Monday, August 14, 2017

The Farther, Forbidden Paths

My first published novel was Gemini Rising, winner of the Mainstream Category in the 2012 Preditors & Editors Poll.  That year, it was also 2nd in the Paranormal Romance Guild's Reviewer's Choice Awards.  However,

Gemini Rising is a controversial dark fantasy.  I didn't expect it to be published at all, but Canadian Publisher Double Dragon Publishing released it in 2012.  This year, I took my rights back and Class Act Books accepted the novel for reissue under the new title Anointing: The Gemini Factor.  I'm currently updating the manuscript for republication.

The story is told in a 'frame', starting in the present, the majority told in flashback, then returning to the present for the end.  This excerpt is from the present and is a celebration of Alina's husband's birthday.  The hero and heroine, Alain and Alina, are identical twins.  Male/female mono-zygotic twins are a scientific impossibility, but not in the suspension of disbelief, right?

From Chapter 26 - Another Homecoming

An army of servants trooped across the lawn, their arms laden with brightly wrapped packages.  Mum motioned Rory to a chair center stage on the dais.  Alina stood behind him, her hands on his shoulders.  A young king, he smiled as they stacked the gifts around him [her husband].
With paper and ribbon littering the platform and the ground, Alain slipped into the shadows.  She’d give him ten minutes then signal the orchestra.  Her heart raced, but she mustn’t betray her excitement to Rory.  She kissed his cheek, stroked his hair.  At the soft thud of hooves on grass, she nodded at the conductor.
To Trumpet Voluntary, Alain strode the gamut of wicker torches.  Light gleamed on living gold.  Red ribbons fluttered on the stallion’s halter.  The palomino snorted, tossed his noble head.  His snowy mane flagged in the breeze.  A collective gasp rose from the crowd.
Every eye was on the dazzling pair—every eye but Rory’s.
She clasped his hand to her breast.  “Isn’t he beautiful?”
Her husband’s voice was ice.  “The man or the horse?”
Alina frowned a reprimand.  “Your birthday gift.”
A smile brightened Rory’s handsome face.  “Trust Alain to make a grand entrance.”
With a flick of his wrist, her brother halted the Lusitano stallion at the platform’s edge.  He bowed low, his hair sweeping the grass.  How regal the man and the horse were.  Alain in his tuxedo, the stallion’s golden palomino coat glistening in the torchlight.  Focused on Alain, the horse stood four-square, his ears flickering, nostrils flared.
Her brother straightened, shook his hair back from his face.  “Happy Birthday, Rory, from Lina and me.”
Her husband brushed a kiss to her lips, shot to his feet and bounced down the two stairs.
Alain smiled at her and handed Rory the lead.  “His name is Prospero.”
Rory wound his arms around the arched neck.  The stallion curled his head over the man’s shoulder, pressing him close to the warm scent of horseflesh.
Alina laughed.  “An equine hug.  See, he loves his master already.”
Rory turned, embraced Alain.  “Brother, you have outdone yourself.”
Alain beckoned, offering his hand.  “He was your wife’s idea.  Come, Lina, you must be first to mount him.”
Applause erupted.  The stallion danced to the end of the lead.  An anxious expression swept over Rory’s face.  Alain whispered to Prospero, and the horse stilled.  Alina stepped down into her brother’s arms.  A quick embrace, then she hoisted her skirt and Alain eased her astride the golden stallion.  Rory beamed up at her.
She smiled down at him and blew a kiss.  “I love you.”
Rory fisted the sky, the other hand clutching the horse’s lead.  “I love my wife,” he proclaimed to cheers.  With the same flamboyance, he spun on a heel and paraded his birthday present before his audience.
Alain walked beside Rory.  “Hold the lead tight and cluck.  He’ll piaffe.”
Alina stretched her arms beside her, threw her head back and laughed with joy as the stallion danced in place, his bare back swinging between her legs.
“Wow,” Rory breathed.
“Prospero is the reason I’ve been in Portugal for six months.  It took a long time to persuade the breeder to sell him.”  Alain stroked the muscles rippling under the stallion’s sleek hide.  “Good boy.”
“He’s magnificent.”  Rory clucked his tongue.  “But what will I do with a horse like this?”
Alain squeezed his shoulder.  “Learn to ride.  I’ll teach you, my friend.”
Alina closed her eyes, her body swaying to the two-beat rhythm.  Finally, they were together again, and she’d never allow anything to separate them.
_____________________


If you're not wary to venture into a story with a thread similar to Flowers in the Attic, look for Anointing: The Gemini Factor, a dark fantasy, coming from Class Act Books in October 2017.

The picture is a mock-up of a cover that is simply for example purposes.  The images behind the smoke will be different in the final cover.  The smoke image is from Fotolia.

Happy 14th of August!  Linda

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Solar Eclipse by Diane Burton


If you haven’t heard about the Great American Total Solar Eclipse, you must be on vacation from all news sources. Not to be confused with the Great American Cookout, which started in April and goes through November, the Solar Eclipse will last about two minutes. If you live in Hopkinsville, KY, you’re in luck. That’s where it will last the longest, two minutes and 40 seconds. It will take ninety minutes to cross the U.S. on a path from Oregon to South Carolina.


What’s going to happen? Basically, the moon will get between Earth and the Sun. Depending on where you live (or travel to), you’ll see  either the total eclipse (along that path from Oregon to South Carolina) or a partial. Where I live in west Michigan, we’ll see a partial. Think of a “fingernail” moon and that’s what we’ll see of the sun as the moon’s umbra (shadow) covers it. Like the one just to the left of the total eclipse below.

copyright: Fred Espanek

Exciting, right? We’re all going to rush outside to look. Right? Wrong. Unless you protect your eyes. Retailers all over the country are offering “eclipse” glasses for sale. Be sure they are safe or you could lose your sight.

Myths and Superstitions What could be scarier in ancient times than the sun disappearing? They had to come up with a reason. Like mythical figures eating or stealing the sun. In Vietnam, it was a giant frog, while the Norse blamed wolves for eating the sun. The Inuits thought the sun and moon were fighting. In Hindu mythology, the god Rahu devours the sun to stifle the light that provides life. Nasty guy.



The worst superstitions have to do with pregnant women. In fact, with prior eclipses, pregnant women were told to stay indoors. The Aztecs believed the eclipse might turn fetuses into mice. Yikes! I might have grandmice instead of two healthy boys. (In case you didn’t know, my daughter-in-law is expecting twins in November.) According to Mexican and South Asian myths, cleft palates are caused by the eclipse. Not so. Scientific evidence debunks those stories.

But one thing is true. Looking directly at the eclipse can damage your eyes. You can make a pinhole projector or buy special glasses. The following warnings are from the article on pinhole projectors.

Keep Safe!

§  Never look at the Sun directly without protective eye gear. Even sunglasses cannot protect your eyes from the damage the Sun's rays can do to them.
§  Always keep your back towards the Sun while looking at a pinhole projection.
§  Do not look at the Sun through the pinhole.

By the way, this is the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. in ninety years. So unless you plan to live a long, long, long time, it’s best to see it on August 21st.



Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Binge

I've heard about it, I've read about it all over the place, I've never imagined getting caught up in it.

See, I bought a fire stick from Amazon, it even has Alexa, and, boy, I'm enthralled. I have to be at work in less than 2 hours and I'm only on season one of Being Human which I'm loving by the way. I mean, a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost - what more could a viewer want? I'm on the episode where the crazy vamp b**** turned a little boy and it's intense to say the least. Not sure how it's going to turn out but after watching this episode, I've got to get some sleep or I'll never make it through 2 shifts.

My viewing thus far has been very controlled if I can use that word in this instance. I've stayed away from shows that haven't ended because I'm impatient which has caused me not to watch many newer series which are running on Netflix. Some I know I'll never watch like, don't shoot me - Game of Thrones. I've seen some clips, read lots about it, and there is just nothing that really appeals to me and I seem to be in a very small camp on that one so I'll move on. Last week I did all of Bitten about werewolves and prior to that I binged the Almighty Johnsons, a take on Norse gods and goddesses reborn in people on earth. Before that there was one about teenaged merpeople. After Being Human, I don't know where I'll head but I seem to be on a paranormal spree. Anyway...

Hello, my name is Joann - I'm a binger!

Now if only I can get back to writing. Haven't done much since my hand surgery other than re-reading older stories in preparation for getting them back out there. I didn't realized I had so much! Contemplating new covers boggles my mind but in a good way because I'll finally have complete control over that process.

Well, thunder and lightning have arrived so I'll end by asking for any good suggestions to while away the final days of summer.

What programs have you binged on that you'd suggest to a novice in the arena?

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele

Friday, August 4, 2017

Oh The Amazing Places You Can Travel to With a Book

by Maureen L. Bonatch 
Photo from our vacation at Islamorada, Florida
While on vacation this year at Key West, Florida, we talked with a girl, who said that she spent two months traveling on a boat, and currently lived on a sailboat and absolutely loved it. I stood there with a million questions running through my mind. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around living like that since it was so foreign to what I was accustomed to.

I could feel her enthusiasm, but shuddered at the thought of enduring the long hot nights until she saved up for some kind of air conditioning­—while I envisioned having so few possessions and so much freedom. Yet, I knew in reality I could never live that life. I was too set in my ways, too much of a willing slave to my routines and possessions. But in my imagination, I could live that life.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

As a writer her story intrigued me. It would be a fabulous setting for a character, or something I would enjoy reading about. Because as a writer, and a reader, there’s something magical about exploring places I might never see. For every beach I walk upon, I think of a book I read years ago about sea turtles, I believe it was The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe. I know nothing about sea turtles, but after reading this book, in my mind I think I kind of do, because I lived that life with that character.

What an indescribable joy to live so many lives in one lifetime. In reality, I’ve lived in one state all of my life, but in my mind I’ve been to many places that exist in the world, and others that only exist in an author’s imagination—and mine.

Get On The Train

There are two camps. Those who love Disney and all it entails and those who…don’t. I admit it. I’m in the second camp. I kind of put all those places—Disney, Epcot & Universal etc.— in one category.  I apologize to all of you who adore this magical world. It could’ve been a few unpleasant experiences, or it might’ve been because I’m rather introverted and don’t enjoy masses of people and long lines, but so far I’ve never seen the magic that enchants others.

But now that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter world exists in ‘reality’ at Universal Studios, I have to admit I would really love to see that. To be able to actually physically arrive at Platform of 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station (and not just in my imagination) and get on the train to Hogwarts would be fabulous.

I’ve been to Hogwarts in my mind many times and could only imagine the thrill of seeing it brought to live and how amazing that must feel to J.K. Rowling to see her imaginary world introduced to reality— to mere Muggles ;)

I’ve Never Left the Mountain

I live in Pennsylvania, so there are always some mountains in view, but they’re not the Misty Mountains. You know, The Mountains of Moria. Those of you who’ve read the Hobbit, and the Lord of The Rings books will understand. I read these books years ago, but I still think of that world as if it actually exists because the author brought it to life so magically.

They enchanted me, and still do. I traveled through those mountains with Bilbo Baggins and his crew and experienced the awe and terror they endured. I loved it­—in my imagination. In reality I might be more of a wimp than a warrior.

Sail Away

Photo from our vacation at Islamorada, Florida
I love puttering around in my home, surrounded by familiar things and places. Thus, exploring the world writing or reading a good book is a fabulous way to get away from the everyday all while staying in the comfort home. 

There are days I just want to sail away from all my troubles and daily stressors, and I can, just by sitting down with a book, or writing a new character. Perhaps one who lives on a sailboat might be in my foreseeable future.


Do You Have a Favorite Book Destination?

Need a New Home for Your Stories? Don’t Miss Your Chance at Winning a New Kindle right Here.

Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keep her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu, her teen twins & alpha hubby keep her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Monday, July 31, 2017

Touring the Scottish Highlands

By Sandy Wright

My husband and I are in Scotland while I research settings for the second book of my Ancient Magic paranormal suspense series. What a marvelous excuse to get to know the country of my origin!

Day 1: Inverness
Despite being jet-lagged, we enjoyed our stay in the Palace Hotel, right across the street from Inverness Castle.

We had tea while gazing out the window of our room at this amazing view of the Ness River and Inverness Castle. Thank you, Paul, for asking for a “castle view” upgrade, it was worth it.

Inverness is a pedestrian-friendly city. It includes a lovely two-hour waterside walk that follows the river south and then crosses to the opposite bank via a couple of islands. While we didn’t have time to do that whole path, we strolled around the city center and shopped. I found my Campbell clan tartan and bought cashmere scarves for family members (my buying splurge for the trip), as well as a traditional sgian-dubh, the ceremonial knife that’s 
part of traditional Scottish Highland dress. If you have any friends who wear kilts, you know the clansmen usually wear their knife tucked into the top of their kilt hosiery. However, I plan to use mine as a ritual athame.  

We had dinner at a little Italian restaurant down the street for our hotel, where I discovered a new favorite wine, Primitivo Del Salento Caleo. I would recommend both the restaurant and the wine.
My only regret is that we could not visit the Inverness Highlands Family Archives to research my Campbell clan family roots. It wasn’t open on Sunday, and we had an early-morning tour scheduled the next day. I do intend to contact them for research assistance when we get home.

Day 2: Outlander Tour
We met Diana Bertoldi, our Tours By Locals guide, and were delighted to discover we were her only customers for the day. She told us she’d lived in Italy before moving to Scotland. While her son still lives in Milan, Diana considers Scotland her true home.

Our first stop was the Culloden Battlefield, one of the most important places in Scottish history. It’s managed by the National Trust of Scotland and has an informative visitor centre. However, Diana worked at the site previously, so she gave us a vivid account of the final battle in the Jacobite Uprising. 

At Culloden), the Jacobites (mostly Scottish clansmen) lost 2,000 men, while the British suffered a mere 300 causalities.  The Duke of Cumberland’s dragoons (think of the Outlander character Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall) chased fleeing Jacobite clansmen into the Western Highlands, executing many of those they caught. The Scottish massacre was so complete that the Culloden burial sites are marked by clans, not individuals.

Those clansmen who were not executed were often transported to the colonies, ushering in the first wave of large-scale Scottish immigration to North America. The British government also banned the tartan and kilt. The clan system—the social order that had existed in the Scottish Highlands since before the days of William Wallace—was lost to history.

Although the clan way of life was formally eliminated, their sense of national pride was not.  In 2014, Scotland issued a referendum on national independence. That, coupled with the release of Diana Gabaldon’s Starz television drama, Outlander, has sparked renewed interest in Scotland’s Jacobite Rebellion. The efforts of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highlanders mark one of the most important—and ultimately tragic—moments in Scottish history.

Our wonderful guide Diana had arranged for us to meet the current McKenzie Clan Chief, Laird John Ruaridh Grant MacKenzie.
We spent a delightful couple of hours visiting with him and touring his home, Castle Leod. We shared a dram of whiskey, while he gave us the background of the castle and all the family portraits. 

The relative most interesting to me was George, the 1st Earl of Cromartie. A friend of Sir Isaac Newton and an ardent alchemist, he spoke five languages and was against the burning of witches. A truly modern man!  His father Sir John, owned Staten Island for a time, but sold it on account of “too many Indians and mosquitos.”

He also showed us the giant chestnut tree on the back grounds, planted by Mary Queen of Scots’ mother, as well as the only redwood tree in Scotland, along the front drive.  

When she learned I was researching sacred sites for my book, Diana took us to the Corrimony Cairns.
Sitting in a grassy field surrounded by sheep and bordered by a small stream, the 4000-year-old burial cairn and the standing stones ringing it are still intact. We had the place completely to ourselves, so Diana gave me no information, just instructed me to walk the perimeter and then let her know what I felt, if anything

I walked two-thirds of the way around the stones, feeling like they were repelling me. As I rounded the back of the cairn to complete my circle, it felt the opposite: the stones were pulling me toward them. When I told Diana what I’d experienced, she explained that an energetic ley line ran through the site, roughly along the line where I’d begun to feel attracted! 

That was my first experience with the supernatural Scottish highlands. It wouldn’t be my last, as we had two full weeks of sacred sites to visit with our next tour group, Gothic Tours.
If you would like to read more about sacred sites in the Scotland Highlands, visit my continuing blog at www.writerSandy.com

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I live in Arizona with my husband, a super-smart Border Collie/Aussie mix named Teak, and two huge black panther cats (18 pounds each), named Salem and Shadow Moon. Their daddy, Magick, was even bigger! He's featured in my debut novel, Song of the Ancients, the first book in my paranormal suspense series, Ancient Magic.
They say write what you know, and I'm Wiccan, so my debut novel involves witchcraft and Native American medicine magic. It's set in the energy-laden town of Sedona, Arizona.  It was interesting to introduce the concept of witchcraft, seen through the eyes of an ordinary, non-magical woman, and go through her reactions and disbelief along with her. While I did a lot of research for this book, most of the magical stuff I drew from my own Wiccan background and practice.
    Sedona is but one earth "power site" in the world. The Ancient Magic series will take Samantha and Nicholas, as well as a few secondary characters, to adventures at other sacred sites. The second book, Stones of the Ancients, will take us to the ancient standing stones of Scotland, where I get to trace my own heritage while researching the book. The series continues to Hawaii to learn about Pele, the Goddess of fire and volcanos. The last book will be set somewhere along the ancient icy land bridge of the First People, maybe Newfoundland, Alaska or Siberia.
Book One – Song of the Ancients is available now on Amazon, in both print and ebook.
Book Two, Stones of the Ancients, will be available early 2018.





Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Actor and Dog off the Chain ~ @MeganSlayer #mmromance #novel #pets #dogs

Odd title for a blog post, right? I know it is. Follow me here. It’ll make sense in a moment.

When I wrote the book, What’s His Passion? Wild Card, I knew I had two strong characters—Kris and Zayn. I knew they were the focus of the book, but side characters can be just as important.

I’m an animal lover. I really am. Having three cats and three dogs, you could say I live in a zoo. You’d be right. When the mailman knocks on the front door, it’s a five-alarm panic. But I love it and this love showed up in Wild Card. Kris is a wounded man. He needs more than a lover. He needs a few friends, too. My dogs are great companions. They don’t talk back—although I’m convinced some of the barking is sassing—not that I mind. They stay beside me when I’m blue and are great for exercise. So how does this match up to Kris? And why would I bring a dog into a story about a gay man in porn?

In Wild Card, Kris lives in a nice private development, but even in the nicest places, wicked people exist. His next-door neighbor has a dog. You’ve probably seen the type—the dog is constantly outside. There’s no grass under the dog house and the circle he runs. Rain, shine, heat, cold…the dog is there. Kris sees a bit of himself in the dog next door. They’re both wounded. The dog needs attention and love. So does Kris.

So Kris’s in porn. He believes he can reach a little higher in life. He believes the same thing for the dog. They’re kindred spirits. The dog is a pit bull, so people think he’s dangerous. He’s actually very sweet and goofy. But out on the chain, he comes across as scary. He really wants attention. Same thing for Kris. People see the porn actor and think he’s dirty or nasty. He’s so much more once someone unlocks his potential.

Here’s an Easter egg for you—the dog is named Nugent. According to the neighbor, he’s named after Ted Nugent. That’s not where I got the name. I’m a huge Cincinnati Bengals fan and the kicker for the team during the writing of Wild Card happened to be named Nugent. The dog is named after a professional athlete. Grin.

Now I have to admit I’m the kind of person who can’t stand to see the dog/cat/etc hurt in a book or movie. For the dog in Wild Card, the feeling was no different. Nugent is a sweet dog. He and Kris as well as Zayn have to have a happy ending. Want to know what the happy ending is? Then you’ll have to read What’s His Passion? Wild Card. I hope you enjoy the love and the dog.

Here’s a little bit about What’s His Passion? Wild Card:

Following his heart and passion will be his biggest role of all.

Kris Hunter wants out. He’s done pornographic films for the last six years. The pay’s been good, but his creativity is nearly dead. His passion is to act and to be a star on the big screen in mainstream films. When he auditions for famed casting director, Zayn Mason, he’s convinced he’s on the right path. He doesn’t want to take the casting couch route to success, but he certainly wants Zayn in his bed. Can he follow his dreams and the man he desires or will forces beyond his control derail his progress?
Zayn Mason sees the potential in Kris. As a casting director, he looks for the right actor to fill the roles in movies. He’s seen plenty of talent come and go, but no one stirs his soul both creatively and physically like Kris. But Zayn knows the pitfalls of the movie industry. Crossing over from porn isn’t easy and Hollywood isn’t always forgiving. Besides, he’s got demons of his own. Can these men get beyond their pasts and find a future together under the bright lights of the silver screen?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of voyeurism and intimacy with multiple partners.