Thursday, 28 February 2013

Intelligent Coathangers - Now There's an Idea...


It's happened again! I opened the wardrobe, moved one coathanger aside and in a mood which can only be described as peevish, the wretched thing deposited my neatly ironed skirt onto the floor where it lay in a heap. I retrieved it only to find it had managed to twist itself into a mangled mess and, yes, you've guessed it, I have to iron the darned thing again!


Coathangers. I hate them. Stupid, good for nothing things. They're never the right size and not fit for purpose. And, to cap it all, they're more unco-operative and bad-tempered than a herd of camels!  

You hang a top on one of them, where it perches precariously for a second, lulling you into a false sense of security. Then, just when you've carefully placed the hanger in the wardrobe, it flings your garment onto the floor with a contemptuous shrug.


There has to be a better method of keeping your clothes hanging neatly. I mean, we sent men to the moon more than forty years ago, we have the internet, ipads, smartphones, even cars that can park themselves. So, why, oh, why, in this day and age do we still have to tolerate the useless coathanger?

I'm a simple soul. I don't ask much from a coathanger. All I want it to do is take care of whatever garment I drape around its shoulders. Is that too much to ask? Well, apparently, yes it is. So, what' s the solution to all those crumpled up, ruined clothes lying jumbled on the floors of the world's wardrobes?

Step forward - The Intelligent Coathanger!

  In my world, this little marvel would incorporate a senser which would detect the size, shape and configuration of the top, trousers, dress, jacket, coat or skirt and then adjust itself automatically to accommodate it.


Imagine a world where you could open your wardrobe and see all your clothes neatly and safely hanging, with no possibility of them falling onto the floor. What a way to start your day, knowing you wouldn't have a last minute scramble to iron your crushed trousers before work. Surely, that would bring a smile to your face. And imagine if everyone had such coathangers. The entire nation's faces would be wreathed in smiles - even first thing on a Monday morning! 

Come to think of it, Prime Minister David Cameron wants all  UK citizens to be happy, so perhaps the government could fund research into developing this marvellous new aid. Maybe Intelligent Coathangers could be available on prescription...

Peter Jones
Now all I need is someone to actually invent it. So, come on all you clever people, go to it. Why not take your prototype onto Dragons' Den? I'm sure Theo Paphitis would be interested - or maybe Peter Jones?

Meanwhile, back to the ironing...

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Hunger Embraced - Win Prizes!

I'm turning up the heat today as I showcase fellow Etopia Press author, Jennifer James.



Fans of hot erotic fiction loved Jennifer James's previous novella, Long Time Coming, and her latest novel, Hunger Embraced, combines heat, passion and a compulsive story. Here's the blurb:

She’s fed up with being fed on.



All Miranda Thibodeaux really wants to do is survive corporate hell and be left alone. But as the daughter of the Incubi king, being left alone isn’t on her schedule. And as an avatar to a goddess with multiple personality issues, taking things in stride isn’t either.



Daniel looks like an ordinary surfer boy--T. T. B.--Tall, Tanned, and Blonde. Hot he may be, but ordinary he’s not. Beneath the pretty packaging lies a ruthless warrior, a servant to the Vampire Council. His mission is to find Miranda and present her to the council, then get the hell out of Dodge before he loses his focus. The last thing he needs is the distraction of the testy female.



When circumstances force Miranda to turn to T.T.B. for help, they both end up with more than they bargained for. And that normal human life she wanted? Not really doable when everyone wants a piece of her...

 

WARNING: The following extract has sexual content suitable for ADULTS ONLY!

“Kneel down. Please.”
 

I lowered myself to my knees in the water. It came up over my breasts, and I tried to formulate an argument for why this would never work if he was going to wash my back. He knelt next to the tub before I came up with something and began to lather the washcloth. Gripping my left shoulder with one hand, he moved his right over my upper back and shoulder blades with a thoroughness that left me aching. He scrubbed across my lower back, being careful to never dip too low. I fought the temptation to stand up again so he’d have to touch my ass, but the man was a masterful masseuse. Relaxation spread through every muscle he caressed and stroked.

“What do I have to do to get you to rub my whole body like that?”

He stilled and leaned in close to my ear. The tickle of his breath against my neck and earlobe gave me chills when he finally spoke. “Perhaps if you would behave I could be persuaded.”

“Perhaps I would behave if you would stop being so damned stubborn.”

I reached up and around to grab the back of his head with my right hand and pressed my fingers into the soft hair at the nape of his neck. I liked the texture of it when I ran my hand upward, against the grain. He drew lazy circles on my shoulder with his thumb. I turned my head and caught his lips in the barest whisper of a kiss, a light, teasing brush I followed by running the tip of my tongue along the lower.

Both of his hands were on my shoulders, running down to my biceps and back up. It was all the encouragement I needed to kiss him harder. I took his lip between my teeth and bit it before licking the hurt away. One or both of us groaned the moment before his bare chest collided with my back. The bunch of curls in the center of his chest grazed my skin. He leaned into the kiss, biting down and grazing my mouth with the barest hint of fang. He was careful not to cut me, teasing with the sharp tips, and sucking my tongue.

He held me in place when I tried to turn around. Frustration built, and I chafed my thighs together. I was so exhilarated by the intimate, slow sharing that I’d take it any way I could get it.

He retreated and held me at arm’s length. “I must go.” But he sat there, still rubbing my shoulders and upper arms, staring at my mouth as though it held the answers of the universe.

“Mmmm.” I tugged at his left hand until he gave in and took the index finger between my lips. I licked the digit from base to tip and then sucked it hard before releasing it with a light pop. He shook his head as though dazed and staggered to his feet.

“This is dangerous. This is crazy. I must leave before—” An erection strained the front of his pants.

“Before what, T.T.B.? Before you give in to what you want?” I stood up, and he spun back around. I liked the way his eyes raked me from top to bottom and hinged on my breasts before he could meet my eyes again. “Before we have sex again? Before you face your feelings?”

“I cannot, Miranda. No matter how much I want you. I would give up and destroy anything, everything for you. I would forsake every vow, tear apart the bricks of the temples of every god known to existence. It is not, you are not, meant for one such as me.” His voice broke on the words, and his shoulders rose and fell. In a flash of blurred motion he moved to the far side of the room.

Screw that.



 Hunger Embraced is available from most online booksellers including:
 Amazon         All Romance Ebooks                Barnes and Noble

About the Author
 
Jennifer James never thought she would be a multi-published author of erotica and erotic romance. What she likes best are happy endings – whatever that might mean for the characters. Wife, mother of two Tiny Divas, and college student, when not writing Jenn enjoys the outdoors, adventures of all sorts, horror movies, and the occasional comic book.

Connect with Jennifer here:
 
Website            FaceBook       GoodReads     Twitter             Love Scenes and Wet Dreams 
For your chance to win valuable Gift Cards or this fantastic Jennifer James Swag Pack, just follow the simple instructions on the Rafflecopter entry form below:




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Sunday, 24 February 2013

It's Your Sunday Spooky 8!



For my Weekend Writing Warriors' Sunday snippet, here's some more from my latest paranormal horror novella - The Second Wife:
 

'“I do love coming home to you, Mrs. Marchant.”

 “And I love it when you come home to me, Mr. Marchant. And you’re going to love the idea I have.”

 “Then you’d better tell me all about it over dinner.”

 “I fully intend to,” I said and poured more champagne. If only I had stopped right there. If only I hadn’t insisted on telling him my grand ideas for the house. 

“If only…” The saddest words in the English language.'



If you'd like to find out more about The Second Wife, please click on this Link


The Second Wife is available now from:



 
You can catch all the other great Weekend Writing Warriors by clicking HERE

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Write This Not That! - Suz deMello


Today, I am handing my blog over to the first editor I ever worked with - Sue Swift (aka Suz deMello). I learned so much from her and now she's been persuaded to share some of her wisdom and expertise in a new book:


Here's the blurb: 

Write This Not That! is a snappy, entertaining treatise on writing. If you’re a serious author, it will change your life...your writing life, anyway. Its sections on dialog, info dumps, setting and more are brief  but pithy—like good writing. By award-winning, best-selling novelist Suz deMello, with the help of many of her equally gifted friends,  this skinny little book packs a powerful punch. 

And now, an extract:

            A while back I initiated an online discussion with some other writers about books. My question was: what earns a book a home in our hearts as opposed to a trip to the shredder? I gathered comments from various yahoogroups before adding them to the “knowledge” garnered from a lifetime of reading, sixteen years of fiction writing, and a mini-career editing for individuals as well as for a variety of publishing companies. I have authored and edited most kinds of writing from academic treatises to the sexiest erotica.  Although much of my experience is in romance, the principles in this essay are applicable to most fiction writing.
            Some information surprised me while other statements struck me as mundane. And I found startling omissions: for example, many didn’t decry the lack of a happy ending in a few books, preferring an interesting ending to a predictable one. But many comments focused on a few well-defined topics: dialog and tags; the despised info dump; a category I call “respecting the language;” avoiding clichés, both verbal and situational; characterization errors; plotting missteps and a failure to edit. The “talking head in the empty room syndrome” is a particular irritant to me, and, as a former acquiring editor, I have strong opinions regarding synopses.
            Many mistakes can and should be avoided or fixed before anyone, even a critique partner, sees your work in progress.

DIALOG, THE CORE OF YOUR NOVEL

Romances are all about the interactions between two people. In fact, most novels, unless they’re Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea or similar books, involve the interactions between people, and most of these interactions are verbal. But dialog can be especially tricky to write.
Here’s what you can do: Listen and cut.
To avoid stilted dialog, listen. Go to different venues and eavesdrop. Coffee houses, like Starbucks and Peet’s. Bars. Truck stops and grocery stores. If you write for the young adult market, go to where teens are. When you take your kid and her friends to a concert or to the opening of the next hot teen flick, don’t drop them off and leave. Go in. Listen. Not to the concert but to the kids, not just yours but others.
If you’re fortunate enough to travel, do the same research wherever you go. Don’t stay in your hotel. Walk a few blocks away to a local café or dive and listen to the locals chat. Take notes.
Focus on the words people use and the way they put sentences together. Note slang terms.
Have you ever noticed that in some parts of the USA people say soda rather than pop? In other American locales, any fizzy drink is a Coke, whether or not it’s cola. In Georgia, a woman’s handbag is a pocketbook, even if the satchel can’t fit into her pocket. In California it’s her purse. Regional differences in speech are numerous and fascinating. Note them. Use them.
Listen, but cut.
Many of my conversations run something like this:
“Hiya!”
“Hey, hi, Sue. How’re ya doin’?”
“I’m okay. You?”
“Fine. Whassap?”
“Not much. Tryin’ to stay dry.”
The only variations are seasonal. In January, I’m trying to stay dry. In July, I’m trying to stay cool.
The conversation doesn’t say much and I’d never put it in a book, unless I wanted to lull the reader into an unsuspecting stupor before a vampire sank fangs into a victim or a meteor slammed into our planet.
So the vast majority of realistic interactions don’t belong in a book. Interactions should have a purpose; in fact, every word in your book should have a purpose.
What purposes can we define?

If you like what you read, go to http://www.tinyurl.com/suzdemellowritethis 

 

About the author of Write This Not That:

 


Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written over sixteen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Ai Press, and Liquid Silver Books. She also takes private clients.


Her books have been favourably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

 

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.


 Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com

 For editing services, email her at suzswift@yahoo.com
 Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sueswift
 She tweets her reading picks @ReadThis4fun

 


    




 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Second Wife on Sunday

Thank you for dropping buy and for your super comments last week. Welcome back! If this is your first visit, you're very welcome.

First the blurb:


Emily Marchant died on Valentine’s Day. If only she’d stayed dead...

Something told Chrissie the house didn’t want her, but it’s her new husband’s home, so now she must live in it. Sumptuously furnished, Barton Grove is filled with his first wife’s treasures.

 Emily died six years earlier but a part of her never left. A stunning photograph of the first Mrs. Marchant hangs in the living room. Yet there is something unnerving and impossibly alive about that portrait.

A series of terrifying events take over Chrissie’s life, but no one will believe her. As her marriage and her life unravel around her, she discovers, with devastating consequences, that Emily never intended Joe to take a second wife.

Now, here are my eight sentences:
  
I had to reassure him. “Sorry, I just feel…I don’t know…awkward, kissing you in front of her photograph. As if I’m stealing you away from her.” He clasped me to him and I leaned against his chest. He smelled of Hugo Boss aftershave, combined with his unique personal, clean aroma—warm, comforting, sensual. We stood there, wrapped in each other’s silence. He gently stroked my hair. How could I tell him that I had heard a woman’s voice whisper my name in my ear, just as he kissed me?

The Second Wife is available now from:






 
You can catch all the other great Weekend Writing Warriors by clicking HERE

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Kabrini Message




Today I'm handing over to Marie Carhart,who is talking about her late brother's recently published sci-fi novel, The Kabrini Message. I read this over the weekend and I can thoroughly recommmend it. A riveting read!





Thank you so much for having me here today, Cat. 


As you know, The Kabrini Message is a novel written by my late brother, Joe Egles, back in 1987.  I only recently discovered Joe’s manuscript (hand typed by our mother) in a box in my attic.  The whole “story-behind-the-story” can be read on the two-part blog post I did, so I won’t repeat the entire thing here.







 But basically, after reading The Kabrini Message and becoming entranced by it, I decided it must be published.  This “message” just had to make it out of the attic and into the hands of the public.  I know everything happens for a reason, when and how it’s supposed to.  I believe my “message” in finding this forgotten jewel was to make it my mission to get it out there and now, more than a quarter of a century after it was written,  must be the perfect time for it!



There are messages all around us; some people are just more tuned in than others – as is the case with the main character in The Kabrini Message, Jeffrey Driscoll.  Jeffrey always sensed when he was looking through his telescope that someone or something was looking back, which is why the Kabrini chose him to get their message out. 



We are all capable of receiving the messages surrounding us…if we listen carefully.  But to certain individuals, it just seems to come naturally.  Just like his main character, Joe was one of those people. 



For no particular reason, up until now, I have not released any excerpts, so this will be the very first one!  Here is a brief synopsis, followed by the excerpt.





Synopsis:



An alien race. A shocking message…



During an archaeological dig in Greece, Jeffrey Driscoll stumbles upon a miraculous find: ancient crystals with celestial coordinates that will connect humankind with the Kabrini, a highly advanced alien civilization. His discovery leads him on a quest from the jungles of Africa to the Islands of Greece, from the streets of London to the tombs of Egypt, from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, Jamaica, and Vienna, and finally to the deepest depths of space and Earth’s first global space effort, the Legacy mission.



When Driscoll Mining and the U.S. Army complete deep space construction of the Kabrini communications network, the Legacy mission is deemed a success. But a dangerous terrorist group hungers for revenge, and Driscoll will stop at nothing to save the project. As his obsession with the Legacy mission spirals out of control, he risks losing everything—his company, his grasp on reality, and the one thing he’s ever truly loved: his wife. And when humankind finally makes contact, they discover the Kabrini Message isn’t exactly what they expected to hear…






Excerpt:


The fire in Professor Gregory’s study burned low.  Outside, it was just getting dark and the first drops of a cold London rain splattered against the windows.



“Alrighty, then,” Gregory started as he sat down behind his desk. “As you may know, the Romans had umpteen gods. So did the Greeks. So what’s one more soothsayer? With a god for every occasion, they were only being religious by convenience anyway. That's why I never took this damn thing so seriously in the first place.”



"Took what seriously?” asked Driscoll.  “The Romans…or the Greeks?”



"Neither,” said Gregory sounding exasperated already. “I’m talking about the Oracle, the Oracle, you numpty.”



Gregory was clearly annoyed.  He was used to dealing with his razor-sharp archeology students, and they were used to paying attention to details.  Driscoll was not…at least, not to the point required for Gregory’s complex explanation. Driscoll practiced what he liked to call a holistic approach to life situations.  In other words, he took in the big picture and then did whatever was necessary to keep from getting chucked out of it.



“The Oracle, right, at Delphi,” said Driscoll. “You mentioned that on the phone. But what’s the fuss? It's not news. That's where rich folks went for advice about the future, right? The place where people went for prophecies…from priests or something.”



“But the Oracle wasn't just a place, like a fountain or a shrine,” corrected Gregory. “It was supposed to be a person, or a deity, who only spoke through priests. The priests in turn doled out the information to the faithful.”



“And by ‘faithful,’ you mean those who could afford to pay,” said Driscoll.



“Well, yes,” agreed Gregory. “But my point is, it couldn't have been all rubbish or they wouldn’t have kept coming back for advice. And they did…important people, like Caesars and such. There must have been something to the Oracle’s prophecies.”



“Unless it was just fashionable,” said Driscoll.



“Ah…wait, what?” stammered Gregory. Driscoll had broken his train of thought, which stunned the professor into silence. “This is what’s so difficult about talking to Driscoll,” thought Gregory. He never knew when to expect an intelligent comment. This one had caught him by surprise.



Driscoll kept talking as Gregory struggled to regain his composure. “I mean, in those days, you couldn't impress your wealthy friends by buying a flat screen TV or a Ferrari—so you blew a load on the Oracle to show off.”



Gregory was mildly shocked. “Has money made Driscoll wise?” he wondered. “No, no, surely not. It never works that way. But trust Driscoll to do everything ass-backwards, including getting smart,” he thought.



“Precisely!” Gregory finally answered. “And what do you suppose the priests did with all that wealth, mate?”



“I don't know,” Driscoll responded as he thoughtfully scratched the stubble on his cheek.



“Neither did anyone else,” Gregory said with a slight leer in his eye. “Until now.”



Driscoll dropped his boots to the floor and leaned forward on the leather couch. This had definitely piqued his interest.



“Listen to this,” said Gregory, producing a notebook from his jacket pocket. “This is an exact translation from a scroll my colleague Jessup unearthed near Delphi.”



The professor flipped through the tattered pages of his composition book and read aloud:



“‘I am an apprentice to a scribe.  But, by the time this is read, I will not only have been a scribe, but will have been dead for some two thousand years.

However, due to my experience as apprentice to Piros—scribe, scholar and personal acquaintance of the Great Emperor Claudius—I have access to certain knowledge, which if I do not set down, may be lost forever; unless the High Priests forsake their vows, which is not likely.

But to share this knowledge in my own time would certainly be the cause of my death.  Therefore, I share it with yours.’”



Gregory paused and glanced at Driscoll, who seemed to be mulling over the words.



“So this guy has something important to say, is that it?”  Driscoll said sarcastically.



Gregory rolled his eyes.  “Yes, yes…brilliant.  Now, listen to this part, mate,” he said.  He continued reading:



“‘In my time, I have no understanding of what I have seen.  Yet I hope the passage of many centuries may bring wisdom to my words so that you, in your distant world, though you are standing exactly where I am now, may read and understand.



For I have seen the Oracle at Delphi.  And It is not Human.’”



“Not human?!”  Driscoll repeated.  He was leaning so far forward now, Gregory thought he might tumble off the couch.



“That’s what the bloody man says,” said Gregory, “and he should know.  He claims to have been there several times and seen this Oracle thing twice.  Once while it was reclining and going about ‘business as usual’ with the High Priests, and once when it was being carried out.  During this second viewing, the scribe said the Oracle didn't look at all well.  It might have been dying or perhaps already dead, and the priests were taking the body to some secret burial place.  Anyhow, It was never brought back.  Apparently, interest in Delphi seemed to wane after that, at least among the big shots.  For the Caesars and the like, the Delphi prophesies seemed to have lost most of its punch.  The priests continued to sell prophesies, but more so to the public—at a cut rate, I presume.”



“Discount prophecies,” Driscoll said with a pensive grin.  “Talk about bargain shopping.”  He paused briefly to take another sip of brandy.  “Did he write anything else about the Oracle, Itself?” he asked anxiously.  He was already getting involved. “I mean, did he say what it looked like?"



“Oh yes,” said Gregory with a smug smile.  He knew he had Driscoll now.  “In fact, he was quite descriptive.  The scroll was very long . I only copied the first part, but I read Jessup's entire translated version.  He said the Oracle's appearance was that of a boy with longish hair—except It had pale blue skin and dark blue hair.”



“Holy shit…sounds like some kind of freakish Smurf!”  Driscoll said.



Gregory restrained from rolling his eyes this time.  “Also, Its eyes were clear, or maybe white.  The translation is not precise on that point.”



“Pretty strange, either way,” Driscoll said, genuinely interested.



“Yes, and it gets even stranger,” continued Gregory.  “The scribe’s description was from that first occasion, when the Oracle was reclining on a couch and being attended by the priests.  He said it appeared to be nude except for a thin, light blue veil and—are you ready for this Driscoll?—It had the sexual organs of both male and female!”



Driscoll said nothing.  He just sat on the edge of the couch, his elbows resting on his knees, his empty glass dangling from one hand.



Gregory stood up, stretched and walked out from behind his desk.  He leaned against the front of the desk and said slowly, "Driscoll, I think that Oracle was an alien.  Those High Priests had found, and were keeping, a bloody alien!”



The rain tapped on the windows.  The darkness from outside seemed to crowd into the study, despite the blazing fire.



Driscoll slowly set his glass on the coffee table and stared into it for a few moments.  His mind raced back to his boyhood bedroom.  He recalled all those sleepless nights he’d gazed at the stars through his homemade telescope as his drunken father raged downstairs.  Fast-forwarding to college, he remembered the countless hours he spent in the Princeton observatory studying the infinite depths of space, examining each pinprick of light.  Every time he’d ever looked up at that endless vista, he’d always had a feeling there was something—or someone—looking back at him.



“Gregory…”  Driscoll began stiffly.  For once, he was truly at a loss for words. “Gregory, are you…that is, well…don't you think you might be jumping to conclusions?  I mean, isn’t it more likely that that poor thing was the sad result of generations of inbreeding or something?  We know it went on all the time, back then.  Maybe that or some terrible disease or something…”



“Goddammit, I’m a scientist, Driscoll!”  Gregory interrupted.  “I don't jump to bloody conclusions.  It’s true, I don't have any real proof, but that's where you come in.  And anyway, there’s more. About the crash site.”


Now, have a look at the fabulous trailer:
You can buy The Kabrini Message here

You can follow The Kabrini Message here:
Twitter:  @KabriniMessage