Thursday, December 31, 2009
I can't believe it's the end of 2009 already! Where did the year go?
I actually went for my first run of the year this morning.... on the last day of the year. Mmmm. What does that say about me and running? Sooo not my favorite activity but who knows, maybe it'll be the start of something new. Yeah, riiight. Dream on, LOL!
Now before I launch into this blog post, I have an announcement: for those of you who laughed and loved the wry of my friend Mark's "I don't understand romance" post on Christmas Eve, you'll be pleased to know that I've convinced him to start his own blog.
I'm certain that Mme Fate had a hand in all this because a couple of days ago, when Mark sent me another post he'd written, I thought it was great and was going to feature it on my own website. Then I figured, why didn't he start his own blog. And it turns out he already had the perfect domain name reserved -- how coincidental is that?! So I just couldn't let such an opportunity go to waste and I convinced him to go for it.
So check out Confessions Of An Insecure Geek for the next instalment in Mark's particular brand of wry humor and wit, liberally laced with masculine analysis.
In his latest post he goes where few men have gone before and decides to explore "Why I don't understand romance". You don't want to miss it!
Right, back to my post.
I'm writing this at 5pm New Year's Eve New Zealand time, and it's gonna be a bit of a rush job to get it written and scheduled because for the first time ever, we're celebrating New Year's Eve as a family. By that I mean that we now feel the kids are old enough to stay up to see the New Year in (and hopefully not wake up tomorrow morning and be grumpy bad-tempered little so-and-sos all day). So instead of getting some poor sitter with no social life to look after the kids for us & heading out to dinner or a party -- actually, I can't remember the last time one of our sitters actually did have a free night on New Year's Eve -- or lounging round at home drinking champagne and watching DVDs after the kids head off to bed, or dragging the kids along to a kid-friendly party or dinner at a friend's house, we're all going out on the town together.
In less than an hour -- yikes! -- we're heading off to our favorite Cock 'N' Bull for a couple of their sensational mixed grill platters, some sodas (maybe a glass of bubbly for the adults) and we might even indulge in one of their decadent desserts or puddings. Then we're heading off to a late session of the movies -- having seen Avatar already (totally awesome!), it'll probably be Sherlock Holmes, since the shorts looked fab, and it appears to be another movie that adults and kids alike will appreciate.
Depending on what time the movie finishes, we'll wander round for a bit, then head back home and finish off all the Christmas chocolate and toast the New Year in. Knowing my kids, the toast will be literal, because they'll be hungry -- again! -- and they'll scoff half a loaf of toasted bread and spreads before they head off to bed. For DH and myself, we've got a bottle of Tattinger all chilled and ready to pop once we get home and driving anywhere is no longer an issue.
Might sound tame, but I'm really looking forward to a night out with my DH and my kids. I'm so very lucky to have them in my life and believe me, I know it! Besides, being a parent is all about sharing "firsts" with your kids and this will be the first time they've officially stayed up to see the New Year in -- how cool is that? No way am I gonna miss it.
So, can you remember the first time you stayed up to see in the New Year? Would love to hear all about it!
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!
And may all your dreams come true in 2010.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
- Attend a conference (I really need to get over my fear of them and just go to one!)
- Finish and submit third story in my Miami Scorcher series for Ellora's Cave
- Tweak HIS SECRET PAST (which is gathering dust on my computer) and submit to my agent OR pitch to an editor at a conference (if I can just make myself go to a conference)
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I'm making two lists this year. One for personal goals, the other for writing goals, both long and short term. So I won't forget, I'm going to post it by my computer. Where I can see it. EVERY DAY.
I think my goals need to be reasonable. Something I have a chance of actually achieving.
We have bright and shiny New Year coming up. What are you going to do? Are you going to use this time as an opportunity to reach the next step of your career?
Perhaps, set aside one item on your list to try something you've been afraid to do, such as try writing in a new genre, paint or learn a craft.
I have a lot of writing goals this year. I'm going to make a spreadsheet to record my progress.
Whatever each of you do, I hope it brings you happiness.
Tambra Kendall/Keelia Greer
Out now: Cowboy of the Night
A Cursed Heart and Christmas of Hope
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Since it's Christmas Eve and after four solid hours of housework the last thing I feel like is writing a blog post, I have come up with a cunning plan. In fact, I've been so cunning that I kinda figured I would feel like this, so I talked someone else into doing my weekly blog post for me.... How smart am I? Mwah hah hah!
Besides, you're sick of hearing my perspective, right? Be honest now. You'd like a change. You'd like something new and different.
So how about a guy's perspective on romance?
Interested? Well, read on, my lovelies!
I'd like to introduce you to my guest poster, Mark, and I hope you'll enjoy his perspective on "romance" -- I know I did!
(BTW, just to give you some context, in the excerpt Mark's quoted from below, the hero is a warrior from another world, hence his rather formal phrasing.)
I DON'T UNDERSTAND ROMANCE
By Mark (for Writers Gone Wild)
Hi. My name is Mark, I’m 27 years old, live in New Zealand, and I don’t understand romance.
“Stop the presses,” I hear you thinking, “another 20-something-year-old guy who doesn’t understand romance? Tell me something I don’t know.”
But keep with me; I think I’m going somewhere with this.
This revelation only occurred to me recently. I’m the first to admit I’m no Casanova, however, I did think I had a clue when it came to romance. But these two events below sum up where my thinking went wrong.
The first event happened when I was at my friend’s place — let’s call her Sarah. Sarah was watching Love Actually when I sat down on her couch with my hot chocolate in hand. It was that scene where the guy — sorry, I actually haven’t seen the whole movie — is proposing to a woman he barely knows in a foreign language in front of a cafe of onlookers.
It was the second time in a row Sarah had watched the movie, and that scene still made her cry. “Every time. Every time I watch him propose I cry. Isn’t it romantic?” she said, wiping away her tears.
Sipping my hot chocolate, I replied, “Uh, is it? I don’t really get it.”
Sarah gave me that look only a woman can give. You know the one.
I was thinking along the lines of Why are you asking this woman to marry you if you don’t know her? But apparently I missed the point entirely.
The second event was when I was talking to Maree about a romance story I was reading. I commented that I found the following scene ‘quite funny.’ (And yes, I know I’m hardly the target audience.)
His gaze sought mine, his blue eyes dark with desire and raw need.
The tenderness with which he uttered my name was my undoing.
“I desire you above all others,” he said, and at that moment I believed him with every fiber of my being.
“Do you want me to stop?”
“I want there to be no misunderstanding. I am going to take you as a man does a woman. Yes?”
“Yes,” I whispered, my voice shaking.
It was the second last sentence that got me. All I could think of was me — 5′10″, 165lbs — saying to my ex-girl friend, “I am going to take you as a man does a woman.” I can actually hear her laughing now.
When I mentioned to Maree I thought that line was funny, she commented that she thought it was hot — even romantic. I must have looked confused, because she summed it up nicely for me by explaining any woman in that situation — just meeting a strange man, who is a complete alpha, totally dominant, and as massive in stature as the guy in this particular story is supposed to be — would run a mile.
It was all fantasy, Maree explained.
“Ah huh,” I remember thinking, “it’s all just fantasy.”
You see, the funny thing is, Sarah explained to me 10 minutes after Love Actually finished how much she hated being the center of attention, and how much she avoided it.
“Strange,” I thought, “didn’t you just coo about this whole being proposed to in front of strangers bit?”
It didn’t really occur to me until later that Sarah’s comment was more of a fantasy, too. Knowing Sarah, I know she’d hate being proposed to that way.
Actually, going back to my original premise, I think I had two revelations. First, I often take things too literally. (Maree will confirm this.) Second, there’s a big gap between what is romantic in an ideal world, or in a sense where a woman can completely let herself go, and what is actually romantic.
There’s a million reasons why something is romantic on paper, TV, or in our heads. However, it occurred to me there’s a huge gap between that and what is actually romantic — specifically, for any individual. There’s culture, societal norms, religion, morals, and even just the pressure of day-to-day life that really forces a lot of ‘romance’ to become ‘fantasy.’
I’m going to call what is actually romantic (and ergo not fantasy) ‘pragmatic romance.’
So I think I understand my ‘pragmatic romance’ as I’ve loosely defined it: it’s essentially the romance we allow ourselves to have.
Okay, and now for the guy’s POV I promised Maree. Same topic.
I remember watching Sex and the City once with my ex-girlfriend. In this particular episode, Samantha was getting nailed in a position called ‘the jackhammer.’
“Wow,” I simply said.
My girlfriend, ever curious (bless her), asked if I’d like to try that position. I thought about it, but for some reason I just wasn’t keen. The position looked interesting, although I wasn’t sure I could pull off that feat of co-ordination, balance, and power all at once.
Maybe that is the male version of ‘pragmatic romance’?
I’ll call it ‘pragmatic sex.’
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Today marks the end of an era for our family. Today, both my kids broke up from school for the Christmas holiday break, and both are moving on to new schools. My daughter is moving from Intermediate -- what we here in New Zealand call Year 7 and 8 -- to high school next year, and my son is moving on from Primary School to Intermediate.
We've sat through the year-end graduation ceremonies and the Christmas carol evenings, and now it's all finished. We're officially on holiday. Yeeha!
Even better, next year both kids will be "in zone" for their schools, and in easy walking distance. So I will no longer have to battle the horrendous morning rush hour traffic to get them to school on time. What will I do with myself in the mornings? I'm sure I'll think of something! *VBG*
Intermediate has been pretty hands off for me. The school doesn't encourage parents to hover and baby the kids. They're prepping them to be adults so they'll cope at high school. So aside from parent/teacher interviews and suchlike, I haven't had much involvement with my daughter's school. And at 13 years old, she's now pretty much autonomous. She knows what she has to do and gets it done without too much nagging from me.
Which is just as well because looking back, Primary School has been a huge time commitment. The school relies heavily on parent involvement, and even when my daughter was in Year 1, I remember coming into school a couple of mornings a week to test some of the kids in her class on their spelling, or encourage them to write just one more sentence of that story, or supervise their artistic endeavors (i.e. try to minimize the extent of the paint splatter, LOL!).
So 8 years of helping out, and being involved, and having the majority of teachers know me by name, has finally come to an end.
From now on there'll be no more early morning starts to get to school by 8.10am to supervise the school pedestrian crossing. Gotta admit, I won't miss freezing my butt off in the winter months. Or dealing with parents who frankly, shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel of a car. Nope. Won't miss that at all.
No more helping the school Enviro Team beautify the grounds. I smiled when I walked past the drainage grates this morning and saw the brightly colored octopus, the dolphin, the underwater scene and other marvellous artworks the kids created to disguise the ugly metal grates. It's a fabulous legacy that I am thrilled to have been involved with.
No more being called in at the last minute to go on school trips because they haven't got enough parents and they'll have to cancel. Last week's Year 6 Rainbows End trip was one such trip. It was windy, pouring with rain and I soooo did not want to go to a theme park and put up with a bunch of hyperactive, noisy kids. Our bus pulled into the parking lot and I swear every other fricking school in Auckland was there, too. Horrors! I don't do too well in large crowds but I had five boys to supervise and I figured I could either hate every minute of the 5 hours we were spending there, or I might as well suck it up and go on every single ride that my kids did. We got soaking wet and we all had a blast! The other adults thought I was mad, but my group of kids thought I was the most awesome mom ever. And I'm so very glad I filled in at the last minute because the memories I will carry with me are priceless.
No more popping into my child's classroom and being shown their latest project or story or artwork, and quite frankly, being awed by what all the kids are able to achieve these days with a bit of encouragement from an enthusiastic teacher.
No more loudly cheering the kids on from the sidelines during days set aside for athletics, or gymnastics competitions, or cross country events.
No more watching my kids receive a principal's awards or special certificate at assemblies because they've achieved something remarkable, or tried really hard at something. Or even more fun, watching them perform some weird and wonderful skit during the Year 6 assembly "special spot" to entertain the younger kids.
No more teachers telling me how much they loved having my daughter or my son in their class and what a damn fine job I've done raising my kids. I nearly cried today when my son's teacher approached to tell me just that. It's a wonderful thing for any parent to hear.
So that's it. No more primary school aged kids. The end of an era.
And all that's left behind of the years my kids spent at their first ever school is the cobblestone engraved with their names in the courtyard, the ceramic tiles they painted which are featured on the outside wall of the admin building, and their school photos displayed on the wall of the hall.
Goodbye Sunnyhills School. It's been a heap of fun.
And to the really fabulous, caring teachers who nutured my kids through New Entrants to Year 6, thank-you from the bottom of my heart. Couldn't have done it without you.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Key Lime Pie Martini (For those 21 and older only)
2 oz. Lemon flavored vodka (ex. Bacardi Limon)
1 oz. half and half (or heavy cream)
1 oz. Licor 43
Splash fresh lime juice
Note: If you can’t find Licor 43, replace the lemon flavored vodka for vanilla flavored vodka, add two tablespoons of lime juice instead of a splash and you’re good to go!
Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker (over ice). Shake until well mixed. Strain into chilled martini glass. If you want to get really fancy, rub lime juice around the glass rim, then dip into graham cracker crumbs for a pretty display (before straining mix of course)
HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!
Monday, December 14, 2009
I'm really in the Christmas spirit. I'm listening to the Mediaeval Baebes CD, Mistletoe and Wine, earlier it was Loreena McKennitt.
Earlier I was preparing stocking stuffers for my almost three-year-old grandson. I'm having a blast wrapping his little presents. He loves to unwrap gifts.
My doggie's stocking has his favorite flavored chew sticks, which I find at the dollar store.
On to the writing life...
My new release Christmas of Hope has a heroine who deals with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. This is a disease where people look at you and say, "You look fine." People suffering from MS and other diseases such as an aneurysm have the same hurtful words thrown at them.
The fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue change everything. I can't think of an area of my life that hasn't been touched, stomped or ripped.
I hope my story brings a smile to your face and encourages those with FMS and CFIDS. My heroine, Linnett is sassy and gives as good as she gets.
Here's the link to buy and the story blurb:
Linette MacDougal is having a tough time this year--the death of her mother and now the house she grew up in may be taken away. The bright spot in her life is Hope Claus, one of her kindergarten students. When she meets Hope's father, Nick, she begins to believe in the magic of Christmas once more.
I registered for college today. Three classes and then I'll graduate with an AA in English. God needs to be with me, so I can pass Math for Liberal Arts. My health will depend on attending the University of Houston, Clear Lake campus to continue my education in receiving a Bachelors in Communication.
This can be given as a gift.
If making for crowd, adjust the recipe accordingly.
Amaretto-Cinnamon Nut Mix
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons amaretto liquer
1 cup unsalted whole almonds
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Boil sugar mixture 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Add liquer; stir until well blended. Stir almonds. Spread evenly on a greased baking sheet. Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until dark brown. Roll in remaining sugar; transfer to aluminum foil to cool completely. Store in an aritight container.
Yield: about 1 cup nut mix
Recipe from Friendship Gifts of Good Taste; Memories in the Making Series
Copyright 1971, Leisure Arts
This can be given as a gift. You could put this into a glass milk bottle the placed on a bed of raffia into a metal pail with a coffee mug to finish it off.
Chocolate-Malt Coffee Creamer
2 cups instant hot cocoa mix
2/3 cup nondairy powdered coffee creamer
2/3 cup malted milk mix
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
combine all ingredients in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Store in an airtight container.
To serve: stir 2 heaping teaspoonfuls into 8 ounces of hot coffee.
(If giving as gift, don't forget to give the instructions.)
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray
Adjustments made by Polly
2 bags corn tortilla chips in 2 colors or different. Or your two favorite flavors. (I used Doritos Corn chips and it was fine.)
Pico de Gallo Salsa:
4 vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, for medium to hot heat level
1 small white onion, chopped
¼ cup, 2 handfuls, cilantro leaves finely chopped-substitute parsley, if cilantro is not to your liking
Beef and Beans Topping:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (I omitted this)
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons dark chili powder
1 ½ ground cumin, half a palmful
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce, giving you a medium to hot heat level
1 can black beans, 15 ounces drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
¾ pound pepper jack cheese, shredded, about 2 ½ cups. (I use Colby-Jack cheese and a bit of Velveeta)
*Or, you can use the cheese in the jar and heat it up. Another idea, make a small to medium batch of Velveeta Cheese dip and use it.
Additional toppings, optional:
Sour cream, chopped black olives, sliced avocado, dressed with lemon juice.
Arrange chips on a very large platter or use your broiler pan as a platter.
Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside for flavors to marry.
Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, onion and peppers to the pan and sauté 2 minutes, then add the meat and crumble with wooden spoon. Season meat with salt, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper sauce. Cook meat 5 minutes, then stir in beans and reduce heat to low.
In a medium sauce pot melt butter and ad flour to it. Cook flour and butter 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in milk. When milk comes to a bubble, stir in cheese with a wooden spoon. Remove cheese sauce from the heat.
Pour cheese sauce evenly over the massive spread of chips and top evenly with beef and beans and the pico de gallo. Serve immediately.
Black Bean Frittata
Recipe from KitchenAid stand mixer recipe book
2 cups Fat free egg substitute or 8 eggs
¼ cup low fat milk
1 tablespoon oil
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1 can (16 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Place egg substitute and milk in mixer bowl, mix on medium speed about 30 seconds, or until mixed well. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until oil sizzles. Add bell pepper and onions. Cook about 1 minute, or until slightly tender. Stir in beans. Cook about 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Pour egg mixture over vegetables. Cook about 6 minutes, or until almost set. As bottom of egg mixture sets, carefully lift edges with spatula and let uncooked egg run to the bottom of the pan. Cook, covered about 2 minutes, or until top is shiny. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook, covered about 1 minute or until cheese melts.
Yield: 6 servings
I hope you find the holiday recipes and gift suggestions helpful.
Hugs and love,
Keelia Greer/Tambra Kendall
Yield: about 3 cups of creamer.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
You might have figured out by some of my references to dance classes, that I love going dancing. Specifically, partner dancing--in my case, Ceroc dance, which is a kind of French Rock Jive done to any modern night-club style music with a decent beat.
For me, partner dancing is fun, pure and simple. It's "me" time and that's why even though we all (DH, me and the kids) go to karate class on Thursday nights and I'm usually pretty tired after the class, the minute I get home I rush for the shower, chuck on some clothes, grab my dancing bag and head off to Ceroc class and a full-on evening of freestyle afterward.
So what's the big deal with partner dancing?
Well, there's the enforced intimacy--hard to partner dance without body contact! And if you're comfortable with your partner and he's willing to ham it up, it gives you the opportunity to play up to him, pretend to flirt outrageously, be just a little bit sexy -- or a lot, depending on how brave you are! -- with no strings attached.
There's also that slightly scary thrill of putting yourself entirely in a man's hands and having to trust that he will keep you safe while he whirls you round the floor and performs those dips, drops and laybacks. In other words, if he decides to turn on the fancy moves, you have to trust that he won't drop you on your ass! Or, as in my case last week when I ended up upside down with my feet in the air, that he won't bash your head on the floor, LOL. (He didn't, BTW. But I did scream!)
And one of the best things about partner dancing is that for the duration of the song, while he's whirling you round the room, you are his entire focus. He can't do this alone. He needs you to showcase his moves and he's not taking his eyes off of you for a second! And I gotta say, when you're dancing with someone really good, it's an awesome feeling.
Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some of my favorite dance movies with you -- or movies with great dance scenes in them.
First up is the tango scene from Take The Lead with Antonio Banderas:
Next up is the Team Tango from the same movie, where the female dancer plays with two male leads -- sooo very sexy!
Strictly Ballroom -- here's a gorgeous dance scene with Scott (Paul Mecurio) practicing the routine with Fran (Tara Morice) and then segueing into the competition scene.
One of my favorite "feel good" dancing movies is Dance With Me, starring Chayanne and Vanessa Williams. Here's a fantastic scene from a salsa club -- I love watching this one! They just look like they're having so much fun.
Granted this isn't a "dance" movie but it does have an amazing dance scene in it. From my favorite movie evah, The Thomas Crown Affair, check out this scene between Renee Russo and Pierce Brosnan. Oh. My. God. And that dress! Soooo sexy. (P.S. If you're offended by love scenes, don't watch on past the dance scene. It's beautifully done, but you have been warned!)
There's loads more dance-related DVDs in my cabinet but that's all I have time to find clips for at the moment -- gotta go take my son to his Year 6 school graduation dinner!
Addendum: Naima just reminded me I'd left out Dirty Dancing, which is just, like, a crime of monumental proportions! Have lost track of how many times I've watched that movie and it still makes me cry. Naima, this link is for you!
Hope you enjoy my selection.
And since I'd love any excuse to buy more DVDs, how about you share your favorite dance scenes from movies with me?
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Yesterday, author Carolyn Crane blogged about the random stresses authors face. Her agent just emailed her to let her know an author had declined to blurb her upcoming debut and the response brought up doubts in herself that I know all authors face. It's one person, but somehow that response can make an author doubt everything they've accomplished. I thought it was very brave that she posted it on her blog and just put her insecurities out there. I definitely have a lot of insecurities and even though I've had to develop thicker skin over the past couple years, a scathing review still has the ability to bring up all sorts of doubts. I just received a crap review for Unleashed Temptation (under my pseudonym) and even though it's only one person's opinion, I started to question myself and the next book I contracted with Ellora's Cave since it follows that series. Now I'm glad I saw Carolyn's blog b/c it put everything back into perspective for me. It's so easy to get down on yourself, but letting one stranger's opinion make me question myself is crazy. I love what I do and so do a lot of other people (I save fan mail for days like this).
Just like that couple in NY. While a living situation like that would never work for me, it works for them and they're happy with their choice. So many things in life are subjective and it's nice to have a reminder once in a while.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Don't you just love it when you find a new to you author and you can't put the book down? I spent Sunday afternoon lounging around the bookstore and that very thing happened to me. I picked up, Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost. I spent Sunday and Monday night reading late into the night despite the fact that I had to get up early and get my kiddo ready for school, but I just couldn't stop. The book was amazing. I fell in love with the hero, Bones (yes I know the name is crazy but it fits. LOL). He's sexy, sarcastic, confident and just oh so very delicious.
The book is filled with action, tension (both sexual and not) and I can't tell you how many times I literally laughed out loud until I woke my sleeping husband. Bones and the heroine Cat have great chemistry and their banter is just perfect.
I have the second book in the series waiting for me and I can't wait to dive into it.
Have you found a new author lately? What's the last book that you just couldn't put down.
Also, I'm running a contest over on my Facebook page for a free copy of one of my erotic romances. Scroll down my wall and comment to win!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I'm posting early because I'm sick. Upper respiratory infection, I think. Anyway, I'm going to the doctor tomorrow and I'm not sure what I'll get or how coherent I'll be.
Christmas of Hope comes out Thursday, December 10, 2009. It's a contemporary fantasy.
I've always loved this time of year which is why I love reading Christmas romances.
Here's a peek of Christmas of Hope:
A few days before Christmas
“Stop, Daddy!” Hope Claus stood on tiptoe and pointed at the window of The Magic Café. “I want some hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows. Please.”
“Great idea, sweetheart.” Nick Claus’ stomach rumbled in agreement. He must have walked from one end of the mall to the other. My daughter is a professional shopper at five years old. I’m in deep trouble.
A chill wind gusted, pushing hard against his back. He rolled his shoulders and shifted his body to protect Hope. Nick shoved the shopping bags into one hand and opened the door.
Hope scampered inside.
A blast of heat redolent with the comforting scent of cinnamon wrapped him in its embrace. It hung like a sweet promise in the air. His favorite—peach cobbler. No one made it better than Marianne Tucker did and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top made it pure heaven.
He scanned the room for a place to sit. Plenty of seats available. They must have just missed the lunch crowd. Thank God, he couldn’t suffer another crowd right now.
Shopping at the end of the season was total chaos and Hope loved every minute of it. The lights, decorations and music delighted his little girl all the way down to her Claus soul. He missed feeling that way.
His wife, Victoria, had passed away five years ago. Maybe his family was right about him dating again. After all these years, the only female who stirred his interest was Hope’s teacher, Linnet MacDougal.
Beautiful inside and out, Linnet elicited feelings he’d thought died with Victoria.
He wanted to let go, but wasn’t sure how. Damn, he was tired of being alone but he had to consider Hope. Maybe he could date occasionally. Not let the relationship get out of control. When he got up the nerve, he’d ask Linnet out and then she’d be out of his system. Already the woman occupied his dreams, and recently, his days. Since, things had progressed to the point he needed to make a decision and soon. For his peace of mind.
The dulcet sounds of the Mediaeval Baebes’ CD Mistletoe and Wine played through the speakers. The soft sounds started to soothe his tense muscles. His stomach rumbled, again.
“Oooo, look at the tree!” Hope clapped her mitten-clad hands together and stomped her feet in excitement. She held out her hands. “I want these off, Daddy.”
Nick grinned at Hope’s enthusiasm. “Marianne did a good job, didn’t she?” With a sweeping glance, his inner vision burst into a kaleidoscope of color. Warm orange, reds and pinks whirled and pulsed with the gentle sounds of love and laughter.
His left brow shot up in surprise. Wards of protection glittered in an intricate weave of bronze, gold and silver around the room. His admiration for Marianne rose even more. It explained why the atmosphere kept the good inside and the riffraff to a minimum. Threaded through the subtle spell, he detected something familiar about the magickal signature entwined with Marianne’s. Uncle Nicholas? His uncle’s signature lay hidden among the weave and runes. By extending himself to do something so personal, it showed Nicholas’ deep attraction for the family’s good friend.
Incessant tugging brought his attention back to Hope. Nick pulled off her mittens and clipped them onto the elastic cord hanging from the sleeves of her coat.
“I wanna see the teddies.” She hopped from one foot to the other.
In the corner, a broad, stately Douglas fir sparkled with tiny colored lights. Covering the tree and nestled among the branches, small teddy bears with light or dark fur were dressed in shiny colorful Victorian clothing. A small, crisp, white tag hung from the neck of each stuffed animal.
Hope tugged out of his grasp.
“Hope! What are you doing?” Nick grabbed her and held her close. Fear cut knife-edged straight to his heart. Even though this was a familiar place, he didn’t want Hope to think she could run off whenever she wanted. “Sweetheart, even though we visit all the time, you can’t jerk out of my grasp. It isn’t safe.”
“I know. I’m not a baby.” Exasperation made her dramatically roll her eyes while she pursed her lips.
Movement toward his left caught his attention. A petite woman with long, golden brown hair stepped from behind the counter. Why was Linnet working in Marianne’s café? Nick released his hold.
Hope laughed and ran to Linnet, her arms outstretched.
His body reacted as it normally did in Linnet’s presence. He tightened his muscles to stop the tide of desire. It didn’t work. Hell, he’d resorted to sneaking into her classroom just to see her. *I’m pathetic*.
*I want her.* It was that simple and that difficult. The admission came on the heels of his longstanding fear. Acknowledging this much opened his defenses enough to feel the naked vulnerability that came with exposing his heart.
Tambra Kendall news:
Wicked Pleasures published by Red Rose Publishing, will be coming in print any time now. We're waiting for it to hit Amazon. The story received 4.5 Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies and 4 Cups from Coffee Time Romance. 4 Whipped Cream Cherries from Whipped Cream Reviews plus winning story of the week.
Snowdrop from Whipped Cream Romance Reviews said this: “Wicked Pleasures” is a very well-written short story, which could easily be made into a full-length novel. The characters of Brock and Honey are obviously very much in love and dying to finally consummate their marriage. It would be interesting to read more about how Brock and Honey met and their courtship. Also, I would have liked to have learned more about the secondary character of Cousin Andrew and his attempts to commit fraud. But the author does a good job tying the two mysteries of Granny’s legacy and the missing will together in a quick, satisfying read. I was so completely vested in these characters that I wanted MORE! That's the sign of some strong writing.
The lovemaking scenes are very hot and I loved the addition of the special items Granny Cordella left Honey in her will, along with explicit instructions on their use. What a clever idea on the author's part. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable story that I happily recommend.
With all the cold, chilly weather who doesn't want read about a hot cowboy?
Hugs to all,
Tambra Kendall/Keelia Greer
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I'm at a loss for a blog topic today. Can't think of anything remotely related to writing, so I figured I'd share an amusing story instead.
After my Ceroc dance class on Thursday nights, a group of us who need to unwind before we head home meet at a "certain establishment" (which shall remain unnamed for reasons which shall shortly become obvious). It’s generally around 10.30-11pm by the time we get there and we’re all starving and dying of thirst after an hour-long dance class and a couple of hours of freestyle.
We’ve been turning up at this place for so long now that we’re pretty much Thursday night regulars, and we like to think we have all its little quirks down pat. (BTW, this place is the only one around our neck of the woods that's open 24/7, so it's not like we have a choice of venue which is kinda why we keep going back regardless.)
So far we’ve figured out the following:
1. If you order a glass of the house pinot noir, you will get red wine... but it'll be a cause to celebrate if it's actually a pinot noir. So far, only once has the wine served turned out to actually be the one ordered.
Still, at least the wine has been the right color -- red. Well, so far it's been red. We’re waiting for the time she orders pinot noir and gets served a chardonnay, or even bubbles.
2. If you order hot water to drink (which I used to do because they don’t serve herbal tea and I don’t like drinking normal tea or coffee really late at night) it’ll come to the table in a variety of vessels. So far I’ve had hot water brought to me in a teapot, a mug, a normal cup with saucer, a normal drinking glass, and my personal favorite, a soup tureen.
Still, as they say: Variety is the spice of life.
3. By all means order a side dish of vegetables with your main… just don't be tempted to eat them. They might look appetising and colorful, but they'll taste vile. Every time. Without fail.
How do they cook them to make them taste so bad when they look perfectly fine? Who knows. We're too scared to ask.
4. If you want "black" coffee, then you need to order "normal" coffee, i.e. it will come in a plunger (think that's a French Press in the U.S.?) along with a cup and a small jug of milk. Well, duh! Obviously you just don’t bother to use the milk if you want to drink it black.
We've tried asking the wait-staff not to bring the damn milk. Alas, for reasons unbeknownst to us, that little jug of milk appears to be compulsory.
5. If you order a banana split for dessert, it’s a good idea to specify that you want a banana with that, since it has been known to come with everything else (ice-cream, cream, garnish) and the actual banana has been nowhere to be found. (We suspect it was left on the kitchen bench.)
6. And finally, the most hilarious quirk we’ve yet encountered.
This place has a great range of shakes, everything from lime shakes to Oreo shakes. The guys often go for a banana smoothie, and have cleverly got around the lack of that option on the menu by ordering "a banana shake with a real banana". That is, you pay extra for a "real" banana instead of just banana flavoring, and have it blended into your shake.
One particular night, however, the unsuspecting waiter was new to our group and obviously at a loss to decipher the order.
What did he bring back?
A banana shake with a perfectly whole, totally unblended banana stuck in the middle of it…. Which was only discovered when our intrepid man tried (in vain) to suck a mouthful of his shake up through his straw and encountered the unexpected extra.
The milkshake duly went back to the kitchen for re-blending and it was wondered aloud whether our man might just consider himself grateful that the banana had actually been peeled at all before being stuck in the shake. Cue giggles, snorts, red faces, tears of laughter, curious glances from the other patrons.... Priceless.
And let's not get started about orders arriving with no cutlery, the guy who took our orders and kept burping and giggling, the desserts arriving before the mains, and various other fun and games.
So how about you guys? Got any bizarre restaurant or cafe stories that you would like to share? (Only proviso is that you please don't "name" the establishment so I don't get into any trouble!)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Last night President Obama announced that he'd be sending a new surge of American troops into Afghanistan. I knew it was coming and I'm honestly surprised it didn't happen sooner. My own husband did a brief stint there in August of this year (independent of the military). This blog isn't political and my opinion of the president or this new announcement isn't important. The holiday season is here so while y'all are out shopping for presents, decorating your homes, and getting ready for whichever holiday you may celebrate, I hope you keep in mind the thousands of families whose husbands and/or wives who will be sent overseas. They'll likely be saying goodbye to them very soon, if they haven't already. So if you do pray, I hope you pray for the loved ones of those who serve our country and especially for those who find themselves listening to an overhead anthem of bombs instead of eating turkey and ham come Christmas day.
Hope everyone is having a great week so far and I really hope everyone is in good health!