Monday, July 6, 2015

Back to the Grind - McCaffrey & McCafe

Nothing better in the summer than stretching out on a hammock with a good book and a little iced coffee. I can't help you out with the hammock but I got you covered on the iced coffee and book. 

Step one - Prepare your McDonald’s McCafe iced mocha (Way cheaper to make your own)

1 package Starbucks Via Iced Coffee Ready Brew (100 calories)
8 oz. water
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (150 calories)
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup (50 calories)
4 tablespoons canned whipped cream (30 calories)
1 cup crushed ice

Combine the instant iced coffee, water, and whipping cream. Coat the bottom of your glass with chocolate syrup. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add the coffee mixture. Top with whipped cream. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Enjoy!

Step 2  - Grab a great book

Rafe McCaffrey, washed-up one-hit country music wonder, is coming home to northwestern Montana and the only man he's ever loved--his best friend Jamie Crosby. But the years they've spent apart have been kind to neither man. Jamie, owner of the Lazy C guest ranch, has turned hard and bitter, just like his father before him. He can't forgive Rafe for leaving him when he needed his friend the most. Hiring Rafe to work the ranch can only end in why does Jamie do it?

Ranch cook Lilah Montclaire wants nothing more than to forget the mistakes in her past and make a fresh start somewhere else, far away from the Montana valley where she was born and raised. But she's grown attached to the Lazy C and its owner, and doesn't know how to leave them. And this new guy, Rafe McCaffrey? He's got charm and looks to spare. She sees how Jamie and Rafe look at each other, and wishes she could share in the heat between them.

Can Jamie forgive Rafe? Can Rafe forgive himself? Can they give Lilah what she needs to heal her broken spirit and find a way to soothe their own seven year ache?

NOTE: Don't miss the exciting sequel, Wild Horses!

Step 3 - Enjoy!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Author Spotlight - Anne Barwell

World Building - The Supernatural Council

Thanks, Jo, for hosting me today.

One of the things I love about writing series is the opportunity for world building. Each new book brings further peeks into a new world, with a rich history to explore.  The world in which The Sleepless City—the urban fantasy series which is a joint project between myself and Elizabeth Noble—exists is no different.  Although its backdrop is our own world, there lurks in the fictional town of Flint, Ohio, a supernatural element hidden from most.

The first two books mention an organisation tasked with keeping order within that society. With book 3, Family and Reflection, we get to meet the men and women of Flint’s Supernatural Council and learn more about them, and the tasks and responsibilities of the council.

Those who serve on the Supernatural Council are representatives of the vampires, werewolves and humans who live in Flint. However, its existence is only known to a few humans—those who are called to be a part of it, and the men and women who find out about it through various reasons, often because of a personal connection to the supernatural world.  The council in Flint is not the only one in existence in the United States and is also in contact with others in different parts of the world, each having its own groups tasked with solving crimes, and security personal called enforcers whose job it is to bring in supernaturals who break the laws of both the supernatural and human worlds.  Book 1—Shades of Sepia—introduced the group of men whom Flint’s Supernatural Council call on to solve crime:  Forge and Simon, who are vampires and Lucas, who is a werewolf.  They’ve since been joined by Ben, a human, and Blair, a vampire.  Declan, a vampire, has often become involved in cases when he has visited Flint and although it’s been a while since the last time, that’s about to change.

The council meet—for the most part—in the back rooms of the Old Curio Shoppe which is owned by Lucas’s uncle Jasper.  Jacob Coate—Lucas’s father, and the Flint werewolf pack alpha—is the current head of the council.  Each faction of the council has different ways of deciding who their representative should be, and a vote is taken as to who leads the council.

One of the things I enjoyed in writing about the council was introducing the different people involved with it, and the politics within their organisation.  It’s an interesting group, and I’m looking forward to exploring more about them in my spin off series Opus.

Family and Reflection
Book 3 of The Sleepless City, Sequel to Electric Candle
For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Flint—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.

Declan has been away from Flint for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.

Buy links:

Declan turned the page of his book, read the first paragraph, then shook his head. He wasn’t sure why he’d bothered, as he couldn’t for the life of him remember what had happened on the previous page, let alone in the last few chapters. He closed the book with a thump, got up from the table, went over to the fridge, and opened it.

He wasn’t hungry, but if he had been, the mold-covered plate on one of the shelves would have put him off whatever else had taken his fancy. Someone really needed to have a word with Lucas about leaving his science experiments to breed. Declan lifted the plate somewhat cautiously and sniffed it, then wished he hadn’t. City coroner or not, this wasn’t… normal. Normal people cleaned out their leftovers before they got the chance to become strange new life forms.

Even if, in this case, his definition of normal was a werewolf.

But, despite his reaction, Declan couldn’t bring himself to throw the—whatever it was—away. To him it was disgusting, but to Lucas it might be some new discovery crucial to whatever he was currently working on. And Declan didn’t want to upset Lucas. In the short time they’d known each other, he’d become quite fond of Lucas, and enjoyed the time they spent together.

Declan sighed. He returned the offending thing to its previous resting place, ignoring the visions of reanimated zombie leftovers creeping up the stairs to attack him in the middle of the night, and instead got a wineglass out of the cupboard. He poured himself a decent-sized portion of his favorite red beverage and settled back down on the chair he’d recently vacated. As much as he enjoyed a good vintage wine, there were times when one had to quench one’s other thirsts. He sniffed the glass and savored the aroma before swallowing.

Hmm, not bad. It was amazing the standard of blood available to purchase through the right sources. It made it so much easier to feed than it used to be, and less messy too.

He heard the light step on the stairs and human heartbeat long before Ben reached the kitchen and stood awkwardly in the doorway.

“Hello, Ben,” Declan said. “Don’t worry, you’re not disturbing me.”

“If you’re sure?” Ben Leyton ran one hand through his thick dark hair. He looked tired. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d make a Milo and see if that helps.”

“I heard Simon having a nightmare earlier. He never did sleep well on anniversaries.” He’d known Simon Hawthorne a long time; Jonas Forge had introduced them shortly after Simon had been turned. Declan had also helped Simon through a dark part of his life, triggered by the events he suspected had prompted this particular nightmare, given the time of year. “I also don’t mind if you turn on the light.”

Although Declan didn’t need much light to see, especially with the full moon casting its glow into the room, Ben would appreciate more illumination.

“Yeah, well, they’re the worst times for most people, I guess.” Ben flicked on the light switch before walking across the kitchen. He filled the kettle and put it on to boil before reaching into the cupboard and bringing down a green can. “Do you want some? It’s a chocolate drink.”

“Thank you but no.” Declan indicated the glass in front of him.

The loud howl almost made him jump, and only years of practiced self-control stopped him. Even so, Declan’s hairs stood on end on the back of his neck, and the howl sent a shiver through him.

Lucas howled again. Frustration, anger, and loss all rolled into a sound that was pure wolf.

Declan knocked his glass over, spilling its contents. Without thinking, he moved at vampire speed, catching what was left of the blood in his palm and drinking deeply.

The glass fell to the floor, smashing into tiny pieces. He ignored it and finished the blood, then wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. A low growl escaped his lips. He knew his eyes were completely green. They tended to do that when his fangs extended.

When he looked up, Ben was staring at him, his eyes wide. “I’ll clean up the mess, shall I?” Ben said hurriedly, already heading for the broom.

“Don’t worry,” Declan said. “I’ll do it. Make your chocolate drink, mon ami. It’s my mess, so my responsibility, yes?”

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as "too many." These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of "spare time" is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have twice received honorable mentions and twice reached the finals in the Rainbow Awards.  

Dreamspinner Press Author Page:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July

The American Soldier By Philip Freneau

A Picture from the Life
To serve with love,
And shed your blood,
        Approved may be above,
But here below
(Example shew,)
‘Tis dangerous to be good.

--Lord Oxford
Deep in a vale, a stranger now to arms,
Too poor to shine in courts, too proud to beg,
He, who once warred on Saratoga’s plains,
Sits musing o’er his scars, and wooden leg.
Remembering still the toil of former days,
To other hands he sees his earnings paid;--
They share the due reward—he feeds on praise.
Lost in the abyss of want, misfortune’s shade.
Far, far from domes where splendid tapers glare,
‘Tis his from dear bought peace no wealth to win,
Removed alike from courtly cringing ‘squires,
The great-man’s Levee, and the proud man’s grin.
Sold are those arms which once on Britons blazed,
When, flushed with conquest, to the charge they came;
That power repelled, and Freedom’s fabrick raised,
She leaves her soldier—famine and a name!
Source: (1809)

  • Philip   Freneau

    Philip Freneau


Friday, July 3, 2015

Splintered Audiobook Giveaway

Step inside the mind of a killer - Splintered

Homosexuality is an abomination. A sin. Those who practice such ungodly and disgusting acts will rot in hell along with murderers, pedophiles, and those who seek pleasure in bestiality.
Why me?
What did I do to deserve such a fate? I was a scrawny little kid with buckteeth and a severe stutter. I was given to a hateful bitch that never let a day pass without reminding me how much of a burden I was on her limited resources. So why had the devil picked me? I was nothing but an ugly little poor kid. Why did he think I was worthy of his attentions?
The sound of my hands slamming down on the steel gurney echoed through the small room as my anger reached a fevered pitch. No matter how many sacrifices I offered God, he ignored my pleas. How many abominations would I have to rid the world of before he bestowed his grace upon me? No matter how hard I tried to rid myself of the devil, there were always those who, through their sinful ways, tempted the evilness within me, giving power to the beast.
I stood before the wall of mirrors, my nude body covered in sweat as I fought to keep the beast under control, but he was strong. So very powerful. I was disgusted with the way my pulse raced with excitement, the trembling of my limbs, my weakness.
Good and evil battled within me. My mind knew what I must do. My heart and soul demanded vengeance for the crimes committed against God. My body, however, my very flesh belonged to the Devil. He knew my weaknesses, my sins, and he preyed on them. He used my lust against me. My hardened cock sickened me.
But I would not fail in my promise. I’d rid the world of the unholy creatures. Make them suffer as I have. It is my due.
I am the conductor, leading the sweet symphony of pain and agony.
I am the musician. Each flick of my wrist, slide of steel or press of fire, produces a unique sound. Together they create a pleasant harmony that flows along my nerve endings. Igniting me.
“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand.” I leaned down till my lips brushed against the wicked man’s ear. “Your blood is my sacrifice.”
The scream that emitted from him as the blade met flesh was like music to my ears

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday - K.A. Mitchell

Regularly Scheduled Life (Ohio Books #1)

It's a long way back to happily ever after.

Sean and Kyle have enjoyed six perfect years of what their friends called a disgustingly happy relationship. But what happens one sunny Tuesday morning in October might be more than even the most loving couple can survive.

When the bell rings that morning in chemistry teacher Sean Farnham's first-period class, a terrifying sound fills the halls - gunshots. Without considering the consequences, Sean runs to tackle the shooter, sustaining a bullet wound to his leg. Despite his actions, he is unable to save the lives of the principal and two students.

Architect Kyle DeRusso hears about the shooting on the radio, and in the flash of an instant finds his life irrevocably altered. Everything - especially his heart - hangs suspended in a nightmare until he finds out Sean is alive. It doesn't matter that Sean will be left with a permanent limp. Kyle's just relieved the worst is over.

Or is it? Putting that day behind them isn't as simple as it sounds. As Sean struggles to make something positive out of the tragedy, Kyle fights to save their relationship from the dangers of publicity - and Sean's unwillingness to face how the crisis has changed him.

Warning: This book contains adults doing adult things, like using adult language and having hot m/m sex in various positions and on various furnishings. It might also cause the more tender-hearted adult to reach for a tissue or two.


Not Knowing Jack (Ohio Books #2) 

When your lover becomes a stranger, trust is the weakest link of all.

Bartender Tony Gemetti has it all: a rich, hot boyfriend, a McMansion in the burbs and unlimited sex in an expectation-free zone. He thought that was all he ever wanted out of any relationship until Jack begins making excuses for frequent disappearances. Realizing he has more than his libido and enough drawers for his T-shirt collection riding on this relationship, Tony figures it's time to find out what's going on.

Jack Noble has spent his life hiding his real self behind a carefully created image. With Tony, he finally knows real freedom, real happiness. Now a past of buried secrets and lies is closing in, and no matter how hard he tries to stop it, the truth is tearing through. Once Tony learns what kind of man Jack really is, he won't stay. Jack's sure of it.

Suddenly the past shows up in a completely unexpected way, testing the boundaries of their old, coasting-along-on-fun relationship. Tony indeed finds that Jack isn't the man he went looking for, but it's too late. There's too much at stake to just walk away. First, though, he has to make sure there are no lies left for Jack to hide behind.

Warning: Readers should be free of any heart condition that may be affected by a hero with an overactive imagination, painful back stories, and hot sex in a variety of athletic positions. Neither the author nor the publisher is responsible for any sudden or frequent urges to have children with Tony Gemetti.