November 6, 2015
Celebrating the Release of A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy!
I have a unique writing background in a number of ways, not the least of which is that I was raised by a prolific author. I have also written in multiple mainstream venues for years, and spent way too much time on movie sets watching films come to life for the silver screen. Though I write for Harmony Ink Press and have spent the past four years concentrating on young adult works, I write primarily for adults—surprise!
Shira and I love to write romance but when we sat down to write A Solitary Man, we wanted to write more than a love story. We wanted to write a story to raise awareness about two very important issues: youth placed in solitary confinement and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Both have devastating effects on our youth of today and leave everlasting invisible scars. In A Solitary Man, assistant district attorney, Chance Fairchild, and deputy sheriff, Xavier Constantine, are hot on the trail of a trafficking cartel whose interest isn’t only drugs, but also that of trafficking children. The story rocks some seriously hot sex and romance, but it also rocks a great mystery, spine-tingling suspense, and a lot of action—centered on these two serious issues.
While I have written GLBT content in the past, I’ve only written for the M/M romance community for a couple of years—and young adult works at that. When I peruse Dreamspinner’s wonderful library of works, it is readily apparent how much we, as authors, and you as readers, have accomplished to advance the rights of the LGBT community.
I’m old. I remember when no child protection laws existed, I remember segregation, and I remember when it was illegal to be gay in most states. Hell, I remember witchcraft was still illegal. While there have been qualified advances in the law over the past sixty years—most in respect to discrimination and hate crimes—progress in the recognition of rights and acceptance of the GLBTQIAP community has been slow. Very slow. In fact, most of the advancement has occurred in the past ten years. By way of example, intersex people were only granted negligible rights in 2006. We’re only now beginning to recognize the rights of transgender and transsexual individuals. And all of the aforementioned, from children’s rights to the rights of GLBTQIAP individuals is because we and our allies have come together to protect human beings.
The Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage is a historic event, to be sure. But it’s more than that. It ensures that every generation alive today lives in a time of profound change—not only one of change in perspective, but also one of behavior and the law. Now, more than ever before. As authors and readers, we bring awareness to the world. That makes me proud and I hope to bring you works that inspire you, give you strength and, above all, give you hope. Read more books! As tough as it may be, talk to people. Engage them in meaningful conversation. We’re changing the world one book at a time!
Comment below and let us know how else you think we’re changing the world for the better and don’t forget to enter for a chance to win! Thank you for celebrating the release of A Solitary Man with us! Go buy the book, read it, and become involved!
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Thursday, October 29th Aisling is at The
Novel Approach Reviews
with A Brief and Frank Discussion of A Solitary Man
Friday, October 30th Aisling is at Jo
& Isa Love Books
with the Notes Behind the Music Playlist for A Solitary Man
Tuesday, November 4th Aisling is at Bike Book Reviews
Wednesday, November 5th
Aisling is at Joyfully Jay
Shira is at Prism Book
Friday, November 6th RELEASE DAY CELEBRATION!
Yarning to Write Kermit Flail with lovely Amy Lane!
Aisling is at Divine
Aisling is on Dreampsinner’s Blog
Saturday, November 7th Aisling is at Love Bytes Reviews
Sunday, November 8th
Shira is at My Fiction
FACEBOOK CHAT with Shira & Aisling 2-5pm EST
Monday, November 9th Aisling is at My Fiction Nook
Tuesday, November 10th Shira is at Bike Book Reviews
Wednesday, November 11th Shira is at Scattered Thoughts
and Rogue Words
TWEET, COMMENT, AND VISIT A SOLITARY
MAN’S FACEBOOK PAGE
TO BE ENTERED TO WIN A TOTE
SIGNED BOOKS FROM SHIRA &
October 21, 2015
To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.
Big Bad Wolf (A Portland Pack Chronicles Flash Fic)
It wasn’t often Avery and Jaden’s schedules allowed them time to shift and play together, but on Halloween, they got a rare opportunity to run and pounce in Forest Park.
As Avery stripped, shivering at the blustery wind, he took a moment to admire Jaden’s animal form. Simply put, Jaden was beautiful. Where Dylan, Avery’s mate, was a powerhouse of a wolf, large and heavily muscled, Jaden was compact, built more for speed than brute strength. Shades of cream and russet accented his shiny auburn coat. He lifted his rear, tail wagging, and yipped encouragingly, his amber eyes gleaming with mischief.
Avery smiled and stepped out of his briefs, letting the change overtake him. The trees swirled as he shrank into his hedgehog form, his spines bursting forth with the familiar flash of pain. When it was over, he sneezed at the overwhelming scents of loamy soil, moss, and decaying leaves.
A wet tongue dragged over his snout and then Jaden nuzzled at him gently. Hedgehogs weren’t tactile creatures like wolves, but Avery nuzzled back, drawing in Jaden’s sweet, musky smell.
For a while they romped through the trees, Avery scurrying on his tiny paws, and Jaden loping ahead before circling back to keep pace with him. With a wolf as his companion, any predators that might have eyed Avery for a snack kept their distance.
Eventually they returned to where they’d left their clothing. Avery shifted to his human form and sat to reorient himself until the cold compelled him to start yanking on his clothes.
“That was fun,” Jaden said once they were dressed. “I need a shower before we go out, though.”
Avery nodded. “Me too. I have a surprise for Dylan tonight.”
Jaden arched his eyebrows. “You didn’t mention any surprises.”
“Wait and see.”
“Is he meeting you at Wolfhound?”
“Yeah. He had to go look at Miss Betty’s car. She’s helping me by making him stay for dinner.”
Jaden smiled and shook himself, sending a dried leaf flying from his ginger hair. “Well, I’ll see you there. Eight o’clock?”
“Yep. But I might be fashionably late.”
Jaden snorted. “When aren’t you?”
Avery grinned cheekily. “Just have your camera ready.”
Two hours later, he hesitated in front of Wolfhound. Two men stood smoking to the left of the entrance and they eyed him with open fascination as Avery adjusted his skimpy costume.
Here goes nothing.
Chin raised, he swept into Wolfhound. As usual, hair metal greeted him. Avery ignored the screeching guitars, eager to see Dylan after spending the day apart.
Sensing his mate’s presence on the other side of the bar near the pool tables, Avery hurried his steps. He ignored the side glances and comments from the other patrons. He wasn’t the only one in costume, but he stood out for several reasons.
Jaden and Sawyer saw him first. Quiet, implacable Sawyer choked on his mouthful of beer while Jaden let out a bark of a laugh that drew everyone’s attention.
When Dylan spotted Avery, his eyes bugged. Avery approached him and slowly spun around so Dylan had a view of the back of his costume. He shook his ass, swinging the fake bushy tail suspended from the broad belt above his hips.
“What. The hell. Are you wearing?” Dylan sounded constipated.
Avery shot him a coy look over his shoulder—which Dylan missed, as he was staring at Avery’s tail in horror.
“I’m the big bad wolf.” Avery turned to face his mate. “Sort of.”
The costume was a loose interpretation. It consisted of a skintight gray romper with a low-cut halter top that left most of Avery’s chest bare. Furry leg warmers made up his hind paws and a hood with big ears and tassels completed the outfit. Avery hadn’t bothered tucking, and the material hid nothing. Both his bulge and lower asscheeks were on full display. Any other time, he wouldn’t have been caught dead in something so tacky, but it was Halloween. If there was ever time for a trashy costume, it was now.
“I brought you something too.” Avery dug into his messenger bag and pulled out the sweater, nose, and ears he’d purchased for Dylan. The sweater had fake spines and padding on the back, meant to mimic the look of a rounded hedgehog.
Dylan snapped his jaw shut. “Fuck no.”
Around him, their friends watched with open amusement. Too bad Lucas wasn’t there. He would’ve at least leered at Avery a little.
Avery pouted. “Come on. Don’t be a spoilsport.”
“Nope.” Dylan turned away.
Avery narrowed his eyes at his back. Dylan could play hard to get if he wanted, but Avery would wear him down.
He started his attack with a lot of bending—over the pool table to line up a shot, down to the floor when he “accidentally” dropped his cue stick. He felt eyes on his ass every time, and once or twice, he might have wiggled his hips a little just to set the tail swinging.
Finally, Dylan growled and snatched the bag off the table where Avery had set it.
“Fine,” he snapped. “I’ll wear the damn costume if you stop flashing your ass! I don’t want anyone else seeing what’s mine.”
Avery widened his eyes and amped up his Southern twang. “Me? Flashing? I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean.”
Dylan glared. “Shut it.”
Avery watched as Dylan pulled on the sweater and then set the ears on top of his head. The nose came last, and it made Dylan look absolutely ridiculous. Avery smiled gleefully and pounced on his mate. He kissed Dylan, not caring that Wolfhound wasn’t a gay bar. No one in their group would mind, and Avery didn’t care about anyone else.
Dylan growled again and dragged him close. “Such a brat,” Dylan whispered against his mouth. “I oughta put you over my knee.”
Light flashed and a shutter clicked as someone nearby took a picture.
Avery laughed and nipped at Dylan’s lower lip. “Maybe later. And if you’re a good boy, I’ll keep the tail on.”
Meet Dylan and Avery in Prickly Business, now available from Dreamspinner Press.
And look for the sequel, Prickly By Nature, on November 19th!
Piper Vaughn Bio
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life… even if it’s only in a book.
Visit Piper at:
October 21, 2015
Hi! I’m Evelyln Esrig and today I’m releasing my novella Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings. It’s a strange little book about loss, recovery, hope, … and cannibalism. If you watch NBC’s Hannibal I’m pretty sure my story will seem tame by comparison.
The idea for Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings came about ages ago, when I rediscovered the Consensual Cannibalism case. The story of a cannibal and his willing prey first cropped up in the news cycle in the early 2000s back when I was in high school. Apparently a two German men named Armin Meiwes and Bernd-Jurgen Brandes met in a cannibal forum and arranged to meet so that Meiwes could butcher and eat Brandes, with Brandes’ full and enthusiastic consent. Needless to say, my friends and I, geek scifi/horror nerds the lot of us, were obsessed for weeks. But like many teenagers, our attention spans were fleeting and we eventually moved on.
Years later, I had a shiny new creative writing degree and a lot of free time on my hands when the story crossed my path again. It popped up on something like Facebook or Twitter in February 2012. Once again I was enthralled. Consensual cannibalism. How was that possible? The ethical ramifications alone made for some pretty meaty material.
I almost began writing about a cannibal but then I thought “What about the man he ate? What must his family think of this person they thought they knew willingly consenting to be consumed? What must it be like to be that person’s next of kin?” and suddenly I had a whole different story on my hands. I had a story about someone who lost someone they loved for reasons beyond their understanding and that was a story I wanted to explore more than I wanted to get inside the mind of a killer.
I wanted to be as non-judgmental as possible. I wanted to try and understand. I wanted to understand what would motivate someone to commit the crime of cannibalism, assisted suicide by cannibalism, and what it was like to have someone disappear from your life without a trace. I tried to make it about empathy and rebuilding and recovery. I parked myself at my local Cheesecake Factory listening to My Chemical Romance and The Arctic Monkeys and ate a lot of complimentary bread as I worked.
But what started as a simple story about being left behind evolved from an experiment in fiction for me in the spring of 2012 when someone close to me committed suicide. Needless to say, suddenly I was much deeper in touch with my main character than I had been before. The story became an exercise in acceptance and understanding something that is beyond comprehension – How do we come with the reality that sometimes people choose to leave us in violent and tragic ways? How do we move on? How do we heal? These are the questions that I tried to explore in this story. I don’t know if I accomplished it but I know that when I finished writing it, I certainly felt healed.
Have you ever had an experience like that – where you fell into something that helped you just the way you needed in the least likely way? It’s a beautiful thing and I’d love to hear about it.
October 1, 2015
Hello, I’m Amber Kell. Dreamspinner Press was kind enough to let me post about my new release Keys. I’m super excited about this book. Keys is my first story that is over sixty thousand words long. I know some authors can type that out half asleep while balancing a baby on their right knee and petting the dog with their left foot, but for me it took a lot of effort.
Dreamspinner said I should write about what inspired me. I don’t usually have an answer for that. I get ideas walking down by the water, driving my kids to school or doing laundry, however this time I actually have an answer to that question. My ideas about the City of Keys started when I took the Underground Tour in Seattle. I live in Seattle for those of you who’ve never heard of me and I get a lot of inspiration from the city. Anyway, the Underground Tour is where they take you below the city streets and show you what it was like when it was built over when fire swept through downtown in the 19th century. They show you old shop fronts and explain about the history of the city. It’s really quite a good tour if you happen to be in town.
My tour beneath the ground had me thinking about what else could be buried. When I went to London I walked the narrow cobblestone streets and took in the history and began to think steampunkish thoughts. I have to admit I don’t read a lot of steampunk so let’s go that mine is steampunk inspired and leave it at that. It was my trip to Paris that solidified my ideas. After visiting the Paris Catacombs I went to a church crypt. Walking down the halls of the crypt and seeing all the locked iron doors had my idea for Keys springing to life.
I asked myself what if a city locked all its magic underneath the city streets?
That is the thought that triggered my City of Keys trilogy. A city where magic is considered too dangerous to be out in the world so they chained it below and away from its citizens. How would if affect their way of life and what would happen if it suddenly became free? Most books start with a what if and that was mine. Check out Keys to find out what I did with that concept. Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6897
I’ll be giving away a $25.00 Amazon GC to one lucky person. To enter the contest, tell me what magical ability you’d find the most useful.
September 30, 2015
Okay folks, I think this is the last post. We’re running a bit late and by the time I get home, it’ll be too late to wrap this up. I hope everyone has enjoyed getting to know a bit more about the three hot guys of “The Kachina Job” as well as a little insight into their alternate shapes. To close this out, I’m going to share some brand new pictures that I took this afternoon while we were out stalking elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even when I’m out hunting with a camera, it triggers that primal hunter inside me and gets the blood going.
The crowds are less during the week than on the weekend…just image what a mess this would be in a couple of days.
This little blue bird has got a major attitude about him. I can just imagine him getting up in someone’s face, snapping his feathers and throwing shade.
These two were determined to chase each other around for a while. Lots of bugling and showing off.
Just a bit of bugling.
Couldn’t resist the trees in the background. Gotta love the changing aspens.
A young guy still wet from digging in the creek.
So folks, thanks for stopping by and finding out about “The Kachina Job” and getting a look at fall in Colorado. I’ll check the comments on the previous post later and pick a winner for the free e-book. I also need to ask people’s patience with my pictures. These are fresh out of the camera and haven’t had any editing, and we all know that writers are only as good as their editors.
In Parting, here’s the buy link for “The Kachina “ now go out and prowl around a bit.
September 30, 2015
So we’re over halfway through with this round of the blog take over for the release of “The Kachina Job”. Normally I do these blog post days sitting at my computer at the house, posting interesting things and being really engaging folks. Today we’re doing things a little different. I’m out exploring Estes Park Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove a couple of hours for the elk rut. It’s our second trip up this year, the first one was rather lack luster and this one is still a bit of a disappointment compared to previous years.
Rocky Mountain National Park, RMNP, is one of the best spots around for wildlife viewing. Today we saw a few elk, some blue birds and mule deer. The action with the elk herds was low. Just a few big bulls starting to gather harems. Several times we thought we were about to have some action between the bulls, and they broke it off before things got interesting.
At one point we had a young bull…probably 3 years old or so based on his size and weak bugling. He started walking toward a spot where an older bull had gathered a dozen or so cows. The big bull walked a few steps toward him, bugled, marked territory for a second and the young guy turned and walked away. The only plus to him walking away was that he came closer and gave us the opportunity to get some better shots.
As usual during rut, the elk were close enough to the roads that if you were lucky and parked close enough you didn’t have to walk far…the problem that’s often encountered is there are more people than elk. At one point we had to park about half a mile a way and hike in to the hot spot where other photographers were set up snapping pictures like crazy.
I’ve done some hiking in the area where I envision Read Peak, New Mexico. It’s a much different environment from what I went through today. Coyotes, mule deer, mountain lion and jack rabbits abound…(jack rabbits..abounding…) okay, I’ll go on. In a lot of little towns, be they mountain, desert or whatever, the residents are more accustomed to encounters with nature than folks in the big city have had. Me personally, I think this makes life fun and exciting. I love sitting at my computer, looking out the window and seeing deer, coyotes, goshawks and more wander through the yard.
With the predatory shifters, they embrace nature and thrill in the hunt. I can connect with the idea of that. Shifters touch on our more primitive selves and I think that’s where the allure of them comes from. The call to that part of our brains that need to break free of the urban jungle that so many of us are trapped in.
Now here’s our contest. Leave me a comment and tell me about any wild animal encounters you’ve had, and or the thing that really attracts you to shifters. In a couple hours I’ll figure out a random comment to get an e-copy of “The Kachina Job” So leave me comments.
In the next post, if I can convince my camera to give up some good pictures, I’ll post them to show how my afternoon has gone.
September 30, 2015
Dangerous, but wise?
This time we’re going to take a look at our owl shifter, Shannon O’Flaherty. Personally, I like Shannon better than the other two…don’t tell them that, we’re not supposed to play favorites. Shannon is the sheriff of Red Peak, New Mexico. He moved away from Albuquerque after a disastrous breakup. When the opportunity came along for a raise and a move, he jumped on the chance. Shannon is also an enforcer in the paranormal world. He struggles to keep the regular humans from discovering that there really are things that go bump in the night. When he answers an alarm call at one of the local residences and spies a mountain lion running off through the desert night with a backpack on, he realizes the situation calls for his enforcer position and not just his sheriff’s badge. As the situation turns out to not be a cut and dried one, he adapts quickly but is very surprised when he bonds to first Daniel, then finds Phillip fitting into their lives as well.
Shannon is a fairly stable and straightforward guy. Having the two cat shifters around upsets his life in ways he could never dream of, but he quickly finds that he welcomes the change and chaos the two men bring to his mostly quiet existence. The biggest question is if his deputy will handle things in a civilized manner, or will she shoot first and ask questions later.
Just below the surface of Shannon’s human form hovers the deadly talons of an eagle owl. Owls are found in every environment in the world, save for Antarctica. The eagle owls are the largest of the owls. Here in North America, we only have one species of eagle owl, the great horned owl. Great horned owls are the classic hoot owl. Not many people actually see them, or even know where they despite the fact there are a ton of them living in the cities around us. Great horned owls occupy the same ecological niche as red tailed hawks. It’s a fairly safe bet that if you see red tailed hawks during the day, there are great horned owls at night. They and the other owls go to great lengths to make sure the rodent populations don’t grow out of control.
Now, let’s see how Shannon feels about things:
He laughed again. It felt good to laugh. Until that moment, he didn’t realize he hadn’t been doing much of that recently. “Elisa, you do have a way with words. Okay, as long as it stays fun, I’ll keep them around, if they want to be kept around.”
“So you haven’t run background checks on them yet, then? It might be a good idea. Help you find out if either one of them is keeping anything from you that could come back to bite you.”
She didn’t know about his very powerful hearing and how hard it was for people to lie to him. “No, I haven’t run background checks on them. I’m trusting them to be honest right now. I’m not you. I don’t have to know everything about everyone in my life.”
“Yeah, but those background checks can come in handy. They kept me from falling in with that sexy polygamist last year, or that biker who was wanted for armed robbery a few months ago.”
“I’d almost forgotten about those guys,” Shannon lied. He remembered all of her boyfriends. “You catch more criminals in your bed than we do in the streets. Maybe we should hang a sign on your porch to let them all know they should stop by for the night. You can become the new criminal-trap motel. Criminals check in, but they always leave in cuffs.”
So have any of you encountered owls in your journey through our world?
We’ll be back here in a little while with a few questions and a give away.
September 30, 2015
A Most Dangerous Cat
We’re back with another shifter. Daniel Hernandez is a jaguar shifter who’s led a less than savory life up until he meets Phillip and Shannon. Daniel embraces the power that comes with his jaguar. He’s made his living doing jobs of various kinds for the highest bidder. He does care what the job is, as long as it pays well. He’s seeking to move up in the world and so he takes the job to steal the wolf kachina when it comes his way. It sounds like an easy job, and would’ve been if Phillip had beat him to the house.
As far as his love life goes, Daniel treats it like he does the rest of his life, fast and easy. He’s not above screwing his way in and out of various situations as long as he doesn‘t form any lasting ties to the people he’s screwing. Sex for Daniel is loose and just a way to get what he wants. He’s very surprised when Sex with Phillip and Shannon turns out to be more than just a little fling.
Inside Daniel resided, pound for pound, the most powerful big cat in the world. Jaguars might be the third largest big cat, only African lions and tigers are larger, but jaguars are the more powerful and dangerous cat. Like the cougars, jaguars are perfectly suited for their environment which extends from the desert Southwest through the jungles of South America. Like most cats the jaguar is an extreme opportunist. Its prey ranges from large hoofed stock to birds, and even reptiles. Since jaguars love swimming, they’ll often take on caimans and other crocodilians that they encounter in the tropical rivers and streams.
Jaguars often come into contact with humans as their territory shrinks and the human world expands. Although jaguars can do incredible amounts of damage to humans, any conflict with man ultimately ends up to the determent of the cats. Luckily there are still vast stretches of rainforest and desert for the jaguars to call home.
Let’s take a look at a scene from Daniel’s POV.
Seconds later Daniel closed the bedroom door. He didn’t bother turning on the light as he pulled out his cell phone. He hit Two and Send. When he lay back on the bed, Shannon’s musky scent engulfed him like a worn, familiar comfortable blanket.
The call was answered on the second ring. “Daniel, where are you? Are you in trouble? I know something’s wrong.”
“Aunt Louisa, it’s good to hear your voice. I’m fine. Well, not really. I need to ask you some questions.”
“Questions? What kind of questions do you have? I can’t get you out of trouble again. I don’t have the cash.”
Daniel shook his head. She knew she was the first person he called when he was in trouble. And she always said she didn’t have the money to save his ass, but she never failed to save him, no matter how bad things were. “I don’t need cash. I’m not in jail or anything. Yeah, a job went bad, but I’m working through that. Some other stuff has happened, and I need some advice. I’ve met somebody, and I can’t stop thinking about him. I’m not even acting like a rude-ass punk around him. It’s like he’s family already.”
Thanks to his sensitive hearing, he could pick up the sound of her long lacquered nails tapping on the Formica tabletop in her kitchen. “Is he a jaguar like you are?”
“He’s a wer, but not a jaguar.”
“What is he?”
“An owl.” Daniel smiled at the vision of Shannon flying off into the night.
“An owl? Where on earth did you find a wereowl?”
“Northern New Mexico, but where isn’t important. Why is my attitude changing?”
More silence except for the tapping, which stopped a second or so before she spoke again. “Is the attitude change just when he’s around, or is it affecting you with everyone?”
Daniel thought about it for a moment. He hadn’t even hurt Phillip at the idea of him flirting with Shannon. “At first it was just around him, but it’s spreading.”
“If I know you, the two of you have already had sex.”
“Yeah. I mean, not all the way, but yeah.” He loved his aunt, and they had a great relationship, but he wasn’t about to actually split hairs about a blow job versus an ass pounding.
“It sounds like you might be bonding to him. A mate bond is unusual cross-species like that, especially two very different species like jaguar and owl. Now if he was something like a mountain lion, the chances would be a lot more possible.”
Daniel rolled his eyes, then stared up at the dark ceiling. Do I really want to bond to Shannon? He’s cool and all, really sexy, but can I see myself with a police officer for the rest of my life? “How can I tell for sure?”
“If you were close by me, I’d tell you to come over and let me take a look at the two of you, but no, you have to be all the way across the state when you call your dear auntie for help in this matter.”
“Aunt Louisa, how can I tell if we’re bonding?” He tried not to sound too impatient.
“You didn’t swear at me, my darling Daniel. Even from here I can tell a change in you. Look within yourself, and see what you find there. Talk to your cat and listen to him. Your cat will know for sure, even if you don’t.”
Check back in a little while and learn a bit about Shannon, find out what makes him tick.
September 30, 2015
These next couple of posts, we’ll explore different characters in “The Kachina Job” and the animals inside them. The first character we meet in the book is Phillip Two Hands, he’s a young Navaho Indian who has become a thief and is hired to steal a really ugly wolf kachina. At 25, Phillip still lives on the reservation with his grandparents who haven’t bothered to teach him much about being a Mountain Lion shifter after his parents were killed by hunters. Phillip is desperate to fit in somewhere, after he was dumped by the boyfriend who taught him to be a thief, he’s been making a living stealing things while he waits for something to come along and lead him down his life’s calling. Without giving too much away, he finds it by the end of the book.
The cat inside Phillip is an interesting one. Mountain lions range across the Americas, from the Arctic Circle down to the tip of South America. They are highly adaptable cats and in some parts of their range are considered nuisance animals. In other parts, like the south end of Florida, the Florida panther, is highly endangered. Mountain lions are known by many names, mountain lions, puma, cougar, catamount, and panther are the main ones.
In the mountains and the desert areas, the cat’s tawny coat is perfect camouflage for it to blend into its surrounds. This natural ability to blend makes it very hard to spot a mountain lion. Here in Colorado, we say that if you see a mountain lion, it’s been watching you for quite some time. You can live in the mountains for years and never see them. Our neighbors have spotted them on our place, but we’ve never seen more than the very rare paw print. It’s both scary and cool at the same time.
Like all cats, mountain lions prey on anything they can get their teeth and claws into. They are supremely opportunistic. Their favorite meal, is deer. One of the big reasons that people are encouraged to not feed deer is that it attracts mountain lions. This can be detrimental to both the cat and the people. If you actually get to see a mountain lion in the wild, consider yourself lucky and if possible, take lots of pictures.
This is Tawney, one of the mountain lions that lives at CARE.
Now, let’s have a short scene from Phillip’s POV:
Phillip Twohands made his way quietly through the large dog door. Easing into the mudroom, he let the plastic flap trail along his backpack and slowly lowered his tail so that no sound betrayed his passage. I hope my information is right and the family’s out, he thought, moving from the mudroom into the kitchen. The whole place smelled overly clean, but beyond some old food, there were no recent scents of people or dogs. He relaxed.
The kitchen was as expensively outfitted as the rest of the place. High-end stainless steel appliances sat among black marble countertops. The black marble was also on the floor tiles that muffled his padded footfalls. Week-old pizza was the only thing that registered on his sense of smell, other than the recent use of ammonia cleaners.
From the kitchen he headed to the living room. The black tiles gave way to mahogany hardwood. Phillip stayed silent as he moved across the wood. His claws were retracted, and the heavy pads of his feet didn’t make a sound as he walked to the display cabinet next to the massive stone fireplace. Just as the information said, the shelves behind the glass held a selection of Hopi kachinas.
He quickly spotted the one that had a wolf’s head with real wolf fur around the neck. He shivered. This has to be the ugliest kachina I’ve ever seen. But I’m not being paid to be an art critic. I’m being paid to steal this thing and get it back to Francis Mendoza. I still don’t know why he couldn’t just send a member of his pack for it.
Phillip turned from the display case and looked around the living room. He shook his head. No obvious cameras. With all the ones outside, I’m surprised by that.
Taking a deep centering breath, Phillip willed himself to drop his puma form and become human. The wood floor was colder on his bare feet than it had been on his paws. The air conditioner blew cold air that raised goose pimples on his arms. He wondered why they had to keep things so cold in the rich houses.
He shivered as he took his backpack off and opened it. The soft silk cloth he’d been given to transport the thing unfolded easily in his hands. Phillip hung it over his arm as he pulled on the display case door. It didn’t budge. He glared at it. Just my luck. I knew this was going too easily. I bet he’s got the key on him too.
After setting the backpack on the floor in front of the case, then draping the silk over it so he could still access the side pocket, he pulled out a lockpicking kit. He selected two picks and made short work of the lock.
As he opened the case, an alarm rang out, and every light in the house came on. “Shit!”
Phillip grabbed the wolf-headed kachina and quickly wrapped it in the silk. He still had plenty of room in the backpack, so he grabbed a few of the other figures as well but didn’t bother wrapping them. Even as he slipped the backpack over his shoulders and snapped its waistband shut, he shifted back to his puma form.
Once again on four paws, Phillip ran for the dog door. Every few feet, the sound of a well-hidden still camera clicking was louder than the alarm. He didn’t care how he’d managed to miss it previously. How will they be able to track a mountain lion with a backpack on? And who would believe them anyway? Lions don’t wear backpacks and break into houses to steal things.
Phillip made it almost all the way across the side yard and to the safety of the desert when a loud roar overpowered the alarms from the house. The sound caused him to stumble. Who the hell is that?
Something moved from behind a large rock where the manicured lawn gave way to desert scrub. Phillip tried to dodge, but it caught him in the hip and spun him around as he scrambled to stay on his feet.
The bright lights from the house and porch momentarily blinded him. Phillip blinked. A large sleek silhouette inserted itself between him and the house. It was a huge cat, nearly twice his size.
I’ll be back in a bit and we’ll talk about Daniel Hernandez, our Jaguar, until then, tell what you think about mountain lions. Have you had any encounters with them in the past, either in the wild, or in zoos, or nature centers? They are one of the cats that really touch my soul.
September 30, 2015
Hey readers! Looks like I’m taking over the Dreamspinner blog for a few hours. I’m A.J. Marcus, and this is all to promote my new release “The Kachina Job.” This book marks the first time, although not the last time, that I’ve ventured into the world of shifter romance. I decided to go with some shifters that aren’t well explored in M/M romance and also decided to try my hand at a ménage story at the same time. When I got the responses back from my beta readers, I knew I’d done something right. And with the reviews I’ve seen so far…yes I read some reviews…the readers are pleased with the story and we might have to come back and explore some of the ideas I’ve tossed out in the world in future books.
Over the next few hours, with my series of posts, I’ll explore the various characters and the animals that inspired them. For folks who are familiar with my writing, you know that the animals are as important in my books as the people, and in a world where the people can become animals, it opens up a whole new palate of opportunities. I love what a lot of writers do with shifters, and then there are writers that make me cringe with what they do with shifters. I urge people to please study the animals they write about be it real animals or fantasy shifters. Understanding makes things that much more real.
In the case of the shifters in “The Kachina Job”, I’ve worked with both birds of prey and big cats in the past. I’ve had birds in my life for years, they are incredibly fascinating and even as a master falconer, I still learn things every day, when I choose to listen. With the big cats, I spent several years while I lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex being photographer for the Bridgeport Nature Center, now called CARE, Center for Animal Research and Education. The big cats are awesome, but I do urge folks not to try and make them pets. They are wild animals. A lion or tiger in your house will eat your couch, dog, and possibly you. At least with most raptors, they can learn to tolerate the silly humans they share the world with.
I tried to bring some of my knowledge of these incredible animals to my story with the three hunky shifters as they struggle to find the missing kachina and work out their feelings toward each other all before the evil werewolf can claim the power that will reshape the shifter world in his dark image.
Here’s the cover and the blurb for “The Kachina Job”
Phillip Twohands is a thief and a weremountain lion. When he takes a job stealing an ugly kachina, he never realizes it will change his life forever. Daniel Hernandez is a werejaguar who is hired to steal the same kachina by the same werewolf who hired Phillip. When their paths cross, it becomes clear the tension between them is not all about rivalry.
The local sheriff, Shannon O’Flaherty, catches them in the act and has no choice but to take the two into his personal custody, which quickly ends up with the three of them in bed together.
When they learn the kachina has an ancient wolf spirit trapped inside, they rally to prevent it from transferring its power to the werewolf who hired them, but it will take all the strength in their new bond to succeed.
Here’s the buy link for “The Kachina Job”
Next post we’ll look at Phillip as a character and the mountain lion inside him.