Saturday, September 23, 2017

Becca's Bountiful Bodice: A Story of Epic Proportions

by Francesca Quarto
"As the Court Scribe, I have witnessed and documented many notable occurrences in this royal house,  nearly forty years by my count.  The following is a true accounting of one of the strangest stories among the many.  Let me begin the tale, begging your indulgence until I have reached the conclusion, lest you misjudge the outcome.
And so, I commence writing.
The Lady Becca was plump and ungraceful at twelve years of age.  Her skirts fluffed out like tents in motion when she passed through the long halls of the Dowager Queen's residence.  The old lady, being Becca's Royal Great Grandmother, had taken her in to raise after the untimely death of the girl's parents to the Black Scourge.
The Dowager Queen was no mere figure head in the kingdom.  She was uniquely qualified to float unscathed through the rough waters of political intrigues and lethal family jealousies. 
She was determined to shelter her granddaughter from the harms she skirted over her long years, by foregoing an alliance outside of the Royal lineage.
With her intimate observation of the Royals, it was not lost upon the old woman that with the many inter-family marriages,  cousins to cousins, uncle's to nieces, and so on, the glorious family history began to sound like a tale of idiots and imbecilic rulers.It was time to add fresh blood to the line; unadulterated by close family ties.  
She studied her great granddaughter over her growing years, noting a certain strength in her character. She didn't have the beauty of former Royals, none of the flighty temperament either.  Her mind was quick and sharp, unlike the elegant buffoons wearing crowns and stumbling over their own shadows.
No, she reasoned, Becca would bring balance and strength to the family lineage.
The years swept past like flocks of dark crows, for indeed, they were dark times in the land, with one mad king after another rocking the throne. 
Becca, meanwhile, had been sent away by the Dowager Queen to be refined and well rounded in her knowledge of court protocol.
She was taking no chances that her great granddaughter would not become the cog in the family wheel that was needed, before it went totally off track!  She hired the most experienced woman herbalist in the kingdom, to provide Becca with companionship and a daily dose of the herbs to help her grow strong, vital, and at least as attractive as the washer woman she so closely resembled.
When she returned to the marble halls of the castle, she found the old woman had finally succumbed to her burden of years. It was a blessing from the many Gods, that the old Queen hadn't lived long enough to see the result of all her planning and machinations.
The young girl that left her great grandmother's care, returned a young woman grown.  And grow she did.
The once softly round twelve-year old, had been transformed into a woman of extraordinary proportions, resembling the mythical warrior women that tempted sailors and travelers to their beds and death.
Her size was matched by her girth, making her approach seem like the mighty Amazonian and her departure like a war wagon trundling toward battle!  Of the grace and feminine qualities her grandmother would nurture, nary one had budded, let alone, bloomed with the girl.  Even her voice was an assault upon the halls of the castle, booming like thunder when excited, or filled with the ear-itching buzz of a hive when in normal conversation.
There was but a single feminine attribute left to the young woman; her bodice!  It was filled copiously to near overflowing and thrust out like the carved goddess on a Viking ship. Though raw-boned and as big as a church pillar, Becca could make herself as alluring as a siren's song as she trod the halls, letting her great bosom swing like twin bells, calling all to attention.
Now, the king reigning at the time of Becca's reentry to the court, was an old lecher and nearly blind.   Becca was presented to him as his very distant relation.  She made a clumsy curtsy, he squinting from the throne, she, showing teeth the size of a horse's. She asked if she might approach his golden chair to deliver a message from the Dowager Queen, known by her these many years.  Naturally this piqued his interest.
Becca rose to her full giantess hight and coming within touch of the king, leaned in, making certain to fill his clouded eyes with those two billowing clouds of flesh.  His demeanor changed markedly as the creamy mounds lightly brushed his cheek. The message was clear, if not his mind, but quickly lost, as he felt enveloped by desire.
And so, a new chapter was begun for Becca, for the king and assuredly, for our land.  Her Majesty, Queen Becca of the Prodigious Bosom, still rules like a force of nature, long after the king's demise.  Storming at the inequity of poverty among the people, raging at political corruption and scheming for self-enrichment by the few wealthy families, Becca Regina has mothered this kingdom and sheltered all beneath her ample bosom's shadow.
I put this tale to pen and parchment, to reflect upon true leadership and perhaps recognize the more subtle points of true greatness.  
While the good Queen certainly used her best, nay, only female attribute to garner the king's feeble attentions, she never denied her true self in the doing.  She towered over him in every way, her voice boomed from her seat beside him, making him seem like a puppet on her knee.  She returned the glares of the fawning courtiers, defying their efforts to control by flattery.  Yes, she was the true iron rod in the backbone of the royal house.
If you've read this story, you may arrive at the conclusion that Queen Becca used the only remarkable attribute she had to make her way to the throne.  And I would add simply,   Bigger boobs have sat there!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Top 10 Heroes/Heroines!

As  writer, I think it's important to examine the characters who truly speak to us so that when we write, we can try to imbue our our heroes and heroines with some of those characteristics. When I first decided to write a post about my top 10 heroes/heroines, I thought, “Oh, this’ll be cake.” I write superpowers after all. So, cake, right? Nope. 

When I started making my list, I discovered that I could write it ten times over. I could do a separate one for superheroes, or literary heroes, or real life heroes, or movie heroes, or anti-heroes, and on and on. It really depends on what definition of hero/heroine you decide to use. I finally decided to make a hodgepodge list for my Top 10 that combined of all of those categories – although I mostly stuck to fictional characters.

So here they are, in no particular order. Enjoy!
Reason: Best Superpower
Telepathic and telekinetic abilities are the top of my list for “if they’re passing around super powers, I want that.” I love all the manifestations Jean takes through herself and the various phoenixes she becomes. 

Reason: Best “Normal Human” Superhero
I like the idea of Batman in general. An “ordinary man,” rather than someone with superpowers, who defeats evil through smarts, hard work, and some really cool gadgets. I like that he has issues and a dark side and a back story. My favorite portrayal is Christian Bale in the Dark Knight movies. Buff, smart, self-sacrificing, obsessed, dark. Oh! And did I mention hot? Yumm.

I will say, I'm tempted to change this to Daredevil ever since the Netflix/Charlie Cox take on the character came out. Similar reasons I love him!

Reason: Best Character Growth
I LOVE a strong female character. Daenerys is one of my favorites. I love that she starts out timid and unsure and grows into a powerful, confident, amazing woman. I love that she still makes mistakes and sometimes causes her own heartbreak as she goes along. I love that she has dragons (let’s face it, dragons are awesome). And Emilia Clarke does an incredible job in the role in the HBO series.

Reason: Best Physical Weapon (Indestructible, Retractable Claws)
Just gotta love a gruff, grumpy guy with metal claws and a heart of gold. He was one of my favorites before the movies ever came out. And then Hugh Jackman went and made him even more awesome in a more likable way… and even managed to do that without the yellow spandex outfit.

Reason: Best Loyal Friend
Val Kilmer’s portrayal in the movie Tombstone put this character in my top 10. Doc is a bit of an anti-hero – drunken gambler that he is. But he is also loyal to a fault, battling grave illness to fight for his friend. I would definitely want a friend like that. And he’s dang funny in a sarcastic way that I really enjoy. He can be my huckleberry any day.

Reason: Best Kickass Female Fighter
Another awesome strong female. She’s not the most powerful vampire in the coven (although she gets more powerful as the series goes on), and she has been misled and trusted the wrong people. But she fights for real, personal reasons – not just because she’s a vampire. And she allows her views to change as truth is revealed. She’s also a kickass fighter.

Reason: Best Real Life Example of Survival
If you haven’t read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, I highly recommend it (not the movie so much, but definitely the book). It is an account of the incredible life of Louis Zamparini primarily focused on his experience during WWII of surviving first a plane crash into the ocean and drifting for ages, but then a POW camp in Japan. An amazing, amazing real-life story.

Reason: Best Protector with a Dark Side
I guess I love the anti-hero types who have a really dark side. And Riddick definitely fits. He’s smart, a kick-ass fighter with no fear, and is incredibly loyal to the few people he cares about. And anyone who can defeat some holy half-dead guy definitely has to rate top 10 in my opinion.

Reason: Best Classic Literature Female
Individual, intelligent, forgiving, independent – and all despite the era in which the book is set and was written. Jane Eyre was one of my favorite characters in high school when I first read the book and remains so to this day. She follows her heart, but remains loyal. She relies on herself to solve her own issues. She’s not afraid to stand up to Mr. Rochester and consequently wins his love.

Reason: Best Ensemble
I absolutely had to include the trio from Star Wars in here because it’s my favorite movie of all time. The combo of these three is one of the biggest reasons. We have Leia who is a strong, independent, feisty woman who can hold her own with Darth Vader. We have Luke who is an up and coming Jedi – and Jedi are wicked awesome. And we have Han who is sarcastic, loyal, and a good fighter. Love, love, love, my Star Wars heroes and heroine.

Who Else?
Like I said, I had a seriously hard time limiting myself to just 10. I had a TON of others like…  

Aragorn from LOTR, Katniss from Hunger Games, Audie Murphy (WWII hero and actor), Black Widow from the Avengers, Mulan, The Incredibles, James Bond, Ben Hur, Perseus, Marmie March from Little Women, Rogue and Gambit and Cyclops from X-Men, Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Wonder Woman, Beowulf, Blade, Lara Croft, Daredevil… 

I could go on and on and on. I even had Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women on my longer list, cause man can she ever deliver a verbal set-down.

In the end though, the ones I selected for my Top 10 aren’t necessarily the most saintly or deserving, but are the ones I personally connect with most for various reasons. In fact, after writing this, it struck me that I must have a thing for heroes/heroines who are loyal, skilled fighters, and have a dark side.

I had a lot of fun thinking through this list. I’d LOVE to hear about your own list of heroes/heroines. Who do you connect with?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fabulous Fall by C.J. Burright

As sad as I am to wave buh-bye to summer, there are a few fall factors that make the slide toward winter less painful. If you’re having a hard time stashing your swimsuit and surrendering backyard barbecues, maybe you can find some comfort in one or two of the things that are getting me through.

Sweaters and Leggings

I love my snuggly sweaters, and the fact it’s acceptable to wear dressed up sweats around without feeling lazy? Score. I’ve been waiting to wear these particular leggings, stacked so patiently in my closet for months:

Aren’t they awesome? I can’t wait to wear them with a long black sweater and tall boots, no matter that the other, unfashionable people in my household think I’m weird. They clearly have no taste.

The Return of Favorite Shows


Supernatural - I’ve loved the Winchesters from the very beginning, and it’s so great to have a show that doesn’t get freakin’ canceled after two seasons. Anyone else an outraged Sense8 fan? That cliffhanger made me scream, and then to find out there’s only a two-hour finale that fans had to petition for? Not cool, Netflix. Not. Cool.

Stranger Things


Any trailer that uses Michael Jackson’s Thriller is an automatic in, right? *And if the link doesn't work, I apologize. Blogger wasn't cooperating with me. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgS2L7WPIO4
This show…gah! It’s the perfect blend of everything great, a combination of Goonies, Supernatural, and the Bourne movies. There is the totally loveable, geeky middle school tribe of D&D lovers who are into science and think girls are gross. The older, straight-laced sister on the verge of acceptance by dating the "popular" guy. The outcast, sensitive boy who adores the girl from afar...until danger draw them together. The emotionally-scarred sheriff who doesn't care until some serious stuff drags him back into life. The wound tight mom who works all the time just to provide for her boys and isn't about to sit around when one of them goes missing. The fenced-off government lab where a no-morals scientist conducts experiments...and the girl who escapes. Then there's the scary THING that ties everyone together. I don’t blog about shows unless they’re FANTASTIC. This one. It is. Go watch.

Hot Brews

Hot tea, hot buttered rum, hot chocolate (with or without peppermint Schnapps), Irish coffee, steaming apple cider…I can’t even pick a favorite. But no one wants to sip on a hot toddy when the sun’s blazing down, right? You have to appreciate these babies when it’s cool and crisp and your toes need warmed.

Assassin’s Creed Origins


If you’ve followed me at all, by now you know I’m a die-hard Assassin’s Creed fan, and Origins is due to be released on October 27. I demand an early Christmas present of the latest game, and if it isn’t waiting on the counter when I get home from work on release day, it’s couch city for hubby. Ubisoft made me wait an extra year for this one, so my fingers are itching to stab someone and I’m ready to climb buildings and dive from impossible heights into a measly haystack. It’s been said I get a little obsessed and snarly until I finish the game. Exaggerations, I assure you.

Halloween

Candy. Costumes. Terror. It’s my favorite time of year. I blame it on my love for all things that go bump in the night and my Celtic roots celebrating Samhain. No apologies. Any kids who dare to come to my house should prepare to be scared…for interrupting the premiere of Stranger Things or my Assassin’s Creed time. If they’re lucky, I’ll throw some sugar at them as they flee.

What are you looking forward to this fall?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Imagination by Diane Burton


In her post last month, Elizabeth Alsobrook mentioned that teachers bemoan the fact that kids don’t have imaginations or creativity any more. Instead of playing make-believe, they play video games. While I think there’s some truth to that, I also beg to differ. Many video games are imaginative. The player assumes a make-believe identity. They have to stretch their imagination to go on quests or use their wits to defeat the enemy. As with any games, television, or movies, a constant diet of them can dull the senses.

Having said that, I also think that parents don’t help their kids to use their imaginations to play make-believe. Remember when the best "toys" were boxes? Or when a blanket thrown over a table became a fort or a magical cave?



As many of you know, my son and his family stayed with us for two months this summer while they looked for a house. During that time, I spent a lot of time with their two-year-old. Once a day, we watched “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” inspired by “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” (remember that show?) During the half-hour program on PBS, Daniel enters a make-believe land where he and his friends play make-believe. Toddler Girl avidly watched the show, nodding her head when Daniel asked if she wanted to play make-believe. In one episode, the children constructed a make-believe spaceship out of cardboard. When my older (7.5 and 10) grandchildren came over to play with their cousin, they found a good-size box I was going to throw out. Together, using scissors (the older kids), crayons, markers, and stickers, they built a spaceship. The older kids tugged the ship around the room as they “zoomed” to the stars and planets. Another time, Toddler Girl used a clothes basket for a boat and sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (she only knows the first three words of the song) as she scooted across the floor.

Games like that exercise the imagination. But how do they get started? Reading. I always read to my children. Now that they are parents, they and their spouses read to their kids every night. When Hubs and I babysit, we read to them before bed, too—at least we did until they said they could read faster and asked us not to. LOL

It’s too easy to let the kids watch TV on their own, or play video games without input from the parents. If our children (as a whole) are lacking in imagination, it’s because they don’t know how. Encouraging them to play make-believe is essential before they start school. When Toddler Girl watches “Daniel Tiger” she sits on my lap. I talk to her during the episode, asking questions to keep her engaged. I did the same when the older grandkids were little.

One thing I did with the older ones that I can’t wait to play with TG is My StoryMaker, an online program from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The kids write their own stories with avatars for characters, hints for goals, action, and conflict. I introduced the grandkids to it when the oldest was four. Eventually, the younger one wanted his turn. They told the story while I typed. Using the touch screen, they could add characters, scenery, tools and other items. Each time, I was blown away by their imaginations. The best part was we could print out the story for them to share with their parents.

While I agree that many kids today aren't given enough chances to play make-believe, parents or grandparents need to give them those opportunities. I’m fortunate that I’m retired and my grandkids all live close by. I have the time and patience I didn’t have as a young mother. For the ultra-busy parents of today, there must be a way to carve out a half hour to read and/or play make-believe. By doing so, we are feeding their imagination, which is as necessary as feeding their bodies.

If we as parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents don’t feed those imaginations, where will the future writers, artists, screenwriters, visionaries come from?



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Guest Ayla Ruse - Believe in the Possibilities

Paranormal Romantics welcomes author Ayla Ruse.

Believe in the Possibilities

Paranormal, in a general sense, simply means something that cannot be explained by science. It does not, however, mean something paranormal does not exist. Yes, there are skeptics who hold fast to the “If I can’t touch it it’s not real” theory, but if you’re reading this blog, you belong with me in that we are the believers.



I have always held fast to the “anything is possible” ideal of life. And I do mean ANYTHING. Vampires, fairies, little green men… who are we to say something does or does not exist. In that same vein, as a writer of romance, who are we to say that the paranormal doesn’t have the capabilities or capacities to fall in love?

Of course they do!

When anything is possible, anything goes. A fairy can fall in love with a dwarf or a troll or even a human. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



Again, as a writer of romance, I feel it’s my job to convey some of these love stories. One of my secrets wishes is for a skeptic to read one my stories and pause and maybe have their own epiphany that yes, love can occur with anyone. Or any…thing.

Below is a little bit about my latest release, It’s In the Mix. This love story involves a fairy and a human falling headlong into love.



Mix 1 part narrow minded fairy with 1 part human bachelor to get 2 parts love everlasting.
Aisling is not happy to be tending bar in a human pub. Her fairy aunt predicted she'd find love by the next full moon, and that means she should be back in Ireland -- not in the middle of Massachusetts.

Despite the happy married lives of his friends, Daniel is content to remain a bachelor. After all, the pretty new bartender may want to come home with him. Why spoil that with a relationship?

Something might have happened on its own, but a mischievous pub owner slips each of them a Wit & Wizardry brew known to contain a powerful love potion. Before either can say a word, Aisling and Daniel find themselves tumbling headlong into love.

Unfortunately, all is not happily ever after. Aisling does not want to love a human, and Daniel believes he's unfairly pressured her into being with him. When the pair settle down to breathe, can they discover something deeper to bind them, or will daylight make the heady effects of a potioned brew fade away?

Excerpt
"Here, Aisling. Drink up."

Aisling had her head on her arms on the little table in the break room. She lifted her head at Dirv's voice. He held out a shot glass with something green inside.

She eyed the drink. "What's this?"

"Just a little something I mixed up. An old Russian drink of apology. I know you don't like to work with humans. This is my way of saying I'm sorry."

She looked from the drink to Dirv and back again. "Will it make me drunk?" It could be nice to be drunk, she thought absently, if it could make that delicious human get out of her thoughts.

Again he shrugged his bony shoulders. "I don't know. It doesn't make me drunk, but I'm a leshy, so very little makes me drunk. Your being fairy, I don't know how it will affect you. But that's not the point. Drink up. It's an apology. Refusal will insult me."

She shrugged. "Why not?" She took the offered glass and tipped it back in one long swallow. It didn't burn like she'd expected, but the taste was one she knew all too well.
She sputtered, but it was too late. The brew had gone down. "What was in that?" she demanded.

"Just a little of this and a little of that."

"You put Wit & Wizardry beer in that!"

"Of course. You think I make an apology drink with my vodka? No, you don't like that stuff. You like Wizardry brew. So I made the drink with that."

"You aren't supposed to use that stuff!"

"I'm not supposed to sell it. I didn't sell it. I told you I'd never sell from that batch. Besides, there is some missing anyway. One more beer gone won't hurt."

"Dirv! You used the brew with the love potion in it." Her nerves began to hum as thoughts of that handsome human flooded her mind. Daniel. She started to mellow at thoughts of him, then her spine snapped straight.

No. No human. She could not love a human.

It’s In the Mix is a novella length Paranormal Romance

Buy Links

About Ayla
Handed a historical romance at young age, Ayla Ruse fell in love with love and with happy endings.  Having grown up living life tasting a little of this and a little of that has not changed this attitude, but it’s expanded her views.  Love isn’t always happy and it isn’t always the way a person “thinks it should be.”  Sometimes it’s outside the box, and it’s always a challenge. 

Ayla is a stay-at-home mother who, in cooler weather, loves being outdoors, reading, and exploring.  You can contact her through any of the following:




Thursday, September 7, 2017

On Punching Nazis and a Cover Reveal by Jane Kindred


Borrowed from Women Write About Comics
If you follow my posts or tweets, you may have noticed a recent theme of mine, and that is punching Nazis. I am unequivocally in favor of it. There are plenty of people who are better at explaining why Nazis need punching, but suffice it to say, I don’t believe in tolerating intolerance. Anyone calling for the genocide of others has already thrown the first punch.

My ancestors came from Sweden and the British Isles, so Vikings are in my blood. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always found them so fascinating. My hero in The Dragon’s Hunt, Leo Ström, is a Viking warrior lost in time. And as I discovered along with Leo, the gods of the Vikings suffer from an unfortunate association with certain deplorable groups in the modern age. I’ve recently begun to embrace my Norse heritage, and, like Leo, I don’t take kindly to having anyone pervert that heritage for their own racist agenda.

In a way, writing The Dragon’s Hunt was a way of reclaiming Norse symbolism. It was also a catharsis. The villain in Hunt is a bonafide Nazi from the Third Reich, a "Red Skull," if you will, who’s used magic to prolong his life. And he’s also obsessed with Norse mythology. Through Leo (and Rhea, the heroine), I got to experience the satisfaction of punching Nazis.

As it happens, my publisher surprised me with the finished cover art for Hunt just as the Nazis were marching on Charlottsville, where their violent ideology resulted in the murder of activist Heather Heyer. It’s too late to add an official dedication to The Dragon’s Hunt, but Heather, this one’s for you.

The Dragon's Hunt by Jane Kindred
The Dragon's Hunt
Coming December 5, 2017

Awakening the dragon...
By day, Leo Ström works as an assistant in a tattoo parlor. By night… Well, he isn’t quite sure what happens at night. He just knows that it’s best if he restrains himself.

Ink is more than just superficial decoration to Rhea Carlisle. Her ability to read her clients’ souls in their tattoos gives her work its special magic—and it allows her to see that there’s more to Leo than his brilliant blue eyes.

The passion that kindles between them might be Leo’s salvation. Or it might be the end of the world…

Available for pre-order now from the following vendors:




Excerpt:

Blood ran into his eyes as he struggled to his feet. The groans of the maimed and the dying around him were eclipsed by the battle cries of his comrades who remained, and by the crack of iron against leather and wood—and against flesh and bone. They never should have followed their enemy into the woods. They’d been set upon by forces they couldn’t count, swarming out from behind every tree and every rock like a band of brigands, surrounding them with no room to maneuver, no way to stand in shield formation. It quickly became every man for himself.

Through the blood and mud caking his vision, he caught sight of the sudden arc of a battle-axe swinging down on him from his left. He’d lost his shield, and he turned and parried with his sword, but he’d taken a fierce blow to his sword arm from the last man he’d killed, and he stumbled back under the force, pain radiating like fire through his arm to the shoulder. The next swing from his opponent’s axe he couldn’t evade, and the blade caught him under the ribs, hooking in the links of his hauberk. He prayed to the Allfather as he went down that he might take one more enemy with him as he died. Let him die an honorable death. The axe descended, and he summoned all his strength, thrusting his sword to meet the bastard’s gut as his enemy fell on him.

The blade should have split his skull. He thought he’d felt the blow. But he was blind as a newborn kitten in the muck and mud. And then he realized he must have gone deaf as well. Silence fell over him like an oncoming bank of fog, muting the clangs and cries, engulfing him in an utter lack of sensation. Perhaps he’d died. But this was no Valhalla. This was…nothing. Had Odin not chosen him after all? Could this be Fólkvangr, the field of the slain in Freyja’s domain? Or was he in cold and empty Helheim? Surely he’d not been consigned to the Shore of Corpses. He was no oath-breaker; and murder—it didn’t count in war.

A hand, cool and feminine, touched his forehead. Perhaps this was only the in-between place where warriors waited for the Valkyries to come for them. He tried to clasp the hand but found he couldn’t make his limbs work. A cool kiss now brushed his forehead.
“Beautiful one.” The whisper at his ear was a soothing breeze, quieting the fire in his veins with the beauty of its cadence. “You shall not die.”

Was he to go back out to the battle? He must be in the tent being tended by his father’s slave girl. He’d lost consciousness.

“Did I kill him?” His voice came out in not much more of a whisper than his benefactor’s, though much rougher. His throat still felt the fire that had eased from the rest of him. A fever, no doubt, had taken him. He’d lain delirious and was only now coming around. Yes, this made sense. “Did I send my foe to Hel?”

“You were victorious. And I have claimed you.”

Before he could ask her to repeat the odd phrase, a searing pain encircled his heart, not fire this time, but the burn of ice, accompanied by the sensation of pins and needles in the flesh of his forearms. He could neither move nor speak, and the pain was becoming intense.

“Hush, beautiful one. Now they cannot have you.”

“They?” He managed to croak out the single word, though his tongue felt like wool batting.

Soft lips breathed against his. “That Which Became, That Which is Happening, That Which Must Become.”

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Strange Turn of Events

I've carried a small tablet used for jotting down storylines as long as I can remember. To say I'm an avid reader would also be spot-on. There are books in the trunk of my car, my kindle lives in my purse waiting for those few minutes of freedom when I turn it on and "flip" through titles or continue reading a story I started. Thing is, I frequently find myself reading more than one book at a time which is often the way I write.

I've always favored paranormal stories, particularly vampire/vampyre. Yes, the first few books I picked up they were vampYres! Years ago...many, many years ago, I started a story about vampyre cats who came about due to interference by an angel and prophet. Like many of my stories, they were often shoved to the back of a drawer, placed in a box under the bed, gosh, they were everywhere! Some still collect dust. There were also storylines involving the devil, shifters, and magical beings of every kind. The devil and sons in Hellacious, my dogs in Shepherd's Watch, hawks in Immortal Redeemers, all found the light of day in various stories which have been published at Changeling Press. Quite a few cats, even a wolf, growled onto the scene in novellas and continue to thrive at Changeling in the Extra Cream Series.

Which brings me to the title of my post.

 
 


https://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=2446Extra Cream Series
This series is a box set containing four novellas that introduced my vampyre big cats to readers. I stripped these books from the over 100k version of Reign of Blood which started out as my working title. The basic premise is these creatures evolved because an angel got bored in Heaven and decided to sit back and watch what would happen when he and a prophet allowed the cats to be infected with vamp blood. Neither expected the 'strange turn of events'. Nor did I when I decided to pull angels from the book because they clamored in my head for their own stories!

Archangels Series
So far Ramiel and Uriel (his tale will be republished by month's end) have had lives of their own. Soon Gabriel and the prophet, Ezekiel, both responsible for vampyre cats, will get a novella of their own. Michael, Lucifer--who secretly conjured a bloody being of his own named Phoenix (and, yes, he rose from ashes, can take the form of a cat or vampyre as well as having angelic tendencies--I've had a long running affair with this being!) There is Samael--the Grim Reaper, Raphael... They all appear in the first two books and still rattle around in my head looking for a place in my fictional universe.

The Dilemma
Having received rights to a couple of these vamp books (Hard Case and Quench) and preparing to republish them, I've decided to bring them back together with their angelic creators. No easy feat. I'm reading each with an eye on timelines and other anomalies that could crop up. I never expected it to be this hard?! I've even felt at times, let it go and began with new things but I love these stories so I have chosen the tougher route. It does help that in the first books I made it very clear there are cats who wish to remain true to their species so they reside on compounds spending a majority of time in their furryness and don't have huge roles. Patrolled and protected by cats who embrace their vampyre brethren's abilities, who, by drinking human blood become much stronger and a force to be reckoned with as they walk in daylight; it's these guys I've previously written about who will need to be returned to the fold so to speak and slipped back into my world being mindful of their previous storylines while creating new stories. Wow, that was a mouthful that should probably be edited for punctuation or something! I remain confident I can bring them back together as I'm the one who tore them apart. If it were easy, I'd have given up on the craft of writing a long, long time ago.

A strange turn of events, indeed!

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



Monday, September 4, 2017

What Losing Control Taught Me About Life and Writing

By Maureen L. Bonatch

Happy Labor Day! Enjoy your celebration of the American worker and the unofficial end of summer with a hot dog or two. Or perhaps rebelliously declare your intention of wearing white long past the season. Sixteen years ago, this holiday took on a different meaning for me and changed my mindset despite my resistance. 

I gained two babies, and lost all my control.

In 2001 I was pregnant with twins. (The first hint of my loss of control was when my pregnancy turned out to be a BOGO.) In my obsessive Virgo control-freak mind, I decided the girls would be born on Labor Day. It made perfect sense with the play on the word “labor”. Also I would be 36-weeks pregnant that day and the girls lungs should be adequately developed.

Imagine my surprise when my water broke a week prior to Labor Day.

This Wasn’t the Plan

I’ve always liked to be in control when it comes to planning my life. My writing? Not so much, I’m what you call one of those who write by the seat of my pants. (Panster)

In order to survive twin babies I became more organized than ever. (Have you ever used a feeding and poop chart? Believe me, if you don’t, and you’re only getting a few hours of sleep then one of those munchkins isn’t going to eat while the other one eats twice!) Having the twins was only the beginning of my loss of control.

I wished for a parenting book with all the answers laid out so I knew if I was doing the right thing. That outlined how to regain the upper hand when you were outnumbered by two little munchkins who had more sleep in one day than you had in the last month.

I stressed myself out as I struggled to dress them in cute little outfits (that they immediately vomited on) and to take them out to show them off (with a entire van full of supplies for a one-hour outing) or to fit back in my pre-pregnancy clothes (Twin pregnancy=yeah right). I often felt like I was failing, until I stopped resisting.

Go With the Flow

I stopped trying to regain control and went with the flow. I stopped trying to be the perfect mom because perfection isn’t real. Despite writing fantasy and paranormal I’ve always strived to create honest, real, ordinary characters in an extraordinary world. Because when I tried to write a story without paranormal or fantasy, it felt unnatural. Once I embraced my true writing self and stopped trying to write like everyone else, my stories got better. I did the same with my girls.

I started being honest with myself about being a Mom, and with everyone else. Other moms bragged about how their kids slept all night or that they were already potty-trained. I told them the brutal truth about my struggles—and saw the change in their expression. Many were only saying what they thought people wanted to hear. They wanted to assure everyone that they were in control—when they were not. Being a good Mom takes practice, patience and admitting mistakes. I apply a similar formula when I'm writing a story.

Enjoying the Ride

My girls are 16 now and I’m proud to say that they follow the beat of their own drum and don’t try to follow the crowd. I let them have control over their life and follow their heart just like I do my characters.

Raising twin babies was hard, really hard. And writing novels is hard. Neither come with instructions, and both only become magnificent on their own when you relinquish control.

Have You Ever Had to Give Up Control? Or Do You Always Go With the Flow?

Feast your eyes on my newest 'baby', Evil Speaks Softly now available for Pre-order

Everyone has a story to tell. Even the dead.

They were never supposed to meet. Fame came easy for Liv by following in the footsteps of the female writers in her family. The cycle repeated for decades…until Liv changed the story. Her villain
doesn’t like the revision—and he isn’t a fictional character. In his story, the bad guy always wins.

They were never supposed to find love. Liv never questioned her demanding nocturnal muse, or the strange incidents in her old, family home until she met Gage. His job was to watch her from afar, not reveal the truth about the curse and the stories of the dead.

They’ve broken all the rules. Together they unravel secrets as they strive to stop the cycle. Liv’s ability to find love, and protect her loved ones, hangs on the fickle whims of the dead—and they’ve got nothing to lose.






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