Monday, June 27, 2016

Start the summer with a bang: A Touch of Passion

Derrick looked out at the bay where a now teenaged Tim slowly steered a jet ski, giving his eight-year-old sister a ride. Little Heather had been a lively ball of energy since the first day she'd come into their home as a toddler.
"Daddy! Daddy!" he heard his daughter shout from the water. "Look at me! Look at me!"
Waving at Heather and Tim, Derrick smiled. The love he felt for those two children never failed to make his heart lurch in his chest.
"Here I come, ready or not."
The small voice coming from behind him had him turning to face the house. Derrick forced himself to remain still as he watched his other daughter make her way down the grassy slope toward him.
The brace on five-year-old Susanne's leg made her journey slow and awkward. But since she'd joined their family, Derrick had quickly come to realize how important it was to her that he allow her to maneuver down the incline all by herself. Adopting a special needs child had been a long and harrowing experience. Several times, both he and Anna were sure their petition would be rejected. But he was glad they had stuck with it. Susanne's determination and ever-growing independence never failed to make Derrick feel proud.

Excerpt from Derrick by Donna Fasano 
The novel is included in A Touch of Passion

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Start the summer with a bang: The David Chronicles

Start the summer with a bang! Here are three excerpts, specifically chosen for their impact, from each one of the books in my series, The David Chronicles.

“David,” says Michal, and her voice is soft, barely audible to others around us, so I know that this time, it comes straight from the heart. “Don’t leave me.”
With that, she twirls her skirt this way and that to try to sweep the shattered glass under the table. When this fails, she looks left and right to see if anyone is watching, and then raises the corner of the tablecloth, so both of us can take a peek down there to survey the damage. 
It is there, hidden under that canopy, that we are faced with each other.
“Leave the cup alone,” I tell her. “The wedding ceremony is over.”
She shakes her head, refusing to understand.
I raise her hand, and hold it to my lips. “We both know it’s time,” I say. “I must go.”
“No, no, no.” A tear wells in the corner of her eye. “I know nothing of the sort.”
“Don’t play games with me.” I kiss her. “The secret’s out.”
She plugs her ears. “No, no, no. I don’t want to hear it.”
“I wish I could avoid listening,” I whisper. “But I can’t. We both know: my life here is in danger.”
She counters, “And what about me? I have no life without you.” 
To which I say, dutifully, “I love you.”
And she says, “No, you don’t,” to which she adds, softly, “stay with me.”

With an unexpected sob she pulls her hand out of mine, and I am left kneeling there, holding air. Which is when I hear a new kind of sound that can only be described as choked silence, and I bang my head under the table on my way to stand up.

David in Rise to Power

“Don’t you raise your hand upon him.”
“Ha! You can’t ask that of me.”
“I’m not asking, Joav.” I peer into his steel-grey eyes. “I’m ordering you.”
“What a laugh!” he says, with a last-ditch effort to provoke me. “You think you’re the king.”
I grit my teeth and, ever so calmly, I counter, “I do, and I am.”
Exasperated, he bangs the palm of his hand at my desk. “Don’t you see what you’ve done?”
So I try to explain, “I’ve done what’s necessary for my plan, for unity in this land.”
Joav shakes his head, utterly in disgust. 
“Look, Abner came to you. It was such a rare opportunity! Why, why did you let him go?” he asks, not wanting to hear me. “Now he’s gone! You know him. He came here to deceive you, to observe your movements and find out everything you’re doing.”
“I’m prepared to take that risk.”
Joav is grinding his teeth with an ear-piercing noise, which rolls over his words, so none can be discerned. So I press on. 
“His actions,” I say, “will speak for him.”
“By then,” he grumbles, at last, “it may be too late.”
“Late for what?”
“For me to catch up to him.”
With that he turns away, and as abruptly as he has come Joav leaves the office, his knives clinking against each other in a secret compartment, somewhere under his belt.
He slams the door on his way out. I hear the thump of his footsteps shaking the stairs, one at a time, all the way down to the ground floor. I should send someone to lay a hand on him and bring him to a stop—but I know few will take that risk.

At my age I should expect nothing but respect. But when my own son walks away from me, my resolve immediately falters. To spite me, he smiles flirtatiously at Abishag, my lovely new concubine, till she tightens her robe around her waist and turns her head away, hiding her blush from him, and perhaps from me, too. Then with a youthful vigor, Adoniah bangs the heavy iron door deliberately behind him, which makes Goliath’s sword clang against the wall, right here over my head. 
The rattle shocks me into trying to overcome the fright, the sudden quaking of my bones. 
I adore my son, which lures me into seeing myself—my own image, only more invincible—in him. So what if he is rebellious? I must have been the same way at his age. Back then, did I not leave my father, exchanging the safety of his home for something unknown, for adventure? Did I not defy his charge for me to remain there, in Hebron, and support him in his time of need?

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Start the summer with a bang: At Odds with Destiny

Marie went into her room in the children’s wing. It was cool and dark, perfect for sleeping. She went into her bathroom and pulled off her suit. She took a shower and washed her hair. The water felt good on her hot, sunburnt skin. She stood out of the protection of the umbrella, talking to the neighbor for at least an hour. But it was worth it. It was the first time in recent memory that she felt happy and excited. It was just for coffee, she reminded herself. But it was a start.
She got into her bed, completely relaxed and refreshed. She fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly, she was awakened, hearing a scuffle. Her first reaction was to run out of her room, but she was stopped by the voice of a man. She didn’t recognize the voice, but it was definitely a male. She tiptoed to her door and slowly and carefully turned the knob.
“Don’t hurt her!” Pam screamed!
When had she gotten home? Marie closed the door and locked it. She crept back to the bed and got her cell phone, keying in 9-1-1. She whispered into the phone that she thought there had been a break-in, that someone was hurting her aged mother. The dispatcher said they would send cars out right away. She hung up and went back to her door. She could hear Pam’s voice, low and pleading, and her mother whimpering. She didn’t know if she should go out to help them or stay locked in her room. What would make things better? Worse? She chose staying put. In less than five minutes, she heard the whoosh of cars out front and then a loud “Bang!”

Excerpt from Pam of Babylon by Suzanne Jenkins 
The novel is included in At Odds with Destiny

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Start the summer with a bang: Still Life with Memories

Why not start the summer with a bang? Here are excerpts, specifically chosen for their impact, from each one of the novels in my series, Still Life with Memories:

So instead I raise my head and with wild, vicious force, I bang my forehead, then bang it again against the keyboard. I’m free now, so free to attack it. The beast wakes up, and from its belly springs a sharp, fierce cry, which makes the air tremble in bursts, short bursts coming at me, doubled by echoes from every wall, every corner.
Meanwhile, in the background, I can hear them blinds, like, smacking each other, and giving way, suddenly, to a gust of wind. And there, in the opening of the glass door, which leads to the balcony, I spot his outline, standing behind the tape recorder. 
The moonlight shines briefly on his shoulders as Lenny crosses the threshold. With a slight limp he makes his way in, and leans over my shoulders. And I can feel his strong arms wrapping around mine, arresting me, blocking my attempt to bang, bang, bang the keys. He turns me around—but me, I try to refuse him, and I fight like a savage, like a cat, and something surges in me, so in my fury I push him, I shove him away real hard, till he falls to his knees before me. 

Anita in My Own Voice

So then, bang! I pound the keys, this time fortissimo—with full strength!—as if to cry, Stop! No more darkness, no more gloom! There’s a thud, there’s a boom! Hear this, right here? Hear my voice? Tell me, Yes—you have no choice! 
And before this phrase fades out Anita straightens her back, and places her hand on the keys. Then, to my astonishment, she plays the next phrase of music, this time with raw, intense force, which I never knew existed in her, bringing it to the verge of destruction, making it explode all around me. And I, in turn, explode with the following one, because how can I let her outdo me? I am, after all, The Entertainer... 
Here I come! Here I drum! No more woes. Let me close! Let me in, hold me tight! Don’t resist me, do not fight—

The M1 Granad, with which our company was practicing shooting skills, is a semi-automatic, shoulder-fired rifle loaded by inserting a metal clip that contains eight rounds into the receiver. Once the eighth round has been shot, the empty clip automatically ejects with a notable noise, a ping that would cost the lives of many soldiers, as it would provide the enemy with a clue as to their whereabouts, especially in close-combat fighting. 
That morning in training camp it was not the sound of loading, nor was it that distinct ping that alerted me to danger, but the whisper of blades of grass tearing asunder, falling with a whoosh left and right as the bullet came flying straight at me. Like a thunderbolt, it hit my shoulder. There is nothing friendly about so-called friendly fire. Searing pain started spreading to my arm, my entire quivering body. I staggered into a spin and fell onto the soft soil of the earth.
My mind drifted in and out of consciousness. At some point I felt a stretcher bouncing under me, and realized I was being carried somewhere, perhaps to the army hospital. I heard someone ask, “Is he still breathing?” 
Wincing in pain I tried to answer, but my tongue would not move. 
I recall hands, many hands touching me, grasping my arms and legs, lifting my body onto some hard surface. Then they started to apply direct pressure and elevate my limbs, perhaps to control the bleeding. 
I passed out. I came to. 
With the bullet isolated from the flesh and pulled out, splints and dressings were applied to immobilize the injured area, which was then wrapped with a dressing. I glanced at my left side. It was beginning to look like a mound of white gauze. 
I got a glimpse of the sterile table next to me. It was littered with empty syringes, clamps, and a heap of cotton swabs, most of which were drenched in blood. And there, in their shadow, lay surgical Mosquito forceps. Normally they would be used for halting flow in small blood vessels, but right now they were holding something between their delicate, serrated tips. A bullet.
I passed out. I came to. 

Lenny in The Music of Us

On the way back to London I could barely keep my eyes open, except for the very beginning of the journey. The meadow looked gray, with dead horses, cattle and mattresses strewn all about, covered in falling debris. Of the nearby farm, not a single structure remained in place, and not a brick could be found anywhere near it that resembled building material. And there, rising to the sky, swaying in the wind, hung a mushroom cloud.
The earth quaked. Casting a look over my shoulder I saw a ripple going through it. Then a big depression was being formed out there, with cracks yawning wide. Before long it became a cavernous crater, maybe a hundred feet deep, threatening to swallow us alive. Its mouth spit up dirt and rocks, only to devour them with an incredible crackling sound as they came tumbling down. There was something eerie about this landscape. It was ravenous. Riding at utmost speed, we kept just out of its lip.

Lenny in Dancing with Air

Then she whispered, “You look happy, my love.”
And I said, “Natashinka, will you marry me?”
“I will,” she said, “even though I know what Mama will have to tell me about that. You can guess it too: ‘Over my dead body.’”
“Which is a funny thing for her to say, because that’s just the kind of wedding I was expecting, until not so long ago. Over my dead body.”
“That,” she said, “would make for a short marriage.”
“And,” said I, “an unhappy one.”
“Ma knows nothing about what we’re going through, about you heading for an execution at the hands of the SS soldiers, and me pretending to be pregnant, to save you, somehow, from it.”
“Haven’t you told her about your proposition of marriage before death?”
“No, Lenny. Telephone lines have been cut off. I have yet to find a way to contact her. For now, all Mama knows is that one way or another, she must stop you from marrying me.”
“Let’s mail her an invitation to the wedding.”
“Really! I think she’ll be thrilled by it.”
“Oh Lenny, you know she won’t.”
“Seeing the look on her face as we exchange vows would be half the fun.”
Natasha laughed, only to turn serious once again. “I want it to happen in Paris.”
“Then, let’s get there in a big hurry,” I said. “But first, my love, don’t we have to go back?”
“Back where?”
“Up to the clearing in the woods, to let the partisans and their leader know that you’ve kept your promise.”
“The boy will do that for me. He’ll tell them to expect an air drop.”
I relaxed into thinking that for the first time in a long time, there was nothing for me to worry about. The future seemed bright. We were together. We had no plans, and it was just fine that way.
“You look sleepy,” she said. “Come here.”
She wrapped her arms around me. I closed my eyes, and on the verge of dozing off, imagined the boy arriving at the camp, up there in the hills. I could just see the partisans, coming out of their tents late in a moonless night. 
They would tremble slightly in the cold night breeze, wrap themselves in their ragged blankets, and turn their eyes to the west, where a whir of engines would signal the coming of British planes. Hanging beneath silk parachutes, crates of armaments would start dropping, ever so dreamily, from the starry heavens.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

You are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain

Bathsheba lowers her eyes and gives a shy, hesitant nod to one concubine after another, as they are coming down, measuring her top to bottom, and flinging their skirts about, with a happy whistle on their lips. 
That uneasy scramble to the top has the questionable effect of humbling her. By the time she arrives, there are tears in her eyes.
“What’s the matter?” I ask, because I truly feel for her. Being an outsider, she is greeted with suspicion by the rest of my wives.
Asking this question is, without a doubt, my second mistake of the day. For a long time Bathsheba is silent.
At long last, “Oh, nothing,” she says, biting her lip. 
So hard does she do it that her lip becomes white, and it bears the marks of her teeth.
“Come here,” I whisper to her. 
Instead she goes to the window. I find myself unable to say anything, so instead I make a note to myself, to write down these words, later: “The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride. You are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
By the reflection I can read her. I see that she wipes the corner of her eye. Silk curtains start swishing. They sway, they billow wildly around her, blotting and redrawing the curves of her silhouette. 

I join her by the window and hold her, rocking her gently in my arms. Together, we look out at the last glimmer of the sun, sinking. 

C. 1562, oil on wood, Musee du Louvre, Paris

My book is greatly inspired by art of all ages, such as this painting of Bathsheba, who is both lovely and wears extravagant cloths. In the background you can see an imagined view of the City of David.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Beach reading: If only it could be summer again

Saturday morning a light rain fell, adding to the chilly, fall mood. Beach season was truly over. Harley didn’t want to leave. If only it could be summer again, with her children home all day and the laziness of it accessible to them all. Hoping she’d have the upcoming summer to enjoy, she ended the speculation, refusing to allow anything to mar the peace she had, in part due to her husband’s attention the night before, hoping they’d been discreet enough. He’d whispered to her,
“This is just a matinee for what’s in store for you when we get home.” She didn’t have the heart to tell him she’d wished they could stay in Sea Isle forever.
Needing coffee but not wanting to disturb Jason while he slept, she stayed in bed, remembering everything she could about the previous day. During their walk on the beach, little Devon found a razor clamshell; a long, curved single shell.
“Devon wins!” Tina yelled, the others crowding around her, clapping.

The experience had accomplished a miracle for her little girl who behaved like a princess all evening, never uttering a whine. Smiling, Harley wanted more memories for her littlest child, with positivity and happiness surrounding her.

Excerpt from Perfect for Him by Suzanne Jenkins. 
The novel is included in A Touch of Passion

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A hearty thank you to our wonderful readers
who not only nominated A Touch of Passion for the 
Romance Reviews Reader Choice Awards 
but also took us all the way to first place:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I adore my son

I adore my son, which lures me into seeing myself—my own image, only more invincible—in him. So what if he is rebellious? I must have been the same way at his age. Back then, did I not leave my father, exchanging the safety of his home for something unknown, for adventure? Did I not defy his charge for me to remain there, in Hebron, and support him in his time of need? 
Never before have I considered how the old man must have felt, left behind in fragile health, in a crumbling house, with not one of us children staying there to keep him company—no one but loneliness. 
Her face still rosy with a sense of embarrassment, Abishag wipes the little smile from her lips and curtseys before me. She is obedient, perhaps even fearful of me. Plumping herself on my blankets, she goes back to holding the inkwell for me. 
I dip the tip of my feather in it, glancing at the veins marbling my thinning, nearly transparent skin. Is this my hand? Why is it trembling so? It seems to be my father’s, and so does my voice, when I utter the words as I scribble them, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy on me. My strength was sapped, as in the heat of summer.
My father is gone. Finding myself now in his place is a humbling surprise. I know I deserve it.

★ Love historical fiction? Treat yourself to a gift 
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"The miracle of Uvi Poznansky's writing is her uncanny ability to return to old stories 
and make them brilliantly fresh."
-Grady Harp, Hall of Fame reviewer

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It’s hard, so hard for the old heart to let go

For a while I leaf through this book, which Lenny’s bought me. I bet he’s real excited. He so looks forward to becoming a father, the second time around. I can just see him in my head, like, holding the baby’s hand, guiding him already in his first steps. Then, letting go, he’s gonna take a step or two back, and hold his breath, waiting there for the little one to walk into his open arms. 
Lenny’s gonna buy him a brand new tricycle, and teach him how to set his little feet on top of them pedals, and push, push harder, even harder—yeah! Just so! And again: Go on, push, until—oh boy! With great joy, he’s gonna clap his hands, because here—for the first time—you could detect a move, a slight move ahead. 
And then, a few years down the road, he’s gonna surprise our child with a large, shining bicycle, and adjust the training wheels as time goes by, until they wasn’t needed no more; at which point, Lenny would remove them, and hold them in his hands, like, to weigh them for a moment, and try to wipe the rust, and wish that time would like, slow down, just a little, because it’s hard, so hard for the old heart to let go. 
Yes, Lenny needs a son: someone to need him, trust him, and make him trust himself again. 

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

I had to do something, to take your mind off the sight of that broken limb

Finally he says, “Your mother, she used to string them together, to make a long necklace. She would stare at the inner layer of each shell, and tip it over this way and that to capture the light, saying it reminded her, somehow, of a rainbow. Remember?”
I cannot help but look away, as a sudden shiver goes through my spine. My father draws closer to me, and without taking no for an answer, he tightens my jacket around me and zips it up, to ward off the cold. 
“There,” he says. “The sun is gone. Time to go home.”
On the way back he is quiet; reflecting, perhaps, on one more thing he wants to say. Then, opening the door, he comes up with, “Remember, Ben, how I taught you to use the tape recorder? I mean, to record your voice?”
And I say, “When was that?”
And he says, “Why, when you broke your foot.” 
And I cry, “What? When did I ever break my foot?”
“You forgot,” he says, glancing at me, now with a hint of worry in his eyes. “Memory is such a fragile thing. I learned that when your mother—”
His voice trails off; then he finds it again. “You had just turned twelve,” he says, “which is when you broke your foot, climbing that branch; the one that used to lean there,” he points, “right over the balcony. It was a bit flimsy—remember?”
The image in my mind is a bit hazy at first; but then it starts clearing, and I can see, I can just see three eggs in a nest, just a little bit out of my reach.
“I had to saw the thing off,” he says, “so it would not be so tempting to climb it again.”
“Oh,” I say then. “I think I remember. Yes, I do.”
“You used to stand by the railing, looking bored, sad even, staring out there at the tree, gauging the distance to that nest over there; a distance which could no longer be bridged, with the branch cut off. My heart ached for you. So I had to do something, to take your mind off the sight of that broken limb.”

Ben in The White Piano

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