Saturday, November 27, 2010

The second Robert the Bruce book is now available!

After much line editing and finagling of the cover, my second book of The Bruce Trilogy, Worth Dying For, is now available as an e-book on, (Kindle) and Smashwords (LRF, PDB and epub). Worth Dying For picks up in 1306, where The Crown in the Heather left off:

"One day. One battle. Bannockburn, 1314.
The rise of Robert the Bruce. The vengefulness of James Douglas. And the ruin of Edward II.

Robert the Bruce has known nothing but hardship since seizing Scotland's crown. Parted from his wife and daughter and forced to flee through the Highland wilderness, he struggles to unite a kingdom divided by centuries old blood feuds. The price, however, must be paid in lives and honor.

Falling to temptation, Robert's only means of redemption_and to one day win his wife Elizabeth back_is to forgive those who have wronged him. One by one, Robert must win back Scotland's clans and castles. The one man who can help him purge the land of English tyranny is the cunning young nobleman, James 'the Black' Douglas, who seeks vengeance on those who took both his inheritance and his father's life.

With the death of Longshanks, Edward II ascends to the throne of England. His first act as king is to recall the banished Piers Gaveston. Too soon, Edward learns that he cannot protect the one he loves most and still preserve his own life and crown. To those who demand the ultimate sacrifice, he must relinquish all power. To have his revenge, he must do what his father never believed him capable of_defeat Robert the Bruce on the field of battle."

The print version should be available sometime early in 2011 - but first I'm taking a break from writing and publishing to get up to speed on some college biology in hopes of becoming employable.

P.S. Remember, if you don't own an e-reader, the Kindle for PC and other Kindle apps are available for FREE!

Happy reading,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Final Giveaway for Isabeau at Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer (Paper... by N. Gemini Sasson

Just a quick note to let everyone know that this is the final giveaway for a signed paperback copy of Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer. It ends at midnight on Sunday, Nov. 28th, so hurry on over and check out other great book giveaways at Goodreads!

P.S. I finally won a book myself (yes, I can no longer moan that I never win anything), but I can't mention what it is because it's actually going to be a Christmas present for someone else.

Until later,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fighting hibernation

For the life of me, I cannot understand people who say they love fall. Because fall, to me, means that winter is imminent. I wilt when the first Arctic blast bears down from Canada. Once it drops below 40, forget running outside (I used to be much tougher, but then I got older and smarter and more frail). I sleep with extra socks on and the blankets piled up deep and in the mornings I resist unraveling from my cocoon, because the spouse has the thermostat set to drop to refrigerator temperatures at night. I have more hooded sweatshirts than I have shoes, because one can never wear too many layers. I'd move further south if it was up to me, but you see, the spouse has a high percentage of Scandinavian blood and if it were up to him, we'd be living in International Falls, Minnesota - you know, that dot on the map where all the weathermen in the contiguous lower 48 states point to when they mention the lowest LOW temperature on a winter day?

Snow? Snow is pretty to look at from inside on a day you have nowhere to go to and it does brighten up a drab, muddy landscape beneath gray skies. But it's not runner-friendly, particularly on our country road, which is always the last to get plowed because only ten people live on a five mile stretch of it. I hate driving in snow because I imagine my car careening into the ditch. Proof that as I've gotten older, I've also become more of a fraidy-cat. Worst of all, our 1/4 mile long, uphill, gravel driveway is like an Alaskan off-road adventure whenever the snow drifts. With a coating of ice, driving downhill is a thrill ride that outranks The Beast at Kings Island. Unfortunately, we ruined all sledding opportunities when we put up pasture fence at the bottom of the back hill. If you want to sled down the driveway and don't mind the potholes or the possibility of a concussion when you slam into the cottonwood tree, that option is still open.

Mostly, though, it's that weekend of turning the clocks back that nudges me towards hibernation. By 6 p.m. it's pitch black outside and a half an hour later I'm yawning and ready for bed. This makes it tough to stay up and watch Craig Ferguson (I still haven't figured out how to set the DVD player to record, even though we've had it for five years now). Darkness is sooo . . . depressing.

I need sunlight. At least 14 hours worth per day. I generate energy through photosynthesis, I'm sure. If you ask me, it should be summer 11 months out of the year. I'll allow that one month of winter for tucking in and recharging and holiday shopping, but after that I want to be back outside with the sunshine warming my skin and the gardens bursting with color and the birds chirping away - even that blasted nocturnal mockingbird that camps outside my window.

To combat hibernation (and thus gaining 5-10 pounds every winter), I haul myself to the YMCA for workouts, read the books I've been meaning to read all year, purge the basement of all those 'things' I thought I'd need sometime later and spend waaay too much time on the computer.

This year I'm going to do something totally different - take college courses in Geology and Biology. For fun? you ask. Uh, no . . . although I do find the subjects interesting. Actually I'm trying to renew my teaching certificate, so at some point in the future I can grow up and get a real job. As long as my brain doesn't implode from having to remember how to study, it should make the months pass quickly.

What do you do to make it through the cold season? And is there anybody out there (except you skiers) who actually embrace winter?

Stay warm my friends,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Karma Wears Fur

This post has nothing to do with books, writing or publishing. It is of a personal nature, but one which many of you reading this I'm sure will feel an undeniable connection with. And if there hasn't been some special dog who graced your life and enriched it, perhaps it was a cat or a horse or some other furred, feathered or scaled creature.

The picture above is the Australian Shepherd, Eagle Creek's Prima Donna DNA-CP, OA, NAJ, RV-O/OAC-V, JV-O/OJC-V, GV-N/NGC-V, ASCA Hall of Fame Dam #292

The alphabet soup after her fancy registered name basically means she was fast and loved to jump and climb on things - and that she had a few kids who took after her in that department.

Her name really should read: Domino - Loyal, Brave, Devoted and My Hero.

And her story goes something like this:

Almost 14 years ago I got a phone call. It was Domino's breeder. She asked me if I wanted her and told me if I didn't take her, she was going to have to 'blue juice' her. That's breeder-speak for 'euthanize'. We owned Domino's sire, Drum, who back in the day was a multiple Best of Breed winner in the showring and an all-around versatile dog. Nervously, I asked why - because when someone says they're going to put a dog to sleep, you figure it's got to be for serious reasons. "She's dog aggressive. She beat the crap out of her litter sister, and blah, blah, blah..."

My first thought was of my two young children. Did I really want to bring a dog in the house that had aggressive tendencies? I should've said 'no', but I have this inexplicable sense of intuition and on that occasion, I blurted out, "Yes, when can I get her?"

You see, one thing I've learned in over 20 years of being a dog breeder, is that sometimes what an owner tells you about a dog and what is really true about that dog are not necessarily one and the same. The breeder had decided to keep two females and a male from the litter because she couldn't make up her mind who to pick. We had warned her this was a bad idea. Littermates will always establish a pecking order. Sometimes this shakes out quietly; sometimes the fur flies. Especially when said pack is unsupervised by humans. Which was the case in this instance.

When Domino came to our home, she growled once at my husband, was promptly picked up by the ruff and given a stern talking-to, then she went limp as a dishrag. She was smart enough to know she wasn't boss here.

Gradually, I began to trust her. She never once provoked another dog - either her kennel buddies or strange dogs in public. Not only was she not dog aggressive, but she was an absolute mush when it came to children. She cleaned up the crackers they dropped on the floor, yet never stole from their hands or off their plates. She went to nursery school, where I spoke to 4-year olds about how to behave around dogs and fourteen of them took turns dragging her up and down the hallway on leash, tugging her hair and crushing her in bear hugs. She alerted us when strangers came to the house and made a fierce racket to warn them they were on her territory, yet the moment she sensed we accepted them, she let her guard down and begged their attention with dark, intelligent eyes.

At some point I noticed she had a penchant for jumping UP on things. Crates, trashcans, tables and even cars. So I took her to agility class and that is where she found her joy in life. Running agility with her was a bit like driving a Porsche on the Autobahn. That smooth, that effortless, that fast and free. I could actually run the course without saying a word to her. All I had to do was point at an obstacle, turn my shoulders or slow down and she responded.

What I will remember of her is not her titles or her children's titles. It is that in return for me saving her life, she also saved mine.

I rarely speak of this. It's not a day I like to remember, but on this occasion I will. We'd had another dog who, to put it kindly, had a few loose screws. He could be friendly and smart one moment, and reactive and sharp the next. He hated another of our dogs, Pirate. Loathed him. Pirate could've cared less, but Pirate was also not going to let another dog beat up on him. One day, this dog slipped past me into the yard with Pirate. I tried to call Pirate in, but he was afraid to turn his back. When I went into the yard, the fight had already started. And it was an ugly, nasty, to-the-bitter-end kind of fight. I stupidly grabbed the other dog by the scruff, intending to hoist him in the air and literally throw him over the fence. But he whipped around, clamped his jaws down on my arm and would not let go. In his rage, he no longer knew me.

I screamed. It was the worst pain imaginable. Panic consumed me. And then . . . he let go. Domino had sunk her teeth into his neck. I stood up and, my arm dripping with blood from a big gash that exposed tendons, ran inside. My heart in my ears, all I could hear behind me was the gnashing of teeth and throaty growls.

While I rinsed my arm off under the faucet and had my kids call my husband home, Domino had beaten the other dog to the ground and tore a hole in his side the size of a grapefruit. He slunk off into a corner while she kept a watchful eye on him. In the fight, she had broken two teeth and torn an ear, as well as suffered deep puncture wounds.

When I returned home from being stitched up at the hospital, my husband let Domino into the room with me. For several days, she wouldn't let another dog near me, even when I told her it was okay. When we both recovered enough to get back to agility, our bond, our means of communication were stronger than ever. It was like she could read my mind. In a sense, I could read hers, too. Her eyes said what she could not.

Domino is nearly sixteen now, but she hasn't long left. A few weeks ago I noticed a mammary tumor. It grew rapidly. She hasn't eaten for three days. Her breathing is shallow and rapid. What little she drinks comes right back up.

She's in the laundry room within eyeshot of my desk. I check in with her often and run my hand over her fur and tell her what a good, brave dog she is. I compliment her on her speed and jumping ability. Tell her she was a wonderful mother to her pups. I reminisce with her about the good ol' days in agility and all our trips together, getting up before dawn and driving for hours. When I do, I recall her grace and her intelligence, her impeccable manners and her love of children.

Sometimes, I run my fingers over that scar on my arm and think how I have been blessed to know true devotion, have witnessed courage firsthand and just realize how incredibly lucky I have been to have her in my life.

Hug your pet today.

Until later,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Crown in the Heather - Goodreads Book Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Crown in the Heather (Paperback) by N. Gemini Sasson

The Crown in the Heather

by N. Gemini Sasson

Giveaway ends November 10, 2010.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win
To mark the upcoming e-book release shortly of Worth Dying For, The Bruce Trilogy: Book II, I've set up a Goodreads Giveaway for the first book in the series about Robert the Bruce, James Douglas and Edward II. To enter to win The Crown in the Heather, just click above.

You must be a Goodreads member to be eligible, but please do browse around. There are tons of great books being given away there all the time. I throw my name in the hat every week or so and I'm still waiting to win one, but there's always hope.

Meanwhile, it's back to the final proofreading stages for my third book. After that, hmm, time to start writing another one???

P.S. Best wishes to all my NaNoWriMo friends out there! Stay sane. I'll try not to distract any of you, but I can't make any promises. I may do some scribbling myself, but I have this paralyzing anxiety about keeping track of word counts, so I'll just focus on putting the pieces together for now.

Happy reading,