinue, sweeping up to the falconer’s cottage on his charger flashing with silver ornament. Richolf dropped his work, standing to greet them.

Scorpius trotted to join Richolf in time to see the noble brush past his master, instead heading straight for him.

“There you are!” Lord Thibault said, face erupting into a smile.

Scorpius bowed, his face heating at Richolf’s look of shock.

“I’ve had an abysmal week,” the noble said, forcing Scorpius to hurry along beside him as he headed toward the field. “Couldn’t wait to get back here for a hunt. Just the thing, eh?”

Scorpius darted a glance back at his master, whose expression darkened. “Apologies, my lord,” he said. “Shouldn’t we collect up a falcon, at least?”

“Oh, he’ll see to it, won’t you?” the noble said to Richolf.

“Certainly, my lord,” the falconer said, bowing with a sidelong glare at Scorpius that shot a chill through him. Shaking it off, Scorpius passed by all the mews with their hawks perched in the shadows. To be dragged ahead like this, with nothing to be done but obey the young lord gave Scorpius a strange sensation of freedom from the choke hold Richolf had lately placed upon him.

Lord Thibault’s guard stood at a respectful distance, his courtiers remaining with Richolf as Scorpius entertained the young lord. Making their lethal dives, the falcons took out the game hens that Scorpius’ master coaxed from cover. An odd afternoon indeed.

“I can’t tell you what a relief it is to come out here,” Lord Thibault said as the hunt began to wind down.

At first, Scorpius started to answer as he would to any noble. But there was something in the young lord’s tone, something in the way he kept looking at him. Perhaps he should beware. Perhaps that’s what his master’s expression had been, earlier – a warning to be careful, and not the outrage of being made to serve his own apprentice.

But he felt differently with Lord Thibault. He was just as glad to see him ride around the bend towards the cottage as the noble seemed to be here. So instead he said, “Are you troubled, my lord?”

The young noble glanced quickly at Scorpius, fixing him with an appraising stare that made Scorpius suspect his master had indeed been sending him a warning. After a long moment, Lord Thibault chuckled. “I dare say I have a kingdom’s worth of those.”

“We’re pleased to offer this small consolation, then.”

“You know, ever since our last conversation, well…frankly I’ve been dreaming about what it would have been like to have never been collected up from the nursery, as you were not.”

Scorpius looked at Lord Thibault, trying to gauge the young man’s mood before looking away in time to avoid eye contact. The noble gazed out over the woods, lost in troubled thought.

“Surely not, my lord,” Scorpius said finally.

“Do you even know what’s brewing?” Lord Thibault asked. He turned and looked at Scorpius as though the lighthearted noble who had arrived earlier had been merely a front for the sake of his companions.

Wishing he could dart a glance at his master for any kind of sign or direction, Scorpius took a breath, gathered himself and made his choice. “Can’t say that I do, my lord.”

Nodding his head toward Richolf, the noble said, “Wonder if he knows, and he just hasn’t told you.”

It was Scorpius’ turn to chuckle. “That would be just like him, my lord.”

“Really. Perhaps our masters aren’t very different after all.”

Hearing this noble try to bridge the gap between them made Scorpius’ heart ache with such unexpected force that he took a step back.

“Well, I shall tell you a little something, then. Something your master should know, if he doesn’t already.”

“My lord.” Scorpius looked into Lord Thibault’s eyes, surprised to see the depth of weariness suddenly exposed.

“The Troubles have begun.” Lord Thibault’s voice caught as he said it. He blinked rapidly and looked away.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

5 on Friday - Set 59

Travis at Trav's Thoughts invites everyone to lay down a short set of music that takes their fancies for his 5 on Friday meme.

This wraps up my journey through the decades of recorded popular music, beginning with the 1920s.

And now I shall state for the record that I'm a dance music fan.

I love a lot of musical styles, as you've no doubt discovered through the past year of Travis' captivating musical meme. But the music genre I've always loved and will always love is Dick Clark's favorite:

"It's got a good beat and you can dance to it."

Here are only a handful of my favorite club tunes from the first decade of the new millennium.

1 - Can't Get you Out of My Head - Kylie Minogue - 2001

There's a dark secret in me
Don't leave me locked in your heart
Set me free

Feel the need
In me
Set me free

And ever
And ever

- Davis / Dennis

CLICK HERE to watch the video

2 - Hung Up - Madonna - 2005

Time goes by
So slowly
Time goes by
So slowly

Time goes by so slowly for those who wait
No time to hesitate
Those who run
Seem to have all the fun
I'm caught up
I don't know what to do

Every little thing that you say or do
I'm hung up
I'm hung up on you

- Andersson / Madonna / Price / Ulvaeus

CLICK HERE to watch video

3 - SexyBack - Justin Timberlake - 2006

I'm bringing sexy back
Them other boys don't know how to act
I think it's special, what's behind your back
So turn around and I'll pick up the slack

(Take it to the bridge!)

Dirty, babe
You see these shackles, baby
I'm your slave
I'll let you whip me if I misbehave
It's just that no one makes me feel this way

(Take it to the chorus!)

- Hills / Timbaland / Timberlake

4 - Don't Get It Twisted - Gwen Stefani - 2006

Don't get it twisted
Don't get clever
This is the most craziest shit ever

Tick tock I guess I'm late again
What are you suggesting there now, Gwen?
Don't you know better?
What are you talking about?
You know it's going to come at any point

Night time
Flip flop
This time push my luck

He was really looking hot
Anticipation building up

Space invaders
Turn up all the faders
Need a translater

- Kanal / Stefani

5 - Bad Romance - Lady Gaga - 2009

Rah, rah
Ah, ah, ah
Rome mama
Oh, la la!
Want your bad romance

I want your ugly
I want your disease
I want your everything
As long as it's free

I want your love
Love, love, love
I want your love

- Lady Gaga / Khayat

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - 203 - 13 Ways to Read Erotica Written by Atlantic Canadian Writers

Last night at the Keshen Goodman Library in Halifax, three women from my writers group spoke at a public panel about the Erotica genre.

This week A Piece of My Mind spotlights these east coast writers who do their part to warm up the nights when the fog rolls in.

Lilly Cain - shown above at a group booksigning at Chapters - writes for Red Sage and Carina Press.

Renee Field - shown at a group networking event at Argyle Fine Art - writes for Ellora's Cave.

Cathryn Fox, shown here at left with Anne MacFarlane at Cathryn's home office - writes for NAL Heat, Harlequin Spice, Kindle ebooks, Samhain Publishing and Ellora's Cave.

Here are twelve tales of erotically-charged romance that blow the bedroom doors off their hinges.

1 - Alien Revealed

2 - The Naked Truth

Releasing in June!

3 - Building Magic

4 - Dark Harmony

Read my review HERE

5 - Be My Vampire Tonight

6 - Beastly Passion

7 - Elemental Love

Releasing next week!

8 - Wild and Tender

This edition combines two novellas into one.

You can read my review of Love Me Wild, the first part of Wild and Tender.

9 - Pleasure Inn

10 - Wet in Whispering Cove

11 - Indulgent

12 - The Hotline

You can read my review HERE

13 - "Erotic romance novels, as defined by Romance Writers of America, are stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction.

The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline."

- Wikipedia

Wordless Wednesday - 191

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Writer's Retreat - 47

Here's the latest installment of Scorpius' boyhood back story.

Scorpius is a character from my dark fantasy work in progress. For the first twelve scenes posted for the Weekend Writer's Retreat, we follow him as a seven-year-old, fetched from the nursery by a falconer to become his apprentice.

The next twelve scenes follow ten-year-old Scorpius as he discovers the dangers of serving the nobles he'd once imagined were family.

The third set of twelve scenes give us a thirteen-year-old Scorpius, who discovers the true extent of his master's attempts to shield him from the cruelties of life outside their falconer's cottage.

We rejoin him at age sixteen.

You can follow the progress of this story arc by clicking on the Works in Progress link just under the blog header.

Scene 47

He did not have leave to go to the estate. His master kept him on a tight leash, and Scorpius chafed against it. Their meals together were brief, tense affairs, their daily work separate, their places at the hunt on opposite ends of the field.

Scorpius was grateful when a young noble was paired with him on a warm morning. Generally he preferred talking as little as possible with the lords, but things had been so silent between himself and Richolf lately.

He found he could make the noble laugh easily, and in turn laughed at the lord’s wry take on things. He was close in age to Scorpius, after all. If things had worked out differently for him, he may very well have been a friend.

As the hunt wound down, the sweat plastered Scorpius’ tunic to his back. Lord Thibault undid the laces of his hunting doublet and slipped out of it, his fine linen shirt soaked.

“I’m for a swim,” he said, gazing about him. “Where do you hide away a spot for that?”

Gesturing towards the cottage, Scorpius said, “We bathe in the stream closer to the cottage.”

“Show me!” and the noble took off at a run.

Scorpius hadn’t fully tied together the brace of hens yet, and he couldn’t very well leave them. But the young lord was already well ahead and dashing in the wrong direction.

With the same sense of reckless disregard for a lifetime of obedience that the market girl had sparked in him, Scorpius dropped the game hens onto the grass and tore after the noble. A surge of power fed his limbs as he caught up to the lord and then overtook him.

“This way!” he called and dashed into the trees toward the flat rock and the deep bend in the stream. Lord Thibault put on a burst of speed now that he had clear direction. The two ran abreast, weaving between trees, crashing through branches and laughing with the joy of it.

With the stream in clear view, Scorpius pulled back on his momentum. Lord Thibault burst into the clearing a few strides in the lead, a wide grin lighting his face as he turned victorious towards Scorpius.

“You let me win,” the noble said, still smiling as he peeled off his clothes.

“No, my lord,” Scorpius said, catching his breath and shedding his own clothes.

Lord Thibault waded into the cool water and flopped backwards, splashing Scorpius who was close behind him. He slipped beneath the surface, welcoming this relief against his sticky skin.

The young noble popped up, grabbing hold of Scorpius and dunking him. If it had been Richolf, if it had been months ago before meeting Alegreza at the market, Scorpius would have grabbed and dunked his opponent in return.

But this was a noble. He must not lay hands upon the young lord, must instead choke on water and try not to drown. Lord Thibault hauled him up and looked him squarely in the eye.

Scorpius returned his gaze for a long moment before looking down. He should not have done it – he knew that – but something about this young noble insisted upon tossing protocol aside.

“I detest being lied to,” Lord Thibault said.

Scorpius said nothing, merely watched the surface of the water settle before him.

“If I was not your better, would you have reached the stream before me?” the noble asked.

A spear of danger pierced the space between them. Scorpius must not forget what the nobles were capable of doing to those who served them. His heart chilling inside him, Scorpius gathered his courage and said, “Yes, my lord.”

He stole a glance at Lord Thibault, who struggled to hide both disappointment and satisfaction from showing on his face. “Have you served out here very long?” he asked, stretching backwards in the water.

“Since I was fetched from the nursery, my lord.” It was not to be spoken of, was it, his suspect parentage. But the words had escaped.

Lord Thibault froze, kneeling in the water to meet Scorpius’ gaze. “What do you mean?”

“I mean only that I was brought up at the manor house nursery not far from here, my lord.”

“What are you doing out here, then?” The young noble’s brow furrowed with concern.

Scorpius tried to speak, but his throat choked with unspoken words finally emerging. “No one…no one ever…no one ever came for me, you see. Only the falconer.”

Lifting his gaze to stare deeply into the young noble’s eyes, Scorpius saw an echo of the horror he’d always crushed down at his abandonment. “Nurse released me to him. So I became his apprentice. And I’ve served here ever since. My lord.”

“Imagine it,” Lord Thibault said in a hushed tone.

Scorpius held his breath and slid down beneath the water, letting the coolness engulf him. He had to collect himself before returning to his master. The anger that consumed him at Alegreza’s treatment propelled Scorpius into saying and doing things he never would have considered, only weeks before.

And though he now wished he could stay submerged here beneath the surface of the stream, the rippling image of Lord Thibault reminded him that he must resurface, even if his burning lungs did not.

© Julia Smith, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

5 on Friday - Set 58

Travis at Trav's Thoughts invites everyone to lay down a short set of music that takes their fancies for his 5 on Friday meme.

Closing in on the final two decades of my look back at recorded popular music, starting with the 1920s - let's drop in on the 1990s.

The 90s were a Best of Times / Worst of Times decade for me. In the fabulous category, I married Brad, went to film school and got my degree, worked at the theatre where the National Ballet of Canada performed and lived so very happily in the bustling Big City of Toronto.

These were my late 20's and early 30's, a time when reality closed in on cherished dreams. Life plans were hijacked by health issues, and I had to dig down deep - so very, very deep - to hold onto joy.

Of course, having come through the other side of this crucible, I wish there was some way I could have told that 20's and 30's me that it would all work out eventually. But that's the whole thing about life. You have to live it, a day at a time. And there's no other way to discover what you're made of, is there?

1 - Groove is In the Heart - Deee-Lite - 1990

The chills that you spill
Up my back
Keep me filled
With satisfaction when we're done
Satisfaction of what's to come

I couldn't ask for another
No, I couldn't ask for another

Your groove
I do deeply dig
No walls, only the bridge
My supper dish
My succotash wish

- Brill / Fareed / Hancock / Kirby / Towa Tei

CLICK HERE to watch video for Groove is In the Heart

2 - Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) - C & C Music Factory - 1990

Jump to the rhythm
Jump, jump to the rhythm, jump

And I'm here to combine
Beats and lyrics
To make you shake your pants
Take a chance
Come on and dance

Guys grab a girl
Don't wait, make the twirl
It's your world
And I'm just a squirrel
Trying to get a nut

To move your butt
To the dance floor
So yo what's up
Hands in the air
Come on say yeah
Everybody over here
Everybody over there

The crowd is live
And I pursue this groove
Party people in the house

Left to right
Work me all night
Come on let's sweat
Let the music take control
Let the rhythm move you
Let the music take your soul
Let the rhythm move you

- Clivill├ęs / Williams

3 - Walking on Broken Glass - Annie Lennox - 1992

The sun's still shining in the big blue sky
But it don't mean nothing to me

Oh let the rain come down
Let the wind blow through me

I'm living in an empty room
With all the windows smashed
And I've got so little left to lose
That it feels just like I'm walking on broken glass

- Annie Lennox

4 - Ex-Factor - Lauryn Hill - 1998

This is crazy
Oh this is crazy

Care for me, care for me
I know you care for me

There for me, there for me
Said you'd be there for me

Cry for me, cry for me
You said you'd die for me

Give to me, give to me
Why won't you live for me?

Is this just a silly game
that forces you to act this way?

Forces you to scream my name
then pretend that you can't stay

Tell me who I have to be
to get some reciprocity

See no one loves you more than me
and no one ever will

- Lauryn Hill

5 - Natural Blues - Moby - 1999

Oh lordy
Trouble so hard
Oh lordy
Trouble so hard

Don't nobody know my troubles but God
Don't nobody know my troubles but God

- Hall / Moby

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - 202 - 13 Questions For Jennie Marsland, Author of McShannon's Heart

Pull up a chair and set a spell - I've got western romance author Jennie Marsland at A Piece of My Mind today, whose second release McShannon's Heart hit bookstore shelves earlier this year.

1 - Does your second release feel different from your debut?

Good question. The first draft of McShannon’s Chance more or less wrote itself, I felt so comfortable with the characters and the Western setting. Then there were the bumps in the road – having two publishers fold after accepting the book. Its release, when it finally happened, was a dream come true. I found McShannon’s Heart a lot more difficult to write, I think because knowing I’d done it once, I expected more of myself. Now that it’s published I feel more of a solid sense of relief and accomplishment.

2 - Was the Wallace Flats series always planned as a series, or did supporting characters demand their own story?

The series wasn’t planned at all. While I wrote McShannon’s Chance, the whole family took root in my mind, so I found couldn’t stop there. I had Chelle McShannon married and settled in England, so the story of how that happened was waiting to be told. Then there’s Nathan Munroe, Trey McShannon’s childhood nemesis. Nate won’t give me any peace until I get him settled with Lorie, so there will be at least one more book in the series.

3 - You just celebrated McShannon's Heart with a musical evening and book reading at The Company House in Halifax. How does music figure in your story?

Music is an integral part of Heart.

The hero, Martin Rainnie, is the local fiddler in the small Yorkshire village of Mallonby.

His first wife, Eleanor, was a singer. When she died in childbirth, Martin gave up his music because it evoked too many painful memories. It isn’t until he brings his baby daughter home and starts playing his fiddle again that he begins to heal.

My other half is a professional-level guitarist. We met through music, and it’s an important part of our life as a couple. I found it easy to understand that part of Martin’s conflict.

Check out Jennie's lovely singing voice in her book trailer for McShannon's Heart:

4 - You also participated in a meet-and-greet evening with other romance writers and the Halifax business community at Argyle Fine Art last month. How does the art world tie in with your first book, McShannon's Chance?

Beth Underhill, Trey McShannon’s mail-order bride, is a watercolour artist.

She’s passionate about her work, and she and Trey have to come to an understanding about its place in her life. As a woman, Beth has to struggle to have her art taken seriously.

She also has to take some risks to get Trey to believe that, as important as painting is to her, he comes first. He’s lost so many important people in his life, trust doesn’t come easily. I dabble in watercolours myself, so I enjoyed writing that aspect of Beth’s character. Her attraction to the Colorado landscape feeds her attraction to Trey and his lifestyle.

Jennie stands third from left at the Argyle Fine Art BeConnected event.

5 - Horses really play key roles in the series. Are you an experienced horse rider?

I don’t know if I’d say ‘experienced’. I’ve always loved horses, and I owned one for a couple of years when I was in high school.

Calico was a sweetheart and I loved him dearly. I spent most of my spare time at the barn. I did a lot of trail riding and competed in a couple of very small local horse shows. There are times when I still miss it.

I’ve also been captivated by the mystique of racing Thoroughbreds for a long time. Trey’s stallion, Flying Cloud, and his mares were very real characters to me.

6 - How much time do you spend researching before you write? Do you have to give yourself a research limit?

I don’t give myself a research limit, but perhaps I should!

A good part of my research comes from reading contemporary novels or journals. For example, the scene in Chance where Beth almost blows up the stove is based on a real incident recorded in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s journal. To get a feel for affluent New York society in 1870, I reread Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence. Details of daily life – how people cooked, cleaned their houses, raised their children – are easily found in writings of the time, especially women’s writings.

I also spent hours on-line looking through Civil War photographs and reading about battles. I even found a census report from Morgan County, Georgia, the McShannons’ home, dated 1861. It listed five families as owning more than fifty slaves. In my series, those families became the Sinclairs, MacAfees, Munroes, Bascombs and Hugheses – the county’s large planters. Over half the households on the census were small or mid-sized farms like the McShannons’, with no slaves at all. A snapshot of history on a single page.

For Heart, I had to research the woollen industry in Victorian England, as Mallonby is a mill town. I loved looking through pictures of the Dales, and I reread my old James Herriot stories to get the flavour of the local dialect. Of course, I didn’t need much of an excuse to thumb through Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights again, either. As for music, the pieces Martin plays and sings are ones I’ve heard or sung myself.

Look at me rattling on. Do I need a research limit? I ask you!

7 - Tell us about Chelle McShannon.

While her brother resembles the Cajun side of the family, Chelle is more like her forthright English father.

She speaks her mind and sometimes lands in trouble as a result. She’s lively and flirtatious, knows she’s attractive and enjoys the fact, but she’s honest and sincere. She also has a lot of inner strength.

When she finds herself in the foreign and not particularly welcoming village of Mallonby, she doesn’t change to fit in. She finds her place on her own terms.

8 - And Martin Rainnie?

Martin is a gentle giant, a big man who’s content with his comfortable farm, his music and his wife. After losing Eleanor, he doesn’t know how to handle his anger.
Anyone who provokes him is asking for a fight.

As Chelle tells him, he doesn’t know his own strength. She annoys him at first with her concern for his daughter, but the baby forms a link between them that he soon realizes he doesn’t want to break.

He’s a quiet man who expresses his feelings a lot more easily with his fiddle than he does with words.

9 - Are there any more stories lurking in Wallace Flats?

Yes, as I mentioned, there’s Nathan Munroe’s story. A lot of readers have told me they like Nate, and I enjoy his ambivalent relationship with Trey.

Nate’s book opens with him locking Trey, his father and Martin in the Wallace Flats jail for the night, after Dad gets into trouble over a poker game and Nate feeds them all some confiscated moonshine. I think his book is going to be a lot of fun to write.

10 - What are you working on now?

I’m almost finished the first draft of Shattered, which is set here in Halifax at the time of the 1917 explosion. Another bottomless pit of research.

My hero, Liam Cochrane, is a returned WWI veteran who lost his brother and nearly lost a leg overseas. His heroine, Alice O’Neill, is a girl from Liam’s North End neighbourhood who’s loved him from afar for years, but never let him know. Alice is – can you guess? – a singer and pianist who is also dyslexic. When she finds that she can learn to read music, though not words, it changes her whole outlook on life and on herself.

This one grew out of a story a friend told me. She lives in the part of town devastated by the Explosion, One day she came home from work, glanced at her kitchen window and saw a man dressed in old-fashioned clothes, sitting at her table. Then he disappeared. That got my imagination spinning.

11 - You also write children's fiction. How does your writing process differ when writing for children and adults?

It really doesn’t differ at all. The elements of storytelling are the same for any age – character, setting, conflict. The conflict and vocabulary have to be age-appropriate, that’s all. I still love reading childrens’ books myself.

The one I’m working on is set in the small village by the Minas Basin where my father grew up, and where I spent my childhood summer vacations. And one of the young characters is, surprise, surprise, a musician. That book is up next after I finish Shattered.

12 - What do you think the younger version of you, who read those Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour westerns, would think if she'd known she would one day be a western author?

I think on some level, she always knew that, though she wasn’t conscious of it. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.

13 - Do you have any upcoming public events?

Yes. I’m very excited to be taking part in a book signing event on March 19th, with three other members of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada. Julianne MacLean, Donna Alward and Deborah Hale will be signing copies of their new releases.

Julianne’s Captured by the Highlander, the first of a trilogy, is a departure from her much-loved Regency stories. I haven’t read it yet, but if the reviews are any indication, it’s a complete winner. Can Julianne write anything but?

Donna’s Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle is the newest of her heart-warming, beautifully-characterized contemporary Westerns.

Deborah’s Bought: The Penniless Lady – which I have to read and review post-haste! – hooked me with the cover alone. I want that lovely blue dress! And it goes without saying that the story between the covers will be just as delicious. The event is taking place from 2 to 4 pm at Chapters, near MicMac Mall in Dartmouth. I can’t wait!

I'll be there, Jennie - and thanks for dropping by.

Here's a sneak peek at McShannon's Heart - enjoy!

“Dad, we were through this again last night.” Trey shrugged out of his suit jacket and ran his fingers through his unruly hair.

“I don’t want Chelle here any more than you do, not with what’s coming. You have to go, but you know there’ll be no real future for me in England. There won’t be one for me here, either—not if I don’t go with the rest of the boys.”

The anger Chelle had seen in the churchyard flashed in her brother’s eyes again. “And I can’t. It’s suicide and I won’t be a part of it. Win or lose, I won’t be able to stay here. If I’m going to have to go West, I might as well start sooner as later. I’ll have Cloud, and I’ll get a couple of mares when I can.”

Anger dulled to sadness as Trey looked around the room. “We can sell this place when the war’s over. The land will still be here, whatever happens.”

Chelle knew he was right. Uncle Jack in Yorkshire could make room for her and her father, but he had a son of his own, with a wife and baby. There would be no room for Trey, but still, she hadn’t been able to help hoping he’d come with them in the end. Now she’d be losing him, too.

Unless I marry Rory. Then Dad and I would stay here until the war ended and Rory came home, and...Chelle silenced the selfish thought.

If she married Rory now, her father would give up his plans to return to his old home to heal, and Trey would feel that he had no choice but to join the troop and fight for a cause he didn’t believe in. She couldn’t be responsible for that. If Rory proposed, as she was sure he meant to, they would have to wait until the war was over.

Her father broke into her thoughts. “I’ll see to the legal arrangements tomorrow. I’ll sign the place over to you, lad. Whatever you get for it later will be yours to help you along. It would have been yours one day, anyway.”

He looked at his children with tired eyes. “I never thought this day would come so soon…not so soon. But we’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s all we can do.”

- Jennie Marsland, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - 190

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Poetry Train Monday - 184 - How Can I Ache For What I Never Had

It took me literally all day to write the scene for my Weekend Writer's Retreat serialized fiction on Saturday.

There were a few reasons for that.

The main one was providing home care for my mom, who had knee surgery last Monday. She had the surgery and was released on the same day, so I took the week off of work to care for her. She's actually recovering at a phenomenal rate, but it's amazing how much energy - both physical and mental - has to focus on the home care when you're the care provider.

Subsequently, I found I couldn't put myself in the right head space to write the scene, which was an important one for the main character of a work in progress, and the featured character in the backstory serialized fiction which I post each Saturday.

But I persevered. And I'm happy with how it finally turned out.

So here is a backstory poem I wrote for this character when I first began working on his story, nearly three years ago, now.

Scorpius is Chamberlain of the Keep for Lady Elysande. This dark fantasy takes place in a medieval-flavored slave-owning society.

How Can I Ache For What I Never Had

My bed belongs to my mistress, blanket and all
My keys are to her Keep, safeguarded stone
My ankles drag with phantom shackles
I hear them still, each moment I’m alone

My lineage is suspect, thus my role
My father may have strode before me
As I bowed before my lady’s guests
Wondering every time, could this man be…

My mother may have cried and fought
She may have hoped and schemed
I’ll never know, and never cease from wondering
Am I the man that either of them dreamed?

My tunic is the finest she can buy
My face and form are pleasing, for she smiles
My lips have brushed my lady’s hand, and yet
I long to kiss her foot, to lay in homage on those polished tiles

© Julia Smith - July 27, 2008

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