Thursday, July 18, 2019

Will Acute Sedentary Disorder Kill You? by Elizabeth Alsobrooks


Do You Suffer from Acute Sedentary Disorder?

I know I do.  But did you know that sitting too long can actually kill you?

Most of us know that sitting too long is bad for our health. Writers are especially prone to what I like to call acute sedentary disorder.

While no two writers work the same, almost all of them write sitting down. If you’re one of those few who have a treadmill desk, good for you! Literally.  But most of us sit at desks or on the couch with a computer on our lap.



Let’s face it, we already know that when we sit we use less energy and burn fewer calories. But did you know that multiple medical studies have linked sitting for long periods of time with obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, excess body fat around the waist (a sign of increased heart attack potential) and abnormal cholesterol levels, which make up metabolic syndrome. It’s even been linked to increasing the risk of death by cardiovascular disease and cancer. Yes, cancer.

Any extended sitting can be harmful, and writers, due to the nature of their work, tend to do it more than others. The Mayo Clinic did an analysis of 13 studies on sitting time and activity levels and found that those who sat for 8 or more hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking. However, a study of over 1 million people found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Keep in mind that that’s ‘daily’ activity. So it sounds to me that writers HAVE to exercise in order to counter the negative health risks of sitting.



What you should note though is that just sitting wasn’t the culprit. It’s the length of time you sit. You know those Fitbit and other exercise-minded watches and devices that have become so popular? You might want to think about getting one. Or use a stop watch. At least once an hour (better would be every 30 minutes), GET UP and move.  Even if it’s just to walk to the rest room. The key is to sit less and move more.  Some studies have suggested that 10,000 steps a day is how much movement you need to keep from having a sedentary lifestyle. That’s why those devices track your steps. 



When you keep the electrical activity charged up in your muscles, it also keeps the electrical activity in your brain moving, so boosts your creativity. A win-win for a writer!

I don't know about you, but as I've aged I noticed that all those broken bones, bumps scrapes, and other youthful foolishness injuries I encountered in my life have settled into my bones. If I sit for too long, it's actually painful to get up. That's because I don't keep the electrical energy in my muscles charged. I have started jogging again, and I admit to feeling much more energetic and productive. My joints don't ache as much, and I'm actually getting fewer migraines. Perhaps my 'personal' study isn't very scientific, but it seems to verify the studies that have been done professionally.



So stand up, go for a run, or just walk around, sit back down, change positions and MOVE.

Write on!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Arawak Indians of Xaymaca

Have you ever heard of the Arawak Indians?  When I read about them somewhere (my memory fails me now, but it was long ago), their story stuck in the back of my mind and when I had the idea of a witch and a powerful spirit from another dimension who was worshiped as a god, I included them in that story, The Summoning.



The Arawaks are indigenous peoples of South America and the Caribbean. At various times, the term Arawak has been used for the Lokono of South America and the Taino of the Caribbean, all of whom spoke related Arawakan languages.

In the Summoning, protected and guided by Eyrael, the God of Wind and Sea, the Arawak tribe treks from South America to Jamaica,. This amazing feat actually occurred 2,500 years ago, and the Arawaks are credited with being the initial inhabitants, naming Jamaica ‘the land of wood and water’ – Xaymaca.

Michael Heckenberger, an anthropologist at the University of Florida who helped found the Central Amazon Project, and his team found elaborate pottery, ringed villages, raised fields, large mounds, and evidence for regional trade networks that are all indicators of a complex culture. There is also evidence that they modified the soil using various techniques such as deliberate burning of vegetation to transform it into black earth, which even today is famed for its agricultural productivity.

They grew cassava, sweet potatoes, maize (corn), fruits, vegetables, cotton and tobacco. Tobacco was grown on a large scale as smoking was their most popular pastime. They built their villages all over the island but most of them settled on the coasts and near rivers as they fished to get food. Fish was also a major part of their diet.
By nature, the Arawaks were a mild and simple people. Physically, they were light brown in color, short and well-shaped with coarse, black hair. Their faces were broad and their noses flat.
The Arawaks led quiet and peaceful lives until they were destroyed by the Spaniards some years after Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1494.

~

Excerpt – Chapter 1 – The Summoning:

Wet hair flailed her eyes. Unblinkingly, she stared into the wind as she battled every step. Finally, she ducked her head against the gale. Around her ankles, the sea foamed. The drums beat louder, their wild rhythm echoing in her veins. Sweet and strong as Jamaican rum, the growing storm flagged the homespun robe behind her. She fingered the rough material, not remembering when or where she’d put on the long brown garment.

Deeper, Heather. The pain will soon be over. The Whisperers’ exotic voices urged her to plunge deeper and sink beneath the waves. Death was the only way to silence the agony devouring her alive—and to banish the insistent whispers from her mind. If she surrendered to the sea, she’d be with Ariel, her infant son who’d lived only a month.
Remember Jahill. You’ve shed no tears for your husband? They accused in her mind, never aloud. As always, she’d no answer to offer them. She had wept for Jahill until she learned he was not alone in the car crash. A quiet despondency gripped her, her empty stomach cramping as it had since the Georgia highway patrol brought her news of the accident.  How many times had that scene played in her memory? A fresh-faced young man telling her Jahill and Ariel were dead. He’d held her up when her knees buckled. If he hadn’t, she’d have fallen, sobbing at his feet.
Heart thudding dully, Heather studied the demarcation line between heaven and earth, seeking a reason to go on living, but any sense of self had long ago vanished in the Whisperers’ seductive promises. Two weeks after her husband’s death, they took possession of her life.
The old despair rose within her. She threw back her head, screaming her pain to the uncaring universe. The silent cry burned her parched throat. On the beach behind her, the chants throbbed—men’s voices thundering with the sea; women’s voices keening with the wind. Above her, pinpoint stars, diamond-bright, pierced the black sky. At night, the blue topaz Caribbean was Coke-bottle green.
The sea threw its arms around her shoulders, its embrace warm and inviting. The wind kissed her feverish face. As if a star had fallen, one of her diamond earrings—a Christmas gift from her husband—splashed into the dark water.
“Jahill.” She reached for the pointless token as it drifted out of sight. “Why did you hurt me so? Take the only thing I had left to love? My Ariel.”
A wave slapped her face. She stumbled. The sand shifted beneath her feet, and she fell. As the water closed over her head, Heather screamed her dead son’s, name, “Ariel!”
Flailing her arms and legs, she battled to the surface. The deafening silence shocked her. The drums and the chants had died. Her thoughts cleared. She was neck deep in the ocean, her toes skimming the bottom, but instead of the waves beating at her, the sea lay down and licked her fingers. Relief washed her knees weak, but respite was short-lived. A massive wave rose on the horizon, gaining speed and height as it rolled toward her. The wind stopped singing. The warm ocean chilled. In utter panic, Heather spun, tripping over her robe as she struggled toward the safety of the beach.
He comes for you. Meet your fate.
Heather clamped her hands over her ears, but escape was impossible. The Whisperers’ litany robbed her of thought. The outbound tide washed the sand from beneath her feet. She crashed onto her back. Gasping for air, she surfaced, running, getting nowhere. With death staring her in the eyes, she’d never been more alive. I don’t want to die. Tears and salty spray trickled down her cheeks. She glanced over her shoulder.
The monstrous wave stretched, white fingers brushing the sky. Heather watched helplessly as the ocean crouched, ready to spring. The little waves woke up, tugging at her as they fled the oncoming giant. Panic knifed through her. Hands splayed over her mouth, she murmured “Jahill, Ariel,” until the two names merged, inseparable.
Lightning speared the ocean. Thunder rumbled, shaking the night. The wave reared higher. The shrieking wind churned water into a gigantic human shape.
~
In The Summoning, Eyrael, the hero, can shape-shift. In one scene, he shifts to a beautiful winged black stallion with a long mane and tail. I pictured a Friesian, something like this:


I self-published The Summoning, and it is a part of Kindle Unlimited, as well as available in print. Buy Link.

 Enjoy your Sunday everyone! ~ Linda

Friday, July 12, 2019

NASA's Artemis Program by Diane Burton

credit: NASA


This month, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of putting men on the moon. That’s right. Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the lunar surface. They arrived via the Apollo XI spaceship then the lunar landing vehicle.

If you recall the spaceships that carried more than two people were all named Apollo after the Roman and Greek god of the sun. It’s rare that in mythology, the Roman and Greek names are the same. Apollo’s twin sister was Artemis (in Greek) and Diana (in Roman myths), goddess of the hunt.
 
Artemis of Ephesus (Ephesus Archaeological Museum)

Artemis is also the goddess of the moon.

This isn’t a lesson in mythology, even though I find it interesting. NASA’s program to place men on the moon and develop an on-going presence there is called Artemis. With that little mythology lesson, it makes sense why. Apollo program put a man on the moon. Artemis will send a woman there. Is that cool or what?

We hear a lot about inclusion and diversity. According to NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, the new name for the program represents the goal of including women, more importantly to land a woman on the moon. Soon. Like 2024.

I have two granddaughters. Like their mothers, they’ve been taught that girls can do anything. It took many years before women were allowed into the space program and then into space. What a marvelous experience for today’s girls to see women step foot on the moon and work there.
 
 Gateway (credit: NASA)

When I read about the new programs, my first thought is how are they going to do it. They will put something like a space station, called the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway, that will orbit the moon. The astronauts, a four-person crew, will use it as their home-away-from-home. From there, using the Lunar Lander, they will make trips down to the moon’s surface then back again doing research, gathering data, and conducting scientific experiments. They will spend thirty to ninety days on Gateway before returning to Earth.

Lunar Lander (credit: NASA)

If you want to read more about the Artemis program, here are a couple of links.





Sunday, July 7, 2019

Paranormal Romanticus Interruptus by Jane Kindred

I’ve been in yet another writing slump this year. Neo, the cat that I’ve mentioned on the blog before—the elderly one with dementia who yowled constantly—died in April. He was the second of the two who had been my constant companions for more than two decades; Urd, my calico girl, left me at age 21 two summers ago. Still having Neo after Urd’s death kind of delayed the mourning process. There was still a cat in the house. Urd’s things were still mostly Neo’s things, so I didn’t get rid of anything. But when Neo was gone, I kind of lost it. My anxiety went into overdrive, and I had such severe panic attacks every night that I was sure I was having a heart attack and almost went to the emergency room several times. It was my GP who put the two together when I had a phone consultation with her—that grief could be the trigger.

I decided I had to get away from my cat-empty apartment and took a trip up the coast from San Francisco to Mendocino, where I could sit and watch the waves pound against the rocks and soak in a hot tub in my room watching Underworld: Awakening and not have to do anything else. It was heavenly. But I still couldn’t stop thinking about how empty my house was without cats. As soon as I came back, I started looking at rescue kittens. And on Memorial Day weekend, I brought home Sophie.


Sophie is the best medicine. She’s a ridiculous brat, and I love her.

At any rate, that’s why I’ve been AWOL from the blog for a few months. The words were just not there. And when I can’t seem to focus on words, I binge TV. Which is how I discovered my new favorite show (that I somehow only just now realized the awesomeness of): Lucifer.

When the show was cancelled on Fox and the outcry of loyal fans got it picked up again by Netflix, I figured it was time to give it a try. This show is a-MAZE-ing. (See what I did there, Lucifer fans?) For the uninitiated, Maze, short for Mazikeen, is one of the characters on the show, a demoness who leaves Hell with Lucifer Morningstar and tends bar at his nightclub in Los Angeles. And also kicks a lot of ass. She’s just one of several unfairly sexy characters in this ensemble cast that includes the marvelously snarky and blithely narcissistic—as well as unapologetically kinky and bisexual—Lucifer Morningstar; Lucifer’s uptight brother, the angel Amenadiel (played by a moody, conflicted D.B. Woodside, just to kill me); Detective Chloe Decker, who takes Lucifer on as a “consulting” sidekick in solving homicides; Chloe’s ex-husband Dan, another homicide detective with secrets; Lucifer’s therapist, Linda, who has a sexy librarian-in-glasses thing going on; and Lucifer’s mom, the Goddess of All Creation, played by none other than Tricia Helfer. And I haven’t even mentioned the adorkably perky forensic scientist Ella Lopez yet or the surprising character arc of Smallville’s Tom Welling that I won’t give away here. And then when Eve shows up after escaping a boring Adam in boring Heaven…

Well, I think you get the picture. This show is chock full of really well-written characters with a lot of unexpected emotional vulnerability—the kind of characters I strive to create in my writing. (I’d be lucky if I could do it half as well.) I understand that Netflix has renewed the show for one more season, but Season 5 will be its last.

Watching and getting caught up in this series made me think of other paranormal TV series that were prematurely cancelled: Dracula, with its titular character played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, was obscenely cancelled (again by Fox) after one amazing season. Sleepy Hollow was cancelled after the disastrous decision by (checks notes)—uh, Fox—to kill off the female lead, played by Nicole Behaire. Tom Mison and his eyebrow were amazing, but Behaire was crucial to that show’s success. I didn’t even bother watching Season 4, and I wasn’t surprised when I heard it wasn’t coming back. Then there was Penny Dreadful on Showtime (hey, not your fault this time, Fox!) that had amazing actors and boasted such fabulous characters as Frankenstein and his monster, Dr. Jekyll, Dorian Grey, and Dracula, among others, but was apparently too expensive to be worth continuing with for the ratings it was getting. It was cancelled at the end of Season 3.

Paranormal television series, of course, aren’t the only ones that suffer this fate, but when they do, it always feels like the networks didn’t quite get their audience—or maybe didn’t respect it. Though sometimes, like with NBC’s Grimm and Fox’s Fringe, the shows just seem to have run their course. Thankfully, in those latter cases, they ended with what I consider to be two of the most satisfying conclusions in paranormal television history. It’s worth mentioning that none of these shows were actually billed as romances (because when was the last time romance got any respect on television outside of the Hallmark Channel?), but there are some lovely romantic elements in all of them.

As with television series, it often seems that paranormal book series have a tendency to get prematurely cancelled. (As all of Harlequin’s Nocturne authors sadly can attest.) I hope to one day have a chance to write Laurel’s, Rosemary’s, and Rowan’s stories to finish up the Sisters in Sin series, but right now I’m just starting to get back to work on some other projects that have been languishing—my out-of-print House of Arkhangel’sk and Demons of Elysium series, which I’m hoping to get back into print someday, as well as a paranormal romantic suspense series I set aside back in 2014 to do Sisters. Over the past few days, I’ve been able to keep up my old daily word count of 1K per day. Here’s hoping that will continue. (Even if playing with Sophie instead is really, really tempting.)

Are there any television or book series whose cancellations you still pine over? Let us know in the comments so we can check them out and be sad together. ;)

Monday, July 1, 2019

NASA's Mission to Titan by Diane Burton



photo credit: NASA

When I read that NASA has a new mission, and it's to Titan, Saturn's moon, I did a happy dance. (I'm sure you heard the thudding.) I am still geeked about this. I wrote a novella, Mission to New Earth, that starts on Titan. Two years later, Liza O'Connor wrote Destination: Titan, Book 1 of her Leaving Earth series. I researched so much about Titan to write my book that I thought I knew a lot about Saturn's largest moon. Then, Liza wrote many blog posts about that place. Wow. I didn't know as much as I thought.

Thank goodness for NASA and all its pictures.


photo credit: NASA  Seeing Titan with infrared Eyes

Anyway, I feel like I have a special affinity for the newest of NASA's future explorations. Scientists think that Titan is now what Earth was billions of years ago. By researching this moon, they believe it will "revolutionize what we know about life in the universe."


photo credit: NASA  Dragonfly landing on Titan

You know how NASA sent Rover (a land-based robotic vehicle) to Mars, its job to scoop up dirt and analyze it? The mission to Titan will be fantastically different. Dragonfly is a rotocraft, and it will fly to dozens of locations, picking up surface materials and taking off again to fly to the next location. 

What's so special about Titan? 


photo credit: IMDB
If you saw the 2009 movie Star Trek (J.J. Abrams' reboot of the ST franchise), you'll remember that spectacular sequence when the Enterprise comes out of warp in Titan's atmosphere. Was that cool or what?


photo credit: NASA  

Dragonfly will use 13 years of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft. Titan has clouds, rain, rivers, lakes, and oceans of methane and ethane, (Guess we won't be swimming there.) It also has sand dunes and mountains.  It's the second largest moon in our solar system and bigger than Mercury. Titan has a nitrogen-based atmosphere, like Earth. The most important reason to find out more about Titan is that it's filled with such a variety of organic compounds that it could tell us more about the building blocks of life.

I hope I live long enough to see Dragonfly do its thing. It will leave Earth in 2026 and won't get to Titan until 2034. But if I'm still around, you'll find me glued to the TV, just like when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.


Now for a commercial break. 

Mission to New Earth, a science fiction novella




Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. When new crises ensue—a giant tsunami and the threat of nuclear winter—the timeline changes. Eight years of training crammed into four. Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, but are they ready for the one-way trip? Will the Goldilocks planet prove just right for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.










If you want to read more about the Dragonfly Mission and Titan, go to  https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/saturn-moons/titan/overview



Sunday, June 30, 2019

Lea Kirk is AWOL this month

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m "trapped" at scout camp with our troops** on Catalina Island being forced to sit out in the sun, listen to the waves, and <gasp!> snorkel! No need to send help.

But, I will not leave you empty handed this month, so do not despair! I’m part of a special promo featuring free ebooks in all sorts of fabulous flavors, from SFR to Contemporary to PNR and more! And all of them are freeBe aware that this offer ends tonight, June 30, 2019!

May you find books galore to fill up your summer. I will be back on July 30th with my regularly scheduled post!

~Lea Kirk





**Yes, troops, plural. We have a boy troop and a girl troop…at least until such time as BSA National figures out what we all already know—separate-but-equal doesn't work—and they finally integrate all the kids into one troop. Just like in real life. And what every other country with boy scouts has already done.... Okay, okay, I'm shutting up now. ~LK


~*~*~*~*~*~

USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her sci-fi romances. When she’s not busy writing about the blue and green aliens of her Prophecy series, or reading about dragons, she’s hanging out with her hubby, five kids (the nerd herd), and spoiled Dobie mix puppy.

She is currently working on two short stories and the fourth book in her series.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Soft Granite by @MeganSlayer #gay #gayromance #PNR #romance #paranormal




Soft Granite by Megan Slayer
Contemporary Paranormal Gay Romance
From Evernight Publishing

Celestial Mates, 5
What happens when the curse goes wrong, but the outcome is all right?


Ryan Rourke wasn’t looking for love when he sat at the foot of the statue, Michael Emerging. The inanimate object listens and he could swear there’s someone beneath the granite. One night he gives into his desire and kisses the statue. It won’t hurt anything, right? It’s just a granite statue—except there’s a soul in the cold rock.

Indio fell in love with Ryan the moment the shy college junior spoke to him the first time. The tenderness, warmth, and sense of humor were everything Indio wanted—if he weren’t trapped in granite. The attraction is stronger than he ever thought possible. Can Ryan’s kiss free him forever? Or will the power of Zeus and the majesty of the curse be too much to overcome? If Indio has his way, he will get his man.

Available wherever ebooks are sold!

Excerpt: 
Ryan followed Indio into the building. He couldn’t wrap his mind around what had happened. Indio was real. He glanced back at the empty platform. He’d seen Indio walk off the stone slab and his skin turn from harsh gray to pale peach. If Ryan believed what he’d seen, then the curse story was possible.
He walked into the first life drawing room. Indio darted ahead and snagged one of the robes the models wore between stints posing nude.
Although he should be on his guard, Ryan swept his gaze over Indio’s nude form. For a man who’d spent time in stone, he was still toned. A bit pale, but if he’d been out of the sun, he would be pasty. His inky black hair curled over his forehead. When he glanced back at Ryan, his icy blue eyes sparkled. He strode with purpose, but not swagger. His velvety voice slid down Ryan’s spine and Ryan longed to grab his tight ass. Ryan wanted to gawk at Indio’s package, but also didn’t want to look too eager.
Indio covered his nudity in a robe. “Where do you want to start? I’ll explain everything.”
“I’d like to start by undressing you and licking my way all over your body,” Ryan blurted. Shit. He’d said that out loud.
“For a man who seemed afraid of me, you’re forward. I like it.” Indio sat on one of the drawing benches. “When I convince you I’m real, we will kiss again. You’re a good kisser.”
Convince? He could see a real man who’d stepped out of a statue. There was no need to prove what he’d seen. Still, he should apologize for what he’d said. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that out loud.”
“I don’t mind. I want to kiss and explore you, too.” Indio grinned. “I’ve learned if I want someone, I need to be honest and go for him.”
“You want me? Or someone else?” He needed to stop talking.
“I do.”


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Road Trip! Sci-Fi and Fantasy Movie Locations to Visit by L. A. Kelley


Summer is here and that means road trips. Turn off the TV, plug in coordinates to the GPS and visit real movie locations. You don’t have to settle for California. Many movies were shot in areas nowhere near La La Land and open to the public. We all know about the beauty of New Zealand thanks to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit movies. If you have the bucks you can actually can pop into Hobbiton and many of the places where the movies were film. On a tighter budget? There are plenty closer to stateside to choose from and they’re not exactly what or where you’d expect.

Ghostbusters Headquarters
The building is actually Hook & Ladder Company #8, a fully working and operational New York Fire Department firehouse at 14 North Moore Street in TriBeCa. Exteriors were shot in New York City and interiors in Los Angeles, Fire Station #23, 225 E. 5th Street. It was decommissioned in 1960 and is now a Historic Cultural Monument for Los Angeles.

Robocop
This one might blow your mind. Although the movie supposedly takes place in future Detroit, the downtown area is actually a mash-up of Pittsburgh and Dallas. OCP corporate headquarters is Dallas City Hall at 1500 Marilla St. Matte paintings made the building appear taller (and more ominous). Check out more before and afters posted by the Dallas Film Commission.

Star Wars: A New Hope
The Massassi Outpost rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin in the original Star Wars film was shot on location at the Mayan temple ruins in The Tikal National Park in Guatemala. Director George Lucas picked the location after spotting a poster at a travel agency while shooting in London, England. A trip to Tatooine starts a little farther. The Mos Eisley Spaceport was really Ajim, Djerba Island, Tunisia, while Tosche Station was Sidi Jemour, Djerba. They already sound like science fiction locations. Don’t want to travel halfway across the world? The Tatooine desert was Death Valley National Park.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Poor Katniss had it tough in The Hunger Games. Yeah, sure, real tough when she spent her days basking in luxury at the Marriott Marquis Hotel at 265 Peachtree Center Avenue NE in Atlanta, Georgia. The building served as the Tributes’ Quarters and Training Center. Production designers chose the Marriot for the glass elevators and central atrium, at one time the largest in the world. The Tributes’ living quarters were filmed on the 10th floor and another set built on the hotel roof.

The Shining
Heeeere’s Johnny. Actually, here’s a conglomeration of hotels that inspired The Overlook. The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, California, inspired the interior while exterior and establishing shots came from the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. Stephen King’s original inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in the novel was the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Kubrick never shot there, but it was used in the 1997 made-for-TV version of The Shining.

X Men
The exterior for Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is Hatley Castle, in British Columbia, although Casa Loma in Toronto and ParkwoodEstate in Oshawa, Ontario were also used. Interiors were sound stages. Hatley Castle is a National Historic Site and tours are available.

Logan's Run Before Black Friday Sales
Logan’s Run
A dystopian future never had so much great stuff to buy and check out the nummy hot pretzels at the food court. Although areas around Dallas/Fort Worth were filmed, the domed dystopian future city was actually a shopping mall named the Dallas Market Center.
Logan's Run After

Logan’s Run is one of my favorite cheesy bad movies. It’s quite awful from beginning to end and I’d always hoped to visit and check out the sales while I wandered around recreating the escape of Logan 5 and Jessica 6. Unfortunately, urban development necessitates progress and the The Dallas Market Center now looks like this, a fitting end for the set of a dystopian city.

The real Field of Dreams is a real family farm. Located in Dyersville, Iowa, the Lansing Farm has free admission and live, guided 30-minute tours. Hear stories about the Lansing family who homesteaded in the early 20th century, and the farm’s rebirth as the set for the Kinsella family in the 1989 fantasy classic. The baseball field is still there and used for games. Want to stay overnight and talk your dead daddy into a catch? The house is available for rent on Booking.com.

Groundhog Day
On my top ten list of best fantasy movies ever is Groundhog Day. While the story takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, it was almost entirely filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The quaint bed and breakfast where Bill Murray’s Phil Connors stayed was the Royal Victorian Manor, at 344 Fremont Street. Alas, it is now closed. You’ll have to settle for a selfie out front.

The Blob
It’s alive! Well, not exactly alive, but the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania is open for business. If you’re a fan of classic science fiction, you surely can’t pass up a visit to a place where the blob nearly oozed through a building full of teenagers. July 12th this year is the annual Blobfest where you can catch a show and then run screaming from the theater.

L. A. Kelley writes fantasy and science fiction adventure with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. On road trips, she always puts her pedal to the metal.




Monday, June 24, 2019

The Boarder by Francesca Quarto

Three of the four men currently rooming with the Darby Boarding House, were of the same opinion regarding their landlady.  After a few pints each at the local pub, they began sharing those thoughts rather boisterously, among themselves. 
"Georgianna Darby is as warm as a cow pod! " Henry blurted out to the others.  A tenacious line of beer foam, rimmed the droopy mustache over his wet mouth.  It nicely highlighted the sneer on his florid face.  "Well, maybe a recently dropped pod!" he added to the delight of his listeners.  Henry used the back of his hairy knuckles to mop at his whiskers until the laughing died down around their table, and the tables nearby, of accidental listeners.
He went on describing the named woman in even courser terms.
"I have yet to see a glimmer of a smile on that pasty-white face. Always scowling like an old witch over her brew," he added with a flourish of his hand, tipping some of his own brew, onto his shabby suit lapel. "She's as tight with her good humors, as the braids she wears like a black crown on her head."
His comments opened the way for the others to speak their minds, befuddled as they were becoming with the arrival of a third pint.
"I've taken note of how she only joins us at our dinner, never breakfast.  Even then, she barely speaks," put in Tomas, the youngest man staying at the Darby. "It's mostly just 'yes' or 'no', to civil attempts at conversation." Tomas was a newly minted accountant and always spoke with the precision of that profession.
"And she never eats, only sips at her wine. I swear, her bones already poke through those black dresses of hers!  How long has she been in mourning, anyway?" Ralph asked, looking around the table.  As an insurance agent, Ralph was always concerned with health matters.
The three turned a bleary eye to Carter, the only one who hadn't offered insights regarding the cold, dour, and emaciated Mrs. Darby.  In fact, he rarely spoke more than a few words on any topic.  However, Carter's surreptitious glances at the landlady during her stony visits at supper, spoke volumes to the other boarders. They all noted how he pulled out her chair like an attentive suitor.  They observed how the lady of the house, leaned in, directing whispered remarks for his ears exclusively.  For some opaque reason, Carter was interested this eccentric widow.  Oddly, Georgianna Darby became almost attractive in those moments, with Carter looking up from his meal to stare momentarily into her dark eyes. 
"Come on Carter, being a Copper, you probably know something of Mrs. Darby's background," Henry said, giving the taciturn Peace Officer a hard tap on his shoulder.  
"I've only been at the Boarding house for a few weeks.  I can't say I know any more than you lot," Carter answer in his usual soft-spoken manner.
"But you have to agree," barked Ralph, "she has some peculiar ways about her.  And then there's those noises we've all heard late at night.  It's like the old bird is having a party somewhere in the place!" he said looking around at three nodding heads.
Tomas joined in saying, "The racket seems to be coming from the cellar.  Though upon questioning the cook, she'd only say the lady of the house was putting away wines and food stuff in their bins down there."  
Mention of the cook, brought other oddities about the household to light and comment.  All the men, with the exception of Carter, had strong opinions on this hugely fat woman, though all agreed they ate well.  Only the finest cuts of meat graced their table each evening and the cook was never stingy in their portions. 
At the conclusion of graphic descriptions of the bloody-red roast they enjoyed just that evening, Carter stood up, swaying ever so slightly on his feet.  His current assignment, impersonating a lowly Patrol Officer on the streets of the fourth, New York Precinct, placed him in the boarding house nearly three weeks back. 
In reality, Carter was a highly successful Investigative Officer for a burgeoning constabulary. He' d been assigned to look into five, Missing Persons Reports, posted on past boarders who resided at the Darby House just prior to disappearing off the face of the earth.  So far, Carter discovered each of the disappeared men had been given the same room he now occupied and that all, like him, were unattached.  In fact, it was their employers who filed reports when they failed to show for work after several days.   And then there was the question of Mrs. Darby.
After careful questioning, Carter learned from the current boarders, all five of the missing fellows had become strangely smitten, with the wraith-like figure and sickly pale looks of their landlady.  To his chagrin, Carter found he too, felt she exerted some sort of influence over him.  He felt more and more drawn to the darkly crowned woman, even experiencing some strangely vivid dreams, with her lying intimately close to him in his bed, speaking in a hypnotic, soothing voice. 
He always woke when the dreams became overly intense, but he'd been suffering extreme fatigue and lost focus over the past few days.
Returning to the boarding house took several halting minutes while he struggled to regain his sobriety.  I only need a good night's rest, he thought as he opened the door and entered the dimly lit foyer.
The gloom was heavy with the scent of wood polish and the sickening sweet smell of Mrs. Darby's fragrance. He noticed it the second he walked into the boarding house weeks ago.  It permeated the air, the drapes, the carpeting and every stick of upholstered furnisher.  For some reason, it was extremely strong when he laid on his bed.  Smelling it so strongly now, he shivered, knowing the woman of the house might be nearby.  He only wanted peace and rest and didn't want to hold any conversations with the landlady at this hour.
"Mr. Wellington," came her silky voice out of the cloying darkness.  "I see the pub has gotten the best of you," she gurgled like a gently flowing brook.  "Let me help you to your room, these stairs are very steep and I couldn't live... (she cleared her throat)...with myself if you suffered."
"What d'ya mean, 'suffered', Carter slurred.
"If you suffered a mishap, of course.  Now, shall we get you to your bed?"  She'd already managed to slip her bony arm through his, using his elbow like a rudder to guide him up the long, narrow staircase to the second floor.
His bed looked so inviting to him, he put up no fuss when Mrs. Darby carefully pushed him down onto the fluffy comforter.  He began to doze off immediately as she busied herself, humming softly while divesting Carter of all his clothing until he lay as innocently naked as a babe.  There was a stirring, more like a rumble, coming from the bedroom closet when the door was flung open.  
Pushing her great weight forward, the cook peered long and hard at the lean body of the sleeping Carter saying, "This one will drain quickly, Mistress, but we won't get much meat off of him I fear."
"No worries, my dear.  Just be certain to fill the wine bottles well and don't spill any this time.  You know how I detest waste."



Thursday, June 20, 2019

How I Became a Wino (And Put It Into Books!)


The first time my husband asked me on a date, he decided to do so in a loud bar where we could both hardly hear. He lead off with, “Do you like wine?”

The answer at the time was a resounding NO. I found wine to be too sour. Not my preferred drink. But I could also tell that he was leading up to a date invite (or at least hoped so). If I said no, he might think I was rejecting the date, which I wasn’t. So, of course I said… “Yes!”

You saw that coming right? I mean, yes, our relationship started out on a lie, but can you blame me? Of course, once we got to the wine tasting party he took me to for the date, he figured out pretty quickly that I did not like wine. Lol. (Or, for that matter, spending time with large groups of total strangers, though I hide that pretty well. It took him longer to cotton on to that facet of my personality.)

A few years later, we married and moved to California. To northern California in particular. The heart of wine country. If we drove west, we hit Napa and Sonoma. If we went a bit south we hit ???. Every party we went to wine was served (it’s basically the California version of beer). Parties and corporate team builders were held at wineries. I couldn’t escape the stuff.

And then I started to like wine. Granted, my journey into wines started with the sweetest of the whites (the dessert wines). I’m still not much of a red wine drinker, even now, unless it’s in sangria. But I do love wine. However, it wasn’t Napa, or the tastings, or the parties, or the teambuilders that got me hooked. It was my favorite winery.

Boeger Winery.

Boeger was the closest winery to us, and also the most beautiful. East of where we lived, it’s located in the rolling western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in a region called Apple Hill. Apple Hill is mostly beautiful apple orchards, but also sports a few other things—a Christmas tree farm, pumpkin patches, a brewery or two…and Boeger Winery.

Boeger is set on a gorgeous piece of land. It has a modern tasting room. Then, beside a babbling brook, rolling green grass with picnic tables. Those lead down to an origitial, restored farm house where the owner’s daughter lives upstairs (or did at the time). There’s also an original, still operation forge on the property, some ancient apple trees, and, of course, the beautiful rows of vines which can be seen over the rolling mountains.

The place is idyllic. We even took a series of family photos there. In the summers, the owners take advantage of the weather and the beauty of the spot. On Friday nights, they would bring in a live band. We would come with friends who had children about the same age and set up blankets and chairs, eat a picnic dinner, drink wine, and listen to the music as the kids ran around and played. Many of my favorite California memories take place at Boeger Winery. Granted, it’s not all about the wine (which is excellent by the way), but the wine was part of it. Now, any time I open a bottle, regardless of brand or type, I think of that place.

They say write what you know. That can be a little tricky when writing dragon shifters in paranormal romance. Since so much of the world has to be created from scratch in my head, one of my tricks is to try to set things in places I’m already familiar with. This is why my Fire’s Edge series is set in northern California, where I lived for ten years. Even better, especially in my latest release The Rookie, I set portions of the books at…you guessed it…a winery that looks and feels just like Boeger.
If you’re ever out Apple Hill way, near Placerville, California, I highly recommend, you make Boeger one of your stops.




EXCERPT FROM THE ROOKIE

Sera glanced up from opening a new bottle of wine at a burst of noise from outside to find Aidan’s gaze on her. Again.
That was the third time he’d looked over at her since he and the team arrived at the winery. While she and Delaney worked beside her other summer servers doing tastings by the caboodle, Finn, Aidan, and the team had settled in with camping chairs by one of the picnic tables, listening to the live music.
Wide double doors to the tasting room stood open, spilling light onto the grassy area outside to mix with the lights strung through the trees. The honeyed scent of blossoms floated in on the evening breeze to blend with the oiled wood of the bar. Through the doors, Sera had a direct view of Aidan from her spot behind the large mahogany bar that wrapped around two sides of the room. Granted, that view was often blocked by the stream of guests meandering inside. People stood in groups swirling wine in glasses. Other guests perused shelves displaying goods and treasures from local artisans.
But she still caught those looks through the throngs. Looks that set her on edge.
Oddly, though she had no idea how, she sensed a significance in that lingering gaze, almost a yearning. Like he wanted to share something with her, but couldn’t.
Or maybe he’s not looking at you, and it’s just coincidence.
The man kept his emotions tightly leashed, giving the world only the side of him that was determined, capable, and unwavering in every step he took. But even in real life, she could see more. See how alone he was, though surrounded by friends. She could see it, because she was the same.
Except sharing and truly seeing each other…that wasn’t the relationship they had, not in waking life at least.
It’s the relationship you want, the devil camped out on her shoulder whispered.
The time she spent in her dreams just talking with him… In moments of weakness, she missed that even more than the physical pleasure.
With ruthless focus, Sera shoved the small glow his sudden attention gave her down deep.
She couldn’t deny she wanted Aidan, but that didn’t mean she had to give in. The guy presented too many problems to her already complicated life.
You are leaving. The stern mental retribution helped. Sort of.
Sera plastered what she hoped was a warm, receptive smile on her face for the patrons standing in front of her and tried her best to ignore the presence of the sexy shifters gathered outside with the patrons to enjoy the evening.
At least she was inside the tasting room while the guys sat outside, lounging around. That low rumbled voice wasn’t in hearing range to skate over her nerves and distract her, or she’d be a worse hot mess than the wicked witch with a bucket of water poured on her. However, she also had a direct view of how his attention kept being pulled back to a twenty-something brunette with hair tumbling down her back and big tits on bold display in a low-cut shirt.
Sera tucked her own fine, pale blond hair behind her ear and refused to compare her chest, which could only be described as “perky” on its best days, to the other woman’s ample curves. The woman was practically in his lap. Why hadn’t he blown her off? The man was uber serious, his only focus on his role within the team. She’d even call him myopically obsessed with his job. He usually didn’t pay any attention to women. Or at least, not that Sera had noticed.
She shouldn’t be noticing or caring anyway.
You’re leaving, she reminded herself as she uncorked a new bottle of Pinot. Leaving, leaving, leaving.
But a glance up showed him watching her again. Unwanted heat surged into Sera’s cheeks. She couldn’t let this go on. With raised eyebrows, she tried to play it off like she was only mildly curious.
“What?” she mouthed.
Aidan shook his head, just barely. “Later,” she thought he mouthed back.
So there was something?

READ THE ROOKIE NOW!