Ariel Tachna's Blog

August 28, 2014

Birthday Movie Recs I don't know about you, but I have spent many a birthday at the movie theater or parked in front of a big screen and DVD player. Birthdays and movies go hand in hand--so much so, birthday celebrations often wind up as the main catalyst in changing a character's life. When I was a kid, I remember waking up on my birthday and waiting for some sprite to fly into my room and tell me I was the Chosen One, or to suddenly be struck with magical powers or found by an all-knowing wizard teacher. None of it happened, of course, but you can't blame a kid for wanting a cooler destiny. I'm still waiting for my Hogwarts letter. With such a pervasive sense of magic and wonder surrounding birthdays in fiction, I offer up my own special list of recommended birthday movies. Whether they're good at pleasing a crowd, or they capture the foreordination and adventure of some good birthday mojo, they're surefire hits.  
1. Tangled
After a lifetime in an isolated tower, Rapunzel's desire to get out on her own to achieve her one dream for her 18th birthday sets this story in motion. Highlights: Catchy songs, a villain whose primary weapon is manipulation, the best non-speaking performance by an animated side character in history (the king, not Pascal).
 2. Liar Liar
It's not our hero's birthday that alters the course of his life, but that of his six year old son, who wishes that for one day his dad couldn't tell a lie--no easy feat when working as a crooked lawyer. Highlights: Jim Carrey, quotable quotes, Greta.
 3. Wizard People, Dear Readers
We all know by now what happens to Harry Potter on his 11th birthday, and who hasn't seen the first movie at least three times? Rather than repeat the same old nostalgia, try this hilarious remix--the entire Sorcerer's Stone movie, redubbed and narrated in the most ridiculous way. Start here. Highlights: Mouthoil, Professor Hardcastle McCormick, Ronnie the Bear.  
4. The Forbidden Kingdom
A gunshot and a fall off a roof drops Jason into the ancient world of kung fu, and we follow the action, adventure, and insight on a journey of fast-paced battles on a quest to save the world. Highlights: Jackie Chan and Jet Li on the same screen, a hot Jade Warlord, gorgeous backdrops.
 5. Mrs. Doubtfire
Right out the gate this movie serves up laughs and a bangin' party for Daniel's teenage son--unfortunately it becomes the last straw for his straight-and-narrow wife. She asks for a divorce, which pushes Daniel well beyond the realm of what either of them could expect in his desperate efforts to stay with their kids. Highlights: Fantastic performances, Robin Williams, and... Greta? Well, Mrs. Sellner.  
6. Lord of the Rings
 It's Bilbo's birthday party, but it's Frodo's life that changes forever as he's thrust right into the heart of the battle for Middle Earth. With three extended editions, this is the king of all movie marathons. Highlights: Epic music, epic costumes, epic sets.
 7. Stardust For Trist[r]an Thorn (+r in the book, -r in the movie), everything changes when he agrees to go hunt down a fallen star as a birthday gift for his unrequited beloved, Victoria. Highlights: An adorable mouse, Robert DeNiro in drag, a hilarious gag reel.
 8. Sabrina
A celebration on the eve of the annual six meter yacht races is what kicks this story off, rather than a birthday. But it's my favorite movie of all time, and that party sets Sabrina on an unwanted journey of self-discovery, when she realizes having all she dreamed of might not be what she truly wants. Highlights: Old fashioned butt jokes, Audrey Hepburn singing “La Vie en Rose,” the clothes. I hope these bring you some enjoyment, and good luck at your next shindig. 8)

James is at the end of a long crusade for vengeance against the vampire clan that destroyed everything he held dear. He has Ren, the final and most dangerous of them all, cornered at last in London. But victory remains just out of reach when Ren sets a feral vampire on James and makes his escape. With no other leads, James is forced to take in the feral until he can use its connection to its sire to track down Ren. But in caring for the vampire, James sees they might not all be the monsters he thought them to be. Faced with an ugly truth, his quest for revenge becomes a war for retribution, and the discovery of what it truly means to be human. For an exclusive look at Puncture Wounds and a chance to win your own copy, stop by and join the party at my Birthday Bash below. Twitter | Blog | Dreamspinner | Birthday Bash A. Morell has been writing for fun for the past decade. She once dreamed of being a professional chef—now she knows better and is taking a stab at becoming an author. Without so much as a Creative Writing 101 class under her belt it's a bit of a stab in the dark, but she is comfortable flying by the seat of her pants. She enjoys food, baseball, classics, word games, tattoos, shoes, handbags, escapism, and creating characters. She is averse to over-used words, spiders, zombies, tardiness, camping, and people who misquote movie lines and lyrics. She has one cat.
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Published on August 28, 2014 13:33

August 18, 2014

It's that time again. Sorry the post is late. I'm at Elizabeth's and time moves differently here. I didn't realize it was Monday until just now.

Here are the books coming out this week that I'm excited about. What books are you looking forward to reading this week?

Did I miss yours? Leave me a comment and I'll add it. Have a book coming out next week? Send me a message to be included in next week's post.

Cloudburst Ice Magic by Siobhan Muir

Avalanches may bring down more than snow…

Working for the Search and Rescue team at the Cloudburst Resort in Colorado, Lily Sinclair figures she’ll do all the rescuing from now on. When hikers are caught in a spring blizzard, Lily and her partner head into the storm. Cut off from communication and facing deadly conditions, Lily fears she’ll never see her Ice Demon lover before death claims them.

Zach Snow encouraged Lily move to Cloudburst to grow and learn, but missed her every day of their months apart. His plans of moving to Colorado get pushed up when he receives her text explaining her situation, and saying goodbye. He must negotiate with the local Ice Demon clan to work in their territory to rescue Lily and the hikers before the Spring Fling blizzard kills them. But he’s running out of time.

Between the amorous hiker hitting on Zach, Lily’s self-doubts, and an avalanche bearing down on them, Zach and Lily must rediscover the love they first kindled in a Christmas ice cave, and create their own Cloudburst ice magic.

Length: Novella (28,660 words) | Genre: Action/Adventure

A Taste of Honey Edited by Anne Regan & B.G. Thomas

In the mood to try something sweet? How about a collection of stories about bears and the special men in their lives? Guys don’t have to be in their twenties, perfectly sculpted, and hairless to be hot. Bears are real men with real bodies—and that doesn’t always mean a perfect six-pack or an immaculately smooth chest. With bears, it can mean more man to love. The men in this anthology are chubs, cubs, grizzlies, pandas, polar bears, and more—all looking for a connection. And beneath their burly physiques are hearts of gold. Explore the bear scene and beyond with these big, hairy guys and the men who find them irresistibly sexy.

The Bear Fetish by John Amory
The Bear Next Door by Jack Byrne
The Bear at the Bar by J. Scott Coatsworth
Barefoot by Lillian Francis
Just Breathe by John Genest
Bear Chasing by Renae Kaye
Golden Bear by G.P. Keith
Hunting Bear: A Fairy Tale with a Very Hairy Ending by Edmond Manning
The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Getting Over Yourself by Robert B. McDiarmid
Truck Stop by Christopher Hawthorne Moss
Banyan Court by Samuel Scott Preston
Amped by Zoe X. Rider
The Bear King of Snowbird Mountain by Michael Rupured
Life's Tiny Surprises by Tara Spears

Length: Novel (340p.) | Genre: Contemporary, Historical Americas, Paranormal, Werewolves/Shifters
Release Date: August 18, 2014

I Hate Summer by HT Pantu

Out since he was fourteen, Idrys grew up hating summer, mostly because of Trystan Jackson, the gorgeous eldest son of his parents’ holiday friends. After avoiding the joint holiday for five years, Idrys must now face Trystan again... or risk the wrath of his parents. Like Idrys, Trystan isn’t exactly the guy he was the last time they met, but Idrys has more to worry about than Trystan’s odd sleeping habits. He has to steel his—usually nonexistent—morals against the advances of the cute and innocent Josh, Trystan’s younger brother.

It’s only ten days, right? And afterward he doesn’t have to see either of them for another year.

If only it was that simple.

Two months after the holiday from hell, Trystan gets a last minute placement in the city where Idrys lives, and suddenly both brothers are back in Idrys's life. Idrys is determined to carry on regardless, but sooner or later he might have to face the fact that summer doesn't last forever.

Length: Novel (264p.) | Genre: Contemporary, M/M/M or More | Release Date: August 18, 2014

Lost in the Outcome by Rowan McAllister

When Nathan Seward wakes up in a cheap hotel with a stranger, unable to remember the night before, unscrupulous plots and clandestine schemes are the furthest thing from his mind. True, he's in Houston to bid on his biggest contract yet, one that will put his software development company on the map, but he's the underdog at the table, not one of the big players. Unfortunately someone out there sees him as a threat and isn't above drugging and blackmailing him to put him out of the running. Luckily for Nathan, the man in bed next to him couldn’t be further removed from the corporate world.

Tim Conrad is scraping the bottom of the barrel. He left college during his freshman year to take care of his dying mother, and life and lack of money prevented him going back. Now twenty-seven, his dreams are long buried, and he’s scraping by with dead-end jobs and couch surfing because he can’t afford a place of his own.

As Nathan tries to run damage control and figure out what the hell happened to him, he and Tim discover a connection neither was looking for, as well as dreams they’ve both forgotten.

Length: Novel (200p.) | Genre: Mystery/Suspense | Release Date: August 18, 2014

Conflicted by Louise Lyons

Two competing gangs of car and drag racing enthusiasts with a shared history of pain and rivalry leading to outright hatred. Two men from opposite sides of the tracks, yet with more in common than they’d like to admit.

Paul Appleton is a troubled man who has never been in a relationship, having lost everyone he cared for in his life. His mother died when he was very young and subsequently, he lost his brother and his best friend. Now Paul is convinced love will always end in tears.

Greg was living on the streets after his parents died and was stabbed by a junkie, ending up in hospital. The Buchanans took Greg under their wing while doing charity work, and Greg joined their loving family when he was adopted. He and his siblings are also car enthusiasts with much more money and therefore better cars than Paul Appleton’s gang.

When they eventually find a connection, Paul fights his feelings and tries to convince himself his lover is only a temporary bit of fun, but Greg has other ideas.

Length: Novel (300p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 20, 2014

Happy Independence Day by Michael Rupured

Prequel to Until Thanksgiving

Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. A prelaw student at Columbia University majoring in political science, his interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie. Terrence notices the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn, but the handsome man—and rumored Mafia hustler—rebuffs his smiles and winks.

Cameron McKenzie dropped out of college and left tiny Paris, Kentucky after the death of the grandmother who raised him, dreaming of an acting career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he becomes a prostitute to make ends meet. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes, he is in way over his head, and he can’t see a way out—at least not a way that doesn’t involve a swim to the bottom of the Hudson in a pair of cement flippers.

Cameron is left with a choice: endanger both their lives by telling Terrence everything or walk away from the only man he ever loved. The Mafia hustler and the student activist want to find a way to stay together, but first they need to find a way to stay alive.

Length: Novel (256p.) | Genre: Historical Americas, Holiday | Release Date: August 20, 2014

Stepping Through by CJane Elliott

Cameron Wheeler’s life is all mapped out: he’ll finish business school, return home to Vermont, get a job, and marry his high-school girlfriend. He’s packed away what he really wants—a career as a musician—because he knows it’s never going to happen. But Cameron's well-planned life is turned upside down when he walks into a musty jewelry shop in LA and meets the mysterious Apollo, who tells him to “follow his soul, not his past.”  Apollo's magical presence spurs Cameron to discover and follow his true path, in life and in love.

Length: Nap-size Dream (52p.) | Genre: Urban Fantasy | Release Date: August 20, 2014

The Supernaturals by Gene Gant

Draven, a fledgling monster, faces an impossible choice just three days before his fifteenth birthday. If he doesn’t make his first human kill and release the beast within him, his father will kill his mortal mother. But Draven doesn’t want to become a sadistic, ruthless fiend like his father.

Help arrives in the form of Ahmad, a powerful 1500-year-old djinn whose soul is trapped in a brass ring, and handsome Inky, who is also much older than he seems. In turn, they introduce Draven to the eerie, mysterious Mina, who has information they need to rescue Draven’s mother.  But their quest to free her is not without obstacles. Draven falls head over heels in love with Inky, only to discover how deadly this can be. And Ahmad’s ring falls into the hands of an enemy who won’t hesitate to use Ahmad against his friends.

Length: Novella (154p.) | Genre: YA, Gay, Mythology, High Fantasy | Release Date: August 21, 2014

Time for Destiny by Michelle Rae

When Daniel Wilson, oldest of five children in a troubled family, joined the military, he expected to see combat in Iraq. But it comes as quite a shock when a Rupee minted a century and a half ago transports him to that dangerous time in war-torn colonial India. After he meets and falls in love with Vir during his visit to 1857, he faces the greatest challenge of his life. He knows he may ultimately lose Vir because he belongs in a different time. Still, he wants desperately to keep his love alive despite threats of violence from both wars.

Length: Novella (196p.) | Genre: Time Travel | Release Date: August 22, 2014

Frozen Hearts by Teegan Loy

The best college hockey player in the country is hanging up his skates because he’s tired of living a lie. Five years ago, Erik Fox’s father found out about his indiscretions and forced him to change schools in the middle of the night. Erik had a boyfriend, and hockey players do not date boys.

With his college career over, Erik is determined to get his life on the right track, and that means making peace with the boy he left behind and living according to his own desires. But to do it, he must resist pressure from his father and everyone who wants to define him as nothing but a hockey player.

Length: Novel (200p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 22, 2014

Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden

When Jesse Morales, a recent college grad who aspires to be a mystery writer, volunteers to work on the summit of Mt. Washington for a week, he expects to work hard. What he doesn’t expect is to find a corpse in the fog, lying among the rocks, his head crushed. The dead man turns out to be a young tourist named Stuart Warren, who strayed from his friends while visiting the mountain.

Kyle Dubois, a widowed state police detective, is called to the scene in the middle of the night, along with his partner, Wesley Roberts. Kyle and Jesse are instantly drawn to one another, except Jesse’s fascination with murder mysteries makes it difficult for Kyle to take the young man seriously. But Jesse finds a way to make himself invaluable to the detective by checking into the hotel where the victim's friends and family are staying and infiltrating their circle. Soon, he is learning things that could very well solve the case—or get him killed.

Length: Novel (210p.) | Genre: Mystery/Suspense | Release Date: August 22, 2014

Taste of Air by Cassie Sweet

Alchemists and Elementals: Book Two

The reappearance of necromancers to the Dominincál city-states worries Sadonia prolate Estobán Medovin. Ever since Masters Nico and Theodyne drove the necromancers from his mind three years before, he’s suffered an odd affliction—painting while asleep. It is a secret that, if discovered by his enemies, could bring his rule to an untimely and violent end. On the eve of the demigogal elections in the holy city of Gusan, fearing the new candidate might be under the necromancers' direct influence, Estobán requests an alchemist well-versed in ferreting out death dancers to join his mission to seek out conspirators.

Evil floods the streets of the holy city, and the elementals are anxious. Master alchemist Jolen Meripen should know; as an aerothant—hybrid of a human and air elemental—he can hear their voices in his head, telling him of the corruption festering under the pristine edifices.

When Jolen discovers a piece of the ruby tablet known as the Elementica in Estobán’s possession and the necromancers bid to collect them all and thus rule over the elements, he knows he must do everything he can—including sacrificing his life to bring peace to Dominicál and save the man he has come to love.

Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: High Fantasy | Release Date: August 22, 2014
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Published on August 18, 2014 16:18 • 13 views

August 11, 2014

Welcome to Manic Monday, my new blog feature. Why Manic Monday? Well, for one thing, Mondays are always a little manic. More importantly, though, this is my list of all the romance books coming out this week that I'm aware of. Did I miss one?  Leave a link in the comments and I'll add it! Want to be included in a future week's list? You can e-mail me, send me a message on FB, a PM on Twitter, or leave that in the comments here too.
Now, on to the books!

Names Can Never Hurt Me by Wade Kelly
What if sexuality wasn’t a definable thing and labels merely got in the way?
Nick Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t part of the in crowd. Everywhere he goes, he stands out as the best looking guy in the room, and women practically fall into bed with him. Then, after kissing Corey on a dare led much more and on many occasions, Nick’s “screw anything” reputation escalated, but he didn’t care.
When Nick meets RC at the restaurant where he works, it throws his whole life out of whack. Overweight, always sweaty, gay, and hairy like a bear, RC lives up to his dubbed nickname “Scruffy Dude.” He seems Nick’s complete opposite, but Nick can’t get him out of his head.
Because of peer-pressure and his fears about defining his sexuality, Nick struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and caring about someone different than himself.  If he’s lucky, somewhere between arrogance and ignorance, Nick might find out what it means to be an adult, but if he’s wrong, he could lose everything.
Length: Novel (340p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 11, 2014
The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds by Charley Descoteaux
All he ever wanted was to be a normal guy….
Phil Brask spends his days in the basement of his mentor's Victorian home, converting legal documents into electronic format. When the pipe feeding the water heater bursts, Lee Redding arrives in the plumber’s truck and draws Phil away from the narrow focus of his computer and camera lens. Lee gives Phil hope for a life beyond the walls he’s constructed using the nesting habits of migratory birds and dense legal files, a guided tour through a world filled with romance and music…maybe even family. But there’s a reason Phil retreated behind those walls, why he panics at a simple touch.
Lee has a good life—working with his uncle and on his mother’s farm, playing bass in a horrible metal band, and hooking up when he pleases—but he’s always suspected something was missing. When he meets the hot photographer with the icy-blue eyes, he knows exactly what that something is. Phil isn’t like other guys, but neither is Lee beneath his carefree exterior. Maybe Lee's the perfect guy to show Phil that everything doesn’t have to be done the hard way and "home" isn't a four-letter word.
Length: Novel (200p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 11, 2014

Trusting Love by Mari Evans
Laurie Stallon isn’t like other high schoolers. After suffering years of abuse at his father’s hands, he now lives in a foster care facility and finds solace volunteering at the local animal shelter. Laurie’s had to grow up fast, and even though his eighteenth birthday is still weeks away, he’s more adult than most adults he knows. When he meets Dr. Sam Davies, the new shelter veterinarian, the attraction is instant. They become friends at work, but Laurie knows Sam will never go for someone like him. No matter how Laurie tries to prove his maturity to Sam, Sam continues to reject him as too young.
Needing a distraction, Laurie goes out dancing for his birthday and finds his life in danger yet again. When Sam is called to the hospital, he realizes Laurie needs someone to care for him. Sam takes him home, and they slowly build a relationship. But more than their age difference works against them. Facing the disapproval of friends and the scars from Laurie's past, they'll need to put all their trust in love for a chance at a future together.
Length: Novel (200p.) | Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age | Release Date: August 11, 2014

Meet-cute by C.C. Dado
Elliot Beck may not have been blessed with mad art skills, a crooner's voice, or a godlike physique, but he makes up for it with an abundance of quick-witted sarcasm, massive insecurities, and a love of bad boys.
After his best friend Trevor finds him naked and tied to his bed—abandoned by his latest troublemaker—Trevor convinces him to take a chance on a nice guy. When he has an awkward encounter in the men's restroom with a fitness instructor named Chase, he never suspects the Adonis might be his perfect bad boy.

Length: Novella (71p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 13, 2014

Nothing Special by Jay Northcote
Noah thinks he’s nothing special. Average height, a bit on the skinny side, and cute but rather geeky, he’s relentlessly ordinary. He certainly doesn’t expect to be noticed by Sol, the gorgeous dark-haired stranger Noah sees on his commute home most days. But when Noah’s friend, Dom, persuades Noah to take a huge risk in a bid to get Sol’s attention, things turn out better than Noah dared to hope. Noah and Sol start dating, and much to Noah’s surprise, his feelings seem to be reciprocated.
But Noah’s insecurities make him doubt Sol. He doesn’t believe he’s interesting enough or sexy enough to hold Sol’s attention, and as Sol tries to get closer, Noah’s instinct is to pull away to protect himself. If their relationship is going to survive, Sol needs to convince Noah that he sees Noah very differently than Noah sees himself. Because to Sol, Noah is something very special indeed.

Length: Novella (187p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 13, 2014

The Pillar by Kim Fielding
During his youth, orphaned thief Faris was flogged at the pillar in the town square and left to die. But a kind old man saved him, gave him a home, and taught him a profession. Now Faris is the herbalist for the town of Zidar, taking care of the injured and ill. He remains lonely, haunted by his past, and insecure about how his community views him. One night, despite his reluctance, he saves a dying slave from the pillar.
A former soldier, Boro has spent the last decade as a brutalized slave. Herbs and ointment can heal his physical wounds, but both men carry scars that run deep. Bound by the constraints of law and social class in 15th century Bosnia, Faris and Boro must overcome powerful enemies to protect the fragile happiness they’ve found.

Length: Novella (144p.) | Genre: Historical European | Release Date: August 13, 2014

Binary Boy by RJ Astruc
It’s a lonely life being an Interpol kid. With both Michel’s parents working for the international police force and always moving from country to country, it’s hard enough to make friends, let alone find a boyfriend. Then he meets Benny during an online chat, and Benny is everything Michel ever wanted and more. He looks forward to meeting his crush when his family heads to Australia on an important mission. But Benny isn’t quite what he seems, and it may have something to do with the man Michel’s parents are investigating and his relationship to an AI. In order to find out the truth, Michel will have to go to greater lengths—and face greater dangers—than he ever imagined.

Length: Novella (65p.) | Genre: YA, Gay, Science Fiction | Release Date: August 14, 2014

Dream 'til Monday by Allison Cassatta
When Hollywood comes a-knockin’, a young, small-town Mississippi photographer named Sawyer Taylor packs his bags and heads to the West Coast. He’s been hired to photograph for a romantic comedy in San Francisco and looks at the opportunity as a chance to rebuild and reclaim his life. But a quick, drunken hand job behind a bar in the Castro might prove a horrible mistake.
Film director Miles Eisenberg isn’t a man who wants to commit. He has a daughter who means the world to him at home, and he worries over how his decisions might affect her. He comes up with a million good reasons not to give Sawyer a second look, but sometimes the heart is determined to love, and the brain can’t convince it otherwise. His affair with Sawyer becomes a whirlwind romance worthy of the silver screen, but life doesn't always imitate art, and imperfect heroes don't always get their happy endings.
Length: Novel (206p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 15, 2014

Mi Familia by Tessa Cárdenas
Sequel to Siempre
Three years after starting their life together, Jamie and Sean decide the time is right to expand their family. Preparing to adopt, they cross their Ts and dot their Is. But nothing can quite prepare them for Angel and his sister, Margarita.
After over a year in foster care, Angel, eight, and Margarita, four, are hesitant to trust their new dads.  Angel doesn’t believe they will follow through with the adoption, and Margarita, scared, refuses to speak. While the process seems slow, Jamie and Sean are happy to take their time winning the kids over. But when the siblings’ foster mother takes a fall and can no longer care for them, Jamie and Sean rush to take on parental duties they don’t feel ready for. Even as they work to finalize the adoption, life continues to throw them curve balls, and the happy couple worries they aren’t doing enough to save their fledgling family.

Length: Novel (200p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 15, 2014

Upside Down by Andrew Grey
Sequel to Inside Out
Bronco's Boys: Book Two
Lowell Cartwright’s life as a mercenary problem solver has taken its toll, and after one more difficult job, he wants out. For help, he turns to Bull, a soldier of fortune turned club owner—not exactly a friend, but the best chance Lowell has. He visits Bull’s club to scope it out and meets Jeremy Hodgson. The twink captures his attention in a big way. Bull tells Lowell to stay away from the club until he decides whether he can help, so Lowell stays in town. When he spots Jeremy passed out on the floor of a convenience store, he goes to Jeremy’s aid.
Lowell piques Jeremy’s interest immediately, pushing all the right buttons. Then, when Jeremy needs help, Lowell’s kindness turns interest into something more.
But trouble comes knocking when Jeremy’s place is bugged. Maybe Lowell’s past is catching up to him, or maybe the danger centers on Jeremy’s roommate Tristan’s mysterious boyfriend. Whatever the source of the problem, the future Lowell and Jeremy hope for doesn't stand a chance unless they can find a way to protect themselves.
Length: Novel (200p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 15, 2014
And one from last week because I'm really looking forward to reading it and haven't had a chance yet.

Resurrection Man by K.Z. Snow

Bad enough Elijah Colter’s life of comfort comes to an abrupt end when he’s seventeen and his family discovers he’s gay. Bad enough he must live out of his car and turn tricks. But when his perfect boyfriend, Alonzo, becomes the victim of a drive-by shooting, Elijah plummets into suicidal depression. The concepts of trust and hope become more alien to him than ever.

All that keeps Elijah going is a promise he made: that he would look after Alonzo’s stepdad, Dizzy, who’s on the verge of losing his house.

Diz and Elijah become companions in homelessness—until Elijah discovers a program for throwaway LGBT youth. Through it he secures an apartment… then loses it after a year. He’s kept his promise, though, and until he can get back on his feet, he’s resigned to joining Dizzy in the abandoned factory the older man calls home.

One fall day, a pair of new presences in Elijah’s life promise to shape his future: Michael, an outreach volunteer, and Alonzo’s ghost. Both prompt Elijah to decide which of his dreams to pursue, which to cast aside, and just how much he can dare to believe in love, and in himself, again.

Length: Novella (209p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 6, 2014
What books are you looking forward to this week?

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Published on August 11, 2014 06:00 • 12 views

August 9, 2014

The second day of the Inca Trail would fit right in to one of the circles of hell. The scenery was amazing, the ruins fascinating, but it was 16 long kilometers up a mountain (to over 4000m), down the other side for lunch, up a second mountain and down that one before dinner and bedtime. Why the insanely long day?

As it turns out, Pacamayo, the traditional second night campsite, is prone to flooding if it rains hard. Now we were there in the dry season, but as Smith, our guide was fond of saying, with global warming, the rains come even in the dry season sometimes. I didn't fancy getting washed away, so we lived with the long hike.

The first ascent was up to the summit of Warmiwañusca Pass, also called Dead Woman Pass. I figure it's because hiking over the pass is pretty much guaranteed to kill you, but the guides all insist it's because the pass itself looks like a woman on her back if you see it from a distance. Personally, I never saw it. Tell me what you think.
Despite the draining hike, we saw some amazing scenery as we got into the cloud forest. I loved how the weather was constantly changing.

Can you see the mist moving in those three pictures? They were taken approximately a second apart as the mist rolled over the mountain pass and curled down into the valley on the other side. The picture of Dead Woman pass was taken from the other side of the same mountain about 30 minutes later.

After lunch at Pacamayo, we hit the cloud forest, and that meant... orchids!

There are several hundred species of orchids that grow in Peru along the Inca Trail. The first two photos are ones we saw. The third is another beautiful flowering bush, but Leo couldn't tell me what kind it was.

We also finally made it Runkurakay after another flight of steps.

 Oh look, it's my cover, with two of our amazing porters carrying our food, tents, and other gear. More on the wonder that is the porters on the Inca Trail tomorrow.

Runkurakay is a tambo, a shelter for messengers or pilgrims along the Inca Trail. The Inca people didn't have a written language, so runners carried messages back and forth between Cusco and Machu Picchu. The current record for the 26 miles from Machu Picchu to Piscacucho? 3 hours and 42 minutes. I'll give you three guesses who made it at that speed, and it wasn't any of the world's marathon champions.

It was one of these guys' colleagues. When the Peruvian government sponsored the race in an effort to calculate how long it would have taken messengers to get from Machu Picchu to Cusco and back, runners from all over the world came to participate. The altitude and the steepness of the trail tripped most of them up. A porter, used to carrying 25-30kg as he hikes the trail in half the time it takes a tourist, ran the entire length with only water in less than four hours. Yeah, these men are my heroes, let me tell you!

We learned one other thing that day. Uphill might be harder on your lungs, but downhill is hell on your knees.

Want to know more about my trip to Peru? Check out The Path , coming on Sept. 1 from Dreamspinner Press.

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Published on August 09, 2014 17:43 • 2 views

August 8, 2014

One year ago today, we headed out on the Inca Trail.
Sounds simple, right? In a way it is. Until you consider that these photos were taken at about eight in the morning and we'd already been awake and traveling for four hours.
(Is anyone surprised I have a purple backpack?)So, the Inca Trail starts at kilometer 82, also known as Piscacucho. That's great, but Cusco, where our hotel was, is at kilometer 1. When the Spanish invaded Peru, the Inca emperor took one look at the situation and decided it was a battle they couldn't win. They disappeared into the jungle and tore up the section of the Inca Trail that left Cusco so the Spanish couldn't follow them. The typical four-day Inca Trail hike now starts at Piscacucho. From there, we hiked up a local trail until we joined the original trail late that afternoon.
The first section of the trail took us through several Quechua villages and outposts like this one. The locals earn a portion of their income selling supplies to underprepared tourists, but the villages also contained examples of Inca engineering.  Those water canals date from the Inca empire.
We passed Llactapacta as we headed up into the mountains. I was greatly amused this past fall when one of the early episodes of Agents of SHIELD included a scene at Llactapacta. It didn't look anything like this on TV.
We stopped for lunch and OMG, the food! I've eaten in some pretty amazing restaurants in my travels, but I would put every single one of them up against the food our camp cook prepared for us on a propane stove in little campsites all along the trail. Five-course gourmet meals...

The thing that stayed with me the most, though, was the scenery, so I'll leave you with some pictures of the glory that is the Andes.

Want to know more about my trip to Peru? Check out The Path , coming on Sept. 1 from Dreamspinner Press.

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Published on August 08, 2014 18:34 • 13 views

August 7, 2014

The Sacred Valley...
The name itself is evocative. The valley itself is incredible. The Urubamba river carved out the valley and its floodplain over thousands of years, and along its banks, the Inca Empire grew up.

Villages like this one above Pisac (where Benicio now lives) are typical of the way the Inca people lived. The thatch roofs are recreations, but the rest is original.

One of the things that struck me about this village and so many of the others was the engineering that went into them. The Inca people created terraces for agriculture and for erosion control. We haven't mastered erosion control in the 21st century, but the Inca had it figured out a thousand years ago. These terraces were agricultural in nature. You can tell because of the steps between them. Erosion control terraces were narrower and didn't have the same steps because people didn't need to access them as easily.

After we left Pisac, we headed to a center dedicated to preserving local arts. The knitter in me was thrilled.

All those colors of alpaca wool dyed naturally...
And the work the Quechua women create with the yarn is spectacular.

This is the market in another village, but all the handcrafts were made in the traditional way.

We also learned about the difference between llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas. Guanacos and vicuñas aren't domesticated, so they're less interesting. Llamas are bigger and capable of carrying up to 25 kg, but they don't make good eating and the wool they produce isn't easy to work with.
Alpacas on the other hand won't carry anything no matter what you offer them, but they taste delicious and their wool is warm, plentiful, and soft.

Our last stop was Ollantaytambo, the oldest continuously occupied city in the Americas. The reason it was such a prime location?

The man in the mountain. Yes, that is a natural formation.

Next stop... the Inca Trail!

Want to know more about my trip to Peru? Check out The Path , coming on Sept. 1 from Dreamspinner Press.
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Published on August 07, 2014 18:08 • 8 views

August 6, 2014

A year ago, my husband and I left on an adventure. Yes, those are the Andes, and no, I didn't use a telephoto lens when I took that picture from the plane window. They're that tall. We flew from Lima to Cusco, which would be our home base for the time we were in Peru.

After settling in at a lovely hotel right off the main square, we had the chance to take a tour of the city.

It was interesting but very rooted in the Spanish conquest of Peru, not in the Inca empire that is so fascinating to me. Fortunately the city tour included a visit to Sacsayhuaman. For those of you who don't speak Quechua, it sounded like our guide said sexy woman every time. That's not quite the proper pronunciation but close.
Sacsayhuaman is on a flattened mountain above Cusco. The stones are quarried from the next mountain over and then dragged (the Inca people didn't have the wheel) through the intervening valley and up to the other side to be stacked as you see them. Easy, right? Think again. Many of those stones are taller than the average person.
Okay, not taller than Noah, but Noah is over six feet tall. (I'm the one with the red and green sweater and the big camera, for anyone who's curious.) The online sites I've found talk about it as a fortress, used in the defense of Cusco, but our guide saw it far differently. For him this was a spiritual site, a place of worship for the Inca people. All three animals sacred to the Inca people are represented here--the condor in the name (huaman means condor), the snake in the zigzag shape of the stones, and the jaguar because Cusco was laid out in the shape of a jaguar in ancient times with Sascayhuaman as its head. Additionally the stones are fitted together so smoothly you can't get a blade of grass or sheet of metal between them, a typical feature of religious architecture, not military. Regardless of whether it was religious or military, it was stunning. Here are a few more pictures in case you weren't impressed enough already.

Want to know more about my trip to Peru? Check out The Path , coming on Sept. 1 from Dreamspinner Press.

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Published on August 06, 2014 18:44 • 13 views

August 4, 2014

I've talked quite a bit about my trip to Peru last August as well as about the book it inspired. All that work has finally come to fruition. The Path is on Dreamspinner Press's Coming Soon page. cover is a photo I took on the trail with a little magic by Paul Richmond, our Assistant Art Director. I love the light and the mist, and of course the steps. Let me tell you a thing or two about those steps. We joked about the scenery being proof of the existence of God and the steps being proof of the existence of the devil. They were a little bit uneven and were steeper than steps we're used to, so after a while, it was excruciating. At the same time, they are a marvel of engineering, created by a "primitive" people who didn't have the wheel and yet who excavated and maintained a path between the spiritual and political capitals of a huge empire, a path that is still in usable condition over 500 years after the Inca people abandoned it.
For anyone who's interested, here's me reading the prologue of The Path.

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Published on August 04, 2014 15:57 • 8 views

February 11, 2014

Almost nine years ago, I participated in a fic exchange. Authors sent in requests for a story they'd like to receive as well as genres they would be willing to write. I signed up and eagerly awaited my assignment. While I was waiting, my best friend asked me if I was participating and I said yes. Imagine my distress, then, when two days later, I was assigned her request. She'd be expecting to read something from me since she always beta-read my fiction before I posted it, but it was supposed to be a surprise. 
I did the only thing I could think of. I emailed a third author friend and asked for a second prompt. So while I was writing Nicki's story in secret, I was writing Connie's story to show to Nicki. I'd finished Connie's story and was frantically working on the last scene of Nicki's when we went to a weekend get-together of author friends. I spent the entire weekend with her on the other end of the couch as I was trying to finish the story without her finding out.
I managed, with a bit of luck and her ankle bracelet to let me know when she was coming down the hall, and sent it in for the fic exchange. It was posted and I sent her off to look at my story, as if she hadn't read what she thought was my story a dozen times already. Instead she found Testament to Love.
I've expanded on the story since then, adding 5k over the previously published version (which itself was longer than the fic exchange story), and it will be published as a novella in June or July. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic. I only hope she loves this edition as much as she loved the first.
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Published on February 11, 2014 18:25 • 65 views

January 30, 2014

I'm almost done with my next book, tentatively titled The Path (or possibly El camino since it's set in Peru) and I need some input on the cover. I took close to a thousand pictures while I was in Peru, many of them of the Inca Trail, one of the elements of the book that the title refers to. And this is where you come in. I've included some of the best pictures of the trail below. Leave a comment with your favorite to help me decide which one to submit for possible use on the cover of the book.

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Published on January 30, 2014 10:24 • 32 views