29 June 2011

Ten things I'm going to do on my Summer Vacation

I have always had a summer vacation. I think. I mean, I may have worked a different job, or just worked period over the summer between college semesters, but there has always been that three months (or 10 weeks, if you want to get technical) in the middle of the year where I do something different. Now that I have a new job that is full time during the school year, I am once again living in that glorious time between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. I have big plans. 

1) Sleep past 5 am. 
2) Not get out of my pajamas until at least 7:30
3) Watch television without a computer on my lap

Yeah, you see how glamorous my life is. This is pretty much all I want from the first week of no work, no school, no have to be anywhere at any type of specific time, uh, time. But I DO have other things to do.

4) finish manuscript. Since this is now contracted, I need to get the lead out. Fortunately we're on the home stretch of the first draft, and much of the beginning has already been through the editing machine. Edits I can work on in the fall. 
5) Find agent. This is more of a 'I am going to throw stuff out there and see what sticks' kind of goal. I'm in no hurry with this Steampumk story, except that I want to have it a home before the Steampunk fad fades away. I have had several requests already, so I'm taking it nice and steady.
6) Go to the beach and take day trips with the Boy. I have some money now, and I owe him some serious Mommy time. Not that we haven't had fun at home, but I'd like to show him something else of the world besides our backyard. I bought us a membership to the Adventure Aquarium. We like it there. We also have a trip to NYC scheduled for my birthday (the big one) in August, and I am so excited. We've been before, but we have tickets to a show and to the Harry Potter exhibit and we're just going to have a great time.
7) Start next Steampunk book. I know, I have one last Library of Athena book to write, and it's contracted even, but I have been DYING to write this next book and if I don't at least map it and write the first two chapters I'll scream.

And these are the things I MUST do. 

8) Write a Worldbuilding in Fantasy lecture for a seminar I'm giving at the beginning of August. I'm being paid, so this is a must. 
9) Start planning for next year's lessons. I am the very first librarian my school has ever had. Ever. And so I have a lot of catching up to do. Because once the school year starts, it's going to be all go-go-go all the time. Boy will have football, I will be back in Grad School, and the library itself needs to be completely processed and cataloged. Completely. So I need to get a jump start on the day to day stuff like lessons.

And most important:

10) Try and remember to relax and have some fun. Read. Go swimming. Drink girly drinks and sit by the fire. I am the kind of person who thinks she's being lazy if I'm not doing something every minute of the day. I think I need to break out of that pattern.

Enjoy your summer!

27 June 2011

10 Reasons Why I love My Job

10) Being a millionarie is fun.

Well, at least it looks like fun. No, being a multi-published author does not mean that I am rich, or live in a mansion, or even like caviar. What it does mean is that I have a job that I love.

9) Partying with those hot hunky cover models is a kick.

In my dreams. Ha. No, I've never met the sizzling model who became my Cain on the cover of Soul Stealer, or the hot and intense model on Catch Me in Castile. Sigh. But I do have a job that I love that allows me to stay home and party with my hunky sizzling hot hubby and that's heaven for me.

8) Jet-setting around the world to sign books makes my day

Or it would if I could. But I do have a job where I GET to talk to readers on the internet and sometimes in person. This I do LOVE.

7) Being followed by paparazzi is such a pain

For superstars. I have a job where I can be in the public eye and yet few people know who I am. I love fans. Truly big love. So if you do see me and want to chat PLEASE DO!

6) People respect what I do

Mostly. On a very rare ocassion a person will turn up their nose when I say I write romance. Honestly, that is rare. I have a job where I work hard and write the best stories I can write. I am not concerned with those who don't respect what I do. They don't have to buy the books. But if they did, they might be surprised to find that they like them.

5) Writers are wonderful people

They are! I work at a job where all my contemporaries, mentors and mentees all support one another. Writers great and small have encouraged me to succeed in hundreds of ways. How often does that happen in other industries? I love writers. BIG, BIG love.

4) Creating stories is fun

Usually. Except for those days when nothing seems to work and my fingers feel like they are moving through mud. Writing can become painful work. Sometimes my brain hurts. Sometimes I need to take a nap. But! Other times writing IS fun. On those days, my fingers can't move fast enough to get the story down. The charcters are all talking and doing important stuff and really living. And creating stories is a blast.

5) The characters are all me

Not completely. But my characters are usually people that I want to get to know better. They have a flaw or two that I see in myself. I put them in dangerous positions and wait to see how they get out. I learn from them. I cheer for them, cry with them and fall in love beside them. When the book is done, I miss my characters. Is that weird? I don't think so. An author has to get under her character's skin to make them believable beings. Okay, maybe it's weird. But it is one of the main reasons why I love my job.

4) I get to be the boss

Sort of. Sure, I create the world, the people, the life-or-death-problems, but do I get to be in charge? Not really. Once I set my characters in motion, they tend to have lives of their own. This is one of my favorite parts of my job. Watching my creations come alive. Letting them live the story, instead of me bossing them around.

3) A few hours each day is all I need to write a book

This is partially true. I usually type two to four hours a day. But the typing is only part of the job. Writing is more than putting words on a page. There's research, reading, and most importantly THINKING. I won't start writing any story unless I have the plot points in my mind, have sketched out who my characters are and can "see" the setting.

2) Two months is all I need to write a book and then it's party time!
Snort. I can write a first draft in two months. Seriously, it's possible. But that's only the first draft. For me, the real work begins at the editing stage. And this stage can take up to a year.

1) It's Pure Bliss

For me. I can't not write. It's in my bone marrow, or genes, or hair folicals, or something. I am a writer who works every day except Sundays. I think, dream and read about writing. Don't talking to me about writing unless you want a passionate discussion. Creating a new story is amazing. Talking to fans is awesome. Geting to do what I love? Priceless.

Kimberley Troutte

25 June 2011

Doggone It!

Hello, my name is Cujo. Really. I’m a long haired dachshund. The other dog in the picture is my adopted sister Sugar. She's not as sweet as her name. She tries to tell me what to do. And she steals my blankie--that's what's beside her on the floor. She says it's ugly, but I love to lie on it and lick it.

My two-legged parents thought my name would be funny. And hey, I liked the sound. When I was a puppy. Now, not so much. Anyway sometimes I do try to live up to my name, but that just gets me in trouble. I ask you, why would my two-legged parents name me Cujo, then be so surprised when I growl?

I’ll bet you’re wondering why a dog is blogging. Well, it’s like this. My two-legged mom is supposed to blog, but she just couldn’t think of anything to say. She was upset, so I told her that I would blog for her. she was sooooo happy she scratched my head for an extra long time. I was hoping she’d give me food treat, but she says I’m fat. Excuse me, I’m fluffy.

My two-legged parents adopted me when I was a puppy. I was cute then, I’m handsome now. We live in a nice home that the two-legs complain about being too small. I don’t understand. There’s plenty of room to run around in here. And a nice floor to sleep on. What more do you need? Have I told you that I don’t understand the two-leggers? Strange creatures, if you ask me.

I’m getting off here now, and you should go and scratch the head of your four-legged friend. If you don’t have one, maybe your neighbor does. If you can’t find a four-legger, then maybe give another two-legger a scratch, or hug, or whatever.

I gotta get off here, my two-legged mom says it would freak people out if they see me typing. I think she’s wrong, but it’s time for my late morning nap anyway. Have a great weekend!

For Cheryel

15 June 2011

13 Things I'm Not Blogging About Today

I am not blogging about....

1) What I had for dinner. No, seriously, I won't tell you. I'm not talking about dinner-type food today, although mine was quite delicious. But that's all the information you get.

2) My cat. She blogged Monday and I may post something on her behalf tomorrow, but not today. Nope.

3) The publishing industry.

4) What in the heck my husband is doing in the kitchen when he's supposed to be making popcorn so we can watch a movie now that the kids are finally asleep. We've already had the dinner I'm not going to talk about, and now it's OUR time together, so what the HECK is he doing instead?

5) My schedule for tomorrow. Which may or may not include a post about Meankitty. I cannot confirm or deny it, because I'm not blogging about it today. It may have to include watching a certain movie alone, though.

6) My work in progress, which may or may not be about a fake apocalypse. Just...not going there. That slippery slope leads straight into a blarrrrr about the publishing industry, and since I already decided not to blog about the publishing industry, my WIP is offlimits too.

7) All the laundry that piled up during vacation last week. I could have been doing some of it today, but instead of laundry, I was working on that thing I can't mention, then the other thing, and I can't do laundry now because I'm supposed to watch a movie with SOMEBODY who has DISAPPEARED into the kitchen, and what the heck is going on in there? What is that mysterious ticking noise?

8) This is the mysterious ticking noise, btw:

9) I'm not going to blog about The Mysterious Ticking Noise, I'm going to just let it speak for itself.

****WHERE was I? Right. I am not going to blog about...

10) Politics.

11) The RWA Conference preparations and how excited I am about going. Because I'm not going. I thought I might stay home and spend time with SOMEBODY who has this sudden need to disappear into the kitchen and not make popcorn. What's in there, an alternate dimension? A comic book he's never seen before? Boatloads of laundry?

12) The movie I'm not watching, because of that disappearing SOMEBODY. I mean, is this some kind of trick? A disappearing trick? Is he studying to be a magician, and this is his homework? Or is he a spy, like Perry the Platypus, and he's jumped through the front door of the dryer to disappear into his secret spy hideout before going on a mission that apparently does not include popcorn for me?

13) The excellent news that... Oh, the popcorn's ready. Gotta go.

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com  * www.meankitty.com

13 June 2011

What's New on The D'Arc Side...

Hello BtV! Long time, no see! It's been a rough couple of months for me both personally and professionally, but I'm trying to get things back on track and I actually have some new books in the pipeline for publication that I can talk about. That hasn't been the case in a long time, so all in all, it's a positive move.

If I've learned nothing else since embarking on my career as a writer, it's that this biz is full of ups and downs. High highs and low lows. Often they come fast and furious, one right after the other. This continues to be true and it's kind of a trial to ride the roller coaster over and over. But I chose to write and I wouldn't trade the comparative freedom of this lifestyle for anything at this point.

So here's what's been going on with me writing-wise:

- DEAD ALERT, the last of my military paranormal series from Kensington Brava will be out on July 26th. You can pre-order it on Amazon now and get a discounted price on the print book that is actually LOWER than what they're charging for the ebook. Weird, huh?

- HIDDEN TALENT is a new (Red Hot!) futuristic that will be coming out from Samhain in ebook, probably in October. It's the start of a new trilogy based around the idea that in the future, when humans have colonized space, people with psychic talents are either hunted or revered for their abilities. This book follows one young woman who has escaped her unforgiving homeworld, only to be found by a powerful man who can show her the stars and give her the world. *sigh*

- I just finished writing a new book in my ongoing paranormal series. I haven't finalized the title yet, but hopefully with some input from my editor, that will be nailed down shortly. It is Sally and Jason's story. Sally is the last of the study group friends, featured in several of my other books (Lissa in ONE & ONLY, Kelly in RARE VINTAGE, Carly in PHANTOM DESIRES, Christy in SWEETER THAN WINE, and Jenna in FOREVER VALENTINE). Jason is the werewolf Alpha we first met in PHANTOM DESIRES. Frankly, it even surprised me that they ended up together. ;-) Sometimes my characters like to surprise me. LOL. :)

That's the news so far on the book release front. I'll be working on new material and hope to do some updating to my website in the next few weeks. But mostly, I'm going to try to be a better blogger both here and on my own blog. Thanks for bearing with me while I continue to get my act together. :)

09 June 2011

Thursday Thirteen: A Month in Thirteen Pictures

I'm a bad blogger. I missed my Saturday blog. But if a picture's really worth a thousand words, here's thirteen pictures I hope will make up for my delay.

Buzzy Multimedia recently asked me to shift from print to video interviews. Not being entirely sure of myself I decided to start with a friend, fantasy and mystery writer Carole Nelson Douglas, who happened to be this year's guest of honor at our local mystery convention, Malice Domestic. The video is posted on the Buzzy blog.

I'd barely finished editing Carole's interview when I learned the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) were holding the 2011 Nebula Awards Weekend a few Metro stops away on May 20-22. So I hauled my trusty camera to Dupont Circle and taped five interviews: Chris Claremont (of Marvel Comics fame), Mary Robinette Kowal, Joe Haldeman, John Scalzi and this year's Nebula Award winner for best novel, Connie Willis (above). I may be mistaken, but I think this year's win makes Connie the all-time Nebula champion, which tickles me no end, since I totally love her fiction. Who says women can't write REAL science fiction?

One of the more interesting aspects of the filming was discovering things I never knew about the interview subjects. For example, I knew Joe Haldeman was an accomplished poet. In fact, he published his first poem (in The Washington Post, no less) before he was ten. But I didn't know he was an amazing artist. The photo above gives you just one example of his work. There will be more in the video. I promise.

One thing I missed was Mary Robinette Kowal's presentation at the Awards Banquet...in a Regency dress she stitched entirely by hand. (I couldn't make it because I was helping out with a Civil War celebration in Alexandria.) But she was kind enough to show me the dress and accessories when I interviewed her the following day.

But I didn't have much time work on all those lovely videos. The very next Friday, May 27, I was off to Balticon 45. As always, the Memorial Day weekend con was a whirl of panels, friends and parties. The Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading was all three. This year's readers were (from left to right) Gail Z. Martin, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Roberta Rogow, yours truly, Phoebe Wray and fellow Samhain writer D. Renee Bagby. The party came courtesy of Vonnie, who brought the most amazing cupcakes from her book launch The Greener Forest, which took place the hour before the RFR. You can see them (but alas, not taste them) in the bottom of the shot.

Balticon also offered great interview opportunities, including romantic fantasy and young adult writer Maria V. Snyder (left). As befits a party con, Maria and I caught up with each other in the bar, where she was relaxing with her friend and fellow writer Judi Fleming (right). My other Balticon interviews included Michael Swanwick and Paolo Bacigalupi.

This year's Balticon boasted an amazing number of book launches including the launch of one of my most anticipated books of 2011, The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences: Phoenix Rising by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris (shown here at right). As befits a book described as a Steampunk Avengers (as in the old TV show), the launch was a Victorian tea, complete with ginger biscuits and a raffle with prizes drawn by a fetching member of the audience in full 19th century dress.

Steampunk was everywhere at Balticon 45, and it really upped the ante on Masquerade costumes, as evidenced by this year's League of Extraordinary Family. Check out the young Captain Nemo's pet Kraken.

But the prize for Best in Show went to writer J.F. Bibeau's The Cat from Red Dwarf. Speaking of steam, I missed seeing his iron. No, not that kind of iron! The kind of steam presser Cat used to for wardrobe emergencies. Really!

A week later I was reveling in a special tour of what I consider the most beautiful building in all of Washington, D.C.--the Library of Congress. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a writer and I love books. Take a look at the Grand Hall. All that white marble, the bronze statues and the paintings peeking through the columns are just a taste of its splendor.

The Library is the nation's great temple of learning, so it's only fitting it has a resident goddess: the Minerva of Peace, a mosaic by Elihu Vedder. Like this depiction of Minerva, the Library celebrates all the arts. In addition to books, it boasts one of the world's great collections of musical instruments, maps and movies.

The library also celebrates all kinds of literature. Although Sappho is the only woman writer celebrated by name in its murals (sorry Jane Austen, Marie de France and George Sand), the branches of literature are all depicted as classical muses, including Romance and (ta da!) Erotica.

But I think my favorite part of the Library is its whimsy. Where else would you find a mosaic of late 19th century football?

That about covers it, for now. But if these photos have only whetted your appetite, please, check out the relevant galleries:

Nebula Awards Weekend 2011

Balticon 45

Library of Congress

'Til next month!

06 June 2011

DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT (PsiCorps Volume Two) Excerpt

Greetings Kittens,

I just got cover art on my next Therian World Novel coming out in October and it reminded me that my next PsiCorps Novel DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT (PsiCorps #2) is coming out in less than a month. I thought I'd share another excerpt here and since I'm late getting this in, offer a copy of GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST (PsiCorp #1) to a lucky commenter or two.


Mackenzie flipped the back row of French toast on the griddle and pretended to ignore the conversation going on across the dark green granite island from him. He schooled his smile and tried to consider the two men nothing more but extra stainless steel appliances in the opulent Italian-inspired kitchen.

“That’s just cold!”

Kincaid nodded and snagged the piece of toast in Torrin’s hand. “I know, right? I snapped awake so quickly, I think I might have whiplash.”

“Well, you have to admire his results. But honestly, even Sky and I don’t play around with that kind of threat this last trimester.” Torrin picked up another piece. “Getting between our wife and food right now could cost someone a limb. If he’d told her you were holding up breakfast we’d need another marshal, no doubt about it.”

Mackenzie transferred the front row of French toast from the griddle to a warming plate. “I’m not particularly concerned as to the ongoing state of your individual health profiles from a personal standpoint; but as a Partner and on-duty Marshal, there’s likely an obligation to inform you both when Riley’s within hearing distance.” Riley walked into the kitchen and hit both men with the cushion in her hand. Mackenzie smiled. “She was within hearing distance thirty seconds ago, gentlemen.”

Riley walked over and kissed Mackenzie’s cheek. His smile grew and she kissed the corner of his eye. “You’re my favorite today.”

He laughed and returned the kiss. “That’s why we all compete for breakfast privileges. It improves our chances for the rest of the day.” He transferred a half slice from the warming plate to a saucer. “Let me know if I have the right amount of vanilla or if I should start over.”

Torrin leaned across the island. “You don’t have to make everything over. None of us would care.”

“Good, I wasn’t offering to remake any for the rest of you.” He looked to Riley. “How is it?”

“Perfect, frighteningly so to be exact, thank you, Mac. The babies are appreciative.”

“That’s what I work for.” He touched the high swell of her belly, stretching his Intuition and Insight towards the babies. Something pulled at him as it had the last six months, but he found nothing wrong. Healthy, pre-formed consciousness touched him back and they moved beneath his hand. He and Riley both laughed.

“I will point out again; the two of you freak the rest of us out when you do that.” Kincaid offered. He walked over and put his arm around her. “Come on, get off your feet and get comfortable. Torrin and I will bring everything over in an attempt to make amends for our ill-timed, if accurate, humor.” She hit him again and Kincaid smiled, guiding her to a kitchen chair. “You know it’s cuz we love you.”

Riley shook her head. “It’s because you all aren’t properly afraid of me anymore. You know I can’t chase you down.”

Kincaid exchanged a look with the other two men. “I don’t know what you’re remembering, but none of us are foolish enough to think you’d need to chase someone down.”

She wiped her eyes. Torrin walked to her while Kincaid froze. Mackenzie covered his smile behind a sip of orange juice as Kincaid spoke. “What did I say? I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

“No.” She shook her head. “That was very sweet.”

Kincaid let out a breath of relief and Mackenzie turned completely away before he lost it. He wasn’t without sympathy, like any man he didn’t like seeing women cry in general, it made him feel like he’d failed. But it held humor whenever it happened to someone else, especially to Kincaid. Watching his Partner navigate the ever shifting labyrinth of Riley’s emotional state just did his heart good; a petty revenge perhaps for Kincaid’s enjoyment of Mackenzie’s own stumblings in the beginning, but entertaining nonetheless. He looked back to the table. “Didn’t you obligate yourself to transporting food? There’s plenty awaiting your attention, Marshal Ides.”

“I’m coming.” Kincaid crossed to the island. “And let’s cut the Marshal Ides. I get enough of that from Quintus.”

Quintus walked into the kitchen, hand in hand with Sky. “Have I done something of questionable intent from which you have had enough, Marshal Ides? If so, I do apologize. I meant not offense.”

Kincaid glared at Mackenzie. “You knew.”

Mackenzie didn’t bother to hide his laughter. He had indeed known Quintus could hear them and had intentionally provoked Kincaid to mention him. Riley is a bad influence.

She smiled over at him from Torrin’s arms. “I am not.” Everyone looked at her. “What? He said I was a bad influence.”

The men all turned to look at Mackenzie. He shook his head, and a small, strange smile took him. “I stand by the premise, but I in fact, did not say a word. I thought it, from well over here.”

“Oh.” She said quickly. “Never mind, there was food coming, right? We should all eat.”

Mackenzie walked over to the table. “Has your ability to pick up thoughts moved completely beyond needing direct touch?”

The way she shook her head made him smile. “Does getting them at a distance happen often?”

“No.” She took a mouthful of juice and moved out of Torrin’s lap. It took all of her attention to adjust herself on the cushioned window-seat banquette. She looked up into the silence and took another mouthful of juice.

“Has it happened before?” Mackenzie sat beside her, careful not to touch her. “Has it happened with me before?”

Riley shrugged. “It’s not unusual. Sometimes it happens in non-telepathic Circles when one of the Circle is pregnant.”

“But we’re talking about with me.”

She looked at him. “I know that. I just explained how it works in Circles. Active Psi pregnancies are your specialty, you must know this stuff.”

Mackenzie didn’t know what to do with that. He looked to her husbands.

Sky held a hand up and walked over. “Riley, baby, we’re just curious, did you actually hear exactly what you just said?”

She gave them a soft glare. “I’m pregnant, not deaf. I’m also not wrong, it’s right in the baby books. Didn’t anyone else read them, or were you just paging through them to get laid? I know I didn’t score above median on the telepathy placement test, but it happens in pregnancy. It does, I know what I’m talking about.”

Mackenzie nodded and gave a reassuring smile. “Of course you do.” What page is it on? Somewhere in the mid-hundred’s right?

She nodded to him. “Yeah, page one-forty-nine.” They all fell silent again. “What? You’re ruining my French toast high, people!”

“It’s okay.” He ran a hand down her arm. “Let’s leave it alone and get on to the food part.” He glanced at the others. “I cooked; the rest of you can carry.”

He stood and helped Torrin move the table closer to the window seat while Quintus adjusted the cushions behind Riley’s back. Compliments on the scent of the food were sung to the melody of plates and silverware clinking against the table. The harmony of laughter and genuine warmth filled the kitchen and a bee sting of guilt pierced Mackenzie. Criminal trials could linger for years, and in moments like these, he prayed he’d been assigned to one that would. What god would answer such a prayer eluded him. To look at the four of them and want their lives on permanent hold, under direct guard in WitSecPsi indefinitely, it came to little more than holding everyone hostage to his own happiness. That didn’t change the fact that he never wanted any of this to end. And any god to make that happen could happily have his tithe and bended knee.

Everyone sat down and reached for the different platters in front of them. Riley sat silent. Her hands smoothed the thin cotton baby doll cami over her abdomen, framing the babies in sheer, silken amethyst. Torrin reached across the table. She took his hand without looking up.

“What is it?” He asked. His smile said he knew.

She didn’t look up. “They’re in the wrong seats.”

Mackenzie stood with Quintus, Sky and Kincaid. Only Torrin kept his place. He was the only one of them with a long enough reach to be able to touch her across the table. When not in his lap, she always placed him across from her. The rest of them moved from day to day, sometimes hour to hour as the fluid psychic field of the twins shifted and altered; more sensitive to certain configurations than others. She directed Mackenzie to her left side, Quintus to her right, and Kincaid and Sky a seat closer to Torrin. The table lifted a millimeter and turned to the right, the place-settings rose and maneuvered to follow the new seating arrangement. The table, plates and glasses settled again without so much as sloshing a juice cup.

“We can eat now.” She announced.

“Damn!” Kincaid pulled out his chair and sat down with a smile. “That just never stops being impressive and hot; I’m too distracted to eat.”

Torrin reached out and bumped the back of his closed fist to the back of Kincaid’s. “Right? That’s what I keep saying. You should see her when she’s distracted and just reaches for stuff across the room, it’s this dizzying display of subtleties that shames and arouses you at the same time.”

“Oh, so it’s like being back in the boy’s locker room at Catholic school. Good to know.”

Everyone laughed but a special timber resonated in Torrin and Kincaid, a harmony learned very young, and one that Mackenzie knew he’d never share with either man. He’d be denied the deeper, matured rhythms that rang between Torrin, Sky and Riley, or even the occult baseline that was Quintus running through his three lovers. He was the outside presence at the table, the stranger, the guest.

“Mackenzie?” Riley touched his face.

A moment of panic gripped him. He couldn’t recall the exact nature of the thought’s he’d lost himself to. Riley’s gaze revealed nothing of what she might of heard. “Yes?”

Some decision passed behind her eyes and she flashed a grin. “Am I not supposed to tell them that you think they’d be less impressed with my abilities if they hadn’t scored a zero on the TK test--combined and rounded up?”

Mackenzie got a face full of linen napkin from Kincaid. He didn’t bother to defend himself. It was a good save. “It seems it would have been better if you hadn’t, but here we are.”

“For the record I was a point five on the test and Torrin,” Kincaid looked at Torrin and nodded. “Yeah, he hit a zero, but that shouldn’t tarnish my reputation by association.”

“You must have been distracted.” Riley reached for Mackenzie's throat. “You remembered to take off your jacket and roll up your sleeves, but you forget your tie. You’re going to get syrup on it.” Her hands moved in an efficient flutter. “I like the color, it’s my favorite. You and Kincaid look very nice this morning. How did the briefing go?” She unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, took a moment, and undid a second. “There, that’s better.”

He put his hand over hers as she fingered his collar. “Do I meet breakfast table standards now?”

She looked at their hands. “Is this why everyone is looking at me?”

Mackenzie smiled. “I’m looking at you because you’re touching me. You always have a reason when you touch me; it seems prudent to pay attention.”

“The babies like you, that’s reason enough.” She turned to her plate and picked up the silverware. “So without everyone looking around and avoiding answering me, could one of you tell me why hearing you is a big deal? I’ve heard everyone a little at one point or another. It’s the pregnancy and the abilities of the babies developing, that’s all. It would be a concern if I didn’t hear my Circle.”

Everyone exchanged glances and looked at her again. “See, that, could you not do that? That’s making--“ She swayed forward and gripped the table. The objects on every kitchen surface rattled. “It’s making me tense.”

He didn’t stop to think, Mackenzie just moved behind her, settling his legs on either side of her. “It’s all right, Riley. We’re all sorry; no one meant to upset you. Just breathe and grow still.” He placed one hand on her belly and laid his other arm across her shoulders. “Just breathe with me, it’s okay.” Their auras blended and he pulled her chakras back into alignment. The dishes and other object grew still.

Torrin gave a nervous laugh. “I still don’t understand why an obstetrics and pediatrics Psi would give up that kind of pay to become a Marshal, but I’m grateful that you did every time you do that.”

He nodded at the Empath, but kept his attention on the woman in his arms. “This instance is less impressive, it was just another form of anchoring like Sky does. I can be easily replaced, I was just closer.”

“You’re not easily replaced.” Riley whispered.

Pomegranate and mango scented curls brushed his cheek and he turned his face into them and inhaled. “I appreciate the sentiment.”

Riley laughed. “My shampoo is making you hungry.”

“That wasn’t a thought, but yes.” Mackenzie leaned to the side to see her profile. “Are you feeling better? I can stay here for a bit.”

“You can come eat, we’ll change the subject. You, Kincaid and Quintus can tell us about the briefing.” She gave a dramatic sigh. “Since, as you know, I can’t go anymore; as if being pregnant has impacted my ability to process a Psi-briefing.”

He laughed and pressed his cheek to her hair. “I know you hate being part of the detail now, but even you can’t argue the strategy. So play all fifty-two sympathy cards in the deck, I’m not going to recommend you come to the next three day meeting, or the one after that, just like I didn’t suggest it three days ago.”

She took a bite of bacon. “It’s seventy-eight cards actually, a sympathy tarot deck. And I do plan to play them all, twice if necessary until you change your mind.”

He looked at Quintus. “Do I take this to mean she’s already convinced you to suggest it?”

“She has yet to ask me, Marshal Matthews.”

Mackenzie’s heart fluttered and Riley made a non-committal sound in his arms. “Is there something you need to say, Riley?”

“Nope, I’m just eating my breakfast like you should. Come tell me about the briefing, you’re stalling.”

He was, he didn’t want to move. Moments like this let him pretend this was more than an assignment and his place in things more than circumstance of having the right skills, in need at the right time.

“I requested you personally for the initial assignment.”

It took him a second to process her words. “You did what?”

She held a piece of bacon back to him. “Open.” He took it and she nodded. “I personally requested you for lead marshal at the cabin and I fixed the records at dispatch so that they wouldn’t offer lead to anyone else when it was time to move us to long term protection. I went through a lot of trouble to get you and keep you. The least you can do is let me go to the briefing. It’s not like I’m asking for a shift securing the perimeter. I just want to hear what’s going on first-hand.”

Mackenzie felt kicked in the chest. She’d requested him? Would she make that up? He hid his face in her hair and tried to catch his breath.

In his peripheral, Quintus took her hand and kissed the back of it. “Perhaps it would be prudent to go over the exact explanation and expectations of the process known as maternity leave. There seems to be some lingering confusing these last two weeks. As your Handler I feel it’s my responsibility to clarify.”

Sky turned and faced Quintus fully. “I didn’t realize breakfast came with a show this morning. I have got to see this. If you pull this off and I finally get peace of mind that she’s going to relax and take this break for what it is, there are carnal delights in your future to make the gods weep. Please, proceed.”

01 June 2011

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Last Saturday, my son comes up to me, a book in hand.

"Mommy, I want to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".

We've tried this before, with me reading it to him. We never get far, but he was younger then. He's eight and a half now, just about the right age for this book. And he is a good reader, though usually getting him to put down the Wii controller and pick up a book takes an act of Congress. But, wanting to encourage him, I said okay.

That was last Saturday. He's past the first 100 pages already.

I think since he's seen the movies it may be easier for him to follow along - though he's already picked up on some of the differences. But he's totally been captured by this book. My cousin said to me - "wouldn't it be great, to be able to pick them up and have them all be new again?" I love that he's discovering this series in print rather than just the movies, which he loves (yes, he has a wand and can remember any spell you ask. But he also wants to be Matt Smith's Doctor for Halloween, so I know I have a weird kid.).

I AM so excited for him, for this to be new for him, because I hope it leads him to a life full of reading, of finding books that capture his imagination.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.