Thursday, December 22, 2011

Link Thursday: 10 Presents Guys Really Want (No Shopping Required!)

Hey beautiful people!

Quick dash on here to share this list with you! I laughed out loud when I read it, and couldn't help but think this would apply to the men in your lives - and even the fictional ones in your books (especially if you write contemporary heroes).

So, it's the holiday season... and you're wracking your brains out what to gift your man... Look no further, because here comes a list of things that he wants from you, and that won't even cost you a penny! How's that for change (pun intended, lol!) :)

Enjoy!

The article is from Glamour on MSN Living, and can be accessed here with the original slideshow.

*****

#1
To never be forced to watch The Hills (or any reality-TV show) again

#2
Oral sex (that you actually enjoy giving)

#3
For you to make him nachos when his favorite team is playing—and then leave the house

#4
For you to stop referring to Justin Timberlake as your husband

#5
To try a Kama Sutra position of his choice

#6
To play his Xbox as much as he wants (without any mocking from you)

#7
For you to stop dropping hints about marriage, kids…the future

#8
A guys’ night out, no questions asked

#9
For you to never ask him if you look fat in that again

#10
You, wearing only a Santa hat

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday: A Guest Comes Over... and I'm a guest at her blog! Please welcome R Renee Vickers!

Hey beautiful people!

Today, fellow Noble Romance Publishing author, R. Renee Vickers, joins me in my Author's Corner with a guest post, while she hosts an interview of me on her site.

Been so excited for this day to come - it's lovely to have fellow authors and good friends over, and I hope you all reading this will discover some amazing new authors and their fantastic works this way (snippet - there'll be lots of visits in 2012: gear up for them! *grin*)

So, without further ado, let me give you Renee's post... Every writer here will totally 'get' what she's talking about today, namely, that time between two books, when you're struggling to leave one story behind and get into another. :) Read on!

And there's a little treat in for you as well - Renee is sharing an excerpt from her NRP release, Sly's Surrender, with us!

*****

Thank you for having me here today, Zee. I’ve been looking forward to this. Now, I’m going to spend the next few minutes trying not to bore you to death. (Maybe then I can come back one day. After the rashes clear, of course.) Trying being the key word, I make no guarantees.

I sat, ready at the keys for hours (more like a whopping 1hour cumulative amidst all of the children-are-out-of-school “emergencies” and melodramas), my fingers hovered and waited for my focus to kick in at the same time my thoughts were coming along. Until I gave up on fighting myself and sat down to write. Hold on a sec. … Okay, I’m back.

If it’s ok with you, I’d like to talk about a little bit of what I’m going through as a new author, then do some shameless promotion of my first book, Sly’s Surrender.

The transition from completing one story and beginning another is difficult for me. Like with so many things about professional writing, I’m still getting what works for me sorted out. I’m just beginning to get some experience under my belt, like working with a deadline, the finer points of the craft of writing, marketing and so on. So where I am currently is a state chock full of transitions.

I’ve just wrapped up my story “Evening at the M.U.T”, a tale of lesbian love and zombies so I figure, while I’m waiting on a reply about the submission, now’s the best time to start a new one. But having an opportunity and utilizing an opportunity are different subjects all together. I’ve sat here all day with my fingers hovered over the keyboard, with an idea but no focus to get my ideas down. Having a house full of raving lunatics that pass for children, distracting me every 4.5 seconds certainly doesn’t help. What’s wrong with me? Performance anxiety? Indecisiveness? I couldn’t tell you, but all I know is that it’s not being productive.

What’s helped me get through this in the past was to go over notes I’ve scribbled down while in the midst of another, more pressing story. I don’t know about anyone else, but while I’m writing I seem to become irresistible to plot bunnies, I get attacked by random story ideas multiple times a day at times. But during the transition from one story to the next. Nothing.  It’s so cruel.

I welcome words of wisdom should anyone have any to impart. If you’d like to get to know me better or see how I progress with my next story, stop by my blog (http://museampoule.wordpress.com)

Thanks for having me here today, Zee! Before I leave, I’d like to plug my book a little if that’s alright with you.

*****

Lol, of course that's fine with me, girl! And I'll gladly have you over anytime! *grin*

Peeps, here's a snazzy look into Renee's story:

Blurb:

By day, Sly is a take-charge, no-nonsense restaurateur, and at night she plays her hand as a demanding mistress. Sly has everything her heart desires: a successful business with loyal patrons, a gorgeous boyfriend and a flare for dominating in the bedroom. Everything she’s ever tried has gone her way, every decision followed to success, every goal achieved, and yet she yearns for more.

One night, she decides to try something new, giving up her customary control to the tall, dark, and sexy Jake. Jake is put in a position to prove to his lover just what he’s capable of, and Sly experiences the new pleasures to be found in letting someone else handle her reins.

Excerpt:


Jake had been waiting on his barstool for an hour already and had started to lose patience with his date. Oh, he knew she’d come eventually, she always did. Even with knowing Sly’s usual M.O., he never failed to show up on time, because he knew the one time he decided to be late would be the one time she’d be on time. He sighed and checked his watch again. How much longer would he have to wait?

He called Tony over with a hasty jerk of his hand. The bartender rolled his eyes and shook his head. Tony was a man in his mid-fifties with gray hair—what was left of it. He wore a white dress shirt under a black vest. The only thing he was missing was the black armband reminiscent of the style at the turn of the twentieth century. Sly told him once that Tony had been tending bar there for thirty years, which could explain his gruff attitude. Jake never had any problems with the old man but thought he had a funny way of treating paying customers. After a minute or two, Tony begrudgingly set a fresh glass of soda on a clean little napkin and sternly eyed his teetotaler.

“Hope she’s worth it, boy,” he said with a grunt and a little too much emphasis on boy, as far as Jake was concerned. Jake watched the back of the bartender’s shiny head as he turned to tend to his more lucrative patrons.

He sighed again and glanced at the door. Still no Sly. Yeah, she was worth it, but it didn’t mean he had to enjoy complying with all her demands. Abstaining from drink was one of them. He had to admit that her reasoning was sound; how could she be in control if he was drunk? And, of course, waiting for her late ass all the time was another.

The more Jake thought about her controlling nature, the more agitated he grew. Why the hell did he subject himself to this . . . this . . . her control? It’s not right that she makes me jump through all of these ridiculous hoops, he thought as he glanced at Tony, who, simultaneously, gave him another disgusted look and shook his head. Jake’s blood boiled. That’s it, Jake thought, I’m not going to take this anymore.

“Hey, sexy.” Sly’s smooth voice purred behind Jake, just as her fingertip caressed from his chin to his jaw in one long motion, ending up just behind his ear. Shivers ant-marched down Jake’s body. In that instant, Jake knew. This is why. All the anger, indignation, and embarrassment fled his mind as she wrapped an arm over his shoulder and down his chest. As her hot breath caressed his neck, her honeyed voice flooded his mind. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”

It took everything he had not to swallow, to show no outward reaction to what she was doing to him with these miniscule teases. This was just another game to her. She’d make him wait until he’d be ready to walk out, until he was so mad he couldn’t stand it, and then she’d show up, making him switch gears. Just like that. He shot a quick glance at Tony, who watched this dance out of the corner of his eyes, pretending like he was too busy toweling off a pristine glass to notice.

When Sly’s tongue flicked Jake’s thick, silver-hoop earring, he lost what small shred of control he had, albeit for a fraction of a second. He could feel her smile as her cheek rested against his neck. A prickling flash of anger growled in some dark recess of his mind.

She moved to half-lean, half-sit on the vacant stool next to him, and he had to strangle a threatening gasp. If he hadn’t, his body would have given away just how badly he wanted her. This was a high-stakes game, and so far, the house was winning.

Sly wore a tight black corset. Though no doubt made of the finest and most sturdy materials, the bone-rib garment threatened to break under the flood pressure of her ample bosom. It must have been a custom piece because it slithered down her slim waist with precision. No department wares could hope to cope with a curvy form such as hers. He noticed the striking color contrast as the thick, black material lay against her flawless, smooth, ivory-colored skin.

As his sight drew down, he soaked in just how short her layered black and burgundy diaphanous skirt was. She couldn’t sit down without flashing her all to the world. Jake gulped, carelessly abandoning any desire to restrain himself. Seeing his reaction, Sly barked a throaty laugh. He refused to look up until he saw his favorite pair of strappy, black, four-inch stiletto heels. When he came up for breath he found her glossy crimson-colored lips snaking a Cheshire pattern across her gleaming teeth and humor glistening in her hazel eyes. Oh, how she loves this game.

** end of excerpt **

I dunno about you, but for me that was a hot & sexy scene! :)

You can find more about R. Renee Vickers on her blog, MuseAmpoule, and Sly's Surrender is available here.

And drop by her blog today and check out the amazing interview she compiled for me :)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, December 19, 2011

Random Thoughts' Monday: I'm in two different places today!

Hey beautiful people!

I've been MIA - I know... and I apologize. The reason - well, it's December, and though I don't exactly celebrate the holidays traditionally, well, it's also a month when my son and stepson are on holiday break. Usually, in December, they'll both have gotten their end of year exam results, and hubby will have earned his yearly bonus at work, which sees us going out a lot as a family and well, doing things as a family, esp to reward the boys for a year of studying well (hopefully! These exam report cards can be a total scary deal!). I always promise my son to work less in December, so I can spend the time with them, and this is what I've been doing.

I'm sorry I have to cut down on the blog for that to happen, but I know you people understand. I'm not just a writer - I'm a mum as well, and the years my kids are growing up, I won't get those again once they're gone. If there's one thing life has taught me, it's to enjoy the moment and leave the future for later, for when it'll come.

But, that being said, I am still here, though less prominently! Been working on some changes and updates for 2012 on the blog here - should be able to share with you all shortly! Got big things lined up for next year - I hope you'll stick around and check them out. :)

And, going back to today's post title - well, I'm actually in 2 places at the same time today! 3 if you count this blog. :) How? The magic of the Internet! I didn't realise that I was scheduled for 2 guest slots on the same day, but anyhow, the more the merrier, innit?



So, first off, I'm at author Sandra Bunino's All Things Girl blog today, writing a guest post about... the recipe for the perfect hero! Sandra's been hooked on the Gentlemen's Etiquette Link Thursday posts I've had up in November, and she asked me over. Come check it out:

"....  Welcome to All Things Girl!
This week I’m joined by the beautiful Zee Monodee! Zee brings us a delicious recipe that you are sure to love. Get this – it’s calorie FREE! How awesome is that?!?

Hello everyone!
First of all, let me say thanks to Sandra for inviting me over to All Things Girl (with a title like that, how could I ever refuse???)
So, Sandra and I started hitting Tweets back and forth about today’s topic ..." Continue reading



Then, I'm also in my every-other-month established slot at The Pop Culture Divas blog! Come see how we celebrate the holiday season in my household, in Mauritius! The post starts as such:

"... Hey beautiful people!
I'll admit that when the topic came out for this month's posts, I was stumped - how on earth do you happen to have holiday traditions, of Christmas and all things white and snuggly... when it's 95 degrees outside and the sun is blazing, and in December, you're usually lazing like a lizard soaking up the sun on the grainy white sand of tropical beaches? Yes, can you say 'idiosyncracy'? I could! ..." Continue reading

Drop by, and leave me a little comment! I'm eager to find out what 'ingredient' you include in the recipe for your perfect hero, and I also wanna know how much I've 'shocked' you with my unconventional holiday celebrations!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend, peeps! XOXO

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Calling Home Snippet #3

Hey beautiful people

December! Wow - the blog's been a succession of hit & miss this month, but I couldn't let Sunday pass by and not post for Six Sentence Sunday. Guess that gets addictive - to have a snippet up, and to have the many visits and comments! Thanks so much to everyone who comes over to read my excerpts, and double thanks to all who leave me comments - I've already said this, but will say it again: you totally brighten my week with your words. :)

So, this week we're back in the surgery of country doctor Jamie Gillespie, the hero from Calling Home. Remember - Margo's daughter has been taken sick to the doctor's practice, and Margo is there to pick the girl up at the end of the day (more like the evening!). She and the young doctor butt heads, when she doesn't recognise him and thinks he's a pervert trying to get close to her little girl!

But the suspicions allayed, and then Margo has another reason to squirm - Jamie Gillespie is a handsome, intense young man who brings out shifty, buried feelings inside of her. Last week, we saw how she reacted around him at first. This week, we're moving ahead in the scene. Margo is about to take Emma home, but the girl is passed out from painkillers and exhaustion. Jamie offers to carry her into the car, and this is where we find them as he settles the sleeping child in the back seat and Margo reaches in from the other side to click Emma's seatbelt:


'...
Their shoulders bumped and their heads came up at the same time—mere inches separated them, and Margo made the mistake of looking into his face.

Bathed in the soft radiance of the porch lamp that spilled in through the back windshield, his features were an arresting play of light and shadows. Suddenly seeing him so up close that she could make out the errant eyelash that had fallen on his cheekbone, she froze. Her outer shell remained immobile, while inside, a storm of uncalled-for heat and yearning warred for possession of her brain and senses.

That's a living, breathing man—a handsome, sexy creature in his own right. The red-hot memo wanted to sizzle its way all through her, but she couldn't—wouldn't—allow it. ...'


Catch the rest of the amazing SSS posse here - you're in for some amazing, awesome snippets!

Hope you're all having a lovely Sunday! It's dark, rainy, & cold here - aeons away from summer weather (Can you hear me crying...? No? Okay, just as well then... *grin*)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Calling Home Snippet #2

Hey beautiful people!

Cannot believe it's Sunday again! Blink and the week goes by... then it's time to sit down with some amazing Six Sentence Sunday snippets. :)

Last week, I posted the first 6 sentences from my latest release, Calling Home (A Destiny's Child Book). You got to meet Margo, the heroine, get an insight into her mindset, and figure out she becomes vulnerably human where 11-year-old Emma - the daughter of her heart - is concerned.

Emma ran a fever and tripped at school, twisted her ankle. Her teacher sent her to Dr. Gillespie's practice in the little Surrey village of Camberry, and that's where Margo is to pick Emma up that evening.
Margo expected to meet an old, bear of a man with a soft bedside manner - Dr. Gordon Gillespie. But instead, she finds a lean, intense young man in the surgery. The man has leaned over Emma's prone form and placed his hand on her forehead.
Margo's wasted no time to rush into the room and shoulder that "pervert" aside, intent on protecting her daughter. The man claims he is Dr. Gillespie - Margo's not ready to let him off the hook.
But even worse - that intense young man stirs something inside her...


'...
He moved, and the hooded cap slid off his head, to reveal his sharp, angular features and messy dark hair, no longer shadowing the dark brown depths of his deep-set eyes.

Dangerous—the rational whisper danced inside her head.

"Who the hell are you?" Tingles of awareness and peril skittered up her spine, like the time when she was on a crime location, and the killer managed to sneak up behind her. Trusting her gut that day—those shivers—kept her alive, when she didn't hesitate to look like a chicken, and called the chief inspector into the room with her.
           
            The moment here was one such instance too, urging her to call for backup. ...'


Want to read the whole Chapter 1, from which this excerpt is taken? Click away. :)

And don't forget to check the rest of the awesome SSS posse over here - I guarantee great reads.

Have a lovely Sunday, peeps.

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

How I Saw The Characters of "Calling Home"

Hey beautiful people

This post should've come up earlier today, but I had to go out and didn't get a chance to schedule the post beforehand. So please forgive my lateness today.

By now, you probably know I work with "real" people images, kinda like templates, when I'm writing a story. Aligning my characters on the physical likeness of a person/celebrity allows me to picture them in my mind, and this helps me with 'directing' the scenes in my head when I write them. I thus know how they move, how tall they are, their mannerisms, etc. Plus I also see their faces, which allows me to figure out their facial expressions, allows me to convey these subtle shifts in mood and gestures.

So Calling Home (A Destiny's Child Book) was no exception. Let me show you who I had in mind when I imagined this story!

Let's start with Margo Nolan, the heroine/protagonist in the story. Margo is thirty-six-years-old, looks very prim and proper, professional and aloof, as she is a forensic pathologist in London. She's got a no-nonsense expression on her face, and her colleagues describe her as an "unemotional man hiding in a woman's body" on good days, and policemen she works with often call her anything from "stuck-up, snobbish cow" to "frigid, ice-cold bitch".
In the words of Jamie, the hero, this is how he saw Margo:

"...Who was she, really, beneath the power suit, high heels, and straight blonde hair? She wore little makeup on her well-defined, elegant features, and her slender nose hinted at an aristocratic lineage. Her deep blue eyes didn't need mascara and liner to stand out as intense, and that mouth—if she bit those dark-pink lips once more tonight in his surgery, he swore he would've grabbed her by the nape of her graceful neck and kissed her ..."



And it's true that, at first glance, Margo does appear like an Ice Queen... But look closer...




There's a soft vulnerability to her features, a hint that maybe, what you're seeing is not the real woman inside, the one she hides from the world, the one who yearns for her daughter... and the love of a man...

Speaking of the "man", who is he? His name is Jamie Gillespie - he is twenty-nine-years-old, and is the village doctor in Camberry, a fictional Surrey village I imagined as the setting for this sweet romance.
Jamie is tall, dark-haired with shaggy locks, has a lean face, and has the most beautiful brown eyes with whiskey-gold flecks in the irises when the sunlight catches upon them.



And always - I do mean always! - whenever I imagined Jamie, I saw him as actor Jared Padalecki, from Supernatural. I'm a Supernatural junkie, and on Team Sam all the way... but that's not the only reason I had to - really had to! - go with the yummy Jared as Jamie.

Like Jared, Jamie is also twenty-nine, and like the character of Sam, he is a calm, quiet lad whom nothing really ruffles. He's an anchor for those around him, a knight in shining armour, a man you can count on...

And I must add, he is hunky! Come on - writing a romance hero, and I have to make a woman who has sworn off emotion fall in love with, all that requires a definite sexy hunk!

Here's how Margo describes him - on their first meeting, and then the subsequent one:

"...
Her gaze raked over him, taking in the faded, threadbare-at-the-knees jeans, the hint of a dark T-shirt under the baggy, slate-grey jumper with a hoodie that obscured his face. ...
Did his jaw tense? He moved, and the hooded cap slid off his head, to reveal his sharp, angular features and messy dark hair, no longer shadowing the dark brown depths of his deep-set eyes. ... Still not a hundred percent convinced, she squinted, and hoped the harsh planes of his face, the pointed chin and nose, and shaggy dark locks, would clue her in about him. ...

...
She came face to face with him, having to tilt her neck back to see his features.

And what a picture he presented. If she'd thought him hunky in the dark, the light of day shed flattering clarity on the chiselled cheekbones and angular jaw, highlighted the sharp relief of the aquiline nose. His eyes gleamed in the pale sunlight; the radiance of the soft rays picked up flecks of whiskey-gold in his chocolate-brown irises. A light breeze brushed his chocolate-brown hair, the dark locks in the kind of disarray that suggested he ran his fingers through them often. ..."

This is the image I worked with for most of the book - Jamie is a casual-clothes type of bloke, young, seemingly carefree of his appearance (and definitely not a metrosexual!)



And for those of you Supernatural junkies out there, here's a clip of the yummy Jared as Sam - these pics vary of him between his early to late twenties, over the course of the 1st to 5th-6th season.


And at 5:52 on the vid, you can see the "Sam smile", that I'm totally in love with, and that I had to have Jamie do as well. Margo describes the smile as "... His was the most beautiful smile she had ever seen. His lips stretched, the corners of his eyes crinkled, and his whole face radiated brightly as starlight in a pitch-black sky. How that was possible, she had no idea, and in truth, she didn't want to know. ..."



Now, Calling Home is the story of the forensic pathologist, the village doctor... and the tween girl who brings them together!

She is Emma Milburn, the daughter of Margo's heart, the baby she was bringing up like her own before Fate snatched her away... to give her a second chance at motherhood when Emma turned 11 and tragedy struck in the girl's life.

Emma is portrayed as a devilishly mischievous redhead with a huge attitude, and for her, I always had actress Conchita Campbell in mind.

This is what Emma looked like to me:




And the other important character in the story is Robbie Barnes, who happens to be one of Margo's oldest friends, and Emma's biological dad. Robbie will step into the picture and this will create complications between Margo and Jamie.



I remember watching actor Rob Estes on CSI: Miami, and I knew instantly he was to be Robbie, the "... Good for nothing, rich layabout who'd gotten Cora [Emma's mother, & Margo's best friend] pregnant and who'd wanted her to have a termination. A child had not fitted into his plans, let alone a steady girlfriend. ..."


So there you have it - the round up of what the people in Calling Home are supposed to look like!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, December 05, 2011

And CALLING HOME (A Destiny's Child Book) is up for sale!

Hey beautiful people!

It's finally the day and time .... my second release, and the first book in the Destiny's Child series, is now out with Noble Romance Publishing!

I'm jumping around like a loon right now, and at the same time, quaking in my sandals :)

But, I also want to share this moment with you all - so, for you, here's Chapter 1 from the book, in full!

Enjoy! And if the read is catchy, why not head over to Noble Romance and get your copy? *grin*

XOXO

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter One

Emotion is something foreign; cold, rational facts and proof drive everything. Brain over heart, always.

Every forensic pathologist knew his or her work boiled down to that line of conduct, and Margo Nolan lived her life by the principles of her job. Emotion used to be an unfamiliar concept most of the time, except for the rare occasions when the pain would tear through her, when she was unable to tamp the suffering into submission. Pain, the sharp, visceral, abject torture that gripped her every time she thought of Emma, during all those years she was away from the daughter of her heart. Lately, pain sliced through her every time her gaze landed on the pretty girl, fast blossoming into a beautiful young woman.

How many years we've lost . . . . If only I'd sought her out . . . .

But she couldn't—shouldn't—think of that then. No—there were more pressing matters at hand.

Margo's feet slowed in the lobby that also served as Dr. Gillespie's waiting room. He was the only doctor in the little village, Camberry, just outside London in the county of Surrey, where Emma, and lately Margo, too, lived. Like most country doctors, he operated his practice from his house. Emma had been sick at school that day, and had been sent to see him.

Under Margo's stilettos, the wood planks of the big Victorian manor didn't even creak or groan—strange, as old houses always had a telltale creak or two in the parquet. Or maybe her step remained light enough not to evoke any sound from the dark surface, worn smooth from years of foot traffic in that very lobby. No place echoed the click-clack of high heels louder than a morgue. Margo had learned how to keep her tread soft under any circumstance. Despite the high-gleam polish on the wood, her feet didn't skid on the glossy surface as she glided, more than walked, across the boards. Whiffs of beeswax and lemon wood polish tickled her nostrils—a completely different scent from the usual sterile tang and formaldehyde-permeated atmosphere at the morgue.

Margo stopped at the doorway that led into the anteroom to the doctor's office. Her gaze lingered on Emma, asleep on a high-backed, plush sofa. In slumber, the girl's dainty features still showed the sweetness of childhood. So very much the likeness of the chubby-cheeked cherub with corkscrew, auburn curls Margo had had to leave seven years ago—

Don't!


Today she was back with Emma, trying her damndest to bridge the gap between ages four and eleven, the time she hadn't been there for the girl. Not by choice—

Stop!

Margo straightened when a dark, looming shadow crept up on the tween. All her senses shot on high alert; she bristled, and her hands closed into fists.

The man, tall and imposing in the semi-darkness, bent and placed a hand on Emma's forehead.

Who on Earth is he? And why is he touching her?

"What do you think you're doing?" Margo crossed the distance to stand between her daughter and the stranger. She shouldered him aside, before folding her body protectively over the top of the armchair.

Her gaze raked over him, taking in the faded, threadbare-at-the-knees jeans, the hint of a dark T-shirt under the baggy, slate-grey jumper with a hoodie that obscured his face.

Who is this hooligan? What's he doing here? Emma's grandmother had come to Camberry because the countryside appeared safer for a growing girl than bustling London. Nevertheless, here was some man, alone in a room with her daughter.

He gave a soft grunt. "Checking if her fever's gone down."

Yeah, right!

Margo drew closer to Emma, her protective instincts shooting sky-high. If anyone ever touched her daughter to harm her . . . . Finally, she understood how women murdered in cold blood when their children were hurt, how they showed no remorse afterward.

As she leaned over the prone girl, her gaze shot back to the man. She steeled her spine, tensed her arms and shoulders, and glared at him. Seasoned police officers knew not to mess with her when she stood like that, and criminals always thought twice before bullshitting her when she gave them the narrowed look. Let him try to take her on—he had another think coming if he believed he'd get away scot-free today. "And how's that any of your concern?"

He sighed.

Sighed. She couldn't stop her eyes from widening with surprise, before she frowned again.

Good grief! What have perverts come to, nowadays?


"As her physician, that's my job, don't you think?" His low voice flowed, smooth and composed, reminiscent of police officers trying to calm a hysterical victim.

Damn you. She frowned so hard, her forehead hurt. Margo blinked to ward off the shard of pain that lanced behind her left eye. Nice try. Who did he think he was?

"Where's Dr. Gillespie?" she asked.

"I am Dr. Gillespie. And you are?"

She snorted, at the calm confidence and at the unashamed allegation. Which one won her contempt more? No way was he the "good ol' doctor." She had met the bear of a man with the soft voice and bedside manner a couple of weeks ago, when she came to settle here. Dr. Gordon Gillespie had looked a far cry from the lean, intense young man before her. The old man had also come out clear on the background check she had a police contact run on him, and on anyone else involved in Emma's life here.

And to think the man here had fallen through a hole in her security net? No, she refused to contemplate that.

But, questions first; accusations later, when she had proof. The logic of her profession came like second nature to her.

"Stop the act. You are not he." She threw a glance around the room. "Where's Helen? Why is Emma alone here?"

"Helen just left for home. It was past time she made it back to her own children."

His tone conveyed cold reproach. Margo bristled. She was late, she knew it. But she'd been detained by a string of autopsies today. And no one had bothered to tell her Emma had been hurt during football practise. The lab staff had ascribed Helen's call to a prankster—Dr. Nolan had no life, let alone a daughter.

"You are Ms. Milburn, I presume."

"Nolan. Dr. Nolan." She corrected him by reflex—no one addressed her by any other name.

Did his jaw tense? He moved, and the hooded cap slid off his head, to reveal his sharp, angular features and messy dark hair, no longer shadowing the dark brown depths of his deep-set eyes.

Dangerous. The rational whisper danced inside her head.

"Who the hell are you?" Tingles of awareness and peril skittered up her spine, like the time when she was on a crime location, and the killer managed to sneak up behind her. Trusting her gut that day—those shivers—kept her alive, when she didn't hesitate to look like a chicken, and called the chief inspector into the room with her.

The moment here was one such instance too, urging her to call for backup. She felt her hand itch, where it lay against her trouser pocket. All she needed to do was grab her cell phone and call all her acquaintances in the police—in short, the whole London Metropolitan force.

"I told you. I am Dr. Gillespie, the one treating your daughter for that bad tackle."

She snorted. "I have met the man."

He rolled his eyes and sighed. "You met my uncle. He's away, and I'm filling in for him."

"Oh." His explanation killed the wind in her sails. Some of the pent-up tension left her body, and she winced at the weary ache that settled in her stiff muscles. Looking him over, she knew he didn't lie. Nothing in his body language betrayed him, and his eyes didn't dart left or right when he spoke to her, focused directly on her face. She'd watched enough interrogations to pick up body language cues.

Still not a hundred percent convinced, she squinted, and hoped the harsh planes of his face, the pointed chin and nose, and shaggy dark locks, would clue her in about him. After a moment, when she realized she rudely stared, she gave up. Corpses clued her in on their deaths—and lives—while living beings were almost an alien race.

He wasn't lying, that was a given. Her suspicions allayed a little, and she relaxed her shoulders, before drawing to her full height to stand straight.

So he is the doctor. Margo stroked a wayward dark curl from Emma's forehead. "She isn't running a fever."

He crossed his arms, strong hands coming to rest on his jumper sleeves. Tension left him, too, and his body slackened into a casual pose. He rested one hip against the side of the high-backed sofa. "Not anymore. Seems she fell and grazed her shin yesterday. Left untreated, the wound got infected."

Oh, Em. Why didn't you say anything?

Because Margo wasn't around—that's why.

Margo hung her head. She was on call 24/7. Men thrived in her line of work. Women, not so much. The demands on the pathologist's private life were all consuming. There existed no place to fit a child or a semblance of family life. What would she do with a daughter?

Three weeks ago, she received the call that had changed her life. Ednah Milburn, Emma's maternal grandmother, was dying, and Margo was the next in line to become Emma's guardian. What happened to Cora?—Emma's mother and Margo's estranged best friend—she had asked . . . only to be informed that Cora had died five years earlier. Margo was not prepared for the next revelation, either—that Cora had named Margo as Emma's guardian, were anything to happen to her. But Emma's grandmother, Ednah, had concealed the will, and taken the little girl in, leaving Cambridge to start a new life in Camberry, Surrey, where no one knew them. The lawyer brought Margo up to speed on the phone. Ednah had suffered a stroke and wouldn't survive beyond the next forty-eight hours.

Margo had rushed to the hospital, for the first time in her life leaving an autopsy halfway through, to find her baby girl, grown into a tall, beautiful, auburn-haired tween. Emma had taken one look at her in that sterile hospital corridor, and rushed into her arms.

They hadn't looked back . . . . But, right then, Margo knew she hadn't looked forward, either. How would she accommodate a child in her life? The sleeping girl before her needed a mother . . . .

Emma whimpered. Margo shushed her with a soothing caress on her forehead. Nothing should distress her little girl.

"Mummy."

The word was soft, groggy, full of trust and the conviction that "mummy" would make everything all right.

"I'm here, luv." The phrase barely made it past the lump in Margo's throat. Mummy had been Emma's first word, spoken to her, and not to Cora, Emma's birth mother. Cora, who had gallivanted around like a flitting butterfly, content to leave her baby girl in Margo's care at home, in the tiny flat they shared near the Cambridge university campus. Between studying for her many exams and looking after Emma, Margo's life was complete. And she also had Harry in her world—

Don't think of Harry.

She forced her mind to return to the present.

Even after all these years, Emma still thought of her as her "other Mum". Should she be grateful and embrace the title, or be scared out of her wits at the terrible job she'd most certainly do as a mother? She recalled how panicked she'd been at Emma's first bout with colic, at three months. Cora wasn't home again, and Margo had rushed the baby to Casualty at two a.m., only to be told that first-time mums had a right to panic but that she had nothing to worry about, colic being a standard baby ailment.

"Ms. Nolan?"

Margo tore her misting eyes from the tween and blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"She'll be okay."

"Yes." She bit her lip. "Yes, she will."

She'd make sure of that. Seven years ago, Emma had been torn from her care, and from her world. Fate had given her another chance, one she wouldn't relinquish without a fight.

Margo took a deep breath, her gaze going from the doctor to Emma and back again. "What do we do from here on?"

He straightened to his full height and uncrossed his arms; he let them fall to his sides. From her position on the arm of the sofa, she had to crane her neck to look at him. Easily six-four tall, with wide shoulders in perfect proportion to his big stature.

Margo's mouth went dry and she gulped. He surely was a man who had a daunting physical presence. The skitters of unease flittered over her spine again, and she wondered who would come to save her from him.

Get a grip!

"Come to the desk. Emma will be fine for a few minutes."

With reluctance, Margo peeled her arms from where they were propped on the armchair's back.

Be on your guard, her brain screamed.

"I'm Jamie Gillespie. We haven't been properly introduced." He stood on the other side of the wide oak table, and didn't extend his hand.

She hitched her arms to her sides and nodded. "Margo Nolan."

At the desk, she settled into a chair opposite him. "How is she faring? I mean, really. Please don't hide anything from me."

If he heard the worry and panic in her voice, she didn't care. They were talking about Emma, about her little girl.

"Not too bad. Just, like I told you, the wound on her leg got infected. She developed a fever, and a dizzy spell on the pitch meant she fell and twisted her ankle."

"But, she'll be okay?" Never mind that she was herself a medical doctor. Facts and logic had left, to create a wide berth for emotion to play havoc with her mind.

Jamie chuckled. "No need to be so worried. She'll be good as new in a few days. The fever's come down but . . . ." He paused. "You didn't notice she had a high temperature this morning?"

Margo glanced away from his intent eyes, then returned her gaze to his face. Cursed be the good manners her mother had instilled in her, namely, to always look squarely at a person when addressing him. "I wasn't with her today. I had to stay overnight at work."

He clenched his jaw; his nostrils flared slightly.

He probably thought she was one of these career-minded mothers whose only claim to motherhood was to carry a child in her womb for nine months.

And that was not even applicable to her.

"Listen," she said, then thought better of trying to explain the technicalities of her incompetent, so far, journey into parenthood. Why did she care what he thought of her as a mother? "Can I take her home?"

His thick brows furrowed. "Yes. Just make sure the fever doesn't come back; five hundred milligrams of paracetamol every four to six hours should do the trick. I'll see her again for the sprain in two days. If there's anything, don't hesitate to call me."

"Will do." Margo stood. Her gaze fell on the sleeping Emma. How would she get her home?Paracetamol and painkillers had probably knocked the girl out.

"Is your car outside?" Jamie asked.

She nodded. "I parked in front of the porch."

"I'll carry her, if you want."

She acquiesced with a nod and a sigh of relief, grateful for his help. Emma wasn't a big girl; still, the tween's weight wouldn't be easy for her to manage all the way into the car. Doing autopsies day in, day out didn't build strong arm muscles.

Jamie scooped Emma up in his arms as if she weighed no more than a feather pillow.

Men. She shook her head. Nature blessed them with physical strength. Many abused that God-given privilege too, as she saw too often in her line of work.

Margo followed in the doctor's footsteps as he delicately carried Emma out, then settled the sleeping girl into the back seat of her Audi Q5. He clicked her seat belt into place just as Margo reached in from the other side of the car to take over the task.

Their shoulders bumped and their heads came up at the same time. Mere inches separated them, and Margo made the mistake of looking into his face.

Bathed in the soft radiance of the porch lamp that spilled in through the back windshield, his features were an arresting play of light and shadows. Suddenly seeing him so up close that she could make out the errant eyelash that had fallen on his cheekbone, she froze. Her outer shell remained immobile, while inside, a storm of uncalled-for heat and yearning warred for possession of her brain and senses.

That's a living, breathing man—a handsome, sexy creature in his own right. The red-hot memo wanted to sizzle its way all through her, but she couldn't—wouldn't—allow it.

Jamie Gillespie was definitely a hunk, and at first glance, not a day over thirty.

Latching onto him would be like cradle robbing. She was way over the big three-o, a few years shy of forty. She dreaded that prospect more than turning thirty, because with forty came peri-menopause; with it, hot flashes, followed by menopause, when many women went mental. Because she faced a dwindling biological clock with every year that passed, the minute she saw a man as desirable, she immediately viewed him as a baby-making machine, even though that had been less and less important over the last few years.

To see Jamie as sexy meant she could clearly picture herself making babies with him. A hot flash crept up her cheeks and stung her skin. She couldn't—shouldn't—picture him as anything but the local doctor. Men younger than thirty had a raging libido—Stop it!
She was further gone than she'd thought. Sex was not a possibility right then, especially not with Emma in her life. She had her child; the biological clock could go to hell in a hand basket. Let another pregnancy-craving young woman sink her teeth into the handsome Jamie.

But if she could sink her teeth into the flesh of his butt cheeks, run her tongue over the ridges of what she was sure were rock-hard pecs and abs—

Margo pinched herself hard and stifled the yelp of pain that tore her from her X-rated fantasies. A younger man was so not right for her . . . .

In the closed confines of the car interior, she blinked, and the fierce flutter of her eyelids shattered the paralysis that held her body prisoner. She moved and her hand brushed against his sleeve.

Soft, warm, yielding. Fine merino lamb's wool—that was no punk-grunge clothing.

All the more perilous.

"Thank you." She mumbled the words, and wondered if anything but a garbled sound came out of her mouth. Then she ducked out of the car before he could reply.

She slid into the driver's seat and waited, without looking back, for him to close the passenger door. Once she heard the soft thump, Margo hightailed out of there, as if the hounds of hell pursued her.

In a way, they were. These hounds were those of desire and longing, to Margo, the most terrifying of all.

* * * * *

Back at their cottage, at the other end of the village, Margo was in luck when Emma awoke long enough to shuffle groggily into the house. The girl didn't make it past Margo's bed in the curtained-off area beside the kitchen; she fell into a lump on the sagging mattress and went back to her drug-induced sleep. Margo watched her and sighed. The tween's room was upstairs in the loft; right then, Emma wasn't able to climb the stairs. Margo certainly didn't have the strength to drag her up.

Jamie Gillespie's strong arms would've been welcome.

Margo snorted. Here she was, taken in by a pretty face and a nice pair of broad shoulders. She might need help around the place, but certainly not in the form of a man. The two she had known in her life had brought her complications and distress, respectively. She didn't need to know where Jamie fitted in along the spectrum.

Her gaze roamed over the close confines of the cottage. From her first glance at the house, outside on the front lawn, she'd seen the cottage as a veritable tribute to rural British living, pretty in the greenery of the Surrey borough. Inside—that's another story. The cramped space was perfect for an old woman whose arthritis made it hard for her to move over wide expanses. Accustomed to her breezy, high-rise penthouse in Chelsea, Margo was out of her depths in that dwelling.

After she removed her work clothes and changed into a flannel nightgown, Margo took another turn by Emma's bedside. The girl lay sprawled on the bed, lying on her stomach; there was no way Margo could squeeze in.

She gazed at the tween. Her delicate features had already lost all baby fat, and hinted at the fragile, exquisite bone structure in her lean jaw and slanted cheekbones. With her wide, cupid mouth, thick lashes, and rich auburn curls, Emma was on her way to become a total beauty.

Smiling, Margo picked up a brush and ran it gently through her daughter's long hair. Emma had always slept on her stomach, even as a baby. Concerned about the sudden infant death syndrome linked with that particular sleeping position, Margo had done everything possible to get Emma to sleep on her back or on her side, with no luck.

Emma was also a messy sleeper, even all grown up, and the curly locks tangled easily if not braided. Expertly twisting the hair and securing it with an elastic band—a task she'd been daft at just three weeks ago, she left Emma to sleep and went to crash on the sofa. There was the tween's room upstairs, but she didn't want to leave the girl alone on the ground floor.

Once again, as she surveyed the surroundings, Margo knew they had to move. Emma needed a nanny to look after her when Margo was at work. Their elderly neighbour, Mrs. May, clearly was in over her head with a headstrong eleven-year-old. A nanny meant some peace of mind; however, it also spelt live-in help. There were no accommodations for another person in the cottage, and she craved space and an interior without lace doilies and porcelain knick-knacks on every surface.

The cottage also brought the remembrance of Ednah Milburn, a woman who had hated her with a vengeance. Why else would the old woman have kept mum about the fact that Margo, and not she, was to be Emma's guardian when Cora died?

At the thought of Cora, Margo's throat closed. Her best friend succumbed to secondary cancer five years earlier. Margo hadn't known; Cora hadn't gotten in touch, either, when she fell sick. Why? After everything they'd shared, why hadn't her friend told her she had cancer? Picking up a phone was so easy—Margo still lived in the Chelsea penthouse where the three of them had settled when she found a job in London. Cora had severed all ties between them, yet she appointed Margo—and not Ednah, her own mother—as Emma's guardian when she was in a terminal stage. Again, why, she wanted to ask.
So many questions, and no possibility of an answer. Her head swirled with them. Every time she paused long enough to take her mind off a case, Cora came back to haunt her.

Why? she kept asking . . . only to hit a brick wall every time.

Margo shook her head. She had to move on. Emma counted on her.

Margo picked up her cell, then dialled the local real estate agent. She needed a new place, and she needed it fast.

* * * * *

Jamie finished clearing the surgery, then got it ready for the next day. Usually that was Helen's task, but his nurse had a sick little boy on her hands and he'd let her go early.

Hence, the reason he'd been playing babysitter to Emma Milburn when her prickly mother had stormed in.

He shook his head as he made his way upstairs to his living quarters. Margo Nolan. Who was she, really, beneath the power suit, high heels, and straight blonde hair? She wore little makeup on her well-defined, elegant features, and her slender nose hinted at an aristocratic lineage. Her deep blue eyes didn't need mascara and liner to stand out as intense, and that mouth—if she bit those dark-pink lips once more tonight in his surgery, he swore he would've grabbed her by the nape of her graceful neck and kissed her.

Down, boy. She might be a total stunner, but his first impression of her also screamed City investor or lawyer, the kind of power-hungry woman who bowled her way through the glass ceiling. Like Catherine, his sister-in-law, a cold fish he despised with all he had.

Until Emma called out for her mum, and Margo's face lost all the frost. Her tense body relaxed, the fabric of her tailored trouser suit hinting at the soft curves of her breasts and hips. Suddenly, she'd softened into an unrecognizable facet of the same person.

Intriguing. He knew not much about her, or anyone in the village, for that matter—he'd been here less than a week. Helen had told him Emma lived with her grandmother. The old woman passed away some three weeks ago, and that's when city girl Margo came over to take care of the tween. Despite the Milburns living there for five years, never once had Margo Nolan come by, or even been mentioned.

Is she that bad a mother?

No, she'd been too concerned about Emma. Something was off, and he felt himself itch to get to the bottom of the whole story.

Not to mention that Margo was a very beautiful woman . . . . Get out of here! No one could embody "Ice Queen" as well as she did, and that kind of frost was a total deterrent and lust-killer for him . . . usually.

Here, too, he wondered if there was a story.

His father would tell him to drop the Sherlock Holmes act. The thought made him wince and clamp his jaw. His father never understood how Jamie had needed more purpose in his life than the satisfaction of balancing accounting books. He'd never figured that Jamie didn't want to be a carbon copy of Robert, his elder brother, with his successful job in the City and his slick, polished wife who would want to have children, maybe, after she hit forty and took a jump from the highest rung of the Forex broker's ladder.

That was why he was in that backseat-of-nowhere place in Surrey, to fill in for his Uncle Gordon, who'd just had a mild stroke and had decided, finally, to take a break after serving "his" people for more than forty years.

His phone rang. Jamie fished the cell from his jeans pocket, then chuckled when he glanced at the screen. Speaking of the old codger . . . . "Hey, Gordy!"

"Hello, son."

Gordon was still a bachelor, and childless. Like a second father to Jamie, Gordy had always encouraged him to pursue his dream of studying medicine.

"How's Cornwall?" Jamie asked. Heavy silence met his question. "Gordy?"

"I'm not in Cornwall." The reply sounded gruff and muffled.

Jamie frowned and flopped down on the edge of his bed. "Where are you, then?"

Gordon coughed. "South of France."

"What on earth are you doing there? Are you alone? You know you shouldn't be alone, or even travelling, after what's happened."

"I'm not alone."

"O-kaay . . . ." That's weird. Maybe he's staying with a friend?

"All right, if you have to know, I'm with Grace Sears."

"Your neighbour, whom you loathe?" Blimey! Grace lived in the same house as Gordon, where Jamie moved in after coming to Camberry. Once a rambling mansion, in the sixties, the former owners split the big Victorian into a double-fronted dwelling that could be made into one again. Gordon and Grace had hit it off the wrong foot when she bought the other half fifteen years ago, and the two shared an acrimonious cat and dog relationship. At least, in public. Could they have been cosier in private?

Jamie blinked and shook his head. He shouldn't think of these two, let alone of them together, in compromising positions. There would be no cure for the insomnia these images would conjure. "You and Grace?"

"Well, yes, it just happened." His uncle didn't speak, but grumbled the words. "Listen, son. I . . . ." Gordon paused. "I'm not coming back."

If Jamie hadn't been sitting, he'd have needed a seat. "Say that again?"

"Sonny . . . Grace and I, we're going to buy a small vineyard here, and turn the house into a maison d'hôte." Gordon stopped to take a breath. "Jamie, you're like a son to me. The practice, if you want it, is yours. The house will also come into your name at my death. And Grace has already put her house on the market."

"You're not coming back," was the only thing Jamie could say.

Gordon laughed. "For visits, yes. But not back back, you know."

"I see."

"Jamie, I know the news comes as a shock. But you would've been there for three months, anyhow. See how it goes, if that life agrees with you the way it did for me. Give it a chance, son."

Easier said than done. He'd come to help Gordon, but also to spite his father. Against his wishes, Jamie had pursued a career in medicine. On Jamie's graduation, George Gillespie wanted him to either work at a hotspot private clinic, or set up his private practice in London, where he'd make a fortune. His bank balance was what mattered to the older man.

Three months was a tryst, a way to garner payback. Any longer meant a life-altering decision."Gordy, what do you want me to say?"

"That you'll think about it? And yes, too, the estate agent will require your approval before selling Grace's house. We've already agreed on that."

Jamie brought up a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. What could he say, or do? "Fine," he said. "I'll think about it."

Blimey—what had he gotten himself into?

* * * * *

Margo had one foot out the door the next morning, bundling a recalcitrant and foul-tempered Emma toward the car, when her phone rang.

God, no. Not a call to go see another crime scene, at barely eight. She'd been to five locations in the past few days, one of which had overly troubled her, along with the whole lab and police force. A child killer was on the prowl, and she prayed they hadn't found another small innocent's body for her to examine.

Dread eased, and her heartbeat calmed down, when she heard the smooth voice of the estate agent. A prime property, with three bedrooms and a studio above the garage, had just come on the market.

"In the village here?"

"Just on the outskirts. It's the other half of Dr. Gillespie's property."

Jamie? No, not him. His uncle. She really should stop thinking about the handsome young man. And how did she plan to do that, if she went to live in the same house where he lived?

But then, too, Jamie Gillespie had mentioned he was replacing his uncle for only a little while. What harm could it do to live close to the man for a short period? He was bound to leave, sometime.

Margo snorted. She was an expert at playing "dodge the person." Dealing with police inspectors who all wanted proof of crimes before she'd even looked at the dead body, she easily sidestepped them and made them bow down to her schedule and work convenience. She hadn't survived and climbed up in a man's world, and learned nothing.

Jamie might bring out undue wantonness in the heart of her buried womanhood, but after all, he was just a man. She could avoid the sexy young doctor just fine. With her job too, where dead bodies knew no regular office hours, she'd be lucky to remember the house's layout after a month, so little time she probably would spend there. "Home" was her morgue.

Emma also needed a nanny, and that meant needing another free bedroom. That place, with its self-contained studio, appeared to be a godsend.

"Hold it for me. I'll come by to see it in the afternoon."

Okay, she thought. On to the other issue if they were to move there—was Jamie Gillespie trustworthy? She wouldn't put her daughter in any danger, no matter how harmless a person might look. Appearances were deceptive.

Margo pressed another speed-dial number on her phone.

"Patel," she said when the chief inspector answered. "You owe me after I closed your last case within a day. Off the books, find me everything on Jamie Gillespie, probably a James Junior, if not literally Jamie. Late twenties, a doctor. I need a background check ASAP."

**** End of Chapter 1 ****


Don't forget - you can get the book from here! (and in case the Add to Cart icon does not appear on the page when you get there, just click on Home and you can add the book to the cart from the book covers slide at the top of the page *smile*)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Calling Home Snippet #1

Hey beautiful people!

It's Sunday once again! Where on earth did the past week go? I blinked and the time was gone, barely got anything done too (evident in my lack of posts here!). But, it's Sunday, and I couldn't miss my weekly fix of Six Sentence Sunday now, could I? Especially when I'm about to share with you an excerpt of Calling Home (A Destiny's Child Book), my upcoming release with Noble Romance Publishing that comes out... tomorrow, December 5! Cannot believe the release is right behind the door - again, time flies. :)

So, without further ado, allow me to share with you the very first 6 sentences from this sweet romance novel. This is the setup: the heroine is Margo Nolan, an uptight and clinical forensic pathologist in London. Margo's world takes a spin and lands her flat on her face the day she lands custody of Emma, the girl she brought up like her own when the baby was born.

Read on for a glimpse into Margo's mind. This is the first time I'm sharing an excerpt of the book on the blog - enjoy!


'...
Emotion is something foreign; cold, rational facts and proof drive everything. Brain over heart, always.

Every forensic pathologist knew his or her work boiled down to that line of conduct, and Margo Nolan lived her life by the principles of her job. Emotion used to be an unfamiliar concept most of the time, except for the rare occasions when the pain would tear through her, when she was unable to tamp the suffering into submission. Pain, the sharp, visceral, abject torture that gripped her every time she thought of Emma, during all those years she was away from the daughter of her heart. Lately, pain sliced through her every time her gaze landed on the pretty girl, fast blossoming into a beautiful young woman. ...'



As always, I love, love, love your comments! Leave me your impressions... and make my week. :) Thanks for coming over today, and double thanks if you comment.

Also, don't forget to check the other amazing SSS snippets from a bunch of hugely talented authors over here.

Have a lovely Sunday, peeps!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Link Thursday: How To Be A Man...Out In The World

Hey beautiful people!

Third post about gentlemen's etiquette - and how this can benefit your hero, both in your writing and in real life.

But let's not delude ourselves - there's only so much you can do to nudge/poke/prod/alter the real man in your lives (believe me, I've tried. 40% of my efforts went to no avail!)

Now, your fictional hero... He's the perfect man, innit? Yes, he's lovable, strong, handsome, sexy, noble, a gentleman-- wait a sec! Does he know how to behave like a gentleman in everyday life? Even if not like a gentleman per se - does he know how to behave so he's, well, not an arse...?

In the past 2 weeks, I highlighted dinner etiquette and romantic date etiquette. But a man is a man not just when at a dinner table or on a romantic date - how then does he go about being this "Man out in the world" in his day to day life?

Read on for some pointers about this subject. How to be a man... out in the world or, How to behave in public: Social etiquette tips for men, is an article from Esquire.com written by Chris Jones and you can find it online here at their website.
Enjoy!

*****

How to Be a Man... Out in the World

A guide to public etiquette. In short, you should act swiftly and with purpose. Also, don't be an ass.

 

How to Arrive


In an Elevator
Women enter first. Look straight ahead. No phone calls. No talking to others unless spoken to. Even then, keep it brief. And we know you're in a rush, but don't crazily hit the close button as if you're about to piss your pants. That's annoying as hell.

Flying
Middle armrests belong to the middle seat.

Talking: minimal, but be courteous.

Two drinks: good for the nerves.

Three drinks: You'll forget the cattle in the row ahead.

Four-plus drinks: You might end up on YouTube.

Public Transit
Don't block the door. If you don't want to hold the pole, you probably already carry sanitizer. Use it.

Ladies sit.

Talking: never with strangers; quietly with acquaintances.

Walking
Be swift. No weaving. No giant umbrellas. No groups of more than two across. By all means, use your smartphone. Just don't expect people to move out of the way for you.


Waiting

For a Table
First, decide if it's worth it. Staying? Okay. Then relax. Have a drink. Remind your date how beautiful she is. Have another drink. Unless you're alone, PDA stays in your pocket. Feel free to politely ask the host how it's looking if you've been waiting longer than expected. But don't badger the host every 2.8 minutes. And if your date is the one doing the badgering ... you should find a new date, lest you feel like that host for life.

For a Woman Shopping
Find the men's bench. There is always a men's bench. Then smile and see In Line.

In Line
This is when you use your PDA, but for e-mail. Keep phone calls to a minimum.


In a Restaurant

How to Order
This (very likely) isn't your last meal on this earth, so don't order as if it were. Make a damn decision and make sure it includes a salad or an appetizer.

How to Split the Bill
With friends: evenly. Always.

On business: The inviter pays.

With parents or in-laws: Let them pay.

First date: Man pays.

Fifth date: Man pays, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon.

Can I Send My Order Back?
Is it clearly over or undercooked? Yes.

Did the waiter mishear? Yes.

You just don't like it: tough shit. See How to Order.

Your date doesn't like her dish: of course. That's horrible, we'll get you a new one right away.

Words That Should Never Be Used at the Dinner Table
Turgid, raw, sublime, Anne Hathaway.


In the Restroom

Always: Flush.

Sometimes: Use the middle urinal.

Never: Pee in the stall. That's the equivalent of showering in a bathing suit.
And for chrissakes, don't throw paper towels on the floor simply because you'd rather not touch the door handle.


At the Bar

How to Order a Drink
Get as close to the bar as possible in a position where you can make eye contact. Then wait patiently, card or cash in hand. No waving or shouting. And don't cut in front of anyone else.

How to Order a Drink for a Lady
Discreetly. Ask the bartender to put her next drink on your tab. When she receives it, politely wave. Then wait — the next move (if there is one) is hers to make.

How to Get a Buyback
Do: Buy a few rounds and tip well.
Don't: Ask for a buyback.
How to Deal with an Asshole at the Bar
Calmly. Ask him politely to keep it down. If he persists, not so calmly, but firmly. Never lose your temper. Unless punches fly.


In Public

Things a Man Should Not Do
Check Facebook.

Order a drink named after a sexual position.

Take a call from his mother.

Argue with a woman.

Clip his nails.


Online

How to Win an Internet Feud
There is a school of thought that fighting on the Internet is childish and foolish. That school of thought is populated mostly by sanctimonious pussies and old people.
It's true that you should never start an Internet feud, unless you're watching golf, say, and you need something else to do.

But if someone writes something about you online that would result in the turning over of tables were they to say it to your face, then you have every right to respond.

The Internet is our most real version of life, because it's the only place where people will write what they really think about you. That means you, too, should write what you really think about them.

The best tone to take is withering patronization; sometimes a gentle pat on the head hurts the most.

Next best is a reasoned, well-documented, possibly footnoted rebuttal. Last resort is some threat of mindless violence. Threats of mindless violence should be reserved for places where we used to gather: taverns, parks, hockey arenas, sewing circles.

Online, no. Online, words have retained their power. Verbs and nouns really do become sticks and stones. Use that power wisely. But by all means use it. Get all that bitterness, that entirely valid feeling that you were never quite good enough, get all of it out.

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday: Trailer Reveal for CALLING HOME

Hey beautiful people!

Hope you're having a nice week. I finally have an empty house today, for another 2 hours! Kiddo's off to my mum's and I can breathe again after having him with me 24/7 for the past 13 days. How did I not go nuts - I wonder!

Anyhow, I have something in store for you today! Remember last week I mentioned I had worked on the trailer for Calling Home? Well, guess what... here it is!

Can't wait for ye all to see it! Please leave me your thoughts in a comment below!




I'm getting so excited! Received the final galley yesterday and I can't believe I wrote that story - so eager for it to go on sale next Monday. :)

Have a lovely week, peeps!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Walking The Edge: Snippet #24

Hey beautiful people!

It's a bright, sunny Sunday morning here in Mauritius - with nary a cloud in the blue, incredibly blue sky... Okay, I'll stop before you're tempted to throw something at me! :) I'll trade the sweltering 90 degree heat with anyone's cold weather though - there's only so many clothes you can remove in the hot weather, lol.

So, Sunday once again - we blink and the week is gone, innit? I usually wait with bated breath for Six Sentence Sunday to come, when I cannot wait to share another excerpt with you all and then head over to the many amazing blogs taking part, read those snippets into stories that have me hooked. SSS is addictive, both for posting and for reading excerpts.

Today, I'm taking ye all once again to that hotel room in Marseille today, off the coast along Corniche JF Kennedy, on the upscale beaches of the Prado.

Gerard, the hunky cop, gave in to his craving for Amelia, a woman - a killer! - he knows next to nothing about, except that she makes him yearn, like someone he used to love before.
Amelia too knows next to nothing about her past, as she is amnesiac. But there's one certainty in her blank mind, in her beating heart, in every fibre of her body - Gerard will make everything right, like he used to in the past, in this past that she doesn't recall, but in which she knows - just knows - he played an important part.

Last week, they were naked, he had her up against the wall, and she read his body language as if by instinct. He took her, but where is that impulsive act leading now?

Read on to find out.


'...
He needed no further encouragement to meet her rhythm thrust for thrust. She weighed hardly more than a feather, yet her body took him as if she'd been made for him, responding to the fierceness of his taking her with an equally strong drive begging him to give her everything.

She screamed and her nails dug into his shoulder blades. The flash of pain arching through him, right when he heard the echo of her pleasure in her heavy breaths, in the powerful contractions of her body, sent him over the edge. He came with a groan, emptying his seed inside her all while his soul felt it was losing himself in her.

In a way, he had lost himself, because he'd just fucked the enemy. ...'



And, btw, this is the last excerpt of Walking The Edge (Corpus Brides: Book One) that I'll be posting on SSS. I have a new release, Calling Home, coming out on Monday, December 5 - so will be posting snips from that sweet romance as from next week.

Don't forget too - catch the rest of the amazing SSS posse here. There's bound to be great excerpts in there.

Thanks for coming over, for reading, and double thanks if you leave me a comment. :) Your words tide me through the whole week.

Hope you're having a lovely weeekend.

From Mauritius with love,

Zee
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