Friday, June 29, 2012

Welcome Guest Author, Deatri King-Bey

A warm welcome to Deatri King-Bey! Welcome to my small corner of the cyber world. Please tell us a little bit about you.

I started in the publishing industry as a developmental editor for an independent publishing house a little over a decade ago. Their focus was nonfiction, so soon I moved onto freelance editing for several publishing houses. I’m also an avid reader and author. The only genre I don’t like to read is horror. I just don’t find being scared enjoyable. I’m also a multi-published, award winning author with fifteen full length novels under my belt. I

write romance and women’s fiction under my name and dangerously-sexy suspense under the name L. L. Reaper. On a personal note, I have three fantastic daughters who have given me the three greatest grandchildren ever. I also married my hero over twenty-five years ago and look forward to when we can both retire and can be the annoying older couple in the grocery store fussing over which bottled water brand to purchase.

I understand you’ve written a fantasy romance book. Tell the readers why you chose to write in this genre? What inspired the story? 

I read everything, but my favorite genres are sci-fi and fantasy. Authors get to create worlds, but the worlds usually follow the rules of the world we live in. For example the sky is blue, there are twenty-four hours in the day, it takes a sperm and egg to produce a child, we have various government structures. No dragons… Even though a novel is fiction, thus not real, you still need to make it realistic. With fantasy, I get to make my own rules for the worlds my characters live on. I create what is realistic. Okay, you’ve got me. I’m a control freak. Seriously though, The Other Realm is my first time writing a fantasy. I don’t know what took me so long.

My inspiration for The Other Realm was a Canadian goose. One morning I was sitting in the courtyard outside of my office building when a Canadian goose decided he wanted to visit with me. It scared the heck out of me at first because these are not small birds and if they are nesting nearby, they will attack. I guess the goose decided I wasn’t a threat so hopped himself up on the opposite end of the bench. I jokingly said, “You’d better keep your feathered butt on that end of the bench or there will be a problem.”

That’s when the concept for a plot came to me. What if the goose answered? Next thing you know, I was writing The Other Realm.

What makes this book stand out from the other fantasy romance books? You’ll still get your romance, out of this world creatures and an adventure to remember, but the two realms this novel takes place in—our current realm and the other realm—feel completely different. I did my best to also have the reader feel this difference. I even used Limited Point of View in our realm and Unlimited Point of View in the other realm.  And the clashing of the realms… Well, you’ll need to read to find out.

Who was your favorite character in the book and why? Aurora, the heroine. She was raised in our realm and taught other realms don’t exist. Her transition to accepting the impossible, then accepting her destiny yet not settling for less was enjoyable to watch. And I’m not just saying that because it’s my book.

Do you think this character would prefer plain vanilla ice cream or chunky chocolate brownie ice cream and why? Aurora would prefer plain vanilla ice cream so she could add whatever ingredients she felt like having that particular day to make it into whatever she’d like.

When you’re in the midst of writing a story, do the characters let you sleep at night?  The characters always take over the story when I’m writing. I walk around with a notebook and write, write, write. Now I must admit, nothing keeps me from sleeping. I think the characters and I would have to fight if they kept me awake at night.

Please give us a sneak preview, a short excerpt: Here’s the first scene in the book where the heroine meets her hero (who is a goose in this realm and a warrior in the other realm).
Majestic bird should be reserved for eagles and hawks, thought Aurora. Eagles, hawks, and now geese.  She watched a goose soar across the courtyard, his wings fully expanded. In a few graceful strokes, he traveled two hundred yards and descended into an effortless landing.
She’d never seen anything so magnificent. The goose took her mind back to her pet goose that flew away one day, never to return. She constantly worried about what became of him.
As if the goose knew of his audience, he took off again, skimmed the freshly mowed grounds, then stopped in front of her.
She quickly checked over her shoulders. A few people were walking along the path that circled the office courtyard, but none were within earshot. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were putting a show on for me,” she teased.
She jumped and clinched her pounding chest at the sound of a deep, husky voice calling her name. She couldn’t tell what direction it came from, but she’d never heard a more clear sound. After a quick visual scan of the area, she took out her imitation hearing aids to see if she’d actually heard speaking. She’d had the earplugs made in the shape of hearing aids to block out the distorted sounds she heard instead of clear voices.
Her heart lurched forward from an anxiety-laced adrenaline rush. One of her earplugs slipped out of her hand. She knelt to pick it up. The goose stepped forward and stood on the device.
She looked around again. There was no one around. Not even on the walking path. She and the goose were the only warm-blooded creatures in sight. “Please, mister goose,” she murmured. “I think I’m losing my mind and,” she pointed at his foot, “I need my earplug.” He didn’t move.
You’re not crazy. It’s me—Tahlan, the voice explained.
She sat on her haunches and fought to remain in control over her nerves. “Oh great. Now the voice in my head has a name.”
A hearty chuckle filled her head. I haven’t heard sarcasm in such a long time. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard spoken word in such a long time.
She slowly rose. “I’m hearing voices, a goose is standing on my earplug and I’m talking to myself.” She held out her hands. “What next?”
This goose is the voice in your head.
Her lips pursed and eyes scrunched. “Oh yeah, I’m crazy. Now the goose is talking to me.” She spotted a few people across the lawn walking onto the path. “Listen here, mister goose.
Geese do not talk,” she whispered with a touch of agitation.
I know this all sounds crazy, Aurora, but please listen to me. I’m the voice in your head.
She crossed her arms over her chest. “If you’re talking to me, why isn’t your mouth moving? And how can I understand you?” She held out her imitation hearing aid. External sounds were distorted for her. Therefore, she couldn’t understand spoken word. “I’m not happy about it, but I’m crazy. I’m either hearing voices that don’t exist, or I think a goose is talking to me. Either way, I need some serious psychological help.”
My mouth isn’t moving because geese don’t talk.
She laughed so hard she drew the attention of the people who walked along the path.
After she calmed, he continued, I don’t have lips in this form. We communicate to each other telepathically.
“Not only am I fighting with a goose, but I’m losing the argument. This isn’t right.” She walked away. “Keep it. I’ll have another made,” she said over her shoulder. Audiologist never found a medical reason why Aurora’s hearing was distorted. She wore the imitation hearing aids to block out the noise and to minimize questions from people. It was much easier just saying she was hard of hearing than explaining the truth.
Aurora.  The goose bent his long neck down, picked up her earplug, then gave chase.
Listen to me.
“I don’t argue with animals. I’m going through some sort of crazy, think–geese–speak psychosis thing.”
You have a clear mind and heart. You know you’re not crazy.
“Crazy people never believe they’re crazy.”
He stepped in front of her.
She stumbled over him onto the cement walking path. “Listen up you crazy goose.” She glared into his beady black eyes, and a jolt of recognition zipped through her. It took a bit, but she shook it off. “If you trip me one more gin, I’ll pluck your feathers and have you for dinner.”
He dropped the earplug onto her lap. I find your spoken word comforting, but you don’t have to open your mouth. Just think to me. Tell me to do a flying trick. You’ll see this is real.
She wiped her hearing aid off with her denim shirt. “Yuck. Goose slob.”
Please try. This is important. What do you have to lose?
“My mind. But I’ll try anyway.” She closed her eyes and imagined the goose sailing a few feet above ground. She opened her eyes and watched him glide a few feet above the ground.
She changed her thoughts to him circling the flagpole. He circled the flagpole.
Her whole body trembled. “Oh no. This can’t be.” She ran into the building and practically knocked over a few innocent bystanders who’d come out to enjoy the show.
~ * ~

Ciara, I’d like to thank you for allowing me to introduce myself and The Other Realm to your readers. It was truly a pleasure.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The 777 challenge!

The 777 Challenge

I was tagged by Alison Bruce along with six other authors. My challenge is to go to page 7 of my current work in progress and post seven lines. When I'm done posting, I get to tag seven other authors. Hmm, who shall I tag? Oh and once I'm done, I challenge those seven to do the same and tag 7 more. Too fun!

And now for my excerpt. This is from my current wip, Texas Forged which I'm happy to report is basically DONE! I plan to send to the beta reader sometime this week, work up a cover for it and then I think this one I'll self publish just because.

Page 7, 7 lines: (Okay, so it's just a tad longer than 7, but still...)

“Think you can move this buckboard along at a pace guaranteed to ensure safe delivery?” she asked.
Teebon nodded, and the cowlick on top of his head wobbled. “I’ll treat you like you was a carton of eggs.”

 As long as you’re not thinking scrambled. “Great. Only this time, wait until I take a seat. I have an aversion to hanging onto the side of a moving vehicle while my skirts billow in the wind and my feet flutter like wings.”

His cheeks blossomed red again, and he ducked his head. “Yes’m.”

“Very well then.” She settled onto the bench next to the awkward teen and nodded a greeting to some of the gawkers gathered to witness their small calamity.

My seven authors to tag:

Jude Johnson
Linda LaRoque
Linda Mooney
Diana Castilleja
Tess St. John
Teri Thackston
Savannah Chase

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rained out in Varona

So back to my trip. We took the coach to Padova but stopped midway in Varona for a scheduled tour of the town. It was raining but not too bad. The guide met us there and suggested we be sure and wear our rain gear. All I brought was a raincoat as I'm not fond of carting umbrella's around. However, the moment we descended, the rain hit hard. We continued to walk toward the middle of town but by the time we'd gone a block, our entire group was soaked, even those with umbrellas. My shoes were completely drenched as were my jeans. Group consensus had us returning to the bus. Miserable.

So - my advice to other tourists would be to wear peddlepushers or kneeknockers and not full pants. Or roll the jeans up so the water doesn't creep up from the ground. Pack a pair of flipflops in your carry-on for when you need an extra pair of shoes. Since we were touring with a bus, we'd carry on a small bag each day with personals that we could leave on board each day. If only I'd packed extra socks. I was still soggy by the time we reached Padova.

Somewhere along the way, we stopped at a vineyard and had a sampling of wine and some parmesian cheese. Very tasty.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Writing Mode

My bad, but I'm taking a break from posting about my Italy/Switzerland trip because I'm in "writing" mode. And those of you that write know that when the urge to write hits, you better not ignore it. I'm just about finished with my current historical western wip. I've got about 40 more pages to polish and then I'm sending it to a beta reader.

I'm so excited to find this beta reader. I've got several I use but this one is new and she loves westerns. Of course, my hero isn't a cowboy and my heroine won't be moving to the farm just yet. My hero is a blacksmith which was super fun to research. My heroine is a telegraph operator. I have two antagonists, his brother and a hurricane. Anyway, I've got my fingers crossed she likes the story. I feel real good about everything except the ending which is what I'm trying to revamp right now.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bologna before heading to Pardova

From Florence we made our way toward Venice. Today we travelled to Bologna and ended up in Padova. Each time we stopped on this trip, we had a new guide. They were all great, knew their history and were able to tell it in a way that was interesting but factual. Wish I could remember all the tidbits.

On the day we were in Bologna, they were celebrating a national holiday. June 2 is Republic Day, the day Italians celebrate the birth of the Italian Republic. Thus we got to see a bit a parade and the raising of the flag. The plazza was crowded with folks. And of course, a lot of shops were closed.

Interesting to note are the arches everywhere. Seems back in the medieval era when the city became crowded, they added on to existing structures by extending the second floor. They couldn't add to the first floor because there would be no where to walk or take their horses if they did so they built the arches to hold the added rooms.

We drove to Pardova where we stayed. I guess because it was cheaper than staying in Venice.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hunting the Irish Wake and Don Grieve

One of the fun things my son and I did when we were in Florence is hunt for the Irish Wake that was supposed to be in full swing. Finding the place for this party took a bit of walking and as good as our guide was, he wasn't all that good at communicating directions. We took a wrong turn at first but managed to get ourselves redirected. In the process, we stopped for dinner and had another fabulous meal.

When we finally located the area for the Irish celebration, the musicians had vanished, on break but it turned into a long break so we gave up and decided to try again the next day. As it was, the celebration was a week long party and not really a "wake" as the guide had said. Either way, we were in the mood for some Irish/Scottish music. When we were in Orvieto (at least I think this is where we were), we ran across a Scottish musician, Don Grieve. He had such a beautiful, lilting voice that I was made an impulse buy and bought all three CDs. When I got home, I found only one that I really loved. The others are okay but have a lot of acapella on them. I like the guitar accompaniment best.

We never did find the Irish Party. The next night, when we returned, the band was playing anything but Irish music and there was no one sitting about listening. We headed back to the hotel and called it an early night. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ciara Gold's day in Florence

So of all the Italian cities we visited, I think Florence was my favorite. Hard to put into words why except it was truly a beautiful town. Well maybe because there were artists everywhere creating art while you waited. One of the first things we noted when getting off the bus were all the young folks trying to sell posters. They'd spread them on the road which made it difficult to walk around without seeing the work, but if they caught wind of the police coming, they would quickly gather the posters and run. I guess it wasn't legal for them to do this.

We toured the Duomo Santa Maria Del Fiore. Construction on the Duomo began in 1296 and several architects had a hand in its creation until it was completely finished in 1887. The dome was quite a marvel to behold.

Next we visited the Uffizi Gallery and next the Academia Gallery where Michelangelo's David is housed. David was constructed out of inferior marble and Michelangelo had to work around the flaws. It was originally commissioned to be placed high on the roofline of the Florence Cathedral but because of its size, it was placed in the square instead.

One of the modern exhibits had a Pink David that truly made you smile while also trying to shock. It reminded me of the blue Buddha in the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

We also toured the Piazza Della Signoria. The plazza was full of sculptures that drew you in with their since of emotion and movement.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A true Italian Dinner for Ciara Gold and family (Ristorante Su E Giù)

Our last night in Rome, my mom, son and I ventured out to find a small restaurant recommended to us by the hotel. We walked a few blocks but found it and entered the small, homey establishment. We had no idea what to expect. First of all, most of the locals work on a different time clock. They eat late and most restaurants don't even open until 7:00 PM or so. So, when we arrived, there was only one other customer. The place was full, though, by the time we left.

We were greeted by a very animated, young Italian man who made the experience so much more than just eating. His name was Daniel. The restaurant was Ristorante Su E Giù. From what we could gather, his father did the cooking and all I can say is "wow."

We giggled as we tried to make sense of the menu but we didn't need the menu. Daniel gave us an oral recitation with descriptions. We wanted to try it all by the time he finished. Italians serve a three or four course meal. You start with the appetizers and Daniel offered to bring us a sampler. The place consisted of a rice ball with tomato sauce wrapped around cheese and deep fried (my personal favorite), calamari (they fried the whole squid), fried sardines (which I actually liked), fried zucchini and some sort of sausage.

For the main meal, we all got something different so we could taste-test each others' food. I don't remember now what I ordered but it was divine. We also ordered the house wine. My mom loves wine so she actually bought two bottles to take with us. Since it was their house wine, though, they didn't have bottles so Daniel filled to empty water bottles with the wine. Every time we drank a bit of that wine when we settled into each hotel room for the night, we laughed. I think it took us three days to finish those two bottles.

For desert, we enjoyed Tiramisu. By the time we left, we were quite full but the moment was probably one of the best memories we'll have of our vacation. For one, it was a moment we shared between just the three of us and not the rest of the group. It was a special time to enjoy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's day ART tribute to a great man

Gonna take a break from posting pics of my trip to Europe to pay tribute to my father. For those that have not visited my website, I have a concentration of art pieces dedicated to my dad. So -- thought I'd revisit those today.

My father was perhaps one of the kindest men around and yet, he was definitely what we term a "man's man." He loved to fish, hunt, fix cars, and do carpentry. Yep, he could do just about anything he set his mind to. His day job had him traveling from town to town. He was the local field representative for Social Security but he loved his job. It allowed him time to talk with the old farmers in the area and swap stories.

He was always there for me. I remember one scout outing, a Father/Daughter campout, where we were supposed to lay out an onion trail for our dad's to follow. My girlfriend and I set out to lay our trail but didn't stay on the path. Anyway, we got ourselves thoroughly lost. Finally, we just stopped and waited. Sure enough, our Dads proved what great sniffers they had cuz they found us. I was never so glad.

His later years, he suffered rheumatoid arthritis. The medication also caused complications. It was so hard to witness this strong man getting weaker each day. When he died, I cried but kept most of the sorrow within. He died May 5, 1999. That summer, I attended an AP art institute where we were instructed to create a body of work. We did 16 pieces of art in 4 days. Very intense. I chose my father and his illness for my subject matter.

The last piece, brought tears to everyone when I presented it for critique. That's when my grief began to heal. Basically, it's a poem where one part his is repsonse the other mine. The last week of his life he'd loss the use of his hands and feet. So I used shoes, feet and shoelaces as a metaphor for his desire to embrace life even when life didn't embrace him. Above is an image meant to show his sense of humor even when faced with such adversity. The shoes to the left are full of thumbtacks, a way of showing the pain he must have endured. But - he never complained. He always had a smile on his face. I clearly remember the last day I saw him. He couldn't speak and was trying to tell me something. I couldn't understand, but his eyes twinkled with mirth and he smiled. I miss you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Our day in Orvieto, Italy

The day we left Rome, we headed for Orvieto. So this day was mostly scenery. Once we arrived, we toured the Cathedral of Orvieto, a beautiful example of  Romanesque and Gothic architecture. After our visit to the Cathedral, we were allowed free time to explore. We enjoyed a lovely lunch at an outdoor cafe and walked around a bit.

Then we gathered for a ride on the funicular for a spectacular panoramic view. During our trip, the highs were in the upper 70s or lower 80s. Feels odd to come home to 100 degree temperatures.

Following our Orvieto excursion, we headed for Montecatini where we enjoyed a three-course dinner at the Grand Tamerici and Principe Hotel.

Mom always retires for the evening at about 8:00PM so I spent a bit of time enjoying my son's company as we walked about.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Castel Sant'Angel

Our last day in Rome, the leader of our group was to give an organ recital at one of the local churches. Previously, we had time to tour Rome on our own and my son and I became quite interested in the Castel Sant'Angel. When my mom said the recital was too late for her and she was tired of walking, my son and I decided to bow out as well. Though I really wanted to hear Benjamin play, I also really wanted to see the castle. The castle won.

So, just my son and I walked to the entrance of the castle and bought tickets. I think it was one of my favorite parts of our trip. For one, I got to spend special time with my son and two, I got to see the castle. (I love castles.)

Originally commissioned as a mausoleum for the Roman Empera Hadrian and his family around 139AD, it wasn't used as a castle until 401AD. You can see where the Romans added onto the cylindrical structure. We investigated every nook and cranny we could and walked all the way to the top for a spectacular view of Rome.

Since the castle is now a museum, they had a lot of interesting exhibits tucked away, especially items dealing with warfare. This second picture is of Rome from the palisades of the castle.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Visiting the Vatican Museum and City

Our second day in Rome was probably the most important day for our group in terms of visiting important works of art. This was the day for our scheduled trip to the Vatacan.

We woke up early and enjoyed breakfast at the Hotel Cicerone. That morning we were on our own to tour Rome at our leisure. My mom, son and I joined a few others from our group and braved the subway system. Our destination was the Church of St. Peter in Chains. We were all quite anxious to view Michelangelo's Moses.

The church itself was breathtaking and one of many such structures we would see on this trip. Photographs don't do justice to the high ceilings that tower at least 3 stories above our heads or the ornate decoration and details adorning every facet of the building.

After lunch, we met the entire group (there were 20 of us in all) and took the bus to the Vatican City. We actually caught a glimpse of the pope but in all the excitement, I didn't get my camera out fast enough.

The museum was fabulous but crowded. We were allowed photos in the museum portion and St. Peter's Basilica but not the Sistine Chapel. As awe inspiring as the Sistine Chapel was, I would have enjoyed it more if the room hadn't been full to capacity with other tourists wanting to ogle Michelangelo's work. I highly suggest going when it's not the peak season for tourists. We also saw his Pieta but it was behind glass.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting ready for our trip abroad - Rome!

Getting ready for this trip was quite nerve wracking just because I had so much going on at work. As mentioned in the previous post, I had a lot of packing to accomplish before leaving school. And, I had to figure out what to do with my students since I was going to miss the last week of school. Can we say hectic? But I'm happy to report I managed to pack all that I needed for the trip.

On Sunday afternoon, May 27, my son, my mom and I set out for Grapevine where we spent the night. The next morning, we visited my uncle who suffers from Alzheimers. He was in great spirits and glad to see us though I'm not sure if he really knew who we were. At 4:00 PM we boarded Lufthansa Flight 439. We had to take a connecting flight from Frankfurt to Rome. Needless to say, we were on the one plane for eleven hours and the other for almost two hours. Had the worst meal ever on that last flight. Iggg.

We arrived in Rome at 2:00 PM  on May 29.  Keep in mind the time difference.

Our first excursion was a sightseeing tour of Rome via bus followed by a stop at the colosseum. What a fabulous way to start the tour. You can't imagine just how large this place is. The photos just don't do it justice.

Our guide was very informative. The area where the colosseum was built was originally a lake. Instead of digging a hole for the structure, the Romans drained the lake. To manage the huge rocks, iron stakes were driven into the stones thus allowing an easier grip. Imagine building this around 70 AD without our modern technology. Much later these iron stakes were removed so they could be recycled. Unfortunately, removing them made the structure less sound when the earthquake of 1349 came which is what ruined the massive building. After that, the Medieval folks used the marble to build some of their churches and other important buildings. Talk about recycling.

She talked about the people and those that came to the colloseum. She pointed at this arch and said that information was written on the walls to show the crowds where to go during intermission so they could take care of needs, perhaps eat a bite, etc. This wall supposedly shows an arrow that points to the "red light" district where a man could occupy his time with a woman but though I snapped the picture, I still don't see the markings she alluded to. Maybe you can see it.

Afterwards, we traveled to our hotel where we enjoyed a three-course meal and much needed sleep.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A new move

I hadn't realized it was so long since my last post but I have great excuses. I'm been in my room at school where I teach for twenty-three years but due to changes, they are building three new art rooms. Hence, I had to pack. Twenty-three years of accumulated stuff is no easy task to pack let alone toss out. Yeah, I did my share of throwing away. We filled a large construction receptical and could have used another dumpster. I gave away tons of surplus. And I still had a stack of boxes.

This is a top view but it's about five to six feet tall. And of course this pile doesn't even include the furniture. Ack. But it's good to deep clean like this. I found things I'd forgotten I had. I'm looking forward to the new year.

So - tomorrow or the next day, I plan to give you a synopsis of my trip abroad. Too much fun.