St. Patrick’s Day Blog Hop Has Ended!

Carrie Ann Ryan, the organizer of this Blog Hop, has officially ended the giveaway, as she was going by East Coast time (per her original post). Here were the Grand Prize winners:

Winner of the Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet:

 #136 from Carrie Ann Ryan’s Blog:   Melissa L 

I’ll be attempting Irish Car Bomb cupcakes this St. Patrick’s Day!

Winner of the $90 Amazon or B&N Gift Card: #4186 from Wendy Smith’s Blog: Shadow

True love? To me is being there, knowing you will always have there love and can count on each other for anything. You’d give up and do anything to make the other happy. 

VS sez, I’ll select my individual blog winner on Sunday morning as I’d previously said I would do and announce the name then. Happy St. Patrick’s Day and I have really enjoyed all the comments!

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One Day a Year My Brother Is A Leprechaun – St. Patrick’s Day Blog Hop & Giveaway!!!

We’re having a Blog Hop to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and wearing green! Over 100 authors are talking about being Irish, celebrating the day, wearing green, drinking green beer… pretty much anything!

Each author will be giving away a prize. Like a swag pack, gift cards, ebooks, print books, and so much more. VS sez I’m giving away one $25.00 Amazon gift card and will randomly select a winner Sunday morning from the comments here on my blog.

PLUS  the Blog Hop organizer Carrie Ann Ryan will award TWO Grand Prizes for TWO different winners! Click on her link to find the links to all the other blog hop pages!

Grand Prize 1: Winner’s Choice of a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

Grand Prize 2: Winner’s Choice of a $90 Amazon or Barnes&Noble Gift Card

Isn’t that exciting? LOL. So you as a reader – what do you have to do? Visit the websites, comment on as many as you want. The grand prize winners will be chosen at random from the commenters – meaning you can comment on EACH blog – 100+ chances to enter for the grand prizes.

My family is of Irish descent and very pleased with ourselves indeed, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. In the city where my brother lives, they have had an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade for many years now and he participates as A Classic Leprechaun, which makes me happy and very proud!

So what’s your favorite thing about St. Patrick’s Day?

Wednesday Whimsy – Quotes about “Green”

Since this is the week for St. Patrick’s Day, I went looking for quotes about the word  “green”  (being a writer) and found some really unusual ones! (I’ll be  taking part in a St. Patrick’s Day blog hop/giveaway later in the week)

Green how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches.

F. G. Lorca

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

Noam Chomsky

Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart.
Russell Page

In essence the Renaissance was simply the green end of one of civilization’s hardest winters.
John Fowle

And of course the classic:

It’s not easy being green

Kermit the Frog

Jody Wallace & MeanKitty “Cattify” Priestess of the Nile!

I’ve been honored today to have the famous MeanKitty perform “cattification” on my novel – enjoy!

The Story

Drawn to her abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting odor like tuna and cheese combined, Pretty-Kitty the Cattian goddess is even more cat-tivated by the sight of the can opener herself…and her TWO opposable thumbs. Appearing to the human as an absolutely divine housecat, Pretty-Kitty learns the human is Mewys, a descendant of her last can-opening priestess. Though filled with hunger, Pretty-Kitty believes Mewys deserves to be more than just a can opener. Perhaps even…a back scratcher. Or a best spot on the couch butt warmer. Or perhaps even a door opener/closer/opener/closer. But the rules that govern the Cattian pantheon forbid anything beyond a food-oriented relationship between a Great One and a human.

Mewys is attracted to the incredibly beautiful housecat, who arouses devotion in her that no human or animal ever has. Especially those perfect little white paws and long, elegant whiskers. But with a limited number of cheese cubes and no hope of ever leaving her village to get more, she dares not dream of a relationship once the cheese and tuna are gone—or love.

Pretty-Kitty takes every opportunity to visit Mewys and snarf up the chow, taxing her resolve to make Mewys to stick to preparing fish. And when she jumps into Mewys’s lap, their mutual desire to pet and be petted must be sated. But can love between a human and a Great One survive the ultimate test of the evil crocodogs?

Chapter One:

The old abandoned temple with the awesome sunspots remained one of her favorite places along the Nile, overlooking the river from a small bluff, with a deserted beach below. Pretty-Kitty (the prettiest Cattien Goddess) stood gazing across the disgustingly wet water at bronze- and black-spotted evil crocodogs panting in the final rays of the setting sun. A breathtaking mix of colors stained the sky as a lesser Cattien Goddess, Nuit, spread her cloak across the heavens, sprinkling the black velvet with star-like laser pointer dots.

A tantalizing odor rose from the beach below the bluff. Pretty-Kitty recognized the scent of a familiar cat treat, tuna, given new meaning by the hypnotizing addition of cheeeeeeeeese.

 Pretty-Kitty licked her lips. I must see the source of this odor. It’s cast some kind of spell over me.

She strolled along the path from the ruins toward the beach. After pausing to chase a leaf, lick her butt and take a quick nap, she took the last turn on the trail and walked out on the sand to find the source of the odor. It was a human woman. She waded in the water, casting a small fishing net and retrieving it, every once in a while picking out a wriggling silver fish and throwing it into a waiting basket on the beach.

Her opposable thumbs flashed into view when she raised her hands. She had kilted her skirt to her thighs, revealing legs that would show claw marks well. Long ebony hair practically made for attacking was caught behind her ears with combs in the shape of seashells.

Wouldn’t I like to take those combs out and see her hair tumble down—so I could leap on it?

Pretty-Kitty must have made some sound. The woman stopped catching fish and wheeled, taking an involuntary step deeper into the river at the sight of Pretty-Kitty’s 8 lbs of magnificence. Her face paled under her tan and her eyes opened wide as she staggered, caught by an eddy of the current.

“Meow. Mrow!” Pretty-Kitty licked one paw, claws out, and purred. “Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

The woman laid one hand on her throat, toying with an amulet on a thong that would be better served as a chasing-string. “You startled me, kitty.” Poised to bolt, the woman appeared wary, probably planning an attempt to run past Pretty-Kitty.

“Mew?” Pretty-Kitty kicked sand off a back foot and ambled to the basket of fish for a sniff. The net drifted lazily in a whirlpool; the human reached out and caught it, lifting the tangled strands from the river.

“Oh, I see! You want some fine tuna, kitty.” She came to the bank hastily and emptied the net into the basket. “The river runs muddy at this time of the year. Some of these fish might not taste good until I filet them and add the cheese.”

Pretty-Kitty glanced at the fish. Oh yes, I can see they aren’t yet suited for a noblecat. She followed the woman to the prep area, well out of reach since the clumsy two-legger splashed through tiny waves with her net. “Mrah. Meow.”

While waiting for the woman to clean her a fish, Pretty-Kitty frowned at the Nile crocodogs lying deceptively immobile on the opposite bank, then glanced at the human. “Hissssss.”

One of the animals twitched. Pretty-Kitty glared at it. The creature met her eyes for a second, a strand of gross drool hanging from its mouth, then settled onto the sand.

“Oh, I’m not afraid. I’m protected.” The human was busy folding the net and packing it into a compartment in the lid of her fish creel. She didn’t even spare a moment to consider the stinky canine predators across the water.

Pretty-Kitty hacked up a hairball to cover her instinctive laugh. “Hork, hork, hork.” SPLORCH.

The two-legger stood briskly, raised her chin and tugged the amulet free of her dress. It was a small green stone crocodog hanging on a frayed black leather thong. “My great-grandmother was the last can-opening priestess of the temple on the bluff above.”

Pretty-Kitty’s whiskers twitched. She wanted the amulet. “Meow?”

The girl unlooped the cord from her neck and dangled it up and down. “Great-Grandmother told me the amulet was blessed by the Crocodog God himself and would protect me from the creatures.”

Crocodog’s blessing was as reliable as the idiot himself, which is to say, not. Nor was that his temple, as his temple was more of a small structure in a back yard with a peaked roof and… Okay, it was a doghouse. Had Great-Grandmother already been senile when she’d told everyone she’d been a can opener for that mutt Crocodog?

Pretty-Kitty batted at the amulet, whacking the tiny figurine with her perfect, white paw. “Mew.” She momentarily hooked the pendant in her claws, then ceased to acknowledge its existence.

When the human refastened the amulet, the stone pendant fell between her nap-worthy breasts. She unkilted her skirts and the simple dress fell to her ankles. As she bent to lift her basket of fish, Pretty-Kitty put a paw hand atop her fingers on the handle. She gave Pretty-Kitty a wide-eyed glance but stepped aside to let her sniff the fish some more.

“Take your time, kitty. I’m going to sit in the shade and eat my dinner now.” She pointed at the nearby grove of palms. “Would you care to join me?”

“Meow!”

She peeked back at Pretty-Kitty while she walked. Eventually she smiled shyly. “I’m grateful for the company. My name is Mewys.” She stood nearly as tall as a tree, unusual in a female, but Pretty-Kitty found it distinctly attractive. That meant the two-legger could reach more stuff. Her face was lovely, a little feline and browned by the sun, which set off her sparkling black eyes. She was all soft curves made for laying upon and smooth skin made for kneading—Pretty-Kitty’s paws stirred with eagerness but she restrained herself.

She seems to be an innocent maiden, with no dog smell despite her stupid reliance on Crocodog’s amulet, of good family by her educated speech, not a woman to be lightly trifled with for an afternoon. Pretty-Kitty should snag a fish and leave, but….

She realized she was standing rooted to one spot without even inspecting the fish, lost in admiration of what the woman’s lap would feel like. Shaking her head, she started sniffing again. “Mewwwwww.”

“You are very choosy for a cat who has come to this place, which is known more for the Crocodog God.” Mewys slanted a look at her sideways and chuckled. “Is your person a merchant? Is your ship anchored somewhere nearby?” Not waiting for an answer, she sank bonelessly under the tallest palm. Lifting a shawl that lay draped there across some wicker hampers, she pulled out a hard roll filled with meat and cheese.

Ahhhhh. So that was the source of the odor. Pretty-Kitty deserted the stinking fish creel on the sand and found a spot to sit safely in the shade. She lowered herself into sitting position and sharpened her claws on the tree, tail whipping around behind her. The meat on that roll smelled much better than the raw fish! “Purrrrrrrrrr.”

Mewys blinked and raised her eyebrows, clearly not understanding. What did you expect from a human who wore a Crocodog necklace? Pretty-Kitty hadn’t precisely demanded the meat off the roll, but it appeared she might have to.

“Did you come to see the temple ruins?” Mewys asked.

Pretty-Kitty crouched and readied herself. The pounce took her as far as she needed to go–right onto Mewys’s lunch.

VS sez you can find Jody Wallace, author of the recently released Pack & Coven from Carina Press,  at her website or on twitter at @jodywallace

Six Sentence Sunday

Switching gears for a while, leaving Ancient Egypt for the far future – here’s the third excerpt from my new book Wreck of the Nebula Dream, science fiction with romantic elements, coming out next week. Nick Jameson, Sectors Special Forces, has unexpectedly wound up traveling to his next assignment via a new luxury liner. The ship has had problems already on the voyage but now has suffered a catastrophe of Titanic proportions. Nick and his small band of stranded survivors have gone to the hold to retrieve some useful possessions. Nick still has a lot to learn about Mara:

“Use what effectively?” Reaching out, Mara took the weapon from Nick, expertly checking it over, noting the charge level, flicking the safety off. She hefted it, taking a bead on a particularly garish tote bag across the hold. In a blur of motion, she fired a quick, low level shot right through the center of the bag.

Mouth hanging open, Nick gaped at her. “Fast learner?”

Go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts!

Something to Do For Your Own Good

True story…

My best friend in the whole world – let’s call him Sam –  is a great guy, father of two, active in the community, a marathon runner, does complex work in support of interplanetary space missions, wicked sense of humor, loyal…well, ok you get the picture.

His mom died of colon cancer at a very young age.

Naturally this wasn’t the first topic we ever discussed after we met but eventually it came up.  Now I knew that if you lose a close relative to colon cancer at an early age, it may very well be genetic and you might be at risk. So I embarked on a gentle campaign to get him to go to the doctor and have himself evaluated. Not only did he not have any symptoms – picture of health – he’s a guy. And in my experience,  guys – no offense – don’t like to go to the doctor unless blood is gushing or bones are sticking out.

And no one wants to have a colonoscopy. I’ve had two and yes, the prep is the worst part but none of it is fun except maybe the drugs they put you to sleep with.

After about a year of intermittent nudging from me, he went to the doctor. We were talking later that day and I asked when the colonoscopy was going to be, so I could schedule the day off to drive him home. “Oh,” he says, all innocent, “The doctor said I didn’t need to have one.” My first thought was that the physician in question must be a quack but then I had a flash of intuition.  “Sam,” I said, “Did you tell him about your mother?”

He got a very sheepish look and shook his head. He’d decided that if the doctor asked him about his mother, he’d bring up the cancer concern and if the doctor didn’t go there, then everything was ok! And what doctor is going to randomly think about genetic colon cancer out of the blue when doing a routine physical on a very healthy young man in his early thirties?

I went ballistic at the lunch table (because I love this guy like a brother), ending with “You call him back this afternoon and tell him about your mother or I swear I will.”

Long story short, the doctor ordered a colonoscopy immediately. Arriving at 11:00 AM on the day of the procedure to cart my woozy friend home, I asked how it went.

“I have cancer.”

His colon was riddled with cancer, an advanced stage but luckily for him, had not yet spread. When they removed all of it a few days later and took the nearest lymph nodes to biopsy, there was no sign of metastasis. Since the cancer was genetic in origin, he didn’t have to have radiation or chemo, he can eat anything (except certain vegetables and spices)…ten years later (in September this year), he’s back to running marathons and is the picture of health.

One of the things I am most proud of in this life is having pestered Sam to tell his doctor the family history…so that he got to see his boys grow up, his loving family still has him as their anchor, and I got to keep my wonderful best friend.

If just one person who reads this blog goes and talks to their doctor honestly about a health problem or concern they are having, I’ll be satisfied.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Screening Month. This form of cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths currently and 60% of the deaths could be avoided with early screening. By the time the symptoms show up, it’s can be too late for a happy outcome. If you’re over 50, go, get screened!

(Here’s just one website with a discussion of risk factors and symptoms; there are many out there on the web.)

If you have any questionable family history as my friend Sam did, please talk to your doctor (and don’t wait for them to guess your hidden agenda, ok?).

Best wishes to all!

Wednesday Whimsy Quotes & Photos – Sunshine

A good laugh is sunshine in the house. William Makepeace Thackeray

Anyone’s life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit. Actress Lily Langtry

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
Louisa May Alcott

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. Luther Burbank

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. Steve Martin

Last Days of Pompeii in Movies & Books

Woke up this morning thinking about “Last Days of Pompeii,” not the novel so much as my favorite movie version of it, which would be the cheesy but still GREAT (IMHO) 1980’s TV mini series. I did read the novel when I was a teenager, have always been fascinated by disaster and how people cope or didn’t cope, who lived, who died, what they could have done differently…if you could see my dvd shelves, you’d think I had a pretty comprehensive collection of disaster movies, let me tell you! (Or an obsession….)

Here’s what I said about “LDOP” back in October, in the course of writing a blog on gladiators-I-have-been-crazy-about ( the whole post is in my archives if you want to see it):

My next gladiator was a bit more modern-while-portraying -ancient: Duncan Regehr as Lydon in the 1984 TV movie (which evidently was also issued as a mini series at some point). His longing for the blind girl Nydia, matched with her infatuation for someone else, just tore at my romantic heart. I wouldn’t have required the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to realize what I was missing when it came to alpha male Lydon. The scene where Nydia’s trying to find him in the chaos of the falling ash and earthquakes and ends up in his arms gets me every time.

Never mind all the trappings of a 1980’s TV movie around them, Lydon and Nydia have some terrific moments together. When he tells her how he would die in the arena rather than kill the man he believes she loves and we the viewer can see that Nydia finally understands who she really loves and how much, is just totally satisfying. And of course they do get their HEA.  I would have written the subplot about the rich but plebeian Julia (with the dreadful Dad) and aristocratic but poor Clodius with a more HEA but I guess you can’t have too many couples surviving the total destruction of Pompeii. Don’t want to be overly saccharine!

The IDMb lists a total of 9 movies  about Pompeii (plus a bunch of television specials, not all of which relate to Pompeii – such is the wonder of net searches). The earliest was made in 1900!  Here’s the plot description: “Vesuvius erupts and people escape from a room as the ceiling falls.”

Okay, I guess that captures the essence of the disaster if not the sweeping nature of the events or the romance and passion I like to see. Quite a few of the movies listed were made in Italy, no surprise. I’m pretty sure I saw the “Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei” 1959 production at least once on very late night TV as a kid. I remember pondering why the dubbing was so bad. But volcanoes blowing to high heaven is pretty universal in all languages.

It must be about time for a big budget extravaganza movie remake, no? Dante’s Peak, much as I love it, doesn’t count…

My Tales of the Nile series is set 1629 years before Pompeii so I won’t be writing those characters into the disaster. No volcanoes along the Nile either.  Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to think about taking a break from Ancient Egypt and writing a Pompeii specific novel some day. Get it out of my system!

(My next soon-to-be-published novel Wreck of the Nebula Dream ( SF with romantic elements, out in March, details soon) is suggested by the events in a major disaster, but one at sea – the Titanic sinking – not one on land.)

Well, I’ll add the Pompeii thought to my list of ever bubbling plot ideas….although Amazon lists at least 40 historical novels with Pompeii in the title….we each write our own take on the events…starting with the 1834 original by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Why Do We See in Color? From the Little Black Dress to Orange Shoe Laces

Why do we see in color?  “For a hundred years, we’ve thought that color vision was for finding the right fruit to eat when it was ripe,” says Mark Changizi, a theoretical neurobiologist and postdoctoral researcher at Caltech.

But now we know the truth, according to a 2006 Caltech study – your eyes evolved to see rosy cheeks. The eyes in humans and their closest relatives in the primate world are geared to detect subtle changes in skin tone caused by blood oxygen levels, according to that study.

So we know when the other person might be ready to be seriously romantic because they would be blushing!

But even if that fundamental reason is why most of us see in color, there are many other subtle and  not so subtle effects of hue and shade in our daily lives.

A couple of fellow authors and I were discussing the home renovation project one friend was undertaking and when he mentioned he was redoing his writing room in chartreuse, most of us reflexively said something like, “Wow, I’d never do that, it’s too bright! How do you concentrate?” (Chartreuse, by the way, is halfway between bright yellow and bright green and is named for its resemblance to the color of a French liqueur called green chartreuse introduced in 1764.) But when he shared photos with us and we saw how he’d decorated and accented the area, it did make sense as a writing spot for him, since he loves really bright colors.

That incident left me thinking about the topic of colors and the next day I kind of fell over an unusual article containing advice about using color in your daily life. (More on that in a minute.)  Everyone knows the standard wisdom about color – bright ones makes you happy; lift the spirits…darker shades can bring you down…black is slimming…. Apparently the science is based on the way the eye and brain process the different wavelengths of colors, as well as associations you made with certain colors as a kid.

Following a link in the article, I took a personality assessment test based just on colors today, which was fun. The website has a lot of scientific backup and of course ultimately they wanted to sell me stuff BUT the assessment was free. The program showed me 20 pretty little blocks of different colors including white and black and had me pick my favorite until all had been eliminated. Here was the top level result:

Best Occupational Category: You’re a CREATOR

Keywords:

Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

These original types place a high value on self-expression. They enjoy working independently, being creative, using their imagination, and constantly learning something new. Areas of interest are far beyond the expected fields of art, drama, music, and writing. There are many occupations that allow creators to express, assemble, or implement ideas and maximize resources.

WOW! That is definitely so me!

My mother always said I was a gypsy because I love lots of colors and patterns (her closet was full of navy blue and white – boring to me!). My favorite colors to this day are purple and turquoise.

According to the article I was reading in the February Cosmopolitan, purple means I want to laugh, be carefree and goof off. Not sure I agree. I just find it peaceful to look at.  According to Cosmo, if you want to be focused when giving a presentation, wear red nail polish because red has the longest wavelength in the spectrum so people have to stare at it longer to process it, so you will have their attention longer. (And of course there’s the classic advice to wear red when you’re presenting, to project authority.)

Write your thoughts with blue ink, because when you look at the color blue your imagination goes into high gear, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia. Motivate yourself with orange laces in your running shoes – orange stimulates.

The Cosmo article had nothing to say about chartreuse, sadly. But if you want to be “totally desired,” according to them, wear a little black dress! Who didn’t know that????

And then watch for the rosy cheeks, I guess…

What’s your favorite color and why?

Six Sentence Sunday

Switching gears for a while, leaving Ancient Egypt for the far future – here’s the second excerpt from my new book Wreck of the Nebula Dream, science fiction with romantic elements, coming out in mid March. Nick Jameson, Sectors Special Forces, has unexpectedly wound up traveling to his next assignment via a new luxury liner. The ship has had problems already on the voyage but now has suffered a catastrophe of Titanic proportions. Nick has taken charge of loading a lifeboat:

A shout from further along the corridor broke into his rapid fire instructions to his fellow passengers.

“I need help – there are people trapped in a cabin on the next level!”

Hoping he was right about who was calling for help, he looked beyond the thinning crowd of passengers. I was going to search the entire ship for her if necessary. Reaching to guide Mara through the hatch into the lifeboat, he said,”Tell me exactly where on the Second Level and I’ll go once you’re safely away.”

Shak­ing her head, Mara avoided his hand, saying breathlessly,  “I promised the little boy I’d come back as soon as I found help so if you’re going with me, we have to hurry.”

Go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts!