I’m sure Chloe doesn’t want to see my robots. #8Sunday

This week I’m sharing a glance into Jorge’s relationship with his siblings, Miriam and Adam. It’s also part of a larger snippet from To Growl or to Groan that I’m sharing as part of the MFRW Home for the Holidays hop. If you’d like to read the whole excerpt, go to this post.

“I’m sure Chloe doesn’t want to see my robots.”

I give him a bemused smile. “So you do still have them? How cute.”

Miriam enters the conversation. “What’s cute?”

Adam turns to her. “Jorge’s boyhood robot collection, which he evidently still has.”

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First Christmas–with the in-laws #MFRWave

The first Christmas I spent with my soon-t0-be in-laws was quite interesting. I knew the whole family (my husband and I grew up in the same small town), but it’s one thing to know people and another to be part of a family celebration. It started with his brother waking us up at 4 AM to watch The Christmas Toy. I am NOT a morning person, so I was a little less then enthused to learn of this tradition–especially without prior warning.

This is what I wished I was doing at 4 AM instead of watching The Christmas Toy, nothing against Jim Henson. 🙂

Around 7AM we got around to opening presents. Afterward, I was expecting breakfast, but no. Everyone (including my fiancé) fell asleep around the living room, with a few siblings (my husband has two younger sisters and a younger brother, who at the time were all still in high school) wandering back to their beds. I, however, was hungry and not used to going back to sleep a few hours after getting up–early hour notwithstanding.

I headed to the kitchen to find food, only to discover that the house did not contain much in the way of edible nourishment, not to mention breakfast fare. I nibbled on what I could scrounge and was thankful that at least my stocking was full of chocolate.

In the future, I started a new tradition where I cooked breakfast for everyone, and since I love to cook, it worked out pretty well all around. 🙂

In my latest novel, To Growl or to Groan, Chloe travels to her boyfriend’s parents’ home in Scotland a little before Thanksgiving. It’s her first time meeting the family, as well, but by Christmas Eve, she’s feeling a bit more comfortable with his family. Here’s a snippet from the beginning of the scene where they open presents.

After dinner, everyone retires to the living room and lounges around digesting food. Jeremy is the only one who seems to have missed out on the food coma. He bounces between his parents and grandparents asking when we’re going to open presents, since the family tradition is not to wait for Christmas morning.

There are a lot fewer presents under the tree then there were a few days ago when we loaded up a bunch to take to various charities in the area. Now each adult only has one under the tree, and there are seven for Jeremy (one from each adult who isn’t his parent).

Feeling the need to get the food in my stomach moving, I heft myself off an easy chair and walk over to the tree. I notice that there are small presents nestled among the boughs. Jorge walks up behind me, encircling my waist. I lay my arms over his, the noise of the rest of the family’s chatter fading into the background. “What’s up with the presents in the tree?”

“Each year there’s one special gift for each person. My mom hides them during dinner every year. We each draw one person’s name and come up with the gift. This year you got out of the drawing because I wanted this part to be a surprise for you, so I got a present for you and Miriam.”

I peer around the tree, at least as much as I can with Jorge’s arms around me, and try to locate one with my name on it.

He laughs, pulls me closer. “No trying to find yours in advance. Unless, of course, you want to get scolded by my mother.”

“OK. How about you show me some of the ornaments you made now?”

“At the risk of my mother misinterpreting, I’ll find a few in the front.” He releases me, and I miss his warmth. He walks to the side of the tree facing his mother, plucking three ornaments as he returns to my side.

He holds up what looks like a reindeer made from Legos and felt. “I built this when I was seven. I loved Legos.”

“It’s so cute. It’s a reindeer, right?”

“Of course it’s a reindeer. It’s Rudolph. Look at the red nose.”

I chuckle. “Defensive much?”

He ignores my taunt and holds up a second one. A hand-painted candy cane. The stripes are there but decidedly uneven. “This one was a project in grade one.”

I lean in to inspect the ornament.

“Not bad for a six-year-old. I can definitely tell it’s a candy cane.”

He lets out a long-suffering sigh and places the two ornaments back on the tree haphazardly. Then he holds up a third and flips a switch. The tiny robotic Santa’s legs start to move. “If I set it down on a flat surface, it would walk.”

“Let me guess. This was from when you started to become really geeky?”

“I got an A on my robotics project in grade eight science, I’ll have you know.”

Jeremy, attracted by the whirring sound, zooms over and asks to play with the toy. Jorge kneels beside him and puts the Santa on the hardwood floor. It starts to march toward Adam. Jeremy claps and follows it until it runs into his dad’s leg.

Adam scoops up Jeremy and the toy. “What have we got here?” He inspects the robot, turns to Jorge. “Isn’t this a project you did for school?”

“Yes. I was just showing it to Chloe.”

Jeremy squirms, and Adam sets him down and hands him the toy. He races off to show his grandpa. Adam turns to me. “He made a ton of robots when he was a kid. I’m sure Mom still has them somewhere.”

“I’m sure Chloe doesn’t want to see my robots.”

I give him a bemused smile. “So you do still have them? How cute.”

Miriam enters the conversation. “What’s cute?”

Adam turns to her. “Jorge’s boyhood robot collection, which he evidently still has.”

“Ooh, I remember those robots.”

Jorge gives her a wry eyebrow raise. “I remember you breaking several of them.”

Before the discussion can continue, Alice stands and announces it’s time for presents.

4 Hearts from Sizzling Hot Books

I was very pleased to find this review for To Growl or to Groan today.

I never got the chance to read the first installment of Katya Armock’s Hidden Lines series but so far To Growl Or To Groan is a good read.

Chloe is the kind of heroine I love. She has attitude, and a strong sense of right and wrong. In To Growl Or To Groan, Chloe finds herself faced with new problems after her psychic abilities start acting up on her and she has the added stress of meeting her boyfriends parents. While all this is going on Jorge, Chloe’s jaguar shapeshifting boyfriend is trying to help Chloe with her problems and deal with the disappearance of his sister.

To Growl Or To Groan was a decent book. I am not the biggest fan of shapeshifter books personally but I did enjoy the interplay between the characters and especially the interactions between Chloe and her pets. The sex scenes in To Growl Or To Groan were steamy as ever and believable of two people in love and in a relationship. A plus in my opinion.

Overall the storyline in To Growl Or To Groan is very well written and begins to bring the reader even further into the world of Hidden Lines. If you like shapeshifters, some sexy romance, and a good mystery as well then I would definitely recommend To Growl Or To Groan.

Wednesday Words: Tweak

TWEAK

verb (used with object)

  1. to pinch and pull with a jerk and twist: to tweak someone’s ear; to tweak someone’s nose.
  2. to pull or pinch the nose of, especially gently: He tweaked the baby on greeting.
  3. to make a minor adjustment to: to tweak a computer program.

noun

  1. an act or instance of tweaking; a sharp, twisting pull or jerk.

I love how the word tweak sounds. It’s one of those words that really sound like what they describe–not an onomatopoeia, but it just feels right in my head, in my mouth.

It’s also one of my husband’s favorite characters on South Park (yeah, my husband’s weird that way. 🙂 ).

Here’s an example of how I used the word in To Growl or to Groan:

“Your drink count is five, but I still don’t think that’s the issue. So what’s going on?” He tweaks my nose again.

I might bite him if he does that again, feeling as uncharitable as I do at the moment.

What are some of your favorite words that sound good to you?

Wednesday Words: Pendulum– Plus an exclusive deleted scene!

In To Growl or to Groan, Chloe acquires a pendulum at a new age shop she visits in Scotland. In the course of edits, I had to cut the scene where she researches more about pendulums. I also cut some other fun facts about pendulums I’ve learned along the way, like the importance of the material used to make the pendulum (various stones, metals, crystals or wood) and that many people either name their pendulums or believe that they come with names to be discovered. Chloe wasn’t on board with the naming idea, but she did do more research on the stone in her pendulum.

For those who have read the book, this scene takes place between the second and third scenes in Chapter Ten.

Jorge rises and takes my breakfast dishes without a word, so I head to our rooms to get my pendulum and the piece of paper with the Websites about them that the shop clerk gave me. No sense poking the bear, and I may as well do something useful. If I’m going to embrace the additional esoteric tools and practices coming my way, I figure I might as well go all in to explore what’s been brought into my life.

I head to use the shared laptop in the den. The first site I pull up gives a step-by-step guide to using a pendulum for divination. It talks about how to hold the pendulum and how to cleanse it of negative energy. I follow the instructions to calibrate it, asking yes/no questions I know the answers to.

The first non-calibration question I ask is if Gracie is OK. It tells me maybe, which isn’t really all that helpful and raises my frustration level.

Next, I try asking if I should go see my mother. It says yes. I’ve definitely got mixed feelings on that answer. Scratch that. I feel just like I did when I asked if so and so liked me and the Magic Eight Ball said “The Answer is No.”

Enough with the questions.

I check out the second site, which is more extensive. It talks about setting intentions and blocking the influence of spirits that may not have the greatest good as their intention. It also catalogs questions I shouldn’t ask, like determining winning lottery numbers or other things that could impact more than myself. The site even comes with warnings, such as don’t always believe the pendulum and beware of future predictions since people always have free will to change the future.

And I somehow thought using a pendulum would be so simple. I suppose it’s like Reiki in that way. With an attunement, you can feel the Reiki energy flow, but there is so much more to it if you develop it as a healing or spiritual practice.

A third site talks about the different types of stones and their healing properties and historic significance. Amethyst is right up there on the list of commonly used stones and gems.

I skim. Evidently the name of the stone comes from the Greek words for “no drunkenness” and they carved cups out of amethyst to drink alcohol from. What the point of that was, I don’t know. Why drink excessive amounts of alcohol if you don’t want to get drunk?

I keep skimming. More interesting is the Ancient Egyptian belief that the stone guarded against fear, guilt, self-deception and witchcraft. Reminds me of The Devil card. Seems amethyst would be the perfect antidote to the lies and illusions that the tarot reader said that card can represent. Maybe that shop clerk really was seeing more about me than I gave her credit for.

Or maybe it was luck of the draw, my inner skeptic holds out.

The site also says amethyst is often used in healing, put under the pillow to ensure good dreams, and employed as a focal point for meditation. It’s even suggested that meditating with an amethyst can increase positive spiritual feelings, which certainly wouldn’t hurt me. Maybe it’ll keep the shared dreams at bay.

I decide to keep the tool close just in case and slip it in my jeans pocket.

Hidden Line, book two

She’s unready to face her past, but she may have no choice.

It may be her best friend who gets surprisingly accurate hunches about the future, but Chloe just  knows something big –and bad—is about to happen. She telepathically communicates with animals and shape-shifters, but her growing psychic abilities are beginning to scare her. She suspects her mother also had abilities, and when those powers grew beyond her control, she left her daughter and husband when Chloe was only ten.

Despite her worries, she won’t let anything interrupt her trip to Scotland to meet her shape-shifter boyfriend’s family. Meeting Jorge’s close-knit family and spending the Holidays with them is worry enough!

When his sister goes missing, her disappearance is linked to a shadowy organization that knows exactly how to hide her from her shape-shifting relatives’ tracking ability. What they don’t count on is Chloe’s psychic gift.

In the rush to find Jorge’s sister, Chloe loses control of her ability and accidentally harms an animal’s psyche. Ridden with guilt, she’s afraid her ability just might destroy her relationship with Jorge. She isn’t ready to find her mother and face her past, but she may not have a choice if she wants to ensure she never harms anyone again.

What readers are saying about To Growl or to Groan:

“I enjoyed reading more in this book about Chloe’s exploration of her abilities and past as well as her HOT relationship with Jorge. I will be looking for more from this author for sure. This book is a light and fun read with adventure, passion and a few unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommend reading this book.”

“This book definitely kept my interest through the entire read.”