A MelanieM Review: Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall


Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Waiting for the Flood coverTwelve years ago Edwin Tully was happy.  Edwin was in love with Marius, had been since college.  They had found a perfect home, a cottage by the river in Oxford.  Edwin rescued and restored the books while Marius painted.  It was a wonderful life. Until it wasn’t.  Until 2 years ago when Marius informed Edwin he didn’t love him anymore and Edwin discovered his happy life was a lie.

Now Edwin’s life feels hollow. He still loves the work he does but he lives alone in his house meant for a forever two, tending only to his elderly neighbor, his books and his memories.  Until the rains come and the waters in the river start to rise, threatening his neighborhood and his house.

The rains and flooding bring Adam Dacre from the Environment Agency. An unlikely knight in  worn wellingtons, Adam offers Edwin his help, and his friendship and something more.  Adam offers Edwin the promise of a new “us” and the hope for a new beginning.  Now if only Edwin can gather his courage to give his heart away one more time.

Alexis Hall, Alexis Hall, how is it that it took 2 recent stories for me to find you?  Twice now you have managed to blow me away with your lyricism and virtuosity with the English language.   First it was Sand and Ruin and Gold, and now Waiting for the Flood, a stunning  story whose words are strung together like pearls and whose characters move with a quiet, fluid determination and respect through the current events and past traumas of their lives.   I kept wanting someone to come and read it out loud to me so I could close my eyes and savor the words and sentences the way a person might sit in the dark listening to their favorites symphonies.

This is our introduction to Edwin Tully:

When I tell people what I do, they always want to know if I’ve worked on anything famous. The Ben Johnson Shakespeare. The Austen juvenilia. The Abinger papers.

I have, but these aren’t the projects I cherish.

What I like are diaries and letters, commonplace books and ledgers, calendars, invitations and almanacs: the everyday documents of nobody in particular. Ephemera, it’s called. From Ephemeridae, those frail-legged mayfly, with their lace- and-stained-glass wings, who live only for a day.

I wonder, sometimes, if it’s a strange occupation, this semi-obsessive preservation of the transitory. But, whereas for some people history is a few loud voices, declaiming art the and making war across the centuries, for me it’s a whispering chorus of laundry day and grocer’s bills, dress patterns and crop rotations, the price of tallow.


What becomes clear almost immediately is Edwin’s love and knowledge of words.  The reason why Edwin feels and talks (or doesn’t talk) the way he does becomes understandable and real for his character., even more so as he is forced by Adam and his attraction to Adam into conversation. But its as the rains fall and the water rises that Edwin and the reader take measure of what his life has become, complete with empty spaces on the walls where Marius’ painting once hung and the dust in the room that Edwin no longer uses.  It’s sad, intimate and Edwin’s loneliness and stasis comes sharply into focus. And the more time we spend inside this smart, isolated man’s mind, the more completely we take him to heart.

And then there is Adam Dacre, a character who continues to surprise scene after scene.  He rises out of the water, carrying sandbags, a warrior in wellingtons, who sees a future in Edwin.  When Edwin finally ventures out to find some sandbags, he discovers Adam:

A laugh. But it wasn’t unkind. “Aye, really.”

At last, I was able to look at him, connect the voice to a body, and resolve them both into the impression of a person. Awkward height and ungainly limbs stuffed untidily into orange waders and Wellington boots. He turned away, and began to unhook the sides of the truck.

I stared at the back of his neck and at his hair, which was a schoolboy tousle only charity would have called red. It was orange, carrot, ginger, marmalade, shining like an amber traffic light, tempting you to try your luck and run.

Mrs. Peaberry, his intrepid neighbor, is another joy and cornerstone here. Her presence helps to anchor it, giving it a foundation and an observant voice for Edwin and the reader to listen to. I adored Mr.s Peaberry, with her stoic nature and kindness.  And outside of a few mentions of other people, that’s about the extent of the characters here.  This is an intimate stage, the location in or next to Edwin’s cottage that is being closed off from the world around it by the rising waters. Although in truth, it’s Edwin who has closed it off with his memories and refusal to move forward.  Its his path forward towards hope and love, however halting, that glues all the fabulous sentences and word choices together and brings the heart of the story alive.

So many analogies here, so many interesting formats and structures to look at and enjoy.  Each chapter is labeled with a part of Edwin’s home.  And his memories precede the start of each chapter.  We enter the story by means of Chapter One, The Front Door.  Through it lies Edwin, entombed in his past, waiting for something or someone to jostle him out of the rut he has gotten himself into.  Chapter after chapter we move through the rooms and Edwin’s memories, followed by the events happening in the present.  It’s a wonderfully engaging structure and it pulled me in completely.

Chapter one: The Front Door

Is green.

With frosted glass panels and a big chunky knocker. The bell doesn’t work. Has never worked. He remembers that first viewing, standing in front of it, expectant, hopeful, hand-in-hand with Marius.

He remembers, like his first kiss, the first time he put the key in the lock, turning first the wrong way, then the right, fumbling over the not-yet-familiar gesture.

It’s heartbreaking, and true, these gentle slices into the heart by means of memory of happier times.  I could really quote this story all day.  Hall’s use of language and structure mirroring that of a composer’s use of notes and chords to build a sonata or symphony, the lyricism is the same. This story so like a melody in composition and fluidity.

That water, the flood, is the force majeure is one more sparkling element in Waiting for the Flood.  While floods these days are considered catastrophic, we forget that they are a necessary part of nature, that floods act to cleanse and renew, washing away the debris even as the retreating flood leaves behind sediment that fertilizes the soil, allowing for new growth and new beginnings. That’s exactly the role that the flood plays here.  The delight is Edwin’s journey through the waters and out into a bright new future.  It’s one I will make again and again.

Just as Sand and Gold and Ruin was one of my Best of 2014, Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall has already found itself on my Best Books of 2015 list.  I highly recommend it and, its author Alexis Hall to all readers and lovers of the written word. And don’t over look the delightful surprise at the end.  It’s a recipe for Edwin’s not always successful Elderflower Wine.   It’s as fascinating, joyful and resourceful as you could want.

Cover artist Simone did a lovely job but any cover would be hard put to match the magical story  found within.  Only the cover of Sand and Gold and Ruin came close.  This is not that cover in tone or design.  I wish it was.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing     All Romance (ARe)      Amazon    Buy It Here  (links to follow)

Book Details:

ebook, 95 pages, available for preorder
Expected publication: February 23rd 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626492700 (ISBN13: 9781626492707)
edition languageEnglish

A Sammy Review: Black John (Johnnies #4) by Amy Lane


Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

This was sex—it was primal sweaty and glorious. So much of John’s life he’d spent cooped up, dressing like his mom needed him to, being good so his dad didn’t smack him because God forbid the cop’s kid get in trouble. But you weren’t pretty in sex, you just were: you were lightning and thunder and detonations and fireworks. And those things weren’t pretty, but they sure were worth being.

Black John CoverLife has never been all sunshine and rainbows for John Carey. He grew up with an abusive father who became a cop just to be able to exert his force and get away with it. Then he fell in love with someone who didn’t have the capacity to love him back, and it took a huge piece of him. After being disowned by his family and wrecked by his lovers addiction, even a move across the country couldn’t keep his demons at bay. Now, fresh out of rehab, he has to go back to a place he once called home and clean up the mess that his one-time lover made.

There he meets Galen Henderson, the kind of man a recovering addict needs to avoid at all costs. After a horrible accident that took everything from Galen, he’s become dependent on pain medication – medication that’s all too easily accessible for John.

But despite himself, he can’t stay away. But now he’s got something else to consider. Can he clean up a mess, his own heart, and Galen too? Or is that maybe just too much?

Nobody had it all together. John had hated himself for not being enough for Tory, but he’d missed the point. The point was nobody was enough all the time. That was what being partners was about. One person got to spaz the fuck out, and the other person got to hold the other guy’s hand, and then they switched places.

From the beginning of the series, I have loved Johnnies and all the great, dynamic characters Amy Lane brings to the table. I wasn’t expecting to get a story on John, but he was painted in such a way that left Amy with a lot of room to let him grow and blossom. She did that, but not the easy way. First, she let him wither and decay, and then she put him back together, piece by piece.

This story had a personal undertone for me. As someone who has dealt with the addiction of a loved one, and also the ruin left by that addiction, it gave me a different perspective, one that evoked some strong emotions out of me. I struggled so much because John loved Tory so much. He was a saint to John – could do no wrong, but every time I took a step back and looked at exactly what Tory did, I was left angry and sad. You see, addicts aren’t all the same. Some use and self destruct, but others use, self destruct, and then try to pull everyone down with them. The latter was Tory. If he was going down, and he was, he wanted to make sure every person who ever loved him fell right along with him. That made me angry. Seeing what he did to John, even when John couldn’t see it, was just so difficult.

“You weren’t… weren’t… mechanical, I guess is the word, when we were together.”John smiled at him, feeling wise for maybe the first time in forever. “No. It was lovely. And I don’t know. It’s… it’s the difference between painting rain and standing in it, I guess. When you paint it, you’re breaking it down to color, composition, emotional impact. But when you’re standing in it, it’s all about…”

“Dancing in the rain,” Galen said, dropping his voice intimately.

“Yeah. Dancing in the rain.”

So the story really isn’t simply about John falling in love with Galen or vice versa. It’s much more than that. We have that, yes, but we also have a lot of recovery that goes on through the pages. John needs to find himself again, or maybe even for the first time. In a world where he’s become so dependent on drugs to be his crutch, he needs to struggle along without those things.

One problem I had at the beginning was that I didn’t feel the actual love connection between the two. Yes, I felt attraction, but one minute it was recognizing that attraction and the next it was them wanting something real. I felt like I missed an important piece. The rest of the story helped to fill in that gap, but I’m still a bit confused about if I maybe somehow looked over a page or misread a paragraph wherein this progression happened.

Still, I grew to really enjoy their relationship. At times they were so toxic to each other, but then there was something else there too. It was as if they were both clinging onto each other for safety, both trying not to drown. It was anything but the advice you get on a plane – put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. These two had no masks. That was probably part of what made it so appealing, was the very real struggle and the complete unreasonableness of being human. Our choices are often flawed, made without full consideration of all the factors that go into an equation. That is displayed here, over and over again.

They worked hard for their happy ending, and part of me feels that the ending just wasn’t enough. I wanted a bit more – a true epilogue, if you will. I wanted to feel that their hard work had amounted to something more than just one moment.

Black John is a really lovely book, filled with all of our favorite characters and some new ones too. It’s a great addition to the series, but it also left me hoping for additional stories. I’d love to see Brant and Zion’s story, as well as Reg and Bobby’s. So what do you say, Ms. Lane? I’m up for it if you are!

The cover art by Reese Dante is nice and simple. It fits well with the previous covers, forming a cohesive framework for the series. I would say though that it doesn’t really feel special. Yes, the guy in front has red hair, but beyond that, it doesn’t feel unique to the story. The guy in the back, who I’m thinking may be Galen, has no scars – scars that are important to his life story. It’s nice, but not special.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback    All Romance (ARe)  Amazon   Buy it here (other links coming)

Book Details:

ebook, 280 pages
Expected publication: January 26th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleBlack John
edition languageEnglish
series Johnnies #4

The Johnnies series include:

  • Super Sock Man (Granby Knitting, #2)
  • Chase in Shadow (Johnnies, #1)
  • Dex in Blue (Johnnies, #2)
  • Ethan in Gold (Johnnies, #3)
  • Black John (Johnnies, #4)

Down Under Author Barry Lowe


DownUnder_January Is Banner

Meet Barry Lowe!


Barry Lowe is the author of so many books (with memorable titles) that we couldn’t list them all.  For the full list, see Barry Lowe’s Goodreads page.  Among his many titles are gems like these: Homo for the Holidays, Guys and Trolls (Guys and Trolls #1), My Dad’s a Vampire, Love with a Side Order of PelicansThe Bear’s Guide to Depilatory Wax , and so many more that I want to continue listing them all!  To get to know Barry Lowe a little better, we have an interview with Barry at the end. Look for that below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.


Author Bio 1

Barry Lowe writes about love and sex so he won’t forget how to do it. When he’s not out doing field research, he’s writing about love’s wonderful variations for a series of smut eBooks, novels and anthologies for Lydian Press. He lives in Sydney with Walter, his partner of 42 years.


Author Contacts

Contact/Follow Barry Lowe at:

Website http://www.barrylowe.info
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/barry.lowe.3591
Goodreads Author Page


Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

I began writing weekly short stories (around 5000 words for loveyoudivine which were collected into anthologies eventually). Now I write longer stories at a slower pace. Amongst the longer works or collections are The Gravy Train; Butt Boys; Your Boyfriend is Hot; How Much is That Doggie in the Window?; Bear Skin; Rough & Ready; Busting Billy’s Butt; Cock-Eyed Optimists; OMG! Not Another Gay Erotica Anthology?

✍Barry Lowe’s Books (just some, mind you):

Doggie in the WindowHow Much is That Doggie In The WindowLydian Press

How can anyone resist those eyes?

Leon has a way with animals as well as a way to use them to help ease the suffering of those with long-term illness or injury. He’s loved by patients and nurses alike until, that is, he’s asked to drop in on reclusive old codger, Ralph Esseltine, who has a reputation of reducing health workers to tears. Instead of tears, Esseltine goads the placid Leon to anger by kicking the frisky puppy Leon has brought along as therapy. Expecting the worst, Leon submits his resignation only to discover that Esseltine has requested he visit again. What sort of revenge does the old recluse have in mind? And what of Esseltine’s estranged grandson and his obnoxious boyfriend who turn up to count the family silver?

Sexy nude male model laying back in big bed at home in cool loft interiorYour Boyfriend Is Hot: Gay Cuckold Erotica – Cleis Press

Is it cheating if it excites your boyfriend?

In this collection of gay cuckold erotica you’ll meet men who are complicit in their own ‘betrayal’ and those to whom it is a wake-up call. Whatever your taste you’ll find a story here, from a man at a college reunion who watches as his boyfriend cuckolds him with the bully from his former frat house; a young toy boy whose sexual favors are part of a takeover bid for his lover’s company, a callous actor who will hawk his virginal ass to his boyfriend’s employer for a chance at the big time, a young man who resorts to tarot in order to experience a threesome, a world famous television chef who enjoys watching his lover put out for fans, and a boyfriend who loves to secretly watch the humiliation of his lover at the hands of his friends and enemies alike.

Your Boyfriend is Hot: Gay Cuckold Erotica includes: From Here to Fraternity, Stripping His Assets, Indecent Exposure, Middle Man for Madame Blavatsky, A Cook’s Tour, and Topping the Pizza Delivery Boy (originally titled Christmas on the Rocks) – all previously published as individual eBooks by loveyoudivine Alterotica. Middle Man for Madame Blavatsky was first published in Middle Men: Gay Erotic Threesomes, edited by Shane Allison.

The Death of Peter PanThe Death of Peter Pan – Lydian Press

To fall in love, really in love, would be an awfully big adventure. Renowned Scottish playwright, James Matthew Barrie, lies abed, unable to sleep, dreading the anniversary of one of the most tragic moments of his life. Lulled by the persuasive power of the syringe, he falls into a fitful sleep as the events play out in his mind. It’s Armistice Night in London and Michael Llewelyn Davies, one of Barrie’s adopted sons and one of the models for Peter Pan, celebrates with friends when he runs into the mysterious Rupert Buxton. They meet again in Paris, and later at Barrie’s retreat on the Scottish island of Eilean Shona where the relationship between the two men becomes passionate. Will their love survive the censure of 1920s England, and will it destroy James Barrie’s reputation? Love sometimes has tragic consequences. Based on a true story.


The Bi-Word – Lydian Press

thebiwordThree tales of men who’ve played both sides of the blanket until they fall in love.

Richard Flanagan receives an invitation to his estranged daughter’s wedding while he still pines for his dead lover. He hopes that when he gets back to his old home town, he can reignite a passion with one of his old college jock mates—if they’re still amenable.

Ty Cody is one of the hottest straight studs in town, and no one knows that more than his girlfriend, Tina. She also knows he has a wandering eye. When her father decides that she spend the ten-week summer break with the family in Europe—no boyfriends allowed—she hatches a scheme that will stop Ty from playing around while she’s away. She gets him a job at a gay resort.

Single dad, Travis Black, takes his young daughter, Penny, to see the feeding of the pelicans, where they are befriended by town vet, Spike Donovan. While it’s love at first sight between Penny and the pelicans, it’s Travis who feels a strange attraction to the Pelican Whisperer.

Be sure to check out all of Barry Lowe’s stories and books, especially for the titles which will leave you smiling!

Genre(s): M/M Romance; M/M Menage; Historical, detective, horror, sci-fi, shapeshifter. If there’s a genre I’ll probably plunder it somewhere along the line.


Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Barry Lowe) is the winner’s choice of two eBooks from Barry Lowe’s list at Lydian Press. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green .

Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.


Author Qand A

Welcome, Barry Lowe…

When did you start writing?

In primary school around age 11. I began a serial about a young masked figure called The Count who solved mysteries. I used to read a chapter a day to my classmates with the teacher’s permission. I can’t remember how long it lasted. In high school, a mate and I produced a myriad roneoed magazines usually devoted to horror stories. It’s no wonder I went into advertising, journalism and magazine production as an adult.

Were you a reader as a child?

Voracious, beginning with Enid Blyton. The Noddy books before moving on the the Secret Seven series and the Faraway Tree series. We were given a free school magazine with fictions stories for comprehension and read-aloud skills in primary school (I loved being called on to read to the class). My grandmother introduced me to pulp westerns, and in high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Patterson, demanded an wide interest in reading material. She was also the school librarian and I remember reading a book of Asian short stories she had on the shelves. Unusual for 1963.

What books as a child has the most impact on you?

Just about anything by Enid Blyton except, surprisingly, the Famous Five books. John Wyndham, especially The Day of the Triffids. Lots of pulp horror and science fiction anthologies. I think TV had a bigger influence back then: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller with Boris Karloff, The Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond. Oh, and anything where a man took his shirt off. My parents could never understand why, on a Sunday evening when I was doing my homework, I’d rush out to watch the opening credits for Cheyenne and then go straight back to my homework. It was because hunky Clint Walker was shone with his shirt off. Plus Gordon Scott’s Tarzan movies.

Did that impression carry over into adulthood when you started writing?

The early influences have had minimal impact on my work. After I left school I was too busy exploring gay life in the late 1960s/early 1970s to write. When I went back to writing as an adult, it was as a playwright. For twenty years I was a moderately successful stage writer, productions throughout Australia as well as Italy, England and the U.S.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Anything sets me off. An expression, something on television, a piece of music, a photograph, a memory.

Favorite genres to write in and why?

I don’t have a favorite. I’ll try anything once. What I write is not great literature. I’m a yarnspinner, take it or leave it.

Title or characters or plot? Which comes first?

All the above, plus a photograph, a news report, a magazine article. Just about anything sets my mind going. Sometimes I wish I could switch it off, but that will happen soon enough.

Do you have a favorite character that you have written?

My all-time favorite character creation is Tofu who is a tiny dinosaur who travels with my partner and I all over the world. He’s appeared in one short story, The Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Love on Tofu. I’m also very proud of my play, The Death of Peter Pan, which Lydian Press has published.

Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)?

One of the banes of Facebook is the constant barrage of self-help quotes of such staggering banality that if I never hear another quote again, I’ll be grateful. Even Shakespeare gets dragged into the circus with gems such as ‘To Thine own self be true.’ It might have been fresh back when he penned the words but I really don’t need to be bombarded with variations on a theme every day. Curmudgeonly rant over.

Favorite book/story you have read as an adult

There are certain authors whose works I will buy rather than favorite books: Arnaldur Indridason from Iceland (one of my favorite countries in the world, along with Malta where my partner and I hope to be Civil Unioned in 2016); Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May series; quite a few Romance authors.

Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?

Yep. I get out of bed.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Compulsion. Since I was a young boy I have had the need, the compulsion, to write. I suspect they’ll have to unglue my fingers from my keyboard when I die.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m very good at parody so I can imitate just about anyone’s style but I guess I also have a unique voice but that would be up to my readers to describe.

What’s the hardest part of writing your books?

Rewrites and editing.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?

There’s nothing distinctive about my first fiction book. In fact, my first published print book was a biography of 1950s blond bombshell, Mamie Van Doren, called Atomic Blonde. In fiction, I’ve written too many to worry. You can always improve on what you first wrote, nothing is ever perfect, so I prefer just to leave it alone and move on. I would correct grammar and spelling mistakes if I could.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor or has the biggest influence on you?

None really, that I can think of.

What book are you reading now?

I’m re-reading E.M. Forster’s Maurice, and a whole pile of m/m romance fiction. Just completed Tim Federle’s wonderful duet of books Better Nate than Ever, and Five, Six, Seven, Nate.

How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?

You could write a thesis on that question. Briefly, it’s the tyranny of distance from the rest of the world, particularly the Western World which influenced us greatly until comparatively recently. Now we’re more Asian focused. For Australians, too, there’s the vastness of the continent with the major centres of population clinging precariously to the coast line. I find Australians tend to be more relaxed than their European and American counterparts. I think it has to do with the weather. Although a certain conservatism and racism is leaching into the local psyche.

What are your current projects? What’s next up for you?

Rewriting the final chapters of my Australian historical novel, The Major and The Miners because it was too rushed when it was first released about five years ago. I need to make it more truthful psychologically. I’m also extending the first m/m romance novella I wrote, The Min Min Lights, another Aussie historical which could certainly stand quite a few extra chapters. Then there’s a Steampunk novel, The Extraordinary Victorian Clockwork Derriere; a fantasy, Guys & Trolls, and lots of shorter romance and menage erotica for Lydian Press.

Many thanks for the opportunity to introduce myself to a new audience, it’s appreciated.

Down Under Day 27-Welcome, Barry Lowe, AUS and NZ Facts of the Day



Welcome, Barry Lowe!

Our countdown continues and today our featured author on our Down Under Author Showcase is Barry Lowe.  Barry Lowe is a prolific Australian writer with a penchant for hilarious titles and thought provoking plot lines.  Be sure to search out the wonderful interview he gave us along with his bio, books and giveaway!

For the rest of the week, each author’s contests will continue into February to give everyone ample chance to locate the authors and listen to the stories they have to tell.


Now onto our Australian and New Zealand facts of the day.  I’ve learned about cube-shaped wombat poop and wild Australian camels,  subterranean glowworms who turn their cavernous ceilings into glowing night skies and red dirt deserts among the driest places on earth.  What have been your favorites facts so far?  Have you been able to answer the questions I have posed along the way?  Hmmmm.  Maybe you might want to backtrack and pick them up.  Figure them out…..maybe there’s  another contest still to come?

How I am enjoying this journey!

Australian Fact of the Day – It’s all About The Trees!

In the US we are proud of our trees, from the oldest in our great Redwood forests to the beauty of our flowering Magnolias in the south.  Here are some facts about the trees and forests in Australia!Valley of the Giants

Australia’s tallest trees can be found in the south-west of Western Australia in the Valley of the Giants. Giant tuart, karri, and rich red jarrah which live for up to 500 years can be found here. The 1000 kilometre (621 mile) Bibbulmun Track traverses a variety of jarrah, marri, wandoo, karri and tingle forests as well as internationally significant wetlands.tree top walk 2

The cool temperate rainforest of the World Heritage-listed Tasmanian wilderness contains some of the oldest trees on the planet including the rare Huon Pine.

The majestic Wollemi pine is a remnant from a 200 million year-old landscape, when Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica were joined together as the supercontinent Gondwana. It was thought to have been extinct for millions of years, until rediscovered by a bushwalker in 1994. Fewer than 100 trees exist in the wild, growing in the deep rainforest gorges of the Greater Blue Mountains.Wollemi pine

That first photo should resemble one you would take if you visited a certain park in Northern California. Which park would that be and why?



New Zealand Facts of the Day – forests of New Zealand

New Zealand’s high rainfall and many sunshine hours give the country a lush and diverse flora–with 80 percent of the trees, ferns, and flowering plants being native.

From the kauri forests of the far north to the mountain beech forests and alpine tussock of the Southern Alps, you’ll find fascinating plants and trees in every region. You’ll be awed by the majestic evergreen native forests that include rimu, totara, many varieties of beech, and the largest native tree of them all, the giant kauri.

Waipoua is home to Tane Mahuta, king of the forest and the largest remaining kauri tree in the country. The 1,500 year old Tane Mahuta is 51.5 m (168 feet) tall, with a girth of 13.77 m(45 ft).
Tane Mahutatane-mahuta-223 -see picture at right.
The forests of Waipoua are vitally important refuges for threatened wildlife. The endangered North Island kokako and the North Island brown kiwi both live here. More abundant are the kukupa/kereru (New Zealand wood pigeon), fantail, pied tit, tui, grey warbler, shining cuckoo and kingfisher. Another distinctive creature is the large and very handsome kauri snail, a carnivore kauri snailwhich feeds mainly on earthworms, slugs and soft-bodied insects.

A lasting reminder of the once-thriving kauri industry are the kauri dams. Kauri driving dams were built by loggers to drive large quantities of kauri logs downstream from remote areas. While they played a major role in the destruction of the forest, they were also impressive engineering feats, built without drawings or detailed calculations, yet able to withstand the pressure of tonnes of water and kauri logs which were swept through with tremendous force when the dam was tripped.

kauri-forest-565In the Kauaeranga Valley on the Coromandel, kauri was logged extensively for over 50 years with more than 60 dams built. In 1970 remaining areas of surviving forest were deemed protected as part of the Coromandel Forest Park.

The Kaiaraara Dam on Great Barrier Island (40 m wide and 14 m high), is one of the largest of 3,000 kauri dams built in New Zealand in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Our Focus is On: Mia Kerick on Playlists, Writing and Come To My Window (contest included)


 magnifying glass and book

Come to My Window by Mia Kerick
Release Date: January 2015
Goodreads Book Page


A Mia Kerick Playlist!

Ever have songs in your head as you read a book?  Well, the authors do as well.  Here is Mia Kerick’s playlist for Come To My Window:

Here is my Top Ten Songs Playlist for Come To My Window!!

1. “Come to My Window” by Melissa Etheridge:

This is the song after which the book is named. It describes the way that the two girls meet, by gazing through their third story bedroom windows. For months they don’t verbally communicate at all, but instead simply study each other silently through the glass. The song details the strong urge the girls experience to reach out to each other—and the lengths to which they will go to fill their souls with the other. Furthermore, it shows the way that the girls can look away from society’s opinion about their love because their love is more important than social expectations.

Come to my window
Crawl inside, wait by the light
of the moon
Come to my window
I’ll be home soon

I would dial the numbers
Just to listen to your breath
I would stand inside my hell
And hold the hand of death
You don’t know how far I’d go
To ease this precious ache
You don’t know how much I’d give
Or how much I can take

Just to reach you
Just to reach you
Just to reach you…

I don’t care what they think
I don’t care what they say
What do they know about this
love anyway

Come to my window
Crawl inside, wait by the light
of the moon
Come to my window
I’ll be home soon

2. “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette:

This song is important because it shows that Justine truly understands the anger that Kemina feels toward the glamorous cage in which she is trapped, and also, toward her own mother, who is controlling and uses her daughter as a tool to get what she wants. “You Oughta Know” is an expression of pure unadulterated anger, and the two girls listen to it together—but separately—each of them sitting on their own beds in their own bedrooms, gazing at each other across the alley.

And I’m here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It’s not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know….

3. F**ckin’ Perfect by Pink

Pink’s song expresses how Justine feels—that Kemina is perfect as she is. Justine watches Kemina through the window, struggling to diet and exercise so that she can fulfill society’s expectations of a physically perfect female body, and she becomes frustrated that Kemina, as a model, is held hostage by these ideals. By the end of the song, Pink is basically pleading that the person to whom she sings realizes that he/she is already perfect, which parallels Justine’s pleading with Kemina for the very same thing.

Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you’re less than f**king perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you’re nothing, you’re f**king perfect to me

You’re so mean (so mean) when you talk (when you talk)
About yourself. You were wrong.
Change the voices (change the voices) in your head (in your head)
Make them like you instead…

Done looking for the critics, cause they’re everywhere
They don’t like my jeans, they don’t get my hair
Exchange ourselves and we do it all the time
Why do we do that, why do I do that (why do I do that)?

Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you’re less than fucking perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you’re nothing, you’re fucking perfect to me…

4. “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond

I originally chose this song because it’s the song that traditionally plays in the Red Sox’s home stadium, Fenway Park, halfway through the eighth inning. And Justine, despite her New York City roots, is no Yankees fan, but is a Red Sox Fan, through and through. In particular, she is somewhat obsessed by David Ortiz, or Big Papi, the Red Sox’s famous designated hitter. But when I read the lyrics carefully, I realized that the song was about falling in love—about reaching out and touching a special person who makes the good times better than ever, which is what Kemina does for Justine’s life. This blossoming relationship helps Justine to put the hurt in her life behind her.

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would
But now I…

…look at the night
And it don’t seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two.

And when I hurt,
Hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holding you?

Warm, touchin’ warm
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined,
To believe they never would
Oh, no, no…

5. “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC

I chose “Thunderstruck” because Justine is crazy about the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, and this is their theme song. She also gets a powerful, almost thunderstruck, feeling when she plays street ball and scrimmages indoors with the male friends she grew up with.

Thunder, thunder, thunder, thunder
I was caught
In the middle of a railroad track
I looked round
And I knew there was no turning back
My mind raced
And I thought what could I do
And I knew
There was no help, no help from you
Sound of the drums
Beating in my heart
The thunder of guns
Tore me apart
You’ve been

6. “One Less Lonely Girl” by Justin Bieber:

I chose this song for the playlist because Justine is constantly compared to Justin Bieber due to their physical similarities. She admittedly wears her hair like Bieber in his “One Less Lonely Girl” days, and nobody lets her forget it, particularly not the guy friends that she grew up with. In addition, the lyrics discuss how many girls have pretty faces but now that he has seen this certain girl’s pretty face it is all he can see, which is similar to how Justine feels about Kemina.

Saw so many pretty faces before I saw you (you)
Now all I see is you
I’m coming for you (I’m coming for you)

(No no) Don’t need these other pretty faces like I need you
And when you’re mine, in the world
There’s gonna be one less lonely girl

I’m coming for you, one less lonely girl [x3]
There’s gonna be one less lonely girl…

I can fix up your broken heart (heart)
I can give you a brand new start (start)
I can make you believe (ya)
I just wanna set one girl free to fall (free to fall)
She’s free to fall (fall in love)
With me

Her heart’s locked and know what I got the key
I’ll take her and leave the world with one less lonely

There’s gonna be one less lonely girl
One less lonely girl
One less lonely girl
One less lonely girl…

7. “Daughters” by John Mayer:

I chose “Daughters” because a major theme of Come To My Window is the relationship between mothers and daughters. Justine and Kemina both have challenging relationships with their mothers, in particular, and, this song asks parents to be good to their daughters, because everything the daughters learn about love they learn from their parents.

I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
But she’s just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I’ve done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I’m starting to see
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

8. “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga:

I chose this song because the paparazzi constantly hounds Kemina, as she is the “Baby Vixen”, or the newest and youngest model of Nightingale Lingerie, which is comparable to Victoria’s Secret’s angels. The constant presence of the paparazzi shape Kemina’s personality and mold the blossoming relationship between Kemina and Justine. The relationship between the girls and the paparazzi seems to be completely out of control, until at the end of the novel, the girls successfully negotiate with them. Negotiation in relationships, and hopes for positive change in these relationships, is yet another theme of the story.

We are the crowd
We’re coming out
Got my flash on it’s true
Need that picture of you
It’s so magical
We’d be so fantastic, oh…

I’m your biggest fan
I’ll follow you until you love me
Baby there’s no other superstar
You know that I’ll be your

9. “My Girl” by The Temptations:

“My Girl” is the song that comes into Justine’s mind when she realizes that she and Kemina have become girlfriends. It’s the way that she begins to think about Kemina when they’re apart, just because simply knowing that Kemina is hers gives her bright and happy feelings.

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.
When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May.

I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl).

I’ve got so much honey the bees envy me.
I’ve got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees.

Well, I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl).

10. “She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert:

I chose this song for the playlist for two reasons. First, it describes Justine’s feelings upon the occasion of their first kiss. The feelings she experiences when they kiss are safe and kind and warm, which combine with her sense of gentle passion for Kemina. She knows beyond a doubt that kissing Kemina is right—that kissing a girl is right for her. The second reason I chose “She Keeps Me Warm” is because I imagine it’s the song they slow dance to at the end of the story at Justine’s high school prom, when Justine finally expresses her deep feelings to Kemina. In effect, it becomes “their song.”

She says I smell like safety and home
I named both of her eyes “Forever” and “Please don’t go”
I could be a morning sunrise all the time, all the time yeah
This could be good, this could be good

And I can’t change, even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change, even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm, she keeps me warm…

Copyright for all songs belongs to the artist, songwriter, and record company.

Author Bio:

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Where to find the author:

Blog: http://www.miakerick.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mia.kerick
Dreamspinner Author Arcade
Goodreads Author Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiaKerick

Publisher: Mia Kerick
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Sales Links:  Barnes & Noble  Kindle Link   Amazon Paperback  All Romance eBooks


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Justine Laraby and Kemina Lopez are intimate acquaintances yet they have never exchanged so much as a single word. For months, high school senior Justine, and famed model, “Kemina, the Baby Vixen” of Nightingale Lingerie, have been peering at each other across a narrow alley between brownstones in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This mutual observation soon turns into the exchange of handwritten messages on signs they hold up whenever they come to their bedroom windows. Via this “sign language,” a friendship grows, and Justine learns that Kemina is, like her, a high school senior, but with a controlling mother and a modeling career that requires her to maintain an unnaturally thin physique. And through the window, she also witnesses her new friend exercising fanatically, hoarding food, and being physically and emotionally abused by her ambitious mother.

Window messages evolve into clandestine meetings and soon a tentative romance blooms. But Justine must come to terms with her own “mommy issues,” as well as accept her gender identity and sexual orientation, before she can provide Kemina with the support she needs to survive a family life that resembles a ruthless business transaction. 

Will Justine be strong enough to throw open the window so Kemina can escape society’s suffocating expectations?

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Lesbian Romance, Romance, Young Adult

Come To My Window excerpt…

But it’s not until the screen fills with the image of this baby seal,
all white and fluffy with dark vulnerable eyes that we both gasp a
little bit and then turn to look at each other. I can feel her breath on
my lips and my nose is nearly touching hers, and, well, I don’t know
about Kemina, but I’m all kinds of spellbound by this moment. She
reaches up and touches my jaw, just below my ear, with this soft
brush of her fingertips, and I have no choice but to lean down and
kiss her. Not that I was looking too hard for another option. Cuz I

I kind of thought that my first kiss would be like an electric
shock or the sharp poke of cupid’s dart or fireworks exploding in a
dark night sky, but it’s not like any of those things. The way it feels
when my lips touch Kemina’s is soft and gentle and tender. It’s a
yielding of her mouth to mine, and then mine to hers. It’s an intimate
moment that’s breathy and warm and sweet and just ours.

“Ummmm….” She lets out this sound that makes me think of
how it feels to sink into a hot bath after a long afternoon of ice
skating in frigid temperatures. “That was my first real kiss.”

“Real kiss?” I ask. Our lips are only about an inch apart. I have
a strong feeling that her second real kiss is only a moment away.


Pages or Words: 182 pagesCTMWBadge
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