Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Hexy Thanksgiving

“I don’t know if three turkeys will be enough,” Blair said, surveying the kitchen counters covered with roasting pans, mixing bowls, and various pots and pans on the stove. “Trust me, Jake eats a lot. There are all you can eat buffets that won’t let us come back.”

“And you demolishing the desert table doesn’t have something to do with that? The turkeys are twenty-six pounds apiece. We’ll be fine.” Stasi covered the sweet potatoes with marshmallows and popped them into the hot oven so they could brown.

“You did use cream and real butter in the mashed potatoes, didn’t you?” Irma wandered in with Phinneas, her beau, in tow. “It’s what gives them the proper taste.”

“It’s a good thing we all have metabolisms that don’t mind the extra calories and cholesterol.” Blair set the rolls on a cookie sheet.

“All you have to do is try it,” Jazz coaxed, leading Nick into the kitchen. “It’s not that bad.” She smiled and batted her eyelashes.

“How would you know? Have you tasted it?” The tall vampire looked down at her with a wary expression on his face.

“You’re not going to do it!” Blair and Stasi protested, aware what their witchy friend had in mind.

“It’s a great way for Nick to feel like he’s a part of the dinner,” Jazz pointed out.

“You know what? A glass of wine is just fine with me.” He started to back out of the estrogen-filled room, but his witch’s firm hold on his wrist wouldn’t allow it, thanks to magick increasing her strength. She used her other hand to pull a container out of the refrigerator.

“I’ve read books where they do additions like this. So why not this?” She dumped the contents in the blender and fired it up. She poured a little bit of the thick mixture into a glass and offered it to Nick who reared back as if she held a ball of fire.

“That smells terrible! What’s in it?”

Jazz looked into the glass but seemed to hold her breath. “Pureed turkey and cow’s blood.”

That was what you put in our refrigerator?” Stasi cried. “Jazz!”

“It’s not like I put bits of an entire dinner in there.” She held the glass toward Nick who kept backing away with his hands up. "Come on, sweetheart, just try it."

“Wine only," he replied.

“Nikolai Gregorivich I made this for you and you will drink it!” She narrowed her eyes.

That was when Nick smiled, blew her a kiss and disappeared in the wink of an eye. 

Jazz spun in a tight circle. "But I fixed it just for you!" she wailed. 

"Smart vampire," Blair muttered to Stasi.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Writer's Journey

All through school my teachers encouraged my fiction writing. My journalism teachers in high school critiqued my work and cheered me on. I wasn’t as lucky in college because my journalism advisor told me I would never have a future in fiction writing and I should go into newspaper writing. Stubborn me wasn’t going to let her words follow me. I continued writing short stories and journals for myself because I couldn’t stop.
There were some detours along the way. I changed college majors because my advisor wasn’t going to give me any feedback on my fiction work. I got married and lived out of state when my husband was stationed on the East Coast. I still wrote for myself and learned that my uncle’s stepdaughter, who shall not be named and deserves the ultimate punishment, found all my notebooks, took them and then claimed she ‘accidentally’ threw them away. A lot of punishments still roll through my head when I think about that. Do I hold grudges? Maybe. Just a little. Okay, a lot.
I was always a reader, namely gothic romances and mysteries. Then one day I was cruising the library. Oh yes, back in the Dark Ages we went to libraries for reading material or bought our books at bookstores. Shelves quickly filled up and any we didn’t want to keep went to used bookstores so we could turn them in and discover new authors and genres. I was in the mood for something new to me and I discovered Harlequin Romances and Harlequin Presents. Romance books back in the late 1970s weren’t as plentiful as they are now. I took a few, read them during my lunch breaks and after work and went back for more. At the time there were only two US authors writing for Harlequin and I didn’t know why there couldn’t be more. Plus, like others, I kept muttering “I could do this”. My husband, only patient for so long said “shut up and do it”.
It’s early spring 1979 and I’m trying to figure out where to begin. Then my BFF and I took a ballet class. I thought, why not use that? A ballerina who falls in love, discovers her alpha husband is a little too alpha for her and she takes off unaware she’s pregnant with his child. Then you fast forward to her living a new life with her young son and naturally, Mr. Alpha comes back into her life and discovers he’s a daddy. What can I say? That was popular back then. I rewrote the first five chapters several times until I was happy with it and once I was finished I was afraid to submit it. It turned out to be easier to just sit down and write a second book. I wrote during my lunch hours, after work and on weekends. No computers then. I typed on a little Corona electric typewriter and pages I typed at work during my breaks were done on an IBM Executive typewriter which was proportional spacing. Not fun when correcting errors!

Except then I had two books finished. Time to put up or shut up. There were advertisements that a brand new romance line from Simon & Schuster called Silhouette Romance was looking for North American authors who were previously unpublished. I qualified and the two books were submitted in early November, 1979.
Any author will tell you once a book is submitted you want to not think about waiting to hear if it’s a yay or nay. Easy to say, not easy to do.
Then it was my wedding anniversary, December 17, 1979. I took a client to lunch that day and funny thing, we discussed my writing. He knew about it and asked how it was going and I told him I got the nerve to submit the two manuscripts. I returned to my office and within a few minutes I got THE CALL. Silhouette loved the books and wanted to buy them. Yes, I squealed and screamed and amazing building security didn’t show up since the offices were next to a bank.
Did I want to use a pseudonym? No way! Did I have more ideas. Oh yes!
A month later I was fired from my job because of the books. My husband and I talked it over. Did I give full time writing a try or would I look for another job and write part time. We decided I’d try full time and see if I could do it. Luckily, I could. 
So that was the beginning of a journey that’s still going on 35 years later. Naturally, my writing began in the womb. What can I say, I was a very precocious baby. 
Even better, I received the rights back to my early books and they're available as ebooks.  It's nice to know they're still out there.

Monday, November 17, 2014

One Hex of a Cold

            Krebs ducked and ran when a section of the ceiling fell down around him. His years surfing the waves helped out when he skidded on the wood floors, even if sliding not too gracefully into the kitchen and finding shelter under the kitchen table. He flinched when another earth-shattering sneeze blew through the house like a tornado.
            “That girl needs a good home remedy for what ails her.” Irma floated into the kitchen, hovering near the stove.
            “That witch needs something,” Krebs grunted, failing to duck in time before  the toaster flew from its spot on the counter and smacked him in the shoulder. “Why can’t she just magick up a cure?”
            “It seems witches can’t cure a cold,” the elderly ghost said philosophically. “But then, look how long it took her to get me out of the car. Our sassy witch isn’t as good as she claims to be.” She shook her head, raising her eyes to the second floor where Jazz Tremaine, witch extraordinaire and mega hex breaker, lay huddled at Ground Zero where an earth shaking, house rattling sneeze presently took place. “What she needs is a good hot toddy.” Irma rummaged through the cabinets. “Where is the whiskey?”
            “Uh.” Krebs seemed to be without words. “Top shelf on the right.”
            Irma stared at the bottle and turned to spear him with a glare. “The good whiskey,” she clarified. “Not that cheap swill you serve to unwanted visitors.”
            The bewildered man sunk onto a chair at the table and thunked his head against the surface. He frowned and looked up. “This table is clean. Cabinet to the right, top shelf.”
            “Of course it is. Honestly, men leave toast crumbs and uneaten food wherever they were sitting. My kitchen was always spotless,” Irma bragged, as she dragged a stepstool over and climbed it. Within no time she had her concoction bubbling gently on the stove. “And you’d think a witch could just clean with a twitch of her nose.”
            “Yeah, Jazz said that only happens on TV.” Krebs closed his eyes against the headache that threatened to overtake his body. He shuddered at the next sneeze then straightened up at the sound of wood falling one way then the other. “No. No!” He pushed back his chair and jumped to his feet. “Nonononono!” He ran outside to the carriage house/garage. “No!”
            “That doesn’t sound good.” Irma poured the toddy into a mug and stared at the slippers. “Are you willing to take this up to her?”
            “She’s …” Fluff began.
            “Sick,” Puff ended.
            “And why she needs this hot drink.” She held out the mug.
            Sparks of purple and blue billowed out and the mug disappeared from her hands.
            “Thank you!” A weak voice echoed downstairs.
            Krebs staggered back into the kitchen. “She has to stop sneezing now,” he said in a raw voice. “Get her well.”
            “Magick doesn’t cure colds,” Fluff told him.
            “Something has to.” He dropped into a chair, covering his face with his hands. “My boards. All my boards. Even my very first one.” He looked up with pain on his face. “They’re toothpicks. Brightly colored toothpicks.”
            Irma winced as a rattling cough shook the house and shrieked with Krebs’ gasp just as loud.
            “My heavens!” The elderly ghost tried to cover her now scantily clad body with her hands.
            “Just blind me now,” he moaned. “Please!” Krebs shook his head so hard it was amazing it stayed on his body. “No more. Something has to be done.” He opened and closed every drawer. “It’s in here somewhere. I saw it once.”
            A second cough covered Irma, actually partially covered her, in a belly dancing costume.
            “Enough!” Krebs snatched up a small pink cell phone.
            The bunny slippers scampered up onto the counter and tried to tear it from his hands, but he managed to keep it from their reach. Even their magick refused to work.
            “What are you doing?” Puff asked.
            “Calling for medical help,” he said grimly.
            “Bad idea. Very bad,” Fluff continued, shaking his head so much his ears wobbled. “After all this time you know magick can’t cure a cold. All you’re going to do is hear the same from a cranky healer and she won’t be as nice about it.”
            “Even we wouldn’t use that,” Puff told him. ”Jazz shouldn’t have left her witch phone down here.” His normally white ears had turned red while Fluff’s ears turned a dark pink. Both slippers rocked back and forth with their agitation.
            “Desperate man. Desperate measures.” Krebs cringed when another earthshattering sneeze rocked the house. “At this rate all my computer equipment will end up broken next.” He stared at the phone and began punching buttons. He winced at the ear splitting squeal that erupted from the speaker then a charged silence. “Help! Jazz is really sick and needs help!” He punched the end button and set the small phone down.  
            The slippers looked at each other and started to disappear but their bodies remained solid.
            “We’re screwed,” they said in unison as a dark blue cloud of smoke engulfed the kitchen.
            A tall figure wearing magenta scrubs and a doctor’s white lab coat walked out of the smoke. Dark eyes surveyed their surroundings while the body swiveled to face Krebs who quickly realized the slippers were right.
            It. Was. A. Very. Bad. Idea.
            “What in Hades have you done?” Her musical voice cut through him like an icy knife.
“Like I said, Jazz is sick,” he mumbled, aware that her power engulfed him like a thick cloud.  “She needs help.”
Dr. Lili Carter, witch and head of All Souls Hospital in San Francisco, stared at him as if he’d lost his mind.
If Krebs had been asked he would have readily admitted he had.
She barely managed to keep her balance as the house rumbled underfoot while Krebs and Irma fell to the floor. The slippers flattened themselves on the counter and tried to slide behind the toaster.
            “I—I know it was wrong to call you, but it’s really bad here and I don’t know what to do,” Krebs stumbled over his words. “Jazz is really sick with a cold and –“
            “Yes, I can tell that.” Her delicate features tightened with anger. “After all this time of sharing a house with her you didn’t know that magick doesn’t cure colds.”
            He winced under her words. “Uh, that might have been mentioned before.” He dragged his hands through his surfer boy messy hair.
            “Lili?” A raspy voice caught the witch’s attention.
            She turned to see her best friend/sister witch, standing in the kitchen doorway.
            “You look terrible.”
            “No thit,” Jazz rasped, holding a tissue to her Rudolph red nose. “I haf a code in my node.” She bent over as a cough racked her body. Her equally red eyes watered.
            “You poor thing!” Irma clucked. “You need to be back in bed.”
            “Can I haf some hot chocolate,” she whimpered, before sneezing three times. The rubber duckies in the spa started quacking in distress as the water bubbled boiling hot.
            A wave of Lili’s hand returned the spa and kitchen to rights.
            “Maybe my surfboards too?” Krebs asked hopefully.
            She speared him with the evil eye. “Deal with it.”
            “It’s just that this cold is worse than her others,” he explained. “Okay, you can’t cure it, but isn’t there some potion you can give her that will make it go away faster or make sure the house doesn’t start dancing or something?”
            Lili stared at Krebs then at Jazz who had collapsed in a chair. Sympathy for her friend softened her features. Nothing harder for a healer than to see something that she can’t make better.
            Krebs turned to his housemate. “Just don’t sneeze or cough changing my Porsche into a pile of goo or something, okay?”
            Lili’s lips stretched into a broad smile. “I may not be able to cure a cold, but I can make it go elsewhere.” She held her hands up.
            Fluff and Puff yelped, hugging each other tightly as waves of smothering magick filled the air.
            When it finally dissipated, Jazz was sitting up straighter and didn’t look as if she was ready for a coffin. She took an experimental sniff and grinned.
            “I can breathe again!”
            “Of course you can,” Lili told her.
            The sneeze wasn’t as dangerous as the ones from the past few days.
            “Thit!” Krebs groaned, grabbing a paper towel and rubbing his nose. “Not fair!”
            Lili smiled at him. “Speaking as a medical professional I suggest that you might want to get something for that cold,” she advised, conjuring up a handkerchief a second before Krebs erupted into a sneezing fit.
            “Dis isn’t fair!” he moaned, before sneezing again.
“Don’t worry, it should be gone in a week.” She leaned down to hug Jazz then reared back. “My prescription for you is a long hot bath.” She settled for a quick air kiss. “And don’t let him get your witch phone again.”
            Lili snapped her fingers, sending Jazz’s phone to the redhaired witch’s hands. With a smile at her friend she was gone in the blink of an eye.
            “I can’t believe you used my phone!” Jazz scolded her housemate. “You know better.”
            “Your code was wrecking my houth,” Krebs whined. “I juth wanted you to feel better. Inthead thee gave me your code.” He wiped his nose. “I can’t be thick. I have a date with Letitithia tonight! And I thound horrible.”
            Jazz pulled a can of Diet Coke out of the refrigerator. “Yes, you do. You should have known better by now, Krebsie. Never mess with a witch, even a doctor witch.” She patted his shoulder. “And seriously, get yourself to bed. You don’t want to spread those nasty germs, do you?” She wandered off to the stairs with the slippers racing behind her.
            Krebs dropped into a chair and rested his now aching and stuffy head on the table.
            “Irma, would you make me a hot toddy?” he begged. “Irma?” He lifted his head and looked around. He was now alone in the kitchen.
            He jumped when a steaming bowl and spoon popped in front of him.
            Krebs tested the hot soup and sighed with relief.
            “Thank you!” He spooned up more chicken noodle soup.
            It’s not always magick that helps a nasty head cold. And Krebs learned the hard way that it was never a good idea to call a witch doctor even if it was to treat another witch.