Page the Second


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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Welcoming Shaunna Today

Today I'm welcoming Shaunna Gonzales to my blog for an interview and a splash of her upcoming book, Dark Days of Promise. Take it away, Shaunna!

Thirty-four year old Vicki Laramie must learn to trust before she can love, but she might die trying.
While Vicki’s children grapple with the death of their father -- a man whom she’s successfully fabricated as loving, a lie her rebellious teenager recognizes -- she must find a way to support her family and find a role model for her boys. She never intends to fall for Staff Sergeant Chase, her best friend’s son, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’d much rather choose a safer man to love, but her children have a voice in the decision she makes. With two deaths to deal with, a suitor after her money, a rebellious son, and Sergeant Chase’s repeated attacks, she can only hope to survive the danger she faces. If she doesn’t, her children will be left without either parent.
ISBN: 978-1-61252-218-0

A little Q & A from the Author

Where were you born? 

Believe it or not, I was born in a nursing home for the elderly in Rigby, Idaho. My life history begins with "I was born a poor black child--black and blue from lack of oxygen." I was born breach, the doctor pulled so hard on my leg that he thought he'd broken it. Now, more than a few years later, I'm pretty sure which leg he pulled on though my mother could never tell me.

What are you most passionate about, other than writing? 

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and the friends it has brought into my life. After the first scene that I wrote between Kelly and Victoria (The one I wrote, not the one that they both appear in) I realized that I must learn why Kelly reacted the way he did. I had no idea that the scene would become such a pivotal point in my own life.
I went forward with one question in mind. What would make someone behave is such a way?
The only clue I had was memories of stories shared by my brother about his best friend. I'll try to boil those stories down to a single sentence. "You just never, under any circumstance, touched George (the best friend) when he was asleep." This best friend served as a Green Beret. That sums up what I knew.
Memories from childhood spurned me to ask the only military personnel I knew at the time some difficult questions. That one-on-one soon grew to a small group, me, the inquisitive mind and three gentlemen, one actively serving at the time and two veterans. All three were very kind, allowing me a very unique inclusion for a brief time into a very tight brotherhood. I soon learned that each had a unique story to tell as well as many they will never share.
I had to learn military acronyms, most of which I have forgotten and most importantly how to ask questions and when to back off. The sure fire and humorous but deadly response of "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" taught me first. That was followed by recognizing expressions that warned I'd asked a dangerous question.
I love these guys and appreciate all they have shared. Friendships and trust run deeper than I ever imagined they would or could.
The novel complete, it is time to develop other friendships. Friendships that are teaching me that one does not need to be a soldier to suffer from PTSD. And with each story that is shared with me, I always ask, "May I use this in a novel?" So far, no one has said "no."

Questions about your writing:
What or who inspires you to write?

I'd rather answer "Who and What." Many things. Of late I believe it is my husband when he prays for me "To do what I love." Oh he knows me so well.

Why did you begin writing? 

After reading most of J.K.Rowlings Harry Potter series I craved more great reads and went to the local library. After spending months wading through awful fiction, one touting its prize winning status, I threw it across the room. (In my weakened condition it only made it to the bed for a soft landing.)
"I could write better than this!" I grumbled. My hubby, ever understanding of my turbulent moods answered with a calm, "Then why don't you?" It wasn't long before I set out to do just that!

What was your favorite book growing up that inspired you to try your hand at writing? 

Oh I'd have to say I read everything by Walter Farley, especially his The Black Stallion Series. Girls and horses…I wanted to belive my horse was the Black Stallion reincarnate even if she was a buckskin with no Arabian blood in her.

What do you find most rewarding about writing? 

When a reader thanks for for dealing with PTSD realistically. Oh that is sweet, brings tears to my eyes.

Have you experienced writer’s block? And if so, how did you cure it?

I often become stumped, especially in my current WIP. Those are times to take a water or food break to feed the head and the body. Of course there is the nature break. If the stump was small, it is usually fixed with the small distraction. Other times I have to walk away and get involved in living until the "Wow, it's been awhile. I better go see what is happening in my WIP." Some times that is just a day, but other times a bit longer.

About Your latest book:

When is your next book due out?  

Dark Days of Promise is an Inspirational Romantic Suspense published by Deseret Breeze Publishing. Release date is September 21, 2012. 

How did you come up with your premise for Dark Days of Promise

I had this love story so smooth that it bored me, the writer, to tears, literally. I knew I had to "speed" it up, give it something to make it fly but didn't know what. I prayed and pulled my chair up to the computer. My fingers flew with very few mistakes, something that is unusual for me. That scene is in the book with very few changes -- only a few grammatical corrections. I'll give you a hint: Victoria goes flying!

Are there any fun tid-bits about this story you can share with us? Other than Victoria Flying? 

Hmm. Carter and Phillip are very loosely based on my children. And we once lived near where the story takes place.

How did you decide on the setting? 

That was difficult. I knew I had to have snow and that I needed to know the area at least vaguely. So maybe readers in Tooele and the surrounding areas will tell me how well I did or how bad my memory is. Okay, so as I writer I took a good share of creative license. Hope residents don't hate me forever.

Is there a message in Dark Days of Promise you want readers to grasp? 

It is my hope that readers will become more aware of PTSD. It effects more than the veterans and their families, those who love them. It isn't unusual for me to be talking with someone and get this "Oh, they are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress" this way or that way. The "Disorder" part, as far as I have learned, comes from intense stress, such as battle and other potentially fatal situations. Some deal with PTSD with faith and prayers on the one hand while others use counseling and sometimes drugs to manage the disorder. But for me, my PTSD is rather low key and manageable.


Why him? I needed help; I even needed a rescuer, but not him. I found myself welcoming his presence in spite of the clenching fear in my stomach. My mind spiraled around the possibilities. Would I freeze to death? Would he attack me? Would I survive? I must get home to my children.
"Kelly! What're you doing out here?" My breathing came out hard.
"I don't know," he drawled. His words formed ghostly shapes in the freezing night air. "Do you want a ride or do you really plan to run home?"
I looked down the road in both directions hoping for a second pair of headlights. I found none.
The fact of my standing on ice and snow escaped me for the moment. I anchored my foot for take-off and slipped, going to my knees. Kelly moved fast, I didn't see him open the Jeep's door before he grasped my arm, lifting me to my feet.
"You okay? You went down pretty hard." He propelled me to the passenger's side. Numb feet measured each jarring step around the front of the Jeep. Why had he come looking for me? The possibility of his not looking for me in particular, but anyone -- anyone alone, screamed across my thoughts.
Afraid of a cold death at the side of the road, my thoughts stalled. He'd proven himself faster than I. I shook his hand off to climb in and settled myself as close to the door as possible. He walked around the front of the Jeep, his footsteps sure on the icy surface.
"Have to admire your spunk," he said climbing in.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Fifty Shades of Spade

Let's call a spade a spade, here. Fifty Shades of Gray is merely the effort of a morally bankrupt scribbler to sell mental slag to the slavering masses. Do yourself a huge favour and count yourself out.

I actually had my finger on the button to buy this book when something told me to check out its reviews. Wow am I glad I did. Not saying that every review is completely accurate and kind, because they sometimes aren't. One inaccurate or unkind review can sink a writer. I know from experience. But this is someone who has made it big. And there were many reviews, such that I got a pretty good idea of what this book contained.

Buying this book would have been like answering my doorbell on a dark night, expecting company, and finding instead a flaming bag of dung on my porch. The book had been so sensationalized and I've heard so many acquaintances say they've read it, that I nearly jumped. I'm glad I didn't. I should have saved my time as I did my money.

Why spend your money on something so malignant as S&M? There are far more books out there (mine included) which do not scrape away your humanity and leave you raw, bleeding, and soulless.

Find solace in something that will build you up and fill you with light and hope. Find something real and healthy. Find something to which to aspire. Fifty Shades will leave you empty and dark.

I'm personally looking for examples of beautiful love stories in which the characters truly love each other and demonstrate that fact in how they act with their loved one. I want to see them treat each other with respect and understanding (at least by the end, after the misunderstandings and speed bumps all good books need). I want to know that the woman involved feels like a queen after her guy leaves for the night, not a beaten down slave.

Beat-downs are for cage fighting, not bedrooms.

Immerse yourself in Jane Austen's layers and layers of wordplay. Find buried treasure in Shakespeare's sonnets and Mark Twain's comedic brilliance. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote far more than just Sherlock Holmes (fun reads in themselves). Sir Walter Scott and Rudyard Kipling are stellar examples, as are Dumas, the Bronte sisters, and Dickens.

If you want something more cutting edge, look to the huge and growing market of newer authors trying to make it in a cutthroat world against this peddler of smutty murk.

Your mind and time are much too precious. Fill them with treasure, not barf.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Another Chunk

Here's another chunk of A Terrible Majesty:

Kit caught up with her and took her hand. Vari looked down at their interlaced hands and back up at him.
“I'm with you all the way. You don't need to freak.”
“Thanks. How did you know?”
“You're kind of intense about this. It's not a bad thing—just remember to breathe. He isn't an ogre.”
“I don't know how to turn it all off. I feel in my gut that I'm right, but I still worry that it's possible people won't believe us.”
“Breathe. It'll work. Let's go.”
As they walked down the hall, Vari looked over at her brown-haired friend. “I could actually get to appreciate Aolian fungus if you're sharing it with me. Otherwise it tastes like iodine and rust.”
Kit laughed. “Now I'll make sure to bring it every time.”
“You really know how to win a girl's heart.”
“Yup. I'm cool like that.”
The captain was in his ready room, sprucing up. His orderly wasn't going to let them in, but the captain went around him. They all snapped to attention.
The captain lowered his bushy white eyebrows. “What can I do for you?”
Aairie and Treve hung back in the shadows of the hall. Probably hoping nobody notices they're with me. At least they came.
Kit looked a question at Vari and then spoke up. “Sir, Ensign Faro has discovered an interesting anomaly that we, Ensigns Faro, Borchart, Allison, and I, feel needs to be addressed.”
The captain looked confused. “Isn't that a matter for Astrogation?”
Vari smiled at Kit and broke in. “Sir, we have gone to everybody we can think of in our various chains of command and no one will listen.”
“What makes you so certain you can come bend my ear, then?”
Vari gulped and plunged ahead. “Sir, we know that you would not want to risk your ship and the lives of your crew. We feel this anomaly poses a distinct threat, even though it's so far away. We have combed the read-outs exhaustively and come to some disturbing conclusions.”
The captain was silent for a few minutes, which seemed to drag out into an eternity. Finally, he finished washing his hands and wiped them on a towel. “I'll never let it be said that I don't listen to my crew—even ensigns right out of the Academy. So, I'll see you at 0500 tomorrow in my staff room, if you think it can wait that long. Bring any proof you have accrued. I'll get someone there to prove or disprove your theories. Dress Whites, people. This is a formal inquest. And don't think you can waste my time needlessly. I have a ship to run. Send me a note if you decide to change your minds.”
Vari didn't think it could wait that long, but Kit was already saying, “Thank you, Sir.”
“As you were. I'm certain you have things to do, as do I.” He turned away, effectively releasing them.
Vari felt as if she were about to vomit, and sprang for the outer walkway as if she were back on the dance floor.
“What's your hurry,” Kit asked her with a grin. “You got your audience.”
“Nerves. I need to get to a head. I'll meet you in Holo.” She barged off without waiting for a reply, making it to the head in time to empty all the contents from her stomach. She looked at herself in the mirror, seeing stark eyes staring fixedly out of a chalky face. You look scared to death, Faro. Get a grip. You're going up for an inquest and you have to win. Lives are at stake. She let the water run over her head and finally shook the droplets from her hair. There was almost no time for a shower and shine. You have work to do. Get to it.
“You alright?” Kit asked upon seeing her face outside the Holo room.
“Yeah. Why are you out here?”
“You never booked the room for this time. I've been wondering why you have so many pay chits to spend on this place anyway.”
She grinned dryly. “I don't spend my money on girls.”
“You and the knife in my back...what's that about?”
She laughed. “Someone's got to keep you hopping. Nobody else will tell you the truth.”
Treve and Aairie came up just then, stacks of read-outs in their hands.
“I thought we were meeting inside Holo,” Treve said.
There was a noise further up the passageway. The four looked up to see First Mate Vealit charging down the walk, his eyes full of poison.
“Which one of you do I have to thank for this?” he bellowed.
Kit turned to face him. “Sorry, Sir, to what are you referring?”
“I'm talking about the dressing down I just got for failing to address the concerns of my crew.”
Kit was an ice cube under fire. “I suppose you have yourself to thank for that, Mr. Vealit.”
Vari thought the little worm was going to have an aneurysm. His head turned purple and puffed up like an Orifractian puffer fish.
“How do you figure that, Mr. Beck?” he asked through clenched teeth.
“We, together and separately, tried to go up the chain-of-command to bring this information to the proper attention and it stopped with you every time.”
“That's because ensigns never have anything I need to address. Someone else takes care of their minor squabbles.”
“This is neither minor, nor a squabble, Sir.”
“That remains to be seen. And now you have me tied up in an inquest instead of allowing me to do the job they don't pay me enough to do. I'm going to make you four wish your mothers had sacrificed you at birth. I'm putting a reprimand in your files.”
“With all due respect, Sir, I ask you to withdraw such an action until you at least hear our case.”
Vealit crept right up to Kit's chest and poked him on the sternum. “All due respect? Don't make me laugh. You've got as much respect for me as for a Scaprian pole dancer.”
Kit smiled lazily. “Oh no, Sir. I have a great deal of respect for pole dancers. They at least have some talent for their job.” As soon as he said it, Kit snapped his mouth shut and turned beet red.
You're going down for that one. Stupid Kit! What have you done? He was gunning for you before he even came down this hall! And we need you! Vari stepped imperceptibly in front of him and clenched her teeth.
Vealit's eyes slitted over a feral glint. “Got you.” He quirked a mirthless smile and called over his shoulder, “Security!”
The boys in green must have been waiting just around the bend. They stomped past Vari, bracketed Kit, and hauled him off to the brig, protesting as he went.
Vealit turned back to the remaining three. “I suppose we'll see you three brain-deads at 0500 tomorrow. Until then you've got extra duty. See your respective commands. Spit spot.” He fluttered his hands at them and then turned on his heal and strode off down the passageway the way he'd come.
Treve was chalky with fear. “What have we done? Now we'll never get leave. He'll have us scrubbing heads 'til our children's children are old.”
“I don't think so,” Vari said quietly. “What we bring to this meeting will rock us right out of his tiny brain. Just make sure you have everything and there's nothing wrong with your Whites.”
Aarie was crying softly. “That's if we have any time between now and then. Sounds like Vealit's cooked us.”
“Well I know one thing. I'm going up to Lieutenant Beck's bunk room and getting his Whites squared before I report. He's not going to look like a criminal when we go in, whatever Vealit tries to pull.” Vari clenched her jaw and glanced between the others. “We're already in the thick of this, so don't back out. It'll come right in the end. You'll see.”
“You think we'll have time to gather data later?” Treve asked.
“I don't know. I'd do as much as I can before reporting, if I were you.”
Treve nodded and the two set off to fetch data.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Smidgen of A Terrible Majesty

Just thought I'd post a little of my W.I.P. today, since I've been horrendously busy writing it. I give you A Terrible Majesty:

Something horrific was closing on the Intrepid at an incredible rate, and nobody knew it—neither the captain nor any of the other crew.
Most of the Alpha staff, including the captain were asleep, dreaming of leave on Scaprio III, just a matter of five weeks and a jump point away. You could do anything legal and a good many illegalities on the pleasure world. They slept unknowing that life would change immeasurably for them in the near future. Many of them would never reach Scaprio alive. The ship simply waited.

Chapter 1--

Beta shift was hard at work, readying the Intrepid for the Malfrion Jump Point, which they would reach in about a month. There was always something to do on the Spacefleet ship Intrepid. Nearing a jump point always jacked up the activity the closer one got, and getting the ship into trim for coming into port was another concern. No one wanted to look like a rusted out ore trader coming into a place which harboured so many of the truly rich and famous, as well as a huge contingent of the Galactic Military. It would be two weeks of heightened activity, then two weeks worth of long shifts, little sleep, short rations, and constant nagging by Mr. Vealit. 
In Lieutenant Kit Bondi's humble opinion, Vealit, the ratty little Bellguen, suffered from little man's syndrome. Always carping about something insignificant and puffing it up to look like he was efficiently handling a huge problem. It was bad enough that he had a little power, being First Mate. But since Vealit was on Beta shift, often Captain Kendall left him to his own devices, which ran mainly to cranking up his stockpiles of power. People like Troy Bunsen, Beta team's comm specialist, kissed up to Puffy Pants Vealit unabashedly. Watching it made Kit want to retch.

Bondi took a more relaxed approach. He handled the things which needed handling, and left others to do their own jobs. “No use stressing over other people's garbage unless it's going to get you killed,” he always told himself. He personally liked to be clean and organized but not psychotically so. It saved time and effort, and Kit was all about little effort. 

He had graduated near the top of his class in Spacefleet, to the amazement of all his family, teachers, and friends. Everybody else thought he was much too busy racing flitters and chasing girls to get any kind of studying done. Kit himself was even surprised at acing the written bits. The flying was a piece of cake. He could do flying. He had enough reckless abandon to annoy his instructors, wow the girls, and pull off incredible feats which garnered him shiploads of notoriety and a few envious glances from his friends.

As he shaped up his bunk room, he thought of all the people who had been amazed that he'd amounted to anything at all. His grandfather had been a captain in Spacefleet in the Vegan Wars. Whenever Kit had gone to visit him on his estate in the wilds of the little Altairan world, Caspian, Grandfather had made it clear that Kit was a waste of oxygen.
“You never apply yourself,” Poppy had complained. “You might as well go into Shelpy weed sculpting or something idiotic like that. Why waste our good funds heading off to Spacefleet? In fact, just bury yourself now and save us the cost of scraping your guts up to bury later, won't you?” Kit had worked extra hard at the end of his school career to make certain his grandfather ate those words. Luck had been on his side, and maybe more than a little stubborn pride.
His friend Mal Severin had offered to help him cheat. 
“Thanks for the offer, Mal. Nice that you have so little confidence in my powers of concentration,” Kit had told him.
“Oh it's not that you can't concentrate. It's what you concentrate on, my friend. Jinky Pendergast is not going to get you a pilot's seat.”

“Clearly. But she sure makes me forget that I'll probably be cleaning heads for the rest of my career,” Kit had said with a grin.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Over the Falls in a Barrel

Well THAT was a week I never want back again. Wednesday I spent much of the day doing chores (nothing special) and weeding the back yard (negligible effort). I also spent some time working on my book, A Terrible Majesty. I'm having such a blast writing it, that I tend to sit too long in one place. Yes, I know. It's a bad thing.

By bedtime that night my left arm was stiff. By the next day I couldn't lift my arm without searing pain. This was off the charts agony. I personally hate taking pain meds. I rarely take anything for a migraine, which I used to have frequently. So that should tell you how my tolerance for pain stacks up. By Saturday I was ready to be tossed in a barrel and sent over Niagra Falls. Wait. Forget the barrel. I'd have gladly flung myself over without it.

About twelve years ago I slipped on a book in my living room and dislocated my shoulder and broke off the part of the bone that attaches to the ligament. THAT was PAIN. I had to sit there for two hours while they had a misunderstanding with the paperwork. People would wander by and ask nonchalantly if I was in pain. I wanted to kick them in the...uh...leg. Yeah. At long last they finally got the doctor in there to ask if my paperwork was done yet. Then the agonizing wait behind sleeping old people for the X-ray room.

Then finally that blissful moment. The doc came back and gave me that blessed pain shot which sent me into orbit around Jupiter somewhere. One shot had me joking with the doctor while he tried eight times to yank my arm back into place. I was feelin' no pain at all.

This week it felt like the muscle on the point of my shoulder re-detached. And it swelled up like a puffer fish. Lower down my arm started to feel as if I had gotten repeatedly slugged in the arm, say fifty times. I'm starting to wonder, by then, whether I have some serious chatting to do with my husband about what he does in his sleep. (Actually he only snores.)

Long about Saturday I was trying not to come out of my comatose state and move anywhere because the resulting pain made me want to ask for a grenade and then toss the pin out the window (except that's too much moving). I was certain that I'd be going NOWHERE the next day.

So I woke up Sunday to the miniscule sound of these words in my head: "If you go to church, you'll be blessed."
"You've got to be joking," I said to myself.
"No, not really."
"What about the part where I can't sit upright without moaning?" I said to that little voice.
It didn't care. "Just go to church."
So I did. I looked like a hobbling little old lady with a stroke arm. People commented on how awful I looked. I'm hoping I look about fifty years younger next Sunday.

So I was hanging out in the library and the other librarians got talking about me and told me there was another chiropractor there that day (my favorite one and half a dozen others were all out of town for Labor Day). The upshot of the matter was that he came and adjusted my neck.

Normally when you think of someone hauling on your neck hard enough to make it crack like hundred-year-old plaster, you'd think it would be a horrible thing. For me, it was an answer to my prayers. By the end of the day I could actually lift part of my hand. My fever went away (At least I think I had a fever. It's often hard to tell when you live somewhere that's normally hot enough to fry eggs on your car seat.) and I could feel some of the swelling had gone down.

Today I finally saw a chiropractor. The cracking sounds rang throughout the room. It was a good thing. The un-funny thing is that he couldn't supply me with an answer to my question. "How can I make sure that NEVER happens again?" I asked.
He just laughed. "You can't. You could sneeze or bend wrong and suddenly there you are."
I shuddered. It's possible that week could have a repeat? Say it ain't so!

There's got to be something I can do about that. These are my suggestions to myself:
1. I'm going to set a timer for an hour. Every hour I'm going to spend ten or so minutes doing something active.
2. I'm going to do more stretches.
3. I'm going to work on my posture, especially while I'm writing.
4. I'm going to dance more. I love to dance anyway.
5. I'm going over to my friend's house for a massage more often. She's a student and welcomes the practice. I welcome the luscious massage...:o) (She's also FANTASTICALLY GOOD at what she does.)

So I'm not out of the woods. There is still some residual pain and swelling. My friend Christine says it's so inflamed that she couldn't do much massaging in the area. I'm hoping it won't be too destroyed to come back to full usage. We'll see.