A Gentleman and a Rogue

Sunday, April 29, 2012


The Titanic's story is one of the most romantic and tragic in modern history. April 14th, 2012 was the 100 Anniversary of the Titanic sinking. How many of you broke down and went to see the 1997 in the theatres in IMAX 3D? I confess I did. And it was just as good if not better this time around.

So what was it about the Titanic that has held us captive throughout the years? I thought I'd explore the history of the Titanic.

RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Titanic was built between 1909-1911 by the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, Ireland. Harland and Wolff were "the" shipbuilders of the day. At the time the ship was constructed, it could hold over 3,000 people. What made the ship special? It had an onboard gymnasium, swimming pool, library, opulent cabins and high class restaurants. The telegraph was one of the most high powered ones of the day.

The Titanic was constructed with a series of watertight containers. These containers were originally designed to go to the "B" desk, but were cut back to the "E" deck. There were 11 decks total on the ship.



The Titanic had 3 engines. It used 600 tons of coal a day. It had an electrical plant and brass propellers. The ship was capable of delivering heated water using pumps to all parts. It could even distil seawater if it had to. With a ship as "high tech" as this (for 1912) no one really thought it would sink.

Of course, with all places, there's a human story behind the events and Titanic is no different. The White Star Line's chairman, J. Bruce Ismay, conceived the Olympic class liners including Titanic. He worked with naval architect Thomas Andrews and many others to design and then build the ship. Ismay wanted to compete on size, not speed. Unfortunately, Ismay made poor design decisions when it came to the ship.

#1 – He ordered the watertight containers lowered to the "E" deck from the "B" deck.

#2 – He substituted #3 Iron rivets instead of steel rivets or #4 iron rivets. #3 iron rivets are of poorer quality and break easily.

#3 – He cut back on the number of lifeboats because the full compliment of lifeboats made the desk look too cluttered.

None of these decisions directly pertain to an iceberg, but they made the Titanic less sturdy and less capable of handling a hit from an iceberg.



Another key event which occurred prior to the Titanic sailing would have major repercussions. Prior to sailing, Titanic was assigned a new captain – Edward J. Smith of the Olympic. He was the most senior captain of the White Star Line. Smith brought Henry Wilde over to be his chief mate. This bumped down the officers assigned to Titanic, Murdoch and Lightoller. Titanic's original 2nd Officer, David Blair was dropped from the maiden voyage.

When David Blair left, he accidently took the keys to the binoculars storage box in the crow's nest.

That's important.

Two lookouts were in the crow's nest on the forward mast and could only their eyes to see icebergs. If they had access to the binoculars they probably could have spotted the iceberg sooner. On a moonless night with little wind, they didn't stand a chance of spotting the iceberg in time to avoid it.



Several prominent people of the time were onboard including John Jacob Aster IV and millionaire Molly Brown, played to perfection by Kathy Bates in the 1997 movie. Also sailing on the boat: J. Bruce Ismay and Thomas Andrews. They were to assess the ship's performance and trouble shoot any problems it might have.

As the Titanic sank, J. Bruce Ismay dressed a woman to secure a place in one of the lifeboats. For the rest of his life he was known as a coward.

The USS Californian was less than two hours away from the Titanic. The ship had been warning Titanic all day of the icebergs. Titanic's wireless operators took the messages, but these warnings didn't pay the bills. To earn money, they had to send out the wireless messages from the people on board.

At approx. 7pm a USS Californian wireless operator overrode Titanic's operator, Jack Phillips. Phillips was sending a personal message. The Californian's message warned Titanic of more icebergs in the area. The override forced a lot of noise into Phillip's ear. Phillips, mad, sent the California's operator a scathing message.

The Californian's message further advised it was stopping for the night because of the icebergs. After this message from the Californian at 7 pm, their radio operator went to bed.

When Titanic hit the iceberg, the Californian crew was ill prepared to help. They saw Titanic's lights flicker and tried to signal Titanic using morse light signals between 1130 pm and 1 am. They weren't answered. Several crew members saw Titanic launch rockets/flares and told the Californian captain, but since the flares were white and didn't identify the company of the ship, he didn't respond.

The Carpathia, a ship from Austria-Hungary responded but arrived at 4 am, 2 hours after the boat sank.

The Titanic's wreck wasn't found until 1985, partially because the wreck wasn't at the last known coordinates. It was located over 13.2 miles away at a depth of 12,000 feet.

In the US, a permanent exhibit at the Luxur, Las Vegas is dedicated to the Titanic. There are also museums in Belfast, Liverpool, and Branson, Missouri. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, many of the bodies from the ship were buried.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Welcome Guest Author Rosanna Leo!


Hello friends of romance! I’m so excited to be here!

My debut novel, For the Love of a God, is released April 23! You can find it at www.liquidsilverbooks.com

If you love a sexy paranormal, full of love-starved Greek gods, then this is for you! My story was inspired by a trip to the local museum where I fell in love with a statue of one of the Greek gods. It was so beautiful, so manly, and I couldn’t help wondering what might happen if Greek gods were real.

I live near Toronto, Canada and am passionate about mythology (although I’m also partial to vamps!) I just love it when the geeky, awkward girl gets the hot guy, and I’ve made it my mission to see this happen in my books as much as possible. Please check out my blog at www.rosannaleo.blogspot.com

STEPH: Welcome, Rosanna! I don't know much about For the Love of a God. What's it about?

ROSANNA: My debut paranormal romance is about a statue conservator called Maia. She's always been a little geeky, a little awkward. Museums are her work and her life, but her true passion is Greek mythology. She's never told anyone but she has always had a crush on Eryx, Greek god of love. Her favorite past time is to tend to his handsome statue and dream of her fantasy man.

Maia's ordered museum world comes to an abrupt halt when a new director arrives, a man known for his slash-and-burn style of administration. Her true amazement begins when she sees her new boss. The mysterious stranger looks just like the Greek god Eryx, or at least like his statue, and like the sensuous image that haunts Maia's dreams.

As her new boss turns her world upside down, Maia is faced with some truths she'd never thought to believe. She is also confronted by a faceless threat. And with a passionate love which makes her question everything.

STEPH: How long did it take to write?

ROSANNA: For the most part, For the Love of a God was written in a few months. The idea had always been in my head, haunting me. I found that when I finally put pen to paper, the ideas just flew out of me. I love the world of the Greek myths, and find an endless supply of inspiration in those archaic tales. And I fell in love with the romance between Maia and Eryx, so everything just seemed to fall into place.

STEPH: Where did you get the inspiration for the story?

ROSANNA: I got the inspiration for this story at the local museum here in Toronto. There, in the Greek artifact gallery, is a beautiful statue of the god Dionysus. He is portrayed as a young man, with a head full of curls and a strong torso. That statue has always taken my breath away. It occurred to me one day that things could get very interesting if the statue could come to life! For my novel, I substituted the god for the fictional Eryx, made him my Greek god of love, and my story was born!

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?

ROSANNA: I did a fair bit of research on the statue conservation process. Luckily, there is info available on the web as well as at the local library (the best resource for any research!) I researched what someone like Maia would be paid, what her work environment would be, and even what sorts of materials she would use on a daily basis.

I would like to say I researched the love scenes, but they were all figments of my over-active imagination! :)

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story inside?

ROSANNA: The cover, by Amanda Kelsey, made me so happy because it is a perfect reflection of the novel. I love that Maia is the focus, and that Eryx is the dreamy, statue-like figure drifting somewhere over her shoulder. I love that the museum is represented at the bottom, with all the marbled walls and columns. I mention a mist in the story, and Amanda managed to get that in there too. And the stars reflect the mythical aspect. I couldn't be happier with my cover!

STEPH: Eryxis the hero. What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

ROSANNA: Eryx is an ancient god, but one with flaws. On the outside, he is gorgeous and buff, everything you'd expect a Greek god to be. He can be arrogant, sometimes enjoys provoking mortals and thinks he's seen everything. However, when he falls, he falls deeply and does everything in his power to keep Maia safe. Being the Greek god of love, he has many powers. The one he enjoys using most is his exceptional talent for making love!

STEPH: Maia is the heroine. What does she find appealing about the hero?

ROSANNA: At first, Maia is gobsmacked by his incredible appearance. The man is perfect, after all! She loves that they both adore the history and culture of Greece, and that they can talk about it like a couple of geeky grad students. She loves that he makes her feel safe, which becomes an increasingly bothersome concern. Once she realizes exactly who and what he is, she falls for his story too. His history is a tragic one, and it binds Maia to him in empathy and love. And, let's face it, he curls her toes like no one ever has!

STEPH: How long have you been writing? Why did you choose romance?

ROSANNA: I've been writing seriously for about 10 years now. Although I didn't always fancy myself a "romance" author, I always knew my stories would be about love. Since first reading Jane Eyre as a kid, I've been spoiled for anything other than romance! I want to be swept away! To me, there's no feeling like getting caught up in a wonderful, heart-wrenching romance!

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

ROSANNA: I'm a bit of both. I always have a basic outline, one which I flesh out as I go along. However, I always leave myself leeway to add or take away. I like to be open to fresh ideas, so I could never work from a full outline. Sometimes, the best ideas come to me half way through!

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so which one and what do you like about it?

ROSANNA: Believe it or not, I don't! Ack! But I hope to get one soon! (hint, hint hubby)

STEPH: Tell us a little about the state/country you live in. What appeals to you about it?

ROSANNA: I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Yes, I love Tim Horton's coffee and have a big crush on Sidney Crosby, even though I'm old enough to be his mom. I love the vibrant suburbs and that the country is never more than a short drive away. I'm very fortunate to be here! But mostly, it's just about the Tim Horton's coffee!



Blurb:
Conservator Maia Douglas is an expert on ancient Greece and its mythology. She would never tell anyone at the museum where she works, but she's always had a secret crush on the mythical Eryx, Greek god of love. There is nothing she loves more than to tend to her favorite statue of him, and her nighttime dreams are filled with luscious images of Eryx making love to her.

One day, the peace at Maia's beloved museum is shattered when a new director arrives. A man who looks exactly like her image of Eryx. As Maia watches, he manages to upset her ordered museum world, at the same time he inflames her with unwanted desire.

Maia does not know that her new boss is actually the god Eryx, disguised as a mortal so he may work in antiquities. Although he is the god of love, he has forsaken his sexual nature because of a curse that has killed any woman he's dared to love. Though he fights it, Eryx is drawn to Maia with a force he's never experienced in a thousand years. But can he convince her of his true identity? And can he protect her from a vengeful goddess who seeks her destruction?

Excerpt:
Toronto, Present Day

Maia Douglas woke with a start. She looked around, disoriented. Then she remembered. She’d only put her head down on her desk for a minute. Her brown eyes bleary, she peered toward the clock on her office wall. Seven o’clock. “Dammit. Naps at work. Bad idea.”

It may have been after hours and the last tourist may have already been long gone, but she knew she was playing a dangerous game. One of these nights, she’d sleep right through and wouldn’t get her work done.

It was her fault for insisting on working late. She could work during the day like a normal person, but she loved the tranquility of the museum at night. Besides, she hadn’t been sleeping well lately anyway. Might as well work through the night.

She rubbed her eyes and gathered her wits. She took a sip of her cold coffee and stared at the wet spot on her blotter where she’d dribbled a little. “Ugh. Real dainty, Douglas.”

She pushed away from her desk. As foggy as she was, she knew it was the perfect time to do her preliminary inspection. She hated doing her work when people were milling about anyway. She gathered up her collapsible stool, a notebook, and her Holly Hobby satchel, the one containing her pencils and various tools of the trade. Thus armed, she stumbled out of her office.

Maia looked around the conservation office. All the other conservators were already gone for the day. No surprise there. She was the only one who kept such ungodly hours.

Taking the stairs up to the fifth floor, she made her way to the new Gallery of Greece. This part of the museum wasn’t open to the public yet, and the entrance was still shrouded by opaque drop cloths. She knew it wouldn’t open officially until it passed muster with the new director.

His Lordship was due any minute, and everyone at the Toronto Museum was nervous. There was a reason for it. Eric Lord’s reputation preceded him. He was from a family of museum experts, although she’d never met him in her travels. She’d read articles by his grandfather--—another Eric Lord--—when she was a student, and had been impressed with his keen insight into the ways of ancient Greece. But the current Eric Lord was known the world over for his slash-and-burn style of museum administration. She’d heard he was a downsizer, a ruthless one. Why, last year he’d eliminated a whole department at one museum in New York for their so-called inefficiencies.

Maia sniffed. “Well, Eric Lord’s not the only museum royalty around here. And no one knows this place like I do.”

Maia’s father, Dr. Jim Douglas, was the famed archaeologist whose work formed the basis of the Toronto Museum’s Greek collection. Maia had basically grown up within its walls. So if Eric Lord was planning a cull in Toronto, he’d be a fool to get rid of her.

Pushing aside the cloths at the entrance, she entered the Gallery of Greece. One of the cleaners was just finishing up in the gallery. She made sure to sashay around the trail from his wet mop. “Hey, Wally. How’s business?”

The older man looked up. “Miss Douglas, what are you still doing here? It’s Saturday night! How come a pretty girl like you doesn’t have a date?”

“Tonight, I have a date with Poseidon’s testicles.”

Wally pulled a face.

“They’re about to fall off,” she explained. “The statue, I mean. Poor guy has some nasty cracks on him. I’ve got to fix him up for the big opening.”

Wally just waved her away with a smile. “I’ll leave the fun stuff to you conservators. I’ll stick to my mopping.”

Maia made her way through the empty gallery, wondering why every word out of her mouth always seemed so awkward. But as she pulled out her collapsible stool and placed it in front of Poseidon and his cracked gonads, she didn’t worry. Staff at the museum had long ago ceased their speculation about Maia’s quirks. After all, she was Jim Douglas’s daughter. She was excellent at her job, which rendered her many quirks negligible.

She knew the collection of Greek antiquities so intimately they could have been siblings to her. Quiet, somber siblings. Certainly there was nothing she valued more. She was an expert conservator, specializing in marble sculpture. After she’d completed her studies, the Toronto Museum administrators had been falling over themselves to offer Maia the job. Sure, there had been enticing job offers from as far away as the Hermitage and the British Museum. But she knew she’d never leave her beloved museum. It was her second home.

It was her life.

Before she began her inspection of Poseidon, she walked over to one of the other sculptures. It was the statue of Eryx, the Greek god of love. She stood before him and sighed, letting her appreciative eyes rake over his nude body. Absorbing the warmth he created in her. Feeding off his beauty.

This was her ritual and had been ever since she was a little girl. Ever since her father discovered the perfect statue in a long-hidden cove in Greece.

She remembered her dad’s excitement after the find. He’d led her through the museum after hours. She could still hear the sound of her Mary Janes clicking on the marble floors. The museum had been shrouded in darkness, but Maia didn’t mind. Even at five years old, she already knew every square inch of the place.

“Come, sweet pea,” Dr. Douglas had said as he walked with her. “I have something new to show you.”

Green lollipop in mouth, she’d scrambled after him. She’d always loved these night-time walks. As a curator, her dad often brought her to the museum at night when the tourists had all gone home. He showed her all the ancient gold jewelry and terracotta pieces and told her wonderful stories full of myth and magic. To the little girl, being with her father was the greatest adventure on earth.

Especially since mother had left them.

“Is it a big statue, Daddy?”

“Life-sized. And in amazing condition. It’s as if he was just waiting in the cave, hoping to be found.” He motioned toward the entrance of the Greek gallery. “And he’s right through there.”

Little Maia had spotted him right away. The sculpture was the new centerpiece of the gallery and had been given a prominent spot. Her jaw had dropped open and her lollipop had tumbled to the floor. Jim had grinned and picked it up, glad his little girl shared his passion.

She’d stared up at the statue of the man. He was so handsome. The way the sculptor had angled his head made it feel as if he were gently smiling down at her. Maia had smiled back, immediately smitten.

Jim walked up to her and placed a hand on her back. He spoke in hushed tones. “He is the god Eryx, son of Aphrodite. He was in love with the mortal priestess of his temple. And she was…?”

“Chloe, silly. I know that,” she’d replied. After countless bedtime stories, she knew all the myths.

“Good girl,” he’d smiled. “And do you remember the story of Eryx and Chloe?”

“The bad goddess Nemesis killed Chloe because she was jealous.”

“And Eryx?”

“He was sad. Forever.” She’d rubbed her little tummy. “Daddy, I’m hungry.”

He’d laughed. “Of course you are. It’s late, sweet pea. Let’s get you some dinner. We’ll come back and see Eryx again.”

Maia’s face had fallen. As much as her belly was rumbling, she didn’t want to go. She liked the statue of the beautiful, smiling god. Even though, all of a sudden, he looked a little sad.

What happened next, Maia had never told her father. Never told anyone.

As she had followed her dad out of the gallery, she’d turned to look at Eryx one more time. Because she was five, and because it had seemed like a fun idea, she’d poked out her green-stained tongue and wagged it at him.

The statue had winked at her.

Now, as an adult, she knew the wink was probably just the overactive imagination of a precocious, little girl. Perhaps the fleeting shadow of one of the pigeons haunting the window ledges of the museum. But it had felt so real at the time. And now, every time she came to work in the gallery, she made a pit stop before the statue of Eryx.

Just in case…

“You’re such a spazz,” she told herself as she pulled her long brown hair into a messy ponytail on top of her head, affixing it with two crisscrossed pencils. “Get to work.”

She turned and seated herself before Poseidon and let out a sigh. With a gentle hand, she cupped the water god’s balls and inspected the extent of the cracks. She’d have to fill them in a little, as well as beginning a general cleaning of the statue. He was starting to show his age.

Soon, between conducting her inspection and making notes, she was lost in her work, oblivious to everything else around her. Once again, she gingerly touched Poseidon’s testes.

“How about inspecting mine?”

Maia jumped when the deep voice whispered in her ear. She snapped her head around, almost wrenching off the statue’s balls in the process. “Who’s there?”

There was no one. Beyond the entrance, Wally was still mopping, but had headphones on now and was mopping to the music on his iPod. He hadn’t heard her cry. The gallery was empty, peopled only by the many statues.

And right in front of her stood the statue of the god Eryx, still bearing the same grin as when she first saw him years ago. The grin which now appeared decidedly randy from her perspective.

“You,” she breathed, feeling her heartbeat regulate after her scare. “If any of you old rocks could find a way to talk, I should have guessed it would be you.” Dismissing the voice as a symptom of overwork and stress over the incoming director, Maia turned back to Poseidon.

Even with her back to Eryx, she felt a warm sensation along her spine. As if she was being watched.

Doing her best to ignore it, Maia continued her work.

Within minutes, she knew it wasn’t working. Her back was burning.

She should have expected it. She felt the same way each time she was in the presence of the Eryx statue. It wasn’t just her love of antiquities making her heart palpitate each time she saw him. Ever since she’d thought he’d winked at her all those years ago, she’d developed a ridiculous crush on the gorgeous statue. In a way, she thought of him as her own.

Of course, he’d always been her favorite of all the Greek gods. She loved the stories about him and couldn’t help falling a little in love with him from an early age.

The statue merely enforced the feeling. She loved the perfection of it. The way his curls fell about his strong face. The clean lines of his muscled abdomen and legs. Even the enticing length of his marble erection, as if the sculptor had wanted him captured in a state of eternal arousal.

He was the sexiest goddamn statue she’d ever seen. Michelangelo’s David was an effeminate pansy by comparison.
She shook her head. It was pathetic, how she mooned over him.

Over it.

She could never tell anyone Eryx was one of the reasons she’d chosen to remain with the Toronto Museum, rather than working for another. Since the first time her father showed her the sculpture, she’d felt oddly connected to it. It had been her inspiration as she planned her education and career. She looked forward to seeing him every day, even took extra shifts whenever she could. Just to keep an eye on him and make sure no other conservators got their mitts on him.

Let administration think she was just a devoted worker. She’d keep her strange infatuation a secret.

Frowning, she turned back to face Eryx. He looked so proud on his pedestal, so vibrant. As if he might simply walk off it. His shoulders were squared, and his face angled down toward the viewer. Although he was made of white marble, Maia had no trouble picturing what he might look like in color. Somehow, she just knew those thick curls would be honey blond. Those flashing eyes would be green and his nude body would be tanned. His generous penis could fill her, stretch her … a velvety pillar of lustful strength.

“Oh, man, I need to get out more.” She ran a hand over her hot forehead. “This place is playing tricks on my mind.”

She heard a deep, manly laugh.

Automatically, her eyes shot back to Eryx’s statue. Why was it the laugh seemed to come from his direction?

“Okay, I’ve had enough. I’m outta here.” She folded up her stool and walked right up to Eryx. “You don’t fool me, buster. I know you winked at me all those years ago. Now you’re talking to me? Maybe I am losing my mind, but if you have something you need to say to me, just get off your perch and say it. Stop messing with me.”

Then, feeling foolish for admonishing a piece of marble, she turned on her heel, and left.

For the Love of a God, available April 23 through Liquid Silver Books at www.liquidsilverbooks.com
Thank-you!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Kayelle Allen


STEPH: I'd like to welcome author Kayelle Allen to the blog today. I just want to wish a happy birthday since I know it was yesterday. *smile*

Kayelle Allen is an award-winning, multi-published author. Her heroes and heroines include badass immortals, warriors who purr, and agents who find the unfindable--or hide it forever. She is known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion.

I don't know much about "At The Mercy of her Pleasure." What's it about?

KAYELLE: At the Mercy is about a gifted, professional thief who's climbing to the top of the Thieves' Guild. He's hired by a female officer in the rebel army. Her parents were recently killed and their belongings confiscated by the imperial armada. What Senth doesn't know is that the simple locket she wants him to steal back from the government contains data for a prototype transport system NarrAy's parents were developing. It's a challenge stealing the item, and there are a few close calls, but he manages to get them in and out of the facility. Just when they think, "Whew! We made it!" they find out the locket is only the first clue to finding the data. He and NarrAy have taken the first step in their adventure, and there is more to come. At the Mercy is full of action, excitement, twists, and overall, humor.

STEPH: What was the inspiration for the story?

KAYELLE: I was looking for an idea in old notes, and came across a scene of two brothers who were thieves. One was watching the alley while the second one stole something. It was just one tiny scene, but it had heart, and showed that these two characters cared about each other. It became the opening scene in the book, but instead of being two thieves, Senth is the thief, and his older brother is... well, I'll let readers discover what Khyff is for themselves. He is an unconventional character.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

KAYELLE: About three months. It flowed.

STEPH: Senth is the hero. What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

KAYELLE: Senth is fun-loving, gregarious, and energetic. He's brilliant, and has broken records in the Thieves' Guild for every sort of endeavor. The flip side of all that is he doesn't like rules and regulations. Rules are for the other guys. He will lock himself inside a device and try to break out of it, because breaking in is no longer a challenge. Senth is half human and half Kin, a feline humanoid. He has fangs and catlike eyes, the only evidence from his alien father, and he's accustomed to the prejudice he faces for not being fully one race or the other. He's sure of himself, and that confidence is appealing, but he's sometimes a little too sure of himself for his own good. Senth believes if an item is not nailed down, then it's his. If it is nailed down, then he just has to pry it up, and then it's his. Considering he falls in love with a woman who's a captain in the military and a by-the-book hard ass... well, things get a little dicey.

STEPH: What does NarrAy find attractive about him?

KAYELLE: Senth is everything her parents warned her about. He's rarely serious; he's irreverent, cocky, and a rule-breaker. If they were alive, they'd warn her away from him in a heartbeat. In an impulsive moment, she decides that alone is reason enough to pursue him, and she does. Senth is adorable, he purrs when he's happy, and she loves his long, curly hair. What she expects is a quick fling with a gorgeous young man -- but soon finds out this maverick thief has stolen her heart.




STEPH: What attracts you to writing science fiction/fantasy?

KAYELLE: I've loved scifi since I was a kid. I love the freedom of creating my own world and rules, and not being stuck with specific dates in history that I have to remember. Of course, the flip side is that you have to create your own history. My favorite part of writing is creating new cultures and worlds. I wrote a language for my Kin people (feline based), and have an entire tour on my website of the various planets in the Tarthian Empire, where most of my books take place. http://kayelleallen.com/TTC-Home.html

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

KAYELLE: I'm like a genie in a bottle. My office is a literal closet. When I'm sitting at my desk, I can stick out my elbows and touch the walls. This is a good thing. In summer, it's right by a cooling vent, and in winter, I shut the door. ;) No distractions from people passing through the room, either. I have my back to the world when I'm writing. The walls are covered with posters, book covers, awards, and I have my writing tools all within reach. My little hole in the wall.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

KAYELLE: I'm a plotser. ;) I have a detailed plot with lots of details - and my characters (bless them) take me for a ride every now and then and I end up north instead of west, or on planet A instead of B. I don't write the first scene of a book until I know it well enough to write the blurb for it. That said, I tend to be a big-picture person. I see the whole thing at a glance and can't imagine writing and wondering what will happen next. I know where I'm going, and I'm always writing toward an end. I do like to explore along the way, however, and often come up with good twists to add to the plot, that I had no idea I would even consider when I started. So... plotser.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one? What do you like about it?

KAYELLE: I ordered a Kindle for my birthday (which was yesterday), and I should be able to tell you more about that in a few days. One reason I ordered it was because I've been using the Kindle to PC app for nearly a year, and have lots of books gained on sale or through giveaways. I'm looking forward to carrying it with me, and taking it out to the living room, sitting in bed, or anywhere other than the computer, and having many books to choose.


STEPH: Fun Question: Spring is in the air. Do you have any spring rituals you'd like to share? Go to any festivals? The Beach? Plant a garden?

KAYELLE: I love to see Bradford Pear trees in full blossom. They're huge, white, and are the most picture-perfect trees on the planet. In spring, I go looking for them in various areas around town. I don't feel like it's officially spring until I've seen them. One street near my home has a tree in every yard, all the way down a long drive, with one on each side. On a sunny morning, I look forward to standing there, gazing at these beautiful trees all lined up. And then a few weeks later, when we get a stiff breeze, it's amazing to watch the white blossoms as they float to the ground like snow. Once I've seen the pears bloom, I know summer is on its way.



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http://www.goodreads.com/kayelle_allen

Reviews
"Multi-dimensional characters, a fast paced storyline, mystery and some simmering sexual tension keep the readers on edge as AT THE MERCY OF HER PLEASURE draws the reader in and never lets go until the very end." Love Romances and More

"Kayelle Allen delivers a well-plotted story, as always, with fascinating twists you don’t see coming." Literary Nymphs

"...a dazzling cast of characters and an action packed plot..." Romance Junkies
"The relationship between Senth and NarrAy is one that will leave you thinking about these characters even after you finish reading this story." Whipped Cream Reviews

Link to trailer
http://youtu.be/E-rlffo7fO0


Excerpt
Antonello Brothers 1: At the Mercy of Her Pleasure (a Tarthian Empire Story)
At the Mercy of Her Pleasure

When NarrAy steals a kiss from Senth, he steals her heart, but how much more are they willing to take -- for each other?

Senth holds a lofty position in the elite Thieves' Guild. Drugged since puberty to suppress his feral half-feline side, nothing suppresses his daredevil, risk-loving human half. His master offers him a deal. Work with a Better, an enhanced woman with addictive, pleasure-laced pheromones, and he'll buy and free Senth's cruelly enslaved older brother. The job? Grab-and-go. The condition? Remain a virgin. The drug he takes ensures it, no matter how tempting the woman or her pheromones. The problem? Nothing goes right. The job outlasts the drug's effect. All Senth wants is one touch, one kiss, one oh-so-tempting lick of her perfect, lush skin. The downside? With his brother's freedom at stake, how can he risk putting himself at the mercy of her pleasure?

Warning: Contains half-feline thief who plays with what he steals, and a by-the-book military heroine whose passion he liberates. Author not liable for items missing once book is open, including hearts.

In the beginning of At the Mercy of Her Pleasure, Senth practices on a particular kind of lock. It's vital he knows how to open, but because he's nervous, he keeps fumbling. His mentor gives him a piece of advice that gets him through the moment. In this scene, he shares the same advice with NarrAy. They are using perjump, a personal portaling system to enter the palace and search for Senth's brother, who's held captive.


NarrAy expected queasiness when her body reassembled inside the palace. Instead it was as if she'd closed her eyes in one place and opened them in another. They stood in a utility room stocked with linens and deactivated housecleaning droids. The swift disorientation of different surroundings startled but didn't hurt.

Senth, on the other hand, dropped to his knees at her side and doubled over.

"Oh no!" She knelt beside him. "Didn't the jumpdrug help? Are you sick?"

He braced one arm across his stomach. "I got punched yesterday." He grimaced. "Been hurting ever since."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because you'd worry like you are now." He was ashen and shaking. Moments ago he'd been fine.

"I have good reason to worry, Senth. My parents knew perjump couldn't be used by an injured person."

He looked up. "Why not?"

"When there was an injury, perjump accelerated the damage." She laid her hands on his shoulders. "They wanted to use it to move casualties off a battlefield or accident victims to a hospital, but in every test, it made the injury worse. You should have told me!"

Senth grunted, still on his knees on the floor.

"We have to get you back on board." She reached for the perjump controls.

He grabbed her hand. "No! Not without my brother."

"Senth, I—"

"No." His grip tightened on her hand. His pale eyes were flinty, hard, determined. "You said there was only enough power for one jump here and back. I'm not leaving without my brother!"

"And just how are you going to work in your condition?"

"I can make it." He clenched his teeth. "Help me up."

"Senth—"

"NarrAy, I need you to trust me. Let me do my job." He rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand. His innocent blue eyes pleaded with her. "Please. Help me save my brother."

"All right." She let him lean on her arm and helped him rise, supporting his weight as best she could. "If we landed where we thought we would, security should be through that door."

She put her left arm around Senth's waist. With his right arm draped over her shoulder, she helped him into the security room.

A wall of lights, switches, and monitors glowed in the eerie dark. How would he ever know where to find his brother with all those indicators?

Grimacing, Senth dug his left hand into a pocket and retrieved his lockpick. With his arm still over her shoulder, he used both hands to set the lockpick's controls and held the unit up in front of the panel of lights. He passed it slowly across each row, then down and back in the other direction.

The pick bleeped, and Senth turned it off and slid it back in his pocket.

"This is the last room locked, so I'm betting that's where she's keeping him."

"And if you're wrong?"

"Then we're about to pay a visit to a total stranger." He moved his arm off her shoulder. "Can you hold me up on the other side instead? I need my right hand for this."

NarrAy slid around and took her place on his left. "What if someone comes in?"

"Guild intel says all the security is automated." He touched part of the panel and then worked so quickly, his fingers blurred. "Done." He motioned to the door. "Let's go get Khyff."

"Are you sure it's safe now?"

He gave her a perturbed smile. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"That was awfully quick. Are you sure it's—"

"NarrAy, never think about the importance of a lock. Just pick it." He jerked his head toward the door. "Come on."

Loose Id: http://tinyurl.com/atthemercy

Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/atthemercy-k

Get an electronic autograph for the Kindle version of this book at Kindlegraph.

Print: http://tinyurl.com/atthemercy-p

Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/atthemercy_bn

Fictionwise: http://is.gd/atthemercy

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April is Autism Awareness Month



April is Autism Awareness Mouth and I wanted to share my thoughts and impressions with you as I have a young son, Joe, who is challenged with sensory issues. My post will talk in generalities, but feel free to comment and elaborate on anything I mention.


According to recently released statistics, 1 in 88 children are diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum and boys are more prone to have the disorder.


Autism is a complicated developmental disorder that appears during the 1st 3 years of life. Autism affects the normal development of speech and social skills. There are many physical symptoms. I believe there are 12 symptoms on the spectrum and 6 are required for a diagnoses on the spectrum. Also on the spectrum is Aspergers Syndrome (where speech develops normally) and PDD-NOS (Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) PDD-NOS is when the full set for Autism is not met.

Scientists haven't quite figured out how Autism affects the brain, but they believe there is a strong genetic basis for the disorder.


When do you, as a parent, know something is wrong?


Most parents suspect something is wrong by 18 months. I know I did. My son wasn't talking. His older brother said his first word clearly and distinctly at 14 months. I was still waiting for Joe to talk at 18 months. With a pediatric referral we went to local Regional Center. It's so important to go to your pediatrician when you first suspect something might be wrong because they can set you on the right path to get you the help you need.


Joe was evaluated and services began at 20 months. He had speech therapy, occupational therapy, and child development therapy until he was 3 and then our local school district took over.


I can't say enough good things about the early therapy Joe got. Within months he was talking. We identified his sensory issues and discovered his peanut allergy.


Children with autism generally have difficulties with pretend play, social interactions, and speech. They may also have sensory issues. Early intervention is so important because the brain is very pliable and easy to influence in learning new routines with therapies.



Parental Support

It wasn't easy for me, as a parent, to accept there might be something wrong with my son, but I knew I had to get him help. Joe is now five and mainstreamed in Kindergarten. He does not have an autistic diagnoses with our regional center, but he still struggles with sensory issues. Sometimes noises are too loud even when others are using a normal tone of voice. Sometime Joe needs more of the sensation to feel it. He needs to feel deep pressure hugs and do heavy work. He's been taking gymnastics class since he was 20 months. Just recently, he played AYSO soccer and flag football. He also takes hip hop dance lessons. His major struggles are mostly sensory, but he also needs help with fine motor skills.


It's so important as a parent to reach out to others for support. Other parents understand the hardship and challenges you face and may have a suggestion to help when you're drawing a blank.


A great movie to see is the HBO special on Temple Grandin who was played by Claire Danes. There are plenty of books on Autism and the spectrum. Actress Jenny McCarthy has written three books about her experiences with her son. (Louder than Words, Mother Warriors, Healing Autism Against All Odds, and Healing and Preventing Autism)


(I haven't read Jenny's books, but I do know as a celebrity, she's been vocal about her son's autism and it might be a good place to start if you, as a parent, have questions)

If you have a story, comments, questions, suggestions, feedback, anything you'd like to share, please do.

References: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002494/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism
http://www.autismspeaks.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_McCarthy

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hug a Dispatcher this week - It's National Dispatcher's Week 9-14 APR 2012

Me at work, LAPD 911 Dispatcher


My personal passion is for writing, but the job that pays the bills is my job as a Los Angeles Police 911 Dispatcher. I work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Being is a dispatcher is not for everyone. First I had to take a written test, a typing test (I needed to type 38 words a minute) a background check, a "pee" test (for drugs) and an oral interview. From the start of the process to when I was hired took 7 months - and that was pretty fast considering. The one thing you have to be to make a good dispatcher: a good multi-tasker. That's the only real skill you need.

Why did I want to become a dispatcher? For me, it was a natural extension of what I'd been trained to do in the Army. I worked as an MP (military police) in the army. Being a dispatcher allows me to help people who really need help. It's a very rewarding feeling when you take that call and you know you've gotten the police to them in time.

For me, when I answer 911, I have to quickly evaluate a call. Is there police, fire, or medical emergency. If it's medical or fire, I transfer to the fire department. If it's a police emergency, I'll handle it. If it's a non emergency I transfer to a police operator. I also train new hires to get the job and on occasion I act in a quasi- supervisory position when I listen to the RTOs in a bureau talk directly to polic offiers. LAPD has over 21 divisions. I act as a liasion to Pacific Division. Pacific Division is 26 miles square miles and covers Venice Beach along with LAX.

I take all kinds of calls. Screaming calls, unknown troubles, batteries and traffic accidents are some examples of the calls I handle. Then I get calls like this:



That is not a 911 call. I hate to say it, it's not. Sadly, 911 Dispatchers get calls like this all the time.

Here's a funny one on the fire/medical side of the house:




National Dispatcher's Week was designated by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 to acknowledge all the hard work that dispatchers do, and I'll be honest. Answering 911 can be mentally draining. Sometimes, though, when you get those calls of hikers stranded near the Hollywood sign and you're able to get the resources out there to help them out, like the helicopter and police, it's rewarding.

I've been doing the job now for 12 years. Only 9 more to go before I retire. If you call 911 know that your dispatcher is going to be there for you.

Anyone want to share any calls they made to 911 or know of any funny calls made to 911? I'd love to hear your stories.

Smiles
Steph

Monday, April 9, 2012

Check out a Book! It's National Library Week

Andrew and his library card outside our library

Can you believe National Library Week snuck up on me? It must be because I'm on vacation. I tried to dig into the history of the week but the only thing I could really discover was that National Libarary Week is sponsored by the ALA (American Library Association) and the 1st National Library Week was held in 1958. You can find out more about the ALA and their events for the week at the following link:

http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek

Now
Libraries now have become more dynamic and interactive with library goers. Most have embraced ebooks, offering them on loan like a print book. Heck, my local library here in Castaic has computers geared for 3-7 year old kids with interactive learning programs. There are author readings and next week and interactive activity is planned where a science group is coming in and setting up a tide pool.

Growing up in the 70's & 80's
I remember visiting my local library growing up in Manchester, NH. First, I thought the building was huge and must have had over 1,000 books. (Trust me, with 3 stories and rooms full of books, it had more than that, but the girl in me thought 1,000 was a big number at the time.) I recall my favorite section had books on dinosaurs, space, and the Hardy Boys. In the 1980's, I often checked out books by my favorite authors VC Andrews and Victoria Holt. And my library card was a manila card with a metal stamp number on it. The librarian had to stamp the tab kept at the back of the book with my metal number. Then there was the card catalog! The Card Catalog was a beast!

My Top 5 Things I love about libraries
1. They're free
2. You can explore space without leaving Earth
3 You can always find what you're looking for
4. They also have CDs, Audio Books, and DVDs
5. They promote reading




Libraries never go out of style
I love taking my boys, Andrew and Joe the library. Andrew is 10. His favorite section is the one on the presidents. Currently, he's reading a book about Ansel Adams. Joe is 5 and is just learning to read. His favorite books are by Dr. Suess. Both of them like to explore the library.

The Best Part about Libraries...
are the books! There's always a book available which inspires, explores, and tells a great story.

My favorite part of the library is the biographies. What's yours?

Share your top 3 reasons why you love your library. I'll pick a winner to receive a PDF copy of my free ebook, "Moonlight Sonata."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mirror Mirror


In the blogosphere, people seem to want to find out a lot about blog writers. Every so often I get a request to answer some questions about myself. While I tend to keep some stuff private, I'm pretty open and honest about my experiences. Anyhow, I thought I'd share a list of questions with you. I'm also giving a shout out to Jennifer Wilck who "tagged" me for this "mirror, mirror" post. You can find Jennifer's blog at:

http://jenniferwilck.com/blog/

What is the one book you couldn't live without?

Right now, I'm reading the Bible. I much prefer the New Testament to the Old Testament. Currently, I'm exploring the letters. My favorite book in the Bible is Proverbs, though. Both the letters and proverbs offer a lot of good advice.

What can you see out your window at the moment?

I'm at work and the windows are high up – all I see is the sky and trees. At home I sit next to a view of my lilac bush. It usually blooms in late March, or April, so I hope it starts to bloom soon. I love lilacs, and they're abundant in New Hampshire where I grew up, but rare in California where I live now.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?



My husband and I visited the French restaurant about six months ago and he got me to try snails. To my surprise, they were very tasty. Still, it took a lot of cajoling on his part to get me to try them, and believe it or not, I'd order them again!

What fictional character would you most like to marry?

Now that's a tough one. Sirius Black? Maybe Edward from Twilight because he's hot. (You know, Robert Pattinson hot) In case you haven't noticed I like 'em paranormal.

If ever a fictional villain was going to win, who would you like it to be?


Severus Snape, hands down. I always suspected there was more to his motivations than mets the eye.

How many types of cheese can you name off the top of your head?

Swiss, Muenster, Colby/Jack, Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, provolone.

If you want didn't want to be a writer, what would you want to be?

Something in law enforcement. When I was younger, I was an MP in the Army. Now I dispatch for LAPD and I find the work very rewarding.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I can play simple sheet music on a guitar.

Do you own an ereader or a kindle?

I own a Kindle 2 and a Fire. I love the Fire because of the color, the games, the apps, and the video. I love my Kindle 2 because of the text to speech feature. I can listen to my books on the way to work and then on the way home.

How many books do you have on it?

I'd say about 30.

You just got published. In a glowing review, someone calls you the next Anne Rice. Which author has to watch their back now that you're on the scene?

I'm not competitive in that regard. Publishing a book takes teamwork between the author, editor, cover artist, etc. I'm a team player. I'm grateful for the glowing review.

Now that's done, I'd like to thank Jennifer Wilck again for tagging me. Here are my nominees:

Mona Risk


Celia Yeary


Jude Urbanski




Smiles
Steph