Sunday, December 29, 2013

Guest Blogger: Sharita

Good morning! Please welcome my good friend and fellow author Sharita, who is actually three people one -
the infamous triad! Today she is answering my questions and talking about releases from two of her group, BL Morticia and Michael Mandrake. Shar, make yourself at home, I'll find us something to drink.

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?

SL: Well, I can fantasize since I’m a writer. I’ll take Jason Momoa and as long as we have the essentials, give me something that plays music! *winks*

2)      Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scene using them:  cliff, café, artist

SL: Nathan, the artist, waited for his lover in a busy café near downtown New York. Bryant was never this late and because Nathan was a stickler for time, he impatiently checked his watch. “Ugh, good Lord, Bryant, you better have a good reason for leaving me here alone looking like a deadbeat. If not, I just might throw your ass off the cliff and forget the damn wedding!”

3)      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?

SL: Oh wow, what a question. Can I steal this one? I’ve gotta say Louie from Interview With a Vampire
because he was still kind, captivating, and damn hot if he actually looked like Brad Pitt with the long blond hair. YUMMY.

4)      What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other?

SL: A quiet dinner with music, some drinks, and maybe a movie before bed. All at home of course.

5)      When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot?

SL: Characters usually come first especially if a certain picture speaks to me. Very rarely do I come up with plots before the characters.

6)      If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?

SL: Oh no, not my boring life but let’s go with Angela Bassett. I love her!

   7)     Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it?

SL: See I told ya I’m boring, I don’t. LOL

8)      Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?

SL: Yes there is one but I think I will eventually do it. It was a male/male about a man who falls in love with a serial killer. I’m sure a story like that has been done but I have some interesting twists. *smiles*

My two latest releases. One under BLMorticia, the other under Rawiya

Blurb: Bryant is still trying to convince his lover how great the holidays could be but Nathan isn’t buying into the holiday cheer. However, the Lieutenant has some tricks up his sleeve to show his husband-to-be the true meaning of Christmas.

Blurb: Denny Brothers is upset about being alone. After spending it with the man he’d been gushing over for years, he’s wishing for his sad existence to be change and little does he know witch Shelba Marrisco already has plans in the works. Enter Paul Alexander, a charming and sexy package handler with a special after Christmas gift they both can enjoy for the rest of their lives but in order to have a chance, Denny has to let go of his beloved chocolate lab, Preston, in exchange for everlasting love.
Amazon   B&N   ARe

SCP Link

Author Sharita Lira: In one word, crazy. Just crazy enough to have 3 different muses running around in her head, driving her to sheer exhaustion with new plot bunnies and complex characters.
 This happily married mother of two beautiful children loves music, computers, reading, and still enjoys reading and writing fanfiction. She’s a proud member of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association, as well as an advocate for rights of LGBT citizens.  She’s also a contributor to the heavy metal ezine
 For more information, please visit as well as her Facebook fanpage, The Literary Triad.
 The Literary Triad -!
 Michael Mandrake –

 Great answers to those questions, Shar! Of course you can steal that question! I don't think you're boring at all, I think you're a great person. Now sit back and relax, I invited a few friends over to visit with us.

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Trapped in Time II: Chapter Ten

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that everyone has a wonderful day, filled with love and laughter, good friends and good cheer, and the warmth of those who are closest to you! Just because it's Christmas day doesn't mean there isn't any flash fiction. Of course not! So be prepared for more from the Wednesday Briefers!

Last week, in Trapped in Time II, Doll and his fellow travelers arrived at the hotel, disguised as an acting troupe. As if that isn't bad enough, Shaughnessey seems to be hinting that Doll would make a good Juliet. Can things get any worse? Find out in this week's episode! Also, a reminder that I will be pulling Trapped in Time II soon so I can work on it and get it ready for publication! Hope you're enjoying it! D
on't forget to check out the other Briefers whose links follow my tale! Happy reading to all and to all a good day!

Trapped in Time II: Chapter 10

It is on the tip of my tongue to tell him just what he can do with his inappropriate thoughts and ridiculous ideas, but Vati steps in before I can get the words out. “A good play,” he agrees. “But then, does Shakespeare write any other kind?” He pats my arm gently. “Well, we should get our things and take them to our room, don’t you think?” What can I do but agree? I give Shaughnessey a glare but the effect is somewhat lost when he simply grins at me.

“I’ll check on you later.” Before I can tell him that’s not necessary, he’s winked and walked away. Again. What an infuriating man. I am so livid that I am barely aware that Vati has taken me outside to the wagons, where we gather what stuff we have.

“Isn’t this wonderful?” Myron is fairly humming with excitement, so of course Charlie is pleased, and Mary too. I half expect someone to comment on her presence in the hotel lobby, as we walk back through it, heading up the stairs, but no one does. Can they have seen an actual monkey before? I wonder.

As soon as Vati unlocks the door and we walk into the room, I know this will not do. There is one bed in the middle of the room. It has a metal frame and is covered by a patchwork quilt. It will sleep two, but no more. There are four of us, plus Mary.

“You and Rolf take the bed,” Myron quickly offers. “Charlie and I can sleep on the floor. Maybe we can get extra blankets?”

Maybe. But I would not hold my breath on that. This hotel does not seem first quality to me.

“I will go downstairs and see if there are extra beds,” Vati says. “It will be all right, you shall see.” He gives me a reassuring smile before he leaves. I turn my attention to the one window in the room, crossing the floor and pushing up on the frame. It opens. That is good, as it’s a little warm in here. At least we shall be able to get some fresh air. After the past few weeks of sleeping beneath an open sky, this will take some getting used to, although the bed is a welcome change.

Our window overlooks the main street before the hotel. I hope that it isn’t too noisy at night. People are bustling about, men and women both. And even a few children. At the sound of Myron’s voice behind me, I turn to face him.

“You know that it was common for men to play the part of women, don’t you, Doll? I mean, a long time ago, of course. When women weren’t permitted to appear onstage.” He looks unsure if I am going to bite his head off for this bit of information. I am not mad at him. Not any more, anyway.

“Doll would look good in a dress,” Charlie adds his encouragement. He and Mary are examining the room. Mary is fascinated by the mirror over the dresser and stares at her reflection as if wondering who the other monkey in the room is. Meanwhile, Charlie has discovered the chamber pot in the corner. I point and Myron hastens to his side before he can pick it up.

The realization washes over me that this hotel does not have indoor facilities. There are some things we take for granted in our modern life, and running water and indoor plumbing are two of those things. I sigh. It is not as if we have a choice in the matter. Hopefully, it won’t be for long.

“I know, yes,” I reply at long last to Myron’s observation. “I just hope we won’t be here long enough to worry about it. I want to find Vittorio and go.”

Myron nods as he pulls Charlie back to the center of the room. He spots Mary and decides to join her in her game and soon both are staring, mesmerized, into the mirror. “Please don’t worry, Doll. Your father and I shall work out what went wrong. We will find Vittorio and then we will go home.”

He sounds so confident. I wish I was as sure as he seems to be.

I turn back to the window, watching the people once again, when suddenly something catches my attention and I gasp aloud. Could it be... Is that?

I spin about and fly toward the door. “Doll, what is it?” Myron calls after me but I have no time to reply. I race down the hall and skip down the stairs and out the front door of the hotel. Once on the street, I look about. There, I did see it! My pennyfarthing! It’s just disappearing from view as I race toward it.

The rider has turned the corner and ridden a block or two before I catch up to him. A child, maybe ten years of age or so, sits on the seat. But this is my bike, without a doubt.

I grab the wheel and he’s forced to stop, gazing at me with a fearful expression.

I have to catch my breath before I can cry out, “Where? Where did you find my pennyfarthing?” He looks confused.

“I didn’t steal it. Honest, mister. I found it. Please don’t get me in trouble, you can have it.”

Found it? My hopes crash around me. Of course. Vittorio and the pennyfarthing were separated, just as he and I were. I had just hoped...

I pat the boy’s arm reassuringly. “There is no trouble. I was just hoping... Never mind. You can keep it. Have fun with it.” It’s the least I can do for scaring him.

“Gee, thanks, Mister.”

As I turn to go, he adds, “You talk funny, like that other guy.”

What? “Who do you mean?”

“The one at the church.” He points down the street and I spy a steeple.

 To be continued

Now go visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to!

 Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Son of Neptune Review

The Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune    

Author:  Rick Riordan
Publisher:  Hyperion Books
American release date:  October 4, 2011
Format, Genre and length: Novel/Fantasy/544 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating:  Teens
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★
Similar series or titles to check out:  Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Harry Potter

Percy Jackson finds himself high on a hill above San Francisco, battling pissed-off gorgons, who are angry with him for having destroyed their sister, Medusa. The trouble is he not only doesn’t remember doing such a thing, but he doesn’t know why he’s there or what’s going on. The only thing he remembers is Annabeth, and she’s not there and he doesn’t know where she is.

Leaping from the hill to evade the gorgons, Percy spots what looks like a secret entrance in between the two sides of the highway. It’s guarded by what appears to be kids dressed in ancient Roman garb. Percy has the feeling he’s reached his goal. And yet he keeps thinking he’d be better off, and safer, in the ocean. Just then an old hippie lady approaches him, tells him her name is June and he has to choose, and make it damn quick. He can leave her at the mercy of the gorgons, who are even now approaching, or he can carry her to the camp—across the highway, through the tunnel, across the river.


Percy isn’t sure about that at all, but he decides to do it. The old hippie lady turns out to be none other than Juno, the guards he meets are Hazel and Frank, and he finds himself arriving at Camp Jupiter, home of the Roman demigods.

Camp Jupiter is set up much like ancient Rome, and it is ruled by praetors Reyna and Octavian. Their previous praetor, Jason Grace, has gone missing. They reluctantly admit Percy into their ranks, for it’s rather hard to ignore an augur from a goddess such as Juno, and he is assigned to the Fifth Cohort, also known as the losers of the camp. Frank and Hazel belong to the same cohort. Hazel is a daughter of Pluto, while Frank, who is part Chinese,  hasn’t been claimed yet, much to his chagrin.

The Son of Neptune is the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series. In the first book, we met Jason Grace, a Roman demigod who found himself mixed in with the Greek demigods of Camp Half-Blood. A prophecy spoke of an exchange. Well here it is. Percy is at the Roman camp, Camp Jupiter. And Gaea is still threatening to destroy the world as they know it, unless both sides can manage to work together, despite their long history of being enemies. Can they put their egos aside long enough to cooperate?

Another great entry in the series, with lots of adventure and excitement as well as great character development. I enjoy the way the author makes them all come alive, and it isn’t hard to accept them as demigods or to become invested in their world and their struggle to maintain their way of life. As usual, the gods aren’t much help, and the demigods are pretty much on their own, battling giants and harpies and grain monsters and more.

No one is exempt from dying, and the struggle to defeat Gaea won’t be an easy one. It’s great to have Percy back, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the next book in the series, The Mark of Athena. Make sure you start with Percy Jackson and the Olympians before you read this series. They should definitely be read in order.

A great series for all ages.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Virtual Book Tour: Good Faith

Please welcome author Liz Crowe, who's going to talk about her newest release, Good Faith. Liz is giving away some prizes during her tour. One randomly chosen commenter will win either an e-book or print copy of Good Faith. Another commenter will receive an e-book or print copy (where available) of their choice of a Liz Crowe (Tri Destiny) backlist book, and one grand prize winner will receive the entire Stewart Realty series, either in e-book or print. The more often you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other tour dates, go here.

Liz Crowe


Strong personalities—volatile marriages—stressful careers—conflicting goals—difficult children.

Contemporary challenges facing close-knit families form the crucible that forges a new generation.

Brandis, Gabriel, Blair and Lillian emerge from the entanglement of their parents’ longstanding emotional connections, but one’s star will burn brighter – and hotter – than the others.

With a personality that consumes everyone and everything in its path, Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure. His life proves how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.

Brandis and Gabe Frietag are as close as any brothers, bound by both loyalty and fierce rivalry. The strength of their ultimate alliance is tested time and again by Brandis’ choices.

Companions from birth, Blair Frietag and Lillian Robinson share loner tendencies, but come to rely on each other through adolescence. As they mature, both are forced to confront their feelings for the men they knew as boys.

Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new generation finally collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.

As a chronicle of three families navigating the minefields of teen years into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a literary mirror to contemporary life with joys and temptations unflinchingly reflected. Its fresh, real-life voice portrays the sheer volatility of human nature, complete with the hopes, dreams, and unexpected setbacks of marriage, parenthood and “coming of age.”


That morning his father had roused him from a sound sleep. He’d blinked, confused, by the angle of the sunlight. He rarely slept much past eight since he usually had some sort of training or the other.

“Let’s go son. Time for lunch.”

Brandis had dragged himself up, his limbs feeling like they weighed a thousand pounds each. His brain buzzed with a strange sort of energy, his typical state, and not at all welcome considering it normally didn’t hit him until later in the day. The conversation his father began as soon as they were seated at their usual diner did not help.

“So, listen, Brandis. These girls…Katie’s friends from college….”

Brandis sipped his ice water, waiting for his father to finish the thought. His heart pounded, and his face flushed hot with embarrassment.

Jack sighed, as if exasperated that Brandis didn’t pick up the thread on his own, leaving him to carry on with the awkwardness about to ensue. Then he leveled his gaze, his face open, not angry or judgmental. “I think that you may be in for some…I mean, they’re…shit.”

“If you are gonna tell me where babies come from again,” Brandis said, after deciding to ease his father’s obvious distress. He cocked an eyebrow and half a smile. Jack seemed to relax somewhat as Brandis continued. “Don’t bother. I already know.”

He flashed his brightest smile up at the middle-aged woman who stood at their table, coffee pot in hand. She blinked rapidly at him, and at that precise moment, Brandis got his first flash of…something…about his power. Up until now he’d merely been “Brandis the trouble maker, the causer of strife.” Suddenly, he felt strong, amazingly so, stronger than even the man sitting across from him, a taller, older version of himself. His body tingled all over, as he tested the smile out again on the woman, making her slop some coffee out onto the table. His father frowned, but then chuckled as the woman walked away after they gave their orders.

“Son,” he said, leaning back and cradling the coffee mug to his chest. “Your adventure has only just begun.”

“Huh?” Brandis picked up his cup but didn’t drink any. He hated coffee, but had ordered it in a burst of need to be more like Jack. As he sipped the bitter stuff, he was transported back years before when he and his dad would spend every single Saturday morning together, eating breakfast at this very diner. He had adored the man, he remembered distinctly. His chest hurt at the simplicity of their relationship then. He looked away from Jack’s deep blue, knowing gaze.

The subject changed of its own accord, and Brandis let it. Although part of him wanted to ask for advice, a much bigger part would not allow the words past his lips.

They ate, discussing the upcoming football season and Brandis’ part in it. The recruiting company Jack had contracted last year to video his every move would start up with the first game. He’d made varsity again, technically as backup quarterback to a senior boy. Brandis didn’t see this as a setback and had every intention of starting under center by the second or third game.

Finally, when they pushed their empty plates back and sat looking at each other, Brandis felt more comfortable in his father’s presence than he had been in a long time. Jack said, “I am pretty sure at least one of those girls sleeping in the basement is determined to change the status of your virginity for you probably as soon as tonight.”

Brandis choked on the last sip of lukewarm coffee. His face burned, and his body tingled again. “I’m…it’s…uh….” He clutched the napkin in his lap unable to meet his father’s eyes.

“No need to say anything. Let’s just say your mother is an astute reader of female intent. While I was busy admiring your sister’s friend’s ass, she apparently read the girl’s mind or something.” Brandis’ face flushed even hotter.

He resisted the urge to protest, to proclaim his innocence of such things. Because he wanted it back—those mornings between them, father and son, man and boy, not this awkward, man and almost-man bullshit. Because while the thought of one of his sister’s college friends popping his cherry remained a pleasant fantasy, it also made him feel older than he wanted to be right then.

“So, I bought a box of condoms this morning,” Jack went on. “Put some downstairs in the side table drawer and the rest in your room. Use them please.” He sipped the last of his coffee, looked as if he were about to get up, then leaned forward, touching Brandis’ wrist. “Have fun. Don’t be an asshole to women. Let every experience teach you…something. Because you are nothing as a man if you don’t learn from every woman you…love.” Jack looked out the window onto the nearly empty parking lot. Then he turned back, tightened his grip on his son’s arm. “God, you are so…young.” His face fell a moment, then he perked up again, his eyes twinkling. “Okay, so, your mother told me to tell you not to let them corrupt you. But all I’m gonna say is this: always wear protection, no matter what, no matter how much you don’t want to. And don’t let your mom catch you in the act. I’ll handle her otherwise.”
Then he let go, stood and smiled, draping a friendly arm around Brandis’ shoulders as they exited the restaurant.

“You really didn’t tell me you were admiring Katie’s friend’s ass, did you, Dad?”

“No, son. I most certainly did not. You obviously misheard me.” Jack winked as he stood by the passenger’s side of his classic Corvette convertible and tossed the keys to Brandis. “Remember what I told you. Don’t ride my clutch.”


Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town.  She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse. While working as a successful Realtor, Liz made the leap into writing novels about the same time she agreed to take on marketing and sales for the Wolverine State Brewing Company.   

Most days find her sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, unless she’s writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications. 

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).  More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and many times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate, and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

If you are in the Ann Arbor area, be sure and stop into the Wolverine State Brewing Co. Tap Room—but don’t ask her for anything “like” a Bud Light, or risk serious injury.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Trapped in Time II: Chapter 9

Good morning and Happy Wednesday one and all! One week to Christmas and counting! Have you done all your shopping? Mine's all done, but not all the wrapping and shipping. And if it's Wednesday, you know what that means? Time for more of your favorite flash fiction by the Wednesday Briefers! Flash fiction stops for no one, and nothing!

As you'll recall in last week's episode of Trapped in Time II, Shaughnessey convinced the sheriff that Doll and the others are part of his troupe, then offered them room in the hotel. Can things get any worse for Doll? Read this week's chapter and find out! Then go see what the other Briefers have been doing! Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!

Trapped in Time II: Chapter 9

If I had expected the inside of this hotel to be any more presentable than the outside, than I would have to say I am disappointed by what I see once we are herded inside. I am under no such illusion, however, and am not surprised by what I see, considering the time and place in which we find ourselves. As well as the company. And yes, by that I do mean Shaughnessey. And I still dislike him immensely, a feeling which has not lessened any since he pronounced us to the sheriff as being part of his acting troupe. But for now I am helpless to do other than go along with the charade, in order to allow me the freedom to search for my Vittorio.

Such is the power of love. Under its influence we do things that otherwise would not merit our consideration. But I would do anything for Vittorio, including this. So be it. At least for now.

We’ve entered the hotel in two groups. The actors follow  Shaughnessey, while the rest of us stay close to Vati. We stand uncertainly in what must be the lobby, looking about us. The walls are covered with a gaudy yellow and orange striped wallpaper that does nothing to hide an assortment of mysterious stains that dot the surface. Through an open doorway, I spy what I take to be the dining area—for I get a glimpse of tables and chairs, and I hear the rattle of silverware, perhaps in anticipation of the dinner hour.

I detect an odor of cooked meat. My stomach starts to grumble, a reminder that it has been a while since we have eaten. I attempt to ignore it for there is nothing I can do to remedy the situation at the moment, as I continue to take in our surroundings.

A long wooden counter sits within an alcove, beneath a staircase that winds up to the second floor. I assume this to be the front desk, an idea which is confirmed by the sight of numbered pigeon holes in a wooden frame that hangs against the wall, many of which contain keys. A tall, thin nervous-looking man comes around from behind the desk toward us. He almost steps into a brass spittoon in his way. Just as I think he is about to put his foot into it, though, he veers around it. I can’t help but notice that the people who frequent this establishment have terrible aim.

“Can I help you, sir?” he greets Shaughnessey, his hand outstretched in greeting.

“That you can, sir, that you can. Shaughnessey and Company.” He pumps the man’s hand then releases it, gesturing toward both groups with a wave. “I believe you are expecting us?”

I try not to roll my eyes at his theatrics. It must truly be in his nature.

“Indeed, sir, indeed. Welcome, Mr. Shaughnessey. I am Mr. Westmoreland, proprietor of this fine establishment.” His gaze passes over the actors and lands on our group. His eyebrows raise inquisitively. 

“And whom have we here?”

“New additions to our troupe,” Shaughnessey says quickly. “We’ll be needing a little more room, I’m afraid. That won’t be any problem, will it?”

Nothing is said for a moment, and I begin to wonder if Shaughnessey has miscalculated his welcome, perhaps overplayed his hand. But then the owner speaks again and we breathe a collective sigh of relief.

“There’s room for all, of course. Of course.” He smooths back his thinning hair. I wonder if all actors unsettle him or if it’s just Shaughnessey. This Mr. Westmoreland seems easily rattled.

“Um, let’s have you sign the register.” He turns on his heel and speeds back to the sanctuary of his desk. Along the way, he manages to kick the spittoon. It gives a muffled clang and wobbles almost precariously but remains upright.

Shaughnessey follows closely behind, although not as clumsily, while we wait to find out where we are to sleep. Hopefully we’ll have a room to ourselves, one not too near that annoying Irishman. I haven’t spoken to the others enough to gain any measure of their worth, but I find Shaughnessey utterly worthless. And I am anxious to begin my search.

My father takes my hand and squeezes it reassuringly. “We are closer and closer all the time. Have patience, Adal.” But that is easier said than done.

Moments later, Shaughnessey returns. I see three keys in his hand. He hands the first to one of his actors. “Pete, have the lads bring everything up to the room. You know what to do with the wagons, yes?”

Pete nods, and beckons to his comrades. They follow him out as Shaughnessey turns to us. “I was able to procure a room for all of you.” He beams at us, as though he has just informed us of the second coming, and hands Vati a second key. “I believe finding you was meant to be. I can feel it in me bones.”

“And why is that?” Vati asks the question which I am sure we are all curious to know the answer to. Is he saying our meeting was fated? I find that hard to believe.

“I was not sure how we were to open. You see, we lost a couple members of our troupe before we met you. I hadn’t wanted to bother you with our sad tale. But now I see that fortune has smiled upon us with  your arrival, and we shall be able to open our play on schedule.” He gives me a knowing smile, one I cannot help but abhor, as a shiver glides along my spine.

“What play are you performing?”  Myron asks, perhaps dreaming of what part he might play. Better him than me, I think.

“One of the Bard’s best,” Shaughnessey replies. “Romeo and Juliet.”

He’s staring directly at me now. Mein Gott, please tell me he’s not thinking what I think he’s thinking.

Me... Juliet?

to be continued

Now go visit the other Briefs and enjoy their flash fiction!

 Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Guest Blogger: Jon Keys

Please welcome fellow author and friend Jon Keys today! He has bravely answered my infamous Rick Reed questions, and he's going  to talk about his new release with Dreamspinner,Heart of the Pines. Make yourself at home, Jon, I made coffee. Go ahead and start, why don't you?

Thanks Julie! I’m excited about visiting you today. You have a fun interview for me, too. I’ve looked through the questions, and this should be interesting. Okay, now for the juicy stuff.

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?

Well, my first thought went to sex of course. Then I thought I should be more dignified. I’m going to
give that a shot, even though my inner twelve year old really wants to be heard. I’d choose Leonardo da Vinci. I have questions about some of those crazy sketches. I also want to see the expression on his face when I explain a mutant turtle was named after him. Yeah, that should be an interesting conversation.

The item…I’m going to cheat. I’d want a basket, filled with great wine, cheese and breads. Drinking wine, stuffing my face with great bread and cheese while talking with da Vinci. I think that would be very enjoyable.

2)      Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you?

My Fair Lady, I guess. Jeez, these questions are hard. I’d be Eliza Doolittle. Well, if you think of Eliza as a southern redneck.

   3)    Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scenario using them:  angel, onion, nail

Gabriel slid his toe across the nail and tried his weight on it. He sniffed the air and without shifting his focus, he shouted, “Stir the onions, Michael. They’re for our sandwiches.”

Michael walked over, ignored Gabriel, and stirred the pan. He looked up to see Gabriel stand on the top of the nail. His partner stabilized his balance and smiled.

“You do realized the saying is ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’ not can one clumsy angel stand on a nail,” said Michael.

“Shit,” said Gabriel as he fell off.

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?

Probably not terribly original, but Tarzan. Those were some of the first books I ever read, and I had

the hots for the ape-man. I mean, skimpy loincloth and tight hard muscles. And, you sleep in a tree house. I mean, how cool would that be. Super hot guy and secluded hideaway. Yeah, that would work.

5)      What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other?

Huddled in a nest of blankets and quilts in front of a roaring fire. Some nice appetizers on the floor beside us while we cuddle with each other, sipping wine, and lost ourselves staring into the fire. The wine glasses would eventually be put aside and the shirts would be slid off while the warm colors of the fire reflected off our bare skin. Soon our bodies would be bare and we’d be grinding against each other…

Yeah, something like that. HeeHee.

6)      When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot?

I begin with a character, then think of what setting would be fun to put them in to make an interesting story that would pull someone in and make them not want to put the book down until they finished. Most of my stories so far have been more or less a slice of life, so many times the settings are something I’m familiar with, or that I’d like to know more about.

7)      If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?

Channing Tatum? Oh wait, you said who would play me, not who would I like to play with. Hmm, maybe Scott Bakula. A little nerdy, but still not too hard on the eyes.

   8)  Who’s your favorite horror villain and why?

My horror villain list is pretty short. I don’t typically read horror because they give me nightmares. I mean screaming, can’t get your breath nightmares. Yeah, I know. Not particularly macho. But if I had to pick, I’d say it was Hannibal Lecter. He was just so creepy. 

9)      Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it?

I don’t know. That’s another tough one. Dang, I’m glad I’m not getting graded! Actually I think it would be Crazy Horse. I’ve always been fascinated by Crazy Horse.

10)  Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?

You know, I doubt there’s anything I could come up with that would be all that shocking. But then, there is a lot of the world still not ready to receive the idea of same sex love. So I guess it just depends on your point-of-view.

Christmas is the worst time of the year to find yourself alone. Chris Moss, owner of a tree farm, knows this down to his bones as he makes his way through his first holiday season after losing his wife to cancer. When Wade Hart, an annual customer at the farm, visits, they find common ground: Wade lost his own longtime lover to a parting of ways and is lonely too. The constant, gentle companionship provides fertile soil for an attraction neither expects, but nurturing a new relationship is a tough proposition. With the encouragement of family and friends, Chris and Wade may yet find that a second love later in life can be just as fulfilling as the first.

Excerpt from Heart of the Pines.
Jets of steamy breath shot from Wade’s nostrils as he struggled to drag the enormous Christmas tree across the loose Michigan snow. The bells on Chris’s Santa hat jingled merrily as he hurried out to help his friend pull the tree up the final hillock to the barn.
“Here, let me give you a hand.” Stepping along the slowing tree, Chris wrapped a glove-covered hand around a branch and lent his strength to the effort.
Wade nodded and smiled. “Thanks, it’s a little much by myself.”
“No problem, happy to help. Looks like you got a beaut,” said Chris.
Wade pulled off his knit hat and wiped the perspiration from his head. “It’s a good one. I think I’ve covered your whole farm, several times, to find the perfect tree.”
They pulled the tree into the work area and hoisted it onto the sawbuck. “Want me to trim it up for you?”
“Sure. One less thing I’ll have to do.” Wade laid the handsaw he’d used on the table behind them, then tugged his thick cap on while Chris made a few quick cuts with the chainsaw to ready the tree for his stand. The roar of the saw faded, and Chris struggled for a few minutes as he tried to push the tree into the netting. As he began his second attempt, Wade woke from his stupor and grabbed the other side of the tree.
“Sorry, I’m a little spacey today,” said Wade.
With his help, Chris slid the tree into the tube of netting, getting it ready for Wade’s SUV. “No problem. It’s a huge tree. I hope Jeff will be around to help you unload.”
Wade folded his arms over his chest, a pained look on his face. “Jeff moved out. Last week. I thought makin’ our annual trip to your farm for a tree would keep me from thinkin’ about it.” Wade turned his head and let out a shuddering sigh. “I guess it’s not ‘our’ trip anymore.”
Chris gave Wade’s shoulder a squeeze. “Sorry to hear that. You guys always seemed happy together. Jeff was always cutting up and flirting with Mary.” I haven’t forgotten you attended her funeral.
“It happens. I guess we lasted longer than a lot of couples. Ten years isn’t bad.” Wade’s fingers ran over one of the fir boughs edging the barn windows. “It was good in the beginning, like newlyweds. Jeff loved our loft in Chicago. But ever since we moved to Traverse City, the relationship had slowly gone downhill. Our business downtown was an attempt to find something to keep Jeff happy.”
The pain in Wade’s eyes sparked a wave of bitter nostalgia for Chris. He missed Mary so desperately some days. She always was the caretaker of the family, even when they got the diagnosis of stage-four cancer; she still took care of everyone else until it was impossible for her to keep doing it. He turned to the barn behind them, pulled off the Santa hat, and held it tight in his hands as the frigid air gusted through his short white hair.
The farm was always beautiful this time of year, the ground covered with crystalline flakes in a white carpet that extended to the steps of the house, which he kept carefully swept. He hadn’t changed anything since Mary died. It had been more difficult in the summer when the beds that hugged the foundation of their house were ablaze with flowers Mary had planted and nursed through the years. The winter covering had been a blessed relief, but his heart still ached at the lack of holiday decorations. Mary had loved the season, and given half a chance, she covered everything within striking distance with lights. Without her, the trimmings just hadn’t mattered.
He shook himself and focused on finishing with Wade’s tree. He tied the bottom of the netting and turned to Wade. “There you go. All bundled and ready to put in that great foyer you have.”
“Not so grand this year. It’s kind of tough to get into the spirit of the season.”
Chris gave Wade a sympathetic smile. “It could be worse….”
Realization hit Wade. “Oh my God! I can’t believe I’ve been such an ass. This is your first Christmas alone. I’m so sorry, Chris. I feel awful.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s been almost a year since her funeral. It’s ancient history to most people.” Although it seems like yesterday to me. I can still feel her soft hand in mine as we picnicked on one of Lake Michigan’s sugar sand beaches on our first date, playing in the chilly crystal clear water. Even then, she’d taken care of everything and had the perfect lunch basket packed.
“Yeah, but Mary always said Christmas was her favorite time of the year.”
“It was, and I haven’t felt like doing much. It’s a lot more work to take care of the farm alone too. But the income for the whole year happens in the next month or so. Doesn’t leave me with many choices.” Chris smiled at Wade. “Bad thing about a Christmas tree farm, firs just aren’t that tasty.”
Wade gave a nod, and then his eyes lit up. “Hey, what if I do it? I’ve helped Mary put up the decorations before. It’ll keep me busy, and Santa’s Tree Farm needs to look more festive than either of us feels.”
Chris couldn’t help but smile at the sudden enthusiasm. “If you’d like, that would be great. I just can’t face the stuff. Too many memories.”
“Southern boy to the rescue! I got this covered.” Wade clapped his hand on Chris’s bicep and squeezed it. Chris found a comfort from the contact that surprised him. Mary’s touch had always had that unique ability to soothe him. Some nights its absence had left him curled around her pillow with tears streaming down his face.
Chris fished a ring of keys from his pocket, flipped through them, and held one out for Wade. “This unlocks the storage padlock. Anything you want to do would be great. I have a few customers wandering around looking for trees. I better go check on them.”
Chris raced through the light snowfall while Wade started for the storage building.

Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.
A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

Twitter: @Jon4Keys