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Monday, March 25, 2013

Get to know Reynaud!



Jaxx Steele here once again to share my work with you. This time I come with the sequel to Cam’s Best Friend in hand, Reynaud’s Redemption. I have done a series before about characters that had stuff in common like they were in the same tribe or were at least the same breed, but this was my first sequel, meaning another totally different story with the same characters. Why did I do it you ask? I kind of was forced to.
These characters spoke constantly, refusing to leave me in peace, screaming at me to get their story, showing no sympathy at all for my lack of typing skills. I couldn’t get it out fast enough and there were mistakes galore. The editing process was a nightmare! In this book I had to go into more detail on Reynaud’s magic, bring Baptiste to life so Reynaud could defeat him and bring about Reynaud and Cam’s happily ever after all the drama was done.
I had to reread Cam’s Best Friend and all my notes on it so I would not repeat anything and I could keep the storyline straight in my head. Usually I am writing 2 sometimes 3 books at a time because when ‘this’ group stops talking to me ‘that’ will start, but that was not the case when I started writing Reynaud’s Redemption. Everyone else completely shut down. No one spoke but the characters in this book. So I put boots to the ground and worked to get it out my head. So here is a quick look at Cam’s Best Friend, nominated for a Swirl Award for Best GLBT Fantasy 2013.



Blurb:
Cameron Gamble was a simple man who ran away from an awkward life. He found a new city to start over in, a new job and the perfect best friend, Mel, a large chocolate lab. It wasn’t long before they were inseparable and Mel had a permanent place in Cameron’s heart. One night, as Cameron recovered from a nightmare, the bright light of the moon revealed Mel’s true nature. All was well in Cameron’s world from that day forth until his ex-lover showed up with the intention of bringing him home.

And now….Reynaud’s Redemption



Reynaud had everything he ever wanted with Cam and yet something nagged at him. Now that his magic was back, he could not ignore the pull he felt to go ‘home’. He hoped going home would ease his weariness, but it was apparent that things had changed during his absence. Friends had lost their places and enemies had gained power. Will the final confrontation with his past destroy everything Reynaud had in his present preventing him from having a future with Cam?

Excerpt:
Cameron looked up with a raised brow. "You think someone is looking for you? Wouldn't all your people be dead after all this time?"
"Not necessarily. Creolytes coexist with humans but because we were born with magic, we live longer. Our magic makes us stronger from the inside out. It enhances cellular regeneration, allowing us to age slower, helping us live almost twice as long as a human could. Most Creolytes move from sect to sect so regular people don't notice that they have not grown old after some time has passed."
"So it could be possible for someone to be reaching out to you?"
"Yes, very possible."
"Do— Do you think it may be Angele?"
Reynaud heard the apprehension in Cameron's voice as he pushed the question out. He hugged him reassuringly then lifted his chin to place a soft kiss on his lips.
"No, my love. Angele has been dead a very long time. Though our magic makes us more resilient, we share the same frailties as regular humans. We are very mortal and can die in the same ways as people with no magic abilities. Baptiste killed Angele. He is dead."
Cameron let out a breath, seemingly relieved. "Then who?" he asked after a moment.
Reynaud pondered a moment. "I think it may be Madam Cousteau."
"The council leader? The one who was like a mother to you?"
Reynaud nodded.
"Could she still be alive after all this time too? I mean, she was old even then, wasn't she?"
Reynaud shrugged. "I don't see why not. Barring any unforeseen disaster that may have ended her life prematurely, Madam Cousteau and the other leaders could be alive, albeit elderly. Though she and the others were my seniors of at least fifty years at the time my punishment, their magic was extremely strong. It would have preserved them."
Cameron gasped. Sadness filled Cam's gaze when he looked up at Reynaud.
"What is it?"
"Reynaud, New Orleans did have a disaster. It happened about ten years ago. A storm came through and destroyed the levies. Water devastated everything. Some parts of the city are still recovering, even now."
As the ramifications of Cameron's words sunk in, horror swelled within him and unanswered questions became clear. Cameron had taken him to different parts of the city since his powers returned to help re-familiarize himself with his surroundings as a man. It did not escape him that much had changed, but Reynaud didn't think too much of it.
More than one hundred years had gone by since his sentencing. He remembered the passage of time that transpired while he was in his dog form and how he felt when people either liked or hated him, but noticing changes in the landscape were beyond his dog-mind. Some of the anger and disappointment he felt toward his people still lingered when he was restored, but Cameron's love eased it away with time.
Now that he had his man-form, Reynaud expected his body to buzz as the magic inside him reacted to his surroundings, but that was not the case. The territory was once abundant in the herbs needed to perform many enchantments, but he saw very few during his tour. The plants were one of the reasons why the first Creoles chose New Orleans to settle in so long ago. They had not gone back to where he once lived yet because the café had become successful enough to occupy all of his free time, but Reynaud felt a desperate need within him to verify its existence.
"Cameron, you say there are places that have not yet recovered? Even after a decade has passed?"
Cameron nodded. "Unfortunately, yes."
"I must see if my old home is one of those places. Will you take me there tomorrow?"
"Of course."
Reynaud let out a breath and eased down the headboard onto his pillow, drawing Cameron with him. Fear of what he would find filled his thoughts. He made a conscious effort to quiet his mind, but already knew the troubled feelings would prevent him from sleeping soumdly.  

* * * *

After the morning meeting with the restaurant crew, Cameron announced that he and Reynaud would be gone for the day. Reynaud followed him quietly to the car, apprehensive but determined. He looked out the window, reminiscing and marveling on how things had indeed changed. A sense of melancholy settled upon him when Cameron turned down a familiar street and he saw its dilapidated form. Reynaud's magic sparked within him just a bit, recognizing the region. At the sensing, possibility raised its head but it was quickly doused. A pit formed in Reynaud's gut at the full sight of the area. The car pulled to a stop and they got out. Devastation spread as far as the eye could see. Despair clutched his heart and tears stung his eyes.
"What is this place called today?" he managed after a while.
"The locals call it the Ninth Ward. It took the greatest hit when the flood came," Cameron told him.
Reynaud nodded, looking out over where the site of Lieu de Rencontre, the once upon a time Creolyte council hall. He spent every day of his adult life there as a magical trainer. With so many magic users performing tasks of all kinds for countless years, the very walls of the dwelling hummed with power.
Their sect wasn't as large as a few of others in Louisiana. Many of their people were content to build their homes near the structure to remain near the energy that flowed from it. It allowed them to be a close-knit group. 
Reynaud walked down the hill. Everything around him lay in ruin. The tiny twinges poking at his magic were miniscule compared to the full body throbbing the neighborhood's former glory used to instill. Suddenly his head snapped to look over his shoulder.
"What's wrong?" Cameron asked, coming to his side.
Reynaud hesitated, wondering himself. He walked along the overturned soil, stepping over tossed debris and not knowing exactly where he was going. Cameron followed in his footsteps, almost bumping into him when he stopped abruptly looking around again.
"There's something… familiar… Something," he paused a moment shaking his head. "Something pulls at me, Cameron. Its touch is very faint, like someone trying to tap you, but you're just out of their reach. It tugs at the magic that sits in my soul."
"Maybe you can follow it."
Reynaud turned. "Follow it?"
"Yes. Can't you do that if you focus on it? It could be like a lighthouse is to ships at night. I don't know how your magic stuff works, but…" he suggested with a shrug, leaving his sentence incomplete.
Reynaud thought a moment. There were so many things he could not yet do. He had been doing small tasks to strengthen his long inactive earth magic since it had returned to him. In the beginning, using his magic and concentrating was exhausting each time. He practiced by healing trees and the grounds in the general area, multiplying the growth of healing herbs he found in the places Cameron had taken him and enhancing Cameron's own vegetable gardens in their atrium. Those things were much easier for him than they were six months ago when he started.
Although uneasy, Reynaud closed his eyes and concentrated on the sensation. Heat vibrated inside him, consuming his senses and intensifying as he focused. Something pulsed just outside his consciousness, just as Cameron suggested. Fatigue brought him back. He wavered on his feet, but Cameron remained at his side.
"Rey, are you all right?"
He leaned forward, supporting most of his weight on his knees to catch his breath. "Yes. And yes, I can follow it."

Cam's Best Friend available now at Silver Publishing

Reynaud's Redemption coming in April to Silver Publishing but feel free to order early!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Music, Magick and Murder!



My new occult mystery novel, Murderous Requiem, was inspired by a fascination I developed as a music major in college with music from the Renaissance and the intricate connection that Renaissance scholars saw between music and alchemy.  One of the most prominent of these scholars was Marsilio Ficino, who was the first European to translate the complete works of Plato from ancient Greek into Latin, and who also founded a college of neo-Platonism in Florence, Italy, through the patronage of Cosimo de Medici. 

As Jeremy tells his boyfriend, Bowyn, in one scene, “Ficino and other neo-Platonists believed that there is a perfect form of the body residing in the spirit world—the Anima Mundi—or if you prefer, in the mind of God. Healing occurs when the physical body is synchronized with the true image of the body. And this is done by balancing the bodily humors to bring the body in alignment with its perfect, fully functioning form.”

One of the methods Ficino believed in for balancing the humors was listening to musical harmonies.  He believed music resonated within the spirit and could strengthen or weaken the body’s connection to its platonic “true form” in the Anima Mundi, which in turn caused the body to become more like this perfect image of itself (healthy and perfectly functioning) or to drift away from it and become ill.

In the novel, the occult order Bowyn belongs to has uncovered an original manuscript by Ficino which may hold the culmination of his work, encapsulated in a musical mass.  Jeremy is a college professor who specializes in Renaissance music and Bowyn recruits him to transcribe the mass into modern musical notation, so that it can be performed.

But there is something in the music that hints at great power—passages buried in cryptic symbols, with a libretto written in an unknown language.  At the first performance of the mass, Jeremy listens to a solo by Christopher, an abused teenager who looks and sings like an angel:

With the chorus supporting him, and likewise bolstered by the magnificent acoustics in the chapel, Christopher’s voice achieved a new level of beauty and power that touched upon the sublime. All those present in the audience were clearly riveted, unmoving, their eyes fixed upon Christopher. I was enthralled as well, but part of me was anxious now that I knew something—but not nearly enough—about the magickal intent of the music. I was watching the audience as much as the choir, aware of a strong visceral sensation building up in my body as the core of my being seemed to resonate with the music.

Something fluttered past my ear, and my eyes darted after it. As I followed its erratic path upward, I became aware that the shadows high up in the dome of the chapel seemed to be writhing and swirling. Something was obscuring the painting on the inside of the dome and the moonlight coming in through the stained-glass windows—something with a thousand fluttering wings.

Bats.

I couldn’t tell how many bats were up there, but it was far more than I had ever seen before. I’d never been afraid of them, until that moment, but there is something primordially frightening about enormous swarms of small creatures, and I felt the hair on the back of my neck pricking up at the sight. I watched them, entranced by their frenetic swirling and fluttering high above me and the unearthly spell Christopher was weaving with his voice, until at long last the final note swelled throughout the chapel and slowly faded.

There was a long silence, during which nobody appeared to be breathing.

Then Marianne screamed.

Jeremy soon discovers that someone else in the occult order not only believes the mass to hold great power, but he or she is willing to kill for it.


BLURB:
Jeremy Spencer never imagined the occult order he and his boyfriend, Bowyn, started as a joke in college would become an international organization with hundreds of followers. Now a professor with expertise in Renaissance music, Jeremy finds himself drawn back into the world of free love and ceremonial magick he’d left behind, and the old jealousies and hurt that separated him from Bowyn eight years ago seem almost insignificant.

Then Jeremy begins to wonder if the centuries-old score he’s been asked to transcribe hides something sinister. With each stanza, local birds flock to the old mansion, a mysterious fog descends upon the grounds, and bats swarm the temple dome. During a séance, the group receives a cryptic warning from the spirit realm. And as the music’s performance draws nearer, Jeremy realizes it may hold the key to incredible power—power somebody is willing to kill for.

Buy Link:



Friday, March 15, 2013

Here comes the Prince!



Hi, I’m Anna Lee!
It’s March Magic so I’m here to share with you my fantasy series, The Galerir Saga.  The Prince of Galerir has a little bit of everything, there are sorcerers, dragons, magik, knights and a hidden prince. The Prince of Galerir is the first novel in the saga and it is published by MLR Press. The second story, The Battle for Galerir is currently in edits and I’m also writing the third story as well. There might even be more after that depending on my muses…

So, the Prince of Galerir is the love story of Tomas and Griffin along with the tale of the kingdom of Galerir and how it needs a king who can reunite the land with magik and stop the usurper before it is too late. This first story is the start of Tomas and Griffin’s journey with their dragon, Sera, as they begin to take the path to their destiny. Though all of this won’t happen right away and I can’t spoil what’s to come…

I hope it’s a story all enjoy. I’ve always loved fairy tales, dragons, and magik. I wanted to write a story that was unique. So in this story the Prince falls in love with his knight, who is definitely not a damsel in distress. They are equals, they complement one another, and together they delve into the world of magik and fight for their love.

You can buy The Prince of Galerir in ebook all formats and paperback. Here is the link to it on MLR’s site:

You can contact me at my website: Or you can tweet me @AnnaLee59.  I’m always happy to have visitors or chat.

Thank you so much for having me!


Let me first share with you the blurb. “Long ago, magik was banished from the kingdom of Galerir. Yet when two young men who share a forbidden passion discover a dragon hatchling, they unwittingly set a course of events in motion that will change the kingdom and their lives forever. All Lord Tomas Roland wants is a life where he is free to love his knight, Griffin Dalison. Yet the chains of responsibility wind tighter around Tomas when it is revealed that he is the heir to the kingdom of Galerir. Tomas and Griffin must reach Galerir's ailing king before a usurper has the chance to seize the throne. With Griffin as his touchstone, Tomas delves into the unfamiliar worlds of politics and magik. But will Tomas be able to keep his love by his side once he becomes the prince of Galerir?”
 
Excerpt:
Rushing up the stone steps of the northern keep, Griffin Dalison took them two at a time as he made his way up to Tomas's chambers. Tomas had chosen the room at the top of the highest tower as soon as he was old enough to, saying he loved the view. Griffin's chambers were a floor below, and the servant's quarters were below them. His chambers were close by in case his lord, Tomas, was ever in need of protection. He knocked briefly then pushed open the large wooden door and stepped inside.
Tomas, who had been polishing his sword, stared at him in surprise. Tomas was a few inches taller than him, muscular where Griffin was slender, tan where he was pale, strong and fast where Griffin was graceful and even quicker. Graced with his mother's auburn hair and stormy blue eyes, Tomas also took after her with his charm, comely features, and bright smile. He was dressed in his usual attire: breeches, a blue silk tunic, leather boots, and his sword belt.
"Griff? You are early to help me get ready for my training."
"No, it is not that," Griffin shook his head, catching his breath. "I saw something in the sky last night. I could not explain it, but I swore I saw it land in the forest-"
Quickly, Tomas got to his feet, sheathing his sword in its leather scabbard. "We should alert my father. He can send some men out."
"No!" Griffin stepped forward, barely able to contain his excitement. "I found what it was. I want to show you. It is not far, merely a few hundred feet inside the Silverwoods. Can you sneak away?"
Tomas gave him a wide grin, and Griffin blushed. He had to stop forbidden thoughts at that smile, knowing nothing could happen despite the feelings he had. They had grown up together in the castle, thick as thieves and best friends throughout the years. It had been that way ever since Griffin had been sent to serve as a page for Lord Franklin Roland. He had been eight years old and terrified of the forest when he had arrived - used to the beaches and rolling waves near Castle Dalison until Tomas showed him there was nothing to fear. Now, he was a knight, sworn to serve Tomas.
He had adored Tomas since then, and as he grew older he realized it was more than that. He grew attracted to him and was in love with him, not that he could ever tell Tomas. At times he thought the other man felt the same; he knew giving into his feelings was too much of a risk to take, even if his heart often said otherwise.
Griffin did not see Tomas as a young lord, and Tomas did not see him as a knight: they were simply Griffin and Tomas around one another. Though Griffin would lay down his life if it ever came to it, he was going to become Tomas's right hand man when his time came to rule the castle. As of right now, they were almost nineteen, and the days of Tomas's rule were a long way off.
"I suppose I could, for you," Tomas said with a wink. "Can you tell me what it is?"
"Promise as my friend you will not tell anyone else?"
Seeming curious, Tomas stepped forward and took his hand, squeezing it briefly before they both pulled back. "You know there is nothing you could tell me in confidence that I would tell another soul."
"I know," Griffin broke into a smile, "but we could both get into trouble if your father found out."
"When am I not in trouble?" Tomas shrugged. "Father is always saying I will never grow out of my childish phase. He does not understand I find court life dull and want adventure. I want to be a knight like you, Griff. I want to ride off to the Great Divide and discover what is beyond. You would go with me, would you not?"
"You know I would. What is this all about? Is something troubling you?"
"Audrey is coming to visit." Tomas grimaced. "You know they want to betroth us, and my nineteenth name day is near. Father says we should have already been wed."
Griffin's heart sank. There was his other problem. Since they were sixteen, Tomas's father had been trying to play matchmaker between Tomas and Audrey. Tomas would never be his; he had his responsibilities as a lord.
"Do you have to?" he asked, though he knew the answer.
"It is expected of me," Tomas said bitterly, running a hand through his thick brown hair. "I do not want to marry out of obligation. What sort of life is that?"
Griffin gave Tomas an apologetic look. His friend needed assurance, and he always helped, even if he was hurt in the process. "Your father loved your mother," he reminded Tomas. "Theirs was a marriage of duty as well."
"Not the same," Tomas disagreed, locking gazes with Griffin. "Audrey's not the one I want or could find happiness with."
"Tomas…" Griffin swallowed hard. He knew without it being said that Tomas was talking about him, yet he could not let that thought go further. They had denied it for so long. "Do not say that. I was going to show you-"
"I know you feel the same." Tomas pressed a finger to Griffin's lips. "I do not care if it is forbidden. I have wanted you for a long time."
"It would never work," Griffin tried to argue, putting his hand over Tomas's. He had to distract himself before he did something he should not, something he had longed to do for years. Tomas being so close, touching him, was making it impossible to focus. Then he remembered what he had come to tell him. "I want – The dragon. I found a dragon."
"A dragon?" Tomas appeared surprised. "There are no more dragons. They have been dead for hundreds of years."
"I saw it with my own eyes. I can prove it.”
  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Soulshares are baaaack!




Ah, March! With my Irish heritage, it’s the month of the High Holy Day itself, and the perfect month to be discussing my Soulshares books – urban fantasy erotic romance, with an Irish accent so thick you could whack it over the head with a shillelagh and it would be the shillelagh you’d be breaking. And book two in the series, GALE FORCE, comes out the week before St. Patrick’s Day, on March 12.
          The Soulshares books involve the intersection between the human world and the Fae Realm; the Realm split off from the human world well over two thousand years ago when the Fae had to rid their Realm of an evil magickal force that threatened to consume it. If there is such a thing as a Fae “canon,” I don’t pay attention to it, any more than I follow romance novel conventions, but my Fae are definitely Irish in derivation. I’ve studied the Irish language, and Faein, the Fae language, is based on Irish, with a bit of tweaking to modify the grammar and broaden the phonetics just a little. When my Fae leave the Realm, they can in theory emerge into the human world almost anywhere, but Tiernan, the Fae lead in HARD AS STONE, Soulshares #1, emerged in Ireland during An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, in 1847. And Rian Sheridan, who you’ll meet in Soulshares #4, was an IRA Volunteer in Belfast in the early 1970s – and is a devout Catholic, for all he’s a nearly immortal Fae.
          In my world, Fae who come to the human world from the Realm lose half their soul in the crossing, and the missing half goes out into the human world to be reborn in a human; the only way for the Fae to be whole again is to find, and love, the Fae who has the other half of his soul. The trouble with that is that because Fae live a thousand years, and are way too mercurial to have stable relationships that last that long, it’s become a truism that Fae don’t love. Though they do tend to live for the transitory pleasures of the flesh. Which they’re very adept at. So it’s an interesting adjustment when a Fae finds his Soulshare…
          The Soulshares are an interesting hybrid of fantasy and erotica. The sex is scorching hot, but it’s always an integral part of a storyline that’s very strongly grounded in “classic” urban fantasy.  My boys want to have it all – a serious, well-thought-out and interesting world to live in, and incredibly hot partners to live in it with.


          If you’d like to come visit us, I’m on Facebook and I have a BLOG.  GALE FORCE, Soulshares #2, is on Amazon, B&N, an Ravenous Romance’s Web site as of March 12.
          And, to conclude, here’s a little taste of GALE FORCE. This excerpt is set in the Fae Realm, with Josh LaFontaine, the human half of the book’s lead couple, and Cuinn an Dearmad, a pain-in-the-ass Fae who is trying to protect Josh from the Marfach, the evil force that’s the bane of Fae existence.

          “Explain to me again why you have to physically hold on to me?” Josh was looking at the creature too – he’d taken the notion that his ink was magickal a lot better than Cuinn had thought he would, for some reason, but had said he’d be relieved to get home and have it lie down again, just the same. “I know you told me, but at the time I had vertigo that would have killed a large farm animal and I wasn’t paying much attention.”
          Cuinn snickered. “I could tell. You were an interesting shade of green. And I’m your only way home.” He leaned back on his elbows in the soft grass, feeling the magick of the place slowly permeating his body. Too slowly. It was going to take him a long time to recharge, after everything he’d been up to in the human world of late, and especially after opening up that rift without being properly prepared. Panic makes a pretty fair substitute for arousal, in a pinch, apparently. He didn’t dare consciously siphon magick out of his surroundings, because that ran the risk of killing nearly everything he could see from where he lay. Not permanently, but close enough. And he needed to be sure he could get the human home. His fellow Loremasters had made it very clear to him some time ago a Soulshared Conall Dary was an essential part of their plan. Which plan he wasn’t allowed to know. “I’m the only sentient being who can pass back and forth between the Realm and your world.”
          Josh pushed up and looked around as well; Cuinn was pleased to see him looking better than he had on arrival. The combination of adrenalin and disorientation when he’d first been pulled through the rift had caused the human to spend his first few conscious minutes trying very hard not to puke all over him. “So why does that mean we need to play handsy?” Another pointed glance at their joined hands.
          “Time does strange things, where the worlds touch.” Cuinn tipped his head back, closed his eyes, and concentrated on drawing in power. Slowly. “When I pass through, I don’t disturb the flow. The flaw in the Pattern that lets me go back and forth is shaped to me. And anything I happen to be touching.” He smirked, without opening his eyes. “Would have been interesting if my clothes went to another time every time I passed through. But I wasn’t consulted.” 
          “I wonder why.”
          “I heard that.” Cuinn opened his eyes again, solely so he could roll them properly. “Play nicely, human. If I were to lose contact with you right now, even for a moment, I’d have to open a new passage to send you back, instead of just letting go of you when the time was right, and there’s no telling when you’d return to your world. Today, last week, a hundred years from now.” He shrugged. “Those stories you hear, about humans wandering off after fairies, and reappearing a hundred years later with their brains scrambled? I started most of them. You don’t want to run into me when I’m bored and drunk.”
          Josh’s eyes narrowed. “Is that a Fae thing? Dicking around with humans?”
           Cuinn laughed. “You bet your ass it is. Don’t you read your own legends? It’s not just me. We haven’t been gone that long. You still have stories.”