Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Evening

Greetings all. It is a lovely Sunday evening.

I am pain free. This may not sound like a big thing to anyone else. But I had a migraine this morning. Took the pain meds, and stayed in a dim quiet room until the pain receded. Of course that left me spacy all day.

I've been having more migraines lately. Stress, I think. I need to not tie myself in such knots about what I want. But I'm a very A type personality. So that's hard. And sometimes, when things have been particularly difficult for a particularly long time, the body rebels. Which is why I've been having so many health problems lately. My body is telling me to chill out. Wise advice, if I could only DO it.

The mystery is almost finished. I'm SOOOOO close. I'd like to think I'll have it done by the end of the day tomorrow, but I know that's not really likely. I always am a bit optimistic about how much I can accomplish in a day. There are days the words just FLY from my fingers, and I NEED to be able to type as fast as I do. Then there are days that they just won't come at all. And you never know which it will be. I do know that it's best if I write at least a little every single day. Which, of course, is hard. Life does try to interfere.

Happy news. The barn swallows that nested on my front porch have hatched their nestlings. Of course this makes them a little nutso trying to keep up with feeding the babies, and trying to protect the nest -- which is right above my front door. I'm trying to use the back door more for a few days, and am staying inside. I'm just so glad they're there. It is considered extremely good luck to have birds nest on your porch. Besides, they're just lovely. And oh do they provide entertainment for the kitties. Good for the birds that there's thick glass windows protecting them from my fierce hunters!

I was reflecting on how much I enjoy adulthood. It's so funny to me. People tell teenagers "These are the best years of your life." I suppose there are folks for which that is true. But, as I've probably posted a million times, when my aunt told me that (I was fifteen or sixteen at the time), I turned to her and said, in utter deadpan (and partial seriousness) "Then shoot me now."

High school life in the small town midwest in the 70s was not kind to a weird creative type heavy on the sarcasm and with goth leanings. (Before goth became a movement and was at least acknowledged as existing let alone achieved anything remotely close to cool or even anti-establishmentarianistic-cool). To say I was viewed as "odd" is putting it both mildly and politely.

My life got (and is continuing to get) progressively better as I got/get older. I found out who I am. I actually got so I mostly LIKE who I am. (Mostly. Oh, I'd change a few things, and I will forever be tinkering with the package, but mostly I'm okay with me.) And I discovered that I like the city. Urban life suits me. (Which is why I'm heading back there).

So when my son (an bit of an odd, creative type, heavy on the sarcasm and so forth --hmnnn, wonder where he might have gotten that?) was not happy in his school years I told him truthfully. "It gets better. Really." He tells me that information helped. Having heard the old drone about "best years of your life" he was fairly terrified that life was going to seriously suck.

Now, I do think there are folks out there for whom high school is the high point. And while I don't mean to be negative, the thought makes me a little sad. Because I would HATE to think that I was going to live into my eighties or nineties, and that the best things to happen to me were over before I was 18! But maybe they don't. Maybe it's okay for them. I do know that they seem to go through life with a level of expectation/confidence that the rest of us never quite seem to achieve.

I mean, let's face it. I'm doing OK. I'm living my dream. I write books. Something I've wanted to do since I was -- um, 4. I'm making good money at it, and I am winning awards. People actually ask for (and value) my autograph. How weird is that? I get to be on panels, correspond and chat with artists whose work I've loved, and who I've admired practically forever, and aspired to be like. AND THEY TREAT ME LIKE AN EQUAL. (Now that is REALLY weird.) And the cool thing is, they're real, nice people. And some of them even have the same odd quirks I do.

BUT with all of that, I still feel self-conscious. I still hate the way I look in the pictures and videos that are an inevitable part of life.

(Side bar here. My mother and sister got on me a few years back. They were going through the family photos and realized there were NONE of me other than the big family portrait. Because, I'd made SURE I was always the one behind the camera! Now they know I hate how I look, but that just GOT to them. And they said that "damn it, you're part of this family, and we're going to have the evidence to prove it! When the descendants look through the family shots, YOU WILL BE THERE! So that I am now trapped into photos on every occasion.)

In my own head I'm still the "odd one." (If life is Roseanne, I am Darlene, only much, much, older.) I go out in public, and I don't have that "aura" that the former sports stars and cheerleaders have, that expectation. There's no logical reason for me not to. But I just don't.

Of course I could be full of . . . ahem . . . BEANS. Because when I'm on a roll, I'm ON A ROLL. Life shines a little brighter, the music plays, and TA DAH! I just wish I were on a roll a little more often.

Then again, don't we all?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday -- Again?

Oh my, it's Saturday again. Already. And here my head has been completely in the book I'm working on.

Still, a promise is a promise. (No matter how small . . .)

Okay, enough Dr. Suess. Got your bowl and milk? Then let's go.


I was sweating like a pig. It wasn't that hot. Not really. The weather was pleasant, and the church was air conditioned. But I was nervous. Oh, hell, who was I kidding. I was terrified.

Cassandra had explained the plan to heal me back at the house. It was simple enough in theory. We needed to recreate as closely as possible the circumstances where my powers were bound. When we reached the point where they'd initially been blocked, my subconscious would react, my magic would flare, and Eleanor should be able to see what my father had done and cut through the bindings. Theoretically.

It actually stood a good chance of working. And it wouldn't hurt me a bit . . . physically. Psychologically on the other hand . . . well, let's just say I wasn't having a good time.

Eleanor was using my cell phone to talk to Cassandra, going over last-minute details. Neither Cass nor Tracker could leave the house at the moment, and a spell like the one they'd used last night was too likely to interfere with what we were trying to accomplish here. So they were conversing the way normal humans did it. A new experience for them, I think.

"You don't have to do this you know." Bob laid a hand on my shoulder. "They can't force you."

"It needs to be done." I shuddered. "I know that." But oh, Lord, I did hate it. Oh yes I did.

"If you're sure." He sounded dubious. "Now tell me again how this is going to work."

I gestured toward the baptismal pool. Most of the churches I was familiar with didn't do immersion baptisms. So no pool. We'd wound up going back to the same actual church. Which was probably why I was so freaked. "I put on the robe. Uncle Buford will be the minister. The three of us step into the pool." My mouth went dry, and I had a bitter taste on my tongue. I had to close my eyes and force myself to continue. "It'll start like a regular baptism. Only you hold me down."

"Hold you down?" He was frowning, clearly unhappy with the thought. Him and me both.

"As if you're drowning me."

"Sahara . . ."

"I've got magic. When I panic, I'll draw on it instinctively, try to lash out. And that's when Eleanor will cut the bindings."

"It sounds damned dangerous."

"Uncle Buford will be shielding you to make sure nothing happens to you."

"It's not me I'm worried about."

"I trust you." And I did. He was just about the only person I could say that about. Which was why I'd chosen him to do this with me.

He grunted acknowledgment. Obviously still unhappy.

"If everyone is ready," uncle Buford sounded snappish. "The night isn't getting any younger, and we don't want the reverend, or the police to interrupt."

Across the room Eleanor finished her conversation and folded my cell phone closed. She set it onto the table next to my backpack and strolled over to the edge of the pool. She looked over at Bob and me. "It's time."

Oh joy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It posted twice. Oops.

Back on Track

Okay, I'm Getting It On Track Again

Okay, finally getting myself back on track again. It isn't easy.

First, I'm getting out the interviews for the visiting dignitaries. Nobody's sent them back yet, but that's okay. I'm the one that delayed. In any event, we should expect to start having people in again in the next couple of weeks.

I have Friday off, which means I can get the calendar of releases done (I think), and some more writing done. We'll see. I have household stuff to do too.ANYWAY, I'm getting there. I actually feel okay today physically. I think resting helped. Now if I hang in there, the next step is that I will feel clear-headed instead of foggy.

Take care.

Cie/C.T. Adams

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good Morning Everybody

Okay, first, I was naughty. Not BAD, but naughty. I took almost the entire weekend and did nothing---and did it VIGOROUSLY. I watched an entire series from television, start to finish. I ate junk food, sat around and petted the animals.

Here I have a ton of backlogged work and I just didn't do it. WILLFULLY didn't do it. I needed a break. And you know what? I feel better. A LOT better. Not perfect mind you, but the stress and depression seem to have receded, and the physical crap is better from my having rested. Which means I needed it. So PFLTTTTTT to my to do list. I enjoyed myself. And it was worth it.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Holiday

Hi folks.

Happy Holiday. Thinking of veterans today. I hope they all can come home soon. I know that war is sometimes necessary to preserve our life as we know it, but I wish it really WEREN'T necessary.

I'm WAY behind on everything, so I can't stay. But best wishes to everyone and CONGRATS to Chris Jones and Kathy Crouch the winners of the cover flats.

Best always.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial

Hi Guys!

Okay, still not feeling up to snuff. Weird digestive stuff. Ugh. But I SHALL persevere. And I have the whole weekend to recover anyway.

So, on with the serial.


I walked into the living room and into the middle of a conference. Cassandra had apparently set up a circle, and used it to contact Tracker's parents. It wasn't a difficult spell, but it was a complex one. Way, way beyond my abilities at this point. Still, it was useful. From the doorway I could see the magical version of a hologram showing me my aunt and uncle, perched on the very edge of their couch, staring at their son, looking worried and upset. Aunt Eleanor is thin to the point of emaciation, her long dark hair untouched by gray, her skin untouched by time. My uncle is an older, less handsome version of his son.

Looking at Tracker, I couldn't blame him. Yes, the burns were mostly healed, and there probably wouldn't be any permanent scarring. But his hair was scorched off, he was dressed in a lavender track suit with pink stripes and no shirt, and his color looked bad. Worse than it should have considering the amount of healing he'd received. Which meant he'd been up to something other than resting. Damn it.

"I had to." He was arguing with his mother, chin thrust forward aggressively. We can't afford for the shields to fail."

Oh crap. He'd reinforced the shields? Didn't he realize . . .

"SO, without consulting us, you've tied yourself to Cassandra and her spell."

Eleanor Cotter's voice dripped icicles and I was suddenly very, very glad I was all the way over here and behind a serious set of shields.

"He's an adult Eleanor." Tracker's father had a low voice, with a gravelly rumble to it. I've never really taken to much to him. He reminds me too much of my own father. No surprise, they're brothers after all. "He's entitled to make decisions without our input."

"No matter how stupid?" She asked.

"No matter." He agreed.

Tracker flushed, and his eyes were flashing dangerously, but he didn't say anything. Probably just as well.

"So, where's the girl?" Eleanor asked. "Still hiding?"

"Cassandra told you mother, she didn't do anything wrong."

"Then she should have come forward and explained herself."

"Oh yeah, that'd work so well, considering how understanding and willing to listen you all have been." I muttered it under my breath, but they all heard. Tracker turned to face me, giving me a look that said as clearly as words that I needed to be careful. He was probably right. His mother is from one of the oldest families in the magical culture, practically royalty. And she has no sense of humor. His father isn't much better.

"Eleanor, you're being unreasonable." Cassandra spoke calmly. "Sahara left immediately after I struck her and never called or checked back. She had no way of knowing I'd been attacked, let alone that Evan had blamed it on her. And as she still hasn't got the ability to work offensive spells the most sensible thing she could do was go to ground."

"Beulah" Eleanor used my given name as if it were a curse, "nearly got my son killed."

"Mom, she saved my life. She attacked Evan and Helena, and brought me here."

Eleanor turned to Cassandra, "You said . . ."

"I didn't use magic Mrs. Cotter. I used a gun."

There was a long silence. Every one of them turned to stare at me, eyes wide. It would've been funny if the situation weren't so damned serious. The thing about wizards/magic users is that they generally see magic as the only solution. It would never occur to any of them to do what I'd done, or that someone like Bob might have a snowball's chance in hell of defending his family. It's a blind spot, and a weakness.

"You shot him?" Buford senior blurted out the words everyone else had been thinking.

"Yeah. But I didn't do a very good job of it. Just got him in the leg." Bob would be so disappointed. As soon as I got a chance I'd need to clean the gun and find a way to get out and practice with it.

"She shot him." He repeated the words, sounding somewhat stupid.

"And saved my life." Tracker answered. "Then she brought me here---even though she didn't know Cassandra hadn't changed the wards. She risked her life to save me."

"And now you're risking yours." Eleanor was displeased.

"It's mine to risk."

I decided to interrupt. The family squabble was liable to go on indefinitely and Cassandra was starting to wear out. She'd never admit it, of course. Too proud. But I could see it, even if nobody else could. "Look, this is all very interesting, but it doesn't solve the problem at hand. Evan tried to kill Cassandra and blame it on me. He wants whatever it is that's hidden in the basement and we can't afford for him to get his hands on it."

Everyone turned to look at me. I hate being the center of attention, especially with everybody so hostile. But somebody needed to get this discussion back on track. "Cassandra is wearing herself out. So can we please get back to basics? What are we going to do? What's the plan?"

"We haven't come up with one yet." Tracker admitted. "My tying my life force to the shields has bought us some time, and should give Cassandra a chance to recover. But other than that, we haven't done a damn thing but argue."

Great. Super.

"All right. Can I make a suggestion?"

"Go ahead." Cassandra was the one who agreed. Everyone else just glowered at me.

"He wants my crystal."

She nodded.

"Let's give it to him."

There was a cry of protest from Eleanor. Cassandra and Buford Sr. just looked thoughtful, as if they were pretty sure they knew what I was thinking, and were trying to test the possibility in their minds. Tracker just looked worried. He turned to me his voice filled with concern.

"Sahara, he's going to be able to tell if we change the wards. He knows his sister's magic too well."

"I'm not suggesting we change the wards."

"You're not?"

"I'm suggesting we move them."

"Is that even possible?" He turned to his mother. She nodded to him and answered.


Cassandra gave me a long, assessing look. When she spoke her voice was firm, as though she was expecting argument from everyone here and was determined not to give in. "We are not sending you out to deal with my brother unless you are fully capable of defending yourself."

"Well that would be lovely," I admitted. "But since I've never been able to do offensive magic . . ."

"Cass believes she knows how to heal you." Lucille spoke for the first time since I'd walked in the room. I blinked a few times. She'd been so silent, sitting in a dark corner at the far side of the room, that I hadn't even noticed she was there.

"You're in no shape to heal anyone right now." Uncle Buford stated. "And we can't afford for you to pull your power back from the shields."

Cassandra sighed. "I know. But it doesn't have to be me. We just need someone with healing ability, and someone else whom she trusts implicitly."

"I can do the healing." Eleanor didn't sound happy about it. That was all right. She couldn't possibly be less happy about the thought than I was. And then there was that other, trick question. Who did I trust implicitly?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hi Guys

Hi Guys!

This will be quick. I'm a bit overwhelmed and have to get back to it. (Alas, I have not managed to find housekeeping fairies who will take care of things for me on the home front, and I do have the day job, and the writing has heated up so that my "To Do" list is seriously frightening.

But the book is off to the publisher for editing. And tonight I'm going to read a book by a friend who wants a quote for her cover. (Very flattering, that). Tomorrow I am going to be going in to the day job (I've switched to part-time, but a co-worker and good friend had to go with her husband who was having surgery, so I'm coming in to cover for her.) It will have to be Saturday when I take care of the writing stuff that is backlogged (like the Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial, the contest winner announcements, working on the newsletter, pictures of the goodie bags for the contest for Rosie Hughes, the questions for the contest for Rosie Hughes, interviews for visiting dignitaries, the calendar of who is releasing what when, etc., etc., and more etc.)

OY! Just thinking about it makes me tired and feel like I'm going to relapse.

Lucky the Wonder Dog is back from her visit with "Aunt Tonya" while I was in Denver. She's been to the vet and had all of her updated shots and got a bath. (Visits to the country generally involve her jumping into pond-scum covered water and then rolling in the dust, so the bath thing was pretty much a necessity.) She currently weighs in at 66.1 lbs.

OK. Gotta go. Otherwise I won't get the book read. Be happy.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back from Denver

Hi Guys!

I'm back from Denver. Haven't gotten things settled yet.

Also, I'm exhausted, and fighting off getting sick. So while I have a million things to do, I'm going home and going to bed. Sorry.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Morning Breakfast Serial

Thursday morning Breakfast Serial

Okay, I'm getting ready to go, not a lot of time, but I promised, so here you go. (I may post over the weekend if I get to the library. But no promises. There will be a final installment of Rosie Hughes posting on all of the other participant blogs Friday. You REALLY need to go see them. I just don't know if I can get it posted here. We'll see.


"Did she call you Buelah?"

"Shut up . . . Buford." Tracker flinched. "How do you know . . ."

"We're named for the same ancester dude." I tried to make it sound ironic, but I was probably too tired. I was only a few steps from my bedroom and bath, and I wasn't completely positive I would make it that far. The adrenaline had drained off, leaving me weak and weary.

"We're related?" He sounded shocked, horrified, and betrayed. It made me stop and blink at him stupidly. I mean, I'd always known. It hadn't occurred to me that he hadn't.

"Yeah, cousins. My dad was the black sheep of your dad's family."

He just stood in the middle of the hallway staring at me.

"Look, I'm wiped. You will be too, when the after-affects of the spell wear off in a couple minutes. There's a bathroom two doors down on the right, and the guest bedroom is the next door past it. I don't know where we'll find clothes to fit you, but we'll worry about it later."

He nodded. His face was red, and he looked really annoyed, but he didn't say anything, just stomped past me. Fine. Whatever. I was too pooped to care enough to try to figure out what his problem was. I dragged myself the last few steps to my bedroom. Closing the door I stripped, leaving my clothes in a trail that led to my beautiful, soft, inviting . . .

* * *

I woke up to the smell of steak, and the warmth of a purring cat curled up beside me.

"The boy told me you didn't eat." Lucy scolded.

"Too tired." I admitted. I shifted carefully around the cat, yawned hugely and tried to get my bearings. "How're Cassandra and Tracker doing?"

"Better. Much better." Lucy was already walking out of the room. "Now eat. We can talk after you've had a shower and gotten dressed. We'll be down in the parlor when you're ready. There are plans to be made."

Great. We'd be making Plans: Like how to protect the magical equivalent of weapons-grade plutonium from the evil wizard who was bent on killing me.

A part of me wanted to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head. Instead, I cut myself a big bite of steak and tried to think of something, anything, I might be able to contribute to the cause.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WARNING and a Contest

WARNING: I am going to be in Denver from Thursday night until Monday. DENVERITES BEWARE. Also, because of this, I will have only sporadic access to a computer. (The new laptop has not been delivered yet. Barring a miracle c/o UPS I will be at the mercy of the libraries and my own erratic schedule.) SO I will post a "Thursday morning just before I leave" serial instead of on Saturday. Hope that works for y'all.

I just gave Cathy the manuscript for the first book of an as-yet-unnamed urban fantasy series. That means OPPORTUNITY for our fans! See, we have no idea what to name the SERIES. Book titles we can handle (well, we're not really GOOD at them, but we usually muddle through) but we need to come up with something that "brands" the series and makes it so people know what's inside.But in order to do that, you have to KNOW what's inside, so...

Celia Graves has always been an underdog. A resilient woman, she came through a difficult childhood with both physical and mental scars, but has carved out a fairly happy life for herself. She is 28 years old and single with a black sense of humor. She has always believed herself to be “vanilla human” in a supernatural world, with no psychic or metaphysical talents as she failed all of the standard tests administered in school miserably. While many would consider this a handicap, she definitely doesn’t as she saw the difficulties her sister had with an out-of-control gift and has seen first-hand the dark side of what people will do to try to force someone to use their magical or psychic talents for financial gain.

She is self-employed as a bodyguard in Southern California and thus gets to rub elbows with all nature of people including the rich and famous. She particularly specializes in protection from monsters and metaphysical threats. Her method of protecting her clients involves specialized weapons, methodical planning, and her knowledge of the paranormal. She's an admitted "gadget geek" and tends to buy expensive metaphysical toys to scout out danger.Celia is attractive, with silver-blonde hair and storm gray eyes. She considers herself to be “doing all right” in the looks department but “not having won the genetic lottery.” Since she spends a great deal of her time in the company of actors and “stars” she truly isn’t exceptional looking. She has never bothered with charms to enhance her looks.

She is well above normal intelligence and most of her friendships are relationships that were forged in college. So were the loves of her life. She has two VERY different men who are on-again/off-again. Randy is a werewolf, very fair, yet secretive and distant. Bruno is an Italian stud, but is lighthearted and a very powerful mage. Celia was once engaged to Bruno, but rumor has it she's Randy's "chosen", the other half of his shapeshifter power---and hence, his greatest weakness.

But Celia isn't as "vanilla" as she seems. Her Grandfather was from a race of sirens, residents of the ocean and possessing unique abilities. When Celia is bitten by a vampire, who attempted to bring her over, it didn't kill her. Instead she's changed . . . different, unlike anything the world has seen. What will that mean for her? She doesn't know. All she knows is that humans, vampires and sirens alike consider her an "abomination" who should be put down before she makes others like her.

Unfortunately, she has a job to do and not even fangs or the pull of the ocean are going to stop her from protecting her clients . . . and herself, from all danger.

So, what'cha think? What should we call the series? The first books, starting with NIGHT SONGS will be out as a back-to-back trilogy next summer from Tor.We'll take all suggestions, even silly ones. The winner will (obviously) get the series named what they suggested, will receive an autographed ARC of the first book and . . . if they're so inclined, will become a character in the SECOND book (which we're writing right now!) So, get your fuzzy little brains stewing and come up with something AWESOME!

Submit suggestions to Note, as always, entering a contest gets you signed up for the newsletter (you can always unsubscribe). Of course if you're already signed up (and thank you) it's not an issue.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Visiting Dignitaries/Time Crunch

All right guys, confession time.

I've got all these people willing to be visiting dignitaries. And I haven't had time to write them with the questions. SO, I'm behind. WAY behind. Which is pretty unacceptable, but also unavoidable. To top it off, I'm going to Denver for a long weekend this weekend house hunting. Which means this weekend will be shot for that sort of thing too. I will get to it. I'm just not sure how QUICKLY.

On the happy news front, I found a laptop I liked and bought it. :) Hopefully it will get shipped to me before my trip so that I can use it while in Denver. Probably not. The mail is dreadfully slow here. But I can hope!

Okay. Gotta run. Hope life is treating you well. I'm down to the last little bit of the crud. It kicked in just a trace of asthma. Once that's gone I'll be back to as normal as I get.Toodles.Cie

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial

Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial

I am so frustrated. I had written the entire huge breakfast serial down to the last line. And it crashed.


Blogger saves drafts every couple of minutes, but I started in MySpace, which apparently DOESN’T. So now I have to start over. And it may not be as good. But I’ll try.


I stepped through the seam in reality, dragging Tracker’s limp body into the lab of my former master’s home. Chlorinated water pooled around us, as I lay him gently on the floor and stripped off my backpack. I screamed "CASSANDRA" at the top of my lungs, my voice echoing off of the thick stone walls.

Something was wrong.

Other than the obvious.

There was dust. Cassandra doesn’t do dust. Dust can ruin a potion. In any quantity it can disrupt a spell. I can’t tell you how many times I was lectured on appropriate housekeeping habits. But there was dust in the lab. And Cassandra didn’t answer my call.

I heard footsteps crossing the floor above me, but they were the heavy, ponderous movements of Lucille, Cassandra’s housekeeper. There was no time to think about it. Tracker was badly injured. Shock was a very real possibility. I ran across the lab to the locked storage cabinet. Using my crystal I was able to get past the wards and open the lock. Everything I was looking for was inside. There were two large crystals their edges diamond sharp, their color the deep vibrant rose of Cassandra’s orders. Several other crystals were there as well. My own, apprentice attempts. They would not be nearly so powerful, but they were mine, which meant that I could unlock every bit of their power, and there were a lot of them.

Pulling the hem of my shirt out to form a "pocket" I scooped all of them from the cupboard."Buelah?" Lucy’s voice called down the stairwell.

"It’s me Lucy. Get Cass. I’ve got an injured man. He needs help!"I dashed back to where he lay. Kneeling in the sooting water beside him, I grabbed the largest of Cassandra’s healing crystals and set it on the center of his chest. Closing my eyes, I concentrated. I wanted to remember this perfectly. Mispronunciation would diminish the power of the spell. Tracker couldn’t afford that. Gathering my talent around me, I began chanting.I opened my eyes as a strong, clean wave of power flooded out of me and into him. Tracker’s back arched, his entire body straining as the magic did its work. I watched as blistered and blackened skin sloughed away, replaced by new, healthy tissue. I focused the power, concentrating on his eyes, his face. It was important the healing be perfect, so he wouldn’t be blinded, or hideously scarred. It was working! I felt a surge of satisfaction as I reached for the second rose crystal.

"NO!" Lucy’s hand swatted mine away. Grabbing me by my collar she hauled me forcibly to my feet. It was easy for her. Lucy is not a small woman, standing six-foot two in her bare feet and weighing in at over three hundred pounds. She shoved me toward the stairs, glaring at me when I turned to look back. "The boy will be fine. I’ll tend to him. You must save her."

She grabbed the fallen crystals, shoving them at me as she pushed me toward the stairs. "I’ve done everything I can, but I haven’t got any magic. She needs you. She’s in her bedroom." The terrified urgency in her voice spurred me on at a run up from the basement lab, through the house to her third floor bedroom, my wet shoes squelching and sliding on the hardwood floors.

I’d always admired Cassandra’s bedroom. It was a large room, a windowed turret letting sunlight or moonlight stream in. The walls were covered with cream wallpaper decorated with delicate pink roses. All of it, bright, light, airy.But that very brightness made it unmercifully apparent just how ill the woman lying on the antique four-poster bed must be. It illuminated the streaks of gray marring the tangle of midnight hair sprawled across her pillow, the crepey texture of the pallid gray skin with marks like dark bruises beneath her closed eyelids. Her grey tomcat, Maurice, was curled up on the bed beside her, refusing to so much as budge when I rushed over to the bed and sat down beside her.

"Oh my God. Cassandra, what happened to you?" Grabbing the healing crystal she had made, I set it onto her chest. As I had with Tracker, I gathered my will, and began the chant. I felt the power of the crystal rise and release, felt it recognize the woman it had originally come from, rushing home to her. But it didn’t heal her, didn’t stop. I felt it move onward, as if Cassandra’s body were nothing more than a conduit.

What in the hell?

I concentrated, using my gift to follow the flow of power. It was going into the wards, to protecting the house. My mouth went dry, and I found myself swallowing convulsively, trying to work up moisture. Cassandra had tied her life force to the wards, to protecting this house. And in finding that out, I also learned why.There were old magics, ancient weapons hidden in this house; terrible, fearsome things that had been entrusted to her family in antiquity. She could not, would not betray the trust her family had held for generations. She would protect them with her last breath if need be, and that was exactly what she was doing.

I grabbed several of my own crystals, laying them in a circle on her breast and repeated the chant. Less power came out, of course, but this time, with the wards fully charged, the power stayed in her body. Color slowly came back to her pallid skin. Her eyes opened, and ever so slowly she turned her head toward me, a pale shadow of her usual smile coming to her lips.

"That wasn’t half bad apprentice. You’re learning." She whispered the words from a parched throat.

"Cass . . ."Sometime during the healing I’d taken her hand, and she squeezed it gently to silence me. "Shush. I need to tell you something while I can. You were right about Evan. I was wrong. I’m sorry."

"It’s all right. Rest. . ."

"No!" Her voice only held a fraction of it’s old strength, but her dark eyes flashed. "You must listen. I can’t hold him off forever. He’s pulled back to regain his strength, but he has something planned. I know it."

"Yes. He does." I squeezed her hand. "I know. He’s been attacking me. And now I think I know why." I met her gaze. "He wants my crystal. Wants to use it to let himself through the wards."

She moved her head a fraction in what might have been a nod. "It’s why I had Lucy come here. To keep her safe. I would have called you back too, but I didn’t know how to reach you." Her eyes were fluttering closed. I could see she was utterly exhausted, but too stubborn to give in.

"It’s all right. I’m here now. We’ll fix this."

I tried to make it sound like I actually believed we could. I didn’t. But it was what she needed to hear, and I could lie for a good cause.

"Move aside." Lucy’s voice was rough. I turned to see her standing with Tracker in the bedroom doorway. She crossed the room, pushing her way past me to take a post beside the bed. "I’ll take care of her now. She needs broth, and rest." She gave me a look. "You look like something the cat," she nodded to Maurice, "dragged in." She cast a glance over her shoulder at Tracker. "The two of you get into some dry clothes and fix yourself something to eat. We’ll talk in the kitchen."

It was a dismissal. I didn’t mind. Lucy was more than Cassandra’s employee. She was her friend, had been for longer than I’ve been alive. I dragged myself across the floor, feet heavy with sudden, overwhelming exhaustion. She was right. I needed rest. And food. I’d done one hell of a lot of magic today, more than I should. I was going to be useless until I had a chance to recharge my batteries.

I just hoped that Evan would give me the time.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Hi Catdancing.

Hi everybody else too. Finally getting back on my feet. I'm going to the main post office. The books I promised Catdancing are going to be on their way. They were offered at RT as goodies and I hope you like them. (I have no idea what they're like, having not read them myself. But one is from Jade Lee [previous visiting dignitary], is signed, and if you like romance, you should love it.)

Cathy and I are also having an "Economic Downturn" contest through her blogs with packets of books and swag from the conference available. Stop by and try to win.

Gotta go.



Thursday, May 07, 2009

Hi! (Waves vigorously)

Hi Guys!

Okay, today's a better day. Thank heavens! I'm off tomorrow so I can catch up on at least some of the backlog of stuff. I got behind getting ready for RT, then had the trip, then the bronchitis. So my to do list has become a huge and terrifying presence.

Fortunately, the bronchitis is 98% better. The draft of the mss. is with Cathy, and I should be able to send out interview questions to visiting dignitaries, etc. Also, going to one of the bigger towns today so I can send off the Mother's Day gift to 'me mum'.

I had been going to go to Denver this weekend, but I postponed it a week. Too much I need to do ahead of time if it's going to be a productive trip. By productive, I mean, find a house and make an offer. Well, two minutes until work starts at the day job.

Gotta go.Cie

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Three minutes and counting.

I only have three minutes before I'm due back from lunch. Life has been incredibly hectic. At least I got the draft of the mss finished enough to go to Cathy.

You really don't want to hear to much more from me anyway. Seriously bad mood. Hopefully I'll be over it tomorrow.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial

Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial

Again, sorry I messed up and missed posting. Illness and travel. Oops.

Okay, when last we left our intrepid heroine she had grabbed her gun and backpack and jumped off of a tall set of shelves in the garden center into the seam in reality she had opened up beneath Tracker's feet, following him into . . . .

I managed to grab a deep breath on my way down. Good thing, because the seam I'd created opened into the deep end of the swimming pool of my former high school.

It's not as stupid as you think. First, it was wet, to put out Tracker's fire, and cold, to help with the burns. Too, it was not a place that would spring immediately to the minds of my enemies. Oh, they could follow, but they'd have to work magic to do it, and with Evan injured and the trouble my gunshots had probably caused, I didn't think they'd have the time. And it wasn't like I intended us to stay here. Besides, it was the first place I thought of, and the one place I was sure I'd be able to link to. It was, after all, the very first place I'd ever created a seam to.

My feet touched bottom, and I pushed upward with all my might. The wet backpack felt like a lead weight in my arms, but I wasn't about to let it go. Opening my eyes, I focused on the dark shape bobbing slackly on the surface of the water, ash darkening the water around it.

Oh God. Tracker!

I'm not a great swimmer, but I managed to get over to him and turn him over. Wrapping my arm around him from behind, I struggled to drag his limp form across the pool to the steps at the shallow end. He was breathing, but it sounded raspy and wrong. And his skin, where it hadn't been protected by clothing . . . I shuddered. He needed healing; needed help, and needed it now, if he wasn't going to have permanent scarring and permanent disability. I couldn't let that happen. Never mind my past. Never mind what issues I might have with my former mentor. My friend needed healing, and she was the best healer in the business. Checking to make sure the safety was on on the Ladysmith, I shoved it into the main compartment of the backpack.

Swallowing my fear for Tracker, and my own nerves at what I was about to do, I unzipped the little inner pocket and reached inside. The crystal she'd given me when I'd started as her apprentice was where it always was, dangling from a delicate gold chain. If it still worked, Tracker and I would be able to pass through her wards.

I slipped it over my head. Pulling Tracker's still form close, I opened a seam to my master's home, all the while praying that she hadn't recalibrated her defenses and that I wasn't about to obliterate us both.

Friday, May 01, 2009

THANKS and Bronchitis

Thanks so much for making our guest feel welcome!

Now on to the news. You know that stuff they say about "rest in bed." Well, apparently they mean it. I didn't get enough rest what with the conference and stuff, and the crud has now turned into bronchitis. Wound up at the doctor, got a shot, new antibiotics, etc. UGH. Anyway, if I wind up not posting much, you now know why. I'm doing a little better today, so let's hope I'm on the mend.