Wednesday, April 8, 2015

4th Annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

Warm days, cool nights, and a riot of pastel blossoms are the siren’s song that lured me into the yard this past week to dig in the soil and breathe deep of its loamy scent. Freedom from winter’s imprisonment feels wonderful!

My gardening attempts have always been unending experiments to learn what works, what doesn’t. Years ago, my mother introduced me to Louise Riotte’s book, Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. The idea of grouping plants in a way that would attract beneficial insects which would combat “bad bugs” without the use of pesticides strongly appealed to me, as did the idea of harvesting two crops from the space traditionally allocated to one.

After experimenting with companion planting for several years now, I’ve begun to think of it as homeopathic medicine for the garden: not a fast cure, but something that works over time. Plus, I love the bright spots of color provided by the nasturtiums, tansy and marigolds blooming among my vegetables.

My favorite planting combination so far is strawberries and onions. Both crops thrive, and the onions that don’t get harvested for kitchen use bloom above the groundcover of strawberries, creating unique visual interest.

If you’ve tried companion planting, what is your favorite plant combination? If you’ve never tried companion planting, have you tried some other experimental or controversial gardening technique with good (or mixed) results? Do you have a favorite gardening reference book to share with us? Reply in the comments section below, and be sure to include an email address for entry in the grand prize drawing. The Authors in Bloom grand prize winner receives an e-reader of their choice (up to a $200 value). Second prize is a $25 gift card to an ebook retailer of winner’s choice. To be eligible for the grand prize drawing, visit and comment (include an email address) on each participating blog hop "Authors in Bloom" post. The linky list is located at the bottom of this post.

I’ll be giving away a Kindle version of Louise Riotte’s Carrots Love Tomatoes and an e-copy of my novel Moons’ Kiss to one randomly drawn visitor who comments on this blog post. International visitors are welcome to compete in my blog giveaway.

Good luck, everyone, and happy planting!

They found him in the South Ofrann Desert, where everything evil lived. Most called him a demon. One leader thought this man-without-a-past held the key to tribal peace and prosperity. That leader's enemies saw an opportunity to gain control of the nation.

* * * * *

There had been no explanation for Tackta's rage that day, just as there had been no explanations for prior and subsequent beatings. Manerra could recall vague episodes of disappointment, where Tackta demanded answers to questions Manerra did not understand. But then, he had been a child—a babe!—and lacked the coordination and understanding to please his mother's mate, where even the nature of Tackta's tests were lost beneath the burden of more searing recollections.

Would those who envied him envy him still if they knew the price he had paid for being what he was? Every one of them, including Aya, would be shocked to know how desperately he yearned to avoid succession.

"Please bring forth a shecaren," that plea-whisper broke, backed by the full weight of his desperation. He was running out of time. If a sibling wasn't born at this year's Ingathering, he would lose his chance to abdicate.


Manerra startled and whirled. He had not heard Denassa approach. He had not been aware that he'd stopped walking. His first wonder was whether she'd overheard his plea, but she stood, head bowed, in a deference they rarely used privately. Her formality reminded him of how deeply the janquer were affected by shecaren arguments.

"What does he want from me, Dee?" Manerra bypassed the expected acknowledgment.

Denassa's head lifted.

"Is he afraid I'll challenge his decisions? Or challenge his rule?"

Discomfort overcame her surprise. "He's not confided in me."

He interpreted that as a plea not to compromise her position. "Then tell me what I've missed these last four years. What happened to him?"

"After leaving Kita, we returned to Ayahn Rahh—"

"I know where you went!"

She stopped talking, her frustration evident.

"Dee . . ." he floundered in his search for the one question that would make sense of their arguments. Then suddenly, "Did he want me back?"

Her composure dissolved. "All the years you were gone, he did little more than talk about your return and relate stories of his own tribal years. He planned our arrival in Thurra to coincide with the completion of your training."

Manerra flushed hotly. "Then why can't we talk? Did he have feelings for Hyran he’s never mentioned? Have I failed him?"

Denassa was shocked again. "It's only been a day. Give—"

"No. No, it's not," he cut her short. "We only spoke of it today. Whatever's been wrong has been wrong since Thurra." But because Hyran's death was the obvious answer, Manerra asked, "What, in my father's name, is that thing I risked my life to save?"

"Shecaren . . ." she pleaded as though she could not possibly know any of the answers he wanted. "Is your shoulder broken?"

He blushed. He had tried to hide an injury. "I don't think so."

"May I examine it?"

He choked on a laugh of dismay, but sank to his knees in silent submission. "You could as easily have asked to cut off my leg," he offered as she approached, then flinched when she shifted aside fabric and her fingertips brushed skin.

"I can't examine the bone without touching you," she said.

"I know." And although he steeled himself, her probing fingers wrenched out cries of pain. He sat slumped upon his heels and gasping by the time she was certain his bones weren't broken.

Denassa stroked his temple, then his braids. "I need to look at your hip," she said, "but that can wait until you've taken willow bark tea."

He tilted his head in agreement, needing that relief from pain even though getting it meant returning to the tent. Avoiding Aya even for a day was impossible. Sleeping in the desert would not succeed for long.

"I have not seen a man like the one you brought back," Denassa said. "The founding stories describe the division of the tribes and the existence of the Laytose, and Ringgangley histories explain the creation of the Manteen, but no history describes other Yatren-like men."

"Except demons," he reminded her.

She hesitated before answering, "And the gods."

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