Welcome to the Midsummer Night’s Blog Hop! Several authors have gotten together to bring you interviews between our characters. Today I’m happy to present Gregor Caine, of my novel DEMON HUNT, who has asked some probing questions of Circe, the heroine of TIDAL WHISPERS by Claire Gillian. One lucky commenter today will win an eCopy of Tidal Whispers, and below the interview is the list of all the blogs taking part in the hop. Enjoy!
Gregor smiles at the pretty woman sitting across from him at the Starbucks. “So, you’re a Siren. When you’re in the water, what do you wear?” He waggles his eyebrows.
Circe pulls out pad of paper and pen and begins writing. I can’t speak but I can use sign language or write on paper to communicate with humans…so unless you advise otherwise, I’ll continue to write out my responses.
To answer your first question, yes, I’m a Siren. Circe smirks at Gregor. Humans are always so interested in clothing. I only wear it when on land. I shuck it all off before I enter the water so I can move faster and not look like drowned rat in my wet clothing if I’m spotted on any of my favorite perches. My skin in the sunlight, or any form of manmade light, has a reflective quality that gives a mirage-like illusion of clothing. To most observers, I appear to be wearing a long, form-fitting gown of turquoise and navy and aqua with flecks of silver and gold.
Gregor, reading what she’s written, nods. “My lady, Serra, has lovely, pearlescent skin – I can understand the mirage-illusion. Okay, so tell me. Why, specifically, do you sink fishing ships? People have to eat, right? I mean, why not go sink pirate ships, or something useful?”
Circe rolls her eyes and writes. This is my job, or was. I never cared what kind of ship they were. I sank pleasure crafts too, but in Alaska, there are a lot more fishing vessels about so that is mostly what I end up luring.
I have sunk many a pirate ship in my day. I just haven’t run across too many in Alaska, unfortunately. Pirate ships were always fun. “Useful” is in the eye of the beholder, of course. To me, all ships are intruders to be claimed for my shipwreck quota. I care not for their humanly purpose. My boss is ruthless and does not tolerate slackers. I don’t have the luxury of being picky. I have always taken any that heard my song, never spared any, which is why Otis’s getting away galled me so much…at first.
Gregor’s eyebrows rise. “Go, Otis! The human who got away. Okay, so you’re not sinking ships right now. Did you lose the use of your voice? or just your self confidence?”
Circe writes. My voice is gone now. Totally. Poseidon could give it back if he chose but he’s still ticked off at me. Rumor has it he misses my expertise and has been reconsidering, but I’m not so sure being on his radar is a good thing or that he is trustworthy. The Olympic gods are not known for their integrity. I was once the best siren in the Pacific, but Poseidon wanted more from me than just someone to feed Davy Jones’ locker, if you get my drift. I don’t mind being voiceless, and I am not going to mess with a good thing.
Gregor nods. “That makes sense. So, if I were to hear you sing, would I go crazy, drown myself, or fall in love with you? Or all three?”
Circe stretches, and Gregor enjoys watching her move. She bends to write again. I’ve been told you’re most likely to go a little crazy with desire to move toward the source of the sound. An aural madness, if you will. If you were in a boat, I would only need to draw you close enough for the rocks I sit upon to do the rest. If you were swimming, however, you’d drown in your frenzy to get close to me. I can throw you off course if I like so you’d eventually swim to exhaustion and drown trying to get at me. That’s only happened once that I can remember and it was not pleasant. I prefer shipwrecking. It’s less personal, more business.
“Less personal? Hm. So tell me, is your speaking voice as seductive as your singing voice? Can humans even hear your speaking voice, or is it too high, like on dog frequency?”
Circe sighs. Yes, my speaking voice and my singing voice have…or had…the same impact on hearing humans—a frantic desire to get closer to the source of the sound. Some of the tones I use are audible, some are sub-sonic while others are supersonic. My frequency is extremely wide. Don’t ask me how many octaves. Suffice to say, Mariah Carey couldn’t even come close to competing. Both dogs and marine life can hear me if I use a pitch in their frequencies.
Gregor smiles. “Interesting comparison. I really like Mariah Carey, myself. Don’t you ever get lonely, sitting on a rock out in the ocean?”
Circe nods emphatically. Gracious yes! Sirens in the Alaskan waters are pretty rare, one reason why my quota is so high. The elements are harsh enough on their own, making my job easier, but very lonely. That said, I’ve been part of a siren co-op before. We were a trio, called ourselves Roxanne’s Red Light, but that was in the Aegean Sea where sirens are practically tripping over each other.
Gregor grins. “Red Light? Nice. What do you tend to wear on land? Are you a dresses kind of gal, or a jeans and t-shirt person?”
Circe frowns. You do have an inordinate interest in my clothing! If you must know, I wear clothing that is quick and easy to remove but also allows me to blend in and not attract attention. I prefer the faster drying fabrics so I lean toward floaty dresses, but jeans tend to attract less attention when I’m around larger groups of people.
“Right. Consider my hand slapped.” Gregor grins again. “Is Poseidon really all that scary, or is he a softie?”
Circe’s eyes widen. He’s kind of scary, but he’s also really susceptible to flattery and is generous to his sycophants…so long as they are in favor. Fickle is an apt description for him as well. All the gods, really. You tangle with them at your own peril. She shakes a finger at him.
“No problems. I’m happy to leave Poseidon alone. Tell me, if you grew up in the ocean, where did you learn sign language?”
Circe smiles finally, which dazzles Gregor a bit. I’m actually amphibious. I spend time on both land and in the ocean. Many years ago, a very famous siren named Helen learned sign language by spying on a group of deaf children who had made a field trip to the shore while she happened to be on furlough. One of the children left behind a primer on sign language that Helen found and kept. She taught it to her friends who in turn taught others. It really caught on because it’s a discreet means of interacting with humans and each other without revealing our true natures. My mother taught me as I will one day teach any daughter I may have.
Gregor leans forward, his interest caught. “That’s fascinating. Amphibious. What is it about dry land that draws you to it, and why for all that’s sacred did you choose Homer, Alaska? What’s wrong with Los Angeles?”
Circe’s eyes twinkle as she responds. I do love the occasional Starbucks and that brown, bubbly stuff called Coca-Cola. I also like to get away from my aquatic friends, who I love dearly but they tend to swim in large circles and gossip endlessly. I like my privacy. My best friend is a selkie, and she invites me a few times a year to her cabin in Friday Harbor near Seattle. Most of my closest friends are amphibious like me, equally comfortable on land or in water. Until recently, I shied away from humans, but I made an exception for Otis…for business purposes, at least at first. As a whole, humans are much scarier than Poseidon.
As for a place, I didn’t have a choice about Homer, Alaska. Poseidon sent me to Homer to punish me for spurning his advances. I used to live near Greece. However, in the frigid waters I achieved great success—the men here adore women and fishing and crabbing are huge industries for the area. Foiled yet again, when Poseidon discovered one measly ship had eluded me, he was all over it. Yet I can’t regret that Otis survived.
Gregor kisses Circe’s hand gallantly. “Thank you so much for spending time with me. It’s nice for us otherworldly types to get to know one another.” Gregor turns to talk to the readers. “So all of you out there, put your name and email address in the comments. One random commenter will be picked to win a copy of TIDAL WHISPERS, and you can read all about Otis and Circe’s grand adventure. Trust me, it’s worth the read!”
So there you have it! Below is a listing of all the blogs in this hop, and every one consists of character interviews. Enjoy!
If you’re just joining the conversation, Episode 1 is here – “Does My Uterus Make Me Look Fat?”
Episode 2: Help! I Need a Good Doctor!
So, I really liked the OB/GYN I had gone to. I felt cared for, and listened to, and the next day I even wrote her a thank you note. I felt like I’d found my medical home, female-wise at any rate. The biopsy came back about a week later and it was negative for cancer, always good news. My new doctor and I talked for about twenty minutes about my options -one of which included Uterine Artery Embolization. She gave me the name of a place near her office that does this type of work, and suggested I talk to an Interventional Radiologist before I make a final decision. And, whatever I do, if I could let her know she’d really appreciate it.
I made the call. I got transferred to three different people before the office manager came on the line to tell me that, no, not only do they not do UAEs, but they have NEVER done UAEs. So I call the doctor’s office back, get the office manager, and she tells me that well, maybe this other place has one, and UCLA has one. But she’s not giving me any kind of referral (the bane of having a PPO instead of an HMO. I guess the Motion Picture HMO spoiled me, sigh).
So I back away from the phone and think some more. People make mistakes, I’m aware of that. But this mistake is kind of a big one. And do I want a doctor that makes mistakes because they didn’t do their homework? What if they make a mistake while in surgery? Or while prescribing hormones or something for me?
I’m not in any kind of an emergency situation, so time passes as I
dither think about my options, and suddenly it’s time to see my GI doc.
This is the same doctor that did my colonoscopy two years ago – and when he comes into the patient room, I remember that I really like him. He’s got a big smile and a hearty handshake, and he listens to my entire tale before telling me not to worry. That the bleeding in my stool is most likely from the hemerroids (sp) caused by the fibroids (the trigger that started this whole drama). Unless things change down the road, he doesn’t want to see me for another three years and I’m happy to oblige, lol. He also told me to take a fiber supplement -one dose a day for the rest of my life. He says its like a miracle drug for all Gastro-Intestinal docs, and he’s been doing it for 20 years. So I’m now taking the generic equivalent of Benefiber each day.
So then, I started poking around on the internet. Found a highly respected doctor, fairly local (but then, anything within 50 miles is local in the Los Angeles area), with major expertise in removing fibroids without removing the uterus. Even big fibroids. Bingo! I checked him out thoroughly and made the call to get a consultation.
The pleasant person who answered the call barely heard me describe my symptoms before she told me, in a firm voice, that the doctor doesn’t take any insurance and it’s $250 to $450 to walk in his office door and talk to him. (After checking the website again, I see that you have to put up 20% of the cost of surgery prior to having it.) I put the phone down, once again confounded by doctors.
wasted time did some more careful thinking about my options. I still hate the way I look and feel. More friends talked to me about how great they felt after their hysterectomy (after they healed, that is).
Finally I hit up the internet one more time, searched out several doctors, and found one closer than the other one. I filled out an online “consultation form”; and two days later, at ten o’clock on a Friday night, that surgeon emailed me back. He assured me that his office takes my insurance, and encouraged me to set up an appointment, which I did.
I took my husband to this appointment, and I’m really glad I did. This doctor specializes in minimally-invasive gynecology surgery as well as urinary tract surgery. He doesn’t deliver babies or see women on a yearly basis, and he’s done thousands of these surgeries. He talked a bit to both of us about options, and did an exam, and told me my uterus is 18cm and the fibroids are calcified, which means they can’t come out laparoscopically – as a calcified fibroid is basically rock-like, and they can actually break blades. (I know. Weird, huh?)
He also said they didn’t calcify overnight – I’ve probably had fibroids for years (most women do), they grew slowly, and over the past five years or so calcified. He couldn’t give me a reason why other doctors missed it so I’m doing my best to let that part of this whole thing go. (Change happens, and we’re not always aware of it. Got it.)
He drew pictures, gave me and my husband a straightforward view of how it all happens, as well as possible complications. He was warm, intelligent, caring, and spent quite a long time with us going over other options but in the end, I chose to have a TAH – Total Abdominal Hysterectomy – leaving in the ovaries.
This is a man I trust. This is a man who cares, who answers email from a stranger at ten pm on a Friday night, who spent time talking to my husband as well as to me.
On a high note, when I asked my nurse neighbors about this doctor, they both gave him a two-thumbs up (they work at my local hospital, and this doctor sometimes does surgeries there as well). Gee…I really should have asked them for doctor referrals earlier in my doctor search, but I didn’t think of it. Who better than nurses to give referrals to doctors?
Surgery is scheduled for August 7, 2012. I want to be as healthy as possible going into surgery, so I’m walking, eating healthy, and giving myself ballet classes (well I was until I sprained my ankle); I’m taking iron supplements (patients tend to lose 2 points in iron during abdominal surgery – I’m at an 11, over 12 is normal, he wants me at a 13); I’m also taking calcium and fish oil, but I have to stop the fish oil ten days prior to surgery (it’s a blood thinner, did you know?).
So that’s the story. The takeaways? 1. ALWAYS see the proper doctor for the proper thing. 2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK when searching for doctors – ask friends, neighbors, nurses for referrals. 3. TAKE YOUR TIME if you can before deciding on any procedures. and 4. TAKE A FRIEND/LOVER with you to any important doctor appointments. They will often be thinking clearer than you and will both ask important questions, and remember the answers afterwards.
My next book, DEMON HUNT, comes out either July 15 or August 1st, so I have promo to do for that.
I’ll also be hitting up RWA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim at the end of July, then back to work for a week of getting Important Stuff Done; then I’ll go out on disability and have surgery. During recovery, I’m going to be a writing fiend, as I won’t really feel like moving much. Middle of September? Back to work. Middle of October? Start giving myself ballet classes again to get into shape. A busy summer/fall!
Thanks so much for stopping by! There’s a Midsummer Blog Hop tomorrow, and on Friday I return with a Wine Blog – sorry about the absence of that feature! Cheers all, and remember to Drink Responsibly!
My husband came into the house yesterday evening and made this pronouncement: “We’re ripping everything out of the yard and only planting boysenberries.” I would like to say I was shocked, but I totally understood.
Once you taste a fresh-from-the-vine boysenberry, there is no going back. You will buy the ones in the store, but they never match up to that burst of sun and summer and berry-goodness that is the fresh boysenberry.
Of course, this is true, too of tomatoes and apricots and strawberries and oh, all manner of garden goodness. To this day, I can’t buy an apricot in the store because as a child we had a productive apricot tree. So much so that mom & dad would make apricot jam, stewed apricots (OH YUM!), apricot pie…whatever we didn’t manage to eat (or the birds didn’t get) all got saved, somehow, to make winter brighter with its fresh, fruity flavor. Store apricots just aren’t the same – the juice isn’t as sweet, the flesh tends to be a bit mealy, and over all they are a disappointment.
Tomatoes are one area where I will bite the bullet and buy in the store when I’m not growing my own.
(But come on. I mean, doesn’t that cherry tomato look DELISH?) I have a confession – I make sure I eat the first ripe cherry tomato, every season. That burst of flavor, mingled with the scent of tomato plant on my hands, is, every year, the herald of summer.
I do love the flowers that summer brings, too. Every year for the past few years, I’ll get what I call “volunteer” sunflowers – ones I haven’t planted, but were remnants of seeds from previous summers. I never rip them out before they’ve grown; I like to believe they are the earth’s way of saying “thank you” to me, so the least I can do is help them grow.
These two sunflowers are about twelve feet tall.
And then there’s the artichoke. Once we’ve eaten our fill of artichokes, we tend to ignore the plant for awhile – to our dismay, overnight it seems the artichokes open up too much to be tasty. Then we do our duty to the birds and bees everywhere, and let them flower.
Stunning, isn’t it? How many bees do you see in this photo?
Here’s the whole plant, showing lots of flowering artichokes.
Yeah, spending time in the garden – even when it’s just weeding and watering – always seems to settle my spirit. Taking photos of my garden is just another delight, especially now that I can get photos from my camera and into the blog, lol! But my favorite thing to do in summer? It’s just to sit in the garden around sunset, drinking wine or a Between the Sheets, talking with my husband as he noodles around on the guitar. Pure heaven.
On the writing front, DEMON HUNT is 99% complete – the publisher just needs to finish the formatting, then once more for strictly a format edit and it’ll be good to go. I hope to have ARCs this time around, so I can get some reviews prior to the launch but we shall see.
One last photo – this one was taken at a winery in Paso Robles. It reminds me of a painting by Monet, and I am very proud of it.
All photos in this blog posting were taken by me.
The year is rapidly approaching the Summer Solstice. What is your favorite way to enjoy summer?
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Thanks so much for visiting and leaving comments – I love hearing from you! Until next time – and remember to drink responsibly!
A new release by my friend, Kate Lutter – check it out!
Wild Point Island – blurb
Banished from Wild Point Island as a child, Ella Pattenson, a half human-half revenant, has managed to hide her true identity as a descendent of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Thought to have perished, the settlers survived but were transformed into revenants–immortal beings who live forever as long as they remain on the island.
Now, Ella must return to the place of her birth to rescue her father from imprisonment and a soon to be unspeakable death. Her only hope is to trust a seductive revenant who seems to have ties to the corrupt High Council. Simon Viccars is sexy and like no man she’s ever met. But he’s been trapped on the island for 400 years and is willing to do almost anything for his freedom.
With the forces of the island conspiring against her, Ella must risk her father, her heart, and her life on love.
More about Kate Lutter
Kate Lutter believes she was born to write. She wrote her first novel when she was in eighth grade, but then almost burned her house down when she tried to incinerate her story in the garbage can because she couldn’t get the plot to turn out right. Now, many years later, she lives in NJ with her husband and five cats (no matches in sight) and spends her days writing contemporary paranormal romances, traveling the world, and hanging out with her four wild sisters. She is happy to report that her debut novel, Wild Point Island, the first in a series, has just been published by Crescent Moon Press. She is busy writing the sequel and her weekly travel blog entitled Hot Blogging with Chuck, which features her very snarky and rascally almost famous cat.
The best pasta isn’t worried over or measured to death. Did you know that? I didn’t. I have shied away from making pasta since the unforgettable time that I had friends over and didn’t make enough pasta – so cooked regular pasta with my fresh pasta. Yeah. That didn’t work too well.
Recently, I learned a lot from this book, right here.
So avert your eyes from that gummy mess from my past, and look on this…fresh, beautiful pasta. No measuring needed. And believe it or not, but that amount below fed my family of four. No leftovers!
fresh-made pasta, waiting for the boiling water
You need flour, an egg or two, and some water. Mix together until it holds; then put dough on a flour-covered board and knead for about five minutes. Let it rest under a bowl on your counter (the same bowl you first mixed it in) for about an hour or so – more or less won’t kill you. (And yes, this is the recipe in the book, more or less. But not verbatim!)
Then roll it out with a rolling pin (or a pasta maker, if you have one), cut with a sharp knife or pizza cutter (I prefer the pizza cutter), and you can either let it hang like I did until the sauce is made and the water boiling, or you can pile it gently on your cutting board until ready to cook.
Use a big pot, add a generous handful of salt to to the boiling water, and put your pasta in. Once it boils again, watch it – you shouldn’t need more than 3 to 5 minutes depending on how thick your pasta is. Cook until al dente, and top with your favorite sauce.
Delish! And no measuring needed. My oldest son watched me make this batch – he’s going to make it next week, since it is so easy to do. And so tasty.
The sauce, however, was something else entirely. Took way too long (though it was tasty). This pasta works great with a simple (store bought) pesto sauce, or your favorite jarred sauce, as well as any fresh sauce recipes you may have. Or you can indulge with the following.
My favorite pasta sauce recipe is a garlic-cream-cheese sauce. Ready? Here’s the recipe – 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup butter, 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup shredded parmesan or asiago cheese. Chopped fresh basil if you wish.
Melt butter in heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic, stir briefly. Add cream and heat until it thickens and reduces a bit, maybe 5 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Don’t scorch! When thickened, add mozzarella cheese – stir until melted. Add final cheese, and fresh basil if desired. Can be made up to an hour in advance – merely reheat gently over low heat in pan, then pour over pasta. (Now, if you know me, you’ll know I always add more cheese than is called for in the recipe. Always. Just saying.)
I made this for friends, and added in fresh-steamed broccoli. I will also at times cut down the butter to 1/4 cup – there isn’t a noticeable difference in flavor (but yes in calories!). A little of this sauce over pasta goes a long way. (Put a good red wine behind this meal – either a blend that you like, or a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir – and you’ll have a dinner to remember!)
Sorry, no picture of this sauce – I didn’t think to take it. But consider making pasta from scratch – it isn’t as difficult as all the recipe mavens would have you believe. Nor do you need a pasta machine of any kind – though it does roll the dough thinner than you or I can roll it.
Experiment, and get the family involved. You won’t regret it!
The time-consuming tomato sauce...
Thanks for stopping by! I hope to get back to regular posts next week. Stay tuned…and remember to Drink Responsibly!