Saturday, May 9, 2009


In memory of our old cat Shadow, here's a wacky story that is mostly true. (The not-so-true parts? The guys don't work that hard and are only lawn buffs when I say it's become a jungle.)

Shadow, the Hero Cat (In her broader days)

In summer I do most of my writing outdoors on the deck under a curtained canopy that provides shelter from rain and enough shade for me to see my laptop screen. Last summer while I worked, an additional opportunity arose. I became a War Correspondent. And I didn't even have to leave the deck to do the job.

Here's how it happened: You see, there's something about a string of mole hills laced around a yard that can set even the least intrepid of yard guys into a frenzy. I'm not talking about those strange males with green thumbs who spend entire summers weeding, seeding and trimming every blade of grass to the perfect height. I can't imagine how guys like that survive a mole attack. It's dangerous enough for my guys, and our lawn isn't exactly one a normal suburbanite would discuss in polite company.

Moles are not the innocuous tiny rodents digging around in the dirt they try to make you believe they are. They are vicious, loathsome, alien beings bent on the destruction of the American Way of Lawn. They are an affront to the masculinity of the American male. Therefore it is inherent in any American male that he must rise to the defense of home, hearth and backyard.

Nor is the struggle confined to male humans. The American house cat of either gender also feels honor-bound to join in the struggle to save the dandelion-dotted expanse of green. Or maybe it's that moles taste good. I'm not really sure. At any rate, the two males and two black cats of our household immediately united in the struggle against the common enemy.

I'm not really sure whether it was the human males or the black-furred Special Forces that took up the battle first, but the first sign of battle I glimpsed involved shovels leveling the mounds. By morning, the mounds were back.

Meanwhile, Jinx and Shadow took turns at the latest mound. Jinx dug and dug, turned around and came at the hole from a different angle. Eighteen-year-old Shadow, whose favorite daily routines consist of eating, sleeping, using the litter box and issuing various commands to be petted, let out or fed kitty treats, stood- or rather laid- guard whenever Jinx was not around. But the mounds multiplied, making a nearly complete circle in the yard.

Mole traps, suggested my son. I looked out and saw seven-year-old Jinx digging into the freshest hole like a dog after a bone, while old Shadow supervised from the shade of the redwood tree. And seeing Jinx going deep enough that half of her body was hidden from sight, I vetoes traps. They'd catch more cats than moles. Jinx is nothing if not exuberant in her pursuit of any critter that moves, and I could picture her poor little paw hideously mangled in the trap's ominous jaws.

Rocks, then, they decided. Soon they were hauling in gravel from the driveway and packing it into the holes, which they then flattened with their favorite weapons, shovels. It worked. The moles didn't re-appear in those holes. However, they did move on. More mounds. Closer to the house. My mind was starting to replay the horrors of gophers in Caddy Shack, and I could see those nasty creatures tunneling beneath the house and under-mining the foundation.

And Jinx kept digging, and Shadow kept supervising.

Since the rocks didn't stop the enemy, the guys turned to stronger measures. They'd flood them out. So the garden hose came into action, and the water ran until the neighbor's lawn downhill from us once again turned green even though it was mid-July, and my mind's eye envisioned our house inching downhill in a mudslide. Likely the moles were living it up beneath our very feet, basking beside their underground swimming pools. Only moles would do a thing like that.

Closer, closer, the tell-tale mounds came to the house, and the yard was beginning to look like a minefield. Nothing could stop their forward advance.

Someone said poison, and the guys took it to heart. No, said I, if the cats could dig up a trap, they could dig up poison. We must protect our allies. But what could we do? The moles were winning battle after battle. And the guys were talking backhoe. That would get rid of the moles, all right, but yard as we know it would cease to exist.

Then early one morning I was under my canopy typing away when I looked out to the battlefield through my computer glasses, which meant I didn't see all that well, and I saw Jinx going after a new hole with a new vengeance.

But squinting a bit harder (when I really could have just reached for the other glasses), I realized the cat at war was quite a bit fatter than Jinx. That was old Shadow digging, with all the energy and fury Jinx put into the endeavor. What was this? The feline couch potato in hot pursuit of the enemy? Never in all the years we've had her has she been a hunter, but the way she was shoveling the dirt, I would have sworn she was just about to bring home a mole for dinner.

My heart swelled with pride for the old girl. "Go, Shadow, go," I whispered, and sat up straighter to watch her work. "Go, girl. Save the yard from the backhoe. "

She dug, dug, dug. She came back up. She ran around the mound to the opposite side, and dove in again, sending dirt flying. Knowing her particular eating habits, I figured she'd expect me to roast it in the oven for her supper so it would be nice and tender for her old teeth.

Then she did the altogether too thinkable. She turned, backed onto the dirt and squatted.

Well, we all know Shadow was really simply indulging in one of her favorite daily activities. Don't we?

All I can say is, that was about a year ago and I haven't seen any new piles of dirt in the yard.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Years ago, when I wrote Bound to Love Her, my first Elven romantic-suspense novel, I did it for two reasons.

1) I’d heard that you could write a fantasy and get it published in a romance sub-genre, as long as it had the lurve.

2) I’d seen Orlando Bloom as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings movie.

All writers start out with a basic idea and embroider on it. I live in Boulder, Colorado, a pretty environmentally minded town. That and Elven lore in general caused me to make my Elves guardians of the earth, and also vulnerable to its destruction. They merge with the land, they draw their energy from it, and when it ceases to be land and becomes a foundation for roads, homes, or malls, they die.

But roads, homes and malls aren’t evil, and Elves aren’t always good.

Fantasy novels are a great way to explore philosophical and sociological issues. Romance novels are a great way to explore personal relationships. In Bound to Love Her, Galan, my Elven hero, distrusts humans. They’re driving his people to extinction, although they don’t know it. And Erin, my human heroine, distrusts Galan, because he won’t acknowledge the feelings between them, and also because Elves have this nasty habit of hypnotizing humans and rejiggering their reality. They were brought together by magical circumstance and a villain, which are both fun.

Fast forward to my second book, Stolen Magic, which just came out. This time, I wanted to explore the world of Elves from the inside looking out. Were they a devoted group of folks, with no dissent? Did they get everything they needed from each other? Does anyone? And so I created Adlia, the odd Elf out. She never knew her parents, is short where other Elves are tall, and lacks the magical talent that reassures Elves that they are, well… magical. She wanted someone to love her for all the things she was, not look at her funny for the things she wasn’t. She needed someone with a welcoming clan – family and friends who know that people aren’t perfect, but who love and take care of them just the same. Mark Speranzi (Italian for hope), fit the bill perfectly.

As for Elves and the humans, they’re getting better at compromise. If the books have a message, it’s that states of all-bad or all-good are thin on the ground. Relationships change, the planet changes, there is no perfect state of equilibrium, no Eden to return to. There never was. That doesn’t mean we stop trying to make things better, both for ourselves and others.

You can find back-cover blurbs and first chapters for both books here, and please drop by my ElvesInBoulder Giveaway, where you can register to win two different prizes.

1) Jewelry, art, and body care.

2) Free hotel nights, restaurant and boutique gift certificates, and theater tickets in my very own Boulder, Colorado.

And to show that giving is sometimes as fun as receiving, you can also don a pair of pointy ears and upload your photo (cut-and-tape pattern provided). I’ll donate a dollar to the Nature Conservancy for each of the first 500 pointy-eared folks I see. You’ll be pretending to be an Elf, but you’ll be a hero (or heroine) for real.

Esri Rose is the author of two books about Elves in Boulder, Colorado – Stolen Magic, just out, and Bound to Love Her. She lives in Boulder with her husband and her cat, only one of whom has pointy ears. You can find her main website at and her Giveaway site at

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I loved all the wonderful responses I got. Some have sent photos and others commented. managed to find some photos to go with a lot of the comments.

"The most beautiful place on earth is my birthplace and home, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. God's Country, as I call it. The valley and mountains are my inspiration. Shenandoah is an Indian name and means 'Daughter of the Stars.' Photograph by my mother, Pat Churchman." ~~Beth Trissel

Truly wonderful, Beth! I visited there when I was 9 years old on a trip with my aunt and uncle, and it led me to write my first poem/song.

For you beach lovers and lovers of beaches, I'll repeat this romantic shot of a beach on North Kaua'i:

"My most beautiful place is any beach with my husband. I would love to go to Hawaii, but have not so far." ~~Rhonda

"The beach at Anna Maria Island on a sunny early June day; umbrella, book, wine, the lulling rhythm of the waves, the bath-warm water. Sand so white it seems like snow. No phone calls, no 'to do' list. School is out for teachers, too!" ~~Kathryn

"I have a thing for beaches, too." ~~Donna

For Rhonda, Kathryn and Donna, here's Anna Maria Island off the East Coast of Florida. Truly beautiful white sand with magnificent blue sky and ultramarine ocean!

"One--the reef my husband and I snorkeled in when we visited St. Lucia..." ~~ Eliza

This reef photo was taken off St. Lucia. I see why you love it so much, Eliza.

"Two--the top of Brandon Mountain in Ireland. It is really more like a tall hill. It sits on the Dingle Peninsula, and is just the most gorgeous view of the lands. ~~Eliza

And I found this one of Brandon Mountain that looks just like your description.

"For me, nothing can top London!! As much as I loved the beaches in Mexico and Majorca, etc...the heat and sand override the beauty for me. But London...from the architecture to the breathtaking gardens...I just can't ever get enough!" ~~Jerrica

I have lots of great photos of London, Jerrica, but this one is "tops"- taken from the top of the London Eye, looking down on Parliament.

Danielle says: "My favorite place in the whole world is Yellowstone National Park--there is a variety of beauty there like no other place--as if the Earth in that area is alive and breathing all around you. I once had the opportunity to go snowmobiling in the Park before it became overcrowded and they had to make some restrictions. White snowfall billowing over those sea blue geysers. The buffalo milling around with frozen Santa beards--I'll never forget that as long as I live. What a great contest. I'll have to post a photo later in the month."

We'll wait eagerly for your photos, Danielle. I saw Yellowstone only once, but it is unforgettable

Martha says: "It is hard to pick just one beautiful spot! I have some photos of Madiera Spain, and some from my River Rhine cruise, plus San Cabos Lucas. "

Madiera, The Rhine, Cabo! Three places I've never been and would love to see.. I can't wait for your photos, Martha.

Send more, everyone!

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I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.