Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guest Blogger Michael Mandrake

Welcome if you will my good friend and talented author Michael Mandrake, who is going to talk to us today about wriitng and music, as well as a little bit about his latest release! Michael, have a seat in the kitchen, while I pull breakfast out of the oven. How do you take your coffee?  Oh yeah, go ahead and start, that's fine.


Writing to Music
Part II
Michael Mandrake

Greetings fans!


At IRM this past Monday, I did the first part of the series, writing to music where me, Michael, muse 1, featured some of the artists or groups that have been inspiration to my stories.

I’m ending my part by talking about song titles and or lyrics. A lot of times, the words that are part of a song could be a big help when coming up with your characters feelings or emotions. At times, when I try to select what music to put on, the story that’s foremost in my mind will say, hey, listen to this and it opens the door to a new scene whether it be love or a stressful part in my characters world.

For example, in the story Rawiya and I share, Masquerade, part of the Down in Nola series, Derwyn James, the main character talks about how this song served as comfort to him when he and his boyfriend called it quits. It also provided the song title for the first part of the series since the tune, by George Benson, talks about losing a lover because they hid their true feelings.

The Masquerade is just that. A man who is gay, hiding behind a mask because he’s afraid to come out. The lyrics hit home for Rawiya when writing it and I was glad to be part of it.

In my own story, Only When I Lose Myself, I garnered some inspiration from one of my favorite bands, Depeche Mode.




The song speaks about a man falling in love with someone he most likely shouldn’t. Doesn’t give a reason why but this particular tune, though about 25 years old, spoke to me when writing the prequel to The Imperfect Lover.



In this one, Matthew and Adrian my MC’s talk about falling for one another and finding something good in themselves when doing so. I’m a big fan of the tune and even after writing the first part was done, the song spurred me on to write the rest of their story which should be released in the fall.

What about you? What songs have spurred something creative or what would you call your theme song? Leave your thoughts.

I thank Julie for having me here today. Let me leave you with a snippet of Only When I Lose Myself part of the My Sexy Valentine Anthology.





Video Trailer

Blurb: 

Adrian Vanderguard is the hottest singer in the music business right now and is currently on tour supporting his third album. Now that the long journey is coming to a close, he is visiting his home away from home in New York City to play a string of six exclusive shows at New York’s famous Falcon Theatre in front of sellout crowds that include top celebrities.


 Adrian is also a loner who is in need of companionship. While on this lengthy trip, he has made up in his mind that he would like to be dating by Valentine’s Day of the following year, and he will stop at nothing to accomplish this.

 Matthew Gionapolis is the Falcon’s environmental engineer. A young, healthy, twenty- something, that takes his work very seriously. Matthew is one person who likes everything to be in place, and really is not into having much contact with people unless he has to.

 Not knowing this, Adrian decides that he would like to get Matthew to be his assistant despite the fact that the young gentleman was rather rude to him when he tried to introduce himself. Undeterred, Adrian even goes as far to point out the fact that Matthew must do as his managers say or else it could mean his job. This upsets Matthew but because he would like to be employed, he goes along with Adrian’s ploy, and while all this is going on, he develops a soft spot for the kind hearted, gorgeous crooner that may change his mind about wanting to be alone for the duration of his existence. 

EXCERPT PG
“Excuse me, young man,” Adrian tapped Matthew on the shoulder.

Matthew shrugged and walked away.


Laura and Diana watched in horror at what Matthew might do while Bret observed with discontent.

“Matthew, my good man, listen, I…wanted to draft you as my assistant. Since your bosses didn’t see the email, I’m a little…desperate. This will turn out good after all since I really like what I’m seeing.” Adrian turned on the charm immediately.

Matthew however, was not moved.  “So, why can’t you get someone else? I’m not assistant material, you know. I’m sure there are, many a gay boy that would love to get your towels for you and tease your hair.” He rolled his eyes.

“Yeah but, none of them are holding my attention like you are, mate.” Adrian grinned, his brown eyes once more connected with Matthew’s emeralds.

“Yeah, well here’s a newsflash for your Mr. Vanderguard. You can take your affections elsewhere, I ain’t interested.” Matthew frowned and went back to working.

Matthew strolled to the next patch of carpet while shaking his head. He knelt down to trim more fibers.
Adrian licked his lips and stared at the janitor.

Laura, Diana, and Bret continued to look on.

Again, Adrian folded his arms. Although he should have been taken aback by Matthew’s reaction, he was determined to have his way. “Well, Matthew, even if you aren’t, it is a requirement of your job to do whatever asked and since I have told your boss that I want you as an assistant because she fucked this up, you have to do what she tells you to…” Adrian moved his hands onto his sides while tapping his foot.

Matthew stopped clipping loose hairs. “Seriously?” He looked at Laura and Diana who just nodded their heads.

“Shit…” Matthew mumbled under his breath, nodding. “Fine, whatever, I need the job, but I am telling you now I don’t like this.


While Michael and I relax and eat, leave us your thoughts and comments. What does music mean to you in  your life? We'd love to hear about it!

Have a wonderful day!

♥ Julie

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winner of The Wishing Cup contest!

So, JM Gryffyn is pleased to announce that the winner of the PDF copy of The Wishing Cup goes to none other than...(drumroll, please) Trekfan!   The copy of the novella will be winging its way over to her in a day or so.  Thanks so much to everyone who gave the contest a go.  Happy reading!  ~JM 


There you have it, folks! Thanks to everyone that entered and congratulations to Trekfan! Keep stopping by, you never know when there'll be another contest!



Silver Flash #22: Yes He's My Ex: The Return of Carlo

Happy Wednesday and welcome to another edition of Silver Flash! This week, Ryssa gave us two prompts to work with. Those were: "So what exactly is going on here?" and "Are you ever satisfied?" I worked them both into my continuing saga of Sonny and Tim, called Yes He's My Ex. As you'll recall, last week Sonny and Tim made their way from the basement of the spooky old house behind the Bates Motel, only to be confronted by Carlo the kidnapper and his sidekick. See where that leads today, in the newest chapter of the saga, then stay tuned for the links to my fellow Silver Flashers. Without further ado, I bring you

The Return of Carlo









“Angelo, grab the stiff and let’s go,” Carlo snarls, but when his stooge approaches Sonny, I growl at him.

“Over my dead body!”

“Well, that’s one way of doing it,” Carlo smirks.  For a moment, I’m afraid that Angelo is going to rip Sonny from my arms, but at the last moment, Carlo signs to him to stand aside. “Then you carry him,” he instructs me. “I don’t give a fuck, just as long as we get out of here.”

This is all utterly confusing, and I’m getting damn tired of it. Out of the frying pan, back into the fire. Now we have three doors to choose from—behind one door is the gun-wielding pseudo protection of the FBI and Dale Camel; behind the second door is the unknown person or persons who maneuvered us into the basement of this creepy house; and now door number three has been revealed to contain Carlo the kidnapper and his idiotic sidekick.

Not that I care for any of the choices, but Carlo has a gun and it’s aimed at us, so guess which door we’re forced to choose?

"So what exactly is going on here?"

At the moment, Sonny is just so much dead weight. I heft him over my shoulder. Yeah, he’s heavy, but he’s my burden and no one else’s.

“Simple enough,” Carlo explains, and I refrain from commenting that if he thought of it, it must be, but I show a bit of common sense and hold my tongue. He indicates that we’re to go ahead of him, down a long hallway. Ahead of us, I can see the door, but before we reach it, he directs me to turn into what appears to be the front parlor. An old fashioned room, it is full of furniture that looks like it might have been new when Queen Victoria was a little girl. Old, and dark, with lots of doilies and antimicassars.

And a dead body.

There’s something you don’t see every day.

At least that is what I assume it is. All I can see are the feet, sticking out from behind a chair. But judging by the awkward angle of those feet, I’m going to assume that they’re attached to a dead body. Perhaps that of the owner of the house.

And Carlo telling me it’s simple is still not an explanation. “You and Sonny, on the couch,” he orders me. Sonny’s just coming around, so that helps. I carry him to the couch, and take a seat with him on my lap.

“Tim, where are we?” He looks around him uneasily.  A small spinet sits along one wall. I half expect to see Lurch sitting at the bench, his ham hands pounding out a dirge. Or a dance tune. One never knew with him.

“We’re still in the house,” I inform him.

His eyes grow round when he sees Carlo standing just inside the doorway, gun in hand, then he begins to grin. “Hey, Carlo! What’s up?”

“Hey, Sonny.” He waves Angelo toward the corpse.  “Use the rug.” Next thing we know, the feet have disappeared from view in the middleof a musty floor rug, rolled up tighter than a Cuban cigar.

“What should I do with it?” he asks.

“Toss it in the cellar.” Angelo drags the body out of the room and moments later we hear a thunk thunk thunk as it tumbles down the stairs we just came up.

“Hey, Carlo, we were with Dale, but not anymore,” Sonny confides, “he’s with the FBI now.”

Great, Sonny, got any more information you’d care to divulge? Let’s try and remember that this isn’t the cavalry and we haven’t just been rescued. Not a John Wayne in sight. More likely a John Wayne Gacy.

“I know all that,” Carlo replies. “I haven’t been sitting on my hands since you guys lammed with my meal ticket.”

“He means Dale,” Sonny whispers to me in a confidential aside. I just give him an are-you-kidding look, and he contents himself with nuzzling my neck. I guess it’s better that he not speak right now.

“You guys aren’t all that hard to tail, I hate to tell you. We’ve been wise to your every stupid movement, just waiting our time. Trouble is the Feds got to you first. I was afraid maybe they was gonna throw you in witness protection or something.”

You know what, right about now, that idea is sounding pretty good. I think.

“Lucky for us, those particular Feds you hooked up with ain’t the brightest bulbs in the box.”

Like you are?

“We knew where you was, just been waitin’ for a chance to pick you up. When we noticed you making your escape, I decided to sit back and watch. First I sent your little friends on a wild goose chase. That should keep them out of the way temporarily, but not forever. Then we followed you up to this house and seen you get dumped downstairs. That’s when we, shall we say, performed an intervention on your behalf. The kind that people don’t come back from.”

No resurrection. Good to know.
“So, what’s going to happen with us now?” Yeah, I have to ask, it seems almost like we’re back to square one. Just a different location, and minus one player. Dare I hope this insanity is almost done?

I know, foolish thought.

He grins at me.  "Are you ever satisfied with what you’re told? Always asking for more, you are.”

“I’ll keep on asking til the minute you tell me you’re done with us, and then we’re out of here,” I confess.

“Can we go home, Tim?” Sonny murmurs in my ear. Under other circumstances, I’d be content to just sit here and hold him, and not move for a long time. Under very different circumstances.

“Maybe,” Carlo replies enigmatically. “First you’re gonna help me with something.”

“What?” I have a bad feeling.

“You’re gonna help me get Dale Camel back.”

Peachy.


to be continued - ?


Don't forget to check out the other fantastic Silver Flashers and see what they did with these prompts! Which would be, this week:


Ryssa Edwards   m/m
Lily Sawyer      m/m
Lindsay Klug    m/f
Pender Mackie    m/m
Pia Valeno     m/m


As far as Sonny and Tim are concerned, I've always known that at some point the saga would cease here, and I would continue it offscreen, and publish the results. Yes, I plan to make Yes He's My Ex into a book. And fill if chock full of Sonny and Tim goodness. Show of hands, who likes that idea? Anyone have any ideas for what they might like to see in such a book? I'd love to hear from you!  This doesn't mean, however, that I'll stop participating in the Silver Flash! It simply means that perhaps with the next set of prompts a new saga will be born, and you'll meet more people from my head, people that don't even exist yet! Won't that be fun?


Til next time, take care!


♥  Julie









Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Guest Blogger Catriana Sommers

Good morning and please welcome Catriana Sommers today! She's going to talk to us a little bit about names, and tell us about her newest release. Catriana, make yourself at home, and go ahead and start talking, while I pour the coffee, why don't you?


What's in a Name?

I've been asked a few times over the years where I come up with the names for some of my characters, because most of the time I use rare, obscure names. Do they have any meaning, or do I just randomly make them up? Did anything in particular inspire me to name them?

The answer is 'all of the above'.

Which method I use, however, depends. For anything fantasy, I usually try my best to make up the names, or go with whatever feels natural. In my novel Destined, Naliel Liunos' name came about very randomly while I was working on the main novel in The Arcanus Series. In that same novel, Sarnaiel, his lover, was also randomly created. From there, Destined was born, along with many more characters whose names I invented. The object was to give them elven sounding names, although later I changed it up slightly and the story ended up with characters like Tyrnus and Briae.

When I have a more modern setting, I usually try to base my character's names on what race they are. For Call on Me, my Father's Day story, Salvatore Rizzo is Italian, so I went and looked up Italian first and last names. Darshan Lyang was a bit more tricky; he's of various nationalities. Lyang is a Korean surname, while Darshan is Indian in origin.

One story in particular where I went out of my way to give my characters specific names with meanings is my Sci-fi/Romance Centarian Chronicles. In the most recent installment of the prologue, Seer and Dreamer on the M/M blog It's Raining Men, the main character Konane, a pale skinned Centarian, blurts out awkwardly that his name means 'bright moonlight'. His caretaker, Dr. Sinha, purposefully gave him that name when he had been nothing but a number in a laboratory. Konane's name is Hawaiian in origin while his brother's name - Koray - is Turkish for 'ember moon'. Because of their very pale, almost silver appearance, I wanted them to have 'bright' names. 'Ember moon' has a different and specific meaning, Koray can control fire.

How do you name your characters? Is it random or do you go with anything specific? Sometimes, a character simply needs to have a specific name, one where the moment you hear it, you're like "That's it! That's the one!" If nothing else, if you struggle with naming your characters, maybe you could try looking some up as I do. There are so many different ways to find names for your characters, I find the search to be rather fun and engaging!

Catriana, tell us a little bit about your new release, if you would?

Blurb: Cynthia felt the time had come to tell the young boy the truth of his name, and of the fateful day  of his birth. Time to tell the story of her beloved Olivia, a beautiful and vibrant woman full of love and happiness. Friend, lover, wife, savior - she would have been a great mother had she survived. So, Cynthia pulls her little boy onto her lap and recalls the day ten years ago; of Cynthia's pain, Olivia's parting words, and a baby's powerful will to live despite his small and frail body. Today, the boy will learn why Mother's Day means so much to Cynthia.

A short story from Untreed Reads's Nibs literary line.

Excerpt: “Come here, I have a story for you.” Smiling, Cynthia motioned for her son to join her on the couch. Her arm wrapped around his little shoulders as she pulled him closer, planting a kiss on his forehead. Wide hazel eyes—so much like hers—blinked up with childlike curiosity, a smile perking up the corners of his lips.

Today Cynthia would finally tell her son about his mother and her wife, Olivia. Cynthia’s chocolate-colored eyes closed briefly, recalling soft throaty laughter and gentle touches. Even now, if she delved deep enough into her memories, she could smell Olivia’s spicy scent of cinnamon and cloves. As Cynthia recalled those beautiful years, she threaded her thick fingers through her child’s golden brown curls. The ten-year-old leaned against her while his little arms moved around her full middle in a comforting hug. Neither exchanged words, but a comfortable silence filled the room. The boy snuggled closer as if he sensed her melancholy and wanted to provide comfort.

So much like Olivia. All the more reason to love him with all of her being.

* * *

The hospital room quickly became flooded with organized chaos. Flashes of white, pale green and blue danced across Cynthia’s vision. The world moved in slow motion for Cynthia, and had ever since Olivia smiled her smile, the one that said it’s going to be all right.

Olivia only smiled like that when she lied.

“Ma’am. Ma’am, we’re going to have to ask you to leave the room now. Ma’am?”

The nurse’s words fell on deaf ears. All Cynthia could focus on was Olivia, her beautiful girl who had taken her from Hell and showed her Heaven. She was the same woman who had been there when Cynthia had finally come out and who had remained to guide her to bed when she had finally confessed her feelings.

They had known the risks when Olivia first brought up having a baby. Cynthia had protested the idea from the start, due to her love’s heart condition. “The risks aren’t high,” the doctors had said “but we still have to consider her a high-risk pregnancy. As long as Olivia takes care of herself, she should be fine.”

Liars. She’s dying. She’s dying and I can’t…oh God, Olivia don’t leave me, please! Don’t leave me like this!

Something gripped her arm. A hand. “Ma’am, please. We’re going to have to ask you to leave. The doctors need to…”

Cynthia choked back a sob as she heard the heart monitor beep erratically. Her hand flew to her mouth and bile rose up in her throat. The doctors said Olivia would be fine, so why were things going so horribly wrong? Did the doctors lie to them about Olivia’s health and chances of a successful pregnancy? If they did, she would sue every last one of them if Olivia died.

No, she’s not going to die. She’s not going to leave me. I need her. I love her. It should be me on that bed!


Catriana, tell us where we can find you on the web?

Where to find me:    
My Website: http://www.catriana.net
My Blog: http://catrianasmuse.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Catriana_S
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/catriana
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/catriana.sommers
Publishers:
Silver Publishing (Call on Me, Destined): http://www.silverpublishing.info


Your blurb brought a tear to my eye, and probably some of the readers, too. Have a comment or question for Catriana? Ask away! A moment you'd like to share? We'd love to hear it!

Thanks for stopping by, Catriana, let me pour us some more coffee and we can keep chatting while we wait to hear from the readers!


♥ Julie



Saturday, June 25, 2011

No More One More Question - a Farewell to Peter Falk

I suspect most of you will remember Peter Falk primarily as the detective Columbo, in his infamous wrinkled trenchcoat, and his ever present cigar.  I remember when the show first came out, many years ago - and yes, I know I'm dating myself. It was part of a group of series that was presented on NBC and rotated one per week. The others were MacMillan and wife (with Rock Hudson and Susan St. James), McCloud (with Dennis Weaver), and I believe the fourth was The Psychiatrist, maybe with Lloyd Bridge, but my memory fails me  there. Columbo was an awesome series. He always solved his cases, and he was quite the character. He was particularly known for what became a trademark line - he'd be just about to leave the suspect, lulled into thinking they'd gotten away with the crime, when he'd pause in the doorway, using his cigar to punctuate his words, and he'd begin. "One more question. There's something that's been bothering me...." And then he'd proceed to solve the crime, based on that tickle in the back of his head.

Peter has left us, as I'm sure you know by know. He was 83, and is survived by his longtime wife Shera Danese, whom he met during the shooting of Columbo, and who has the distinction of being a primary character in more episodes than anyone else. I was surprised to learn that she is only 7 years older than I am, which puts a good 20 years between them. From everything I've ever read, it was a happy marriage.

You might also remember Peter, for those a little younger, from The Princess Bride, as the grandfather who reads the story to a young Fred Savage. My memory goes back farther though - he was the baker in Castle Keep, with Burt Lancaster and Patrick O'Neal - keeping the bakery and the baker's wife safe from German occupation. And he was in some damn funny comedies.  He was the psychiatirst in Penelope, with Natalie Wood.

One of my favorite of his roles was as Jack Lemmon's bumbling sidekick in The Great Race.  That movie is so hilarious, it never fails to make me laugh. Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon (as Professor Fate), Peter, Natalie Wood, Keenan Wynn and more. The relationship between Jack and Peter always reminded me of the old Dastardly and Muttley cartoons - a sort of Mutt and Jeff duo.


I also remember Peter with Alan Arkin in the great comedy The In-laws. I believe it was remade, but I haven't seen that. I saw the original at the theater with my little brother Doug, and loved it.  It's zany and off-beat and full of twists and surprises. I'll never forget the scene where Peter teaches Alan to zigzag across an area, in order not to be shot. A classic.


I'll always remember Peter fondly. I can't help but smile when I think of him. He was a truly fine actor, and a warm person. He will be missed.  Rest in peace, Peter.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Enter the Wishing Cup Contest with Guest Blogger JM Gryffyn

Good morning! Today I've gone on location with my special guest, author JM Gryffyn.

Here we are in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, and there ahead of us you can see the tomb of King Tutankhamen himself. Today JM is going to answer the infamous Rick Reed questions and tell you a bit about her new release, The Wishing Cup, and one lucky commenter will be able to win a copy of it!  Isn't that exciting?  Details will be at the end of this blog, so stay tuned!  Good morning, JM, hope your camel's not being too tricky for you! Ready for a full day in the Valley of the Kings? Splendid! Let's get started!


First, the questions:


The Questions

1)     You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?  Oh, this question just tickles me.  Who could I stand to be marooned with?  Better yet, who could stand to be marooned with me and not want to kill me within two days?  I say two days and not 24 hours because the shock of being stuck on the island would most likely keep things on track for a bit.  But suffice to say that I am known for being fairly high key…  But I have a marvelous friend who can pretty much complete my sentences.  She is resourceful and clever, which is a plus, and it might be a week before she wanted to kill me (an even bigger plus).  My item of choice would be a Swiss knife, preferably one with lots of gadgets attached.

2)   Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you?  This one is a toughie.  Most musicals have romantically happy endings.  My romantic life doesn’t have one of those.  However, I did get to live through a whirlwind romance of epic proportions – or at least it seemed that way to me.  I received flowers at work and love notes left on my car windshield.  Poetry was written just for me.  It was like a bolt from the blue hit us both, and it was magnificent while it lasted.  I wish everyone in the world could experience something like this.  When it ended, it hurt hugely, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  So, what musical would that be?  Picture those few moments when Anna waltzes exuberantly with the King in The King and I.  For the few moments of the dance, I am Anna.

3)   Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scenario using them:  pleasure, halting, regrettably.  I love Haiku, so here goes: 
Stars above halting,
Pleasure seeps into our pores,
Regrettably brief.

4)   You’ve just been let loose in the world of fiction, with permission to do anyone you want. Who do you fuck first and why?  Sue me for being a freaking fan girl (or should that be shrieking fan girl?) but I would love to have sex with Dean Winchester.  The boy is a people pleaser, obviously enjoys sex (Dean, the best-sex-of-your-life-Dean?) and is oh so very, very pretty – and has perhaps the most beautiful mouth on the planet.  Not like I am obsessed or anything…

5)   What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other? At this moment in time, my significant other is an 18 month old Australian Cattle Dog.  He is extremely loyal and very jealous.  He does not like me to look at other dogs, much less speak to them.  Still, he thinks I am da bomb and can do no wrong. He isn’t a great cuddler, but I don’t mind as he is good at licking toes.  That’s about as romantic as it gets at my house these days.  (Sigh.)   See why I conjure up delicious m/m romance?

6)   When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot? I love a character-driven story, with a side-bar of plot, so naturally, that is what I write.  Often my characters talk in my ear.  And more often than not, they grab the story I am writing and start driving it all by themselves.  It can be lots of fun, but also incredibly annoying! 

7)      If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?  I would choose the actress Alex Kingston.  I just adore the bold, outspoken female characters she tends to portray.

8)   Who’s your favorite horror villain and why?  I abhor most horror stories and movies, but I do have a certain fascination with Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Frankly, the real and very dark story of Vlad The Impaler is even more interesting.  Can you tell I have always had a historical bent?

9)      Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it?  I have had a crush on Leonardo da Vinci for many, many years.  I picture him as he was depicted in the movie Ever After.  I think I admire his line drawings and inventions even more than his oil paintings, though they are none too shabby. (LOL)  He had such an inquisitive mind.  It seems to me that he must have been the kind of man who would live by the maxim: To thine own self be true. (I would have a crush on Shakespeare, but who knows exactly who he was!)  But I think perhaps this is not the kind of crush you mean as I don’t dream of having sex with him.

10)   Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?  Well, actually, no, I don’t think so.  Some of the world isn’t ready for the type of romance I write now!  But I think there is always room for a new story or idea to be explored through text, even if not everyone agrees.  Thank goodness for freedom of speech!


JM, tell us a little bit about The Wishing Cup, which is available from Dreamspinner Press.

Blurb:  

Orphaned as a boy and brought up by the crusty, disapproving Edward Collins,

Dr. David Jameson may not  know much about love, but he makes up for it with an encyclopedic knowledge of Egyptian history and language. Too bad his job as linguist for a team excavating in the Valley of the Kings puts him right under Edward's nose. When the discovery of a rare artifact leads to a disagreement between guardian and ward, Jeremiah McKee, the team's American benefactor, sends no-nonsense Jake Tanner to protect his investment.




Excerpt 

David raced through the train station, looking left and right, his heart in his throat.  As he ran, he prayed to no God in particular to please, please let the man be there.

What if Tanner had grown tired of waiting?  What if he’d sent a telegram to Collins complaining that David wasn’t at the station when he arrived?  What if...?  Slowing down, he came to a halt in front of the double door that led to the trains.  Turning, he surveyed the station.  A few people were standing around waiting for the local, but none wore western dress.  With a long suffering sigh, he scratched at his nose and headed out the door to the platforms.

It was full dark now, and the small lamps scattered at intervals gave little illumination. Looking to the left, all he could see were two old women sitting on a bench.  A train was approaching from the right; it sounded a warning and thundered into the station.  As the engine braked, steam and smoke belched from the stack, filling the air with massive white clouds.  The train screeched to a shuddering halt, and people began to disembark.  None of them seemed to be the Western businessman David was expecting.  He sighed once again in frustration and started to slowly turn on his heel toward the door to the station.  That was when he saw him—a man in a long dark coat, emerging out of the smoke like some sort of apparition conjured by a magician.

David stopped in mid-turn and watched the man come toward him.  The stranger moved with economy, his hips loose and his stride long, like some lean, alluring animal.  His hands were stuck deep in the pockets of his baggy white flannel trousers, his dark dress shirt open at the neck, revealing the deep Vee of collar bone.  David couldn’t keep his eyes from that small patch of tanned flesh.  It did something to him so that, though he knew his mouth had fallen open and he was staring, he simply couldn’t care less.  He was aware he should cross the platform to greet the man, but he couldn’t for the life of him move a muscle.

The dark-haired man drew close, stopped in front of David and gave a scathing smile.  “You have dirt on your nose.”

David took in a flash of even white teeth, high cheek bones and unreadable brown eyes.  Blushing all the way down to his toes, he stammered a greeting, “Hh...hello, I’m David Jameson. Edward Collins sent me to fetch you.  Um, you must be Jake Tanner.”  He extended his hand to shake, and then quickly pulled it back when he saw it had a streak of grease on it.  “Oh, sorry, I had a flat tyre on my way here, that’s why I’m late.”  He hated that he couldn’t seem to speak without stuttering.

Tanner gave a wry smile and shrugged broad shoulders.  “No problem.”  With that, he pointed to a pair of matching leather satchels stacked over by one of the benches.  “Those are my bags. Where’s the car?”

David surreptitiously rubbed at the dirt with one hand as he gestured toward the station with the other.  “It’s along this way.”  He grabbed the larger of the two bags and made for the Arrow.

And now the contest!

You can a win a copy of JM Gryffyn's ebook novella The Wishing Cup for your very own.  Here's how it works.  The faience cup found in the novella is inscribed with this wish for the Egyptian queen Sif-reMay your ka live, and may you achieve millions of years, you who love Thebes, sitting with your face to the north wind, and your eyes seeing happiness.”

This becomes David's wish for his lover Jacob--for his long life and happiness.  Come up with your own wish for your own lover, whether it is the one-true-love you have already met and claim, or someone you dream about meeting.  Make it special, make it poetic.  To enter the contest, sent a comment to this blog and include your wish.  JM will read all entries sent by midnight on Monday, June 27th.  The grand prize winner will be awarded with a pdf of the novella!

So don't forget, enter here for your chance to win a copy of this marvelous novella! If you want to know more about JM, she has a blog at Live Journal, check it out!

Thanks for agreeing to take this little excursion with me, JM, I just adore Egypt! Well, shall we get to sightseeing? As for the rest of you, say hello to JM and enter her contest! Leave a comment, and don't forget to tell us how we can reach you, aka your email address! Thanks for stopping by!

                ♥ Julie





Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dead Reckoning Review

Dead Reckoning   
Author:  Charlaine Harris
Publisher:  Ace Books/Berkley Publishing
American release date:  May 3, 2011
Format/Genre/Length:  Novel/Fantasy/336 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆


It’s been two years since Sookie Stackhouse has been up in her own attic, not since she went up there to look for her Grans’ wedding dress, thinking she should be buried in it. Now she’s there on a mission—it’s time to clean it out and decide what to do with everything. She’s got her fae kin with her to help out—Dermot and Claude. Sookie decides that watching them work at the task shirtless certainly makes it more interesting. Although she doesn’t take kindly to Claude’s suggestion that everything be piled in the yard and burned, she compromises by promising to go through it and sorting it out into things to keep, things to give away, things to sell and what’s left can be burnt.

Synopsis:

At work that night, she tells Sam about her project, and he knows a place in Shreveport where she might be able to sell some of it. In fact, if she wants,  he’ll go with her, he needs to get something for Jannalynn, his shifter girlfriend, there. Sookie is pleased—until Merlotte’s is unexpected firebombed! Damage is luckily minimal, but it leaves the question of who and why?

Because of their bond, Eric is on the scene as fast as vampirely possible, which is pretty damn fast, concerned for the welfare of his “wife”. Noticing that Sookie’s hair is singed, Eric calls for Pam, who brings with her a young man named Immanuel, who is both a hairdresser and the brother of Pam’s lover, Miriam. While Sookie’s getting her hair done in her home, Pam and Eric get into it for some inexplicable reason, making a shambles of her kitchen. Annoyed, she sends them both away.

Sookie and Sam go to Claude’s strip club, Hooligans, to confront him and Dermot about why Sookie is feeling more and more fae—what’s up with that? There she meets Bellenos, her first elf. Her kin promise to fill her in when they come home that night—which conveniently doesn’t happen.

Business is down at Merlotte’s. Sookie suspects that it has something to do with the shifters coming out, and Sam’s true nature being revealed, and also the opening of a rival bar—Vic’s Redneck Roadhouse. Then Eric says he wants to take her to a new dance club between Bon Temps and Shreveport that Victor (the Louisiana proxy for Felipe, King of Nevada, Arkansas and Louisiana) has just opened. This can’t be good. Victor knows they killed his minions, even if he can’t prove it. He’s a dangerous vamp.

Pam is upset because her lover, Miriam, is dying, and she can’t get permission to bring her over, because Victor is withholding his permission just because he’s cruel that way. The visit to his new club is more of a command performance, meant to show Eric his place in the scheme of things. By the time they leave the club, they’ve decided—Victor must die. The only question that remains is how.

 Commentary:

As always, this book has what you’ve come to expect in a Sookie Stackhouse novel—it’s chock full of Sookie goodness and the tangled threads of her complicated life. Her relationship with Eric is getting rocky, while his with Pam is downright contentious. With Amelia’s aid, and without thinking it through too much, Sookie does something which may or may not prove to be a good idea. She isn’t really happy to figure out what the beef is between Eric and Pam, and what it will mean to their own relationship, if he doesn’t do something about it. As if she needs more on her plate, Sandra Pelt, the crazed lunatic who’s convinced Sookie killed her sister Debbie  (well, she did) is on the loose and gunning for Sookie. Sookie learns things about her late grandmother that blow her mind. She receives what might be a very powerful gift. She has a naked encounter with Bill Compton. And she is hosting a baby shower for Tara, who is carrying twins. Dermot is fixing up the attic, to her surprise. She didn’t quite see him as the dyi type. And an old friend, never forgotten, makes a spectacular reappearance!

I love Sookie more and more with each volume, she is the best heroine ever—she transcends even the lovely gentlemen in her life for being interesting, much as I love Bill and Eric. She is just so very sweet and genuine—she makes me wish I could be her friend. Also in this volume, we learn a great deal about the circumstances surrounding her gift. Sookie has a great deal to think about. And decisions to make.

The writing is excellent as always, fast-paced, dramatic and always moving. You’ll just keep turning the pages until there are no more to turn. Can’t wait to see the next one! A definite must-have for the Sookie-phile!