Monday, February 27, 2012

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Our new releases this week


Since the loss of her father, Abigail Thatch's life has been in turmoil. Her social status is in shambles, her finances depleted, and she's on the verge of losing her beloved home. But everything changes when she meets the dashing flying machine captain Jasper Blackthorn. Not only does he introduce her to a world she thought only existed in myth and legend, he awakens sensual feelings deep within her...

Jasper may be immortal, but he hasn't truly lived in years. Having secretly watched over Abigail as a favor to her notorious grandfather, he can't resist arranging a "chance" meeting with the beauty. But he has an ulterior motive: to retrieve the mystical Crystal Compass hidden in her house before it falls into the wrong hands. He never imagines he'll be tempted to love again...

When Abigail learns the truth, she and Jasper embark on a journey that will change both of their lives—and possibly the world...

Links of Interest

JK Rowling announces that she'll publish her first novel for adults with Little, Brown. Possibly a thriller? 

For the post-apocalyptic writers out there: Survival books to keep on your bookshelf in case of the apocalypse.

These pictures on Exploring Lost Places at National Geographic are incredible.

And congratulations to the nominees for the 2011 Nebula Awards!

Here Be Magic Group Announcements


Shona Husk is giving away an ARC of her May release at: http://winkgirls.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/kiss-of-goblin-prince-giveaway.html

All of the March books are up for pre-order at Carina Press.

The theme of the month for March is "Mystical Places". Thanks to everyone who voted in our poll!

If you're on Goodreads, stop by and check out the new Here Be Magic group.

Have a great week everyone!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Love Is a Magic Elixer

Posted by: R.L. Naquin

When Rapunzel’s tears of love fell on the blinded prince’s eyes, his vision was restored. Beauty’s love transformed a beast into his true, handsome form. Both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, cursed into a death-like sleep, were awakened by true love’s kiss. In stories, the magic of love is the most powerful spell of all.

In our world, love has a different kind of magic.

I’m currently curled up on the couch, looking like a Snot Hag who’s recently crawled out of the Ancient Swamp of Eternal Suffering—greasy hair, one inflamed, reddened nostril (the other is still weighing its options and hasn’t committed to the war yet), and a greatly lowered IQ due to my need to breathe through my mouth. The noises coming out of my face are hideous and repulsive.

My husband is out at the store buying me tissues, juice, cold pills, and ice cream. There’s a good chance he’ll pick up a book or magazine for me, and an even greater likelihood he’ll come home with coloring books, a Pez dispenser, or a bottle of bubbles. No. Probably not that last one. He never lets me blow bubbles in the house.

The magic here is not that love will cure the common cold. It’s more like the magic in Demerol when you’re giving birth. It can’t cure you or even speed things up. The pain is still there, but you don’t care so much anymore. That’s how love treats the common cold, the pain of a rejection letter, or the hopelessness of a pile of overdue bills. It can’t take the problems away, but it can hold you up until you’re ready to face things again. Or you know, until your cold goes away.

There’s something else love does that’s so magical, it takes my breath away—or maybe that’s the congestion causing it.

My husband doesn’t see a Snot Hag with a low IQ sniffling on his couch. He sees a beautiful princess under a terrible enchantment.

And that's the most powerful spell of all.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Defining Love

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
Yesterday I did a video chat on writing erotica.

Yes, I know this is the Here Be Magic blog, but even my fantasy novel, Rogue's Pawn, which comes out from Carina in July, has a great deal of sensuality in it. Hot sensuality in places. Verging on erotic, though I don't know how one draws the line.

That was the question that came up during the chat - someone asked if I write erotica or erotic romance.

I really had to think about that question.

Carina is calling Rogue's Pawn a fantasy with romantic elements. It's not really a romance because the main story isn't about a romance. It's about the adventure my heroine embarks on in Faerie. Now, her sexual waltz with Rogue is a big part of that story, but it's not the only story. And they don't tumble into hearts and flowers love, with trembling sighs and dewy gazes. (Though there's nothing wrong with that. I love me a trembling sigh/dewy gaze romance - this just isn't one.) In many ways, Rogue and Gwynn's relationship is more combative, with each trying to gain the upper hand.

But....

But there is a hugely strong emotional tie between them. They can't escape each other. They're intertwined on so many levels that they have no choice but to find a way through it.

Is this love?

"Love" is a word that gets thrown around so easily. It's really an umbrella term for a huge range of human emotion. We love our pets, our kids, our sports cars, our grandparents, our lovers, a good book and the perfect dessert. It's a way of saying that we connect with something or someone, that it pleases us, supports us, invigorates and delights us.

My answer to the question of whether I write erotica or erotic romance was, it depends on how you define them. If erotica is sex without love, then I don't think I write that. My stories don't usually end with declarations of love, engagements or weddings. But, for me, sex is always about the emotional connection. That magical, mystical, beyond physical interplay of people. Skin to skin leads to soul to soul for me every time.

Is that love? I don't know.

But it is magic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hackles

Posted by: Jody W. and Meankitty
There's no sugar-coating it. The hero of Pack and Coven has hackles. He's a wolf shifter, and that's how he's built. So I thought, instead of doing a standard "new release woohoo" post today, I'd list 10 things that raise Harry Smith's hackles.

1) The thought of being anybody's boss but his own. Harry may have an "alpha" gene, but in my imagined world, that doesn't define an individual's character. It's more of a genetic ability. So even though he's alpha, Harry can't stand the thought of having to graduate to management, so to speak. Heck, he can't even boss his cats around. (Although, who can boss cats around??)

2) Well-done steaks. Horrors! That's just not how meat should be eaten. Not that people or wolves should eat it raw -- we're not savages and we don't want tapeworms -- but abusing a nice T-bone with charring should probably be a crime.

3) Cruelty. Harry is a live and let live sort of guy. That doesn't mean he thinks it's all right to be cruel to other people who presumably don't deserve it. In fact, Harry's such a mellow dude that he's friends with most of his ex-girlfriends and has been known to hook them up with their future spouses! And he still gives them discounts at his garage.

4) Handcuffs in bed. On him, anyway. Let's just say there was an incident with a lady alpha shifter in his past which involved handcuffs and a camera and leave it at that.

5) Hooking up with other alpha shifters. In part because of what the lady did with the handcuffs and the camera, and in part because two alpha shifters who get together tend to attract a pack which they then have to manage (see #1), Harry avoids that kind of entanglement.

6) Having to do his own cooking. See #2. He's not that good at it, and food is a pleasure not to be ruined with poor preparation. To quote Harry, "Hell, a man who could cook could probably talk him into a lot of shit too, but men never showed up with pie. Sometimes a six pack, which wasn’t as persuasive."

7) Crappy little econo-cars. Why drive a car that can barely do sixty, down hill, when you can drive a Porshe or a motorcyle or a sensible, full-sized pickup truck? Especially if you need to outrun pack wolves who want to hunt you down and force you to join them.

8) Confrontations. These raise Harry's hackles literally! But Harry also doesn't see the point in expending his energy and time fighting with people when he could be chummy with different people. Of course, his avoidance of conflict makes him a bit unprepared to handle it when the local pack decides they're going to conscript him, but he has made some friends in his life who can help.

9) Conservative werewolves. These are the ones who believe no wolf should be independent from a pack, who believe males should outrank females, who believe humans are inferior instead of just different, who believe democracy is for weaklings, who believe all sorts of things Harry disagrees with. These wolves are not his friends.

10) The woman he loves being in danger. From conservative werewolves. Who are cruel and who want to conscript him. This is the one situation that raises Harry's hackles enough that he's willing to do anything required to save her, just as he knows she has been doing for him.

***

On my blog, there's a contest for a $25 gift card running until February 29, so be sure and stop by and tell me what food YOU would order at a tea room! Harry orders steaks, perfectly cooked steaks, and the tea room owner keeps them in stock just for him.

I'm also on the Carina Press blog on the afternoon of February 22 where my rascally cat, Meankitty, forced me to post her "improved" version of the Pack and Coven cover and blurb.

You can see the blurb and buy links for Pack and Coven at my website if you're interested.

Sincerely,

Jody W.
When is an alpha not an alph-ass?
Pack and Coven: http://www.jodywallace.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Character Interview - Merys Priestess of the Nile

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Today we're interviewing Merys, from Priestess of the Nile, Veronica Scott's debut novella. Merys will have some thoughts for us on our Here Be Magic February theme "Magic of Love." But first, a little bit about the story:
Egypt, 1500 BC
Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile God is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.
Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.
Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. When he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?
What was your life like growing up?
I lived in a small village close to the Nile. My mother died when I was young and my father remarried so I have half sisters. My stepmother was in poor health (and worse temper, I’ll admit that now!) so much of the housework fell on me. I’m descended from the hereditary priestesses of Sobek the Crocodile God’s temple, so I took my duties seriously there as well, trying to keep the abandoned temple from going completely to ruin. Singing the old songs was my favorite way to relax after a hard day’s work!
Before the action in the book, what were your plans/hopes for the future?
As I told Sobek when I first met him, all I wanted was to love a good man and be loved, to have my own household, children. Nothing too grand…but happy. I also wanted to pass down the temple lore, the songs and legends, to my own daughters someday. But there were serious obstacles to my ever finding my way to such a situation.
What changed that?
Meeting Sobek!
What one thing would you take to a desert island?
If I had to go into exile for some reason? My most precious possession is the crocodile amulet Sobek gave me as a symbol of his love and protection. I never take that off.
Where would you go on vacation?
Since Sobek is the Crocodile God, he relishes hot weather and sunshine, and he loves to be by the water, so we’d probably go on a cruise down the Nile. He knows I’ve always wanted to visit Thebes (not to dwell there – too many people for me) so I’m sure he’d arrange some time on shore for me to see the wondrous temples, the libraries…and shop in the bazaar!
What is your major skill or talent?
(Blushing) I’ve been told my voice is pleasing. I have an excellent memory for songs and in fact that’s how I met Sobek – one evening he heard me singing a very old tune he was fond of.
What’s your favorite color? Favorite food?
I love the blue shade of the lotus (and the sweet scent). Fish, cooked any way, makes an excellent dinner, with dates for dessert!
Do you have a favorite book?
Since the time I met Sobek and the adventures we had, I’ve learned to read. It’s one of my greatest pleasures, especially stories about magicians (which Sobek often defeats in the legends!). Next in my pile of scrolls to be read is the Book of Thoth, written by the god himself. After reading the first page it is said you’ll be able to enchant the heaven and the earth, the abyss, the mountains and the sea; and you’ll know what the birds and the beasts and the reptiles are saying. And when you have read the second page your eyes will behold all the secrets of the gods themselves, and read all that is hidden in the stars.
(Veronica sez: That’s quite a favorable review Thoth got! Probably 5 stars at least LOL!)
Who are your closest friends?
Aside from Sobek I’m closest to my half sister Tyema.
Is there something you’d like to experience that as yet you haven’t?
I would like to meet Pharaoh and his queen someday and hear from their own lips how he took the throne back from the woman who had usurped his family’s rightful place.
Any comment you’d like to make on our February theme: Magic of Love?
This is from a traditional poem I’ve often heard recited at festivals for Hathor, goddess of love:
For heaven makes your love
Like the advance of flames in straw,
And its longing like the downward swoop of a hawk.
That’s pretty much how falling in love with Sobek struck me, although he’s the Crocodile, not Hathor the Hawk! (Merys laughs)
And later the poem also says:
My hand is in his hand.
I wander together with him
To every beautiful place.
He makes me the first of maidens
Any parting thoughts for us today?
May the sunlight rest upon you every day!
So, Readers, what was it like the first time you felt the Magic of Love?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Our new releases this week

When a severed rabbit's paw is delivered to her office, outcast cat shifter Rebecca Desjardin recognizes the summons home. One of their own has been murdered--and a shocking photo published in a local tabloid--and her Pride needs Rebecca, now a private investigator, to track down the killer.

Investigative reporter Brandon Hanover wants to find out who slipped the photo of the half-shifted cat-woman under his door, marking him as a suspect in her death. Determined to stay one step ahead of the sexy journalist, Rebecca reluctantly agrees to partner with him to find the real murderer. But as their mutual attraction heats up, Rebecca finds it harder and harder to keep Brandon from discovering the existence of the shifter society--and her own true nature.

When the search leads them back to the Pride, Rebecca must attempt to Change for the first time in years to face the killer, and save the man she loves.

***

Harry Smith is a lone wolf, and he likes it that way. When he's targeted to be co-alpha of the local pack, there is only one thing he can do to maintain his freedom: flee. But it'll take a miracle to stay a step ahead of shifters in their own territory.

June Travis has been in love with Harry for years, but he doesn't know her real identity. He sees her as the sweet owner of the local tearoom—the facade June presents to humans and werewolves to keep them from finding out she's a witch. She may not be able to offer Harry a miracle, but she can help him escape.

Harry is drawn to this new side of June, and not just because he's grateful for her help. With her magic temporarily hiding Harry from his pursuers, the witch and the wolf explore their mutual attraction. But there are consequences for witches who bed down with wolves.

Links of Interest

The Year Without a Summer, and How It Spawned Frankenstein And bicycles. And vampires.

In my head, nanobots=steampunk and I find the technology fascinating. DNA origami nanorobot takes drug direct to cancer cell 

The final book in the Wheel of Time series has a date. I read the first three I think. Knowing that it has an end might make me try to catch up just for old times sake.

Levar Burton at the Tools of Change conference talking about the power of "What if...?" I love this. It's worth the fifteen minutes.

Why men should read romance novels from The Romance Man.


Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. Perfect casting. I hope it works out.

New stills from Snow White and the Huntsman. Chris Hemsworth! Yum.

Celebrity Story Time: George R. R. Martin Reads Children's Stories.

Paul Cornell says he won't sit on a panel that doesn’t have a 50/50 gender split. Should there be more female representation on professional panels at SFF conventions?

Special calls

Hex Appeal - Ellora’s Cave 
Charm readers with stories about wanton witches, lusty warlocks and sizzling spells!
~ Length: 18K – 70K words
~ Deadline for internal submissions: June 15, 2012. Earlier is preferred.
~ Deadline for external submissions: May 15, 2012. Earlier is preferred.
~ Stories will release in October 2012

Here Be Magic Group Announcements

Jeffe Kennedy has a new title for her July 16th release: Rogue's Pawn, Book One in A Covenant of Thorns.

Please help us decide next month’s HBM theme by voting in our poll. (Look up and to the rightJ)

Thank you!

Friday, February 17, 2012

THE HEALING MAGIC OF LOVE

Posted by: Rebecca York

The magic of love is right up my alley.  I write romantic suspense, often with wounded heroes who are doomed to a lonely and perhaps bitter existence.  But one magical thing saves them–the love of a woman with the guts and determination to break through the shell they’ve built around themselves.

That’s one of my recurring themes, and it’s never been more evident than in my current Decorah Security novella, CHAINED.

Only this time, my heroine literally has to bring my hero’s body and soul back together.

The story starts when Isabella Flores flees from armed men trying to kill her.  When she arrives at the ranch her father owns near Sedona, Arizona, she’s attacked by what she thinks is a ghost.  Not just any ghost.  He’s Matthew Houseman, the man she loved and lost eight years ago.  Back then he was her Decorah Security bodyguard, and she was too young for a relationship with him.  He attacks because he doesn’t recognize her at first.  When he realizes who she is, he reaches out toward her.

At first Matthew’s memories of himself are dim, but contact with Isabella brings Matthew back to himself.

I had a great time with this story, writing increasingly more sexually charged encounters with a ghost.  And the more physical contact they have, the more he remembers about his life and their love for each other.

After he helps save her from the bad guys, he vanishes, because he’s sure a relationship with a phantom can only lead to a dead end.  He thinks she should marry and have children, all of which is impossible with him.

But she knows about the magic of Sedona, the vortexes in the area, the places of power that the native Americans have know about for thousands of years.

In nature, vortexes are created by wind or water.  Like the circular motion of a tornado or water whirling down a drain.

In Sedona, they are believed to be created by spiraling spiritual energy--locations where the conditions are right to facilitate prayer, meditation and healing.  Mystical, magical places, with an energy flow that exists in multiple dimensions.

The heroine believes the energy of the vortexes drew the hero back to Sedona, and she hopes that if she can get in touch with that energy, she can bring him back to life.

A long shot.  But I’m writing paranormal romance, after all.  With a real-life rationale.  And I hope I’ve made you believe magic and reality can merge.

This story was a little different for me.  I often write about mythical creatures.  Werewolves and dragon-shifters.  This time it’s about the magic of a place.

What’s your favorite kind of paranormal romance, and why?


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love of the Sweetest Kind

Posted by: Ruth A Casie
“Here?” she whispered to him sweetly.

“We’re alone,” he said discreetly.

“I’ve been good till now!” she sighed.

“But you’re human!” he replied.

“It’s so big!” she hesitated.

“It’s all yours,” he proudly stated.

“Oh, I shouldn’t!” she protested.

“If you love me -!” he suggested.

And so, losing all resistance,

she gave in to his insistence …


and ate every single chocolate in the box!


Happy Valentine’s Day

with a special thank you to my Valentine and Hallmark Cards.

Re-posted from Ruth A. Casie's blog

Monday, February 13, 2012

Keeping the Romance Alive

Posted by: J.K. Coi
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and I ask myself every year whether hubby will surprise me with something, but you know what?

He rarely does.

Some people would say he isn’t romantic, or that he doesn’t care. But I know the truth.

My big bad Italian hubby isn’t one for telling me he loves me. I may not get roses on Valentine’s Day, and we may not go out to an expensive dinner. But two weeks ago my husband, who has said for years that he will never get a dog because they’re too much work…told me I could have a puppy. And you know why he did it? Because he knew it would make me happy and he loves me so much he’ll put up with pee on the kitchen floor, and chewed running shoes, and that wet doggy smell.

I’m all for a day of romance as much as the next person, but even more important are the days when there aren’t any expectations yet the coffee is made for me when I get up in the morning, and the laundry has magically been folded while I was writing madly to make a deadline. My husband knows that my favourite treat is a cannoli (Mmmmm Cannolis) and one random day that really meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, I came home to find that he’d looked up a recipe, gone out for the ingredients and made some from scratch. Those were the best cannoli’s I have ever had.

So no, I don’t expect fancy declarations, or anything else tomorrow. And that’s perfectly fine. I probably won’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day for him either…then again, he’s going ice fishing next week and I know when he gets home he’ll really appreciate seeing a big pot of my homemade squash soup and fresh bread waiting for him.

What little things does your loved one do for you throughout the year to show their love, besides the big gestures?

And don't forget to enter our Valentine's Day giveaway here!

JK Coi
www.jkcoi.com

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Wish You Magic

Posted by: Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka
Hey, girl, I spent $500 on roses. I love you.
Valentine's Day is Tuesday. I'm not a big believer in the holiday just because I think romance should happen everyday and Valentine's is just a day for couples to spend money they don't necessarily have and single people to feel bad. But... sometimes people get that it isn't about the flowers, or the chocolate, or the jewelry, it's about doing something more magical than you do for someone you love the rest of the year. This is especially true for couples who have been together for a long time.

Hey, girl, here's 20 pounds of chocolate just for you.
You see, when people first fall in love, it's (if you're lucky) a little like it is in romance novels. Sparks fly. You dream about their eyes, their smile, the feel of their hand in yours... their mouth on yours. You spend so much time thinking about this new person that when the phone rings and it's them, a tiny part of you believes that they felt your thoughts. New love haunts you. It seeps into your very pores and makes you carry yourself differently. It makes you smile more. Laugh more. And if it's with a person who really clicks with you on multiple levels, you might wonder if they were meant just for you or if you conjured them from thin air.

Every touch...
Every smile...
Every glance...
Every gesture...
Is a tiny piece of magic just for the two of you.



Hey, boy, here's what I really want.
With familiarity though, we lose that. Days become jobs, and kids, and in-laws, and bills. No amount of flowers or chocolate can make up for that. Those things don't bring back the heat and passion of new love. And that's what most of us really want for Valentine's Day. We want the magic.

So my assignment to you this Valentine's Day is to spark some of that in your relationship. Try to let go of all the mundane stuff that clogs your world, and fall in love all over again. While the rest of the world spends money on things that don't matter, give the person you love something they'll remember--give them the gift of magic.



Friday, February 10, 2012

The Magic of Love: A Here Be Magic Giveaway!

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy


Whoohoo! Thanks for all the great comments! Our winners for the Here Be Magic Valentine Giveaway are:
1st prize $50 gift card: Tara W.
2nd prize $25 gift card: Christinebails
We will be contacting you via email to find out your preferred vendor and send your gift card.

Congrats, and we hope you all had a magical Valentine's Day!


Love Valentine's Day or hate it, we all deserve a special treat, to celebrate the day or just get through it. From February 10th until February 14th at 8:00 p.m., commenters on this post will be automatically entered to win that special something dear to every reader's heart - gift cards for books! We're offering two gift cards to you, our special Valentines, one for $50 and one for $25 to Barnes & Noble or Amazon. (Winner's choice!)

So tell us, Here Be Magic readers and lovers, what is something you enjoy about Valentine's Day? Is it more than just an excuse to eat chocolate?

Whatever it is, we want to hear about it! Three winners will be chosen at random and can go to U.S. residents or international readers.

Sponsored by Carina Press authors Christine Bell, David Bridger, Joely Sue Burkhart, Angela Campbell, Ruth A. Casie, Sharon Cullen, Seleste deLaney, Susan Edwards, PG Forte, Loribelle Hunt, Shona Husk, Jeffe Kennedy, Jane Kindred, Julia Knight, Barbara Longley, Linda Mooney, Janni Nell, Tia Nevitt, Nicole North, Cindy Spencer Pape, Jenny Schwartz, Veronica Scott, Keri Stevens, Eleri Stone, Dee Tenorio, Jody Wallace, and Rebecca York

If you put your email address or Twitter handle in your comment, we can contact you, but we will also announce the winners on the blog and Tweet the winner’s names at 10:00 p.m. on February 14th (our twitter handle is @herebemagic if you want to follow along).

The winners will have three days to collect their prizes. If we do not receive a response, another entrant with a listed email address or Twitter handle will be chosen so that we can contact them directly.

So come tell us, what is the one thing that makes Valentine's Day fun for you?


Wishing you and yours much love and magic,

Here Be Magic Authors

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Horses being silly--for a reason

Posted by: Evey Brett


Next month, my new book, CAPRIOLE, will be out from Loose Id. Hooray! It's M/M and features Lipizzans based on this herd.


(No. No cover yet, sadly. I am anxiously waiting for it...)

Actually, for a much more detailed blog by a professional writer and breeder about using horses in fiction and for horsey worldbuilding ideas, I point you her posts on Book View Cafe. Me, I don't claim to be a horse girl. I never had a horse crazy stage. I rode a horse once in summer camp when I was maybe nine. I still don't know what color a bay or a roan is, though I do know that most "white" horses are actually gray.

And all this comes in handy when writing fantasy or historical, since so much of it includes horses, and horse details are so easy to get wrong even when you think you're right.

For a few ideas, I'll give you some Lipizzans in action.




Want to have a mischievous horse? The pose above is something the gelding started, and this mare, Tia, learned. A couple of the other mares can do this too. See the hay on the ground? This is where the horses get groomed and saddled, and we give them a bit of hay to keep them occupied. Tia and her buddies like to reach under the fence to get as much hay as they can reach. See the hose? The gelding has figured out if he tugs on it, he can get a mouthful of hay to come out with it.







Ahhh, nothing like a good roll, as Tia and Pandora like to do. Actually, Tia's down for a nap while Pandora is actually rolling, something all the horses like to do for several reasons. It provides a good stretch, it helps with itching, and the dirt helps to keep the flies from being so bothersome. In the summer we hose the horses off to keep them cool (in 100+ degrees, they ask for it,) and they usually go for a roll right afterwards and come up looking like paint ponies.



And here is my horse Carrma, the matriarch of the herd. That's Tia lying down for a snooze. She slept for about forty-five minutes that day. Horses sleep for around four hours a day, and while they can sleep standing up as their legs lock into place so they don't fall down, they do like to get the weight off their feet and will lie flat like Tia here (which panicked me the first time I saw it, because I thought the horse was sick or something.)




Or the horses will sleep curled up like Pandora is. And they don't often do it in front of humans unless they're totally comfortable. We had eight humans with the herd that day, and three horses decided to take a nap all at once, which means the horses really trusted us.

No, that image is not digitally enhanced to add the tongue. Camilla really is sticking her tongue out. It's a way for the horses to relax. Yawning doesn't mean they're tired--it means they're relaxed and releasing tension much the same way humans do. And if you see a horse lick and chew, it means they're happy.


Anyhoo. That's probably more than enough horse picture spam for today. If you have any horse questions, holler, and if I don't know I probably know who would.

All pictures copyright Evey Brett. Thanks. :>)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flowers of Ancient Egypt

Posted by: Veronica Scott

One of the most poignant things I ever read was an account of a small bouquet of flowers found by archaeologists on the floor in the outer chambers of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb. The romance writer in me always thinks about the poor woman mourning her beloved, leaving a last offering of wildflowers to accompany him into the afterlife, just before the tomb was sealed forever. What happened to her next?
We’ll never know…unless I write that story someday perhaps! Flowers don’t figure much in my book Priestess of the Nile, but they do appear in some of the other works in progress in the overall connected series. The Egyptians often wore flower garlands in life and in death or emulated them in precious stones such as coral and turquoise. King Tut’s mummy wore this floral collar:


And here’s another example, made with cornflowers, which has miraculously held its color for over 3000 years.
The Egyptians loved flowers, with the blue lotus of course being the most well known. A form of water lily, the lotus had its own feast day. People would sing songs to the flower and then walk to the Nile, holding a silver bowl shaped like a lotus, candle burning in the center. You made a wish and put your bowl in the river and if the candle continued to float and burn, you’d get your heart’s desire in the coming year.
It was said that a god or goddess was present if the lotus perfume was especially strong in the air. Many tomb paintings depict the human holding a lotus, to attract the gods, win their favor and thus make the person’s journey to the Afterlife smoother. Since water lilies open in the morning and close again at night, the Egyptians quite logically took the lotus as a symbol of rebirth and regeneration in the Afterlife.
A second plant of high importance to the Egyptians was the papyrus. Symbol of fertility and life itself, because of the way it grew in tremendous thickets along the Nile, the papyrus and its flowers was the most commonly used decorative element in the stylized architecture and other objects. The papyrus was the symbol for Lower Egypt, beginning around 2600 BC – almost 5000 years ago – as the civilization became complex, the first “step” pyramid was built and many of the governing structures of Egyptian life were established.
Around the time my book takes place, in 1500 BC, the Egyptians had begun depicting the lotus wrapped around the papyrus in their art. When papyrus was depicted with the lotus – symbol of Upper Egypt – the message was the unification of the two lands, under one Pharaoh.
The people of Ancient Egypt weren’t so different from you and me…and an appreciation of flowers as a romantic or symbolic gesture is one thing we definitely share! What’s your favorite flower to give or receive?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

10 Realities You'll Never See in a Romance Novel

Posted by: Marie Harte
Romance is a wonderful thing. Happily ever after, men who have sculpted chests and never gain weight, women who have perfect looks and lament their hourglass figures, and billionaires who father secret babies and happen to be sheiks on the side. And let’s not forget my personal favorite, supernatural hotties.

Look, I'm a rabid romance fan, but I can poke a little fun. I'm a huge reader as well as a writer, and I read romance because I love the happy endings the books guarantee. But hey, let's be honest. It's fiction, and to resolve the HEA (happily ever after), a few realities are often skirted in the telling of a good tale. But how funny would it be to read a “real” romance?

Here are a few realities I’d love to see in a romance novel, while knowing if I did read them, I’d laugh myself silly or most likely fail to finish the book. Still, the possibilities abound…

1. Heroes and heroines eating gourmet dishes with broccoli, pepper, or those other tricky foods that remain behind between teeth long after they’ve been consumed. Makes kissing someone with a big green thing that looks like it came from Mars between their teeth not quite so romantic.

2. The happy couple that goes for exotic food and never has gastric problems afterward. “Honey, what is that perfume you’re wearing?” “Oh, I like to call it eau de gas.”

3. Studly, well-groomed heroes who never scratch their asses or adjust themselves in public. Trust me, I was in a job surrounded by men. They ALL at one time or another itch that inappropriate place. As I’ve been told by my six year old when asked why he was messing with a particular area, “Because it’s sticking to me, Mom.” Yep. Apparently they stick.

4. The sick heroine who cries at that pivotal moment and looks beautiful while doing so. No snot, no blotchy skin, no red eyes. Just beautiful misery. Love it.

5. Heroines with natural size-D breasts, 24-inch waists, and 5 % body fat. Huh? Barbie ain’t real. It’s a fact her dimension are off.

6. Bachelor pads that might be dusty or messy, but that’s the extent of it. No mention of mold growing in a bathroom or bedrooms that smell like ass. (And you know, women can be messy too.)

7. Hot, passionate sex in the Amazon after the hero and heroine have gone days without bathing or shaving. Yeah, that’s sexy. Not

8. Historical romances where the heroine is over the age of twenty-six and has no odd facial hair. Not a whisker, lady ‘stache, or uni-brow in sight. Unless she’s a witch of course. Then it’s all, “Burn her at the stake!”

9. A hero who has an average sized penis. It’s always got to be monstrous, huge, thick, engorged, or just big. I’d love to read a book where the guy is average. Where six inches really does equal six inches. Art can imitate life… unless you’re living in an XX movie or a Marie Harte romance. (Haha)

10. Lastly, I just love when the hero gets the heroine an engagement ring on a passionate whim and it automatically fits. Or better yet, he buys her lingerie and estimates her size. “Er, yeah, saleslady.” He holds out his hands. “She’s this big.” Bingo! Here’s a guy who should definitely play the lottery.

What tropes do you wonder about when you read? I’m curious because I know I’ve missed some. And I just think a romance book that had all of the above would be more than comical. It would be a reality.But that’s just not something I want to plunk down my hard earned money to read. Still, it would make a terrific comedy.

Marie
Proud romance writer :)
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