Monday, July 22, 2019

What I've Been Reading: All Souls Near and Nigh (Soulbound #2) by Hailey Turner

Not too long ago I discovered a book on Audible called A Ferry of Bones and Gold by Hailey Turner, and entered a world so different, yet so close to our own.

Vampires, weres, gods, and demons all live among humans, with their own hierarchies, their own agendas, and their own brand of law enforcement, the Supernatural Operations Agency. 

Special Agent Patrick Collins as been through the wringer: a traumatic childhood, raised without love and support, and with a damaged soul. He practiced magic in the mage corp, a supernatural division of the military, until an accident saps his abilities.

He's recovering, getting his feet under him, and trying to find his way in a world suddenly changed for him. Patrick is a complex character, hard to get to know, but worth the effort. An assignment to New York City introduces him to some interesting characters, some who make his life better, others who make it worse.

I gave a review on A Ferry of Bones and Gold a few weeks ago, and couldn't wait to read the second one. All Souls Near and Nigh picks up where the first book left off. In fact, at the end of book 2, only two months have passed since the beginning of the first story.

What impressed me most in this book was love interest Jono, who's really stepping into his role as an alpha godpack werewolf. He's not a part of the NYC godpack, and is in the city at the graces of the pack. He's promised not to create a pack with anyone under their protection, however, he starts finding those not under the pack's protection who need him.

My favorite of the newcomers is a dragon fledgling names Wade, a sulky teenager with an endless capacity for junk food. Sage is back from the last book, and she too shines. While the relationship between Patrick and Jono definitely grows in this installment, Jono shows tremendous personal growth.

I'd hoped he'd challenge the incompetent alpha of the current regime, but that didn't happen yet.

There is some cruelty here, and some disturbing scenes, but this is a book of paranormal creatures who are one step away from full out war.

There is so much going on here, keeping the reader turning the page, or in my case, listening to an audiobook. By the way, excellent narrator.

The story is riveting, well told, so engrossing I couldn't put it down. I really wish the next one was coming out soon, because I'm hooked on this series.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Accidental Pumpkins

This year Bear and I created a container garden on our front porch. Although we have plenty of room for a regular garden, we also share this land with deer, rabbits, goats, and other critters who'd just love fresh produce.

We've been working on mulch pits since last fall, tossing things like vegetable peels, apple cores, etc., into the mix. When spring came, we used the mulch for our container garden. We planted squash, cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, and okra.

All came up beautifully, but there was something off with the okra. The blossoms appeared to look more like squash blossoms, and when they fell, a round ball-looking thing form.

It grew. And grew. And grew. Even more confusing, the okra had vine-like characteristics, and then started blooming the more familiar purple and yellow Okra blossoms.

It seems last year's Halloween pumpkin made a comeback, and a volunteer pumpkin vine had infiltrated our okra.

Now our one lone pumpkin is developing and nice orange color, it's way early for Halloween, and I have no idea what to do with an ornamental pumpkin this time of year. If it was a pie pumpkin, it would soon find itself in a pie crust, but for now, I just keep watering the plant and watching it grow.

As a side note, I finally got some okra too.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Getting Ready for GRL!

Even though it's a few months off, I'm trying to get ready for GRL. I've been many times, in fact, I've only missed the one in San Diego, so I'm a veteran of these things. However, I can't think of one single costume for the party, the theme being "My Superpower."

Dang. I just did. Okay. This might work.

Anyway, now I'm stuck for swag. In the past I've prepared tons of swag, and normally brought back too much of it. Usually I offer about ten different items. This year, I'm scaling back, but hopefully what I've chosen will be meaningful. And yes, I didn't have a clue what to do until I started writing this post. Y'all are amazing, you know that?

I'm having to travel light this year, as I'm flying and it seems most airlines don't want you to bring clothes, let alone a suitcase full of books.

Due to those restrictions, I'm afraid I'll be relying on presales, and bringing only the books I need. You can pre-order books here. 

Bear is coming with me this time, and so is one of the cubs! I can't wait for them to experience the whole GRL tribe. My husband looks forward to this event as much as I do, and has many friends among the attendees.

So if you're heading for Albuquerque in October, I'll see you there!

If you want to stop by at GRL and say hello, my author lounges are Thursday from 4:00 PM to 4:45 PM, and Friday, from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM.

Also, I'll be reading on Friday, from 3:30 PM to 4:20 PM. I'm not sure yet which book I'll be reading from.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Cheating in Novels and Real Life

One thing I've learned from social media posts is that readers hate cheating. They want the happy, and cheating is a big no-no.

There are also many different definitions of "cheating" too. Some readers are so adamant about the issue that if one of the main characters is intimate with someone other than the intended love interest, even before they actually get together, it's cheating. Others think it's perfectly fine for one or both parties to have sex with other people.

Cheating happens. It's brutal and it hurts and it's hard to recover from. However, sometimes cheating isn't the end, but merely a bump in the road on the way to a stronger couple.

I recently read a book about a long term couple, in which one made a horrible mistake, confessed, and destroyed the trust between them. I won't mention the book's title, because this situation is not described in the blurb and I don't want to give spoilers. However, the author vividly describes the situation from both points of view, and it broke my heart.

There are two sides to every story, and this one leaves you breathless and hopeful, showing the lengths it took for these two men to start talking again and trying to work through the issues in their marriage.

Cheating doesn't have to be the end, but sometimes there is no going back.

I know several people who have been there and chose to ride out the storm, hoping there'd be a light at the end of the journey, myself included. One of the people I talked to held on for two years while their partner had an affair, and ultimately the cheating partner left for their paramour.

There have been some cases, though, where the couple did reconcile--one couple I know getting back together after being divorced for  three years. They've been married over twenty-five years since then, so guess that's testament to the fact that cheating doesn't always mean the end.

Still, in romance, it's all about the happy, so tell me: How do you feel about cheating in books? End of the line, or obstacle to overcome?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Back 2 Good, or the Wonderful Adventure

The Telling first published in book format in 2009, ten years ago. Today I thought of that story that launched my career as a writer, and did a little reflecting.

At the time, I was very open about the reasons for that book, but those who've discovered my writing more recently may not be aware of the book's inspiration. 

The Telling is a very personal work, what some call a "therapy book." I didn't merely write the story, I pretty much cut myself open and bled all over the pages. The pages are full of symbolism, though it might not be obvious. 

2007-2009 marked the darkest time of my life. Reality had kicked me in the teeth, leaving me reeling and wondering what I had done to deserve the hardship I found myself in. "Low" didn't even begin to cover my state of mind. Getting through a single day seemed like such a big accomplishment. I hurt. I didn't know a person could be in so much emotional pain and still exist. 

A dear friend tried to help, but what could she do long-distance? We talked books a lot, and our love of fiction is how we met and bonded. She challenged me to write a book, pouring out my bottle of pain. 

The result is The Telling, the story of a young veteran returning home with damaged hearing and internal scars from seeing so much, so young. He also struggled with coming out. His intention was to go back to his small town, get back on his feet, and leave to find a place where he could live his authentic life. 

How does this relate to me, you ask? I poured my doubts, fears, and insecurities into the characters. Every single person but one represents some facet of my life, from the ideals I was raised with and could no longer support, to my insecurities as a mother. 

Something strange happened along the way: the characters started developing strengths. I realized their strengths were also facets of myself that I didn't even know I had. 

The main character, Michael, is in therapy, and takes music with him to his sessions to express his feelings. One song mentioned was Back 2 Good by Matchbox Twenty. My fondest desire at the time was to get "Back 2 Good" myself. Also, at the time, I couldn't see that happening. 

It took years, ten to be exact, from then until now, and during my reflection today I was surprised to realize how far removed I am from that time. It wasn't easy, in fact it was painful as hell, but step by step, day by day, I learned to live again. 

The book was, of course, too personal to sell, so I published some of it on websites, but also self-published, giving the book away for free. However, when I published it to Amazon, for some reason they never allowed me to mark it perma-free, so I put the price as low as possible (.99), and donated the proceeds to PFLAG. 

Besides the self-recovery, something else wonderful happened. People began writing to me, telling me their stories, or how much my book meant to them, or even how reading my book opened someone's mind and heart to LGBTQIA+ issues. 

Some of those stories were heart-breaking, some inspirational, all touched my heart. I made friends through those e-mails that are friends to this day. 

What a difference 10 years makes. I've got a darned good day job (though I'd love to write full-time), I'm about to publish my 21st novel, my work has won awards, I've gone to New York as a Lambda finalist, and have the greatest friends on the planet. I also did something I swore I'd never do: entered into a relationship. 

With a wonderful person. 

Much has happened on my way from there to here, and I'm so glad I hung on and kept going. My life is so, so worth it.  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Redemption (Diversion 5) Now Available at Audible

Not long ago, it seems, I wanted to add audio to the Diversion series format. At least nine books. My first step was to find a narrator with the right voice and attitude to bring Lucky, Bo, Walter, and the remaining cast of this series alive.

It took eight months to find the right voice, right attitude, willing to tackle a series, is amazing to work with, and could complete each book in a few months' time.

And, dang, what a right voice he is.

Darcy Stark gave an amazing performance with books 1-4, but I have to tell you, he totally nailed book five.

Don't take my word for it; listen to the sample at Audible.

Redemption (Diversion 5)

Living is the easy part.

Agent Lucky Lucklighter and his partner escaped Mexico alive, only to plunge into bureaucratic fallout from their mission. Hell, maybe Lucky should have stayed south of the border. Especially when the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau places Bo into rehab, and Lucky’s facing both therapy and an inquiry into a fatal shooting.

Watching over his shoulder for a vengeful drug lord or a cartel don calling in favors leaves his scarcely able to imagine a future for them as agents, or as lovers.

Bo Schollenberger once had a vision for their life together, but he’s bowed by the weight of his undercover work. Lucky’s hanging on by his deeply chewed fingernails, clinging to hope by making Bo’s dream of a home into reality. The last thing he needs is a phone call from a dangerous man who knows too much, summoning him back to Mexico for “An early Christmas present”.

Not when the SNB brass asks tough questions like “How well do you really know your partner?"

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Where the Frogs Bark

I'm not sure all the areas in the US they populate, but there is a little-known critter in the Southern US frog world called the barking frog. That's right, folks. A barking frog. While I'd never seen or heard one until recently, now they seem to be everywhere.

Especially sitting in the bedroom window sill in the middle of the night.


All. Night. Long.

They are a form of tree frog, way too small to make so much noise, but there you go. Yes, they sound like a dog barking, or more precisely, a puppy. We call them puppy frogs. I even knew a woman once who went outside looking for the puppy.

The ones outside my house sound more like puppies, but this are the best video I could find: