Friday, June 12, 2009

The Move Part 2

So, we're here in Tempe, AZ. Its hot as Hades. Yes, I was warned. Perhaps the singular event that helped me realize I had made the right decision happened the evening we got to Tempe. Walking from the car to the lobby of the hotel, I took a deep breath and smelled jasmine. Yes, honest to goodness jasmine bushes full of fragrant white flowers lined the drive. That scent, so evocative of summers at home in India. And I knew I could live here!

The drive from Chicago to Tempe, was mainly uneventful. We saw a gazillion cops but none deemed it necessary to stop us (thank goodness). Somewhere in Oklahoma we passed the world's largest rocking chair (now, I ask you....). And in Texas, the world's largest cross and the 72 oz steak. New Mexico was as barren and beautiful as ever. But north eastern Arizona surprised me - we went through 2 national forests - beautiful copper mountains interspersed with green forests - I hadn't expected it to be so mountainous.

For those of you who wondered if I would be in withdrawal from the Chicago restaurants, wits not so bad here.

Next week, we'll be closing on the house, unpacking about a million boxes, and starting new jobs. Stay tuned.


Thanks Sandy

Many thanks to Sandy Lender and those who stopped by to visit with her on her blog tour.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Choices Meant For Gods Excerpt

Choices Meant For Gods: Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

Choices Meant For Gods: Excerpt
This is a romantic scene as Nigel Taiman and Amanda Chariss ride from the estate at Arcana to Arcana City. Her wizard guardian has already clued her in to the fact that Nigel wants to court her, and she's upset over it. The scene mentions the bear-like ryfel creature that nearly killed Nigel in the training arena...Nigel frowned at her. Spurring his horse slightly, he reached out to take hold of Shadow’s bridle. Bringing them both to a stop, he turned in the saddle to face her.

“Hey!” she objected.

“Indeed. Have I done something to anger you?”

Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment.


“You’re staring at me.”

“By the gods, Woman. All right, I’ll look at your horse. ’Manda,” he said to Shadow, “what have I done that’s made you angry?”

“I’m not angry.”

“You’re not a liar,” he spoke to Chariss again.

“All right, so I’m a little angry. It will pass.”

“And you don’t want to tell me what it is?”

She couldn’t blame her reticence today on worry over Drake. She also couldn’t blame her health because she’d completely recovered from her telabyrinth poisoning. With Hrazon and The Master attending the summer festival, she couldn’t blame some sort of timidity at being ‘alone’ in the city. No, she had to take a deep breath and be honest with him. Considering the number of suitors she’d sent packing in the past few years, this should have been an easy thing to do again. It wasn’t. She sighed, closing her eyes as if she could make the scene disappear.

“Do you agree that you’re my friend?” she finally asked.

He watched her open her eyes then, realizing where the conversation must be going.

“Yes.” It was said with exasperation.

“And that I’m your friend?”


“And does that please you?”

He sighed, but didn’t get a chance to answer.

“You see, Nigel, it pleases me. I appreciate your kindness, and I would be disappointed if we hadn’t built such a…such a…”

“Friendship?” he retorted.

“Such a rapport.”

He rolled his eyes. “A fancier word with even less affection.”

“My stay at Arcana is much more pleasant because I have this relationship with you. But someone has tried to convince me that your…your…”




“Well…your opinion of our relationship might be somewhat different from mine.”

“’Manda, just say what you’re thinking. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

She looked miserable then. “I don’t want to say what I’m thinking.”


“No, that’s not good. Hrazon thinks you’re…Hrazon believes you spend time with me because…” She paused, searching for the words.

“Because I’m in love with you?”

She nearly fell backward. “Just blurt it out!”

He chuckled slightly. “This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? I’m sorry to embarrass you. This conversation would be better in a darkened corner of Arcana’s parlor. ’Manda, I’m not going to lie to you. Hrazon has every reason to believe I’m after his ward because I am. It’s no secret to anyone I enjoy your company. What, where are you…You’re the only woman I know who can scoot that far away on a saddle without falling off.”

“I don’t think you should say those things.”

“Aye,” he sighed, watching her fidget with Shadow’s reins. But he made a decision to press the matter. “I’m going to say them and get them out in the open. Then we can decide if you’re to die of embarrassment, or slap me across the face.”

She couldn’t help smiling, even though her heart beat as if it would burst through her bodice from the tension she felt.

“I enjoy being with you because you’re my perfect match,” he said. “Have you noticed that we agree on almost everything? And the few things we don’t agree on are intriguing to argue because you make them intriguing. There’s no one at that entire estate, The Master and every intelligent student combined, who can hold my attention as you do. None of them compare.

“I’m attracted to everything about you, including your compassion. Even now, when you’re on the verge of falling off a horse with embarrassment, your concern is for my feelings, not your own. Godric, who doesn’t deserve to wash your feet, who finds every excuse to correct you, gets your respect because you remind yourself that he’s your benefactor. Do you know what strength of character that shows? Do you know how it endears you to me to know you bite your tongue after his arrogant remarks to save my mother’s feelings?”

She merely nodded, her eyes cast down.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you would fight to the death for little Kaylin?”

She nodded again.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you instinctively threw yourself into healing spells to save my life?”

“You shouldn’t assume that means—”

“I remember sliding toward death that night, life spilling out of me, and poison seeping into me from that thing’s claws. But do you know what I remember most distinctly? I remember you commanding me not to bleed to death…and I remember your hands afterward. Once I was healed, once Master Rothahn became preoccupied with the dead ryfel, you crawled over to me and put your hands on me again, as if you had to be sure He’d done a good enough job of healing me. But you would’ve done it for any member of my family. I daresay you would’ve done it for any student in the school. And it’s because you care about others, and you want the best for everyone around you. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

The last comment caught her off guard. It didn’t seem to fit with the logical argument he tried to make.

“I fail to see how these things tell you you’re in love. Kaylin enjoys my company. Mia enjoys arguing with me. I saved Sorne’s life once. Does this mean they’re in love with me?”

“If love could be explained that easily, it wouldn’t be real.”

“But what makes you think it’s real now? If you can’t explain your feelings, how do you know you’re not misled?”

“How does the rose know to bloom in spring?”

“Oh, now that talk I’ve heard before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t think you should let yourself believe it now.”

“’Manda, I’m telling you the truth and I’m telling you what I know. If I’ve made you angry by falling in love with you, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Because you’re not currently interested in me, you have to give me time to change your mind.”

They were silent then; he waited for some sign that she wasn’t going to cast him aside, she waited for her heart to stop beating so loudly in her ears. As far as she was concerned, she was often a foolish girl, but her intentions at the beginning of this conversation were foolish beyond compare. She realized—with alarm—that the blood rushing through her veins, the lightheadedness, the excitement at getting to spend an afternoon with him, were all signs she had chosen to ignore.

She swallowed hard against the fear in her throat, and, with as much calm as she could muster, said: “What gives you the idea that I’m not interested in you?”

Interview with Sandy Lender

HI Everyone

Below is an interview with Sandy Lender, who is here promoting her new release, Choices Meant for Gods. My apologies for getting this up late today. Moving weekend was not a good time for me to agree to do this! But without much more ado, here is Sandy.

Welcome Sandy!

Interview With Fantasy Author Sandy Lender

1) RM: Sandy, I’m amazed at the diverse reasons authors state for getting hooked into fantasy/futuristic/sci-fi writing. What were yours?

Sandy Lender: Hi there, Rayka. Yes, we all have something that pulled us in. And you’re right to ask me what “were” the reasons I got hooked into writing fantasy. I have a few. A couple of the minor reasons are that I love dragons; I get a thrill out of my funky dreams with faeries and trolls and dinosaurs and people whipping out swords; I need a way to channel all the Old English literature and Anglo-Saxon angst bouncing around in my brain; and I’ve enjoyed reading the genre ever since my dad brought home a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT when I was in the fourth grade. I just ate up David Eddings’ BELGARIAD and MALLOREON series and Elizabeth Moon’s PAKSENARRIAN series and the like. Reading or writing fantasy is like taking a vacation someplace you can’t get a plane ticket to.

But the big reason I got hooked was Amanda Chariss. She’s the heroine of the CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS trilogy and she’s amazing. (Just ask Nigel…) The bad guy of the series showed her to me years ago and I’ve been in love with her ever since (as has Nigel). If it wasn’t for Nigel and Chariss pressing me to get her story out, I wouldn’t have so much invested in the fantasy realm. I mean, that’s where her story takes place. That’s where and when she lives. That’s where and when she had to fight the battles she encountered. And that’s where and when Chariss had to make her choices…

2) RM: In Choices Meant for Gods, you have various mythological beings and creatures. How do you go about researching information for these characters?

Sandy Lender: In the world I created for CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS, I have two categories of creatures, if you want to look at it that way. One set of beings are what I’d consider traditional and “expected” in fantasy. I left a lot out—I don’t have any elves or trolls in my series; faeries are (sadly) extinct. But I’ve included your humans, your wizards, your dragons, your shapeshifters, your sorcerers, and then normal animals like certain birds, sea turtles, horses, pigs, wild cats, and even a domestic cat that young Kaylin Taiman keeps as a pet. (That cute little kitty is quite important to our heroine, Chariss, in Book II.) You have to have some “ordinary” elements with which the reader will immediately and easily identify.

Then you wrap the extraordinary around these elements. That’s where my second category comes in—the creatures I made up. I manufactured demons called edras and ryfel that can cross between the spirit and mortal worlds and who bow to the ancient evil goddess Julette and obey her commands to harass the hero and heroine. I made peaceful, artistic, humanoid creatures called the Ungol who guard the prophets and the prophecy scrolls in an underground set of caverns known as Tiurlang. I created my own pantheon of gods with nobility who serve them in their secluded city…until a few have to walk among the mortals for our story, of course. And Geasa’n instead of “people with magic” populate my fantasy world because I made up my own source of power for the “good guys” in the world of Onweald.

Now here’s how I research these two different categories:
For something as popular and traditional as dragons or wizards, there’s always the Internet and Google searches and online groups to throw questions into. But I also own scads of books with established “rules” on what has been done in fiction before. (But remember what Elizabeth Swan learned from the pirates about rules—they’re more like guidelines.) I’ve got research books like THE MONSTER HUNTER’S HANDBOOK—The Ultimate Guide to Saving Mankind from Vampires, Zombies, Hellhounds, and Other Mythical Beasts by Ibrahim S. Amin (2007, Bloomsbury); DRAGONS—A Natural History by Dr. Karl Shuker (1995, Simon & Schuster); THE BOOK OF THE DRAGON by Monte Sant/Ciruelo (1992, Paper Tiger); GOBLINS—A Survival Guide and Fiasco in Four Parts by Ari Berk/Brian Froud (2004, Abrams); THE SWORD IN ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND by H.R. Ellis Davidson (1994, Boydell Press); THE DRAGON CHRONICLES by the Great Wizard Septimus Agorius (2002, Pegasus Publications); DRAGONOLOGY by Dr. Ernest Drake (no relation to the sorcerer Jamieson Drake) (2003, Candlewick Press) and a bunch more that I’m just too lazy to list for folks. There are a variety of magazines out there that give excellent information and ideas as well. I’m waiting to see how the new version of REALMS OF FANTASY turns out before I say anything about its predecessor. (It may be a professional publication now. Insert cheesy grin here.) Then there’s the lovely FAERIE MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL, produced quarterly by the folks at They don’t know me, but, as a national magazine editor, I admire their publication.

To research the second category of creatures for CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS, I can’t rely on the pros who’ve gone before me. I can’t pick up a clever and colorful book about the ryfel or the edras and write out their descriptions for my readers. No, those poisonous demons are in my head. But they still involve research. I have to know my world’s legends, and I have to be able to separate the legends from the actual events that took place in Onweald history.

Here’s a good one for you: When I first created the Ungol years ago (this trilogy has been a long time in the making), I called them the Lognu. It’s in some of the spiral notebooks hidden in the back of the closet. I decided I didn’t like the way that sounded when I read it out loud and I turned it around. Ungol pleased me. The high priestess of this group had some unpronounceable name (of course) and the scenes in Tiurlang took FOREVER to get through. (Thank God for editing. We can’t have Chariss away from Nigel that long! He’d go insane.) But to form these underground people, I needed to figure out what their occupation was. I had to figure out how they got food. How did they sleep without catching pneumonia underground? How did their children grow without sunlight? For that matter, how did they create their art without light? Enter the research phase of fantasy writing! I created a language for the Ungol that focused on beauty and peace and companionship. (Of course, I don’t include their whole language in the books. I’m not expecting readers to learn Klingon or anything!) I started learning in my mind about specific Ungol families and their family units. I borrowed “technology” from the ancient Egyptians so my Ungol could position large mirrors in their underground growing and gathering rooms to capture light from tunnels to the surface. And I made these graceful people excellent hunters who would go out on “haas luna” (hunts by the moon – or night hunts) to kill only what meat they needed for their tribes. By the time I finished researching all they needed for their society, I had this loving, beautiful place for my main character Chariss and her guardian wizard to seek refuge one dangerous winter when the sorcerer Jamieson Drake first sought Chariss to kill her. The flashback to a scene of the kind old wizard teasing young Chariss about worms falling on her head in the underground city is touching and sweet. And where would that scene be without all the research I’d done to create that atmosphere for them?

Imagine my horror when I learned this past spring that J.R.R. Tolkien had a society in his works called Ungol. I was livid with him once again. I already hold a grudge against him for taking the greatest dragon name EVER. Smaug. Sigh. But, I guess that’s why he’s the god of fantasy literature, right? And I guess that’s why his story THE HOBBIT is one of the reasons I got into the genre.

Thank you for the thought-provoking questions, Rayka. I got a little long-winded there…but it was FUN! And thank you for hosting me today during my online book tour. If anyone wants more info, they can leave me a question here in the comments. I’ll be checkin’ in!
“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

RM: Sandy, great responses. I can only imagine your feelings finding out about Tolkien. LOL. I for one am really looking forward to reading Choices Meant for Gods. I am also posting an excerpt and a blurb about the book next. Thanks for visiting, Sandy.



Friday, June 5, 2009

The Move Part 1

Packers are in the house - they have already completed 1 and a half rooms already, and....drum roll...I am not quite contemplating a long walk off a short pier. This is very promising indeed!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

So you write romance? I say, how delightfully droll.

I am little behind on catching up with my reading; and oh so sorry that I did not see this post earlier - purely for the sheer joy I might have experienced in reading this earlier. The Eroticization of Equality and Social Justice by Hillary Rettig. Go Hillary!!!!! I do wish I could have been at the Princeton conference.
To everyone who ever smirked or laughed (or still does) when I say I write romance (and yes, they are critiqued and pulled apart and edited and re-edited before they ever get published) - I say to you, So there! 
And to my friends and select family (you know you are) who supported me from day 1 and have bought and passed around my books, I humbly bow to your superior judgement.



I must link to these discussions - Jessica Faust at BookEnds Literary Agency talked about angry responses to rejections. Made me laugh though I am sure if I were receiving as many as she does it probably wouldn't be so funny! Are writers nuts?

And do check out the link on Mantasies at EditTorrent . All I can say is I am so glad I was not eating or drinking or had anything liquid nearby that I could knock over as I rocked in my chair, overcome with laughter. Oh dear...


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Opportunity of a life-time #1

So one of my winning bids on Brenda Novak's Auction for Diabetes Research was a read of my first 3 chapters by Cherry Adair. I thought it would take a while for this to come through, but Ms. Adair emailed me today. She sent a lovely message confirming I had won her critique, and asking how 'honest' I wanted her to be in her critique. She was gracious when I asked for more time (I was in a panic, wanting to go back and search for every darn adverb in my WIP). So stop by again - I'll be updating you on my WIP and critique. I am sure my awesome writing partners will be working double-time with me - so thanks in advance to these wonderful women Vicki Gaia, Phyllis Campbell, Ginger Simpson, and Ciara Gold.

I discovered Ms. Adair is also taking part in the 3-day walk for breast cancer in honor of her mother, Petal, who died of breast cancer.

I know its a tough economy out there, but just think of those people with cancer and no resources. If you are looking for a cause to support, remember every little bit helps in the fight against cancer.

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, June 1, 2009

My secret addiction

Who knew? Its online auctions! I won’t know what to do with myself now that Brenda Novak’s online auction to support diabetes research is done. Last night was the nail-biting finish. Picture this…Sicily, 1942…oops wrong story. Picture this…introduction to a pretty well-known agent who will review your work. Down to the wire – 50 seconds to go and someone makes a bid which automatically extends the bidding on the item for another 5 minutes. Who made that rule? Ack! What do I do? One the one hand, this would a great opportunity in my writing career (it would also, hopefully, get Irene Muse to stop disappearing), I get to support diabetes research. You can see the choices were all one-sided. So I bid again, muttering that for the sake of my sanity, I would stop it now. I got it! So now, I really, really, really have to get my act together and write. I owe Vicki a review of the rest of her book – Mikela’s Reckoning – a lovely book with a yummy angel hero. And then I really have to find my groove.

The rest of this week is devoted to finishing up packing. Next week (if I have survived the packers) – Digression warning…last time this happened in Salt Lake City, I remember contemplating the ground fondly from my 11th floor balcony; I had to call Pat to help me calm down, which she did with her usual good sense and cheer – so, if I have survived, I will be driving to Phoenix on a brand-spanking-new adventure.

Come back by on June 7th when I will post an interview with Sandy Lender. The first book of her the first book of her Choices trilogy, Choices Meant for Gods, is now available.


Sandy Lender Book Tour

On June 7th, Sandy Lender, will stop by here on her blog tour for her new book: Choices Meant for Gods, available now and receiving great reviews.