April 14, 2014
A.J. here again. Since we’re celebrating the release of “Eagle’s Blood” today, we might as well have a final scene as we wind down. This is a scene where Landon patches Brock up from the eagle scratches.
He turned and looked at Brock. A dark stain marred his uniform. “What happened to you?”
Brock glanced down at his shirt. “Shit, I must be bleeding worse than I’d thought.”
Concerned, Landon hurried over to him. “That was your blood on the bird?”
“Probably the fresher stuff.” Brock frowned.
“Take your shirt off and let me clean that up for you.” He rushed over to his supply cabinet and grabbed a bottle of alcohol and one of peroxide.
“You don’t need to,” Brock said. “I can stop by the house and get cleaned up.”
Landon shook his head as he grabbed a towel and ran it under warm water. “It will only take a minute. I take it you put her in your shirt on the way up the cliff.”
“Yeah, since there was only one, it seemed like the thing to do.”
“You kept her warmer.” Landon started back toward Brock. “But it wasn’t the smartest thing to do.” He nearly stopped as Brock laid his uniform shirt on the metal exam table beside him and then pulled off the torn white T-shirt underneath. He’d known Brock for a couple of years, knew he was in good shape, but he’d never dreamed he was hiding such a perfect body under his tan uniform. Blond hair covered the massive chest. Landon took a deep breath and reminded himself that he was going to have to be clinical. He and Brock had a good relationship. It was important for a rehabber to be on good terms with P&W. But spring was always a busy time, and it had been awhile since he’d even had a date, much less touched a man like Brock.
“The important thing for me was saving her life.” Brock laid the T-shirt on top of his uniform.
One of the things Landon liked about Brock was his devotion to the wild animals. A few weeks ago, Brock had searched for the den of a mother mountain lion that had been hit by a car. It had taken him two days to find it, but he’d shown up on Landon’s doorstep with two little cubs that didn’t even have their eyes open. “You’ve had a tetanus shot recently?”
Brock nodded. “We have to stay current on those for work.”
“Good.” Landon reached out with the towel and ran it over Brock’s chest to clean away the blood. Stay clinical, he told himself, trying to ignore his racing pulse and tightening crotch. “I don’t think this is going to need stitches. If she’d been a little older, that might not have been the case. Even little, these birds can do a lot of damage with their feet. The biggest fear now is infection. Nests aren’t the cleanest places in the world.”
“Yeah, I’ll be more careful next time.” Brock’s eyes followed Landon’s hand as it moved across his chest.
Once the blood was cleared away, Landon grabbed the bottle of peroxide. “This is going to sting a bit.” Before Brock could reply, he held the towel under the scratches and poured the peroxide across them.
Brock hissed through clenched teeth as his blue eyes widened. “Yeah, that burns,” he sighed when it was over.
Landon dabbed his chest with the towel. “I don’t think we need the alcohol at this point. But we should bandage the wound.” He went back to his supply cupboard. Turning away from Brock made it easier for him to think. The urge to run his fingers across the massive, furry chest was strong. He didn’t even know how Brock would take any kind of advance from him. But damn, the man was hot.
After grabbing a tube of triple antibiotic ointment, a large bandage, and some medical tape, Landon turned back to Brock. The ranger was still sitting on the stool. Still looking sexy as all hell. “Due to the spread of the scratches, we’re going to need a large bandage. We can use medical tape, which is going to pull hair when it comes off, or we can use vet wrap, but I’ll need to go all the way around you with it.”
Brock thought for a moment. “What colors of vet wrap do you have?”
Landon set the things in his hands down on the table next to the uniform shirt. “What?” That hadn’t been a question he’d been expecting.
“Last time I checked, vet wrap comes in a lot of different colors. If you’ve got blue, red, or dark green, I’ll go for that. Otherwise we’ll just tape it on.”
“I think I’ve got some dark green.” Landon walked to the drawer with the vet wrap. “Most of my patients don’t care about the color of their bandages.”
Brock laughed. “I just don’t want to go with pink or anything weird. I don’t know it would just make me feel strange, even if no one but me knew it was there.”
Damn, that almost sounds like he might be straight. “Okay, let me get some.”
A few minutes later, Landon had the bandage on and had wrapped the forest-green vet wrap around Brock’s bulging chest.
“Thanks.” Brock pulled his uniform shirt back on after rolling up the ruined T-shirt. “You saved me some time going back to the house.”
“Hey, anytime,” Landon replied. He handed the half-roll of vet wrap to Brock after he had his shirt buttoned. “Here, take this. You’ll need to change out the bandage when you go to bed tonight. You’ll probably need to do that for a couple of days. Put some kind of antibiotic ointment on it each time. If the scratches start to look funny, get to the doctor. Eagle claws can carry some really nasty germs.”
Brock nodded. “Okay. Speaking of the eaglet, would it be okay if I stopped in and checked on her from time to time? I like eagles and she’s had a hard start to life.”
Happy with any excuse that would bring Brock back to his house, Landon smiled. “My door is always open. With it being spring, either I’m here or one of the volunteers is all the time.”
Brock smiled. His white teeth sparkled in his rugged, well-tanned, clean-shaven face. “Cool. If I’m in the area, I’ll swing by. I’ll try to call first to make sure you’re here.”
April 14, 2014
Okay folks, you guys are being really quiet on the comments. That means it’s time to break out the pictures. Let’s see if some bird pictures will help folks liven up a bit.
Here’s a handsome barn owl.
This is a ferruginous hawk. They are the largest hawks in North America.
This little guy is a male American Kestrel. Smallest of the falcons in NA.
His name was Zephyr. A male red-tailed hawk I flew for 2 seasons. I hope he found a mate and is out making more awesome hunters.
I’ll wrap up this round of bird pictures with a lovely snowy owl.
As much as hot romance plays a large part of “Eagle’s Blood” so too do the birds and other wildlife in the book. I’m hoping I did everyone justice. We’ll be wrapping this whole thing up in another couple of post. If there’s more you want to know about the book, Colorado, wildlife, I might even answer questions about me. But you all know that authors are kinda boring.
So what is your favorite wild critter?
April 14, 2014
A.J. back again. So I’m sitting here, just finished up my taxes, you know how writers are with deadlines…but looking out my window, there’s a fair amount of rapidly melting snow outside and the mule deer are wandering past. It all reminds me of the day I started writing “Eagle’s Blood”. I already had an idea for the book, Landon the wildlife rehabber would fall in love with Brock the P&W officer. I just had to come up with a really cool way to start the book. Last year, about this time, we had a major spring blizzard come through. The spring snows in the Rockies can be some of the worst. Sitting here at my computer, watching the snow blow in an almost horizontal way, the opening scene came to life.
Here’s the opening scene from “Eagle’s Blood”
The frigid wind lashed Parks and Wildlife officer Brock Summers as he rappelled down the cliff face. Even his heavy Carhartts over several thick layers weren’t enough to totally buffer him from the late-spring blizzard blasting against him. It was all he could do to hold on to the rope as he slid toward the eagle nest below him.
“How are you doing?” Dara Silverstein, his backup, asked through the radio.
“Cold,” Brock replied. “But I’m almost there.” Glancing below, he could see the large stick nest in the same place it had rested for many years. Green pine branches poking out of the snow on the nest told him the nest was in use this year. He didn’t see the customary shape of a brooding eagle. The fears that drove him to do the dangerous climb grew stronger.
“Just be careful,” Dara said. “We don’t even know if this is the right nest.”
“I am being careful.” Brock found the ledge with the tips of his toes. There wasn’t anything to get hold of to steady himself as the wind tried to pull him off the cliff. He struggled to keep his balance for a moment as he took a cautious step toward the nest. There was still no sign of the parent birds. Even in the blizzard, they should’ve appeared as soon as he and Dara approached the cliff. He’d known this pair for several years, most of the time he’d been stationed in Teller County, Colorado. They were extremely aggressive. That was why he wore the big clunky helmet that provided almost no warmth but would protect him if either of the golden eagles decided to dive-bomb him.
“I’m at the nest,” he said.
“No mother bird,” he replied, digging into the snow with one hand while holding on to his climbing rope with the other. His gloved fingers touched something that didn’t feel like a stick. He carefully uncovered the frozen remains of an eagle chick. “I’ve got one chick, looks to be about three weeks old. Frozen.”
“Damn,” Dara replied.
As Brock lifted the chick aside, something under it moved. He looked closer. A smaller eaglet shivered in the wind that now blasted it. “Got a younger one, alive.” Brock tried to move around so his body would block some of the wind from getting to the little eagle. Next to the tiny one, there was a third chick that wasn’t so lucky. Parts of it were missing.
“Do you need me to lower a basket down?” Dara asked.
“No, there’s just the one,” Brock replied. “I’ll carry it out. Besides, with this wind, I don’t think the basket would be safe.” He pulled his right glove off with his teeth so he could unzip his Carhartt and get the jacket under it open. Finally he’d opened all the way down to his T-shirt. The little eagle nipped at him as picked it up.
Brock chuckled. “Still got some spunk left in you.” The eaglet still had a bit of food in its crop. Glancing at the third chick that had lost pieces, Brock knew where the food had come from. He tucked the bird against his chest and closed his layered clothing around it. The little ball of fluff moved a couple of times, then settled in to sleep as the warm darkness surrounded it.
With a parting frown at the two chicks that hadn’t survived, Brock moved to the edge of the ledge where he could start back up the cliff face. He didn’t want to upset the actual structure of the nest. Eagles, maybe even the one he currently cradled, might want to use it in the future. It was in a prime location with plenty of prey around.
“Coming up,” he called to Dara as he grabbed the rope and started the long, slippery climb back to the top of the cliff.
“Just be careful,” she said. “If anything, the wind up here is getting worse.”
“Don’t tell me that,” Brock replied. “I expect it to be sunny and warm by the time I get up there.” Talking to Dara helped take his mind off the treacherous climb. If he wasn’t talking, he might over think every part of what he was doing. To make it to the top, he had to relax and just let his body do what he did on a regular basis. He’d been climbing cliffs since his teen years. This was just another climb, like hundreds before it.
Dara laughed. “Yeah, I think I can convince myself it’s sunny and warm up here.”
“Hey, at least it’s not as cold as it was a couple of months ago. You know, when we had that stakeout in the blind with the high around zero.” He let his feet find the holds they needed to get up the cliff. It would’ve been so much easier in thinner, flexible shoes, but his feet would’ve been numb from cold before he’d even reached the nest if he’d done that. Even the foot warmers he currently had in wouldn’t have helped.
“There is that. I don’t think I would’ve agreed to help you then. I would’ve made one of the other guys come with you. That elk stakeout was bad enough without wind.”
Brock continued to find the footing he needed. “Yeah, but we got the poachers that time.”
“Yeah, we did.”
Brock’s left foot slipped and threw him off-balance . He grabbed hold of the rope to keep from sliding down, but he swung a bit. Deep in his shirt, the eagle moved. Its small, sharp talons tried to find something to cling to. It dug into Brock’s chest.
“What’s wrong?” Dara asked.
“Lost my footing and the little guy decided to hold on to my chest. Glad he’s not much bigger, he could really do some damage.” Finding his footing again, Brock tried to ignore the pain and continue up the cliff face.
“Geez, I thought it was something major. I thought you were Mr. Macho Stud who could handle a little bit of pain now and then.”
“Tell you what,” Brock chuckled. “Let’s have this little guy grab hold of your tit and see what it feels like.”
“Tell him to aim right and you can have an interesting piercing.”
Brock was getting near enough to the top of the cliff that he could just barely make out what Dara was saying, over the wind, without the radio. “Nope, don’t really want to get a piercing from an eagle. Although, it would make an interesting conversation point to go along with that scar on my ass from that bear.”
Dara laughed. “I think most folks would rather you flash your chest at them than your ass any day.”
Brock cleared the top of the cliff. Dara offered him a hand to steady himself. The wind was worse than it had been down the cliff face.
“Let’s get back to the trucks.” Brock pulled the rope up and coiled it around his arm as Dara untied it from the ponderosa pine it was anchored to.
April 14, 2014
Eagles, the largest birds of prey, have inspired an array of emotions in primates since the beginning of time. Certainly, all humans fear raptors flying toward them, and as a falconer, that was something I had to overcome. Predators, and eagles are predators, think it’s funny if you flinch. However, way back down the evolutionary tree, our ancestors were much smaller and the ancestors of the eagles were much larger. In the natural world, that made us prey. Fossilized remains have been found showing evidence of eagle predation on proto humans. So, it’s natural for us to be afraid.
Once we evolved far enough that we came off the eagles’ readily-available menu, we looked at the eagles with awe, emulating their powerful spirit. They inspired people to fly, literally, and sometimes with rather disastrous results before airplanes were invented. In time, they became symbols of power. The king of the gods, Zeus had an eagle as his symbol. The bald eagle is the symbol of the United States.
Across our globe, there are approximately 63 species of eagles. The number changes a bit due to new scientific data. There is a lot of data that shows the ferruginous hawk of the American plains should be an eagle, but is still classified as a hawk. Eagles range in length from 16 to 39 inches and weigh from one to 16 pounds. Those 60 some odd birds are broken up into two sub families and twenty two genera. The largest genus, Aquila, includes the two eagle species we have here in North America the bald eagle and the golden eagle.
Eagles are extremely opportunistic and prey on everything from ground squirrels up to large monkeys, from fish to geese, even the occasional road kill. As apex predators, eagles take what they can catch. They are highly intelligent and use that to their advantage. In Spain, a group of Imperial eagles, a subspecies of golden eagles, have learned to take chamois sheep off of mountain sides, then soar back to their nest carrying a sheep that they wouldn’t be able to lift if it weren’t for the strong upslope wind currents along the cliffsides.
Here in the U.S., eagles taught us a hard lesson. As apex predators, they warned us of things going wrong in our world. Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, farmers routinely sprayed the pesticide DDT on crops. We soon learned that it didn’t break down and instead contaminated our rivers and lakes. Fish and water fowl that lived in and on the water became toxic and the bald eagles, who preyed on the contaminated fish and water fowl, fell into a rapid decline. Where once bald eagles were a common sight, in just a few decades, their population crashed to where their very survival was endangered. With a lot of work from environmentalists, zoos, and falconers, the bald eagle once again soars the skies over North America, but its tale is a precautionary one to watch what we are doing to our environment before it’s too late.
Eagles have been used in the sport of falconry for millennia. In medieval times, they were reserved for emperors since they were viewed as the emperor of birds. In Europe today, they are bred in captivity and a large number are flown by falconers in many different countries. In Mongolia, eaglers have many cultural traditions revolving around their birds. Here in the United States, where the Native Americans still revere the eagle as the messenger of the Gods, we have very strict regulations regarding the use of golden eagles for falconry and bald eagles are not allowed. Only a few falconers, in the U.S., fly eagles, and they must acquire a special permit in addition to their regular falconry license. The birds can only be taken from the wild under special conditions. It takes a lot to fly an eagle, but those who do think it’s worth the work.
Eagles top the evolutionary chain that began millions of years ago with dinosaurs. If you look into the eyes of an eagle, and you understand that in their mind they can still eat you. You are little more than a strangely-dressed ape, and monkeys are tasty. With their dagger-like talons, and sharp hooked beak, they are the embodiment of a predator. But beyond that, they are the ultimate in grace and power. Watching an eagle swoop out of a clear sky to take down a running jack rabbit, or scoop up a huge rainbow trout, is something you’ll never forget. Even today, these birds inspire the human soul in ways that no other creature on the planet ever will. If you get the chance go see them in their natural habitat, it’s a sight that will leave its mark on you forever.
Does anyone have any stories/encounters with eagles that they’d like to share? Eagles are one of the many birds that inspire me everyday. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than happening to come across an eagle on my day to day travels. And if you can’t tell, I love writing about them too.
April 14, 2014
Greetings, A.J. Marcus here, taking over the Dreamspinner blog on release day of my latest book “Eagle’s Blood” which is book one of the Mountain Spirit series.
“Eagle’s Blood” follows wildlife rehabilitator Landon and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Brock as they fight to save eagles from poachers and in the process find the love that’s been sitting right in front of them for several years.
I promise not to spend all afternoon talking about the book. There are so many more interesting things to talk about that helped me write the book. In the past, I was part of a wild bird rehabilitation center. I did a lot of photography for them, kept up their website, did education programs, releases and even occasionally actually rehabbed birds. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to get wildlife that’s been injured back to where they belong. What kinds of things would you like to know about?
I’ll try and post some pictures of different critters and make this as interesting as possible. Toward the end of everything, I’ll post a blurb from the book and we’ll have a contest for an e-copy. I’m fairly flexible today, so what do you want to talk about? If you don’t tell me, I might be just tempted to post bird pictures all day.
April 4, 2014
I’d like to thank everyone for popping in and don’t forget you can leave comments until Sunday. I’ll pick a winner that morning and announce who it is on this blog.
I’d like to thank Trish from Mrs. Condit & Friends for the pre-release review and Roberta from Love Bytes Reviews for the release day review. You were both very kind and I’m so glad you enjoyed reading Electric Candle.
I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend and happy reading!
April 4, 2014
While Anne and I were working out the details of our world and the supernatural things within it, we wanted to make our vampires a little different from the rest. Forge is full of surprises. He has allergies, loves his caffeine and has a dog.
Moose is a big German Shepard mix and the current canine to steal Forge’s heart. He’s an important character in the book. Forge has found companionship with dogs throughout his whole life, and they are important to him. There is nothing quite like the unconditional love of a pet. Most of my books have at least one four legged character. I like to use a character’s interaction with a pet to show a side of them that maybe hard to otherwise see. Oh, and Moose definitely has Forge wrapped around his paws.
This is my best girl, Rosie.
In this picture Rosie is diligently guarding my back yard from the squirrels on the neighbor’s garage. I’m sharing this picture because the day I took it I was writing Electric Candle and Moose was a main part of the chapter.
I love to hear about people’s pets, tell me about yours.
April 4, 2014
I’ve been asked on more than one occasion where the title Electric Candle came from and how does it relate to the plot and characters?
I’m one of these writers that has themes to my work. I don’t really plan them, but they seem to happen in every story. I also can’t write a book without a title. I admire other writers who write the book, then name it. I can’t do that, the first thing I type when I begin a new project is the name. And that name is written in stone. So far I’ve been lucky and never been asked to change a book title. I’m not sure I could.
Electric Candle is a title with a few significant meanings to the story. Another question I ask throughout the book is how does a being who lives for centuries do so productively. How does that person deal with the loss of loved ones? Each of the characters has different coping mechanisms of course, because they are different people. In Forge’s case something he prides himself on is being able to move forward with the times. He has people in his life that have been there for decades and help ground him. He also has an innate love of discovering and appreciating new things. So, while he has a classic car, he also has and knows how to use a smartphone. His anchor might be a long time love, but he’s challenged by new people and situations.
Candles are old school, low tech and have been around a long time. They are still used and useful, but their role in daily life has changed.
Electricity is newer, more high tech and has more potential for growth.
Forge is old but has learned to adapt to new situations. His soul mate, is a brand new vampire with no clear idea of what he’s become. Together they have to find a path, blending their strengths to overcome their weaknesses.
Above all Electric Candle is a love story. In it I try to convey the ideas that change can be good and old thoughts and new ideas have a place together, they can be harmonious.
Do you like a title that has some meaning, even a hidden one to a book?
April 4, 2014
Anne and I have rules for our vampires and how they pair bond, or soul mate bond. I felt the need to know how such a thing might actually happen. One question raised in Electric Candle is what if the two people destined to be soul mates didn’t bond? I actually did quite a bit of research into pair bonding in actual species and how pheromones affect us all. Even though I was writing about a type of creature that is purely fictional I wanted to have some aspects about the how and why vampires do what they do based in fact.
Forge learns that his soul mate is the person he needs and who complements him, not necessarily the guy he already loves. This presented a sticky situation for all three characters: Forge, his lover Declan and his newly discovered soul mate. I used pheromones to draw Forge and his soul mate together. Before they actually meet those pheromones had an interesting and at times troublesome affect on Forge.
Between the eating blood for lunch and the ins and outs and complications of a soul mate I did a fair amount of research. Often people are surprised by how much research goes into a piece of urban fantasy fiction. What’s your opinion, do you like your fantasy completely made-up or is it better with some kernel of fact as a basis?
April 4, 2014
In Electric Candle one of Forge’s best friends also works on the police force with him. He’s none other than Lucas Coate, the city coroner and resident vampire physiology expert. Oh, yeah, and Lucas is a fun loving werewolf. It’s through Lucas we learn some interesting facts about vampires.
For instance, for them blood is food. In The Sleepless City series our vampires consume mainly animal blood, human blood is like heroin to them. Anne is really the vampire lore expert and I’m sure I drove her nuts wanting to know how all these legends worked. Lucas wanted to know too. Our vampires eat regular food and have their favorite dishes and beverages, to them the blood is a high power supplement. Like a protein shake. In reality blood is designed by nature NOT to be a food source, otherwise all us mammals would be slurping each other’s blood. There are creatures such as fleas and ticks who find sustenance in blood. There is also the…………wait for it……YES! Vampire bat!
This little darling right here: this picture is from the National Geographic. I found this nifty article on vampire bats for anyone interested. Lucas’s theory is the vampires themselves perpetuated the legend about them turning into bats. The vampires in Electric Candle are masters at hiding in plain sight.
For the record, I had a burger and fries for lunch. One of Forge’s favorite meals. He does like his burger served very rare though.