Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trick or Treat - We're Having a Blog Hop!

What's better than an author with a contest? A whole bunch of authors with a whole bunch of contests! To that end I welcome you to the Bewitching Trick or Treat Blog Hop!

The rules of my particular contest are simple - all you have to do is follow my blog and comment on any post between October 28th - October 31st. A winner chosen at random will receive a copy of my new release with S.L. Danielson - My Fair Vampire. 

See you on October 28th!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Silver Flash Wednesday - Best Musical Ever

Happy Wednesday and welcome to another Silver Flash, brought to you by some of the authors of Silver Publishing! This week's flash was thoughtfully provided by our very own Ryssa Edwards:  "I was expecting you to kiss me weeks ago."  As I could not fit that into either existing series, I did a new story, a standalone. I hope you like it. Don't forget to check out the other flashers, whose links are listed at the end of  my tale. Without further ado, I give you

Best Musical Ever

 “That was the best fucking musical ever!”

Randy was so excited he grabbed one of the light posts along their route, actually swinging himself about it, before ending up in a crouch at Danny’s feet. Leaping up, Randy snapped his fingers in imitation of the dancers they’d just watched, and began to sing. “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way…”

Danny followed his lead, snapping and singing for several feet, until Randy twirled, and then they were in perfect sync, singing about Jets and what it meant to be one.

The evening had been perfect. Danny had comped two tickets to West Side Story through someone at work, and whom else would he even consider taking but his best friend, Randy? Randy loved musicals as much as Danny did. They both knew all the words to such classics as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and Jesus Christ Superstar. How often had they taken different parts and acted them out, usually on the roof of the Chicago apartment building which they called home. It was flat and it was generally unoccupied—the perfect venue for two fledgling divas with more aspiration than voice.

“Oh, oh, ohmygod, the part where they see each other for the first time in the gym, and the lights dim down so that all you see is them as they walk toward each other,” Randy gushed. He suddenly stopped several feet ahead of Danny, poised in his invisible spotlight as he slowly walked toward him. “The most beautiful sound I ever heard,” he warbled, coming closer and closer to Danny. So close that Danny couldn’t help but stare helplessly into his gorgeous green eyes, the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen.

He wanted to kiss Randy so bad he could taste it. But he didn’t dare.

Randy switched gears again, frenetically tearing at his dirty blond hair in his excitement. “Did you cry? I mean, seriously, dude, I did. The end. I mean, it’s so fucking sad. Why’s it have to be that way? Seriously?”

Danny smiled indulgently. “Because it’s Romeo and Juliet, that’s why, and that’s a tragedy. Can’t be helped.”

“Really? Ohhhhhh. I didn’t know. Guess that makes sense.”

They were passing by a bench which the city had installed for the benefit of bus riders; none were there at this moment. Danny leapt upon it, clasping his hands to his heart, as he began to recite. “Romeo, o Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, and if thou wilt not….”

“Be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Lamb…” Danny finished the line for him, and then blushed at his faux pas.

“Lamb? Silly, I think she said Capulet. You’re the Lamb.” Randy laughed.

“Yeah, right. My bad.” Except he’d envisioned this same scene too many times before, played out with himself and Randy. The difference was that it never ended in their deaths. And they didn’t have such horrible families. But those were minor points in comparison to the main one, which was that Randy had no idea how Danny felt about him. And Danny didn’t intend for him to find out.

Why ruin the perfect friendship with a little thing like love?

Randy held out his hand, almost imperiously. “Help me down, good sir,” he said, and Danny obeyed, although touching Randy was always perilous to his soul, and not only raised his blood pressure, but made his cock hard. Luckily, Randy’d never noticed, and probably never would.

“Ooh, ooh, ooh, do you remember the wedding scene?” Randy gushed, alighting on the pavement, never relinquishing Danny’s hand.

“Romeo and Juliet?” Danny asked, confused.

“No, no, West Side Story. The pretend one. Where they talked about hands and hearts.” He stepped closer to Danny, so close that Danny could inhale the faint scent of his cologne, and he tried not to concentrate on how very desirable Randy was, and how very much he desired him.

“Make of our hands, one hand. Make of our hearts, one heart,” Randy sang, as they fell into a rhythmic step together step, performing an imaginary wedding march.

Give me strength, Danny intoned. It was even harder not to give in to his desires when Randy was parading around in the apartment they shared in his very skimpy briefs, twirling and dancing to this or that musical number. The boy seemed to live to dance, but it was very true too that Danny encouraged him, as he watched him gracefully move from room to room, gyrating, and leaping from one piece of furniture to another. Miraculously never falling or injuring himself.

At night, Danny pictured those dances, in the solitude of his room, while he masturbated to Randy’s face. Not that he’d ever admit to it, but it was true, God help him.

They were coming to the end of the block, then they’d be turning right and heading down to the station where they’d pick up the EL, take it back to their place. But Randy surprised him by turning them about, continuing the pseudo wedding march, as if he felt it was not complete and he needed more time with it.

Dammit Randy, why do I want you so badly?

The tortured Danny played along, humoring his best friend, listening to him sing, and joining in where he could remember the words. They reached the end of the song. Either it was time for another, or time to move on. Danny wondered which it would be.

It was neither.

Suddenly he found himself in the most intense liplock he’d ever experienced in his life. Unable to think, he melted into that touch, into those arms, lost in those green eyes.

What just happened?

"I was expecting you to kiss me weeks ago." Randy grinned at him when they drew back to breathe. “I couldn’t wait. You can go first next time.”

“I’ll remember that,” Randy promised, as he reached for those lips again.

Don't forget to visit the other intrepid Silver Flashers:

Sui Lynn   m/m
L.M. Brown   m/m
Freddie McKay    m/f

Thanks for stopping by, come back next week for more fun with the Silver Flashers!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sweet Genius, Vampire Diaries and more Hawaii 5-0

Think of the new show Sweet Genius as Chopped for desserts. The comparison was made in the promos, so it's  not a farfetched idea. Of course there are differences, and that is what makes the show unique in its own way.

So, what's the first ingredient in a show such as this? A great host! They've certainly found that in celebrated cake designer Ron Ben Israel. I confess to being unaware of him before I saw the first commercial for Sweet Genius, but in my own defense, I haven't exactly been in the market for a wedding cake either.

He is, to put it simply, gorgeous! There's something about him that draws me, something in his eyes. I could not keep away from the show if I tried! He is very personable and had a commanding stage presence. I've watched two episodes now, and enjoyed them both.

The format is similar to Chopped, but there is no basket of mandatory ingredients, per se. You start with four chefs, who are intro'd as on Chopped, and Ron explains that there are three rounds: Frozen, Baked and Chocolate. The first round comes with a mandatory ingredient, and an inspiration which the chefs must work from. In the first episode, the inspiration was darkness. Other inspirations have been a pearl in an  oyster, a Fabergé egg, and a cat. During each round, there will be other mandatory ingredients which will be presented to the chefs, which they must incorporate into their dishes. At the end of each round, Ron (who is the sole judge) tastes each dish and critiques. He decides which one does not measure up and he informs that chef that he or she is not a sweet genius, and they leave.

If it's not obvious by now (and I'm sure it is) I'm quite taken with the host. Er, I mean the show. No, I said it right the first time, it's the host. I do like the show, yes, but he makes it for me. I also watch Just Desserts on Wednesday nights, but I have to say that Ron is a better host than Gail is. I like her fine, but I don't think she has the strength or charisma that Ron possesses. I'm intrigued with his accent, but I haven't placed it yet. I just hope he talks more and more in coming episodes.

Okay, moving on.

*********Spoiler Alert***********

Vampire Diaries started its third season. Not surprising in a way, but somewhat in others. As you may remember, the last episode of season 2 was a veritable blood bath and free for all. So now, we have Elena and Jeremy with no living relatives. The writers smoothed over that dilemma quickly by moving the plot up to Elena's 18th birthday (so far the issue of Jeremy as minor has not arisen, but more on that). Alaric is camping out with them, or something. He's sleeping on the couch because he can't bear to sleep in either the dead parents' room or his dead gf's room. I don't know if he's supposed to be a surrogate parental authority but by the second episode, he's out of there and ready to throw in the spiritual towel. Quitter!

As you'll also recall, at the end of episode 2, Damon was bitten by a were, and that is pretty fatal for a vamp.  It looks like curtains for Damon (except we know better, seriously the show would fold immediately should they ever lose Damon Salvatore), but Elena doesn't realize this, so she gives him a last good-bye kiss. Surprise, he lives! And now he's tasted her sweet flesh, he wants more, and he intends to fight for it. While Elena, although pining for Stefan (the martyr sacrificed himself yet again, such a good boy) she is drawn to Damon, which is obvious. As I said, Stefan's doing the martyr thing, having agreed to go with Klaus in exchange for saving Damon's life. So now they're on a rampage in Tennessee and Stefan is killing with abandon. Damon and Alaric are tracking him through news clippings, but Elena finds out, and she still believes in him. A road trip to Tennessee with Damon leads him to believe the same, after a face to face with his brother. So I predict another road trip in the future, maybe some hot Damon/Elena action (any coincidence that they are allegedly dating in real life? Could be publicity driven, who knows. Ian can do better, I think, he's gorgeous, she's just okay).

So, what about the rest of the cast? Do they still exist. They do (except for Bonnie who really hasn't been  seen yet). Jeremy  (who died and was resurrected by Bonnie) is seeing things he shouldn't be seeing - namely his dead girlfriends. He's creeped out, and he's creeping out Matt as well. Caroline and Tyler did the horizontal mambo, and the next morning Tyler's mom caught Caroline - literally - with darts in her back. One vamp down! She tested Tyler with vervain but it didn't affect him cause he's a werewolf. She called in someone named Bill, who's being played by the guy who played Noah Bennett on Heroes, and they have Caroline locked up. Tyler puts two and two together, and on the night of the full moon, he forces his mother to witness his transformation. Howdya like them apples, Mrs. Lockwood? And in the kicker, we learn that Bill.... duh duh duh...... is Caroline's daddy. Interesting twist. We'll see how this plays out. We need to get Bonnie back in the plot, and I believe Elijah is unaccounted for. With Jeremy seeing dead people, who knows what past cast members might be resurrected? And of course there is Katherine. I don't remember what happened to her at the end of season 2, that's how little I like her.

Chopped Champions has its grand finale tonight, more about that later. Just Desserts is interesting, but I can't say it's the best Top Chef I've seen. I'm interested in seeing Top Chef Texas when it starts, and also the Next Iron Chef. I notice Sarah recorded The Chew, so I'm sure I'll be seeing that too - Carla (think Top Chef and hooty hoo and  you'll remember her) and Mario Batale are the only names I recognized in their line up. But those are two good names.

*****more spoilers*****
I watched the second Hawaii 5-0 today. I love this show so much! Especially, but not entirely for Alex  O'Loughlin. But primarily.

The new governor - former lieutenant governor - reinstated 5-0 after evidence came to light that McGarrett did not shoot the governor, although it was not conclusive enough to pin it on Wo Fat either. But the governor made it clear that things have changed, and that Hawaii 5-0 will have accountability. Today he proved he meant it by assigning a new member to the team, a former Homeland Security agent. Steve isn't thrilled and tries to keep her at a distance. But she grows on him. Which might be a good thing, since Kono's review before IA doesn't go well, and she's stripped of everything. I'm sure in future episodes we'll see more of the late governor/Wo Fat/McGarrett's dad connection. The greatest thing about the second episode is a scene in which Steve, Danno and the new girl are riding horses into a cult compound, and the boys start their typical bickering and she turns to them and asks "HOW LONG YOU BEEN MARRIED"  Best line ever. Again.

Okay, next new show. Person of Interest. Thursday nights, CBS. Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel lead the  cast. I would never have discovered this show had it not been for Hawaii 5-0, cause that's the only time I'm on CBS, and it was just a fluke that I saw the promo. But something about it intrigued me, so I decided to give it a chance, and I'm glad I did.

At the beginning, Reese (Jim C) looks like a homeless person when he's attacked by young thugs on the subway. They picked the wrong person and he smacks them down handily, drawing the attention of the police. One female cop in particular is a recurring character, and she seems to be onto Reese. Finch (Michael E) is a billionaire with a lot of time and money on his hands. They have one thing in common - people think they're both dead. In a nutshell, Finch recruits Reese to his cause. He has a computer which was programmed to look for areas of trouble after 9-11. Every night it produces a list of non-essential data which it dumps, but these are actually people. So Finch retrieves them, one at a time. All he has is a social security number, but no knowledge of what will happen. Is this the victim, or the perp? Or the catalyst? Reese's job is to watch and prevent something from happening.

I really enjoyed the first show. It seems to be well written, fast paced, and definitely interesting, despite having  commercials (we watched it live, normally I record everything). It's also from JJ Abrams, who brought us the Star Trek movies, plus some TV shows I'm not really familiar with, so we'll see how this goes. But I'll definitely be watching it again. It comes on right before Sweet Genius, so I have two hours of TV on Thursday nights to look forward to, and two hours of crocheting.

I think that's it for now. I can't imagine what I've really forgotten. Whatever it is, I'll pick it up later.

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Monday, September 26, 2011

Watch this space!

Coming soon - the Bewitching Trick-or-Treat Blog Hop! 101 authors strong, and counting! Be there or be square!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sci Fi Sunday - Gail Carriger's Soulless

Good morning and welcome to Sci Fi Sunday! At least for now, Reality Check is done. It's been subbed and we're awaiting the results. In the meantime, we'd like to discuss Steampunk, and the new story we're working on. Never fear, you'll hear of Reno and Kay again, but we have new boys to bring you! And theirs is a Steampunk world.

My daughter Sarah wrote a review of Gail Carriger's novel Soulless, first in her Parasol Protectorate series. It's the first modern Steampunk I'd read, and I can directly attribute my reading it to my daughter's review, so here it is, and enjoy!

Soulless: Parasol Protectorate book 1  
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
American release date: October 1st 2009
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/Supernatural/357 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: Older Teen
Overall Personal Rating: C+
Similar series/titles to check out: Leviathan; Discworld; the Sookie Stackhouse novels

In an alternative Victorian-era England where werewolves and vampires are accepted occurrences and steampunk reigns supreme, it takes a young woman from high society who has no soul to cut through the nonsense and get to the important matters - like when the treacle tart is to be served.


Alexia Tarabotti, half-Italian spinster with no soul who loves food, is greatly offended when she is attacked by a half-starved vampire during a social outing, a terrible breach of etiquette not to mention not very good for her health. She manages to kill the vampire with her parasol and a wooden stake/hair pin, thus bringing the attention of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) on her as well as the queen of a nearby vampire hive. Luckily one of BUR's top officials arrives in the form of the dashing upper crust rogue/werewolf Lord Maccon, who is ordered by the Queen herself to investigate the matter; he is already an acquaintance of Miss Tarabotti and swears to protect her from those who wish harm on her - well, if they could stop squabbling at each other and work together in peace. Accompanying him is Professor Lyall, second in command and the arguable voice of reason among BUR, who honestly thinks Alexia and His Lordship could be very close friends if they gave their silly games a break for just one minute.

It soon becomes evident that the problem facing London's supernatural society is bigger than imagined as vampires unregistered and unrecognized start appearing around town, while registered vampires who are associated with known hives are disappearing without a trace. And it isn't just the vampires in a frenzy, as BUR's werewolves are finding out the hard way. Even Lord Akeldama, the foppish gossip king of London, doesn't know what's going on. As a soulless - someone who can drain the paranormal abilities of a vampire or werewolf with just a touch - Alexia becomes an unwilling target for all the blame, and she's not terribly pleased about it. As danger looms nearer, it's up to Alexia Tarabotti to unravel the mystery of these disappearances before her reputation is ruined forever and her status as a soulless is revealed - or worse, a painful and unbecoming death.


I must confess: I have not read much steampunk. I am also not the biggest fan of either werewolves or vampires. I also do not read a lot of Victorian lit, either from the era or inspired by it. Having said that, you would think I'd avoid a novel like Soulless by author Gail Carriger, which combines all of the above into one work. I picked the title up in the name of morbid curiosity, and found myself drawn into a solid story with some bumps in the road that kept it from being excellent. Not terrible, but not golden. Having said that, fans of the genre of fiction that centers around characters of the paranormal persuasion will love this book. Each race of fantastic creatures each have their own mythos that is slightly different than the ones paraded around in Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. Not to mention, they are all terribly polite to the point that it plagues the rules of their species - an amusing side-effect from being born in times of Victorian niceties. In an era of novels like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it's nice to see someone play the bloody tropes straight and have their world of petticoats and hansom cabs accept the presence of werewolves and vampires without having to outright wage war on them.

Fans of steampunk, I'm sorry to say, should find their cogs and gears fix somewhere else. The most steampunk elements of the book are the interest in science running rampant through academia, an apparent interest in the steampunk aesthetic demonstrated by both vampires and werewolves, the dirigibles in the skies over London (which just remind this reviewer of the zeppelins in the alternate universe on Doctor Who), and Alexia's parasol, which is designed to protect her against unwholesome beasties. Aside from that, there are no grandiose steampunk-esque machines or experiments until the tail end of the book. Alexia, although an avid bookworm and thinker, never rolls up her sleeves and tinkers with machinery. Nothing about average Victorian society apart from the dirigibles suggest a steampunk atmosphere - and it confounds me that they would use it as a selling point when I can't really see it in the text. The bloody cover is more steampunk than the book itself.

(And as for the cover itself? Alexia Tarabotti looks slim and pale skinned, not the lightly tanned and curvy Rubenesque young woman described in the novel. Plus, she is wearing a stereotypically steampunk hat that isn't even hers. This isn't the kind of whitewashed cover that Justine Larbalestier's Liar got, not by a long shot, but it pretty much wipes out the fact that Alexia is half-Italian with a complexion to match and is not a 'perfect hourglass' figure.)

Having said all that, Soulless is not without its merits, despite it sounding like there are none. For example, it is obvious that Derriger did a metric ton's worth of research on the intricate details of Victorian era living, from the foods and clothing to the dining etiquette and social manners that were so prevalent during that period. Like any good English Victorian novel, it is packed with dry wit (which, as I hear from self-declared Brit John Oliver, is something the English invented themselves) and manages to make even the most simple social slip-ups remarkably hilarious. I love that when Alexia is in the face of mortal danger from a vampire her biggest worry is on the lines of how scandalous her untied hair must seem or that she really picked a bad day to wear her best evening gown.

Alexia Tarabotti herself is the perfect kind of main protagonist you want narrating a tale of supernatural going-ons in prim and proper London. She is a spinster with a dark complexion and curves to spare, a woman who loves to read and is far too intelligent for her own good - aka the kind of woman their mother despairs over because she'll never marry, and society pretty much dismisses her as a never-do-anything because of it. Does it bring her down? Of course not. She does what she wants, is capable of protecting herself thank you very much Lord Maccon, and once she sets her mind on something that something usually gets done no matter what. Alexia is stubborn and clever in a pinch and her constant snarky Victorian-era point of view as she straddles upholding social standards in all situations and navigating the waters of the vampire/werewolf realm brings a clarity to some of the more convoluted aspects of the time. Even the golden age of scientific discovery, it seems, can't stop society from upholding ridiculous moral and social attitudes that make things overly complicated, even for someone who was used to it.  It's a shame that, in ostracizing Alexia from society and thus making her a candidate for BUR's meddling, that they over-emphasize her Italian features and body shape. I understand that it is a Victorian viewpoint and it is Alexia herself telling the story, but there must be more subtle and better ways of separating one from the pack without resorting to overly describing her physical characteristics. (There's also the fact that the prose seems confused on whether she is barely tan or very much tan, but that could be another thing chalked up to the narrator's own self-perceived flaws.)

Alexia's foil presents itself in the form of Lord Maccon, and the back blurb of the novel describes him perfectly: loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf. I often find that when a writer tries to integrate the wolf-aspects into the human form's personality, it doesn't end well and seems painfully forced, but for Lord Maccon his werewolfish tendencies while still looking very much a human are a delight to read. He is just as stubborn and snarky as Alexia, and every time they butt heads over BUR policy or a social disaster you can practically smell the romantic tension building up between them. I found myself cheering for their very dysfunctional romance, and I'm not the type to cheer for the main characters to become couples straight out of the gate. When Alexia learns via Professor Lyall that Lord Maccon has actually begun courting her werewolf-fashion, her responses to his advances from then on are some of the most amusing and titillating scenes in the book. Yes, things get very steamy between our Victorian heroine and her dashing rogue friend, but never does it become embarrassingly explicit or unnecessarily detailed. After all, it's not a smut book, it's a mostly-general supernatural fantasy set in steampunkish Victorian England, dang it! This is the era of the Brontë sisters and Wilkie Collins; fade to black or be gone with you!

The only other time that Soulless outright addresses sexuality is through Lord Akeldama, whom upon meeting him for the first time you'd be foolish not to notice that he is English, intelligent, and gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide. It is never expressed in those words, but you'd have to be blind, living under a rock, and have never interacted with any sort of media to not realize Lord Akeldama prefers vampires his own gender - and probably those who share his extremely vibrant and garish taste in clothing. Reading Derriger's descriptions of his usual outfits, you can imagine how many times Alexia has to look away from the vastly technicolor nature of his design. But Lord Akeldama is also one of the most intelligent and clever people in the entire novel, someone who has ears practically everywhere in England and is a very useful informant when Alexia or BUR needs some intel on what's what. This is why, when Akeldama admits to Alexia that he doesn't know what is going on with the disappearances, you can feel that it's not right. Akeldama, the man who knows too much, knows nothing? The fact that this happens only briefly after first meeting him and yet has the power to affect the reader's perception of the problem at hand should highlight some of the skill in which author Derriger wields her control over the ongoing drama than runs through the main narrative; under all the English humor and romantic situations there is always a hint of danger on the horizon, a clue that something more sinister and dangerous is approaching for the cast that will test the lot of them in unthinkable ways. This is what kept me reading page after page despite its flaws: Derriger made me want to know what would happen next. An author who can effectively grab a reader's attention and then slowly pull them in like a sinkhole until the very end is one to be remembered with great respect.

The second book in the series, Changeless, is on my list of books to read. I think that as a second book, it will be more satisfying that the first as it will be a story with an already establish universe and therefore will not suffer from the growing pains that are evident in the world-building process that goes on throughout Soulless, at times reading more like mindless exposition than thoughtful background information. It's clear that Derriger took great pains to set up this alternate universe of machines and manners and beasties all meshed together, but the effort getting there seems to have seeped through the actual prose too well. I can't help but think that if she had laid off on revealing some of the information introduced in the first chapter until it didn't seem like such a pile of info that the entire process would have read a lot more smoothly.

In all, Soulless is a solid read for fans of the biologically strange and socially astute, and is a fascinating look into a world hopefully expanded upon in the following books of the series. I can't help but be intrigued and attracted to the character of Alexia Tarabotti, and as long as she is headlining this steampunk world of high society and secret magics, I will continue to follow her continuing adventures until their conceivable end.

Overall Grade:  C+

An intriguing tale of paranormal dilemmas in steampunk London, led by a fascinating main protag; not much steampunk to actually qualify the tag, descriptions of certain characters were jarring and at some points flat out unnecessary.

This review was just to whet your appetitite, there'll be more, I promise. Any questions? Any comments? I'd love to hear from you!

Until next time, take care! Don't forget to check out Sui Lynn's blog, 2 Cents, and our join blog, Backdoor Divas!

♥ Julie

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life After Math (Sequel to love by the Numbers) Review

Life After Math (sequel to Love By the Numbers)  
Author: S.L. Danielson
Publisher: Silver Publishing
American release date: June 3, 2011
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/YA/190 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: 18+
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Scott and Jared have weathered high school, now it’s on to college! They’ve managed to sustain and nurture their relationship through some pretty serious ups and downs, and have vowed to stay together forever. But when reality comes crashing down on them, in the form of pressure from their conflicting schedules, and they discover that the college world is vastly different than what they’ve known before, they’re faced with some decisions that have the potential to tear them apart.


Life is good as Scott and Jared celebrate their six month anniversary together with roses and Italian food. Jared’s mother announces her impending divorce from his abusive father and all’s well. Freshman year ends, on to sophomore. Things change when they find themselves in different dorm rooms.

Scott is still tutoring in math, and not just forJared (although he’s the only one who gets the strip algebra advantage!). He joins a club for math tutors and there he meets Daniel, a young and handsome Asian man. They become fast friends, even though he questions Scott’s engagement, thinking it’s happened too fast, especially at his age. Scott feels more attracted to Daniel than he should, and the feeling seems to be mutual.

Jared befriends a fellow psych student who introduces him to his study group—and his older brother Taylor, who’s in his thirties. Jared and Taylor become good friends, and he learns that that the big guy is gay too. Is Taylor crushing on Jared perhaps?

Junior year things only get worse, and when Jared demands Scott cut back on his tutoring, in order to get more personal attention, Daniel guilts him into keeping with his grueling schedule. Something’s gotta give—will it be the tutoring, or the relationship between Scott and Jared?


Let me start out by saying that this is a YA novel, not a romance novel, so don’t approach it thinking that it’s the latter. Maybe there’s romance in it, but that isn’t the same thing at all. I think the difference in the two has to do with the approach that the author takes. Ms. Danielson has a very bare bones, to the gut style of writing that is not flowery or romantic, and simply tells it like it is. Some of her descriptions during the sex scenes between the two boys are very graphic and not romantic at all—she is fond of comparing her characters to fountains when they orgasm, and spewing is not a romantic word at all. But she’s talking about teenage boys who just want to get off, so it works.

Where Ms. Danielson excels, rather than in the beauty of her language, is the depths of her characters, even if her situations border on or cross the soap opera line, which they do. She is fond of the dramatic and it shows. She creates characters that are more realistic than some romance novels. They have warts and blemishes and they need to use the bathrobe, and they have weight issues and self-esteem issues. And they’re far from perfect in the choices that they make. I would comment that she also builds a world where parents are accepting of their son’s sexuality without blinking and have frank sex talks with them. While that sounds nice, as the mother of five children now past those years, I know what I’d get if I’d tried to discuss their sex lives with them, and I can’t repeat it. But this is the world she creates, so suspend your disbelief when you enter it.

Frankly, I think the editor dropped the ball on this one, not in grammar or spelling, but in continuity and logic issues, but one can’t fault the writer for that. Perhaps as an editor, I tend to think that way, but I would think another editor would too.

If you enjoyed Love by the Numbers, you really should read the sequel, to see what happens with the boys, following their tumultuous lives. If you haven’t read the first one, then read it. They’re good enjoyable reads that will stick with you for some time afterwards.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Follow Friday & Blog hopping

Hello, hello, time for some more hopping and blogging, 'cause it's Friday!

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?

A. I have some new series that I'm sure I'll re-read when I get the chance, including the Percy Jackson series, and the Dark Hunter series, but there are two series that come to mind that I've read a few times already, and love to death. Isaac Asimov's Foundation books, and Frank Herbert's Dune. There are other series I want to try, including the rest of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and the Lara Adrian Midnight books. But these two series are classics, and I love them to death.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Editors are not gods

Once you get past the hurdle of having your beloved work accepted for publication, and go through the  preliminaries that go along with that - such as blurbs and descriptions of main characters (for the art department), and other necessaries, chances are  your next step on the journey to being published is contact with your content editor. He or she should contact you, inform you that they are to be your editor, and make you feel welcome in their safe and capable hands. Thus far, I've only had one male editor, and that was a very horrendous experience indeed, so I shall, for the sake of clarity, simply say she.

At this point, if  you've not done them yet, you'll get pre-edit sheet to guide your through the correction of some common errors before your content editor begins her job - making your words the best they can be. Removing extraneous that's, or clarifying its, things like that. Once you get the pre-edit sheet for the first time, you should take advantage of it and utilize before you sub your work. Saves you and your editor a lot of time that can be devoted to your story. And it enhances its appearance as far as subbing it is concerned.

Many writers fear this part of the process, seeing their word redlined by the content editor. But it's a  necessary evil. Chances are you've read your own words so many times, you've stopped seeing errors. A fresh set of eyes is a godsend, although you should have, by now, been beta'd and critted before you bothered to sub. I cannot stress enough the value of a beta and/or a crit partner. They see what  you might not, have ideas you might not have fully explored, etc.

Back to the editor.

Too many people see the content editor, as well as the publisher, as gods. They aren't, I assure you. I say that being an editor myself. What I have to give is my knowledge and skill as far as the written word is concerned, but I don't claim to be omnipotent or perfect. So if you see something you disagree with in your edits, no need to roll over and play dead. Explain yourself to the editor, and either she'll see it your way, or she'll tell you why it doesn't work. Give and take. It's the basis of any good relationship.

Also, you do not have to put up with rudeness in your editor. I'm not saying you have to be best friends or  anything, and sometimes tone is difficult to take when you read it whether than hear it. People have different senses of humor, and something might be meant as a simple jest yet taken in the wrong way. But some things are unmistakeable. You do not have to take that. If you believe your editor is disrespecting you, first say something to her. She may not realize how she comes off. But some things are obvious. I had major editing problems with my sequel to my first published novel. The first editor said change your character. In a sequel? Seriously, dude? He cut my MC down every chance he had, in no uncertain terms - why is he a sissy? Why's he so whiny? Why's he a 12 year old girl? When I learned the truth about him (he'd hidden behind another identity, turned out I knew him) I confronted him about his attitude. Next thing I knew I had a new editor. Second editor criticized my writing style and wanted me to put everything into one tense. I had present tense for what was currently happening, past tense for flashbacks. I refused, of course. Sequel here, worked the first time. Then she began dragging her feet on everything 'til I wanted to scream, with deadlines looming. I'm one of those people who doesn't like to wait 'til the last minute. She was replaced too. My book was the better for both of them being out its life.

So yeah, listen to your editor, but don't think she's perfect or that you can't disagree with her. Editors, like publishers, are not gods. They need us too. We're all reaching for the same goal - a successful novel. Working together is the only way to achieve that. But know your rights. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.

Have bad experiences with editors? Good ones? Questions or comments about editing and editors? I'd love to hear from you!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Silver Flash Wednesday - More Two for the Price of One

Happy Wednesday everyone, and happy Hump Day!Thanks for coming back for another week of flash fiction with the authors of Silver Publishing! This week we have our very first Guest Prompt Diva - Reese Dante, our lovely cover artist, who has given us:  :  ...will you stop doing that!  I can't concentrate when you're ....

And the alternative prompt, from our very own Ryssa Edwards is: 

Use these three elements in your story: a full moon, an iron gate, suitcase

This could lead to some rather interesting possibilities, don't you think? As for myself, I have brought both my series to the table again this week, unable to choose between them. In Lust Never Sleeps, the plot thickens as we learn more about the slippery Sawyer, while in Scent of a Wolf, Cameron and Jareth come face to face... or is that nose?

Don't forget to check out all the divas, their links follow my tales!

Scent of a Wolf 4

For a moment, the startled Cameron forgot to breathe, staring into those dark velvety eyes. But when the admittedly good-looking man drew closer to him, practically inhaling him, then Cameron automatically reacted, pushing the intruder summarily away. Shifter or not, he didn’t care for the man’s far too intimate manner. And the unhealthy way he was eyeing Cameron up, like he was some cut of Grade A Choice Beef snack. Raw, and on the hoof, so to speak.

“Hey man, what’s your trip? Ever hear of personal space?” He jumped up, debating with himself whether fight or flight should be the order of the day. While not afraid of fighting, this wasn’t necessarily the venue for it. Especially without a better reason than this.

“Excuse me…” Another country heard from. Hopefully a saner nation. Perhaps it was the other man’s keeper; that would explain much. Where the first was tall, dark and handsome—as clichéd a stranger as any found within the pages of a romance novel—the second man was blonder, stockier, and seemed to at least possess something of his own wits about him. Whereas the first man’s sole mission in life seemed to be to get as close to Cameron as he could get, his nose twitching  at him in an almost sensual way. Cameron found that it turned him on, in spite of himself.

“I’m sorry, I must apologize for my friend,” the blond began. He grasped his companion by the forearm, pulling him back. The well-dressed brunet strained against his keeper’s tenuous hold, and Cameron found himself carefully backing away from him. ‘”He’s not himself today. Jareth!”

To Cameron’s surprise, the blond placed his hand over Jareth’s nose, pinching it shut, a move which made no real sense to him. But for some reason it worked, as he instantly ceased from making any untoward movements in Cameron’s direction. That was a start.

“What the fuck?” Cameron growled.

“Shaw, must you do that?” Jareth protested, reaching for the offending hand. Suddenly he stopped, his own hand arrested in mid-aid, staring about him with confused eyes. “Where on earth are we? And why?”

“He’s why.” Shaw nodded at Cameron. “I don’t have time to explain where. Or anything else. I suspect his pursuers are either close at hand, or waiting just outside.”

“My what?” Cameron looked between the two men. Someone was certainly crazy around here, and it wasn’t him. They were very lucky that it wasn’t any closer to the full moon, for at such a time, he was less prone to self-control.

“Look,” Shaw said, attempting to be as patient as he could under the circumstances. Between having to keep a tight rein on Jareth’s nose and watching out for the gruesome twosome, he wasn’t exactly in the mood to play professor. “We know what you are. I don’t know why Jareth is so damned attracted to you, but he is. That’s beside the point. You’re in grave danger from two hooli—“

Just then, Jareth’s nose came loose from its imprisonment. He leapt toward Cameron.

“You know what? I hear your loony bin calling, they want you back,” Cameron murmured, before he did a quick vault between the two men, just as Shaw threw himself toward Jareth. Thanking the powers that be for his wolf reflexes, Cameron leapt down the stairs three at a time, banging his elbow painfully against the wall as he did so. At the bottom, he hurtled himself through the front door and back out into the miserable drizzle which was still falling, calling an apology over his shoulder to the owners of the establishment. With any luck, they wouldn’t ban him from the premises for this lunacy.

It was definitely time to go home. He’d had more than enough excitement for one day.

Too engrossed in evading the melodrama that was no doubt playing itself out on the second floor, Cameron failed to take note of his surroundings. A most grievous error on his part.  A hand emerged from nowhere, clamped itself about his upper arm. Cameron’s head whipped backward. He felt a shockwave of pain run down his arm, as he was jarred into momentary immobility.

The hand squeezed tightly; Cameron winced, drawing on what inner strength he possessed to fight the pain. He changed his mind—he wished it was the full moon. He’d rend this bastard limb from limb, given the chance.

From the corner of his eye he saw a long lean man with weasel’s features. He opened his mouth, revealing sharp pointed teeth. “The show must go on, dear boy,” he said, grinning.

Cameron pulled as hard as he could, one foot coming up in a self-defense kick which caught his captor in the groin. He doubled over, and Cameron ran. He dashed across the street, glancing about for some means of quick escape. A bus was approaching; he feared that would not do. He turned into an alley instead, hoping to lose himself in the shadows.

His arm began to scream; he held it close against his body, his feet lithely dodging the accumulated detritus that blocked his way. An abandoned baby carriage. An upended garbage can. An empty suitcase. Collective pains in his ass.

He dared a quick glance behind him—nothing. Veering course, he ducked down a second alley, speeding along it in desperation. At least he was on familiar grounds, hopefully an advantage his pursuer did not share.

Pursuer?  That’s what the men in the bookstore had said. What the fuck?

Ahead of him, he spotted the entrance to an abandoned shoe factory, its workers long ago relegated to the unemployment line. If he could scale the iron gate, he could slip inside, catch his breath, and plot a course of action.

He reached the top of the gate, swinging one leg over the top when he felt the arrow strike the base of his spine, toppling him. He fell to the ground, unconscious.

“Excellent work, Chambers!” Rutledge hooted.

to be continued

Lust Never Sleeps 11: What is the Real Truth?

“Wait, wait, wait! Let me understand what you’re saying,” Amandine protested, holding up one gloved hand, as if to dam his words. “You let the actual diamonds out of your hands? And into theirs? Sawyer, how could you?”

“Amandine, please, this is no time for reproach. You can beat me over the head later. First things first, my dear, and that is to retrieve my diamonds.”

Your diamonds?” She arched a silken red eyebrow at him, receiving an annoyed scowl in return.

Brushton let out a long low whistle. “Bugger, Sawyer, I hate to say it but I think you’re royally screwed. The thing I don’t understand is how you’re still alive? I mean seriously, I’d have thought Sue would’ve flayed you like a prime filet for losing the family jewels. I know that forgiveness is a nunly trait, but honestly, that goes above and beyond—“   He paused in mid-sentence, setting his half-empty glass of champagne onto the table so abruptly it imitated a drunken sailor, sloshing onto the tablecloth. “She doesn’t know, does she?”

“Of course not, that’s why he’s here.” Amandine glared at her ex, who refused to meet her gaze.

“No, she doesn’t know,” Sawyer reluctantly admitted. His eyes fell upon Brushton, whose hand was busily scratching at one of his udders.

“Will you stop doing that!  I can't concentrate when you're playing with yourself in public like that!”

“Am not,” he insisted, continuing to rub away at the large teat, “but this damn suit itches. There are worse places I could be scratching, you know. Want me to show you?”

“NO!” Amandine and Sawyer cried in unison.

Darryl was having difficulty in following the back and forth and give and take among these three people, who obviously possessed a great deal of very interesting history among them.  It was like watching a tennis match without knowing anything about the sport, or any idea what the rules were—a lot of pointless head turning with himself none the wiser. He cast his eyes upon Sawyer, who kissed him softly, as if that explained everything.

Brushton released his hold on the udder, reaching for his glass, to a collective consensus of relief. “I say, old beaner, you’re in a bit of a jam here. I mean it’s not like you can just go up to them and ask for them back, now can you? Say pardon me but you filched the real thing and not my fakes, would you hand them over, please.”

“Hardly.” Sawyer snorted derisively.

“Fakes?”  Darryl echoed.

“Sawyer’s the best forger that ever was.” Amandine praised her ex, who did his best to appear to be modest, but somehow failed. “He’s so good, he leaves his victims feeling that they all have the real deal, no questions asked. Of course, they’re forbidden to show them to anyone either. Part of the price they pay for having such expensive trinkets in their collection. So no one can compare notes. Or figure out just how many copies of everything Sawyer’s sold.”

“As long as I keep track of who has what, no harm done eh?” Sawyer insisted. “The point here is what can I do to get back what is rightfully mine?”

“Yours and Sue’s,” Brushton pointed out helpfully.

“Let’s not quibble about semantics,” Sawyer brushed away his assistance. “Let’s think of something.”

“”What about your…” Darryl didn’t know what to call the ability which Sawyer seemed to possess. But he’d seen him touch people and bend them to his will, at least to some degree. So why not use it on Schrodinger and Salisbury?

Sawyer frowned. “That’s a simple parlor trick,” he replied evasively, “of limited usefulness. I would if I could, my love, I assure you. But those gentlemen are too savvy to fall for that.”

“In other words, they caught onto him in that regard a long time ago,” Amandine laughed. Sawyer flushed, but he didn’t deny her words.

“So let me see if I have this right.” Darryl fought to make sense out of the disjointed bits of information. “You forge things and sell them to these two men? Yes? But for some reason they ended up with the real thing, and not the forgeries? Do I understand the situation correctly?”

“Yes and no,” Sawyer equivocated. “I brought the real diamonds to bait the trap, but once I learned who the client was, I intended to give them the fake ones. It’s worked beautifully before. Jewels, paintings, sculpture…”

“You can do all that?” Darryl was impressed.

“And more.” Sawyer broadly winked. Darryl flushed at the implications inherent in that simple motion, his groin tightening with desire.

“So what happened tonight?”

“Good question,” Sawyer glumly replied. “All was going well, until that thief and his bosom companion had to interfere.”

“What about the gypsy who killed the thief? Can you be sure he took the diamonds to those two men? Maybe he kept them for himself?” Darryl was trying to cheer up his lover by looking at the cup as being half full, not half empty. But even he wasn’t sure if that was a better idea or not.

“Milosh? No, he’s one of theirs. As is Mondo.”

“What do you mean, one of theirs?”

“I mean he’s a creature whose purpose is to do their bidding. A servant to do their dirty work. As for Mondo, I’d swear that he’s a golem, actually, although I’ve no real proof of that.”

A distinct shiver traversed Darryl’s spine. Or  it might have been because of Sawyer’s blatant hand pressing 
against his crotch.

“Darling,” Amandine interrupted their tête-à-tête, “I do hate to be crass, and while I do adore the free bubbly, I’m not quite as enamored of watching you and your dear darling Darryl mindfuck one another. Is there a reason why I’m here? Other than to be admired, of course?

Before Sawyer could either explain or apologize, their ears were assaulted by a maddening din.

“AIR RAID!” Brushton screamed. “Everybody dive for cover!”

to be continued 

Now visit the other intrepid Silver Flashers and see what they have to offer! 

Lily Sawyer    m/m 
Ryssa Edwards    m/m 
Catriana Sommers    m/m 
Victoria Blisse     m/f 
Chris Quinton     m/m
Lindsay Klug     m/f
LM Brown    m/m
Freddy McKay     m/m

 I hope you're enjoying our humble efforts. Feel free to drop a comment, make a request, or just say hi!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie