Dog-tabulary

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I should probably be ashamed to admit this, but I’m a bit of a pet dork. Yes, I’m one of those idiots you see fawning over their dogs, making stupid faces, muttering, “Schmoopy, schmoopy, schmoopy,” or some other interchangeable nonsense. For the other dog dorks out there, I’ve compiled this list of words which my husband and I use when talking to, or about, our dog, Popeye. Pictures at the end of list!

Bull-face: Used in close range to said face.

Chops or flues: Actually the technical terms for his floppy mouth bits. While it’s not necessary to use both, we always do.

Doggywampus: Bastardization of cattywampus. The state in which he leaves the bed after getting excited (sheets half off, and mattress dangling a foot off the edge).

Jerk face the dog hound: The longest nickname he has.

Hound (suffix): Bull-hound, lummox-hound (generally after he’s injured somebody), meat-hound, plow-hound (used when he’s plowing through the kudzu).

Kicking Time: When he’s stabbing my husband with his front paws and kicking my tits with his back paws.

Manifest Destiny: Used when he’s shoving my husband and I off the couch or bed.

Murdilate: Portmanteau of murder and mutilate. Basically, what he does to any small mammals he catches on our property.

Pink Maw of Doom: His mouth, which I swear I could play lion tamer with (you know, stick my head in his open jaws).

Sea Creatures: Those pink dangly things he’s got around his lips.

Wampus: Anytime he gets wound up, chasing his orange ball around the house like some giant white cat.

Woofertunity: An opportunity to bark at something, like deer and three fawns ambling down the street in the middle of the afternoon.

And here are the pictures! He’s an American bulldog (super fancy Southern porch hound). In a couple of these you can see him showing off those skills, looking magnificent on a porch. He enjoys the show Too Cute! because he likes looking at puppies and the mail woman because she pats him and gives him cookies.

Alert houndDog on blanketdog nap

GTA V: A Spectator’s Review

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Rockstar’s GTA V is a tapestry of snark. Plenty of reviews have come out talking about what it’s like to play the game. Well, I’ve been watching my husband play it since it arrived on Tuesday. I made sure it was installed when he came home, with this favorite controller all charged up and ready to go. He’s pretty much been excused from all household duties, because I knew how excited he was.

Not that picking up the slack was any great strain. I still had plenty of time to watch him play. One thing I enjoy about the game are all the satirical references. The store, Suburban. The radio ads always make me snigger. The characters are a riot, and every now and, my husband drives a car down a mountain and into a fiery crash. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it driving so much as artful falling.

My favorite character thus far has been the psycho hillbilly, Trevor. He’s got a big truck and a lackey to ride around the back of it. He idly sexually harasses those around him while other times voicing opinions you might find yourself agreeing with (like torturing is done for the torturer, not to gain information). Flipping back to him, my husband has found him puttering around on a scooter behind another scooter talking about his scooter brother. Another time he was spooning a distraught Floyd. Given that his special skill is to go on a psychotic rampage, I suspect he’ll be a lot of people’s favorite character.

Best scene thus far was Michael’s drug trip. The music was perfect, as were the voices accompanying Michael’s descent. The electric city beneath him, all red and gold, left tracers of lights as you guided his fall. Both my husband and I were impressed with how they put everything together.

I have to be honest, Franklin hasn’t made much of an impression on me. I like his crazy aunt, and his dog, but I’m thinking I may have been out of the room during some of his missions.

Of course, people buy games like GTA V for more than just the missions. They like the sandbox style of it too. I like offering my husband my opinion on clothes. Trevor has the Nacho Libre tank top with matching shorts. Franklin looks cool in gray with some sweet kicks. We both agree that Michael should look like a loser and generally put him in flip-flops. The cars are sweet. My husband says the chase scenes are harder in this game. I like that things like not wearing a helmet when you’re on a motorcycle will get you killed easily in this game. There are a lot of things interact with, from strippers to warm counter beer to bongs that provide amusement (or existential crises). A lot of work went into this game and it shows. They’ve certainly earned their accolades and their money. They’ve made a game that’s both fun to play, and fun to watch. At least, I have fun watching it.

Harry Potter and Quoth the Raven…

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Pottermore. (I should note, this is vaguely about my reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.)

Yes, I could hardly leave out my exploration of JK’s epic series without considering the full media juggernaut (don’t worry, I intend to discuss the movies).

Right now, I’m focusing on the website. Holy integrated marketing Batman! I think the people who thought this up use flash buzz words, wear whatever the modern day Don Draper would rock, and carry on the tradition of shit-faced by noon on Friday (at least that’s the way it used to go down at my dad’s job). It is very well done.

Let’s start with what it is: smash together Facebook (because there’s a social aspect plus some FarmVille qualities) and those old-school “point and click” adventures plus a few of those “Find your inner animal/mythical creature/sex goddess” quizzes, and you’ve got an idea of what it is. You can either interact with illustrations of the story, or play some mini-games.

The illustrations are very interesting to me. They include a brief quote from the book (and lots of links where you can jump over to buying the book) plus additional information Rowling wrote about the books. Sometimes the information is pretty interesting (like what she wrote about the Pureblood movement), but more often than not I’m amazed at how detailed this universe is in her head. One thing you realize reading her talking about the books is that she really did write what she knew, in a way. She drew a lot of inspiration from real life.

I also suspect the people involved in directing the design of the illustrations knew their psychology. All the faces are very vague, something which I imagine was done on purpose. When you read a book, you picture the characters a certain way (although in Prisoners of Azkaban there’s a very kabuki-ish illustration of Snape). These illustrations don’t interfere with your mental picture. The include things to find and places of interaction (generally a small animation triggered by a mouse-over). On the bottom there’s a progress bar, telling you if you’ve missed any objects or animation. And yes, like the goddamn mammal I am I want to make sure that bar is full! Thank goodness for the comments, as the often note where things are tucked away.

As far as the other aspects of the game, I’ve done the two quizzes (wand and sorting, Ravenclaw in case you were curious, although you can shape your answers to get sorted into a desired house, like Slytherin). I haven’t done many of mini-games. I made a potion once, and it was annoying, requiring you to do tasks in a specific time range and incorporating an incubation period (three minutes of nothing). The duels seem likewise annoying and are based tapping letters on the keyboard at specified times. It’s kind of “meh” for me.

I do have one overwhelming impression of Pottermore, gleaned form the videos where J. K. Rowling takes a minute to speak to us about sorting to her houses. I’m listening to her words and thinking to myself, “Goddamn is this woman tired of these books, and she still has four more to go for Pottermore.” It in fact reminds me of what the raven actually said: Nevermore. Hanging out with my sister’s kids, they were fantasizing about Rowling revisiting the universe, and I told them it’s not going to happen. She wrote seven books and helped make eight movies. She adopted a new pen name. She’s moved on.

Part of me wonders what will end up happening with Pottermore. It seems to me that people may become impatient, given the time it’s been out and the fact that only the first three books are done. I don’t know how much it supplements or enhances the reading experience. I like it because I like playing stupid games. Will I finish the series and then come back for the other four books? Probably, because it’s a free game in ways, and I do find some of Rowling’s exclusive material to be interesting. Or I’ll forget about it.

As far as finishing the series, I liked the third book more than the second, and the fourth movie (The Goblet of Fire) is my favorite movie, so it might be my favorite book too. I’m looking forward to it. Rowling’s comedic violence reminds me a lot of Dickens.

What do you mean you don’t know the password?

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Every now and then, I find myself stranded without internet. And I really do mean stranded. It’s like none of my favorite toys work–I can’t back-up documents on Google Docs, I can’t email things to my Kindle, I can’t piss off on Reddit (current favorites are the suite of subreddits focusing on aquariums). I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s kind of sad, really.

Last weekend I was up at my sister’s rustic cabin, and there was no internet. A friend stopped by and offered to let me sit on her porch and steal wifi, because that’s what stranded people do up there, they go bask in her wifi.

I opted instead to bury my nose in a couple of books (Good Omens and some non-fiction about vampires and the third Harry Potter book) and talk to my sister’s kids about zombis (the real kind) and my sister about dark and stormies (rum and ginger beer and some magic).

The nights were cool, and my mother chased me around, trying to throw a white linen jacket over my salmon colored dressed named David Bowie (because he’s full of 80s goodness). I couldn’t let her though–it would have covered up his great shoulder details (pleating and a zipper) plus it didn’t match, at all. My ratty hoodie with the power lines on it looked a lot better. Oh, I also discovered my nephew wanted his Russian prison tattoo hoodie back. He’d been wondering where it was, and I’d been a little surprised he didn’t want all things considered (there are eyeballs on it, it’s covered in Russian prison tattoos). Somehow, I ended up in a pair of mom jeans one night.

Altogether, I survived. No, actually, I had a lot of fun. I made a couple of aborted attempts to check Gmail on my Kindle, but it was less interesting than what was going on around me.

It’s probably good for me to go without the internet. Of course, the next time I visit my parent’s house in NH, I’m probably going to make more of an effort to track down their wifi password, because without it my netbook is kinda useless.

Harry Potter and I don’t know if I’m gonna make it man…

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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is shaping up to be one of those books–the kind where I read the occasional line to my husband, either because I want to, or he wants to know why I’m laughing. I greatly enjoyed this bit:

Human beings mostly aren’t [particularly evil]. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and playing guitars at people.

The last bit was particularly amusing to me, because unless it’s an actual musician playing a guitar, I generally want nothing to do with that scene.

What does this have to do with Harry Potter? I felt the first book was halfway there to something that could elicit emotions from me, enough to make my husband ask what I was reading, but Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was just flat for me. It’s neither long nor difficult, but it wasn’t with any enthusiasm that I picked it up. Some of that probably has to do with the fact that the BIG REVEAL (Yer a wizard ‘Arry!) happened in the first book. It’s like those books you read, wondering when the characters are going to do it, and after they do you’re like, “Welp, done with that.” (This pretty much describes my relationship with the Anita Blake books.)

If I’ve reached the moment of satiety, why then, am I rereading them? It’s the rational question to ask at this point, if I’m already starting to feel lukewarm and I haven’t gotten near the long ones. It’s like after the third book they said, “All right, this is a gold mine, fire the editor that’s always red-lining long unnecessary passages of details.” Developmental editor maybe? Someone who loves Hemingway? The thing is, I’ve just started on this task, the task I gave up with one book to go, one that I happen to have gathering dust on a shelf. Chances of success are looking murky, especially given that I don’t do long series. So again, why am I doing this?

Lomonaaeren on fanfiction.net has written 270 Harry Potter stories, and she’s still at it. I downloaded Barbie Jeep by Kitty (produced by Hot Sugar!) for free off Adult Swim and found the word “muggle” in it and the charm “wingardium leviosa.” It’s like references to black poodles in literature. Pop culture is saturated with Harry Potter. People post pictures of lolita skirts to the group on Facebook and a discussion ensues about what everyone’s custom HP skirt would look like.

Pottermania isn’t something I quite understand, but goddamnit, I’m going to try. After all, I read both Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey out of morbid curiosity. HP can’t be any more difficult to read than Stephanie Meyers (I think seven books by Rowling works out to be about one book by Meyers). A Google image search with the keyword “yaoi” added is always enjoyable. It’s just everywhere, and I feel like maybe there’s something I’m missing, and I want to look harder. It’s not that I need it to mean the same thing to me that it does to other people, I just don’t want to leave any stone unturned. Not that any scientific study of HP will yield results that you can copy to make yourself into a successful author. If Rowling’s experiences with writing under a new pen name (a mystery that was reviewed well but sold little) shows us anything, it’s just how fickle fame is. Good thing I’m more interested in taking the HP experience apart like a clock as opposed to attempting to duplicate it.

Pacific Rim: A Review

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With spoilers! Because if you’re going to see this movie for the plot, you’ve missed the point. Although, I will address it, briefly. My husband’s biggest beef with the plot was that del Toro didn’t create a world in which people’s reactions to the monsters worked, something he thought was done very well in District 9. I thought about, and he’s right. It’s also probably the most succinct way to point out where the plot fails–it’s not that it’s fantastic, it’s just the world around it doesn’t support the fantasy.

Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite directors, and not just because Pan’s Labyrinth is an amazing movie. I enjoyed his Hellboy films (the second more than the first) and The Devil’s Backbone as well. He’s a talented director, and with Pacific Rim I think he accomplished his goal of making a modern Godzilla film. It is a movie that makes full use of the movie theater, the scale and the thumping sound system, and the 3D only adds to the fun.

If you’re sick of the lazy way directors slap the high action moments in orange/blue and mute the rest (like the last four Harry Potter films), you’ll be delighted with the palettes used here. Blues, pinks, reds, gold… The monsters (kaiju) remind me of the fantastic creatures of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and robots (jaegers) of old Transformers toys.

The characters were pretty slap-stick. Charlie from It’s Always Sunny is himself, only his obsession with rats has been replaced with one for the kaiju and he’s literate. The Russians pilot a first generation jaeger that looks like it’s designed to be repaired with a hammer on the tundra (muck like an AK-47). The Chinese triplets are all razzle-dazzle and red, much like their jaeger. Watching them fight it’s like Chinese New Years. The Englishmen of course have an English bulldog (at least their accents are English) and the youngest suffers from pugilist tendencies. They have the fanciest jaeger, and honestly, visually, it didn’t make that much of an impression on me. Of course I remember the main one, Gypsy Danger, which has a giant sword and a thermonuclear reactor in it’s chest, at least I think that’s what that glowing part is… It’s nicely symbolic too of how in the end Gypsy Danger and her fusion save the world. You know, chest, heart, that stuff.

Ron Perlman is a treat, and has the best exit of the film–down the gullet of an infant kaiju.

The action scenes are amazing, and really, why we went to see it in a theater. At one point, a robot boxes a monster’s ears with some shipping containers. It made me giggle. There’s lots of city smashing as they battle, shattering glass-plated skyscrapers and throwing cars at each other.

Hong Kong made me think of Blade Runner, although my husband told me that that’s what modern Hong Kong looks like, all fierce neon and saturated in humanity–a sci-fi future come to life.

The only major complaint I have, and this may be said of del Toro in general, was the music was only okay. I think he missed out by not finding a place for anything off of Mochipet’s album, Godzilla Rehab Center, all devilishly catchy tracks. His “Get some!” song packed less punch than “Problem” by Natalia Kills or “Might Like You Better” by Amanda Blank. I know dubstep is super trendy right now, but a little wub-dub wouldn’t have been remiss, or some death metal or something. I actually started thinking how his music was unimpressive when I caught an atrocious cover of Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” on the first Hellboy. I know the original’s been used to death, but you couldn’t have substituted some other song like “Up Jumped the Devil” or any other brooding bad-ass sounding Nick Cave song? He wrote quite a few. The soundtracks are probably the place where I’d draw a distinction between him and directors like Stanley Kubrick and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It’s almost like del Toro needs a music lover in his inner circle.

I wouldn’t let that keep you out of the theater though, because if you like pretty movies, and action, you’ll love Pacific Rim.

Out Now: Short Smut Volume 2!

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ShortSmutVolume2-200x300From Smutwriters.com comes a wide, sexy selection of twelve stories, including BDSM, ménage, and exhibitionism. A kinky couple brings a third into their relationship. A brother seduces death to save his brother. A French maid catches the interest of her lord. Enjoy today’s hottest erotica authors at their hottest with this free anthology. Warning: explicit content.

Features stories from Skye Warren, Aubrey Watt and more!

And best of all, it’s free!

Get it here on Smashwords or All Romance Ebooks.

It’s also available for $0.99 on Amazon.

Excerpt from “The Dreams of Violetta,” the first part of the novella, The Love of Violetta.

My darning was interrupted at seven by the baying of hounds, and the entire household staff rushed into the cold to greet Roland.

I followed the press into the main hall. Roland loomed over his father as they shook hands. One tall, pious, with a tidy powdered wig, bending over the short wicked man with the mess of dark curls. Little doubt the Duc’s wig was abandoned on a bust or resting on a drunken maid’s breast.

They shook hands. Roland kissed the cheek of the housekeeper and clapped the majordome on the back. If my love saw me, he gave no sign. Roland went to wash away the filth of the road, and I crept into the empty salon.

My hand searched for his letter, for his words of love. My breath was loud and jagged in my ears.

“Are you ill, Violetta?”

I opened my eyes, and the Duc was standing there, his dark eyes glittering.

“No, Monsieur. I only wanted to catch my breath after the press.”

The Duc was a virile forty-five, and in a moment he had me trapped against the wall. “Can I help you catch it, little maid?” he said, his face inches from mine.

I turned my head, my hands balled into fists. “Please, Monsieur.”

He rubbed the rough stubble of his cheek on my face. “What do you want?” he said, leaning his body into me.

“Father, I forgot to tell you—”

Tears squeezed from the corners of my eyes. To be found like this by my love, my noble Roland, it was more than I could bear. My cheeks burned.

The Duc released me, like a cat done with the mouse it had been tormenting. “Yes, my son, what did you forget?”

“The merchants…they said…” Roland mumbled.

I rushed from the room, up the stairs, and straight to my bed where I bathed my pillow with my tears. It was a quick cry—there was work to be done. I needed to talk to Roland. If I could explain myself, tell him the Duc had caught me in a room unawares…

It’s too goddamn hot

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I have to slick my hair back from my face like it’s the freaking 80s to even sit around and type because I HAVE A FAN BLOWING RIGHT IN MY FACE. If I don’t slick it back it just flies everywhere and distracts me. My “Kinda Terrible Techno” station on Pandora (LoA, Benny Benassi, Daft Punk, NIN) is cranked so I can hear it over the box fan that’s three feet from my head and there’s squeaky ass ceiling fan getting in on the ambient noise action.

Needless to say, by 80s I’m referring more to stretch pants (I loved those things) and giant bangs, not the temperature. I would in fact love for it to be in the 80s instead of pumping up into the 90s each day.

As far as the dog goes, there might as well not even be an outside. It’s just too goddamn hot for him to run around. He goes out to pee and comes back in all pink and panting. Two tosses of the ball off the porch at night and he flops down on the tile all broken and shit. At least that’s what my husband and I say after he’s still there huffing away five minutes later.

He’s rubbing his jowls all over the floor, and all those fingery looking bits are out in full force trying to help him cool down. You know the bits I’m talking about–the ones that look like secret sea creatures. My husband and I help him cool down by saying stuff like, “Is it too hot for bull hounds?” and “Are you broken beast?” We’ll also rub a washcloth on his chest. Mainly though we don’t exert him in the day beyond eating and shitting.

My main point is, it’s too hot for the bulldog, and it’s too bloody hot for me. I came up here earlier to write and all I could muster was: It’s too hot to think. I went back downstairs.

My husband touched my leg, and I was like, “No,” and then I touched my leg and I was still all, “No.” Like, nothing unnecessary can touch me right now, and all that’s necessary is the couch and my laptop.

I tend to go to bed later than my husband. Normally the dog is sleeping on the bed, but lately he’s been flopped out on the floor. I creep along in the dark, waiting for the motion activated nightlight to come on, which it doesn’t, because there’s 100 lbs. of dog in the way. Eventually I stick a toe in his mouth and then the light comes on because he jerks, and all of a sudden there’s this giant white dog on the floor.

Anyways, I tend to go to bed later than my husband, and when the weather’s like this, I stay up way later than necessary, because I know I’m just going to be tossing and turning forever. I wake up still hot and half-asleep. Nothing much happens in general. It’s really too hot to think.

I know, now you’re wondering why we don’t have AC? It’s not something that’s feasible for this house (uninsulated). Maybe, someday, we’ll get something for the bedroom.

I’m actually kind of missing my job. Science labs are generally on the frigid side of things. Although, I would have to sweat in the heat to get to and from there, because I rode the bus. Even if the buses are air conditioned, there’s the skulking around on hot pavement part.

I can’t even think much beyond disjointed ramblings about the heat. Maybe I should try and write some poetry to capture the disgust I feel at sitting here, doing nothing, and just sweating. A haiku, and for my nature imagery I’ll use stink bugs.

One thing I do know though–I’ll probably want to go see a movie this weekend, just for the AC. You know, go old school. I think Guillermo del Toro, who did Pan’s Labyrinth, has a new movie out and Charlie from Always Sunny is in it. I don’t care if it’s a giant robot movie, del Toro is freaking awesome, and I bet it’s actually worth seeing in a theater.

Harry Potter and the Yes I know I’m behind the times (Part One of Seven)

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Warning: A collection of idle thoughts, not a review.

Since the last movie was released about two years ago, Potter Mania has finally died down. There are a just a few terminal cases malingering. Even my niece has finally given up on asking me if I’d finally picked up the last book (the answer is still no).

The first book was released in 1997, so let’s say it was over ten years of madness.

This is the part where some people would get stuffy, claim to be immune to such things as peer pressure. I’m not one of those people. I’ll have another beer, and occasionally read books I wouldn’t otherwise (why hello there Millennium trilogy) because flipping everyone is bugging me about it.

The first six Harry Potter books fall into that category. It’s not that I didn’t like them, it’s just I probably wouldn’t have picked them up otherwise. What finally changed that “well, this is nice” to “no, just no” was largely the people in the throes of Potter Mania. It wasn’t enough to like the books, you had to love them. Never mind the deus ex machina feel I got from the endings or the fact that the characters had little gray in them, that the writing wasn’t really the type of thing that made me go SPLOOSH! Anything besides ejaculations of adulation got you one of those, “What’s wrong with you,” type of looks.

Now with no one examining me, and I’ll admit, a healthy dose of curiosity about why people love these books so much, I’ve reread the first one, thanks to Amazon Prime lending (because I don’t think I’d pay to read these).

First, I’d like to complain that the e-book is in American English and not English English. “Gray” should be “grey” and “soccer” spelled f-o-o-t-b-a-l-l. I’d been looking forward to the appearance of “boogies” (or however it was spelled, I would know if they’d not changed it) too. Oh well.

I am happy that prior to my rereading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone I’d also given Dickens another chance. One thing that Rowling did very well pretty much leaped out of the page at me–her archetypes are fabulous. I wish I hadn’t returned the book, otherwise I’d cite some instances here.

We know Dumbledore’s delightfully dotty, the Dursleys are a load of prigs, Hermione (no, spellchecker, I don’t mean “heroin”) is an huge flipping nerd, and Ron the best friend. We know Draco is a rich bitch. She lays it on thick just like Dickens did with his characters, and much like Dickens, she’s good at it too. Of course, for me this strength was also a weakness, because in creating characters who were clearly good, or evil, or annoying, I became bored.

You could even talk about houses in terms of sitcom characters. Let’s go for The Simpsons. Milhouse would be in Hufflepuff, Lisa in Ravenclaw, Bart in Slytherin. I’m not sure to elect as the Gryffindor…maybe Maggie? She did shoot Burns. Possibly the dog, Santa’s Little Helper. Bravery is not a trait you see in sitcoms really.

The writing was better than I remembered, although I wonder if that’s just because this is an earlier novel, which was more tightly edited than the later ones. To me, it seemed as time went on, the book grew fatter and fatter, with more bits of plot and trivia I couldn’t be bothered to keep track of. In fact, were they all not out now, I wouldn’t be attempting a full reread of this series, because I’d never make it. Everything would get muddled, I’d be frustrated, and I’d be lured away by something nice and cynical.

While I don’t think I’ll ever fall in love with Potter (although I don’t mind some slash as light reading now and then) it’s easy to see why people did. For those who grew up with these books, I can see why the infatuation for them is so all-consuming that they might consider purchasing a $275 Slytherin corset.

Me? I want someone to explain why they celebrate Christmas. After all, they don’t even say, “Dear god!” It’s: “Dear Merlin!” One would have thought they’d stick with the original pagan holiday, Beltane, that Christmas replaced. They don’t even strike one as being Easter/Xmas type Christians, but somehow they go all out for Jesus’s birthday.

The only hint I can find is to look at the the pen name: J. K. Rowling. Very coy, it doesn’t reveal her sex, and probably reflects marketing data that boys are less likely to pick up a book written by a woman. Ditto I suspect for keeping this trapping of Christianity. As is, I know some people take issue with the books on religious grounds. I can imagine making them straight up pagans, instead of the garden-variety lapsed Catholics they could be, would have brought even more of this type of attention to the books.

Who knows though? I bet J. K. does…

Out now: The Love of Violetta

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TheLoveOfVioletta-AntoinetteM-1333x2000Violetta loves Roland, and he loves her. Violetta knew their love was foolish when she was fourteen, but over the years she forgot. When Roland tells her they cannot be wed, she’s heartbroken. Desperate, attempts to seduce him, proposing that she become his mistress.

The Duc de Lauzun wasn’t the same after his wife died. He drank. The women of the manor bore babes stamped with his chin. The maids who valued their virtue avoided him, while others sought their sport in the halls. Violetta always shied away from him, though he’s had his eye on her, ever since she changed from a girl to a woman.

Violetta:

For a moment, Roland’s blue eyes met mine, and my heart gave a mournful shudder, like a clock sounding out the witching hour. It did not stop, but for a moment it slowed, as if its cogs were gummed with all our youthful promises and stolen embraces.

The Duc de Lauzun:

“I shouldn’t,” he said and again savored my lips.

“I shouldn’t,” he said as his hands made themselves again familiar with the heft of my curves.

“I shouldn’t,” he said and pressed his hardness against my hip.

Excerpt:

“I don’t want a husband, I want a kiss.” I took his hands, put them at the small of my back, and wrapped mine around his neck.

“Violetta,” he whispered, bending over me.

I closed my eyes, and his lips touched mine and moved, gently, slowly. He reached up to tangle his fingers in my hair. The tip of his tongue traced the seal of my lips, and I opened my mouth to him. He was hot and wet inside me. I pressed my tongue against his, and he purred.

“Will you sit on my lap and kiss me?” he asked.

“Yes, Monsieur.”

“Call me Antoine,” he said. He raised my hair to my face and inhaled.

“Antoine, you have some curious habits,” I said.

With a growl, he pulled me against him, and I squealed. He sat on the bed, and holding me in his arms, he joined his mouth to mine again.

When he opened his lips for me, I traced his teeth, his tongue. I pulled his bottom lip, then his top, into my mouth. He was hot and hard beneath me, and he moaned as I stroked the fine fabric of his clothes. It was like being consumed by a strange fire, my body pressed against him, my nipples hard in my chemise as if I were cold. He combed his fingers through my hair, his nails tracing over my scalp, and I clung to him. Something firm poked my hip, and he shuddered each time my weight settled against it.

We kissed until my lips were swollen and my head dizzy. I pressed my thighs together and squirmed in his embrace. Each of his breaths moved through me and pooled between my legs. His grip tightened on me, one hand lost in my hair, the other hard on my waist.

The Duc—Antoine—pulled away from me, his chest heaving. “If I wish to leave you with your innocence, I must go, dear. Needless to say, I shall tell my son you will be staying here, with me.”

I smiled, touching his wonderful mouth, and he kissed my fingers.

“Do you want to stay here and be with me?” he asked, my fingers still in his mouth.

“Yes.” I pressed my lips to his brow.

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