Phoenix Rising- cover reveal


It is my privilege today to share with you writing from an associate, a wonderfully lovely lady Madison Granger. Madison is debuting with Eclectic Bard Books in 2016. She has given me the honors of sharing her cover reveal for Phoenix Rising.

Phoenix Rising– blurb:

Torie Masters is a curvy, middle-aged, divorcee with a normal job and family life. Her penchant for paranormal romances leaves her longing for the day she will meet the man who will sweep her off of her feet. She’s been dreaming a long time.

Quinn McGrath is Liege Lord to a centuries old clan of shapeshifters known as The Kindred. All have been promised a destined mate by the Goddess. He has all but given up finding his.

Sparks fly when Quinn meets Torie. Could his ‘Promised Soul’ finally be real? The eternal mates might not stand a chance as man and nature work against them. From assassination attempts to a devastating hurricane, their future is put to the test across the globe. Is their bond strong enough to see them through to forever?              

Buy Links: Will be available  April 2016

Here’s a brief excerpt. This is unedited, but I think you’ll get a good idea of Ms. Granger’s style.

Excerpt:

 Gazing up into blue eyes filled with emotion, she reached up to caress the nape of his neck, pulling him closer for a kiss. She tentatively pressed her lips to his. Quinn sat quietly, letting her take the lead. Emboldened, she increased the pressure, sliding her tongue into his mouth. With a groan he tightened his hold on her. Returning her kisses, their tongues danced back and forth. His large hands roamed up and down her sides, cupping her breasts.

Breathing heavily, he growled huskily, “Mo cridhe, tell me you want me. For the love of all the gods, tell me.” His eyes darkened to the color of teal. Passion overtaking the warrior, he trembled with need for this captivating woman that could enflame his most ardent desires.

She could feel the hardness of him as he pulled her into his lap. Torie sat up, straddling him. She sensually ran her tongue along his bottom lip, nipping gently until he groaned against her mouth. She kissed Quinn deeply, demanding, her tongue savoring his very essence. Grinding her body against him seductively, wantonly, her clothing barring her from what she truly wanted. She wanted to feel his body against hers, wanted to know the pleasure of being skin to skin.

Quinn kissed her on her eyelids, her mouth, the side of her neck, lowering his mouth to her breasts. He cupped her, squeezing gently, kissing her through the fabric of her shirt.

 “I need you, Torie. I love you so much, please say yes.”

               With a throaty moan, she whispered, “Yes, Quinn. Make love to me. Make me yours.”

No other words were needed. He picked her up, striding to the bedroom. Putting her down gently, he stood before her, cupping her face, raining gentle kisses everywhere his lips could find soft flesh. Slowly, he removed her shirt and unclasped her bra, letting her breasts free. He replaced the cups with his hands, squeezing, gently pinching her nipples, lowering his head to suckle one breast, then the other. Torie threw her head back and moaned from the sheer pleasure of it all. She didn’t know what the future held, but as long as it held Quinn she was going to be there.

As he continued his gentle ministrations on her breasts, he reached down and unzipped her jeans, sliding them down. When they got to her knees, he sat her down on the edge of the bed and removed her shoes, jeans and panties. Picking her up, he pulled the covers back on the bed and laid her down gently.

               “Not fair,” she complained in a sultry voice. “You’re still partially dressed.”

 “Not for long,” slipping his pants off once more. This time when he turned to her he was fully aroused. And that part of him was as impressive as the rest of him. His erection stood out proudly, demanding attention.

               She had always been self-conscious about her own body’s imperfections, now she had doubts flooding her mind. He was truly a beautiful man, what could he possibly see in her? Would she disappoint him? She grabbed the corner of the duvet as if to cover herself, but Quinn, always attuned to her wants and feelings, stopped her.

               “No, leannan, do not cover yourself. You are beautiful, every delectable inch of you. Let me feast my eyes and my mouth on you. Let me make love to you and show you how desirable you are to me.”

He lay down next to her on the bed, taking her in his arms. Quinn kissed her face and her lips with a passion unbridled. His hands were everywhere, leaving trails of flames across her body. She moaned into his mouth, running her hands up and down his strong arms, gently raking him with her nails. His kisses started going lower, over her breasts once again, down her rib cage and around her navel. Licking and laving her until she was squirming with need.

               “Quinn, please, I want you.” she gasped.

               “Not yet, a luaidh, not yet… I am just getting started.”

               With a groan, Torie thought she just might explode.

Are you ready for the cover reveal?

TADA!

Book cover

Author Bio:

cover pic

Madison Granger is a free spirited late bloomer that stubbornly believes dreams can come true, never giving up and you’re never too old to try new things.

At age 30, she got her first horse and went on to become a three time National Champion in the show ring.

While having a love for books all of her life, Madison had never tried her hand at writing. After having a story in her head for 3 years and with the encouragement of two dear friends, she wrote her first book, and is on her way to creating a series for her beloved Kindred warriors.

Madison lives in southern Louisiana, sharing her home with her daughter, son-in-law and precocious granddaughter.  She was also adopted years ago by a Himalayan cat that insists on being fed regularly.

Madison works full time as a legal receptionist, but manages to find time to write. When not working or writing, Madison enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

https://www.facebook.com/MadisonGrangerAuthor

https://www.facebook.com/Madison-Granger-173207016346305/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

https://twitter.com/MadisonGranger

https://www.pinterest.com/mgrangerauthor/

Coming Soon: MadisonGranger.com

Her release date will be April 6, 2016. Be sure to follow her and catch any new information!

Thank you  Madison for allowing me to share this on Quotidiandose!

Write on my friends, write on!

~~~~~

Ellie

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G. Mitchell Baker – Part Deux


This was supposed to go up yesterday. However, since my gastrointestinal system  decided to revolt,  I was not online.  I’m sure you don’t want me to go into anymore detail. Moving on.

Today, my guest  G. Mitchell Baker is sharing an excerpt from ANNT: Axiom I & II.

ANNT: Axiom I & II

Chapter 1

Bhutan, the High Himalayas – 2025

My name is Dr. Niles Gens, born September 11, 2001. Doctor Austina Doceo, also born September 11, 2001 and I were fourteen-year-old geniuses when we began to collaborate, and invented, some say created Adaptable Neo-Nature Technology.

Originally approached to provide solution to the problems of the world, we have worked with ANNT because we learned that World War I was the Chemists war, that World War II was the Physicists war, and that World War III would be the Biologists War, if we did not provide solutions. Now, you ask, how can they do that?

It all began with curiositas. That is, the question about how the fruits of science will be used. Curiositas made it possible for us to consider the possibilities of Adaptable Neo-Nature Technology. We understood early on, the minute we started to think about technical applications that the societal questions would be relevant. There would be the moral questions, the moral obligations of the community. We knew the morality; the things done, and debated about ANNT, should be in public … not in secret. We knew we had to live by values. That value should be a part of our lives.

We did not want to escape those responsibilities and we understood that ANNT, this new nature, made the possibility of escaping our values more difficult … appropriately so. I recall when we looked at one another after we discussed all this and both agreed that we liked where we were going with our ideas.

The stories I share with you, and tell you about Doceo and ANNT include ANNT demonstrations and, then there were ANNT missions and of course just doing what we wanted when we felt like meeting the challenge of solving the problems of the world. If you have not figured it out by now, Doceo and I invented Adaptable Neo-Nature Technology to compete with old Mother Nature or oMN. Our solution to the world’s problems was to invent and create an Adaptable Neo-Nature Technology to compete with, and perhaps work better than old Mother Nature. We figured this was a sound approach for resolving world concerns on a global scale. Again, we liked where we were going with our ideas.

As I sit not far from where Doceo is in her Remote Decision and Control Center, I ponder whether I am comfortable with my genius. At this point in my life, I have also wondered if my partner, Dr. Austina Doceo was ever comfortable hers. I think I know why Doceo is here now, high in the Himalayas, but I cannot be certain. She appears to be conducting business here, and, does not know why I feel I have to be nearby. I am also sure she does not care. She most likely does not know I am here, as I rest in my extreme weather tent high in the extreme climes of oMN.

I have answered many questions, solved many incredible problems through the years, but I do not know if I will ever be able to answer questions about my comfort and Doceo’s genius. Just how comfortable Doceo and I can be anymore, given Adaptable Neo-Nature Technology has been so successful, in fact remarkable, remains an open question.

Perhaps this question of comfort, as well as many more that will come up about ANNT will be for you to consider.

In any event, as I tell you stories, and you learn more about Adaptable Neo-Nature Technology, the Neo-Nature of ANNT, I encourage you to figure some of this out for yourself. Through my experience, the stories shared with you, it would be nice for you to be encouraged to ask your own questions, and decide whether you are comfortable with your own genius. I am curious just how you might manage the capabilities of the Adaptable Neo-Nature Technology, if Dr. Doceo or I do not get it quite right.

 

ANNT: Axiom I & II (2015)                                                 ANNT: Axiom III & IV (2015)

annt axannt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By G. Mitchell Baker

ANNT is a new Science Fiction series for kids and adults alike. Enjoy thinking about the future, science, technology, government, and society as Adaptable Neo-Nature Technology and old Mother Nature

compete for the role as the world’s default nature. Left to decide is whether ANNT or oMN will be humanity’s preferred nature provider.

ANNT Facebook: Shop Button: http://on.fb.me/1bp8UQY

ANNT Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1Q1Qbsz

ANNT: Axiom I & II

GM BAKER

Author Bio:

Within each genre of interest, G Mitchell Baker writes with a purpose and foundation in social value that includes a sense of family and community. Baker brings this commitment and purpose to the reader in a forthright and intense manner … a style that engages the reader with character, intriguing plot, and a sense of purpose for making a difference.

With traditional publications in eBook, paperback and, with feature-length screenplays sometimes optioned for film production, G. Mitchell Baker enjoys writing professionally and loves to meet new friends and fans! You can find him at:

Facebook G. Mitchell Baker, Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/GMitchellBakerAuthor

Facebook ANNT: Axiom Page: https://www.facebook.com/ANNT.Adaptable.Neo.Nature.Technology

Facebook The Involvement of Emerson Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheInvolvementOfEmerson

Facebook Soccer Tommies Baseball Mommies Page: https://www.facebook.com/SoccerTommiesBaseballMommies

Facebook Lethal Believers Page: https://www.facebook.com/LETHALBELIEVERSNOVELS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/G_MitchellBaker

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/1gmbdelta505/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6877294.G_Mitchell_Baker

Author Website: http://www.gmitchellbakerauthor.com/

 By G Mitchell Baker

Novels in Fiction

 

Thanks you for taking  time to share in my little corner of the world, and thank you G. Mitchell Baker for being a wonderful guest. If you like Michael Crichton books,  check  out  Baker’s books!

Write on my friends, write on!

O Captain! My Captain! Excerpt


Did you enjoy the interview with Vicki?

Here`s an excerpt from O Captain! My Captain!, book 3 of the To Love a Wildcat erotic hockey romance series. Secret Cravings Publishing is the publisher for this series, and the release date is July 9th, 2014.

 
I`ll give you the PG excerpt. 
 
        “Yeah, can you two please find a room and use it. That is just so wrong.” My son went back upstairs. My lips left Derrick’s against their wishes.
“We are just so wrong,” I whispered over Derrick’s tempting mouth. I looked deeply into his green eyes, fascinated as always by the flecks of gold that highlighted the jade.
“But it feels so right,” he said, and then kissed me again. A low, long rumble that came from his stomach finally broke up our totally wrong hello make-out session. “Sorry about that,” the man said as he stepped back from me to rub his belly. “I didn’t eat since breakfast. Whatever you’re cooking, it smells real good, Maggie.”
“It’s nothing fancy, just spaghetti with my secret sauce, a tossed salad, and an apple crisp for dessert,” I said as his fingers slid into mine. I led him to the kitchen. “Have a seat while I get the water on to boil. Beer?” I asked while opening the fridge. “I bought some Grain Belt at the beer distributor.”
“I think I love you,” the big man said while lowering himself into a chair. The chair legs complained a bit. “How’d you know?”
“I’m full of surprises,” I said as I handed him a cold bottle of Grain Belt Nordeast, a golden American lager, as well as a bottle opener. Derrick took a long pull once the top was off. His eyes drifted shut in ecstasy. “Actually, I saw a picture of you on the internet wearing a Grain Belt t-shirt during a fishing trip with the guys.”
“No one makes beer the way they make it in Minnesota,” he sighed, dreamily. I smiled at him and opened a bottle for myself before returning to work. I turned on the hot water, and then filled my favorite non-stick stew pot. “So what did you think of that second game?”
 
I glanced over my shoulder. “I think it was a good thing you won or Veikko would be out of goalie sticks.”
Derrick grinned widely. My fingers were itchy to get to that beard of his, or his chest, or his hairy legs. Is there anything finer than that wondrous abrasion of a man’s body hair on your smoothly shaven body? Phew. I needed to simmer down. It would be a long time before Trevor went to sleep. I concentrated on putting the water on the gas flame instead of that brisk cologne that was tempting me.
“Those Finns, they got some wicked tempers,” he commented between sips of his favorite beer.
“And you don’t?” I laughed out loud before I stole a sip of beer. I turned to look at him. Big mistake. He looked so perfect in my kitchen, sitting back completely relaxed, sharing a beer with me as we made small talk. I spun around. My mind needed an occupation besides daydreaming. I gave it the job of making the salad. The conversation went from one thing to another. Light stuff, nothing serious or heavy. He chatted about his days in the minors. I told him about my years being a stay-at-home mother. I didn’t tell him why I stayed home. The man didn’t need to know I wasn’t allowed to work outside the home. I might have cheated on Travis if I had a job, you see. I also might have had some money to leave his abusive ass, which I’m sure the man knew. Keeping me home without cash was just another means of keeping me under his thumb, the miserable—
“Hey, you still here with me?”
I bobbled the knife I was chopping those fresh peppers with. “Yes, of course,” I lied to the man now standing directly behind me. He was terribly sneaky for such a big man. Or perhaps I had been terribly distracted. His fingers were cold when he brushed a strand of hair from my cheek.
“Where do you go, Maggie?” Derrick asked, and then placed a kiss under my ear.
“Sorry. Sometimes I sink into a dark place in the past,” I replied as I got back to chopping. “Someday, I’ll tell you about it.”
        “Fair enough.” He stood behind me, arms tight around my waist. It was the most enjoyable salad prep I had ever been involved in.
*                    *                    *
Wow. I can’t wait for  this one to come out. Whew!   That’s all for today folks, gotta regroup here.
Write on my friends, write on!

All Who Wander Are Lost


I’m back!  Well sort of.  Actually I’m a figment of your imagination.  Guess I should have mentioned I was taking a holiday!  For those of you who have stuck around – thank you!  You guys (and gals) rock!

It’s Monday, which means it’s Virtual Blog Tour Day!  My guest is Bruce Blake.  I’m just going to hand things over to Bruce from here.  Bruce?

Many thanks to Ellie Mack for hosting me this week on the blog tour. My favourite part of the whole thing is getting to meet writers from different genres that I  might not otherwise get the opportunity to meet.

This week is an excerpt from my latest book, All Who Wander Are Lost. Icarus is feeling remorseful and more than a little guilty about a number of souls ending up in Hell because he’s not very good at his job, so he determiens he must go there and bring them back. Here’s chapter 6, Icarus’ first visit to Hell.

I opened my eyes, half-expecting everything to be ablaze. It didn’t disappoint me to find it wasn’t the case. The gray sky looked like an average overcast day threatening rain, though I couldn’t discern any clouds, just gray. I breathed deep through my nose but didn’t smell brimstone or sulfur, only the earthy smell of the first rain after a lengthy dry spell.

“About time, sleeping beauty.”

My neck creaked as I turned my head and gazed into the eerily blue eyes of Piper kneeling beside me. She smiled.

If this is Hell, count me in.

“How long?”

“A minute or two. Not long enough for brain damage.”

“I’ll have to come up with another excuse.”

She stood and offered her hand, but I struggled to my feet on my own rather than risk the visions her touch was sure to insert in my mind. They weren’t unpleasant, but I’d rather have my wits about me in Hell than walk around with an erection. As I gained my feet I surveyed the area around us: a medium-sized stream burbled on our left, stretching to the horizon; a forest of twisted trees clogged our right. We stood on a swath of earth which accounted for all else.

“Where are we?”

“Hell,” she said as casually as if she’d told me ‘the grocery store.’

“You sure? Doesn’t look like Hell.”

“You were expecting a lake of fire, something like that?”

“No, actually. Last time I visited, it was a deserted apartment building.”

She shrugged. “To each his own.”

She looked away and took a few paces toward the stream, leaving me to feel as though I’d lost a friend. My eyes followed her, and when I managed to tear them away, I noticed a small city perched on the far bank.

That wasn’t there before.

“Is that where we’re going?”

“I think so.”

“You don’t know?”

She looked back over her shoulder with an expression of mock disdain.

“I’m an angel, Icarus. Why should I know anything about Hell?”

“Right. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean–”

“You’ve been here more times than I have.”

That shut me up. Still, I didn’t know anything about the place, my exposure being limited to a fiery hallway in an abandoned apartment building and a few rooms which didn’t look like they belonged in Hell. Hardly detailed knowledge.

I walked toward the edge of the stream, fully intending to step in and make my way across. I enjoyed Piper’s company, but the sooner this expedition got underway, the sooner we’d get the Hell out of here, pardon the pun. My right foot was hovering over the water when her hand on my shoulder sent a shock through my spine.

“Don’t go in the water.”

I returned my foot to dry land and shook my head as I dragged myself from her touch before all the blood left my brain. I blinked a few times to clear the mud from my thoughts.

“Why not? I thought you said to go to the city.”

“We do, but you can’t touch the water of the River Styx.”

I stared at her for a moment, looked at the stream, then back at her, trying not to laugh—I didn’t know if doing so would hurt her feelings—but couldn’t stop myself.

“The River Styx. Really? Disappointing.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“I expected something bigger, a bit more…torrential.”

I gazed back at the over-sized creek, searching the flowing water for signs of damned souls sliding by under its surface, eyes blank, mouths open in eternal screams. Think I saw one of those ornamental Japanese goldfish—koi. Big, but I didn’t notice any teeth.

“How do we get to the other side?”

She looked left, then right. “I suppose we have to find the ferryman.”

The second the word cleared her lips, a solitary puff of fog appeared on the far bank. It roiled and moved in place for a minute, then struck out across the creek, misty tendrils trailing behind. A minute and a half later, it reached us. The fog cleared to reveal a flat-bottomed raft bearing a stooped old man with long pole in hand. A black patch covered one of his eyes, the other bulged and stared beside his hook nose; long, stringy hair hung past his shoulders. He looked enough like Marty Feldman’s rendition of Igor in Young Frankenstein that I expected Mel Brooks to shout: ‘Action!’.

Piper took a step toward the boat but I caught her by the sleeve of her shirt, stopping her.

“Whatever you do, don’t pay him ’til we get to the other side.”

She looked at me like she thought she’d been wrong about the brain damage.

“Come on…Chris de Burgh. ‘Don’t pay the Ferryman’. You must know it.”

She shook her head.

“‘The Lady in Red’? ‘Spanish Train’? ‘Patricia the Stripper’?”

A blank stare.

“You guys need better tunes up in Heaven.”

Nothing worse than funny references your audience doesn’t understand. It felt like I was talking to my ex-wife—she never appreciated classic rock humor, either.

“Are you done?”

I paused a second before nodding. She stepped onto the raft, making it rock gently; I hesitated but followed. The bent ferryman stared at us with his one eye but didn’t push off. I looked at him expectantly—this was his job, he should know what to do—then turned my gaze on Piper, who was staring across the stream toward the city. I sidled up beside her.

“What are we supposed to do now?” I asked out of the corner of my mouth, one eye on the ferryman.

“You can’t wait until the other side to pay him, no matter what this de Burgh fellow told you.”

Her mouth crinkled up in a smirk and I almost laughed aloud, but the urge dissipated quickly as the man’s unblinking eye bore into me. He extended his hand. I patted my pockets and found them as empty as when I’d set out to feed the ducks.

Shouldn’t have left all my change to tip the barkeep.

“Pay him what?”

“I don’t know, I’m an angel. Ask him.”

I took a hesitant step toward him. The wrinkles in his cheeks and forehead were deep enough to be crags; I thought, if I looked close enough, I’d find tiny mountaineers scaling them. I didn’t want to look that close.

“Excuse me, sir. We need to reach the other bank.”

He stared at me, mouth pulled down in a scowl. I swallowed the lump forming in my throat and rephrased the question, not liking how this was proceeding. I gestured across the stream.

“What will it cost to get there?”

His palm up, expectant hand turned, the exaggerated knuckles folding all but one of his twig-like fingers back until his hand quaked in my direction. The lump returned to my throat.

“Me?”

He nodded. I backed away a step and whispered to Piper.

“Ah, a little help here?”

I didn’t look at her—didn’t want to take my eye off the wizened man—but felt her gaze. Its effect didn’t match her touch, but it brought goose bumps to my neck and courage I wouldn’t have found on my own.

“Give him what he wants.”

I didn’t want to look away from the ferryman for fear it would be the last thing I ever did, so I clenched my teeth instead of giving her the disbelieving look her statement deserved.

I raised my hand tentatively toward him. Our hands drew closer and I felt an uncomfortable warmth radiating from his flesh. Then, with enough speed to make a mongoose jealous, his fingers encircled my wrist.

As soon as his flesh touched mine, I saw it wasn’t really a man stooped in front of me, but a wolf-shaped beast—the huge, misshapen werewolf from ‘An American Werewolf in London’ come to life. Terror froze me. The wolf-beast jerked me toward him and lurched forward; its jaws found my shoulder, fangs dug into muscle. I screamed.

The thing shook its head once, rending my flesh. It reared back, a chunk of me in its teeth, my blood running between its jaws. A wave of nausea overtook me, spinning my head, dizzying me. I stumbled away and the beast released its hold on my wrist. My feet tangled and my tail bone struck the raft’s deck hard enough to click my teeth together. A second later, Piper knelt beside me.

“Are you alright?”

My lips moved but no sound emerged. I registered the concern in her eyes, then returned my gaze to the man-wolf.

Gone.

The stooped ferryman stood at the back of the raft working his pole as he guided us across the stream. I jerked my head around expecting to find the beast behind me, but the raft held only the three of us.

“Did you see what happened?” I asked, breathless.

“Yes. You asked him what it would cost to cross, shook his hand, then you stumbled. Did you hurt yourself?”

I shook my head and brought my hand up to the shoulder where the beast took a chunk out of me. No pain. When I looked at my fingers, they were free of blood.

What the fuck?

“You didn’t see it?”

Piper shrugged. “See what?”

I opened my mouth to tell her about the wolf-thing, its bite, but the instant my lips moved, my cheeks burned with embarrassment.

I must have imagined it.

I couldn’t admit to this beautiful woman—angel—that a mirage made me panic.

“Nothing. Never mind.”

She offered her hand to help me up off my ass but I chose again to do it without the aid of her skin against mine. I climbed to my feet, head feeling like the Hindenburg—lighter than air but about to explode.

“Are you sure you’re alright?”

I nodded, then promptly vomited over the side of the raft. A group of huge goldfish like the one I’d seen earlier gathered and made a meal of my spew. The sight made me gag again but I retained the rest of the contents of my stomach and stood on unsteady legs.

The ferryman stared straight ahead, his one bulging eye fixed on his goal of the other shore. Over his shoulder I saw the bank we’d left receding.

Good.

I wanted to get off this raft as quickly as possible, leave the man with his craggy face and long pole behind. And whatever-the-hell-it-was that bit me. Pivoting on my heel, I faced Piper. An amused smirk had usurped her expression. I wanted to tell her how it’s not polite to laugh at the folly of others, but the far bank caught my eye.

It was no closer.

“What the…?”

I spun back toward the spot we’d left, saw it was farther away, then looked back to our destination which looked the same distance as before.

“What’s going on, Piper?”

She shrugged. “It’s Hell,” she said, unconcerned. “We’ll get there eventually.”

I slouched down onto the deck of the raft, sitting cross-legged—what Trevor’s kindergarten teacher called criss-cross applesauce—and breathed deep, attempting to quell my shaking hands.

An hour later, I’d shifted position a few dozen times—criss-cross applesauce is fine for kids but gets uncomfortable quickly when you’re in your fourth decade. A warm wind rose from the direction of our goal, which was no closer; waves lapped the side of the raft. I peered into the water and saw the school of giant goldfish swimming alongside, their tails working but getting them no further ahead than us. Piper sat at the front like a monk deep in meditation. I stared a few seconds at her dark hair hanging to the middle of her back, at the smooth whiteness of the flesh of her arms, then finally at the distant city, still as far away as when we began the trip across the river Styx.

“Enough,” I said.

I climbed to my feet, knees aching, and approached the ferryman. He remained fixed on our destination, so I stepped into his line of sight but stayed far enough away he couldn’t reach me.

“What’s going on here? You got the payment you wanted, when will we get to the other side?”

I’m not sure what the payment had been—probably didn’t want to know—but felt he’d taken something from me. Behind him, the far bank had disappeared, leaving a stretch of churning water between us and our point of departure. How-the-hell a stream could grow into a small sea was beyond me, then I realized the answer to my query.

Hell.

The ferryman’s eye shifted and he stared at me for a full minute before returning to his survey of the far shore. As much as I didn’t want to deal with this man—this thing—it was time for answers.

“Look at me.” I moved again to block his view. “When will we–”

The raft struck something solid spilling me onto my tail bone for a second time. Perhaps we’d hit one of the enormous koi. I righted myself and saw the ferryman pointing past me, gnarled finger extended toward the shore. Piper came to my side.

“We’re here,” she sing-songed.

The edge of the raft made contact with the rocky shore. A few hundred yards away, the city overtook the landscape, its buildings rising taller than I’d thought, many reaching hundreds of stories toward the ashen sky. Monolithic, ultra-modern slabs stood shoulder to shoulder with cathedrals which looked like they were erected a thousand years ago. The skyscrapers stretched the length of the shore as far as I could see.

I opened my mouth to ask ‘what-the-hell’ again but closed it without posing the question. This was Hell, after all: apparently I’d have to get used to a little strangeness.

Biography

Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.

Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” then he does shovelling. The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of burlesque diva Miss Rosie Bitts.

Bruce has been writing since grade school but it wasn’t until five years ago he set his sights on becoming a full-time writer. Since then, his first short story, “Another Man’s Shoes” was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon, another short, “Yardwork”, was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod and his first Icarus Fell novel, “On Unfaithful Wings”, was published to Kindle in Dec., 2011. The second Icarus Fell novel, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, is scheduled for release in July, 2012, with the first book in the four-part “Khirro’s Journey” epic fantasy coming soon after. He has plans for at least three more Icarus novels, several stand alones, and a possible YA fantasy co-written with his eleven-year-old daughter.

www.on-unfaithful-wings.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/bruce.blake.585

Twitter: @bruceablake

Kindle: http://amzn.to/OJBD12

bruceblake@hotmail.ca

Masquerade


Masquerade

As little girls, we loved to play dress up.  Mama’s pretty dress,  shoes, and jewelry could transport us into the magical land of ballroom dancing and fairy tales.  Today, Disney  has a full line of paraphernalia to complete any budding dreams of Princesses to meet every taste.

In high school we dressed up for prom and possibly other school dances, metamorphosing into beautiful damsels, setting our jeans and t-shirts aside for one night of glitz and glamour.

As an adult, what opportunities do we have to dress up?  Sure there are weddings, but I mean really glammin’ it up.  My sister is involved in SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism, a Renaissance group.  She has a variety of medieval wear from barmaid, to serving wench to elegant lady in waiting.  I think she even has one for sorceress, although she would have been burned as a witch.

During a visit she showed me her costumes and talked about her experiences.  At the same time I was reading a romance set in medieval times, and they had a huge ball to celebrate the oldest sons betrothal to the daughter of a neighboring clan.  It got me to thinking about the Ren Fairs and how they would compare to the real medieval experience.

A few days later I came across my DVD of Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler.  My hand was forced I had to watch it!  It was Gerard, and it was a good story!  If you click on the link above for ‘Masquerade’; you’ll see one of the things that inspired the masquerade ball at the beginning of my work in progress, “Kiss of The Dragon”  (copyright 2012 Ellie Mack)

I decided to share an excerpt from my own masquerade ball.  Click on the link first because it sets the mood,  plus it’s a brilliantly choreographed piece.  Go on, click; I’ll wait.  Some of the language used is PG-13; and the topic is mature.

*              *              *               *               *

                When her gaze rested upon the eyes, she was met with a sultry, heated gaze. The eyes were vivid green and promised passion in unending measure.

A crisp ocean breeze wafted over her accompanied by the faint sounds of waves crashing onto rocks. A vision of this man shirtless, his hair windblown leaning in, to kiss her on a high parapet overlooking the sunset flashed in her mind. Her fingers moved to her lips, feeling the slightest brush of his lips against hers. She surrendered to the sensation of his strong arms surrounding her.

“Izzy? Would you come on already?” Mel snapped, tugging on her arm.

Izzy looked at her friend. The vision disappeared and the clattering of glasses, and a buzz of several conversations started up again. She glanced back at the painting. “I’ve got to find out who he was.”

Mel moved closer and squinted up at the painting. “Wow! I’d do him” she placed her hand on her hip. “In a heartbeat.”

Izzy let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. “You’d do anyone Mel!” She crossed her arms in front of her chest. “He’s just so . . .” she chewed her bottom lip where the imagined tingling remained.  “Everything you could ever imagine.” Adjusting her gown she added “And of course, he’s dead. Figures!”

“Can you do it with a ghost?” Melody asked as she stared at the eyes. “I’ll bet he was hung.”

“Mel! Is that all you ever think about?” She grabbed her friend’s arm, pulling her back towards the hallway.

“I’ll bet you don’t have to use protection for a ghost.”

Izzy sighed. It was a good thing they were on a charter bus. Mel had already had too much to drink. She felt a little tipsy herself, but there was no way she was going to miss this masquerade ball. As they approached the ballroom, a man stepped out of the shadows in front of them.

 

*               *                 *               *                *

Have you ever attended a masquerade or a Renaissance Fair?  Have you read books that had masquerade scenes in them?  What do you like about masquerades?  I distinctly remember two scenes from movies, the one for Phantom, and a Vincent Price horror movie, The Masque of the Red Death. Weird I know, but my parents let me watch Sunday monster movie matinée and I was glued to that set for Sunday afternoons, a ploy I later learned to keep me from getting too messy when we had guests coming for Sunday dinner. I’ve since read many books set in medieval and renaissance times.

The funnest party I ever attended was a masquerade.  I think this is one reason for the popularity of Halloween parties, we still like to play dress up.

Leave me a comment and share your experiences, and let me know what you think of the excerpt from Kiss of the Dragon.   

Write On my friends, write on!