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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's have an Erie Halloween!



I have always had a thing for shifters and those of similar persuasion. I clearly recall being a child (And I may date myself terribly with this but so what?) sitting in front of the TV eagerly anticipating watching Dr. Shock`s Mad Theater, which aired in the Philadelphia area from 1968 through the 70`s. Dr. Shock showed tons of B horror movies, and I was simultaneously terrified and engrossed in each old black-and-white flick presented to me. It was while watching Dr. Shock that I first saw Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man.



Sure, there were scores of other horror movie classic monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but there was something about The Wolf Man that spoke to me. I`m sure it was Chaney`s wonderful performance as the tortured Larry Talbot that grabbed my young heart and mind so strongly.



Over the years I`ve grown less afraid of were-folk, and have read about shifters of various kinds. There are as many breeds of shapeshifter as there are fans that read the

enormously popular genre. Today we have wolves, bruins, big cats, seals (Selkies), and every animal under the sun, it seems. Nine times out of ten the shifters are sexy men or women who then turn into powerful, attractive, sexual animals. I thought I wanted to do something just a wee bit different with An Erie Halloween.
 
 
Enter Templeton Reed, a man who lives and works in a hidden community of magical folks along the shores of Lake Erie. Templeton isn`t proud of his beastly other side and goes to enormous lengths to never shift. Being one of a few rare musteloidea shifters in the United States, Templeton isn`t a gorgeous lycan, or a sexy, sleek jaguar, or even a big, loveable bruin shifter. Templeton is a mild-mannered office worker that tries his best to avoid trouble, lest his inner polecat comes to the surface.



Yes, my leading man in An Erie Halloween is a skunk shifter. How much fun is that?! I certainly put Templeton through some harrowing adventures in his debut novella! But, as much as I have tormented my favorite striped shifter, I have also given him a hunk of lycan man that wants to get to know this feisty little scrapper much better. Let`s just say that Templeton and Mikel Lupei, the alpha of the Lake Erie pack, get along quite well despite a few odor related shifting problems.



Much like Larry Talbot, Templeton is cursed with changing into something he is ashamed of. Fortunately skunks don`t prowl the moors looking for human prey as many incarnations of werewolves do. But they do have their own offensive defense system that puts them on the outside looking in, even among their own kind.  Thankfully, my courageous- if slightly near-sighted- hero ends up in a better place then poor Lon Chaney Jr. did at the end of The Wolf Man.



Did you have a favorite horror movie monster as a child? I`d love to hear about who scared the black-and-white bejeebers out of you when you were a kid!



*~* Blurb *~*



Templeton Reed has been hiding his inner polecat since he was a child. Keeping his animal secreted is hard for a shifter, especially when one is living in a secret community of mystical beings. It`s the wolf shifters that cause Templeton the most trouble with their darned sensitive noses.



To start his Monday off with a bang Templeton has a run-in with the Lake Erie pack and their alpha, Mikel Lupei, at the Office for Transmogrification Registration where he has a desk job checking registration papers. After that upsetting meeting the meek and mild office worker suddenly finds himself in the center of not only civil unrest among the shifter community, but a violent plan for a coup aimed at rousting Mikel.



The office worker and the skilled tracker of rogues are soon not only fighting for their lives, they`re also fighting the rigidly archaic rules of their kind, as well as the person responsible for trying to take over Mikel`s pack from the inside. Can this magical odd couple turn a passionate attraction into a full-fledged love affair?





*~*





How about an excerpt from An Erie Halloween?





As I walked, I rolled odd change around inside my coat pockets. The streets were busy as last minute shoppers ran to get their candy and costumes for the big night tomorrow. Head down and mind running a mile a minute, I never saw the brick wall disguised as a man I ran into. Face into the wind, I never smelled him either. The amber eyes and brindle hair were all that stopped me from either screaming or shifting. Mikel pulled me into a small bookstore. I went along because I really had no choice, but once inside the quaint bookery, I jerked my arm from his grasp. Several patrons glanced at us. Mikel muscled me into a row holding non-fiction and historical. He grabbed a book and opened it, his sharp gaze flitting between me and a fascinating how-to grow-your-own-beets book.



“Is there a reason you abducted me from the street?” I asked, moving back slightly when his big body pressed closer to allow a woman to pass behind him. His proximity was beyond distressing. It was arousing. Now that he had me cornered, there was no getting away from the heady scent that he exuded: Part sin, part warm fur, part earthy pine, wholly distracting.



“I've been trying to contact you for days. Why didn't you return my calls?” he whispered, keeping his big chest plastered to my left arm. My spine was firmly against a book shelf.



“There are several reasons,” I replied trying to sound snooty but sounding meagerly twitterpated.” One is that our classes don't mix. . .”



“That's a paltry reason, Templeton,” Mikel said gruffly, snapping his beet book closed.



“Well, it may be for you, but when one's boss tells one to keep his distance and – hey!” I grabbed for my glasses when he plucked them off the bridge of my nose. Folding my arms over my pea coat, I glowered at the oaf. There would be no leaping up and down. Those days ended when I left high school. The touch of his fingers on my chin brought out an age-old response. I jerked back hard. The bookcase behind me wobbled dangerously. Mikel dropped his book to steady the shelving unit. My heart was trying to explode through my chest like an alien baby. The lycan inhaled several times then gave me a dark look.



“Calm yourself, Templeton, your odor is growing stronger.”



“Sorry, it's just this is all too – too much,” I gasped, working to calm myself before the tingling at the base of my spine began. The bells over the front door tinkled melodiously. Soft conversation bounced off the spines of books. Mikel tipped my head back and kissed me. Right there in the middle of the non-fiction. His lips were soft. Sinfully soft. It took my lashes a moment after his mouth left mine to flutter upward. Squinting skyward, I tried to read his face but it was a blur. My glasses were placed back onto my face, albeit crookedly, and then I could see the glow of golden eyes. Oh my . . .


***



If you`re interested in grabbing a copy of An Erie Halloween, you can find it here on the Torquere Press



***



For those who leave a comment telling me who their favorite movie monster is, I`ll toss their names into a drawing for a free PDF copy of An Erie Halloween! Talk about a great treat for fans of M/M romance and shape-shifters! You have until midnight to leave your comment. I`ll throw all the names into the Random Thing Picker and the winner will be announced tomorrow. Good luck and thanks so very much for stopping in.





Yours in love and laughter,





V.L. Locey




Monday, October 28, 2013

Bring on the zombies!



Hi Everyone

Jaxx Steele here again to share one of my creatures of the night…zombies! I Love You to Death is my first zombie story. 

I will admit that I am not your average zombie fan. I find the whole ooey gooey falling apart thing totally disgusting. Then I watched an episode of the Walking Dead. I was surprised at how good the show was. The zombie thing didn’t overwhelm the story line like I thought it would which is why I didn’t bother watching it in the first place. That was my issue with all books, movies or shows with zombies…well that and they’re disgusting looking. 

But I figured decided what the hey! It’s outside my comfort zone, but so what. I popped into a few zombie lover chat rooms, asked them a bunch of questions, then tossed around a few ideas and volia! I Love You to Death was born a short time later. My zombies are realistic and the story is a love story. I will admit that it isn’t your typical zombie story, but those of you who have read my stuff in the past know I don’t do typical anyway. :)


To start their lives anew, Mike and Bill are leaving the chill winters of Chicago behind for the warm breezes of San Fernando Valley. On their cross country road trip they experience different foods, cozy country towns and…zombies??

Excerpt:
Mike chuckled while pulling the menus from between the condiments, then slid one across the table.
Bill crinkled his nose as he looked it. The ink was faded and the wrinkled paper had grease stains everywhere. He pinched the corner and flipped it back and forth.
“You’re not seriously considering ordering something to eat from here are you?”
“Yup. You cook enough healthy mumbo jumbo to keep us around for the next thousand years. I planned on eating my way across country with this trip. Every little dive we hit I’m blogging about the food they serve.”
“After four years of being with you, it still amazes me that you will put anything in your mouth,” Bill mentioned leaning on the table.
Mike lifted his eyes from the menu giving him a sly grin. “That may be true, but only special stuff returns to my mouth over and over,” he said with a wink.
Bill laughed. “You’re such a horn dog. So I guess Blakely’s famous Green Bean and Mountain Oyster Pie will make your blog?”
“Oh hell yeah. Who the hell is going to believe me if I don’t chroniclize that?” Mike added quotations in the air and burst into laughter.
Their fun was cut short with Mabel’s return. She placed their glasses before them, then stood silently, pen poised.
“Okay, well I will have the double cheese burger with fries and a piece of that delicious sounding mountain oyster and green bean pie,” Mike said returning the menu.
Bill grimaced again hearing Mike’s order. He opened his mouth to say something, but the heat of Mabel’s stare made him turn his head in her direction.
“Uh, yes, I’ll have the grilled chicken sandwich and a side salad with whatever vinaigrette dressing you have.”
Her stare lingered a moment longer before she scribbled on her pad. “All right then. Be right up.”
Bill released a breath he didn’t realize he was holding and slumped in the seat. “That woman hates me.”
Mike laughed. “Hates you? She doesn’t even know you. Now break out the map. After we eat we need to get some gas and get out of this one horse town.”
Bill shook his head and spread the map across the table. As they figured out their next move, he couldn’t ignore the burning eyes of the town’s people. With a clear plan of action, Mike pulled the paper off the table and folded the map expertly before putting it in his pocket to give Mabel room to set their plates.
“Here’s your food and the bill.”
“Thanks, Mabel. After we eat we’ll need some gas. Can you—”
“Blakely doesn’t have a gas station. You’ll have to go on down to Gideon. It’s about a half hour down the road. I suggest you eat fast, boys. The sun is already setting. The normal town’s folk don’t stay out after dark. Just pay over there when you’re done,” she told them before leaving.
Mike pulled out his phone to take a picture of his plates. Bill’s eyes widened looking at Mike’s food. Mike put his phone away and delved into his food without hesitation.
He scoffed. “God, how can you eat that, Mike?”
“What?” he muttered with his mouth full. “Eat your food.” Mike pushed his plate across the table.
Bill recoiled. “Are you kidding me?” he screeched, his tone a mixture of panic and amazement. He looked around conspiratorially and lowered his voice. “That burger is sitting in a puddle of dark yellow grease.”
Mike took two more huge bites, then stuffed some fries into his mouth and shrugged. “That’s the flavor’s essence.”
Bill made a face at him. “I swear, you must be an alien to have a cast iron stomach like that.”
Looking down at his plate, Bill had never seen a more deplorable salad. The lettuce, pitiful wilted pale green leaves with brown edges. Six pieces of what looked like petrified chicken sat in the center with shriveled cherry tomatoes, croutons and a small dose of blue tipped shredded cheese. Curling his lips in disgust, he pushed the plate away.
“I am not eating that,” he said, wrapping his arms around his chest.
Mike wiped his mouth on his napkin and pulled his other plate closer to him.
“Suit yourself, baby, but all we have in the car are energy bars, trail mix and waters. It was your idea to stop in the ma and pa spots along the way to Cali to eat our main meals for the experience.”
Mike wiggled his head from side to side emphasizing the last word with a dramatic, wavy voice.
Bill stared at the food in front of Mike. Though he couldn’t tell what the ingredients really were the dark brown, lumpy piece of meat wrapped in pastry didn’t look like any pie he had ever seen, nor did it have same effect on his olfactory senses. Instead of the sweet smell that tickled your nose and made you smile when one came in proximity with pies that were considered desserts, its aroma made him want to hurl. When Mike’s fork scraped the tip away, the pie made a sick squishy sound. Bill’s breath caught as he watched in awe as the utensil rose to Mike’s mouth without hesitation. Mike ate the foul smelling dessert with gusto.
“Well,” Bill asked eagerly.
Mike pushed the plate away. “Oh, yeah, that tastes gross.”
“This surprises you?” Bill asked on a chuckle.
“Not really. I figured it would be, but I didn’t want to assume,” Mike admitted with a laughing grin.
Bill rolled his eyes and his arms relaxed. “Can we just get out of here now? Everyone is leaving,” he said nodding his head.
“Oh yeah, I’m done.” Mike looked around. “What the—”
Bill followed his gaze. “Where did everyone go?”
“Everyone started leaving just before you started in on that delicious pie of yours. See, only those two bubbas are left at the counter,” he added in a lower tone.
I guess these little country hicks are afraid of the dark.”
“So how do we pay for the food?”
A mischievous smile spread across Mike’s face. “I guess it’s free.”
“Now you know we can’t do that. Regardless to how nasty the food was, I think that’s too much like dining and ditching.”
“Okay, you boys ready? We’re closing right now. It’s past time,” Mabel said returning to their table.
“I’ll wait in the car,” Bill said hurrying away from her.
Mike chuckled and followed Mabel.
The sky darkened quickly with just the glow of the sun behind the mountains in the distance. Bill lingered a moment to take a picture of the beautiful colors in the distance. Grinning at the image, he continued across the parking lot to the car. Before pulling the door open, he caught sight of a man coming toward him. Dressed in dark blue with a wide brim hat, the man had a large intimidating presence like the cops Bill knew in Chicago. A dull golden star on his shirt pocket glinted in the dwindling light as he came closer. Bill turned toward him to intercept.
“Hello Sheriff. We just ate in the diner and were wondering if you could tell us how far the next town is. We need to get some gas.”
The officer didn’t answer but continued to close the distance between them. Bill stopped walking and his brows furrowed. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.
“Sir, is everything all right?”
The sheriff reached Bill, grabbed him by the shoulders and yanked him forward. Bill gasped, trying to pull away, but couldn’t break the strong grip.
“Hey! What are you doing? Let me go!”
The man’s pale skin and vacant stare was horrifying. He continued to pull on Bill trying to bring him even closer, but Bill jerked himself from side to side struggling. The cop gave no explanation as he leaned down to bite Bill on the shoulder.
“Oww!”
Shock shot through his system followed by pain. Swinging wildly, he beat the man on the head. Finally, the sheriff reeled backward, tearing a chunk of Bill’s shoulder away. Bill screamed again. His assailant’s grip loosened momentarily as he chewed Bill’s flesh. He took the opportunity to jerk away and make a run for the car. As Mike came from the diner, Bill waved frantically to get his attention.
“Mike, get in the car quick!”
Bill swung the door open, then slammed it shut behind him. He reached toward the backseat to grab his jacket. Balling up one of the sleeves, he pressed the material to his arm. He looked out the window. To his horror the sheriff was walking slowly toward the car. Other people were coming from around the corner as well. He pushed the lever down to lock his door. The driver’s door swung open and he screeched.
“What the hell is going on?” 

I Love You to Death is available now at Secret Cravings Publishing.
Reach Jaxx at