Even Egyptian Gods Need Editors Sometimes!

alisonThis short story is dedicated with MUCH affection to Alison Dasho, my wonderful editor, currently on the road to recovery after major surgery.

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“I hope I can get a lot of editing done today, after the odd dreams the other night,” Alison said, firing up the laptop and tucking covers around herself.

Her cat purred, kneading imposing claws in the comforter, but made no promises.

“Do you smell something?” Sitting bolt upright in the chair, Alison took a deep breath. “Like some kind of exotic flower? WHAT cheap product has the cleaning lady been using?”

Next minute there was a clap of thunder, pearly gray mist swirled into the room through the open window and she blinked as two imposing figures walked through the mist, coming to stand in front of her chair.  Reassured that the cat wasn’t upset by this sudden development, Alison narrowed her eyes, studying the newcomers.

Both men looked as if they’d stepped off the cover of a hot Carina Press historical romance – tall, muscles to spare, six pack abs, bare chested, short linen kilts…but the person on the left had the elegant head of a wading bird atop his to-die-for body. An ibis perhaps? And the guy on the right seemed strangely familiar –

“I know you, you’re Sobek the Crocodile God from Veronica’s Egyptian novels,” Alison said. “I was editing the newest one yesterday at breakfast.” She pinched her arm. “Ow! But this has to be a dream. I can’t be awake.”

“We came to ask for your assistance,” Sobek said, deep voice rumbling, handing her a single blue lotus blossom.

She set the flower next to the laptop. That’ll need a vase. “Ok, I’ll play along. What do you need and why didn’t you go find Veronica? She’s more used to dealing with you Egyptian deities than I am.”

Bowing slightly, Sobek introduced his companion. “This is Thoth, Scribe to the Gods. He tires of merely recording events and totaling 008accounts and has decided to write a novel. ” The ibis-headed one fidgeted from one foot to the other like a great bird, as Sobek continued. “Thoth requires the services of a truly masterful editor. Veronica recommended you in the highest terms.”

Making a mental note to have a small talk with Veronica about who she was giving recommendations to, Alison nodded. “Does he need developmental edits or line edits?” What am I saying?

Thoth bowed to her, hand over his heart. “See for yourself, my lady.” He snapped his fingers and a large papyrus scroll appeared on the desk, causing the cat to hiss as it scooted into the closet.

Alison stared while the scroll unspooled one laborious turn at a time, each layer rolling off the wooden spindle until the somewhat unusual manuscript covered the desk, and stretched out for six feet on either side. Wow, they’d reject this if it showed up in the slush pile! Bright red, yellow, black and turquoise hieroglyphics glowed on the papyrus. “Um, small problem here, I can’t read the writing.” Although that does look like a series of exclamation points. And he sure is using the same symbol over and over in the first section…

011“It is the story of a brave sailor who was shipwrecked and rescued, bringing great riches home to his pharaoh. I wish to read it tomorrow at a feast day of the gods,” Thoth explained. “But I am blocked. My sailor’s ship has sunk, all his companions have drowned and he’s trapped on a desert island.”

“My wife Merys suggested we ask Veronica for help and she said you might be able to guide Thoth in adding conflict and tension, layer in some foreshadowing – “

Alison held up one hand. “If you need this tomorrow, we have a problem.” She gestured at the laptop. “I have a queue of books I’m editing and I’m only supposed to be working half time right now.”

“If I exercise my magic and give you the ability to read the hieroglyphics, might you be able to help Thoth with just the desert island scene?” Sobek asked hopefully. Not waiting for her answer, he extended his hand, touching hers. Green lights flickered from his fingertips, caressing her elegantly manicured hand with a faint tingling.

Realizing the hieroglyphics made sense to her now, Alison began to read. She searched for a pen. “Too much back story here, guys. And in the next section you have your sailor telling about the ship sinking. Why not show it instead?”

Thoth made notes with his quill pen on a tablet he pulled from a pouch on his belt. “Show versus tell,” he scratched.

“You might add a character here on the island,” she said next. “Get another point of view.”

Sobek elbowed Thoth in the ribs, earning himself a glare. “See, did I not tell you?”

“You can build tension by letting the reader wonder what the island dweller’s motives are, is he or she going to help Sailor? Or harm him somehow?” Alison was getting into the flow of the story now. “You’ve got some great lyrical phrases here but you really need to use more contractions…”

So she worked with Thoth for perhaps an hour, Sobek making suggestions from time to time, until the Scribe informed the Crocodile he wasn’t getting credit as co-author, at which point Sobek lost interest and went to play with the cat, who’d crept out of hiding.

At last, waving his hands, the Scribe uttered a pithy Egyptian spell and the scroll ponderously rolled itself back onto the spindle, before disappearing with a flash of green light and a loud pop. Thoth bowed to Alison. “I thank you, my lady. I know now how to finish the tale and please my fellow gods. They’ll surely beg for a sequel. And perhaps want to make it into a play.”

“Tell Veronica to get to work on her sequel about my sister-in-law Tyema, I beg of you,” Sobek said to Alison, joining Thoth in the center of a rapidly growing cloud of mist.

Alison blinked and they were gone. “Well,” she said, “That had to be a dream – I must have dozed off.” She pushed aside the comforter, ready to go into the kitchen for more tea. “What’s this?” A single blue lotus lay on the desk, the heavenly scent fading. Goosebumps on her arms, Alison booted up the laptop, googling ancient Egyptian epic poems. “The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor,” she read, “Author Unknown. Legends suggest it came from the pen of the god Thoth.” Picking a spot at random in the text on the screen, she read on. “The wind grew sharp and made a constant moaning and there were hungry fourteen foot high waves…” Guess he accepted my edits!

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HUGS to you, Alison, glad you’re feeling better…I know there were too many exclamation points in my little tale and we just won’t talk about the “-ly” words! Best wishes always, from Sobek, Thoth, Merys and me LOL.

NOTE: A little group of us who are fortunate enough to work with Alison are each “gifting” her with a short short story as a get well amusement. Here’s the schedule if you’d like to read more:

Diane Dooley‘s post is already up

RL Naquin will be posting hers on Feb 11. http://www.rlnaquin.com/

J L Hilton will be posting hers on Feb 14 at http://www.JLHilton.com/

Shawna Thomas will be posting hers on Feb 19 at http://www.shawnathomas.com/

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Six Sentence Sunday Science Fiction Princess Of Shadows continues

six sentence sundayI can’t believe this is the last official Six Sentence Sunday! My special thanks to the wonderful people who created this blog hop and kept it going for so long. I met tons of wonderful people, bought a LOT of good books, enjoyed all the thoughtful comments on my little snippets…You’ll be MISSED!

I do plan to continue posting short excerpts every Sunday and if another “official” hop starts up, I’ll certainly join in.

Last week I promised that today, for the end of Six Sentence, I’d jump wayyyy ahead and post the HEA for Shalira, my  Princess of Shadows. (I’ve jumped over a LOT of plot to get here, folks LOL). It’s also more than six sentences but if we can’t get away with that today, on the final day, I guess I’m out of luck. The scene is at the end of the novel, taking place on the Sectors battleship Andromeda, whose captain is an old friend of Mike’s. Best Man  Johnny is Mike’s cousin and fellow Special Forces operator:

Looking like he had stepped from a recruiting holo, Mike stood at the altar in his blue dress uniform, flanked by his best man, Johnny, who had never – to anyone’s recollection – worn a dress uniform before.

Mike took a deep breath, hoping to calm the butterflies in his gut.” This waiting is worse than any mission behind enemy lines, ” he said. “You’re sure you’ve got the ring?”

“I’ve got the ring, Mike,” Johnny whispered. “For the tenth time, I’ve got the damn ring, okay? And no, I won’t drop it.”

Now, the ship’s AI to began playing a processional from the days of Oldest Terra, which Mike’s ancestors had carried with them to their new home world.

Shalira appeared in the doorway on her elderly guardsman’s arm, her beauty taking Mike’s breath away.

There’s more the wedding scene of course  but you get the idea – HEA!

Here’s the book’s blurb:

Blind since childhood due to an attempted assassination plot, Princess Shalira is more or less resigned to an arranged marriage with a warrior chieftain… until she meets Sectors Special Forces Major Mike Varone, sent to the planet Majumdar to investigate a crashed spaceship, lost in the planet’s mountains.  After Mike saves her from another assassination attempt, she persuades her father the Emperor to order the offworlder to join her caravan, going to meet her bridegroom.

 Mike resists his growing attraction to her but the pair bond further as they work to retrieve sacred artifacts from her mother’s tomb, narrowly escaping another ambush. Mike offers Shalira the opportunity to escape with him, but she insists on carrying out her father’s wishes. Heartsore, Mike promises to deliver her safely to her bridegroom and walk away.

 But when they reach the mountain camp, the chieftain is revealed to be a brutish thug, with no intention of honorably marrying Shalira (even as a secondary wife). Can Mike rescue her, will they win the race against time to accomplish his mission, escape the hostile warriors hunting them and make it off the planet?

Waving goodbye to all my Sixer Friends (but I know we’ll meet again LOL)…

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I LOVE and appreciate your comments….Please go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts on this final day.

Reflections on A Trip to the Emergency Room

1314902_99313658So in my family if you wake up at 3AM with chest pains, you take yourself off to the ER pretty pronto. There’s a lot of heart attacks in the family history, some fatal. We also have a not so lovely predisposition to cholesterol in the 300’s (mostly the “bad” kind with a few random molecules of the “good” HDL sprinkled in), no matter what we eat or how carefully we manage every other aspect of our health. (And I’ll confess to you, I’m not the most diligent of exercise-takers.)

That’s where I spent my day yesterday – in the ER. I’ll jump ahead to the HEA for a second – I’m fine!

Just some random observations from yesterday…nitroglycerin certainly gets rid of the chest pain but wow, talk about a migraine! I haven’t had an unmedicated migraine in probably twenty years, but wasn’t allowed to take anything other than aspirin yesterday, for obvious reasons. Good old imitrex has the wrong effect on a heart that might be in distress. And aspirin doesn’t dent a migraine.

While I was lying in the ER, no less than four people were gathered around a nearby desk, debating the spelling of “disheveled”. The writer in me wondered, were they writing their own romance novel? Does no one have spellcheck? I finally called out the correct spelling (it was driving me nuts, you understand, don’t you?) but was ignored. I was just the patient…

The nurse who took my very long patient profile information in the cardiac observation unit (after the ER) was wonderful, and so caring….but when she asked about what I did and I told her my day job and then that I was a romance writer, she kept insisting that was my hobby. I even dug out my kindle and showed her my book covers (ok, LOL, I was full of meds and not exactly myself). I was determined to show her writing romance novels was no hobby!

1335984_42165496So I agreed with some trepidation to have nuclear imaging done of my heart. I really did need to know what was going on. So there I was, with a raging migraine, being injected with a drug that deliberately causes your body to react as if it’s under major stress (to open all the blood vessels as much as possible was my nonmedical understanding) AND gives you a headache AND makes you nauseous AND can make you feel like you’re having trouble breathing….bless the doctor who gave me a tranquilizer first.  We agreed to call him Dr. K, because he had a long involved name that sounded like Kardashian with extra syllables (but not) and I wasn’t absorbing details too well yesterday. Dr. K I could keep in my stressed forebrain. But so, with all those physical side effects of the drug, the idea that they were also injecting me with radioactive stuff barely even registered. I mean it wasn’t causing me any stress or bother. It was just floating around irradiating things. No big deal.

I believe I may have suggested to them, in my drugged fog, that they should develop a drug that felt like an orgasm, instead of one that made you feel as if you were dying….I’d blush but maybe I never actually said it, you think? I do remember a lot of laughter around my gurney.

There were three nurses and two doctors in the nuclear imaging unit and they were very attentive for the hour I had to wait for the stress shot to do its maximum worst. I never felt alone or ignored. Have I mentioned this is all Kaiser Permanente? I really have to give a big shout out to them for terrific care yesterday, start to finish. They told me how to work through the shortness of breath issue and kept checking my blood oxygen levels, assuring me I was doing fine, which helped the most. Positive feedback!

The actual nuclear imaging machine was not too exciting – fifteen minutes of lying still, arms above my head, while the bed vibrated and the machine moved around me. In my SF novels, the military has a thing I call the rejuve resonator, where my characters can get broken bones repaired or blaster burns removed, and I just kept telling myself being in this nuclear imager was GREAT research for writing my fictional medical machine even more realistically. Well, I had to think about something besides the migraine!

And the result was – I have this amazingly strong heart, NO clogged arteries…the cardiologist kept repeating how surprised he was. Well, me too! But definitely happy. So they sent me home, whereupon I immediately took an imitrex and the staggering migraine was gone in half an hour. I’ll see my own doctor next week and we’ll try to figure out what else could have been the cause of the chest pains, but at least now I know I have a blue ribbon champion heart (not like an athlete’s or a Navy SEAL’s, but pretty darn good for a romance writer)…and I can go on to other worries.

And that was my Tuesday…I hope yours went a whole lot better and was much less stressful!

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An Encounter with Space Flight Hardware

voy01If I’d left for my appointment one minute earlier, I’d have been out the gate and gone.

If I’d left for my appointment one minute later, I’d have been stuck behind the employee bus, a block away from the gate.

But luckily for me – and I do mean that – I was stopped by the guard IN the gate lane and so I got an up close and personal view of some actual space flight hardware as it was slowly carried from the upper Lab to somewhere on the lower Lab. No one drives in the vicinity of flight hardware, save for the two Security cars escorting the very slooooowwwwllllyyyy moving forklift. All the streets are blocked when a precious piece of flight hardware is on the move.

Sometimes people in a hurry get upset by this.  I love it! The whole reason any of us exist at my day job is in support of the Science (and that IS with a capital S believe me). And the flight hardware is what brings (or sends) the Science home to Earth.

Flight hardware is not classically beautiful. At least not to this business major’s eyes.  I was confounded when I first started working there and toured one of the machine shops in connection with a contract I was doing for them. I remember staring at the bulky metal and wires and thinking, wow, not much like the gleaming, round cornered, pretty things in science fiction movies and shows.

I’ve come to love our gawky robots and instruments, and all their elegantly engineered (if not intrinsically beautiful) components. Every inch of space and every ounce of mass is put to use, hotly argued over in “the trade space”, representing our best efforts to bring home the maximum Science we can get for the taxpayer dollars.  Flight hardware sometimes looks fragile but don’t be fooled – that stuff is tough. It has to survive the rigors of launching into space, radiation, cosmic dust, solar winds, hard landings on other planets….we build them so tough we can even recover Science sometimes when they smash into the planet and weren’t supposed to! (And yes, there are usually redundancies built in as well, trying to outfox Mother Nature and her penchant for the unforeseen problem.)

When I started at the day job, I came in on the middle of various Projects already well underway. Over time I became involved with others from the get go. There’s one where I went to the first brown bag lunch just to observe while scientists and engineers noodled over a certain idea for an hour, trying to decide if we should propose on it or not. Well, eventually we proposed but didn’t win. The team tried again, refined their approach for years, finally hit the sweet spot, got selected, built the hardware and and the Science is now streaming home. Science is a very long process.

220px-001-the_motion_picture_posterThat’s another thing I love about the flight hardware we build – it works tirelessly on Mars or out in space, usually way past the expected Mission life. Remember the first Star Trek: The Motion Picture movie, way back when? The one kirk-chris-pine_lwithout Chris Pine? (SPOILER Here) Yup, the heart of the invading alien force was one of our spacecraft. Well, ok it had been plucked from its interstellar route and enhanced by aliens somewhere along the line but still…we build them hardy.

So this piece of flight hardware I was admiring last week was the size of a breadbox maybe, partially covered in shiny gold, sensitive parts protected from the California breezes by a special plastic wrap. Eight anxious engineers or techs walked alongside the forklift, keeping a wary eye on their baby. I don’t know what it had been through – shake and bake testing maybe, or a session in the vacuum of the space simulator. I assume it was headed for the big clean room to be added onto other equally gawky pieces to make a whole. I’m sorry I can’t tell you what Project…

I just felt very proud as it passed me on the way through the gate to its next Earthly stop. I’m sure it will represent the human race pretty well, once it gets Out There to do Science.

Then the guard signaled for me to drive on and I went about my mundane business but just for a few minutes, I’d glimpsed the glorious heart of what we’re all really there to do at my day job.

Learn-About-Me--Curiosity---hpfeat

Six Sentence Sunday – Science Fiction Princess of Shadows

six sentence sundayI’m changing pace, leaving Ancient Egypt (temporarily) for science fiction romance. Here are six more (well maybe seven) from my current WIP PRINCESS OF SHADOWS (title subject to change!).

Shalira’s father, the dying emperor, has just revealed to her some new facts about the marriage he’s arranged for her, with Bandarlok, chief of the tribes threatening the borders of his empire. Shalira is speaking:

“I don’t understand, are you telling me he’s already married?”

            “Surely you didn’t think a powerful man like him was going to take a blind woman past her prime as his chief wife? Not even with the lavish dowry I sent,” Kajastahn said with an acidic laugh that turned into a hacking cough.

            It never entered my mind that I’d be one among many wives. He makes it sound as if Bandarlok had to be paid to take me off his hands.  She’d been so proud to have the marriage arranged for her, to be serving a critical diplomatic purpose for her father – how little she’d understood. Forcing herself to remain seated, Shalira waited for the next blow to fall.

Here’s the book’s blurb:

Blind since childhood due to an attempted assassination plot, Princess Shalira is more or less resigned to an arranged marriage with a warrior chieftain… until she meets Sectors Special Forces Major Mike Varone, sent to the planet Majumdar to investigate a crashed spaceship, lost in the planet’s mountains.  After Mike saves her from another assassination attempt, she persuades her father the Emperor to order the offworlder to join her caravan, going to meet her bridegroom.

 Mike resists his growing attraction to her but the pair bond further as they work to retrieve sacred artifacts from her mother’s tomb, narrowly escaping another ambush. Mike offers Shalira the opportunity to escape with him, but she insists on carrying out her father’s wishes. Heartsore, Mike promises to deliver her safely to her bridegroom and walk away.

 But when they reach the mountain camp, the chieftain is revealed to be a brutish thug, with no intention of honorably marrying Shalira (even as a secondary wife). Can Mike rescue her, will they win the race against time to accomplish his mission, escape the hostile warriors hunting them and make it off the planet?

hubbleM42-full

I LOVE and appreciate your comments….only one more Sunday left of the official Six Sentence blog hop but I  plan to keep posting excerpts anyway…

Please go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts today.

Guest Author Interview – Lisa Weseman NAME OF THE GAME

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UPDATE: Please note the kindle deal was *only* on the 17th – but it’s still a fun interview!

It’s my pleasure to have author Lisa Weseman as my guest today. Her NAME OF THE GAME is a 99 Cent Kindle Daily Deal today January 17th,  so be sure to check it out!

Here’s the book blurb (our Q&A follows):

He thinks she’s a flake. She thinks he’s a stick-in-the mud. But each time Kyle and Mac are together, they feel an undeniable spark.

After a long day on her feet, all flight attendant Kyle McKinney wants is a cool glass of wine, a warm bath, and a hot man in her bed. Instead, she ends up in a tug-of-war over misdelivered mail with her sexy-but-nerdy neighbor, Kyle “Mac” McKinney.

Thrown together by a shared name and address, Kyle and Mac butt heads as their very different lives begin to overlap. He wears sweater vests and teaches college accounting. She dresses like Carmen Miranda and practices scream therapy. But together, they must deal with a nosy elderly neighbor, a misguided stripper, and an overzealous IRS agent – without killing each other.

When opposites attract, it’s like playing with fire. But will Kyle and Mac figure out that love is the name of the game…before it’s too late?

Buy Links for book:
Amazon  http://amzn.to/Mrf0l4
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/Mrf4Ba
Kobo http://bit.ly/VH65Aq
Sony Reader http://bit.ly/VH67s0

So, welcome to the blog, Lisa!

Tell us a little about yourself:
In addition to writing romance, I write and produce for TV, film and websites. My husband and I live in L.A. with our two adorable dogs, a big fluffy golden doodle named Sammy and a little fluffy cockatoo named Buddy.

I started reading romance novels when I was young — maybe 12 or 13.  I moved on to other genres, both as a reader and a writer, but kept coming back to romance for its feel-good quality. There is so much angst in the world, and I really love being a part of something positive and fun.

What’s your writing process? Where do you write?
I have a lovely little writing nook in my house that I never, ever use. Instead, I “write” in my head while I’m driving, falling asleep, in the shower, and then rush to scribble it down before it leaks out of my brain. When I’ve got to really buckle down and work, I lock my bedroom door, hop into the bed, and write on my laptop.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Not sure if it’s a guilty pleasure, but people might be surprised by my insane love of football, particularly the Florida Gators and New England Patriots. I make elaborate team-themed cakes and cupcakes and have been known to paint my face.

When and where were you happiest?
I try to find happiness in every single day, but I’d say my best capital-“H” Happy Time was making my short film SOLO last year. My husband directed, I wrote and produced, and we filmed on location in my hometown in Florida. We had an incredible cast and crew, and my whole family pitched in on every aspect of the production. It was the most exhausting week of my life, but I got to spend it doing one of my favorite things with my favorite people.

What has surprised you about being a published author?
I am constantly surprised when I find out random people I know have read my book, especially the ones who are outside the normal audience for romance — old college friends, coworkers, family friends, even my husband’s 97 year-old grandfather!

Have you ever used an incident from real life in one of your books?
Like Kyle, the heroine in “The Name of the Game,” I was a flight attendant. After college, I worked briefly for Delta Air Lines, flying out of Atlanta and Los Angeles. Around the same time, I attended a wedding of a friend named Terri who was marrying a guy named Terry. I loved the idea of two very different people with the same name being drawn together, and decided to use it as the hook for my flight attendant story.

Cats or Dogs? Dogs
Favorite Flower: Jasmine
Tea or coffee: Coffee
Boxers or Briefs: Boxers
Morning person or evening person: Afternoon  person
Favorite food: Potato

What are you working on next?
I’m working on the screenplay “The Name of the Game.” Who knows, maybe it will be a Lifetime movie one day!

I’m also plugging along on my next novel, “The Engagement Ring.” The night before the heroine’s boyfriend is going to propose, she accidentally gets her college boyfriend’s engagement ring stuck on her finger.  As she and the ex spend the day together trying to get the ring off, they start to wonder if they might have lingering feelings for each other

Where can your Readers find you online?
LisaWeseman.com
Facebook.com/LisaWesemanWriter
Twitter/LisaWeseman
GoodReads.com/LisaWeseman

Thanks for visiting and best wishes!

Six Sentence Sunday – Science Fiction Continues

six sentence sundayI’m changing pace, leaving Ancient Egypt (temporarily) for science fiction romance. Here are six more from my current WIP PRINCESS OF SHADOWS (title subject to change!).

Princess Shalira is explaining the term “princess of shadows” to the hero, Major Mike Varone, Sectors Special Forces:

I have to get away from here, before the emperor dies,” she said with a bitter laugh, adding “Playing the princess of shadows won’t protect me after his death.”

“Princess of shadows?” Nothing about that in our briefing. Mike remembered the empress had also used the term to refer to Shalira.

“It’s an old folktale, a girl of royal blood who hid from her enemies in the shadows of the palace walls, disguised as a beggar, until her true love rescued her.” Touching one delicately tinted eyelid, Shalira said, “It’s meant as an insult to me, since I can’t see, not even shadows, and I’ve lived the past fifteen years on the fringes of the court, tolerated, protected only because my mother was the emperor’s Favorite till her death.”

Here’s the story blurb:

Blind since childhood due to an attempted assassination plot, Princess Shalira is resigned to an arranged marriage with a warrior chieftain… until she meets Sectors Special Forces Major Mike Varone, sent to the planet Majumdar to investigate a crashed spaceship, lost in the planet’s mountains.  After Mike saves her from another assassination attempt, she persuades her father the Emperor to order him to join her caravan, going to meet her bridegroom.

 Mike resists his growing attraction to her but the pair bond further as they work to retrieve sacred artifacts from her mother’s tomb, narrowly escaping another ambush. Mike offers Shalira the opportunity to go off planet with him, but she insists on carrying out her father’s wishes to create an important alliance by marrying the chieftain. Heartsore, Mike promises to deliver her safely to her bridegroom and walk away.

 But when they reach the mountain camp, the chieftain is revealed to be a brutish thug, with no intention of honorably marrying Shalira. Can Mike rescue her, will they win the race against time to accomplish his mission, escape the hostile warriors hunting them and make it off the planet?

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I LOVE and appreciate your comments….only a few more Sundays left of the official Six Sentence blog hop but I  plan to keep posting excerpts…

Please go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts today.

A Trip to the Dentist – Now & 4000 Years Ago

267345_1409I went to the dentist today, which is always stressful to some extent. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my dentist (in a chaste how-great-my-teeth-feel-after-a-visit-to-him manner). Everyone loves my dentist – I can’t tell you how many people in the local area go to this guy by choice. His support staff is extremely good. A regular Mayberry-type experience. I also haven’t had a cavity since the 9th grade, so what – you may ask – did I have to worry about?

Well it seems one’s gums don’t behave well as one gets older, which no one ever expressly told me. And my childhood dentists had me brushing up & down, whereas now the science is round & round, in a big circle….and there’s this really gnarly new type of xray machine….I was getting keyed up today SO I did what authors always love to do – research!

Did I research modern dentistry though? No, of course not – I went exploring back through time to my beloved ancient Egypt and met Hesy-Ra_CG1426_cthe first dentist known by name in history – Hesy-Re, who practiced in 2650 BCE (4663 years ago, folks), and made his Pharoah so happy, he gave Hesy-Re titles and responsibilities galore, including Chief of Physicians and Dentists. He was probably one of the Pharaoh’s closest friends, “known by the king”,  and had an elaborate, well decorated tomb.  Hesy also moonlighted as a scribe, was named Chief of the King’s Scribes and is shown with a scribe’s tools, rather than his dental instruments. Not only do we know what a great dentist he was, we know what he looked like – pretty darn handsome, with a moustache.

I found a reference to three other dentists from approximately the same time, buried in more pedestrian mud brick tombs (so obviously Pharaoh didn’t patronize their offices). They were located near enough to royal tombs to have been quite respected men in life, however, even if not “Chief” of anything. The leader of this trio had a curse over his tomb stating that anyone who entered would be eaten by a crocodile and a snake. Thorough – just what you want in a dentist, right?

The Egyptian diet of this time could be rough on the teeth, even given the lack of artificial sweeteners and sugars. There tended to be quite a bit of grit and sand in their grain, due to the grinding techniques in use.

The Egyptians had a number of dental techniques, however, including surgery and dentures. There’s a famous mummy who, during his lifetime (or so the theory goes), had two replacement teeth wired into place with an intricate gold wire structure. Those teeth weren’t moving, let me tell you! No need for poligrip…of course, I do sort of wonder where the two teeth came from but it’s probably just as well not to speculate. Draw the curtain of history on that train of thought…Sometimes the dentists would pack large cavities with pieces of linen that had been soaked in oils and herbs, to relieve the pain.

Documents giving recipes for tooth powder have been found – I doubt if Colgate or Crest wants to try adding burnt ox hoof ash as a secret ingredient but you never know.  Twigs, rocks and oyster shells have been mentioned as possible tooth “brushes” in the era, or of course one could always rub the tooth powder directly on the teeth with a finger as a last resort.

So I was thoroughly distracted from my anxiety over the upcoming visit to the dentist’s chair and lost in thought about ancient Egypt. Not planning to give any of my characters a toothache, or make a dentist the hero of a story (handsome as Hesy-Re was) but never say never. All research is useful in creating the authentic feel of the world my heroes and heroines move through.

And I’m good to go for six months, till my next checkup – whee! No cavities, Mom!

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Six Sentence Sunday – Science Fiction

six sentence sundayI’m changing pace this week, leaving Ancient Egypt (temporarily) for science fiction romance. Here are six from my current WIP PRINCESS OF SHADOWS (title subject to change!).

Here’s the blurb:

Blind since the age of ten due to an attempted assassination plot, Princess Shalira is resigned to an arranged marriage with a warrior chieftain… until she meets Sectors Special Forces Major Mike Varone, sent to the planet Majumdar to investigate a crashed spaceship, lost in the planet’s mountains.  After Mike saves her from another assassination attempt, she persuades her father the Emperor to order him to join her caravan, going to meet her bridegroom.

 Mike resists his growing attraction to her but the pair bond further as they work to retrieve sacred artifacts from her mother’s tomb, narrowly escaping another ambush. Mike offers Shalira the opportunity to go off planet with him, but she insists on carrying out her father’s wishes to create an important alliance by marrying the chieftain. Heartsore, Mike promises to deliver her safely to her bridegroom and walk away.

 But when they reach the mountain camp, the chieftain is revealed to be a brutish thug, with no intention of honorably marrying Shalira. Mike rescues her and from that point on they’re in a race against time to accomplish his mission, escape the hostile warriors hunting them and make it off the planet.

And now for the six sentences – this is right after the bombing in the marketplace and Mike has whisked her to temporary shelter. Mike is speaking:

“Are you sure you’re up to walking?”

Straightening her shoulders resolutely, she said, “I’ll be fine – if there’s trouble on the streets, I shouldn’t be out.”

“Let me help you then,” he offered, taking her hand to guide her down the bakery’s three shallow steps.

“I can manage.”

Although she tried to yank her hand away, Mike didn’t relinquish his grip as he said, “I don’t care if you know every inch of this plaza on an ordinary day – today you won’t get ten steps without tripping over debris. Now do I guide you or do I carry you?”

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I LOVE and appreciate your comments….

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Talking Movies: Safe vs Fire with Fire – Statham or Willis?

stormI’m a sucker for the Walmart $5 dvd bin and the Target $5 deals….I LOVE movies and I’m always coming home with flicks that seem intriguing or have good actors or promise science fiction action. (When will I learn that “syfy” action on the other hand, will probably be cheesy and star the inestimable Luke Perry, who will however valiantly Do His Best to elevate the material? Well, probably never – they’re kind of guilty pleasures.) I have a Netflix dvd subscription for this very purpose. The $8.99 monthly fee is supposed to save me from these dives into the Walmart barrel. But then, I have this impulse control issue and an impatience issue….

Being on vacation from the day job for the holidays has left me a lot of time to watch movies. (I’m too good at procrastinating on my writing. Or else opening up the laptop, squinting at the Work In Progress, making a few changes, tweeting for an hour and then considering myself done for the day. Don’t try this at your home, aspiring authors LOL.) Yes, I did watch a marathon of “Say Yes To The Dress” and a mini  marathon of “Hoarders”….lots of NFL football and the Rose Parade. Played with my cats. Entertained the family members. That still leaves empty hours to fill. (What’s that you say? Do housework? PERISH the thought!)

JasonStathamSAFESo I came home from the last Target trip with two movies – “Safe” and “Fire With Fire.” You know how certain actors make you feel like you’re going to be in good hands? Like even though you spent your precious pennies on a movie you never heard of, these people will take care of you for an hour and forty minutes and you’ll be laughing or crying as required while the end credits roll? OK, “Safe” has THE Jason Statham. Enough said right there. “Fire With Fire” has Josh Duhamel (easy to look at and playing a hot fireman no less), Rosario Dawson (one of my favorite female action stars), and – wait for it – BRUCE WILLIS. How did I miss this movie when it must have had its huge premiere???

 (SPOILERS AHEAD MAYBE)

OK, I admit as an author I’m prejudiced, but even the best actors can’t do much without a good script. And perhaps the scripts as written for these two movies were fabulous. I don’t know. I can only go by what made it to the screen.

One movie has joined my permanent collection and I might watch it again. One movie went off to meet its fate at Goodwill. (I’m creating conflict and tension here for you, Dear Reader.)

Watched “Fire With Fire” first  (Tagline: “Revenge has its own set of rules” – good to know)…felt like Fire with Fire (2012)we came in at the middle somehow and then parts of the plot appeared to have been omitted from the script BUT basically a hunky fireman falls in love with the US Marshal guarding him while he’s waiting to testify in a big murder case. Bruce Willis? He played a John McCainesque cop in two or three minute bursts, pausing before any dialog to shoot us that look of his which says, I know, I know, but I had a mortgage payment to make. (I do love John McCain, especially in “Fifth Element.” Yes, I KNOW the character had a different name.) Bruce got to thoroughly and gratuitously beat up one badass dude though, which must have been a clause in his contract. Rosario the Marshal gets shot, Josh the fireman goes back to LA to resolve the issues with the bad guys himself (but he leaves a fingerprint where it should not be – I’m unclear if this gets resolved.) Injured but undaunted and in love, Ms. US Marshal follows him to LA to deter him. Bruce gives her a worldweary smirk (over the phone) and till 6PM to stop Josh on his one man vigilante trip. Josh lures all the bad guys to one big building and sets it on fire. But wait, Rosario is trapped inside too!!! Josh rescues her….maybe. The last shot is them walking through fire and smoke…are we ever shown their HEA? A wedding with many hunky firemen in attendance? No, we are not. So, did they survive? Bruce indubitably survives and closes the case.

“Safe” (“She has the code. He is the key”. Okay, folks wayyyyy inappropriate given “she” is like 9 and “he” is Jason Statham. Thankfully this tagline is as non sequitor as the plot.) What was I saying? Oh yes, “Safe” suffers from an absolutely over the top plot including Chinese gangsters, Russian Gangsters, NYPD cops Gone Bad, the Mayor of NYC Gone Bad, his gay lover who seems to be an undercover Special Forces guy+criminal mastermind, Mei, a young Chinese girl who can memorize complex strings of numbers at a glance and for this talent gets kidnapped and brought to NYC, after which everyone is after her….oh, Jason Statham? He’s an excop, ex cage fighter, maybe a deeply undercover Special Forces guy (this is never entirely clear to me – a lot of the plot was never clear to me, maybe too much concussion from the endless gun battles)…he cost the Russian Gang a LOT of money and so they kill his pregnant wife (which we do not see, thankfully) and condemn him to a life on the streets where they promptly murder anyone he even smiles at and whatever you do, do NOT let him give you his shoes. Dead by morning. So he’s about to kill himself in a suicide by subway when Mei goes by, trying to escape one gang or the other…and now he’s on a mission to save her.  Many car chases (exciting car chases). I actually LIKED this one a LOT. Jason Statham played the character we’re used to seeing and he had a nice half  bodyguard/half dad relationship with the little girl. I will say I did not see the climactic buildup to a mano a mano fight between Jason and the Mayor’s Maybe Lover being short circuited by the little girl becoming a shooter. And I never got the point about the $30 million that was in play. Would you give that back, minus $50K you gave the Bad Cop, that you plan to repay with interest? Me, not so much.

????????????

So “Safe” is now a part of my permanent dvd collection because I got my satisfying HEA-for-now ending, although Jason wisely says they must take it one day at a time as they drive off to Seattle. Good schools apparently. (Dudes, seriously? Sequels are highly unlikely here…give it UP.) “Fire With Fire” gets a C and is in the Goodwill box – you cannot cheat me of that for-sure- HEA, especially not with hunky firemen involved. I am, after all, a romance writer.

I’m back on the day job tomorrow. Today I’m going to have my own little “Big Bang Theory” marathon. See you later!