Amy Lane on A Memory of Chocolate and her latest release ‘Familiar Angel’, a new trilogy from Dreamspinner Press (guest post)

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Familiar Angel by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art by Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon 

 

A Memory of Chocolate

By Amy Lane

Because Familiar Angel takes place over the span of 140 years, much of the love story in the present day is twined with events in the past. Like real memories, the important ones don’t always come in a linear development. They often come when someone needs the memory the most. (Shows like The Pretender and Supernatural that stretch long enough for the stars who play the young leads to grow up often run into trouble with this. Fortunately for me, the casting for the young actors are all in your head!)

This is a memory twined with a real-time event. Harry and Suriel are on a “job” or a “mission” to get a group of girls to safety—but time on the road is time on the road, and painful confessions often come to pass.

The real-time moment happens in the aftermath of such a painful confession.

The moment between Harry and Emma takes place long ago, in the past…

A yawn took over Suriel’s body, and Harry had to laugh. Apparently parts of being human took him by surprise.

You want to use the bed, don’t you?” he asked kindly.

Suriel shook his head and settled down more comfortably. “This is fine,” he said through another yawn. “I just… I want you to know. I know you’re still afraid of Big Cass—of having no faith in the world again, of being all alone. But you rebuilt faith in your heart with the love of your brothers, your parents—on that alone. That took more courage than facing Big Cass ever could.”

Suriel yawned again, and then, like a child, fell asleep.

Harry was left with the roar of the diesel engine and the hum of the tires on the tattered pavement as they rumbled through the night.

*

Mornings in Mendocino were frequently cold. It didn’t snow there often, but there was usually a sharp, wet wind blowing off the ocean, and the combination of cold and damp could chill a man to his vitals, make brittle his viscera and bones.

Within a week of moving to the tiny, drafty cabin that would become a mansion—and their home—Harry realized that Emma, who had power at her fingertips to command as an old and studied witch, woke up early every morning to start a fire in the Ben Franklin stove in the center of the room.

The boys had gotten used to sleeping as cats very quickly; they preferred it. Cats woke up fully, in an instant—nobody surprised a cat in the way Big Cass had been known to surprise the boys. And they were furry and, if they slept in a huddle, warm.

Always warm.

But Emma would get up early anyway, stoke the fire, and put on hot water for tea or coffee.

After a week, Harry was curious enough to turn human to ask her what she was doing.

First she greeted him with a warm sweater and thick socks to pull on, as well as a stocking cap and a blanket over his shoulders—the cold was stunning.

Then she poured him a hot cup of coffee, wrapped the tin cup in a towel, and pressed his fingers to the warm sides.

“Now what did you want to ask me, Harry?”

Harry stared at her and tried to keep his face composed. “Nothing,” he rasped. “Just… trying to figure out what we did to deserve all this.”

Emma’s smile illuminated stars and warmed planets—Harry was sure of it. “You boys just… just agreed, Harry. Jumped into my carpet bag as cats and came to start a new life. I just don’t want to make you sorry you took a chance on me, you understand?”

Harry nodded and sipped his coffee.

And realized that love came in the strangest of gestures, the most infinitesimal of signs.

*

They reached Visalia about an hour before dawn, and Harry urged Suriel to stretch out in the back quarter of the truck.

“Come sleep with me.” Suriel yawned. “I’ll set wards, Harry—they’ll wake you soon enough.”

Harry checked in with Edward, who had been dozing for the last hundred miles anyway and was apparently tucked into one of the bedrolls they’d brought. He told Harry he was setting his own wards and then fell back asleep, as a man or a cat, Harry couldn’t tell.

“Okay.” Harry yawned, trusting. Suriel turned on his side, and Harry went furry and glided up against his chest.

Suriel’s hands, stroking his ears back, smoothing his whiskers flat, reassured him on a primal level.

“When we’re less tired, I would love to do this with you as a man,” Suriel whispered.

Harry lapped delicately at his forearm. Well, yes. But not now. Harry was feeling too raw, too wounded now. He would just appreciate that arm holding him strongly, reminding him that he didn’t have to be alone.

Not tonight.

He woke up semipanicked, Suriel’s spot next to him cool in the morning chill. Someone was opening the door to the cab, and Harry hissed, skittering back, heart pounding, every alarm in his head going off, when Suriel’s voice greeted him.

“I’m sorry, Harry. I went to get you and the boys some chocolate. I hope that’s okay.”

Harry turned abruptly human, perched on his knees on the uncertain ground of the mattress.

“That’s….” Suriel handed him the paper cup, and he took it automatically, smiling shyly into Suriel’s eyes. Harry lost the reason he was frightened and upset and took the hot chocolate, dazed and stunned. Suriel’s eyes, that warm, rich chocolate brown, mesmerized him.

“That’s what?” Suriel asked, teasing.

“You’re here,” Harry said. “In the morning again. That’s wonderful.”

Suriel’s smile spread, went blinding, and Harry felt as though he’d said something brilliant instead of something obvious.

“I’ll go see how the girls are doing.” Suriel placed a pastry bag in his hand.

Then Suriel disappeared, closing the door behind him, and Harry was left in the rapidly heating central valley, drinking hot chocolate and remembering the feeling of his fingers wrapped around a towel-insulated tin cup in a drafty cabin next to the ocean.

Harry wasn’t stupid. He knew what it was that bound the two memories together.

They twined around his heart as he closed his eyes and sipped his chocolate.

Blurb

One hundred and forty years ago, Harry, Edward, and Francis met an angel, a demon, and a sorceress while escaping imprisonment and worse! They emerged with a new family—and shapeshifting powers beyond their wildest dreams.

Now Harry and his brothers use their sorcery to rescue those enslaved in human trafficking—but Harry’s not doing so well. Pining for Suriel the angel has driven him to take more and more risks until his family desperately asks Suriel for an intervention.

In order for Suriel to escape the bindings of heaven, he needs to be sure enough of his love to fight to be with Harry. Back when they first met, Harry was feral and angry, and he didn’t know enough about love for Suriel to justify that risk. Can Suriel trust in Harry enough now to break his bonds of service for the boy who has loved his Familiar Angel for nearly a century and a half?

Excerpt

“Hide!” Harry had just enough presence of mind to grab Francis’s other side to help Edward pull him through the thicket of brambles that lined the river. Bleeding, dirty, breathless, they slid to a halt in a hollow between the blackberry bushes and the hill, lying on their stomachs, Francis sandwiched between them. Francis, who had received a terrible scratch from the corner of his mouth to the corner of his eye, moaned in pain. Harry shushed him, and Edward placed a gentle hand over his mouth.

A woman, clothed in blinding, glowing white, burst into the clearing with a man—man?—draped over her shoulder. His clothes were red velvet, and thick curly hair grew all over his face and large skull, like a goat’s.

His back feet were cloven.

“Leonard,” she begged. “Leonard… darling. Wake up. Wake up. I need your help.”

Leonard—the thing… man—rolled his head, much like Francis had done, and moaned. “Emma, leave me. If they find me with you… if they find Mullins here….”

“Mullins!” the woman whispered. “Mullins—I’m losing him. Oh please—Mullins, he’s losing himself again.”

“I’m losing myself again!” came a terrible growl, and another Leonard-like thing stepped into the clearing—this one very obviously glowing red. “Emma, we need to do the ritual. I can’t….” The monster thing, Mullins, let out a horrifying series of snuffling grunts and growls. “I’ll turn,” he said, sounding tearful—if a beast could be in tears. “I’ll turn and gut you both.”

“I understand,” she whispered. “You’ve been very brave. Here.” She set Leonard on the ground then and started to pull items from a leather satchel across her shoulder. “We’ll do it right now.”

“This isn’t the ceremonial place!” Mullins said, sounding despondent. “It’s not cleansed, it’s not prepared—”

To Harry’s surprise, Emma put a tender hand on the beast’s cheek. “My sweet boy, you’ve been too long in hell. We don’t need the trappings of the spell—although the things in those hex bags should help us focus. We just need ourselves, and our good intentions, and our desire.”

Mullins’s grunt was self-deprecating. “The road to hell is the one paved with good intentions,” he said gruffly.

“That’s only because the demons trying to get to earth walked that path first,” she said, sounding cheeky. In their quiet interaction, Harry got a better look at her. Not young—over twenty—but not old either, she was beautiful in every sense of the word. Straight nose, even teeth, perfectly oval face, and blonde hair that streamed, thick and healthy, to her waist, she was what every boy should dream about when he went to sleep hoping for a wife.

Harry didn’t dream about girls, but he could look at this one and know the appeal.

But it was more than the physical beauty—and she had it all, soft hips, small waist, large breasts—there was the kindness to the beasties. The gentleness and calm she radiated when Mullins had threatened her.

Suddenly Harry had a powerful yearning for his mum, when she’d been dead for nearly five years.

“Here,” Emma said, breaking the sweetness of the moment. “Take the hex bags—there’s ten. Make a pentagram with me and Leonard in the center. I’m summoning an angel, love. You may want to leave when you’re done. I’ve no guarantees he’ll be friendly to you.”

“That’s not news,” Mullins said dryly and began his task. “Do you…. Emma, I know you’re powerful. You summoned my master for knowledge on power alone. But all else you have done, you have done out of love.”

“Including persuade you to our side,” she said. While he set the hex bags, she was stretching Leonard out before her, stripping his shirt with deft, practiced movements. The skin underneath the clothes was smooth and human, and Harry felt nauseated at the abomination of beast and man.

But Emma seemed to care for him.

“It would be worth any torture,” Mullins said softly, pausing in his duties, “to know Leonard will live.”

“Come with us!” Emma begged. “I may not love you like I love Leonard, but you’ve been a good friend to us. Please—”

Mullins shook his head. “It’s not enough to break me free,” he said, and his bestial smile would haunt Harry and Edward for years. “Someone would have to love me enough to sacrifice for me, and make no mistake, Emma. This will come down to your sacrifice. You will be stripped of your power, your youth—are you sure you want to do this?”

Emma let out a sigh. “I would live a mortal lifetime without worry,” she said softly. “But I do not want him all alone without me. ’Twould be cruel.” She closed her eyes for a moment, and then—

Harry gasped and heard Edward do the same.

She was looking right at them.

“I’m about to do something very wrong,” she said, great conviction carrying in her serenity. “But I think something very right too. Carry on, Mullins, but run as soon as you are done.” Her voice dropped. “Please, my friend—I’ll have enough weighing on my soul for tonight’s doings as it is.”

Mullins continued to bustle, and as he set the last hex bag down, Emma began to chant. Mullins traced a circle in the dirt around the outside bags, and then, when the circle ends touched, he pulled out a knife.

Emma nodded unhappily at him and then bit her lip as he cut a line on his palm and let the blood drip on the sealed ends of the dirt line. He and Emma looked at each other again, a strong friendship locking their gaze, before he turned and lurched away, his gait awkward and crippled on his cloven hooves. Harry felt some compassion for him then, poor beast, good friend—but his gaze didn’t linger.

He was too busy watching the white light around Emma grow larger, filling the space inside the pentagram like a bowl.

The light exploded outward, filling the clearing itself, and then one more time, just a few feet more.

Harry and Edward stared at each other, terrified.

They were in the light circle as well.

“Glory!” Edward whispered, and Harry was too shaken to quiet him.

Francis stirred between them and opened his eyes slowly. For a moment Harry feared that he’d startle and scream—Harry certainly would have raised a bloody great hue and cry—but then, Francis wasn’t Harry.

He parted his bruised lips and smiled.

“An angel,” he breathed, and Harry turned his attention back to the center of the clearing.

Where an angel appeared.

Harry’s heart stopped in his throat. Tall—because of course, right? An angel would be tall. Clothed in robes that glittered like diamonds, whiter than pearls he was. His hair was a marvelous flame-gold color, red like a sunrise or an ember. His face was more handsome than sin—bold, straight nose, full lips, a square jaw, eyes of warm, solid brown.

Harry’s groin gave a painful throb, and he almost wept. Those things—those dirty, filthy things that were done to him by rough miners and haughty bankers with gold in their grubby fists—those things were not right here.

Not with an angel.

Not with this angel.

Harry’s eyes burned with the perfection of this angel.

“Suriel,” Emma breathed.

About the Author

Amy Lane has two kids who are mostly grown, two kids who aren’t, three cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

Amy Lane Sharing “too quiet” kid stories on her Manny Get Your Guy Tour (author guest post)

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Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art by Paul Richmond
Available for Purchase at:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is so happy to have Amy Lane back again, this time sharing “too quiet” kid stories on her ‘Manny Get Your Guy‘ tour.  Welcome, Amy!

 

…too quiet… Part 3 by Amy Lane

So my last two posts in the tour have been “too quiet” kid stories—and seriously, most parents have a zillion of them. Somewhere in my archives I’ve got pictures of not one, but TWO little girls who thought it would be a laugh riot to get into mom’s makeup when they were bored. Squish’s picture has lipstick everywhere on her face. Chicken’s has mascara EVERYWHERE—right after her bath.  Never turn your back on them—something will attack.

But in a bustling household, sometimes, you just can’t be everywhere at once. And sometimes, little things get overlooked.

Our cable service provider is Comcast. I know—this doesn’t SEEM like it has anything to do with childcare, but bear with me.  Because in our neighborhood, we can have Comcast or Direct TV, and at one point in time—back when Squish was a baby and Zoomboy could fit in tiny places—we thought we were getting Direct TV.

The two bozos they sent to drill holes in our house and restring all our cables and generally screw up our entertainment system were not only not very bright—they were also not very FAST. They instilled maximum damage, but it took them nine hours of walking in and out of my relatively crowded, busy house in order to do it. And in the meantime, I had to make dinner and give baths and generally try to run my house while Mate said things like, “Do we HAVE to drill the hole?”

Anyway…

Around about hour seven, it got to be “too quiet.”

We were missing a kid. 

Strange people had been going in and out of our house all day and WE WERE MISSING A KID.

MANHUNT!

Lock the dog in the bedroom, the big kids were looking under the bed, in the closets, behind the shoes, Squish was clung to, on somebody’s hip, as the whole family wandered our 1000 foot square house with increasing panic, screaming ZoomBoy’s name.

WE COULDN’T FIND ZOOMBOY!

The panic.

Seriously.

The panic.

Mate ran a circle around the block, and we couldn’t find him.

He ran the half-mile, larger circle.

Nothing.

I got into the car and turned on my brights and tooled around the neighborhood. Holy God, my kid was missing, I was going to have to call the police, I was going to have to issue an amber alert, I was going to have to…

Slow down as I was pulling into my driveway because he was running out of the house looking really pleased with himself.

“Mom! Mom! I hid between the coffee table and the couch and NOBODY FOUND ME!”

I almost smacked my child in the face.

“Were… uh… were we uh playing hide-and-seek?” I asked, spots floating in front of my eyes.

“No. I just thought I’d hide.”

“Uh, okay, hon. That was, uh, special. Maybe next time, tell somebody we’re playing that game? Mom was really worried.”

“Okay. Where’d you go?”

“TO FIND YOU!”

“But I was in the coffee table!”

“I know that now.”

“Are you okay?”

“I need to go cry on Dad now.”

“Can the guys go?”

“Yes.”

“Are they done?”

“I don’t care.”

“Good. They’re loud.”

So, yeah. Too quiet.

Also, a lesson in how no matter how hard you try as a parent, you never have it nailed down. 

By the way—Direct TV? Didn’t work. We had no service for the first 48 hours and when we complained they told us we’d forfeit our deposit if we quit now.

We forfeited the deposit, fixed the hole in our wall, and never ever strayed from Comcast again.

And we made it a family rule that you could never, ever, ever start a game of hide-and-seek unless you told people that you were hiding first.

Yeesh… I have to admit, I feel bad giving Taylor four kids and chaos for this book. I mean, I survived it, but poor Taylor.

He’s not going to know what hit him.

It’s a good thing Brandon’s there to help.

Blurb

The Mannies

Starting over and falling in love.

Tino Robbins’s sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica’s best friend, Taylor Cochran, is back in town, released from PT and in need of a job.

After years in the service and recovering from grave injury, Taylor has grown a lot from the callow troublemaker he’d been in high school. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start with Nica and her family.

Jacob’s cousin Brandon lives above the garage and thinks “Taylor the manny” is a bad idea. Taylor might be great at protecting civilians from a zombie apocalypse, but is he any good with kids?

Turns out Taylor’s a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn’t just love their family—he’s desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.

Sequel to:

The Virgin Manny

Blurb:

The Mannies

Growing up and falling in love…

Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver her premade Italian dinners when he should be studying for finals, he’s pretty sure it’s the latter! But one delivery might change everything.

Channing Lowell’s charmed life changes when his sister dies and leaves him her seven-year-old son. He’s committed to doing what’s best for Sammy… but he’s going to need a lot of help. When Tino lands on his porch, Channing is determined to recruit him to Team Sammy.

Tino plans to make his education count—even if that means avoiding a relationship—but as he falls harder and harder for his boss, he starts to wonder: Does he have to leave his newly forged family behind in order to live his promising tomorrow?

Available at:  Amazon

Blog Tour Dates:

June 24 – MM Good Book Reviews

June 27 – My Fiction Nook

June 28 – Open Skye Book Reviews

July 1 – Boy Meets Boy

July 3 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words  

July 5 – Love Bytes

July 6 – Long and Short Reviews

  

Amy Lane on Writing, Books and her new release in the Little Goddess series ‘Quickening, Vol. 1’ (author interview)

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Quickening Vol. 1 (Little Goddess #5 Vol. 1) by Amy Lane
D
SP Publications
Release Date:  May 2, 2017

Buy Links

Vulnerable Amazon | Vulnerable DSPP | Quickening Amazon | Quickening DSPP

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words’ Interview with Amy Lane~

How much of yourself goes into a character? That depends on the character—every character has a little bit of me or somebody I know in them—but some have more than others.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?  Not really—very early on, I learned that when you put your own experiences in the hands of another person they become a different thing altogether. For Lady Cory, when she was an alienated adolescent, she got pissed off. I got mousy—and I liked her reaction better.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures? 

LOL—anybody who says you don’t do research when world building hasn’t paid attention.  Research to me usually means answering the question, “Hey, is that plausible?”  Sometimes it means defending yourself to your editing staff. I once wrote (in a fantasy) that it got colder right after sunrise. The entire editing staff jumped my shit and said it was impossible, and I had to pull three different sources that said it was totally possible. Even when you’re writing fantasy, you’re building on a long collected established code of wisdom and lore, and it’s good to know who’s ground you’re treading.  No—I choose my genre depending on what I like to read at the moment. The research follows.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing? Holy Goddess yes. The Blue Fairy Book, Norse Myths, To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice in Wonderland, The Hero and the Crown, and countless Harlequin Presents are all battling for supremacy with every damned story.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed? No. Once only have I put a story aside, and it’s because I was 70K in, and it was only halfway, and I needed my Christmas story before I’d be finished. Other than that, no. I start, I work to the finish, and I hope for the best.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?  I like HEA, but I don’t mind series that work for it—for example, Fish Out of Water, there are going to be a few more books there, and those guys are continually working for their balance.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?  Absolutely.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?  (I listed a few above so I’ll skip this one.)

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?  I think there are already two kinds of e-book audiences. One is the potato chip audience—reads absolutely everything, one or two books a day.  This is the type of reader that Kindle Unlimited was made for—and that’s wonderful, because that kind of addiction could bankrupt a person.  Also, I started out as an indie-pub, and my editing was not great, and people still found my books and treasured them—so I’m glad to see there is a growing outlet for that writer to get discovered and loved. 

The other reader is more the steak and salad audience—has either limited time or limited income or both, and will read all of an author’s backlist, from beginning to end, because this author has pleased the reader in the past, and it’s worth the reader’s time and effort—and possibly more money—to stick with one writer because there’s a component of trust there. These are often the authors who have a press and a slightly higher book price—there are gatekeepers there to make sure the product is as good as it can be. The thing is, this audience is starting to find itself. For a while, after KU came out, established writers were floundering, but as this audience realized they couldn’t read ALL the books and started relying on their favorite authors as they had before, and things are stabilizing again.

The fact is, e-books as entertainment are still one of the cheapest and most popular forms of entertainment—it’s up to authors and publishers to figure out how best to utilize their accessibility.

That being said, I still remember being part of the Rainbow Book Fair in New York City—where people brought suitcases and filled them with paperbacks, because, as hard as it is for us to believe, there are still people who devote their love of reading to print books. I think print still has a while to go on the favorite list—but e-book will continue to rise.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)  I usually ask for an image or a set of images, and the cover artist the company provides submits drafts for my approval. I actually have a very funky, odd visual sense—one of my favorite things to make as a knitter is a blanket or sweater put together out of scraps. This isn’t the greatest thing in marketing—it’s taken me a few years to figure that out—and I think it’s one of the reasons the New York publishing houses usually just hand an author a cover and say, “Yes. This is your cover. Deal with it.”  Because some of my covers are STUNNING, but some of them make me wonder what was in the water when I was having that conversation.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?  My favorites are the underdogs. The Little Goddess stories will always be my favorites. Fish Out of Water—totally my favorite. Racing for the Sun—top of my list.  I know that I have stories that are more popular than those—and I’m proud to have written them, but some of them get so much love I’m like, “Oh, Beneath the Stain has been soooooooo appreciated. This other one needs my support more.”

What’s next for you as an author?  Well, I’m trying to write a little more paranormal and urban fantasy—the trick is getting it to sell, because it doesn’t always do what we want it to. Coming out I have Quickening 1& 2, Manny Get Your Guy, Red Fish/Dead Fish, Familiar Angel (a paranormal) and Regret Me Not (the Christmas story I just finished), followed by Stand by Your Manny. 

So, something for everyone, I hope

Blurb

Little Goddess: Book Five
Volume One


Cory thought she’d found balance on Green’s hill—sorceress, student, queen of the vampires, wife to three men—she had it down! But establishing her right to risk herself with Green and Bracken had more than one consequence, and now she’s facing the world’s scariest job title: mother.

But getting the news that she’s knocked up takes a backseat when a half-elf hunts them down for help. Her arrival brings news that the werewolf threat, which has been haunting them for over a year, has finally arrived on their doorstep—and it’s bigger and more frightening than they’d ever imagined.

Cory throws herself into this new battle with everything she’s got—and her men let her do it. Because they all know that whether they defeat this enemy now or later, the thing she’s most afraid of is arriving on a set schedule, and not even Cory can avoid it. The trick is getting her to acknowledge she’s pregnant before she gives birth—or kills herself in denial.

Excerpt

Bracken nuzzled my cheek and, very carefully, put his hand on my abdomen again. I felt nothing but a little bit of hardness there, like I’d had a very full meal, except lower.

“What did you do? Why did it hurt?” I asked, half-afraid he’d put the pregnancy at risk in an effort to get through to me. I should have known better.

“Just talked to it,” he said. “One of them shares my gift. It was painful to have us talk through your blood.”

I noticed the way he said “one of them.” Elves did not pass down their own traits in the DNA. In fact, nobody really knew how elves and trait heredity really worked. Bracken’s parents were both lower fey. His mother was a pixie—three and a half feet of sex kitten with violet hair. His father was a redcap—same height, but built like the forgotten corner of a rock quarry.

Bracken was six feet six of beautiful, broad-shouldered, mostly smooth, pale-skinned, big-eyed sidhe perfection.

For all I knew, I was carrying a rock quarry and a pixie in my womb—but somehow I didn’t think so.

I blinked very slowly, wrestling with one thing at a time. “Does that mean I’m going to bleed out every time I pop a zit?” Yes, it was a gross analogy, but my skin hadn’t been this cluttered with acne since I was a junior in high school. Click. Oh, hell. Of course I was a big pimply mass of estrogen. Fucking Jesus—this was not going to get better.

“No,” Green said, his eyes meeting Brack’s. “In fact, we’re pretty sure the other one has my healing power. We think it was, perhaps, the Goddess….” He trailed off delicately.

“Trying to make sure I don’t die of my own stupidity?”

The lingering tension that had been present since I’d first gaped at Green and said “Oh fuck no!” began to dissipate.

“Not stupid, Corinne Carol-Anne,” he said softly. “Just very, very young.”

I usually railed at that. I’d finally reached twenty-two, right? Hell, there was a time I didn’t think I was going to live past twenty—and given how many scary things had tried to kill me, getting here was quite an accomplishment.

But not now. I had never felt so young in all my life—not even the morning I’d woken up in Green’s arms and we’d realized that our vampire lover had died the night before, and it was the two of us alone and grieving.

I snuggled in more tightly, and Bracken got a little closer. His hand brushed my breast as he did so, and my nipple gave a little shriek of pain. I gasped but kept it to myself—because hey, what girl hadn’t endured a boob shot when snuggling with one of her ginormous husbands, right?

Bracken grunted and stared at me through eyes the color of a weedy, brackish pond in shadows. “That hurt,” he stated.

“Yeah. The girls have been a little tender ever since Monterey….”

Just that quickly a kaleidoscope of our adventure down by the sea flickered behind my eyes. In particular, there was the moment when Teague, our alpha werewolf, and his husband, Jack, passive-aggressive pain in my ass, had both teamed up to protect me.

“Oh, hell. Was that why Jack decided to side with me? Because I’m pregnant?”

Dammit! Of all the…. I’d wanted to win Jack over with my leadership abilities, or with my ability to protect his lover, who was one of my captains and one of my best friends, or even with my friendship with their wife, Katy, whom I both adored and was dazzled by.

“You have a problem with that?” Brack asked curiously. Yeah, Brack’s brain worked along straightforward lines—as long as the result was that I was protected, he didn’t give a crap why.

“I would have liked it if he’d just thought I was a good enough leader to serve,” I grumbled. “I mean, what’s a girl gotta do?”

Bracken pulled out from under my arm, his eyes blazing. He ran a distracted hand through his dark hair, setting it on end like an angry hedgehog, and stared at me.

That’s what you’re worried about?” he asked, sounding outraged. “Do you know how many dangerous, foolish things we did in Monterey? And you’re worried that Jack followed you for the wrong reasons?”

I shivered—which was one of the by-products of having an emergency field transfusion of his blood, which I didn’t remind him of, because hey—one more thing to be pissed at me for, right?

So instead of arguing, I actually thought about what he was saying. Then I wished I hadn’t.

’Cause, well, we’d jumped out of a helicopter to be caught by my magic and my magic alone, which was a first for me in the flying department. We’d stood up to a gigantic rabid wolf pack with nothing but exhausted, injured werewolves and a few tired Avian shifters as support, and I’d….

Oh God, I’d….

I’d been forced to mass kill again, when I’d sworn I’d never do that. Not on purpose. Not so soon after having to issue a death warrant on vampire children because they’d had the bad luck to be turned by a pedophile and would never be sane, never be safe, never be human again.

In my mind I went back to that moment, the lot of us trapped under the force field I’d erected out of magic and desperation in a back alleyway. We’d been just far enough from the sea for us to lose the smell of hope. The rogue wolves had been throwing themselves against it for what seemed like forever, and I’d been growing tired. I could make the shield lethal. I’d been able to kill with my power from the very beginning, but I just kept hoping they’d see sense, that they’d stop somehow, that I wouldn’t have to waste so many fucking lives….

And I’d been teetering between trying to fight our way out and simply making the shield enough to kill them all, when Teague—my captain, my right-hand man, my friend—had looked at me and whimpered. His back end had dropped then—as it should, since he’d been recovering from breaking every bone in his body less than a week before—and I’d seen it in his eyes.

Please.

His mates were there, Jack and Katy, and he wanted them to live.

Or that’s what I’d thought.

Instinctively I placed my hand over my lower abdomen, thinking of what we could have lost there. What Bracken had known I’d been risking.

“You didn’t say anything,” I whispered. I looked over my shoulder at Green. He was gazing at me levelly, with no apologies and no regrets.

“No,” Green said. He and Bracken were staring at each other as though they were reliving a terrible conversation of their own.

“But—” But why? Why would two men who had made my health and welfare their bloody science for the past two years not protest, not try to protect me, not try to talk me out of my own stupid pride when I had their children on board?

“You never would have forgiven….” Bracken looked around the living room like he was looking for words. “Anybody!” he burst out. “Any of us. You, me, Green—hell, the children-to-be. And if, Goddess forbid, anything had happened to Teague, it would have been—” He stood for a moment and flailed his arms. “Cory-a-geddon. You would have self-detonated. This whole… baby thing would have begun under a—”

“A black karmic funk of epic proportions,” I supplied, feeling a little queasy just thinking about it. Of course, since I’d been feeling queasy pretty much for the past two and a half weeks, that was no big news. “But….” I could have died? Well, I could have died a lot of times in the last two years. I kept arguing that I would be fine—there were no promises, and my entire purpose was protection.

But….

Nothing.

“I asked for this?” Quiet revelations do sometimes sound like questions. “I did. I… I said I knew best, and… and….”

“And we trusted you to know best,” Green said quietly. “We trusted you with you, and our children.”

I closed my eyes, somewhat reassured. “That’s….” But I couldn’t do it. Maturity had apparently gotten me into this mess. It was time for honesty to get me out.

Terrifying!” I wailed, and then I dissolved into stupid tears on Green’s chest.

Bracken sighed and plopped behind me, and I cried until I fell asleep.

About the Author

Amy Lane has two kids in college, two gradeschoolers in soccer, two cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and m/m romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.
 
Twitter: @amymaclane
 
 
 

Amy Lane on Writing, Personal Experience, the Saber Dance and her latest release ‘Bonfires’ (guest post)

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Bonfires by Amy Lane
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist:  Anne Cain

Purchase Links

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Amy Lane here today talking about one of my recently highly recommended stories, Bonfires. Welcome, Amy.

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Saber Dance

By Amy Lane

When I was a kid, one year my dad made less than $1500 for the entire year. Yes, you read that right, we’re not missing a zero—or two.  Yeah, sure, it was the seventies, and they didn’t drug test the poor people before giving out food stamps, and we lived in a dump for $75 a month, but you got to admit, that’s cutting things a bit close.

My dad was smart though—at the time he was in school to become a respiratory therapist (because Work-Fare WORKS, dammit!) and he made his scant living at a pick-n-pull, but he knew how to stretch out a dollar. We planted a garden, because seeds were cheap, and he haunted the feed stores for fertilized eggs.  A hammer, some nails, a lightbulb, and BANG! Baby chickens—and whether they were roosters or hens, one way or another those critters would feed us for a year.  (One year it was roosters—twenty-three out of twenty-five of them. My dad called all of his friends over to become a chicken-killing assembly line, and we had a hell of a barbecue, but that’s another story.)

So livestock, I’ve had it.  As well as cats, for most of my life. And the thing with feeding the chickens (or the sheep or cats or dogs for that matter) is that there are feedbags left over. A long time ago, you used to be able to get some of the feed—or rice for that matter—in heavy duty cloth bags, but mostly they came in paper. 

All of those layers of paper, with all of those leftover grains of food.

You what likes leftover grains of food?

Mice. Mice like leftover grains of food.

I remember—more than once—the chicken coop or feedbag pile getting infested with mice, and the orgy of destruction that followed.

There is nothing as entertaining as a cat chasing mice, especially one who has not become completely domesticated and still has a strong stream of jaguar running through its veins. The thing is, cats are insanely well-crafted killing machines. Everything from curved claws to sharp teeth to lashing tail plays some part in the feline Saber Dance that is a cat getting down to business.

I know some people out there—people who have possibly never had to walk into a darkened chicken coop to collect eggs and try not to freak out at the scurry of little feet as they scuttle through the hay—feel terrible for the furry little rodents, and I do see their side.  I mean, my kids have kept mice and rats as pets, and on a one-on-one basis they can be amiable little creatures with adorable beady eyes and twitching whiskers.

They can also be cannibalistic nightmares who overrun chicken coops, devour crops (remember, those were dinner!) and scurry over your sandal-clad foot when you least expect them. And my heroes, the floofy kitties, were effectively getting rid of the little grain-stealing criminals.

I was a fan!  Hell—on the day of the Massive Rooster Roast, half the adults who were supposed to be plucking and gutting chickens were in the chicken coop watching Squinter, my cat, do his thing, because that animal was amazing. If you’ve never seen a cat going after a mouse with one paw while he’s got one under the other paw and a third in his mouth, you are missing a cat’s reason for being.

So the scene from Bonfires in which Larx is throwing the feedbags onto the burn pile, and the cats are eliminating the fleeing mice—that’s drawn from my memories as a child. I remember how necessary clearing out the garden was, how the feedbags (in Larx’s case, it was cat food) often harbored more than feed, and how the family cats actually shook off their mantles of sloth and somnolence and for once earned their keep.

The texture of the light, the sharpness of the air in the fall, and the gladiatorial drama of life and death enacted on the stage of the fall bonfire all inspired a tremendous anticipation in my chest.

Like falling in love when you’re pushing fifty, it’s a timeless spectacle that feels brand new.

About Bonfires

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

About the Author

Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.

She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.

She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.

Connect with Amy:

Website: greenshill.com

Blog: writerslane.blogspot.com

Twitter: @amymaclane

Facebook group: Amy Lane Anonymous

Goodreads: goodreads.com/amymaclane

Stops on the blog tour:


March 17 – MM Good Book Reviews

March 24 – Divine Magazine

March 27 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words  

March 27 – The Novel Approach

March 28 – Alpha Book Reviews

March 29 – Love Bytes

March 30 – Gay Book Reviews

March 31 – My Fiction Nook 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Freckles (2016 Holiday Charity Bundle) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

freckles-by-amy-laneThe only thing better than a low-level angst story from Amy Lane is one that is low-level angst and has a cute puppy in it and is a Christmas story.  Score all three on this one!

Honestly, the author had me right from the beginning when she painted the picture of Carter, a man who’s been living a boring, very neat and tidy life. He’s just broken up with his boyfriend of three months because he works too many hours, regardless of the fact that he was working to earn enough billable hours to go on a cruise with said boyfriend. When the cute little puppy, who reminded me so much of my own cute little puppy, entered the story via being literally abandoned in Carter’s hands, my heart just melted. 

Two really gentle, sweet, and somewhat ordinary guys, neither with the best of luck in relationships meet when Carter, who somehow found himself with a fluffy, two-pound puppy in his possession, takes the little one to the vet hospital located in the big franchise pet store. He needs to find out what to do with her and how healthy she is (or isn’t). He also has a million questions—mostly looking for the kind of all-around help any panicky person who’s never owned a pet before might require.  There he meets Sandy, a vet tech who’s enrolled part time in veterinary college. Sandy is a hard worker with a great personality and a ton of ambition. So much so, that his past boyfriend left because Sandy didn’t seem to have enough time for fun, and their goals and life ambitions weren’t the same. Sandy can see himself with pets and kids in a committed relationship in his future, something his boyfriend didn’t want. 

As a side note here, I need to thank Amy Lane for allowing Sandy to work in the pet store where the manager, Tommy, seems to have a lot of hot, sexy friends.  As soon as I heard Tommy’s name, I knew who he was, and I’m so happy about this that I feel like Amy Lane gave me a Christmas gift of my own.  Squee!

Back to the story, it’s everything I need to bring me happiness when I’m feeling a little down. As the story progresses, Carter emerges from his preconceived notions of what a successful attorney should be and disregards the mold that had been set for his life—all because of a sexy and kind-hearted vet tech named Sandy and a sweet little puppy named Freckles.  What happens to bring these two men together and to forge a new path for both Carter and Sandy make this story a delight to read.  I highly recommend it for bringing in the holiday cheer. 

The cover by LC Chase shows the adorable puppy, Freckles, peeking out of an open box. Very bright and attractive, this cover is attention-getting.

Sales Links (other links coming soon)

Riptide Publishing

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Book Details:

ebook, 170 pages
Expected publication: November 14th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626495033 (ISBN13: 9781626495036)
Edition Language English

Amy Lane on Facebook for Dogs and her release ‘Freckles’ (2016 Riptide Holiday Charity Bundle) (guest blog and giveaway)

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freckles-by-amy-lane

Freckles (2016 Holiday Charity Bundle) by Amy Lane
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Order  It Here

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is lucky to have Amy Lane here today to share her thoughts on dog ownership, dogs, and the adventure of a walk from a dogs pov.  Welcome, Amy!

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Facebook for Dogs By Amy Lane

So, in Freckles, my Christmas story, Carter Embree, a guy who has never owned so much of a goldfish, is suddenly in charge of a small dog.

He’s trying to be a good dog owner, so he takes Freckles out for a walk—and ends up getting an entire education about what a dog thinks a walk should be, versus what a people thinks a walk should be.freckles-2-2

It’s an entirely different thing.  I mean, people put dogs on a leash and we think we’re taking them for a walk.

Ha!

Yes, there is walking involved, but the dog isn’t thinking of it as exercise. The dog is pretty sure he’s going FaceBooking—and this leads to some conflict.

Think about it—they catch up on friends, investigate new things, tell each other jokes… if a dog wants to know what’s going on in its community, it gets itself hooked onto a leash and takes its owner for a walk.

And then smells ALL THE DAMNED THINGS—while the people tugs impatiently at the leash and tries not to trip, fall, and die.

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Sort of like my dogs Geoffie and Johnnie, who’s morning FaceBook might go something like this:

“Oh, hey, Geoffie—the Shih-Tzu from across the street has been here—see?”

“Oh yes, Johnnie—she’s eating the good kibble, you can tell—ooh, look, the turkeys have blogged!”

“No! No! No!  Don’t clickbait the turkey poop!”

“But Johnnie… it’s so good! Look! Little delicious juicy sound bites to quibble—“

“Oh, did you see that? The Motherboard doesn’t like clickbait—yanked your chain, she did. Slows the whole thing down. She’ll make you drop that right quick.”

“Butt cookies!!”

“Don’t whine, Geoffie—there’s always more cookies when you click FaceBook for dogs.”

“Ooh… dead-thing memes. Did you see this, Johnnie? I’ve got to roll in it—it makes me happy every time.”

“Ooh… good one, Geoffie! I can roll in this dead-thing meme forever! Ha ha! Ha ha! Ha ha! Aren’t dead-things the BEST!”

“But… but… Motherboard, why won’t you let us surf the dead things? WAIIIIIIEEEEEEE????”

“Too much surfing isn’t good for you, Geoffie. That’s why the Motherboard has the leash and collar control system, you know that.”

“Yes, I know. Come on, Johnnie, let’s—Oh. Didn’t realize you were stopping to blog.”

“You (grunt) know (grunt) about blogging.”

“Ooh—good one, Johnnie.”

“Thanks, Geoffie. (kicks grass over blog)  Suddenly you just get the urge to unload.”

“Yes—I know. I don’t understand why the Motherboard feels the urge to delete our posts though. Don’t you think everybody wants to read them? I mean we like reading everybody else’s.”

“Right? And the bags she uses—stink to high heaven. Citrusy plastic something. Just not as inviting as a good blog. I don’t understand at all.”

“Well, there’s no accounting for taste. And… oh. Must blog.”

“Your blogs are always so short, Geoffie.”

“Thank you.  Oooh… look. Turkeys!”

“Oh my God—FLAME WAR! FLAME WAR WITH THE TURKEYS! DIE MOTHERFUCKERS, GO DOWN IN A BLAZE OF TROLL GLORY!”

“You tell ‘em, Johnnie—we hate turkeys. If they didn’t want us to hate ‘em they wouldn’t leave such good clickbait. Hates ‘em. Don’t back down, you’ve got ‘em on the—OMG!”

“TURKEYS! THEY’RE FLAMING BACK! ABORT ABORT ABORT! DELETE ALL TURKEY POSTS! RUUUUNNNNNNNNNNN!!!”

(Dogs and Motherboard catch breath)

“Oh, nicely done, Johnnie, you told those turkeys!”

“Yes, well, you know. Wanted to walk away from the convo. No use getting sucked into a fight that’s going to last all day.”

“Yeah, we’re almost around the corner anyway. One more sniff so we can read the Great Dane’s blog, and then we can go home and get off FaceBook.  I’m ready for some real life interaction with my canned food and a nap.”

So, next time you see a dog on a walk, picture the world as his computer—and wonder what he’s surfing.  It’s definitely as absorbing to him as FaceBook is to us!

About Freckles

freckles-by-amy-laneCarter Embree has always hoped to be rescued from his productive, tragically boring, and (slightly) ethically compromised life. But when an urchin at a grocery store shoves a bundle of fluff into his hands, Carter goes from rescuee to rescuer—and he needs a little help.

Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who helps ease Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes that Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax. But as Sandy gets a glimpse into the funny, kind, sexy man under Carter’s mild-mannered exterior, he sees that with a little care and feeding, Carter might be Super-Pet Owner—and decent boyfriend material to boot.

But Carter needs to see himself as a hero first. As he says good-bye to his pristine house and hello to carpet treatments and dog walkers, he finds that there really is more to himself than a researching drudge without a backbone. A Carter Embree can rate a Sandy Corrigan. He can be supportive, he can be a hero, he can be a man who stands up for his principles!

He can be the owner of a small dog.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/freckles

About Amy Lane

Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.

She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.

She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.

Connect with Amy:

freckles_tourbanner

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Freckles, one lucky winner will receive Freckles in ebook and another ebook of their choice from Amy’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 19, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!