Joffrey Baratheon- Or Buh-Bye Game of Thrones.

Spoiler Alert–

 

The king is dead. Long live the king.

Joffrey Baratheon

Joffrey Baratheon

Yes, I read all the books way back when, back when each was released. The two most not-so-recent installments bored me beyond tears.

Regardless– Joffrey Baratheon’s recent demise might possibly be the least satisfactory death in literary/film history. Evil should suffer, if only to give satisfaction to the reader/viewer.

Frankly, if anyone was deserving of the Blood Eagle, (see Vikings), it wasn’t Jarl Borg, it was Joffrey Baratheon. The Blood Eagle episode, by the way, contains the most moving, beautiful, horrific execution scene ever filmed for television.

(Read this, you won’t be disappointed: Viking’s Creator on Frightening Spiritual Death.)

But it’s not my disappointment over the simplicity of Joffrey’s death alone that has robbed me of a pleasurable viewing experience. One can only take so much bad. That’s it in a nutshell. Occasionally a lighter hand is required.

Now, I’m well aware I’m swimming upstream here, paddling against the current if you will. I’ve read the books. I know Martin loves to kill off his characters. But the series (the books) lost me as a fan because:

1. Many of the characters I cared about were brutally murdered or morphed into something unrecognizable, or worse, were left dangling like participles – stuck in suspended animation, while other characters, characters who had little meaning for me and played only a marginal role in the ultimate story, took center stage.

2. Too many story lines. Way too complicated. And here is where Martin really irritated me when it came to the books. The HBO series only exacerbates this issue. A single scene of Bran or Arya or Danerys is singularly unsatisfactory, as is too much focus on the Lannisters.

3. The worst thing an author can do is take the well-seasoned meat of a gripping story and somehow lose track of time, wander aimlessly, forgetting he’s turned on the oven until he smells smoke and the meat is burned beyond recognition. Even sex and death, when constant, become flat out boring.

4. He’s changed Theon Grayjoy (never one of my favorite characters) from the bawdy tortured despised craven guilt-ridden under-achieving son and heir of Baylon Grayjoy and foster brother of Robb Stark into Igor (Marty Feldman) from Young Frankenstein.

You know, I really hate it when that happens.

Maybe it’s better to go out like Firefly. Leave the party early, before you drink too much and publicly humiliate yourself. Or throw up an entire bottle of red wine on your host’s new white carpet.

Now, as long as Vikings continues its stellar trajectory and if Orphan Black can maintain its brilliance and even improve with age– I’m happy.

P.S. Awful things happen in Vikings- but there are playful moments as well. Since today is the first night of Passover I’ll say this – one must mix the bitter with the sweet. The secret is finding balance. Ah yes, as Stoltzfus says to John Book in Witness“That’s the ticket, Mr. Book.”

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Finding Noodleman. The Real Story Behind My SFR, Captured.

Captured-full-200x300

 

Mari never expects to find herself caged in a cargo hold on a spaceship. She quickly learns from her captors she’s headed to the meat market. When they try to return her to hypersleep, she resists. After allowing her to stay awake, Mari realizes her survival depends on connecting with the male in charge, Ekkatt. She must make him see her as a sentient being or she will end up as dinner. Ekkatt has never spoken to any human. They are valued for one thing, the money they bring at auction. The Attun race is vegetarian, but other species prize human flesh and bring in good money. Then the female with red hair speaks to him and forces him to admit she has a name. Mari throws Ekkatt’s entire life into question, the biggest question…can he watch her sold to the highest bidder?

The short version – Back in 2007 I dreamed a dream, the entire story of Captured. Wrote it down in two weeks and eventually found a publisher- a not-so-small E-Press, Siren-Bookstrand. I was shocked they were willing to take a chance on such a strange story. Doesn’t fit the straight science fiction category nor is it straight up romance. It is SFR- Science Fiction Romance. And the work is short, more of a novella. The book begins where my dream began and ends where my dream ended. I’ve added nothing more. In all honesty I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s simple, straightforward, and the love story is beautiful.

The long version – I graduated a year early from high school, took what I had in savings and headed to Israel for a year long Hebrew intensive (Ulpan) on a kibbutz. It took some wrangling on my part, but after a number of weeks I was assigned work in the chicken ranch– the l’ul. It’s what I wanted.

It took some wrangling on my part because when I arrived in Israel I was suffering from a pretty bad eating disorder. I weighed 84 pounds and I stood 5 feet 6 inches tall.

The first thing the Ulpan coordinator did was take me to the doctor. The doctor said, and I quote, (I already knew some Hebrew), “I haven’t seen anything this bad since the refugees arrived from the concentration camps.”

The coordinator, Gerti, couldn’t conceive of an eating disorder. However, genius that she was, she determined to alter my behavior. Her tactic? I was given one job and one job only, aside from learning Hebrew. I raked rocks out from under a particular bush and then I raked them back under that same bush for four hours every single day except Saturday, Shabbat. I was told I would do this until I gained 15 pounds at which point in time, as in once I’d gained 15 pounds, I could work in the l’ul.

Let me tell you, relieved of the stress I’d lived with at home, bored to tears with raking rocks while everyone else was assigned meaningful work, and knowing full well that l’ul job dangled in front of my nose like a carrot, I gained 15 pounds in 6 weeks. (By the time I left Israel I weighed 115.)

Now just like work in the refet (the dairy) work went on in the l’ul seven days a week. Yes, even on Shabbat there were eggs to collect and chickens to be cared for. However every Shabbat the staff was pared down to two people and we rotated weekends so each of us was responsible for one Saturday a month.

I loved Noodleman. He was my very favorite co-worker. He was eighty-seven years old. His family had joined the kibbutz movement early and left Europe long before WWII. He was one of the founding members of this kibbutz. He reminded me of my grandfather – always kind, gentle, teasing, smiling. How I looked forward to working with Noodleman! We quickly became each other’s pet.

So he and I were assigned a Shabbat shift. This meant waking at 4:30 a.m. and beginning egg collection by 5. The kibbutz had somewhere between twelve and sixteen chicken houses. Some of the houses were immense, some slightly smaller than immense. The chickens were grouped by age. The older chickens were more productive, the younger chickens less so. At that time the chickens had free range of their chicken houses. They could go where they pleased.

My job entailed egg collection from the rows of nest boxes- my collection baskets either on a pull cart or held in my arms – cleaning the auto-fill water bowls and the automatic feeders in addition to filling the feeders. I also kept an eye out for sick and injured chickens. If an illness or injury was bad enough I carried the chicken to the infirmary coop. From time to time we provided mass vaccinations, which could get pretty crazy. And I always had to be alert for attack roosters. The young ‘uns could get a little aggressive, as in– I haz talons and I knows how to use ‘em, sista. Many’s the time a rooster landed on my head and dug his claws into my scalp.

But on Shabbat it was mostly about getting the eggs collected and making sure there was fresh food and water in every chicken house. Then we’d sort the eggs, disinfect the shells, and put them in storage for the next day. Most of the eggs would be sent to incubators to produce more chickens. Some were set aside for the kibbutz kitchen.

So on this particular Shabbat, here’s what happened.

I overslept.

I woke up at 7:30.

I looked at the clock. Let out a shriek and flew out of bed, grabbed my clothes and sprinted to the l’ul. I’d let Noodleman, an eighty-seven year old man, down. How could I be so irresponsible? I’d really screwed up.

I saw Noodleman as I arrived. He was just finishing up with his first house. He waved, I waved back. I grabbed my cart and decided to start collecting at the opposite end. I figured we’d meet up somewhere in the middle.

And then something strange happened. I entered the closest chicken house. I remember it was one of the newer structures and it contained younger chickens. I collected the first two rows… To this day I remember the chickens in those first two rows.

And that’s the last thing I remember.

Until I found myself standing outside a house at the opposite end– the second house, the chicken house I’d seen Noodleman preparing to enter as I arrived. He was shaking me.

I looked around. Every single cart was filled with eggs. I had no idea how they’d gotten filled with eggs or how I ended up outside the house where Noodleman had been collecting.

In less than an hour I had managed to collect eggs from maybe twelve houses and feed and water the chickens and I had no memory of how I’d done it. No recollection whatsoever. Not even a recollection of daydreaming or spacing out. All I could recollect then and now is the panic of realizing I had lost an hour of my life.

That period of time was then, and is now, a complete and total blank.

An hour of my life. Vanished.

I’d managed to do the impossible yet I didn’t know how I’d done it or even if I’d done it.

Noodleman and I went from house to house and yes, I’d completed the work in every other house in the time it had taken him to do one.

He and I stared at each other. We couldn’t believe it. Seriously. Neither of us could believe it. We grabbed hands, both shivering. What I’d done could not be done by one person in that amount of time. It was utterly impossible. But neither of us had an explanation.

Noodleman told everyone. He couldn’t stop talking about it. The event became known around the kibbutz as the Miracle of the Chickens.

Every once in a while I think about that hour and I wonder what really happened. I’d go to hypnotherapy and try to find out but to be honest I’m not entirely sure I want to know.

So… to dream Captured was, well, to say the least an interesting experience.

I’m quite fond of every book I’ve written, every story I’ve told. But of all Captured is the most dear. If I were you, I’d read it. It’s available for most devices. I’ll give you the Amazon Kindle link here.

I’m very much looking forward to next year when the rights to the story will be returned to me.

 

Posted in book bloggers, book reviews, Books, Contemporary Romance, erotica, nature, popular culture, romance, Romance/Suspense, science fiction, True Love, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Can’t Win for Losin’… Poor Jake. Poor Jake’s Mom.

So I’ve been hiking with the good boy, right?

Because the hubs is in my comfy bed with ice on his knee, right?

I hike at, what is for me, a snail’s pace. Uphill is hard. Downhill is a bitch.

Jake has been amazing. He gets that I can’t go fast. He keeps a steady pace, and if he gets ahead of me on a downhill slope, he stops, sits and stays. Waits for me to catch up.

He’s also been helping me out by wearing a backpack so he can carry stuff upstairs to the hubster. He’s getting really good at it. Saves me a trip every once in a while.

Jake backpack

I’ve been sticking to the flatter wilderness park, doing maybe two miles twice a day. Occasionally I do an attenuated hike at the hilly park (have some pics for you later), but like I said, coming downhill is sort of killer. I have to zig-zag my way across the path if I have the space. If the path is narrow Jake stays behind me so I can see my footing. Can’t risk a misstep.

So I’ve been getting some, well, merde recently. Let me tell you about it.

I decided to take Jake to the flatter park around dusk. Less likely to run into hordes of other dogs because, as you know, I cannot risk a knee-capping. Jake and I got out of the car and headed to the on-leash side of the park. The trails are nice and level and I can warm my knee up before we climb to the higher area. Jake’s been great. I’m using his extendable leash as opposed to his working leather leash. This way he can get out in front of me, do a little exploring, sniff a few bushes. He’s happy, I’m happy. Pulling hasn’t been an issue- except for once and you’ll hear about that shortly.

So we meandered around, climbed up through a ravine– all on leash by the way– reached the higher section of the park, walked up what we call Horse Hill and down the shallow side, along the Vineyard Trail, and headed to the off-leash area where he could have some free time and I could throw his rubber ball for him. We encountered nary a soul.

There were a few people and a few dogs in the off-leash area, a handful at best. One couple had lost their dog in the vineyard and I was able to tell them where he was because Jake immediately spotted him and wanted to chase after him, but he was a good boy and came back to me when I called.

The sun had set and it was growing pretty dark, but the ball is glow-in-the-dark, remember, plus Jake has a great sense of smell, so we hung out for about 20 minutes playing a game of throw and fetch.

At last I decided to head back to the main road– can’t take the trail, too steep, but I can walk down the gravel road. I tossed his ball backwards a few times as we walked along the trail towards the road and at last I said, “Okay Jake, we’re going to the car. Time for your leash.” At which point he sat at my side and waited for me to connect his leash. Because that’s what good boys do.

I glanced up and noticed a woman walking her two dogs, off leash, about thirty yards in front of us. She was on a trail perpendicular to the trail on which I stood. So I decided to just wait and let her pass. I had to cross that trail to get to the road and I didn’t feel like disconnecting Jake’s leash simply so he could greet her dogs. He sat at my side like a perfect angel because I’d told him to sit/stay. He showed no interest in either the woman or her dogs. No big deal. We could wait a minute or two.

Here’s the other thing- cuz yeah, there is another thing. She was on a trail that overlooks the highway. Now it’s a quarter-mile from the highway but still it overlooks the highway. Jake hates cars. He would, if he could, chase cars and get himself killed. So we always leash him before he can see the highway. Most dog walkers allow their dogs to run down to the parking lot– which I find annoying and, frankly, unsafe. I’ve nearly backed over unsupervised dogs. Besides, the drive out of the parking lot opens directly onto the highway. Duh. However, it’s none of my business. I keep my mouth shut.

My dog, however, is my business. I do what I do with my dog– whatever it takes to keep my dog safe, and because he is a German shepherd, whatever it takes to be respectful of other people. Jake is friendly but most people are intimidated by the mere sight of a German shepherd. Jake is my third German shepherd. It’s just fact. I know this. So I am always polite and respectful and if anyone seems disconcerted at the sight of such a big dog, I leash him as a courtesy– more on that later too!

Instead of continuing her walk, the woman stopped.

“This is the off-leash area,” she called out.

Me– “Yeah? So?”

Her– “So let him off leash.”

Me– WTF??? “No.”

Her– “Why not?”

Me– Holy shite, lady, what is your problem? “Because…”

Her– “Well maybe he wants to meet my dogs.”

Me– “Well maybe I want him on leash right now.”

Her– “Well if you have a mean dog I know two trainers up near Windsor and they can train your dog in three months.”

Me– OMG, lady, shut up and move your ass. “I don’t have a mean dog.”

Her– “Well I still don’t see…”

Me– I do not have to explain a single thing to you, ya friggin’ idiot. “What I do with my dog is none of your business. Okay?”

Her– “Hummph!”

But at least she finally moved along. Jay-sus! Meanwhile the other folks managed to get their dog out of the vineyard and they were walking him on leash on a trail parallel to me. I heard one of them say, “Christ. What’s her problem?”

So Jake and I hiked down the road. There were three cars in the parking lot. Mine, and I put Jake in the back, the car belonging to the people who’d retrieved their dog from the vineyard, and they were already backing out, and the car belonging to Ms. Inappropriate. She’d already loaded her dogs into her car. Apparently she’d waited for me because she pulled up right next to me and said–

“Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you, but you really should talk to the trainers in Windsor. They’ve saved all sorts of vicious dogs from euthanasia. They could work wonders with your dog, you know, the dogs that bite people and have three strikes against them.”

Me– “First of all, I don’t have a vicious dog. Second, why on earth would you assume I have a vicious dog?”

Her– “Well you had him on leash in the off-leash area…”

Me– “So? People leash their dogs in the off-leash area all the time.”

Her– “Well…”

Me– “Well, what? I have my reasons and frankly, my reasons are none of your damn business. I don’t owe you an explanation. I don’t even know why I’m giving you the courtesy of talking to you now.”

She huffed again and I got in my car and drove away. I was so angry. First because she assumed Jake was a vicious dog simply because he’s a German shepherd and second because she thought it was her business to tell me what to do with my dog and third because she imposed upon me– made me feel like I owed her an explanation when I didn’t owe her a damn thing. My dog had done nothing but sit by my side like a little furry angel. What on earth was there to complain about?

So of course I told hubby all about it. All about it. And he was just as indignant as I was.

The next morning I got up early and took Jake back to the same park. Our first stop was the fenced (empty at this time of the morning) dog enclosure so Jake could work off some of his insane morning energy by chasing his ball. Just as we were ready to leave the enclosure and head up to the off-leash area I saw this big mastiff arrive with his owner. This mastiff hates Jake. Every time he sees him he attacks him. But, since his owner is an older man and he can only do one loop around the off-leash area I figured Jake and I would head to the other side, the on-leash area, and by the time we reached the off-leash area, the mastiff would be gone. Brilliant. Problem solved.

Sort of.

In the mornings Jake is effusive. He’s insanely energetic and he really wants to run. And of course, in the mornings, there is game around. So there we were on a flat trail and out pops a rabbit. Jake lunged after the rabbit and dragged me for a few feet before I could get him under control. I brought him back to me but the stupid rabbit turned and ran in our direction so Jake lunged for him again. So I says…

“Damn it, Jake. Get your ass back here!” And I smacked him on the rump with his ball. You see, I was holding the ball thrower. Then I made him heel and I used the ball thrower to tap him on the butt whenever he tried to go after the rabbit – a gentle reminder. Seriously– it’s a rubber ball and a thin plastic ball thrower. And by a tap I mean a light tap.

Picture this – he’s heeling on my left. In my right hand is the ball thrower and I’m holding it behind me on my right. I swing it around and tap him on his right hip if he starts to tug on me. It’s a training technique my daughter uses with horses as well so you’re not in their face freaking them out all the time.

Suddenly I hear this voice–

“You don’t have to hit him.”

OMG. Please tell me it’s not her.

It wasn’t her, but it was this woman with whom I am somewhat familiar. She owns a female yellow lab, a very sweet dog, who would love to play with Jake but who is not allowed any contact with any other dog. The woman always walks the lab off leash in the on-leash area and she calls ahead when she sees me coming and asks me to move off the trail because, as I said, her dog is not allowed any contact with other dogs. In three years I have always obliged her without a single complaint, even though it is illegal to walk your dog off leash in that area. I have never ever admonished her for doing so. I’ve never once said, “Put your dog on leash,” or “Screw you. Take a different trail.” A. I’m polite and B. I’m not the police.

I looked at her. I said, “Mind your own business.”

“Yeah, but you don’t have to hit him.”

I really didn’t feel like explaining – I had knee surgery five weeks ago and when he lunged after that rabbit it hurt like hell and he could have injured me and by God all I did was give him a quick smack with a rubber ball on his big furry rump. It’s not like he even noticed.

The look she shot me said– You are an abuser. I should call the Humane Society on you.

Jake was perfect for the rest of the hike, but she’d ruined my day. I told Oscar– I can’t win for losing.

Oh! Oh! Oh! One more thing about that morning– So when Jake and I were on the Vineyard Trail I heard a runner coming behind us. As I always do, because nobody appreciates a German shepherd nose in his/her crotch, I moved off to the side of the narrow trail and had Jake sit/stay. The runner, a woman, was so impressed that she said, “He’s just the best boy. He’s so pretty! Can I pet him?”

And sure, I let her pet him. And then she went on her merry way and we went on our merry way. So when I was walking to the parking lot maybe thirty minutes later I saw her running down the trail opposite. She was passing a man with a dog off leash (in the on-leash area), a dog Jake does not like. Now Jake was on leash and heeling and the dog was maybe fifty yards away so he ignored her. Well, this dog began to bark at the runner, then chased after her, jumped on her and bit her and the owner just kept on a-walkin’. The runner stopped, totally flabbergasted. I went over to make sure she was okay. She was, but she could not believe the owner didn’t even apologize. He completely ignored the situation. His dog is some sort of small sheep dog. Not a Bernese Mountain dog but maybe a Swiss Mountain dog?

Let me tell you, if Jake had done that, because he’s a German shepherd, a hue and cry would have gone up so loud and so vitriolic that Tom Stronach would have heard it all the way in Wessex!

Here are some photos of our hilly hike – FYI – I only climbed a third of the way to the summit. No worries, Jaye.

Jake's feet and wild iris.

Jake’s feet and wild iris.

Wild iris.

Wild iris.

A third of the way to the summit.

A third of the way to the summit.

Crossing the saddle.

Crossing the saddle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Everything, A Work of Romantic Suspense.

MYEVERYTHING_2_28_14

Security consultant Ben McCall is alone. His wife and unborn child are dead, victims of an assassination attempt meant for someone else. He blames himself. Grieving, he disappears, dead to almost everyone and everything from his past. When his best friend is in danger Ben resurfaces, only to find his friend isn’t the target of a murderer, he is. 

Grace Adams is one of the walking wounded. A pain specialist who treats cancer patients, she’s lost her new husband to leukemia. One night she finds herself incapacitated by a severe headache. From out of nowhere a man comes to her aid. He’s the man she fell in love with years before, Ben McCall. As the passion between them reignites, Grace too becomes a target of the madman who stalks Ben. 

Now it’s not just their rekindled love at stake, it’s their very lives.

Go. Upload. Enjoy. The book is free through Saturday. Link.

 

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Ice bags on our knees, bonding… Interesting times.

We have time on our hands, you know. (Sort of. Me, not so much.) Both of us recovering from knee surgery. So what do we do? We talk. I told my husband that as an author I should be wary of talking politics, religion or current events.

He said – “Who made that dumb-ass rule? Isn’t this still a free country?”

Um, well…

So this is the stuff we talk about while we are recuperating.

1.  Guess everyone’s gonna have to give up pronouns because they have been deemed sexist.

It’ll be– “Hey, how you doin’ there?” Or “Hiya bud.” Wait, does bud indicate a male? Or “Hey… you…”

And if you, as an employer, refer to someone as a ‘he’ or ‘she’ will you be forced to resign and face a public scourging? Stockades for all! (Notice, no pronoun. ‘All’ is very inclusive.)

I’m trying to figure out how I am supposed to write a book sans pronouns.

And by the way, I don’t hear anyone bitchin’ about the use of pronouns in Game of Thrones. Do you hear anyone bitchin’ about that? Seems like bitchin’ about pronouns is pretty dang selective these days…

2.  Speaking of slippery slopes… If I own a vegan restaurant and I refuse to prepare a hamburger for a customer, can he/she (sorry, used pronouns) sue me because by not providing said burger I am behaving in a burger-fascist/heterovegan manner? And I am creating an unsafe environment for the burger-eating population? Because burger-eaters will not feel comfortable, welcome and safe in my vegan restaurant? Because I am insensitive to the sensibilities of carnivores and omnivores? Or do carnivores and omnivores fall into the non PC category so therefore they have no rights? What if I own a rib-joint and fail to offer barbecued tofu? Huh? Huh? And what about Kosher caterers? What will happen if a client insists a Kosher caterer serve pork? Or cheeseburgers? Will the caterer be sued and forced out of business for creating an unsafe environment for the vast majority of people who do not keep Kosher yet have a need for catering services?

We are talking some pretty nuanced stuff, folks.

3. When I was a little tiny kid, my dad used to say- “Never trust a white man with a Southern accent.” He also passed on this jewel- “Never trust anyone who loudly proclaims he’s a good Christian.” But that was because my dad had grown up when we weren’t allowed to live in certain areas or eat in certain restaurants or drink out of certain drinking fountains or join certain organizations. He got over that years ago. But man oh man (Wait- that phrase is totally sexist! Merde! Self-slap administered. Remorse expressed. Please don’t ship me off to a re-education camp, please! Think of my children!) I am feeling so sorry for Christians. They are getting it from all sides when in fact the reason we have made such progress in our nation over the decades is because of the Christian notions of conscience, love and forgiveness, and the Judeo-Christian notion of justice, and our silly outdated Constitution which guarantees both religious freedom and freedom of speech. I’m a believer in science too, by the way, as in I don’t think you’ll much like it when your kids get polio because they aren’t vaccinated.

So I guess what I should be talking about is books. Here you go – I’m writing a story about a band of half-assed bloviated extremists. No shit. I am.

I’m hoping my children and, when I have them, grandchildren, don’t grow up in a country that is defined by intolerance. My parents’ generation and my generation worked too damn hard to win us some tolerance.

I think this sums up my thoughts nicely–

Tomorrow – My father tells me several stories.

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