Mists of Time is released on the 20th!

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So here’s another snippet:

Making love to her had been a miracle. Gawain couldn’t regret it. The way she opened to him, the way she trusted him. He’d worried when she was so hesitant. He’d wondered if she was too damaged by her previous experience.

Had he been gentle enough with her? It had cost him every ounce of his control to go as slowly has he had, when he wanted to claim her as his own, fast and fierce, with the right to protect and defend her, the right to make love to her, for them to bear children together and stand together against all comers.

Gawain felt her stir in his arms. She still had her sleep shirt on, though it was entirely unbuttoned, leaving her soft breasts pressed against his chest. He had captured her thigh between his own as she dozed after sex. This was how they should sleep together, always.

She wiggled the leg between his. He opened his thigh immediately. “Did your leg go to sleep?”

“No. I just liked the feel of it against your, uh, you know.’

He raised his brows. “Against my ‘you know’? Those are my bollocks and my cock you’re speaking of.”

Her eyes went dark. “Yes.”

“I know you know those words. You use them in your books.”

“Yes.” She cleared her throat. “Well, it’s a little different saying them to someone in real life.” She cleared her throat again. “I, uh, I hope it was okay for you.”

“Yelling is a clue. You don’t often get yelling.”

She tried to suppress a smile and looked down.

He felt his cock springing to new life. Would he ever get enough of her? “I’m not sure your research is yet complete if you have to resort to ‘you know’ to describe things.” He rolled over on his back and scooted her over next to him. “Don’t you think you should explore a little yourself? Just in the name of research.”

She grinned but looked away.

“You can’t possibly be shy after opening to my mouth the way you did.”

“Was…was I too brazen?” She looked stricken.

“A man likes his woman to be lady in public and brazen in bed. You were perfect.”

“So, uh, I should be brazen now.” She slid a glance down to his groin.

“Yes.”

She took her lip between her teeth as though she were girding her own loins. “I suppose you know that all those things I wrote in my books—they were pretty much just words to me. I know the words well enough but…

“But you should explore the reality,” he said.

She smiled shyly. “If you’re sure you wouldn’t mind.”

“I’ll bear up.” At least this time he could wait. He’d had one hell of an orgasm less than an hour ago.

“Well, I think I’ll start with your nipples. I was very curious earlier, but I didn’t like to, uh, just…. Well, you know.”

“You think you’re conveying something with this phrase ‘you know.’ But you’re not. Could you mean ‘lick them’?”

She sighed as if relieved. “Yes. Lick them.”

She bent over him and touched her tongue to his right nipple. Sensation shot to his groin. He hadn’t expected that. Not from just a nipple. Not after having spent himself so forcefully less than an hour before. She ran her tongue over it and then sucked gently. He cleared his throat. Now she raked her teeth across it, not biting, but the mere possibility of biting made him feel open and vulnerable to her. She continued working at it, alternating techniques while her other small hand gravitated toward his other nipple and began to tweak it.

She pulled up. “Now, describe how that feels please.”

“Good.”

She frowned at him. “I can’t just say it feels ‘good’ in my books.”

“Well, I’m a man. Men don’t wax flowery over…over things like that.” He took a breath. “That doesn’t mean you have to stop.”

She slipped down and slid her tongue into his navel. “I have other fish to fry right now. I’ll try to get back to them later.” She pulled his thighs apart and he obliged her. “I’ve read,” she said meditatively, “that the area just behind the testicles is very sensitive.” She took two fingers and rubbed the spot in question slowly, deeply. Lord, he was hard as a rock already. Could things get any more intense? “Is that true?” she asked.

“Uh, yes.” Where did she read these kinds of things? In books like hers?

“Pleasurable?”

“That would be yes.”

“And balls, do you like them caressed if I promise to be very gentle?”

“I, uh, I don’t know. No one’s ever done, uh, that exactly to me.”

“You surprise me.” She gave a knowing smile. “A man with your experience?”

The last woman he’d had was the Green Knight’s wife, and that was many years ago. At the thought of the Green Knight and his failure of honor, his heart contracted. He had to put that failure away. This was for Diana. He would perform the act of loving with her, for her, as a healing rite. That was the height of honor. And if it wasn’t, then honor be damned.

Snippet from Mists of Time

Okay, this is Wednesday instead of Saturday, but Mists of Time, the final book in my DaVinci Time travel series, comes out on the 20th, so you’ll see several excerpts here in the coming week or two.

In Mists of Time, Diana Dearborn is a romance writer who’s never been in love. An orphan with no knowledge of her origins, she longs for the days of Camelot, when courtly love ruled. Using Leonardo’s wonderful machine she’s about to embark on a journey that will reveal surprising secrets about herself, about the mysterious man who is stalking her, and just might change the world.

Excerpt:

She pushed open the doors and pulled her charge into the glare of the security lights over the parking lot. She glanced around for Clancy. Was that his shadow making its way down the colonnade toward them? Uh-oh. The shadow didn’t have Clancy’s paunch. As she watched, the figure emerged into the light.

Her stomach fell. She knew this guy, at least by sight.

Dark hair, fair skin, bulky shoulders. She might have been mistaken when she’d seen him across the lake as she came out these very doors the other day. He could just have been someone who looked like the guy who had pushed past her in the corner liquor store near her apartment.

But this time there was no doubt. It was the same guy all right. If he got closer, she’d see the gray eyes (or maybe green?) and classic features she’d glimpsed in the liquor store. Was he stalking her? You can’t stalk somebody if you look like the cover model for a romance novel! she wanted to shout. People notice a guy like you! Women anyway. And while she might not be someone guys ever noticed, she was still a woman. In the liquor store, as his whatever-colored eyes had met hers, she’d experienced some thrill of… well, of the sort she only wrote about. Spooky, really. You couldn’t be attracted to a man you didn’t even know. Not like that. But it meant you’d recognize him when you saw him again.

A thrill of fear found its way into her stomach as she stood, frozen, in the parking lot. Maybe he wanted her to recognize him, wanted her afraid. Why would any man be stalking someone like her? Romance writers occasionally acquired stalkers. The guys who wrote all those fan letters from prison sometimes got out. But she wasn’t a big name or anything. She wasn’t rich and she wasn’t beautiful. He just stood there at the entrance to the colonnade, the huge columns and the angels who crowned them dwarfing him. He looked … well, he looked as shocked as she did—even more than he did at the liquor store.

And he looked…familiar, somehow. She couldn’t know him…and yet…it felt like she knew him more intimately than she ever could if she’d only seen him three times.

Get hold of yourself, she thought, panic layering on top of panic. And get out of here.

 

 

Snippet from Magic’s in the Music

At the base of the freeway entrance, he stopped the bike. Greta was a mass of nerves. This whole night had been so freaking weird. She knew she should probably scream and run away. At least get off the bike. Maybe she could flag down a cop if she could find one before some unsavory character found her. She could call Jax and tell her to get her ass out of bed with Derek and come to the rescue. If Jax had her phone on. Maybe she was desperate enough to call Bernie. And stand on this deserted freeway entrance and wait for Jax or Bernie to get here? But it wasn’t deserted. What was that movement in the shadows under the ramp? Oh, great. She’d be waiting next to a homeless camp at one in the morning. Just dandy.
The Ghost lifted a booted leg over the handlebars of the bike, and went around to unstrap his saddlebags. He pulled out a helmet and handed it to her. “Put this on.”
She gripped her lip between her teeth.
“Okay, look,” he said, giving a disgusted sigh as he lowered the helmet. “You don’t know me. I get that. I look a little crazy. Hell, I am a little crazy. But I’m not leaving you at some flophouse or even a cabstand in the middle of the night. You don’t seem to have any friends. So unless you want to run the gauntlet at your apartment, you’re going to my Parents’ house.”
“I can’t impose…” She didn’t know his parents either. Though it was kind of sweet, when you thought about it, that he was taking her someplace he considered safe.
“Don’t be stupid.” He held out the helmet. “They’ve got enough bedrooms in that house that they won’t even know you’re there. My sisters will probably get all excited about giving you a change of clothes. They really like clothes. At least Drew and Kee do.”
Interesting. The guy who wore scuffed boots, a tee shirt and old leather had rich parents. And sisters. Sisters sounded pretty normal. She took the helmet and fitted it over her head. And really, what choice did she have? The helmet was too big.
“Okay,” she said with what was perhaps too little grace. “But only until morning.”
“Whatever.” He looked at her fumbling with the strap. Impatiently, he brushed her hands away to pull it tight for her.
The touch of his skin on hers made her jump and let out a little…oh, God, was that a growl? Oh, dear. And her panties got to another level of soaking. She turned her head up toward him. He looked shocked before he shut down his expression entirely. He swallowed hard and seemed to concentrate on pulling the strap tight under her chin. He had to touch her throat to hold the clasp. Greta was having trouble breathing. Her pulse was cycling up to heart-attack level. He was chewing on his lip so hard she thought he might draw blood.
“There,” he grunted and jerked away from her. He zipped up his duster. Then he slid onto the Harley seat in front of her and swung his leg up over the handlebars.
As they accelerated up the on-ramp, she tentatively put her arms around his torso to hold on. Thank God for the leather between them. The rush of air got cruel, and she huddled behind him, her cheek on his back. The duster flapped against her calves. Through the roar of the wind, she thought she could hear his heart beat. She’d never felt attraction like she had for this man. Was that why she was throwing caution to the wind and letting him take her to where parents and sisters might or might not be waiting? Maybe he’d lied about everything. She might be making the most foolish mistake of her life. She, who liked things ordered and secure. Anxious as she was, she realized she just didn’t care. Had he done that to her?
Who was this guy?

Adjusting your goals

23316423-mezquita-catedral-cathedral-inside-of-the-former-great-mosque-of-cordoba-andalusia-spain-stock-photoI’ve always been a goal-oriented person. I don’t believe in setting goals that are too big, though. “I’m going to be a best-selling author” is too big for me, even though my husband and I always said that our goal was to have our books on supermarket shelves everywhere. It may be good to have that in the back of your mind, but focusing too much on it can lead to being overwhelmed (at least for me) and depressed that it isn’t happening. I actually got to be on the New York Times Bestseller list, and I did get there through setting goals. But the goals were more along the lines of:
1) Finish a novel-length project, just so I know I can do it.
2) Uh-oh. It’s not very good. Okay. Get better at writing.
a) Take a class in writing.
b) Get into a critique group.
c) Go to some writing conferences and take seminars on writing.
d) Read some books on writing.
e) Rewrite the book.
f) Re-write the book again. Repeat as needed.
3) Figure out how you sell a book.
a) join RWA and talk to others
b) Go to some writing conferences and take seminars on selling.
c) read some materials on how to sell a book.
d) learn to write a query
e) learn to write a synopsis
f) rewrite query and synopsis until they’re good.
4) Submit query and synopsis to agents.

That went on for a long time while I wrote a second book and rewrote it and rewrote it until I thought it was salable.

You get the idea here. It’s making the steps little and achieving each little goal that keeps you on the path to a big, scary goal. Keeping the big, scary goal in the background keeps you on the path without scaring you into immobility.

Now, the big scary goal does play a role. When a tiny press that specialized in specialty historical books about local areas offered for my second historical romance book, it gave me the courage to turn the offer down. They had no plan for distribution. They didn’t know much about fiction, and that would waste the potential of my book to get me to my goal. I knew I needed the resources of a big publisher to get me where I wanted to go. That offer brought me to confront my big-scary goal, and I admit it frightened me. But because I knew where I wanted my path to lead, I did have a way of evaluating that offer that could combat the lure of just “seeing my name in print.” Seeing my name in print wasn’t my goal.

I say all this because every day, our dreams bubble up, demanding to become reality. And it’s useful to have to have a way of approaching that. This year, my husband and I wanted to go to Spain. Okay! Time for goals. Read about Spain to figure out where we want to go. Make a calendar. Book flights and hotels. Renew passports. Make reservations for the dogs at a kennel. Figure out how we will make phone calls and get data in Europe. Get a class to study conversational Spanish….

Did all that. But it didn’t work out. My husband wasn’t feeling well enough to go. The goal is still there. We still want to go to Spain. After cancelling our reservations, we decided to go next year. By the time we make our reservations again, we will know a lot more Spanish! We’ll get some tips from people in our class which may modify our plans. And we’ll execute those reservations again.

Sometimes our goals need to be adjusted along the way. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have goals. But we do. So breaking the path down to the larger goal makes it seem possible. And executing those steps can make our dreams come true.

Note to Readers on Twist in Time

Dear Readers,

You know, writing time travel is a wonderful gift. You can go to any time period you want, research it to your heart’s content and write about it. I have frequently written historicals, but I came to time travel by accident. The story of Leonardo’s wonderful machine actually begins in ONE WITH THE DARKNESS, which is technically a part of The Companion Series. In that book Contessa Donnatella di Poliziano lives in Italy of the early nineteenth century, but she’s a centuries-old vampire who regrets that she didn’t make the barbarian slave she loved vampire too so they could live through the ages together. She finds a clue that her friend from the Renaissance, Leonardo DaVinci left her, guiding her to a machine he built to let her go back and correct that mistake. Of course it isn’t that easy. Lots of adventures ensue. But I got to research and inhabit Caligula’s Rome while I wrote that book. And it was a blast.

So, I decided that the connection for my next series would be Leonardo’s machine, passed from heroine to heroine as they tried to remake their lives. These women weren’t necessarily vampires, but they were people who wanted something they couldn’t find in modern times. First Frankie (who is a vampire) got to go back in TIME FOR ETERNITY to the French Revolution to try to kill the man she thought she loved, a man who made her a monster and abandoned her. She learns to look behind the obvious to find the truth.

But what to do in the second time travel book? I returned to a period I have always had a soft spot for. In A TWIST IN TIME, Lucy Rossano uses the machine to go back to a time when magic was still possible, since her life seems to have so little magic in it. Unfortunately she lands in Dark Age Britain in the middle of a battle, and accidentally brings back a wounded Viking warrior to 20th Century San Francisco. I love Galen and how he adapts to the modern world, and how he and Lucy fall in love in spite of all the forces arrayed against them.

While this particular book has only one scene in Dark Age Britain, this isn’t the first time used Dark Age characters. DANEGELD was the first book I ever published, and it was a book of my heart. I had written my first book (a Regency Vampire later published as SACRAMENT) and it was sitting under my bed. Could I ever find a subject I liked and think up another plot? I was one anxious girl. Where would I set it? Who would the characters be? I looked around for something, anything that interested me. And I remembered studying the roots of the English language. It was the clash of Viking Danish and early Saxon that made English what it is today. And during the time when the Vikings were raiding up and down east of England, Christianity was confronting the Norse religions for the first time too. Everything was changing. Great! Lots of conflict possibilities. And who would my hero and heroine be? Why natural enemies, a Viking and a Saxon girl, of course. Religion could come into it as well. My protagonists would be searching for meaning in their world—so they would have lost faith. I decided Karn, my Viking, would be wounded in battle, his prowess as a warrior lost. Britta would have escaped Saxon brutality and have a gift of healing she didn’t understand. I knew she would rescue the wounded warrior from Saxon cruelty and try to heal him. I knew he would be “difficult.” They would have lots of conflict and beliefs to bridge. But I didn’t know where to start the book, and I didn’t yet have the “voice” in which the book would be written. I guess the truth is, I was afraid to start. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I only had one book in me and I had written it already?

It was time to plan a vacation, and my husband, who is an author, was writing a book set in England too. We decided to do a research trip. We visited York, and the Viking museum. I saw a reconstructed Saxon village of the time in the fenland where the story would take place. We spent one windy afternoon exploring a flint Saxon church still standing on a hill that overlooked the River Blythe.

It was there, standing in the windy churchyard, where grass rippled against the headstones as they stretched down the hill toward the river with the Saxon church at my back, that I heard a voice in my head. Now I’m a practical person, not given to flights of fancy. Maybe it was just that I had worked myself up into such a state about writing this book that some kind of a damn burst in my head. Or maybe Britta was talking to me. But I heard these words. “Witch or saint—which? Wicce or santé? Even now I do not know. The gods know. Or the one God knows. Everyone around me is sure, though no one quite agrees. But to me, the one true witness to the miracles, that sureness is denied.”

Those are the first words in DANEGELD. They have never changed through all the drafts.

DANEGELD won a Golden Heart from the Romance Writers of America, and lots of other regional contests. It made friends for me—other writers who judged it in contests and who have remained friends and mentors over time. And it was bought by Dorchester. It opened doors for me at other publishers. I got my first ever fan e-mail from an editor at what would become my publishing home at St. Martins Press. And it will always remain a book of my heart. It spawned DANELAW, the first book I ever wrote under contract. But that’s a story for another time.

And it was the progenitor for A TWIST IN TIME, where a son of my hero and heroine in DANELAW feels he has disappointed his parents by not inheriting his mother’s magic. He is ripped from a battle and taken to a land where everything seems magic. He and Lucy are separated by culture, language, religion and a whole lot of centuries. But you can watch Galen and Lucy find several kinds of magic in A TWIST IN TIME, and share my fascination for Vikings and the women who love them.

Enjoy.

Susan

Snippet–Mists of Time

Making love to her had been a miracle. Gawain couldn’t regret it. The way she opened to him, the way she trusted him. He’d worried when she was so hesitant. He’d wondered if she was too damaged by her previous experience.
Had he been gentle enough with her? It had cost him every ounce of his control to go as slowly has he had, when he wanted to claim her as his own, fast and fierce, with the right to protect and defend her, the right to make love to her, for them to bear children together and stand together against all comers.
Gawain felt her stir in his arms. She still had her sleep shirt on, though it was entirely unbuttoned, leaving her soft breasts pressed against his chest. He had captured her thigh between his own as she dozed after sex. This was how they should sleep together, always.
She wiggled the leg between his. He opened his thigh immediately. “Did your leg go to sleep?”
“No. I just liked the feel of it against your, uh, you know.’
He raised his brows. “Against my ‘you know’? Those are my bollocks and my cock you’re speaking of.”
Her eyes went dark. “Yes.”
“I know you know those words. You use them in your books.”
“Yes.” She cleared her throat. “Well, it’s a little different saying them to someone in real life.” She cleared her throat again. “I, uh, I hope it was okay for you.”
“Yelling is a clue. You don’t often get yelling.”
She tried to suppress a smile and looked down.
He felt his cock springing to new life. Would he ever get enough of her? “I’m not sure your research is yet complete if you have to resort to ‘you know’ to describe things.” He rolled over on his back and scooted her over next to him. “Don’t you think you should explore a little yourself? Just in the name of research.”
She grinned but looked away.
“You can’t possibly be shy after opening to my mouth the way you did.”
“Was…was I too brazen?” She looked stricken.
“A man likes his woman to be lady in public and brazen in bed. You were perfect.”
“So, uh, I should be brazen now.” She slid a glance down to his groin.
“Yes.”
She took her lip between her teeth as though she were girding her own loins. “I suppose you know that all those things I wrote in my books—they were pretty much just words to me. I know the words well enough but…”
“But you should explore the reality,” he said.
She smiled shyly. “If you’re sure you wouldn’t mind.”
“I’ll bear up.” At least this time he could wait. He’d had one hell of an orgasm less than an hour ago.
“Well, I think I’ll start with your nipples. I was very curious earlier, but I didn’t like to, uh, just…. Well, you know.”
“You think you’re conveying something with this phrase ‘you know.’ But you’re not. Could you mean ‘lick them’?”
She sighed as if relieved. “Yes. Lick them.”
She bent over him and touched her tongue to his right nipple. Sensation shot to his groin. He hadn’t expected that. Not from just a nipple. Not after having spent himself so forcefully less than an hour before. She ran her tongue over it and then sucked gently. He cleared his throat. Now she raked her teeth across it, not biting, but the mere possibility of biting made him feel open and vulnerable to her. She continued working at it, alternating techniques while her other small hand gravitated toward his other nipple and began to tweak it.
She pulled up. “Now, describe how that feels please.”
“Good.”
She frowned at him. “I can’t just say it feels ‘good’ in my books.”
“Well, I’m a man. Men don’t wax flowery over…over things like that.” He took a breath. “That doesn’t mean you have to stop.”
She slipped down and slid her tongue into his navel. “I have other fish to fry right now. I’ll try to get back to them later.” She pulled his thighs apart and he obliged her. “I’ve read,” she said meditatively, “that the area just behind the testicles is very sensitive.” She took two fingers and rubbed the spot in question slowly, deeply. Lord, he was hard as a rock already. Could things get any more intense? “Is that true?” she asked.
“Uh, yes.” Where did she read these kinds of things? In books like hers?
“Pleasurable?”
“That would be yes.”
“And balls, do you like them caressed if I promise to be very gentle?”
“I, uh, I don’t know. No one’s ever done, uh, that exactly to me.”
“You surprise me.” She gave a knowing smile. “A man with your experience?”
The last woman he’d had was the Green Knight’s wife, and that was many years ago. At the thought of the Green Knight and his failure of honor, his heart contracted. He had to put that failure away. This was for Diana. He would perform the act of loving with her, for her, as a healing rite. That was the height of honor. And if it wasn’t, then honor be damned.

Getting myself together

It’s been a while since I posted. Health issues in my family are to blame. But things have resolved and life goes on. I guess that’s the basic lesson here.

Blitz and I have been competing in Obedience competitions sponsored by local American Kennel Club chapters. We’re working on the Open level, which is sort of like a Master’s Degree. Blitz is so good–attentive, sharp, eager at working. What more could you ask? But today it was raining cats and dogs at a competition, which in California are outdoors. Now, he’s a sheepdog. He’s supposed to work herding sheep in all weathers. He has a big black coat. He never gets wet to the skin.

I don’t think Blitz got that memo. Or more likely he’s become a California house dog with a dog door. Sigh. He looked so miserable in the competition ring, even the judge had to laugh. He dragged himself around the exercises, always looking outside the ring for something more interesting, or perhaps for shelter from the weather. Needless to say, we didn’t pass today. But you just move on. There will be other, non-rainy days.

And that’s probably the second lesson. There will be other, non-rainy days in life, and we just have to keep going until we find them. So I loved on Blitz, my big, intelligent, wussy boy, and gave him a jackpot of last night’s leftover steak. He needs to know that it won’t always be raining too. And that for getting through the rain, you sometimes get steak.

stillness

fall_leavesEarly last week I was walking the dogs about ten in the morning. You can do that when you have a job like writing. It was a gorgeous fall day in Southern California. I even walked past a tree that was valiantly turning red. Most of our trees just brown out and the leaves give up and drift to the ground. But this one was really putting on a show.

There was no one out on the streets. I met one mom with a stroller. That’s it. Everybody else was probably at work. I had elected not to walk down by the beach, so I wasn’t preoccupied looking at surfers (okay, I admit it) or watching for dolphins. Belle and Blitz occasionally wanted to sniff something, but they were pretty mellow too. We were all on cruise control. It was quiet. And that was….nice.

It occurred to me that we have too little stillness in our lives these days. If people go on a walk, they need to have earphones so they can listen to music, or to books being read to them, or radio talk shows. If they’re home, they want the TV on. If we have a few moments of alone time, we jump on the internet. I’m not sure we value stillness enough anymore

And I think that we are poorer for it. In stillness is when we get our best ideas. We have time to be grateful for what we have, to reflect on our actions, our relationships, or our goals. We have time to remember who we are and who we want to be.

What did I do with my 50 minutes of quiet? Not much. I thought about how lucky I was to be able to be out walking with my favorite four-legged creatures at ten in the morning. I thought about how lucky I was to live in a place that I liked, and enumerated some of the things I liked best about it. I thought about how Harry needed a break from making dinner no matter how much he loves to cook, and what I would cook for him, as a kind of a mini-gift. I got an idea about why one of the characters in my current work in progress would do what they were doing (the REAL reason). Nothing earth-shattering. No epiphanies about world peace. But it was enough.

I’m going to try to get more of those opportunities for stillness into my life. No internet. No self-created distracting noise. I’m going to try to take time to just be every once in a while. I bet my life is better for it.

September is the end of the tomato season

Okay, In Southern California, we can grow tomatoes for a while longer. But traditionally, and in many parts of California and the country as a whole, the end of summer is a signal for green tomatoes to be picked from your garden. They appear at farmer’s markets. Fall is at hand.

And so is Green Tomato Pie. My mother used to make it. I’ve tried lots of recipes since. Paula Deen has one with raisins and a million spices. But I made my mother’s recipe last night, and it’s both the simplest and still the best.

Enjoy:

1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3 cups thinly sliced green tomatoes (about 4-5 medium)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Pastry for double crust pie (9 inches)
1 tablespoon utter.

In a bowl combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and sale. Add tomatoes and vinegar. Toss to coat.
Line a pie plate with the bottom curst. Add filling. Dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry. I always make a lattice crust. If the weather isn’t cooperating and it’s hot and your dough is soft, make a faux lattice by laying bottom and side strips alternately, but not lifting the strips as you would for a true lattice. Trim, seal and flute edges. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Cool on a wire rack to room temperatures. Store in the refrigerator.

Yes, it tastes like apple pie. But the tomatoes have a little more zing, and that cider vinegar brings it out.

Happy fall.

Being special

I’ve always written paranormal romance, whether it was in fashion, or out. People who are out of the ordinary, whether vampires or Saxon witches, an artificial intelligence or someone who can travel in time, just seemed more interesting. And besides, don’t we all want to be extraordinary? I used to fantasize as a child about getting a magic power. As I grew older, I decided the super power I want is the ability to give someone five pounds just by touching them. This may have been triggered by several visits to the Academy Awards (guest, not award winner, needless to say.) In the ladies’ room, I saw beautiful women who were so thin each vertebrae stood out in their backs, like a fossil. I really wanted to give them something I could definitely spare.

In my most recent books, the Magic Series, I write about the Tremaine family, whose members have magic in their DNA passed down from Merlin of Camelot. Merlin’s magic was dispersed and lost over time but now it’s gathering again. When one of the Tremaine siblings meets another with the magic gene, the attraction results in true love and a unique magic power for each. I get to think up a superpower for everybody. Fun. Sounds fun for the characters too, right?

But if you’re extraordinary in some way, your problems can be bigger too, and that’s certainly true for Tremaines. For one thing, they’re not the only ones with magic. Some magic genes come from Morgan Le Fay, and members of Morgan’s Clan don’t like competition. They want those who don’t share their vision of the future dead and that includes Tremaines.

Secondly, is it really so easy to be different? Each of the siblings must wrestle with the certainty that they’ll get magic, and that they’ll be so attracted to another person they really have no choice but to bond for life. In the first of the series, DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? the bad-boy brother, Tristram, thinks he so different from the rest of his family that the magic has passed him by. He’s in for a shock. In HE’S A MAGIC MAN, the oldest sister, Drew, is sure of her destiny. But the man who raises her magic power is an alcoholic who’s still in love with his dead wife. Oooh. That hurts.

Each Tremaine will wrestle with having a destiny, loving almost against their will, and getting magic they don’t understand and may not be able to control. The love and support of the family may sometimes be the only thing that gets them through.

One of the reasons I like writing about special people is because it teaches me how to live with whatever makes me different. I think readers get the same experience. It’s tough to get comfortable in your own skin, and all of us need a reminder now and then that being different is a good thing, even though it didn’t seem like that when you were in eighth grade.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What super power would you have if you could?