Sunday, May 29, 2011

Citadel of Women by Lisabet Sarai

Citadel of Women
by Lisabet Sarai
Releasing June 17

Doa had planned to explore the ancient temples of Angkor with her lover Laurel. When Laurel breaks off their relationship to please her dying mother, Doa resolves to travel to Cambodia alone. Amid the heat and dust of Siem Reap, confronted by the stark monuments of a lost civilization, Doa struggles against loneliness and frustrated lust. The tour guide Che reaches out to her, offering a feverish night of pleasure.     But is an erotic encounter with someone from a totally different world enough to heal her heart?

Dinner was served on the hotel terrace overlooking a small garden. The moist air was a soft, heavy blanket, laced with the scents of jasmine and mosquito coils. Two dim bulbs lit the scene with a golden glow. Our group sat together at a long table, consuming spicy fish, garlicky vegetables, and mounds of rice. I sat at the far end, nearest the garden, listening to the multi-lingual chatter, the clink of silverware, the droning of the insects in the trees. I had never felt so alone.
All at once, he was there, settling his loose-limbed frame into the chair across from me. He plunked an amber bottle misted with condensation down in front of me. “You look like you could use this.”
He took a swig from his own beer. Not knowing what to say, I did the same. The icy liquid slid down my throat.
I nodded and drank again before turning the bottle to examine the label. “Angkor Beer?” I laughed.
“Why not? One of our leading exports.” He tilted the bottle back. I watched his brown throat move as he swallowed. “Possibly the only thing most people know about our country.”
“Really?” It was difficult to talk to him, difficult not to stare at his mobile, expressive face. Fortunately, the beer offered a convenient alternative to conversation.
We drank for a while in silence. I wondered how I could politely excuse myself.
He replaced his bottle on the table. “You really miss her, don't you?”
My eyes filled with tears. Somehow, though, it was a relief to admit it to someone, even to him. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
“Is she your lover?” I'd read Cambodia was a conservative country, but Che didn't seem shocked by the idea at all.
“Was. She broke it off just before we were supposed to leave on this trip.”
“Why?” The question was completely inappropriate, but I could see he wanted to know.
I buried my face in my hands. What could I say? How could he ever understand?
I heard the scrape of his chair as he rose. His hand rested briefly on my bare shoulder. “Whatever the reason,” he murmured, “I think she was crazy.”
By the time I looked up, he had returned to his seat at the other end of the table. “Make it an early night,” he told the group. “We've got to be up at five tomorrow.” He did not look at me again, but still the imprint of his fingers lingered on my flesh.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mom & Our Crazy Memorable Times Together

By Kay Dee Royal

My mother birthed four daughters, me being the oldest and also the tallest in my family. Mom loved playing the piano, especially her favorites: Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue and Alley Cat. I don’t know if anyone here recalls the Lennon Sisters, but my mother determined her girls would be singing stars on either the Amateur Hour or The Ed Sullivan Show. She lined us up – tallest to shortest – and then, yes, we sang. I recall getting angry when my sisters didn’t sing right. I think I even huffed off a few times;)

Mom wore these slippery-soled flip-flop slippers any time she didn’t have to go out anywhere. She fell down our basement stairs wearing those things. We all heard the fall. She moaned and it scared us. I was pretty young when this happened and afraid I wouldn’t be able to help her, so I called our neighbor, Roger. None of us walked downstairs until Roger came. Mom was so embarrassed when Roger flew down the steps and found her sprawled out on the floor in her nightie. Apparently, she’d been afraid to move and he got an exact shot of her landing. She ended up being okay, lots of bruises, including her ego.

One summer vacation my sisters and I decided we’d get Mom into the lake. She was deeply afraid of the water, didn’t like getting her face wet. We talked her into floating out on an air mattress with us, promising we’d not float out too deep. It was a bit of a fiasco getting her on the air mattress without her getting wet. We pulled her and the floaty out near the end of the dock. She lay back, tense yet smiling. All appeared good. A couple of us girls swam beneath her and bumped her in the bottom through the mattress. Mom screamed and shot off that thing so fast. She went completely underwater and panicked, even though it was shallow enough she could have stood up just fine.

Mom got so darn mad at us. Coughing and sputtering all the way to the beach where she shoved her feet into those darn flip-flop slippers. She rushed up concrete block steps toward the cottage and halfway she fell, taking a nice chunk out of her shin. It put her out of commission for the rest of vacation, left a nasty scar too. Needless to say, we all got into bigger than normal trouble over it.

After Dad and Mom divorced, she threw herself into fun and bought a convertible car. I was fourteen at the time and freaked about anyone seeing me in that thing. None of my friends’ parents had anything like it. I honestly rode around in it with my head bent down over my knees so no one would see me. Well, one day, Mom insisted I ride in the front passenger seat. My sisters sat in the back. Mom made me sit straight up…so, when we drove up to a railroad crossing (at a time before stop signs or RR crossing gates were around to stop a car) I yelled, “TRAIN.”

Mom screamed and slammed the brakes, tires screeching and sisters hollering too. I swear we all had whip-lash. She reacted instantly and once stopped, she noticed there wasn’t a train. Another simultaneous reaction first slap across the face. I must say, looking back, it was well deserved.

I wonder how Mom could stand putting up with us, but thankfully, she always did.

At Prom time, Mom and I shopped for a dress everywhere. I wasn’t the easiest body for fitting – 6 ft. tall, broad shoulders, with a wire thin body. We didn’t find anything. I decided I wasn’t going to prom. Mom and one of her friends, Marilyn, made me a dress, sky blue, empire fitted, a-line skirt, floor length, sleeveless, and so beautiful. My hands shook as I tried it on, and it fit like a glove. Mom came through shining like a super-star. We both got emotional over it.

As we all got older and Mom lost her second husband, we began taking Mother/Daughter trips, a couple to Branson, MO; Brown County, IN; Door County, WI; and Chicago, IL. We’d take one a year, took lots pictures, and acted like crazy kids. These trips gave us such meaningful memories, reminiscing, laughing, picking on each other – lots of pictures, Mom smiling in all of them with her daughters.

Then Mom’s darn slippers came into play…again. December 5, 2005 she slid out her back stairs and fell on a corner of her picnic table. She spent days in the hospital from a punctured lung cavity. After some extra testing, one thing leading to another, it was discovered Mom had a football helmet of TIA’s, a network of mini strokes throughout her brain. She also came home wearing oxygen because of COPD (compromised lungs).

A few years later, Mom was diagnosed with dementia, which gradually increased its debilitating affects on her. One sister, who lived close, and I divided our time monitoring Mom so she could stay in her duplex apartment. She had such an abhorrence of Nursing Homes (and to think she’d worked in one for years…maybe that’s why). She also refused to live with any of her daughters. “Won’t be a burden,” she’d say.

On August 5, 2010, Mom passed away, quickly and without pain or suffering by a massive hemorrhaging stroke.

Those crazy darn slippers, her favorite blue slippery-soled flip-flops, found their way into Mom’s casket. The sisters and I agreed those slippers were part of Mom’s world and should go along on her next journey.

Through years of teasing, making fun, and also loving my mother, she loved me unconditionally. This authentic love was her one major life lesson. She shared it well, without my even realizing it was a lesson. Bless you, Mom.

Books By Kay Dee Royal:

Big Girls Don't Cry Wolf (Paranormal Erotica Romance) - Through Muse It Hot Publishing - Find it at:
Muse It Up bookstore - or Amazon bookstore

One Plus One (Contemporary Erotica Romance) - Releasing December 2011 Through Muse It Hot Publishing

Friday, May 20, 2011

In January, I started sharing 6 lines with an amazing group every Sunday. It’s been a wonderful way to get to know other authors and their voices. To celebrate the birthday of my debut novel, I grouped the posts I’ve made for Ashes, including the one set to go this Sunday.

Opening Six Lines:

Raw thirst dominated Lyle’s fantasy. Cracked ribs, battered leg, ankle bruised by the shackle, three broken fingers, deep slashes along inner thighs, and bone jutting through muscle in the left arm—it all lay crushed under the need for water. Images of shimmering droplets danced behind his crusted eyelids.
How long did it take for a male in his prime to die? The metal rod had been staked deep into the desert soil of Las Vegas.  Lyle no longer struggled against the chain, tried to shelter his skin from the searing heat, or screamed for a soul with a shred of human compassion to help him.

Meet Myles Logan:

But Myles wasn’t mentally deficient, just so giving of himself and his belongings. A stranger would admire his shirt, and he’d take it off and hand it to him. An adult woman of any age would eye him. He’d grab her shopping bags and walk her home, chattering about her life with her. Pimps, crackheads, thugs, anyone with a spark of decency watched out for him. Threaten any stranger who’d ask Myles for some loose change, but then not move on after he’d emptied his wallet with a smile.

Meet Lyle Logan:
Set up: Vegas sheriff is driving. In the backseat, Myles' lover holds Lyle forcible on his lap. Suspected of fratricide, out of whack without his twin, Lyle thinks he's headed to jail.

Lyle squirmed under Renold’s thick arm, unwilling to stop the crap pouring from his mouth. “You should find a real fairy to give you a lap dance. Why didn’t Sheriff Dickwad handcuff me and have you ride up front? He’s hoping we’ll make out back here? Pervert sheriff belongs in a porn theater. I belong behind bars. You belong behind a guy’s butt that’s not mine. This is your gay weekend getaway, right?”

Lyle Wonders if He’s Hallucinating:

A dying buzzard? More like a deathly ill, midget flamingo. The creature that landed in front of Lyle appeared deader than Myles.
Three feet tall at most, a foot of height added by its scrawny neck, the bird angled its head as if it were blind, wobbling on decrepit legs. Two feathers—faded crimson and gold—clung to its hairless, grey form. It looked like it should be hanging from the fist of a voodoo queen.

Chatter Between Lyle and Myles’ Lover:

“Whacked as Logan sounds, Des, I’m pulling rank. Ignore us, fetch ice cream, and I swear, someday I’ll spill it.” The cop’s lips twitched, attention back on Lyle. “So there’s a pathetic microscopic amount of grey matter, an area of doesn’t matter, and a lot of inactive matter inside your skull?”

“Yes. I can give you the pie chart analysis if you’d like.”

“Just tell me what’s stewing in the dark matter.”

Sneak Preview:
A few lines of dialogue between Renold (human) and Bennu (non human). 

"Unlike you, I’m extraordinarily unique. Thousands of years have shown me that cannibalistic seagulls, tool using crows, parrots counting for a cracker, there’s not a feathered being as self-centered as the non-feathered—or as violent.”

“Now I’m selfish, stupid, and vicious?”

Bennu’s next inhale proved it correct on all three characteristics. Renold had forcibly relaxed his hands, but his scent steadily showed increasing aggression. He no longer smelled deliciously protective, but dark and dangerous as a cornered panther.

Thank you to everyone at Muse for sharing this day with me!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dad to Me

Like most people, when I think of my parents through the lens of childhood, I see strong, stable if somewhat authoritarian figures looming large in my world as the most important presence. We rely on our parents for so much—food shelter, guidance and love. They are our first and perhaps most important mirror. As children we have neither the life experience or veracity to defend against the negative, or create the positive images of self as do our parents.

If little boys have varying degree of Oedipal complex at play where mothers are concerned, then how strong the bond between father and daughter?

'Piddy with the pennies.' One of my earliest terms of endearment in reference to my Dad. I've always had a penchant for alliteration, then no different. Dad used to bring shiny pennies to me at day's end, much to my delight. From where the "Piddy" part came, I don't know.

As a coin collector, those new pennies may not have been of great value to him, but the gleam of copper in my hand might as well have been gold. I'd scurry onto his lap lean my head against his broad chest and give the most valuable tender of childhood—a soul wrenching hug.

Dad was a businessman. It was not until I grew up that I found out just how great he was at what he did and how respected in his field. That kind of stuff doesn't matter to a kid though. The soft lingering fragrance of Old Spice, twisting the plain gold band on his ring finger wondering how anyone could manage to do the wonderful magic he did with hammer and nails, griddle and pancake batter, piano and sheet music using fingers that large. Compared to the delicate structure of Mom's and mine they were ginormous.

On Saturday afternoons after a long morning of errands and chores he'd lie on the couch and nap. Soft purr of a snore, the peace of an angel on his face, he'd earned those few minutes of rest. Whir of push mower, Dad in an old thin cotton undershirt, he pressed onward making our home the wonderful place it was. Testing tubes in the five and dime, picking up Danish at the crack of dawn, booty to bring home while they were still warm from the bakery, arms strong from waxing the car to new model shine; Dad toiled every weekend to live his version of the American dream.

Did I care then if our house was the prettiest on the block? Nah. What I did care about was having a strong male presence in my life showing not through words what it meant to be a good father and provider, but through his quiet actions.

Lakers playoff games, rock concerts at Hollywood Bowl and the Forum, canoe trips down a lazy river, ice cream afters at the Parasol Restaurant, Dad continued to be a part of my life as best he could manage to figure what events and memories would mean something to me. Classical concerts at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion downtown L.A., tuition paid in full with never a whisper of complaint at the (private) college of my choice (I could have chosen to attend the more affordable Cal State Long Beach or U.C. San Diego), taking me along to try out for the elite choral group of which he was a member, making sure I had a chance at an internship in downtown L.A. so I could see if the business world might be mine too—Dad thought it all through. Never did he force, never did he even suggest. He just made sure experiences were put in my path so that I might decide for myself what was, what is my bliss.

Dad was robbed of ripe old age by the neurological disease of Parkinson's. I lost him to it last year. It's funny how it takes absence to focus the lens of eternity on a life. I've had just a bit over a year to look back. I can tell you that with every passing day that hindsight becomes clearer and the guy with the sweat dripping from his nose as he toiled in the backyard and the man that made me cry by gushing over how proud he was of me at the most inopportune momentous of moments will always hold the most precious of places in my heart.

Thanks dad.

Christine London