Venona Keys Talks Inspiration, Short Stories and the Anthology ‘Once Upon a Time in the Weird West’ (Dreamspinner Press guest post and giveaway)

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Once Upon a Time in the Weird West
by Langley Hyde , Astrid Amara , Ginn Hale , Nicole Kimberling ,
C.S. Poe, Lex Chase , Venona Keyes , Tali Spence

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have  Venona Keyes here today to talk about her short story and the inspiration behind it in the Dreamspinner anthology Once Upon a Time in the Weird West.  Welcome, Venona!

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Short Story Title: POMH byVenona Keyes

When people ask, “What inspired you to write this story?” It’s usually a song or a human interest  story or a news event.  For the Weird West, my inspiration was the movie Bicentennial Man and The Jetsons. Really? In a steam-punky inspired story, I drew upon those things? Yes, in an old fashioned way.

A re-imagined West, one where a new mechanical revolution was the norm. Tracks laid down  by steam powered machines; built not just for a train, but for individual carriages or wagon carriages. I could see people zooming by (actually steaming by), to escape the confines of the crowded and polluted East, to conquer the wild open spaces of the West. To spread out and make a fortune, or a better life.
Inventors were key to this expansion. They were much like what blacksmiths were back in the day; a valuable member of the community who helped build the community with metal items.  Inventors in this west make mechanical items while the blacksmiths still made metal items; horseshoes, wagon wheels, hinges, door knockers, and weapons.

Inventors were the craftsman of machines that made life easier.  No matter where you were on the economic ladder, you had at least one item made by an inventor.   Some of these items were steam-powered baby prams,  child corrallers, tree fruit harvesters, and horseless carriages to name a few.  As you got up in the social and monied classes, the disposable income went to a more frivolous or luxurious type item, like gilded mechanical flying birds, encrusted with jewels and ivory. The ingenuity of the item was only limited by the imagination of the inventor.
In POMH, the main character, Lorem Farcome, is in dire need of an assistant. He no longer wants a human assistant, but one that is steam powered.  He dreamed and designed it, and with a find of a rare prism, he can make his dream come true.  Jealousy and envy prove to be a big stumbling blocks, as another, more monied and more powerful inventor has his sights on taking the creation, Pomh, from Lorem.

Have you ever had a dream come true, and was the path to the dream an easy or hard one?  Or, what has inspired you to achieve something you always wanted to do, and you did it?  Comment to enter into the Rafflecopter!

POHM Blurb:

Lorem Farcome makes inventions that cater to the working class. He dreams of a lost chance in love and a lost apprentice. The lost love he can do nothing about, but an apprentice, he can surely build. With a rare red prism, Lorem creates and animates his assistant, dubbing him “Pomh.” The road never runs smooth, and a wealthy and powerful competitor, Markus Reighn, accuses Lorem of stealing the red prism and claims Lorem’s mechanical man for himself. But an odd-looking

About Once Upon a Time in the Weird West Anthology

This isn’t the same old Wild West. The usual suspects are all present: cowboys, outlaws, and sheriffs. There’s plenty of dust, tumbleweeds, horses, and cattle on the range, but there are also magical gems, automatons, elementals, airships… even dinosaurs and genetically modified insects. Roaming among the buffalo and coyotes, you’ll encounter skinwalkers, mad engineers, mythical beings cloaked in darkness, and lovers who stay true to their oaths… even beyond the grave. On this frontier are those at the mercy of their own elaborate devices as well as men whose control of time and space provides a present-day vision of the West. There might even be a dragon hidden amongst the ghost towns and wagon trains.

If you like your Westerns with a splash of magic, a touch of steampunk, and plenty of passionate romance between men, these genre-bending tales will exceed expectations.

Hold on to your hats, cowboys and cowgirls. The West is about to get weird, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.

Purchase Links

           

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About the Author

Venona Keyes is a modern woman who believes in doing it all; if doing it all is only in her head. She amazes people that she can be wholly unorganized yet pack a perfect carry on suitcase for a ten day trip to Paris. Ms. Keyes is a believer in the just in time theory, and can be seen sprinting in airports to the gate before the plane door closes.

Venona has experienced love and loss at the deepest level, and is thankful for writing and daydreaming, for it kept, and still keeps her sane. Writing also introduced her to some of the most supportive and wonderful people, to which she will always be grateful.

Venona is a voracious reader, loves her feline boys, volunteers at an animal shelter, attempts to cook everything in her CSA boxes, is an accomplished speaker, is a seasoned triathlete, and enjoys swimming, biking, hiking, skipping, dancing, and her beloved overgrown garden.

Social Media links

Website: http://www.venonakeyes.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/venona.keyes

Giveaway

1) Steam-punk inspired heart shaped pendant necklace

2) Title: The Trust,  Coming of Age, and All Steamed Up Anthology

Rafflecopter Code:

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Blog Tour Schedule

12/6 – Gay Book Reviews – Jana Denardo

12/7 – The Novel Approach – Kim Fielding

12/8 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words – Venona Keyes

12/9 – Diverse Reader – Tali Spencer

Sinfully Gay MM Book Reviews – Jamie Fessenden

12/12 – Love Bytes – Lex Chase

12/13 – Boy Meets Boy – Astrid Amara

12/14 – Prism Book Alliance – Ginn Hale

12/15 – Alpha Book Club – C.S. Poe

12/16 – Joyfully Jay – Langley Hyde

12/19 – Divine Magazine – Nicole Kimberling

12/20 – My Fiction Nook – Shira Anthony

Open Skye – Andrew Q. Gordon

Scattered Thoughts July 2013 Book Review Summary

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Scattered Thoughts July 2013 Book Review Summaryjulyjpeg

It was an outstanding month with regard to books I read.  So many great books and authors that it made this month a joy to be a reader and reviewer. And even more remarkable is that every one of the 5 star rated books were all part of a great series, whether it was a long established series or a series just getting started.  Mary Calmes released her 7th book in her A Matter of Time series,, Missouri Dalton new Guidebook series promises to be an instant classic for young and old,  Amy Lane made us weep as she  finished up her beloved Promises series, and Kendall McKenna continued to prove she is one of the best military fiction writers I know with her third book in the Recon Diaries series.   And that’s just the tip of the books read and reviewed this month.  So many great stories, truly something for everyone.

All the reviews are linked.  So take a look, see what story you might have missed or new author to add to your must read list.  The bar has been set really high for August.  Just saying.

 

July 2013 Book Review Summary
5 Star Rating:
Birds of a Feather (Bellingham Mysteries #5) by Nicole Kimberling (contemporary romance)
Forever Promised (Promises #4) by Amy Lane (contemporary romance)
Necromancy and You (Guidebooks #2) by Missouri Dalton (YA horror supernatural fiction)
Parting Shot (A Matter of Time #7) by Mary Calmes (contemporary romance)
The Final Line (Recon Diaries #3) by Kendall McKenna (contemporary romance)

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:
Attachment Strings (Jeff Woods Mystery #1) by Chris T. Kat (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Fever Anthology by M. Rode (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Grime and Punishment (The Brothers Grime #1) by Z.A. Maxfield (4.5 stars)(contemporary romance)
Son of a Gun by A.M. Riley (4 stars) (contemporary romance)
Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino (4.25 stars)(contemporary romance)
The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest (4.25 stars)(contemporary romance)
Vampirism and You (Guidebooks #1) by Missouri Dalton (4.75 stars) (YA horror supernatural)
Worlds Collide (Sanctuary #7) by R. J. Scott (4.75 stars)(contemporary romance)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:
Bully For You by Catt Ford (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Love On The East End by Lily Sawyer (3.5 stars)(contemporary romance)
Pick Up Men by L.C. Chase (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Tattoo You by Willa Okati (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels (3.75 stars) (contemporary romance)
Waiting for Ty (Lovers and Friends #2) by Samantha Ann King (3 stars) (contemporary romance)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
Changing Planes by Karenna Colcroft (2 stars) (contemporary romance)

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:
Side Line by Ben Ryder (1.5 stars) (contemporary romance)

Review: Birds of a Feather (Bellingham Mysteries #5) by Nicole Kimberling

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Birds of a FeatherNow that the State of Washington has legalized gay marriage, Bellingham Hamster reporter Nick Fontaine and abstract painter Nick Olson are getting married.  They have planned a simple ceremony but nothing simple is ever possible with Peter in the picture.  Their parents are coming and Peter is sure NIck’s folks are going to hate him.  Peter’s mother is arriving early full of wedding ideas and an ex of Nick’s has arrived as well.

But Peter still has a job to do and his boss at the paper expects an article soon. So when a bald eagle has been found shot to death near the Castle, their home in Bellingham, Peter knows he has the subject for his next story.  But the investigation is proving harder than he thought and then Nick’s father decides to accompany him as his sleuthing assistant, could things get any weirder for Nick and Peter?  Of course, they could……

Birds of a Feather is the fifth in the  Bellingham Mysteries series and my favorite book so far.  I adore everything about this series, from the wonderful main characters, the quirky town of Bellingham, to the mysteries they get involved in, it all works and works serendipitously. Over the course of the series, we have met and fallen in love with so many of the secondary characters as well, Evangeline (Peter’s BFF), her stoner boyfriend, Detective Patton (Peter’s favorite lesbian police officer) and so many more.  They are all present and accounted for in Birds of a Feather, just as they should be in a book focused on Peter and Nick’s marriage.

All of Kimberling’s characters come across as not only completely human but whose personalities lend themselves to living in a town where everyone is involved in everyone’s business (personal and otherwise), where green rules, quirky is the name of the game, and tolerance and individuality go skipping hand in hand across the town center.  Of course, Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington so her knowledge of the town is authentic and affectionate. This is how Nicole Kimberling describes Bellingham in her Author Spotlight for Scattered Thoughts:

Because I live here, I’m constantly discovering new facets of the city
and new slices of society–more than I think I’ll ever be able to fit
into the stories. There are the illegal mountain bike trail builders,
the rustic folk musicians, the unschoolers, the gamers. And then there
are the institutions, like the bible software company that basically
owns two whole city blocks downtown, the Humane Society, the Alternate
Humane Society, the Alternate Alternate Humane Society… The town is
rich with unexplored weirdness.”

That oddness permeates the Bellingham Mysteries like the terroir does in wine.  And added to each mystery is usually a fount of information about a subject pertinent to the mystery itself.  Sometimes it is beekeeping or perhaps candlemaking or even chicken farming as it is here but I always learn something new and delightful with each story.   The element of charm combined with a certain weirdness lays a foundation for a book and series that pulls you in immediately and refuses to turn you loose at the end.

Placed within this framework is the relationship of Peter and Nick.  It began slowly in Primal Red with Nick as a suspect, and builds to the relationship they have in Birds of a Feather where they are finally ready and able to get married.  Both men have had trust issues, commitment issues, and communication issues, all of which we see them work through, book by book.  And because we have been there from the beginning, this book becomes even more satisfying, emotionally and romantically.  We’ve been waiting for this too!  But Peter remains Peter, and his inner monologue is never far away.  Here is an example:

 The smell probably— calming pheromones or something.

He should look that up when he finally got to work, he thought.

Maybe write an article about the comforting smell of a strong man. Maybe he could write a little historical romance on the side…

Even before Young Peter knew he was shaking, Lord Nicolas had draped his splendid silken frockcoat over the scholar’s slim shoulders. “That arrow came too close for comfort,” he whispered.

With Peter, fantasy is always just a thought away, and his humorous flights of fancy will have you giggling in no time.  So will Nick’s father, Eric who comes up with the outstanding “Jealous Vengeful Canadians” theory for the Bald Eagle killing.  I won’t go into specifics but they are worth the price of the book right there.  Yes, there is more than one mystery here but the real gems of the Bellingham Mysteries are the town, Peter and Nick and everyone around them.

Consider this book highly recommended, consider the series highly recommended too.  But don’t start here! For those of you new to the series, go back to Primal Red, the first in the series.  See how Nick and Peter met and get a feel for one of the most charming and weird towns around.  You are going to love it and them.

Cover art by April Martinez is consistent with all the other covers of the series.  I do wish the models were more in keeping with the characters inside the book.  Otherwise it is too dark to really see what else is incorporated in the design.

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 2013 by Loose Id
ISBN139781623001841
edition languageEnglish
original titleBirds of a Feather
urlhttp://www.loose-id.com/bellingham-mysteries-5-birds-of-a-feather.html
seriesBellingham Mysteries

Here are the Bellingham Mysteries books in the order they were written and should be read to under the characters and the development of their relationship:

Primal Red (Bellingham Mysteries, #1)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Bellingham Mysteries, #2)

Black Cat Ink (Bellingham Mysteries, #3)

One Man’s Treasure (Bellingham Mysteries, #4)

Birds of a Feather (Bellingham Mysteries, #5)

What An Amazing Week in LGBTQ History and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Rainbow Empire State BuildingLast week was such an amazing week for the LGBTQ community.  SCOTUS ruled on DOMA and Proposition 8, declaring DOMA unconstitutional and returning Prop 8 to the lower courts, essentially removing the opposition to gay marriages in California, marriages which resumed almost immediately following the decision.  Celebrations were countrywide, loud and joyous.  Even the President phoned to offer his congratulations on the ruling to the couple named in the suit.   True, the opposition has vowed to continue to fight equality, but that tide is turned and their efforts will ultimately be futile ones.   Some people will always continue to be clueless (see Paula Deen) about history lessons. No putting the genie back in the bottle or ushering people to the back of the bus once they have tasted equality.  To be adult about it, nuhuh, ain’t goin’ to happen, folks, so just deal! Woohooo, what a week.

In the FYI portion of the blog, I found Fynn’s F*&k You Scarf Pattern from Missouri Dalton’s The Night Shift.  You can find the pattern here, courtesy of Ravelry and Missouri Dalton.  Really, this pattern is too hysterical for words and looks great too.  Winston is doing great in his adjustment to the household and other dogs, almost seamless.  He is a joy for all of us.  New books are arriving in the Bellingham Mysteries series from Nicole Kimberling (Loose id) and the Recon Diaries series by Kendall McKenna, so look for book giveaways soon.

It’s been a soggy, humid week around here, with fireworks going off willy nilly it seems at local jurisdictions seemed to have planned Fourth of July celebrations anywhere but on the fourth.  Let me tell you, my dogs are  not happy about that! Sigh.

So here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, July 1:                      Scattered Thoughts June Book Review Summary

Tuesday, July 2:                     The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest

Wed., July 3:                           Birds of a Feather by Nicole Kimberling

Thursday, July 4:                   Son of a Gun by A.M. Riley

Friday, July 5:                         Bully for You by Catt Ford

Sat, July 6:                               Pickup Men by L.C. Chase

American Flag CocktailAnd here is a Fourth of July cocktail recipe for you to enjoy.  Happy Fourth of July in advance!

American Flag Cocktail:

American Flag drink recipe made with Blue Curacao,Creme de Cacao,Grenadine,. How to make a American Flag with all the instructions and ingredients.
Recipe Rating: 4.6 stars based on 13 votes
Ingredients to use:
0.33 oz Blue Curacao
0.33 oz Creme de Cacao
0.33 oz Grenadine
Directions:
Mix together with crushed ice in a glass and garnish with mint leaves

For more Fourth of July cocktail recipes, visit this site.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Book Wishes for 2013 – Authors, are you Listening?

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Book Wishes for 2013:

While everyone has been busy making New Year’s resolutions, I have been thinking about what I would wish for 2013 in books.  Turns out I have quite a few wishes, some  I would like to share in hopes they reach an author’s ear or more…..

❋I wish that 2013 brings a new book from JL Langley, this one to feature Sterling and Rhys, her wolf shifters…boy have we been waiting for their story.

❋I wish that 2013 brings another book in the Knitting series from Amy Lane *cough Jeremy cough*

❋I wish that 2013 brings Roan, Dylan, Holden, and the rest back with a fervor because Andrea Speed is killing me with anticipation over what the virus is going to do to Roan next.

❋I wish that Josh Lanyon is relaxed and happy from his sabbatical and ready to unleash some new books on his adoring fans.

❋I wish that I finally have time to start and finish JP Barnaby‘s Lost Boy series.

❋I wish that when authors are describing human eyes, the term “orb” doesn’t even come to mind as a word choice.  Really, people, you are making me mental with this one.  No more “his adoring blue orbs”.  Do you hear how dumb that sounds?  Magical orbs, alien orbs, fine.  Human orbs, no. Emphatically, unwaveringly, absolutely no.  See my Vocabulary Gone Bad series.

❋Ditto man tits.

❋I wish to that Abigail Roux doesn’t hurt Ty and Zane too badly in her next Cut & Run series, but that probably won’t happen.

❋I wish to see fewer instances of “instalove”, more measured steps towards a romantic relationship.

❋I wish that 2013 brings new stories about the Roughstock gang (BA Tortuga) and see Sam further along in his recovery.

❋I wish that Mary Calmes gives us another story in her werepanther universe and Domin Thorne and Yuri, really love those two.

❋I wish that I start taking my time reading books I have been waiting for instead of rushing through them (and then having to start over).  Patience, I need more patience.

❋I wish that when authors put their characters through hell (rape, savage attacks etc), there is no instant recovery without any effects from the abuse.  If you are going to go there, then at least make what happens to these people realistic all the way through.  No brutal multiple rapes and then joyful snowmobiling through the countryside. This makes me crazy too.

❋I wish that Andrew Grey is as prolific as he was in 2012.  I need more  Range stories and Taste of Love series.

❋I wish that 2013 let’s me finish and write the rest of the reviews for Charlie Cochrane‘s outstanding Cambridge Fellows series, really I have no good excuse for this one, time just got away from me.

❋I wish that RJ Scott continues to write in her Sanctuary series, love those boys and TJ Klune brings back more bad poetry from the Kid as well as the Kid himself.

❋I wish to see less rushed endings and more complete backstories.

❋My wish for Sarah Black is for the Pacific Northwest to be as big a muse as the American southwest has been in the past.

❋I wish for more great m/m science fiction.

❋I wish for more in the Wick universe from Megan Derr.

❋I wish for anything new from Laura Baumbach.

❋I wish to see Tucker Springs explode with stories from many of my favorite authors (Marie Sexton, Heidi Cullinan and LA Witt).

❋I wish for more of the Bellingham Mysteries from Nicole Kimberling and Bellski stories from Astrid Amara.

❋I wish that 2013 let’s me discover more new authors I can’t live without.  Thank you, 2012 for RC Cooper, Amelia C. Gormley, Rodney Ross, Shira Anthony, Poppy Denison, Marguerite Labbe, Joel Skelton, Katey Hawthorne, Piper J. Vaughn, Cardeno C, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane to name the ones that jump into my fogged brain this morning.

❋I wish to thank those authors whose stories I have been reading for sometimes for the continued enjoyment and hours of escape you have given me and so many other readers…..Ariel Tachna, Ethan Day, Anne Tenino, James Buchanan, SJ Frost, Josephine Myles, Willa Okati, Carole Cummings, Isabelle Rowan, Kate Steele, Lynn Lorenz, and so many others (again fogged brain from late night and Redskins game).

❋And a final wish for 2013 is for people to remember and rediscover the wonderful Home series by William Neale, an author who will truly be missed.

So that’s it, all my pathetic brain can spew out today.  I am sure there is much more trying to battle their way forward but they will have to wait.  A shout out to all the couples in Maryland that starting getting married at 12:01am this morning. Congratulations and a Happy New Year.  I will be leaving you all with a picture of Kirby in his New Year’s finest, please note the black leis, a nice touch don’t you think to go with his tiara?

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Why A Series Can Make My Heart Sing!

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It’s no secret that I love books and always have.  From my earliest memories of listening to someone read to me then transitioning to being old enough to pick up a book myself to while away the time. When I was younger, my family moved around every couple of years or more as my father’s job was to evaluate school systems. While not a hardship, it’s not conducive to the young who find it hard to leave friends and special places behind again and again.  As I got older and the moving proved more stressful, I turned to books for companionship.  Books, never far from me from birth (a given with parents as educators), became my constant companions. They became my escape from reality, an acceptable form of “invisible friend”, my Harvey. I was lucky in that one of my uncles, a great uncle really, worked at Charles Scribner’s & Sons. Uncle Wade sent us boxes of books of all types and genres, most of which were too old for me (Frank Yerby, really?) and that created its own special allure, to be old enough to read all those  books!  A new goal and easily fed addiction formed early in life – I was seven by then.

Have I said that books fascinate me? It was always just a matter of minutes before I lost myself in an author’s special universe. Their characters jumped to life on their pages waving swords or crawling through tunnels, the places they created became worlds whose paths I wished to tread and on whose seas I wished to voyage. Don’t you remember picking up a book and starting to read, and thinking please, please, never let it end?  That was me, out in the woods or under a blanket in bed, book in hand, eyes shut tight and wishing with all my might for a magic wand and horses with wings.

With some books, just one book is sufficient to satisfy your need for the world the author created.  You read it and are happy to have visited there.  They were great hosts, told you a marvelous story and fed you a meal that left you full if not completely replenished. When it came time to take your leave,you wished those characters well and felt that while you have enjoyed the visit other destinations were calling and you must be off. My Friend Flicka was one. Treasure Island was another.  So was Old Yeller, Dahlgren and National Velvet and hoards of nameless books of my youth. But then there are those books whose characters became friends or heros, the worlds they lived in were places I yearned to go, each and every element necessary and magical to me at the time. Those stories had multiple books called a series! From the mundane to the mystical, I gobbled up series with all the ardor and fervor of a zealot.

For me a series meant never having to leave your favorite characters behind or the universe they inhabited.  After you finished one story, you could look forward to a new adventure, a new challenge or a new journey taken with the same beloved people/beings you met in the first book.  Sometimes the characters stayed the same, they lived in their old house, had the same friends and stayed the same age.  I am thinking Nancy Drew here with Beth, George and Ned.  And sometimes the characters grew up like those in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  But whatever the shape the narrative took, I knew that I would be visiting a familiar place but with unknown consequences. Oh the anticipation, the agony, the  time I spent daydreaming about what was to come next for my heros (of all genders and species).

Whether it was L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings , book series have been my affordable addiction. Not possible to own a herd of horses in a suburban backyard? Let’s substitute dragons for horses and scarf up Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. My parents inform me that we are southbound, going to visit the relatives again this summer. My first reaction? OK, second reaction? Hide all of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books in my suitcase to pull out at the cousins first suggestion to Dippity Do my hair and head out to the Dairy Queen. Series after series, genre after genre, my addiction grew and my bookshelves groaned.

Has my addiction to series dwindled as I have aged? Not on your life! Don’t look at me like that!  I know you have been there along with me. Haven’t you ever reached the end of a book that has kept you mesmerized from word one and wanted to scream out ‘Noooooooo, I don’t want it to end”?  Or had the characters in the latest book you were reading seem so real that the last sentence of the epilogue left you feeling bereft? Or maybe the world that came alive in between the pages was so vivid that you could smell the alien air and feel the magic in the landscape?   It still happens to me at 2 or 3 am in the morning (just like always) when I come to the end of a gripping saga I started earlier that day and never put down.  I scramble to get back to the pages in front and then in the back to see what else the author has written. If stymied, and who wouldn’t be  at that time of the morning, I turn on the computer (ok this part is new) and check for updates at their publishers or websites, never mind the dogs glaring at me because I have disturbed their sleep.  And when my search turns up that the book is a part of a series? Well, let’s just say I give the ol’ Rebel Yell a run for its money and make my Celtic ancestors proud!

Some of my favorite series?  Hard to separate them out as I have so many in different genre’s.  Mystery authors make it easy for me.  Love you Martha Grimes and Inspector Jury, same to you, P.D. James and Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, and on right to up Sarah Paretsky and her female private eye, V I Warshawski and Stieg Larsson and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Once a mystery author creates a character, a series is sure to follow.  Authors of the supernatural and fantasy are much the same.  Look at Laurell K Hamilton and Anita Blake.  Hit List is the 20th Anita Blake novel.  Or Terry Pratchett and his Disc World series that is comprised of 33 novels.  That could be a little daunting if not for the treasure that is Disc world.

Sooooo, where was I? Oh yes, my love for book series.  Today with the advent of eReaders and ePublishing, the novel and book series has never been more popular.  Especially with my m/m fiction, I have so many favorite series that I hardly know where to start.  Perhaps I will start with a series I began my m/m journey with.  That would be Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley series, still going strong today at book no. 27. I love  Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series and Kate Steele’s Bond of the Maleri books. Can’t go wrong there.  I would wave Jet Mykles Heaven Sent series at you, can’t miss those! Or JL Langley’s With or Without series with her wolf shifters that are so hot and memorable. So many that I need to start a list.  And just look at the books I have reviewed lately.  Some of my must read series are among them: Cut and Run from Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux (now just written by Roux), Infected by Andrea Speed (I groan just thinking about Roan – snicker), the Lost Gods series by Megan Derr, the Cambridge Fellows books by Charlie Cochrane, Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series and so many more.  I feel like one of those people at an awards show with a never ending list.  I could go on and on and on while a guy in the wings gives me the signal to shut up.

So here I am all these years later and nothing has changed.  OK, yes some things have changed.  Sheesh! You think you would let a girl get by with some things…but my love of books and a series of books?  Never.  A great series still fills me with excitement and the expectation of wonderful surprises just on the horizon.  I look forward to each new twist and turn the author can think up and that I never saw coming.  I can’t wait for the paths unexplored and the roads not yet taken by characters I love on worlds new and known.  And  that is why a series makes my heart sing.

Small list of my favorite series in no particular order and yes I know I left a lot out.  Please send us your favorites:

M/M Series (3 or more books):

Promised Rock series by Amy Lane
Lost Gods series by Megan Derr (fantasy)
Conquest series (rockers) by S. J. Frost
Heaven Sent by Jet Mykles (rockers)
Adrien English Mystery series by Josh Lanyon contemporary
Cut and Run by Urban and Roux, now just Abigall Roux – contemporary
Infected series by Andrea Speed (science fiction)
Sanctuary series by RJ Scott action/adventure
Faith, Love, and Devotion series by Tere Michaels contemporary
St. Nachos series by Z.A. Maxfield contemporary
Cattle Valley by Carol Lynne cowboys contemporary
With or Without series (shifters) by JL Langley
Sci Regency series by JL Langley
Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane
A Matter of Time series by Mary Calmes
Warder series by Mary Calmes
Home series by TC Chase
Superpowered Love series by Katey Hawthorne

and all the series I have written about this week, Infected, Cambridge Fellows, Lost Gods, Dance with the Devil, The Sanctuary series…..

Bellingham Mysteries series by Nicole Kimberling  – last day to make a comment and be entered into the book giveaway contest for Primal Red.

Review of the Bellingham Mystery Series by Nicole Kimberling

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I  first became acquainted with the small township of Bellingham, Washington and it’s excentric collection of inhabitants in 2009.  That’s when Primal Red was first published and Nicole Kimberling introduced us to Peter Fontaine, intrepid reporter for The Bellingham Hamster, reclusive painter Nick Olsen, Peter’s best friend found object artist Evangeline and her stoner boyfriend, Tommy. In each book, Peter Fontaine investigates a mystery with all the enthusiasm and determination of an Edward R. Murrows (his idol) and with the assistance of some of the quirky new age/back to the earth/greenie inhabitants of the City of Subdued Excitement also known as Bellingham. Peter’s forays for clues and evidence often puts him and others around him in danger, at times keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.

Along with some wonderful mysteries, we get Peter’s idiosyncratic inner monologue which is a absolute delight. Whether Peter is racing down the streets of Bellingham on his bike (his preferred method of locomotion) or sitting at his desk at The Hamster, he is constantly composing either paragraphs for a book or a column for the newspaper.  His thoughts vary from the whimsical to the sarcastic but are always entertaining. Here is an example from the latest book in the series:

“From the Turgid and Tempestuous Chronicles of the Castle at Wildcat Cove: On a stormy Friday evening in April, in the year of our Lord 2011, Evangeline Conklin (sometime found-object artist and all-time best friend of Peter Fontaine) approached the cliffside residence that Fontaine shared with artist Nick Olson. Evangeline’s long curling hair, plaited with dozens of ribbons of astonishing variety, now hung bedraggled by rain and wind and dripped water on the entry mat as she exclaimed, “Thank God you’re home. I really need a favor!”

Peter and Nick first meet in Primal Red and their relationship deepens and matures with each book, in conjunction with the investigation of a mystery as more of Nick’s mysterious history is revealed to Peter and the reader. I love this slowly building of a relationship that is full of hesitation, fear of commitment, love and the necessary adjustments a person makes to accommodate the one they love.  Nicole Kimberling does a great job with all her characters but Peter and Nick hold a special place in my heart. Both men with their diverse backgrounds love their town and the people that live there.  Whether its townfolk search for the mystical, the best ceramic glaze or the finest method of composting, tolerance and acceptance is the key foundation of those who live within its boundaries. In each book I also learn something new about a topic the author is either invested in (beekeeping) or interested in.  I love this element as well as her characters and find the time I spend within the covers of her books one of enjoyment and satisfaction.  I understand Kimberling is going to write another in the series.  I hope so as I can’t wait to visit again in the City of Subdued Excitement!

Nicole Kimberling is giving away a copy of Primal Red (I love that cover).  To enter, please leave a comment with your email address.  A name will be selected late today and the name announced on Sunday.

The BELLINGHAM MYSTERIES Series in the order they were written and should be read in order to better understand the characters, their history and their town of Bellingham:

Primal Red, Bellingham Mystery #1:   4.5 star rating. Peter Fontaine is a reporter with a local free newspaper with a knack of falling right into a story or in this case being in the thick of things. Peter just happens to be on the premises when Shelley Vine, local art professor and rising star of the art world, is stabbed to death in the Vitamilk Building, an historical edifice now housing artists of all media.  Also renting out studio space is reclusive artist Nick Olsen, an enigmatic man Peter finds himself attracted to.  Peter hopes his investigation into Vine’s death propels his career as an investigative reporter forward into the ranks of writers he admires.  But the deeper Peter investigates into Vine’s  past, the more connections he finds with all of the artists in the building, including Nick Olsen.  But nothing will stop Peter from finding out the truth, even if it means the arrest of Nick. This is a wonderful introduction to the very earliest beginnings of the partnership of Nick and Peter.  Peter is also just starting out his career as a journalist and pursues this case with all the eagerness of a first time reporter on the loose.  Loved it.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside, Bellingham Mystery #2: 4.5 star rating. Small town reporter, Peter Fontaine is in the middle of a personal crisis.  He is turning 30 and upon receiving a job offer from a prodigious newspaper in Austin is reexamining his life.  His boyfriend Nick Olson, artist, recluse, and snow-loving outdoorsman, is firmly based on the Northwest, specifically Bellingham, and going to Austin might mean leaving Nick behind.  When Nick and his cousin enter Freezing Man snow sculpture competition, Peter accompanies him, hoping for answers and another column for The Hamster.  Before he can tell Nick of his job offer, they come across a frozen corpse inside one of the competition snow sculptures and the race is on to find a murderer before the contest is over.  This is one of my favorite books of the series.  Peter is forced to examine the state of his relationship with Nick as well take a hard look at his ambitions as a reporter.  More of Nick’s background is also revealed and we get to see what contributed to his character’s reclusive nature.

Black Cat Ink, Bellingham Mystery #3: 4.25 stars. It’s Halloween, Nick and Peter’s favorite holiday and time to host their famous Halloween party.  But first Peter and Nick must first recover a stolen statue from the local museum, a theft made all the more interesting as its sculptor was Nick’s deceased lover.  To find the statue and discover the identity of the thief, Peter must look into Nick’s background for the answer, something Nick is not comfortable Peter doing.  And then black cats start disappearing and a goat is stolen.  As the mysteries pile up, Peter is going to have to work overtime to solve all the mysteries before Halloween, their party and his new slutty nurse costume can make its debut! What is an intrepid reporter to do?  A fun outing that turns serious at points as Peter and Nick’s relationship moves forward towards a level of commitment that Peter has just now understood that he wants.

One Man’s Treasure, Bellingham Mystery #4: 4.5 stars.  When Evangeline begs a favor from Nick and Peter, they end up assisting at her booth at the Bellingham Farmers Market just in time to see Nick’s friend and fellow ceramic artist, collapse at the booth.  When they learn that Roger died at the hospital and the cause of death was poisoning, both Peter and Nick investigate Roger’s background and the motives of those around him. For Nick, watching Peter put himself at risk once more for a story, makes him wonder at Peter’s commitment to their relationship.  For Peter, it has been 4 wonderful years since they first met.  They live together, have a cat, and Peter’s columns have brought him several awards. Yet, his boundless curiosity in search of a story and bad habit of throwing himself into dangeroussituations once again threaten the stability of his relationship.  Peter must figure out where he priorities lie even as he searches for a killer at the Green Goddess Farms and Farmers Market.

April Martinez is the cover artist for all the covers and does a nice job with the graphics but none of the designs really speaks to the stories within.

Author Spotlight: Nicole Kimberling and Book Giveaway!

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I first happened upon Nicole Kimberling when I read Primal Red, the first in the Bellingham Mysteries series.  From the very first sentence, I sensed the author’s deep connection to her story’s setting and it’s quirky, oddball cast of characters. Bellingham, Washington emerges as a character all its own in the Bellingham Mysteries series as the author’s love and respect for her town and it’s idiosyncrasies  flows through each storyline.  Through Peter Fontaine, steadfast reporter for The Bellinghamster aka The Hamster, the author gives us a character able to reflect on his town many foibles from the new agers to the niche farmers, the arty set to the druids and everything in between.  Sometimes it’s with humor, sometimes exasperation, a tiny bit of sarcasm, but mostly Peter investigates and meddles with the non-judgmental fondness of someone who loves and appreciates his town and its people.

Nicole Kimblerling’s writing brings her Bellingham into our lives, complete with realistic characters that embed themselves in your heart and mind. I can’t begin to tell you how often I laughed out loud over the antics of Peter or Evangeline or Peter’s editor, Doug Bowles. Nick, Peter’s boyfriend is far too Nordic for the laugh out loud moments but serves as a needed balance for the hijinks and tomfoolery the others are capable of.

Then there is the many subjects that come up during the course of each mystery.  One time it was the plein air artists, another ceramic forgery, and during One Man’s Treasure, it was beekeeping and mushroom poisons.  She always sends me rushing to further research a subject she has included in her plots that adds another wonderfully authentic layer to her storyline.  It’s marvelous and it fills me with anticipation to see what the next novel in the series brings.

I contacted Nicole Kimberling to talk about herself and her writing and the many elements she brings to her books. And this was her reply to my question about the inclusion of the arts in her mysteries:

“Well, I guess I would say that the reason the arts figure so heavily

in the Bellingham Mysteries is that my wife is an artist so I have had
the good luck to have an expert on the visual arts on hand when I need
to know technical details about paint or clay or counterfeiting. And,
of course, I’ve gone to a lot of openings and gallery shows for her
and for her associates so I’ve met a lot of quirky, real-life
characters.

The same goes for the characters in the Farmer’s Market. I actually
worked last season there, selling sandwiches, rain, wind and shine and
so I got a lot of first-hand experience with the culture of the market
and of the local organic farmers here in Whatcom county.

Because I live here, I’m constantly discovering new facets of the city
and new slices of society–more than I think I’ll ever be able to fit
into the stories. There are the illegal mountain bike trail builders,
the rustic folk musicians, the unschoolers, the gamers. And then there
are the institutions, like the bible software company that basically
owns two whole city blocks downtown, the Humane Society, the Alternate
Humane Society, the Alternate Alternate Humane Society… The town is
rich with unexplored weirdness.”

Thanks, Nicole.  And yes, that does explain so much about Bellingham and its importance in your writing.

Nicole has generously donated a copy of her book, Primal Red, to be given away during series week.  To enter the contest, send me your name, email address and  your favorite m/m series.  I will pick a winner on Sunday.
Nicole Kimberling’s website: http://www.nicolekimberling.com

Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington with her wife, Dawn Kimberling, two bad cats and approximately 100,000 bees. Her novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror.

Books by Nicole Kimberling (available at Loose id, Amazon, All Romance):

Primal Red (Bellingham Mysteries #1)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Bellingham Mysteries #2)

Black Cat Ink (Bellingham Mysteries #3)

One Man’s Treasure (Bellingham Mysteries #4)

Turnskin

Hell Cop Anthology #1

Hell Cop Anthology #2

Irregulars Anthology

It’s Series Week at Scattered Thoughts and Our First Book Giveaway!

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This week is series week here at Scattered Thoughts… and Joyfully Jay.  JJ and hubby were hurrying off to Scotland to celebrate their 40th birthdays (yep, won’t see that one again) and 15 years of marriage (not this one either) and wanted to know if Sammy and I had anything we wanted to write about.  Well, little love pandas, I have been reading some outstanding series and loving on the fact that my journey with each cast of characters would not be stopped short at one book! And as my mind wandered over the various landscapes and emotional terrains of those series, a little LED light went off in my head, I waved my hand and piped up “Series!  I want to write about how I love series!”  Sammy and JJ both had favorites series too, everyone got excited and so the idea of series week was born.

So what an exciting week ahead here in Maryland to offset the return of 100 degree temperatures and humidity that would not be out of place in the Congo!  I will be talking about why I love a series,  I am listing my favorite series and favorite series covers. I thought about listing my all time worst series but hey we are not about negativity here, at least this week.  There are author spotlights and our first ever book giveaway!  Nicole Kimberling will be giving away a copy of Primal Red, the first in the Bellingham Mysteries series being reviewed this week!  So watch out for her Author Spotlight and the series review.  Make a comment and I will choose a winner by the end of the week!

So here it is, my sweet baboos, the schedule for Series  Week!:

Monday:                               Series I Am Excited About (And Still Reading)

Tuesday:                              Favorite Series and  Series Book Covers

Wednesday:                        Series Spotlight:  The Warder Series by Mary Calmes

Thursday:                           Author Spotlight:  Nicole Kimberling

Friday:                                 Series Spotlight: The Bellingham Mysteries Series by Nicole Kimberling

Saturday:                             Why A Series Makes My Heart Sing!

Also stop by Joyfully Jay this week.  Check out the authors and series reviewed there.  She is having book giveaways from Ava March and Katey Hawthorne! Woohoo.  Love both of those authors and their books so  you can’t go wrong.

Here is another great summer cocktail recipe in our battle against the summer heat and doldrums:

The French 75:

Ingredients:

1 lemon
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) gin
1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) simple syrup
1 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup (2 ounces) dry sparkling wine, such as brut Champagne, chilled

 

 

 

Preparation:

Using zester or paring knife, slice peel from lemon in long, thin spiral. Reserve lemon for another use and set peel aside.
In cocktail shaker, combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into chilled Champagne flute and top with sparkling wine.
Curl lemon peel around finger to create twist at least 6 inches long. Garnish drink with twist and serve immediately.

The Week Ahead and another Rant on the Heat and F%^*&%g Pepco!

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It’s Sunday in Maryland and we are in the 12th day of our heat wave and power losses!  Yesterday we hit 105 degrees F and today is not supposed to be much better.  There are still plenty of folks around the area without power as the limbs from last Friday’s storm continue to fall onto power lines, including some that just went back up. We are anticipating more storms as the cold front from the north is slowly coming our way and we know from experience (and science class) that a collision between a cold front and a hot as hell front brings a humongous amount of meteorological explosions.

Yesterday I found out that the storm cost us our relatively new dishwasher (burned out) to  go along with the air conditioning circuit board and a heck of a lot of groceries that had to be thrown out.  When I called the appliance store to see if there was any reset button etc that I could try, I got the “yeah, lady, I have been fielding calls from hundreds of people just like you all day”.  Am I supposed to take comfort in the fact that everyone lost their appliances along with us?  Perhaps so.  There are thousands of us facing the same problems.

It is also our unfortunate lot to have Pepco has our energy supplier.  They rank last in the ENTIRE NATION in service and reliability.  Not surprisingly they rank first in profits as their bill came yesterday right on time, along with their expectation that we pay right on time.  But they are not held to the same accountability.  People just coming into the area say they have never experienced the power outages that are a regular occurrence here.  And Pepco just asked for a rate raise too!  Talk about cojones!  But I think this time they will be met with more fines instead of raises.  Peoples ire is up.  We are fed up, the politicians are fed up!  Maybe something will finally be done about them.  I can always hope.  In the meantime, the Moderate State is hanging up its nameplate and looking for a new moniker!  Any ideas?

So yeah, heat.  So hot in fact that I haven’t felt like cooking.  It’s too hot even to stand at the grill.  So we are making drinks, baby!  Look for a drink recipe after the week ahead.

 

I am continuing to review two more books in the Dancing With The Devil series by Megan Derr.  Just a outstanding series by a great writer and a wonderful lead into the week of July 16th which will be concentrating on book series all week.  I think you will love it.  So this is how this week will play out if the power stays on:

Monday:                                  Midnight (DWTD #3) by Megan Derr

Tuesday:                                  Ruffskin (DWTD #4) by Megan Derr

Wednesday:                            Almost Paradise by Caitlin Ricci

Thursday:                                Torquere Short Stories

Friday:                                      Stolen Dreams by Sue Brown

Saturday:                                  Author Spotlight: Nicole Kimberling

 

For your summer drinking pleasure, a Catalina Margarita!
1 1/2 oz tequila
1 oz peach schnapps
1 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
4 oz sweet and sour mix

Directions

Shake with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail or margarita glass.