Monday, June 10th, 2019
Once again, I have lost. Was walking the dogs today in a lovely big park with tons of oak trees, a creek, lots of meadows and tall grasses, and squirrels. Lots of squirrels. The dogs find these highly entertaining and try to yank my arms out of their sockets as often as possible. However, the dogs had little to do with today’s events.
We were walking along a little stretch where there are lots of squirrels and the dogs were running back and forth to eagerly look at them. I was walking along, entertained by the puppies, when I stepped in a squirrel hole. These little guys excavate like crazy and while they do run up and down trees, the live in holes.
The hole I stepped in was really a divot because it had been filled in mostly, which actually made it all the more embarrassing when I fell. Like a freaking tree. I sat myself up and discovered that my left knee was all scraped up and painful. I managed to get up and get dusted off, and limp off into the sunset, so to speak. When I got home, I found I had the beginning of a really impressive bruise on the inside of my left wrist and heel of my palm. It’s growing bigger and more impressive every moment.
And lo, once again, Di lost in the game of Di versus . . . Whatever.
I want to mention that I do have a new book out, called The Witchkin Murders and it’s a fantasy police procedural with some romance. If you’d like to read a couple of chapters for free, click here.
Also, today is my 29th wedding anniversary. My son graduated High School last week. So happy things!
Sunday, June 2nd, 2019
I recently read The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White. It’s a romantic suspense, and I’ve got to say, it’s just about a perfect book.
First, the back cover blurb:
She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.
When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.
To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.
And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.
Like I said, this is just about a perfect book. Why? First, the structure of the story maximizes tension, surprise, and keeps you wondering all the way to the end. Second, the atmosphere. It’s set in a small town in the Canadian winter. The cold seeps into you and the isolation, the dark, and the poverty and lack of resources, along with a sense of claustrophobie: that everyone knows everybody’s business and you have no privacy. Third, the characters. Rebecca’s father comes alive, even after his death. So does Whitney. All the characters are flawed, with compelling stories. Even the secondary characters feel complex and rich. Rebecca is driven, smart, and logical. She’s got a lot in her past to deal with. That’s slowly revealed through the book as she deals with her grief, guilt, and old feelings for Ash.
The relationship between Rebecca and Ash is far more complicated than she is aware of. There’s more in their past than he’s revealed to her, and those secrets continue to drive them apart and as they come to light, implicate him in her father’s murder. Ash is still in love with Rebecca, but a mistake when he was seventeen broke them up and Rebecca can’t forget his betrayal. But she learns more about the past, about a long ago murder, she starts to understand that what she thought she knew was wrong. That she’d interpreted the facts incorrectly.
What I like is that she doesn’t start doubting herself as a cop. She keeps investigating and looking for the truth. She grows and changes, as do many of the other characters.
The addition of Ricky and Tori adds depth and highlights the tension, the atmosphere, and motivations. White weaves all these elements into a complex story that is hard to put down. I highly recommend this book and plan to pick up more of White’s books.
Saturday, June 1st, 2019
Want a chance to support me in a different way and also get some cool chances to read things in draft and before anybody else sees them? Then consider joining my Patreon! It’s a lot of fun. Today I posted the first two chapters of the second Mission: Magic book, The Elf Job.
Saturday, June 1st, 2019
Magicfall is actually the same world as The Horngate Witches books. These books are entirely separate with new characters. Here’s what it’s about:
Four years ago, my world—the world—exploded with wild magic. The cherry on top of that crap cake? The supernatural world declared war on humans, and my life went straight to hell.
I used to be a detective, and a damned good one. Then Magicfall happened, and I changed along with the world. I’m witchkin now—something more than human or not quite human, depending on your perspective. To survive, I’ve become a scavenger, searching abandoned houses and stores for the everyday luxuries in short supply—tampons and peanut butter. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, but anything’s better than risking my secret.
Except, old habits die hard. When I discover a murder scene screaming with signs of black magic ritual, I know my days of hiding are over. Any chance I had of escaping my past with my secret intact is gone. Solving the witchkin murders is going to be the hardest case of my life, and not just because every second will torture me with reminders of how much I miss my old life and my partner, who hates my guts for abandoning the department.
But it’s time to suck it up, because if I screw this up, Portland will be wiped out, and I’m not going to let that happen. Hold on to your butts, Portland. Justice is coming, and I don’t take prisoners.
Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
About the book:
An unlikely pair, an impossible mission, and a hilarious hunt for somebody to love.
Henry was only tasked with fixing the leaky office pipes. So, when a crazy woman barges in and confesses all her secrets like a challenge, he’s faced with two choices: Tell her he’s not the man she’s looking for, or roll with it.
Rachel knows there’s something amiss about her new shrink–he’s far too handsome for starters–but she’s desperate to straighten her life out. With only three weeks to find a date to her best friend’s wedding, she’s willing to try anything. Even rely on a complete stranger to help her find love.
I’ll be honest. I was a little put off at first by Cassy, who I was afraid would be a more prominent character in the book, but luckily, she wasn’t. Mostly she was really obnoxious and Rachel took it laying down in the beginning, which I found annoying. But then she walks into the office and she’s so funny, and so real, and she’s not at all flat or one-dimensional. She’s got some hangups as we all do, but she’s also talented and smart and not at all a doormat. AND she stands up to Cassy at the end, which made me very happy.
I like Henry. Clearly he was an asshole and knew it, but meeting Rachel made him reevaluate himself and his friends. It wasn’t an instant transformation, but one where he grows into love, same as Rachel. His family is amazing, and I’m really hoping Taylor and Neil figure things out. His friends are both obnoxious and wonderful, which I found delightful.
Nobody was perfect, and Henry showed his true colors in a dramatically embarrassing and realistic moment and I may have fallen a bit in love with him at that point, too.
The story is well written, fun, breezy, real, and feel good. It’s fast and I really love Rachel and Henry as people and as a couple. Definitely read this book. I’m going to look up other books by Fray for sure.
Sunday, May 12th, 2019
Today brings you three Di versus events, all of which, Di lost. Okay, the blackberries were a bit of a draw.
In a case of Di v. the dog harness:
Merlin rolled over on my foot while I was scratching his tummy, and he scraped a plastic buckle over the top of my surgical toe scar from November. It, uh, hurt. You know that paralyzing hurt where you can’t swear or do anything but hope it goes away before you pass out? Like that. Nerve pain sucks.
The weird part is that it sent a reaction through the rest of me and now I’m still shaking (literally) a bit, and my head is throbbing. The foot pain has calmed, but walking isn’t a real treat and I’m guessing shoes aren’t my friend right now.
Also, it hurts just to touch it, and yeah, I know, so don’t touch it, idiot. But even something brushing up lightly against it like cloth is fiery.
In the case of Di v. the blackberries and roses:
We have a serious blackberry incursion in the back yard. It came from beneath the fence and then proliferated during the winter. Today I went out to attack it. It covered about twelve feet of fence out to about five feet or so and tangled up in the rosemary, the roses growing there, and has totally smothered the little bed that I can’t hardly remember even existing.
I bravely went out and started snipping and pulling. I wore long pants and leather gloves. I didn’t wear a long sleeve shirt because it was hot and it doesn’t usually help me that much. I chopped and hacked back the rose (which needed pruning in a serious way and then sprayed with neem oil for fungus. I hadn’t pruned it in a really long time.
By the time I was done, we’d filled the green waste can. There’s still a few feet to go and I’m almost to uncovering the smothered bed. I lost a fair bit of blood and am scraped up a bit, but I count it as a good thing. Next thing I need to do is go spray a lot of vinegar on the weeds I can’t seem to pull up. A lot of it is grass, but a lot is just weeds. After that, there will be mulch I think.
In the case of Di v. Merlin and the computer cord:
Merlin got himself wrapped in my laptop cord and yanked it out of my computer. I went to disentangle him and he bit me. Blood and bruising. It was a pinchy sort of bite, so not terribly serious, but painful and annoying.
We’ve an appointment in June with a Veterinarian behaviorist, so I’m really hoping that we start getting this under control.
In other news, I was able to pick roses off six of my bushes and now I have a bunch of roses in the house on my table. I want to grow more flowers that I can bring in the house. I have a bunch of irises blooming, too, and some peonies about to pop. The lilies are coming up and my rhodies are blooming and the dogwood is busting out, too.
We also got fencing to put around the garden to keep the puppies out and hopefully will be putting that up soon. And to keep them out of the blueberries.
I hope you all have a terrific week.
Monday, May 6th, 2019
From the second Mission Magic book, a little chopped out snippet:
“So when Arcadia decides you’re a threat and starts lobbing magic bombs at you, you’ll what?”
He gave a knife smile. “I will open up the heavens and rain hell down on earth.”
I stared, trying to figure out if that was a euphemism or not. “What does that mean?”
“It means that no matter what happens, people are going to die. I can push the hatchlings toward Arcadia, but when they attack me, the hatchlings will go wild. I’ll be killing anyone who comes at me. The hatchlings will run wild and all these innocents will become the banquet the elves destined them to be.”
For a few minutes I’d had a slender hope that with So’la’s help, things wouldn’t go worst case scenario. Now I had to wonder if anybody could be saved at all. It was too much to hope that So’la would be willing to sacrifice himself for anybody else. He wasn’t the type.
“Do you have a point?”
“Get to it then,” I said curtly. I shoved my hands deep into my pockets, my body rigid with tension. What the hell was I going to do? How was I going to keep all these innocent people alive? And all the Arcadia personnel?
Thursday, April 25th, 2019
Dear R.J. Blaine. What’s wrong with you? You’re making our mom neglect us. She kept reading that stupid book—Hypnos—and hardly noticed us. Breakfast was late. Dinner was late. We went to bed late. She barely pet us or talked to us like we weren’t even there. We’re practically skin and bones, right now. So we’re writing to ask you—please, please, please, stop writing books. They are too distracting and she doesn’t need distracting. We are the goodest of boys and deserve better than her lackadaisical care of us. She’s supposed to be at our beck and call 24/7. But your stupid books suck her right in and she wouldn’t put the book down no matter how much we licked, barked, played, or nudged. Those ALWAYS work. We checked her Kindle. She has MORE unread books from you. We tried to delete them but we have no opposable thumbs. If you don’t comply, we will be forced to take drastic measures. Nobody wants that. Well, Merlin does but he’s naturally violent.
Crowley, Merlin, and Vodood
Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
I first learned of Thea Harrison when Patti Briggs said I should read her books. Sadly I was slow to get around to that, but discovered I love her writing very much. Still, with so much going on, I didn’t get to read very many of her books, though they remain waiting in the TBR mountain.
American Witch is her upcoming release, and you can get your hands on a copy on April 29th. I suggest you preorder.
So first, what it’s about. From the back cover copy:
Power can change a person…
For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.
Revenge can shape a person…
Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.
Danger can bring them together…
When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.
As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.
As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?
I loved this book. Found it hard to put down, in fact, which says a lot since I’ve been having trouble reading through to the ends of books for awhile now. This was a compelling read for me.
Molly was an amazing character. Strong, stubborn, flawed, and wholly likeable. She wasn’t a doormat. She’s sharp as hell and brave as well.
Josiah wasn’t your typical asshole. He came off as focused and an ends-justifies-the-means sort of guy. He’d suppressed most of his emotions and to a large extent his humanity over years of seeking his end goal.
Also, neither are super young. They have scars and have earned those scars.
Then he runs into Molly. At first he sees her as a tool, but she doesn’t let him view her that way. She thinks and she argues and she refuses to put up with his habits of being in charge and telling people what to do. This startles him into looking at himself and he doesn’t like what he sees. Their relationship isn’t easy and grows out of respect and admiration. It’s very organic.
The path to their HEA isn’t an easy one and both are willing to walk away at various times, and then they feel compelled to do so for very good reasons. You don’t read the situation and roll your eyes and say oh, please, this could be solved with a simple conversation. No, the obstacles are real and require them both to find ways to bend if they are going to work things out.
I love the magic of the world and the intrigue of the story. There’s more to it to come in future novels. That’s clear. A struggle that will be ongoing and building toward a crescendo at some point. I’m totally planning on being on board for that ride.
I also love the descriptions of their attraction and the sex because its so very emotional. It’s not about the sex and not so much graphic as powerfully written, if that makes any sense.
I highly recommend this book and hope everyone out there will go grab a copy because it’s just that good.
Sunday, April 14th, 2019
I happened to get my Bookbub mailer today, and in it was a bundle for “Alien Mail Order Brides.” That tripped me up. It’s on trend in a lot of ways, but it overlays the old west and even current practice of mail ordering a bride, which I find a bit unexpected. (But why is it never a man? Would gay or lesbian people be able to mail order a spouse? What does marriage mean in an alien culture? Would it be more like a mail order baby-mama?) In these books, the aliens are invaders, and no doubt superlative human-like male specimens with huge dongs and twelve-pack abs and the sexual stamina of a diesel locomotive. From the description, the women are going to be seriously happy in bed.
But the concept made me start thinking of mail order spouses in a futuristic landscape. It made me think of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild (which is amazing and you should read it if you haven’t, and again if you have!). It also made me think of Pat Murphy’s “His Vegetable Wife.” Both are a case of alien ‘marriage,’ (and I define that term very loosely), where the difficulties of mating between two species/cultures is highlighted. (And to be clear, “His Vegetable Wife” is not a case of voluntary ‘marriage,’ but of the essential enslavement of the wife. BUT! The ending is awesome and again, if you haven’t read the story, you must.)
And then I got to thinking about ‘aliens’ and marriage in our own world, with aliens because Others of all sorts, whether othered by race, culture, education, wealth or lack thereof, age, weight, religion, and so on. Romances are often about how two ‘alien’ type of people come together and find commonalities and love. A lot of SF and F is also frequently about ‘aliens’ coming together and working together for a common goal. They also often highlight the fear of the ‘alien.’
Thinking about what I’ve written about, that’s a pretty pervasive theme in what I write. I hadn’t really thought about it that way until I started thinking about the mail order alien brides. But it makes me feel better in general knowing that a lot of books in multiple genres are tackling the ‘alien v. us’ theme and demonstrating that hatred isn’t the way to go, that people are people, no matter what color, shape, language, gender, or anything else that separates them from being the same as me or you.