Monday, December 25, 2017

Kayla Jameth Guest Post

Hey, y'all! Today I'd like to welcome Kayla Jameth to Magnolias and Men. I recently had the privilege of reading her latest work, Save a Horse, Dive a Cowboy, a shifter story involving a character from Native American culture. 

I had a few questions. Now, without further ado, I turn my blog over to Kayla. 

***

Hello, Eden. Thanks for hosting me today. That wasn't… um, just the Imperial March playing, was it? What a lovely place you've got here. Everyone should have a Stormtrooper standing at their beck and call. He won't… um, fire that… will he?

Just my luck to find the only blog with one of those guys. Probable can hit the broad side of a barn too.

E: You were saying?

K: Uh… Nothing! Nothing…

E: I hear you are following in Pam and my footsteps and now have your own shifter story.

K: Yeah. Possums, otters, and bears. Oh my! So I thought I'd add a mustang to the mix. I hope he fits in with the rest. He might be a bit leery of the bear, but should be fine with the rest.

E: Interesting. Tell me more about this shifter.

K: Charlie "Hoss" Running Horse is a Native American mustang shifter. He and his lover Shep have been together since high school. Jointly, they run the ranch Shep inherited from his father. Until one day, Coyote takes a shine to Shep and decides Hoss must go.

E: A western with Coyote? That sounds intriguing. Did you have much trouble researching it?

K: Not really. I grew up on a farm and then later went to Texas A&M University to become a veterinarian. I haven't practiced large animal medicine for many, many moons so I did have to go back and make sure I remembered some of my terms correctly. 

I spent most of my time researching scuba diving and Coyote tales. A&M wasn't big on either of them.

Coyote is an interesting character. He's either the Creator Spirit or a trickster depending on the source of the tales. I went with the latter. Even as a trickster, the way he is depicted varies. He can be foolish or sneaky or, upon occasion, evil. He's a shapeshifter.

He wanted Shep, but came from an era where warriors took what they wanted. Sometimes there was little to distinguish between wives and captives. So the poor thing has no idea how to woo anyone. Needless to say, he does a shit job of it.

Coyote steals the medicine horseshoe that allows Charlie to shift, trapping him as a horse. Now Shep must find some way to rescue him before it's too late.

E: Poor Charlie! I hope Shep succeeds.

Excerpt:

They turned west, riding into the sunset. Well, soon enough it would be a sunset. Right now it was just really bright sunlight boring into Charlie's eyes and obscuring his vision. He'd have to focus on the trail to avoid laming himself. Good thing he could rely on Shep to guide him around any real dangers.
Dust puffed under his feet and settled on his legs. That and his dried sweat made him itch. He couldn't wait to get in the shower.
A sharp pain on his rump startled him into bucking and kicking.
Shep shifted his weight forward and followed his every move. "Whoa, Hoss!"
Charlie stopped so suddenly, he felt the horseshoe shift again.
Just a deerfly. Now he felt like an idiot. Fortunately, horses couldn't blush; although, he'd heard that rabbits could.
He turned his head and met Shep's eye, hoping to convey his apology, earning him another pat on the shoulder.
"I'm okay. But it was good practice for saddle bronc riding. Should I enter this year?"
He tossed his head and crow hopped, but didn't budge Shep. He could have tried a little harder, really bucked; after all, his partner had a good seat. The horseshoe thumped against his hoof and he stopped. This business with the shoe was getting worrisome.
A fly buzzed behind him again and this time he settled for swishing his tail. He hated the damn things. At least it wasn't a horsefly. Those things were vicious.
"Maybe you should use more of that fly repellant you call aftershave."
Haha... Charlie snorted and considered making Shep walk home.
Shep shifted his weight forward. Charlie took the hint and set off. Clip, clop, clip, clop... The trip home always seemed to take longer than reaching their goal.
Something dust-colored darted across his path. He threw his head up and reared, startling like some green-broke colt. His hooves struck the ground on either side of a quivering jackrabbit. The poor animal screamed and brushed against his fetlock as it made a dash for the scrub bordering the trail.
A fluffy little bunny. How flipping embarrassing.
He stood with legs braced, still snorting. His rib cage expanded and contracted spastically under the girth.
"That was close. You didn't hurt yourself, did you?" Shep slung a leg over and dismounted. He smoothed gentle fingers over Charlie's legs and examined his hooves. "Other than the horseshoe, I think you're fine."
Shep picked up a stone and tried to pound one of the nails back in. A partial success, but they both knew it would work its way back out again.
His breathing slowed, but he could still feel the adrenaline burning in his veins. Maybe a lope would take the edge off.
"Feeling better?" Shep scratched between his ears, calming them both.
He nodded and gave a breathy sigh, nuzzling against Shep's chest.
Shep uncapped the canteen and took a few swallows. Then he took his hat off and smacked it against his leg, sending up a puff of dust. He poured water into his sweat-stained Stetson and held it up for Charlie.
He drank the salty water in a few quick draws.
Clapping the hat back on his head, Shep mounted. Once he had settled, Charlie took off at a lope.
"In a rush to get home?"
Charlie snorted and stretched out. He still had some relatively smooth flatlands before he reached the outcroppings. When the last of the frantic energy began to ebb, he dropped down to a jog, and then a walk. He felt a little better.
More rocks littered the ground. Soon boulders took their place. He could see the stone outcroppings ahead. Shep's deft hands on the reins helped him make his way through the maze where a stone bruise could leave him lame.
Before they reached the outcroppings, a snake slithered out in front of him. The unmistakable buzz of a rattlesnake filled the air. Heat flushed his skin and then a chill filled his veins. What. The. Hell?
He didn't have room to jump the rattler. Once more he rose in the air, pivoted and came down outside the irate serpent's strike range.
"Back! Get away from it!" Shep shouted.
Charlie agreed with him whole-heartedly. He started backing, ears flicking forward and then to his rider, trusting Shep to guide him with little movements of the reins.
"Just like we practiced it for that reining class," Shep encouraged.
Yeah, they'd done this before. Nothing difficult, just tighter quarters and the risk of being lamed if he stepped wrong.
"I've got you. I won't let anything happen." Shep spoke slowly and evenly, soothing the disquiet in Charlie's soul.
When they finally left the boulders behind, Charlie stood trembling.
Shep dropped from his back and pulled his head into a hug. "I'm really starting to hate today." He glanced around. "We'll take the long way. I don't want to risk anything else jumping out at us at this point."
Charlie sighed, but Shep was right. If they stayed in the open, nothing else should happen. If something did while they were cutting through the rocks, they could get hurt. Good thing Shep was a bronc rider or they'd have been in trouble today.
"Thirsty?" When he nodded, Shep gave him the last of the water.
They walked for a while, side-by-side, until Charlie stopped and looked pointedly at the saddle.
"Are you saying I'm too slow?"
He nudged the stirrup with his nose. If they kept on at this rate, it would be dark before they reached the ranch.
Charlie hadn't gone two strides when a roadrunner darted in front of him with... a coyote on its tail. Seriously?! I thought that shit only happened in cartoons.
The coyote slowed and winked at him. Actually winked. Could this day get any weirder?
"You've got to be shitting me!"
The coyote circled Charlie and came up behind them, much closer than he liked. Coyotes usually left larger animals alone, but this one was acting strange. Could it be rabid?
The slinking shadow took another step closer and Charlie cow-kicked. His horseshoe went flying.
"Finally!" A voice he didn't recognize shouted in triumph. The coyote snatched the glittering curve of metal out of the air and ran away.
"Hey! We need that!" Shep tugged on the hackamore, whirling Charlie, and set heels to his flanks.
Charlie didn't even think about it, he jolted into a gallop. He had to have that horseshoe or he'd spend the rest of his life as a horse, slowly losing his humanity.
Burdened with a rider, he couldn't seem to catch up with the coyote. But stopping to offload Shep would only insure he wouldn't overtake the damn thing. At least, this way he could keep the mangy beast within sight and see what it did with his horseshoe.
He did manage to slowly gain on the coyote. If this went on long enough, he might catch up.
Ahead, he could see the cenote coming into view. Was the coyote headed toward the sinkhole?
He caught up with the coyote in time to watch his horseshoe arc into the air and splash into the water. The coyote grinned and disappeared into the brush with a flick of its tail.
Abso-fucking-lutely unbelievable.


Shep's just your average all-American cowboy. He runs his own ranch and rides the occasional saddle bronc. Nothing special there. Unless you look too closely at his boyfriend.

Descended from a long line of Native American mustang shifters, Charlie "Hoss" Running Horse is anything but average.

When Coyote takes a shine to Shep, he decides that Hoss has got to go. With the theft of the medicine horseshoe that allows Hoss to shift from mustang to human, Coyote sets his evil plan to have his way with Shep in motion.

Will Shep be able to save Hoss before it's too late? Or will Coyote's plan come to fruition?



Save a Horse, Dive a Cowboy goes live on December 26th, just in time for anyone with a new Kindle to read it.

Available at Amazon.

Rainbow Award winning author, Kayla Jameth grew up on the family farm in Ohio. An unrepentant tomboy, she baled hay, raised cattle, and her father taught her to weld before she graduated from high school.

She attended Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and later, Texas A&M University in her pursuit of veterinary medicine, taking her far away from her rural roots.

But it wasn’t all hard work for her, her sojourn as the princess of the Celestial Kingdom left her with the title "Sir" and a costume closet the envy of many knights, lords, and ladies.

After declaring for years that she was not an author, Kayla now finds herself writing m/m erotic romance outside of Houston, Texas. While you can take the girl out of the country, you can't turn her into a city slicker. Kayla would still rather be outside getting down and dirty with the boys.

She shares a full house with her favorite animals: a dog, a cat, three guinea pigs, as well as her husband, son, and daughter. 



Merry Christmas, Y'all!

Merry Christmas from me to you! And lots and lots of hugs.




What's in a Word? What Does This Look Like?

Anyone who's ever gotten a critique from me has seen this one sentence on many occasions: What does this look like?

The comment usually follows something like:

1) He looked concerned.
2) He looked nervous.
3) Her face radiated happiness.

Keeping with the whole "show, don't tell" mantra of writing, sentences like the three I've just shared fall into that realm.

Imagine you're with someone, and they are doing something that brings concern or nervousness to mind. What are you seeing that makes you believe they're concerned or nervous?

1) A furrow appeared between his eyebrows. He leaned forward and stared into my eyes.
2) Jerry shifted from one foot to the other, wringing his hands and averting his gaze.
3) Her smile lit her whole face, and laugh crinkles formed at the corner of her eyes.

Does the second set of phrases bring to mind concern, a bad case of nerves, and happiness?

When reading, we're supposed to bond so closely with the characters that we ARE them, so don't tell me "he looked nervous", paint a picture for me of what the POV character is seeing, and let me draw my own conclusion that "he looked nervous."


Saturday, December 23, 2017

What's in a Word: One Good Turn Deserves Another--Or Not

As a writing mentor, beta reader to the masses, and editor, I often see a word that gets my attention for being overused, and as I've learned from my own personal experience, many writers have no idea that an innocent, insignificant word insinuates it's way into stories--again, and again, and again, to the point where readers might count the occurrences.

Many words are guilty, but the one I'll focus on today is "turn."

He turned. She turned. Turning his head... etc.

What's wrong with "turn"? you ask.

Lots. Mainly because, in most cases, it imparts no crucial information and is unneeded.

For example, many times I've read a scene in which two characters are talking, facing each other, then one "turns" to the other. Or, the author is unclear as to the characters' positions, so "turn" isn't needed because we had no idea they weren't already facing.

And worst case scenario, the characters "turn" in one sentence and "turns back" in the next. (Unless they're a werewolf, one or both is probably not needed.)

So be careful when writing, and if you absolutely must use "turn" in the book, be sure to look up synonyms or find other word choices to avoid repetition.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Release Day! Hell is Where the Heart Is




Demon Prince Noorvik Metlakatla Hoonah Emmonak (“call me Vik”) likes his lack of responsibilities just fine. His mother, the Big Fucking Deal of the Sixth Level of Hell, longs for the tippity tap of tiny hooves and gives him two choices: find a mate within the next twenty-four human hours or settle for the demoness of her choice. Where can he find the ideal man on short notice, who’ll meet the mother-in-law from Hell’s approval? 

Especially when he can’t have the only mate he wants. 

Hell is Where the Heart Is is now available at:













Friday, December 8, 2017

What's in a Word -- Captain Obvious

It's been a while since I posted a What's in a Word installment, but now, I think, is high time. 

Why, you ask? The reason is "obvious."

One thing that I had to overcome in my own work was telling instead of showing. I learned the hard way, and now try to share tips before authors run up against reviews that wax less than poetic about craft issues in stories. 

One big offender is the word "obvious", with its partners in crime "clearly", "as if", and "as though."  

Whenever I see "obvious " in a story, usually one of two things is happening:

1) It's not obvious at all and the reader has to be told information, or

2) It's obvious without the author having to say so.

Example of 1: Ralph stood outside, obviously cold. 
Example of 2: Ralph wrapped his arms around himself and huddled into his jacket, obviously cold. 

When reading, the reader should become the POV character. We're totally in their head, and can only know what they know. Example 1 can be the author's way of imparting knowledge to the reader that the POV character doesn't have, thus distancing us from the POV character and losing the opportunity of total immersion in the book.

Show us what the POV character sees, feels, hears, etc., and let us draw our own conclusion that Ralph must be cold. 

Is he shivering? Teeth chattering? Turning blue? Are his head and shoulders dusted with snow? If he acts cold, then we can see it for ourselves and don't have to be told. In fact, if the description is particularly vivid enough, readers might shiver themselves or reach for a comforter, pulled so into the story that they themselves now experience Ralph's discomfort. 

In the second case, if you've shown that Ralph is cold, you don't have to say that it's obvious, because it is obvious. 

Substitute "clearly" for "obviously" and you have the same issue. 

In some cases, these two culprits appear to avoid a point of view flip, when the author needs to impart information about the non-POV character.

Imagine you (POV character), are sitting at a table, having dinner with a friend. Your friend smiles, “obviously happy”. Why are they happy? What makes you think they’re happy? It’s possible to force a smile.

What if your friend smiled, “obviously uncomfortable”. Saying “obviously uncomfortable” based on their smile, is feeding us information we can’t possible have.

However, if your friend gave you a strained smile that didn’t quite meet their eyes, darted furtive gazes right and left, and pushed their chair back from the table, arms wrapped around themselves, what does that bring to mind? I don’t think many would read “obviously happy” there.

“As if” and “as though” also feed us information that the POV character can’t have. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something like this:

He smiled at Justin, as if he was the most beautiful thing in the world.

Or:

Sylvia cocked her head to the side, as if to say, “I told you so.”

Wow, that is one talented smile or head cock if a simple gesture can convey all that. The thing is, a smile alone can’t, nor can the mere tilt of a head.

To convey such a complex thought involves many more body cues. What does it look like if someone is gazing at beauty? Would they lean in, subconsciously trying to get closer? Are they staring? Is their body language open? Now, it’s perfectly okay to say “a coy smile”, as that is an easily discernible expression.

Cocking the head to the side is usually associated with confusion. A scowl and an eye roll might convey the sentiment “I told you so,” but the “as if” has no place here.

Try this:

She rolled her eyes and scowled, arms squeezed tightly to her chest.

Now, her gesture might mean many things, but taken in context, the intention is clear:

“Billy, slow down! The speed limit here is forty-five,” Sylvia snapped, clutching the “oh shit” handle.

Billy glanced down at the speedometer. “Nobody ever slows down for this inter—”

Whiiiiiirrrrrr. Blue lights flashed behind them.

She rolled her eyes and scowled, arms squeezed tightly to her chest.

Now, in this passage is it understood that Sylvia is conveying, “I told you so”, without “as if”?

This scene does not, for any reason, under any circumstances, require an “obviously”, “as if”, “as though”, or “clearly.”

And don’t you kind of want to roll your own eyes along with Sylvia? Because, in the end, folks, it’s all about connecting with the reader.





Thursday, December 7, 2017

Reunion (Diversion 6) Scores Finalist in the 2017 Rainbow Awards!

I'm thrilled to announce that the 2017 Rainbow Awards results have posted, and Reunion (Diversion 6) scored Finalist in the Best Gay Mystery Thriller category! Many thanks to the incomparable Elisa Rolle and her team of judges for making the awards possible.


Reunions can be murder. 

A dial tone instead of a human voice announced Lucky’s ousting from the Lucklighter clan over twelve years ago. After living a life of crime. After testifying against his drug lord lover. After receiving a ten-year sentence. Ah, hell. Lucky would’ve disowned himself too. 

Now life’s better. He’s done his time and earned a place in the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control. He has a house. He has Bo, his partner both on and off the job. And pets. But not his folks. The worst part? He’s not sure exactly why they disowned him. Too late now—they think he’s dead. 

Now his father needs a gift only Lucky can give. And Lucky’s family has something that may destroy all he believes: 

The truth. 

Reunion (Diversion 6), from Rocky Ridge Books. 

Find Reunion at Amazon.