Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Neumarian Uprising - Escapement - Ciara Knight

Neumarian Uprising

    We need your help! Thanks to our spy, Ciara Knight, we are able to communicate with you today via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

    The Neumarian uprising has begun. We are fighting for freedom and equality for all, but we need your help. Ciara informed us that you might want to know more about the uprising and why we ask you to risk your lives for our cause. To answer these questions I’ve agreed to let Ciara tell my sister’s, Raeth’s, story about her captivity. It will be free for you on a site called Amazon until March 1, 2013.
   Our spies have told us this will help spread the word and find more recruits for our rebellion against the tyrannical queen. You can help by simply downloading a free copy of Weighteda prequel to the Neumarian Chronicles. If you are intrigued and wish to follow our uprising, 
    Escapement, book I of The Neumarian Chronicles, will be available for only $2.99 until March 1, 2013.

     Escapement is told by Princess Semara. Don’t hold the fact Semara is a princess against her like I did, there is more to her than you can possibly imagine.

     Here is a brief explanation of her telling of our uprising:

Ten years after the great war of 2185 the queen’s reign is threatened by uprisings and fear. In celebration of my sixteenth birthday it is my duty as princess to sacrifice a slave to be initiated into the ruling council, solidifying my mother’s empire. When my own erratic powers surface I’m captured and tried for treason. Slaves hate me, my mother wants me executed, and my only chance of survival rests in the hands of a young man, Ryder Arteres, whose sister I sentenced to death.

   What people are saying about Escapement:

“A heady mix of action adventure and steampunk -- leavened with a dash of romance -- ESCAPEMENT offers up its fair share of thrills, horrors and heart-pounding moments. A strong start to a captivating new series.”

-- Jana Oliver, author of The Demon Trapper's Daughter

“A riveting tale of justice, mercy, honor and love. Take a deep breath and hold on, because you'll be turning the pages of Escapement quickly. Three unlikely comrades, Princess Semara, Ryder, and his sister Raeth, embark on a journey that will alter their lives forever. The beautiful love story nestled into these action-packed scenes will make you sigh and remember why you love to love. After reading the prequel Weighted, I knew this story would be amazing, and it was. Ciara Knight truly has a gift for creating awesome worlds and characters you won't forget.”

--Lindi Peterson--Award winning author of Summer's Song.

“Betrayal, secrets, and a rebellion send readers on a grand adventure, caught in the plight to discover Semara’s gifts and purpose.”

--Alex J Cavanaugh, author of Amazon best sellers CassaStar and CassaFire

“The most unmissable series ever! I couldn't stop reading, the action and romance too breathtaking to break the spell!”
--ARC review by Sudah on Goodreads

"A courageous heart-stopping journey by young people to save their kind."
--Hildie McQueen, bestselling author of Where the Four Winds Collide

If you’d like to see a peak into our world, please view this short clip on You Tube. http://youtu.be/MyasLq8ZpYg

If you are now ready to join our fight, please add Escapement to your TBR shelf on Goodreads here. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17376403-escapement 

Shout out on all your social media sites, and tell everyone you know to stand up and fight.
Be Bold.
Be Brave.
Be Free.
In the name of the rebellion,
Ryder Arteres

Rafflecopter giveaway:
<a id="rc-7920492" class="rafl" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7920492/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
<script src="//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js"></script>

   Escapement can be found at Amazon.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Casa Cuseni-The Infamous Sicilian House Chuck Didn't Quite See

Just one of the stunning architectural displays in the gardens


          We climbed the steep incline of Via Leonardo da Vinci to see a house.

But not just any house.

Chuck, my rascal cat and world traveler, loves a good story and when I sat him down before we took off for Sicily, and told him that I wanted to visit a certain house, he tilted his whiskered face to one side and dared me to impress him. 

“Chuck, Casa Cuseni was left to Daphne Phelps’ aunt in 1948 by her uncle--British painter, Robert Kitson.  She lived in England, and she asked Daphne to travel to Taormina and sell the house for her, but when Daphne saw the house, she fell in love with it and decided instead to live there and open the house up as a Bed and Breakfast.”

“This happened, of course, after World War II, and Daphne needed the support of the local Mafia boss Don Ciccio, which she somehow managed to procur.  She also managed to attract the rich and famous from Europe and America, including Greta Garbo, Henry Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Bertrand Russell, John Steinbeck, Leonard Bernstein, El Salvador Dali, Truman Capote, Oscar Wilde, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck and so many others as her guests for the next sixty years.  

“Her house, or rather villa, was originally constructed by her uncle of stone, marble, wood and terra cotta and then overlaid with a golden yellow stucco and became known as the most beautiful house in Taormina for a number of reasons. 

Casa Cuseni from the rear

         One was the dining room.  Her uncle commissioned Sir Frank Brangwyn to create the dining room, the furniture, and paint the frescoes on the walls.  

Casa Cuseni, a villa, is considered the most beautiful house in Taormina

“The house was also known for its gardens, fruit trees, and roses, and its views of Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea.”

A peek at the gardens

Well, Chuck finally perked up when he heard the word garden.  

Can you imagine wandering through . . .

I’d read Daphne’s account of her life at Casa Cuseni called A House in Sicily--about her adventures running the villa and about her fast friendship with her housekeeper, Concetta.  Daphne had passed away in 1995 at the age of 94, and her house was closed for the moment, as plans were made to renovate and turn it into a museum or, perhaps, open it again as a Bed and Breakfast.  Nevertheless, I was determined to see this house.  

I’d contacted her publisher and eventually after many emails made arrangements to visit the house.  Initially Mimma, the daughter of Concetta, the woman who’d been Daphne’s housekeeper, agreed to give us a tour, but at the last moment she was called away and an older woman appeared to give us the tour instead.  

She spoke only a Sicilian dialect of Italian and it was difficult to communicate with her, so it took me awhile to realize that the woman who was walking us up and down the rows of the garden and pointing out the high points of the architecture of the villa was Concetta.  

Concetta walking amidst the rows of fresh produce that she grew

The famous sundial

        When I made the connection, I felt like I was in the presence of a rock star.  

“You,” I said to her in my best Italian. “You are Concetta.”

“Yes. I am Concetta.”

Concetta, smiling

“You have seen so much.  You must know so many stories.” And, of course, I was thinking of all the famous people who had come to the villa and stayed there.  All the famous people that Concetta had cooked for.  

She laughed.  “Yes. I could tell you many stories.” 

But she was too much of a lady to do so.  Instead she continued to show us around the magnficent garden and then she took us into the house for a tour.  

Interior shot, courtesy of www.casacuseni.org

      But that was then, and this was now.

The villa, originally slated to be reopened as a museum, had instead been reopened to the public as a Bed and Breakfast.  

Now we were back in Sicily, in Taormina, and this time we were traveling with Chuck.
“What do you say, Chuck?  Do you want to see Casa Cuseni? The gardens?”

So that explains why we were trekking up the steep incline, and I was both excited and a bit nervous.  I’ve learned from long experience that you can never go back.  I had such fond memories of Casa Cuseni and Concetta.

       Did I dare tempt fate?  What if Casa Cuseni had changed?  What if Concetta was no longer there?

And that’s when I decided.  

I didn’t turn that final corner.  I turned around and started back down the hill.  

       "Sorry, Chuck," I said.  "But I want my memories to stay as they are."

The lovely outside gate with a bell buzzer that I couldn't push

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chuck Meows to Erupting Volcano

You can see Mt. Etna in the distance, before she blows, giving off smoke.

The “rascal cat” had plenty of reasons to want to visit Taormina, so when we flew from Rome to the tiny airport in Catania and began to make our way across the Sicilian countryside, Chuck sat in rapt attention, his nose pressed against the window of our car.

Taormina is one of the most popular European tourist destinations in the summer if you’re looking for good food, a beautiful landscape, and a busy nightlife.  The dramatic seascapes mingle with the shore, the antique stone buildings and cobblestone streets lend sheer elegance to the passeggiata--the Italian word for the nightly walk that Italians take. In Taormina, everyone gathers at dusk before the evening meal to parade down the center of town, past the upscale stores and restaurants, the gelaterias and the pizzerias. They talk and laugh, window shop and check out the competition.

The typical quaint streets of Taormina

Even when we arrived--at the start of November--there were still plenty of tourists crowding the streets. Luckily, in Sicily the days are still in the low seventies and although the nights chill down, you only need a sweater or jacket.

Quickly we developed a nightly routine.

We would leave our hotel and begin to descend the steps down to the center of town.  Nothing is flat in Taormina.  You either walk up or down.  We passed our favorite restaurant on the right and waved hello to Enzo who was the owner, chief cook, waiter, and with his Japanese wife, ran the entire operation.  His sign promised that they spoke almost every language under the sun--Spanish, French, German, Italian, English, and, of course, Japanese.  His food was "squisito."  On certain days, he’d heat the ovens and make pizza.

Enzo, in his kitchen busily preparing his dough

Most nights we stopped in to say hello.  Most days we’d eaten lunch there and sampled his salads and sandwiches, his pastas and soups.  His sausage rendered my husband speechless. He pretended not to notice Chuck and even brought a special little plate over.

The wall of Enzo's restaurant are filled with letters from his customers who rave about his food

After our visit with Enzo, we reached Corso Umberto, the main street of Taormina and had to decide to walk either right or left.  Both choices were good ones.  There were excellent gelaterias in either direction and eating gelato before dinner had become an obsession of mine.  Limone is my favorite flavor, but I’d begun to sample other flavors, especially since the custom here in Italy is to order more than one flavor--preferably two or three for a cone.

When we stopped, I ordered pistacchio, stracchiatella, and “crema” for me and a separate smaller gelato for Chuck. His favorite flavor? No, not chocolate, even though that is the number one flavor in Italy.  Chuck loved “crema,” which tastes a lot like heavy cream. No surprise because the kid loved snacks and was a gelato addict, too.  We found a quiet place to sit so he could inhale his gelato.

We continued up the main drag until we reached St. Catherine’s Church.

Outside St. Catherine's Church in Taormina

Earlier that day the church was all abuzz with a celebration which would be the equivalent to our Veteran’s Day.  There was a band and a procession down Corse Umberto ending with Mass at the church. But now all was quiet.

The procession and band marching toward the church

We reversed direction and walked up the street, admiring the beautiful coral pearls that were displayed in several high-end jewelry stores.  Finally, we make our way back to the hotel for dinner.
The night had been rather uneventful until someone made the suggestion that we ascend to the hotel roof for the view.  We’ve heard about this, but we’d never done it.

The center square in Taormina where musicians played

The roof extended the entire length of the hotel.  It was a beautiful night.  Very clear.  We spotted some stars . . . and . . . the full moon.  And because we were so high up and seemingly away from everything, it almost felt as if we could touch that moon.

Suddenly we heard an explosion.  Someone was setting off firecrackers in celebration of this memorial day?  We couldn’t be sure but they looked beautiful exploding in the dark sky.
And if that weren’t enough, my husband grabbed my arm and pointed in the direction of Mt. Etna.  We watched in awe as lava poured out of the top of Etna and cascaded down the mountain, which even though we learned later was a regular thing, it sure seemed special now.

“The night sky is putting on a show for us tonight,” I said to Chuck.

“We are so lucky to be in Sicily.  In Taormina,” Bob said.

            “Meow,” Chuck said finally.

The three of us continued to stare at the erupting volcano, the fireworks, and the full moon.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Chuck's Top Ten List of Cats and Love

Chuck and Ella "snoozing" on the bed together

        Because we celebrate Valentine’s Day this Thursday, Chuck, my rascal cat thought it was the perfect week for him to blog about the subject of cats and love.  Perfect together?
Who would have thought this topic would be on so many people’s minds?
Well, here’s CHUCK’S HOT TOP TEN LIST as proof that people and cats are “purr-fect” together . . .

#10 Lewis Blackwell wrote a book called the Life and Love of Cats and people are reading it and liking it! Yeah!

#9  A video was posted about how Caltech researchers identified neurons responsible for pleasurable sensations that mice feel when being stroked softly which explains why CATS enjoy grooming. Yeah, you guessed it, that video is super popular!

#8 Two San Francisco cat lovers who also happen to be SPCA employees have agreed to let whoever donates the most money to help homeless cats and dogs either design or pick out their next tattoo.  Now that’s love!  Yeah!

Antique valentine, circa 1880's, from Wikipedia

#7 Jennifer Viegas, editor of The Daily Cat, eye-witnessed a romance between two of her adoptive cats--Freddy and Stubby (named because of her super short tail).  They met one spring morning and from that fateful meeting, ate their meals together, played together, groomed each other, and when Stubby passed away, Freddy mourned her passing for two years.  Who said cats can’t fall in love??

#6  There’s a new social media website designed just for cat people, ie. people who love cats: catmoji

#5   If you’re seeking a cat loving soul mate - www.purrsonals.com 

The Big Heart valentine, another oldie, from Wikipedia

#4   If you’re looking for a feline friendly social networking site where you can chat about all things CAT, go to www.meow-book.com 

#3   Up until now Facebook has not been super welcoming to cat lovers.  You were not allowed to create a page dedicated to your cat.  But now we have Catbook, which  is an app that enables you to build and maintain a social media profile for your pet.  You can also create a timeline for your four legged friend.  Yeah!

Valentine from Wikipedia

#2  Monopoly fans voted to replace the iron with the CAT!  Yeah!

  #1   Hot Blogging with Chuck is a cool blog to read and gaining popularity by the week!  Yeah!

                HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!  


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blogger Book Fair 2013 February 10 DAY 4

                 BLOGGER BOOK FAIR 2013


    This year our theme is The World for a Shilling, based on the cost of the entrance fee back in 1851 for the Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park, England. 

    Six million people or roughly one third of the population of Great Britain visited the exhibition.  

     In keeping with the theme of the Great Exhibition of 1851, I’d like to announce a CONTEST and then introduce two fabulous authors and their work.

First, the CONTEST:

Read the blurb of Wild Point Island and leave a one sentence comment with your email address.  During each of the four days of the Blogger Book Fair, one reader will win a free Kindle e book of my newest paranormal romance.  At the end of Day Four, I will pick again from all the readers who have participated.  The prize: $25.00 Amazon gift certificate. 

And, now the first author:

Rachel McClellan

Rachel McClellan was born and raised in Idaho, a place secretly known for its supernatural creatures. When she's not in her writing lair, she's partying with her husband and four crazy, yet lovable, children. Rachel's love for storytelling began as a child when the moon first possessed the night. For when the lights went out, her imagination painted a whole new world. And what a scary world it was...

Her Work:

Fractured Light

Llona Reese is used to living on the run. After the Vykens killed her parents, she knew they would eventually come for her too. She can’t take any chances. But when she starts to make friends for the first time in her life, she gets careless and lets her guard down. Big mistake.

As an Aura, Llona can manipulate light and harness its energy. But if she wants to survive, Llona will have to defy the Auran Council and learn to use her power as a weapon against the Vyken whose sole desire is to take her light. Now she’s caught in something even bigger than she can understand, with a power she can’t wield, and no one she can trust, except, just maybe, a mysterious stranger.

Fractured Soul

Llona will do whatever it takes to protect her new found friends and home, but the dark plot threatening Lucent Academy, a school that’s supposed to be a safe place for Auras, may be too powerful for even Llona to defeat. This fast-paced tale of love, loyalty, and overcoming the darkness will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!


“I love these books! A kick-butt heroine and a hottie love interest, with a refreshingly original concept. Be prepared—once you start, these are hard to put down.”
Paula Cotton, book reviewer at

Fractured Soul is a brilliant sequel, exceeding even the remarkable first book in the series. It will haunt your every waking moment between the times you’re reading it, and it will stay with you  long after you’ve finished. It’s an amazingly well written and engrossing story that I highly recommend—after you’ve read the first one, of course.”
Cindy Bennett, bestselling author of Geek Girl and
Rapunzel Untangled

Find Rachel

Facebook  |   Blog   |   Website   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads  |  Book Trailer

Buy Fractured Light

Buy Fractured Soul

And our second author, Sherry Soule

Hi everybody, I’m author, Sherry Soule—waving from the SF Bay Area in Northern California. 

Today author, Sherry Soule  is offering us a sneak peek at the second book in her popular YA series, MOONLIGHT MAYHEM.

Special Excerpt taken from MOONLIGHT MAYHEM

In his soft gaze lingered a mute invitation. A fervent question. Trent took my hand. Unspoken feelings tangled as our fingers intertwined. Complicated veil of yearning drifted between our eyes. My arms encircled his waist. I rested my head against his chest. Inhaled his scent, a mixture of soap, minty toothpaste, and boy. Listened to his heartbeat. We exhaled simultaneously and he pressed his face in my hair. Calming and at the same time-intense.
I clutched at the front of his shirt and tilted my head. Our lips were a breath apart. My stomach flipped with anticipation. Our mouths touched lightly, but it quickly turned into a passionate kiss and we melted together. All thoughts of lycans and death disappeared. My eyelids fluttered closed. My arms wrapped around his body like entwining ivy. Clinging and pulling him to me, kissing him with all the repressed emotions whirling inside me.
Apart from the knee-jerking kiss, something tangible stirred inside me. It inhabited the center of my chest, a murmur of power unfurling. It tickled, then pulsed, then burned. The strange, thrumming energy felt like a bud blossoming into a flower and stretching toward the sun.
Black magick. My magick. His magick.
I should have been more scared and worried. But I wasn’t, although my heart beat too fast. And my voice had dried up. I forced myself to break the kiss, but didn’t move—because this is the weird part—I didn’t want him to stop holding me….

Places you can cyber stalk Sherry Soule:

Official Spellbound Series Universe: http://thespellboundseries.blogspot.com
Twitter @WriterSherry: http://twitter.com/writersherry