Monday, 29 December 2008

And Our Own Worst Enemy Is...


Recently a new group formed to combat e book piracy. I joined a few days ago and began reading through posts.

On the surface it seemed like a wonderful effort. And it still could be. However, I don't see that happening. I'd expected to see a group working together and setting goals, taking first steps to make the problem of piracy known on a more intimate level to authors and readers. To educate the public about the legalities and explain why sharing e books is just plain wrong.

Unfortunately, that's not happening.

I've only been in this business a couple of years and to some I'm still considered a newbie. I suppose there are those out there who will always look down on me like the red-headed step child, and that's fine. I may not be knowledgeable about everything that goes on in e pub land, but I am at least knowledgeable enough to know that thwarting every suggestion and wallowing in past failures is not going to fix the problem of piracy.

It doesn't make any difference if you are a publisher or an author, whether you have a hundred books out there or one, each of us has a stake in this. But for some odd reason, this group fails to see that.

At first I thought it was just growing pains. That the group was just trying to find its way. Not so. This group vehemently opposes anything that is positive. Opposes any thing that is suggested. I watched a few posters, myself included, make suggestions, voice their opinion in support of something, just to be "shouted down".

It made no sense. I finally stopped posting and set to digest. I know of one other member who simply unsubscribed.

In order for us to make a dent in e book piracy we're going to have to come together. I don't see it happening with any new organization for sure. Maybe through EPIC. Oh, they even argued about which "writer's organizations" were the best. I'm still WOWED by it. At any rate, I don't see anything happening with piracy until authors come down off their high horses and realize that there are more than just a few of us out there. And that some of us are even willing to put a little effort into it.

Any organization that fights e piracy must have a large umbrella and welcome all authors to come under its protection. Which organization will that be? Well, it will end up being the one whose pockets are hit. Maybe these organizations should stop spending our money on these huge once a year parties and start doing something that actually benefits an author. Will they? No.

Do I have a defeatist attitude? Well, I didn't until I joined that group. But now I guess I do. If you want all your hopes and dreams to go up in flames, if you want to see nothing but doom and gloom for the future of e books. Then join this new group. Trust me, they bring new meaning to the term negativity.

Will I post the link to join? Nope. I'm doing you a favor.

Monday, 22 December 2008

New Line

I'm just taking the opportunity to announce a new line with Freya's Bower, for all of you who are interested in short, quick gratification reads that won't cost you many pennies. Each short tale links in with its last, so you'll get to follow the journey of the main characters as the books progress.
Warning! These tales are hot. Coming very soon.
Pardon the pun.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Bah Humbug!

Though it took around five hours, the final bits of Christmas shopping wasn’t too bad yesterday. The crowds and queues weren’t as heavy as in previous years, and people seemed less frantic, moody. Maybe the credit crunch has something to do with that. Mind you, we went to the next town over. We still have a couple of small bits to do today in our own town, so I suspect that trip will be a different matter entirely, as a lot of people live here, but there are fewer shops.

I’m not particularly looking forward to the supermarket part. Frustrating that I only need a couple of things in there—boring stuff like bread and cat litter (never tried a cat litter sandwich? Really? You must!)—and the queues will, I suspect, be ridiculous. Ridiculous, as in, if you have frozen food in your trolley/cart, it’ll be defrosted by the time you place it on the conveyor belt.

The Christmas spirit hasn’t hit me yet. I kind of forgot Christmas was next week anyway, so when one of my kids mentioned last week that there were only 9 days to go, I shit myself a little. Still, no worries, I use good washing powder.

Please excuse my humour. It usually revolves around the toilet.

Anyway, I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, that the kids are older, that Christmas just isn’t the same, or whether the hype has got to ridiculous levels the past few years, where all it seems to be about is how much money you’ve spent on each person, what you bought, and how good it makes you look. A shame if that’s the case, isn’t it?

I remember as a kid not getting silly amounts of presents that cost the earth, yet it seemed more magical back then, more exciting. Then again, I’m basing those thoughts on being a child, and to a child Christmas is exciting no matter what gifts you receive. Or so I’d like to think.

I’m writing this with a hair dye on, hoping the grey actually gets covered this time around. And, I wonder, when will I give in and go natural? Maybe when I’m 60 or so? Will Christmas be even more tedious by then?

Yes, very Bah Humbug, me.

Let’s hope the spirit reaches me by next week! Any tips on how to get it? Or are there any shops that sell it in a bottle that I've yet to hear about?


Thursday, 18 December 2008

Is This Really a Political Controversy?

I'm watching CNN and one of the CNN commercials is about what is coming up. And damned if it wasn't controversy over whom Obama had chosen to deliver the inaugural invocation. It seems Pastor Rick Warren is not popular amongst the proponents of gay marriage or the proponents of abortion.

Personally I am FOR gay marriage and abortion.

It needs to be said that some factions in this country still just don't get it. Obama did not run for President as a black man. He didn't run for President as a liberal or conservative. He didn't run for President as anti this, anti that. Pro this, pro that. He ran as an American who wanted to give all he has to this country. To find solutions to the problems we are facing.

The world is energized by this President-Elect. Our country is hopeful because of this President-Elect. Obama's cabinet picks aren't about political right, left, or middle of the road. They're about getting the job done. It's about embracing all opinions, seeking out those on both sides of the aisle. The one single message Obama constantly hammered away at during his campaign was INCLUSION. He's not leaving anyone out, as evidenced by a Republican cabinet pick just yesterday for Secretary of Transportation.

It's been years since I attended a presidential inauguration, and I would love to attend this one. Unfortunately, I won't get that chance. However, I will be watching this man, our hope for the future of all Americans as he lays his hand on the Bible and swears his oath of service. And when I hear the invocation delivered by Pastor Warren, I won't hear his personal political views, or worry about his presence influencing law. Instead, I'll hear a man ask God to give our newly elected President Obama the strength to meet the challenges he faces and for our country to have the patience it takes to see those challenges met with success.

God bless President-Elect Obama.
God bless America and all those countless Americans with their many and varied opinions. Without them, our country would not stand.

Monday, 15 December 2008

e-Readers and their Evil Price Tags

by Faith Bicknell-Brown

I hate e-books!

I hate reading at my computer!

I want a print book in my hands if I’m going to read a book!

e-Books will never catch on!

Grr! Such comments irk me to no end, but part of the reason that readers have the above opinions is due to the price of electronic readers. What normal Joe can buy an e-reader at the current prices?

As publishing changes, so do the formats of books. Over the years, publishers have gone from the smeared ink of typesetting the old-fashioned leather-bound volumes to tiny print, giant print, mass-market paperbacks, trade paperbacks, audio books, and now the e-book.

The trouble is that people are creatures of habit—ones who guard their purse strings and credit cards with a vengeance. Ones who make ticked-off Pit Bull Terriers seem like Care Bears. Well, they should, especially in today’s economy crunch.

I want an e-reader, but I also want a nice one, one that will last for several years. If I’m going to plunk down good money, then it better be worth the exorbitant price tag. I’m an editor and an author, so I spend too many hours in front of a pc monitor or with my laptop. The last thing I want to read an e-book on is my Palm Pilot with its 2-inch screen. By the time I finish one paragraph of an e-novel, my eyes are crossing and my head starts pounding. And for those of you who read e-books in this manner, I commend you; you obviously eat tons of carrots.

Other than people hollering about wanting a print book in their hands when they read, the other huge complaint I hear about e-books is the price of the gadgets used to read them. I have to concur with this complaint. I’ve been saving for one for quite some time now. I’m at the halfway point to buy one, but the other day a different model caught my eye. However, I nearly choked to death on my coffee when I noticed the price tag; one to the tune of $599.00.

Most of us work for a living and have two or more children to support. Many people are on fixed incomes. And those of us who do live above the average American income often have bills out the wazoo. The one thing I hear the most from readers who are also authors is this: I would love to own an e-reader, but I can’t afford one.

So where do manufacturers get off attaching price tags to electronics that would make a hooker flinch?

Well, I guess everything is expensive nowadays, but if the price of electronic readers would come down so that they’re affordable—and I’m talking the ones of quality that are worth slapping money down for—then the e-book industry would see a serious boom in profits. Going green is of the utmost importance, and many avid readers are running out of room for print editions anyway. I have books boxed in the upstairs cubbyhole because I don’t have room for them in my home; I ran out of shelf space a long time ago. Even my husband, who’s not much of a reader, says that in the next ten to fifteen years, a hardback will only be accessible in a library, e-books will be the only books, and the best-selling titles will be the only novels available as trade paperbacks.

Sure, there are those who will argue with this view, but I agree with my husband. He might not be a big reader, but he pays attention to advertisements in publishing, listens to what I have to say about my work, and watches the electronics industry. Changes are coming. Technology moves at lightning speed, and we’re oblivious to just how fast it moves until we’re faced with something new and unexpected.

Honey? Where’s the ON button on this thing?

Oh, for God’s sake. Click the big, glowing blue thing, would you?

So, how do you buy a quality e-reader if you have bills out the hoohaw, kids constantly in need of everything, or live on a fixed income?

A change jar.

A Christmas club.

A rainy day sock under the mattress.

Yeah, sounds too easy and stupid, doesn’t it? Well, it works. Every coin or greenback I find in the wash goes into my rainy day fund. When I empty my purse of change and dump out the contents in its bottom, all the coins go into that fund. If I find a stray dollar in my coat pocket, it goes in there too. When relatives ask what I want for my birthday, anniversary, or Christmas, I ask them to donate to whatever I’m saving up for. Many of my author/editor royalty checks go into that fund too.

The key, however, is not to spend that fund on anything else! No, don’t dip into it to buy Aunt DiDi a wedding present for her fifth marriage (besides, that dude’s wiggy looking and he picks his nose). No, don’t succumb to those nifty, sparkly 4-inch heels in the store window that you know you won’t wear (and don’t even look at the rhinestone bullwhip that comes with them!). And if you’re a guy, leave the heated camouflage tushy cushion for your tree stand at the sportsmen’s store. If your butt’s that cold, then stuff some of those newfangled heated rocks in your underwear (they’re much cheaper anyway).

And there’s always Tax Refund Season. Why not treat yourself to one nice thing such as that e-reader you’ve been salivating for?

I may have to go with my second choice soon (my eyes are tired), but determination and hiding my rainy day fund from my kids has worked wonders!

So what are my top choices?

#1 is the iRex Iliad. This puppy sells to the tune of $599.00 for the base book model; this is the one I mentioned earlier that had me choking. One thing that really convinces me on this model is that I can write on it; it comes with a stylus and a nice program to convert my stories, thoughts, ideas, etc.

#2 is the Astak reader. Note: it’s not available yet in all models. I’d like the larger version for this gal’s eyes, but the large-screened reader isn’t due to hit the market until February of 09. It has a ton of cool features such as MP3s, touch screen, and easy battery replacement. The price of this one starts at $300.00.

Then #3 is the Sony e-Reader. You can find this at the Sony site or, but if you go to you’ll find many mixed reviews. I’m not saying I wouldn’t accept one of these if it was given to me, and I may buy one if I can’t buy one of the above two models, but the consensus is that the first version is better than the latest model. And the price? You’re looking at $399.00 for this baby. However, if you go through a different retailer, you might be able to get it a few bucks cheaper, but don’t forget that the consumer always gets socked with a lovely shipping charge.

This brings me to the Kindle from I’ve heard many people talk about the Kindle. Those who have one like them for the most part. However, to me, it’s one of the ugliest gadgets I’ve ever seen. And the price isn’t that great either to the tune of $359.00, not to mention the long waiting list. However, I’ve been told that a fee is employed in order to access blogs and newspapers with a Kindle. I haven’t verified this, though.

If you’re a writer, imagine what would happen if quality e-readers were made affordable. Oh, the implications! The royalty checks! e-Publishers would smile from ear to ear!

But the price of quality? Ouch!

So, start saving! I have!

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Friday, 12 December 2008

Aubergines © M.E. Ellis

Aubergines © M.E. Ellis

Our Mam loves aubergines. She’s bought them ever since I was a kid. I remember the first time I saw one. Thought it was a pear—a different variety to our usual Conference—albeit purple with a big ol’ belly. I liken food to people or their body parts. See human traits in many a Golden Delicious, a Jaffa. Mam reckons I’m an odd soul. She said so, see?

“You’re an odd soul, our David.” She bustled over to the kitchen counter, transparent bag of aubergines in one hand, six-pint flagon of milk in the other. Placing them down beside the kettle, she turned back to face me. “What do I resemble, then?”

I regarded her. The way she appeared, she reminded me of a raisin. You know, all wrinkled and dried out. Only I couldn’t tell her that. Mam’s always been vain. Couple that trait with a fiery temper and her tendency to be outspoken, and you’d understand why I answered as I did. “A peach.”

Mam’s brow furrowed, her lips pursed, and red splotches sprung up on her cheeks. “What, so you mean to say my face is covered in fuzz, David?” She passed her palm over her chin. “Have I got a beard or moustache growing? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

I swallowed. Heat bloomed on my cheeks. “No, Mam! I meant your complexion is like a peach, you know, the colour. And your skin is soft.”

Her lips morphed from their pursed state to a slack pair of lines. Spittle dribbled from one corner. “That’s all right then,” she said and cuffed the drool. She turned and busied herself, to make our cups of tea. “Want one?”

“Yes, please,” I said and tried to think of something else to say. Something that would relax her shoulders. “What do you think I resemble?”

Mam sighed, placed tea bags into two cups, added sugar. “A great big cauliflower,” she said.

“A what?” Confused, I glanced skywards, as if looking at the artex on the ceiling would answer my silent questions. Why a cauliflower?

“You heard me. A great big cauliflower. The florets remind me of your skin, all puckered. And the size of a cauliflower compared to the peach that I am, is immense. You do understand what I’m trying to say, don’t you, David?”

Hurt ran amok, skittered through my body on spiders’ legs. That she of all people would become like them, those people out in the street, who mocked me. “You’re saying I’m fat?”

Mam sloshed boiling water into our cups, jabbed a teaspoon into each one, and squeezed the teabags against the sides. “I’m saying that maybe, if you ate more fruit and vegetables instead of burgers and fries, you’d be a little slimmer, yes.” She slapped the teabags onto a saucer placed next to the kettle for just that purpose. Steam rose from them and curled into the air. “Why don’t you try a bit of aubergine for your tea?”

I considered it for mere seconds. “No, thanks.”

Mam picked up my cup, brought it over to the small kitchen table, and plonked it down before me. Tea spilled onto the polished wood. “See? You’ve never wanted to try anything different. That’s why you’re still living here at forty-three years old. Life’s passing you by, David, and you don’t even seem to care.”

As Mam walked away, I envisaged her tripping on the curl of the large floor rug. Saw her fling forward and bang her head on the cooker edge. Slump down in an aged, broken heap beside the pine cabinet. I blinked. My gaze rested on the back of her head while she picked up a knife and peeled an aubergine.

“If you weren’t so large, I’d lay you over my knee and tan your arse,” she said, stripping off the vegetable’s skin with jerky movements. “But you’d crush me, wouldn’t you? I’d also make you sit at that table and eat whatever I put in front of you. Instead, I watch you push the food I cook for you around on your plate, knowing you’ll go out an hour later and bring back a take-away. Sit and stuff your blubbery mouth with greasy food cooked by uncaring hands. But that’s all right. Don’t you go worrying about my feelings.”

Mam’s a weird one. If I spoke to her like that she’d clip me round the ear. Yet, there she was, nattering on at me as if she had the right to upset me like that.

It must be difficult for her to have an embarrassment for a son—she’s told me that often enough. Her being slim, still possessing the air of grace she’s always had, the refinement from her youth. And then there’s me, a…well….

As predicted, I left the table after dinner—and no, I didn’t try any aubergine, despite it being on my plate, despite Mam’s glare resting heavily on my bald pate—and strolled to the row of shops on our estate. Good job they’re close to our house, as breathlessness assailed me halfway there, and I had to stop, regulate my breathing. The Min-Wah Chinese take-away and Kibble’s Kebab Shop lured me, and I stood outside on the pavement. The aromas from inside urged my stomach to rumble. What did I fancy? Unable to make up my mind, I chose something from both their menus.

The walk home always seemed quicker than the journey there. Maybe the thought of eating spurred me on, nudged my feet to take longer strides. I reached our street, saliva pooling beneath my tongue in anticipation of the tastes to come. I’d eat, surrounded by the sounds of Mam tsking, the news on high volume, the clock ticking on the wall.

“Each tick lets us know what was once the present is now the past,” Mam said after I’d settled myself down on the couch, a tray balanced on my knees. “That the chance to remedy your unsavoury eating habits, get healthy, make something of yourself, has once again skipped off into the time of ‘I’ll do it one day.’ Every night it’s the same damn thing, our David. And look at you, ketchup from that stinky lamb kebab dribbling down your chin. Really!”

Regardless of her rant, I munched. Ketchup plopped onto my shirtfront. I knew that with each mouthful, my arteries would harder further, my gut would gain another inch, and my heart would gain a more erratic beat.

Mam’s voice droned on in the distance, as if she spoke from the other side of the meadow I imagined myself in. High grasses swished in the breeze, rustled like scrunched paper, whispered: She’s dragging you down, David. Don’t listen. It’s your life to do with what you please….

“It’s my life, Mam.” Startled, I heard the words; didn’t realise I had spoken them out loud.

“Yes, it is your life, David. One I gave you, remember that.”

The sun beat down on my head in that meadow, warmed my face, made me smile.

“Are you smirking at me, David?” Mam asked. The incredulity in her voice jarred my nerves. Kebab finished, I started on the crispy duck. “And as for eating duck. I can’t believe how you can do that when we’ve visited the ducks on the lake ever since you were small. We’ll visit them tomorrow, it being Sunday, and as you toss bits of bread to the mallards, one of their kin will still reside in your overblown gut. Have you no shame, David?”

She’s annoying, isn’t she, David? The grass, the grass whispered that.

“You’re annoying, Mam.”

She stood from her chair on the other side of the meadow, strode over to me, and snatched away my food tray. Pain barked in my head, the tray’s contact sudden, unexpected. The polystyrene kebab container bounced onto my shoulder before coming to rest beside me on the couch. Extra plain noodles became the hair I’d lost many years ago. The duck’s carcass sat on my lap. Plum sauce soaked through my trousers, burned the skin on my thighs.

Conscious thought fled. My body rose from its previous sitting position before I knew it, the duck crammed into Mam’s mouth, wedged in by my meaty palm.

The long grass whispered: Yeeeessss, let her taste it, David.

Monday, 8 December 2008


Maxine Pictures, Images and Photos

Time: 10:00 a.m.
Characters: My Sis and Me

So we rolled up into the mall parking lot at the stroke of ten, dreading the onslaught of holiday shoppers. "It's a dirty job," my Sis said to me, "but someone's got to do it." And so began our foray into the midst of snotty-nosed kids, frazzled parents with depleted bank accounts, rude sales clerks, long lines at the cash registers, and just generally clueless individuals who don't know how to act in public.

Before we left home, the rest of the family and some of the neighbors placed bets on who would lose their temper first, me or Sis, with both of us vowing not to be the first to blow. Another dirty job, but someone would have to do it.

We entered through the JC Penny's doors and melted into the crush. Now I'm not a fan of Penny's in general, but Sis is, and besides they were supposedly having a big "Door Buster" sale (yeah, right).She insisted on buying a few things for my little boy so we took off to the men's dept. Yep, he is a big boy. Tall, very husky.

Anyway, we're holding up various shirts and judging them for size and each time I'd take the shirt and look at the label and discard it. She'd say, "But I liked that shirt." To which I'd reply, "Oh, hell no. Not buying a damn thing made in freaking Pakistan." She rolled her eyes. By the time the day was finished, I was surprised they hadn't rolled right out of their sockets.

We continued to search and eliminate several South American countries due to the drug trafficking problems and finally land on good ole China. Well, what the hell, we haven't had to kill anyone over there yet. We idle up to the register and stand there for two or three minutes to find the line formed back at lingerie. So what did I say? "Oh, hell no."

Now to some of you, it might seem as though I had already lost the bet. Nope, that is just considered general disgruntlement. Trust me, it ain't even a fizz.

Next stop, Jimmy Jazzy's. My boy specifically requested a pair of jeans from there. I walked in and realized we were in a hip hop fashion store. My Sis is shaking her head and rolling those eyes. Damn, I looked across the floor expecting to chase those big blue balls across the white tile, but so far, they were still intact.

Every pair of jeans I picked up, got a "Oh hell, no" from Sis. I looked upward, "Give me strength." I had a choice, please the kid, or alienate Sis. I chose Sis. Sorry Little Man, but hip hop is not going to be part of your post-Christmas fashion show when you return to school after the holidays. Secretly, I was happy with my decision, but I planned to blame it on Sis.

From there we meandered the corridor toward the mall hub, dodging strollers, teenagers, and people who think the center of the aisle is a rest stop. By now I'm thirsty and in desperate need of a diet coke. I yell across to my Sis who just dodged a couple who thought it was ok, to stop and smooch, "Let's get something to drink." She nods and we head to the cookie kiosk.

As soon as we belly up to the counter, a little girl, about five years old, cute as a button, pushes Sis and me to the side. What the hell? I looked down at her and over at her mom, who was beaming at her daughter's initiative. SCREW THAT!I was here first. So I caught the eye of the cookie clerk and quickly ordered a drink for Sis and me, to which the little girl cries out, "Hey, that's not fair." To which I countered with, "That's life." She began to stomp her feet and her mummy pulled her away from my reach. Yep, mom may not have a handle on that kid, but she knew better than to mess with a woman who had the phrase, "piss off, kid" perched on the tip of her tongue.

Sis told me she would find us a bench by the fountain and save me a seat. I waited for the drinks and found her. Awww, it felt so good to sit down. I wore flats, but my back was still killing me. My Sis was in agony too, and pulled out the Tylenol from her purse and we both popped 2K mgs each. Yep, bigger dose than what we should have taken, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We sat for a while and recuperated from the morning assault. It was now shortly after high noon. I could see the little girl across the way, scarfing down her purple iced cupcake and giving me the evil eye. I narrowed my eyes and crinkled up my nose. She did a one eighty and held tight to her mom's leg. All that purple icing just covered mom's khaki pants. I suddenly got a second wind, payback can do that to a person.

Back to high footing it for Christmas bounty, we hit the American Eagle store. Oh,it was so cool inside there. Everywhere else had been a roasting pit. Three of the four registers were open, the store was playing some ass kickin' music, and the clientele seemed to be enjoying the experience. I was encouraged.

Now we all know that all clothes are pretty much equal. You pay for the brand names out the ying yang though. So I sift through the racks and find a few things I like, just to discover the AE Brand is not emblazoned on the garment for all to see. "Oh, hell no," I said to Sis. "What," she asks. I placed my hand on my hip and waved the shirt in front of her. "If I'm going to pay for a brand name, then I want everyone to see the damn brand, otherwise, why buy it?" She agreed. We finally found a few things, and then got stuck in line.

A woman in front of us had her three children with her who were picking out their Christmas presents to make sure they would all fit and then they went under the tree. Smart mom, she cut out the after Christmas exchange stop. But for me, I'll just stick to that look of surprise on Christmas morning.

Anyway, mom checks out. Sis and I are chomping at the bits for her to move on, and then her daughter runs up and slaps another shirt on the counter. Check out girl rings her up again, and then realizes she failed to ask mom if she wanted to apply for an AE credit card and get ten percent off. Then mom of course squeaks, "What about the two hundred I just spent?" Here we go. The other lines are even longer than the one we are in, so Sis and I exchange a look and settle in.

Now onto Aeropostle, and then to Belks and Macy's. It's three p.m. now, and we are both ready to get the hell out of dodge and have that long lunch we promised ourselves. We are on the opposite end of the mall from where we parked, so the long trek began.

Just after we passed the hub, a woman from one the kiosks jumps out at me with a tube of hand cream and asks if I'd like to try it. I'm a sucker for hand lotion and thought ok. With no intention of purchasing, of course. We stop, both Sis and me happy to be on our way out instead of in, our mood on the upswing for sure.

So I rub on the lotion, tell the sales woman how much I like it, thank her and take a step forward. The crazy woman grabbed my hand and pulled me back. Of course, I thought it was a take-down and grabbed my purse. Don't mess with a paranoid southern gal. It's dangerous.

I soon realized there was more to her little show 'n tell. Oh God, what have I done? Patience, patience. So not to be rude I went through the whole hand washing thing with dead sea salt straight from Israel and had her squirt me with the water and the whole nine yards. All the while she is talking a mile a minute in an accent so thick I understood maybe one word out of ten. But, I did understand $69.95 per jar. "Oh, hell no." I exclaimed. She said, "No worry, sale today, just for you." For me???? ROFLMAO.

BOGO! Now usually, I'm all for buy one get one free, but it's got to be something a bit more practical than salt from a desert. Sorry. I thanked the woman and TRIED to walk away. The woman grabbed my arm. My Sis walked down the corridor a ways so she wouldn't be in the line of fire, of course. Yep, you guessed it. I lost the bet. I owe Marshall across the street ten bucks, Mrs.Evans, two doors down, five and the crab apples from my tree come late spring. My Sis gets a deuce and my little boy a homemade pot of chilli, his fave. My 17 year old gets unlimited texting on her cell now.

God I needed a drink. Not to worry, I'm winding up the shopping saga. lol We load up our shopping bags and head to Chilli's. I love their margaritas, so we request the bar and order two specialty margs on the rocks, and buffalo bites with fries.

To make a long story short, we had three of those margs each, at seven bucks each. They were indeed delicious, and in case you don't know, not the average size drink We flipped for who was driving. I lost. Again. And, of course, I woke up at midnight that night with my head throbbing like hell.

We got the hell out of the city proper without injury to anyone, me at the helm, feeling quite satisfied that we had set our goals and met them. It's going to be a good Christmas. I truly needed one.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Free Reads

I’m doing a bit of pimping. However, it involves no purchasing on your part. Yup, good old free reads are coming to Freya’s Bower and Wild Child Publishing as Christmas presents from us and the authors to you, the readers. They should be up on the sites very soon, so, enjoy your free reads!

Animal Control Officer Rebecah Pearsall hates working the night shift, especially in the run-up to Christmas. With a full moon rising over Seattle, even more crazy people than usual roaming the streets, and an on-off romance with her boss to contend with, Rebecah just doesn’t need any more complications.

But an encounter behind the local pizzeria with the strangest dog she’s ever seen brings Gabe into her life, and he’s not your run-of-the-mill, black-leather-clad hottie. The question is, what does he want with Rebecah?

What connects an Animal Control Officer, a hound with bright red ears, and an elf dressed in black leathers? Rebecah Pearsall is about to find out, and it has nothing to do with Santa’s workshop.

This Christmas, Rebecah has to make a choice that shouldn’t even exist. Trouble is, it could be the most important decision of her life.

All Evelyn Kent wanted was the perfect Christmas tree. All Arjun wanted was someone who could love him, despite his true identity. Together, this Christmas will be one they’ll never forget.

It’s Christmas in the Scottish Highlands, but Andy, an employee of the Glenmuir Estate, is feeling far from festive. What is the connection between him and Nicky Glennister, the young laird of Glenmuir, and what of the strange creature that legend says roams the land?

Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year, a time for honoring many different holiday traditions. For vampires, observing the day when the sun shines the least is a sacred event.

Merideth’s girlfriend Erin has invited her to honor this occasion at her apartment. Sneaking away from her duties at Clan Gladius, Merideth finds a warm and passionate embrace awaiting her to distract her from her woes. But with so much on their minds, how will Erin and Merideth spend their longest night together?

Somewhere in Asia, God help him if he ever tried to go back there again, Jonathan Daily had found the love of his life. Afraid that taking his beautiful lover home to England might not be such a good thing for him, Jonathan accepted a position as a teacher in the school attached to the British Embassy in Beijing. They've settled in. Life is good, but with Christmas coming they might find the only thing worse than mortal in-laws could be elemental in-laws that can never really approve….

For the past few years, Bill has struggled with the loss of his life partner, Kevin, and his attraction to Kevin's twin, Trevor. Is it Trevor he really wants, or does he just want his life back? Two days before Christmas, when Trevor appears at his door, he knows it's time to finally decide if he can live again.

It may just be the worst Christmas vacation spot he’s ever seen, but a tiny cabin right at the edge of the Catskills is going to change Ryan’s life forever.

He and his partner Devon—tied down by work and family commitments—have just a few short days to themselves, but it seems Devon’s got something on his mind. Can Ryan thaw out enough to find out what, or is it going to be a winter of discontent?

Sometimes all it takes to bring two people together is a cat and some Christmas cheer.

Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year, a time for honoring many different holiday traditions. For vampires, observing the day when the sun shines the least is a sacred event.

Finding Jesse, Amanda's lover and Sire, the right gift for the Winter Solstice brings her great frustration this holiday season. A treasured memory provides the ideal solution to her predicament. Despite all that has changed in her life, can she uncover a way to show him how much she cares?

Cassie is trapped in an abusive marriage with her young son, Damien. Cassie realises she’s had enough. She walks out and finds herself in the local park, where she meets a man struggling to come to terms with something in his own life.

But where did the demon come from? And how did the summoner make it appear? Cassie must determine whether she believes an incredulous tale and if she can up sticks and move abroad.

Upon arrival in France with her new man, Zeb, and her son, Damien, Cassie encounters the bizarre employees in Castle Karbidon and wonders if she’s stumbled onto Narnia. When she agrees to attending a party, nothing prepares her for what she is about to endure. The ballroom morphs into a forest glade, and a frightening guest arrives. But is Damien safe with the sitter?

Monday, 1 December 2008

Break Out the Eggnog!

big girl panties Pictures, Images and Photos

Jokes for the holiday season.

Why There is an Angel on Top of the Christmas Tree

One year Santa was having a very bad day. His wife didn’t give him any, he had a hangover from the night before, none of the elves were on schedule, the kids were all bitching and whining and unappreciative. He went to have a drink, but all the liquor was gone. Everyone demanded that he do something. The house was a mess and he stubbed his toe on a broken toy and so he started to cuss. He was really pissed off. Just then the doorbell rang and it was an Angel with a beautiful new Christmas tree. Upon seeing Santa she asked, "Where should I put this Santa?"

The Male POV on Christmas

In all my years, there is one thing I’ve learned about the Christmas holidays.

Little Johnny, Such a Blasphemous Lad

Little Johnny planned on getting lots of presents for Christmas. He knew that God had a connection to the North Pole, so he stood up and started to pray.
"God, i have been a child of perfection this year. I think i should get lots of preasents... no that won’t work."
He got on his knees.
"God, I haven’t been the best child since last December. I still deserve lots of presents for my efforts... no that can’t work either!"
He laid face flat on the floor.
"God, I have been a complete devil this year. But i can change, I promise! No, there's no way he'll believe that!"
As a last resort, he walked over to the manger scene where Jesus
was born in the stable that his mother had placed on a table.
Little Johnny reached in and pulled out the virgin Mary. He went into his room, wrapped Mary in a sock, and placed her in his drawer.
"God, if you ever want to see Mary again...."