Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Debutant Ball!

Small Deceptions is going to a d├ębutante ball!

Francesca Kennington loves to study. Her mother has other ideas--mostly involving Francesca and a speedy marriage to a very rich, titled man.
Then Francesca meets someone who shares many of the same values she shares. He just isn't rich enough for her mother. That's when the deceptions start to fly. Francesca and her sweetheart must find a way to marry for love instead of money and still keep peace with Lady Kennington.

"I have to tell you how much I enjoyed Small Deceptions. I hunkered down with it for two days and devoured it. I would like a Daniel Stirling, please?"  Jeri Crews
Pick up your luscious copy of H. Linn Murphy's Small Deceptions and read sample chapters here. For a signed copy, go the sidebar and click on the cart button.
And now for the contest:
Look for my questions and hints to start on the 23rd of December. Buying my book gets you 25 points. The clue winner each day gets 10 points. Doing a review of my book on Amazon or Goodreads gets you 20 points. Following this blog gets you a point. Every shout-out you send out on Facebook and/or Twitter gets 1 point per shout-out per day. The more posts, the more points you win. Please let me know what you've done or provide clue answers in comments to this post. The contest ends on December 30 and prizes are awarded on January 2.

The candles of the chandeliers flutter in the ballroom with the swish of passing silks and satins. The room is ablaze with light, reflected in the faces of the laughing dancers. Music weaves its magical tapestry and sets our toes in motion. We are caught in its threads, gliding to and fro in complex sets. The crush of the crowd makes me glad we have not yet set the yule log a-light. How handsome my partner is in his coat and tails! He guides us flawlessly around the dance floor, his hand firm upon my back. He glances down at me and his face lights with a smile. A frisson of goosebumps goes down my back. There is something strange in his eyes. What is it?

The first clue question for my little contest is this: How did my mission to Mars end? Hint: The title of the post contains the word Red. Have fun!
Second question: Which of Hunter's teachers do I wish I had met? Hint: The title of the post contains a flower.
Third question: How did I end up behind enemy lines? Hint: April post 
Fourth question: What is my favorite flower? Hint: Another July post about a trip holds this answer. 
Fifth question: How much did we spend on buying our van?
Sixth question: Which country do the characters of Summerhouse visit on their vacation?
Want to win more book fun? Please follow the author names and December dates below! Good luck and don't forget to have FUN!
12 Elizabeth Mueller elizabethmueller.blogspot.com
Darkspell looks fantastic. It's going on top of my MUST-READ pile. And my teenagers will probably swipe it as well. I enjoyed my waltz at Elizabeth's, though the crowd was stupendous!
13 Regan Guerra reganguerra.blogspot.com
Regan's world-building was astounding with a whole well-thought out language to boot! What an intriguing book.
I quite enjoyed the Spanish Waltz at Regan's--especially since my partner is dashing in black tails!
14 Melissa Pearl melissapearl.blogspot.com
This set of books is going to be a fun romp! I can just see Gemma and Harrison playing hide 'n' seek through time.
I'm doing the swing at Melissa's lovely ball! I love this dance--especially with a partner who knows what he's doing.
December 15 Claudia Lefeve http://www.claudialefeve.com
I'm greatly looking forward to reading Claudia's Parallel! Go get it for sure!
Ah such wonderful dancing! The lights at Claudia's are truly magical!
16 Joseph Beekman josephsstoriesandtales.blogspot.com
Such deliciously interesting premises! I think I'd be the spider.
The ball at Beekman Hall is a mad crush. I shall soon be in need of a glass of punch! Until then, it's a beautiful waltz with a handsome partner.
17 Pendragon Innmen PendragonWrites.comPendragon's book Fire Gate is captivating and a must-read! I can't wait to put my hands on it and cuddle up next to my video fire with a cup of cocoa.
Pendragon's ball was the smash of the season! The music caught us into a cloud of dizzying laughter and stole our breaths away.
19 Alex J. Cavanaugh alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com
Ah Alex! I love a good SF read! And Serenity tops the list of SF movies. I'm a brown coat to the hilt. I can't wait to read your Cassa series! I'm always trawling for great SF! I'm 4 books into my own SF series (Watchers) but haven't finished polishing them enough for my satisfaction. Glad to meet you!
I greatly enjoyed my dance with this evening's gracious host! He leads with a firm but delicate hand.
20 Gillian Schafer gillianjoy-livingtowrite.blogspot.com

I can't wait to read Guardian! I want to find out why Hannah is the Guardian and what she's guarding against and if she finally gets the guy (at least one). I'm hooked! Go check it out!
I do so love a delightful gallop about the dance floor! Gillian's hall was a fairyland of light and color. I could have danced all night!  21 FiaunaLund formyfour.blogspot.com
Fiauna's mind-reading fairies are catching my fancy! Now I want my own set of wings (though not the little ones I'm trying to give Aislinn). I can't wait to read this book and find out what happens to Avril and Vestyn. Join me in the fairy ring, won't you?Fiauna's ball is held in a folly by a lake. The water reflects the light and fractures it into a million facets. The music sets our toes (and wings) fluttering.
22 Anastasia V. Pergakis labotomyofawriter.com

Anastasia's elves are ever so intriguing! I can't wait to read about them! And fighting elves, no less! I used to beg my mother constantly to tell me fairy stories. She never mentioned the fighting fey, though. This is a twist I liked in Tolkein as well (thanks Legolas!)  Check out this book!
Anastasia's ball was held outside on a dance floor in the forest. The light glitters in the trees and is enfolds the dancers in its glow. The music drifts through the forest and draws the fey folk in to dance with us!

26 Tanya Contois

Now I'm dying to know what a Cambion is. And whether Jocelyn will prevail over Garden (cool name!) and Sin (Another cool name. Do they say Sin or Shin?)
The ball at Tanya's was ethereal and otherworldly. The air was so full of orange blossom that it felt almost as if we were swimming through scent. Heady and utterly exciting!

27 Patti Larsen

Patti's Family Magic looks intriguing! I'm wondering about whether Sydlynn will follow in the family footsteps or make her own way.
This ball was all black tails and white organza. One
red rose provided the only splash of color. How elegant!

28 Red Tash

This Brilliant Darkness has caught my fancy! I can't wait to find out if Christine prevails against Greachin in their fight.

ball was all in scarlets and vermilions and deepest crimsons. It was a masked ball and the dancers flitted eerily in and out of massive onyx columns.

29Annetta Ribken

I can't wait to read
Athena's Promise! I enjoy Greek Mythology anyway, but crunching it in with a modern girl with modern problems, MAGIC!

Annetta's ball was, of course, a toga party. I rocked the toga and the dancing was great fun! I went as Diana.

30 Cindy Hogan

Cindy's Good-bye ball was luscious in its profusion of silks and satins. Such gems winking at the throats and ears of the dancers. Such dashing partners! I danced holes in my shoes and now fall exhausted in a reverie of
magical splendor.

is shaping up to be a delicious offering! I can't wait to find out what kinds of trouble Christy gets into on her trip to DC.

I have so enjoyed my time with my fellow d├ębutantes! I'm looking forward to being great friends with you all! Bon chance!
H. Linn Murphy


Whew! Finally got the blog background to work again. I had to go into the code and add s1600 to the parameters because Picasa changed their code. Glad to have my blog back!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Eclectic Book Catalog

Hey, guys I have a great little catalog for you. It's at:
Check it out! It's got not only my book, but books by several other wonderful authors and is a great place to do Christmas shopping!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Flight to the Nether Lands

I love this song. It never fails to inspire me. I sit here listening to it and find that every hair on the back of my neck is standing straight up.

Just before college I went up to Alaska to fish and work in the canneries to raise money for school. The first year, I went, we had lots of time off because the fishermen were on strike that season. So instead of spending it getting drunk or stoned like the most of my friends, I went climbing.

We climbed in the mountains in back of Kodiak (town) and also the ones in back of our cannery in Uyak Bay. It was so magnificent to see the sparkling bay spread out in front, to taste the bone-chillingly cold snow melt water, and to feel the breeze lift tendrils of sweat-plastered hair as the sun drenched us like warm chicken soup.

One day off as we hiked up behind the cannery, Mike (a friend) and I got between a mama bear and her two cubs. We'd never hiked so fast in our lives (so...no pictures).
By the time we got to the top, we were just blasted. We kicked back in the foot-deep reindeer moss and luxuriated in the fragrant sponginess. Mike had brought his tape deck and I'd given him my Netherlands tape to play.

Just as that song came on, up over the brow of the mountain rose a bald eagle, breathtakingly magnificent in it's majesty. It had almost a five foot wingspan. The breeze riffled its feathers, which were limned by the golden afternoon light. Its keen eye pierced me, as if it could see my thoughts.

Mike and I didn't even want to breathe, let alone move. I was worried that the music would send the bird diving away. On the contrary, the eagle seemed to be listening to the music as it hung suspended about a yard and a half above us on the thermal column.

Finally the song ended; and, too, the eagle seemed to be released from its spellbound state. It slipped over the crest of the mountain and glided spiraling downward into the misty distance.

The moment was one of those perfect moments caught as if in amber, sharp and brilliant. We couldn't speak for several minutes, just taking it all in. I stood up later and spread my arms and it felt almost as if I, too, could spiral down off that cliff top on a handy thermal. Joy radiated through out every sinew of my body. I felt as if I were made of light.

Netherlands distills, for me, a string of those kinds of moments. It was a free time in my life, in which I was at several kinds of crossroads. I had left home and family behind in Oregon and gone (unbeknown to them) up to Alaska to seek my fortune. I was embarking on my college career, exploring dating options, and most of all, examining what I truly believed about God and religion. It was no longer a time to rely on my parents' beliefs and testimonies.

So I really 'got' Dan's crossroads reference. I wanted to fly. I wanted to stretch my wings like that kingly raptor, and feel the sun on my face and the wind in my feathers. This song always makes me want to shut my eyes and raise my arms in flight, as I did so long ago on the peak of that mountain. In fact, I often do.

I offer these images as a morning gift to you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Give Books for Christmas Giveaway Hop

I'm participating in the Give Books for Christmas Giveaway Hop, hosted by Inksplasher.

What's a Give Books for Christmas Giveaway Hop? It's a group of bloggers who are giving away books as prizes!

The hop runs from December 1 through the 15th. All books will be shipped on December 16th. We can't guarantee books will arrive in time for Christmas, but we're going to give it a good try!

At the end of this post, you'll see a long list of the participating blogs. Just click the links and go check out the contests.

I'm offering a book by Anne McCaffrey called The Wings of Pegasus, in honor of her passing.

Deadline to enter: Thursday, December 15, 2011.

To enter to win this book:
  1. Become a follower of my blog (right sidebar)

  2. Leave a comment telling me the title and author of a book you're giving as a Christmas gift this year.

  3. Optional: Facebook to spread the word. (Let me know in the comments what you've done. One extra entry per post.)
That's it! The winner will be posted and notified at the end of the hop.

I'm participating in the Give Books for Christmas Giveaway Hop, hosted by Inksplasher.

What's a Give Books for Christmas Giveaway Hop? It's a group of bloggers who are giving away books as prizes!

The hop runs from December 1 through the 15th. All books will be shipped on December 16th. We can't guarantee books will arrive in time for Christmas, but we're going to give it a good try!

At the end of this post, you'll see a long list of the participating blogs. Just click the links and go check out the contests.

I'm giving away a copy of Anne McCaffrey's The Wings of Pegasus in honor of her passing.

Deadline to enter: Thursday, December 15, 2011.

To enter to win this book:
  1. Become a follower of my blog (right sidebar)

  2. Leave a comment telling me the title and author of a book you're giving as a Christmas gift this year.

  3. Optional: Facebook to spread the word. (Let me know in the comments what you've done. One extra entry per post.)

That's it! The winner will be posted and notified at the end of the hop.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blue Smoke

Last summer my kids and I helped staff at Cub camp. I've been the camp director for both Catalina Council camps and Spanish Trails District camps, but this time I was just a staffer. It was out at the Pima Air and Space Museum.

After the day was over we got to go tour the facility. I've been there before, but not since they added things like my new favorite substance. My old favorite substance used to be Bucky Balls (It's still number two. I mean...those things are handy little critters).

But now they've got Blue Smoke, Frozen Smoke or Aerogel!

As I was looking at the displays, I noticed a chunk of what looked like cloud sitting there in a display case. At first I thought it was some kind of hologram. That was cool. But then I started reading about it, and BANG! New favorite.

Here's why:

By definition, an aerogel is a network of interconnected nanostructures which is at least 50% porous. It is an extremely low density solid matrix material (or foam) in which the liquid part of a gel (most often a silicone/oxygen gel) is replaced by a gas.

In other words, they dessicate the liquid out and fill the gel with air (thus the name aerogel). In fact, in a silicon-based aerogel, it's content is about 99.5% air and .5% silicon. This makes it look like a chunk of cloud Jell-o and feel like styrofoam. Its desiccating qualities can dry out the skin.

An aerogel can hold up to 2,000 to 4,000 times its weight if that weight is added carefully. Otherwise, it's extremely friable, meaning if you poke it too hard, or bend it, the gel (a misnomer as it's actually a solid) will shatter. It does, however, bounce!

They are extremely low in density--usually about 15 times heavier than air. In fact, all the lowest density substances man has yet produced have been aerogels. Some silicate aerogels, at 99.98% air, are only three times heavier than air and can even be lighter than air if the air is evacuated from the matrix.

If you stacked up 150 normal brick-sized bricks of aerogel, they would only weigh as much as a gallon of water. An aerogel statue of David would only weigh about four pounds.

Silicate aerogel is amazing stuff! It is the most commonly-manufactured of the aerogels so far. It's a fantastic thermal insulator (it can provide the same insulation value as fifteen panes of glass), absorbs infrared rays, but it can also allow light through, making it a great thing to use in windows. They used silicate aerogels in the Sojourner Mars rover in 1997 because of their insulation values.

NASA, in its Stardust Spacecraft mission (and others) used aerogels 'doped' with Gadolinium and Terbium to capture hypervelocity particles coming off of the Wild 2 comet. Particles shoot off of the comet at roughly six times the speed of a speeding bullet. As they hit the aerogel, the particles are slowed down and leave a florescent trail, making it easier to spot the tiny sand-sized particles.

Aerogels can be made out of other substances as well as silicon. Carbon aerogel makes a great supercapacitor and is now being used in solar collectors.

Alumina aerogels using aluminum oxide are being used in tandem with other metals as catalysts.

They're testing aerogels for use in insulating jackets and blankets, thermal diving suits, and as drug delivery systems. They're using it to absorb pollutants, and as flexible insulation in buildings--which won't age, mold, or mildew.

And, duh duh duh da...they've combined it with my second favorite substance (carbon nanotubes) to make carbon aerogels--a material so elastic that it might be used in chemical and pressure sensors. Carbon nanotubes can be grown in an aerogel, and they can also be used to strengthen the aerogel itself.

Samuel Stephens Kistler of the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California, created the first aerogel in 1931. He won a bet with his frhere.iend Charles Learned that he could replace the liquid in a gel with gas without making the gel shrink.

So sometime soon we'll be looking out of our aerogel-filled windows as we put on our aerogel-filled jackets. We'll walk out of our aerogel-insulated homes and then the possibilities will be wide open!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Death of a Dragonrider

One of my most favorite authors of all is Anne McCaffrey. I've read rearly everything she ever wrote. Many of my copies are signed editions (unfortunately not to me, but still...SIGNED).

Anne did much to inspire new writers to write. She has co-written scores of books, helping to spawn such delicious writers as Elizabeth Moon, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and Jody-Lynn Nye. I wonder if she was a major influence of Christopher Paolini's?

I love Anne's books because she put families back in space together. Her plots were fresh, imaginative, and interesting. Her world-building was stellar. I could tell she cared deeply about people and relationships. She made me wish I had my own dragon egg on the hatching field. I can just feel the wind in my hair as my dragon's muscles bunch and expand. I can smell the rock her dragons chewed to make flame.

I found myself wishing I could visit Petaybee as well--maybe as a shape-changer, or visit Acorna's worlds. I felt how it might be to be a shell person or a planet pirate.

Anne died November 22nd in her home in Ireland. We'll miss you, Dragonrider!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Smackeral of Psyquake

Here's a smackeral of Psyquake (my W.I.P.) (excerpts of the Declaration of Independence will be in the credits) :
Cai woke up in a close little room, which smelled of stale sweat and fear.
Dread blossomed in his chest like a poisonous flower; the bloom died and the poisonous seeds spread throughout his body. Sec had ways of making people talk. Cai could break the whole agenda wide open with just a few words. If he'd had his hands free, he'd have found something with which to take his life. He worked at his bonds, sawing at the plastic ties, only resulting in making deep bruises in his wrists and ankles.
"I wouldn't do that," a man said as he walked in. "Those restraints are painted with a nerve toxin. If that gets into your bloodstream, you'll talk first, then die."
That wasn't a cheerful thought. Cai needed it to be the other way around. But probably Sec had some way of getting information out of a person even after they died.
"You've made a bit of a mess for us, 3CAI-M-REC."
"What does REC mean?"
"Ah. So you do talk. It means Recycling."
Cai smiled exhaustedly.
"So. Before I take you there, you're going to clue us in on your plans for the future and the whereabouts of your little friends."
The man smiled benignly. "I think you will."
Cai smiled back and launched into speech. "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature, and of Nature's God entitled them, a decent respect of the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold..."
"Stop. What is this rot you're saying?"
"These truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator..."
The interrogator was starting to get steamed, now. "What Creator? You weren't created. No clones here. Wrong dome."
"With certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and..."
"Enough! Where are you getting this rot? And why aren't you answering any of my questions?" He held a device to Cai's head and clicked a button on it. "That should do it."
"The pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,--That whenever..."
"It didn't work! What the...why doesn't your chip at least beep on here?" the Sec agent said under his breath. Then to Cai, "Shut your mouth, prisoner. I can see why you're going straight to Recycling! No more lies!"
"No lies. This information is from a document written for my country almost four hundred years ago."
"Well there you go. That country is gone. That rot you're spouting is dead."
"You sure say 'rot' a lot. The rot is in this system...and in your head, my friend."
"I'm not your friend."
"Clearly. I thought you wanted information. Well I'm giving you information. I'm telling you why we're doing what we're doing."
"I don't need to know why. You're doing it because you've gone insane and you people are homicidal maniacs bent on wrecking our beautiful system."
"Beautiful? No."
The man came up to Cai and stuck him in the arm with a syringe full of something greenish. The creep's eye glinted with amusement as he pushed the plunger to the hilt. "Now you'll talk."
"Sure! I'll talk a lot! You'll be so happy to hear me talk. I'm talking right now, you know. Do you like me talking? I could talk faster. I could even talk in another language. Here we go. Ich spreche mit Dir jetzt. Yo hablo contigo. Lookit that! Three languages! I'm talkin' like a freak! Hey, I could tell you my ABC's. Wanna hear?"
The Sec agent rolled his eyes. "Tell me, where's your base?"
"It blew up. Gone. Bye-bye. A, B, C, D, E..."
"No ABC's."
"I don't think I can talk without using ABC's. Can you? I mean there are grunts. Okay, grunts it is." And then he launched into a series of grunts and other guttural nonsense sounds.
"Where is your base?"
"You should go to Recycle yourself. You're hearing is bad."
The agent made a sour face. "Who is your leader?"
"Leader, leader, following the leader wherever he may go. Ta-rum. Ta-ree..."
"Quiet!" He pushed a call button and when a voice asked what he needed, he told the voice that the prisoner needed transport back to Re-think for a new co-chip."
"Oh GOODY," Cai chortled. "I've been DYING for a new co-chip!"
The voice in the intercom said, "Are you sure he needs a new chip? Sounds like he should go straight to Recycle."
"Tell me about it," the agent answered.
Cai launched into another part of the Declaration of Independence, and continued until the flitter got back to Re-think. He was on his third run-through when the agent opened the doors.
"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms..."
"Quiet! Get out." He yanked Cai out and cuffed him viciously in the head.
Cai sent him a poisonous look and continued even louder as they went in the door. "Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury...oh hi, whats-your-name! Hi! You work here now?"
The receptionist smiled and shot the Sec agent from under the desk. Cai was still spouting words from the Declaration when the others poured from the room in which they'd been hiding.
Larkin ran up to Cai and caught him in a bear hug. "Oh Cai! You're safe!"
"A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act...wait...you look like Larkin. Hi Larkin...no. You're too ugly to be Larkin...where was I? Oh. Which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people..."
Larkin gave him a suspicious look and then said over her shoulder, "Someone find me an antidote to that truth serum Sec use. There's a drug cabinet in the room across the hall." She examined her husband thoroughly. Cai was suffering from a fresh wound on his head, as well as various other cuts and bruises.
"If you were really Larkin, you'd take these things off my wrists and ankles. They're poison-y. But since you can't be her...yeah. Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren...heh...funny word, brethren. Brethren. Sister-en. Mother-en. Father-en..."
If you're at all intrigued or confused about what's going on, read this book when I finally get it out...or comment. I'm happy to explain.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Just a few words on telemarketing.

My son is a telemarketer. He sells phone/Internet service. I say that with mixed feelings, as I pretty much despise telemarketers. They ring a bell in your house and expect you to drop everything and listen to them rant about whatever it is that they're selling, despite what you wanted to do with that time. And they rarely hear the word 'no' in any of it's varied iterations. Sometimes they call multiple times and it's automated. Argh!

My son is earning money to go on a mission for our church, however, and has had a devilish time trying to find a paying job. So I shut one eye and wait for his incredible stories.

Telemarketers would be the bane of my existence if they weren't so much fun to tease. I enjoy making them cry with frustration--especially guys. Amazingly, they don't call here much anymore, which is good, since I work from home and despise distractions.

One day I got a call from the newspaper (the Tucson Citizen). This is basically how the conversation went (I'm speaking in my best imitation of a Pakistani accent):

TC: Good morning.
Me: Is it?
TC: Uh...yes.
Me: If you say so.
TC: Uh...we'd like to know if you're getting the Citizen.
Me: I am not yet a citizen.
TC: No, the Tucson Citizen.
Me: No, I am not yet a citizen.
TC: NO! We want to know if you get the newspaper the Tucson Citizen!
(By this time it's getting really hard not to fall on the floor and expire of laughter.)
Me: I will be a citizen in one year. Ask me then.

Another time the Citizen called me. I was pretty sick of them calling around dinnertime, so I told them I never get the paper.
TC: Why not?
Me: You know the fibers in those papers are traceable from the air.
TC: Um...what?
Me: You can be traced by aliens using the newspaper.
TC: Aliens. You mean illegal aliens?
Me: No. The outer space kind.
TC: So you're saying that aliens from outer space can find out where you live and watch you by using our paper?
Me: That's about it. That's why I'm not going to buy your paper. And why I wear a tin foil hat.
TC: Um (laughing his insides out) okay. Thanks for your...candor.
Me: Any time...except between the hours of 6 and 6.
TC: Am and pm?
Me: No, Am and the next am.
TC: That would be...never.
Me: Huh. And here I was thinking you were a little slow. You live and learn.

Another time a man called me up and told me his name was Dave. I could tell he wasn't from this country and couldn't possibly have any other name than...say...Rajnapurta Chowdry something or other. So I told him I wouldn't deal with him because he was lying to me.
Telemarketer: I'm not lying to you. It's true. My name is Dave.
Me: No it's not.
Tele: Yes! Yes it is. How do you know Dave is not my name?
Me: Intuition born of years of experience.
Tele: Well that is what they tell me to call myself so that you can relate to me better.
Me: HA! I knew it! By the way, isn't that a little condescending?
Tele: I do not know that word condescending.
Me: Amazing.
He finally caved and told me his real name--which I forget right now so I'll call him Raj. Then he bulldozed on into his spiel:

'Raj': I'd like to discuss your mortgage.
Me: My marriage? Isn't that a little personal? I mean we only just now learned each other's real names. I really don't feel comfortable discussing my marriage with strangers.
Raj: No, your mortgage.
Me: Well if you really have to know, my marriage is fine. We're quite happy, thanks.
Raj: No, your home mortgage.
Me: I wasn't married at home. I was married in a temple. But, hey, that's really none of your stinkin' business.
Raj: NO, your MORTgage!
Me: You're really fixated on this, aren't you. Or maybe a little bit hard of hearing?
Raj: Alright! Then let's discuss your home loan.
Me: Sorry. I'm not home alone. What are you...a stalker?
Raj: No, your home loan.
Me: You don't hear all that racket in the background? I have 5 of my 6 kids here. It's never quiet. Maybe you are a little deaf.
Me: No wonder you can't hear well if you keep yelling like that. Anyway, why do you want to know if I'm home alone so much? Are you trying to figure out the best time to come rob the place? 'Cause if you are, you should know that there's almost always someone here. And I can personally chop the legs right out from under you if you try it when I'm here. Oh wait...you aren't even in this country, are you?
Raj: Here. Please talk to my supervisor. (I could hear the hair tearing out of his head at this point and he was making little whimpering noises. I wonder if he's bald now?)
Me: Alright. But it won't help much.
Muffled conversation.
Supervisor: Hello. We'd like to discuss your mortgage.
Me: You TOO? What is it with you people?
(Open season on telemarketers.)

It's just possible that I will need to repent of the way I treat telemarketers. But I'm thinking it'll be a deathbed repentance. And, son, if you ever call me from work, keep the laughter to a dull roar or our secret will be out...;o)

Gratitude Giveaways

I'm hoping to get in on this blog hop. I'd like to offer a book from my collection (which is extensive). For one point, please follow this blog. For another, visit my facebook page (Small Deceptions). For five points, do a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads for Small Deceptions.
Thank YOU!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chocolatey Yumminess

I enjoyed Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards to the hilt. Having loved Jane Eyre since I read it in fourth grade, I was skeptical that Chocolate Roses could hold a candle to it, but I was happily mistaken. Even though I knew the fire scene was coming, I was still engaged. The story was enjoyable, believable, and timely.

I found the characters engaging and believable. I felt for Roger and his poor daughter and wanted to hook them up with all my single friends...except that Janie was perfect for him.

At first I was a little put off by the first person treatment. There were a couple of places where it was a tiny bit invasive, but those instances were short-lived. The book kept a great pace and I took the book everywhere I went, until it was finished.

I've added Chocolate Roses to my library and fully intend to add the rest of Joan Sowards' books as soon as possible. They're on my stack of 'to be read soonest' books.

And now I need to hunt down a chocolate rose of my own.

Loving Loyalty's Web

A while back Joyce DiPastena asked me to edit a book for her. I was expecting to have a great deal to do since I know a thing or two about that time period. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Joyce KNOWS her stuff. I bow to her superior intelligence on the subject!

So when I found her book, Loyalty's Web, I had to buy it. I was not disappointed! I loved the way Joyce took me back to a time of chivalry and adventure. Her research was spot-on and extensive. Her characters were believable and well-rounded. I felt like I knew these people and came to love them. I almost felt like I lived in the next castle over.

I know a fair bit about court intrigue and Joyce has reproduced the intricacies and mantraps deliciously! She puts you right into the dungeons and castle halls of France. Sometimes these things can get confusing, but Joyce handled the twists with great aplomb.

I enjoyed the plot and its twists. I rooted for Helene in her quest to expose the assassins plaguing the King's representative, even though it was possible the assassins were of her own family. Hurray for her when she uncovered the truth. And hurray for Gunthar's honor.

I've already added the next book in the series and hope soon to add the third. I greatly enjoy Joyce DiPastena's offerings! Read Loyalty's Web!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lune Music

Wow. I would LOVE to have this guy (Josh Wright) play the piano in my ward at church! He has such a wonderful gift! The music floats off his fingers like a magical flood of brilliant color.

I think it would totally keep the ancient ones (and my son who always insists that he ISN'T asleep) from falling off their chairs.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Misty Morning

I went running this morning. For once it was lusciously cool. It was too cold and dark for most of the little old ladies who walk there. Finally it seemed as if autumn had arrived. I was all covered up and looked quite unlike the other runners I saw...but I was warm. By the time I was halfway through my run, I realized why they were wearing shorts. I started pulling off layers but had nothing to do with the extras.

As I was running around the park, the fog rose up from the dew-jeweled grass. It felt as if I were running through a cloud. I was glad I'd dug myself out of bed to go.

On the way to drop my load of seminary students off at school, I mentioned how pretty the mist was as it lifted up from the city. Then suddenly I remembered that in German, mist means manure. I think my passengers thought I had finally lost it, since I giggled maniacally clear to school.

Check out this hop

Here's a honkin' list of blogs to rifle through. I only wish I'd gotten in on the bandwagon. Ranee has a fantastic blog, though. Check it out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

15 Lovely Blogs

Wow! Marsha Ward of Writer in the Pines blog awarded Murphy's Law the 'One Lovely Blog Award'! Thanks, Marsha! That's so fantastic!

In order to accept the award, I have to share seven random facts about myself. Here they are:
1. I am a Unit Commissioner for the Boy Scouts.
2. I am a sword-fighting squire. (My first date with my husband was to a sword- fighting tournament.)
3. I love eating mint chip ice cream and watching Jane Austen movies with my sister, Lisa.
4. I have sung tenor in choirs all over Arizona, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado.
5. I have touched a Rembrandt.
6. I love riding trains all over Europe.
7. I learned to gut 5 salmon a minute in Alaska.

Now, here's my list of fifteen lovely blogs. I hope you will visit them and say hello to the lovely bloggers who write them:

Bonnie Gets a Say
The Blessings of Family Life
Jewel's World
Laurie LC Lewis: A View from the Other Side of the Hill
The Lyon's Tale
S. Jean Montgomerie
Betsy Love LDS Author
Nicole M. White
LDS Writer Mom
Kaylee Baldwin
Haunts Haven
A Writer's Ramblings

Of Writerly Things
Mother's Daze
Donna Hatch

Ladies, to claim the award, you must:

1. Thank the giver and link back to his or her site.
2. Provide seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award to fifteen other blogs, then let them know, and link to their sites.
4. Copy the award logo and paste it on your site.

The Birth of Psyquake

It's sprint time. I'm going to try BIAM (Book in a Month)--which involves writing a novel in a month. I am at least going to try writing 1000 words per day, not counting Sundays.
Day one: 552 (lost my outline on an old computer death and had to start over)
Day two: 2425
Day three: 1526
Day four:551
Day five: 0
Day six: 0
Day seven: 2368
Day eight: 2130
Day nine: 1433
Day ten: 2599
Day eleven: 2466.
Day twelve: 1289
Day thirteen: 0
fourteen: 2300
fifteen: 2457
sixteen: 2315
seventeen: 1435
eighteen: 2416
nineteen: 2416
twenty: 0
twenty one: 3129
twenty two: 3386
twenty three: 2438
twenty four: 0
twenty five: 2189
twenty six: 1157
twenty seven: 0
twenty eight: 2077
twenty nine: 4563
Thirty: 2204
Grand total: 51,565! I made my goal!

The work I'm working on?
Duh ta da duh...
This is the 4th book in my Watchers series (Science Fiction). It takes our rag-tag band of freedom fighters on their final push to knock the Powers out of...well...power. Major plans are hatching, now. The de facto (despite their grousing) leaders are asking the difficult questions like: "What are we going to do with all these slaves after we get them free?" and "What if I don't want to go die horribly in your suicide mission?"

I think Orb is going to go a little nuts. And all Larkin wants is to have a quiet day to relax and hang out with her husband. Good luck with that!

So we'll see if Orb and his crew can get this band of ex chip slaves whipped into shape enough to go back and face their jailers.

The other three books are:
Watcher at the Gates of Day
Dawn Undaunted
Dark Moon Rising
All of these now are in the editing stage. I have been a busy juggler!
I hope you come on this journey with me!

I finished this book in January 2012! Now I add it to the pile of polishing books. I hope you get to read this series in print soon!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Zombie Prints

Every year I make these ghoulish severed hands and feet out of meatloaf. I put pumpkin seeds in for the finger and toenails, cheese for the bits of flaking skin, boiled egg slices for the bones, and lots of ketchup blood.

I was worried the first year that the family would find them too disgusting to eat. I must have a warped family, though, because they loved it.
I could hear them in there arguing over who got the big toes. Other visitors think we've completely lost our minds, I'm sure.

So this morning I was doing the kids' dishes for them. (There are times I just snap and do them because I'm tired of hearing the teens whine and of having a kitchen full of rotting food-encrusted dishes) So this morning I found the two cookie sheets I'd baked the meatloaf on. Each tray bore meaty foot and hand prints. In the dark, the gobbets would have scared someone half to death, because they looked and felt like chunks of skin and muscle.

It's a good thing I already had breakfast...;o)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spectacular Spook Giveaway

You have come trick-or-treating at my door! Here is your tricky treat: I shall give a copy of my book 'Small Deceptions' away to a lucky winner. You can do any of several things to earn a chance.
1. Follow my blog
2. Comment on a story on my blog
3. Like my page Small Deceptions on Facebook
For 2 points, tout my book Small Deceptions to your friends
For 5 points, do a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Krista Friant wins this giveaway. The copy is winging its way to her house as we speak (or chugging). On to other things!

Angels and other Scary things

Firstly, I want to announce that I'll be signing books again this weekend. I'll be up at the Pioneer Bookstore in Mesa, Arizona, along with Betsy Love and Theresa Sneed.

So I just got finished reading 'No Angel' by Theresa Sneed and I LOVED it!!! I'm annoyed that I'm done and out of good reading material again. I can't wait to read her further offerings.

The book was fast paced and extremely interesting. I enjoyed Theresa's innovative ways of handling the plot. Her characters were 4-dimensional and interesting. I liked it that Jonathan wasn't a perfect person. The idea of a curmudgeonly angel tickles my funny bone.

I did find it hard to believe that in all the years Jonathan was sitting around not sleeping and eating, that he couldn't have read the manual clear through and maybe memorized it. What else did he have to do...especially when Faith was a sleeping baby?

I also would have liked to have more interaction with Faith. I wanted a few more glimpses of Celeste to shore up his reasons for changing his mind later. (I'm trying not to blow the ending, here.)

I liked the whole tie of the root to the idea of the Tree of Life. I caught the Spacious Building tie-in too. And the idea that our guardian angels are riding around on the tops of our cars was hilarious. It almost makes me want to watch the roofs of cars more often.

All in all, a thumbs up for 'No Angel'!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I just finished an excellent book. Identity, by Betsy Love is the offering today on my blog. I put that book down only with extreme reluctance (It's never a good thing to fall asleep at the wheel when you are hauling other people's children to Seminary and then school). I'm only sad that there's no more juicy goodness left. Now I'll have to hunt down the rest of Betsy's books!

Identity was fast-paced and well-written. I was immersed in the story line from the beginning. I could feel the main character's confusion and pain at trying to piece her life back together without a picture to go by. I wanted to kick bratty Delilah and Giles. Savannah's family became my own for just a little while. I'd like to hear more about Scott and Shawn. I want to know if Amelia's father ever found the peace that Savannah's family felt. I found myself falling in love with their family and knowing that somehow they'd be fine because they knew who they were and from whence they came. That knowledge is the most important in this life!

To me, the story was quite plausible. I know there have been mix-ups just as confusing. This story reminds me of that of Anastasia Romanoff. Her extended family searched everywhere for her when they heard rumors she might be alive. Had she survived the massacre, Anastasia would have suffered some severe head trauma and quite possibly profound amnesia. Mix-ups occur all the time. That's why maternity wards have such strict rules about labeling babies.

I really can't think of anything I would change other than maybe fleshing out Brent's reasons for loving Amelia a little more. It seemed like he didn't really know why he loved her that much. We know that he does, just not really why. I found myself really liking that Brent stuck by Amelia so well, despite her attitude.

At any rate, I laughed, I cried, I loved it. Hurray for Betsy Love!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Bit of Pivot Point

"Why would someone so fantastic want someone like me?" she asked the darkness. "I'm broken in so many ways. I have nothing to offer anyone. Nothing. I can't even offer a 'clean' body like Sarah apparently can." Tamsin's many sins rolled over her, pressing down with their awful weight. She remembered all those seemingly magical nights in Bobo's arms. So simply and easily he had led her down the path. It had all seemed like her own idea at the time; all those honey-scented kisses; all those flights into the starry night sky on wings of ecstasy. What a pile of rainbow-colored garbage.
Those flights had ended in squalor. All those beautiful dreams had just been false fronts like in Old Western towns. Nothing of substance backed up the pretty cardboard flats. Bobo's honeyed words had been empty flattery. What made it doubly difficult was that even though he had taken the gift of her innocence and thrown it in the dirt, she had first handed it to him on a platter, with sauce.
She felt, now, the terrible burning guilt of a life thrown away on glitter and spangles. She had bankrupted her soul with acts, which, at the time, had seemed so natural and innocent. "I was in love! We got married, even. I wore a white dress and we didn't even elope to Las Vegas, like Bobo wanted to. Doesn't that count for anything?" She asked God that question, and yet she knew the answer already.
As much as she had tried to gloss over it, the guilt was still there, growing and festering like a pus-filled boil; leaking poison into the rest of her life. Maybe this was what had eaten away at her married relationship. The guilt had so poisoned every thought that neither of them could stand the sight of the other. And now Bobo was seeking the arms of other women to put a band-aid on his poisoned heart. Someone should tell him that band-aids never stuck to hearts.
Tamsin went to bed feeling like the wreckage of her life would bury her. Why hadn't she been lovable enough when she was cute and had two good legs? What did she have to offer anyone now? She made people uncomfortable just being around her. She thought back about how the doctor had squirmed when she had unloaded on him. Stupid girl! Why had she done it? He didn't want to see the pus-filled, maggoty mess that was the under-belly of her life.
He lived in the sunshine. With every whine and whimper, she was thrusting away the only person besides Sarah, who was still around to help her—who still seemed to care a little. But how could she pull herself out of the muck? It was like being in quicksand. The more she struggled and felt miserable and felt sorry for herself, the more people backed off and didn't want to have anything to do with helping her. Who knew, she might pull them into the quicksand too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


A couple of weeks ago my daughter called from the hospital. The doctors were confused about whether she had appendicitis or a ruptured cyst. She was exhibiting the pain of appendicitis, but not the elevated white blood cell count nor was she febrile.

We immediately started praying for her but couldn't really think of anything else we could do. Apparently prayer was the best thing we could have done, though. She called back and told me that her in-laws had a friend with extra flight miles and he was offering them to me and to Lesley (a week later) to fly out to Kansas to take care of Nat's family. Bang! Answer one.

So I flew out to Kansas. (I enjoy flying and am getting pretty good at it after this summer. The flights ranged from fun to adequate. They don't even offer peanuts on 'American' flights anymore.)

Once there, I didn't step outside the house until Friday--barely knew what the place looked like until then. It was all playing with my adorable babies and diapers and taking care of Natassia, who got home the next morning.

It turned out that Nat's appendix did rupture. Because it happened behind some other 'guts', the sepsis didn't spread out into her system. That's why her temperature and white cell count didn't elevate. Answer two.

I caught food poisoning from some food one of the ladies from church brought (at least that's what I think it was). I felt like death for the whole night but finally, after the poison was out of my system, started to rally. I was still able to take care of things. I used a couple of plastic bags on my hands in case it was actually flu, but nobody else got sick. I was back to feeling fine by evening. Answer three.

On the way home, I had a lay-over in Dallas, Texas. As I sat there, I got the distinct impression that the three Middle Eastern guys waiting there were up to no good. So I prayed again. Then I took out my sketch pad and sketched the one who was sitting there with the bags (the other two went somewhere). Then I memorized everything about him (and the other two when they got back). They didn't sit together on the plane and disappeared when we got to Tucson. I have no idea if they were really up to no good, but I have a dang good idea of what they looked like. As we touched down on the runway and came to a stop, I breathed another heartfelt prayer of thanks. Answer 4.

Thank God for His tender mercies every day. I feel His hand working the controls of my life and hope that I can fly back to him intact.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bedtime for Books

The final push for Summerhouse has ended, at least for the time being. Now it's in the hands of the Beta readers. I'm hoping they'll love it.

I haven't written much on here because I've been doing research on a number of things such as hospitals in the 19th century, tuberculosis and its treatments, especially in the 19th century, 19th century Britain, 19th century Switzerland, and my favorite translation site for Latin and double-checking my German.

It's been an educational journey. For instance, I had no idea that hospitals were that bad back then. One actually had to pay them up front for one's own burial when they went in there, because it was a fairly good bet that they'd die once passing the hospital doors. Often their families had to do their laundry and bring them extra food (especially sugar, tea, and butter). The conditions were absolutely appallingly filthy.

If a person caught tuberculosis, they wrote them off as a goner, since for a long time they didn't know anything about how a person caught the disease. They didn't have the long list of medications we do today either. Apparently it was endemic in Europe at the time.

I spent lots of time hunting through houses in Luzern. It took me back for some truly happy hours. I miss climbing around there and walking through the shops and by-ways.

I wandered around Britain as well. Someday (maybe when Summerhouse gets made into a movie) I hope to go there and haunt the places I love to read about and see.

So now it's time to buckle back down and do re-writes and polishing so I can actually send these babies out into the wide, wide world.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Luzern Love Song

I've spent all day researching Luzern, Switzerland for my W.I.P., Summerhouse. All day I've ridden the cogwheel railway up to Mt. Pilatus, ridden a truly kickin' toboggan track down the mountain, wandered the old city, and visited the fantastic museums. Picasso has never looked so good. Nineteenth century landscapes and steam boats jockeyed with wildflowers and mountain sheep for number one...memory.
Back and back I went to the time when I wore skirts every day to high school and had hair so long I could sit on it...
I rode that cogwheel when I was 16. Really. It was an amazing ride. At the time I was greatly annoyed since a few days before, when we were riding the talus slides down a mountain near Innsbruck, Austria, I'd fallen to my knees a few times and chewed up my knees something fierce. So I was relegated to the stupid train along with the three whiny kids who couldn't stand the climb.

When we got to the top, we had to wait for what seemed an eternity for the rest of our party. The waiting part was a dull few hours, let me tell you. Two of the three were the most despised kids of the group, since they had attitudes like jail inmates and wandered around Europe with their noses in their romance books. (Those weren't by any means the only reasons we couldn't stand the 'Harlequin Twins'.) I personally LOVE books, but there is a time for everything. At the top of Pilatus is not the time to read romances.

The Harlequin Twins were in a poisonous mood that day, because they wanted to do something less active, like shopping, or doing their nails. They didn't appreciate being shown up as the wimpy whiner babies they were, and took it out on me, the other youngster of the group. I finally ditched the sob-fest and went outside to enjoy the real reason we'd come up.

In fact, the top of Pilatus was spectacular! The air was so crystal clear that it could have been bottled for health stores. Besides the fantastic air, the peak boasted one of the most unsurpassed views in the world. For a 360 degree view, range on range of alps marched away into the purple mist like gargantuan waves on the ocean.

One of the few structures on top of Mt. Pilatus is a round building which was once blown up in a James Bond movie (one wonders why they'd put a Nazi hideout clear up there, but I guess Nazis were never known for their practicality). I forget for what purpose that building was really used, since James Bond's incendiary show simply can't be topped.

There are wildflowers everywhere! I even found an Edelweiss. I walked around the peak and tried out my newly-rested knees and decided that I should definitely have climbed up instead of wussing out.

That night, if I remember right (we slept in hostels all across Europe so some of them run together in my mind) we slept in a hostel up on the peak. I
do remember wondering why we couldn't just sleep in the hideout. Waking up to that view was stellar!

The next morning, we took off across the mountains on a trail probably made by goats. It had to have been about a foot wide, with plunging drop-offs on both sides. It was definitely
not a romp to do at night. I felt like Liesel Von Trapp escaping from Nazis over the mountains near Saltzburg. I may have broken into a few bars of 'Climb Every Mountain' under my breath, but was trying to be cool.

You see, there were some very cute boys on that trip. I really liked a couple of them, and was hoping to be inducted into the cool side of the German Club instead of the loser side. So, sucking it up and climbing down that mountain was definitely on my to-do list. Even if the guys hadn't been there, that climb was

We saw some of the biggest freakin' goats I've
ever seen! I believe there were gemsboks and a couple of other kinds of boks. I think it was rutting season, because some of them were fighting, and the clack of those gigantic horns crashing together echoed across the alpine valleys and ridges forever. It alway amazed me that those big old goats could hop around so gracefully, and stand on the tiniest ledges imaginable. They were definitely better climbers than I am.

At the end of the climb, there was a lovely ferry ride back to Luzern across the sun-burnished water. It was heaven just to let the waves rock me into a doze, though for some time
my body felt like we were still climbing.

The lights on the water that night were like paints streaming and puddling across an inky canvas. I remember Mom singing the song, 'East Side, West Side' as we strolled along the quay walk. I remember thinking what a magical night it was...

...back when the world was young and I was 16.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meg's Melody

I just got a book yesterday that I've been wanting to read ever since I met it's author, Kaylee Baldwin. And now, unfortunately, I'm already done with it. I couldn't put it down.

I really enjoyed this sweet offering. Meg's troubles seemed to mirror many of my own. I, too, was a divorced mother of a beautiful little girl for some years. Many of those years I wondered desperately whether I'd ever find love again. I, too, had an ex-jerk who pretended to come back, but only to wreak havoc.

I, too, found a man who loves me and who was such a great father to my daughter that I don't remember even one time (except on governmental forms) when she called him a step-father. He was always Dad to her. He had to reassure me several times that he would never leave.

I love that this book allows Meg to work through not just her feelings of inadequacy, but to also come to understand God's marvelous plan for us. I love that although Matt was working through some crushing pain of his own, he never really left Meg to struggle alone.

Thank you, Kaylee, for this wonderful book. I wish it weren't finished.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Save the Child

I just finished a good book this weekend! It's Margaret Turley's 'Save the Child'. I have to say that I put off reading this book for a bit, thinking it would be a little dull.

How wrong I was!

The book was gripping to the end. I even read it while I worked out. It's clear that Margaret knows her stuff medically! The characters were true and the action put you right in the fray. It felt like a true family nightmare and made me want to stand up and throw a bedpan at the people who worked together to keep the child away from her parents.

I think incidents like this in which well-meaning parents are victimized by unprincipled or misinformed people is a horrible by-product of the CPS system. It enrages me that we have a government who thinks they own our children. I hope we can somehow work together to get this fixed. Otherwise, the government will be like the camel poking his nose into the tent. Pretty soon the camel will own the tent and you'll be out in the sandstorm without a stick of shelter.

Other than some editing flaws (you spelled one of your characters' names two different ways in adjoining sentences for one thing, Margaret), this book was great...:o) Maybe a change of back cover blurb will make the book more readily appealing, because once you get into it, it's a page-turner.